Recently while perusing the life commentary in my Facebook stream (who needs TV? FB has everything from soap operas to cat fights to educational fodder), I came across a comment by a friend of a friend, talking about how she’s in a rut from being in the same professional field for many years.
I was mulling over all implied meanings behind her comment as I washed the dinner dishes. I inferred from her remark that “being in a rut” is somehow a bad thing.
My own life unreeled before me, showing me my own worn track: a comfortably used road with potholes and deep grooves with weeds sproinging up between them. And I thought how odd it is that we can forge ahead in life on our own path and find ourselves tripping happily down that crazy worn track we haven’t traveled yet….almost as though we’ve been there before to wear the grooves into the road and to come to regard the sproingy weeds as comfortable companions.
I think that only truly happy people can do this, can pave their road before they’ve actually traveled it, people comfortable with their life choices, not necessarily ambitious in a “professional” sense but ambitious in a “life” sense, people – like me – who employ an offbeat definition of success. Anyone who knows me knows that I eschew supervisory positions. I don’t apply for them, I don’t covet them, I don’t want them. In the world of academia, where I’ve more or less comfortably resided for the last thirteen years, I’m an oddity. While others are moving here and shaking there and climbing that corporate ladder rung by desperately competitive rung, I happily cling to the bottom rung and hold it steady for those climbing up. My definition of success isn’t holding that coveted work-eighty-hours-a-week-and-develop-ulcers-and-a-heart-condition position.; it’s being happy doing what I do, whether it’s dispensing financial aid to the want-to-be-educated masses or writing or crocheting blankets or brewing up herbal remedies or just being plain old Nana.
I’m no psychology expert and I’m far from perfect. There are stressors in my life that I wish I could remove RIGHT NOW, and often I handle my stress in less than productive ways. But mostly, deep inside, I’m contented with my life. I’ve learned to identify what truly matters to me, and strive for those things that define success for me, rather than trying to achieve someone else’s version of success. I’ve learned to – not so much not care what others think, but to not let the opinions of others drive my life. I’ve worn my rut in this road of life not through outside circumstances, which would make this a rut not of my choosing, but by deliberately carving it out with the things that make me most happy (which includes squirrels).
So look around you. Is your rut warm and comfortable? Do you long to be there when you’re obligated to leave it? Do you find it fulfilling, sustaining, renewing, enriching? Is it your shelter, your refuge from life’s storms, your cozy den of succor and safety? You made it, carved out your niche with your preferences, your choices, your desires, your ambitions. It throbs with the beat of your drum and hums with your rhythm of life.