For as long as I remember, I wanted to go somewhere.
- When I was in school, I hated living in my country (Russia). I wanted to move to the United States where I thought ‘real life’ is and where ‘normal people’ live.
- When I went to college in the States, I missed home. So after 7 months I dropped out and went back to start a business in Russia. Now I thought Russia is where ‘real life’ is.
- Then I wanted to move to Italy (because my then-girlfriend wanted to go there). I didn’t think about anything, I just wanted to follow what I thought was love. It wasn’t.
- Then I wanted to move to London, but didn’t get accepted to London School of Economics. Too bad.
- This year I spent 6 months being abroad: traveling around Europe. I just wanted to go somewhere, and couldn’t stand the thought of being in one place for too long.
- Eventually, I ended up being in London. And even though this is what I wanted all along — I am living with the love of my life, doing something I deeply enjoy — I am still making plans for the future. Where I’ll live afterwards, in 5 years or so. Maybe it’s Canada. Maybe it’s United States. Maybe it’s Switzerland.
But maybe it’s not about the place. Maybe it’s not about where ‘real life’ is or where ‘normal people’ live, or what place is better for the lifestyle I want.
Maybe it’s about me running away from something.
And maybe just about any place would do if I stopped running.
What’s The Next Thing?
This is a state of mind many people live in (I know I am). And because we are always chasing the ‘next thing’, we are never actually here. Because we are always thinking about what we’ll do next and where we’ll go afterwards, we are not really living.
We are existing today to start living “some day”.
We think that most of our problems are in the external. That we don’t have enough money. That we don’t live in the place we want. That we are not there yet.
I know a guy who is never satisfied with whatever he is doing. No matter what’s happening (good or bad), he is always focused on what’s next. He is always fighting with the world, trying hard to beat it at some race that doesn’t even exist (except in his head). He starts business after business, but they never succeed. He changes locations, looking for something better somewhere else, hoping to find peace and happiness somewhere distant.
Somewhere, but not here.
Sometimes I look at him and think that he’ll never have enough. He’ll probably die not ever achieving whatever he wants to achieve — because in his mind, it’s never enough. There is always something in the distance that will bring happiness. What that guy doesn’t realize is that this — whatever is happening right this second — is life. There may actually be no tomorrow.
It breaks my heart to see this guy fight with the world, when you can actually let go and just start living.
That guy is my father.
It’s a Trap
Thinking that if you switch something external (job, career, location, continent, spouse, etc.) the internal will follow suit.
If you are going through rough times in your relationship and break up because you can’t handle it, chances are you’ll have the same difficulties in your next relationship. Nobody is perfect.
If you are talking shit about your current job, chances are you will do the same on your next job. More often than not you need to change your attitude, not your boss.
If you don’t like where you live and think that by switching the continent you’ll find peace and happiness, it’s a trap. A person who is running away will always find something to run away from. You’ll switch countries and soon will find yourself talking shit about the new place.
You think that the problem lies on the outside. It doesn’t.
The Problem Lies in You
We plan and we run. We think that happiness is somewhere there. But both the future and the past are illusions. They are in our minds. What we have is this moment — and whatever is in the present.
This is our life now.
As I was sitting on the couch, planning my future — where I’ll go after London, where we’ll live and where I’ll have a family, a thought came into my head.
What if I don’t run anymore? What if I just settle here, in London?
It was uncomfortable to think that I will spend the rest of my life here. When you run all your life, it’s hard to stop because you’ve gained so much running momentum.
But then I looked around. I am in London. It’s the greatest city in the world (one of them, at least). It’s so much better than where I used to live. It’s full of opportunity. It’s a first-world country. I am living in the apartment overseeing the Thames river. I am having a great time. I am living with someone I love and want to spend the rest of my life together.
What’s bad about that?
Nothing. It’s great. I just need to stop running.
The Pleasure of Not Running Anymore
When you stop running, you relax. You realize that your life is good enough. Your work is good enough. Your relationship is good enough.
You are good enough.
Instead of having to run somewhere (from something) without really knowing why, you start being productive and creative. You stop existing and you actually start living.
You become grateful for what you’ve got instead of chasing some illusion of happiness in the future.
There is a lot of benefit to being young and not attached to certain things, not having obligations. But there is also a lot of pleasure in knowing who you are, where you are, and what you are.
When all you do is run, you don’t have those things.
You never know who you are — because it’s always changing.
You never know where you are — because you change places like a girl changes clothes.
And you don’t know what you are — because the people around you define who you are. If they are always coming and going, you lose track.
What if you just stop running in you career, life, locations, relationships, and take a look around? What if you don’t need any more _____ (fill in the blank). What if you are already enough?
It Doesn’t Really Matter What You Achieve
From life’s point of view, it doesn’t matter what you achieve. It also doesn’t matter what you think. The only two things that matter are what you do and what you feel.
Hence, if you don’t enjoy life and are constantly in the state of running, going, making plans, sacrifices, burning bridges, and so on, what’s the point of living anyway?
There are no rules. Your life is the projection of what you think it should be. You make as much money as you really need. And you work as many hours as you think you should. We all have that friend who works 1–2 hours per week and makes way more than we do.
And if we talk about success, stopping and settling is actually the best way to achieve it. When all you do is make and break commitments every few years, you never gain momentum. Whatever you are doing can’t start generating returns because you switch it too easily.
When you stop running and settle, you start accumulating knowledge, experience and connection that lead you to success, fulfillment and happiness.
One Last Thing
As I am sitting in London, looking over at the Thames river and typing these words, I am thinking to myself: it’s OK to stop running.
It’s OK to start living life today — in London, as an online bilingual writer and blogger. I used to think that I need to move back to the U.S. and forget my home country, my roots, my home and start a new life there. Now I think that it’s a privilege to having been brought up between two cultures. I am grateful for my life as it is and I don’t want to run anymore.
I want to start living.
But why do people run away (or towards to) from something?
I think it’s because they don’t accept themselves. When you accept yourself as you are, with your strengths, weaknesses and that belly that shows the world how much you love chocolate chip cookies, everything else falls into place.
Don’t run. Stop and look. Breathe it all in. You are already good enough.