Geez you guys make it seem like I'm about to cut my wrist. I have a group of maybe 12-15 friends that live 20 mins away, and I just mean when I graduated high school, I knew myself. When I graduated college, I knew myself. Since moving away to a different state and starting my new job in the past year some things have changed.
I used to know exactly what I wanted to do when free time came about. Now I seem to be indecisive not even sure what song I want to listen to at times. I'll go for a kayak ride and an hour into it I'll feel like doing something different, where I used to just be enthralled to be out on the water.
The fishing is not as good as where I moved from so I lost that as well.
I'm willing to try new things, so I'm just trying to get some new activities besides working on my boat. Like maybe learning to play a harmonica
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Welcome to the beginning stages of adulthood. I'm saying/typing that with a big smile, without any malice, judgement, or sarcasm, simply because not only can I recall similar feelings from almost thirty years ago when I was your age, but I still have pangs of them to this day.
You referenced your high school and college days, when you "knew yourself." That was easy back then; your days and many nights were spent doing one of two things; completing tasks that others demanded you do (your teachers or your parents, usually), or blowing off steam while complaining about those tasks or rejoicing about their completion or, depending upon the task(s), actually looking forward to continuing them. Basically, though, those years are spent in large part pre-programmed by others for you, so young people's thoughts are on "self" almost constantly as sort of an innate reaction to so many outside influences that seem (and may very well be) beyond your control.
Once those outside influences/pressures are gone... no more classes, no more living at home under "house rules... you are free to do pretty much as you wish. You need to find a way to eat, and most people like to be clothed and sheltered to some extent. Everything else is totally up to you!!! YAY!! My response to that was to become a full time jazz musician from the ages of 21 - 24. To my surprise, I actually did quite well. I made enough money to support myself and my wife (we got married right out of college, and are still happily married 32 years later), but we supplemented with the odd day gig when we needed more food during the low tourist season
. Basically, thought, we enjoyed being free and had a great time.
Years passed. Priorities CONSTANTLY changed. Babies arrived. They became children.. then teenagers.. then young adults ... then moved out ... and here we are again, free of most responsibilities other than our full time jobs (which are HUGE responsibilities, and much more frustrating and time consuming than those nasty HS and college years we so railed against way back when... what in the world we were in such a hurry to leave that behind?!?!?), and we'll be retiring next year... when we'll find ourselves in YOUR situation again!! YAY!!
What have I learned? Self is an almost worthless concept. The happiest times in my life have been when I have been doing something that improved the lives of other people. When I can make someone else happy by helping them, teaching them, consoling them, or in any way help improve their life, I feel good my SELF. THAT, at least for us, has been the big lesson in life, and I learn it more and more every day. Took a long time for me. I never considered myself a selfish person, but I admit I've always had longings for things... I like and own a couple old cars, we've got a '72 Pearson 26 sailboat that still needs a bunch of work but is sailable, I'm a pilot and part owner in a plane, I've got a house that I really enjoy but requires a lot of maintenance and care, a small recording studio (I'm still an active jazz and classical musician). You know what? While I enjoy all of those things, they demand my time. They are responsibilities, and require maintenance. While I'm working on them, I'm not really helping anybody. I enjoy the feeling of a job-well-done when I complete a task on them, but I'm the only beneficiary for the most part. Yes, my wife and I fly and sail together and she enjoys both (but not as much as I do), and we'll occasionally take friends along, but the majority of the time all of those things are of no consequence to anyone other than me. Even after a great day sailing or flying, in the quiet of the night, I have to admit to myself that I don't sleep as contentedly as I do when I've spent the day helping someone ELSE.
I don't know if any of that helps or makes any sense. I guess all I'm saying is that, at least for me with the gift of hindsight looking back over 50+ years, time spent thinking and worrying about "self" and "what do I want" was pretty much time wasted. Self doesn't really matter. Most of the people I know who are searching for ways to "better themselves" or "be happy" end up getting more miserable. Look around your marina. Watch people. REALLY get to know folks. The truly happy, at-ease, accepting people are the folks who think about others first, and themselves last.
I hope I don't sound preachy.. I don't mean to. Like I said, I'm STILL learning these things for myself.
Best to you,