I am unhappy with a conventional life.
The thought of working nine to five with a house, a mortgage and stability makes me want to scream.
I am untamed. I am wild. I want to feel the earth quake beneath my feet. I want to weather the storm and ride its waves. I do not want to hide myself away in a box and eat the same things for dinner every week.
I have been told, time and time again, that I am wrong for feeling this way—that I am wrong for following my heart and chasing my dreams and that I should just grow up and be rational and be serious.
But my heart is untamed. I cannot heed this advice. It hurts me to be told these things. It fills me with doubt. But it will not stop me. It will not break me, because I know that I am doing what is right for myself. And I know that I do not want to be like those who tell me that my dreams are out of reach.
I was the kid who stared out the window during class, or doodled in my notebook, or wrote poems, or snuck out of school to make art. I was the kid who knew that what was in my heart mattered more than what was in the classroom.
And now, I’m the adult who longs for freedom. I still stare out the window while I’m at work, because I know there must be more. I dream of a life where I can fulfill my passions—where I can live out the desires in my heart and feel supported.
No matter the cost, I follow my dreams. I follow my heart.
I quit my job on a whim because it was detrimental to my emotional and spiritual health…and when asked what I’m going to do about money, about stability, about bills, I shrug. I say that it will work itself out, because that’s how life works for me. I know in my heart what everyone else has overlooked: that life works with you if you work with it.
And if my heart is screaming that I’m in the wrong place, I know damn well that I had better listen.
This meant that I had to move home with my parents temporarily. I graduated college over a year ago now, and I’ve been asked over and over what my plan is. What career path am I planning on? Am I thinking about kids? Am I seeing anyone? It feels defeating at times.
In truth, I don’t have much of a plan, other than to live a life that revolves around those things that make me come alive: meditation, yoga, healthy meals and helping others. Until I find a way to be paid for those things, I’ll work odd jobs, just like I always have. They afford me the most freedom and energy to pursue what really matters to me in my time off.
I was seeing someone. I fell in love with a scientist—someone who told me to think about this, to be rational. Someone who told me that he was worried about how spiritual I am because he did not want his beliefs to crush my own (they didn’t). I learned that love alone is not enough to keep me bound to someone who wants to turn the wildfire in my heart into a candle flame.
I cried. I hurt. I still miss him. But I will love again, and again, and again, because my wild heart knows no bounds, and it knows that love is all that really matters, anyway. I will swim naked in the ocean and take last minute flights to faraway destinations and choose concert tickets over meals…or I will only dream of doing those things.
Because there are two ways to handle a wild heart.
There is the first way: cage it.
Do not listen to it. When it tries to speak, silence it with the rational mind. Beat it into submission. When it wakes me at 2:00 a.m. and whines that it misses my lover, I will tell it that it is stupid and should be over this by now. It will hurt even more deeply because now it has been rejected by me as well. I will not be able to go back to sleep, or will do so fitfully.
And when I wake at 2:00 a.m., unhappy with my job and my life, and my heart begs me to quit my job and sell my belongings and buy that plane ticket and take the next great leap, I will (again) tell my heart that it is stupid. I will tell my heart that I couldn’t possibly do such a thing, because there’s no way it would ever work out. My heart will hurt so deeply because I do not trust its wisdom, but it will be quiet. And this will happen over and over again, until my heart whispers to me so seldom that I can no longer recognize its voice.
And there is the second way: let it run wild.
Let it guide me, but never control me. Talk to my heart. Allow it to talk back to me. When it wakes me at 2:00 a.m. and whines that it misses my lover and begs me to call him, I will tell it that I mustn’t. I will tell it that I can love him from afar, and for now that needs to be enough. My heart will listen, even though it is in pain.
And when I wake at 2:00 a.m., unhappy with my job and my life, and my heart begs me to quit my job and sell my belongings and buy that plane ticket and take the next great leap, I will tell my heart that I am afraid. My heart will tell me that I must do it, even though I am afraid. My heart will rejoice, and I will feel lighter—expansive and free within myself. It will feel as though my heart has opened, and the more I listen to my heart, the more it will open, until it is wide as the sky.
I will always choose the second way.
Author: Allison Raffel
Editor: Catherine Monkman