It’s taken me eight years to get my bachelor’s degree because I had to keep dropping out to work more so I could continue my education. Before I started college, I promised myself that once I graduated I would enter the Peace Corps or get a job teaching English overseas. I wanted out of Sacramento! But now I’m in the best relationship I’ve ever been in. So I’m confused about my next step. Should I let go of my dream of living overseas? I’ve had that dream for so long! But I can’t imagine giving up my relationship. I don’t think I will find another relationship as good as this. Advice?
The dream of living overseas provided stamina for the grueling task of staying employed while putting yourself through college. Be grateful for your mind’s skill in designing a prize that your ego found worthy of striving for. But now that you can see the finish line, extra motivation is unnecessary. You’ve got this. So why can’t you shake off your North Star and reorient yourself to a new life with a true love?
There’s a Buddhist analogy that fits here: Don’t confuse the moon with the finger pointing at the moon. Let me interpret it with an Ask Joey twist: Teaching English overseas might be your personal life mission or just the escape hatch you needed to push yourself to complete a goal. Developing a habit of completion is a key life skill and a mark of maturity. Adulting is difficult for some people because they don’t want to be responsible for themselves. You, however, repeatedly make choices that signal your willingness to take charge of your own life. Celebrate that! And this: You are the moon. College is an experience on the journey to the moon. Self-awareness is the true goal beneath any goal.
If you’re still not certain what to do, keep going. Here’s what that looks like: Research companies to work for overseas, apply for jobs, schedule information sessions and interviews by Skype, find an apartment, update your passport, etc. Do everything required to make the overseas dream a reality. As you progress, you will discover skills, talents, fears and resilience you did not know existed within you. Remember that you are not locked into moving abroad. You are immersing yourself in a dream life and deciding what it really means to you. So it’s fine to be in an interview with a company and realize that you can’t wait to take flight into teaching English. It’s also fine to be offered a job overseas and opt out because your mind, heart and spirit align to choose the relationship you’re in. Either way, you have done nothing wrong. It doesn’t matter if family and friends appear to be judging you for changing your mind. It doesn’t matter if you judge yourself for changing your mind. What matters is this: You wake up each day grateful to be on this planet and spend your days engaged in carrying that joy into the world. That’s a new moon, one that shines amid many, many other moons and countless stars.