I sometimes only figure myself out in the negative; when something other than the thing I want happens. It's like that trick where you flip a coin — not to decide the outcome, but to see how you react to the outcome of the coin flip, whether you'll be happy or disappointed. And in that moment you understand yourself and what you really want.
But, of course, most life choices are not head or tail choices; they're open concept decisions. And even when choices are more restricted, we still tend to dream beyond the boundaries of what's realistic... we still dream bigger than our immediate choices.
I have a sort of shyness about expressing what I really want. I might tell a friend in some excited moment about an idea for a project I want to work on. Ideas abound. But I'm shy about expressing the life I'm constantly visualizing, the ideas about how I want to live, or how I might feel in life that I aspire to; the result that all those ideas and projects point to. And I write a lot of navel-gazing posts about how self-aware / accepting / calm I'm becoming as I age. That it is true. But there are also niggling things that ripple beneath the calm.
Thinking about some of those things - the things I want that I'm nowhere near achieving - sometimes makes me feel like a brat. Often, it feels like that voice is the whining Veruca Salt kind. I want an Oompa Loompa and I want it now. So I tell myself I'm not entitled to Oompa Loompas and geese that lay golden eggs. I tell myself it's beyond reasonableness to want some of the things I find myself wanting.
For other things I want, I can sound to myself utterly banal. Of course I want such things! After all, they're the kinds of things we all want. How utterly pedestrian of me to add my voice to the choir of voices wanting those things. What platitudes to say these things out loud, to think my yearning is in any way interesting or singular.
And other things I want make me feel audacious. Who do I think I am to want this or that? People with names like Jane Flanagan don't achieve such things. And, I suppose, belonging to this category of reactions is the fear of failure or judgement. Don't go there or you may not succeed. And failure at these things might be a whole other level of devastating, worse still than not trying at all.
That I judge what I want so severely is probably why those things have become so obscure to me at times. And yet they also persist. It doesn't matter how many times I sell myself on settling for alternatives, I still catch myself dreaming about what I really want. It doesn't really matter what the specifics are. I have mine and you likely have yours. And mine are really pretty guessable, consistent with what you already know of me.
A lot of the point of approaching 40 - a lot of the effort of being nearly 40 - has been about achieving certain things that make reaching that number feel okay. The dog (at last!), the new job (at last!), the thoughts about moving apartment (or city?) are all part of that.
What remains in the run-up to 40 are these unspoken wants. Despite what they may sound like to me and to others. Despite the arguments I've made to the contrary. It's time to admit to myself what I really want. And I'm not going to blog them and call it a bucket list. I'm just either going to do those things or not do them. And in doing them or not doing them, I'll confront how I feel when the coin lands head, or tails.