Have you ever taken the time to think about what you want out of life? Not just a bucket list of crazy things you’d like to do, but a real life goal list. I mean the things you REALLY want, the ones that would let you become who you want to be. Have you really thought about it?
I’ve spent the last couple of months doing that sort of sit-down-and-write-it-out soul searching for the first time in my life. If you had asked me a year ago what I wanted to do with my life, I would have said, “I want to be a college history professor.” I was going to publish and lecture and inspire. I guess God has other things in mind for me.
This year I got sick. I had been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, a disease where my immune system periodically attacks my thyroid, but I was fine for a while. Then I had an attack. My thyroid basically stopped functioning, and my metabolism slowed to a crawl. I was cold all the time. I gained weight, and a lot of it. I felt moody and depressed. I couldn’t remember simple things. My brain was in a fog. I couldn’t handle interacting with people, so I hid out in my apartment all the time. I was so, so tired, a kind of tiredness I can’t even describe.
From an outsider’s perspective, I probably seemed mostly fine. I even convinced myself that I was okay and didn’t go to my endocrinologist until I had spent months feeling awful. I was just terrified that the doctor would say I was fine and my symptoms were all in my head. It turned out that I really did need medication, and now, months later, I can say that I feel worlds better. Only now that I feel normal can I understand how terrible I felt then.
What’s the point of all this? Getting sick, along with coming to grad school, forced me to figure out what I really want out of life.
Hashimoto’s disease, my little Japanese friend, will never go away for me. I will experience other attacks. Eventually my thyroid will be completely destroyed and I’ll just take medication. I will always be more tired than someone my age should be.
I certainly don’t want to be too dramatic here, because I understand that this is a very livable disease and that many people experience much, much worse. I don’t want to trivialize their troubles by overemphasizing my little ones. Last year one of my roommates had half her thyroid removed, so clearly I'm not the only one with health issues. All I’m saying is that my experience has helped me realize that I can’t have (and honestly don’t want) everything I’ve ever dreamed of. I have to focus on the most important things because I’m never going to have enough energy to do everything I might want to. Here’s what I want – really, REALLY want:
1) A strong relationship with my Heavenly Father
2) The best health I can have
3) A happy, lasting temple marriage
4) To be a mother, and a really good one at that
5) To build and live in my dream house (nothing fancy, but I’ve been planning it for years – it will have lots of books in it)
6) To live as sustainably as possible/To grow my dream garden and produce most of the food my family needs
7) To get an M.A. and have the skills I need for a satisfying career
8) To speak French fluently
9) To publish a YA novel
10) To travel the world
Obviously, some of these things are more important than others, and they aren’t necessarily in order. Of course I have other things I’d like to accomplish, but I’ve been making this list again and again, and these are the things that keep showing up. I'm definitely still ambitious, and some of these things will take A LOT of work. These are the things I really want, though, and knowing that helps me prioritize.
So, what do you want?