Ambition & Self-Discipline
When I moved to Edmonton after getting married, it was a huge adjustment socially. Having grown up and lived in the same city my whole life, I was intricately braided into my community. I loved it of course, but many times felt tired and stretched, like I just didn’t have enough time for everyone. Each evening of my week was booked with some activity or another and after a while I got from feeling “busy” to feeling “mired”. Naturally I had some anxiety over the notion of leaving Calgary, my only home, but the introvert part of me felt fluttery when I thought about all those free evenings.
The first month was enough of a whirlwind that I didn’t have much time to feel homesick. The honeymoon was over and we were moving into a condo we couldn’t afford– neither of us had jobs. It was Matt & Kate’s old place and they vouched for us to the rental company. We unpacked fully though, neither of us wanting to live out of boxes and not knowing when another place would take us. Tom’s contract at Bioware had ended and we both were sort of at at loss in terms of what our next step would be. Tom wound up doing AutoCAD drawings for Darren’s metal shop and I applied here and there for design jobs.
In July we saw that the rental company had a townhouse open in Millwoods. It was a run-down little place but we pounced on it and moved for the second time in two months.
Feeling somewhat settled at last, reality set in. Of course I had friends in Edmonton, and all of Tom’s siblings, but seeing them occationally was still a big change from my full time job and overbooked schedule in Calgary. I just went from one extreme to another.
Our church, which we had been attending pretty much ever since Tom moved to Edmonton in early 2012, was a great comfort and upheld us in prayer vigorously. It was a small congregation though with no youth group to speak of (and not many other people our age). I would have to find other ways to contribute.
The days did drag by in those months. I knew I yearned for community in a broad sense like I had experienced my whole life at Bonavista, but didn’t really know where to find it. I started going, alone or with others, to other churches and events to find my niche. A strange thing started to happen: people were calling me “brave” for venturing out the way I was.
It took me by surprise in the same way I was surprised when some kid back at youth group accused me of being “naturally outgoing”. To that I just laughed– no, that outgoing identity was “faked until made” (it doesn’t rhyme in past tense). And I realized that people might consider my continual putting myself out there “brave”, but I just considered it doing what I had to in order to get what I wanted.
I know it’s not the same type of tenacity as that required to learn a language or instrument for example, but I knew I had to be intentional and that friends and community wouldn’t “just happen.” But the idea struck me today that community was something I wanted badly enough and I tried until I got it. All my life I have felt that I have horrible self-discipline because I can never stick to learning languages or instruments. But it occurred to me today that maybe the problem isn’t completely my self-discipline. Maybe it’s just that I don’t want those things bad enough.
Of course I want to speak French. After years of school and programs and books and apps, I’m at the point where 6 months, maybe less, of full immersion would put me over the “fluency” line. But I don’t want to live in France or Quebec for six months. It would go against the flow of everything else happening in my life right now. If I could snap my fingers and know how to speak it, obviously I’d spring for that. But then, what skill would I refuse if that’s all it took? I think I need to be honest and admit that I do want it, just not bad enough. Not right now, anyway.
The same was true for all the things I dabbled in but didn’t get anywhere with. Things I wanted, but not bad enough. Learning guitar, dulcimer, memorizing the elvish alphabet– they’re all things that would be “cool” to know, but probably wouldn’t lead to anything. I think I need to stop wallowing in the thought that I have terrible self-discipline and just come up with better goals.
As for community, Edmonton does feel like home now. I started going to Time for Ladies at Millwoods Assembly with Claire, we got a cat and I started as a nanny for two kids. I worked at Blessings last winter for a few months and made some friends there. And through it all, my sisters in law and the ladies have held me up. I’m so happy I have them.