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What Don't You Want?


On my recent European adventure I caught up with an old friend from España.

Actually, he was my first real love.

Ohhh, the stories I remember about Juan and that summer in 1993 make me blush and laugh out loud. He was awful and wonderful, sweet and salty, all wrapped up in a mischievous, sun-kissed, 19-year-old Spanish boy body.

It was the best summer of my life.

I went on to college and got married; he went on to college and got married. We both had kids, careers, and lived very different lives.

But here I was again, in Spain, thirty years later. We are both going through major life transitions. He is navigating life after a divorce and I am healing from another broken heart, round two.

So a drink together seemed fitting.

We sat in an outdoor bar in Majadahonda, his hometown where I had so much fun that memorable summer. The Spanish breeze floated by as we reminisced into the evening, laughing, and sipping our Tinto de Verano.

Isn’t it strange how a lifetime can happen but it feels like no time at all has passed?

There were moments that felt like we were teenagers again, hanging out at our favorite bar on a Saturday night, but then I would glance up and see his silver beard, and the laugh lines in his eyes, reminding me that we are getting older.

Eventually, we stopped talking about the past and started talking about the future. What hopes, dreams, and goals did we have?

I shrugged because I didn’t really know. I’m good about planning for short-term goals because fun, fun, fun is always foremost in my mind. (Just 208 days until Italy, everyone!)

But it’s been difficult to imagine a longer-term future with my recent break-up. I mean, I want more in my life than just career goals and how many countries to travel to. A lot of that has to do with the whos in my life. And some important ones remain unknown.

Everyone is talking about reverse engineering. You know, having clear goals and designing the steps that will get you there.

But what if you don’t know what you want?

Somewhere in the conversation, Juan said, “Sometimes you don’t know what you want, but you usually know what you don’t want.”

Then he added, “Start there.”

Hmmm. Some of the things I don’t want.

  • Wishing I had said “yes” more

  • Wishing I had trusted myself more

  • Wishing I was braver, bolder

  • Realizing I made decisions because I was afraid of the future

  • Staying in the safe zone, staying comfortable

  • Wondering what would have happened

  • Wishing I would have gone for it

Do you see a trend here?

I’ve had some serious falls and hurts in my life. But I don’t regret them. I’m glad I tried. I’m glad I went for it. I’m glad I said “yes!”

I won’t let the pain keep me trapped behind what is safe and comfortable. I’m going to keep trying to fly!

What about you? Does my list match some of the items on your list of things you don’t want?

Maybe you’ve been a little hesitant to join an art class, or you’ve always wanted to travel to Italy but you keep hesitating because of … well, there are so many ways to fill in that blank.

I encourage you to take the leap. Try some things to figure out whether it makes your “don’t want” list.

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