Is This Really What I Wanted?

It was an average Tuesday night at the office.

I was heating up my 3rd meal prepped container of rice and beans that day for dinner when I went into the bathroom to wash my hands. The automatic soap dispenser pooped out some bubbles and I washed my hands and face. Wiping the wet towel across my face, I opened my eyes and looked into the mirror. It was weird; I didn’t see the image I personify of myself in the mirror. I saw someone else. Bags under my eyes, tired, and miserable, I said to out loud to my reflection,

“Dear God you look awful. I have everything I ever wanted, why am I miserable?”

Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. I’ve believed it for so long. Maybe I just overshot it. Like any issue of the soul, maybe it can’t be broken down into such a simple model. Or did I lose “what I love” along the way, and only focus on “do”. I look back into my reflection.

“I gave myself what I wanted. It’s not a lie.”

I always dreamed of having the house, the engineering career, the startup company. It sounds so sexy. But now running after it feels so cold. Is this truly what I want, or is it a lie I told myself. Why is it so easy to spend countless hours in the lab, but so hard to drive two hours to see my old friends and family? It’s easy to say “Oh, I’ll catch you next time I’m in town” or “I’ll make it the next time it happens” but eventually we all run out of next times. I plan like I’ll live forever, but forget to enjoy the present like there’s no tomorrow. It all spirals through my mind.

“One day, all your friends and family will wake up, but you won’t. The messages will fly saying “did you hear the news?” Don’t worry, they’ll be strong and carry on. To them, you’ll just exist as a slowly fleeting memory instead of an active presence. Your To Do list won’t matter. You can leave behind the things you built as a legacy, but what will it matter to you then? Will you ever enjoy the fruits of the labor, or labor until your dust.”

Leaning over the sink, nose almost touching the mirror, staring into my own selfish gaze, I said

“Is this really what I wanted?”

Ding! The microwave signaled that my rice was hot and ready. Back to work.

Danny Lykens

Entrepreneur, Engineer, Artist. You'll either find Danny in his startup's office, or running in the woods. He is a tinkerer who realised passions can become careers, and that happiness lies in doing what you love.

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