Matt Dorey

A bird is sitting on the grass with a kite

On conviction, whereas to the strength of and belief in the same

Hero image for Conviction post

Overlong reflection upon the past is one sure way to make yourself unhappy so I try to avoid it. Nevertheless it becomes unavoidable at this time of year, especially if, like me, you are somewhat prone to reflection.

At this time last year I was, as detailed in the most recent report of my South American adventure, in La Paz, Bolivia. I think I felt as lost then as I do now, though back then I had the novelty of new places and good friends to steer me through. This year I find myself stuck in an expensive flat that I can hardly afford to heat in a city where I hardly know anyone: it seems ridiculous that I had more people around me in La Paz than I do here but there you go.

Reflecting on all this made me think about this feeling of being lost – I certainly wasn't sure of my place going into 2014, or 2013, or for many of the years before that. And I realised that you often feel lost if you do not (or are not able to) live your life with complete conviction at any given moment.

This was the problem that I had before I went away. On the trip I was able to say "I'm travelling now, this is what I do". I didn't have to feel like I was good at it in order to be happy doing it (most of the time I did not have a clue), but at least – over all that unknown terrain ironically enough – I knew what I was doing, that there was an itinerary, a course. I was less sure of what might come after the tour, but Bolivia was barely the end of the beginning so I didn't have to worry too much.

And going in to 2015? I feel like a lack of conviction has returned to my life. My current path is one of necessity rather than invention and I feel uncertain. Every wobble of the household and every sigh of boredom feels like a return to square one. I can't mourn a life I didn't want nor regret my rejection of the same, but I can wonder whether this is the best alternative.

It comes back to conviction. A driver of happiness is the belief that you have a mastery and purpose, that you are indeed doing the very thing that you, and few people else, were meant to do. I think I lack that conviction: I cannot convince others because I am not convinced myself. I'm nearly thirty-five years old and I still have no idea what I am supposed to be doing, or even what I want to do.

Of course, one is not supposed to be doing any given thing – or else we would all be conscripted to our callings, and, funnily enough, I suppose I would not have these uncertain feelings. I just don’t have much conviction in what I am currently doing, and have no idea what I could be doing that would make me feel any different.

Hence I am lost. My mission for the year ahead: go find the place where I can rest, convinced in myself – and therefore convincing to others – that I really should be there.

Hero image is “Conviction” by Thomas Hawk. Creative Commons License, no modifications made to the original image.

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