This year has been a rollercoaster of changes, and for about half of that, there’s been radio silence here on the blog. Sometimes the things you go through cut so deep and are so difficult to explain, that all words seem to fall short.
I’m in the midst of reading Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. There is a quote in there from Virginia Woolf that a psychologist uses when discussing something with a patient:
“English, which can express the thoughts of Hamlet and the tragedy of Lear, has no words for the shiver and the headache. It has all grown one way. The merest schoolgirl, when she falls in love, has Shakespeare or Keats to speak her mind for her; but let a sufferer try to describe a pain in his head to a doctor and language at once runs dry.”
And that is how it went. Language ran dry.
I went from cleaning houses to working at a SUPER CORPORATE call center, to working at a sandwich shop.
I quit my nicotine habit at the beginning of the year—after seven years—and haven’t slipped up once.
I started the year with more friends than I ended the year on, and though the ones that remain are the quality crop, I still strangely miss all that was left behind, despite knowing that they’re toxic entities.
I’ve also fully embraced the fact that I’ve been struggling with severe depression and anxiety for years, and then dealt with the insanity of trying out different kinds of medication which made me feel like aliens were hijacking my brain. We found the right cocktail, or at least the one right enough for now.
I got married.
Change is inevitable. It is as much a part of life as being born and knowing that one day you will die. And as time goes on, it seems to me that change can be increasingly difficult. Or is it just that way if you struggle against it? Like the tide, perhaps embracing change and swimming along with it is the only way you will ever possibly make it to shore again. It may be a strange and exotic shore, true, but at least you’ll have solid earth beneath your feet again.
You did not drown. You live to weather another storm.
Amongst all this change and upheaval, I’ve been wrestling with what I want this blog to be. Is it basically an online journal? Should I focus more on an article-style blog where I delve more into writing, artwork, and book reviews? And why would someone want to read that, since I’m not an expert?
Which also lead me to question what I want my life to be. What do I want to do for a living? Will I ever finish a degree? Do I truly need one? What will we do for money? How will we save for a future? What do we want that future to look like?
I’m turning thirty in 2018. When I turned twenty, I remember thinking, “When I’m thirty, I’ll have things sorted out. I’ll probably have some savings by then, and a nice car, and a really nice place to live. I’ll have a good-paying job and—”
You get the gist.
Yes, I have some savings. I have a decent car that won’t be breaking down anytime soon. I love my (rented) home. My job does not pay well, but I learned the lesson that money does not equate with happiness or satisfaction. Legitimately, I would rather take a gun and shoot myself in the foot then place that foot in a call center again. It would be far less painful.
But I digress.
Choices had to be made. Have to be made. I’m on the cusp of the Super Serious Get Your Shit Together years, and I need to be prepared.
So I turned to the experts. I’ve been reading articles, listening to podcasts, audiobooks, and questioning everyone I know. This lead to a few key takeaways:
- You will never be rid of fear, but you must learn how to live with it and not let it paralyze you.
- The only way to be considered an expert is to start doing something, or talk about something, and never stop.
- Make use of all the tools and time at your disposal. There never need be a wasted moment.
Looking at it like that, it seems insanely simple.
And in many ways, it is.
For me, the biggest hurdle will be embracing fear. “Sit down with fear and have a cup of tea,” my therapist once said, “Listen to what it has to say, but don’t let it dictate your actions.”
This isn’t my first step. It isn’t even my one-hundredth step. But it is a step I’m taking with a great deal of resolve.
I sat in the hallway this evening and had a conversation with my husband through the bathroom door. I was having another crisis moment. At work, we’ve been flooded with all these college kids home on winter break. They’re insanely intelligent. One of them has a full ride scholarship to a top-tier internationally-known college out of state. One of them is the son of the owner of the chain of shops. One of them may play for a Philharmonic in the near future. They all seem to know exactly what they’re doing and where they’re going. Their life is new, full of promise and bursting with purpose.
“I feel like I’ve already blown it,” I told my husband. “And there’s this sense that if I don’t make the right decision right now, I’m going to fuck up everything moving forward.”
And my husband, bless him, talked right back despite the fact that he was in a compromised and intensely private space.
“Listen,” he said, “I’m going to school for IT, and I’m excited to be making more money once I’m done, but I’m also okay with not doing it. I’ve told you this before and I’ll say it again—I don’t think you’re going to happy unless you’re doing art.
“And I don’t just mean drawing or painting art. I mean creating. You’re driven to create. You’re called to create. I don’t think you realize how lucky you are to have a calling.
“All I wanted was to be happy. I wanted to escape my mother and have a good life, and I have that. I have a woman I love. There’s food in the fridge, we have a heated home, loving animals, and one day we’re going to start a family. We don’t have as much money, but that’s okay. I make more, and I know that I may continue to make more, and that’s okay.
“Because when it comes down to it, you need to create. You need to draw and write, and design graphics and do whatever else it is that you’re called to do. If you don’t do this, if you don’t commit to it, and if you don’t fully embrace this decision, then you’re going to go to your deathbed with the biggest regret. You need to do this for you. You’ll be happier, we’ll be happier, and you’ll really live the life you’ve always wanted to live. The one you were called to.”
I started weeping a bit midway through this speech of his, and so I couldn’t answer him when his speech came to an end. There was a bit of a pause and then, in a remarkably well-timed comedic moment, he muttered, “Some asshole came in here and used the last of the toilet paper.”
And that’s what I’m thankful for, as 2017 comes to a close.
For the first time in my life, I have a true partner.
When I stray from my path, he’ll be there to help nudge me back on it.
And he’s right. I’ve always known what my path was.
I let fear convince me it was another one of a thousand others, forking off into different areas that would never have granted full satisfaction.
A lot of hard work, frustration, and tedious hours of practice will follow, but at least this way I know I’ll leave this world having committed to my true self.
I encourage each of you to do the same.