I just spent a few minutes perusing the pictures of a girl who was in my high school youth group. It pulled at my heart a little bit because I always wanted to be one of those happy, fun-loving, strong Christian college girls. Does anyone know what I’m talking about? For those who know her, I was looking at Vanessa’s photos. She was raised by Christians, still is one, and seems to have a super sweet disposition that I’ve never been able to grasp for myself. Even when I was in college and attending Christian functions, I still didn’t feel like I fit in that circle. I always really wanted to, but didn’t. I was raised cynical, negative, shy, unhappy. I’ve never been able to break out of that shell. Will I ever get there? I doubt I’ll ever get to go back in time, be a college student, be part of youth groups and women’s bible studies and prayer circles. I don’t know what my beliefs are anymore, so that’s not really an option at this point anyway. But I really do wish I could fill in the blanks in my personality, the spaces where something’s lacking and I feel dead inside, or at least severely hindered.
I always used to try to figure out what was wrong with me. I thought it was unhealthiness, so I eventually, finally, started working out and trying to eat better. It helped a little. Maybe if I’d kept that going I’d see a difference now, but I didn’t, I don’t, I’m stuck again. It’s frightening to think that there may be some random chemical imbalance in my brain messing with my quality of life. So many people deal with it, it doesn’t surprise me, but it does upset me. It makes me feel as though I should be able to break free much more easily than others who are kept down by stronger forces – physical impediments, other handicaps, disorders, poverty, leprosy, really bad allergies… But those people often end up being the ones who are stronger and more able to deal with what life tosses their way! I wish I could handle what I’ve been dealt. I wish I could take hold of those cards more firmly, throw out the ones I don’t want, take some new ones, try to make a flush. (Oh, poker analogies… I am groaning aloud.) Instead I’m buckling under the pressure, almost to the point of folding, without even taking a real inventory of my cards, analyzing my odds and trying to make something out of what feels like a palmful of nothing.
I love how every other post of mine ends up like this… My goal is actually to build myself up and try to talk myself out of a bad mood, but it ends up sounding like I’m standing on a ledge somewhere, ready to heave my body into rush-hour traffic. I’m not! Please don’t worry! I just want a freer spirit. My whole problem is internal. I know this because I’ve tried to blame it on the people around me (not necessarily the current set, but those of the past as well) and haven’t found any success. What really happens is that I start feeling incomplete, unhappy and restless, then I start deconstructing my relationships with other people. I don’t blame them, necessarily, but I think that those bonds are what’s holding me back from realizing my potential. When in reality, I’m just easily bored. If I just found a way to occupy my mind, my time, my energy, I could avoid hurting the people around me and destroying something that was absolutely fine before, that needed no improvement.
Because I know this about myself, I start to overcompensate by worrying about losing the people around me, about hurting them or being hard to get along with. So I apologize all the time, I get ultra-sensitive, I end up pushing them away anyway. I’m a real mess, huh? On the one hand, I fear my own destructive nature. On the other, I fear their freedom to change their minds about me, so even if I finally succeed in not killing another relationship, they can still deal out the final blow and ruin all my hard work. I just need to get to a point where I’m less invested in all this. I still want to love, be loved, do good things for people, accept praise and affection… I just want to stop fretting about what I can’t change, stop analyzing situations and people so much, start letting go of my worries and my insecurities. The saddest part, I think, is knowing what needs to happen, seeing it there waiting for me, and not having a clue how to get to it. I not only can’t pick a path, I can’t even see a path that I don’t already know will end in more trouble. I’ve tried a few and now I’m left with a sort of vacant prairie scene and not a single broken patch of grass to indicate another’s footstep, a way to go. I guess I could just start walking and see where it takes me, but again, I’ve been there. And I’m afraid I’d end up in smoky bars with transvestites (just an example! I’ve never been to one!) or down in Central America with drug runners and prostitutes. Or maybe I’d just try really, really hard and wear myself out to the point where I can’t even move anymore, so I curl up and die in the middle of a field criss-crossed in my wanderlust. I know I need at least one companion for this journey. And while I have a ton of good friends who I care about and who care about me, none of them are looking to take a journey right now, as far as I can tell. They’ve got good things going and/or are not prepared to step out and try something totally new. And I want to leave them be to live their lives. If I don’t, I fear I will start projecting my own need to break free on them, and end up weighing them down instead of providing mutual support on our trip.
Gosh, these analogies are killing me. They make me laugh a little too. =)
I see so many people around me that I don’t so much envy (a step in and of itself!) but admire. I admire Jana for her carefree attitude and her lack of concern for what others think about her. It’s hard to explain how that manifests itself, how to phrase it strongly enough to mimic that manifestation, but it’s there anyway. You’d know it if you met her. I think some of that strength comes from her great relationship with her husband, but most of it is inside her. She’s been a waitress and a McDonald’s employee and a struggling student and a wayward European making her way in America. Now she’s a successful, talented graphic designer earning the respect of her coworkers and her peers. It’s just very cool.
That’s one example of an amazing person I know, but there are so many others. The problem I find is that I’m too scared to approach them, to absorb some of their confidence and energy by being around them, because they are so busy and involved in the world. They don’t wait around hoping someone else will be free for dinner. If I ask two weeks in advance, maybe, but then I feel like a dweeb saying, “How ’bout next Friday? We could have tea and talk? No? What about…” And no one’s mean about it, but everyone’s lives are packed to the brim. I always feel like I have so much to do because of work, but others have even more, because they fill in the nooks and crannies with friends, family, service, fun. I rarely have fun anymore. I see Mandy and Carla on occasion, I get to hang out with Tod when he gets out of work, I have the occasional comedic chat with Nina or Blair, nice lunch with Kristin and Jana or fun e-mail exchange with other coworkers, but that’s it. Mostly, I am sad. When I’m not, I’m attempting to bolster myself with meaningless drivel, like getting a new computer or not eating an entire box of cookies in one sitting. And while it’s OK to be happy about those things, they should be secondary joys of momentary status, not what keeps you afloat from one day to the next. I rely so much on cute e-mails from Tod that I really do feel quite downtrodden when I don’t get one during the day, even though neither of us really have anything cool or interesting to report.
Gosh, I’m going on; I need to stop.
To wrap this up, thanks for the therapy, journal. And thanks to my readers for reading about all my insanity. I know everyone deals with this from time to time, and some deal with it more often than even I do, but it sure feels like it’s overwhelming my life. Each day I wake up more tired, each minute I worry more about what I’m not doing, what I need to be finishing, what’s going to happen later, tomorrow, next week. I worry that I just wasted an entire week and wonder what I could’ve done differently. It’s so hard for me to adopt Tod’s mentality: “If I’m willing to spend $100 on something and it ends up being something I don’t like, that $100 is lost already. There’s nothing I can do about it. There’s no reason to be upset that it turned out wrong.” Instead I’m clamoring for excuses to return it, researching ways to turn back the world’s clock and make a different decision, going crazy trying to make the “right” decision before I lay the $100 down. That’s why I’ve spent the past four days pulling out my hair over laptops. The decision has been made now and I fear it was the wrong one, but I did the best I could and now I’m holding my breath till it comes in the mail. I should be happy with it either way, but knowing me… it’s a toss up.