So I’ve been going through a period in my life where everything on the bottom of me was all stirred up and the water just wouldn’t get clear. I found a lot of old tires and boots and dead fish, now I”m ready to make the lake more fertile and clear again. Life happens in cycles, and yet if we never let the sunlight in, if we don’t let the clouds clear, we stay stuck in the mud. And now, I’m finally ready to move forward.
I’ve been philosophically unclear and not ok with the uncertainty. Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom as Kierkegaard said. One of the main things I’ve felt guilty and ashamed of is not going into some sort of public service careerand feeling like I was a sell-out because it is not immediatley clear how my job will save the world. It is also a far cry from academia or teaching, which always seemed like what I would end up in. Now, to be clear I don’t want to disparage these fields, I have the utmost respect for them, but I don’t think that’s what I want to be doing at this particular moment of my life. I genuinely enjoy my job, and while I miss working with young people, I like the variety, pace, and possibility for advancement in my current career track. I could literally go anywhere in the world in the field I’m in and be rewarded for that experience.
Also, I welcome material abundance and while it’s not everything, I’m not going to go out of my way to go into a career that I don’t think would be as interesting and would be significantly less well paying than what I”m doing now unless/until I’m absolutely sure its what I want. ANd right now I’m just not ready to be a teacher or non profiteer. Ironically enough working in a business environment has exposed me to some really wonderful, kind people perhaps more so than I saw a teacher or while interning in a non profit. Sure, there are people who are in materially rewarding jobs just for the material rewards who lack passion, but there are also people who go into do-gooder jobs for the ego payoff that they are the martyr/savior sacrificing for the common good and especially in teaching there are people there just because it is stable and they are more comfort and stability seeking than passionate about their job. Any job can be both spiritually enriching and provide prosperity- there are art history phds who eventually make good money as professors, afterall- much as some fields are tougher than others. The billionaires though as those that make talking into an empire- like Oprah- or combine a love of calligraphy with user-friendly computer interfaces- Steve Jobs. Its ultimately one’s creativity and willingness to seize the day that makes a fortune, and in terms of just plain old upper middle classness, there are opportunities galore as well if one has the eyes to seize them. But why not aim high? There’s no shame in making money or in wanting to build wealth. In the past I was pretty complexed about this and felt contradictory impulses to wanting to “succeed” to upper-middle class life to show my education and all was worth it yet at the same time feeling that there was no way to have both passion and money, and worse that one was not a good person if you didn’t forego monetary rewards in order to save the planet.
First of all, it’s not my job to save the planet- as a Christian, I profess to believe that someone better than me already has; secondly, whether you like to admit it or not, capitalism- business- has taken more people out of poverty and increased living standards in an incredibly short amount of time- just compare differences in living standards between ourselves and our parents relative to the difference between the ancient greeks and the Renaissance. Think of how many less children are dying before 5, how many more choices people have besides being a farmer or hunter gatherer, and how much less hungry the world as a whole is, and you can see that the world that business has made despite all its many and egregious faults is not entirely a bad one. Hating capitalism is like having a blog about the evils of the internet. Business is a powerful force- yet as Spiderman reminds us, with great power comes great responsibility. Business has not always used its power responsibility, as much as power corrupts every person or institution. More than anything, I hope to keep my deepest values and humanity intact while flourishing in my career, whatever turns it may take.
While before I may have said I want to be a teacher and a scholar, now I want to be what I already am- a leader, a communicator, an explorer. Sometime iconoclast, even without a PhD. part-time cultural critic, full-time conversationalist, sometimes a bit garrulous. All about the backpack, though not looking to set off alone for a year and a half eating crackers and pasta alone. Leader- constantly working on that. May not have a title (yet) but I”m striving to make a difference where I am- at work and to every individual who crosses my path.
So in other words, I have no reason to feel guilty. I’m happy with where i am. It’s not always perfect,and I’m not perfect. But I have followed my calling even if my destiny is not what I’d ever have expected. And I let those expectations go. That’s the whole point of the journey anyway- the fun of seeing where you end up, not about reaching what you set out to. I have fulfilled the heart of my goals and far surpassed them in important ways. The set of tracks I’m on is just not what I expected, but that’s ok. I didn’t get what I wanted, but I want the life I have. And that means everything.
So I would say that whole “Am I going in the right direction career-wise?” thing has been a major downer for me over the past idk 2 years for sure. actually more like 3, because before I made a career choice, I was constantly stressing about my career belieiving it would be the principal thing that defined me (It’s NOOOOOTTT!!!) and berating myself for not knowing what I wanted. And once I did make a choice, I made it even more painful than before believing since it wasn’t what I expected to be doing, I was just a corporate sell out ho-bag and I didn’t deserve the success I had already gotten and was well poised to meet in the future- see that whole bit about conflicting feelings towards monetary prosperity and having a job that’s not a sacrificial lamb for greenpeace- so yes even when I found success- on the world’s terms, on my own terms- I didn’t feel successful, and I didn’t feel like I deserved it.
My next biggest initiative has been to move to Paris and be gainfully employed. I have accomplished this with flying colors. There have been bumps along the way, and sadly, most of the time I have not enjoyed my semi miraculous success, brushing it off as luck, believing I was stupid, selfish, hypocritical, misguided, lazy, socialistic, stupid, ignorant, foolish, incredibly selfish to abadon my family and my country, and did i mention, stupid, for wanting what I wanted and deserved even worse when I actually got it. But if for some reason I han’t been able to achieve this goal, I would have been happily/sadly confirmed in feeling like I was an ineffectual person. And I would have regretted forever not trying something that my heart yearned for. It was a real pull, a true calling. But I doubted it once I got it, so badly as to think I was psychotic for wanting to live in Paris. Which is a pretty cool place to live. And stupid and lazy and selfish for abandonning my country and my family, and exporing a new way of life. Not to mention hypocritical for not sticking with the program of the values I was born into many of which were reinforced by my experienes abroad.
my whole life I”ve been trying to find the thing, the ideal syste, and yet I haven’t found one that works, though I do love living in France under the conditions in which I find myself. Yet I know quite well it is far from a perfect country (as is my own to be sure). And yet, there are many truths… maybe that’s why all of social and political scinece feels like such a vain search. But there are human truths…just not the easy, simple answers humans prefer, perhaps particularly in America.
So I”m beginning to sense a pattern here- I don’t know what I want, I finally realize it and make a choice, and I immediately regret the choice, berate myself for making it, and don’t feel like I deserve any of my success which I have earned- and been graced with. SO I don’t enjoy it. My life was easier up to the point where I had to make choices, because I was just living in a much more comfortable theoretical world with no skin in the game and all the possibilitiy in he world. And yet, now I am really living. It has been very hard for me to mourn the loss of my “potential,” it definitely feels like a death. And with every choice, it feels like doors are closing in on me and the ceiling of how far I could go is getting lower and lower. In other words, my potential diminishes and my life gets smaller. No matter how many life enchancing and life transforming and opening choices I make. I have gone to live in another country and got a masters degree that qualifies me- or at least helps open the door to- a wide variety of jobs in a vast array of locations. I could literally do pretty much anythng with the educaiton I have now, except be a doctor or teacher or lawyer or sthe few things I can’t automatically do. Debt is something of a constraint, and perhaps even more so this high quality analytial education that has me cutting myself and my whole word to shreds with this merciless analytical knife i mistake for my brain. My brain can see farther though, I think. And yet this weapon is a very powerful one, and when this sword becomes a plowshare it grows a mean garden…The trouble is, I just have to have alittle patience and give it some time and space to grow, rather than thinking that over there on the ridge would have been better, or I should have planeted sweet potatoes instead of rutabagas.
No wonder this period of my life has been so stressful and anxious. In my teens and earlier, I stressed about how much potential I had. In this chapter, I still wonder how much potential I have and feel blocked at making a choice, afraid to squander it, and even more hamstrung and tears stinging my eyes beliving bitterly that anything I do is jut closing doors and I never picked the prize winning one anyway.
No wonder I’ve been so unhappy.
Just yesterday when I was in church, I realized what a huge monkey I’d put on my back. No, it wasn’t at all France’s fault, or business schools- not that I’d chosen the wrong career or location, not that someone I once thought I’d loved and did have real feelings for had left my life, not that some friends had faded out over time, not that someone who I thought I was close to hurt me and didn’t seem to care. Not even that I’d gained abou 30 pounds and had only seen about a third of it shed in the course of a year. Not that at all.
Recently though, as it has a way of doing, the sun has poked out. In fact, it has let itself shine brilliantly, and I feel free and happy and even radiant once more. I dind’t always feel this way. I associated this feeling with France, and got confused with thinking maybe it was do to teaching and having no money and few possessions. I”m sure there are some special elements of it that are right- minimalism is good as is serving others, the best therapy for healing oneself, and God, I do love France- but what it really was about that moment was the opneness. I felt truly, wild, independent and free. Not defined, unwritten in a good way. Without boundaries, yet at the same time self realizing. And now I feel a lot more dfined and I do like it. I like knowing who I am and what I care about- I like being “successful” on my own terms, though success often feels like a burden- there’s something to be said for beginner’s mind, zen mind, adn the begineer’s luck that come siwht it. ANd the lack of pressure. Yes, Id’ prefer to live that way, like every day is an adventure. I don’t want to get old ,tied down, stuck in my ways, much as I do crave some stability.But the stability I am craving is in myself, and the love that I have longed for through all the lonelines of this life is my own. Yes, I do want to deal with other humans and one day I even want to love one forever and ver romantically- but hwne it comes down to it, no one, and nothing, no place- not even Paris- can give me the peace I seek. Only I can giv eit to myself, and it’s available at all times, but it’s not easy.
If only I could just forgive myself for all my imagined wrongs and stop making up those imagined crimes. I do just feel good as I am, and that’s the scariest thing- first of all, that I am so comfortable iwth self hatred, and only feel self worth when striving- and I must win at all costs- although I have to do it perfectly the first time, following all the rules I made it up not just ethical ones- and when I don’t win, it’s sickly gratifying because at least I’ve kept my standards up, and at least, you know, I”m proving myself right with my sometimes poor opinion of myself, which is really sad. ANd perhaps most of all, it takes off the burden of winning- that I must be successful in all cases, that I can’t break the streeak, that i would die if I lost. So there is a sick gratification whn I fuck up, and when I lose for whatever reason. I’ve come close to learning to lose myself unconditionally because of these mistakes, without such mistakes, I probably never would have questioned my schema of the world and most of all my self worth, but thankfully, my little rebellion against the inner critic is saving me, little by little. But it is a bit self destructive and often self sabotaging. It’s just another inner critic when it comes down to it, ecept his one is afraid of success. And then there’s the gratification of success- whcih doesn’t make me happy, but which, like a susbtance to an addict, just staves off the bad feelings without really engendering any good ones. And there’s an ego gratification, which makes me feel better than others, yet at the same time makes me fear that there are in fact so many people better than me, who would have done a much better job given the same exact circumstances. And once I’ve succeeded, I”m rarely successful enough, just adequate always, and so so often simply successful at the wrong thing at executing a shitty decision. And apart of me is scared at what success entails- change. ANd new challenges of course. And of course, the threat to my self perception as not enough, never enough. SO all these contradictory justifications/ rationalizations are going on at the same time. ANd the feeling, always, is characterized by guilt and shame- guilt at my actions, whether positive or negative, good or bad suposed empiracal effect, and most of al just shame that i’m not someone else.
I’ve struggled throughout my life being different than the norm. I overhead my coworers talkinga bout their oversized child- more tall and big than their peers, not necessarily obese- and their fears for the their child simply in being beyond the norm .And same thing for being smaller than the norm, so I was told by my tiny new boss. And for me, I was taller, much fatter in most cases, more physically developed, smater, more intellectual, and in some sense, mature than my peers. Yeah, no wonder I have my struggles- not blaming my parents or my childhood but he desire to belong is a very strong one, much as the desire to say FUK IT and just completely stop trying to be appealing to anyone else, often alienating myself in the process. Not even doing or being soething I like, just spiting myself and everyone else in the process…there’s no real empowerment in the fuck it resposne to be honest. If you say fuck it and rally don’t care and accept yourself thats great but you may not be saying fuck it you would choose to say something gnetler perhaps, or noting at all Or fuck it with an inner smile. But for me tht fuck it has een accompanied by great sorrow and feelings f isolation – be it self imposed or ohterwise That freedom while a sign of freedom, in its own wy\ay, is not freedom’s fulfillment.
Given all this stuff, I gess it’s not a huge surprise I have been struggling with my weight- and my finances a bit too. Seem to have lsot control of things I used to feel were well in hand. It’s not a lack of self control. No only do I manage quite well in other settigs, but I have also succeede well in the ast- though I never thought it was good enough and didn’t appreciate how well and how much good I actually was doing.
So that has suckd, a lot. I’ve noticed for a long time eating is like amorality play where I always lose in 99T of cases though at th esame tie I never htink anyone else is healthy either. An while many times that’s not true, it’s not entirely true either. Eating is where the psychodrama takes place, one of its first battlefields. Drama-excitement without progress or movmenet I have followed and created and sought out the drama more than one especially in regards to men- never a goo idea but I guess that was a lesson I had to learn.
so yeah men are a pretty good exmple of the internal battle- yes I say I ant to be in a relation but consiously/subconsciously haven’t created the conditions for that to manifest and patently desire to become independent- though no man is an island- and want to exploit all experiences and know exactly what I want before getting tied down. And yes, I have been incredibly incredibly afraid of breaking up, wastin gmy time with someone, and just in general, intimacy and commitment, maybe just a little. SO yeah, I am a human animal, and my whole phobia of making choices and tendency to secondguess mself is kind of ruining my life- its not anybody else, it’s just me sure we can talk about socializatin adn how I become this way- there are good reasons, i’m not particularly degenerate, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree- and yet, it is completely within my power to chnge my mind.
It always seems to me there is a lot about myself, and a lot about this world, I need to or something should change.
But now I realized, wlel, yes, you have to change yousrself. Of cousre. You can’t solve a porblem witht the same level of thinking that created it, as einstein says. And all that New Agey you must be before doing, you must allow yourself to receive the universe’s abundant blessings- kind of rather makes sense. of course we are not al blessed the same, but I do hpe in some way it comes out equally, which is another hting I think about a lot, and I”ve often in the past felt lie I didn’t deserve m ygits because they were just taht, and just becomause it seems a bit standard issues and easy to lose track of anad forget, there is, of course, the mater of being grateful for life itself. If life is a gift, we are all doing pretty good. Even the dead ones who got a chance to live. And it’s not to me to judge the fairness of every situation, nor to be blind to disparities in the world either. Difference makes the world go round, and yet, it is a crime how bad the quality of easy available nonemployer sponsored health care is ridiiculous now. We need ot do somethng about that.
And as far as good and exercise and revolutions have gone, I want to save myself. That’s really it it.
Actually I ant to take car eof myself because I already am saved. And I”m not in a condition for that. Just very happy that someon ewashed my sins away. And they are mostly to myself, but I’m becomming rather nasty in cerain situations. and some of i t must go from that deep deep heurt without.
welling up, waiting to be acknowledge.d and yes rw’s life was good for me.
life is really, relaly good.
And knowing that, feeling that, believing that, means that nothing else matters. And I can give mysefl that gift for christmas. i’m actually very happy 🙂