As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’ve been a bit absent on here over the last few weeks. Before I dropped off the face of the earth, I had resolved to be more proactive about blogging – I promised myself I would write something (anything) every day. For a while, I was pretty good at following my resolution. Then, it happened. I skipped one day here, another there, and suddenly weeks had gone by and I’d barely posted anything. Now I’m sitting here feeling guilty about it again.
Sometimes I just feel a lot of pressure, pressure from all sides of my life, every aspect. Part of it comes from my choice to attend graduate school. Graduate school requires work. Work has deadlines, and deadlines create pressure. But, I really don’t think school pressure is my problem. I’ve felt school pressure since I entered kindergarten. I think it’s been more personal pressure that’s been bogging me down lately. What do I mean by personal pressure? I mean the pressure I put on myself for no reason, the anxiety I create because I don’t know how to feel secure in myself or my abilities, the need I have to constantly prove myself (again, for no real reason).
I’ve been wondering a lot lately if all this anxiety may come from the fact that I feel like so few people in my life understand what it is I have chosen to do. This life I’ve decided to lead is not normal, not really. Is it just a way of postponing the real world? Maybe. Is it a way to escape the job market? Perhaps. Is it something that requires all I have and more? Definitely. Sometimes I wonder if I’m just burning out, but then things like the conference I attended and presented a paper at this weekend confirm my desire to be here and remind me why I ever thought this was a good idea. Maybe all I need is to be surrounded by people as crazy as I am more often.
I’ve also been wondering if it may just be the town I live in that has me bogged down lately. I have very little ability to go places, to get out of my house and just enjoy small adventures. I have no car, and I don’t trust the bus system near me. It’s not always safe to walk around at night, and I feel trapped sometimes. Then, when I start to feel trapped, I start to imagine my life in different places, places I may want to move to while I pursue a PhD. And, immediately when those three little letters cross my mind, anxiety hits full force. I can’t help it. Perhaps, this anxiety is residual pain from my last experience with graduate school applications which, although it ended on a positive note, still haunts me. I know it’s silly, but sometimes it’s just hard to let go.
About a week ago, I was able to spend some time with my family. We drove all around the northeast and midwest, and I left school completely behind. It was wonderful, five little days of bliss, but it wasn’t reality. And, it certainly wasn’t sustainable. Sustainable. That’s an interesting word, and it brings up a lot of memories in my head. My ex-boyfriend used to talk about sustainability all the time. It drove me a little bit crazy because I believed anything was sustainable if I worked hard enough at it; if I wanted something to continue, I just made decisions that would enable it to continue. Maybe that’s naive. Maybe it’s optimistic. He used to tell me it was silly not to think of the sustainability principle, that to believe things would work out on their own was setting myself up for disappointment in a way. We never really agreed on this point, but lately I’ve been thinking about it more and more. I’ve been wondering if my path is sustainable, if I can keep doing what I’m doing, trusting in the world to help me along and believing I can make things happen for myself, and get where I want to be. Maybe I can. I used to believe I could, but what if I can’t?
What if I’m just incredibly good at feigning competence? What if I’m just a great actress? What if someone finds me out?
In the past, at times like this, I would run across the courtyard, drink some tea with my best friend, and feel better. Sadly, as much as I might want to, I can’t run to Florida in 5 minutes. I’ve had to learn to live without my support system, a support system I thought I’d never be able to leave behind. Saying goodbye to my supports was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and sometimes I feel like I’m constantly doing it over and over. I know that things can never be like they were, but sometimes I just wish they could. This past summer was one of the best times of my entire life. For several months, I simply felt happy, all the time, despite all the craziness going on around me. I felt like nothing could bring me down, like I could conquer anything with my support system at my side. Then, I began to lose them one by one. I moved. Relationships changed; others ended. I felt like my life was completely out of my control, and I’ve been fighting to regain that stability ever since.
In my class tonight, I heard a presentation about the destabilization of centers in Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde. At the time, I was merely intrigued by the interesting scholarly implications, but now that I think about it, I’ve been fighting my own battle to regain stability for a while now. Like Criseyde, when I felt overwhelmed I ran to where I felt safest only to find that even there I was not entirely safe, that even that seemingly stable structure could also collapse.
I guess I’ve just been feeling tired lately, tired of searching for happiness and not finding it where I thought it would be; tired of looking for security, and feeling abandoned again and again; and tired of wanting my life to be something it isn’t and may never be. It’s exhausting living like that, and I’ve decided I don’t want to do it anymore.
I want to post consistently again. I want to use this forum for what it’s always been – an outlet. I want to make the changes I’m scared to make and try the things that terrify me. I want to let go of feeling like I need validation and security from others.
I want to trust myself again.