“Sometimes the only way to move forward is to stop moving, to stand still and to decide that no matter what happens, no matter how much it hurts, you are exactly where you want to be.”
– Erica Strange on the Canadian show, Being Erica
About a month ago, I decided to make a big change in my life. I decided not to get my doctorate at the most inopportune time, after completing half of my comprehensive exam and after internship application time was long past. If you know me, you know that I am not really a risk taker and that this was a very scary decision for me to make. But I did it and 2 months later, I still feel as though I made the right choice. I originally wrote this whole post about that decision, but it was long and boring and irrelevant.
The past 5 weeks, I haven’t had much of anything to do because I am waiting for my internship to start. I’ve wanted this time off so badly for so long and now that I have it, I feel like I am squandering it. Every day, I sit listlessly at home with Ollie. I take him on walks, go running, watch TV or surf the internet, and read. I’m not an active participant in life, it seems. I always imagined what I would do with a few weeks off, and this is not it.
I used to be a very emotional and creative person, but I think I may have lost that part of myself. I’ve been pushing myself so hard along this path I laid out back in high school (with a few unexpected changes, like meeting Matthew and getting married) – go to college, pick a career that is satisfying and secure, go to grad school…and once all of that is taken care of…have a life. I am such a perfectionist that I wasn’t satisfied with taking the easy way to start my career – I have pushed myself to get the highest possible grades, be involved in whatever research opportunities are available, go to a top 5 graduate school, get my doctorate, etc. I think that switching to the masters programs was a positive and important change, but with all my free time over the past few weeks, I’ve realized that I can’t just wave a wand and be the person I was 10 years ago. NOT that I want to be that person…I have done a lot of growing and learning in that time and I don’t regret any of that. I’ve loved my life, but now I feel that I need to make some changes as I move forward into the next 10 years. 🙂 I want to regain some balance.
I am just not sure how to do that. The creative/emotional/dreamy part of me feels lost. I keep trying to find it by sitting down to play guitar, to write a story/poem, or to think just for the sake of thinking (not about what I need to do today or what I am going to do next year) – but I can’t! And that scares the heck out of me. I know it was there – I have proof of it – songs and poems I wrote, videos I made, heck, I’d even be happy putting together a decent scrapbook at this point, but that side of me feels so dead. My dad told me once that I needed to make sure to nurture all of my personality or I could lose the creative parts of me. He tends to be right and at the moment, I feel like he was right about this. I’ve been so logical, black and white, factual, and data-based for so long because I felt I had to be to succeed, but now I can’t find that other side of me. And the fear that I killed that part of me is making me even more paralyzed and unable to even try to create.
I feel lost right now, which is a very uncomfortable feeling for anyone, but especially for me. I’ve always known what I want, and working hard and being diligent/disciplined has always seemed to get me where I need to be. I just wish now that I had thought to hold onto some of the things I didn’t have to work for, the things that came naturally to me.
Are there parts of you that have changed or been lost along the way? Do you feel it has been a positive or negative experience? Have you ever tried to get those parts back? If you have – how? I could use some advice.
So…I wrote this about 2 weeks ago and decided it seemed too mopey and self-indulgent to post. 🙂 People have way bigger problems than I do, and I fully acknowledge this. I ended up deciding to post it, because I feel that it is relevant to the twenty-something population and I think a little self-reflection can be healthy from time to time. Just take it for what it is. I am still just pushing forward – playing guitar, writing (total crap so far, although just today I started a short story about dreams), and thinking. Maybe I just need to retrain my brain. 🙂