And subsequently falling flat on my face
Missed me? It’s okay if you didn’t, but I’m gonna explain the sudden hiatus anyway. Bear with me, it’s a bit of a thing.
Grad school. A company. A certificate. A full-time job. Teaching. Family. Social. A few months ago, my to-do list consisted of all the above. I didn’t realise just how much I had on my plate. I’d tell people about what I had going on and they looked at me with this expression like: “how in the world are you still standing?” And I would say: “oh don’t worry! I’m only doing things I love and I’m happy so it’s all good. It’s not too much, I’m lucky I get to do all these things.” Who in their right mind would complain about so many good things? About having the fortune of even being in grad school, having a decent job, their own company, teaching their passion… In my mind it was unthinkable. So for a while, everything was great.
Until it wasn’t. I don’t think I can pinpoint the turning point. One by one, all the things I was trying to juggle just dropped to the floor and dragged me down with them.
First, grad school. I had serious anxiety about my thesis. Sitting down and doing it just wasn’t happening, so I spent more time stressing about not writing my thesis than actually trying to write it. It got to a point that I couldn’t do anything without sheer guilt weighing me down. “You don’t deserve to be in ballet class right now, you should write your thesis.” Then my anxiety got worse because I knew the only right answer for me would be to drop out. How in the world would I sell that to the people in my life? “Hi hello grad school is too much so I won’t be finishing it.” NOPE. The stress about having to take that step was debilitating. But somehow, I knew that I had to do it. I owed it to myself to make me feel better. In the end, it wasn’t the worst. Everyone understood. I still struggle every day with the sense of failure because I didn’t get the degree, while also feeling proud of having made the right decision for myself. And besides, what other people think about it, is none of my business.
After that, I had NO clue what I wanted to do with my life. I figured, I’m good at my job so I should just continue in that. I could really grow in a career like that, making more money as I gained more experience. Was it something that I was passionate about? NOPE. Did I stop and think if working in job that didn’t make me happy was sustainable long-term? NOPE. Did that come back to slap me in the face? YUP. I figured I needed to be sensible. I never once stopped to ask myself what it was that I really wanted, because to me it didn’t matter. There are very few people who actually get to do what they love for a living. The notion is something you see in movies, not something that happens in real life. And I certainly wasn’t going to be one of those people who was going to be that lucky, so I just needed to be smart and have a good job.
I blame it on being a Pisces and having a huge sense of escapism. Feeling like I HAD to stay in my job and having to keep going in a career trajectory that I mapped out for myself made me feel like I needed to run as far away as possible. But my sense of responsibility kept me from doing so. You know how the Pisces symbol is two fish swimming in opposite directions? Yeah. That’s exactly what it was. The escape artist ran East, while responsibility ran West. It tore me apart and I broke.
So now I’m fixing me. What do I want to do? What do I love to do? What makes me happy? I’m trying to worry less about what I think people’s expectations are, so I don’t break myself again trying to live up to that. And while that is a big step, it’s only the first of a long journey. I rationalise feelings and emotions like it’s nothing, and I tend to think that once I’ve rationalised how I’m feeling, I don’t need to share those feelings. Having rationalised them doesn’t mean they’ve been addressed or felt properly, so I need to work on letting people in. I need to stand up for myself, be assertive and say when I don’t like what is happening. I say this matter-of-factly. More things on a to-do list that I can check off. But it’ll be a process. It’ll be hard and I’ll fall a hundred times. And then get up a hundred and one.
Now that it’s out there and out of the way, I can go back to talking about all the things I love. But I’ll let you in on the hard stuff too.