Despair

I’m listening to Enya’s Watermark and trying to think myself out of a mental trap I often get into. I especially get stuck believing that things won’t change. Recent events–my father being dropped in my lap (sort of) and then getting sick–have made everything else harder to bear. Or my emotions harder to avoid. Almost impossible, if truth be told. If it was just crying, that would be fine. But sometimes emotions manifest as a pain in your hip that feels like you were hit with a brick years ago and you don’t remember how or when, but the discomfort affects your whole right side and it won’t go away.

I hate my current job mostly because I can’t survive on my wages. I have been full of cynicism about working and jobs in the current environment. I used to be like that–I thought it was an incredibly shallow and exploitative system that sold people short or not based on really stupid and minor things. I was almost always a medium achiever. There were high- and low-achieving points and I think they average out to medium-achievement overall. I think some of it has to do with self-sabotage issues, believing I am not as capable as I am (I couldn’t believe it, my senior year of high school, when I had a 90% in Physics after two or three months of class and almost no effort, just paying attention and turning in assignments. I ended up almost not passing it because that was more “my speed,” problems were what was expected of me), and also a lifetime of watching myself put too much effort in at the beginning and then not knowing how to pace myself, how to continue.

In my head, I have three parents: my mom, my dad, and my stepdad. None of them finished college. In my head, finishing college was a high achievement for me and for my family. But that makes me a member of my family with early debt and no clue what to do with it since debt was not something I was taught how to deal with well. This year has brought many successes (getting my own place, making strides in terms of my ability to deal with life emotionally while dealing with PTSD, and mainly, staying afloat, even when things felt like I might not) and many blows. My mother, and every Buddhist book I’ve ever read, told me that when you are reacting to something, unless you are a very young child your reaction is very old, and repeated, and actually doesn’t have to do with that which you are reacting to. You are not having a fresh reaction to something new. You are having an old reaction to something new. These “blows” I have been dealt before but ignored them, letting them drag me backward unconsciously while never really dealing with the pain they brought. I am at a point where I am wrestling with someone in me who feels like she has nothing of worth to offer, especially for payment.

My stepdad, bless him, was not the greatest inspirational speaker and whenever I shared a dream or aspiration of mine, usually in its infancy, he would say, “There’s a lot of chickens.” This referred to a time when he visited a chicken farm and watched as the chickens were fed. The feed was placed in the middle of the yard and hundreds of chickens tore toward it. This is to say, you may want to be an artist, but a zillion other chickens also want to be artists. Got to get to that bucket first. Got to compete and practice and be the most tenacious, audacious, loud, etc. Now, I see my stepdad’s existential anxiety reflected in this statement: those chickens were on a farm. They would all be fed. There was enough food. But my solution then was to give up. I was obviously not an extraordinary enough chicken to be of value to anyone for my specific strengths and gifts. For a long time, I thought of this and tried not to think about the other chickens. Then I got to St John’s and I became the littlest fish in the still very little pond where a lot of “smartest in all their classes all their life” type kids sparred and ruled me ordinary at best. I wasn’t even a good artist, which used to be my biggest source of pride when I struggled to get up to snuff everywhere else. My last boss told me I have a great resume. She also told me I wasn’t a good fit for Street Outreach. I didn’t think Street Outreach was a good fit for me, but I am coming to a point where I am worried nowhere will be a good fit, that there is something fundamentally wrong with ME and I should just (eventually, hopefully soon because I am going to drown) become a manager at Eileen Fisher and let that be that. I think I would do that well, even if I hated it.

Have you ever come to a point where you honestly didn’t want to do ANY job? That’s where I am now. I see jobs I’m qualified for advertised and I just want nothing to do with them. Jobs take so much effort to get used to and then if you struggle and try to get better, do get better and still turn out not to be good enough that little part of you that secretly believes you’re unemployable gets to put another dollar in their self-hate bank account. My sister is working part-time to advance her tarot reading business and she has 240 followers on Youtube and a few gigs lined up. I think what she’s doing is extremely brave. I think she is also much older than me and is clear about what she wants. Risking everything for what you know you want is different from risking everything because you’re sick and tired of everything but still don’t feel like you actually LIKE to do much of anything. And apparently, you’re not good at any of it either.

When I write like this it’s a bit like praying in a way that I know I will be heard by at least one empathetic soul like mine. Nothing sounds inspiring or interesting right now. I have an interview at a gallery, I have another one for a work from home position with Varsity Tutors, I applied for Social Work school but won’t hear for a few months if I got in (and the more I think about it the scarier it is and the less I want to do it–I keep thinking I want to be a nurse instead), and I generally just feel like a joke. I have always wished I could do the job Tom Hanks gets in the movie Big–just judging toys all day and getting paid well. That would be nice.

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