on the ash heap

Job art

I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself this month to create meaningful content. But I don’t have much to say.

I rant and discuss and reflect often enough, but my brain is too scattered, too absorbed in the task of figuring out what I’m going to do with my life, to spew out anything coherent or meaningful.

Everything’s been fine. But as I settle into living here – as it becomes less like a vacation – I’m restless to just get on with my life:

To change the world, or at least a small part of it.

To know my path.

To achieve something visible, tangible, momentous.

To feel, each day, that I’m living life right.

And I’m past the point of thinking that there’s one particular right path I was predestined to follow. I recognize the big lie that success is measured by high levels of both stress and income. And I daily stop to remember that I’m young – and I repeat all the cliche phrases that accompany that thought for good measure.

There’s a misplaced, or displaced, drive, I think. I want to Do Something. I’ve gotten used to people telling me what to do and how to plan my time.

The whole point, I guess, is that it’s up to me to create and follow all the steps. The safety wheels and floaties are actually off now. I have to make decisions and follow through. But I also get to be in charge and achieve something and bask in the results.

I’m mostly afraid that I will collapse into the ashes of my bankrupted dreams – that the light will flicker out, that I’ll end up a prisoner to absolute failure.

* image source: JOB ON THE ASH HEAP, JUSEPE DE RIBERA

I have a 20-something brain

For the past couple of weeks, I have found myself barely able to keep food down.

I vomited, inexplicably, last Thursday. In the middle of each meal, I have to stop eating, faced with another wave of nausea. This morning, I’m pondering whether to drink my coffee and attempt to get on with my day or go back to sleep to ease the discomfort.

I know the source of my physical pain is anxiety. A big, overwhelming pile of it. About finding friends, navigating this town correctly, finances, performing well in my new job, hearing word about the other job I interviewed for, finding a lasting and meaningful career, feeling content, maintaining intellectual drive, making the most of things, staying in contact with the ones I love, learning an instrument, singing again – getting to a point where I feel like a success rather than a confused, dead-beat, disappointment.

I know that nothing is resolved by worrying. I know that my current circumstances are much more positive than they could be. I know that nothing is actually wrong. But as much as I tell myself that, as much as it has become my internal chant – my prayer – the physical signs of stress won’t leave me.

I read an article this morning about the developing, 20-something brain, which relieved my mind (to some extent), though not my stomach. The adult brain doesn’t fully develop until the mid to late 20s and there are much higher rates of anxiety, suicide, and general recklessness among early 20-somethings than in most other age groups, likely due to increased expectations to succeed as a well-formed individual in adult society while still trying to connect and disconnect synapses, take in information, and, in a cognitive sense, find oneself.

There is a scientific and social cause for anxiety at my age. But it doesn’t make it easier to bear. I face my own high expectations and negative self-talk on a daily basis. It’s time to practice being content with daily success, no matter how small. Of course, saying it and doing it are quite different things.