It’s thanksgiving, and I’m stuffed. Like, falling-asleep-on-the-sofa stuffed. I’ve figured it’s as good a time as any to share some of what’s been going on in my life since last time, in hopes it will keep me awake (I’ve been doing well enough at my sleep schedule, after all, and don’t want to jeopardize it). And of course, I wouldn’t want the expanse of empty void of which this blog inhabits to feel forgotten, after all.
A few weeks ago I wasn’t allowed to go into work because of a very mild, non-covid-related sore throat, one that I’ve since begun to believe vehemently was caused by a month-long case of the Mondays. It came, ironically, at the perfect time; it was then that everything was kind of converging into a perfect storm of depression and exhaustion, a repetitive occurrence according to my bevy of complaints archived here. At work, I was burned; I had a backlog of clients that I did not have the emotional currency to exchange with, and in school I had exams to study for and projects to finish, and the days were quickly growing colder and darker. Enter my immune system, usually a pretty hearty fiend. I wasn’t that sick, and I told the HR department as much, but quarantine was required, so quarantine was taken. Despite the amount of time that had been gifted to me in a bow, it took three days before I was able to do anything for school more than fifteen minutes at a time, maybe twice a day; it was like my body had finally run the engine to it’s last drop of oil and collapsed (is that how cars work?).
That rest, though, gave me an even greater gift of clarity. With the shackles of burnout loosened, I was realizing a simple truth: I was living to work a job that wasn’t a career, for people who didn’t care about me, and trading my time for money that I was spending not on my future, but to heal from all that time spent working, repeating the same mistakes over and over again (again, check the backlog of posts, it’s certainly no surprise.) This is not anything new, and sometimes I feel like this blog is my version of Memento.
With my mind finally energized enough to think clearly, I realized finishing school at my current school was a waste of time and money better spent elsewhere, I had devised a plan of expectations over the next year, and devoted countless hours to thinking about what I wanted to do with my life, how I was underselling myself, how I could fix it all, and assembled a mighty list of book recommendations that were all screaming the quiet parts out loud.
This realization, and the accompanying books, has been fueling me for the last few weeks. A lot of my work anxieties have all but vanished for one simple reason: I no longer am fearing a toothless enemy. For the longest time I feared what would happen if I stepped out of line. My DM would hate me. Clients would yell at me. I’d get a bad review. I’ll lose my job. These fears crippled me; they led to me saying yes too many times when I should have said no. They led to me spending more time on making money so I could spend money, instead of saving so I could get the hell out. They kept me complacent, willing to stand so incredibly still that nobody would notice me. In the past, when someone would call my job my career I would scoff and quickly move on, embarrassed that I was settling for so little of what I desired. Now, it’s become my mantra: this is only a job. It’s not my career.
This doesn’t mean I’ve thrown in the towel and become a total slacker. I still want to make that end of the year bonus. I still care about my team and want to help keep us all employed. I still need to afford to, y’know, eat. But reminding myself that there is a future outside of here has kept me so much more sane.
Part of this newfound mantra has inspired another new opportunity: I took a plunge and transferred to a new school. I’ve made a lot of mistakes since graduating High School twelve years ago, and being almost-30 and still getting an Associates has been one of them. I settled, because it was easy; I’d start up a few semesters at a time, withdraw when it got hard, and grow content that I was working. I have a full time job, I’d tell myself. This is enough.
Last year, when I started thinking (on this blog, no less) about my future, I knew I had to go back to school. But I was content with “dealing” with the past-me mistakes; waiting to long to take my foreign language courses for my transfer degree being one of the biggest ones. And I was so exhausted that I accepted taking a year of single-course semesters in a foreign language to right that wrong, in order to transfer to a school I didn’t even want to go to, because that’s what fuck-up past-me decided. My week of clarity was enough to realize that I had wasted enough time.
A year ago I would have had far too much anxiety to transfer schools. But the clarity that I have now made it, uh, clear: I didn’t have to wait a year of a pointless foreign language course to get my associate’s. I hated my school so much that it took me twelve years to get through it, and that wasn’t about to change. A few weeks later, and now I’m enrolled for next semester, and I’ll have my associates 6 months early according to plan. I’ve got myself set up for a new bachelor’s dream (communications), adjacent to the old one (English), but more practical; I’ve got minors planned. Me. The person who took 12 years to get through a liberal art’s associate’s degree.
I’ve also been devoting time to thinking about my future on the internet. I hate it here as much as I love it, but it’s ability to foster expression and to spread knowledge are unparalleled. With my newfound clarity, I’ve accepted a few fundamental truths about my career goals:
- I want to help people.
- I want to do and make a whole buncha different things.
And I honestly can’t think of anywhere better to do that, but it takes some skills that I currently lack. And by lack I mean lack in that I get the gist; as a heavy consumer of the internet, I see the mechanizations. You want to make things? You want to make money making things? You kinda need to get comfortable with people seeing it, wanting to see it, and wanting to see you. None of which I’m entirely comfortable with, and none of which I’ve ever had the confidence to believe people want out of me. Enter the communications degree.
With the English degree I was pursing what I enjoyed, even as my work sucked all the joy and energy out of me leaving me incapable of even reading a book anymore. I was a ferocious reader as a kid. I love everything there is to love about story telling. My introductory-level English courses were some of my strongest work in college so far because I cared about them. But my love for English is personal; it’s easy to sweep aside, because I don’t have the skills or knowledge about using that love for others. Maybe pursing communications is going to be another failure some day, but I don’t think so; there’s nothing more valuable to me than the time I get to spend talking to my friends about whatever news event or historical trivia or pop culture knowledge I’ve been swept up into lately, and if I can force a career out of that feeling, I’ll be the happiest person in the world.
Until then? I probably have to show my face more. Post something on insta. Try to, you know, communicate, instead of just consuming hours of YouTube documentaries and film analysis vids. I’ve got a month until the new school starts, and then, I say with a hefty dose of optimism, it’s a race to the finish line (is that how cars work?). I’m spending this time working through my backlog of books, making myself comfortable again with social media, and dusting off some of the ol’ editing skills as I book it towards 30.