Category Archives: Adulthood?

Write What Hurts

Caught between pain and guilt, I started keeping a journal. I wrote every doubt, fear, and painful moment within its pages.  It’s starting to be filled with ink, the bleeding of my heart on pretty purple-lined paper.  It’s cathartic, but only in the moment of writing; my doubts and fears return to me after a brief rest, unsatisfied with their inky expressions.  I wonder, if I could somehow perfectly articulate the barbed storm within, would it finally subside?

I tell myself that my journal is not shameful, that I am merely attempting to capture the human experience.  The truth is that I am mortified at my own brokenness.  I hide and hold it within, like a child clutching the broken pottery pieces of their mother’s fine china.  The difference is that the child will be found out, scolded and forgiven.  I could hold my brokenness forever, and no one would know if I did not tell them.  And, because mental illness and internal struggle is not seen as heroic–though succeeding despite self-doubt and panic is the most heroic thing I have ever done–people do not care to be reminded that those they love are suffering.

I don’t want to be a burden on anyone, and though I am more than willing to share the burdens of others, I do not hand off my burdens to those I trust.  I’m a pack mule; I carry the baggage of the entire traveling party and endure the heavy weight with little complaint and a trusting expression.

I always said that I would be able to unburden myself if I ever found someone supportive enough that I could trust them with everything.  But that is putting the responsibility for dealing with my issues on another person–a childlike damsel-in-distress fantasy that I have long outgrown.  There is no hero coming to save me.  I shall have to unpack myself.

So, I have started journaling.  I’m writing what hurts, in an attempt to patch up the cracks in my soul.  I have several saddle-bags full of broken pieces.  I’m not sure which ones are mine and which ones belong to others, but maybe I could make a mosaic of the barbed edges, and maybe it could be beautiful.

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In which I live.

I recently took a job I knew I would hate.  

It was a decision based on the terrible job economy, incoming bills, and two months of unemployment after being sacked by my old job.  

I’m not quite ready to talk about the sacking.  I’m still seething in a bitter, angry pool of unstraightened emotions.  I’m not honestly sure how I feel, even though it’s been almost four months.  

I feel like I’ve been living in a sea of misery.  Before, my job bored me and I was miserable because I knew that, if I stayed where I was, I would be doomed to a mediocre existence.  Now, my job drains every speck of energy from me (and then some), I never have any free (because I’m always working) and I am constantly challenged (to the point where I feel completely inadequate).  

What am I doing?  

I’m teaching. 

I can tell you that the expression “those that can’t do, teach” is completely inaccurate.  I can also tell you that my superiors are less concerned with my knowledge of my subject and more concerned with my behavior management skills.  I’ve realized that teachers are superheroes and deserve every penny of their pay, every day of their three month vacation, and then probably more on top of that.  

I feel like a fraud.  I’m wearing my superhero costume, but the shoes are too big, and the cape is too long.  It doesn’t fit me.  

I’m enrolled in something called the “Beginning Licensure Teachure” program.  All of us are 1st, 2nd, or 3rd year teachers.  Many of us are lateral entry, which means that we haven’t got any educational license or training.  We’ve got basic degrees (B.A. in English, in my case) that qualify us enough to get a probationary license to teach our subject, with stipulations that we must obtain full licensure within three years. This program is supposed to grow us from little overwhelmed frazzled masses of miserable into our new teacher superhero outfits.  It’s supposed to help.  

I hope it does.

I’m going to start keeping a file of all the good things that happen to me in the classroom.  They do not outnumber the amount of bad things that happen to me, but perhaps, if I keep a good record, I will realize that the gems are worth putting up with the pebbles.   

Two Faced Adulthood

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single person in possession of a college degree is in want of a job.

But the job we eventually find is rarely the job we want. We begin our “real world” indoctrination at a sub-par job and, as a consequence, learn workforce etiquette in less than ideal conditions.

We learn that we are wage slaves, that the boss owns our time. Time cards are our shackles and cubicles are our prisons.

We learn that it doesn’t matter that our family members died, our pets are missing, our cars are out of gas, or that our best friend has cancer. As soon as we clock in, we cease being a whole person.

One we walk in the door, we are split. We put on a mask. We are forced to pretend that we are just absolutely spiffed to be there, lest we get fired and the money we depend on dry up.

In school, your friends and (sometimes) teachers will sympathize with your situations. Your boss, however, could not care less. You are bought–you are a product, a pawn, and if you do not perform well, you will be punished.

People in the workforce are used to this atmosphere. But school kids are not. They must painfully transition from a world in which they are encouraged to succeed into a world in which they are expected to perform like a trained monkey.

The degree of respect for their talents and smarts is gone. They are left floundering, uncertain of how to behave, of how to split their very soul into two parts: the person they are and the painted porcelain of a flawless employee.

BRB, sickness and work.

I caught some sort of crud.  It’s a lot like a cold, but with a mild fever and dizzy spells.   I also have had to work every day this past week.  So between being sick and having to work, I haven’t had time to write anything.  Which sucks.

It seems like everyone is getting sick these days.  Let’s all take care of each other this sickness season.   Kleenex and Dayquil and cough drops all around!

I’m on the mend, though.  Although my body still seems to think that it should cough every few minutes (which I find ridiculous), I’m feeling about %90 better.  Hopefully I’ll stay on the mend, because…

…last Sunday officially started the “work month of hell,” in which I will be working nearly nonstop until after Christmas.  Some of this work may entail standing outside in the freezing cold for hours while directing cars around a magical forest of lights and half-lit reindeer.  So I may never actually be able to fully recover from my cold-dizzy-sickness.

But I will try to blog every Friday.   I will also try to be grateful for the influx of cash and not be resentful for the loss of all my free time.

Weddings

I’m pretty sure I’ve been to at least twenty weddings over the past few months.  But not as a guest.  Oh, no.

I’ve not actually been a guest at a single wedding this year.

I work at a local vineyard on the weekends, and they do weddings.  Lots and lots of weddings.  So I’ve seen quite a few while I was working.

I think that being close enough to spot the bride and groom counts as attendance.

I’m going to see another wedding today.

The difference is that I actually know these people.  I’m still not invited, because I haven’t seen them since high school, but I could potentially run into lots of people who know me.

Normally, I’d be excited about this.

But I know these people from the dark ages known as “high school,” where I was a completely different person.

It feels like these people know some sort of hideous secret about me because they’ve seen me in my awkward stages of life.  And I know that if I see them, my impulse will be to regress to that awkward, uncertain person I was when I knew them.

Oh, the shackles of the past.  Maybe I’ll get lucky and no one will recognize me.

Adulthood?

It’s been driving me nuts.

This question of significance, this existential asking–this idea of who that has no concrete definition…

Someone told me recently that I wasn’t an adult.

“But, I’m 23,” I said.  “I’ve been an adult for five years.”

Apparently that wasn’t a good enough answer.

So I went looking for the definition of adulthood.  You know what I found?  Semi-vagueness.

Adulthood seems to have two common definitions.  One is a noun of a physical nature, of bodily maturity.  I meet that specification–I’m no longer a child, I don’t grow anymore–the only growing I’ll be doing is growing old.  I am an adult.

The second definition is an adjective, a describer of persons.  It’s an attitude of being, a subtle maturity that cannot be defined in specifics.

I believe this definition is subjective.  That it means different things to different people based on their presuppositions about life and their values.

It’s the anti-thesis of “immaturity” which is usually the blending of recklessness, stupidity, and the idea that one does not have to become accountable for one’s actions and situation in life.

When I was in high school, I was “mature” because I wasn’t sleeping around, doing drugs, or skipping class.

When I was in college, I was “mature” because I wasn’t getting drunk and partying every weekend.

Now that I’m out of school, I’m not “mature” anymore because I don’t live on my own.

But I have not changed all that much from my high school days.  I still don’t sleep around, do drugs, or party every weekend.  But suddenly it feels like I am no longer “mature.”

That does not mean that I cannot claim the moniker of adulthood as my own.

What frustrates me is that I have spent years rejecting the notion of adulthood, trying to cling to the wisps of my childhood, and now that I’ve finally accepted my transition to another life stage, I’ve been told that I don’t qualify based on a subjectively vague idea of adulthood.

It frustrates me because I no longer qualify for the criteria of childhood, or teenager-ness.

There is no middle ground.

Us twenty-somethings are cast off in the pool of unknowing.  We have no set definition, no set criteria of what we are.  We are forced to figure out who we are on a year-to-year basis–and I think that’s what makes us so amazingly vibrant.

Curiously, there is no in-between for maturity and immaturity either.

Because there is no middle ground, I can claim adulthood.  But I can also claim some aspects of my youth.  I can be flighty, imaginative, and free-spirited.  I can travel.  I can explore new things and revel in the wonders of life.

But I can also be mature, predictable, and persistent.  I can hold down a steady job, pay my bills, and be a good pet-owner.

I am an adult, but I’m not only an adult.

I find myself undefined.

Nearly All My Life I’ve Lived a Lie

When I was a kid, I used to watch this old VHS tape.  It was your standard motivational-child sing-a-long.  I don’t remember much about it.  It’s all half-formed fuzzy childhood memories.

But I do remember that the last song said something along the lines of “you can be whoever you want to be.”

This paired nicely with Barney telling me that I was special and Kidsongs telling me that I could practically do anything ever.

Then I got older.

Everything was fine until middle school when I suddenly didn’t fit in well anywhere.  I was too awkward to hang out with the girls (who discovered makeup, fashion, and hair-styling ages before I did), and the boys would never do more than tolerate me because I was a girl.  I was not one of them, no matter my interest in video games, sports, and Pokemon cards.

This awkwardness persisted well into high school, where suddenly there were couples.  Everywhere.

Around this time, I discovered the concept of Feminism.

I clung to only one tenet:  That I was a strong, independent woman who didn’t need a man to complete me.

I believed this not because it was true, but because it gave me a shield against the hurt I felt because I was alone.

Today, one of my coworkers asked me if my husband was coming on a business trip with me.

I don’t have a husband.

I try to be the fun, creative person I know I am.  I try to live life to the fullest and not worry about relationships.  I know I can have just as much fun as a single adult as I could if I were dating someone.

But when she said that, when she asked about a nonexistent figure in my life, a deep-set sadness pierced through me.  I realized that I still cling to that tenet of Feminism, for the same reasons I had in high school.

I’ve said I’m happier alone.  I’ve said I want to be alone.  I’ve said that I don’t think I ever want a relationship.  I’ve said these things recently. Like, less than a week ago.

All of it, lies.

I would argue that my self-deception isn’t all bad.  It’s allowed me to stay single during most of my academic years–allowing me to focus on my grades and not a boyfriend.  It’s allowed me to make decisions without taking into account someone else’s opinion/desires.  It’s made me learn how to take care of myself in the real world.

But now that I’ve graduated, now that I can allow distractions…

My self-deception is preventing me from pursuing something that I undeniably want.

But now that I perceive my deception, will that awareness stem the tide of its reach?