Friday, October 24, 2008

We've all heard of mid life crisis, we've even heard of quarter life crisis. In both cases, the recipient of said crisis feels that they are not where they should be, doing what they should be doing, and is generally unhappy with life and wanting a change.

First of all, I acknowledge the "crisis" existence, and am perfectly aware of it's presence. If you were to ask me am I having a quarter life crisis or having a mid life crisis at in my 30's (there's a book about this for women, apparently) I wouldn't be able to tell you which. I've basicially been having a frickin crisis party since I left college, so for me, there's no distinction.

Why does this sort of thing happen? Because we're a bunch of silly humans trying to fit ourselves into contorted shapes that we can't possibly bend into.

Whenever the word "should" comes up, I've learned to beware. Sometimes "should" leads you to things that are good for you in the long run, and maybe that is why "should" originally got as much power as it has, but "should" also contains a lot of outdated, outmoded, ill-fitting ideas, mores, etiquette and ways of living that if pursued can hardly ever be attained with any semblance of sanity.

The shoulds exist in this amorphous zone and go unspoken quite a bit, but get replayed like a bad record by a drug addled pop harlet on commercial radio. Where ever did we get those ideas that there are ceratin steps we have to take to set up our lives? That you do certain things at certain ages and if you don't, you get chided, rejected, scoffed at, etc because you are not following orders. Stuff like this gets jammed into the shoeboxes in the closet of our psyche when we're growing up, and get reinforced over time by parents, authority, society around us. Half the time it starts out as good advice or guidance. Where everything starts to go awry is when you try to actually follow this advice and find out you are not where the map said you should be.

Why? Because in between "learning" all the mores and implementing them, things have changed. Socially, globally, financially. We're moving faster now in the current day than our ancestors did even in the beginning throes of the industrial revolution. So, not only do we have all these ridiculous models we're supposed to live up to, but we have to do them twice as fast.

When I was in High school, I wasn't thinking about college or jobs or what I wanted to do with my life. I was thinking about the present- something I struggle to do today because of all the conditioning to think about this crap and that crap and this other crap. So, when I was being pushed toward college I was sorta like...ok...I guess this is what I do next. I had vague ideas of what I liked to do, but at no point did I have any kind of solid idea of exactly what I was going to be. No one really gave me the realities of my possible choices so I could better make a decision and choose a direction.

So, when I left college, I was in the same boat again. Except this time I was being pushed to get a job. So I got a job for the sake of getting a job. (because loans were going to be due) I tried to get whatever was available with what skills I had. (which for an artist in a blue collar town, leaves little choice)Working was never really about what I wanted to do (as I said before, I didn't really know), it was about paying bills.

So I ended up in Chicago after having my first disappointing job experience (searching for a year for something to save me from the below my potential boredom of computer monkeying) and made the same mistake as before. I got another job because I didn't like the one I had. Not because i knew what I wanted to do. I later went back to school again, because I knew i wasn't doing the right thing, and I thought Finally! theatre! something i want to do. That was, until school was nearly done and I discovered that thanks to the horrible limitedness of theatre culture that Theatre was all anyone in Theatre ever did. There was no life outside of it. None.

Since I had this thing called a husband, and other things called friends, and desire for this other thing called sleep, never mind food and a way to pay my mounting debt, I opted out of the theatre insanity.

I've lost count of how many jobs I've actually had and how many times I've ended up disappointed by many of them. But not once did it occur to me to just SIT DOWN and figure out what the hell it is I actually want.

See, I hate job searching. I'd felt so demeaned and rejected, and devalued in the past by the search, because it really is an impersonal process. It's like stepping into a machine and getting chewed on by gears before you get pooped out of the chute into the packaging. The reason I hated it so much?

Because I never approached it right. Because I had been so blugeoned with the idea that I had to pay bills, I had to make a certain amount to get by, and down the road this amount should increase along with the responsibility and then I should be able to pay off debt and get a house and be established and....

And then what? Even if that had all come to pass, I would still have come to the same realization as I am now- I'd just be older and even more bitter about the whole mess.

I never sat down to think about what I wanted. Sure, I have a craft business. That is something I did want that I made happen, but I find myself almost falling into the same pits that I was forever bruising my shins on in my "day job" life.

I long for free time, and then get upset because i can't find a damn thing to do with it. Why? because the art I loved to do has turned into work. I've put a price on it. I've found myself worrying more about making enough stuff to sell instead of just making stuff because i like to make stuff.

I work at my present job to make money so i can pay bills. Yes, it affords me some freedoms, but they just don't outweigh the emotional stress and baggage. I don't enjoy hearing about people's grief all day. This isn't what I want to do with my life. it's work for money, and that is not a reason to work.

I thought I was smart as a single digit kid when i realized that adults (the handful that i saw) didn't have much fun. All they did was worry and work and talk about money. they didn't play with toys anymore. Their world was boring to me. They didn't seem to do much that they actually wanted to. being an adult was all about doing things you didn't want to, all the time, because that's just what you did.

I made a conscious decision early on to stunt my own growth, because I felt that remaining a child would at the very least keep me open to the possibilities and fun in the world instead of being suffocated by the negativity of it. Granted, I grew up anyway and found myself thrown into a world where a lot of promises were made and expectations set by those who were supposed to guide me, but the promises never materialized and the expectations were unattainable.

I am certainly not the only one who feels this way. From what I've read, most of the people of my generation are having the same problems, whether it be in the circle of relationships, family, or work. That illusion of growing up and being a successful adult fizzled away for us, and now we're in debt, disenchanted, and realizing that being an "adult" doesn't mean you know shit.

I think these states of "crisis" are natural however, and they are part of the ongoing process of life. However, humanity is too shortsighted to see that it is throwing more crap into the frustration of this pattern and making it harder to get through. The generational gap, I think has always been an issue. What worked for our parents, doesn't work for us. We grew up never not having TV. Our kids (should we ever be able to afford having any) will not grow up in a world without computers. The social conditions, mores and beliefs do not transfer over from generation to generation the way some people think they do. The things that are timeless, inevitably will, but half the reason these things register as timeless, is because they are adaptable. Mores and cultural conditioning can fall out of fashion much like buzz words or fad clothing.

So, here I am, having the same troubles as many have had before me, but with a different set of crayons. Or maybe playdoh instead of crayons.

Where i'm at vaguely sucks, but I am aware of a lot of things that I wasn't before. (or, in mycase, I've come back around to things I realized earlier but forgot. There's a certain comfort in knowing that I am not alone, because no one is where they "ought" to be or "want" to be. But I don't believe for one minute that I have to stay here, and I won't. I've been in the "real world"
HAAHHAAAAHHAAAHEEEHEHAAAAAAAHHHHHEEHAAAA for about 10 years now. And I tell you, there is cardboard holding up the scenery.

Real world my ass. It's a stupid facade that we as humans choose to perpetuate. We set up these illusions for ourselves. We are the ones who set up these unreachable models of what a man is, what a woman is, what professional means, what government is...and on and on ad nauseum. We set this shit up and then, we try to follow it. It's like purposely sticking your head underwater even though you know you can't breathe.

So we follow along with all our meaningless labels and categorizations of ourselves, cramming ourselves into shoes that are too tight. Acting out roles that we hate and don't suit us. We make divisions, and more divisions- our world our country, our lives ourselves, and then we wonder why people want to pick up guns and shoot other people, why people are depressed or on drugs, or having affairs or abusing their kids.

We did this to us, and we keep doing it because we are blind. we tolerate this crap because that's the way things are. We have ourselves to blame.

we have forgotten why we are even here. we shoved aside what we wanted to do.

I shouldn't be looking forward to retirement when i'm only 32. I'm not going to sit here and waste my life on shoulds. I'm not going to continue to squander my potential if i can help it.
I tried on the mold, several times, and it never fit.

I'm done with it.

It's time for ME.

1 Comments:

Blogger sterno said...

I've spent a lot of my life doing what I was supposed to do. I went to high school and got decent grades so I could go to college. I went to college and got decent grades so I could get a job. From there it was get job, get wife, and ... well, nobody bothered to explain the next part.

So I've struggled a lot with trying to figure this out. I've read books, I've tried looking into various spiritual things, and in the end I didn't find any kind of grand ultimate truth. Some big fiery sign written in the sky that says, "YOU SHOULD MAKE PUDDING," or whatever fiery signs in the sky are supposed to say.

In the end though my conclusion is that there isn't anything like that in life. In the end, life is just the thing you're doing at the moment on your way to dying. Sounds vaguely depressing, I suppose, but in the end, it means you can't get it wrong. What's right is what's right for you.

Now, I grant, for all that I sound so zen about it, I still struggle with it. Intellectually I know it to be true, but sometimes it's hard to translate that into that gut sense that it's right.

So what do I want?

I want to keep doing photography and try to get better at it. I want to be involved in politics and try to make the country a little better than when I found it. I want to have kids who can hopefully get some benefit from the work I put into making the country better.

Job wise? Well, I'll keep going for things that pay the bills I think :). If it lets me afford the things I want then it's fine. Granted, if I could become a teacher making the kind of money I make now I'd probably prefer that :). But for now this will do.

8:04 PM  

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