Stories on the edge of familiarity

I Have a Confession to Make…

I’m sorry to say that I haven’t been taking blogging as seriously as I should have. When I started, I thought that the only things that were really necessary were writing as regularly as possible, making the blog look pretty, and writing about things that I thought were cool. While all these are wonderful things that really do help make a blog work, there was just one thing that I was missing:

Purpose.

To be completely honest, I’ve felt claustrophobic every time I entertained the notion of deciding what this blog was actually about. It frightened me, because I thought that, if I decided on something, I make things too narrow, and I would cut out most of the things that I’m passionate about and that I could talk about for hours on end simply because I think they’re just so darn fantastic. All my interests felt mutually exclusive, like choosing one would be denying everything else, and that terrifies the heck out of me.

Let me tell you something I’ve never told anyone else. Being told I must decide what to do with my life gives me so much fear that I want to high-tail it to the farthest of far corners of the earth, so that the person who mentioned it can never, ever find me. Laugh if you want, but picking a career is the stuff of nightmares. I’m afraid of just thinking about it.

Right now, my entire body is shaking, my heart is trying to beat its way out of my chest, and my fight-or-flight response has kicked into high gear. You could tell me I’m going to die tomorrow, and I wouldn’t be as utterly frightened as I am right now.

I am in no way kidding about anything I just wrote. This is serious shit.

I’m good at a lot of things. I can write, sing, draw, compose, do math, and learn musical instruments like nobody’s business, and that’s not even the entire list. If something looks interesting, I’ll try it, expecting that it will come easily. If it catches my heart, I’ll start working at it so that I can not just reach, but exceed the heights of my potential in that area. If it doesn’t catch my heart, but something about it still speaks to me, then I’ll dabble from time to time and enjoy playing around with it. About the only things that I’ve tried (and I really haven’t tried much beyond what’s been offered to me at school and home) that I have to really work at in order for my efforts to look vaguely presentable are dance and the more rigorous aspects of philosophy and logic. Perhaps I’ll lose readers over this; I don’t care. Being good at a lot of things doesn’t make me any less human, and it certainly doesn’t make me a genius. If my cognitive psychology class has taught me anything, it’s that I operate well within normal parameters.

As a child, there’s nothing wrong with constantly seeking stimulation. There’s nothing wrong with always wanting to learn and always wanting to be able to try new things and to develop a variety of skills. Children are encouraged to dream big and dream lots, give themselves a variety of options. But that’s all that they are, options. Once you grow up, you’re supposed to pick something and forget about all those other avenues, because being an adult means being good at one or two things, and doing those things for the rest of your life. Some people are fine with that. That’s okay; I don’t expect everyone to be like me. It’s when everyone expects me to be like them that I start to freak.

Telling me that I can only pick one career, one future, is like telling me to cut off my limbs and paint with my nostrils. It’s like saying “Well, you’ve had your childhood to try out all your senses, so which one do you want to keep?”.

Yes, dear doctor, I would love to keep just my sight. Then I can be deaf, numb, and unable to enjoy food and flowers properly for the rest of my life, but at least I’ll be able to give you such a look that you’ll know it’s all your fault that I’m miserable.

Becoming an adult feels like killing my curiosity, enthusiasm for learning, ability to experiment with everything, love for everything that doesn’t fit with my career… good God. It feels like death.

I’ve told a little of this to others, and they’ve told me that I’m overreacting. All I have to do is find the thing that incorporates everything that I love, and it’ll be okay. Well. That’s what most of them have said, and it’s good advice; advice that I’ve taken seriously because it would be freaking awesome if there was a job that incorporated everything that I love, while still leaving room to grow. This advice doesn’t hurt me; it makes sense and invariably comes from people who I admire for their confidence and maturity. It’s what other have said that hurts.

What they say: “Stop complaining, Thea. I’m only good at one thing; you should be happy that you have so much to pick from.”

What I understand them to say: “Thea, quit your whining. You’re freaking out because you can’t pick what to do? Oh, boo hoo. I can’t do anything else. Pick one thing and stop this idiotic showing off.”

What I hear them believing: “I have no choice but this one. I’m not good at anything else. I can never be more than anything I already am. I will feel attacked by anyone who thinks otherwise about themselves because, if I can’t have anything better than this, then neither should they.”

And that is the person I’m terrified of becoming. That is the person I see myself becoming if I deny myself all the things make me me except for the one that I decide to call my career. Cut off the roots, and the fruit becomes bitter. I will flee to the ends of the universe from that person. That person is dead inside, and I am alive, and want to live, live, live.

I am afraid that I will knowingly commit identity suicide just to be accepted by everyone else.

This fear has grown to irrational proportions in my heart. Whenever I get a new notebook, I feel pressured to do something specific with it, so I put it on a shelf and do nothing with it just so I don’t have to choose. I let others choose what to do when we hang out whenever possible, because I don’t want to have to be the one who narrows my options. I start a blog and, when it begs for a purpose, I write about everything except something that might start to define a purpose.

I can’t keep living like this. For crying out loud, I’m writing novels that will someday be published. If I don’t get my act together now, I’m going to be writing a lot of insincere crap, and no-one wants to read that. So, over the next month I’ll be digging deep and figuring out exactly what I’m going to do with this blog. The guest post is still going up next week (next week! :D) on Sue’s blog, and I have a special surprise for you all happening on the 30th, so if I write anything in the middle of the month, it’s only going to be one post. And it’s going to be about the purpose of this blog.

There you go, guys. After a year of blogging, I’ve finally started to show you who I am. If you don’t like me, then move right along. As my mother once told me: “You’re not going to like everybody, and not everyone’s going to like you. And that’s okay.” On the other hand, if I haven’t repelled you by all this then, hey! I’d love to get to know you. Don’t worry, I won’t make you tell me your deepest fears or anything. Just tell me what you’re comfortable sharing, and if you don’t feel comfortable saying anything, that’s okay, too. I don’t mind lurkers. ;)

6 Responses to I Have a Confession to Make…

  1. Dear, dear Thea,

    You must get your hands on a copy of Barbara Sher’s “Refuse to Choose.” It’s certainly in the genre of self-help/creativity coaching which may not be your thing, but my god it’s going to rock your world to find out that there’s ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with you for being unable to join the ranks of people who can focus on only one thing.

    Some of us are not supposed to pick just one thing and stick with it. Of course that’s what’s valued in our society, and so we get weirded out by what reality seems to be telling us, but your flight response is a natural response to a threat to who you are.

    You’re brilliant just for being the way you are and good on you for figuring out what you require. You’re not overreacting.

    Please pm me at HTTS (estuary) if you’re interested and I’ll send you a link to my now-mostly-defunct-blog post that I wrote when I made this discovery.

    I have to say, I’m pleased to make your (real) acquaintance. It’s a relief to find someone like me :)

  2. Hello, estuary! Actually, that book does kinda sound like my thing. I’ve never read a book in that genre before, but I’m quite interested. Definitely will be looking for it. Can you get it as an ebook?

    • Methinks you read the post “Becoming Who I Already Am” (because you commented on it :P). That’s where I decided just to keep becoming who I already am. All of who I already am.

      Since then, I’ve decided to keep doing all the things. I’m working on my psychology degree and writing books and playing musical instruments and planning video games and and and. Also, I found a website which is all about people who are good at a whole bunch of things and who hate the thought of having to choose one thing to do for the rest of their lives: http://puttylike.com

      My ideas about this and becoming who I already am have developed since this post, though. Methinks I shall have to write a follow-up sometime this summer. :) Thanks for reminding me about this!

  3. I remember taking a test in school. It was some kind of aptitude test, and by the time I took it, I was old enough to hear people saying that someday soon I would need to choose a career. Something I would be good at. Something I could focus on.

    The test day came, and then I held my breath for the results. Surely now my path forward would become clear. I would see what I was good at and THAT would be what I would do.

    Yeah. You and I share more than a similar name. I was exceptional at almost everything, and good at the rest.

    I cannot TELL you how bummed I was. And everybody else said what people have been telling you. “What are you complaining about? You’re good at everything!”

    *sigh*

    Nowadays I just laugh and if it starts to go to my head, I remind myself of the Spiderman rule: With great power comes great responsibility. ;-P

    (Actually, I remind myself of how much I suck without the guidance of His Spirit, and remembering a couple of my more infamous moments without Him quells any big head that was starting to form…)

    • Gah. I hated it when I’d say “I don’t know what to pick” and people would be like “You’re so good at everything! Just pick anything and you’ll do great!”

      I wanted to say: “You keep saying this thing. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

      When I took a career aptitude test, it was similarly annoying. Except it informed me through a letter ranking system which careers I was best suited for, as well as giving me a ranked list of careers I would potentially enjoy. The highest letter I ever got was a B, apparently because I loved all the secondary aspects of these jobs, but not their primary ones.

      Ironically, the job at the top of the list was psychologist, and I’m now in university for my psychology degree. *shrugs*