I’m So Tired.

I’m so tired.

It’s not something I admit outloud, as if the admitting will make me look worse to the rest of the world, but my exhaustion is starting to show. Admitting it to the rest of the world makes me feel weak, and vulnerable, and it’s scary. I would rather be Ms. Reliable, Ms. Invulnerable, Ms. I have everything figured out, for the rest of my life.

But feeling this soul-tired is starting to make me feel even more vulnerable and weak, and I’m starting to feel like my outer facade is not a line of defense, but rather a hindrance to really heal.

And God, I’m so tired.

And I don’t know how to come alive again. Truly come alive and not the mask of life I pretend to at the beginning of each semester. I try this and I try that, I study new and interesting things, I bask, I meditate, I take on new projects, but nothing invigorates me anew. I sleep, and I eat right, and I take mental time off, but I’m never rested. I have tried every prescribed method of healing, and none of it has worked because none of it sticks.

And every time I fail, I feel my will to succeed die inside me, while the pressure to succeed never abates. I’m terrified of the future, I’m terrified of the past, and I’m terrified of the present, the crushing certainty that there is so much to do, and the crushing uncertainty as to whether or not I can do anything.

I’m so tired of fear.

I place a pen to paper, study for a bit, but I never want to continue. And I am studying what’s interesting to me, the study of risk and uncertainty and studying how to predict the future, and dammit, when I’m lucid, I love it. As unfashionable as it is to admit out loud, I love Statistics and mathematics and business theory and even that damn classics course that needs to stop apologizing for rape, and I’m miss my excitement and focus.

I’m so tired of apathy.

I want to conquer the world, to know I can be an expert and take on responsibility and leadership, to feel free to act, act like a fool or a queen or a leader or whatever. I want to dream, plan and damn it, I want to complete. I want to stare failure in the face and laugh, not cower.

I’m so tired of cowardice.

But most of all, I’m tired of wanting and not doing. I want to do and not just to want, and I want to do big, and not just dream big. I’m tired of making excuses for myself, letting myself be useless and tired, but I’m too tired to force myself to be anything else.

I’m tired of being tired.

Diary of Me: New Toys

I recently bought a piece of dictation software when it was on sale. Mind you, it was a really good deal, but it’s never a good idea to buy things just because they’re on sale. Actually, I’ve been considering buying this software, or rather dreaming of it because of its price tag, for a very long time, because it’s the only good dictation software on the market that will work with a laptop mic.

Now, you may ask why I’m buying dictation software to begin with. I don’t work in an industry that requires dictation software. I don’t need to train on this for any professional reason. It sure as hell doesn’t make me any more productive. I think I’ve just spent 10 minutes dictating these past five lines, which would take me maybe two minutes to type. Honestly, if I have to say “correct that” or “delete that” one more time, I might just pull my hair (which would really be a tragedy, because I finally grew it out again).

So why am I sitting here struggling, with my face pressed up against my laptop, trying to get as close to the mic as possible without licking the screen? Why am I demonstrating how many different ways I can say licking for the benefit of my next-door neighbours? Why am I dragging out each word from this little green flame inch by painful inch?

(And trust me, this is painful. Every bit of punctuation is a battle, every word gained is a victory, and every phrase I don’t need to correct is a miracle.)

Originally, I wanted to buy it because I am a notorious multitasker. It always frustrated me that my hands had to be occupied when I wanted to write, and I couldn’t do anything else. Yes, I know, multitasking is shown to be counterproductive, and to be honest, it’s going to take me a long time before I can do anything else but dictate when I’m writing. This is a steep learning curve.

Instead, dictation software has two key benefits: first of all, I’m learning to be more deliberate when I speak, and second of all, I can hear the unnatural constructs that are so comfortable to type. Now, anyone who spoken to me knows that I am a very nervous speaker, and I tend to repeat myself a lot because I lose my train of thought. I can’t afford to do that when I’m using dictation software, because it is painful to correct. Also, requiring me to compose each sentence as I’m going and think about each sentence, is making me focus and concentrate on my writing as I never have before, which I think is a good thing because I tend to be fairly distracted when I do anything in life.

Yet, as deliberate as this form of composition is, it feels a lot more natural to read and reread than a lot of my previous work. It’s harder to put down convoluted phrases and words when you can already hear how stupid they sound. Maybe this experiment will help me find every writer’s unicorn: my unique writer’s voice (or maybe I’ll win the lottery. A girl can dream).

All in all, I think this piece of software will be a keeper, and even if it’s not, I will have learned something very important. I’ll be writing some blog posts and some other things with my dictation software for the next little while, so if there’s a weird phrase or word or turn of phrase in there while I surmount this learning curve, my apologies. I’m sure I’ll accidentally publish something hilarious and embarrassing (not that it’s been the first time I’ve done that deliberately on this blog ), so stay tuned.

I just hope I get a mic soon, before I actually lick my screen or pull my hair out.

Moving Forward with Project 14 in the Rearview

So.

I’m done.

It’s my birthday tomorrow. I feel like the older I get, the fewer things I can be proud of doing each year, and that scares me. Sure, there are things that I’ve done well, but those are routine. Project 14 is the exception to that. What was supposed to be a two week introspection has become an eight month thought experiment. Has it been a success? Well, it’s done, so I suppose it is.  Even if it wasn’t timely, I feel inordinately proud of myself for finishing the damn thing. I think I’ve produced something, as haphazard and rambling and slapdash as it is, that is worth rereading. Whenever I feel down or less energized or a little lost, I think this Project 14 will be my anchor, my rock, to come back to and a foundation on which I can build a stairway to heaven.

Was it perfect? Of course not. I reread them all tonight, and winced at some of the formatting and some spelling mistakes I’ve made. I also noticed that I accidentally missed counting one of my mother’s siblings in my first post, because she has four of them. Oops (I guess I forgot my uncle). Sometimes the prose feels unwieldy, sometimes too pretentious. Sometimes my ideas are too rambling and didn’t come out as accurate as I would’ve liked, sometimes… well maybe they were just too clear and blunt.

Some people have told me that they think I’m brave for sharing so much with the internet. I honestly don’t feel brave. A little stupid, maybe, but honest, which was I going for. I wanted to be honest, and straightforward, and I didn’t see any point as representing myself as perfect or only slightly flawed, because I’m human. Maybe you’ll think less of me for telling you my weaknesses, my idiocy, my feelings of despair or terror, when I’ve been wrong, but to continue being honest with you, I don’t care. Just because I don’t tell anyone doesn’t change the fact that I’ve made them. I hope you can see me as someone with a story to tell, a beginning to find, and just a pretty good, but not perfect, human being. But that’s up to you; I’ve made peace with the fact that I can’t dictate what others feel about me, nor can others dictate their opinions to me

Looking back, though, that this is one of the only things I can be really proud of completing makes me want to do more extraordinary things. I don’t want life to be just a humdrum expected series of events. I want to be able to look back, next year at this time, and say “I am proud to have written these things, I am proud to have thought these things, and I am proud to have done these things.” I think I’ll start recording things too; memory is more efficient if you outsource some of it.

As to where this blog is going, I think I’ll continue to make it a personal, semi-public diary. I have some ideas for things I want to write about it, but in the end it’ll still reflect me as a person, so if you’re looking just to follow a feminist blog, or a polisci blog, or a writing blog, or a thinking blog, you’re out of luck, because I’m not just a feminist, political opinionist, writer or thinker. That being said, I’ll probably catagorize everything so you can ignore what you don’t like. While I dislike the idea of being compartmentalized, I really can’t force people to read what they don’t want to read. And who knows, maybe you’ll see something else you like. Still, in the end, this blog is still just for me, to track my development over time, to record my insights, to give me an area to vent and fume and discover I’m wrong. I’d like to hear more from the strangers who apparently follow this blog, though; I’m humbled by the people I don’t know following me or liking and commenting on my stuff.

Some things will be projects, some will be series. Projects will have an over arching story to tell, like Project 14 was cataloguing where I am where I start. Series will just be posts with commonalities. I suppose I chose to do things this way because it’ll help move me along. When I’m stuck for what to write, I can pick a series or a project and just hammer something out. And yes, I’m still working by the maxim that done is always better than perfect, even in writing, no matter what Annie Dillard says, because there’s always editing.

So, while I will write a better introductory page and reshuffle around the pages of my blog a bit, and probably redesign it again to make this clearer, I’ll briefly sketch out some of the Projects and Series I’m thinking about.

The Foxy Insights series: The parable of the fox and the hedgehog is that the hedgehog knows one thing well, while the fox knows many things. Therefore, when I write my foxy insights, I am not purporting to be an expert pundit on anything (nor am I trying to be sexy); I’m just trying to give insight on a wide range of topics, from feminism and politics, to trivialities and internet culture. A lot of these will probably be highly opinionated rants, but please feel free to try and change my mind or present me with an alternate view, just be logical about it. I may or may not agree with you, as is my prerogative, but I do want to hear it.

The Book (Week)end series: I’ve made a goal of reading a new, interesting book once a week, and I’d like to write reviews of them. It’ll help keep me honest, and force me to be coherent in my opinions and views. Also, I welcome book recommendations!

The Letter to Myself series: I actually found writing to myself incredibly liberating, so I think I’ll use that format when I want to say something to myself, past, present or future. I may laugh myself sick over their pretension and naivity when I grow up, but hey, at least I’ll be laughing.

The Written Gems series: Each story I write is a hard fought gem mined from the depths of my mind and experience, so I call them written gems. Uncut, unpolished and unrefined they might be, but to me, each has it’s own shine.

The Everyday Artist series: I like Art history; it’s something I’ve spent a lot of time with. I’d like to highlight paintings I like and don’t like, and just write about art from a layman’s perspective.

Project Finding God… Maybe: I’d like to chronicle my experinces and struggles with Christianity. Please don’t read it expecting a hallelujah moment, because every inch towards Christianity will come with no end of questioning and scruitiny. Also, my highly unorthodox and developing view of Christianity might make you uncomfortable.

Project “Are You My Voice?”: This title comes from a chapter in Lean In, where Sheryl Sandberg questions the wisdom of asking someone to be your mentors; mentorship relationships, like writing voices, are supposed to develop naturally. However, I want to try challenging myself to write in the voices of certain authors and time periods, and steal what I like from each in an effort to find my own voice. We’ll see if this one ever has an end either.

Project 24: This is an old project that I’m picking up again, but basically I want to write a monologue for every hour of the day. It’s just a fun challenge, as well, and gives me a chance to write in different speaking voices, instead of written ones.

That’s quite a bit to start with, and I’ll probably add and pause and restart projects as time passes. I’m also thinking about a five word story project that incorporates a new a challenging word every time. I won’t restrict myself and push through one project or series at time. Still, it gives me some structure and planning, and you a glimpse of the rabbit hole you’ll fall down if you read these.

Welcome to my wonderland!

Another Interlude: Not Writing and Not Apologizing

So my first instinct was to apologize for not writing for a while… yet when I sat down to start writing, I couldn’t be bothered. Even if I regret not writing for four months, I don’t want to apologize to anyone, because I don’t owe anyone anything. Now that I’ve written this, I feel incredibly pretentious, but I stand by that sentiment.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly honoured by the people who take time to read my blog and tell me that they enjoy it. Although I’m a little weirded out by the random people I don’t know reading, liking, and following, I’m also pleasantly surprised. It’s nice to know that this epic journey of my internal rambler isn’t a solitary one, and that people can connect to my story and my introspection. I even get a kick out of imagining how the people I’ve written about squirm a little.

But in the end, this blog is mine. My introspection, my story, my view point, that I want to share with others. Apologizing and feeling guilt means I owe someone something for this, but for this project, for this blog, I only owe it to myself to write, and to think. I refuse to feel guilty because I’m too busy living life instead of writing about it, or because I want to do now and think later.

I do regret not writing for a while. While Project 14 is still a work in progress, not a failure, I feel like I lost some of the drive it sparked at the beginning of the term. Writing helps me clear my mental voice, center myself, and build my confidence. Doing it more regularly would give me more discipline, and it slows me down when the world goes too fast, and it gives me the kick in the ass I need when I drag my heels.

And yet, life happens. I’m finally half way through my two degrees, I’ve started something special with someone, and a billion other things happens, big and small. We’ll see how much more writing I get down now that I have more time between semesters. I do want to write again, though. I need every single bit of inspiration, pluck, and confidence I can scrounge for next term.

Writing this, I also realize I miss the act itself: the careful placement of word after word, the click of the keys, and the scrutiny of all the different facets of my personality, including my pretentious side (I’ve got to work on that….). At any rate, I think I’m back!

An Interlude: Going Home

So I’m taking a quick break from my project 14 for a while to write of other ramblings and thoughts. I’m going back to University today at an obscene hour of the morning, and the last glimpse I have of the ‘burb of which I grew up in is the sunrise and the cow fields. I’m going to miss it, again, and I don’t know if I’m exactly ready to go back.

I wanted to be done my project 14 by now, but I think it’s already done me a world of good. Old me would’ve seen how far behind I was, and made excuses, and felt like a low worm about it, and given it up. New me shrugs, realizes everything else I did on my vacation, is proud of what I’ve already done, and realizes that I’ll continue thinking and plowing my way through it. It feels good to count this, not as a failure, but a work in progress.

I left University at the end of the summer semester soul-tired and heart-bruised, and not just a little bit discouraged. For the first time in my life, I questioned whether I was cut out for my chosen field, which scared me, because I’ve never looked back before. I also left with a broken heart, a fatigued body, and a lost soul.

I wanted to go home. I wanted the comfort of my family, I wanted the company of old friends, I wanted the security of a commune I knew well. I wanted to rediscover the secret of what made me awesome when I felt like I was on top of the world in high school, and I wanted to reclaim the reason why I’d been so sure for all my life. I wanted to recapture the magic that kept me from failing, and the wizardry that helped me make friends.

I went on a snark hunt. For those of you who have never read the Lewis Carroll nonsense poem, it describes “with infinite humour the impossible voyage of an improbable crew to find an inconceivable creature” (credo wikipedia), which is exactly what I did. The secret and reason and the magic and wizardry was the snark that turned out to be a boojum, and the me that hunted for them with “thimbles and care” vanished with it (If you’re excessively confused, “The Hunting of the Snark” can be found here, or you can read the wikipedia article here). That is, the secret and reason was the naivety of youth, and the magic and wizardry never existed.

There was no one me that was then battered and broken, and a different me that was once whole. There was no searching me and a me that had all the answers. There was no amazing me and commonplace me, no sure me and questioning me, enthusiastic me and discouraged me, then me or now me.

There was just me.

I am one person, battered, broken and whole. I am one person, searching and finding. I am one person, amazing, commonplace, sure, questioning, enthusiastic, discouraged, then, and now. I am a contradiction, a paradox, an enigma, and I am perfectly okay with that.Who I am today is the sum of everything I was yesterday and everything I hope to be tomorrow.

I’ve already said what I was yesterday: broken-hearted, fatigued body, and lost soul. I wanted to come back confident and swinging, with my head high and everything behind me. I wanted to come back bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and five pounds lighter, with the same vim and vigor that I usually approached life with. I wanted to be able to walk onto that campus sure that I was in the right place, and strut around like I owed the place.

My broken heart is not whole again, nor do I think it ever will be, but it is better, and more beautiful and worth more for the repairs I am making in gold. I still carry around a little baggage, because it is hard to give everything to someone and realize they don’t consider it enough or worth their effort, but maybe it was too much. While it’s still there, though, it’s not too heavy or too much to bear – I can put it away when I need to, and I don’t feel the compulsive need to unpack it at every junction. It’s just mine, now, a dusty old fanny-pack I never need to open instead of a battered backpack with many broken zippers, and I can’t wait to get rid of it.

My fatigued body is rested but it’s not bouncing. I didn’t lose the weight I wanted to, but at least I didn’t gain much. I got sleep, decent food (amazing food – I missed my mommy’s cooking) and no stress for two and half blissful weeks. I’ve built a solid foundation of good habits. I’m not going to strut; I’m going to tread more lightly and carefully through life. I’ll probably still strut every once and a while, but I’ll learn how to dance, and caper, and bounce through life as well.

My soul is not lost any more, but wandering on a journey with the Bellman’s map: no conventional signs, perfectly understandable, and entirely blank. While that might seem to be the same thing, there is one very crucial difference, that I am not afraid any more. I’m okay with this – I’ll just putter along and take the lack of directions, not as a reason to panic, but as a reason to be sure I’m not going in the wrong direction. My soul is lighter, and happier, accepting this uncertainty.

I said when I left that I wasn’t going to be coming back the same person I was leaving, but I’m not coming back the same person I thought I’d be coming back as either.  And yet I am, because everything I’ve done and everything I’ve wanted make up me. I’m also going back to a new aspect of my University. I’m living with different people, in a place I can really call home. People say that home is where the heart is, but I think it’d be really rather uncomfortable to live without your heart, and anyway, it’d be terrible if you forgot it somewhere. Home is where your heart wants to be, and right now, my heart wants to be with my friends, continuing down the uncharted path of life, and taking on the whole damn world. So look out, because I’m coming home!

It’s amazing what writing and coffee will do for your outlook, isn’t it?