I haven’t written lately, and not writing is probably the cause of not being able to write.
Or, rather, not being willing to.
I’ve gotten myself stuck recently, and I can’t seem to get myself out. In fact, I feel as though I am actively digging in my heels to stay in this place. Because the rut has become comforting—if I don’t make any moves, I can’t make the wrong one.
And I’m feeling deeply inadequate and tired a lot these days, so not making moves sounds ideal.
So, I’ve quit running. I’ve quit going to yoga.
I’ve quit reading with ferocity.
And I’ve started watching Downton Abbey…again…and again.
Yeah, Brene, I know I’m numbing. And I know that I’m tired because I’ve quit giving my body what it needs, and it’s acting up.
So, maybe I should revise one of my previous statements: It’s not that I can’t seem to get myself out—I am simply choosing not to.
I’ve been talking with friends about this recently, because it seems to be going around, and we are all trying to do our best to help pull each other out before the gray and gloom of DC winter sets in. And more than that, I think we are trying to give it a name. To identify this thing that, as a kindred spirit put it the other day, is trying desperately to claw its way out from inside of us.
Some days, I think it’s called discontent. I guess in a lot of ways I am not where I’d be by the time I turned 28. And with exes getting married and moving on and friends climbing up ladders around me, I think it’s natural to feel a state of unsettledness. Of inadequacy. Of wondering.
Maybe it’s called disappointment. Because I think on some level I am disappointed I’m not on track for some major promotion. Or nearing some life milestone that I think we, as a culture, still theoretically associate with having “grown up.”
Some days, I think it’s called grief. Because I don’t know that I am actually that person who thought I would be something different at nearly 28. I’m going back to a reunion in February (not high school, though I think that’s upcoming as well), and I have zero doubts that people will find me changed. Because when many of them last knew me, I was a 21-year old recent college graduate in a prestigious fellowship program who always wore stilettos and pearls with perfectly pressed suits and well-done makeup and chased gold stars and boys with an unmatched ferocity. Now I’m a nearly-28-year old who not only doesn’t wear makeup but rarely washes her hair and likes to look at stars more than chase them. And, generally, alone. Don’t get me wrong—anyone who knows me now knows I still to lead a full life filled with achievement, but…I’m different now. And I guess sometimes I feel that if I were still that girl, I’d not be in this rut right now.
But most days, I think it’s a reckoning. Because if I were still that girl, I wouldn’t be as close to the woman I am today—and she’s kind of stolen my heart, messy hair and all.
However, I think becoming your authentic self is fairly fucking terrifying, because it means you start learning a hell of lot about yourself. It means you start imagining a life that might look radically different than you expected it to. It means you have to face up to some assumptions you’ve made and test their rationale.
Truth be told, I’m not sure that I define or even want “success” in my professional life to look anything like I used to think. But I still desire comfort and stability, which now seem at odds with the life I am beginning to create.
And love, well, I want that too.
I told my best friend the other day that it seems like some of my married friends get to have two different lives—once they get off of work, they get to experience this completely different and shared narrative. And as a believer that most things in life, especially food and travel, are more fully experienced as a shared endeavor, I feel that somehow, my life is a little less full than theirs. But on top of that, I’m more aware than ever of what Alain de Botton wrote in his most recent novel, The Course of Love: “Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate dissimilarity that is the true marker of the right person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it shouldn’t be its precondition.” And, somehow, the idea of finding this person while doing the thing you need to do to find them (i.e., dating) seems wholly discordant.
And as I not so eloquently write all of this down, in some attempt to make sense of the chaos and weight inside me (and probably on my hips a bit too), all that’s coming to mind towards the end of it is this: hunkering down in a ditch because the tornado is over you is a situation prevented, in many cases, by listening to the warning signs and getting going before the storm hits, and with rain and a 20-degree drop in temperatures headed my way this weekend, I likely need to make a start.