I always have a lot of anxiety when the end of summer rolls around (remember: teacher/summer off/etc.) I'm talking actual anxiety attacks here. Tears. Tantrums. Doom and gloom. It has less to do with the fact that summer ends and much more to do with feeling like I am breaking up with my authentic self. I get to live an authentic life for a 10 week window every summer. When I have to put my selfish pursuits aside for the sake of a grown-up existence, I freak out.
I can't breathe & I'm going to vomit
I have always been introverted - preferring to work on my own, because I am an efficient and committed self-starter and I have control issues. Without the distraction of others or rules imposed by others, I can accomplish a tremendous amount. Because of that, the summer is a really productive and exciting time for me. I work as much during those ten weeks as I do during the school year, but I work on things that are mine - entirely selfish and fulfilling. My rules. My pursuits. My rap cd blaring in the background.
Otherwise - I follow the rules that society puts in front of me. I jump through the hoops. I collect my gold stars for a job well done. I say please and thank you and pay my bills on time; however, I do it all with a skeptical eye and more than a little reluctance. I do not trust the systems that adults are forced to function within; professional beaurocracy, social hierarchies, rules for the sake of rules all make me want to die a little bit. I have a visceral reaction to the thought of abiding by a system's rules that are:
I'm not trying to paint myself as a rebellious brat. I am a grown-up with a grown-up life that I have to maintain - a life that I am mostly proud of - but the 15 year old version of myself gives me the finger every time I disingenuously say "Yes, sir" to the Man, every time I trade my time for money, every time I neglect my wants and needs for something else. I think of the young version of myself and what I thought life would look like; the girl that got voted "Wildest Imagination" in school did not expect life to be so regimented and tame. I thought I would grow up to write and illustrate children's books and live happily ever after. That is still on the table. That is authentic.
Do not marginalize your life.
I have found some ways to navigate adulthood. I don't want to say that I bend the rules, but I do set up my own framework in all situations to make life manageable. Basically, I avoid doing a lot of things I don't want to do. I try to remember I never have to do anything. Here are a few examples that I get a fair amount of criticism for: I'm not married yet, because I don't want to be. I don't have kids yet, because a crying baby will make my ovaries shrivel. I don't engage in small talk, because it's the foundation of gossip and inefficiency. I don't eat meat, because meat had a mom. Etc. If there isn't a severe consequence and I can avoid doing something I don't want to do or some that conflicts with my values, you better believe I'll be avoiding it.
The visceral reaction I mentioned above rears its head EVERY. SINGLE. TIME I do something that conflicts with my "authentic self" or threatens my independence. Every soul-sucking time. The real version of Michelle is kinda moody, high-strung, creative, ambitious, impatient, funny and into rock & roll. She lives permanently in my mind and interjects when she can, but the Michelle that is present is the watered down version that passes for a grown-up. She is the one that puts on professional clothes, signs emails with "regards" and listens intently while someone else dictates her life. *Real Michelle shakes her head at the Drone Michelle and tells a dirty joke.* I sincerely feel like I have multiple personality disorder.
I think it is extremely important to listen to those voices, to those feelings in your "gut," and to act on them. Or be miserable. Or numb. In that regard, running has been my savior. Running is the only time when I can be 100% authentic. In control. Honest in my dialogue. When I have to return to the world of the working, running is the sanity that gets me through it all and keeps me connected to WHO I REALLY AM.
That said - my point in all of this - I am making a commitment to myself to work on my authenticity. Running will help me get there, but it is going to require some bold moves. Stagnation is not in the cards, my friends.
One of my favorite quotes is: This ain't no side hustle. My life is no side hustle. This is it and it is what I make of it.
Be and do what you love.