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.
A TO THE MEN! I feel you. I'm ALIVE in the summer. I lose weight, am generally happy, and I even work summer school! When I don't have to deal with the negativity and INSANITY that results in our profession (sometimes I feel like saying "thank you ma'm may I have another please" when I get b*tched at by superiors just to make it stop) I am SO happy. I'm me! I'm cheerful, healthy, and relaxed. I get your anxiety. I'm there with you. Lets be authentic friend, lets show those kids how to live life like nobody is watching! (My new line from the Ryan Lewis /Macklemore song)ReplyDelete
Sending a big hug your way, girly! Keep your head up and have a great year. Know that you're not alone in how you feel and you can always take steps to make a change.Delete
Alright!!! I can not write like that. That was outstanding. I feel in many ways -- exactly the same. SmoochReplyDelete
Thank you so much! Writing is therapeutic for me. It also helps to put something as personal as this post into the world and to get such supportive responses. It is easy to feel isolated in our unhappiness, but the fact is that many people are struggling with exact thing. Admitting that we're unhappy is scary, but it is the first step to making the necessary changes. That sounds very cliche, but it is the truth. Recognize the problem; find the solution. I hope you're able to find the solution that fits your situation. :)Delete
I so get the introvert, wanting-to-do-my-own-thing, finding-systems-soul-sucking feelings you have. This is my life.ReplyDelete
But that's my point. You recognize that you have a nagging feeling that says "This is not right." On whatever level, your subconscious mind is raising the red warning flag - giving you that icky feeling - which I often interpret as "fight or flight"...a survival mechanism. I don't know what the answer is for you - or even for me - but don't ignore your feelings. We should never settle for something that steals our lust for life1Delete
I am a teacher as well and feel the same way! I am a different "me" during the summer! I lost focus on a lot of things when September rolls around...ReplyDelete
And its too bad that it works that way. We all got into teaching because we had visions/missions/hope. I hate that I feel a little bit...embarrassed...when people ask what my job is - how ridiculous? The political climate surrounding education has left a bad taste in everyone's mouth - and it is left teachers looking like whiners with their hands out. Or that the educational system is an ineffective sham, a pawn in a political system. It all just makes me really sad.Delete
I know exactly what you mean. I quit my stuffy office job a year and a half ago to take a factory job just because I couldn't deal with all do whatever they say and pretend to be happy about it. I am not using my college degree anymore, but I have not regretted it at all. So much less stress and no one breathing down my neck, I get questioned about it a lot and I just tell people money and "success" are not everything I would rather be happy.ReplyDelete
Good for you! That's a really brave step to take. You have to live the life that makes you happy - or you're not living life at all.Delete
I think I understand; I'm the same way. It's extremely important to me that my work is in line with my values -- and that includes the WAY the work is carried out, in addition it its mission and goals.ReplyDelete
One thing I learned is that there are ways to maintain humanity and even try to change bureaucracy -- judging by the comments here, you're definitely not the only person who feels this way, and sometimes all it takes is one person questioning the way things are done, or why this is happening, for others to chime in in agreement, and change the status quo.
I agree; however, the issues that I'm speaking of are so deeply engrained into society's systems that that are simply part of the status quo. People don't even realize there are problems, because it is all they've ever known and they don't think they have options. I don't know what the solution is for everyone else, but the solution for myself begins with recognizing the problems and refusing to settle.Delete
Very nice. :)ReplyDelete
I got the shriveled ovaries feeling this morning...work sucks the life out of most people. We just try to live it up on the weekends!ReplyDelete
"Everybody's workin' for the weekend" - as the song goes. Unfortunately, that won't cut it for me. I'll be damned if I don't find a way to be a happy, successful adult on my own terms.Delete
Thanks for sharing :) At leat you get summers off..that sounds niiiiiiceReplyDelete