Today I spent a lot of time inside my head. It started this morning as I was preparing myself for another hellacious day in cashierdom. I couldn’t seem to make up my mind about anything.
I finished dressing in the unattractive, mandatory, wretched costume of requirement, and then went about applying my “face” for the day’s festivities. Lately, I’ve been playing roulette wheel with foundations trying to find the best product for my skin type/skin color. It has been a costly nightmare. I’ve also been accessorizing my nails in bold color choices: bright blues, hot pinks and passionate purples. I like variety, so soon I became bored with those colors and went to the drugstore in search for something new. I wasn’t too keen on sunshine yellow or shamrock green, and black just looked horrible, so I’m back to naked nails until I find something I really like.
I went to the kitchen and took turn turns standing in front of the refrigerator, then the pantry in hopes of finding something appealing to eat, but nothing screamed at me so I sort of halfway decided to grab something from McDonald’s on the way to work. When I got in the car I debated whether I should get something to eat or just coffee, then when I got to the exit for McDonald’s I decided to not have anything at all for breakfast and headed towards cashierdom. On the way a funny thing happened. I flipped to one of the radio stations and U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” was playing. How strange I thought. This must be my theme song. Then it came to me: I’m in limbo.
When I think of being “in limbo” I see myself suspended in air, not dangling, not falling, but sort of floating as if waiting for the perfect gust of wind to come along and propel me into another realm of sorts. Of course I have no idea what the next realm will be, but in dreamland (where I spend most of my time), it is always better then the place I was before – at least for a little while.
What I found rather interesting is that before, being in limbo would have been a source of stress because I’m a huge planner. The not here, nor there feeling can’t be calendared, and would have driven me nuts. But now for some reason I find it gives me a sense of freedom. How odd. It’s kind of like tasting a new kind of candy or winning a mini-lottery.
Upon recognizing this new found freedom I wondered if I was having some sort of midlife crisis since I have a milestone birthday coming up early next year. Then I thought about the last few years of my life: undergrad, my communication degree, my dream job, and of course writing. It’s truly amazing what I discovered.
For starters I don’t have a dream job like I thought I did. There are many things I enjoy doing, there are other things I don’t like as much, but don’t mind doing, and then there are things I hate doing.
I realized that many of the job interviews I’ve been on involved things I didn’t mind doing, but not anything I really loved or wanted to do. Which means if I had been hired for those positions, I would have eventually become dissatisfied and unhappy.
My goal upon graduation was to find a career that made me happy. Then reality sunk in and the goal became to find a job in my field with anyone who was hiring. The dismal economy soon changed that goal to find a job in any field with anyone who was hiring. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve spoken to who have degrees in one field and work in an entirely different field (not necesarily of their own choosing). They do what they have to do to keep the wolves from knocking at their doors. I completely get that – hence cashierdom. But is there a happy medium?
This past weekend I went to the theatre to see “The Words” (which by the way received horrible reviews) about a frustrated writer who commits plagarism. I’d never commit plagarism, but I could feel the character’s intense need for the right words to flow from his fingertips onto the keys. I understood his frustration and could completely relate to him wondering if what he thought he wanted in life is what he truly wants.
At the time I went to see the movie I was feeling frustrated as a writer (partly because I’m still adjusting to my new mentor), and was in the process of reevaluating whether writing was something I really enjoyed doing, or just didn’t mind doing. I asked myself if I could be content if my novel never saw the light of day, or if I didn’t finish my MFA program. For days I’d been immersed in “what do I truly want” mode. Then when the movie ended the first thought that came to mind was that it would have made a great novel.
At that moment I knew without a doubt that I wanted to continue the path I’m on. Sometimes the journey to what matters most isn’t paved with yellow brick roads, and we shouldn’t expect it to be. I know from experience that achievements mean a whole lot more when we’ve overcome obstacles along the way. Not to mention, if you’re into non-fiction it makes for great writing material.
My best advice to anyone in limbo is to enjoy the feeling of having those mountains moved, and take time to let your thoughts marinate. Then, when you are sure of the path you want to take remind yourself that along the journey you will face challenges. My daughter had a wonderful analogy about challenges. She said, “It’s like a video game. In Pacman, sometimes you get down to your last man, but then you come back, fighting hard, and you’re ahead again.” I must say it’s nice to imagine my new mentor and cashierdom as ghosts chasing me while I’m trying to eat all the annotation/writing pellets in order to get to the next level.
I can truly say I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but for once, I’m okay with that. Logic doesn’t always have to win. In the meantime, I’ll be busy writing and enjoying life until I find my happy medium.
Thanks for coming along with me on this journey.