In my endless quest to create fresh content for you, dear reader, I’ve been re-reading my old pieces to make sure I’m not stepping on my own toes. Maybe that’s being a bit presumptuous about the strength of your memories, but, as incredible as I am, even I can grow sick of hearing my own hot air.
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll have noticed the theme all my columns have in common: Me! I’ve tried to write about other stuff. I really have. I don’t actually find myself that interesting. In fact, I’ve grown quite bored of myself as of late. But every month, I’ve gotta sit down and write about something. I never know exactly what’s going to come out. I write about what I can’t stop thinking about, or the first idea that came to me while brainstorming, or whatever’s been on my mind that day. Lately that’s been — you guessed it! — myself.
You can’t entirely disconnect yourself from your writing. Some people I’ve met take an almost surgical or Spock-like approach to writing, whether it’s fiction or non-. But god, doesn’t that leach all the flavor out of it? Maybe if I take a creative writing class next semester I’ll understand that literary trick.
Anyway, what I’ve gleaned from re-reading my past work is that I seem to have regressed. It’s really hard to read stuff I wrote a year or two ago and to feel like I’ve only gone backwards. To realize that these problems I’ve had ever since I attained emotional intelligence will most likely keep coming back with every new environment, every new relationship, every new stage of my life. I can overcome them situationally, but they’ll always return.
Some of what I’m struggling with right now is something I’ve written about before: emotional permanence. That is, feeling like the emotion I have in this present moment is the only emotion there is. Of course, I know, intellectually, that’s not true, but emotionally it feels like a law of human nature.
This sense of backsliding is incredibly frustrating, right? Everything we do in life is to try to get ahead, to get better at something, to better ourselves. We work to get money, or to attain some sense of personal fulfillment. We exercise to be fitter and healthier, we study to gain knowledge. And when we don’t get the results we’d hoped this hard work would deliver, we quit.
Granted, most of us can’t quit our jobs, even if we hate them or aren’t making the money we want to be making. We can quit exercising, eating right, and doing homework, though.
I’m defining my progress as overcoming past demons and striving for happiness and being a good person to others. It can feel really shitty to have been actively working toward these goals only to find I’ve actually gone backwards. Because we are wired to strive for goals and expect rewards when we reach them. My progress map these days looks less like a straight line, or even a curvy one, and more like the squiggly mess in Peanuts comics when Charlie Brown and the gang get into a fight.
I tend to view the world as very black and white, all or nothing. Like right now, I’m really very homesick. And school isn’t home. Therefore, school isn’t good. (At least I’m acing Logic 101!) But that’s not true, either. You see, I’m trying to view the gray areas between the poles. College is a different experience, and much harder, and sure, I feel a little lost, but there are still good things about it. I just need to try really hard to remind myself what they are.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. We must all have battles we’ll have to fight our whole lives. I understand that being in an unfamiliar environment, with entirely new people and a new way of living, would bring not only new challenges, but revive old ones. It just sucks, is all.
I’ve been struggling to live intentionally. I want to feel like I have some control over my life, rather than just falling back into the same types of relationships and routines I have before. But I think first I need to redefine my goals, and perhaps the idea of progress itself.