Tag Archives: self-definition

Who you are vs. who you want to be

14 May

6:14 pm

So, as you all know, we moved to a new place about three months ago, and we’re managing to stay sane, I suppose!  Being in a new place, my contract job having ended, and neither of us really all that extroverted or desiring to be so–it just sort of sucks!  It is NOT EASY moving somewhere new in your 40s!  Haha.  You sort of just don’t feel like any of it anymore, you know?  I knew that I would feel more comfortable in one of the many places that I have already lived, but I thought, take a chance, go outside your comfort zone (again), yada yada yada.  I think we have both realized that there is a point of diminishing returns when it comes to aging and trying certain new things, like, moving to a new place.  I don’t know.

And, this has all made me start thinking about this whole, “go outside your comfort zone” thing, which I’ve been trying to do my whole life, to varying degrees of success.  Like, what IS a comfort zone, and why do we have this idea of it being a bad thing?  Are you supposed to be doing something that makes you feel comfortable, most like yourself; or are you supposed to be challenging yourself and doing things that are hard or scary or too big to chew?  I guess I’ve been thinking a lot about how much I just can’t stand writing anymore, and I want to do something else; but, when I boil it down and observe myself in action–you know, being who I am, or who I have always gravitated toward being–I realize that I AM simply a writerly type (quiet, thoughtful, introverted, so at ease in my thoughts) and then, can’t seem to conclude that I should do something else.

Yet, what IF I didn’t want to be that thing anymore?  Can I just go and be someone else entirely, throwing off the “callings” and character traits that I always seem to relax into, and instead do something that I think would make me the person I want to be (less in my head, more active, more intrepid, as it were)?  I have thought about this a lot in getting sober, in moving through it all, in relocating, in losing yet another job that I didn’t really want in the first place but that I was “good” at and that I made money doing.  Are you supposed to be who you are, or work at being who you want to be?

I am SO fully on board right now with trying to be who I want to be–with putting in that work–because I am so tired of who I am.  I am so tired of being the neurotic writer, the science geek.  It’s like, I wasn’t that good at science and wanted to major in freaking poetry in college (yeah, the fear started way back then, and it is one of my life’s regrets)!?  Um, when as a child did I say, Mommy, I really want to be a…technical writer when I grow up?  Time is running out, y’all.  And not only that, but I am sort of becoming desperate to NOT be in my head all day–even IF it means taking a huge pay cut…at a time in my life when I need all the money I can get.

The other day, as I was contemplating who I am (a writer) versus who I want to be (maybe a public health professional, maybe someone who works for an international development nonprofit or NGO), I was struck by how confusing it is to decide who to be:  which person (the one you are, the one you want to be) is more authentic, more truthful, more along the lines of fulfilling a personal destiny?

It’s a dilemma.  As a writer, I am always looking for work, selling myself, and moving from contract to contract, subject to subject.  I mean, it would almost be easier to be a lawyer, or anything with a well-formed trajectory, and then at a certain point be like, it’s too late to change course.  As a writer, part of your job is changing course, so you are constantly also thinking about courses outside of your own realm (well, at least some of us are).

I am trying to sort of end this chapter in my life, but I have only ideas, and not enough savings, and a heavy dose of fear.  I hate that.  I hate feeling afraid at this late stage–I am 43 years old, and it’s only been in the past several years or so that I wouldn’t have just up and left a well-paying job to pursue a shitty paying passion.  And, I am grateful for that newfound level-headedness (it has enabled a lot of financial progress and big changes, like this move), but I’m also still learning how to balance my need to earn a big check with my equally large need to feel stimulated, excited, fulfilled, wanting to get out of bed in the morning.  I know there are many an alternate career I can pursue, and I just need to sit down and chart a course of action beyond the next few months.  All in due time, I say.

I gave up freelance writing because it did not pay the bills; and, I think it might have just tired me out and made me believe that I didn’t like writing when in fact, it was the stress of never making enough money.  I WANT to be like, eh, I don’t need the savings, the retirement account; I should just Go For It and become a barista (again), or a teacher, or a poorly paid writer for an international NGO.  Yet, can I expect to feel safe, or, the way I want to feel, on that kind of income anymore?  In an ideal world, we would have a thriving business, which would allow me to pursue a more “passionate” career again; in THIS world, maybe we would both feel equal parts comfortable and challenged; in this world, maybe I would love being a writer again.

Exhale.  It will all be OK, I keep telling myself.  You got this.  It’s all about balance, right?

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I no longer define myself by my drinking

6 Mar

9:51 pm

And, no one else can, either!

Sorry about not posting as often as I usually do, but, I’ve had a lot going on. Nonetheless, I’m still here, still sober, and still thinking about drinking–but won’t–almost every day. I mean, it’d be nice, I guess, to have a glass of red. Mainly, I wonder if I can; and if I would, if I could. The thoughts are momentary, though; it’s just not something I’m going to give up the past 21 weeks (as of tomorrow) of mental work/anguish to do!

I’m definitely feeling like I’m coming out from under some sort of anxiety/depression fog, which has been enveloping my brain and hovering around it since December. I feel better, more confident, and well, more like myself, in general. Nothing has to be perfect, and, if they don’t want me, it’s their loss, is MUCH easier for me to tell myself these days, an almost automatic internal reaction–how it was, and should be; the baseline; normal. Not that I didn’t have doubts and self-confidence issues before, but the older I got the better able I was to channel the Fierce. Since I quit drinkin’, I’ve just felt…really unsure. Annoyingly, frustratingly so. More and more, decisions are coming without a lot of back and forth. I can count on myself again, and that takes away a lot of anxiety (which, I guess, I didn’t even know was coming from within).

Drinking was a phase in my life, I see now. I’m now most definitely not in that phase; I’ve grown out of it. Grown up, in a sense. Getting shitfaced messes everything up, and that’s the best it does; I really don’t have the time or desire to mess things up anymore. Drinking to excess has personal and professional consequences; I wouldn’t subject myself to them–and wouldn’t let others take advantage of me while drunk–if I had an OUNCE of self-love. I see that now.

I’m not sure if drinking will be a part of my future, but using wine the way I did–and abusing others and letting myself be abused by others–will DEFINITELY not be. It really is that simple.

I am no longer defining myself by my drinking. And, regardless of what box you fit into (someone I hurt, someone I “lost” along the way to getting sober), I am no longer allowing you to define me by my drinking. (“You” is not, well, y’all, but…well, you know what I mean!) What a liberating revelation! Am I still bitter that some people haven’t forgiven or forgotten, despite my “amends” and apologies? Hell’s, yes! Am I trying to let that–and them–go? You bet. There are SO many people in this world to get to know–that I get the chance to know–to share myself with, to love. And to be loved by. Why would I waste time and effort on those who are still defining me–and our relationship–by my nonexistent drinking? I wouldn’t. And that’s much easier to accept now than it was even a month ago.

I’m looking forward–finally–to most everything. Finally, it’s not an effort to get excited about a trip, a job application, a road race. I can almost look forward to dinners out sans wine–well, let’s not go THAT far. I don’t know if that’s part of the warped-by-wine leaving me, but I think it is. Why? Because it feels effortless, familiar–I remember all the stuff I USED to do that got me excited, wine or no wine. Somewhere along the way, none of it alone could make me feel excited anymore; the only thing I looked forward to, that truly motivated me, was wine. Getting buzzed. Doubly disappointing was that the by-product became mass confusion and destruction.

Anyway, things are rolling along: I’m *this* close to registering for a half-marathon somewhere; I’m heading to Miami this weekend for a solo “big city” adventure; and well, other stuff that’s too personal or boring to share here. Slowly, but surely, things are coming together. I just have to remember to take it easy on myself when I need to, breathe, and ENJOY the silence–wolfie (the voice of craving, that growls, Drink drink drink drink!) has finally shut up, and is cowering in his dog bed over in the far corner. Yes, I gave him a *dog* bed to rub in his now SO-not-alpha status.

147 days tomorrow, which means 33 days until my 6-month goal! Unicorns, set…and GO!!!

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