Today provided the perfect illustration of why I gravitate towards goal-setting. It all comes down to contrasts. I can have such highs and such lows all in the space of a few hours some days. I wasn’t looking forward to work entirely since I was going to be seeing a difficult class for the first time since I had a talk with them about not being difficult, but I sucked it up and I wore my new jewelry, a collection of pieces called the Transformation set which is made up of a necklace, earrings, and a ring. I very carefully matched my clothes to my jewelry, did my makeup with a bit more attention than usual, my hair came out perfectly, and I put on my lovely winter coat that I never get tired of wearing along with my new fingerless black lace gloves. I realized when I got out to my car that the nail polish I’d chosen the night before was the same shade as the glass pieces in my jewelry. I felt uber confident and happy to be going to work.
When I put my stereo on, I queued up the soundtrack to The Darjeeling Limited. I was immediately transported to the summer through the first song, which I think is called “Where do you go to my Lovely?” I could almost feel the sun on me in my backyard in early June and imagined a crisp cocktail in my hand, the glass sweating with condensation.
I got into work and was grateful to see that the thick ice in my town was missing from Dover, and I was able to walk without worrying about falling to my building. I walked into class and things went very well and the students were much improved.
Yet at the end of class things went awry. I can’t go into the details, but suffice it to say that the rest of my workday I went through bouts of shaking and feeling almost lightheaded with the attack on my nerves as well as the feeling that I had to rush to send emails and to document things that transpired. It was truly one of the ugliest, most obscene days I’ve ever had at my 22 years of working at this job.
I got home and took a hot bath and as is usual, I think of all my ideas there. Either I come up with stories or plot lines or I solve problems. I don’t know what it is about the bath that inspires all of this creative thinking, but it never fails, even when I’m not sure I want to be thinking at all. I realized what I needed to do.
I actually cut my bath short to get back to my laptop where I found myself researching a few online (mostly) MFA programs in writing as well as a week-long summer writing conference in Virginia. These things cost money. A lot of money. But I guess I felt like maybe since I was finding such job dissatisfaction of late (not just today), I needed to keep certain doors open for myself.
Before I got out of the tub, I heard myself say out loud, “You don’t have to commit to anything. All you have to do is apply. Just to see if you can get in.” Then, I looked up admission requirements and thought “do I honestly want to make time to go through that entire process if I’m not even that serious? If all I want is the pat on the back that I COULD go do something different if I wanted to?”
The answer is no, probably not.
And that’s it in a nutshell. I think that every time I have a day like today, where things go from great to stunningly awful in the space of a few hours, I feel like I have to do something. ANYTHING. I can’t just let that day happen and tell myself that the next day will be better. That never, ever works. What I tell myself, instead, is that I must do something to set things correct again. In my mind, when a day is generally ok–through my own deliberate good attitude even if I’m anxious–and then it goes very wrong outside of my control–then things need to be set right again. And I guess I really have no expectation that they can be set right again by anyone but me.
Enter new goal time. I went through dreams of grad school and book writing beyond what I already write and home repair/remodel and even this–blog writing–all in the space of one hour. I think I also considered reading about 10 books and stitching a bunch of different items. File all under goals to take my mind off my troubles, I suppose.
I really have little faith that things will just fix themselves–ever. I’m not sure why I’m wired this way, but I am. In fact I started to talk myself into setting more lofty goals for myself even in the face of things not going well lately by saying to myself, “Maybe this is supposed to happen. Maybe you’re supposed to get so frustrated at your job and/or life that you will end up moving in a direction you might not have.”
I have a terrible time just being. It is something I have never learned, and it has plagued me my whole life as I overbook myself with too many goals to complete in a lifetime.
And yet, what did I tell myself when I pulled myself out of that water in the bath, but “what if you only get one life and in that life you could have been a real writer and you didn’t follow that path? What if this is your only chance?”
And so I compromised. For now. Something made me look up free blogging. And here I am. I’m doing something new. I’m writing. And maybe THIS is where I was supposed to end up today after all. I took off my Transformation jewelry when I took my bath, but I think the pieces might have been working their magic all day long, shimmering in the background, guarding me when things were at their worst, ready to speak to me when I was finally able to hear.