What Next?

This is a tough time of year for me. I tend to get those holiday blues, often paired with that itching “what’s next?” feeling. It’s been a tough couple of years, full of craziness, moving, job layoffs, hospital stays, chronic illness, new jobs, new friends, breakups, get-togethers, and yes, quite a few accomplishments, the biggest one being my crazy stubborness to just keep going, because really, what other choice would their be? Hiding under the bed never got anybody anywhere.

I’m still digging myself out of the physical, financial, and emotional hole of the last year, but as I start to see the edge of the pit there, I start thinking about what’s next for me, and that’s a hard thing to think about right now, particularly because, as said, I think I’m still there at the edge of the pit.

A lot depends on how this job goes. I should know by late April/May whether or not they’ll want to keep me on past tax season. They’ll be a huge purge of people after season, back to a bare bones crew, and I’ll find out if the season was good enough for me to make the cut. I’m prepared to not make the cut, because you always prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

If that happens, I figure I’ll start to seriously map out other avenues for me, cause with a year of experience as a tech writer, I may be able to move into other writing-related jobs, whether here or out of state. If things go well, I’d like to move out of Steph and the Old Man’s place sometime next year, possibly. I don’t mind it here, I’m happy, but I do miss having my own place sometime, and with three people, the Boyfriend, and two dawgs, the place sometimes feels crowded. It’s not a big house, and it requires a surprising amount of upkeep.

But then…

You know, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my life, about moving around a lot, about cutting and running, about never being satisfied. I keep thinking, what is it I keep running from? And maybe it’s the mortgage and the dogs. Maybe it’s stagnation, or this belief in stagnation. The more I get to talking about it and thinking about it, the more I realize that I’ve always associated settling down, marriage, families, with bitterness and unfulfilled dreams and contempt and stagnation. Two people resenting each other for all the things they never did.

And then I look at my life, and the stuff I’ve done, the stuff I still want to do, and it’s like: I could do that from anywhere. How would being even more in debt stop me? It certainly wouldn’t take away from the life I’ve lived. The issue is, more and more, asking myself what kind of life I want to live now.

I still want to travel to somewhere racy at least once a year. I still want to read a lot of books. I still want to work on my languages. I still want to read books. I still want a house to, you know, put all my books in. Could all that happen just anywhere? Would I stagnate if I stopped moving? If I partnered up? Is it possible to have a life that’s not lived out of a box, or is it this constant routine that weighs you down, that takes up all that living?

At some point I just ask myself: was I happier in South Africa living on red wine and cigarettes in my little cockroach infested flat than I am here living with two jerks and two dogs, working as a tech writer in Ohio and dating somebody who makes me laugh?

Because, you know: South Africa! Experience! It was awesome. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s made me an incredibly strong person. Every move, every experience, has made me stronger. It’s given me better stories. I’m better for having been there. But if you’re measuring the quality of life by your level of happiness? I was happiest those first couple years in Chicago before I got sick, and happiest here now, with the good friends and the good job (and I’ll be happier with the health insurance fucking works). Some of that happiness is, I know, just being around other people. Spending too much time alone really does wear me down, and after awhile, I lose my sense of focus and perspective and it all goes to hell.

We need other people.

Even though I hate that.

I like what I’ve done and what I’ve accomplished. I like the road I’m headed down. I’m wondering now, I think, what else it is I want. I went out and proved I was smart and strong. I’m working at getting stronger, building a proper career now, and I hope, building other things too.

I’m just not sure what I’m ready for yet, or what I want or need. Sometimes, I get this terrible feeling in my chest, this hole in my heart, and I wonder what it is I’m missing. Back in the day, I’d fill that up with food or, later, exercise, or maybe writing. Writing often fills the hole.

But, more and more, I realize that during these black holiday times, it’s not food I’m craving, and it’s not a picket-fence house, and it’s not a new Jeep or an iPod and it’s maybe not even cheap insulin.

I want to know that I’m enough. That I’ve done enough. That I’ve run hard enough, fast enough. I want somebody to say that I did well. That I can stop running. That I’ve proved myself. The thing is, every time I think I’m done running, there’s always something else. The next thing and the next thing. Some way I can be better, stronger, more accomplished.

But who am I trying to prove my worth to?

Just me. Just me, because at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Everybody else will take you or leave you, as they please. I’m the only one it matters to, but that’s maybe why it hurts so much when I think I’m not this dynamic, worthwhile person in other’s eyes. It’s like, fuck, don’t you see how fucking hard I fucking work? You think I just woke up one morning with three degrees and wrote ten novels? You think I jump up every morning and this shit is easy? You think this shit is easy?

It’s never easy, not for anyone. It’s never perfect. I’m never perfect. I’m in a constant state of becoming.

Maybe that’s why I always feel like I’m so tired, like I’m in a race that I’ll never finish.

I want to be good enough for me. That’s the trick.

I’m just afraid that if I stop running, if I’m good enough, that it’ll all fall apart again, that I’ll revert to somebody I used to be, that I’ll become someone I hate.

If that constant state of becoming is tiring, it’s tiring because it’s hard to get to this place, harder to get to the place I want to be.

Long race, big finish.

That’s the plan.

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