Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Musings on self doubt, disorganization and other such things.



Truth: on the list of things I didn't do, College Tours lingers somewhere near the top. I skipped the traditional path, unintentionally, in favor of marriage and family. Later, I got that degree. But the time had passed to live like a coed. In reality, my personality is probably not suited for house parties and sorority sisters. I regret nothing and yet one always wonders what could have been. FOMO and all that jazz.

These days high school is but a distant memory, made foggier by the recollection of more recent (pleasant?) milestones. And yet I find myself, now in my mid-thirties, having come full circle. My son is due to be a senior this fall (an opportunity to relive my youth minus the awkward social interactions!) and I have embarked on that long overdue college road trip. Only a more grownup version that cares nothing at all about the number of frat houses and very much about minimum GRE scores and expiring prerequisite courses. Last week saw Indianapolis and Houston, this week Salt Lake City. My days off have been spent in flight, renting cars by the day, and counting the hours of sleep I'll manage before work starts the next morning.

I'm so grateful I decided to get out there and visit graduate schools. Through an eye-opening but not altogether positive experience, I've learned that precious little can be gleaned from website info pages alone. Vibe, it turns out, is a crucial part of the vetting process for me. What is the director like? How friendly are the faculty and students? What are their hospital affiliations? What are their priorities when selecting an applicant? What are their teaching philosophies? These are all questions that swirl through my mind but are seldom satisfied by a FAQ section. And so. I travel to and fro so I may make the best decision regarding my future.

I'll be honest: this hasn't been the easiest process for me. I'm worn out mentally and physically. Doubt and fear of disappointment play regular roles in my self talk these days. What if I fall in love with a program only to get that dreaded rejection letter? What if, oh boy, I don't get in anywhere? All unlikely scenarios, but human nature is human nature. Meanwhile, my brain is scattered in many directions, and I'm not excelling in any one area. (I'd even settle for mediocre at this point.) I'm forgetful and restless at work, unmotivated and snippy at home, and chronically worried about the What Ifs. What if Kiddo doesn't go to college right away? Does he move with us? What if he fails that class? WHY WON'T HIS CHEMISTRY TEACHER RETURN MY EMAILS?! It's exhausting. All of it. (And therefore little things like the wrong milk in my latte seem like much greater adversities than they really are and I become annoyed with even myself.)

This morning my flight left at 10:30a. The airport is 20 minutes away from home. I somehow got it into my head, despite checking my itinerary more than once, that I needed to be at the airport by 10:30. Less than an hour before my flight was due to board I realized my mistake...and I wasn't even showered yet. Thank goodness I wasn't bringing luggage and the parking + airport security gods were looking down on me favorably. My adrenaline was good and pumping, so I spent the duration of my flight ruminating on all those What Ifs and feeling generally sweaty and anxious. Upon landing I recalled those two cups of black coffee I drank sans food and it was nearly 2p. Hello low blood sugar + caffeine jitters. (And 50 rounds of Candy Crush Soda Saga which further fueled the distraction and anxiety. Time for a technology detox, perhaps.) As I sat in my rental car, applying makeup to a bare face, I started thinking about the day thus far and had to wonder where this rather self destructive behavior originates. Why do I get overwhelmed and in turn make things harder on myself? A day trip to SLC could have easily been an opportunity to usher in some calm among the chaos. An oasis. (It still can be. I'm working on it. Starting with this purge of a blog post.)

A meal in my belly and a soothing cup of tea later, and I'm still wondering why I do these things to myself. Why I falter in the areas that matter most: family, food and friends (or anything that brings joy and a sense of calm like reading, embroidery, writing, etc.). When the going gets tough, I let go of the things my mind and body crave...and it takes forever to recover them in the midst of the commotion. Surely I can't be the only one who implodes under pressure. (Can you beautiful unicorns who crave yoga and healthy eating during times of stress teach me the ways?)

I can't remember the last time I made a home cooked meal and that bothers me. (My sweet husband has made many.) I'm trying to read 3 books at once, all very different from one another. (And investing poorly in each.) My bedtime has varied by as many as 6 hours over the last few weeks, and no two bedtimes have been the same. (Jet lag in my own time zone.) This morning, during my frantic shower, I realized I have been attempting to lather my body with a paper-thin wafer of soap for the past week and my record of excellent personal hygiene is in jeopardy. (I just ran into a random Whole Foods and bought a bar of soap to bring home in my purse. I know. It's a real head-scratcher, Mr. TSA Officer.) I still haven't sent my resume and other supporting information to the physician writing a letter of recommendation for me. (It's been over a week since I asked him and I fear I'm falling into flake territory.) I am so out of shape that I think I might be developing a wheeze at the slightest exertion. (I walk 10k steps a day at work, but nothing that gets my heart pumping. Which would help my anxiety. See above re: shying away from the things that help me cope.) I fell head over heels for the Houston program and no less than 10 people have since told me Houston is "disgusting." (I wasn't disgusted at all. But now I'm afraid I missed something big and scary in my short visit.) Husband is going through work changes, both good and bad, and I'm continually afraid he is sacrificing his happiness because he's the primary breadwinner. (He says that is not the case, and logically I know that to be true, but you know. Worry.)

Oh, and did I mention that after 3 years the owner of our rental house wants to sell so we will likely have to pack up and move into a new place for the one remaining year we planned to stay in our neighborhood. In the midst of everything else. Sometimes it's all too much and yet it doesn't escape me that my problems scarcely compare to those of my fellow man. (Cue guilt.)

Where am I going with this? I'm not sure. (Advice welcome.)

What I do know is that life chugs on. Kiddo will find his path. I'll find mine. What is meant to happen always does and this is no exception. Above all, I'm grateful for the means and opportunity to explore potential places for my future to play out. I'm grateful I was given this year off to spend with my family before 3 years of intense work begins. I'm also grateful for lemon cookies, massages, and clean sheets on freshly shaved legs.

This is the last of my school tours for a bit. Next week I head to Colorado for a crafting retreat, immediately followed by a girls' week in Savannah + Charleston (both are cities I've yet to visit!). This is a really exciting time in my life! So for today I'll own my angst, dwell on it a bit, but then I'll need to move on. It's time to get out of my own head.

Life in the meantime deserves to be lived to the fullest.