Hard to Admit
Lately have I not only been failing, but I’ve been failing with apparent epic resolve. I mean, when I make up my mind to do something, I’m really going to do it, you know?
Friday night we attended that military holiday party. It was warm and decadent and a lot of people went to a lot of trouble to make sure we had a good time – which I did, thanks in large part to the 3 complimentary vodka collins’ I consumed during dinner. I was smiley and sociable with some very accomplished and genuinely interesting people. I even won a Kindle as a door prize, and I didn’t even trip when I made my way to the front of the ballroom to graciously accept the gift. All-in-all, I held it together.
So why do I feel like I failed? Maybe because even after all of the mingling and smiling and networking, I still didn’t really feel like I fit in. I wasn’t the perfect military spouse winning points for her husband by charming his superiors and singing his praises. I didn’t have to run off every 5 minutes to check on our kids in the daycare room and then regale everyone at the dinner table with tales of their latest naughty-yet-adorable escapade. I didn’t bond with the other spouses by complaining about how hard it is when he deploys. Hell, I deployed myself not too long ago.
It’s not like these things are requirements for Justin to succeed at his job. Trust me, he doesn’t need my help when it comes to doing well in the military – but me having the drive to do those things certainly wouldn’t hurt. Could I really be jealous that he’s got it figured out and I’m still floundering? That it seems like the only way I can measure my own accomplishments anymore is by being a cheerleader and pillar of support for his advancement? It’s not true, but it’s how I’ve let myself start to think over the past five years.
It’s not easy for me to write this and then post it out there for everyone to see. It’s an admission of weakness, and the person I set out to become after high school graduation wouldn’t have allowed herself such a mediocre performance.
Somewhere along the way I lost sight of the girl who ventured from her home in Nebraska to attend a challenging little liberal arts college in the wondrous and as-of-then uncharted land of Ohio; the girl who quit school her sophomore year and moved back to Nebraska in an (apparently unsuccessful) attempt to bandage the bleeding wounds of her family; who served bottomless soup and salad to ladies who lunched during the day and bottomless pints of draft to men who drank at night to fund a month-long road trip through America’s western mountains and deserts; who ate warm Nutella crepes in freezing rain at the base of the Eiffel Tower; who followed a boy to Georgia and finished a degree with honors in Environmental Geoscience (whatever that is) with big plans to travel and not only change the world, but to change it but good.
Losing sight of the person we were in our youth is something that’s supposed to happen to other people – blissfully content stay-at-home moms, successful career people, and cheesy narrators of wistful indie films. Not me.
Which is probably why I quit my job to live in Costa Rica. I wanted that feeling back. But I failed – am failing – because there’s something I just don’t seem to be getting. I’ve taken baby steps towards change, rolled the boulder to the top of the damn mountain, but I can’t figure out where I’m supposed to go from here. I kept hoping that dream job – that one inspirational idea – would slap me in the face and all would be right with the world.
But waiting for a sign is foolish. It’s lazy. Apparently I’m going to have to work for the things I want in this life, just like everyone else. But what if I spend all this time making a decision, following it to accomplish my goals, and then it turns out to be the wrong choice? I guess that’s life. And there it is, the ultimate and unavoidable cliché. We try something and see if it works. And if it doesn’t, then I guess we adjust and try again.
So right now I’m failing. I’m failing because I only went halfway with my resolve to fix my job situation. It’s time to embrace the fail, kiss it goodbye, push the boulder off the top of the mountain and see where it lands. Ready or not résumé, here I come.
Katie – My favorite post thus far… Perfect…
“Apparently I’m going to have to work for the things I want in this life, just like everyone else. ” = A reality I have tried my damnedest to avoid and slide around… Turns out I can’t either.
“But what if I spend all this time making a decision, following it to accomplish my goals, and then it turns out to be the wrong choice?” = I finally decided to start applying to grad schools for teaching for next year, but I wonder this same thing every time I think about it…
“So right now I’m failing. I’m failing because I only went halfway with my resolve to fix my job situation. ” = I came to Spain to avoid finding a career and aside from inquiring about grad school for teaching, I really have nothing to show for it other than personal satisfaction and marginally improved Spanish… So, I am failing too!
I am SUPER weak!
We just have to do our thing and be good people and follow our own interests and goals as much as possible (ignoring other people’s measures of success and the pressure we put on ourselves to incorporate those into our own) and all will fall into place!
Bradley, thank you for that! It always feels good to know we’re not alone. :)
But I do have to argue one thing – I definitely don’t see what you’re doing as failing. Avoidance? Maybe… But not failing. You’re out there living! You’re doing it!
Oh, and I can definitely think of one more great thing you accomplished in Spain. It has nothing to do with a career, but when we set out with one goal and accomplish another, can we really complain? ;)
Believe me… Not complaining. Never!
And, oh boy, yes – I overlooked something huge there – didn’t I? Yikes… Haha. Luckily she’s fully aware of how I feel about her!
OK, we’ll settle on the term avoidance in my case. But you should recognize you’ve done the same thing by conquering Costa Rica and quitting your job. That’s an accomplishment, not a failure. As far as the next step? It’s not a failure until you try something and get shut down… Right?
Haha, in your defense, you were strictly talking about career achievements – not relationships. :)
And you’re right – I just gotta get back out there…
“We try something and see if it works. And if it doesn’t, then I guess we adjust and try again.”
That, right there, is why you are not failing, Ms. Katie. Adjusting and trying again is the very definition of the opposite of failing. Dust off the resume, try soemething out, and if it doesn’t…follow your own wise advice.
And give yourself a break.
I enjoy reading your blog and you seem like pretty brave, resilient gal to me. So give that gal a break, ok?
Thank you, Jessica!! I’m sorry to see it looks like you’re going through some pretty difficult times yourself right now. Here I am, bitching and moaning when I have all the time in the world, and look at all you’re accomplishing!
I know you didn’t go into many details, but feel free to email me if you need to vent. I hope things are going better. :)
Brave, Courageous, Insatiable.
Do you know how many people are afraid? afraid of themselves, others? changing a set game plan?
Life is messy, complex, exhilarating, and sometimes boring, but as long as you are moving you are living. Step off, fall down, bleed, get up and experience the world around you- not just through travel, but through the experience of others. Their lives open windows to your own. That’s when things get really interesting!
Keep writing. I’m enjoying the ride. A.
You are so, so right. I know you are. Thank you for the encouragement! And can’t we just skip the boring parts?? :)
Katie, Katie, Katie! Welcome to the Club of Life! Follow your own advice! You may wear a lot of hats that don’t fit perfectly or anywhere near, but keep your eyes and heart open and enjoy the ride!!! It’s more fun when you live outside the box as long as you’re accepting of those who choose to live inside it!!! Pura Vida!!!!!
Love your tough love! It’s like my college advisor told me… I’m a Jack of all trades but a master of none. But the way you say it, that doesn’t sound like such a bad thing.
I was a microbiologist for 6.5 years. What I learned from my 6.5 years as a microbiologist was that I don’t want to be a microbiologist.
At the same time, I never would’ve learned this if I hadn’t been a microbiologist.
My point is, I think you have to look at them not as failed endeavors, but as endeavors that take you one step closer to figuring out what you do want to do with your life. Every job you try out that you ultimately cross off your list… well, that’s one more job that you now know you don’t want to do.
For what it’s worth. :-)
Hahaha, trust me. It’s worth a lot. Thanks, Dennis. :)
Sounds like i had the same experience as Dennis Hong. I, too, figured out what I wanted to do with my life by first experiencing what i absolutely did NOT want to do with it.
I’m sure we have all at times in our lives had to make decisions that made us think that we’ve given up on some of our dreams and ambitions. I know i have. But in reality, we evolve as indivuals and so must these dreams/ambitions.
Katie, you’re figuring it out, not failing.
Thank you, Jameson. It really is good to know I’m not alone in this. The unfortunate question is, when do I need to draw the line when it comes to “trying” different things? I mean… I’m not getting any younger here, and potential employers are going to find me less and less desirable the more “bed-hopping” I do. Ah well, I’m jobless now, so I guess there’s not much that can be done except get right back in there. :)
You know, for all of my goofy ribbing and light-hearted banter regarding your writing, I have to say that this one really hits home. But in a way that makes me look back and see all of the fun and exciting things I’ve been able to experience in my life. It takes rare courage to be able to post thoughts of this nature to the world without going all emo and talking about starting a Cure/NIN cover band. Honestly, I think that if more people were honest like this post was, you’d find that life rarely gives us the easy straightaways. Not those with the intelligence, courage and strength it takes to do the things you’ve done with your life. Are any of us where we thought we’d be back when we were building spaceships out of Legos, or holding court with our stuffed animals? Probably not. But life is about experiencing all that you can for as long as you can. If that path doesn’t run parallel to the majority of society then good for you.
Thanks, Kevin!! I tried to avoid a complete emo post, but I was getting scarily close there… gotta watch that. But you’re right – I need to keep concentrating focusing on the fun and exciting opportunities I create for myself. Oooh, and I definitely need to buy a big bucket of Legos (onces I get a job again). I miss my Legos!
sometimes I think it’s harder to take full advantage when you are doing exactly what you always wanted. you finally get it, and there’s a big old “now what?!” Especially with something like packing up and moving your life, when I’m sure everyone is checking up to see if it’s working or if you’ll just give up and come home.
hang in there, you’ll find your way
Thanks, Delia. :) In my case, the move was only temporary, but I’m still stuck with a big fat “now what?!” I guess the first step is figuring out what I really do want. Until then, just gotta keep on truckin’ and not worrying about how other people are judging my decisions.
I don’t think you should think you are failing… you are just finding your way, the way only you know how. It’ll work out. I think everything that happened to me with canceling my wedding happened for a reason, or I wouldn’t be writing now. You’ll see the reason in this in time… I think you should definitely give yourself credit for what you DO have to offer.
Thanks, Catherine. I’m still not positive about what happened with you and your ex, but it sounds like even though you loved him dearly, your decision to leave was almost made for you as a result of his actions. I find myself wishing that an answer to my situation would just jump out at me, but it never does. Rather than finding myself in a maze with a few choices on where to go, I’m in a desert – I can go any direction, and there’s no indication as to which is the right one. I hope you’re right though, that even if “reasons” aren’t necessarily clear right now, that I’ll at least be able to make the best out of any situation I create for myself. :)
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