Several months ago, I compiled a list of Things I’m Supposed to Like by Don’t. This week, I realized that my list should also include a sub-category: Things I’m Supposed to Want but Just Make Me Depressed.
Over the course of my overly ambitious and eager childhood, I programed the multitude of cells and slimy mass that today’s leading scientific experts often refer to as my “Brain” to constantly achieve. I’m not even really sure what my brain considers “acheivement” but I know that it’s not happy until it is satisfied with my acheive-ifying abilities. The dozens of years spent sweating in a dance studio, bent over a desk (or my kitchen table) taking notes or writing stories also programmed my brain to measure acheivement in several very distinct ways:
1. Achievement in dance. In order to be happy, I have to be performing, training, taking class and making progress in my chosen art. When other things get in the way of this, I tend to get grumpy, depressed and anxious. School is often the culprit, which brings me to . . .
2. Achievement in academics. After spending most of my formative years in homeschool, I was so eager to experience the adventure of the Texas public school system that I completed all of my ninth grade summer assignments by February of previous year. At my International/arts/semi-college preperatory school “summer assignments” consisted of everything from complex research papers about cultural diversity (Geography), to creative writing projects (English), to watching the original Star Wars trilogy* (Biology). I eventually learned how wonderful procrastination can be, but nevertheless my Type-A, Hermione Grangerish self sought All-As all the time. Aside from a disastrous year of Algebra II and my ambivalent attitude toward Chemistry, I acheived my goal and tied with 10 other people for the Top of the Class.
Since graduating high school I’ve grown and changed a lot as a person. I’ve renewed my relationship with Christ, grown to greatly value the place and role of the family and society and spent some time in the “Real World.” The result is that the things I’m supposed to care about as a 21st Century, college educated, ambitious and relatively intelligent woman, just don’t matter to me. I’ve spent some time temping for a major publishing corporation over the summer and while I thoroughly enjoy the people and like working there in two and three week spurts, the whole situation just drains me.
I have no interest in florescent lights and unlimited supply of bad coffee. Staring at a computer screen all day while completing tasks in which I’m not emotionally or intellectually invested is a prison sentence for me. There are perks, sure. A good salary, a pretty sweet bathroom and occasionally free business lunch. I’m missing the gene that is supposed to make me want a high-powered career like this. Every time I go to work, I think about how much I wish I were spending 8 hours a day in rehearsal rather than on the thirtieth floor of an cubicle-ridden building. I wish I could find satisfaction in it because people who work there do important things that need to be done, they have routine days and regular paychecks and health insurance. They contribute to society. I envy the people who work there and find fulfillment.
It’s great for temporary work, but after every assignment, I’m reminded why I dance, why I write, why I’d rather stay at home with my future kids and teach them than sit around long tables using corporate catch-phrases like “touch base” and “error out.” It’s a good thing to realize, but also pretty distressing. My future-husband is going to make a wonderful professor and nothing makes me happier than seeing him fulfiled and happy, but since I’m pretty set on not being the high-earning-power-woman, I feel like I’ve put a lot of pressure on him to be the breadwinner of the family. I don’t want him to have to sacrifice any of his dreams because of my selfishness. But that’s a blog-thought for another day. The point is that there are only two ways I can see myself ever making money:
Of course, I’m pretty doubtful that many people will pay me to do these two things for extended periods of time, but I’ll never forgive myself for not trying with all of my weirdly overachieving braincells.
*My teacher was a big fan. This was also my least favorite Summer Assignment.