An overdue update

I’m in a strange place. I’m not exactly happy, and I’m not really dissatisfied. I feel like my progress on everything I care about is going slowly.

There are recent positive developments. I’ve taken concrete steps to improve my life. Just this last week, I had an intake appointment at a mental health clinic. I’m going to start seeing a counselor to help me deal with my anxiety, depression, and some identity issues I’m going through. Also this week, I had a consultation at a sleep clinic. I have an appointment for an at-home sleep study. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a CPAP machine and treat my apnea.

Thea reminds me to practice positive self-talk. I know I’ve neglected it, and I think that’s part of my recent downturn. I need to redouble my efforts to stop tearing myself down and to make constructive, uplifting comments to and about myself.

I’ve used the recent bad weather as an excuse not to run. I need to get out there. I have a marathon to prepare for. Oh, yeah, I’m running the Eugene Marathon this year. The full marathon.

I didn’t submit my applications to the graduate programs I’m interested in. I lost confidence. I realized that I’ve been out of undergrad for about as long as I was in undergrad. And I haven’t been doing any sort of academic work. I don’t know what I can really bring to a school. When I thought about requesting letters of recommendation from my old professors, I realized that I didn’t really know what I could ask them to recommend about me. I was an enthusiastic but not particularly motivated nor brilliant student. And it was four years ago. The work I’ve done for the last four years is not related to the field I want to go into, so the letters of recommendation I could get from employers and colleagues during that time is not really relevant. I wonder if I was too slow in figuring my life out and if the future I’d like is now out of my reach.

Thea encouraged me to apply to grad school anyway, because the worst thing that could happen is that I don’t get in and that’s exactly the position I’m in now. But, I just might get in. She’s right. I’ve been trying to keep that in mind and use it to keep the discouragement at bay. Still, I don’t really know what to do about the letters of recommendation. This is one area where I’m hoping the counseling can help by giving me ways to bolster my confidence and to recognize possibilities and opportunities.

Sometimes I almost feel like I’m two people. I’m aware of this person that is floundering, that doesn’t really know who he is, that can’t seem to figure things out. I don’t identify with that person though. He’s someone I can’t seem to get rid of. There’s this other person that is critical, and ambitious, and motivated. These two people do not like each other.

That’s right now for me. Not great, but not awful. No success to want to protect, no real failure to motivate action. I’ve lost my momentum.

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7 thoughts on “An overdue update

  1. You’re making me sad! Come by sometime for a hug! Love you Aunt Terri

  2. Sounds like you are making some progress as you have appointments made that is often the first step. I don’t know what graduate work you are interested in so I’m not really helpful in that department. But I do have a question for you. What is the worst that could happen if you turn in your applications? Have you ever heard of impostor syndrome? Some of your comments just strike me as perhaps having a bit of that in them.

    Perhaps the work you are doing now is not directly related to what you want in the future. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worthless or that people that you are connected with right now can’t write you letters of recommendation. I know asking for those letters was super painful for me. I can say now sitting on the other side when people are asking me to write them that it’s really not that bad for the person doing the writing. For some reason I’d always hesitate because I didn’t want to be a bother to the person doing the recommending.

    Your future is not out of reach nor will it ever be. We all have moments where we struggle and wonder what the hell is going on. Perhaps things don’t always work out. It sucks when that happens. But it doesn’t mean that a person can’t regroup and do something else.

    • Crystal, the worst that could happen if I do turn in applications is that I don’t get accepted. But I’ll have still gained something from the experience. I’ll still have reached out to people and made contact for the letters of recommendation. There is no downside to applying. I just need to do it. I am a little scared of getting in. But that’s a fear I want to face.

      I just don’t really know how to get to the future I want. I can’t see a clear path. I feel like I’m just guessing, and I don’t like operating without a firm plan.

      I’m not giving up, but I’m having trouble gathering confidence. Thank you for your comment and feedback. I looked into impostor syndrome, and it strikes uncomfortably close to home.

      • It was hard for me to apply because there was the fear of the rejection regardless of whether or not I got in. Yeah, it can be pretty darned rough to find a clear pathway. Sometimes it just feels easier to follow the path of least resistance even if it doesn’t offer up the opportunity for growth.

        When I first read about the syndrome it was rather like looking into a mirror and it helped me realize that is a common way to be/feel. Confidence can be a tricky beast to wrestle with.

  3. Ryan, I commented on your blog a year ago, when I was first looking into DCTF. I am still so struck by your clarity and honesty, and I want you to know, 20-something to 20-something, that I feel exactly what you are going through. One year later, and I’m still picking up what you’re laying down. While it’s comforting to see I’m not the only one struggling with getting my life to look like it’s “heading somewhere,” it’s unsettling too to think we’re part of a some frighteningly lost and anxious breed- smart kids who forgot which way was up.

    It wasn’t that I couldn’t apply to grad school. I had lots of excuses not to apply (financial and motivational), so I just didn’t. But last week, I accepted a place in DCTF’s 2014 cohort. And I can tell you exactly why (though I’d never admit it to my friends or family, to whom I’ve of course described this as a well thought-out and perfect opportunity!) – it was more of an effort to bludgeon my life into shape. This opportunity came along, and while the old me (maybe all the way back to the high-school me) would have applied to dozens of things, made a calculated decision, and felt satisfied…I took this opportunity that I’m more than worried will drown me, because I was scared not to.

    I know it might not help to know that I’m here feeling what you’re feeling. But who knows, maybe this time next year, I’ll find my way back here and we’ll both have realized we were on a really convoluted upward trajectory after all! I’m praying for us both!

    • Thank you for continuing to read!

      Honestly, I joined DCTF for the nearly the same reason. I just wanted to do something, and I thought moving across the country to pursue something I’d never done before was just maybe crazy enough to work (doh!). I was also trying to get away from the life I was living at the time. Moving across the country was part of the appeal. I just wanted to be away from a life I’d grown to resent.

      It does help to know you’re feeling what I’m feeling. I really appreciate you making contact. I wish you all sorts of success with DCTF. Please check back in and let me know how it’s going for you. It really is a great program and opportunity, and I do believe in it.

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