Of course I joke about unemployment and being retired and having all this time, but in truth, sometimes it's pretty fucking scary to be here right now. I know, get out the tiniest violin in the world, right? Laugh at me if you want, but it's true. I don't like to admit it, but for however much I'm excited for this time to figure out what I want, it's deeply frightening to have, in some sense, a blank slate of life ahead of me, a slate that I can create however I want. If it ends up sucking, if I look back one or three or five years from now and wonder what the hell happened to get me to this heinous place, it's going to be all because I--only me, no one else--botched it.
That's always true, of course. We're all in control of our own destinies, even if some people get to be rather practiced at pretending they're simply victims of life or circumstance. But nowhere is it more apparent that you're creating your own vision of life when you rather publicly quit your job, and then blab about it on your blog, all in the name of trying to do better.
Trying to do better is the root of what freaks me out: what if, after having left a (relatively) secure job that wasn't, after all, that bad, I end up worse off than before? What if I try out all these random things and decide that still, I have no idea what I want from life? I think that's the undermining, nagging fear: what if I don't know what I want? Or, maybe worse, what if I know what I want but I can't make it happen?
Taken individually, of course, none of those questions is that scary. So what if I haven't solved the big problem of life in the next few months--it's a process, and the journey, not the destination, is what I'm interested in. So what if I don't figure out exactly what I want from life? So what if I have some setbacks about getting myself to where I want to be? None of that, by itself, is that bad. But add to it my guilt about other people's expectations of me, and it gets complicated.
It doesn't help when people always ask me what I'm going to do next. I know that their questions are well-intentioned and that they come from a place of caring. Family, friends, whoever just want to know that I'm going to be okay, maybe even happy. And this is probably just my own complex about wanting others to be proud of me. But how shitty does it make me feel to say, oh, I don't know, I think I'll float around for a bit, try to get some writing done--oh, no, I don't know what I want to write yet, but I hope to figure it out--maybe I'll do a lot of volunteer work--no, I won't be making money, but maybe eventually it'll lead somewhere--and on and on. I really don't have a problem not having a job, especially when I have a few months' worth of income from my severance package, but it makes me feel like a giant slacker when I have to look someone in the eyes and tell them that.
And that's when I feel scared, like maybe I'm going to get through this and somehow prove everyone right, that it's silly to dream, that it's silly to try to do better, that you should just take the safe path, do what people expect, what's easy and tried and rational. But I don't want that to be right. I want to be vindicated in questing for more, I want to prove that dreaming is not only a possibility but a necessity, that you can create life in your image, not fit yourself into someone else's conception of how it should be.
So this is a the biggest, most heartfelt, most tearful thank you that I can possibly muster for the people who, when I have a hard time quelling that frightened part of me, remind me that's it's all up to me to make of this life what I want--and that I can do it. Thank you so much for believing in me, and believing that I can create my world, not the other way around.