it’s real, the pain you feel.

Well hey there, WordPress, it’s been a while.  Mostly because for a while, I was writing things that weren’t blog posts, but lately, it’s because I haven’t been writing ANYTHING.  (PS: Writer’s block sucks.  It is quite possibly the worst thing for a writer, ever.)  I’m hoping a blog post will get the creative juices flowing again.  I’ll let you know if it works.

I’ve had an idea of what to write for a while now, but again, never got around to it (obviously).  I was thinking about college and graduate school a while back, and how, just after my dad died, I kept thinking about how I had to finish college because it would have made him so proud, and how proud it would make my mom and family and everything, but mostly my dead father.  Who could care less because he’s dead.

Do you see where I’m going with this?  I had some vague notion of “honoring his memory” by finishing college and finishing it well, with good grades and all that, when really, it isn’t about my dad.  It never was.  It was me not realizing that I could finish college and make good grades and graduate with honors because I wanted to.  Because I wanted to prove not only to other people but most of all to myself that I’m capable of that.  That I’m capable of what I never did in high school because I was lazy, and that I’m capable of hard work and the benefits of said hard work, and I succeeded.

By the end of my time at Montevallo, I wasn’t thinking, “Wow, Dad would be so proud of me.”  Well, I did sometimes, of course I always had my “what would Dad think of me now?” in the back of my mind, I’m sure I always will to some extent.  But most of the time, it was, “I’m proud of me.”  It was no longer about carrying on a legacy.  In college, I was proud of the woman I’d become.  I was happy that I could be a hard-working student with a knack for writing and putting in the effort that my professors appreciated, but also make time for watching entire series with my roommate, and going home on the weekends and seeing my family and enjoying my free time (or sometimes, making free time when I didn’t really have it, but hey, I did fine, didn’t I?).

And with graduation, I heard so much of, “Your dad would be so proud of you,” sometimes with an ‘is’ instead of a ‘would be’ – you know, the expected.  And that’s great.  I agree, he would be.  My still-alive family is, but most importantly, I am.  I used to be afraid of seeming like I was bragging about having graduated.  But my friend Ali once said something to the extent of being proud is nothing to be ashamed of because it IS a big accomplishment.  So, there it is – I am proud of me!  Of my accomplishments and my perseverance and my overall strength (because let’s face it – sometimes I’m not really strong, at all, but overall, yeah, I think I am a pretty strong person) and my good qualities!

***

So, that brings me to Part II, and I guess the meat, of this post: grad school, or lack thereof.

I, like an idiot, only applied to one grad school, and what’s considered an elite one at that.  And, spoilers if you didn’t know: I didn’t get in.  I have the grades, but for whatever reason, they didn’t accept me, and I think a large part of that is lack of experience (but I have yet to find out what got me booted out of the acceptance pool).  And coming to terms with that has been, and remains to be, really, really hard.  I should have applied to more so that surely SOME kind of acceptance would come and I wouldn’t be really soul-crushed like I am right now.

Actually, I’ve fallen into a big rut with being rejected from the only place I applied to, and why I didn’t apply to more than one haunts me daily.  Every time I put on my work uniform, I hate myself for not applying to more than one place.  I was lazy and decided I was so tired of having to deal with the stupid rigorous application that I just left it at the one.  And as a result, I dug my own Unhappiness For At Least One More Year grave.  Which is not necessarily true.  I COULD get a job at a local library (and have the possibility on the horizon, but haven’t gotten a callback from the interview yet) and love it and get paid better and it challenge me intellectually and not be completely unhappy with my life.  But as I see it, it’s just stagnating.

It’s no secret that retail is crummy.  You get to deal with people who act like the world must stop for them and complain to corporate about dumb crap and who act like the smallest mistake is the biggest deal in the whole world.  You get to deal with ten-year-olds speaking condescendingly to you and bossing you around, because guess what?  THEY are the customer.  You get to ask the same questions over and over and pretend to give even half a crap about complete strangers’ problems while dreaming of handling old documents in an archives department or even just shelving books, for god’s sake.  Repeat ad infinitum.  I have an infinite number of stupid mistakes I make at work, simply because I’ve turned my brain off.  Retail isn’t the type of work that really requires a lot of critical thinking.

Recently, my coworkers have gotten each other into this show called Weeds, you’ve probably heard about it in some fashion, and Nancy, the main character, says this about working as a manager of a maternity clothes store:

I wake up in the morning, get dressed, drive myself to work, put on a name tag, take my brain out of my skull and place it in a drawer. I spend the next nine hours staring at people, pretending to be interested in their happiness, tolerating the company of my co-workers, staring at the clock. At the end of the day I take my name tag off, open the drawer, reach for my brain, plop it back inside, walk to the employee parking lot and drive myself home. And it’s really, really boring. And it looks like I’m gonna be doing it for a long, long time.

That sums up my feelings on retail, too, and of the pit a combination of my own poor decisions, a sinking global economy, and bad luck I’m currently stuck in (preposition at the end of a sentence aside).

But it’s a job.  It pays the bills.  I’m grateful for the means to pay my own crap and help with household bills and give back to the woman who’s provided so much for ME all my life.

But at what point is my unhappiness not worth it?  I can’t quit, like that’s just not in the cards, because of bills and hard economic times and all that crap.  And it’s the worst feeling in the world.  Because I’m just stagnating.  I’m not growing intellectually, I’m not being challenged.  I miss college SO MUCH because on a near-daily basis, I was growing intellectually, I was being challenged.  I’ve been reading a lot, and I do have some intelligent coworkers that I have meaningful conversations with, but how much can you talk about interpreting the events of history or what the color red means in a book or whatever, while you’re at work, pretending to care about peoples’ problems and asking repetitive questions that have no significance on your own life at all, over and over again?

Little to none, that’s how much.

And as a result, I can think of no other word to describe me right now other than “stagnating.”  And I’m trying to find my way out of the labyrinth of suffering, and the solution isn’t forgiveness this time (Looking for Alaska reference), it’s finding a job relevant to my interests and future plans and getting the experience I need to get out of this stupid labyrinth and do something I really love.  And why is that SO hard?  To ‘build character’, whatever that means?  Okay, I get it, I appreciate the plight of the retail worker now.  I respect those I, frankly, already respected (because I’ve never been bitchy to retail employees like people have been bitchy to me and my coworkers, I’ve never chewed somebody out for the stupid crap we get chewed out for).

I think I’m angriest about graduate school because I can’t escape, at least not for a little while longer, unless I get a job in a field I care about (and by god, I’m trying).  So for now I’m just still stagnating, despite all the efforts I’ve made to try and intellectually grow.  I’m having panic attacks often because of customers, and you know what pisses me off the most about it?  Nobody takes it seriously.  Tough shit if you have social anxiety and withdrawal but are forced to deal with people who think their problems are the end of the world.  Tough shit if you have a mental breakdown over a customer whose infirmities remind you of your dying father.  Nobody takes it seriously because you’re just a worker in a company whose goal is to make money and you can be replaced.  And that’s the way of the world, yes, I get it, I understand that and the corporate machine and capitalism and I’m not looking for coddling or lullabies or a band-aid or whatever – I’m just looking for something that challenges me in a non-psychologically-damaging way.  And it’s hard to find.

And you know what would do that?  GRADUATE SCHOOL.  But because of poor decision-making and bad luck and a sinking global economy, I can’t achieve that goal just yet.  What’s the point of being proud of my accomplishments if they aren’t getting me anywhere?

So, I don’t really know what the point of this post morphed into.  I guess that life’s hard, wah wah, cry more.  But I’m allowed to be disappointed with things in my life that I can’t change on a larger scheme at the moment, whether for lack of money or lack of opportunity.  And I’m allowed to express these in a blog post that nobody has to read if they find me whiny or whatever.

But I AM trying to find my own way back into using my brain.  Falling from the cloud of “wow college is awesome” onto the pavement of “wow the real world sucks” has really given me an idea of what I DON’T want to do for the rest of my life.

Now, I’ve just go to try my best and take every opportunity that’s offered and get out of the labyrinth of suffering and of not using my brain as much as I can with being broke.  The ball’s sort of not really but still kind of if you turn your head and squint your eyes in my court now.  It’s time to keep trying to do something about it, because what else CAN I do?

I’m not saying I’m unhappy with every aspect of my life right now.  I have plenty of things that I enjoy and look forward to, and things could be a lot worse.  Before you call me whiny, know that I do appreciate the things I have.  I have a lot of amazing people in my life who make things not-completely-horrible.  Things could be so much worse, yes, I know this.  In some ways I AM privileged (though tumblr has made me really start to even hate that word).  I get it, I do.  I could just be a lot happier in ways I know are doable, I just have to achieve those things, and as I said, the ball is not always in MY court.

On a good note, though, I’ve finally got an idea for a tattoo for my dad.  It’s about time, too.

(Sidenote: WordPress’s new layout SUCKS, seriously, way to make your blogging site much harder to use and, oh I dunno, BLOG with??  Seriously, ew.)