Sometimes I think about how frustrating it must be to be a baby – to know that you need something for your well-being, but don’t have the words to communicate it or, more importantly, to even articulate it. No wonder they cry all the time. I’ve been feeling that way myself lately. Yesterday I cried, silently and shaking, in the bathroom stall at work. Why? I have no idea. It seemed the thing to do.
At this moment, I don’t have the ability to articulate what is that I need for my well-being, in life, in love, in my career. I’m a 31-year old baby. And that is more frustrating than not having whatever it is that I need. I’ve been feeling restless lately, yearning for a change but not having a clue as to what that might be. It’s left me feeling (and acting) extremely defensive about everything you could possibly think of so as to prove my talent, my skills and my judgement.
Should I move? It’s no secret that I don’t have much affection for the Midwest. Minneapolis, I like, but the Midwest is not the place for me. And frankly, the unhappy memories overwhelm the happy ones (which do exist) that are associated with this particular place and time of my life. But I want to move to a place where I plan to live for more than just a few years. Which means I need to find a job. A real job.
Should I apply for faculty positions? Despite my desperate desires to leave the Midwest, I don’t want a second post-doc position. I’m craving independence but am totally scared out of my mind at having it. I’ve been a post-doc for 2 1/2 years – am I ready to be on my own? I’ve had a good summer, work-wise, and I worry that it’s over-inflated my ego and I am getting ahead of myself. It’s been known to happen. Or is it just a return to self-confidence? I worry especially because I am struggling to find focus with my research interests. I have a clear idea of the biological questions that I want to ask and investigate and have a good context in which to study them, but am lacking the detailed specificity that you need to write grants, apply for jobs and perform experiments (not necessarily in that order). It’s the whole articulation problem I’ve been having recently. The good news is, that I know that I want a faculty position at an academic institution, something that I wasn’t even sure of a year ago, or even six months ago. Finding one? That’s a whole other ballgame.
Should I start dating? I wish I had an answer to this one. On one hand, it might help me move on. On the other, I don’t think it’s fair to use other people to fix your wounds. I want to be emotionally ready to enter the dating world, and I don’t think I’m there yet. Plus, I have a fair amount of travel plans in the next year and I may yet decide to up and move in the near future. Is there even time to date? Or are these just excuses so that I don’t have to risk breaking my heart again? Sigh. I just don’t know.
I know I need to work on living in the moment. Finding joy in my life as it is, and not letting the fears of the future weigh me down. But that’s easier said than done, especially when you are down in the doldrums. However, I do have a couple of shining spots in my life and it’s important for me not to gloss over them: my friends and family. I have a trip planned back to the Pacific Northwest in a couple of weeks (and for a whole week no less!) that will no doubt nourish my soul, it always does.
As for my friends. I love them. Each and every one of them. They might be few and far between, but they are treasures in my life. Last weekend Robin came up from Texas to visit. There was eating and drinking (you’ve been gazing upon photos from a dinner party I hosted to welcome Robin to the Twin Cities), shopping and playing dress-up, some arts and crafts and cuddling with the cats, but most importantly, there was just laying on the bed and talking in way that you only do with your best friend. No filters, no social niceties, no worrying about being judged, sometimes about the small things and most often about the big things. The fact that those people exist in my life is beyond belief and I am ever so thankful for them.
Okay, so life isn’t so bad. So why I am I so restless? And how do I find the words to articulate what I need when I haven’t even quite figured out what that is?