I’ve been struggling to focus on almost anything recently. I’ve been plagued with thoughts of ‘what next’ for a long time now. While I still have a lot of passion for what I do, my passion for doing it with the people that I do is fast fading. I’ve always managed to find avenues to express myself creatively in my work, regardless of how mundane the task at hand may seem. That hasn’t changed, but I’m finding it increasingly difficult to find the patience to convince others that there is a better way to do things.
I’m usually the one that questions the status quo while others revere it because it is a tried and tested way to do things. When people tell me about the tried and tested ways they’re familiar with, all I hear is ‘it is my safe haven, my comfort zone, my sphere of influence, so don’t you dare try to change it!’. It’s ridiculous how people can define their worth by something they achieved or were party to several years ago and still hold on to the residual glory of it all. I despise myself when I find myself doing something in 10 steps when I can do it in 8. And then I despise myself for not being able to do it in less than 8 steps, even though everyone else around me is still content with 10 steps.
Ok, maybe ‘despise’ is a strong word to use, but the restlessness I feel inside me is not much less than the same contempt that environmentalists feel for those that don’t recycle. I’m not lazy, but I hate to apply a certain amount of effort to something when I know that I can get away with less. This frees me up to do so much more with the energy that would otherwise have been wasted. And as the days go by, my energy levels appear to be dwindling. There is much that I should be doing that I’m not even thinking about right now. This is probably the slide into that place of lethargy that sucks the life out of us before we reach a ripe age, and as aware as I am of it, I seem to be helpless in jolting myself out of it.
Actually, I’m not helpless. I never have been. I guess this morbidity that overshadows me right now is bringing out the dramatist in me. There is a lot that I have going for myself, but I guess sometimes the uphill drag of the ball and chain can wear us down when we least expect it. Sometimes I wish I had this go-to guru that I could refer to in my life. That’s never been the case for me, which is probably why I second-guess myself so often. I often find myself wondering if things really are as uncomplicated as I see them relative to the overbearing complexity that most people seem to invite into their lives, or am I really just missing the point because I’ve always had a somewhat skewed sense of reality?
Recently I’ve found myself contemplating what it would have been like for me if I had a meaningful role model that I could look up to and turn to for advice each time I was faced with a life altering decision, but just as soon as the thought tugs at my sentimentality, I feel that annoying realisation surfacing again. That realisation that had it been any other way I probably would not be as effective at what I do as I am today. In a recent discussion with a friend she mentioned that her pursuit of academic studies did more than just give her the foundation on which she hopes to launch her career. She said it made her feel safe because she knew she could rely on test scores and other such outcomes that would give her the affirmation and comfort that she needed to feel like she was on the right track.
I’ve never looked for that, and I don’t know why. But in many ways I’ve also been fortunate in not having had my thinking moulded by any institutions or scholars because I was never exposed to such structures. The downside was that it felt extremely burdensome at times, but the upside which far outweighs that is the fact that I’ve never listened to anyone else when they imposed their limitations on me. I wouldn’t quite call myself a free spirit, nor would I ever consider myself to be a rebel. In fact, I’m not sure how I would define myself if I ever found a need to, and perhaps in that I’ve found much liberation and space to breathe. I’ve always been keenly aware of the perceptions that others have of me, but somehow I don’t ever recall applying myself to gain their favour despite knowing that they found much reason to ridicule me.
I’ve often said that the resilience that I’ve demonstrated throughout my life was never something I could honestly lay claim to. It was inherent in me for as long as I can remember. Perhaps that resilience itself was only a symptom of something more. Perhaps it is a state that is acquired when we don’t try to live up to the expectations of others, and instead maintain a singular focus on the logic and purpose that would drive us to act. Perhaps my obstinacy in not succumbing to the expectations of the social structures that I despise is in fact my strength. Perhaps it isn’t.
This road seems to be quite weary of late, but I’m not yet ready to take the path most traveled. Even if I wanted to, it would mean that I would need to have a desire to aspire to the ideals of the group whose path I would wish to choose for myself, and such a group I have yet to meet. I’m an old soul that yearns for the wholesomeness of a simple life, but am conflicted by my need to change the world into something slightly less despicable.