Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The infinite lack of clarity

I just got back* from my alma mater where I filmed a 2-4 minute discussion of how I have benefited from a liberal arts education. The drama queen in me wants to call it an emotional disaster.

My advisor is hoping to use the tapes in an upcoming 'town and gown' to stress the benefits of liberal arts - but rather than set up the taping as an informal interview, they just asked us to talk, unscripted, about our experience at our school and how our background has helped us get to where we are today. This left me on the verge of tears for two reasons:

1) I choked.
2) I have no idea where I am today.

It wasn't awful - but it is damn hard to simply talk without any notes or script to a camera (with four people watching), and attempt to summarize four years of education and four years of working since graduation. I had jotted some notes down and was feeling confident - then the camera started rolling and I talked myself in circles - trying in vain to connect classes and clubs to experiences and work - pulling it all into a nice little liberal arts ball of a life. Don't get me wrong - I have material. I've been afforded some great opportunities since I graduated (thanks in large part to my advisor) and I've pursued as many in various organizations and travel that I've come across. But how do I connect the dots and help reflect why these things are so much a part of me? Especially when I'm just about to walk away from a huge amount of them - possibly for good?

This brings me to number 2. What am I doing with my life? I have this crazy 6 month plan but it's not part of a bigger picture. Of course figuring out the bigger picture is penciled in to happen in month two - but what if it doesn't? What if taking time to dwell in the things I'm most fascinated in or drawn to makes me further confused about where I'm supposed to end up?

I finally got through to one of my favorite blogs (my work sometimes blocks it) where Leah is trying to reconcile the timeline she's always had for herself with how her life is actually working out. It freaked me out a little - not because I'm worried about my own timeline - but because I don't really have one. I have this idea that marriage and family are out there in my life - but I'm basically making a choice right now to start everything from scratch - to end up who knows where. And aside from this vague understanding that the future holds family - I have absolutely no other images or timeline I'm working around. So I'm trying to figure out how to apply all I've learned, all I've done to next steps - and everything past June of next year is one big question mark. I wish I could describe this better - how completely bizarre it is to feel like what you're working towards is somehow being challenged by your own inability to envision life with these new components introduced. An example - I think of the value of getting a business degree to be able to pursue corporate responsibility - but I don't see myself in any specific job. I know this is part of why I need to do the research - to start coloring in the ideas with tangible opportunities - but right now I just don't have the time or energy to do so (see month two).

I feel like this is the blogging equivalent of verbal throw up. It's just that every once in awhile it hits me just how safe I've become - when all along I thought I was this great adventurer. And now on the brink of something that I want to feel so natural, I am starting to run myself in circles trying to make sense of my own actions. I can't tell if I'm brave or naive - I think it's a little bit of both.

The anticipation of upcoming experiences is killing me - and yet the fear that once they come I'll be completely upended is almost paralyzing.

*this was Monday...I've since gathered myself a bit but still wanted to post the moment as these are fears I have been cycling through somewhat frequently as the year comes to a close.


Anonymous zura said...

Ah... how I hear you, my dear. To quote J.R.R. Tolkien, "Not all those who wander are lost."

I am a consummate wanderer and directionless liver of life, myself. Some have taken me to task on this, but I don't seem to heed them. I have no 1-5-10 year plan other than to be open to opportunities and live as honestly and fully as possible. It works for me, so far. I have plans for starting a family, but I will let that happen on its own, if it indeed happens.

It's a wonderful combination to be brave and naïve, and not too common. It means you will try new and exciting things and be readily wowed by them. So don't worry too much, continue as you were.

12/20/2006 7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah my liberal arts education has taken me all of ???? I love that I got it. I love all I learned while in college. I know it has helped me in the way I look at the world. Has it helped me in finding a job I love? Maybe a tiny bit. Has it helped me make money? Not at all.

When I was five I planned to be a pediatric neurosurgeon and have 10 kids by the time I was 25. Obviously that wouldn't make any sense since I wouldn't have ben out of residency until at least 29 or 30 but you get the point. When i graduated college I seriously planned to attend med school the next fall. I moved to chicago instead.

I guess what I am saying is that plans aren't all they are cracked up to be. You are a wonderful and fun person and that is all that matters. You make people smile and have a wonderful outlook on life. You will come to your purpose when the time is right.

12/20/2006 8:07 AM  
Blogger H said...

You know, it's funny how the people who appear to be the most together are the ones who struggle the most. If it helps any, Megan, I honestly think that your incredible tendency towards self-reflection and evaluation will always ensure that your life is 'going somewhere' great. And you should be proud of yourself for having a six-month plan. Most people don't even have a six-minute plan! And besides, leaving things open-ended leaves your life wide open to endless possibiities, which I have no doubt you will both find, and make the most of.
Your readers only hope this blog will still be around for you to share it all with us!

12/20/2006 9:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so happy to read that you do not have a timeline and you are lacking a biological clock. To get a little colloquial, life is what happens while you are making plans.

You asked what you are doing with your life and I respond with living. You are young, single, without kids, educated, employed, have a family, financially self-sufficient (I'll assume), literate (you write far better than I do), capable of complex thought, seemingly a person who tries to accomplish good, and has desire for something more. That being said I wish to to ask you something.

Why do you worry about where you are going to end up?

With all of this positive stuff in your life you will inevitably end up in a pretty good, if not great, place.

Random Guy

12/20/2006 9:31 AM  
Blogger Eve said...

Wow, that really worked up some similar emotions in me.

I don't know what's happening either, but I have come to realize pretty recently that, in my case at least, it's the decision that's important. Choose something, go for it.

And what you are going through is totally normal, I mean, you are taking a huge leap of faith by upending everything in your life to go explore the world and yourself. So good for you, for having the courage to do something that you know will be difficult.

Also - "It means you will try new and exciting things and be readily wowed by them." I love that.

12/20/2006 10:16 AM  
Blogger Mood Indigo said...

oh wow - you guys are incredible. Thank you all for offering so much of what I need to hear right now (and for the space to admit my fears).

Zura - the inscription on the inside of my high school ring is N.A.W.W.A.L - Not all who wander are lost. Thank you for reminding me why I put it there.

Natalie - Plans schmans - thank you for sharing your insight from your own experience - such a great reminder that even when you think you know where you're going, you sometimes end up elsewhere (and are often better for it!).

Heather - thank you thank you thank you! Your words mean so much because i see the same things in you.

Random guy - I am so happy that you have started posting. You are like a little blog conscience - "stay true to yourself" - this is infinitely easier with the insight and encouragement of others to guide me.

Eve - yes - deciding can be good! I have my last day date and my plane tickets - two big decisions to feel secure in. I look forward to reading more about your own decisions and thoughts. And ya, Zura nailed it.

12/20/2006 11:08 AM  
Blogger Airam said...

Sometimes it's good to not have a plan. Because then if things don't work out quite how you imagined them to, then you won't be disappointed.

For the longest time I knew what I wanted but things took a really sharp turn. I'm still trying to figure out what the lesson is that I need to learn from it.

Don't look at it as running in circles ... when you run in a circle you always go back where you started .... are you now where you were when you started university? finished it? got your first job? You're always running forward ... sometimes it may feel like you're going at a snail's pace, but it's still forward motion and that's something!

12/20/2006 8:32 PM  

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