Tuesday, November 22, 2005

On A Personal Note

I should go to bed, but I still want to say a little bit more here. I haven't had the chance to post for a while, so I want to take advantage of the momentum.

I've been rather listless lately. I really need to get an assistantship next year. Continuing to work for my team remotely has been more draining than I expected. It's just a bit of a distraction. It's very hard to switch from that work to coding C++ or assembly language or completing formal methods projects. Four hours tomorrow then I'm gone until next week. That'll be nice.

Adding to the downer lately (and kind of related to the previous paragraph) has been this feeling that I'm not doing anything. Yes, Brianne and I are making wedding plans. I cannot complain about that in anyway. She is wonderful and I love the time we get to share. And, yes, I am studying. So I'm getting some of that personal development. But I'm not doing anything with that. I'm attending lectures Monday through Thursday for 2 easy (to me, anyways) undergrad courses and 1 grad course that I just can't see the use for. I want to start playing around with some electrical engineering type of stuff. I.e., get out a Dremel, a circuit board, some components and build something. I very much would like to write more. Not just blogging, but also fiction. I want to take classical guitar lessons. I want to get a good electric piano and start playing again. I want to play around with composing a little bit.

The problem is that I lack both the confidence and time to invest in these things. The time issue is obvious. I'm a full-time graduate student who is also working 20 hours a week in a very stressful, demanding job, while maintaining a relationship with my fiancee who lives 4 hours away. Not many free moments to give up there. As for the confidence...

I've always felt that others expected great things out of me. That pressure led to a bit of egocentrism and possibly some delusions of grandeur. In other words, because everyone had such high expectations for me, I must be capable of turning water into wine myself. However, the older I get, the more I realize that I don't know. I will never understand the intricacies of evolutionary biology. I will never be able to compose an opera. I will never be president. I am okay with all of that. But I feel that I am capable of more than I am doing now. I think about people doing creative things and feel inadequate. Jonathan's in a band with a couple of CDs recorded. Keira Knightley (she was on the Daily Show earlier) is an amazing actress, yet she's only 20. I'm going to be 30 next year. What have I got to show for myself? I can't help but feel utterly paralyzed by fear. I frequently talk to others and mention something that I had just learned, only to find out they have known that for years. For example, I'm starting to look into tinkering around with electronics in ways that teenage geeks do. I'm terrified that whichever creative outlet I attempt, I will fail. I sometimes even wonder if getting rejected from 5 out of 6 CS grad programs was a sign. Perhaps I don't have the creativity and ingenuity that it takes to get a Ph.D.

I think of all this and my mind goes back to Brianne. She worries when I start speaking like this. Her fear is that I will get stuck in one of these funks at some point in the future. I do my best to reassure her that it's only temporary. (I know she'll read this, but I need to get it out.) The honest response would be to admit to her that if this is a small concern for her, it is a mind-numbing terror for me. She thinks me brilliant and strong. I worry that one day I'll be exposed for the coward and idiot I fear that I am. Irrational fears, I know. But still there, nonetheless. I am also scared that she will misinterpret any of this. Yes, I want my obituary to identify me as "husband of Brianne, and father of children X, Y, and Z." However, I do not think I can be content with just that. I need to feel complete so that I can contribute just as much to our union.

This quote (a longtime favorite) seems applicable: "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them."


At 2:33 PM, Blogger Christina said...

Ah, you have the "I'm facing 30, what am I going to do with my life" crisis. Been there, somedays still doing that! Sometimes it helps me to go do something charitable or make a mini-goal for myself that I can achieve (like running in a short race like I did this spring) to help me get through the funk. Best wishes...you'll pull through it soon!


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