Tomorrow is Monday. And what are my plans? Well, I’ll meet a friend for coffee in the morning, and I’ll do some mowing and/or log pulling for my dad in the afternoon. That’s it. That’s my entire fixed-point day–two tasks.
I hate this. Like, really, truly hate it. I am now, for the first time since I was 12 and took my first summer job picking blueberries, unemployed. And yes, I know, that’s part of life, particularly in today’s [insert expletive] economy, but what sucks most to me is not just that I’m unemployed, but that my psyche seems dead-set on keeping me that way, undercutting any attempts I make at employment with a simple, deadly question: Is that really what you want to do next? Is it really what you should do?
And the truth is, I don’t know–and, until I do, I am absolutely petrified to take a step in any direction, for fear it will prove to be the wrong one. I spend my days looking for jobs, saving them, and then go back through them second-guessing: do I want to go back to Seattle? Would I be OK moving to New York? Would I actually be able to handle that role? I sit down daily to write emails to my professional contacts, only to wonder: if they respond, what then? Am I looking for a job if they have one, or just a bit of professional advice? Would it be better to contact this person now, or later, once I know a little better where I am, and where I am headed?
I have always been one to over-analyze things and, objectively, I know that that is what I am doing now. The answer to most of my questions is actually “yeah, I think I could handle that.” But the terrible truth is that when I have little with which to occupy my time, what else can I do but think, and what else is there to think about but why I am sitting around jobless? It’s a vicious cycle: job-free time leads to over-thought; over-thought leads to paralysis; paralysis leads to more job-free time.
Lesson learned: there is a reason I kept myself so busy for the eight years of high school and college. The reason is, I do better when I have things to do. Despite my introvert’s need for alone time to rest and recoup, I am still happier when I’m up early, occupied all day at school or work or in extracurriculars, and have just a few moments to myself every night before I drop, exhausted, back into bed. I never thought I would miss a life when, as in high school, I sometimes wouldn’t see my house in the daylight for weeks, or, as in college, I would sometimes find myself stumbling in around 3 or 4am on a production night at the paper, with a test and work the next day. But I do.
For now, I can at least add one more item to my to-do list: overcome my paralysis. Get stuff done. I don’t even care what it is anymore, it’s just time to start applying, and emailing, without looking back, until there are no more jobs to apply for and no more contacts to reach out to. What do I want to do next? I’m sure I’ll figure it out soon. And, since the problem isn’t quite what I want to do, but what I want most to do, the most obvious solution is and must be explore all the options and see which ones actually are.
So, no more over-thinking. No more over-thinking. No more over-thinking. Dang, this is hard…