Struggle.

How am I screwing up? A brief list.

  • I have not been keeping up with my R/statistics learning very well.
  • Making a plan for my life is still elusive. Need to put more things on my calendar and stick to them.
  • Fundamentally, I still don’t believe things will work out for me, but will for anyone else
  • I still don’t escape my comfort zone nearly enough
  • This whole ‘finding a job’ thing still freaks me the hell out. And I still feel stuck
  • I don’t progress quickly in things.
  • I don’t have good hobbies where I see results of something I do very often.
  • Decisions are still hard.
  • I still am not good at handling change/uncertainty
  • I haven’t taken a vacation this year at all and probably won’t
  • I still try to please other people rather than myself. I am secondary, not special.
  • I feel like I’m tone deaf to ideas that people have already had and are discussing at a high level and I am fascinated/talking for no reason whatsoever. I say obvious things without insight (like this list).
  • I also go on too long about everything. No one cares what I think.
  • I don’t know if I know how to enjoy things anymore. What is fun for me? I don’t know.
  • I won’t leap. I need to. To just take a chance on something that seems like a black whole, unknown…anything…just to try…and yet I resist that with every fiber. I even have a list of ideas of how I could make that leap/a small direction

I know, I might be as uncertain, scared and anxious as anyone else. A lot of these feelings are vestiges of the depressive and learned helplessness attitude I carried around for more years than I care to admit. It’s a vestige of perfectionism and risk aversion. Always being admonished to look; not just glance, but look deeply before you leap. This isn’t the kind of flexible and creative thinking that helps someone succeed in science. And I suspect a lot of us (hopefully not to the extreme I think I’ve taken it to) have some of my neuroses within us. I do think part of this attitude has come directly out of my scientific training/environment (meaning the broad academic system) too…not all of it, but certainly some of it. Most of it is me though. The way I developed, learned to be as invisible as possible, to be ashamed of existing, not feeling worthy, all of that.

I am turning a lot of this around, but the last few weeks, it’s felt like an overwhelming weight on me and I’ve been struggling and not really knowing who to talk to or how to say things (I’m writing this stream of conscious…and therefore this is probably not ‘good’ writing).

I still caution people to not be like me. There are more productive ways to think, do things, and explore the world. It really frustrates me that I can’t get out of the way of my own brain and just get into living life. I only have the one and it’s half over. The clock is ticking. Is my brain powerful enough to keep me inhibited? Or can the voice I’ve been trying to cultivate the last few years, the one that’s not fear driven, that will take that seemingly stupid decision come to the fore more and more?

You’d think this would be up to me. And it is. But it’s not quite a switch you flip. The fear is sneaky. And hides when you think you’ve gotten a hold of it and driven it out only to return someplace else. I’m sure there’s a better way. I’m sure Buddhists thousands of years ago found the solution (not an easy solution, but the solution). I want to learn, create, do and travel and explore. That other part of my brain is powerful though. It operates 24/7 even in sleep. Even when I’m drunk (which isn’t often). It implores 99% of what you do is stupid and not a good idea. Doing things is bad it says.

No it isn’t the voice that’s myself responds. But that voice doesn’t have a lot behind it that comes from within me. I can point to all the things in the world that result because people do things…amazing things. And I wish to be one of them. But I need some evidence from within that I can do something. Build something. Create something. Share something. Learn something.

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Author: Ian Street

Ian is a plant scientist and science writer relating stories of plant science and scientists on his blog, The Quiet Branches as well as other outlets. You can find him on Twitter @IHStreet.

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