I’ve got a specific set of skills.
Sometimes it feels like I’ve spent my adulthood learning how to be eternally frustrated.
It pops up randomly, in little things. The dirty kitchen, an interaction with the office mooch. Not finding anything I want to wear in my closet. None of these feelings are overwhelming. I remember having similar experiences through my childhood, and being unable to ride out the wave, letting it carry me to a bad day through and through.
These days it’s all just newspaper in the fire. A quick flash, keeping the flame burning strong. I find a sheet and ball it up, whenever I need motivation, a bored camper turning it over for a moment before throwing it away and letting it go.
It helps that, for the most part, what I’m annoyed at is myself.
The list of items I haven’t done only expands, time marching on relentlessly without me. Why haven’t I worked out today? This week? Why are the dishes piling up again? Why haven’t I written for myself in a while?
How do I expect to get anything done if I’m not frustrated with where I’m currently at?
The problem, as I’ve been trying in vain to explain to my therapist, is that I’ve never changed myself without reaching the point where the situation is absolutely desperate before. I am, by all accounts, not a person to be trusted with motivation. Have you ever looked back and wish you’d invested that extra five or ten dollars a couple years back? If it was in a savings account, it may have become an interesting amount by now! My life is full of those little, bankable moments, and I have always chosen to waste it in the now. Until there are bills to pay.
And boy, have some of my choices come due these days.
I can’t help but thinking, I could have written a novel by now. I could have any amount of muscle or stamina, I could have better financial health. And it’s not just a list of wants, at this point. All those items are the big ticket ones, because not having them means I don’t have as many options. Here I am, on the path most taken, the slow one. And it frustrates the heck out of me.
I frustrate the heck out of me.
Where was I, when life presented me with options and opportunities before? Was I asleep at the wheel? Maybe what I’m feeling is regret. I’ve never been one to regret before, so I don’t really know. It’s not about any one particular moment, just the big picture as a whole.
And it’s not just frustration and regret.
I make choices now specifically because I don’t care what people think. For me, any assertion of my own opinions and feelings is aggressive, is at the core anger. I’ve gotten very good at wielding anger, using it to propel me forward, satisfied to leave those who angered me in the first place behind as some sort of punishment. I mean, when I broke up with my ex, the first thing I did was blog about it. Is that normal? Healthy? Fair to him? I have no idea. I just know that I did it, knowing full well our families and friends would probably see it.
I have to tell you, that was a terrible life lesson. That was my most successful article so far.
I don’t know if Medium’s just lacking in content about breakups, or if I shine under pressure, or both, but I’m still getting reactions to that piece. Somehow, months later, people are still finding it to comment on and connect with. It was distributed, when nothing else I’ve written has been (thanks by the way, unknown curator at Medium. That meant a lot to me, even if I wonder why that post).
Was it my fairly calm, generally well-meaning attitude about it all? Was it the brutal honesty of publishing that on the internet for all to see? (It’s unrelated, but never piss off a writer. The situation may be temporary, but words have the potential to be immortal) Annoyance, anger, frustration — adulthood has taught me to spin all of those into determination, if nothing else. I’ve never been so motivated or decisive in my life than I have been recently.
So I guess I kind of hope that what people want is a young writer pissed off at herself, her situation, and the world. Because no matter how much it worries my mom and annoys my friends — right now that’s what I have to offer you.