I have been suffering through my Annual Existential Crisis for the past week or so.
At times, I feel completely consumed by feelings of confusion, panic, and helplessness. Who am I? Why am I here [i.e. on earth in general, not at the awesome lakeside cabin in particular, which I love]? What am I supposed to be doing with my life? Why don’t I have more direction and drive? On those brooding, sulking, heavy days, I read through other people’s blogs and make the mistake of clicking “notify me of follow-up comments” when I respond to their posts. Then I feel washed in despair, bitterness, and that most ugly of emotions– jealousy– when my inbox is flooded with comments for other people’s posts, other people’s writing, other people’s experiences. Other people have everything figured out, I whine to my bruised, tender spirit as I pillage through the contents of my inbox indiscriminately. Savagely. DELETE, DELETE, I DON’T CARE, DELETE!!!! Everyone else has tapped into life’s most abundant of arteries and are basking in the warmth of that rich, warm flow. [Insert sad and/or pitiful emoticon here.]
The next day (or sometimes even within an hour), I sneer at myself for being so shallow. Silly girl, I seethe to my paper-thin heart– the soul that feels like it has been burnt to ash and might blow clear away from me in the most gentle of breezes– Life does not boil down to stats, subscribers, or blogging at all. Get over yourself and focus on what truly matters.
Which is?, I wonder. What truly matters? What matters most to me?
Unfortunately, because I am mired in my Annual Existential Crisis, this brings me right back to questions of Who am I? and Why am I here? Back come those brooding, sulking, heavy days– days when even the most meaningless of circumstances render me utterly crestfallen. It’s a vicious, unfriendly, and exhausting cycle, but it seems to happen, well, annually now.
I believe it boils down to our crazy summers and the highly unstructured winters that follow. From April until October every year, I have a clear sense of what needs to get done and I am confident, positive, that I can do all of those things well. I am organized. I am great with people. I am approachable, genuine, and passionate about the art business that I share with my dearest partner. I am buoyed by the receptiveness of other people to our work and feel elated with the knowledge that what I do matters. People are taken care of– thrilled with their purchases. I am nurturing them, if only indirectly. Life is busy, hectic, sleepless, and often stressful, but I love what I do. Everything is great!
Then the winter months come along, those same months that I crave and yearn for from approximately April to October every year. Heh. In the summer, I say “I can’t wait to unwind!” or “We’re looking forward to some down time!” but when I finally get there, I crack into a hundred thousand little pieces and watch helplessly from beyond myself, a scattered pile of dust. In those months, the quiet months, I struggle to rebuild myself from the summer’s leftover shards of us, we, and ours. Who am I?, I demand to know. What is my purpose in life? Sometimes I even catch myself wondering what my junior high guidance counselors would think of my career path now– as though I even cared what they suggested to me when I was twelve. (For the record: I did not. I’d make a good truck driver, you say? SCREW YOU!!) Everything is external.
During the winter months– those slippery, ambiguous, crumbly months– I find myself turning outside of myself more often than usual. I search diligently for any confirmation, however slight, that who I am and what I do still matters. Am I a writer? Do people even like my writing? Like an oft-beaten puppy who needs love but is afraid to go looking for it, I crave Marty’s approval and the validation of other people. I know in my head that this is not right. I have no problems spouting off self-help proverbs to remind myself that real acceptance comes from within. But. As sweet as these little cliched nuggets are– Trust in the Universe! Believe in yourself!— they do not foster or sustain that prized, blessed calm in the heart, much like a diet of candy cannot promote impeccable digestive health. There must be something else.
For now, I’m just letting myself be. I’m having long, soulful conversations with Marty and lying protected in his embrace, breathing in his reassuring scent of acceptance, love, and safety. I’m chanting and meditating on a daily basis. In an effort to take and accept myself on my own terms and on those terms alone, I’ve hidden my modest blog stats into a dark corner and feel content to leave those stupid things there– totally untouched and unmonitored for however long it takes to not care about them anymore. Then I’m laughing at myself for having the audacity to put such a high value on the virtual equivalent of a popularity contest in the first place. Honestly. Who should even care about hits, comments, subscribers, pingbacks, etc.? The aliens would find that mighty ludicrous, I’m sure. (When I first started blogging– way back in 2006!– I only wanted to be able to keep in touch with my friends from Calgary online. It didn’t matter to me if any of them actually commented or even read my posts. Also, I didn’t even understand the whole concept of “subscribing” until this past March. Yes, March 2011. Oh, youth!)
My runes and tarot cards from the Winter Solstice reading basically suggested that I try living life for the process of it instead of the outcome. Of course, my surprisingly linear, forward-facing mind reels at the thought of not having a solid Five Year Plan in place, but seeing as my Plan lately has consisted only of ?????s and ums, it’s probably for the best. 😉 Sure. I can try doing things just because and not worry about how everything will turn out. At least I’ll try. That sounds good.
The one advantage of having an Existential Crisis every year is that I know it will pass. It always does. I will stumble around in the darkness of my psyche for a week or two– confused, timid, insecure, and shy as can be– but I will emerge again, confident and kicking ass (or humble and zen-like– or all of those things!) when the time is right. I know in my heart that I’m where I am “supposed” to be in life right now, but it seems I just need to go through the process of re-affirming that belief for myself… again and again and again. I can do it.
Thanks for listening and for being here. xoxo