Decade of Reflections – part one

My favorite holiday is New Year’s. It isn’t just the creation of resolutions, reflection on the past and hopes for the future. There’s a sense of death with the promise of renewal. The two in concert seem to demand a type of honest reflection and a willingness to be humble in order begin the new year in a way that makes it possible to achieve renewal. My New Year reflection starts around Christmas when I begin to pull out old journals and fragments to see how honest I’m being with myself. Journaling can force you to be more honest if you let it. It becomes easy to forget the little daily obsessions and fixate on the overarching narrative of life–the big, memorable things.

These are stacks of my journals by year from 2009-2019. Not included are any of my fiction or working journals.

In 2009 I was heading into the last of my college years. It was a tumultuous period of trying to figure out how to achieve everything I wanted to achieve. I considered grad school but recognized that I did not have the laser focus to make it a reasonable investment. There were other challenges such as having had very few interactions with professors as many of my classes were taught by graduate students. It had also become clear to me that I did not want to put off trying to have children. Some college English and Art classes also made me face the fact that what I was most driven to do was to write and make art. It was a time when my heart was in my throat and I was worried that I was dooming myself by following paths that did not lead to financial success. College was an invaluable experience that was well worth it for me but it was also the first time I had been surrounded by so many people who were driven, had a plan with the means to execute it and were visibly making progress. This can be incredibly daunting and demoralizing if you’re not on the same track but it gave me insights I could not have had otherwise.

I’ve now pissed away too much money and time in an attempt to chase a dream of who I wish I was. Now I am prepared to be who I am and that will suffice. The idea of being anyone you want to be is terribly romantic but not realistic. People can be who they are, who they sacrifice to become but rarely can they become anything they desire whithout already being partly that or sacrificing part of themselves to become someone else.

November 10, 2009

These ruminations continued into 2010 as I struggled with my quest to conceive, questioned myself in fundamental ways that made it that much harder to also be attending college and working toward the completion of my degree. My mother’s declining health served as background to heavy ruminations about family as I was unable to cope with my challenges alongside hers and the simmering sorrow of our difficult relationship made worse by our inability to communicate blocked further by her condition. During this time I sought some sort of redemption by seeking to repair the relationship with my father. In retrospect, 2010 was a time of extreme stress. Some self induced by my desire to prove something to myself as well as everyone around me.

My life is passing me by and I won’t have a second change.

March 30, 2010

I watched a lot of documentaries during this time including one on The Baby Boomers and quite a few about WWII and Nazis, both provided further insight into my Literature and Social Media class. There was also a series called “Life After People”. At the time they were just interesting asides from my life that were compelling to consider and removed me from what I was personally undertaking. Opportunities for perspective. Now my notes provide me with insight into what I thought of these subjects then versus now as these subjects are ever more discussed and present in our internet culture and have a variety of ramifications in the world at large as well. There’s a degree of navel gazing and it isn’t particularly insightful but I appreciated the thread from then to now that exists in these musings.

Perhaps there is something of a tension between current generations living virtual lives when Boomers created the dream in life. Is the virtual a reaction to excess? Or is it the next step in excess? My classmates seem to be of the conviction that there is little they can do to change the world, that huge organizations have taken this choice away from them. Is this common to this generation and is it a reaction to the perceived failures of the Boomer generation?

March 18, 2010

By April I had begun to find some balance and “rediscovered” writing in earnest. I’d been journaling for a couple of years on and off but once I realized that I couldn’t justify grad school I had to give up on my long held desire to be an academic. I did finish my degree but I was able to recognize what I needed to be successful as an academic and I simply did not have it. Rather than this being a deeply depressing thing, it freed me to acknowledge my strengths and enabled me to nurture the confidence I needed to improve and move forward. That said, the confidence was hampered by my continued struggles in getting pregnant as well as being jealous of my classmates who went on to prestigious universities for grad school.

In June of 2010 I started my Twitter account but it wasn’t with any sense of urgency to be active on social media. Just curiosity. Focusing on writing again had opened my eyes in a way that suddenly reinvigorated me after years of crippling depression, a series of thankless jobs and many hours immersed in video games while I gradually made my way through college. What helped me write again was to write for someone who had been very supportive of my work before he died. It helped to not think about an unknown audience who would judge my work harshly. Fixating on the fact that my work had been appreciated by him in the past helped me believe that it could be enjoyed in the future. It was abstract but necessary for me to move past the need to please and focus on writing. Often I remembered the discussion we’d had about the process of unlearning that was vital to being able to create something of value freed from the many stagnating conventions that education can impose.

Delving into 2009-2010 I rediscovered a version of myself that I had forgotten about. There was such angst and awe living side by side. It hasn’t been worthwhile for me to forget my past because then it becomes easy to become mired in my current day to day problems. Revisiting my life of ten years ago brought me face to face with a self I had, in large part, forgotten. Most of the lessons I learned were folded into me in ways I take for granted now but back then I was taking the precarious steps toward what is now a more balanced and joy filled life.

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