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On adulting. And the lack of it.

11 Jun 2016 (Sat)

I haven’t updated this blog in a year and a half, and I don’t even really think about it — I can easily go days without remembering I even have a blog in the first place, which is actually dawning on me as a little bit sad… Wasn’t writing supposed to be a core part of who I am? The 24-year-old Ryeginald couldn’t have imagined a life without writing in some form; I think that’s her in the corner over there, sobbing quietly at the wreck we’ve become. The 39-year-old Ryeginald kind of wants to punch 24-year-old Ryeginald in the face, though. I’m not saying it would be justified, but I think 24-year-old Ryeginald is still woefully unaware of how difficult life is going to be; how in a few years, simply getting through a single day is going to drain every last ounce of energy she has. She also has no idea how much energy she’s going to lose as she gets older, how much creativity is going to elude her to the point that she’s not sure she was ever creative, and how much of her already minimal self-confidence will be slowly eroded away by years of being ignored, undervalued (because literally anyone can be a designer *eyeroll*), and steamrolled by an incredible number of short-sighted, tunnel-visioned people whose egos should have their own zip codes.

And so that’s where I am. I realize that objectively, I am lucky: I do have a roof over my head, a job that pays the rent, and plenty to eat. There are so many who can’t say the same that I’m truly ashamed to admit it doesn’t feel like enough. But it just doesn’t — I can’t ignore how personally unfulfilled I am. I’m trapped in an empty cave, its walls built by years of missed opportunities, disappointment in myself, and an underlying non-specific anger at everything around me.

Anthropologically speaking, I have failed to meet nearly all markers of being a successful adult, which leaves me feeling like an abject failure at life. Instead, I am an overweight, single, almost 40-year-old with an intensely frustrating work environment and days that regularly swing between “I’m invisible” and “I’m generally disliked, disappointing and pathetic.” This was not the plan. I don’t even really know what the plan was, but I’m sure it wasn’t this.

Part of me wants to believe it’s not too late. I want to think I can still write a book and maybe a few songs that don’t entirely suck; that I can somehow rebalance my life, finding some personal time to bring back that 24-year-old who still believed she had things to say and the creative energy to say it. That maybe I won’t have to spend the rest of my life alone. But that part of me is only alive in very short bursts: as I’m sitting in traffic, as I’m trying to fall asleep. Soon enough, I’m back in that daily slog — Juggling unrealistic expectations from people who are pushy, self-absorbed and ungrateful; the mundane chores and daily necessities that won’t get done unless I do them; all of the little daily interactions where I struggle to remain agreeable and diplomatic when I would much rather be honest and a lot less forgiving. These things consume the rest of my day, and by the end, I’m too emotionally exhausted to do anything at all, including social or creative pursuits. So I don’t. Instead, I detach entirely from the real world — I eat until I fall asleep, and then I wake up in the morning and do it all over again, like a ferris wheel that could only be designed and constructed in the depths of hell.

So at this point, I won’t even lie to myself that it can get better. It may not, and that’s something I will probably have to learn to live with. But I do want to believe I’m not alone in this pervasive sense of disappointment with life. I’d like to think there are other people who struggle with the same feelings of inertia and mediocrity. So if you happen to stumble on this blog post and maybe relate to it in some way, feel free to let me know.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. Hillary permalink
    8 May 2017 (Mon) 8:34 am

    I think a “pervasive sense of disappointment with life” is probably a good description of adulthood. I mean, Kurt Vonnegut said something like great literature is all about how much life sucks, and isn’t it such a relief to hear someone say that? A few times in adulthood I’ve had a major existential crisis and tried to find some relief in philosophy or religion. The only thing I’ve ever been attracted to is Buddhism, because at least you can say they are honest: Life is suffering. And yet.

    I have a lot of the traditional markers of what our society deems as life progression: I got married (even to someone I like), I have kids, I have a job that sounds good at a cocktail party. I’m deeply grateful for these things. But, it doesn’t change my inner life. It doesn’t make me loathe myself less in the moments I do. It doesn’t make me question less why we are here to primarily wait in line and boring meetings before being snuffed out for eternity.

    One thing I aspire to is to be okay with leaving no trace. Sometimes I think our yearning for impact and greatness is just another attempt to escape our mortality. And I try to be okay with not escaping it. To be used to the idea. To be bored by it. A brief flash of boredom before an eternity of non-existence, but at least there is: good food, dark comedy, spring days in the grass, friends, booze, a few good poems and songs, absurdity, and the occasional moment of feeling useful to people we love. This does not feel like the package they sell you in school, but it’s what I have found is available.

    Also, as a person who only knew your 24 year old self and not the 39 year old version, I’ll just say that I think she might have cut your some slack, because she was usually a pretty understanding friend.

    • ryeginald permalink*
      8 May 2017 (Mon) 11:09 am

      HILLARY! First of all, THANK YOU SO MUCH for commenting at all, let alone with such insight. I honestly thought I was posting that out into the void, so a response has me feeling half mortified, half indescribably grateful. So THANK YOU. It means a lot to know that the void isn’t quite as empty as I thought. And for what it’s worth, I think there’s a 99.9999% chance that, if you do indeed leave no discernible trace, you are at the very least raising children who are likely to leave this world better than they found it. Which, in a way, will actually be proof that you did the same yourself. (It is in that far-fetched hope that I am actively weaseling my way into my friends’ children’s lives, which I’m sure is super weird for them but is apparently a compulsion I neither have the strength nor the desire to ignore.)

  2. Natalie permalink
    9 May 2017 (Tue) 2:28 pm

    Another voice from long-ago here. You’re wonderful and I care about you. And you’re not alone in how you feel. Hillary said very well what I could probably only clumsily say. And those “life-progression markers” (spouse, child, house, job), while I love and appreciate them, do take time away from creativity, travel, and risky ventures.

    I tend to turn to the wildlife world when I’m down or overwhelmed (surprise, surprise!). I remember internally narrating wildlife documentaries when the Critter was still in the larval stage and screaming constantly. It was comforting to think that I was just one more mammal caring for her young through the same steps that uncountable mammals before me had done. And some days, our role is to carry out the tasks of countless other animals when we search for food, water, shelter and sleep. If you get that much done, good job.

    Hang in there, my dear.

    • ryeginald permalink*
      9 May 2017 (Tue) 4:13 pm

      ANOTHER SURPRISE! NATALIE! Thank you so much for reaching out and for your kind words – they are genuinely comforting, and I am supremely grateful for the responses! I’m currently experiencing a weird kind of guilt/embarrassment now… where I think maybe this post sounded too much like “a cry for help,” but not in a good way – the kind of cry for help that’s awkwardly obvious, and that you don’t really want to respond to for fear of encouraging the person’s attention-seeking behavior. I don’t like attention-seeking behavior. It makes me cranky. So I kind of feel like maybe I should promise not to post stuff like this more than once every ten years. And I feel like I should also promise to not marinate in this general malaise any longer than I can truly help it. In the meantime though, I think maybe I’ll work on a little more acceptance and a little less struggling against my impending mortality. Maybe that would help. It would probably also help to work on getting phrases like “when the critter was still in the larval stage” into way more conversations because I was happier when the people around me talked like that. :) <3

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