I know that I keep promising to post about how I used the KonMari Method to tidy my clothes, shoes, and accessories. I also know that I keep saying that I’m going to blog more and that I’ll be more present in the blogsphere by commenting on blogs that I follow. Obviously, none of this has happened. It’s not like I don’t have time to blog, I do. Hell, I scheduled every Tuesday morning to write a post. And it’s not like I have writer’s block or anything because I’m writing like a fiend for my classes. Finally, it’s not like I don’t want to blog or be active in the blogosphere, because I do. So what’s going on here?
The simple answer: everything I am and everything I know is in flux. Don’t get me wrong, there are some things that I am absolutely certain: I adore Ed and our relationship is wonderful. I’m thrilled to be back in NYC. I’m settling into the my new course of study and just volunteered for a seriously cool archival and curatorial project. I’m planning my garden. Pumpkin and Moo are doing well considering that they are both 13. I’m looking forward to camping and Salem this year. And I’m completely over-the-moon that we have tickets for Wagner’s The Ring Cycle … finally!
Yet, once again, I’m in a state of “transformation” and “becoming.” I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t worried about my decision to “quit” the professoriate. I worked so hard to get to that point! I poured my entire being into my Ph.D. and being an academic-professor-looking-for-a-tenure-track-gig person. It was who I am. Leaving it and a full-time teaching gig is terrifying. While the criticism has been minimal, I, personally, criticize myself horribly. I sometimes wonder if I’m a joke, or if I wasn’t good enough or strong enough to “hack it.” I don’t even know what that means! Seriously, am I good enough or strong enough to endure giving 200% 24/7? Am I a joke because I refuse to sell my soul to academia? Am I crazy for walking away from a full-time gig when so many of my colleagues are struggling to find one? Am I just being lazy? Or do I secretly suck? Wanna know a secret? This is why I haven’t submitted any writing to journals for review. I’m absolutely terrified that I’m going to learn that my research sucks and that I’m not good enough. It’s crippling.
I guess in some ways I’m mourning who I was. I’ve even considered changing the name of my blog because I’m no longer a professor. But to what? Who the hell am I? Why do I constantly define myself by these outside identifiers? And most importantly, why do some of these identifiers feel more prestigious — and therefore worthy — than others? Don’t get me wrong, deep down I know that I made the right decision to leave the professoriate to pursue an object-based career. So why do I feel like a failure? Why am I mourning? It makes no sense.
And let’s talk about another reason why I haven’t been blogging. I haven’t a friggin clue what to write about! I know I’ve written about this before and then a bunch of comments followed, all encouraging me to just “do me.” But you know, how do I “do me” when “me” isn’t the “me” that folks have been following for years? Or maybe, I’m more “me” then ever before and I fear that some readers will be disappointed? I guess I’m going through another bout of growing pains … at 46. sigh. Changing and growing and learning never stops, my friends.
Maybe … just maybe … it’s time to not care what everyone thinks? Maybe it’s time to accept “me” — the deep, messy, beautiful, weirdly artsy, super intelligent, awkward me? I mean, I’ve been having this conversation with “me” for 46 years. Sure, I say that I’m a firebrand who doesn’t give a jot what someone thinks; but deep down, I’m that quiet, weird, artsy bookworm in the 6th grade who was relentlessly teased. I’m that sensitive kid who just couldn’t understand why people are so mean. I still can’t figure out why folks are still mean, nasty bullies. I don’t get why people pride themselves on being a “bitch” when being kind, empathetic, and giving makes the world a better place.
My devil-may-care attitude and my punk rockness was most definitely a coping mechanism. I wasn’t going to change to fit in, so I went to the extreme. They didn’t want me, so fuck them. I’m glad I did, but here I am at 46 … still that quiet, weird kid who is “over-sensitive.” I’m still the kid who needs confirmation that I’m on the right track and that I’m ok. I need to know that someone is there with hugs or an encouraging word.
Sometimes I talk to “little Franny.” I tell her that she’s going to be ok and that I didn’t do so bad. Sometimes I hear her point out that we’re still the quiet, weird, artsy bookworm … yes, yes we are. It breaks my heart that I have to tell her that we’re still being picked on and that people are still mean to us. It breaks my heart to tell her that I’m scared to death of being alone. I kills me to tell her that all of the crazy hair colors, wild clothes, and rebellion didn’t help her self-esteem or self-acceptance. Oh sure, it made her stronger. It helped her to find her voice and gave her the space to grow. But, it didn’t heal the damage already done. In some ways it made it worse.
I wonder what she would think of me right now. Hell, I don’t even know what to think of me right now. Would she think I was still “cool” now that I stripped the black out of my hair and I’m letting my bangs grow? Would she approve of the fact that I’m drawing again? Would she be happy knowing that I’m trying to let in more light, more flowers, more critters, more non-creepy things? I don’t know.
I really don’t know.