Yeah, I bastardized a Tom Petty song, but it’s become a part of my personal soundtrack and wouldn’t leave me alone, like it was telling me I needed to listen and keep it in mind.
I let this world get to me. A year and a half ago, I wrote about why I was a free-hugger and the good vibes I felt we needed in our divisive times. But I let things wear me down so much I probably haven’t touched that sign in over a year.
And the new sign I was making is gathering dust on my painting table.
I admit, part of it is the amount of times I’ve gotten ill, or others have been ill around me this year (strep throat was particularly vicious around here). I didn’t want to risk getting other people sick by spreading colds or something. But I think the poison in words and gestures from so many voices, bombarding our ears for so long…that shut me down.
I let general negativity get to me and cow me under. I haven’t wanted to poke my head up in the world and do anything for it. I stopped caring about a lot of things and just went numb. And as I can’t fake sincerity to save my life, parading a Free Hugs sign around when I was feeling very not-sociable would make a mockery of what goodwill I hoped to promote.
And then I stopped caring about myself completely. I had to force myself to try and eat, and got to the point where going to my fave coffee shops wasn’t worth it. I didn’t even want coffee, amazingly enough…or it would be all I wanted until I felt sick.
So, I stopped caring about the wider world, and just did what I could to keep busy. The only bright spot was seeing Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and doing a training at the museum last week.
That got me a little bit out of my blue-funk shell, but it didn’t take long before I crawled into it again. My confidence was shot and I started having tension headaches every day.
I actually took a nap in the middle of the day yesterday for about an hour. And I realized when I got up I just needed to move around and think. I didn’t get much done yesterday, but it paved the way a change, starting today.My first step yesterday was to sign up for a volunteer day at the museum sometime next week. I’ve let myself get away from volunteering because of time and gas money, but then I had to remind myself how much I’ve blown on impulse purchases the past few months.
I was convinced I couldn’t do a lick of good and was trying too hard to change things that couldn’t be changed. I feel like a bomb’s gone off in my mind with all the crap the world’s trying to cram down my throat, and the concussion hasn’t stopped. I am having a crazy hard time with my anxiety and trying to do something productive. I think it hit me how much trouble I’m having with focus and direction, and have been having outside my paying job for weeks.
My impatience cost me a lot. Little steps can add up to something big, but when I keep counting the ways I’ve let things slide out of my control or the ways I can’t keep up and do things most other people can do…it’s paralyzing.
It wasn’t until I was downtown the week before that I realized how much I miss volunteering, helping out, teaching people even if I’m a little broker in the end in a position I like. And it’s just a few miles from that movie theater I found that plays films I want to see beyond the typical CGI-gasms!
So, step one was I signed up for a volunteer day, and if I feel comfortable enough with how I work that day, I’ll sign up for another next week.
Yesterday I was looking for inspiration, and may have found some of it while filing of all things. I love history and somehow forgot about that with all this crap that’s gone on. I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, “Ghosts of the Ostfront (parts 1-4)” from Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. I never pretended to be normal, so I’m sure it will sound weird that a lengthy podcast of the bloody fighting between Hitler’s and Stalin’s troops calmed me down and mellowed me out a bit. While organizing and filing, it started to come to me that maybe if I keep going with history, keep reading and listening, maybe I can finally do something with my degree.
Time to take another crack at history and writing opportunities, with a lot less excuses.
I’m not at home right now, because I knew if I stayed home today I’d be napping this afternoon away again out of boredom. I needed to take the time to think away from the house, and write in my journal and try to straighten my head out. Anxiety controls a lot of what I do (and don’t do), and I have this normal fear about screwing up on my job and losing it or being replaced and losing my hours.
I have to get over that. My hours are a roller coaster, and if I want any semblance of success or stability, I will have to do it myself, by working for myself. My hope is that I flex my writing chops and get my formal research mojo back, and get confident enough to send out articles for sale and distribution.
I kept making excuses for not doing it, but my diplomas need to be more than a nicely framed piece of paper on my wall. Writing. Time to get my history-majors job book out and learn how to capitalize on all my interests. I gripe all the time about how school was the only thing I was any good at, being a student. Nobody’s gonna pay me to just sit around and read and learn things (oh, I wish)–I have to send stuff out into the world, learn how to get paid to research and publish.
In short, I’ll have to get over my anxiety, build my confidence, and ask for money. I will have to get people to pay me what my work is worth, and not cow under and slink away, afraid that I sound greedy. I can’t and won’t do the “exposure” thing–if I wanted to do that, I’d just write and post crazy-long history articles on this blog!
Everyone’s time is worth something. I’m all about saving time for people at my jobs, getting things done and helping out. Time I made some time for me, doing what I want for me.
And hopefully, I will be able to flip my world and make writing and research my actual job, do well enough that I can get my own place and own life, and volunteer all I want.
So, enough of this world trying to drag me further down. I’m going to finish my new Free Hugs sign and start bringing it with me again. I don’t want to be blah forever, and down in the dumps. I want to learn how to smile again, and make others smile, and invite sociability.
And I will go through museum and history jobs tonight, and not stop until I find a few things I can apply for, or publications I can work with. I’ve had some ideas sent to me in the past, but it’s time for me to get over my hangups and actually try them out.
Hell, the worst that can happen is they say “no,” right? And then I have something I can edit and send to somebody else…or somebody else else…or maybe use for fodder for my own podcast (hee hee).