Thursday, October 12, 2006

Do downs have their upside?

Now that I've been out of the doldrums for about six weeks, I've been contemplating what value, if any, the downslide I was in for about 18 months had. I'm loathe to just write off that much time, even though the vast majority of it was spent sitting around my house alone, writing and generally trying to avoid other people. But surely I learned something about myself and the world in that time. I mean, even if I kind of withdrew from the world, I didn't just stop living. And while I admit that being out of it makes reentering the world that much more vivid, I still think that there has to be some value to being down and out beyond whatever realizations you have upon getting up again.

I, for one, think I've gained a tiny bit of humility in the past year. I've always been booksmart and since I've spent the vast majority of my life in school, I've always had some external validation coming from that. Even if I was bummed out, I still had stellar grades. But this past year, I wasn't in school and I didn't have anything to look at and say 'even though I'm blue as can be, at least I'm doing ____ or I've accomplished _____.' I wasn't doing anything and suddenly, those people I looked at in high school and thought I was better than were looking way more on top of everything than I was. Hell, at least they can function. What the hell was I doing? Nothing. I was a blight on society, a nonproductive but secretly capable person hiding in the confines of my own home misanthropically judging people when I did emerge from time to time.

I think there's value in renewal and rebuilding, value to the upswing. Everyone can see that. But there has to be value to the descent. There has to be value to riding at the top and watching your life fall to pieces. There has to be a value to breaking down, withdrawing and hiding. There must be some lesson there, some grain of truth or nugget of wisdom that I otherwise wouldn't possess if I hadn't gone through it. I'm different than I was a year ago. I'm like a newborn deer unsteadily trying to walk around when four or five years ago, I was running with the best and brightest. I wonder if I can still run like that or if I'm too far behind to figure out how to get back in the race.

You know, I've been thinking a lot about popular imagery and metaphors that people use that I would take for granted as obvious but now they've taken on a deeper meaning. For example, people talk about getting thrown from a horse and getting back up in the saddle again. I don't think I ever appreciated how hard that could be, especially if you were thrown a great distance from a big freakin horse. Not only do you look at the beast and wonder how the hell you ever did it to begin with, but then you start pondering whether or not riding horses is all that great anyway. Do you really want to get into that saddle again? And once you do, where the heck are you gonna go?

When I was younger, I always pictured myself doing something important but I never had a clear idea of what that would be. Right now, I'm working at a place where I wouldn't need a college degree, let alone a graduate degree. Should I be proud of the fact that I'm working at all or disapointed that I don't have something better? Ugh.

Speaking of that debate, I have a question for y'all. Do you think it would be better for me to keep the job I have until May, when Brendan and I move OR should I keep my job until winter break and then look for some higher paying, temporary positions come January?