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When Happiness Loses Its Appeal

I cried this morning. Scratch that - I wept.


Before it happened, I called in sick. I've been fighting a cold for several days, see. After that was taken care of, I sat down on my couch and broke down into sobs.


The scariest part is that I didn't even know why I was crying. I don't usually cry, see. Not even at funerals or weddings or anything. In fact, I can remember each time I have cried over the past couple of years.


Just a few days ago, I called a very dear family member who is dealing with some seriously heavy things. Near the close of the conversation, she started crying and said, "You're very special to me." I dittoed both sentiments.


This last summer, well before moving to Kansas City, I found myself crying a lot. My grandmother died - cancer - in her house with the rest of my family taking care of her. Her youngest son, my Uncle Joshua had died tragically just months previous.


Before that happened, I parted ways with my girlfriend, Jennie. Easily the most I have ever cried before in my life. But this is no place to get into that. Oh, also, I had cried to her on a number of occasions when I decided to spill out my emotions about personal things.


Okay, so compared with the rest of my life, this last year has included a lot of crying. But before December 2009, I cried very rarely, with the exception of a patch of tearful spots during my high school Junior year.


What is happening to me?


I have certainly been very moody lately (i.e. over the last year), but I remember being happy, very happy, even. That seems to be changing. With the loss of college life, I have lost a lot of things that colored my life in brights: 

  • a sense of direction and goal completion
  • a series of intellectually and emotionally engaging tasks
  • a close-knit group of friends that made my problems seem manageable
  • a friend I could share intimacy with
  • several professors who were friends sharing wisdom with me and supporting me
  • a community in which I felt I could make some changes
Several days ago, I spontaneously jotted down several things about myself that disgusted me of late. I was shocked at both the size of the list and what it said about my character. At the top of the page I wrote "Lately" and underneath:

directionless
overwhelmed by options
not committing
taking the lazy route
not being impressive
eating too much
not exercising
not writing
not playing any instruments
not learning another language, trick, or developing a talent
not reading about things for which I am passionate
not being passionate in general
not being great or exceeding expectations
not calling an eye doctor (I've been putting this off for some time now)
making excuses for things
too much time sleeping
too much time on the computer
too much time watching tv

Kind of a depressing list, right? And these are just the things at the front of my mind. Who knows how long the list could've grown had I actually (God forbid) put some real thought into it.

I've tried taking steps back toward a fulfilled life. I buy mostly healthful food.  I have started watching online math classes from MIT. I'm teaching myself to juggle.

Most recently, I have been looking at grad schools. Maybe setting up a concrete goal will motivate me to be happy. That's what I was doing when I broke down early this morning - looking at grad schools, trying not to think about my ex girlfriend.

What's more, I have no idea what grad program to choose. At times, I've wanted to be (in roughly this order):

A computer programmer (high school)(I was advanced in math)
A lawyer (high school)(state debate team)
A pilot (just thought it would be cool)
A missionary (college - Missions major at TMC)
A lawyer (again, this time serving overseas with the International Justice Mission)
A theologian (college - Theology major at TMC, then undeclared at SC)
A tour guide (summers at Yellowstone National Park and Wind Cave National Park)

A pianist (here and there throughout college, thanks to Dr. Nix)
A writer/journalist (college - Humanities major)
A filmmaker (college - Humanities major)

I finished college intending to eventually go into a writing business. And now - now that I'm looking at grad schools, what programs am I looking into?

Physics
Mathematics
Earth Science

What. The. Hell.

This is my big problem. I want to do everything. I try to do many things. As a result, I am 22 with a job that I don't really like in a field that I have never thought about going into with a bachelor's degree in Humanities. English, art, philosophy, music, or theatre majors are already notorious for their worthlessness in finding a job, but I picked a major that mixed them all together.

So here's what I'm going to do.

I'm going to pretend I just graduated high school and start all over again. And maybe this time I won't fuck everything up. I'll stick to one subject religiously. I'll become competent at something for once in my life. And if all goes well, I'll be successful in it.

Or maybe I'll learn to be content with unhappiness. Apparently that's a pretty popular option these days.
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