When your Outside Doesn’t Match Your Inside: a narrative about why change and transition feel icky

I’m recovering from a recent bout of introspection and decision making.

Symptoms included: staring into space, daydreaming, feeling angry about almost everything, lots of journaling, web surfing, list making, book hopping, researching (a.k.a. slightly more focused web surfing and book hopping), questioning, and way too much whining.

Outcomes included: new focus, registering for classes, more whining, worrying about my age, more journaling, an upswing of enthusiasm, new learning curves, and a brand new list of actions.

Now, the enthused upswing is on the downside of the arc and I’m in that icky transitional space between having made a decision and having realized that decision. And I’m making myself miserable.

Here are the specifics:

I’ve been working at the same job for over ten years. Our office has gone through five changes in leadership while I’ve been here. For almost two years, I’ve been coming to work without any enthusiasm. I’m bored. I thought looking for a new position with the company might alleviate the boredom and then I realized that would only be changing the channel. I think I might last a year before I started feeling this ennui once again.

So I asked myself what do I really want to do? What fascinates me? What do I care about? What am I good at? Why does work matter?

I asked the same questions about my hobbies and my vocation if you will.

I’m not sure if the questioning and answering was of any value at all. I think the one answer to all of the questions is: Because I want to try something new. I’m ready for a change. Not for any other reason than it’s time to move on. Is that a good enough reason to disrupt my life? I think it is.

BTW — I’m turning 50 this month. Which explains the whinging about my age. I think this might be a mid-life crisis. Although I thought I had been here (fussing about my age) and done this (enjoyed my crisis) just a couple of years ago. Apparently that wasn’t a thorough crisis. I might have skipped some steps. Like actually following through and creating the changes I desire or coming to an acceptance of who I am as I am or even actually loving who I am with that ‘fuck it’ kind of bravado that I admire in others.

Yeah, I didn’t do any of those things. Or, wait a minute, maybe I did. For a few days or hours at least. The problem with all that stuff is you have to keep doing it over and over and over again. They’re not a ‘one and done’.

And the problem with change is, it’s not a destination. It’s always this fucking open-ended are we there yet kind of journey. You never get there because there’s no There there. Most of the time I can swallow the zen of it, but there are times (like this past miserable couple of weeks) when it just wrecks me. Wrecks. Me.

And at this point, or maybe a couple of months from now, I give up and decide my self-examination and my desire for change and my plans are — all just big deal over nothing. Because everything is fine. I have a good life. Absolutely nothing to complain about. I have friends. I love my family. My boring job is good enough. I have a pension. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Please! I don’t want to do that to myself again. I’m craving growth and learning curves. I want to follow through. Which means I have to take the next step with or without enthusiasm. So I pull on my boots and I do the next doing truthfully and for a purpose. I understand more about CSS than I did yesterday! That’s something.

But, it feels good and icky and the same time. I’m excited about learning about ems and rems — and — nothing has changed in my life other than I now know rems aren’t bothered by inheritance. They’re relative to the root element only. (I think?)

I’ve changed on the inside, but on the outside it looks exactly the same. There’s a gap between me now and the ‘me’ I imagine in the future and I’m still ‘just me’. It’s like being stuck on the bottom end of the teeter totter. There’s all this anticipation and you have to keep pushing off and coming back down and pushing off again. All the while, what you want to do is fly.