…and more introspection than you probably care to read. Consider yourself warned.
I’ve spent the past week or so on a hardcore nostalgia bender. It started Monday as I was driving to work. I heard a song on the radio that reminded me of a classmate’s blog I used to read in college but which had vanished from the internet about six years ago, and suddenly I remembered the Wayback Machine and managed to unearth most of the website from its archives. I spent some time over the next few days combing through all 180 pages of it. I do these things compulsively even though I know they’re not healthy and I’m probably going to wind up passed out in the basement of Memory with the Internet needle stuck in my arm… and… dead babies crawling on the ceiling? (I’ve seen too many heroin movies lately.) Old blogs simultaneously feed my fascinations with how other people think and write, and with dredging up memories to see if my past can shed any new light on my present and future. So I’ve been busy comparing my life and my self with others(‘) (mostly a bad idea) and trying to evaluate where I am and where I want to be (possibly helpful).
To start with, I don’t feel like I’ve been progressing much over the past few years, especially compared to people who’ve gotten married, had babies, bought houses, gotten degrees, started careers, started businesses, moved to other countries, etc., etc. I’ve been working at the same place for about two and a half years now, and this is a job that I found after dropping out of grad school as something for me to do to support myself until I figure out what I really want to do as a career. All I’ve really gained on that front is a whooooole mess of angst. It hits me the hardest on slow days at work. I sit there feeling useless and start brooding about how I am bad at everything, how no one else will ever hire me because I lack the skills necessary to succeed in our capitalist economy—I’m not overly driven or motivated or ambitious or passionate about work things, I’m not outgoing, I’m not good at networking, I’m not a “self-starter,” I’m not good at dealing with bullshit and red tape, I’m not good at sucking up, I suck at public speaking… and so on. And I panic at the thought that I will suck at all jobs and will never find something I enjoy that can support me at all. And I feel like I’m wasting any semblance of potential that I might have had. I haven’t even applied for anything else, for all of the reasons above. I guess I feel like I’m stagnating on several fronts, and a lot of it stems from my general uncertainty, my lack of confidence, and my reluctance to make ANY decision that I’m not 100% sure about, which of course means that I flat-out refuse to decide anything important. My life is not at all where I want it to be.
But it has been, at certain points. That’s something I’ve gained from OD’ing on nostalgia: the realization that there have actually been a few points in my life where things were pretty much where I wanted them to be, and it was fucking sweet. I think the longest it ever lasted, though, was a few months to a year, and then things always fell apart for reasons like graduation and people moving away. (See: Fall 2003—Spring 2004; Fall 2004; Fall 2005; Spring 2008.) If it’s happened before, theoretically it could happen again, right? I’d like to think so, but I think it’s a much taller order now than it used to be, since I’m out of school and have all this “adult life” crap to contend with.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve realized that one thing I really want in life, POSSIBLY the thing I want most in life, is a strong sense of community, a place where I feel like I belong. (For some reason I feel like that’s a really personal thing to admit online, but I’m not sure why.) As I said, I’ve found that a few times in the past, during school. Since college graduation, though, I’ve lost many friends to distance and I haven’t been able to adequately fill the hole they’ve left. I have good friends now, but they’re more scattered. I hang out with people individually or in very small groups. There’s a lot of random drama between people, so it’s hard to get many of my friends together in one place. And very few of them actually share many of my interests. (I guess I have weird interests. What can you do?) I think I’m kind of jealous of people who seem to have found something like what I’m looking for. Like, I’m back in my hometown for Thanksgiving right now, but I have no plans to meet up with old friends because all of my friends here have either moved away or stopped talking to me (with the notable exception of Elizabeth, who is out of town for the holiday). So I’m envious of people who are still in touch with friends from high school or childhood, because I really valued the friends I had then and they’re gone now and I don’t think there’s anything I can do about it. I think it would be nice to come home and get the gang back together and go visit our old haunts and catch up, or something… Maybe I’m romanticizing it. I don’t know. More importantly, I’d like to have that sort of community where I actually live. I’ve been in Buffalo for three years now and it has yet to materialize. Maybe I either have to try to join someone else’s group of friends, or move again and start over from scratch.
However, in spite of the raging angst of the past week and my current nostalgia hangover, I am still thankful for things. Here is a non-comprehensive list of things for which I am thankful:
The Wayback Machine, which brought you most of this blog post
the public library, which keeps me well supplied with entertainment for free
snow (I missed it last year!)
still passing for a college student now and then
the occasional random adventure
that all of the people who are still alive, are still alive
Skype & Google hangouts with my long-distance friends
playing the guitar
farming in the city
concerts and dancing at them
awesome random hugs—they are rarer than they used to be, but not gone!
all the restaurants in Buffalo I have yet to try
all of the old buildings that are still standing for now
finally having slippers
every single moose
a couple of kickass weekends in October
remaining a part of the Jesuit school community
my Tuesday afternoon job
Buffalo Rising Online
my once and future roommate
holding the line against complacency (a.k.a., the upside of dissatisfaction)
the views from the windows in my office building
my Moment of the Day project, which has highlighted some pretty cool moments that might have escaped my notice otherwise. Maybe I should share some of them with you? Maybe I should. (Click below if you care.)