I have been literally paralyzed these last couple of months. I began working towards a college degree in September of this year. Initially I chose one course, hoping that by the time it was over I’d have a better idea of what I wanted to major in, since I am interested in so many things and the choice seemed impossible. If anything, it’s made the whole thing worse. I am so riddled with angst and anxiety that I can’t think straight. I feel crippled by even the smalled decisions. I feel like life is passing at an alarming rate. And I still can’t pick a major.
I’m not sure where I got the idea that I have to have it all figured out RIGHT NOW. But that’s how I feel. Well meaning friends, family, my wife, they’ve all suggested the obvious: try a bunch of stuff to see what you like. But that doesn’t fit into my obsessive-compulsive idea of what post-secondary education should look like. So I struggle. I toss and turn. I go back and forth. I register and drop courses at a rate that makes me surprised they haven’t banned me from the system yet. Like spinning my tires in mud.
What does it all boil down to?
Perfectionism. I have to know exactly what I’m going to do, and how, and why, and I need to have some indication that I’m going to excel at it, before I will give a thing a try. Money. I’m broke. Student loans will be financing my education and there’s a ridiculous clause that states that any money the government gives me above and beyond school expenses gets deducted from my monthly living expenses, even if I want to spend the money on further education. Which means that I have to pay the money back twice. Outrage. Fucking. Outrage. I am both blessed and cursed to be in a position such that my life’s relationship with money gives me keen insight into the nature of it, and just how long it takes to pay off $6000 of student loans.
Indecision. I am genuinely interested in many things. And I’m not just talking about take-a-course-or-two interested. I’m talking about I-want-a-degree-in-everything interested. So really, I just want about 10 different degrees. I know that’s not going to happen. But it doesn’t change the way I feel.
Anxiety. I feel like since I wasted my twenties in addiction, I have so much to make up for. I’m 35 on the 20th. It’s not exactly like I’m old or anything. But I feel so much anxiety over school, how long it will take me to graduate, what kind of job (if any) I will have, whether I will be on disability for the rest of my life, so on and so forth.
I want to scream and pull my hair out most of the time. I know I’m taking this all too seriously. I wish I could lighten up. I don’t know if it’s PTSD stuff or OCD stuff or the fact that we live in a shitty world stuff. I just want to make a decision and get on with my life.
But here’s the thing.
At the heart of it all is a certain…darkness. A certain feeling of disconnect, numbness, the feeling that nothing really matters so what’s the point anyway? It’s not exactly laziness, although it’s the same feeling that keeps me from writing, making art, doing household chores, and just about anything else that needs doing. I just…don’t want to do anything. Not really. I mean, I do. But I don’t want there to be any effort required. Perhaps it’s all the years of shitty jobs I’ve suffered, starting at age 12. Perhaps it’s the fact that this bullshit capitalist system drives me insane and I want nothing to do with it.
One thing I know for sure is that I just want it all to mean something. I want my life to mean something. I want what I do to mean something. I want it to make a difference, to me, to the people around me. I don’t want it all to be for nothing.
Sigh. Back to the drawing board.