I started a new job this week. I left a job that I have held for the last seven years in various roles. The old job was simple, not because the work was light, but because I knew what I was doing and how the people around me operated. It was familiar, and that familiarity made it easy on my mind. The new job is hard. There is a lot of work. Which, I guess, in the grand scheme of employment, is a good thing. But it is hard on my mind for this reason: I realize that in the effort required of me to learn new systems, new people, new work, even new traffic patterns on my commute, that I am giving a significant amount of time and energy and heart towards a goal that is not what I ultimately want, being good at my job.
Sure, I want to be good at my job. And there is integrity in wanting to be good at a job, in putting forth your best. I think that’s a right thing to do. But, ultimately, I want to write. I want to be creative. I want to give words to people, words that will help them. Starting a new job makes me feel like I’m actively working away from that goal.
I have moments where I realize how self-centered and small my world is. These are rare moments. Often they come to me from the middle of my most self-serving sadnesses. Like when I sit at home alone on a Friday, and I scroll through endless Netflix options, through all my friends on my cell phone that I could message and (if they’d have me) hang out with. Channel flipping in a dark room, not bored, but feeling like I’m wasting time. Or worse than wasting time, feeling like I’m missing out. Other friends fill news feeds on social networks with their exciting weekend plans. I’m always comparing. The world with me at the center is one of constant comparison.
I get afraid to even communicate. To send that text or make that call and say, “Hey, wanna hang out?” I’m afraid the veil will be paper-thin, that my friend will hear instead: “I need someone to go commiserate with me, because my world is all about me.” I have friends that are good enough to do that. To spend time with me knowing that I would be self-consumed. But in the moments where I recognize what I’m doing, I realize that, at best, I would only be spreading my sadness. Somehow, I’m so self-centered, that even withdrawal can become transformed into some sort of heroic way to spare my friends from spending time with me.
I think sometimes: “Other people must feel like this.” I say it aloud to myself, like some echoing mantra that gets absorbed by the flickering blue light from the television. “Other people must feel like this.” “Other people must feel like this.” Other people must…
I know that it’s narrow to think that I’m giving my energy to a job instead of a passion, and that I’m somehow the only one doing this. It’s absurd. We all grow up wanting to be astronauts and ballerinas, doctors and police men, actors and writers and artists, but we settle into the necessity driven roles. Titles on business cards, numbers on paychecks certifying our value, which is, of course, intrinsic.
You’ll probably be sorry you read this, because I don’t have an upswing to end on.
I am so tired.
I am one obscure man in an apartment somewhere not too far away, and I don’t know why. I don’t know how we become the people we are. How do we alter our perceptions so that everything is spinning like a solar system around our own personal sun, and still feel anything but surrounded by meaning?
I hope, someday it will change–both my self-centeredness and the mandates on my efforts. But for now, I’m not doing what I dream of doing, and there is no one stopping me but me.
P.S. I’ll be posting a new poem soon, been working on it for a while. Thanks for sticking around.