I’m feeling stuck. Stuck, stuck, stuck. That’s all I can think to write. The whole point of taking a break from elementary school this week was to catch up on blog posts, but I can’t seem to finish a single post. I can’t even seem to finish a sentence.
On my To-Do list are around 50 posts about grades K-3 that I want to generate, dozens of features I want to add to this website, and 200+ miscellaneous items, but all I can do is sit here feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Darren’s in town, and instead of spending time with him, I am staring at my laptop and deleting every other word I type.
Tonight I had a breakdown. I got misty-eyed in the coffee shop where I’d spent hours agonizing over a blog post that I never finished. I teared up when I walked out of the coffee shop and saw the parking ticket on my car. I full-out bawled when I felt like I was ruining the farmer’s market date that Darren and I had been planning for a month.
It was one of those days where I wanted to drop to my knees, look up at the sky, and sigh, “I give up.” It was a day when I was surrounded by reasons to be happy, but I still wasn’t. The farmer’s market was full of music and laughter and delicious local food. Darren surprised me with roses to cheer me up. We ate incredible calzones, followed by ice cream cones. And still I felt stuck.
I’m struggling with the fact that Reschool Yourself is supposed to be what saves me from perfectionism and unhappiness, but it’s paradoxically manifesting these very qualities. It’s supposed to be my chance to take care of myself, learn the things I want to learn, and figure out what I really enjoy doing. Instead, so far I’ve treated the project as I’ve usually treated school or work: I’ve set myself up for failure, and starved myself of enjoyment. I’m generating endless To-Do lists for the project and feeling like a failure when I can never complete them. I’m depriving myself of sleep and all the activities I enjoy doing because “I don’t have enough time.” I’ve gotten so used to doing this over the years that I don’t know any other way to be.
Most personal development books and blogs are written by people who’ve figured out the answers already and are speaking from a more evolved standpoint. Mine, on the other hand, is a window into the painful process of growth that I’m going through right now. If I were a teenage boy, my voice would be cracking and I’d be growing one of those scraggly peach fuzz mustaches that’s not yet worth shaving. The metamorphosis is awkward and uncomfortable, and I’m not quite sure when I’ll come out it, or what I’ll be like when I do.
I’m trying to trust the process, because even on the hardest days, I know that I’m on the verge of a major transformation, and that this project is what I want to be doing right now. I have to believe that the years of battling myself are adding up to something, so I can make meaning out of the unhappy times and not see them as a waste. I should have expected that when facing my issues head on, and considering the regrets I have about my education, things would get worse before they could get better. As Buddhist monk Pema Chodron writes:
It’s as if you just looked at yourself in the mirror, and you saw a gorilla. The mirror’s there; it’s showing you, and what you see looks bad. You try to angle the mirror so you will look a little better, but no matter what you do, you still look like a gorilla. That’s being nailed by life, the place where you have no choice but to embrace what’s happening or push it away.
There’s the rub. Right now, I’m like a teenage boy going through puberty; I’m like a gorilla in the mirror. I’m getting a clear picture of all my flaws, and it isn’t pretty, but I know that I can only improve from here.
All I can think to do is take Winston Churchill’s advice, “When you’re going through hell, keep going.” I’m determined to keep going — and I hope that you keep me company along the way.