I hear a lot of people talking about living life off of the established plan. Or I hear them complain about their life being set into an expected path, and they don’t know how to get out of it. A lot of time and energy is spent trying to figure out how to get outside of the box.
To be perfectly honest, this was a huge concern of my own when I was younger. In high school I really wanted to be a musician, live out of a van on tour, and make it huge someday. My backup plan was going to be a well-respected career, like architecture, or academia. Both options, I mistakenly thought, would pay me enough and have a malleable schedule enough where I could be incredibly independent.
I also wanted to be a writer too, or an art or movie critic. I really just wanted to do whatever didn’t slot me into a 9-5 job with good benefits, married with two kids and looking forward to a trip to Disneyworld.
Music didn’t work out, obviously. We all decided that college, especially when our parents were paying for it and we all had big scholarships, was something to do right then. We stayed together but tensions were mounting and we weren’t really gaining any traction in our fan base (which didn’t exist) so we called it. There were other bands that have other stories that I might tell in other posts but there you have it.
I still had a career in architecture and an involvement in the local art scene that I thought I would be able to spin into a nice designing/teaching/writing career that would be very fulfilling. My first job in architecture taught me that I wasn’t going to make much money, and I was going to sink all of my time into the profession, none left for the extra stuff I wanted to do. I lost that job but got another one in the field after a year of searching and decided it was time to go back to school. My dreams shifted to teaching and writing about architecture as I went through graduate school, especially since my professional life was artistically unfulfilling.
In school, I was told by several professors that I was at the wrong school for what I wanted to study, which was theory and philosophy, but I questioned if it was worth it to move and pay even more for tuition, especially since I was getting married. I decided to stick it out and see where things led.
And then I had a bipolar episode, and landed in a hospital day program for a month.
By the time I was healthy enough to work, I had been laid off from my job. I decided school wasn’t worth it if I wasn’t working, and money was an issue. So I got a job offer selling robot parts and I never looked back.
But today, more than anything I want back into the blueprint I had set up for myself. Don’t get me wrong, the job I have now is perfectly suited to me. Flexible hours and schedule, always new work, new people, great staff, I feel secure, I love it.
But I just wish I hadn’t let my disease dismantle my life so easily.
I still really revere architects, and wish I was one of those revered people, even though I know the industry always left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I really respect people who write for a living, but I don’t think I could ever really put together a book worth much of anything. And I really think teaching would be the most gratifying experience out there. But being out of the industry really makes it hard to write or teach about it.
I reference architecture a lot simply because that is the path I chose. But I am well aware that it probably was not the correct path for me. Part of my wish of getting back onto the blueprint is that I had laid out a better one for myself. Banker or something, I have no idea.
I used to get a lot of anxiety about the idea of being pinned down. But now I mostly worry whether my life will ever be back on course, or if this is my course, will I ever realize it? I miss feeling in control. I miss feeling like I had a plan, not just reacting to everything that comes my way.
I think the biggest source of anxiety for me regarding all of this is that I don’t feel mentally stable right now. I haven’t felt that way for about four consecutive years. I feel the best now than I have in those four years, thanks to the ECT treatment, but I also feel like a relapse might be right around the corner. I’m scared, basically. I want security that I know I will never have because I never know when the next turn is coming, and how severe it will be. I guess I feel ashamed that my life got so off course, and I also feel like being back on course would help provide security.