Category: An Introspective


I’m tired.

I’m succeeding.

I’m only half awake.

I’ll try harder.

I’ll be overwhelmed.

I’ll take it in stride.

I’ve exceeded expectations.

I’ve failed.

I’ve been my own worst enemy.

I’d fake it.

I’d grow.

I’d be found out.

Advertisements

Non-adult

I don’t feel 35.

I don’t live in my own house. I’m not married. I don’t have any kids. I’m none of the things my mother was at 35.

I still wear my nerdy T-shirts, and I like dying my hair vivid colors. I hold down a full time job with benefits. I pay taxes. I have bought and sold a house. I’m currently paying down my last credit card and a mountain of student loans… which feels adult as fuck.

I don’t think anyone could question my adult status, but some how I still feel like an imposter. Could I be called out for not succeeding at life because I haven’t met my mother’s milestones… but what if my mom hadn’t felt obligated to start a family at 22? Would she have gone to school? Would she have worn concert tees instead of sensible shoes, or splurged on decadent brunch?

Perhaps it’s not that I am in suspended animation, as is often said of millennials. Instead, maybe this deliberate stroll into adulthood makes sense. It could be that stretching the milestone out rather than compressing them into the first 5 years after high school is a good thing. I’m not ashamed to say I have learned from the journeys of my mother and grandmothers, which I will not call mistakes.

I’m not sure if it’s the lines around my eyes or the exhaustion in my bones that make me an adult now. I am, however, pretty sure it’s not the years. Experience and maturity seem better markers than the calendar. This is my life, I am making my choices without kowtowing to the conventions of past generations, and I’m perfectly happy to be a 35-year old non-adult.

Undeniable

“I am, I’m here!”

Her rescue call sounded unsure at best.

The pilgrimage, as she had started referring to the now impossible climb, which had begun with so much hope and ambition was about to undo her. She could clearly remember herself telling others, in falsely modest tones, how rewarding this would be. Life changing, had been a phrase she used.

“Oh June, what’s next? Where are you off to now?”

“Me? I’m planning a pilgrimage [insert shy but knowing grin here]. It will help define my path. This opportunity will be life changing.”

The memory caused bile to rise in the back of her throat, and her more cynical side to sneer in approval of her fate. Maybe she was deserving of the lonely frigid darkness after scenes like that.

The unvoiced dare to give up hung in the air, corporeal.

The thought of abandoning the path reeked of failure and rang of waste, the giving up would be worse than never trying. As the decision slowly solidified the tears upon her cheek were both joyful and filled with sorrow.

She turned away and walked with defeat. Each sure step proof positive that she’s done something wrong as only struggle and strife could measure the true worth of an endeavor.

Her progress slowed as regret replaced defeat, but still she moved forward.

Her eyes averted she missed the flowers.

Her internal dialogue so loud she missed the bird song.

Until the path stoped short…

“I am here!”

Her roar of triumph was undeniable.

All rights to the owner who I thank for posting such a beautiful image.

How much longer?

I’m dying.

That’s the only explanation that makes sense. Hell, it’s the only thought my chaotic mind seems to be able to latch hold of. If I’m dying then the crushing defeat seems right. The helplessness. The desperate resignation. The hollowness just south of my heart and north of my navel.

Is it bad to want this, to smile through the tears in an attempt at grim humor? Will that smile remain once I finally give up, or slide away like so many other things I’ve lost? How long till nothing’s left?

How many drinks till none of this matters? Till the whiskey burn is all I feel. Finally warm where the nerves are shot and the dull ache throbs.

How much longer till I give in?

The spinning stops. The silence is everywhere. The cold seeps back in just as the color leeches out.

As seen on https://www.aubreymarcus.com/blogs/aubrey-marcus/depression

Looking for approval

Her shoulders sag slightly. The invisible weight she carries obvious only when no one is watching, she hopes. She takes a deep breath. It’s fair to say she runs on caffeine and pure determination. You can see it in the tightness around her eyes and the forward lean of her posture. She’s poised for motion, having accepted that retreat and advance are both valid options.

Always looking for approval she dons the clothes, does her hair, and applies the mask. Squared shoulders, keen eyes, and an easy smile complete the look. She tells herself she is in control willing it to be true.

I turn away from the mirror before doubt shatters the moment, confident in my lack of confidence.

As she walked purposefully toward the hill crest the leaves didn’t crunch underfoot, they whispered. Still their message was clear.

Respect the passage of time.

Diana didn’t need the reminder though. Everywhere she looked the delicate balance of life and death was being played out for all to see. Healthy feed corn on withered stalks. Vibrant colored trees dropping leaves like rainclouds. Even the air seemed to spin with wild abandon from sunlight warmed to bonfire perfumed icy breath.

She like the manic feel of Fall. The frenzy of soaking up every last dappled drop of light before night overtook day. The rush of completing each autumnal event on the list. Apple picking, check. Pumpkin carving, check. Cider mulling, double check. Each outdoor activity fighting off the not so secret fear of a pending winter. To Diana euphoria tempered with melancholia was the ideal mindset for this moody season.

From August through November she had watched the world change before her very eyes with each storm or frosty morning. Finally, perched at last upon her vantage point the whole of Diana’s small town was laid out before her. It was quaint, her town, filled with a bright history, like so many others, but it’s future was shadowy at best. For a moment it seemed to Diana that she could see both past and future in that panorama. For a second the frenzy gave way to clarity.

Seasons change, tides turn, and time marches on.

In the face of such certainty Diana felt easy for the first time in months. We are all in this together she thought, looking longingly over her shoulder jealously wanting to hold on to her moment of peace, during dark winter nights and balmy summer days… only time would tell which way the balance was falling.

Her lack of sleep rode shotgun on today’s commute. She had fought sleep then the alarm, to no avail, but she was wide awake now. It was mostly due to anxiety tying her stomach in knots, though honestly the “how” was less than important. As long as self-doubt didn’t run away with her she was sure she could make it though the day. Well, almost.

A quarter. I can remember buying brightly colored LafyTafy squares for a quarter, such a small thing, but I cannot let go of the analogy. How insignificant they seemed unless there were many of them. This is how I am feeling at the moment, like a small thing, and I am not comfortable with it at all.

Why do I liken myself to a bright silly piece of candy? Because I am a women in science, and like that candy I represent about a quarter. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015) women on average make up 23.75% of STEM jobs ranging from 12% in civil engineering to 39% of chemists and material scientists. While this is something that I have always known it has only recently become my daily truth. This is because while women earn around half of the STEM degrees, at the Bachelor level and over 40% of advanced STEM degrees, we do not hold anywhere near 50% of STEM jobs (NSF: Women, Minorities, and Personswith Disabilities in Science and Engineering statistics last updated in 2016). My transition out of academics and into the biotech world has put a very fine point on this fact. I am currently the only woman in the company, granted its a four person company, but I now face that 25% every day.

What I am not saying is that I deserve a larger piece of the pie. What I am saying, however, is that until more women are in the STEM workforce we will continue to feel isolated and small. Part of these feelings are my own self-doubt, I assure you, but the facts are real. I am a quarter. I will carry this number with me as I grow in my career and in this new job. It is a number which will constantly motivate me to reach out and engage other women in STEM. This number will be my battle cry!

Stargazer

She was staring at the sky, childlike. Her head thrown back and eyes open wide, willing each point of light to stand out from the deep dark night. From afar it might have appeared as if she was searching, so intense was her focus. This was not, however, the case. She was found. As overwhelming as the galaxy was, in that moment it did not cause her to lose her nerve. The infinite possibility, instead, seemed a comfort. Welcoming and challenging in equal measure. This moment, the night, and even the possibility was hers for the taking.

Blinking at last, she shook her head. Trying to clear both her mind and her starfilled eyes, but the damage was done. A knowing smile replaced her look of wonder as she turned back to the heavens. Now, now she wouldn’t be satisfied till she reached out and touched one.

Deep breath.

Exhale.

But the thunder still comes, fast and loud, as the storm builds.

Blink.

Straighten your posture.

Uncross your arms.

Breathe again.

More thunder. Heat rising in waves, keeping time like a metronome, setting the pace of my indignation.

I try to get a word in edgewise, to no avail.

I rearrange my expression.

Confusion. Anger. Hurt. Dismay.

Go with confusion.

When the words stop the thunder doesn’t. Though I’ve swallowed the heat of my anger it’s not gone.

Her words stick to me like acid rain eating and burning away at my resolve. Was it me?

We’ll never be friends. Fact. Statement. Promise.

I’m engulfed in fire I don’t care to extinguish, and just as fire tempers steal I can sense a hardening in parts of me.

Blink. Lest the smolder in my eyes flares up.

Breathe. So the thunder can continue its rhythm.

Peace. It’s not mine to fix.

%d bloggers like this: