Word on the Street: Week 99

Russ Meyer — Portland, Oregon

I’ve finally arrived. End of the line. My last benefit check comes next week. The finality of it is chilling. With no job, my house teetering at the edge of foreclosure and with no prospects to speak of, I could easily fall into a white hot panic right now. But as an inspirational poster once told me: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the control of it.” So I must have control. I’ve got to be the rock climber on that poster.

Between anxiety attacks, I’ve been thinking. Big questions. What am I doing with my life? Mentally and emotionally speaking, have I become a ward of the state? Is now the time to reinvent myself? Should I follow my passions? Do I have passions anymore? Has being unemployed for over two years diminished my self image and my capacity for hope so significantly that I’m just a zombie now? Partly, yes. Sadly, the fear and the anxiety have taken a toll. I’m chronically depressed. I second guess myself all the time. And in interviews, I feel like I’m asking for a handout. The list of side effects goes on. But is this psychological deformation reversible? I hope so. It has to be. I cannot let my worth and my identity be prescribed to me anymore. In a cruel way week 99 is helping me see that.

I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid. I wanted a job that is harder to get than almost any other job. And yet, I believed it was 100% plausible. How did I go from that optimistic, fascinated little nerd to a frightened statistic? Because I grew up? Certainly, yes. My world view was pretty narrow back then. Accepting the fact that I had a level of naivete, what else is to blame?

Money. As in, I had to make some. And in doing so, I started working toward other peoples’ goals. Seemed like the right thing to do, but now I see how messed up it is. Someone had a dream, they made it happen and then they hired me to maintain it. The Myers-Briggs tells me my personality type (INTP) should have a problem with that. And it does. I’ve SO had enough of this. My life has got to change. Remember in The Shawshank Redemption when they pulled back the Raquel Welch poster to reveal the tunnel Andy Dufresne had dug with a spoon?

Well, I’ve got plenty of spoons. I’ve just got to keep digging. Stay tuned.