on aimlessness & anxiety

it’s been awhile since i’ve written anything. it’s been awhile since i’ve drawn anything. it’s been awhile since i’ve felt settled in myself at all. these past few weeks i’ve felt this hyper-anxious, single-minded focus ― i’m a girl on the prowl (for employment). if i’m not scrolling through Indeed or updating my Get A Job tracking spreadsheet, i’m anxious. and i’m feeling the thing even when i’m not doing the thing ― it’s been hard for me to focus on conversations with friends/my girlfriend, on reading or watching things, on doing anything at all besides securing that $dough$. it’s about the money, of course (getting a job i mean), but it’s also about the stability. it’s about knowing i can continue to pay my bills and save and do some fun things. it’s about the boredom that’s come after weeks of looking for a job and not actually having much to do during the day. and not feeling able to enjoy the gift of free time (as i could consider this if i were more Evolved) i have right now, because i’m so focused on needing to fill it again with another 9-5 job.

i’m scattered; this is scattered. like i said, it’s been hard for me to focus my thoughts.

i think we probably do talk about aimlessness after college and i’m just late to the game on this, but truly it is soul crushing how little i know what i want to do with myself. and honestly, not to be a giant pessimistic fatalist (because i know that’s not how you Get Things Done) but looking at climate reports, for example, does not inspire confidence in our collective future, so the question of “what’s the point?” seems to take on a deeper level of meaning than maybe it did for our parents or even for the earlier millennials.

i’ve really been grappling with a lot of identity and existential questions too. and then like, the big C questions ― i.e. on capitalism. trying to find a job and a purpose when all work you do for money is fundamentally involuntary and tied to the continuation of a capitalist system. because we need a certain amount of money to meet our basic needs and to achieve any sort of freedom from capitalism (link to Umair Haque’s piece on the matter; his work is spectacular) that allows us to begin to pursue our actuals “passions” and “interests” i.e. anything that may give us a sense of joy and contentment in our lives. i hate being alive in the time of capitalism. we are, at this moment in history, able to effectively end it. but america is, and has always been, a self-immolating garbage heap of a nation, and thus will never prioritize the safety, health, and happiness of its people.

so then, a big question ― what brings me joy? spending time in nature, wind in tree leaves, reading outside under blankets, drawing pictures while watching cartoons. #bubbline. sometimes baking. taking walks. fall. windy days, rainy days. cuddling. watching movies with popcorn. writing, even if it’s silly and inarticulate, even if i’m not great at self-editing yet because i’m too impatient (working on it) (#Sagittarius).

so then, another big question― how do i want to spend my working days, and is it possible to align my work with what brings me joy? or should i focus on having day-work that i can compartmentalize entirely such that i have enough left of myself to focus on joyous work after job work? struggling with this. i have a few job prospects open now (i’m hearing back about next steps or no next steps today) and they range between 1) something distant from my own self, 2) something with socio-political meaning, and 3) something artistic that i think would really stretch me and help me grow. naturally the last option is the one whose phone interview i think i flubbed.

and a third question ― how do i do good in the world and not check out to just focus on my own self and my own happiness? how do i help to un-do this shitty system and the violence it necessarily imparts to us all? focusing on joining the DSA (despite it’s many and varied flaws), focusing on participating and giving where i can.

i dream more and more of leaving the city and living in a little house in the woods somewhere. not sure how i’d swing that, except that it turns out you can buy nice houses for cheap in most non-new jersey places. kind of thinking that that would be an entirely selfish decision ― running away from the big bad city with all its violence and complications and beauty and humanity to self-isolate as the world falls apart around me.

and on that note! wish me well these next few days as i hear from some jobs and see if this little bit of time is over or stretching along. regardless i don’t know that i have answers to the above, so am working on stepping into the grey aimlessness and holding still there. resisting the urge to move, and move, and move, and learning to stay still in discomfort.

 

you don’t have to be useful / you aren’t here to be productive

trying to figure out what i want to do, work-wise, is… so much. every kind of work i think of doing feels like a trap — like i’ll get in there, maybe even excited about the work, only to discover it makes me want to die as much as the last thing (because what the work is doesn’t really matter, does it). i feel like my brain is constantly wailing: surely this can’t be all there is?

but like… in this capitalist hell state, this is what there is. it’s not all there is, and in my opinion, this is neither the only nor the ideal outcome of a developed state. not that the US actually shows that many markers of development, given the levels of violence against women, massive and widespread income inequality, a government that represents the interests of an extreme minority, and truly embarrassing levels of child poverty, but i digress.

i was listening to my favorite podcast today (Call Your Girlfriend) to an episode about universal basic income (UBI), which is this economic idea that is in use in several high-income countries and many low-income countries, that basically says every citizen will get a certain amount of money ($500-1000) monthly, no questions asked. the money replaces all forms of welfare payments for low-income folks, and replaces what amounts to welfare for wealthy folks — all the tax exceptions and loopholes and mortgage throwbacks they receive that decrease their monthly burden in the same way that welfare payments do. basically, the thought (and the evidence supports this) is that giving people this money flat out will do more to alleviate poverty and provide a financial net for people than the welfare system can successfully do. if you want to get people out of poverty, literally give them money.

i’m all for it. despite capitalist lore, the purpose of a human life is not to function as a cog in the GDP machine for a nation that refuses to supply even basic needs in return. governments exist to serve their people. what people need is access to housing, water, food, education, and health. what people desire is time enough to be happy, to find a mental health balance, to socialize, to create. just think of all the creation and joy humans would be experiencing if only they were given the time. governments need not exist to exploit the humans that live within their borders. governments should absolutely not exist to outright murder or indirectly sanction the murder of their citizens, to steal land and deny rights to indigenous people, to steal labor without compensating the laborers, and so on.

our value as humans does not correlate to our “usefulness” as determined by how much money we can make for our government over the course of our lifetimes. our value as humans is inherent and inalienable. a human being is valuable regardless of: their salary, their job title, their gender, their race, their sexuality, their disability/ability, their immigration status, their willingness to participate in the great capitalist race. we are valuable in and of ourselves, and we deserve to have our basic needs and desires met, and that is a fact.

the dichotomy of knowing and believing this and also needing to work endless hours at something i do not want to work at so that i can scrape by meeting my basic needs is infuriating and deeply depressing. the stress of finding a job that will cover your costs and also be engaging? endless. and that’s where i’m at, folks! thoughts?

 

overnight, again (& what am i doing??)

hello, i am stresst. i am on another overnight shift. that makes 3 in less than a week, and 1.5 day shifts – 56 hours working, 36 of which were overnight. it’s rough. i was expecting rough, but it’s rough.

more than rough, it feels bottomless. i was talking to a friend who has been doing night shifts for a while now, and in his experience, you just basically don’t recover (until you stop doing them, that is). if your work schedule is entirely overnight shifts, you get a chance to reach some inverted equilibrium – but then you sacrifice daytime activities, you sacrifice the energy to socialize, to do anything much during the day besides rest and recover. if your work schedule switches back and forth between day and night as mine does, you’re kind of just fucked. night shifts fuck with your body in all sorts of ways.

i feel like such a baby. i’ve been here for like a month, and i’m already so stressed and tired and want out. at my last job, i really hated my workplace and how it functioned towards the end and was so, so bored of the work i was doing. i was so excited about this job — it’s with an organization that does really good work, meaning community-centric, socially aware, effective work. and it’s hands on, which was something i thought i’d been missing at my old job. i enjoy it, but i also find it stressful — i’m still getting to know the residents (i’ll be settled in one location soon, but have been jumping around), and the schedule is so much. especially because i need to find another job, which means working another 20-30 hours a week on top of the 24 i’ve committed to this job. it just feels like a lot, y’all. like there’s not a lot of room to practice self-care, socialize, do anything outside of work.

i think one of my biggest problems is aimlessness. people talk about your 20s as this period of trying to figure things out, but the reality is so… i don’t know. i don’t know what i want to do, so i keep trying these things and not finding them particularly satisfactory. and i’m prone to anxiety and depression (though i’m medicated and the most stable i’ve ever been right now) which makes me feel weak — i get anxious and stressed and feel hopeless, and then i’m mad at myself for being weak, for not being able to handle things, even though i’ve been feeling stable. especially working where i do, with people who have so much more to deal with than me, who are up against so much more… and i’m this weak? people have jobs they hate all the time (me at my last job) and in fact that seems kind of like the norm. people have jobs that are stressing and they still do them, because they have to, because we all have to. i had a 9-5 job and now i don’t and want one back; i wanted to do more hands on work but i’m finding myself not up to the task (i.e. the hours).

i don’t know, y’all. i’m just already thinking about what’s next and not knowing, and that’s stressful. i feel stuck in my own aimlessness, in my own choices, in this choice, in this Good Work. trying to think of things that i can do to pay the bills and maintain some semblance of sanity and balance. been thinking about doing THAT kind of work, if you know what i mean, because there are ways of doing it that aren’t doing all of it, and it can be lucrative, and it seems like a way to feel secure, i guess. i’m just lost and wanting some kind of direction to head towards for what’s next, i guess.