The Introvert’s Obligatory Daily Existential Crisis.

It is after midnight and I should be sleeping, but having just awoken from falling asleep at 9:30, sleep eludes me. What better time to blog?

I have been away from my computer, working more hours, traveling, preparing for Christmas… Edits of my novel, kernels of ideas for the next one, the scorned mystery, all lay in the periphery, like cast off slippers peeking out from under the sofa.

Since the rejection of my mystery, I have, once again, daily reconsidered my life. The introvert’s obligatory daily existential crisis. What should I be doing? Where should I do it? What am I capable of? What will my anxiety allow? It is interesting how the mind never tires of these questions and still, after fifty years, provides new and unique responses. In some ways it is a curse for aptitude tests to indicate you can be anything other than a surgeon. With a million paths before you, how do you know which one will have the staying power? My dad worked for thirty plus years at Ford, most of the time doing the same job, daily packing the same bologna sandwich, well not the same sandwich literally, but you get what I’m saying. Me, I top out at five years. Except for being a stay-at-home mom. That never got old. But my kids did.

So, what are the new paths I consider as I do my daily rounds? Lately, I’ve been going back to my earlier choices. Conservation. Music. Things I had decided I was too old for. But, maybe not. Maybe I can resurrect old passions. Time will tell. For now, I am anxious to have the time to complete the revisions of my novel and send it out to be shot down by dozens of agents with curt replies. I’m not anxious for the last part to transpire, but it is the nature of the beast. I do so want to place my creations in a publishing house that will give them their best chance. That is the goal.

So, for now, I have goals and a job that makes the car payment. And tomorrow, the cogs in my brain will turn again, pondering, puzzling this thing called life.

Is This How You Spell Existential Crises?

Just looking at that word – crises – I’m in a panic. Not because of any event, but because it looks so very wrong.

Words. Spelling of words. Appearances. All things I’m no ducky about.  All things I need a macintosh for because they aren’t sliding off my back on their own.

To shed some light into my insight into brain gymnastics, it should be shared that I’m a trained mental health counselor. Education, experience and personal insight. Too well, I understand the acrobatics the mind can perform.

So how does this lead to my routine existential crises? (I’m going to keep writing that word until it becomes more normalized. Doesn’t it just look weird?) It goes back to the shoulds of yesterday.

What should I be doing?

I’m not saying this is the case for all introverts, only this one. Creativity, introversion, ability, guilt, insecurity and shoulds roil around in a tiny internal cauldron sending out paralyzing fumes. Fumes that twist and twine around the parts of the brain that define the self and the parts that instigate action.

There is a reason people set out with enthusiasm and hope and end up in bed under the covers. The existential crises. The inability to function in the world laid out before them.

So, the next logical step is to create their own world, one where they define their existence. Seems like a plan, doesn’t it? But existential crises constantly question – why am I here – what am I supposed to be doing – how am I supposed to do it  – and on and on.

It’s like being asked to design your own personal Eden. Seems like a dream, right? Not so much.

We all need boundaries. My object lesson in this happened when I was a teacher for an outdoor education center in my twenties. I watched the director set clear expectations for the children and saw the most rebellious child relax into the frame. Like lanes in a bowling alley, boundaries set the path. Like a warm hug from a parent, boundaries make us feel safe.

Life is better with boundaries.

That’s why jobs and school are soothing to an anxious mind. (They really are, more than it seems when you’re in it) We all need direction and boundaries.

Freedom from anyone’s control seems the pinnacle, but if you achieve it, then what? Now, you are the master of your fate, you must set the course or flounder about in a sea of overwhelming opportunities.

Which leads back to the existential questions – why am I here – what am I supposed to be doing – how am I supposed to do it…

The answers fluctuate with time of life, state of mind, availability of courage, belief in the self, level of external expectations. I’ve come to terms with knowing I will probably never be free of these crises.

After all, even Snoopy asked the questions.

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