What am I doing and where am I going?…

These are the thoughts on my mind today. I was emptying out the last few boxes from our move and came across my portfolio…

In another lifetime, I was pursuing a degree in fashion design… the portfolio that I came across was full of my drawings, the designs for clothing lines that I had in my head… all of them were class projects that took weeks to complete the final drawings that were in this portfolio. I never got that degree…

I look at these drawings and I think, where did that person go? I was really into it… at the time… but I literally just walked away. I don’t even doodle anymore. I don’t even own a sewing machine, I used to own three. I say I got burned out… but I wonder if that is really the truth…

Today, I’m thinking that I have a history of walking away from things, just before I get good enough. Forever fearful that I will be judged, so I judge myself harder than anyone else could. The sad thing is that I am drawn to things that are competitive…

I went to college originally to become a surgeon… my grades weren’t good enough in undergrad, my parents reminded me all.the.time… I never felt like I was ever good enough. I still don’t. When the science classes were kicking my butt, I opted for some ‘easier’ classes and ended up changing my major to the ‘easier’ subject (while still taking science classes). I wasn’t really interested in the ‘easier’ subject, and had no intentions of ever making it my career… after 6 years of college, my parents demanded that I graduate already… I wiggled everything around with my counselor and got a degree in the ‘easier’ subject. One that if I told you what it was, you’d look at me like, what do you do with that? Exactly. I joke, although it’s not funny, that I have a degree in ‘under-water basket-weaving’. No one even knows what the heck it is, and it’s not taken seriously at any of the jobs I’ve had. It’s not technical, it’s not a typical degree. The degree does not convey the hours of blood, sweat, and tears that it took to get it. And so, it feels like it’s worthless. Which means, so am I?

The degree is not the ‘golden ticket’ that it was supposed to be… I honestly don’t think any degree is, but tell that to my parents. They don’t have degrees, so mine is supposed to be some brass ring that gets me anything I want… which they equate as money. Money, to me, is not the important thing… I want to be happy and enjoy my career… which is why I can’t figure out what I want to do. I’m 38 years old and have no idea what I want to do with my life.

Immediately after receiving my degree in ‘under-water basket-weaving’, I went right back to school… the very next semester… this time on MY dime. I got a student loan. I was too scared of getting a master’s degree… “How could I get a master’s degree in something that I didn’t have any undergrad experience in?” was my line… so after talking to the counselors in fashion design, I decided that I didn’t want to do ‘research’ on clothes, I wanted to design and make clothes… so I signed up for another undergrad degree…

I felt like the old person in class… I was 24, everyone else was 17-18… and fresh out of high school. I had a degree, a job, and was living with my fiance… I was old. But as an older student, I wasn’t as intimidated by the teachers… and so I had a great experience, one that I had not had with my previous degree. This hands-on type of degree was much, much better for me. I was an A-student… something quite new to me. But there was competition… and being a degree that has mostly girls in the class, there was way, way too much estrogen in the room… it was catty. I didn’t like that. I didn’t like being judged. And I was never good at public speaking, so when I had to stand up in front of the class and show my designs it was hard. I was judged… How would that top stay up like that?! um… I’m not sure, thin wire? Where would people wear that?! um… I like designing one-time-only dresses, you might wear this to an event like an awards show? It was brutal. It took all the fun out of drawing, out of sewing… out of creating.

A few weeks before my 26th birthday, I got married. I made my own dress. I had finals the week before my wedding. Finals for fashion design are a bit different from other degrees… they weren’t exams… they were projects. I had many, many projects due just days before my wedding, and I hadn’t even started on my wedding dress. My wedding had been pushed back from the summer to the winter, due to family requests (something I wish I wouldn’t have done). So the dress I was going to make, a summer dress, had to be tossed aside and winter ideas had to be created. I had been gaining weight during this time, so the dresses I was designing for class were not dresses that I could actually wear… I was not the size of a ‘model’, but that’s what you create for class. So none of my class creations could be used, without serious alterations. What I really, really wanted to make, but somehow never had the time to really design it, was Cinderella’s dress that the mice made (the one that the step-sisters tore up… btw, back in 1997, the internet was not like it is today, and finding Cinderella’s dress back then was me renting the video and pausing the VCR. 🙂 )… what I actually wore for the wedding was a McCall’s pattern that wasn’t finished. I only had three days to make my dress once finals were over… I was still sewing it the morning of my wedding. I’m not proud of that dress at.all.

That’s when it started… the burn out. Coupled with the constant competition and judging… it was too much. Not to mention that funds were running low and I had to switch to full time rather than part time at my job… but to do that I had to get a different job… I was still in the same building, but in a new position in a new department, one I wasn’t happy in. And so it continued, the downward spiral. My teachers were concerned… my work had declined, I was late to class. I just wasn’t feeling it anymore. Life took over, the bills… they were more important than my education… and so when my husband got an opportunity in another city to make a salary that equaled ours together, we decided we’d go. I hated my job, I was burned out… yeah, let’s go. We spoke of me continuing the degree in the new city… but it never came to pass. I looked up their program and it wasn’t on par with the things I was interested in pursing… so I quit. Six years passed and I didn’t touch my sewing machines, or draw. I finally decided I’d just give the stuff away so that someone else could benefit from it. One of my co-workers had a friend who had a daughter who was interested in sewing… so I gave her pretty much everything. I hung on to some key items that I really liked, ‘just in case’ one day I’d find that spark again. That spark has never returned… it’s too intertwined with the judged feeling… one that stops me in my tracks all the time.

My drive is creativity… but there in lies the problem… all the jobs that I’m drawn to always have some kind of competition/judging factor to them… surgeon, fashion designer, chef, programmer… in every instance, I get just so far, then I walk away. Just drop it, and walk away. I’m a quitter. And that embarrasses me. Which makes me feel judged…

I’m in awe of people who just know what they want to do with their lives… my husband has been tinkering with his profession since he was ten. I’m in awe of people with high self-esteem… I have never felt good enough at anything. I find myself constantly seeking approval. Only completely scared of it, because, what if, it really isn’t good enough. I’ve never stuck with anything in my life except my husband and my animals. Not even my family. There I said it, the cat’s out of the bag… I haven’t spoken to my family in years… we had a falling out, and I walked away. This time, though, it was a good thing, for me. The constant negativity, the judging, the never being good enough, nothing I ever did was right. Walking away was the beginning of me finally finding out who I really am, not who they wanted me to be. I’m still on that journey, and the residual effects of thirty years of constantly being told you’re not good enough are still there. But I’m no longer unhappy and depressed. There were some years in there where I wasn’t really sure about anything, I had insomnia, I gained weight… it was not fun. And don’t think for a minute that walking away from my family was easy… I still have nightmares… whenever I get really stressed out, I dream of fighting with my family. Society may look at my eating habits and think I’m weird, but not talking to your family is sacrilege. I usually just don’t mention it. I’m so grateful that I have my husband’s family, they have been great to me. I still feel judged, but hopefully it’s all in my head.

Where is all this coming from? Well, seeing my portfolio again, obviously, but also Little-bit seems to be getting better. I was able to leave for 54 minutes this week… so it’s gotten me thinking about the future… I’ve been racking my brain to come up with reasons to leave the house to ‘tweak the puppy’… and I fear that I will run out of ideas soon. I’ve been home, jobless, for something like 6 years… I’ve had the desire to go back to work, but not at my old profession… which is why I attempted yet another career path, 6 years ago, to get an undergrad degree in computer science at an online, at-your-own-pace school. I quit that also, when the school went from at-your-own-pace to courses must be completed in 8 weeks… I started going to conferences for certifications after that… I have a few… I even started teaching myself a computer programming language… but like everything else… I’d get just so far, and then walk away.

Lately, the only things I haven’t quit are cooking and blogging… and how many times have I thought about quitting blogging? I finally feel like I might just be good enough with my cooking… but I don’t feel confident enough to make it a career… in fact, my line is… “I don’t want to make my hobby my career and then hate my hobby”… I’ve got a bag of excuses, don’t I?

What am I doing and where am I going? I don’t know. And since I’ve decided not to care who reads, or if anyone reads my blog… and I felt like writing it out and hoping it would be cathartic, I’ve written this post. And if you’ve read this far, it’s a little glimpse into my world… as flawed as it is, it’s mine.

Until next time…
~nic

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2 thoughts on “What am I doing and where am I going?…

  1. Pingback: Pineapple Inspirations… « The Auspicious Squirrel

  2. Pingback: Trust Myself… « The Auspicious Squirrel

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