skip this post, just read david mitchell instead

I used to think I could write a novel.  I have notebooks full of sketches for characters.  I had no trouble populating my imagination with interesting people, but when it came down to it I couldn’t think of anything for them to do.  Should they band together and fight crime?  Probably not.  Escape to a Swiss chalet for passionate lovemaking after a hard day on the slopes?  Not likely.  Explore new galaxies and make contact with various alien species?  Give me a break.  Having fully developed my characters’ inner lives, their back stories, and their living arrangements, I found myself utterly without a plot.

Perhaps not surprisingly it’s the same problem I have in real life.  I don’t have a plan; there is no grand narrative driving me forward.  I went to school, then more school, and then still more school because it was fun, I was good at it, and finally they offered to pay me to continue.  But I look at my brother and it’s clear that there is a map in his head.  Graduate college.  Get married.  Buy a house.  Have a kid, then another.  Buy a bigger house.  Save for retirement.

I’m not saying I want to live exactly like my brother is living; but I absolutely envy the fact that he has such a clear plan.  He knows what he wants his life to be like, he knows how to achieve it, he goes and he gets it.  He does not pass Go, he does not collect $200.00.

I, on the other hand, am not a grown-up.  True, I did some of those things on my brother’s list.  I have, in fact, graduated college.  I have, in fact, gotten married, and it was the smartest thing I ever did.  But I am not really sure what it is I’m supposed to be doing now, for the next seventy years.  I’m like those characters in my never-going-to-be-written novel:  all dressed up with an inner monologue and nowhere to go.  Clearly no babies are forthcoming, and equally clearly I am never going to get out of my current job.

This post is directionless and rambly and depressing and probably meaningless.  Just like my novel would be if I ever wrote it.

Read this instead.  You won’t regret it.

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5 responses to “skip this post, just read david mitchell instead

  1. Well, if you know what is missing, now is the time to go and build that mental map. Or maybe you are just wired differently. Or maybe it would be better you accepted yourself the way you are, and not compare with the milestones your bro is hitting. He seems to be the more ‘structured’ one out of you two.

    I think you should work towards financial stability before anything else right now. It’s just a suggestion. I think lot of things will fall into place with that.

    One of my friends does pester me to turn into a writer. I am seriously doubting if I have the nerve to actually carry that through though.

  2. I have similar feelings. I always feel like other people’s lives are more meaningful or planned than mine. I honestly have very little direction and I just tell myself that some things are not important to me. I’m never going to be one of those career driven hard nosed woman who is stomping her way up the corporate ladder. And part of me feels inferior for not wanting that. Is there something wrong with me? Am I just happy to muddle on in life while everyone else works their way through their carefully mapped out lives? Agh, I don’t know what the answer is. I am who I am and I guess its the same for you. I think it’s ok to not have a plan. I just don’t know how the hell you could possibly plan for something so unpredicatable as life. It seems impossible to me, but then maybe I’m just making excuses for myself! Anyway, just wanted to say you are not alone. I am singing the same song as you. xxx

  3. Rarh, I hear you. Mine is more regret for all the years I wish I could get a do over. Damn, I am so much more together now – I GET it. Youth is so wasted on the young.

    I like your plan with its simplicity: have a child(ren). Not sure when, not sure how. It is mine too.

  4. Hey, loads of people who pursue the straight and narrow path (life is a series of pre-programmed steps) are so dissatisfied with the outcome. And believe me, there are times when I hate this job I worked so hard to get with every fiber of my being. I read this article in the NYT this weekend (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/magazine/22Adulthood-t.html). Okay, it’s about people in their twenties, but some of the points apply to us as well. Life has changed. The pre-programmed steps don’t work for all of us. It’s okay to not have a fixed plan.

    But I think you’re dealing with two* enormously shitty things that make it hard to believe any of this. Would you be perfectly happy if your infertility were resolved and you had a job that didn’t involve working too hard for too little while supervised by a soul sucking monster? No. But I honestly think you’d be happier.

    *Three if you count suffering from anxiety/depression, which you seem to have indicated that you do. I mean, fuck. Also, Cloud Atlas ROCKS!

  5. I blame infertility for this feeling. I had it hard-core. Causing me to decide, fuck it, I’m going to apply for this crazy oxford job and just avoid the mainstream completely… which I think would have been a good solution if I hadn’t been able to ever get pregnant. It seems that you don’t have that option at the moment, but as soon as your husband graduates, you could.

    Of course, I think that soon enough, you’ll be back in the mainstream with babies. And then this existential wondering and despair will be, well, at least put off until your mid-life crisis 🙂

    But basically my point is that I think that this is a normal way to feel, especially during these phases of extended transition that we all face from time to time (infertility being one of the very WORST manifestations of this).

    I saw a cheesy little quote when I was sure I’d never get knocked up: “When one door closes, another one opens… …but it’s hell in the hallway!”

    Yup, pretty much.

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