Goals? What Goals?
|November 1, 2020||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
“My goal is to survive long enough to want to set goals again. That’s the goal.”
A friend who has a habit of saying wise things said this recently and it’s been crashing around in my head all day. This is me right now. This has been me for far longer than 2020, before covid, and before the great toilet paper crisis. The last really big goal I can remember that I truly cared about was finishing my first 100 mile race, which I did in November 2016. Since then I’ve accomplished things, but it was like I was trying things on for size, looking in the mirror under the unflattering dressing room lights, before stripping them off and saying, “Nope. Not for me. That one doesn’t totally suit.” Like I’m the pickiest shopper in the entire world.
I hear this lack of motivation is common among recent *veterinarian graduates. Many of them spend their entire lives dreaming about being a vet, trying to become a vet, devising various schemes to get into vet school, and then survive vet school/internship/residency until their greatest dream is realized. They Are A Vet. Now what?
*The science part of me wants to look up a citation for this, include it as an inline citation with a list of references afterwards. Why? Because of a recent debate I was in the middle of, of whether the casual style of a particular topic I had chosen for a column I wrote was serious enough for such an important topic. That was the moment that I realized whatever aspirations I had of being a veterinary writer who could speak in a room of grownup veterinarians was a complete illusion because the LAST thing I want to write is serious. So no, I’m not going to look up some paper on the psychology of this, and why veterinarians fit into that and place the citation here. 😬.
But this explanation doesn’t ring true for me. I think I escaped that particular reckoning because veterinary medicine is a second career. I didn’t make the decision to go to vet school until 2009 and I’ve always been adamant about clear boundaries between my personal and working life. Yeah, veterinary medicine was a goal, but the achievement of that goal was a culmination of 6 years of work – not my lifetime.
I’ve also seen family members and friends with kids go through something that looks like this. Their kids are five years old and for the first time they poke their heads out of the sand. By choice or circumstance they defined themselves through their kids and their family and now they are asking themselves, “Who am I?” and “What the hell happened to the non-mom parts of me?”
This doesn’t fit either. I’ve always been adamant that Fig is a part of my life, she isn’t *my* life. She’s been a remarkably easy child and pretty much anything I’ve wanted to do, I’ve been able to do either with her or around her. Sure, things are harder, but they aren’t impossible.
I’m 35 years old. I married the right person, I’m working in the right job, and I’m financially secure enough that money isn’t an everyday concern. The only serious debt I have are my student loans, which are astronomical, but they are federal loans and have enough safety nets that I won’t go bankrupt due to them. I don’t live exactly where I want to live (I live where I do because the cost of living is reasonable which is important because of the afore mentioned student loans…), but it’s okay and I’m finally starting to connect to the community. For the first time ever I have local friends.
So what’s the problem?
What the HELL IS THE PROBLEM????
I don’t know.
The last five years were rough. Catastrophically awful in almost every part of my life. After the sh*t-show of 2014-2019 (if you are new here, it’s all there on the blog. I’m not vague-booking, just not re-hashing the now-the-universe-smotes-you-again play-by-play. I promise), 2020 has been a welcome change for me personally. I know. The world has been a dumpster fire for the entirety of 2020. But, for once my life is not falling into shambles and being lit on flames. This year I have had a chance to take a breath, eat way too much of my own cooking, and give up on wearing pants entirely (not really, but only because yoga pants definitely count as pants).
Is there such thing as adrenal fatigue for life? Can you work so hard to get through something that you have nothing left at the end?
When I first started taking anti-anxiety meds to treat my generalized anxiety disorder it was the strangest thing to be two steps away from any strong feelings. The sharpness and drive to do was lessened in part because I wasn’t anxious about anything, which left my ADHD to run rogue. Part of what’s special about an ADHD brain is how very very well you can focus when the *right* project or goal clicks. I missed that and after a lot of therapy I was able to discontinue the meds after being on them for about a year. Although sometimes managing the anxiety without meds has been hard, in general the trade-offs of spending a lot of time and effort on self-care has been worth the highs I get from letting myself get really immersed in a goal.
Right now it feels like I’m back on meds. The *anxiety is gone, but so is the drive to do anything.
*A lot of my anxious friends are saying that their anxiety is better than ever. We speculate it’s because the universe finally validated our feelings. See? the world IS a dangerous place and the bad stuff is happening now. At least for me, anxiety is all about the bad thing that could happen. In the middle of something or afterwards I’m totally fine. So, since the worst imaginable pretty much happens on a daily basis in 2020, my brain doesn’t feel the need to keep me from getting too complacent about tigers that are probably in the bushes and could attack at anytime. I mean, my God, the tigers are literally eating the caravan in front of our eyes. **No need to worry about the lions that are probably waiting for me across the river after the crocodiles and hippos bite off my legs.
**See, I told you that the ADHD gets a little out of control when the anxiety isn’t there to direct it. Getting back on track…
This is one reason the blog has been so quiet. How do you write about doing nothing? How long can I talk about the silence in my brain until I just fall…silent?
In the meantime I’m “doing” – placing one foot in front of the other and making time every day for the things that have brought me joy and adventure in the past. I think for me, that’s how I’m going to survive until it’s time to have goals again. For now, “be ready” is the goal, because I don’t know if the next crazy adventure is going to be running, biking, horse-relate, or something entirely new. But, when it comes along I wanna be ready.
“One foot in front of the other” pretty much sums up 2020 for me (and a lot of other people). What I’ve realized recently is that I am basically a *finisher*, and I like to play the game (whatever game it is) all the way to the end. In karate, the game was over when I attained 3rd degree blackbelt and the anxiety over misogynists outweighed the thrill of learning stuff. In endurance, the game finished when my horse retired combined with the generalized dysfunction of the regional and national organizations.
Now…who knows? I’ve decided to do NaNo, after not finishing it last year. But I’m re-writing an old story because frankly I’ll be amazed if I get anything new out of my poor tired brain in November this year!