Shit guys! (When I say/think that, I always think it in a French accent, along the lines of, “Sheet guyzzz!”) I just finished my last tutorial/lab for the year. And I’m finished grading their papers (same day!). And I won’t see them again.
WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?
Here’s the problem. In order to avoid thinking – ie. panicking, worrying, planning, plotting, rethinking, stewing, ruminating, evaluating… – I fill up my days with as much as possible. I take on as many possible jobs as I can. I enjoy them all, but I am fairly certain that the real pleasure I derive from doing so much is being busy for the sake of being busy itself. It validates me. I get things done. I am accomplished! With a blob of ketchup on top: I don’t have time to think about things.
I literally run around so much that I often do not have time to think. I fly about the kitchen in the morning to make lunch and breakfast at the same time, speed out the door stuffing items into my backpack, and run for the bus nearly every day. In the unlikely event that I have time to simply sit, I should be doing something. I ought to be working on x, y or z, not just dillydallying.
I have come to rely on this state of frenzy. I always have something to do, something to turn to. I rarely need to listen to my mind and deal with myself. I can put myself aside and escape from the endless debate in my head. I also spend a great deal of time feeling guilty for not having finished enough, or having taken a moment to read web comics or the news instead of working. I need to be occupied to feel relief.
When I was little, being the ruthless organizer that I was and am, I absolutely adored planning my birthday parties. I frequently wanted to plan my brother’s, but that never turned out well. There were themes, with suitable activities, and time slots for doing each thing. I think I forgot or abandoned the plans once the day started, but it always felt absolutely necessary to have a plan, and it was so much fun to create. But once the day was over, I was in trouble.
At the end of the party, one by one my friends would leave. The house would be empty. There was nothing left to do (my parents spoiled me by cleaning up while we played). I’d end up staring out the front door, watching the street. We had a wood door, plus a glass door on the outside. I’d sit on the carpet with the wood door open and put my nose against the glass. It was usually starting to be spring, and there were early leaves and flowers, but it was still cold outside. The hallway spoke of solitude. Late afternoon sun might be highlighting the grey carpet or the brass doorbell. The hallway was silent, like the end of a novel.
Thus began several hours of uncertainty. It was that kind of fling-yourself-on-the-sofa moaning feeling, empty and uninspired. You are bored and desperately want to do something, but every suggestion is tedious, ordinary and even more boring than being bored. There’s a word for this feeling in German: langweilig.
I’m not sure how I got over that hump at the time. Maybe it was like sadness: you never really stop feeling it but you stop noticing it. You stop questioning it because the question isn’t interesting anymore. I still have this problem now.
Which brings me to today. I am in a funk. Funk funk funk. Humpherdarumph. I’m in my office, lacking closure, lacking motivation, generally sleepy, and feeling guilty for not doing something productive. This is a dangerous state of mind. I have a tendency to:
A) Be guilty and depressed. My listlessness will degrade into eating, cleaning and subsequently more guilt.
B) Commit to several new projects I cannot handle.
C) And/or desperately seek reassurance from the nearest soul that I am still a worthwhile human being.
I don’t think my students have any idea that this could be happening to their TA. I never had any idea. Maybe that tough nut TA was in fact about to turn into a slump of frustrated and project-less mush. Much like me right now.
I need an action plan. Ok, plan one for week one – when I feel this state, I will not continue to sit on it. I will get up and walk outside, and consider from there what music I can practice.