Before my trip to Europe last year, a friend of mine gave me a journal to write about my travels. It ended up being a great way to record my experiences, but after the trip, there were still several empty pages. There was nothing left to write, so I set it aside on a bookshelf and got back to writing my thesis.
In about two weeks, I will be celebrating my first anniversary as a working stiff. Well, I won’t actually celebrate it or anything, but it will mark one year since I started. While I haven’t traveled long distances in the year since I started work, it’s definitely been a journey.
A week before I was to start, I received the final signature for my dissertation. I submitted the document a mere three days before my first day of work. A year later, I still haven’t picked up my degree, a piece of paper I spent six years working to acquire. It’s funny, but it doesn’t seem all that important anymore.
About a month and a half after starting work, a lot of things seemed to be moving at once: the rocky transition out of student life, the move to a new city, the end of a relationship, and the moving away of many friends. Amidst all this, I felt rather powerless and lonely.
It took me another month to get my bearings and start thinking about how to deal with my situation. I began with work, where I started to become more proactive on things that interested me. It felt great to take initiative, and when a random encounter offered an appealing opportunity, I was in a mindset where I wanted to explore it. Eight months later, I am happy about where it has taken me.
Then there was my personal life. To stay active socially, I got into the groove of organizing outings, potlucks, lunches, and random other things. I rekindled some old friendships and acquaintances in the process. I also took up some hobbies, which led me to meet new and interesting people.
As I was staying busy, problems struck at home, and while I didn’t acknowledge it at the time, those problems planted a seed of anger that started growing inside me like one of Jack’s magic beans. The anger came to a head when my parents visited last month, and it lingered in some amorphous Pig-Pen-like cloud around me after they left.
I started to feel out of sorts, perhaps even in a funk, and during any time away from work, I felt like I was running on auto-pilot: just going through the motions. I no longer felt the desire to organize anything, and when I did go out, I found myself getting irritated by the most trivial of things.
When I finally started confronting the anger head-on, I found my head was a mess, filled with a jumble of incoherent thoughts. It was around this time that I noticed the travel journal, and one night before heading to bed, I started to write in it. While I’m not sure the pages will be filled before I stop, it’s providing space for my thoughts to coalesce and organize. With any luck, the pig pen will be clean in time for the next mess.