22nd Dec2004

Quarterlife Crisis

by Will

Today’s Episode: “Dangling Plotlines Revealed”

Everyone seems to have a “Quarterlife Crisis” post, so I figured I’d weigh in. You’re about to learn some things I haven’t really discussed herer before.

So, a year ago today, I had a nervous breakdown. Was it medically diagnosed? No. But I know enough to know what a nervous breakdown entails; I was a psych major. I had all of the symptoms. I wasn’t hospitalized or anything…that came about a month later.

You see, coming back home was the hardest transition I’ve ever had to make. I’ve been to Russia, France, Italy, The Today Show…I’ve been all of these places, but I still wound up back at home. Who’s fault was that? Well, we’ll get to that. The bottom line was that I’d experienced life and seen the world, but when the dust settled, I was back in the same bed, looking at the same War of 1812 wallpaper that I’d grown up within. It’s sort of hard to see where you’re going when you can’t truly convince yourself that you’ve been anywhere.

I didn’t look for work while a senior. That would’ve been the smart thing to do, but I was more interested in grades. I had “majored” in a cappella for the first two yrs, and my grades went to shit. Junior yr, I decided to focus more on school. Part of that was probably because Jennine was a freakin’ braniac, and I felt insecure as “the dumb guy”. Was I dumb? By no means, but I sure wasn’t a shining Cornellian. Nothing like good old envy & competition to remind you how unsatisfied you are…

Since my grades had declined during the first two yrs, my goal was simply to graduate with a 3.0. Not that hard, right? I mean, for all practical purposes, it was a “B”. I was totally an “A” student in high school, so a little more work would do the trick, right? Wrong. Those 4 semesters kicked my ass. Did I improve? Yes, but I focused more on closing Cornell out the right way, rather than investing in life after Cornell.

Did I get my 3.0? No. I got a 2.97. For goodness, sake! a 2.97! I worked like I’d never worked before, but what was I left with? I missed my goal, and I didn’t have a job.

What did I want to do with my life? Well, I think I took the easy approach: I wanted to do something concerning my interests. I loved toys, so….you get the picture. I was gonna work in the toy industry. Yup, just like “Big”. That was going to be my job. Did i ever really think I’d get said job? Not sure. I mean, I’ve pretty much gotten everything I’ve wanted. I’m an only child. We’re spoiled. I had certainly painted an image in my head of pursuing that career, but can I really say I tried?

I need support. I hate it, but I deal on external attention. I feel that I would’ve been great in the toy industry, but no one else seemed to think so. I had NO support. Maybe people felt, “Oh, he’s just chasing a foolish dream.” Either way, no one was in my corner.

I came home, and my family just ignored any goals I had. All I heard was, “You need to work in the federal government!” Day in and day out. That’s all they had known. They couldn’t have survived private industry, so they took the easy road. They wanted to act as if they were all about “job security”, but mainly they wanted me to take the “safe route”. They didn’t really have faith in any of my ideas. I SO wish I was a stronger person, but I can’t say that I am. That truly affected me…

I’d hear my mother talk on the phone. Everyone would call, asking, “What’s William doing? Does he have a job?” I’d hear her launch into this little spiel about, “Well, he wants to work in the toy industry…” but her inflection clearly stated that she was belittling the whole thing. She’s all I’ve had for all of these yrs, and she has no faith in me. That hurt.

All of this kept building, from October to December. Day in and day out. All they did was guilt me that I wasn’t doing more. reminding me that I’d “gone up to Cornell.” I can’t tell you have much that bothered me. It’s not like I really had a choice. I HAD to go to Cornell. Yes, great school, but didn’t know what I’d do with it. It was a blessing and a curse. Insecurity issues…

So, here’s why this is all so bad. Wanna know a secret? Wanna know my biggest fear? My biggest fear is that my mother will die before I’m completely independent. Yes, I’m 22 and it’s sad that I don’t know how to do a lot of things, but acknowledging that is the first step to solving the problem. Anyway, a lot of people may have this fear, but how many of them have a 66 yr old mother? Yes, you can go at anytime, but the older you get, the more likely the odds. I have a mother and two aunts who are all 60+. Let’s face facts: I’m going to be alone one day. We all are. But will that day be soon? If so, I’m not ready.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t LIKE being dependent. I want SO BADLY to be independent. I want to know the experience of driving your own car. Of returning from work to your own, quiet apartment. I want to experience stumbling home at night and not worrying about waking up anybody. I didn’t like where my life was. I was too old for this. I’ve done too much, and lived too much, to go back to this. This was all of the stuff that was boiling inside of me for those long months.

I have been chided and protected from everything, but also at the cost of my own individuality. Who am I? I don’t know. I have been living for other people for SO LONG> There are people who say, “Be your own person, etc”. But it’s not that simple. I can’t just shrug these people off. But they expected SO much of me. It was too much to handle. I only knew who I was expected to be. And I did my best to fulfill that role. What did I want? I think I was bothered by the fact that my father wasn’t here to offer either a pro or con. Were mommy and the aunts pushing me in the right direction? Sometimes, you need to a good “con” to appreciate how good the “pros” are. But there was no one to offer that con.

So, that’s what kicked it off. I miss my dad. How? Not sure. Didn’t really know him. And that’s the point. I don’t know what I got from his side of the family. Is that where the insecurity comes from? Is that why I’m initially shy with people? Since I wasn’t getting what I needed from those around me, I kinda retreated into a “What Would Daddy Do?” mindset. This was bad because I had no clue what Daddy would do. So, I got even more lost. Neglected the approval of the living, I sought the approval of the dead. Sooner or later, it turned into “What would Grandaddy do?” or “what would Pam and Doyle do?” (For the record, they’re my half-sib…or at least, they would’ve been). Anyway, they were all dead. Not the healthiest of circumstances.

After that longwinded rant, I guess I should focus on December 22, 2003. What happened that day? Well, I had hit bottom. And my birthday was coming up, and I was nowhere I wanted my life to be. I guess it’s nobody’s fault but mine. But I was lost and had no direction. So, I just kinda blew up. Exploded. Can’t describe it. I had been volatile for some months, and Mommy felt I needed medication, but at this point is was very Me vs. Them. They all wanted their lives easier, I felt, which is why they wanted me on medication. I kept telling myself, “They are the crazy ones!”

But I just…I want to write about this, but I can’t. Not because I don’t want to share, but it really can’t be written. You truly had to be there. But it was not pretty. And I just kind of went off on Mommy about how I was here because of her. She’d never let me learn to do for myself. I didn’t know how to do a damn thing for myself, and it was only a matter of time before she’d leave me like Daddy did. It destroyed me that i was SO helpless. But I never created that model. I’m a loner. I could’ve and would’ve learned how to get on by myself, had I not been robbed of the chance. I never asked people to do for me, and I’ve never been lazy, expecting them to do for me. But I wasn’t given the chance, so I never learned. The beauty of this whole phase of life was Mommy, who had been the czar, tried to adopt this tough-love, fend for yourself attitude that just didn’t gel. I have lived for her for 22 years, and it seems like it’s all for show sometimes. Yes, she’s proud, but how much of this stuff would I have done if not forced. yeah, I’ve had some great experiences, but I’ve also had some bad. How the fuck was I supposed just up and cold turkey do for myself, when I knew nothing? Yes, many people do this all the time, but it was so unchracteristic for her. As sick as I may have been, I definitely feel it was two-sided. She was neither supportive nor encouraging about the whole sitaution.

So, after the emotional eruption, the likes of which I’d never endured prior, we talked. I mean, really talked. We got to the bottom of a lot of this stuff I’d never shared. And she promised we’d work through all of this. She didn’t know how deeply my fear of abandonment ran. Here’s an example of how bad it is: I don’t let anyone of them call me before noon. Why? Because they’re all late sleepers. Anytime I kept a phone call in the morning, I say to myself, ‘Brace yourself. This is gonna be that call.” It may sound crazy, but you’ve never been me.

During this talk, we made a promise that we were going to change all of this. We’d work through it together and help me come to some new understanding. Well, that was December 22, 2003. But it was FAR from over.

Now, he we are, one yr later. But why do I feel in the same place? Yes, I have great people and things in my life, but why so unfulfilled? Why is this supposed to be so hard? People like to say, “You’ll look back on this and laugh”, but I doubt it. You laugh about the time you farted in church. This, this is not a laughing matter. Has anything improved? Yes, many things. But why don’t I feel as if I’m making ANY progress?

I hope this hasn’t changed the way any of y’all thought about me, but it needed to be said. Don’t get me wrong. I’m much better now, and I love my family to death; don’t think this was an attack at them. It just explains what happened during what I’ve referred to as my “blogging hiatus”. I was gonna give it up. Had nothing to say, and life was going nowhere. One year later, blog’s in pretty good shape. But the rest of me…

Sorry for the downer. Tomorrow, I’ll return to posts about chipmunk death penalties and the joys of Baywatch. You know, the stuff I’m famous for…