Today marks the 1 month point of me arriving here. In some ways it has felt both like it’s flown by, and like it’s been the longest time of my life. Good and bad, up and down, an unrelenting roller coaster.
I struggle on a daily basis with not feeling like I’m getting the “proper” experience out of being here. Preconceived notions of what I believe something is supposed to look like before I do it, and then ending up feeling disappointed when it turns out differently. Not letting myself just experience something for what it actually is. It’s a recipe for disaster.
I feel like since I got here, although I have been writing everyday, I have felt very limited in what I can truthfully share. It’s pretty much been a self-imposed publication ban. And after a month, I feel like that’s done a disservice to myself, and maybe to others who might be reading it. Even now, on the verge of clicking “publish” I feel torn about whether I should wait. People might think I’m being too hasty, too negative, too _________. [Guts churning]
Why am I feeling largely incapable of enjoying my experience here so far? Even though it’s almost nothing like what I was led to believe it would be? Still—what’s wrong with me? Everyone I talk to seems to think if they were in the same position they wouldn’t be worrying about it, they’d be snowboarding every day and having the time of their lives.
God. There must be something wrong with me. [Stomach knotted]
I was talking to a friend on Facebook about my experience today, mentioning that I felt like it wasn’t the quite the career opportunity I had hoped it would be. He asked if I was at least getting a chance to get out and take pictures? I said that yes, I had taken a fair amount of pictures, but I wasn’t feeling super motivated to get outside as much as I felt I should. Maybe, it was on account of the cold? And he said “yeah, I was sort of wondering how many pictures you would be taking… it doesn’t really seem to be your style”.
And a light bulb went off in my head.
Not my style. I had thought that internally a few times since I’ve been here, but was forcing myself to get out there because “It’s so beautiful here!” “I really should be wanting to take pictures!” But I’ve never rarely been drawn to landscape photography in the entire time I’ve been interested in shooting pictures. Truth be told, I find the majority of landscape photography fairly boring (unless you yourself are the one there to witness it firsthand, anyway). The most inspired with my camera I’ve felt here is in the middle of a cemetery. [Inner turmoil] I should be trying to find photo opportunities (contrary to the fact I feel a bit like I’m just going through the motions). I should want to go outside and enjoy the winter (contrary to the fact I’m chilled to the bone and can’t seem to shake it the entire day). I should… contrary to this being (me).
Why do I feel like I must apologize for who I am? To somehow gloss over my true feelings about this experience thus far? There are some people who just don’t enjoy sports, or who don’t like broccoli. And no matter how many times you explain that sports are really wonderful and broccoli is really tasty, it might not make it any truer to them. And that’s ok. It seems a ridiculous waste of energy to keep trying and trying to make myself like something that I just (mostly) don’t. To pretend like I’m having a blast when I’m really (mostly) not. How many times must you do something before you can safely say “no, I think I’m good”? How much sports must I watch? How much broccoli must I eat? How many days must I spend? 30? 60? 90? 500? I’ve spent days fighting off depression because I feel like there is something wrong with me for being disappointed about the situation—despite it being almost nothing like what I understood it was supposed to be. I’ve been beating myself up about having a hard time meeting people, when I have been shy my entire life. So much of life’s unrest comes from feeling one way, and wanting it to be different. [More turmoil]
You know how sometimes you get invited to a party, but you don’t really feel like going–but you go anyway, and ultimately end up really glad that you went? I feel like I keep waiting for this to get to the part where I’m glad I went to the party. Because so far, I sort of wish I had stayed home, washed my hair and just reveled in other people telling me how great the party was. Because at the moment, I feel like I thought it was going to be black tie, and I got there only to realize that it was being hosted by that creepy guy in IT that incessantly talks about his cat. Yes, it’s still a party – it’s just maybe not my kind of party. And (maybe) that’s ok. [Less turmoil]
Which brings me to the topic of this post: Being true to myself, and my experience. I feel like so much of my life has been spent living in the shadow of who I think other people want me to be, rather than who I am. This unbalance makes for so much internal tension and unhappiness. I’m not throwing in the towel yet and going home, but unless I start to be honest with myself about how I truly feel in this moment, this experience is going to be more damaging to my well-being than positive. Life is comprised of many different lessons, and maybe my lesson is this: Be open enough to take the step, and wise enough to be true to yourself once you do.