20-Something

A Lesson in Being Idle

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Something happened to me recently: I became scared of everything.

I write about my anxieties and fears often on this blog and sometimes I write about them in a joking manner, but lately it’s become not as funny as an episode of Two and a Half Men.

No, lately my days are filled with wanting to sleep, crying, panic attacks or near panic attacks, obsessively checking WebMD, not wanting to leave the house, leaving the house, but driving back to make sure that the door is locked a third time, fear of traveling and various physical aches and pains due to all the above.

I’ve never been depressed. Even in my early twenties when I spent many a’ emo nights writing tragic song lyrics with eraseable marker on my mirror, I knew I wasn’t depressed. I knew that I would no longer feel this way one day and that all my mixed emotions were due to not knowing who I was or what I wanted.

And it did all come together.

I figured out what I wanted and I got it.

I went after it and I fucking took it.

At least I thought I did.

Now I feel like I’m right back at the beginning of the tunnel, but I don’t have the underlying hope that it will all turn out ok anymore.

They say you know you’re depressed when you lose hope. I still don’t think I’m designed to be depressed, but lately, hope seems like a dream I had a long time ago.

But what do I have to feel hopeless about?

Where did this feeling come from?

I haven’t quite uncovered the answer yet.

Maybe it was turning 30 and finally, finally having to accept that I’m an adult.

Maybe it’s because I’m not exactly sure what my career goals are anymore. I achieved my goal of becoming a writer, but now what?

Maybe it’s because my chosen vocation pays very little and turning 30 has made me realize that I don’t want to be a “starving artist” for the rest of my life.

Maybe it’s because I’m starting to understand that we’re all mortal and I have no cushion to soften that reality.

Maybe it’s because I work from home, spending too much time on a machine that wrecks my posture and fatigues my eyes; maybe I spend too much time in my head.

Maybe it’s because I no longer have my place to escape to, no “happy place,” no soundtrack and no fantasy to get lost in.

Maybe it’s because I have guilt and embarrassment for even feeling this way.

Maybe my loss of hope is only because I feel idle. I’m mourning the death of my childhood, and I’m realizing that I indeed have no idea what I want.

We probably never know what we want, but the goal is to keep moving forward, “they” tell you to keep moving onward, because the alternative- sleeping, crying, panic attacks-  is not an option.

Unless you want to sit idle.

But being motionless is so much safer, so much less scary.

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18 Comments

  • Reply Lauren September 26, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Maybe this sounds weird, but have you considered that it might be misplaced baby fever? I think when women hit their 30’s it is natural to start wanting to reproduce because it really is the beginning of the end of your baby-making ability at least. I dunno, just a thought.

  • Reply M September 26, 2013 at 11:22 am

    I’m a few years older than you, but this is exactly how I’ve been feeling lately. Very, very anxious and worried. And although I go to a day job every day, I just get home exhausted and don’t want to do anything or see anyone. Part of it is not having extra money for things, sure. I also accomplished big goals recently and I think the come-down from that is hitting me harder than I thought it would. Because when you accomplish something, the idea is always, what’s next? And the closer I get to my 40’s, the more I realize I want things I don’t have: a husband, kids. Don’t know if I’ll ever have them. That’s a sock in the gut. So, I feel ya. Wish I had answers. 🙁

  • Reply Christopher Shea September 26, 2013 at 11:34 am

    This same feeling you’re experiencing comes in waves for me. Every now and again, it’ll drop in and say “hello.” It’s not very welcome, but it IS important, at the very least, because it makes you consider the alternatives. And it makes you do so in a way that you never have during the last 3 decades of your life. Ultimately, it’s change. Like time moving forward, it’s inevitable. But it helps knowing you’re not alone. This is your life Miss Modery, and it’s a beautiful thing. Hold on to hope. Hold on to your dreams. The money will come and than you’ll remember that it doesn’t matter again, like you did 20 years ago. We’ve reached a very interesting time in society unlike any that has come before it, where one can choose to switch career paths, in a moment, AND surprise, you can be successful at it. If I had to point to the one thing that keeps us Idle, in one way or another in life, it’s fear. Because inside, we’re all afraid of success. It’s the difference between no change, changing a little, a massive shift in life and in your life time, you will experience all of these. So the next time you feel Idle, remember, the ability to do anything is always at your doorstep. And hey, don’t sweat the small stuff. I still am not sure what I want to do, but I’m having loads of fun. And I’d love to share that with you.

    • Reply Gaby September 26, 2013 at 12:34 pm

      Damn that is some good advice. I’ve been dealing with depression on and off since High School (28 now), and this is me to a T. Fear of success, fear of change. It literally sucks the ambition out of you (or me, rather). But recently I have started to find the courage to make the changes I need to keep the depression/hopelessness/worthlessness go away. Thank you for putting it so eloquently.

  • Reply emily September 26, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Wow, thank you for sharing this. I feel relief in knowing that I am not the only one that has felt this way. And talking to some supportive friends, they have gone through the same feelings. I go through it every couple of years. It is usually a few bad days that go unchecked that end up snowballing. So, now I try to catch any negative freak out thoughts as quick as possible and rail them back in. Being that I have been through it and looking back I sometimes question if there was a whole lot gained through that deep space of contemplation or if I just wore down my nerves and possibly aged myself a few years. But then again, I don’t regret it looking back, knowing at the time I felt I couldn’t control this feeling of ‘oh fuck what I am doing with my life’. Either way, it is gets better. Practice the best self care that you know. Things will shift and always get better and better. All that talk about how beautiful the cracks are because that is what lets in the light… In a way, I am grateful for those moments of feeling cracked because not everyone gets to experience that and the ones that do, I believe are the real movers and shakers of this world. They are the ones that are not living their whole lives in idle.

  • Reply Cindy September 26, 2013 at 11:57 am

    I have experienced what you’re feeling but remember, there’s always a soundtrack to escape to! Music is what gets me through it all. It can be a powerful mood elevator (and motivator) no matter how anxious or lost you might be feeling. Don’t tune it out. And remember, in life, you just have to face down the fear. Running away from it only makes it stronger.

  • Reply Claudia Schlotman September 26, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Oh, Lauren,

    I’ve known you since our early days as bloggers and you know from many of those posts and poems that I write extensively about my own depression. I can say without hesitation that I know how you feel and I am so very sorry. It’s particularly hard for me to know you are having this problem when you have Joeff in your life. I was madly in love with a man who loved me back just as madly and I still suffered from depression.

    Answers? I’m much older than you but I have suffered this affliction since I was younger than you are and still don’t know the answers. I do know that medicine – but not too much or the wrong kind – has helped. Therapy has been a big part of my recovery, too. Writing may be the most important component of my current remission. I know. You write all the time, so where is the relief?

    Keep writing it down.

    I love you,
    cj

  • Reply Joanna Wilkinson September 26, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    You have no idea how much I relate to this. I’m going through the same issues. I’ve been having conversations with all of my friends and family members lately and I finally have come to the conclusion that I absolutely cannot continue to live this freelancer blogger lifestyle. I feel like I’ve matured so much over the last few years and changed SO MUCH. I’m so happy because I finally feel like I’m out of that dumb crazy 20s phase (not 30 yet, but feeling quite different from how i felt when i was even 25). I feel like I know who I am and what I want out of life and am in such a great place. And yet, recently I have been having similar panic attacks that I had in my early 20s when I didn’t know what direction my life was headed. I think it’s the fear of the unknown, the fear of change. Perhaps you are craving a change but are scared of it, or are just unsure what you should change. Sometimes I feel so scared to make the wrong choices that instead of making any choice at all, I become idle. I’ve recently decided to leave my blog (haven’t announced this yet), and leave austin for an undetermined amount of time to travel. I’ve always been afraid to travel by myself (partially because my family is semi-paranoid and engrained in me that if I travel anywhere outside of Texas that I will get kidnapped and die), but I’m finally ready to do it and my mom finally doesn’t think I will die so that’s cool. Maybe traveling isn’t for you, but maybe you just need to make some sort of change. I know all too well how much sitting in front of a computer screen all day by yourself is not healthy.

  • Reply tconn September 26, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    “Maybe it’s because my chosen vocation pays very little and turning 30 has made me realize that I don’t want to be a “starving artist” for the rest of my life…”

    This is not entirely true. Figure out how to get paid writing for brands during the day then spend nights/weekend on screenwriting until something hits. You won’t have time to be depressed. Ad agencies are always looking for good writers. There are plenty of good ones in Austin.

  • Reply Eric Jess September 26, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    It will all be okay, some day.

  • Reply Rowdy Fairy September 26, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    I totally sympathise! I think everyone feels down like this at some stage and everything you say is so true. Thanks for posting this!

  • Reply Morgan September 27, 2013 at 8:00 am

    So I don’t usually post comments but I think you need to get some encouragement from total strangers who have no investment in your personal life other than enjoying your blog and sharing in the human experience. First of all, take a good deep breath, focus on the moment right now and stare at a small object in the room and think about its design or placement or whatever, just to get your mind of off the stuff that leads to panic and hyperventilation. And don’t be ashamed if you need to see a doc and take something for a short time. I’ve gone through this exact thing a couple times in my life, and just needed to calm down to refocus on just living.

    Secondly, I want to encourage you to step back from the turning 30/not knowing what you’re doing/kind of worthless feeling. I think we are SUPER fortunate to live in a world and society that has changed so much, redefining what life, success, work looks like. We don’t have to have accomplished the greatest feat ever before thirty. We don’t have to have a “career.” We have the chance to define each day, to define ourselves, to wake up and say–hey, I’m going to do THIS today, because my happiness is a priority. And sometimes you can make pretty good money doing what you love. I think it’s a risk worth taking. The idea that each day is unique to itself and you can just get up and doing one cool thing. Or three cool things. Or nine to thirteen hours worth of cool stuff is exciting.
    But today, just get up. Think of one small thing you enjoy and do it. And enjoy it while you do it. Don’t be your own worst enemy.
    I recommend reading Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art
    and checking out Lara Casey’s ten step challenge.

    You’ve got this.
    Best,
    Morgan Johnston
    Rugged and Fancy

  • Reply Mickey September 29, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    I stumbled upon your blog, reading about blogs. When I actually decided to read your blog, I was taken back by the first content I saw.

    I cried at midnight when I turned thirty. Heaven only knows what the hell I’ll do in January when I turn forty. (Aside from that big- ass party me and my two besties are planning since we’re all turning forty around the same time.)

    About five years ago I closed up my little store a couple of hours early because I just didn’t feel well. On the drive home I decided I needed to buy some vitamins and went into Walmart. I instantly began to sweat and my heart started racing.I thought I was having a heart attack!

    I ended up in the ER several times and doctors for over a year couldn’t find anything wrong with me. Long story short, I went to bed for nearly a year. I was afraid of everything, going out, staying home alone, you name it- I was scared too death and thought my life was over.

    Finally I found out it was Vertigo, and the stress from wondering day to day why I was so dizzy and worrying that I was dying and nobody knew why, had basically put me to bed. I had panic attacks constantly.

    I’m much better now, my Vertigo is under control, but I still haven’t gone shopping by myself since that day. I closed my store for good and no longer work outside of the home out of fear of having panic and anxiety without people I can rely on. I still hold a tiny bit of fear in the back of my mind that I’ll be in the store all alone again when the panic sets in :/

    You need to find a way to take control of the anxiety or it will take over your entire life. I wish you the best of luck. Now stop crying and being afraid. You’re probably a lot stronger than you think.

    By the way- it is not lost on me that I said “long story short” thirty F*&#!ing minutes ago. And I really like your blog! 🙂

    Mickey
    Barrelassin.com

  • Reply Lauren September 30, 2013 at 2:04 am

    What a perfect post for how I’ve been feeling this whole month. Maybe it’s the change in weather (seasonal depression perhaps?). Either way, thank you for posting this.

  • Reply Eddy October 7, 2013 at 10:17 am

    I knew a guy once who loved cigars. He loved cigars up until the day he retired from his government job and went work at his favorite hang out: a cigar store. Then he hated cigars. Then he died.

    I for one am driven to write by my emotions. My writing siphons off my emotions. If I HAD to write for an ad agency or publication it would eventually begin to feel like what once bubbled up and out naturally I was being force to dry heave.

    I’d hate for you to quit blogging, but perhaps it would suit you better as an avocation?

    Or, as you said, maybe you spend too much time in your head.

  • Reply Maryn April 15, 2014 at 11:28 am

    I totally empathize with this. I think in a lot of ways our generation is starting from scratch. The idea of the American Dream – owning a house, starting a family, having a lifelong career aren’t really applicable or even possible for many of us. It’s exciting and terrifying to not have a template to go by and to wake up at 30 and realize all the ideas we were fed growing up just don’t work in real life. Just know, you’re not alone and we’re all a bit lost, slowly finding a way through…

  • Reply Lorraine October 15, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    Wow you do have a ton of anxiety. I can relate. But in the inverse way. I have this thing called disassociation where i pay attention to absolutely none of that stuff. Its sooo great. Because I disassociate from reality that you describe. Its cool I can go to my happy place all day any day. But my doctor tells me I’m not supposed to because its a coping mechanism. I should probably stop spacing. Oho but nobody ever really told me what spacing out was or how it works until this magic year. At the age of 29. I can FINALLY start working on not disassociating from all things that trigger dissociation. Unfortunately that means training myself to be OKAY with flashbacks. Which i’m working on.

    Haha you’d think this would all be horrible. A nightmare. But it actually helped me cope with something that happened to me recently which was bloody awful. I think any normal person would have killed themselves had that happened to them. Not me!<3 I DO HAVE LUCKY STARS!

    Disassociation is like living with blinders on. Safety blinders that keep you from seeing the body on the ground over there. Have you ever heard of people who went through war and came back n their heads seem like they're not 100% there? They actually are there you just cant tell immediately but in reality the blinders also act like the PERFECT tunnel vision….To the happy place. Any place where i can live perpetually in my happy place. If only i could get rid of the fuckin… oh wait here comes the fog…….:)………….

    Its cool how it makes it easier to not give a damn about about anything. Being starving poor, being in a deadly situation, backpain, toothpain, jaw pain, you name it i cant feel it..Its like all i see when my eyes are open is the tunnel vision. Somehow I will have control over this fog and get the fuck out. I should probably thank god i have those memories to propel me at 2000 mph hahaha amirite bitch? Uh hmm maybe. We'll see I suppose:) Uh there's kind of a trolltoll you have to pay to have disassociation. Its cool if you have it but its not cool that you're fucking crazy. Its also not cool that you have to pay for it with trauma.

    Ohh trust me im going to make it go away someday. But at the moment I couldnt give a fuck about going on 30, having a car, getting married, or …. all i wanna do is write. that is my happy place. Do you get it now why writers are fucking crazy? You're not crazy op. Not in the least. Now stfu.

  • Reply ヽ(゜∇゜)ノ October 16, 2015 at 12:10 am

    @ MAryn HAHA starting from scratch. ♥

    I sooo relate to this !! Story of my life!! Except in kind of the inverse way. I have this thing called dissociation where I go into a fog. I can fade out and daydream all day along, I go to this place thats like the holy grail to me, because its where i store the magic of precious childhood things. But … I really don’t go to childhood place anymore. More like a hmmm a thinking area where i can push out all external stimuli. its called my happy place. Its gods green earth its the only thing worth living for. But my doctor tells me im not supposed to go there because its fucking up my life.

    You talk about anxiety? Now add fog. Battle the fog and the anxiety. The trick is to turn off the happy place fog, and return to the reality that people call life. Try doing that 8 hours a day at work BITCH.

    Haha just kidding tho just kidding. Its really useful and saves your ass like you wouldn’t believe. >:)
    This god-awful thing happened to me recently, n I attempted suicide twice. I didn’t succeed and I lived to tell about the whole thing thanks to disassociation. It did a DAMN good job I must say. To this day it shadows me in any and all situations.

    Unfortunately they tell me I /still/ need to get rid of it. I disagree. Besides i can leave anytime i want. You have your eyes on the ball all the time when youi’re in here. Well…. My happy place is my ball. its my life I suppose. Have you ever seen those people who come back from war n they’re all perpetually half there half not? Haha they actually are fully there, just not in the way that you think they are. They’re brains are at 200% all day everyday because war.

    What’s wrong with having a happy place? WHAT THE CHRIST LAUREN???! who the FUCK SAYS ITS WRONG TO HAVE A HAPPY PLACE!?!?!?? YOU SHOULD STAY THERE GO BACK YOU HAVE NO IDEA WTF YOUR LEAVING BEHIDN YOU DONT KNOW WHAT IVE SEEN YOU NEEEEEEED YOUR HAPPY PLACE ~TRUST~ ME!!

    Ahem, ahaha i kid:)
    Its really cool because the blinders are like codines. Its NOT so cool that it got worse after that last thing recently happened to me. WAY worse. My whole family’s crazy worried n even paying my rent. I don’t think about love. I dont think about marriage. I cant feel pain so good and i couldn’t give a crap about money. I dont think about where im going to be next, I’m always interrupted every time I try. Like I’ll fucking clean the tub 20 times n wake up and wonder hth i got there.

    But its not like as terrible as you think because I’ve been working on my anxiety all my life desperately and now i have NONE@@!! Magic zero. I also just realized I had depression. I was shocked because i always ALWAYS try to focus on the good around me. I’m so optimistic and hopeful you’d be surprised really surprised that I wasn’t always honest with myself. I’m almost 30 and I’ve had jobs since I was 16. This next one is going to work out i just KNOW IT because my anxieties gone and i realized what was wrong with me depression and disassociation and anxiety.

    Well its not really a problem for me as you well know to worry about whats coming up in my life so i guess it all works out doesnt it hahaha.
    I’m so lucky right ahahaha
    hahahaha

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