Posted by: Elizabeth Anne Mitchell | November 27, 2011

ROW80 11/27 Gone to Ground

When I look at my goals, I feel that I have not gotten much, if anything, done.  However, I spent the weekend away from the internet for the most part, thinking.  Yet again, I looked at what my life goals are, and what I want them to be.  Part of this journey was for the gratitude post that I have been drafting, but most of it was trying to work through what is important to me.  I realized that I still dance along the various people who have sway over my life–bosses, colleagues, siblings, and even some friends, still trying to find out how to gain approval, love, self-worth.  Pah.  I love books that make me think about things, but to be honest, books that make me take a hard look at myself are freaking uncomfortable. The day after Thanksgiving, my public library finally sent me the link to the Kindle copies of the last two Feverbooks.  I have been devouring them as much as I can, given eight hours at the mall with my sister-in-law on Friday, and twelve hours in the car to get back home.  Mac Lane’s quest to answer the question of who she is rattled me like a basso gong reverberating inside my chest.I suffer from imposter syndrome.  I’m too beat tonight to look up the official definition, but roughly it is the feeling that one does not deserve what one has, either through innate ability or work.  I have a recurring dream of being at graduation, and some suit stepping from the crowd at the moment my thesis director puts the PhD hood over my head, announcing that I have not fulfilled the requirements, and cannot have the degree. It invades all aspects of my life–I dreamt that the hospital called after I took my oldest son home to say that I lacked the necessary skills to take care of him. When I was young, I found myself more than willing to endure the worst sort of treatment from men, just so they would like me a little bit (and bless the stars in heaven that my husband persisted in telling me that someone who loved me would never treat me that way).  I grovel at work like the female twin of Wormtail, just to “get along.”  I take all the crappy committee work, all the crappy assignments, without the slightest protest or demur.

Therefore, the question of who Mac Lane is found a harmonic resonance in who the hell am I?  I have read the advice not to call oneself an “aspiring” writer, but what else am I? “Aspiring” writer, “aspiring” PhD; lots of potential (I hope), but not a lot of actual. So there’s been a lot of soul-searching, and there will be a lot more in the next few weeks or months.  And man, I’m bummed, because I actually thought I’d grown up already. 😉

I’m not sure the impact all this deep thinking will have on my goals, but y’all will be among the first to know.

Health:  I am almost completely over the cough.  The drier air of winter in Florida is helping, I think.  I wasn’t home to weigh myself on the same scale this morning, but going by the fit of my clothes, I managed not to gain much weight (maybe none) this week.  I didn’t eat much at meals, and my brother-in-law and his wife are very good about not having snack food around.

Exercise: My sister-in-law and I walked around for eight hours at various malls on Black Friday, with no more food than a sample piece of candy about 3pm.  I hurt enough on Saturday to know that I need to up the routine.  I will tack down the amount of time and the best times to do the exercise, but clearly the half-hour leisurely walk with the dogs isn’t cutting it.

Family:  It was a great weekend for family.  Although our youngest son is still on vampire hours, his awake hours overlapped mine enough that we had some nice talks and time together.  I spent a lot of time just hanging out with my brother-in-law and his wife, which was long overdue.

Friends: I really fell off the map with friends, which made me feel pretty bad.  I barely showed up on Twitter or email all weekend.  I am still very confident that friends are crucial to my happiness as a human being.

Writing: A lot more thinking than writing on this front as well.  Kudos to everyone who participated in NaNo–all of you did so well! I thought a lot about how I write, what I want to write, and what I need to learn (the short answer to that last one is everything!)  Last Sunday I posted a very short section from a piece I wrote on the Alachua Sink, part of the Payne’s Prairie State Preserve in northern Florida.  Last Monday, I posted an excerpt from a piece I’ve written about a WWII British war bride.  I have another piece set in 14th-century France, and another in early 20th century New York.  I’m feeling pretty scattered, and may retreat for a little while to the academic writing.  It is a shelter, certainly, but I am seeing that I need to work a lot on the craft.

Day Job: applications and more applications.

So, all my lovely ROW80 compatriots, have a very lovely rest of the week.  I will be spending a lot of time figuring out new goals for the remaining weeks of Round Four.  Good thoughts will be greatly appreciated.  As always, please go encourage the rest of the ROWers here.

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Responses

  1. Great post. I am constantly thinking about life goals and wondering how I’m going to get there so this post resonated with me.
    Have a wonderful week. See you Wednesday.x

    • Thanks for stopping by, Laura. This seems to be the year for my mid-life crisis, but I’m feeling good about trying to figure out what I really what to do. I’m glad I’m getting over the cough, too–blooming thing was annoying! Have a great week 🙂 x

  2. Also glad that you’re almiost over the cough. x

  3. Hope you get to feeling better.
    Once again, a post I resonate with, as I feel I do too much for the approval of others. Too much a Good Girl, and I’m trying to break that.
    Good luck on day job, everything else!

    • Thanks, Alisette, I’m feeling better every day. It’s hard to fight that Good Girl syndrome; not only am I an approval-seeker, but I was brought up not to impose or bother anyone, so I am reluctant to ask for help. I very much appreciate the good wishes on the day job and everything 🙂

  4. Great post Elizabeth. So real and down to earth.
    LOVED Fever series – so many ahhhmazing quotes weaved into the story. Loved the series!
    Part of knowing who you are comes from knowing who you want to be and working towards that. If you want to be a person who is more assertive, then you need to practice being assertive. Take a workshop, read a book, see a counselor. Whatever it takes but start moving forward with who you want to be.
    It isn’t easy. It may not feel natural but if it’s who you want to be, then start coming up with small, baby steps things you can actively do to start moving in that direction.
    The other part of finding out who you are comes from acknowledging and embracing yourself as is. Maybe you aren’t the most assertive lady in the crowd. Maybe you are a people pleaser. But if you are ok with the, and love that about yourself…then embrace it. Own it. Celebrate it.
    Why is it a “negative”? Everything about you, whether it’s a positive or a negative, is a matter of YOUR perspective.
    And if you don’t like it, then work towards actively changing it one step at a time.
    Before you know it, you’ll know YOU and LOVE you!
    In the meantime…enjoy the journey…it’s half the fun!
    xoxoxox

    • Thank you so much for the advice, Natalie. You have some great points; to be honest, I have to put some thought into what I want to change, and what I want to accept, hey, even celebrate, about myself. Some things are easy–I know I don’t want to change that I’m an unrepentant nerd, and I try to help anyone I can. The rest will take some thought. Thanks so much for your encouragement. xoxo

  5. I can’t remember who said it, but some wise person said, “Even when we aren’t writing, we are writing.” Those quiet times, thinking… those raucous times, playing… this is where we get the best material, isn’t it?

    Popped over from #ROW80. I am glad I did!

    • I’m glad you popped over, too, Julie. We certainly do need to let the well replenish itself, and I’m just at the point where I need to figure out what I want to be, as well as what to write. It wil all pay dividends in the end. Have a lovely week!

  6. I can absolutely sympathize with a lot of the questioning feelings you’re expressing in this post, Elizabeth. I know lately, I’ve been working on so many goals, and one of the things I hear from a lot of (usually non-writerly!) people is, “Why don’t you just focus on one thing and finish it?” And sometimes I wonder if I give myself so many goals so that I’m constantly working around that completion and that final moment where I have to find out if I really am an author or if this has all just been a waste of time….

    But, damn it all, we work hard and we do deserve anything our hearts desire, especially if we have the drive and determination to step up there and get it. So never lose sight of the fact that anything we do out of the pure love of doing it or to build ourselves up to become the people we want to do is something everyone deserves and everyone should have.

    Fantastic post today, Elizabeth. You’re doing great. And will continue to do so because that’s just what awesome people do.

    • Thanks for the insights, L.S. You’ve made me realize that I had planned to write a post about fear of success. It seems that some people, especially women, drag their feet as the time to finish something approaches, due to a fear of the unknown–what comes next. I have a lot of projects because I have the attention span of a mayfly, so I jump around to try to keep myself going. I am definitely guilty of the fear of success thing, though. The study was of PhD dissertation writers, and I have big avoidance issues about finishing that puppy.

      I agree with you completely (on a logical level) that we deserve to be able to do what we love and be who we want. I just need a cuff on the head every so often to believe it in my heart. Thanks for coming by and throwing italics at me–they work every bit as well as cuffs on the head.

      And aw, thanks; I really appreciate being called awesome 😀

  7. great post. I think goals and success are very subjective and that we are our own worst measurers and markers of it. Sounds like you’re just fine. How interesting. you’ve given me some food for thought.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Thea. I think I sometimes look at myself in a funhouse mirror; it is hard, especially given some styles of upbringing, to look at oneself objectively. I’m glad the post gave you some food for thought; I appreciate the compliment.

  8. 8 hours at the mall on Black Friday? You are a braver woman than I could be.

    We tend to be our own worst enemies in regards to goals, don’t we? There are many a day when I wonder when I’m stop going to be a hack and not bother to really get anything published, even short stories. then I turned around and try to shove that part back in the closet.


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