I’ve been at my new job full-time for a little over a month now, and my internal monologue has become more strident and provocative. I have been confused at times, frustrated at times, often realizing that I was more accustomed to making decisions independently than I thought.
When I ran my bookstore, I conceptualized, evaluated, decided and executed nearly everything myself. Now I bristle at direction and also at the lack of it. I am confused about what I do and what I should do. I have my instincts and sometimes I follow them but most of the time I leave myself open to multiple instructions and opinions and I end up frozen in place, not knowing what to do next, feeling fundamentally unable to perform as I should.
Then the internal voice starts criticizing me, insinuating that my ineptitude at work reflects a bigger, broader inability to function in any setting. I think about all the things I have failed to complete or have screwed up, not just at work, not just since I moved to Houston a decade ago, but always. I opened the door to professional failure by leaving Kessler for journalism school.
I am fundamentally flawed, like a bird born without one wing, or with one stunted wing that keeps him unbalanced, spinning, doomed to never leave the ground and fly, jealous of the other birds in the air.
I’ve taken a leave of absence from my MFA program at Goucher, and while I’m glad to have the time to catch up and develop new objectives, I also miss it. I miss being part of a community of writers: fragile, vulnerable, driven, self-examining; people I get and who I think get me. I think. At Goucher I was confused and sometimes acted on my confusion, but I felt closer to my core than I have anywhere else. I don’t know what to do with that feeling – literally.
Am I a journalist? Am I a creative or narrative writer? Am I a communications coordinator in the nonprofit world?
Worst of all is that I have stopped praying. I don’t know how I can expect to succeed without spending just those few moments a day giving thanks and praise to my creator. It’s so dumb – I don’t know how to make wudu at work, in a shared sink in a shared bathroom. And at home I am just lazy. Add that to the pile of perceived failure.
Paradoxically, running Light of Islam made me less spiritual and more confused. And that confusion drives my lack of identity and lack of motivation. I should try praying and fasting and seeing myself as a Muslim before I struggle to see myself as something, anything, else.
The struggle is always there. Two years ago I found out that there is a tiny clump of gray cells in my brain that wandered into the white cell region, where they don’t belong and can never work in harmony and can never move. So it’s a literal truth that I have a fundamental flaw, one so deep in my brain that it can’t be fixed. That’s for real. More real than a deformed bird or a frozen woman or a fragile artist or a sinner.
Where do I go with my metaphors about self-doubt and confusion? I sometimes think the answer is to get in my car and just go. I sometimes think the answer is to commit some crime that doesn’t really hurt someone but could put me in prison, where I belong. Nice goals. That’s where I am on February 9, 2014.