Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Dead End Drive Off-Ramp

So, if it's not been a bit obvious, I've been feeling rather down in the dumps as of late, since the ol'd New Years was rung in (the real New Years, none of this Gung Hay Fat Pig crap).

I finally pinpointed it to feeling...





Out of gas.


It seems like not one aspect of my life has been moving forward. Everything is staying the same, the same ol' status quo.

And I don't like the status quo. I never have.

It became such a problem that I decided to seek out counselling for it, to get myself back on track.

Now, counselling was something I balked at at first, mainly because there is still a wee bit of negative stigma attached to it. But honestly, it's the best thing I could have done for myself. My counsellor is awesome and already I feel the markings of a new woman brewing underneath. It's amazing what happens when you gain a little perspective on your life, perspective you can't find from friends,family or yourself. While other areas of my life are not "moving forward" I can tell that something inside me is.

It's exciting and a little scary.

But I have a ways to go. I still feel like I am wasting time, wasting my life, watching everyone else pass me bye as they go on to becoming "adults." I just feel left behind, like a big kid who wants to join in on the fun but can't because her car isn't fast enough and all the lights are turning red. So I'm stuck in first gear, puttering along, going round and round the block.

Or some kind of drawn-out metaphor like that. I like metaphors.

Over the last six months or so, I feel like my life has made no progress. Nothing has grown or changed (although, I am a bit more cynical, if you can't tell. And I'm using more metaphors).

Interestingly enough, my instinct is usually to run when my life comes to a standstill like this. Maybe this is why I travel so often. Or at least "lust" after it.

Recently, after feeling particularly frusterated at things, I spontaneously booked a trip to Umbria, Italy, for the end of August. It's more volunteer work for Pueblo Ingles, only this time, since I am a veteran of the program, I've been offered a "free" week in their new Italian program.

I jumped at the chance and signed up (keeping in mind that August is eons away and I have plenty of time to change my mind).

Now, something that was recently said to me has been ringing in my ears.

We usually travel to gain something for ourselves, whether it be perspective, experience, excitement, confidence, culture, love, understanding, etc.

But when do we stop "gaining" and when does it become "fleeing?"

I want my life to move forward.

I want things to go somewhere.

And I want to have these things without running away.


Karinaxoxo said...

OMG I'm soooo with u - now that I know I'm not moving to the other side of the world everything feels a bit blah.
Traveling to do volunteer works sounds really good...***Hmm gets to thinking***

Rachel said...






since when was there someone over in British colombia who could write out my feelings for me, better then I can? (metaphors and all)

The only break I have had in this feeling is the whole 'getting engaged' thing.. which I have to admit, has sprung a little spring in my step lately!

But really. Please believe that I know exactly how you are feeling right now, and yes. Therapy is good. And travel is good. And the way you are feeling is normal for us springy types. Please, whatever you do, do not feel abnormal.


Wanderlusting said...

Karina - Yeah, I think travel keeps us on our toes...I think what attracts me to travel is all the possibilities to have a new life. I need a new one.

As for the volunteer thing, seriously check it out. It is awesome, free and the best experience you will ever have.

Rachel - You know I was reading some of your archives and we are frighteningly alike. It is quite scary, some of the things you say and think about feel like it has been taken out of my head.

But yes, the engaged thing is truly wonder you are floating on the clouds! You are so lucky to have a man like Conrad in your life and that is growth right there. And now you've got a goal to work towards, something to plan...of course, in a few months, you will be up to your ears in it and freaking out, but hey ;)

Indiana said...

I think its very normal to feel stuck these days...but I have to wonder how much of it is caused by skewed definitions of happiness? Have we gotten to the point that what we aspire to/for to make us happy is so unrealistic that the inevitable failure leaves us wanting?

I guess what I am wondering is if we feel stuck is it because we truly are, or that in constant comparison to others we fail to honestly assess what it is we want rather than what society says we should want?

Wanderlusting said...

Indy - Very good point. I think that definitely has a lot to do with it. On some level, we are always comparing ourselves with others (with me, it's on the top level)and using that to gauge how far we have come in the world.

I think with me it's a sublime combination of failing by comparison and actually being quite stuck, as well.

Eileen Dover said...

I think you're just at That Place in your life.

It's a place that everyone who cares about direction in their life has been at.

That Place. You're not a student, you're trying to find your way, and your life could go in so many directions and sometimes it just seems frustrating trying to figure out which way to go.

That Place. You want to be in a job, working, making money, doing something you're passionate about... after all, that's why you have a degree, right? Sadly that's just one aspect of everything, and it's important to have a balance of other areas in your life.

And for you, I think that's travel.

So, I plead/beg/implore. Enjoy this time of your life. Thrive on opportunities. Don't worry about the future, because stressing or feeling disdain won't make the situation any better.

But, a love of travel is a love of learning, and there is nothing shameful of that.

I'm a big proponent of therapy. (Queen of it, actually.) So, I'm glad you're going, and hope it helps ease your fears and allows you to sort out these thoughts and feelings.

simon said...

"When a tree does not grow, its putting down roots"

What I mean is, sometimes when we do not feel we are making progress, or if we cannot see it (like a tree in winter without leaves).. then we are putting down roots in order to grow again, or to move forward in the spring.

I hope I make sense.


What you are experiencing is called a "valley".... we cannot have "mountain top" experiences, without valleys. its quite natural.

2 things:-
1. don't camp in the valley (keep moving)
2. Just before you reach a summit (i.e. something good).. the climb gets harder.. but..the view

Anyway. What you are feeling is quite normal be encouraged.

I have a blood disorder that the specialists said may not get me past 50 years of age ( I will be 46 this year)

I was told this when I turned 40.
I have had treatment every week for 2 years, every 2 weeks for 2 years..&now monthly.

That was a bit of a valley experience... but I can tell you I have had PLENTY of mountain top experiences during this time and would not change a thing.. Life is TOO short for regrets.

SO, keep moving and you will reach the mountain top


Anonymous said...

So, are you travelling to gain something or to flee something else?

ParisBreakfasts said...

I believe in fleeing!
New surroundings
New air
Nothing wrong with it IMO
I'd flee this minute if I could but I have to wait until March 25...

Leesa said...

Regarding the post you had on my site: I voted for Ross Perot TWICE. So I know about voter's regret.

I hate the stagnant feeling. Horrible to feel that way.

Becslifeonline said...

I was feeling a bit like this towards the end of last year. All my friends and I had graduated in July and they had all moved on to the big wide world to get proper jobs and a real life and then there's me, deciding to do an MA, so still stuck in flippin' education! :-(

Expat Traveler said...

I've definitely had those feelings, especially in 2003 and 2004.. I'm definitely back on track moving along again.. I think you just have to find yourself and know you are enjoying what you are doing. If you aren't then it's time to move onto something new!

Rachel said...

I totally understand about feeling the stagnation. Like you are in a rut. Nothing changes. Nothing gets worse but nothing gets better either.
I have been in a bit of a rut for a while and I just now starting to pull myself out of it.
I have tried some new things and gone some new places.
I don't see your traveling as fleeing. It is a passion of yours and why not take every opportunity to indulge?

Dan said...

nah. stay a kid. it's much more fun. frankly, i've now met two people in a row that don't do disneyland. oh come on. if you can just slap a pair of mouse ears on and run around trying to cut in line like you did as a kid every now and then, what's the point?

Heart Of Darkness said...

Oh, sweety, I feel for you... feeling stuck is so bloody enervating - I get that way three times a year (birhtday, New Years Day and my nameday, as I don't really celebrate my birthday). I hate the fact that I haven't gotten further in life then I have - but the thing here is, a lot of people tell me I've gotten around to a lot of things. I think we can never look at ourselves objectivelly (nor should we even try), and feeling completely lost and bitching about it is completely natural...

Therapy is a good idea. I'd go to a councellor if I wasn't afraid he'd call for one of those not-so-fashionable white jackets with sleeves a little too long for me... :)

Take care of yourself. Things have a tendency to fall into place after a while. I'm a firm believer of that.

Wanderlusting said...

Eileen - I am definitely at That Place right now. Thanks for making me see it a little differently.

I feel like I'm in "The Bell Jar," like the character Esther...she felt she was below a fig tree and all the figs were ripe for the picking and they all represented different things she could do with her life. But she couldn't choose which fig she wanted, there were too many choices and she didnt want to make the wrong one, so she sat there and tried to decide what to do and before she knew it, all the figs had fallen off and rotted on the ground. She had nothing in the end.

Really drawn-out analogy but I can soooo relate.

Simon - You do make sense, and I really should learn from you to appreciate and use each day to the fullest. You seem to really live your life.

JD's Rose - I wasn't sure but now I don't see it as fleeing. If I was fleeing, I would do it RIGHT NOW and not in August...I assume (hope!) that things will be well sorted out by then. This trip really is just something to look forward to. I always need things to look forward to.

Paris - Wow, not long for you now! Yup, I tend to want to travel when I get bored. And right now, I am bored.

Leesa - Ha, well the guy had charmingly large ears. Actually I'm just thinking of Dana Carvey's parody of him on SNL.

Becs - ooooh, I hear that. I've been toying with the idea of more school too.

Expat - For sure...I just need the opportunity to find what I want.

Rachel - Thanks, I've never really looked at it as a passion I should indulge once in awhile. And you are right, I should be trying new things. I signed up for Cardio Salsa for a month PLUS that bootcamp thing so that is something. Maybe if I improve my body, I can improve my life.

Dan - Can't stand them Disneyland haters! I've been back twice since 2000 and I'm itching to go again. Happiest Place on Earth, without a doubt.

Heart - I think things will fall into place too, but at the same time, I don't want to depend on that either. But yes, I will hang in there.

Funny how I didn't think someone in Sweden could feel stuck too. I guess we are the same, no matter where we go.

Dan said...

Well let's go then! I'll race ya to the Matterhorn just so that I get to sit with you in front of me :-0

Too bad I no longer live in LA, but I have friends who would love to go!