Thanks to those of you who posted questions or bits of inspiration on my last post.
Yesterday after I finished typing my desperate plea for help, I feverishly clicked PUBLISH and then ran out to my car and had a panic attack.
Okay, I actually ran out to my car because I had an off-campus meeting, but I’m fairly certain I may have had something like a mild panic attack. You be the judge: I couldn’t take a deep breath, I felt like my skin was too small, I was shaking, and I was agitated, probably visually so, throughout the meeting. When the meeting was adjourned I practically ran to my car. I couldn’t imagine going back to my office just yet, so I drove with both windows down–did I mention the oppressive smothering feeling I couldn’t shake?–to the new shopping center a few miles from campus and wandered around for half an hour. I looked at shoes and tried on a pair of pants. I talked myself into a manageable state of mind and returned to the office without incident, popped a handful of ibuprofen, because by then I had a crashing headache, and guzzled a liter of water. I felt mildly better. There was no precipitating event that caused this episode, no looming deadlines or hideous stress. I was–I am–just…unsettled.
As today is a bit calmer in my brain, a slow boil if you will, I have been able to examine some of the things that are causing me to be unsettled. I welcome your advice and suggestions. You are my Oprah.
In no particular order:
- I have little to no structure in my job. This is not a criticism, just a vast change from having perpetual overwhelming structure. I have approximate arrival and departure times. There are no bells declaring the beginning and end of class. There is no one telling me when I can leave campus, no one to approve my daily activities, no one raising an eyebrow if I appear to be having too much fun chatting with a co-worker in the middle of the day. I really need to create a framework for myself, an internal bell schedule, if you will, but I’m not sure where to start.
- I am having a clothing crisis. Last fall/winter I was not back in my regular size, and the fall/winter before that I was pregnant, and I have been hot since April of 2006, so this cold spell has caught me off guard. Also, I dressed like a stereotypical working professional for the first three years of my career, and then I started dressing for comfort. Now I find my closet full of corduroys and distressed khaki cargo pants is no longer acceptable–I am expected to dress like the university program administrator I was hired to be. I invested in a decent warm weather clothing assortment, but I’m at a loss as the air turns crisp. I need to go shopping. I need some staple items, and I need them soon. But…
- …I feel horribly out of shape because I have not worked out in many, many months, and besides making me feel homicidal and achy and stiff, the absence of exercise makes me not want to try on clothing. I think all clothing looks terrible on me. And also, I’m not sure I have the nerve to wear certain things. Tall boots with skirts? Tights? Scarves? I love how these things look on glossy magazine people, but I’m afraid I will I look like an idiot. Picking out clothes to wear to work every day sends me into a heightened state of panic. It has always been an issue for me–changing clothes two and three times before I land on something I’m comfortable with–but it’s much worse now. Much.
- And finally, the loss of creativity is weighing heavily on my brain. Some of what I consider to be my best writing on this blog occurred when I was experiencing high levels of work-related stress. I think yesterday’s episode confirms that I am under stress, so theoretically I should be cranking out some good stuff. The difference, however, is in my ability to focus, and I’m having trouble focusing due to the lack of structure, as well as the constant self-questioning I put myself through about my “professional appearance.” I need some self-imposed borders, some norms and expectations. I know this, but I don’t know how to accomplish it.
I’m not asking you to make me a schedule and draft a list of wardrobe necessities (although I wouldn’t try to stop you if you wanted to do so). But I’d love some insight on one or more of the above. In this strange virtual blogging world in which we all live, I know it can’t just be me alone swirling around in this vortex of unstructured mania. I’ll look forward to your wisdom.
Meanwhile, there seems to be a number of us in need of writing inspiration. I’m pondering what an online writing group might look like. If you’re reading this and you’re pondering it as well, tell me your thoughts. It’s getting to be that mad time of year, and I for one could use some prescribed writing.