Saturday, July 27, 2013

Negative Capability

"I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason." - John Keats in a letter to George and Tom Keats, December 1817

It's been such a long time since I've written a blog and there are a few reasons for that:

1. I haven't felt too compelled to share anything about my life lately.
2. I've been pretty pressed for time with a full-time internship this summer.
3. Sometimes private things are best left private.

Well, more the first two than the last. I'm a firm believer in sharing one's story with the world. You never know who will find it intriguing, valuable or significant. One man's throw-away diary entry may be another man's raison d'ĂȘtre.

But anyway, I currently write for a living, so it seemed excessive to be keeping up with a blog as well. Yet tonight I felt a really strange compulsion to write. It was the kind of knot in my stomach that I used to get when I would nearly forget to write blogs during my year-long adventure in personal essay composition. The kind that could only be rid of if I vented on something, no matter how trivial.

Recently I've been having a crisis of the heart. Not in regards to romantic relationships, I should clarify. I'm well over that burdensome anxiety.

Rather, I'm growing a bit impatient with my chosen life goals. And honestly, I've been looking for a way out.

By "a way out," I mean a way to change my future. For me, this search is very much unmarked territory.

I decided when I was 13 what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Since then, I've pursued it. I've felt fairly strongly about it. I've been proud of my ambition, and of how I've stuck to one path for so much of my life.

Recent events have proven to me, though, that my plans have been based on false realities and high expectations. Working life always seemed glamorous to me, maybe because it's been years since I've heard of the trials and tribulations of 9 to 5 jobs. My dad loves his work, my mom hated hers. But since my mom passed away, I haven't heard complaints about the workplace, so I seemed to have convinced myself that those complaints don't exist.

No job is perfect. But for a long time I believed that my plans for the rest of my life were just that. The thought of a career came secondary to the expectations of an existence by my own design. But the way the world works, our designs are not as fundamental as the designs of those around us. We fit within a mold that isn't necessarily ours to define.

This isn't just about finding a job and carving out a future that includes a paycheck and a medical insurance plan.

This is way more than that.

I've been thinking about what it means to make myself into something beyond the mold. And not in that hipster-y, "going against the grain just for the sake of uniqueness" sort of way. I really, truly need something more than the world generally offers.

Writing is part of that. The one thing I was right about when I was 13 was that writing is my calling. I may have been great at math in first grade, pretty dang good at science in fourth, but when I was old enough to really know who I was, it was clear that there was something else I wanted to do with my life.

My crisis of the heart occurred when I discovered that perhaps the structure of traditional writing careers isn't what I need. There are expectations I have: for life and for career, that are beyond press releases, superhero movies or novels about vampires.

I don't know that I can fully define how my life is going to play out in the next few months, years or decades. I used to think I could. As unpredictable as the future truly is, I always thought I had a definite road to travel on. Now I'm starting to see all these different routes. They have twists and turns, but they seem a lot more interesting than the original map I had laid out.

The other day I felt so anxious that I started panicking about the past, present and future. My world started to collapse in on me as I remembered what it was like to have faith in my goals. But I had to come to terms with the truth: that I now reside in a new mindset of complete uncertainty.

This is normal for people leaving college, I tell myself. And that's okay. We are young when we start our higher education. It is through experience and missteps that we discover what it is we truly need.

Well I've made a lot of the latter and I'm looking to have a lot more of the former.

I stopped writing this blog because I decided to focus on a career that I'm not sure is mine anymore. But right now, even though this isn't a career, this writing space is the more me than anything else. That's a start, I guess, to figuring out what I don't fully understand.

Moving forward with uncertainty, I am trusting my instincts. With outstretched arms I venture forward, pen in hand as my only safeguard, reaching for something in the blackness that is the mystery of what's to come.

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