We’ve all felt this, right? Well, I’ve noticed that I’ve been feeling it more as I approach my quarter-century, and I think it’s worth discussing.
Between Sallie Mae calling me incessantly to an overall sense of is-this-really-what-I-want-to-do-with-my-life begging my attention in the depths of my brain, I find myself feeling border-line depressed. I have everything I’ve been working towards- I have a career in my field, I’ve been publishing, presenting, doing all of those academic things that I love to do, and yet I’m still not satisfied. I’m just kind of meh- Why?
Something happens in your twenties. Maybe it was moving 1600 miles from home to an uncharted territory, maybe it’s the inability to make friends my age (because where are they?), maybe it’s that 80 thousand dollars of student loan debt looming like the plague over my head (and strangling my soul).
It appears that this dissatisfaction, this ennui, really grows from the desire to accomplish everything all at once. It’s that pull to perform at perfection, to prove yourself to those library rockstars in LibraryLand. That you are WORTH IT, that you are equal, that you have accomplished something. I might not have all the wisdom yet, but I yearn for respect. Age is funny like that.
This 20-something ennui is exacerbated by technology, too. I know that I’ve felt extreme pressure (mostly self-created) to continuously check for things I should be aware of in academic libraries- to be an expert on ALL new technologies. I check and check and check for upcoming immersion programs, leadership symposiums, conference proposal deadlines, new hash-tags, MOOCs, anything and everything higher-ed. It’s overwhelming, people.
Why do I do this to myself? Could it be that I was so used to applying for jobs and checking for postings that I just haven’t shaken this habit? I’m just not satisfied with that answer 😉
I think part of breaking out into your chosen field is proving yourself, and for me, the only way to do that is to keep pushing, presenting, publishing, provingprovingproving. Building confidence is the first step, and that acceptance is what keeps me going- it’s addicting.
But then, just like that, I feel like I’m not doing enough. Or maybe, all of this isn’t for me, maybe I would be satiated by a PhD – my guess is: probably not.
The problem with living in a college town is everyone is 19 (or appears to be) or 45+. Nothing is wrong with either of these ages as most of my old friends and co-workers fall in-between there, but I have no other 20-something to share this melancholy, to blather around in the malaise of this modern wasteland. I’ve resorted to spewing my dissatisfaction [about everything] on Facebook and Twitter, hoping to make a connection, for someone to be like, “Yeh, right on, I feel you.”
But, when I get that affirmation – I jump the gun and think, “YEAH let’s start a REVOLUTION, let’s DO IT! Let’s change the WORLD” – and the vicious cycle of falling in and out of ennui, that eh-what’s-the-point-no-one-will-ever-listen-and-it-will-all-be-for-nothing feeling.
The existentialist in me suggests that life has no meaning other than that which we personally give it – and damn it, I haven’t come to terms with the absurdity of human existence. I suppose I will keep wandering, like Meursault, in hopes to find happiness in the “gentle indifference of the world.”