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Posted on Jun 20, 2012 in Dear Diary | 16 comments

Flake

There are many things that I’ve learned about myself since I’ve started this blog. Sure, it all began as a way to document my food intake, fitness, and subsequent weight loss, but I think we can all recognize that it’s become a lot more than that. The process of putting all my crazy thoughts into some semblance of order is not only incredibly cathartic, but eye-opening. It’s helped me to see patterns in my behavior, identify why I do the things that I do, and has helped me grow because of (or in spite of?) them.

In fact, insane though it may sound to some, I’ve come to depend on this blog quite a lot. Organizing my thoughts, writing these posts, and hearing feedback from you guys, I really value it. I don’t base major decisions in my life on what I write and read within the confines of this website, of course, but I do give a lot of weight to what I discover about myself here.

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I’m wishy-washy. I’m a flaky person. I don’t like to commit to things, and I don’t like to be held accountable for things. I don’t know if that’s because I’m young or lazy or just a brat, but it’s something that I know about myself now. And in knowing, I do my best to counteract that. I know that I tend to flake out on things, so I actively force myself to stay in them. That internal push is what made me complete the relay race when I didn’t think I would be able to, when I thought that my spot on the team would be better suited for someone else. Even on days when it feels like it might be easier to give up, it’s what makes me eventually come back to face the music when it comes to my stalled weight loss. It’s what keeps me from tossing in the towel and kicking the bucket when I know it would be easier just to give up.

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The only thing is, another thing that I know about myself is how I tend to get slightly overzealous. Things that start out with the best of intentions can easily be taken too far. I touched on this in my last post about trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life career-wise. I know that I tend to be wishy-washy and change my mind a lot and have a hard time finishing things, so in trying to counteract that, I just fail to pull the trigger at all. I tried to instigate some forward motion in starting to take classes in pursuit of an eventual teaching degree, but now I’m starting to doubt that, too. Which is stressing me out because now I’m not sure if I feel like I should continue down this path because I want to, or because I feel like I’d be good at it, or because I feel like I have to because I’ve already publicly declared my intentions. It makes me anxious to even voice these concerns, because I don’t want to add to my change-my-mind, wishy-washy tendencies any more than I already do!

I know that I never said for sure that I was definitely going to teach. I’ve never claimed that it’s my calling, that it’s my destiny, that I want to inspire a younger generation. Actually, I mostly hate the younger generations, haha. They’re punks. (YOUTHS!). No, I know better than to make broad, overly-committal statements like that anymore. I said that I would try taking some classes, seeing how they go, and seeing how I feel about it. Well, despite my very recent post about how much I’m enjoying being in class (true) and working towards something (also true), I’m not so sure that WHAT I’m working towards is really the right choice for me.

Teaching is a practical choice, and it’s a very, very respectable career, but given all the other factors in my life — how much I already live in a semi-public eye, how much I enjoy that aspect of my life, and how what I really want to do is write — is it for me? But if it isn’t, then what is? The job that I have is fine for now, but it’s not a career. What I really want is to just magically have enough money to not have a job, write my novel, take photographs, blog, and freelance. Ahhh, to dream.

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With all the questions still up in the air, and all the unknowns that are constantly looming over my head, however, all I want to do is follow suit with my furrier halves and hide under the covers until the answers become clear. Or until I start to care less. I think I’d take either at this point.

16 Comments

  1. I think you’re an amazing writer. I might be naive, but I think you could eventually make a career out of it! And don’t feel bad about taking classes and deciding that path isn’t for you. I did something kind of similar (with a couple of different fields actually), and everyone always told me it’s just as important to learn what you DON’T want to do as it is to find what you want to do, because you will find that eventually!

  2. One of the things I love about your blog is how you are able to succinctly state the things that are also rattling around in my head. I’m a total flake, and it’s something I really don’t like about myself, also something that I have come to discover more and more as the years pass. I start things with gusto, then just drop things. I started grad school for writing, but now I’m not sure that’s what I really want. I have not written more than an email for months, and can’t really tell you what I would write about if I felt the urge. All that said, another thing that I love about your blog is seeing you overcome this habit. You stuck to a diet and lost a ton of weight. You stuck it out and finished a relay ACROSS THE STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS! Maybe we never really figure out what we want to be when we grow up, we just go whatever direction life takes you, and hope that happiness and money and you end up in the same place at the same time.

  3. I so could have written this. I changed my major ten zillion times and still, at 32, am trying to come to terms with choosing a career. I’m constantly back and forth between choosing something that’s the right financial choice so that I can take care of my family and just suffering through not liking it, and choosing something I love and am passionate about but that makes us disastrously broke. In the end, I’m trying desperately to find a compromise, and I feel like I MIGHT be headed in that direction now.

  4. I don’t think your career uncertainty means you’re a flake. You’re doing just what you said you were: finding out whether teaching would be a good fit for you. Determining that it wouldn’t be doesn’t mean you’re being flaky. :-)

  5. I don’t think you’re a flake. At all. You’re young! I’ll be 30 this year, and the longest I’ve ever been with a company is 3 years (though I’m hoping to change that with my current job).

    I also wanted to tell you that you inspire me. You’re one of the reasons I recently decided to start my own blog that chronicles my journey to being healthy. It’s scary putting your failures out for the world to see, but it’s also empowering. Thank you!

  6. Oh man, this could have been written by me! Thanks to my anxious, commitment phobic brain, I can never make decisions that I’m 100% sure of and tend to have a lot of anxiety about them until I actually DO it. It took me from 22-29 (now) to decide that yes, I do actually want to be a teacher. But am I going to actually like it when I’m teaching? I have no idea (and won’t until I actually teach. Ugh. Catch-22!). I think the great thing about taking classes in education is that even if you don’t end up being a classroom K-12 formal “teacher,” you have a lot of the knowledge of how to teach/instruct people. And I’ve also realized that you don’t have to be a teacher teacher in order to teach people, so something like your session at HLS this August – that IS teaching! I also try to remind myself that if my anxious, commitment phobic brain were in charge of the rest of me, I would never have done all the awesome things I have in my life – move out on my own, travel, fall in love, get engaged, etc. It’s scary as hell but it’s worth it to go through the uncertainty and doubt and figure out what you DO want. I also think a large part of our generation’s uncertainty about our career paths is due to so many more options out there for us. Long gone are the days of working for one company for 30 years (or even 5-10)!

  7. The fact that not only did you recognize a certain inability to commit (which alone is a HUGE feat), you also wrote and elaborated on it for everyone to see! Which I truly think is the hardest part about writing a blog. I commend you for being so incredibly honest. And for all that other big life-changing stuff? Meh. It will happen. ;-) All good things take time. You go girl!

  8. Oh how I love your dogs. I actually babysat a schnauzer this weekend – I miss him! Such a happy and lovely dog.

    The future is always difficult to predict, but i do *hope* that you’ll get to write as much as possible – be it this blog, freelance articles, or a book one day (who knows) – because I love to read what you write! Thus, for purely egoistical reasons, I really hope that you’ll keep writing this blog :)

    H

  9. Gretchen, I so relate to this. I have never felt like I’ve found my place in my career. I want to write, but I’m not sure I’m good enough at it to ever succeed. So then I try to convince myself I should do other things. Food writer! Law school! Teacher! and on and on. But my heart is still never really in it. I worry there just may not be anything that I’ll ever feel is “right” and I’ll be stuck in the government contracting wheelhouse forever.
    I know that provided you no guidance, but wanted you to know I understand what you’re feeling. And I don’t think you’re flaky. Flaky people typically don’t know they’re flaky, or they’re too flaky to care. You’re passionate and trying to find your way, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

  10. Oh my gosh, I can totally relate! I have way too many degrees because I honestly have no idea what I want to do with my life. I have a really great job but I’ve been feeling so restless lately, not only about work but also about where I want to live. In a perfect world I would write for a living and be free to move around whenever I felt like I needed a change of scenery!

  11. I am so in this same boat! I’m now four years into a graduate program and about 99% certain I’m about to earn a PhD in a field I have no interest in working in. But I have no clue what I want to do with my life so I just keep working my way down the same path (one I’m not actually enjoying) too afraid to change paths for fear of regret. I also am too wishy washy and I’ll come up with one career in the morning and another by night. I have a year before I have to become the main income source in our household, and I’m so scared of how that’s going to turn out. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one in this position (especially since I can’t really talk about it with any of my advisors!).

    • Finishing the degree doesn’t mean you have to use it directly! I switched gears from medieval Chinese literature to medical interpreting, and I had a good ten years on you when i did it, too. Be patient with yourself, and you’ll find your path.

  12. I am so impressed with you! You are WAY more mature than I was at your age. Keep thinking about what you want, and keep your eyes and ears open. You might run across a possibility that you had never imagined (or that had never previously existed). That what happened with me, and it led me in the best and most unexpected directions imaginable. So, think hard, but also stay open!

  13. Deep breaths, dearest. Follow your heart. It’s not always the easiest path, but eventually, everything will workout the way it’s supposed to, and you will end up happy.

    Look at me, all wise and zen but completely unable to follow my own advice. :D

  14. Oh, Gretchen. I feel so much the same way about getting overzealous and then realizing you’ll have to tell everyone you’ve already explained yourself to that you’ve changed your mind again. I especially feel that way with the stupid Whole30 challenge I’m on and the only reason I haven’t backed out is because I’m just so tired of admitting I took things too far again.

    I know you will figure this out! We put too much pressure on ourselves to have all the answers all the time but I’m starting to realize that’s not how life works. It’s okay not to know how the future will look as long as you have your basics covered!

  15. I’m late to this party (catching up on my Google Reader!) but I just want to chime in to say, “Me. Freaking. Too.” If it makes you feel better, since I graduated college in 2005, I’ve been in THREE different education programs—Masters of Fine Arts, Masters of Art Education and Culinary Arts. And none of them have been right. I’m still trying to figure it out. And it makes me feel like the flakiest flake ever.

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