Quarter-life crisis or continued exploration? I couldn’t say.
Reading about brain development and psychological stages makes me realize I’m past the prime of my own life. I’m over the hill of neural plasticity. Is everything now going to be a challenge, or does heightened mental efficiency balance out reduced capacity for growth and change? My myelination has begun to slow; my mind itself has begun to build a wall around my future potential.
Sometimes I feel like Frank Underwood plotting how many steps it’ll take to become President. A few years as an educator, then school board member, state representative, governor, and finally president. Or perhaps principal, superintendent, state senator, US senator, president of the United States.
But perhaps I’m thinking too far ahead. Maybe before I plan my first electoral campaign I should consider which state I’ll live in ten years from now.
Three years ago the scale read 175 and I felt fine.
Two years ago the stress of a long-distance engagement, immigration deadlines, and graduate-level math classes in functional analysis and topology brought me up to 180. Then last summer, first time teaching, that scale hit 185.
Over the past year, it’s steadily risen to 195, but eating a bit better, exercising a bit more, has helped me get down to a pretty level 192.
I know weight isn’t everything, but I can’t help but recall a conversation with a good friend years ago as we walked across the campus lake to physics class. I told him he looked like he was in pretty good shape, and he told me he wished he’d built those better habits earlier, that it was harder now to keep up his fitness.
Today I did twelve laps for the first time. I’ve been swimming only about two years, and I don’t know if twelve laps is good or bad, but it’s my best yet. And over half of that was the crawl stroke, the most challenging for me, and I took fewer breaks than I ever have before. It was invigorating and exhausting.
But the scale still wobbled to a stop at 192.
Pokemon Go. I ran nearly twenty blocks in as many minutes to try to catch a Moltres. We won the battle in thirty seconds, but with eight balls, it flew away from me.
Gotta Catch ’em All. It means so much more as an adult.
Sunday night I had a first date, walked from midnight till past two AM around Milwaukee, talked about video games, childhood, politics.
But even though we held hands, he said he didn’t know if he was looking for a relationship, that he was just seeing where things go, open to it, but not forcing it.
I said I felt the same.
A little more than a year ago, I was in a long-term, committed relationship, was practically one step away from planning a wedding, had picked out the names for our children already and ready to take it on.
It was everything we wanted. He checked off all the boxes on my list.
Then it ended. Now I don’t know what I want anymore.
I’ve had two relationships since then. In the first we decided we were better friends than boyfriends, and the second barely lasted a week. For all he said he wanted, he followed through on nothing. It was more an empty promise than a relationship.
So what next? Do I meet people or wait till I’ve figured it out? And what do I want anyways? Open, closed, poly? Short-term/long-term? City, state, plans to move? I don’t know. I had what I wanted and it didn’t work. What does that mean?
Last weekend I was studying at a cafe in Bay View, decided to walk down to the tattoo shop and ask about a design I’ve had on my mind since the time I started meditating when I was twelve or thirteen, the Hebrew letters inscribed upon my skin, all their secrets engraved even deeper within. I’ve hesitated for years, discounted the possibility of getting a tattoo for reasons that weren’t my own.
But do I really want to lie facedown for four hours with a needle on my back?
And yet, wouldn’t making it permanent really invest my mind in the philosophy, bring it from within to without, make it visible in ways solitary practice never could?
Exercise/fitness. Relationships. Video games. Tattoos. Teaching.
Continued exploration or quarter-life crisis? I don’t know anymore.