When night fell, I stood outside in a valley of bricks, red blocks crisscrossed in white zigzags that somehow tied us to the earth yet seemed celestial emblazoned in the moonlight. Tall buildings sprouted around us like mountains, sheltering our silence, but still the wind whispered to us, sending cold thoughts crawling across our skin.
Despite all the progress I’m making on my goals, lately I’ve felt apathetic and angry. I have little more than a month left of my summer, and it feels like all I’m doing right now is menial and meaningless. I know that isn’t true, and if I weren’t being so moody I’d be exceptionally proud of my accomplishments this last month, but in the meantime, I’m just tired and cranky.
But the important part is that I don’t give up. It’s been about a month since I last evaluated my goals, and it’s time I do so again to get things moving once more. I’m ready when you are.
I’ve been riding the struggle bus lately, and I’ve been riding it far: Despite the simple tasks I’ve been given on the conference steering committee, I can’t seem to get a single thing done. I thought perhaps I just don’t care as much as I want to–and although that’s partly true, the bigger issue is I’m afraid.
I’m afraid to push myself out of my comfort zone. I’m afraid to risk failure, and if I never try, I can never fail. And I’m afraid to honestly ask myself why I do care–because just maybe I really don’t care at all.
But I’m tired of seeing the same tasks on my to-do lists. I’m tired of feeling I’ve failed myself, failed the committee, and failed the people we’re trying to help. I’m tired of being afraid. So I’m pulling the whistle and departing the struggle bus right here, right now.
I began interning with NCPIRG in November and just days ago I joined the steering committee for the Resolve to Fight Poverty Annual Conference. I joined during our New Voters Project with the hope of helping out where needed, especially with our sustainability projects.
Life surprised us with a reshuffling, and to keep working with our campus coordinator, we pulled together behind the No Hunger, No Homelessness action kit–which was great. We raised a fair amount of money for Feeding America through the National Hunger Clean-Up, and now many of us are coordinating a national conference. That’s not something most people can brag about–not that I’m bragging.
Not only this, my NCPIRG family is just that–family–and I want to keep working with them and helping our group to grow and make a difference, on campus, in our community, and in our entire country. Which is all good and great, mind you, except that since I joined the group, I’ve been struggling to answer a pretty important question:
It was my third year doing NaNoWriMo and I wanted new music to help me set the scene for my story. Gothic. Dark and stormy. Evil. So I searched different forums for suggestions, and when I went to a nearby used music store, I came home with H.I.M. and Skillet and maybe a couple others. I quickly realized, for setting or not, Skillet was an awesome group. I’d loved their music on the radio without even knowing it was theirs.
After two or three, maybe four listens through the CD, I stopped hearing the lyrics and only heard the sounds: the beat, the tempo, the edge I wanted in my story. As the words faded into the back of mind, I would sing them mindlessly… “So many nations with so many hungry people,” I’d say, my hands typing away, “So many homeless scrounging around for dirty needles; On the rise, teen suicide…”
Then today, walking home from work, I had my iPod on shuffle and it threw their sound to my ears once more. I wasn’t singing this time (it draws looks), but I was listening–and I realized, for all these years I’ve been singing their songs, I hadn’t heard a word they said.
I finally retired last night sometime between three and four. I fell fast into sleep, into a world of vague and empty dreams, a world free from all the distress and anxiety that has overwhelmed me during the day and deep into the night. When my alarm went off this morning, I wearily opened my eyes, turned it off, and sent a text to my mom to leave a half-hour later than planned. I needed the extra sleep.
It took me four trips to bring everything downstairs and about four more to load the car. As I got inside, I found my anxiousness had mostly dissipated–but the day was still beginning.
One of the first things I found myself doing after I got home on winter break was make up a table of goals, priorities, and steps to get from one to the other (or from the other to the one, as it should happen to be). It’s a planning technique I learned from the coordinator of the NCPIRG group that’s trying to get started at N.C. State. It’s essentially an activist group for issues especially relevant to students and since the election, I’ve been moderately involved; it’s very methodical, however, especially machine-like, and that somewhat deters me from going in deeper, although I think it’s an experience I’m likely to enjoy.
But that’s next year, and I’m still struggling through today.