Today, random 90s music pulled me down a deep rabbit hole of contemplation…
Today, I was listening to the Bush – Machinehead album, which was the soundtrack to my teens. I am trying to retrain my Spotify Discovery away from screamy metal (I listened to ONE NoFX album… and this is how you punish me?), so I’m making it a point to rotate through all sorts of music that I actually like. We’ll see if it works on Monday *crosses fingers*.
Anyway, it gave me some very vivid flashbacks of my junior year. I was driving from my high school to two hours of diving practice on the other side of town, with clothes to change into for my 4 hour shift at Hot Topic after, tired as HELL, finding some greater meaning in that song about the day in and day out. Sixteen year old me was a little more of a nihilist grungy beat poet than thirty seven, but it took me right back.
I’ve never been a do-nothing type of person. As the scorpion says to the frog, it’s not in my nature. As a kid, I’d occasionally lose myself in a book or art or writing or trashy mags with my friends. However, it was typically always bike here, roller skate there, go to this club, go to that sport. I took summer school not because I had to, but I genuinely wanted to. If I was at home doing nothing it was because I was waiting for a friend to call me back to go do stuff.
But, again, those summers were a huge breath of fresh air. While I loved school, it was nice to not have a schedule, to do the things *I* wanted to do, to be outside all day if I wanted to, and I was always both sad to see the three months end and excited to start a new grade, rested and refreshed.
Then, for some reason, around age 14, I decided that it was time to grow up and get serious about shit and relaxing was for suckers. I started training super hardcore with gymnastics. It was absolutely my choice (my parents tolerated it, but were happy when I quit), and it was my all-consuming passion. We’re talking 20+ hours a week to start. Then, I wanted to get better, so I started adding 2 hours extra per day with the higher level team. I ate, slept, and breathed gymnastics. Then, two years later, right before summer break my sophomore year, I had a violent breakup with the sport and all of a sudden found myself… free.
I spent about 2 months just hanging out with friends, and my parents saw that as a recipe for trouble. It probably was, in retrospect. They said to get a sport or get a job or something. I was interested in diving, but it didn’t start up until the new year, so I applied at some jobs and simultaneously got two offers.
As two was better than one in my book, so I went from a complete bum to working a LOT. I quit the second after a few months. I’d be hard pressed to work cold calling for phone surveys ever again, even if it was the last job on earth and I was about to be homeless. However, working at the mall was a lot of fun, I liked my coworkers, and it was wayyyy easier to get praise for doing good work than my gymnastics coaches, so I was hooked.
Flash forward to two years of AP classes, becoming a MAJOR caffeine addict (apparently if you just drink a lot of coffee and diet soda it’s not a Jessie Spannow situation) so I could maintain mostly straight As, diving practice, school activities and clubs (have to be well rounded to get into college), working one or two jobs at all times, and hanging out with friends and my loser boyfriend all the time because… social butterfly. I graduated high school EXHAUSTED.
I quit my job and took one as assistant manager of an earring store in a really not-so-busy mall to save money for college. It was a summer with no athletic training, no summer school. In fact, I spent most of the time painting my nails with my feet up on the desk, and it was perfect…. and felt like the opposite of busy even though I was working 40 hours a week.
College had the same buildup. The first year I pretty much did school, and that was enough. But then I randomly auditioned for a play and got a bit part and I was hooked into theater. It was my everything for a while. I even took it as a minor, not because I thought I was going to do anything with it, but so I could act more. I got jobs over the summer and I wasn’t good at quitting things and enjoyed the extra money, so I kept them during the school year. Not doing a sport meant I saw a bunch of weight creep on, so I had to make time for exercise. I was a super social creature, so time with friends was a priority. I basically just didn’t sleep much.
Then, I experienced life as a legal drinker in Reno, Nevada, where there is no last call and going out for the night at 1am wasn’t a-typical. That last year of college, I got straight As by some sorcery, but I have very little memory of how. Caffeine. Unicorns.
I chased college graduation with packing up our apartment the same week and fleeing for San Diego with no job lined up. I think I slept for about 3 months, with small breaks to play video games, eat, and surf the internet. One day during this couch period, I asked Zliten to grab my socks for me. They were about two feet away in front of me. This is where I was at right then. I was attempting to shed 8 years of fatigue by expending as little mental and physcial energy as possible.
It worked, or I realized that even the ramen money would eventually run out, as three months later I got a job testing video games working all the overtime. Over the years that evolved into more. I ate, slept, drank, and lived video games and being a video game designer. It was glorious to be consumed in something again, until I started ACTUALLY questioning my sanity at times, and decided to jump ship before I cut off my ear or anything. Oh yeah, I also more than doubled my weight from my gymnastics days and figured I should probably do something about that.
I moved cities and got a less stressful job with less responsibilities and had NO idea how to handle myself. So, as a side project, I decided to work on this whole weight loss thing, which evolved into this racing thing I do now. I was working full time or more, but my days at work weren’t that full, so it was more about being fulfilled. Less responsibilities at work evolved into more, and while I rarely work overtime anymore, I do carry a lot of my job stress around with me at times, as much as I try not to. This year, I added classes to the mix, and you see how history continues to repeat itself. I don’t replace hobbies and interests, I pile them on until I can’t stand it anymore.
I don’t do normal well. I long for some time to do nothing, but I’m not sure if it’s in me to just be and not work towards being something.
I’m not entirely sure there’s a really rich life lesson in here beyond a bunch of Friday brain and auditory-induced nostalgia. I think I’m simply assuring myself it’s ok to be tired right now. At least, with the wisdom that age 37 has brought me, I know I do it to myself, and that makes it a little better.
I sit here with over 7 hours of training on my legs already this week, sleepy from a stolen night of recreation that lasted just a few hours longer than it should, and preparing for a meeting to justify my team’s continued existence for next year. Tomorrow’s relaxing weekend day includes an early morning wakeup for a 3 hour training session, hosting for a birthday party, and taking my Sports Nutrition Specialist test for certification. Sunday is our last wah pah trip. All things I want to do, but there’s not a whole lot of time for nothing. I kind of want to run away to a secluded tropical island somewhere and not look back.
I can’t help but dream of the condo in Key Largo we’ve booked for December. At the door, there are a week of no responsibilities and no plans. The pool, lagoon, and private beach on the property cry my name. The cruiser bikes and the fresh fish store a few miles away and the grill on the patio are waiting. I’m mentally salivating over the experience of doing nothing for a while and right now I wish that week was months long.
However, I just can’t help myself. When I get home from the trip, I have the rest of the year off work. Being me, instead of the nothing I think I crave, I have some epic plans for finishing up classes and writing and riding bikes and running and all sorts of other projects. I’m super excited for them, but still. Maybe I’m incapable of doing nothing, or maybe having a full schedule is all I’ve ever known. This is my life. Maybe I need an intervention. Or to be trapped on a desert island. Or someone to grab my shoulders and say “FOR THE LOVE OF LEEZARDS, DO NOTHING FOR A WHILE”.
This person would then have to provide me a detailed lesson with bullet points, a mapped out plan, and a schedule on how to do that, because it’s come to my attention I have no clue. I am at my most alive when I am consumed by things. Climbing mountains. Doing epic shit. Gathering life experiences and photographic evidence like a greedy little hoarder of moments and stories. Figuring out where I want to be and plotting a course there.
Sometimes I feel like I’m living a catch-22. I am like an extremely extroverted introvert who only wants to be around people, but it makes them so mentally exhausted. In this sense, all I crave is adventure. If you asked me what I’d rather be doing right this moment, it’s not watching TV or having coffee or whatever normal people do. I’d be scuba diving in Bon Aire. I’d be snorkeling in Roatan. I’d be parasailing in Hawaii. I’d be cycling in Colorado. I’d be running trails in Alaska. But I also sometimes feel like I could sleep for weeks, ya know?
It’s a little bit of history repeating. The seasons bring similarity, and this season, year after year, always brings burnout and makes me question of my sanity. Others repair and rebuild me. Am I doing too much? The answer probably harkens from the fact that I keep doing it. I keep choosing to DO rather than not to do. While I have a high tolerance for discomfort, I also hope that I’m not the kind of person that would continue to randomly put my hand into the fire even though it hurts. We are what we repeatedly do. And, for better or for worse, I repeatedly do epic shit because that’s who I’ve become.
TL;DR: My life is awesome and I probably just need a nap and to lay off the 90s alt rock. Happy weekend everyone!