Saturday, June 16, 2007

Some Things to Understand About My Intensity

I don't think people truly appreciate the level of intensity at which I live. Only last night did the fiancee come close to understanding my mindset when it comes to my bachelor's project and other herculean tasks.

Rollo May, in his book Psychology and the Human Dilemma, probably touches upon my intensity best. In the book, May differentiates between normal anxiety and neurotic anxiety. Normal anxiety acts to our bodies response to a fearful situation, and if we resolve that situation, the anxiety level goes down again. Neurotic anxiety, on the other hand, is unresolved anxiety that we have ignored or repressed to the point that comes back again and annoy us until we've resolved the root source of that anxiety. People sometimes try to lower their anxiety level by taking drugs, watching TV and engaging in other relaxing or pleasurable activities, but unless they resolve root causes, that anxiety will continue to haunt a person.

As many of you know, I've been working on my bachelor's project for a long while. The labor on it has somewhat reached a point where I'm annoyed with it and wouldn't mind just finishing it and moving on with my life. Someone from work the other day said that age 47, I'd look back to the present day and feel like I had wasted it away because I didn't have the right priorities. Now, she didn't say that because she thought I had the wrong ones but just because it's the way of life. She had even told me that I should just enjoy the journey instead of worrying so much about finishing it. I told her that I already look back anytime between 6 or 10 years ago and feel like my priorities were out of place. Frankly, this journey has gotten frustrating to the point of boredom at times.

The fiancee, at some point in the past, mentioned that she worried about me because of how agitated I got when the project frustrated me. She wanted to just take my mind off of it. Well, she also worried that working on the project wasn't getting anywhere and would lead to nothing in the end, but that's another story. Only the other night, when I explained to her that even though I could work a white- or pink-collar day job and have the capacity for success in them if I put my mind to it, they pretty much eat at my soul. Except for maybe certain specialized, creative fields that hold my attention, I get extremely bored, distracted, anxious and pretty much just work for the money.

When I find myself engrossed in the project, I love life and feel invigorated. I feel free. More than likely, other writing and research projects would do the same thing for me. I see finishing this project and getting my degree as the ticket to freedom, where I can spend 9-5 doing work that invigorates and feels significant to me, including even writing an essay on a TV tray.

Given this situation, not working on the project fills me with anxiety. The only way to permanently get rid of this anxiety will be to get the project done, so I can work on moving onto the next step of my life, which I hope will be many of these projects. The core of my current anxiety is this project, not having a degree and being forced to work in an industry that doesn't interest me.

Addressing and fixing this anxiety will involved working on the project, in which I get to face another anxiety, but a more positive and shorter term one. All these anxieties, if approached correctly, make for very positive growth and happiness on my part.

My co-worker probably does make a good point, that I should enjoy the journey while it lasts. I guess, when it comes down to it, though, I enjoy the journey of working on the project. As for enjoying the distractions from my journey that are supposed to help alleviate the anxiety and stress of it, I generally don't do it well unless it's something that engrosses my attention. Even then, I feel a strange guilt that I didn't find pleasure in the distraction, as most people do, but that's just because, for some reason, my mind and body don't want to be distracted. They simply want to engross themselves in the things they enjoy, which includes this project and the other projects it can lead to.

So, yeah, I'm a pretty intense person. I don't necessarily want to skydive, bungee jump, go on roller coasters, get dropped in the middle of nowhere with no money to my name or anything like that. Instead, I want to engross myself into projects that will feel significant to me and hopefully do the same to other people who encounter them. Maybe I'll be able to relax more after finishing the project and having the freedom to work on projects from 9-5, 5 days of week. For now, though, I feel anxiety when not working on this project.


Erinmaru said...

Sounds like your ideal job would combine aspects of the Project you like the most. Research, learning something new, history, jobs sucked for me too. I love my job now, but it was a long journey to find it and get it. Are you going to wear a tux? with tails? That would be cool, but I see you in something more casual, like a white nehru jacket or linen African peasant shirt. You better post photos of the Wedding!

Dawn said...

Who doesn't want to work on something of significance? I think this is a human longing, and those that no longer do have just forgotten--at one point they did, and now have resigned themselves to working for just the money,