This morning is sort of a typical example of my freak out. It’s a Wednesday morning, smack dab in the middle of spring “break.” Of course, I’m not going out to some exotic locale – I never quite understood that concept. By the time I get to spring break, I want an actual break, not just some sort of Bacchanalia in a warm climate. Maybe that comes from coming from a naturally warm climate; I never felt the need to escape.
I tend to consume a bunch of online media (though, honestly, it never feels like enough). In my Google Reader, I’m currently courting close to 80 blogs of various types that I read (somewhat) daily. That is, until I miss a few days, see that I have over 1,000 unread posts and declare a scorched earth policy. I read all of this media, and I come up with great ideas. New tech ideas, new construction ideas, new teaching ideas, new food ideas. I’m an obsessive reader of AskMetaFilter, and with such a dynamic user base, it’s hard for me not to be inspired by the thousands of suggestions on there. I’ve cribbed so many great ideas from the questions posed (and posed a few of my own), but I’m still overwhelmed.
I’m not doing enough.
What the hell does that mean? I’m not doing enough? Brain, don’t you see the fact that I teach about 20 private lessons a week, teach 2 full courses, take a full graduate course load, practice bassoon, commute, and still try to take care of the basic necessities of life? What else is there to do?
Oh, says Brain, there’s plenty more. Where’s that blog you wanted to start? No, not this one, where you just bitch in 500 words or so. Where’s the blog about Dallas food? Where’s your recipe blog? Where’s the research paper you wanted to write? What about the local music scene you wanted to explore? That list of great restaurants? And what about that novel you wanted to write? And world peace? What have you done for world peace today?
That’s how this goes. This happens about once a week, and it’s absolutely crippling. Even though I (nominally) have a path in life, I still feel like I’m not doing enough. I’ve never been very good at specialization. Focusing and getting good at one, single thing sounds like a particularly nasty form of torture, somewhere just below water-boarding. Even though I’m a PhD student, which is supposed to be a form of hyper-specialization, I still feel like I’m doing something wrong. Sure, I may be reading, researching, and writing in my field, but damnit, I’m not playing bassoon like a pro, so I must be failing. I’m not doing X, Y, and Z, so I must be failing.
What the hell, Brain? How am I failing? I’m doing everything I’m supposed to, but I’m still failing. I want to stop failing, but I have no clue how much I’d have to do stop failing in my own mind. My lovely, understanding, compassionate, easily-qualifying-for-sainthood wife thinks that I need to learn to be happy with what I’m doing.
Is that possible? Is it really possible to be happy with what you have in front of you, and not be overwhelmed with wanting to do more?