Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Overestimation is a chronic problem of mine.

Underestimation, too, I suppose.

I think the days are roomier than they are, and I think I can bike faster than I can. I take on four classes, thinking how big and strong I've become, how mentally able I'll be to juggle a full course load, several weekly appointments, a couple of shifts at the bookstore...and then, in the thick of it, I remember how bad I am at balancing acts.

I also seem to have a skewed idea of just how far 6 miles is, especially when that distance is stretched, in my mind, with the pressures of punctuality. Every minute makes the street longer, the headwind stronger. I forget that doctors are never on time, nor are busses or trains. I forget that the road is full of glass and I forget how long it takes me to wrestle with my tires.

Thus, my days become cluttered: on paper, I review my hand-drawn calendars, names and times connected with an "@" lining up under dates. Appointment in Beachwood. Appointment in University Heights. Appointment in University Circle. Class downtown. Meeting in Lakewood. Work in Coventry. Home, sometime, in Tremont. I look at all of that, and then I panic, and then I set out to de-clutter, making phone calls to reschedule or cancel. Sometimes I just plain skip.

Never one for structure and rigidity, my gradual sidling into adulthood has me kicking and screaming and fighting the progression more often than I'd like. My knees are dirty and my lungs are sore from resisting the forward motion, the obligation. Something needs to change, or I need to suck it up, because the typical maturation of an American youth doesn't seem to match my weave. It's becoming more and more critical as I react to annoyance with less resilience. Again, I shut up and accept the mainstream American way, or I make some changes. Bigger changes, that is, than making phone calls to reschedule.

So what's my plan?

Start small, for starters. That means not making so many appointments, cramming meetings in between classes, overwhelming myself from the time I hang up the phone to the time I pick it up again to switch one obligation for another. Wait for an entire afternoon, wait for a ride, wait for a rainy day- just wait, and don't think that it is so pressing to see everyone every week, even if they all say it's for the best. These things are meant to help, but how can they, when I'm killing myself getting from one end of the city to another and back?

In the greater scheme of things, I might need to evaluate my approach to education. I've decided that earning my degree is important enough that I'll subject myself to the necessary credit hours to get it, but as it seems I won't be moving away from Cleveland this fall, why stress about the number of those hours I take per semester? As long as I maintain at least 3 classes (family health insurance benefits are a reality), I'll graduate soon enough. If I need to pass over the summer session in favor of a mental break, fine.

I'm tired of hop-scotching from identity to identity. One minute a student, one minute an employee, another a patient. I have limited time as a daughter, and less as a friend. I seldom find myself thinking..I'm ME.

I realize, of course, that mine echos the schedules of nearly every 20-something in America. I own my disdain for this living, though, and I realize that any decision I make- to stay or to go- is mine. It's not impossible to live a life that suits me. I see people do it every day- the landlord with the rooftop gardens, the barista with the travel-bug, the professor without an email address. These people have made their way, asserting themselves, living perhaps slightly on the fringe but loving how they're living. They're different, they knew it, and they sculpted their futures accordingly. At least I recognize that I'm different, too.

Now comes the hard part.

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