Thursday, April 29, 2010

Open the Window

People think I live a life of complete freedom, and they are largely right.  It's a gift I cannot ignore.  Despite the homophobia I still encounter regularly, I still live a life where I can be out in my personal and professional life.  Despite the criticisms of the tenure process in academia, I have earned tenure, which means I've earned the right to pursue just about any professional project I want.  On a personal level, I have a supportive husband who gives me the space to be me.  Though I often think of him whenever I make just about any decision about anything, there is no one else on this planet who factors into choices about how I live my life.  It's a dream scenario to so many people, and I cannot take it for granted.

But it's amazing how easy it is to feel constrained by so many conscious and unconscious things.  It's annoying and frustrating.  There are some logical aspects of my life that hold me back, comments, judgments, and experiences that occurred in the first half of my life that wreck havoc on the second.  I'm not talking about anything severe but just the typical things that happen to most of us, the things that get called "whining" by a lot of people when mentioned in public.  And, yeah, it can feel like whining, too, when we think about them and wonder, "Oh, sure, that hurt, but that was then.  This is now."

Someone once told me that one of the biggest roadblocks to many of my dreams was my freedom.  I don't have to struggle to find time to write, so I don't make time to write because it's too easy to imagine putting it off later, after watching another episode of thirtysomething through Netflix on the Wii or checking Twitter one more time.  From August 2002 to June 2003, I wrote a dissertation, conducted a national job search, and held my first full-time academic position.  I look back at that time and wonder how I did it.  The answer?  I had to do it.

Now, in the state of privilege that defines my life, I often don't get things done when I don't really have to do them.  Oh, the "whining" label is starting to approach the tongue, isn't it?  But I'm more writing this out like this to get myself to face this.  It's not the first time I've talked to myself like this, but I've been thinking a lot these last few months about the next phase of my life.  I have some ideas, but I'm holding myself back for the same reasons I've held myself back my entire life.

And the reasons aren't that valid at all.


  1. I've been thinking about something similar, since for many years my time was constrained because I was raising children -- and now that my kids are older, I've got more time to work with. The toughest part is giving myself deadlines to actually get projects done -- and getting past emotional hurdles that stand in the way.

  2. Amen, Nels. I've got the same lucky situation and motivational problems. Which is why I am not finished with my novel, though I have a free hour or two every day when I could be working on it.

  3. I'm so glad the first comments are form you two because I was worried about a few "quit your whining!" responses. It's the emotional hurdles that really piss me off. I'm forty and am no longer the child constantly ignored and/or criticized, so why does this get to me?