oh these Groundhog Days

11:48pm I feel gluttonous, restless. I need something other to happen.

Three months into this most productive year of my life. I’m hitting a downturn in which I feel discouraged, yes, but the greater mission remains in sight. I’ve developed those habits where I rely on the same podcast and panel clips, those comforting pieces of content, played on repeat since 2013 or ’14 or not much later. I feel myself doubting my ability to push through.

I’ve been described as robotic. My eyes have been withdrawn and vacant since sophomore year of high school or so. Upon retreating, defeated and surrendering to the cruelty of my classmates and my dreadful fucking family, I entered a dark age in my life that really hit, without distraction, in my twenties. Now, on the cusp of a decade removed from high school, the developments in my life are more promising than ever, but still knee deep in the momentum of baggage from my pre-18 years and, in some ways, exacerbated by further downward spiraling in my too-extended manchild era. This quarter-life seeks some serious moments of crescendo to really break free once and for all.

My post-high school years were shaky. I went to community college having ghosted my high school friends in a bout of impotent defiance. It emerged out of whimpering, begging hope masquerading as faith that I’d find cooler people and more a righteous calling to show them all. As a poorly functioning and non-impressing 18 year-old, I could not stomach valid negative feedback, however tinged with the understably venomous additives of teenage minds, that came from equally self-involved and petrified friends and friends-adjacent, for whom I just could not muster enough forgiveness or perspective in the moment. So it’s with a gaudy reflex that I turned my back on a group of friends who weren’t certain they could miss me but were sure enough slighted by my absence.

Amidst my rage, I entered a period of serious introspection through which I deconstructed the span of my brief life with the stillness that only my loneliness could afford. I naturally wonder what my college aged years would have looked like had I acted on a healthy sense of FOMO to at least attempt a first run at a glory years in my life. But I remain grateful for the intense, internal development that transpired over those years. They had both an inertia and intentionality with how they broke the momentum of a lifetime of toxicity and feeling spiritually deprived. Transferring to the university at 20 was the earliest instance of wherever, you go, there you are despair that would culminate in literal failure, a move back home, and a year of discouraging starts and stops at dead end jobs, to the increasing concern of my loved ones.

By 23, I ventured to Wyoming where I experienced a condensed version of that 18–22 internal dialogue that proved productive and soothing in its own way. Then I got the call and booked it home overnight. Dad passed five weeks later. Today’s jampacked schedules linger in the shadow of guilt and shame from that day. My instincts said to overcompensate for all that I didn’t accomplish when he was around. 2020 was a most heavy year, but I told myself I could keep going until I faced an inevitable crash. There was a threat of one in 2021. This month, my body fell ill and I fundamentally dropped the ball at the unit for the second time, cementing bad optics in my first year going operational after training. I rested and recovered for the week. Last night, signs of sickness came back in concurrence with a bout of volatility on my part. It seems toxicity is manifesting itself in my physiology. This is the crash.

It’s not unforgiving to say I’ve lost some years. You pay for mistakes with years of your life that you never get back. Otherwise, quick and easy bounce backs wouldn’t get any points across to pierce this stubborn soul. Despite my gratitude for development during those lost years, it’s reaching a point of diminishing returns now.

No, my family is not dreadful and neither are those others. I mean, they are, but they aren’t. It’s in maintaining the discipline to commit to the more productive choice while soothing my inner child by acknowledging any soundness in the other that will be among the central tenets of my manhood. Despite withstanding disparate to steady and ongoing signs of generous feedback, I continue to walk around in this world with the most obvious of projections. And it’s getting rude to not account for both the genuine delight and indifference others direct towards me. It’s sheer narcissism underpinning my apprehensiveness. I haven’t earned the right to immortalize these experiences (or sheer lack thereof) from this early vantage point. It’s fucking time to make things happen.

on a Sunday in January, near the onramp

Many of my kind lament the absence of a Battle of Guadalcanal or even a personal finance class to facilitate the path to manhood. Though I suspect my decision to be a half-measure, my endeavors are in anticipation of a different kind of war. One of saving lives in natural disasters and humanitarian crises stateside and abroad. Between those few and far between opportunities to deploy, my hometown homework will be to provide medical care to the local homeless population. The privilege of becoming Community Medical Technician will scar me and humble me and give me the most meaningful of causes to occupy this malnourished heart. With that goal in mind, daily, unglamorous habits combined with proper self-care is the path forward. I’ll use that foundation to generate instances of daring initiative that will create compelling momentum in new areas and properly mark the passage of time where this preceding era was a blur.

1:36am. Sunday tomorrow. Days are sunnier now. God I need something new…

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