January 12, 2010

Focusing on the big picture...

I have an exciting "informational interview" tomorrow with someone I look up to, someone who I would happily follow in their footsteps if it was only that easy. But when I think about this interview tomorrow, or the fact that I am in the midst of trying to figure out life after college, the only thing I can think of to say is this:

"Hello, I'm Linea. I am twenty-four years old and in the middle of a transition crisis. I have been in school for six years now with almost two full majors, only one of which will be claimed at my graduation ceremony. I have no idea what to do with my life or where to go from here. Sometimes I think I would just like to disappear into my bedroom with a couple of DVDs and some candy and never leave..."

And when I try to think about what to say, whether it is to the person I am interviewing tomorrow or the random stranger that asks "what are you going to do now that you're graduating from college?" I simply feel like a failure. Which is funny. On many levels.

The first reason it is funny is the fact that I believe almost every person feels this confusion when they graduate, and I'm sure that more then half of the twenty-four year olds in America probably feel like failures anyways. The other thing that is funny (and a little sad) is the fact that most people would never call me a failure. At the age of nineteen I was hospitalized and completely psychotic, but by the time I was twenty-two I had written a book and traveled to international conferences sharing my story. I just can't seem to see that myself, and therefore continue to only see myself as a failure.

I don't know what makes me feel like more of a failure, the fact that my diagnosis interrupted crucial points in my development, leading me to still remain, (and I am so ashamed to admit it) still very much financially dependent upon my parents, or the fact that my episodes interrupted my college path leading me (the extreme perfectionist) to graduate two years later then my original plan. Either way, I find that my diagnosis and the accompanying episodes have left me feeling far behind the rest of my peers.

And this is what I find important to discuss, my mental health condition has left me feeling utterly behind the rest of the pack. I feel that the herd of mid-twenty somethings have all run off ahead of me finding jobs, furthering their education with bigger and grander degrees, or building families. Not that I want to be like all of them, (especially not want to be the family builders), but I feel like I should be doing more. That is until I really stop myself, look in the mirror and realize, you are doing more. You have much to offer.

I think that it is hard for anyone who has had to follow a different path due to a health condition. It is frustrating to me that I could not simply follow the path I planned out when I was five. I may be slightly financially behind my peers, or in some ways independently behind my peers, but I have in many ways reached much further ahead. I have confronted the hard stuff in life, and there will be more, but I have faced it head on and grown wiser from it. I have gotten to a point that I feel many of my peers, or even heroes may not have reached. I have confronted myself in its darkest, scariest sense and have lived to tell the tale. I have spent the time exploring and fighting and soothing the many selves within me. It is through my battle with a mental health condition that I have in many ways reached far ahead of that self I always planned on being at my age. And it is because of this that I realize that I am worth something and am not in any way a failure.

It is only when I realize the things I have accomplished, whether they seem small or irrelevant, that I realize my life was not ruined by the fact that I have bipolar disorder. It has effected my life greatly, yes, and while it may have held me back in some ways it has pushed me forward in just as many. It is during these moments, the ones that leave me devastated and fearful for my future, that I realize that I need to step back and look at the big picture. Only through looking at this big picture can I finally realize that an unconventional path holds equally impressive results.

9 comments:

Cinda said...

You have the proudest Mommy in the world. I luff you.

Aviva Jaye said...

You've nailed it, my friend. You have gone so far in the parts of life that matter, and ou do indeed have so much to offer. Thank you for sharing this honest and poignant entry with us. =)

Meg said...

Linea, you are doing great. More important than what you are doing, though, is the person you have become. You are a wonderful, caring, compassionate soul and in that you have already achieved life's greatest accomplishment. You are already there. The rest is just the details.

Megan said...

You are an amazing gal. Don't worry about feeling like you've missed the boat somehow. I remember feeling exactly that way at 22. I had graduated from college, walked into a bad economy, and having turned down three grad programs out of uncertainty, I ended up being a secretary for a year, after graduating with a 3.9 from UNC Chapel Hill in International Studies! I felt like my life was going nowhere. All of my friends were in grad school or had gotten engaged, or had great jobs, and I was doing none of the above. Eventually, I got the job I wanted, I met the guy I am still happily married to, and I still want to do graduate school, though I wouldn't do it in the same field whatsoever. You really do change as you pass into your thirties, then forties and so on, and your understanding of what is really important to you can take time to gel. You have a great life ahead of you. Just live it one day at a time as you have learned.

Bethc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bethc said...

Oh, my beautiful and well-spoken friend, you have no idea how much I needed to read that today! Even though I am only an academic year "behind" most of my peers, I feel like the distance is much greater when considering financial dependency, medical insurance, health highs and lows, etc., and struggle with the same fears of failure. I have so much respect for your work, your struggles, and the gifts you have already given me and countless other people. Never underestimate your contribution.

Anonymous said...

What a beautifully written and heartfelt post! You are wise beyond your years Linea and an inspiration to complete strangers. I wish you much luck with your journey - you have come so far already.

erika said...

I see you as a beautiful young woman who is way ahead of her peers. You are intelligent, mature, wise, sensitive, compassionate and strong enough to conquer bipolar disorder. You are far far far from a failure.

linea said...

Thank you all for your beautiful and kind comments. It's amazing how many people support you when you're in need, and especially when you feel alone in your worries and issues. The world can be an amazingly compassionate, kind place, I think sometimes you just have to be brave enough to talk about your deepest worries. That alone is proof of not being a failure:)