I did something personal today that it seemed like I haven’t done in a while, so I checked my calendar, and the last time had been exactly a month ago. This realization was scary to me because it reemphasized what I had written about two days ago. My life is slipping away from me.
I’m realizing now that this is a much bigger problem than I had originally implied. I’m so detached from my life that I’ve lost my perception of time. I was walking home from lab the other day and had a sudden, overwhelming sense of dread that I had forgotten my mom’s birthday. (Her birthday is in November.) Sometime I’ll frantically worry that I forgot to buy my plane ticket to go home for Christmas, when I had been back from that Christmas vacation for almost 4 months now. I’ll step outside in the morning and think Ah, summer is almost over, when it’s fucking April right now.
The ideas of the absent-minded academic, the overworked grad student, the whimsical manic pixie dream girl are all adorable clichés, but in reality, it’s terrifying. Until you’ve experienced it, you have no idea how disorienting and traumatic it is to completely have no idea how old you are, only knowing that it’s somewhere between 21 and 27. I’m not exaggerating. I think I mentioned before how this happened to me, and it really did happen.
I think what’s happened is that I mistook my new routine as self-care. On paper, it looks like my life is put together and I’m on the right track. I’m exercising, I’m cooking healthy, unprocessed meals for dinner every week, I’m waking up and going to bed early, working productively, attending therapy, and engaging in a baseline amount of social interactions without relying on alcohol. I thought that by establishing good habits in myself, I could correct my destructive behaviors and develop a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle. The truth is, a routine is nothing more than a rut.
Now I’m realizing that I have just been going through the motions, which is why I’ve felt so dissatisfied with my life. I’m completely apathetic to everything happening to me. I’m a zombie stumbling through the events happening to me. And that’s exactly what the situation is. Life is happening to me, and I’m accepting it. I’m a passive entity being led through everything.
I wake up every weekday morning between 7 and 7:30. Mondays I leave work at 6:30, go grocery shopping, and make dinner. The rest of the week, I leave around 7:30, reheat leftover dinner, read a book, sometimes do some sort of exercise, sometimes watch a movie with my roommate or sit on the couch conversing with them, then go to bed at around 9 or 9:30, read for an hour or so, and then fall asleep. On the weekends, I wake up sometime between 8 and 10, make the same thing for breakfast, read or watch movies until noonish, go into lab for a few hours but accomplish nothing useful, come home, order food with or without my roommates, watch a movie with them or do obligatory social thing with friends, then go to sleep. Once a week I go on a date with one of two people, stick to a strict schedule (e.g. dinner and movie, two drinks at bar, or brunch), we have enjoyable but shallow conversations, engage in zero physical contact, and then drop me off at my house at a reasonable hour.
How utterly distressing it is that my entire life can be summed up in that small, sad paragraph.
Every once in a while, I’ll stare at myself in the mirror and whisper in a meek, noncommittal voice, “I need to find a hobby,” or “I need passion in my life,” or “I’m not happy,” or “I can’t go on like this,” but that voice is so weak and embarrassing that it’s practically begging to be ignored.
I need to fix this because what I have now is comfortable and easy and it would be too easy to continue life this for years and years, and the longer it goes on, the harder it will be to change things, and before long I will just be an empty wrapper of a human being.
I’m convinced that going back to writing and actively dissecting parts of my life will be the driving force that will get me out of this rut, and if that’s not motivation enough to continue writing, then I don’t know what is.