Feeling Useless

I spent the past four years in constant anticipation of new projects. As a student, there was always another assignment, performance, or event to be addressed. Living on campus, I was surrounded by people all the time.

There’s an old quote I like. “The sea’s only gifts are harsh blows and, occasionally, the chance to feel strong… I also know how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong, to measure yourself at least once…”

It goes on, but this quote (attributed to Primo Levi) introduced me to the idea that in order to feel our strength we must be tested. At school, the strength of my mind was always tested and, while I don’t consider myself particularly intelligent, I passed. I made it through the gauntlet and knew I had some strength.

I’ve sequestered myself back home for the summer to finish my driver’s license – now all wrapped up. Here there are no assignments and the only people with whom I have routine contact are my parents. Quite a dramatic shift from living on campus. There’s something about being with people your own age. I have lots of creative projects I’m pushing myself to begin / edit but progress is slow when you’re trying things for the first time and I haven’t produced in a long while.

So I’m feeling more useless than I usually do. I have no routine externally-imposed projects and I’m figuring out how to make myself work. I have no harsh sea blows to brave, nothing to measure myself with. I’m beginning to understand the danger of idleness. It doesn’t help that the job market in my hometown is practically a desert. I want to keep writing, but I struggle to find material.

Hopefully I’ll get those creative projects rolling soon. Editing is hard. For now I try to console myself in the knowledge that circumstances are not equal to identity.

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