June 14, 2009

So Long Doing Without Knowing

I peeled back another layer and found decisiveness. It is a quality, like obstinacy and skepticism, which I have in abundance. It is something that I both elevate to the status of a virtue and use to build walls between myself and others. I make decisions without consulting anyone. This gets me several things: I don’t have to discuss anything sensitive with anyone; the decision is made quickly so I don’t have to worry over it and can move forward quickly; I don’t have to ignore anyone’s advice or accept the inevitable told-you-so’s; I get to feel like I am independent and don’t have to subsume myself to anyone else’s will; I don’t have to admit to ignorance or feel stupid; I get to take all the credit when things work; and I get to shoulder all the blame when they don’t thus confirming my humility and high level of personal responsibility. Mostly, it just means I don’t have to deal with people.

I let myself get away with it by reassuring myself that in the end it would be my decision anyway. The fact that I no longer have any close personal friends to just call up and ask for advice doesn’t makes it easier to not ask anyone. And this is how I've always been. I’ve always been decisive just like I’ve always been stubborn. I’ve always known what I wanted and I’ve only occasionally sought advice on how to get it. Sometimes, that has worked out and sometimes it hasn’t.

Last semester I was taken to task by my thesis co-chairs for making decisions without consulting them. “How can we advise you if you don’t ask for advice? Or even let us know that you’ve decided something that will affect the project?”

This week I was asking Rumiko what she thought of my idea for my Fulbright proposal. I had been kind of stumped for a while. I’m sure that I need more of a project description than “I want to study Japanese religious architecture because I think it’s cool and I think I could learn something from it, though I’m not sure what just yet.” Rumiko advised me not to try so hard to come up with some intricate research project on my own. I should ask the Fulbright adviser to help me find someone in Japan who already has a project and see if I could attach myself to that. I am skeptical of this, for reasons I won’t detail here, but I dutifully made the appointment.

These moments, combined with the fact that I’ve been stewing lately over any number of things, made me realize that I have been making decisions in a vacuum for a long time, intentionally, so that I don’t have to deal with other people and their possible approval or disapproval. I’ve been rethinking my vegetarianism given that I am so very bad at it and have been struggling with an unhealthy diet lately. I’ve been wondering what to do, if anything, about the fact that I’ve been spending a lot of time alone lately and that I really don’t have any close personal friends, especially here in Lincoln. I’ve been struggling with the idea of not becoming a licensed architect and seeking some alternative career path, like as a client advocate, development director, teacher, or writer.

I haven’t asked a single person about any of these things. I haven’t brought them up to anyone. I’ve just been stewing. I let things simmer and over time I can usually work out an answer, but these things have been on the stove for a long time and answer hasn’t occurred. I just keep going over and over them in my mind to no avail. I am wearing the track into a deep rut I’m struggling to escape. I pay attention to the world, ask oblique questions, look things up, read, do a little research, and basically just collate data hoping something will click. Nothing has.

I’m getting tired. Something my friend Barry told me about a few weeks ago keeps occurring to me. I’m getting tired of me. I’m tired of being stubborn, alone, decisive. And this feeling is familiar. It is the same as it was in 2004, when I sold the house in Gretna and moved in with my parents for the summer before coming here to Lincoln. I had been struggling, until everything came to a head, broke, and then my world shifted. I wrote about it recently for Dharma Cowgirl. I don’t know if I was reminded of it because that is how I’m feeling now or if that is how I’m feeling now because I finally wrote about it for the first time since then. I don’t suppose it matters all that much.

I don’t know what to do about it, any of it.

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