I am in fact, not dead. I'm sure that y'all have been worried about the possibility, no doubt while dealing with your disappointment at finding no new distractions here to wile away a dull moment, or while sitting anxiously over your google reader wondering why I haven't updated...
I am in fact quite alive, but currently suffering from a condition somewhat like writer's block, but rather more encompassing... something that I'm going to label "life-block."
<--- dear="" exactly="" font="" how="" i="" poor="" s="" that="" yes="" you=""> feel too...--->
The term is of course not entirely accurate, but at the same time, "life-block" is a pretty apt description of what I've been feeling... It's the same kind of experience of blankness and wordlessness that strikes with writer's block, only it hits when I'm trying to think through my purpose and direction, rather than when I'm in the middle of writing a post or editing a story... though it unfortunately carries over to there too, as my absence here will testify. But it's that exact same "stuck" feeling; the one that comes over you when you don't have any idea what's supposed to come next, or maybe you do, but just aren't sure which direction you need to go to get there, or what words need to be said to clear the whole thing up... but either way, it's the sensation of being trapped in the moment and unable to move forward despite the greatest effort.
Sometimes it's hard to know what triggers life-block, or even to pinpoint the instant when you stopped moving forward with purpose and chose to coast instead. All you know is that you looked up one day, and suddenly realized you didn't recognize the surroundings; that you weren't sure if you were late or on time; or even whether you were coming or going. The hardest part is definitely the struggle to break free once life-block has seized hold of you... think back to physics class, and the idea of the great force required to overcome inertia and start a stalled object moving again. Defying the apathy, and kick-starting the process of purposeful growth and forward motion, requires even more energy and determination.
I've been struggling with the sensation of life-block (mingling it occasionally with its close cousin Depression) off and on for a couple of years now, but only a few days ago did I understand what was going on. For me, the problem of feeling disconnected and unmotivated arises from having lost touch with a lot of what is important to me. I no longer feel connected with a great deal of what used to convict and inspire and excite me, and as a result I am often hugely disoriented inside my own head. Everyone changes as they age and mature, and that's natural and good... but since a lot of my personal growth took place very recently in what felt like a three year series of internal explosions and landslides, my process of finding identity was rather drastic and left a lot of rubble in its wake. In a lot of ways, the different versions of me over the years are quite separate and distinct and, besides the common threads of my family and a few life-long friends, it can be hard to see any continuity between them. This can leave the current Sarah Eliza struggling desperately to remember where the past Sarah was headed five minutes ago, let alone a year ago, or four or five. As you might guess, my ADD doesn't help on this one either, and this chronic amnesia and disorientation makes it hard to progress or grow in any one direction.
To know more clearly where I'm going as a person of purpose and grace, and to find the energy to keep moving persistently in that direction, I think I need to integrate the various versions of myself into some kind of whole. I have been hopeless at discerning my priorities for a good while now, and I'm blaming it on the fact that a lot of things I sincerely value have fallen to the wayside with each growth "explosion," and resulting new version of myself. Even wording it like that is the wrong way of looking at it -- it isn't that a "new version" of Sarah Eliza emerged each time my surroundings changed or I experienced psychological upheaval, rather, a new facet of myself emerged and moved to the forefront.
To stay familiar with who I am, and really know what I want out of life, I have to connect all of the "people" I have been. From the child who read constantly and made up elaborate make-believe worlds with her brother, to the teenager who scribbled away at stories and had a love/hate relationship with the piano, to the college student who rode an emotional roller coaster as she struggled to understand friendship and compassion, to the traveler who felt most alive when lost in a city on the other side of the globe... I have to find the common threads that run through them all if I'm going to be able to see clearly who I am, and where I'm going, and whether that destination is even somewhere I want to end up.
Perhaps it's not. And in that case, I will take stock of the things I value, both old and new, and adjust my course... and keep moving forward! I'll get there eventually. Because the best way to survive an existential crisis is to use it as an impetus to examine what you believe, and be encouraged, and move on. :)
I'm sure it's patently obvious, but the illustration pertains to sailing fearlessly (and purposefully) into the future. That's what it looks like, right?
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