I turned 38 years old today. It’s not much of a milestone. Yet I’m still enduring a rather depressive malaise about it. I suppose that it makes sense, this is around the time I should be experiencing the cliche midlife crisis. But is it a crisis? Or is it just a sober acceptance of oneself.
Work or Career (Or lack thereof)
Nearly 40 yet I’ve never had a ‘real’ job. I taught English composition as an adjunct professor for nearly ten years at five different colleges, both for- and non-profit. I’ve written as a freelancer criticism on poetry and fiction, written original poetry and fiction, random essays, founded and edited an incredibly tiny literary magazine, and for the past few years been a freelance soccer writer. None of it has really paid me anything, nearly all of my work has been done for free. I’ve never had a career.
The simple fact is, all of the things I’m good at are things that no one thinks is worthy of compensation. Or, at least, there are a slew of people better at it than I am.
A Search for an Undefined Dream or Goal
Lack of definition doesn’t plague me. I know what I want, I know who I am, and I know my worth. But I suppose the problem I’ve had all my life thus far is the fact that I’m ridiculously impractical and stubborn. What gets me about being this age, being this far into adulthood is the disconnect between my accomplishments and my social worth.
In 2006, I ran for US House of Representatives. Not many people can claim that and I’m proud of it. It might not have been a successful campaign, but pulling down nearly 3% as a Green Party member and on an anti-war platform during a very pro-war time isn’t easy.
I studied philosophy and poetry as an undergraduate and grad student. While getting my MFA, I wrote two book of poetry. My poetry isn’t good but it certainly isn’t bad, rather it’s the kind that you have no desire to read. My one ‘published’ chapbook has since dissolved in the ether. I figure one of these days I’ll simply self-publish on this blog. And speaking of self-publishing, I’ll probably also start posting the fantasy novel I wrote this last November. Whereas my poetry is forgettable, my prose is truly dreadful. Yet there’s something to be said about actually pulling the trigger and writing a novel.
A Deep Sense of Remorse for Goals Not Accomplished
So when I think about it, I’ve yet to not accomplish what I’ve set out to do. What I’ve accomplished has merely been inconsequential. I’m rather pleased with my soccer and comic writing. But I’m feeling a lack of direction or dissatisfaction with tentative projects. Often it feels like I’m merely filling time for the sake of doing so. I love being a house-spouse, taking care of the home as my wife does her work as a proper scientist. It could be said that I’m enduring what many a housewife endured and still do have hoisted upon them. Because we live in a sexist culture, I think I’m dealing with internalized chauvinism or sexism. There is little value in what I do, especially as a willfully childless heterosexual. This perhaps isn’t so much a devaluation as more of a snub.
But even that seems too strong a sentiment. It’s more akin to the reaction many and most have when they learn I took my wife’s surname (or that she never changed her name)–a quiet, confoundedness.
Regardless, I can’t say I’m at all remorseful or feel at all like a failure. But I think standing apart from the mainstream has taken a silent tole. I don’t feel jealous of others or disappointed, but I am experiencing a certain anger at not being valued. And I think that’s the heart of my current depression.
So, as always when I am depressed, I turn to philosophy and attempt to think my way out of my funk while writing, reading, and attempting to engage the world I find around me. This guarantees I shan’t bring any bodily harm to myself:
And it gives me an method for organizing my own thoughts, to perhaps act more authentically and be satisfied in doing so
In the meantime, I take comfort in the gift of socks.
And in the fact that being part of the generation that grew up with the real, untainted Star Wars instead of ‘toys’ by peers have designed age-appropriate tools on the theme.