Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I Used To Be A Superhero

I'm trying a new tack today. It's a desperate attempt to become at least semi-productive at work. I've been so bad these past few weeks. Instead of doing work, I've been completely unmotivated and have spent much of my time repeatedly checking my blog, other blogs, or - the worst of the bunch, and what I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I spend most of my procrastination time on - the celebrity blogs. Focused on who has cellulite, who's dating who, and who looks pathetic these days, my brain has been turning into mush.

I thought about this when I went back to Michigan this past weekend and visited my law school. Walking around the campus I felt both happiness and sadness. I was so happy in law school. I loved what I was learning, and felt inspired and challenged. I had close friends there who I saw almost every day and we were all an intricate part of each other's lives. Back then, the future held so much promise. I had not yet decided whether I would go to a firm or clerk, or whether I would work for an organization. It was nerve-racking and I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed, so in part it was stressful, but the future was open and it looked full of fascinating possibilities.

Three years later, after a clerkship and almost two years at my god-forsaken firm, the possibilities have been less than fascinating and I have been driven - not unwillingly - into turning into a wasted hunk of humanity who's main daily activity consists of filling up my grey matter with pointless details about actors and actresses whom I don't know, don't care about, and for whom I have little respect. At least in Britain, they obsess about the figureheads of their county (and Posh and Becks). Here, it's all about Paris Hilton's crotch. Sure, it's entertaining and fun, and it's a welcome break from the reality of my daily firm existence, but I'm very aware that it's also completely meaningless (except with respect to watching gender norms evolve through pop culture; that's intriguing).

A while back, Gypsy wrote about feeling that she was mediocre. She just changed sites, so I could not locate the exact post, but trust me on this. Gypsy is a wonderful writer, she's created a beautiful way of expressing her self through her blog, and she writes about a past and present that show her to be, among other things, vivacious, intelligent, warm, and sassy. In the blogsphere, as I'm sure in reality, Gypsy is far from mediocre.

However, I know how she feels because every time I take a close look at myself, I am overwhelmed with a sense of my own mediocrity and a sense of wasted potential. It's not just about working at a firm, but that's a big part of what wears me down. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to do something with my life. I wanted to contribute to the world in some way, and I wanted to make the world a bit more just. Also for as long as I can remember, I've felt like I could do it, like I was special, talented, and driven and that I could make a meaningful contribution.

It's hard to square those dreams for myself with going into work each day and facing the expectation that I should fill my time with assignments that are completely devoid of the meaning I hoped to have in my life. Faced with the alternatives between dully meaningless assignments and entertaining meaningless celebrity gossip, I suppose it makes sense why I've chosen the latter to get me through the days. But I wish I wasn't like that. I wish I had more discipline.

What it comes down to is that I have to make changes in my life in order to create the life that I want for myself. I've started the changing process, but there are so many necessary changes I've yet to implement. And I'm not sure I'll truly be able to make the positive changes I need to until I get out of this job. I only have 120 days left until I give my two weeks notice. But that seems so far away today! That's at least 120 more days of being and feeling mediocre. Ugh.

Ok, I need to get a grip. Today, I have to deal with Dragon Lady. Not fun, as you all know. I'm off to blow-dry my hair and face the day. I will do everything humanly possible to be productive today. It will keep the Dragon at bay, and it should make me feel at least marginally purposeful. That should be a nice change. I've got to do this hoof by hoof, as a wise man once said.

* * *
Correction: I erroneously suggested that Gypsy had referred to herself as "mediocre" when in fact the word she used was "mundane." Sorry Gypsy!! I didn't mean to let my own feelings of mediocrity spill over onto you! Despite the differences in our words of choice, our sentiments are quite similar. Gypsy's link to her post, Abby Normal, can be found in her comment to this post.


Heather said...

"I know how she feels because every time I take a close look at myself, I am overwhelmed with a sense of my own mediocrity and a sense of wasted potential."

That is exactly how working at a big firm made me feel. You expressed it perfectly. Why does that happen to so many people? I remember being so optimistic when I graduated.

I was pretty beaten down by my job, and leaving it to stay home with Miles has helped a lot. But I still have yet to recapture the super-hero-lawyer-mojo. It is going to take working at a job that makes a difference and that I love to do that I think.

Hopefully we will both land where we belong.

Tracy said...

Very good and introspective post. Keep us posted as your future unfolds. And in the meantime, don't let Dragon Lady get you down! Keep that Dragon at bay, sister!

Gypsy said...

Oh, how I loved this post. And you know I can relate. It's as if somehow, sometime along the way the blinders came off and, voila! This is your life. But... but...

Lancelot always says, "I don't have a dog!?" when stuff like this strikes him. It's a line from a hokey Bruce Willis movie, The Kid, where the character Bruce plays meets his childhood self who is utterly disappointed in how he turns out because, "I'm forty, I'm not married, I don't fly jets, and I don't have a dog? I grow up to be a loser."

We are not losers, but we have to find a part of our lives that our childhood (or even young adulthood) selves would be proud of.

And thanks for the kind words on my blog. I need them today.

P.S. I think this is the post you mean. Abby Normal

Buttercup said...

Heather - Glad to hear you felt better once you left the firm. I know that won't be "the" answer, but I think it will help a great deal.

Tracy - Thanks. DL is being totally fine today. It's shocking actually, but I'm not going to complain!

Gypsy - That's what I'm talking about - finding something my 12 year old self would be proud of!! Hope you're feeling better now.

teahouse said...

Great post!! And I love your new look.

Yeah, I've often wondered about the past 5 years for me since I finished law school. I was so optimistic then. Now I'm just tired and jaded.

But it's great to be back in the blogosphere.