I’ve been home for seven weeks now, and today I’m apparently in a mood for a self-assessment. I had a lot of hopes when I came back from the ship, and I’ve been ruminating lately as to what’s different about myself and what I’ve managed to maintain from my cruise life. It’s not a short list, which I suppose is unsurprising coming home from such a life-altering trip. So here in no order are some of the things I’m grappling with in my thought right now…
My biggest concern before coming home was that I would lose the more relaxed approach to life I had discovered on the cruise ship. I am a BIG-TIME Overachiever (with a capital o!), who spent pretty much every minute of her life from about 12 to 29 attempting to do more. I was a volunteer in multiple organizations no matter where I lived, a participant in tons of different extracurriculars, not to mention my own CEO, hustling up work at every opportunity (and then doing said work). I often struggled with burn-out, exhaustion, and emotional panic attacks about how was I going to get it all done? It all did get done, but not without some divine help! Not to mention, amid all the busy-ness, I kept aching to perform more. Wasn’t that supposed to be my real career?
My cruise contract put a stop to that, for the simple reason that I couldn’t do any of it! I literally wasn’t allowed to do any other paid work on the ship, I was out of communication for long stretches of time (for which reason I resigned most of my volunteer positions), and I had exactly ONE job to do. It was the first time since junior high that I’ve had free time, and I stumbled upon what most people’s non-work lives are like – relaxed, enjoyable, and simple.
So, I wondered reasonably, could I maintain this more “normal” lifestyle once I got home? Surrounded by the temptation of being a part of various communities, could I abstain and focus on my real work?
I must say, it’s a mixed bag of success. On the one hand, I have managed to find the right preportion of active work (narrating audiobooks) to personal time; on the other hand, I don’t make as much money because I’m not working six to seven days a week. But I’m not burnt out – as I learned within three weeks of returning that I still could be!
I’ve managed to protect my personal time, only allowing myself to volunteer in one organization. But I struggle occasionally with that old enemy Guilt, who creeps in to tell me I’m being lazy and how dare I not give of myself to all those worthwhile organizations. Intellectually I know better – protecting my personal time means giving myself the mental space and physical time to create, to be the artist I embraced during my time at sea. But it’s hard to take away the emotional stigma.
Especially since I don’t feel like I’m doing enough creatively. I haven’t had any inspiration for blogging, I don’t have a lot of auditions to go to (that’s a whole ‘nother blog post), and my efforts to get my solo show up in NYC have been frequently stalled by needing to depend on other people, specifically my husband who is giving me his arranging services for free. I don’t feel like it’s appropriate to push for more, because at the end of the day, I do feel our marriage (and the quality time together that nurtures it) is more important than my career. I am also disappointed at how quickly the money I’d saved up from my cruise contract has disappeared, thus seeming to curtail class opportunities that would give me that forward momentum feeling in my career.
One of the other big bugaboos in life right now is that we’ve been trying to find the right new apartment in the city. It’s more than time to transition to a new apartment, but finding one is taking longer than I’d expected/hoped, given that we have some pretty exacting specifications, as the whole point is to enable Mike to teach out of our apartment. We’ve seen a number of units that were suuuuper close, but we haven’t yet found The One.
So it’s hard every day to come home to what I consider our “old” apartment. It’s a lovely unit in a sweet neighborhood, but I’m over the shoddy bus service we have to use, done with the limited sunshine our windows receive, and fed up with the mental holding pattern we put ourselves in, given that it looked like we’d be moving within the first month of my coming home.
Mostly, though, I’ve outgrown my old self who lived her old life in this house. My husband and I talked in November about how excited we were to start Phase II of our New York life – but almost six months later, we don’t feel like we’ve started it yet. I know it means God has something in mind, and there are some excellent (mostly financial) arguments for keeping us in our current apartment for a couple more months, but emotionally I’ve moved on and out…so it’s hard to be here still.
One of the other things I ran into pretty quickly upon coming home was my old frustration with auditioning. It’s such a powerless, lottery-feeling process, especially when you’re a nonunion singer, for whom the job pool is a bit smaller. I just want to be performing, and I openly acknowledge that perusing Facebook is a daily (sometimes hourly) exercise in self-torture, as so many of my friends and peers are in show after show. That fire to produce my own work burns hotter each day, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing…except that, as previously mentioned, I can’t control all aspects of the process and often am at the mercy of other people’s schedules.
I should probably acknowledge that it’s a rainy day today, and I am a bit pensive. “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down,” the great Karen Carpenter sings, and good heavens but that’s certainly true today. Though I also relish the melancholy – it’s the dramatic in me. I’m already feeling better just for having written this blog post. It’s a sign that my creativity is recovering its activity, though I can’t say that means I’ll be a steady poster again! Regular isn’t quite as exciting as cruise life.
I feel like other people have to have gone through this, so if you’re one of them, please let me know! We can commiserate in our melancholy but grateful discontent on this lovely Monday, knowing that sunshine is just a day away.