This is a guest post by Rebecca Louder.
Every now and then, I seriously consider throwing in the towel and taking a horrifying minimum-wage job involving a uniform and name tag, just to quell my overwhelming, inaccurate self-judgment of being incredibly lazy and ineffectual.
I partially blame my present bout of McJobitis on a combination of reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s The Worst Years of our Lives, a fantastically jarring collection of essays on the Reagan-Bush years, and Cracked writer John Cheese’s musings on having spent most of his life under the poverty line, not to mention having been an abused child and severely alcoholic adult. They’re really putting my first-world problems onto a whole new level of “shut the fuck up”.
But again, I only blame these partially. And it’s a small part. Because the real culprit is that old familiar demon that dream-hunters will encounter time and time again.
I am speaking, of course, of Success Stress, a.k.a. Succstress.
There are so many factors and stages to this condition, but I can pretty much sum it up for myself as – “I’m so close to this actually happening and being real, yet so far because factors beyond my control hang in the balance. What the hell do I do?”
Unlike an existential crisis or allergies, it does not happen periodically, but only when approaching the possibility of accomplishing a long-term goal which I usually set for myself in the flight of dreamy fancy. In this particular case, it is finally having a real opportunity to move to Iceland, which I have been trying to do for the past two years.
I started splitting my time between Montreal and Reykjavík in May 2009, exploring the various options for getting an extended visa or residence permit and researching the rather difficult process. I had a few false starts and failed an attempt to get into the dance program at the Iceland Academy of the Arts, which, as you can imagine, caused both stress and disappointment.
Then one month ago today, I was finally accepted to the University of Iceland to study English. It’s fantastic and exciting and I can’t wait to start studying!
But excitement can go sour and mushy like an old cucumber.
Getting into school hasn’t really made things easier. If anything, it’s greatly increased my stress levels. The visa application process is rigorous and complicated, made even more so by Canada’s striking postal workers (even though I fully support a union’s right to strike and would never dare cross a picket line).
One of the most migraine-inducing parts of the process has been the financial requirements to get the visa, upwards of $8000 Canadian dollars, which is no joke considering I declared personal bankruptcy within the past year and there is a severe short-term job shortage in my current city. Freelance writing isn’t bringing in the monies right now.
To help with the cost, I launched a crowd-funding campaign but with only seven days left now, I’m far short of my goal. It did have the unexpected result of generating a story for the Icelandic online press, but the coverage actually yielded very little support.
And it’s only getting worse…
To make matters immediately worse, while writing this post I sadly had to give up my apartment in Iceland. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say I wasn’t given much choice in the matter. And it really sucks.
I now have two weeks to find a new place to live and get the landlord to sign a housing agreement form for the department of immigration. Bureaucracy is a bitch.
Frustration doesn’t even begin to cover it!
Remember at the end of Titanic when the boat has sunk, Jack couldn’t share Rose’s piece of scrap-metal so he’s sunk and she’s starting to reconsider all that “holding on” nonsense? It’s kind of like that.
The closer I get to this goal the harder it seems to make it happen without losing my shit completely. (Or maybe losing ones shit at some point is necessary to regaining composure. I was hoping it wouldn’t be!) I am not only falling prey to resistance but to overpowering fear: what if I don’t find a place to live in time? What if my background check doesn’t arrive in time? And even if I do get all those things in time, what if they flat out refuse my application!?
And what if it does all work out, I get my visa, I go back… and everyone suddenly hates me!? I’M NAKED ON STAGE AT MY BALLET RECITAL AGAIN! AAAUGH!
It’s right around this point in my thought process that I contemplate giving it all up for the most basic, blue-collar, minimum wage, service industry job out there. You know, honest, noble, under appreciated work that allows us the privilege to live our daily lives.
But I have more potential than that. I am not above that work – no one is – and I have done it in the past with pride. I just know there are bigger things on the horizon for me. After all, another ocean liner eventually came by and gave Rose and her precious necklace a lift to NYC. I’m at least as lucky!
And I’ve come so far. Why should I let a few setbacks stop me?
It’s famously said that nothing worth doing is easy. Adversity challenges our resolve and our determination to reach our goals, but it also puts into perspective how important they are to us. The self-sabotage demon is the test of making or breaking it. It’s just like muscle pain – when it begins to hurt, power through, because you are about to get so fucking ripped. When you wake up sore, the only cure is to work out until it doesn’t hurt.
You just have to close you eyes, grit your teeth, hope this is the worst it can get and trust it will get better from here.
One has to have faith that people will be supportive and understanding. We have to trust that if we ask for help it will be given. And it’s important to be grateful for the challenges we face in order to fully appreciate success when it comes.
Because it’s closer than we think. (I think.)
- Rebecca Louder (Writer, reviewer, renegade expat, self-discoverer, dream-weaver, multipotentialite)
How do you handle your last minute “succstress”?
Rebecca Louder spent her childhood training for a professional career as a ballet dancer and her adolescence as a goth. She holds a certification in audio recording technology and is beginning a Bachelor’s degree in English studies at the University of Iceland in fall 2011. Her current endeavors include writing, corpse-painting, reconstruction-based sewing and choreographing. She is a contributor at The Reykjavík Grapevine, creates mix tapes, and is kindly accepting donations for her Icelandic adventure. She has a cat named Nacho.