That's how I've been feeling for the past two weeks. Brief flashes of life and joy, followed by several days of feeling utterly useless. Feeling like I'm so far behind where I should be. Feeling like I can't get anything right. Feeling...well, inept.
You have this idea in mind, this image of how a functioning young adult's life should be. How their apartment/house should look, how they conduct themselves. The nuts and bolts of life at (almost) 25 years of age. But when you compare yourself to this "standard," you find yourself lacking.
I know, I know, "don't compare yourself to others," etc, etc. But you can't shake the question, "Am I where I need to be?" How do you know that? How can you tell?
I'm not talking about spiritual matters here. Not exclusively. Tangentially. I'm talking about physical life. Relationships. How much dirty laundry I should tolerate at any time. Balancing work, writing, personal health, family, ministry, fun, and relaxation.
I have to ask myself, am I conducting myself like an responsible adult? And the answer is, not as often as I'd like. Not as often as I feel I should.
It's the "should" that's killing me. And I can't find any easy answers for it.
I want to change. I really want to improve. But each time I try, I fail. And the failing gets more depressing. This doesn't mean I stop trying; it just means I hate my inability all the more afterwards.
I've hit the wall, in the realm of personal growth. I don't feel like I'm getting anywhere. And I wonder if there's something I'm missing, something I'm doing wrong, somewhere I'm broken, that is keeping me from reaching the next level. From "being an adult."
My mother is a Type A personality. Driven, determined, and completely self-motivated. As she relates the story, she couldn't wait to get a job when she was 16, so she could be more self-sufficient. She bought her own clothes, took care of most of her own needs. She married my dad a little more than a year later.
When my mother was my age, she had a husband, a household, and a seven year old son.
I can't even take care of a miniature cactus, without killing it.
It's not like this kind of comparison is a bad thing; we do it all the time. I remember when I was growing up, doctors would have these charts. When you're this old, you should be this tall and weigh this much. (I never fit those charts.)
My baby sister is in first grade. When my parents meet with her teachers, they are told what the typical first-grader should be able to do, both academically and developmentally. (She's ahead of her grade in reading; I'm so proud.)
There are books for expectant mothers. At 8 weeks, your unborn baby is this big and can do these things.
Growth, development, abilities--this things are measured all our lives. We're compared to charts, and shown where we accel, where we lack.
I feel like I've misplaced my manual. My personalized version of "Things You Should Know By Now." With chapters detailing what should come naturally at this point in my life, and what's still okay for me to have yet to master. "You're on level in relationships and work, but you're slipping in household management." Some kind of clear-cut plan. A goal. A standard. So I know what to focus on.
Like I said, this issue isn't really one of spirituality for me, not on the surface. I mean, I have a better grasp on my relationship with God than I do on any other area of my life right now (which is not saying that much). And it's only in this area that I know the answer to such a pseudo-crisis. "In my weakness, He is strong."
Can this be taken out of the spiritual and translated into the physical world, too?
Can He be strong through my poor housekeeping? My bad diet? My pathetic money management? My sketchy relationships? Or am I on my own in those areas?
I think I know the answer to that question. But that doesn't make me feel any better.