Friday, November 11, 2011

Sprinting to the finish line (but never actually getting anywhere)

Have you ever had one of those dreams in which you're being chased and you're running and running, but you never actually seem to be getting farther away from your pursuer?  If so, then you'll have a better understand of how I'm feeling at the moment.

My best friend, Kate, once told me that it's theoretically impossible to actually get from one point to another because no matter how much of the distance you cross you'll always have a halfway point.  I'm probably not explaining this correctly (Kate is *literally* the smartest person I know, so she's great at making very difficult concepts sound easy to understand.  Me?  Not so much).  Basically, the idea is that you can start at point A, move halfway to point B, and there will still be a halfway point between you and your destination.  It just keeps moving as you do, and so, theoretically, you should never be able to reach point B (I know, sounds crazy, but just think about it for a minute and you'll see it's actually true).  This is basically my long and sciencey way of saying that for the last couple weeks I feel like I've been reaching halfway point after halfway point and still never getting anything accomplished.  It seems like I've been monumentally busy (thank you, Cameron Crowe and young John Cusack for that wonderful phrase, and, also, for the iconic boombox scene, which I love), but I still feel like I've got nothing to show for it.

Here are the things I'm doing in November:

  • Reading a 300+ page book and writing a ten-page book review
  • Taking an exam in International Organizations
  • Writing a research paper on the United Nations' efforts to combat Human Trafficking
  • Traveling to Denver for an interview with the Office of Presidential Management for their 2012 Presidential Management Fellowship program
  • Participating in NaNoWriMo, an annual novel-writing challenge to write 50,000 words of a working first draft in 30 days (I'm only about 6,000 words behind--that's ok, right?)
  • Missing Thanksgiving vacation with my family to take an exam, write papers, and generally "catch up" on things
All of that, of course, is aside from the whole raising kids thing that I've been known to do from time to time.

My point is not to complain about what I've got on my plate (after all, I heaped it all there myself and went back for seconds), or to say "hey, look at all the stuff I'm doing, aren't I amazing?"  My point is this:  sometimes you feel like you're treading water, and that's ok.  The important thing is to not let the feeling of getting a little behind keep you from going forward.  

I may feel like I've accomplished nothing at all, but when I really think about it, I've got a lot to show for my efforts so far.  I may be a little behind on my NaNo word count, but I've written 11,000 words of a brand new novel, and (bonus!) I don't think they're half bad.  I have a lot of school work to get through, but my grades are great (so far), and I've definitely gotten through worse semesters than this one.  Also, my kids are still alive, well-fed, and dressed in (mostly) clean clothing, so I must be doing something right (ok, I have to give a little credit to my husband on this one, because he's been amazingly helpful this semester and I'm pretty sure I would have chucked it all by now if I had to do it alone).

Anyway, I've been feeling pretty down about my lack of progress lately, and decided that what I really needed was to sit down and write about it before I gave up completely.  I've had Dory, from Finding Nemo, singing "just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming," in my head for the last few days.  That may just be because my three-year-old insists on watching it on repeat, but I'd like to think it's my way of staying positive as I put my head down and get through the chaotic little tempest that this November is shaping up to be.    

Also, blogging is a great way to avoid doing any "real" work. :)



  1. What a great post. Also, I had completely forgotten about that halfway point thing, so awesome thing to think about, even for me. I feel like every single thing I've ever said to you that you remember, I don't remember saying, and everything I remember saying, you don't remember hearing. I'm going to take that as a sign that we're the perfect friend (as opposed to taking it as a sign that we are not on the same page), because between the two of us we obviously remember everything that's ever been said. Sort of like how we can eat an entire chicken.

    Anyway, you're awesome. Just keep doing what you've been doing (which is a lot to ask, I know), and things will work out perfectly. Love.