What’s Eating Me This Time?

There’s always something.

California is expensive.  Will I ever be able to own a home here?  Can I have a financially secure future when 50% of my (comparatively modest) income goes toward rent?  Am I destined to be stuck in the boondocks forever?  And for all of its trouble, do I really want to live in the city?  I flip back and forth on this so often it hurts my head: should I suck it up and live with someone to ease the burden of this area’s insane cost-of-living?  I love living alone.  I’ve talked about this a lot already.  It’s worth the extra money in my opinion.  So why does it seem like it’s not an option?  Could it be I’m unwilling to lower my standard of living?  Certainly that’s a reasonable conclusion, yet I’ve done it several times before, and somehow it always ends up becoming the new normal.  It just takes some time.  Hell, I felt completely out of place when I moved to California from the homogeneous suburbia of Upstate New York; the magnitude of the culture shock didn’t really hit me when I was just visiting.  Now it’s just where I live.

City in the CloudsAnd then there are the times when I look out over the sea of dead brown grass and scattered shrubbery in the hills miles east of the water where I live and wonder, do I really like it here?  (Answer: yes and no, like everywhere else on the planet, probably) On the flip-side of this unsettling thought, I can spend not ten minutes in San Francisco and I’m drawn in by its gravity.  I cannot help but think, were I anywhere else, that a part of me would regret not being in (or within commuting distance of) the City by the Bay.  From the first time I laid eyes on it, I was smitten.  For weeks after that wonderful trip (aside: in retrospect, it’s hilarious I thought my previous company was nice, but that’s a well-tread topic here), I couldn’t stop thinking about the city and its lights shining over the water.  Just from additional experience, I know a part of me would always be thinking about it, regardless of where I was.  Hence my internal struggle.

Concerning the second most important facet of my life, I’m struck by the same questions over and over: how do I find focus at work?  How do I go about improving my professional standing, to make myself useful, and eventually, indispensable?  What kind of timeline am I on to becoming a Professional Engineer?  Will I ever feel like I actually know something?  It seems I’m at the point, beyond the rapid-fire, life-changing, acclimation process that ushers in a new job, where I’m running into a sharp learning curve.  The basics were easy.  Now it’s time to get to into the actual substance of my job, but it seems there’s a wall in the way.  I’m finding myself disappointed that I’m not able to contribute as much as I want to.  The expectations of where I should be, however, might be based on what I see my co-workers doing, all of whom have no fewer than five years more professional experience in the field.  I’m lagging behind them; I don’t know if my age and experience makes that reasonable or not.

In fact, that seems to be the root of all of my insecurity.  What do I expect from myself?  Am I where I should be?  Is this making me unhappy for some reason?  My life is good.  It just looks like I have no patience.

Don’t even get me started on relationships.  I’ve been on such a roller-coaster over the last eight weeks I don’t know when I’ll start to normalize.  Hopefully soon?

I don’t know, I think I’m just being normal.  At least, it’s comforting to think that.  A little bit of self-delusion never hurt anyone, right?

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