Divine Calm: Inertia

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1.31.2006

Inertia

in·er·tia (n.)

1. Physics. The tendency of a body to resist acceleration; the tendency of a body at rest to remain at rest or of a body in straight line motion to stay in motion in a straight line unless acted on by an outside force.
2. Resistance or disinclination to motion, action, or change: the inertia of an entrenched bureaucracy.


Once upon a time, I was a "go-getter." Basically, I would drive myself insane while comparing my own accomplishments to those of my peers. When we would receive our high school yearbooks, I would count how many activities my rivals were in compared to my own affiliations. I acted like I didn't care who graduated Valedictorian of my senior class, but I secretly paid very close attention to my classmates' talk of grades and guessing who would have the highest grade point average.

I justified my fixation on high school achievement due to needing scholarships for college. Without child support from my father, and although my mother taught high school and supplemented her income with tutoring, I knew I would need a lot of financial assistance if I wanted to go away to college. This drive for money propelled my unsuccessful auditioning for morning announcement speaker to successfully running for Honor Society President. My mother encouraged these endeavors in very direct ways such as editing scholarship entries with me late into the evening or indirect ways like fighting with me every morning, noon, and night. As a high school senior, I was convinced that my mom and I could not live with each other for another year or we would annihilate each other to smithereens.

As a teenager, fear of the unknown only furthered my trying new things and putting myself "out there" for potential failure. Also, my mom's presence was a safety net that bounced me back up onto the tightrope when I would wobble and fall due to annoying traits like procrastination and crying hysterically when faced with a new and seemingly impossible task such as completing financial aid applications.

With Mom's support reduced to phone calls and visits, I bounced around on a less direct route through college. Lack of money was more of a compass for my decision-making than Mom's wise guidance. I was able to graduate early from college, but I missed invaluable opportunities like writing a thesis and studying abroad. I started working right out of college, because I was sick of having to quell my financial wants. Dammit! I wanted a new purse. I wanted to eat out and have more than $50 in my bank account.

So instead of going to law or graduate school, I began my current career in state government and politics. Immediately, I was hooked on the supercharged pace and strategy of the legislative and political processes. The competitiveness and kooky cast of characters enthralled me and encouraged my inner drive to succeed as well. Every event was a competition that required both the mental juggling of minute details and buttery-smooth banter. Often I felt as if I was treading in waters full of slimy jellyfish, which had no backbones but could sting you in a second, but I was high from the adrenaline of constant battling sans stinger. This high allowed me to overlook many of the political world's negative aspects that were incompatible to my happiness.

After a couple years, I was given the opportunity for advancement and I took it while hoping it would feed my drive for success. Unfortunately, it was a lackluster opportunity full more of office politics instead of the pure politics I loved. Stagnant, I was miserable, but the job coupled with finding out that my father was homeless knocked me off a course that only would have, in hindsight, furthered my self-doubt while leaving me bereft of meaning.

Three years after being ripped from my "entrenched" state, I no longer march into the already heavily trodden path of my peers. Instead of following inertia and the approval of others, I fuel my own self-worth and remind myself that career advancement does not necessarily mean I am a worthy person. While I have lost a direct path to my future and tears of frustration sometimes blur my next step, I know I have not lost my way.

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