The difference in who I am and the one I want to be

Graduating from college less than six months after the worst terrorist attack on American soil, there has been a long, dark shadow cast over my post-college life. Whether it was a fellow co-worker slightly joking with me about how I'd be drafted by spring of 2002 or how terrible the economy is, uncertainty has run rampant in my mind.

Uncertain as to how my adult life is supposed to be versus how it should be, worrying about doing the wrong thing has been a steady ride on a rocking horse. There's no harm in being cautious or careful, but sometimes I think I go overboard and can't see a difference.

There's plenty of certainty in my life these days -- knowing what I must have and should not live without. I have a stable homelife, a stable and very fulfilling relationship, and a good exercise routine, along with lots of creative juices flowing with writing and drumming.

Yet something in my life has been been like a carpet stain I always notice, even if it's safely hidden by a large rug. I can't go into details as to what it is, but for those who've spoken to me in person for the past ten years, you don't have to guess very much to figure out what I'm talking about. It's not a health matter, for one thing. But if you've heard me gripe about something on a regular basis either in person, on the phone, or over e-mail, it's a glaring (and recurring) topic.

This "stain" has been been on my mind for the past few days following some very surprising news. This news came as a shock to me as it did to many others. Again, I'm not going to go into details for many reasons, but I'd prefer to focus on the emotion above all else. And I'd like to describe this in a way where you don't have to know exactly what I'm talking about. If you can relate to the emotion(s), then I've done my job in explaining all you need to know.

When I received this news a few days ago, one of my responses was, "I was more optimistic when my girlfriend was diagnosed with cancer." Since Diana is a huge part of my life and someone I look forward to having a future with, I chose optimism instead of outright pessimism when we heard the news. Some people see a cancer diagnosis as a death sentence. Not us, nor anyone close to us.

While that journey continues and we remain committed to seeing it through and through, I've found myself in a different, precarious position with this other development. I've taken things a day at a time and have tried to think in an optimistic way. Yet years of bitterness and disappointment from this area of my life keep fueling a pessimistic attitude. I hate being The Jerk in raising my doubts and concerns about what's down the pike, but I don't appreciate it when I think I'm being lied to.

Trust is crucial. When I don't have trust in others that I have to be around, moving forward (or anywhere, for that matter) is incredibly difficult. It's like waiting on a runway and wondering when your plane is going to take off.

Why I bring up my post-college life is that my goals in college changed when I got out of college. I didn't have my eyes on a prize, but my plans changed when I figured a few things out pretty quickly . . . in 2002.

I don't believe I've wasted any of my post-college life. There is zero harm in working hard, learning new skills, trying new things, and being unafraid to take a few risks. Alas, I have been confronted more than a few times about making a change in my life that seems incredibly brave and risky.

I may criticize those who have their own uphill battles but I try to sympathize as well. Things in my life that I find incredibly difficult may seem like walks in a park to others. But things in my life I find incredibly doable seem unthinkable in others.

As much as I'm confident I can take steps in the right direction, there's plenty of hesitation in lifting that leg. Hopefully someday soon I can air all of this stuff out. For now, it's frustrating to be cryptic and embarrassed at how long I've tried to make changes in this area of my life.