On Transitions

two chairs

Being in limbo may be one of my favourite expressions in the English language (it’s so evocative, is it not?), but when you find yourself in that position, it’s darn right uncomfortable. Sitting between two chairs, trying to leave the familiar behind for the fuzzy perspective of something new (exciting!), unknown (scary!) and uncertain (have I mentioned scary?). And as it often happens in life, transitions can be forced on you.

In my case, it’s the loss of a client–through no fault of my own; only the reality of business–that makes me question my field or, more to the point, a future in my field. I’ve been freelancing for seven years now. Most of the time, the work is flowing in steadily, but I’m noticing changes, shifts, which make me wonder how sustainable my career choice will be in the long run. So now I’m looking to diversify.

I’ve been told by a few people who are not afraid to criticize and speak their minds that I’m not too bad at the whole writing thing (can’t you just tell by this superb sentence?). Since I’m a translator, the move to writing seems natural in a way, but writing what exactly? That’s where the scary transition comes in. This particular transition is made scarier by the fact that change is looming its ugly head in pretty much every aspect of my current life. Tackling the safer area of work (safer for me, anyway) might be the easiest shift of them all, though it’s still unnerving for me.

Where to start? What to do? How to become as credible and respected in writing as I (hopefully) am in translating?

This will be a long to-do list, won’t it?

What’s Wrong With You?

happy

This probably won’t be my most coherent entry. It might also feel like it should have been preceded with a “Dear Diary”. I haven’t kept a diary in years. I also haven’t seen a therapist in years, and yet I found myself back to that very space, a space that felt very much like square one.

“Why are you here?” she asked.

That was all it took for me to start bawling. When I say bawling, I mean it–the kind where you sob so much you can’t speak. Uttering words becomes impossible because your voice is breaking, your throat is clenching, and no matter how hard you try to swallow it all down, you have trouble putting together one satisfying answer to that simple question. I’m here because I’m unhappy.

“Are you depressed?” she asked.

Loaded question. I’ve been through a mild depression before. I define it as mild because I’ve seen the toll of a real, hardcore depression on others. It wasn’t like that, though it was worse (was it?) than how I am feeling right now. The straight answer? No. I’m not depressed. I can work. I can sleep. I can work out. I can read. I can eat (without overeating). In short, I can function. I get things done.

“Then what’s wrong? Obviously you’re here for a reason. What is it?” she asked.

Well… I’m not happy.

“You’ve said that already. Why aren’t you happy? What’s missing?”

More bawling. The truth is I know what’s missing. Love is missing. Strangely, it’s not just the love one gets from having a companion, a partner. It’s love period. Love has always been a thing missing from my life. Who loves me? No-one, really. No-one ever has. So it’s fair to conclude that no-one ever will, right? However, I can’t tell her that in such a straightforward way, so I fib. I say something that’s not exactly untrue, but that doesn’t quite hit the bull’s eye. I feel unimportant, I tell her. I feel like my life has no meaning.

“What would give meaning to your life then? Again: what’s missing?”

She just won’t let up, the witch. But that’s why I’m paying her to bawl in her office, isn’t it? I’m betting she already knows the answer. I’m not exactly in a position to hide my real emotions. I’m crying so much, I’m grateful I biked to get here. Taking my bicycle automatically equals taking a towel with me (I sweat A LOT). The towel is better at wiping my tears than those cheap, industrial-quality tissues she keeps pushing towards me.

In the end, I just couldn’t say those words exactly. She guessed some of it, classified my feelings under the banner “loneliness”, which is also not wrong. The worst part (she really knows what she’s doing) is that she left it all up to me. “I’m going on vacation, so you take the next few weeks to think about it, to figure out if you’re ready to come back here to work,” she said. “It’s a huge issue you’ll have to tackle. You need to be ready.”

It’s so hard to leave one’s comfort zone behind, isn’t it? Even if you feel like it’s killing you slowly.