the way the world spins & short-lived thursday morning crises

Note: Featured image most definitely does not depict my own bowl or food or even picture. I just do not have a picture of what I cooked up that very day.

Eventually, every one of us comes to learn that the way the world spins is not around you, nor me, nor anyone else. The world spins on its own axis, regardless of the speed of the other planets in its vicinity, regardless of whether an asteroid is hurtling in its direction, regardless of how blazingly the sun decides to shine.

Picture this: I am sitting at the breakfast counter, waiting for the egg in the pan to sear to an edible degree and for the noodles to finish cooking. It’s a slow wait, the type that stretches time longer than it should be, and I am fueled with limited patience. In an effort to distract myself, I unlock my phone and mindlessly check my notifications. Empty. Great. For some reason, then, I wind up on the homepage of my own blog.

The pan is now sizzling and the kettle boiling. I notice something peculiar regarding my dear blog: three pieces published in the past five months. I am still seated at the counter, only in disbelief. I retrospected the year thus far and did a mental check that many events have in fact happened in the world, be it my internal one or the one we collectively live in. Waves of changes have washed over me in the past semester and various headlines have graced my social media pages. I know, more than anyone, how much there was to write about; so why didn’t I?

Before I could answer that question (and, the noodles are done at this point in time), my brain curated yet another one: Have I improved this year, in any manner?

It took me by surprise how instinctual the answer knocked on my door. Two letters in big reds tap-dancing right in the middle of my mind. And then I asked the inevitable follow-up question: Why haven’t I?

Just when I thought there couldn’t be a worse answer than No, I haven’t improved, I stood corrected. I don’t know why I haven’t improved. Now that is a much scarier sentence to utter.

And all of a sudden, I am consumed by the feeling of being lost. I don’t like this feeling; it’s one that is unfamiliar to me. Plans and to-do lists are always by my side to avoid this exact scenario from happening, but they aren’t doing the trick nowadays and I can’t fathom why.

I check my calendar once more while I devour my meal. Two grand hours of Introduction to Metaphysics and Epistemology discussing testimonial and hermeneutical injustices before it’s off to yet another hour of politics lecture about the ethics of civil disobedience where the professor reads off the slides, thank you very much. And then it’s back home for dinner, more readings, and two hours of extra-curricular meetings.

God, if I was only lost before, I am now uninspired and unmotivated. Moreover, I am miserable. And that is three too many negative adjectives to define myself by.

I arrived at the grand arches of this university under the impression that everyone enrolled in this institution knows where they are headed and how to get there. When such a thought is ingrained in your mind and you don’t understand why you can’t operate in the same way, the weight of it anchors you down to a stationary spot. Liken this to a person who is sad in a town where everyone else is gleefully living. He asks:

“Why am I sad when everyone else around me is happy?”
“Why can’t I be just like them?”
“What am I doing wrong?”

Because when it seems like the world around you is doing just fine and you are the sole outlier, then intuitively, you assume the problem to lie within yourself.

Even when I cross my heart and perform an honest evaluation of myself, I can’t find the faults. I have attended every lecture, sat through every meeting, called home every week, been diligent about my spending, voiced out when needed, and more. I know that I have been abiding by the guidebook and doing everything right—so what went wrong? This is the kind of experience that damns you, infuriates you. It’s like following through with a recipe only to have the cake turn out tasteless.

And it’s not just writing; it’s every other aspect of my university life. Despite the movies I’ve watched, the books I’ve read, and the testimonies I’ve been bestowed, I am—in fact—not having the best time of my life. Miserable (an adjective I do not adore using but have now used twice) does not begin to cover it. Ever since the beginning of this semester, I’ve been stuck in a cycle I cannot pry myself away from. Days hastily muddle into weeks and into months. I perform a series of tasks and check off to-do lists but end up feeling unproductive and unaccomplished. I come across something interesting and jot two lines of ideas down but never end up writing the article I had promised myself to write. I tell my friends I will call them in the middle of a text conversation and don’t dial the number for weeks on end. I feel like I am operating on stolen time and energy.

I am not only diminishing my accomplishments and thinking I am unworthy of them all, but also magnifying my flaws and failures. I beat myself up for the smallest of things like not finishing a book fast enough or waking up an hour later than I had planned to. It is unclear when, but I have somehow finessed the art of installing a layer of hatred underneath my own skin. It is no longer the stunt that is bugging me—it is the fact that I seem to be deteriorating.

The sink is running and soap suds are accumulating when the next question lights up in my head like a neon sign: So what?

So what if I am stuck in a slump? Does the world stop spinning to take pity on me? To say, “oh, you poor thing, take some time off and a well-deserved break”? The bitter truth is that no one gives two shits about this imposter syndrome and stagnation of mine. The world’s functioning does not take into account my (lack of) fulfilment or accomplishment. So what if these short-lived crises are being thwarted at me? At the very least, I am aware of my performance instead of blindly succumbing to the motions of life.

I don’t always have the solutions; my mind is not an answer booklet. Lists and planners don’t guarantee the perfection of tasks. Not every unit of effort churns out an equal unit of result. Even if I had really wasted the past five months of the year, I cannot let that dictate the trajectory of my remaining seven months.

All I can do for now is spin. Without the promise of the sun’s ray at the next turn. Without the guarantee that I’m clear of the asteroids’ paths. Without looking at the progress of others. One degree at a time.