Well, 2019 has certainly been a year. The last time I updated this blog was on this exact date, 2018. And then I just… stepped into another dimension.
A year ago, I was writing in my journal about how 2019 doesn’t seem like a real year. 19 itself has never seemed like a real number. Even my 19th year, age-wise, was certainly a year. It’s not that 19 is an unlucky number for me… it’s barely a number at all. 19 is a dimensional shift. It’s a state of temporal flux. Age 19, 2019, both were surreal. Even as a child, each age meant something different to me, except for 19. 15 was quinceñera. 16 was driving. 17 was graduating high school. 18 was adulthood (psht, barely). 20 was decade numero dos. 21 was getting wasted. Everything after that was grown-up nonsense. But 19? It was shrouded with mystery, a dark gray void swirling with cosmic gases. It’s not a real fucking number.
So what has happened to me in this past year that made it feel surreal? A change of occupation is one thing. There was already some fuckery going on as we rang in the new year, but shit started to hit the fan in March. On Sunday, the CEO made a frivolous decision based on her own pig-headed ignorance about how things worked that completely changed the nature of my job description. On Monday, the education director was fired for standing up for her team. On Tuesday, my supervisor was fired for standing up for us. That’s when I really just checked out and stopped giving a fuck about what was happening there. I didn’t enjoy or take pride in my work anymore, and it was clear the organization that I once believed in had become a dumpster fire. I was there strictly for the paycheck and health insurance. But because everyone and their mom was either quitting or getting fired, I had to pick up the slack. Thus, I got swept away in the drama and the stress it brought along with it.
I became more dysfunctional. It became difficult to take my medications, and things REALLY started to unravel. My mind was consumed with obsessing over things I had no control over, both in the workplace and on the planet itself. The panic and anxiety I had kept at bay for several years returned with a vengeance. I ended my romantic partnership in a most unceremonious and insensitive fashion, because my brain could not even comprehend the added responsibilities of that interpersonal dimension. I went into a sort of survival mode where I had to take life one day at a time, and not look too far ahead into the future.
Yet I did look a little ahead, because I knew I had to get out of that place. I considered following my brother’s footsteps and heading to medical school. However, after I determined what my GPA actually was, I realized it wasn’t a likely possibility. So maybe I’d do nursing. I re-applied to my university as a post-bac to obtain the credits I’d need to apply to an accelerated nursing program. But whatever it was I decided on, going back to school seemed the right thing to do… especially because of the health insurance. It’s expensive, but it at least meant I could safely quit my job (I have too many medical needs to go without).
I quit the day before school started, the day after submitting my two-week notice. I submitted the notice, but decided, “Fuck them.” I had expressed over a month prior about wanting to quit before school started, but graciously waited for them to hire a replacement. Well, they lagged on hiring that replacement, and now school was about to start. Fuck them! They had all the time in the world to hire someone and have me train them, but they gave so few shits about what my team did there that it wasn’t anywhere on their priority list. I also requested a 30-hour workweek, and that was rejected. They really expected, knowing that I’m autistic and mentally ill, that I would work 40 hours while doing school at the same time. There’s just no way. Every single fuck I had was gone, so I went in on Sunday, packed up all my stuff, turned in my key and ID, and fucked on out of there forevermore. I received many entertaining updates the days thereafter from an inside source about how shit hit the fan when they realized I wasn’t coming back, that there was no replacement for my duties which, because they hadn’t hired replacements for my other former colleague or myself, literally nobody else knew how to do. ZERO. FUCKS. GIVEN. I have a lot of love for many of the people I worked with, but the place as a whole, especially the administrative part, was incredibly toxic. I had to break free. I have zero regrets.
Nevertheless, I am autistic, and change doesn’t come easily. I got incredibly ill that first week of school. I regressed to a state of anxiety and fear that I’d had as a small child, and went several days without a wink of sleep. The only thing that worked, but only for a couple hours, was my mom sleeping next to me. I was legitimately afraid of dying in my sleep. My blood pressure was through the roof. I thought I’d have a heart attack. The build-up of stress was just too intense, and now that I had at least some space to express it (not having to be at work 40 hours a week), I sure as fuck expressed it.
But I survived, and the anxiety eased up. My body finally realized NONE of the bullshit that had been stressing me out was relevant anymore. I could give all of my attention to school. I had already fallen behind, but managed to catch up. I was taking three classes that were required for the accelerated nursing program: microbiology, nutrition, and an online sociology course. Sociology was a breeze, but microbiology was taking a significant amount of resources. Nutrition ended up requiring more effort than I had considered putting into it, but I was so caught up with microbiology that it fell by the wayside. In the end, I received an A in both sociology and microbiology, and a C in nutrition.
And in the course of taking those courses, I realized, once and for all, what my path shall be: not nursing, but biology. The initial dream which I had to give up on at age 19, because at the time I did not have the mental capacity, study skills or concentration to study that level of science. Getting a degree in psychology was exactly what I needed to accumulate those skills, and now it’s time to put those skills to the purpose they were always destined for. Science and math doesn’t come effortlessly to me like it seems to for some, but I certainly have the motivation now that I didn’t have a decade ago.
Feeling more at ease in life, I re-initiated my previous romantic relationship and have made some efforts at strengthening my social connections. But that’s still the hard part, which I will certainly work on in 2020 and beyond.
Ultimately, what I have going into 2020 that I didn’t have going into 2019 is clarity and purpose about what I hope to accomplish in life. One year ago, nothing was certain: I had a psychology degree, but no idea what to do with it. I had a job, but it was unrelated to my career goals, which were non-existent. I had my left politics, but unsure how I could be of service to humanity. Therefore, I had no resolutions, no goals other than to coast and hope I survive. Now I know: I’m going to be a biologist, and I’m going to study the effect of our resident microbiota on our mental health. I’m going to be a writer and help to radicalize others by clarifying revolutionary ideas that have been muddled by capitalist propaganda. And primary, above all else, I’m going to become the person I need to become: more patient, more open to human connection, and hella gay. 2020, the year of my Golden birthday, is my Golden year.
Hopefully you’ll hear from me many more times before this time next year.
Until next time,