Waiting to Begin 2/28/19


By Richard E. Bleil, Ph.D.

As I start this blog, I am sitting on a bed in my friends’ basement. They have been kind enough to give me a place to stay as I recoup from a very long difficult time. With their help, I am eating, I have a roof, and I’m not freezing to death in this horrendous winter, and I very much realize that this is more than far too many people can say in our society today.

My fall has triggered a very long and deep depression. In fact, I began this blog as an attempt to try to begin to break this depression.

As I sit here trying to think about a topic for today’s post, it kind of occurred to me that I’m waiting to begin. I’m not sure what it is that I’m waiting for, but I’m waiting. The problem with waiting, though, is that I am not moving.

As if it needs to be said, the reality is that not moving is a bad thing. But, I’m not the only person who is waiting. Unfortunately, it seems like far too many people around me are also waiting. They are waiting for different things of course; some are waiting for that “special somebody”, some are waiting for a better job, some are waiting for the political system to change, but there is a lot of waiting.

My whole life, I’ve been waiting for that special woman. I’ve always been told that, one day, she will walk into my life, but the reality things usually just don’t work like that. Yes, some of us get lucky, we are born into money or inherit it, or we luck into an awesome career because we hit it off with the right person, but the reality is that these things are rare and far between, and besides, anything handed to us has no value anyway.

I was raised into a lower middle class family, and while we were never hungry, we never had wealth either. My family is not well-educated; my parents graduated high school (which was a considerable accomplishment in their day), and the highest degree in my entire family (immediate and extended) was, at the time, my sister’s two-year associate degree. My passion was science, and surpassed the family educational history when I obtained my bachelor’s degree in chemistry. I found, though, that working in industry was not terribly satisfying, and decided to pursue my Ph.D.

The concept of this was unfathomable. Nobody in my family or among my friends had a degree beyond bachelor’s, nobody could tell me how to proceed, and the idea of successfully completing such a goal seemed impossible. But I knew a few things:

  • Self doubt kills dreams. The first step to accomplishing my goal was to know that I could do it. This didn’t mean I believed it; I just knew it. Belief is not enough.

  • Waiting kills dreams. It would have been easy to decide, well, I’ll start next year. Or to spend time talking about it with my friends to build emotional support. But, once the decision was made, I moved.

  • Lack of plans kills dreams. The plans to go to graduate school were pretty straightforward; decide on a specialization, figure out the features I wanted in a graduate school, and apply.

  • Fear kills dreams. I was working when I was accepted to a couple of graduate schools. It would have been easy to just keep working, enjoying a decent income, and taken the usual path. The courageous move, though, was to take the chance, and step into a world of which I had no clue.

I have a friend who has recently re-married, and started her own HR business. She’s moving. Another friend just built a new home and moved into it. She’s moving. In Scotland, I have a friend who donated blood for the first time in her life, and has started several new projects in her career. She’s definitely moving.

And, I’ve started moving. It doesn’t feel like much, but it’s something. I’m not going to pretend like I have answers for you, because I know I’m still waiting myself. Sadly, I’m not even sure for what. What’s more, self-doubt and depression has all but knocked me out of the game entirely. I can tell you this, though; I have had enough.

An old saying goes something like, “Be not afraid of slow progress; be afraid of no progress at all.” So, even if it seems small, I’ve started moving.

  • I started blogging, to keep my mind active, and, maybe, help others in the process.

  • I’ve started teaching online as a tutor, certainly a significant step down from dean to tutor, but it is keeping my knowledge of chemistry fresh, bringing in a little bit of money, and it helps students.

  • After taking a few months off, I’ve again begun applying for jobs despite, quite literally, well over five hundred job rejections and ignored applications.

It’s not enough. I will be continuing work on a new book, and an old research project. My friends are moving in their lives, and they are inspiring me to once again begin moving in mine as well.

So what do you want? More education? More money? To sell a screenplay? To write an opera? More importantly, what are you going to do about it?

Editorial note:  My friends actually lives in Scotland, no Ireland.  This has been corrected.

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