the lack of forward progress



cobblestone beach, Acadia National Park. July 11, 2017. Photo credit: me

I asked a friend how he was doing these days. He said “fine” in that way that doesn’t really mean fine at all. Then he elaborated a bit to say that he feels as though he’s in a holding pattern and not making much progress (in life).

A woman I work out with said a similar thing about her running. She feels like she’s not getting better and maybe getting worse. She expressed how it was hard to motivate herself, which means running less, which means not getting better.


I told my friend in response to his “holding pattern” comment that I felt similar.
“… just kind of a slump. Not depressed really… at least not in the same way I used to be. But I’m getting really frustrated with my lack of forward progress in various aspects of my life.” 

Frustration. That’s what I’ve got here.

I want to write poems, but the words aren’t forming and flowing for me.
I want to run in the woods, but my legs are heavy and my breath is labored and my mind won’t stop telling me I can’t
I want to find a job that matches my passion for education, but I’m unsure of what that looks like.
I want to get my real estate license, but my online course is taking a lot of time and I think I’m doing it wrong — it’s been so long since I’ve been a student.
Speaking of being a student: I’m finishing my M.Ed. this fall but I haven’t yet signed up for my last course or done draft work on my Paper. The last time I wrote academically was in 2012.
I want to have a happy, fun-loving relationship with my spouse, but we’ve got so much going on and little time to work on us.
I want to not be so poor that it’s scary. I want to have enough money to pay my bills each month, and maybe some to save. It’s hard seeing others around me buy lovely things and to feel jealous. I hate that I drive a car that everyone else thinks is cute but that has no air conditioning, a non-functioning convertible top, and no backseat for my kid.

When I was trying to formulate the words to describe my mental state to my friend the word hopeless kept popping up. In that, the difference between what’s going on now and my life two years ago is that I no longer feel hopeless. There isn’t that same doom and gloom that weighs heavy on me. These days, I have a lot more hope and belief in my own ability to forge on, even in difficult times. If you’ve been following my journey for a while now, you know this difference. You’ve read it, you’ve seen it. I am so proud of my journey out of the darkness that consumed me years ago. I am much happier, stronger, self-loving, confident, and hopeful.

But I’m frustrated. And I’m impatient. I want things to move along more quickly than they are. I see friends making forward progress and accomplishing great things and I feel left behind. I feel like a loser. But a lot of that is on me. I could have started real estate classes last year when I was thinking about it but too scared to do it. I could have set up a training schedule for my trail runs and read articles on improving my technique and speed, but I haven’t. I could have immediately looked for other teaching jobs after my last one ended.

Let me give you some insight that I suspect is not so unique to me: I get an adrenaline rush and terribly excited about the thought of doing meaningful work. But I have an irrational fear of failing, which keeps me from starting that work. You can’t fail at something you haven’t done, right? (Side note: I call bullshit, of course. All those cheesy motivational posters are right: you miss out on every shot you don’t take, so…)

It’s been a year and a half now since I’ve been in the classroom. I miss teaching. I miss the relationships I formed with my students. The meaningfulness of it all. I still don’t miss the politics. The unsupportive environment I felt there. But I miss watching my kids (students) grow into their own identity. I miss being there for that, helping them with that, guiding, encouraging, supporting. And I miss the intellectual challenge of teaching. I joke with a friend who only knows me post-teaching and say, “I wish you would have known me when I was smart. I used to be smart, you know.”

I don’t really know what my point is of sharing this. I came here to write a poem, but this came out instead. Maybe it’s ok to be in this holding pattern, this roadblock. As long as it’s temporary. And as long as I continue to feel hopeful about my forward progress. I need to learn patience. And I need to give myself more credit for what I DO do than what I’m not doing. Day in and day out I’m doing a ton of meaningful work – as a mom, wife, friend, co-worker, etc. I am making foward progress, it’s just slow. Maybe that’s what I need right now.

That, and maybe a good kick in the ass.

Thank you to those who continue to love and support me. My life would be nothing without all the love I receive from friends and family. I can’t seem to formulate words that doesn’t make it sound so cliche. But the people in my life and the relationships I have with them is what keeps me moving. I love the fuck outta every one of yall, even if I don’t say it all the time.

~ I love you keep going ~


About Gina Marie Thompson

writer • mom • trail runner • cheese slinger • educator • social justice crusader • seeker of love & beauty• living locally • I CHOOSE LOVE ❤️
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One Response to the lack of forward progress

  1. Pingback: your patience will be rewarded | musings and mishaps of an unconditional lover

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