October 1, 2007

Lifestyles

Contentment…Apparently it Does Exist

by Andi Miller

For the last two and a half years, I’ve been an avid blogger. And, sadly, I started the blog for a very specific reason. The fact of the matter is that I started it largely out of spite in the wake of a relationship that I ended. Given a little time and space, I can look back on the relationship and the blog with some manner of objectivity and realize that my obsessive online journaling was, more than anything, a way to scream about my feelings.

It. Was. Bitter.

In fact, that entire period of my life was bitter. Until I started graduate school.

I distinctly remember, when I started graduate school and my writing was still overwhelmingly a smart-assy snarkfest of cynicism and blackhearted schlock, I commented about always feeling the need to reach for something. That is to say, I've always been happier when I'm neck deep in the pursuit of some lofty goal--a degree, for instance.

When I graduated with my B.A. in 2003, even though I had a boatload of things to feel good about, I didn't feel good at all. I felt like I'd lost my job. In a very real way, I had. School was all I’d known. I felt very lost in general, deep down inside myself. My grandparents passed away only months before I graduated, I moved a very long way from my hometown and my family, and I started teaching. And, above all, I didn't have a very good attitude about anything. I fell into a very deep depression for a very long time, and instead of trying to fix it, I think I wallowed in it, and it wounded my life and my relationships.

I realized I couldn't blame my funk on anyone but myself when I moved back to Texas from North Carolina in late 2004 and I was still depressed. Beginning my M.A. in the fall of 2005 was a welcome distraction, and it made me feel good about myself. It made me feel smart and driven and motivated, and I met a slew of like-minded people whom I love dearly and will always count among my greatest friends and allies.

Now, almost exactly four years after I graduated from college the first time and moved to North Carolina for the first time, I'm in the same geographical and academic position, but things are dramatically different. I am, maybe for the first time in my life, quite content. Even though I've graduated from college once again, and I have no impending degree on the horizon, I'm fine with it. I've come to a place in my life where I realize that I can't measure my success or my worth by how many degrees I collect or books on my shelf or pennies in my bank account. I measure my worth by how I feel about myself and about my life.

I enjoy being out of my mother's house but still talking to her on the phone every day. I enjoy living with a wonderful man and being in love. I enjoy spending time with his family. I enjoy writing and reading and editing. I enjoy cooking and cleaning and being at home. And, of course, I look forward to teaching every day. In short, there's nothing I would change.

For once, I'm not desperately reaching for anything to make me feel complete and "finished."


Andi Miller is a recent graduate of a Master's program in Texas. She is founder and co-editor of the e-zine, Estella's Revenge, and a book reviewer for PopMatters.com. She hopes to begin work on her first novel in the near future while she spends her days teaching English and freelancing. You can also find her work in an upcoming special issue of The Journal of the Society for the Study of Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States. In her spare time she is an unapologetic book nerd, avid blogger, novice foodie, and loves napping.