An Overwhelming Day

Today was one of those days that made me question everything. My life, my choices, my future… I am so mentally drained that I just want to curl up into a ball with South Park and my kitty and just focus on what I’m going to wear tomorrow or what color of eyeliner to buy next from Target or something stupid like that.

But I can’t.

I can only focus on the whirlwind of questions in my mind that today has created.

Simply put, what I am majoring in, sustainability, is mentally and emotionally draining. I won’t go into extreme detail for fear of confusing everybody, but there are basically three main categories of sustainability – social, economic, and environmental – and my concentration in this field focuses primarily on the social aspect of it. Society. People. Peoples’ wants and needs and goals and dreams and futures and safety and happiness.

The concepts behind social sustainability are not concrete or set in stone. They are very conceptual and theoretical. Therefore, while we learn concrete fact about peoples’ situations and certain rules and regulations behind different ways of implementing policies that change said situations, most of what we talk about is theory. Reading off my notes I took in one of my classes today, we talk about internal framework, hypothetical situations, social development. Hyden’s crescendo: evolving, diffusing, insulating. Layers of government. Data and arguments. Flow of information vs. misinformation. Roles and influences of technology and geography. Capacity building.

Is that confusing, or is that confusing?

Some days I chip in happily with the class conversations. I take my notes and nod as my professors explain models and ideas and realities that collectively make up one way of doing things, or explain why some people do something a certain way, or determine whether or not an immediate solution is needed in a situation. Some days I get it. I understand.

And then there are some days where my professors are firing off terms and abstract ideas and some of my older, wiser classmates are debating amongst themselves and are quoting articles, books, other universes for all I know, and I sit in complete shock and wonder how I ever managed to get accepted into the School of Sustainability; I ask myself why I didn’t major in something like art, or design, or communications, or something that wouldn’t drive me insane, something that wouldn’t keep my mind churning for hours on end, something that wouldn’t make me question my capabilities and my role on this planet and my very existence.

There is just no other way to say this: the more I know about the field of sustainability, the less prepared I feel to be entering it.

Days like today are the ones that make me sit with my head in my hands and despair because I don’t feel worthy enough to be in this program. The mess we humans have gotten ourselves into is so complex, so complicated, that I can’t wrap my head around it and I hate myself for not understanding fully. Maybe that’s where the true problem lies. I’m an egomaniac that wants to be the smartest of them all, and I can’t stand the fact that while I want to be a top academic that people look to for guidance, I just don’t have all the answers.

Days like today are the ones that make me think… what in the living hell did I get myself into?

Careers, my poor mind starts sputtering like a broken record. Of course that’s the first thing I think about. I’m 21, going to graduate in a year, and need to find a career if I’m ever going to survive in this lion’s den that is the real world. What career will I end up in if I continue down this road? Will I be a successful humanitarian someday? Will people listen to me? Will I know what to do? Will my life ever be in jeopardy from trying to work with those who need help? Will I be happy?

And what about the determinedly ignorant people who refuse to see that sustainable solutions must surface if there is to be hope for humanity? How do I even function when they exist? How do I do my potential job? How do I convince them I have their best interests at heart? What about those who refuse to do anything because they are so convinced their God will just solve everything with a wave of a magic wand? How do I possibly get through to them? How do I tell them it is okay to believe in a higher being, but scientific fact backs up these sustainability-related problems and they require real, equally scientific solutions? How do I try and help those who refuse to see the giant mess they are sitting in? How – in reference to an awesome quote from the movie Avatar – do I fill a cup that is already full?

How do I help governments work together? How do I help developing nations rise out of poverty? How do I stop wars? How do I stop crime? How do I stop hunger? How do I improve education? How do I spread awareness to more fortunate groups of people? How do I redistribute power? How do I uplift those who have been beaten down? How do I promote equality? How does anyone in this field do any of that?? How do they do it without losing their minds? How do they (brace yourselves) sustain their abilities and follow their dreams of helping people at the same time?

How?

How?

Today I ask these questions. Today I am still in love with my field of study, but I am overwhelmed with emotion when I think of the fact that if nobody answers these questions, people will continue to die of starvation, disease, conflict, or thirst. People will continue to slowly destroy the only planet we have to live on.

Today I stand with my eyes to the sky, begging, beseeching whatever or whomever is up there, if there is anything up there, to guide me, to guide all of us.

I don’t have all the answers. Maybe no one does.

But today I simply try to have hope, because there are times like now where that is all I have.

But from this rises yet another question… is it enough?

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