"I’m on a mission to sabatoge myself."

I found myself saying that to someone the other day. Over the past few weeks I’ve seriously been doing a lot of self reflection about my general malaise towards life. Most of my life I’ve found myself generally unhappy. Don’t worry. I’m not suicidal or anything. It’s just a general sense of dissatisfaction I’ve experienced most of my life. In high school it was about baseball. Then it was about girls and friends. In college it was that I couldn’t get a serious relationship to work out and I was stuck in Northwestern Pennsylvania. Then it was that I was stuck in North Carolina while all the good teaching jobs were up in Northwestern Pennsylvania. And now, it’s finally come full circle. I got one of those good teaching jobs back home and am employed in a unionized school district where I have a great salary, job security, and get my Master’s degree paid for. I realize I’m in a great situation right now, especially considering the state of our economy at the moment. So why do I still feel this sense of dissatisfaction?
Recently, as my escapades in North Carolina came to a close, I found myself reeling to catch on at a school district up here. So badly did I want to pursue my Master’s and I was frustrated that I was ‘stuck’ teaching in North Carolina while all my friends teaching up here were growing professionally and getting it paid for, none-the-less. I know what I’m capable of accomplishing if I want to, and I would go to work down there every day angry that I was handcuffed in a state that isn’t unionized and treats their public education system like a craps table at a casino (“Oh, well, we’re going keep everyone frozen on their current pay step this year because the state didn’t budget enough money for all our employees.” Sadly, that’s true. But that’s a whole other story all together).
So because of this constant sense of dissatisfaction about my job, I put the burners on, trying to get employed up North. And man, did I put on a show.  My interviews were pretty impressive.  Yes, that’s a humble brag.  And so this past summer I packed up and moved back home. I moved to a job that I wanted in a community I was familiar with, next to my alma mater where I could go to graduate school for whatever my heart desired.
Yes, I realized what I was giving up. I had a great life in North Carolina. I’d made a lot of life-long friends. Had a wonderful girlfriend, loved the weather, loved the social scene. But what did all of that mean if I couldn’t be happy with my job, right? Everyone always says that you can’t hate your job. You go there every day.
After returning home to everything I wanted professionally, there I sat, my first full day at home in July of 2009, completely dissatisfied. My first day back. I sat on my bed, wondering what the hell I had just done. I told myself that I’d feel a lot better once I moved into my own apartment (which took me months to find around here. Not big on the apartments for single guys around these parts). And when that didn’t change my feelings, I figured that once school started and I was busy all day, then I’d feel that sense of satisfaction I’d so desperately desired. Now, I’m telling myself that once graduate school starts, THEN maybe I’ll really start feeling good about things.
Four months after I picked up my life, just like I did when I moved away from here in 2005, I have absolutely no idea why I moved back here. I know that basing decisions solely on my career is not going to bring me what I want on its own. Instead, I went from feeling static in North Carolina to feeling static in Pennsylvania. (In case you’re keeping score at home, that just means my feeling of stasis is much, much colder now.)
So, here I sit, typing away, completely unsure of how I feel towards life in general and why I do the spontaneous, and most-often self-serving things that I do. Moving back home has definitely been a bit of a culture shock. It’s like throwing a goldfish into a fish bowl at home without checking the water temperature first. The poor little guy has no idea what hit him. The frustrating thing about that analogy is I threw myself into the fish bowl without thinking about the consequences.
If one good thing has come from this move for me personally, however, it’s that I’m finally able to prioritize some of the things in my life. I can’t say I’ve discovered the key that’s going to unlock my true bliss and turn me into a Zen Master, but instead I’m on a simple quest to try and not hamstring myself like I’ve been doing most of my life.

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5 Responses to "I’m on a mission to sabatoge myself."

  1. Diana Shade says:

    Andy, This is very moving and revealing. I got such a sad, feeling inside of me reading this. I so wish I had some great piece of advice for you — I am so excited to have you working with me at MES — PENNCREST is so fortunate to have you — you are so awesome!!!!!!!
    Love, Diana Shade

  2. Jonny B^2 says:

    Well Mr. Burdick,

    Life is indeed disappointing at times. There are, however, a few things that continue to keep me going.

    (1) God
    (2) Family – particularly my lovely wife
    (3) Friends – particularly those that play a little game I tenderly refer to as — AOK — by the way, this link might just change your outlook temporarily. http://www.direct2drive.com/d2dturns5

    I also like this bit of text “—Titan Quest—
    Discover the Courage that Turns Heroes Into Legends.

    From Age of Empires co-creator Brian Sullivan and Braveheart writer Randall Wallace comes an innovative, all-new action role playing game set in ancient Greece, Egypt and Asia.”

  3. lisa davis says:

    Hey Andrew!

    Wow! You have a talent for writing! All I can say is set your goal and go for it! Another thing is quite beating yourself up! Look at all the things you have accomplished at your age besides all the lives you have inspired. Many, many students missed you after you left BES.
    Life always has those ups and downs even at my age.
    lisa

  4. Andy,

    I have to say, even though we don’t interact much, I’m glad you’re in NWPA, just to have someone else to cackle at their facebook and blog posts. I know I could do that if you were where-ever, but it’s good to have you nearby, even if we don’t hang out or anything.

    It’s never easy to figure out what’s going to click for you in life. I’m still looking for it myself…

  5. Andy says:

    Flattered. Thanks, Tiff. I get all sappy when I think of my friends up here. Despite my complaining about the weather, lack of things to do, the weather… the people are really what make living in Northwestern Pennsylvania tolerable. My entire social circle is fantastic. I’d go nuts if they weren’t so excellent and around all the time.

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