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My Auto-diagnosis

If for some reason you're reading this, please be warned that what you're about to read is very personal and has no real bearing on anything of importance happening in the world. The reason I chose to post it on Frihost is that if I'm going to write something, I figured I may as well earn Points for it. However, for what it's worth, the problem I will try to try to describe may affect someone you know, perhaps even yourself.

For the past few weeks, and most poignantly in the past few days, I have felt a wave of melancholy washing over me. If I was laying in a tub of the stuff, I'd say that I'm just over half-covered and feeling very uncomfortable and unhappy. Depressed? Me? Dare I think that? I'd always prided myself on being an optimist, an undiscriminating comic who looked at the bright side of everything. In the past I have tried to keep my negative emotions inside and to myself, but my loving wife and her genuine concern has caused me to open up more and more over time.

Still, I haven't talked to anyone about what I think I'm feeling now. In fact, I previously had no idea what I am feeling. I only gained a slight idea today as I lay in bed, struggling to fall asleep and failing miserably. Instead, I turned like a hamster wheel, as did thoughts in my head of all the things that I haven't accomplished and may never accomplish.

At work, I feel like I'm losing my motivation. I remember starting the new job in January, 2010, completely gung ho about my work and ready to make a difference. I dove in and developed a great working relationship with my boss. But ultimately, our zeal and overconfidence caused us to take our company down the wrong path, wasting valuable time and resources. Furthermore, we missed many key deadlines on big projects, casting a heavy web of fatigue over the demoralized team.

Also, my boss has transformed himself this year, becoming the closest thing to superhuman I think I've ever encountered. He seeded an idea in me that I had hoped to develop into something more of a personal accomplishment, but instead he saw the work I had completed and then completely ran away with the idea. There is no fault in any of this, because it's not like he stole the idea. In fact, the origin of the idea was his. But nonetheless I felt a loss of identity. This and other developments at work have compounded with out-of-work issues to really kill my drive and leave me empty inside despite a positive momentum developing at the office.

In my personal time, I've been focused on two people: Emily and Livia, two of my sister-in-laws. They are both international students from Taiwan, and they are both struggling in school, far away from familial support.

Emily is 16 and about halfway through her second semester in a private high school as a boarding student. Emily's progress in school has been good on paper, but underneath the letter grades I know how hard she's studying. Even worse, I can only guess at her lost sense of identity as she flounders in the American social scene, held back by a daunting language barrier. I'm frustrated at how helpless I am to support her, 2 hours away with a full-time job and a part-time education. I'm frustrated at not knowing how to change the system at Emily's school that acknowledges her existence but doesn't really know what to do with that knowledge.

On similar notes, I look at Livia’s battles with English and see my own failure to counsel and guide her in her studies. Livia is 5 years older than Emily but is also a product of an analogous high school experience. One major difference is that I wasn’t smart enough at the time when Livia started to recognize that she was falling behind in her studies and digging a larger and larger academic hole for herself. I had a clue but chose to blind myself to the implications and ignored her difficulties.

Somehow, Livia managed to navigate the system well enough to get into a few colleges. At me and my wife’s suggestion, Livia enrolled in a program that was supposed to bridge the English gap before she starts her first year as a collegiate freshman. However, the program turned out to be a sham, and despite my best intentions and actions now, it seems that she’s set in her habits and even more in her opinion that this level of proficiency and “smartness” is where she’s going to stay forever.

The final kicker to the situation with Emily and Livia is that I never addressed what I truly believe to be a root of the problem: their parents spoiling them with practically unchecked amounts of wealth. I definitely understand her parents perspective as regular folk who went from rags to riches, wanting to spare their children the same poverty in which the parents grew up. But in a way, the parents’ over-providing is stunting the growth and future potential of the children they are trying to protect. I believe this, and yet never in the past 365 days have I ever hinted at this in numerous conversations with the two adults.


So, to summarize, I feel spend my time at work feeling lost and my time out of work failing to help people I care about. I never left time to think about me, about my emotions. And now, after finally reflecting on myself in my insomnia and taking stock, I made one sad realization: I’ve forgotten how to have fun; I've forgotten how to re-energize me.

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