The Angst-y Penguin of Happiness

I'll miss you too!

I’ll miss you too!

Today is the first real day of my leave.

The Christmas break is over. My colleagues go back to work and my the students are back in the classroom. I, on the other hand, get to write in my new, comfee lounge pants. My outright obligations are few. As I sit here with my coffee, I should be able to unleash my inner taunting playground “Na, na, na, na, Na, na.” I should be ecstatic that my experiment in semi-retirement is actually underway.

I am not.

I think what I am feeling would be best described as angst. From Wikipedia: “Kierkegaard used the word Angest (in common Danish, angst, meaning “dread” or “anxiety”) to describe a profound and deep-seated spiritual condition of insecurity and fear in the free human being. Where the animal is a slave to its instincts but always conscious in its own actions, Kierkegaard believed that the freedom given to people leaves the human in a constant fear of failing his/her responsibilities to God. [] While Kierkegaard’s feeling of angst is fear of actual responsibility to God, in modern use, angst was broadened by the later existentialists to include general frustration associated with the conflict between actual responsibilities to self, one’s principles, and others (possibly including God).”

Yup. That’s me. Conflicted. On one side of the scale is the joy of following a dream. I am writing full-time. I am off to Antarctica in less than a month. On the other side are feelings of guilt and, if I am being totally honest, shame. It took me almost 50 years, but this “people pleaser” is just now coming to terms with the fact that sometimes, if you make a decision, conflicted feelings are inevitable.