Up all night

Well, if my nerves/anxiety/whatever are going to prevent me from sleeping (not just sleeping but really feeling sleepy at all) I might as well be productive and get this shit off my chest.

My life is great. There is one major source of uncertainty, and I’ll get to that, but everything else is good.

Seriously. I’m extremely healthy. I haven’t really lost any speed since the marathon. I didn’t even gain weight over the holidays. I have a solid, supportive group of friends that I manage to see often enough.

My family loves me and is behind me (mostly). My sister and I get along.

I’m 26 and I have a Master’s Degree, and my professors from grad school consider me valuable to them, something I never expected to happen.

I have a wonderful girlfriend.

So what gives?

The career, I guess.

I can’t go into too much detail, but I’ve been hoping to make more professional progress than I have by this point. There’s an annoying, niggling bit of pride in there, instilled by my dad, that makes me care that many of my college classmates are already wealthy. The tools who were so cruel to me in 2004 are successful, married or both, except for the one who snapped and murdered a guy (no, seriously).

I feel very silly for caring that I don’t have any money saved. But I do. I have to admit that I care. I have a good friend who is frequently profiled for his startup - one that is both successful and valuable to the planet - and I can’t really afford to take a cab home after a night out unless I skip something else during the week.

I say I want to download Les Mis because I don’t want to pay for it, and it’s true… but I really can’t afford that many more movies until.

Until what?

Well, we’ve reached a breaking point, professionally. After some (not going into detail) disagreement last month - right before the holidays - I’ve been dreading tomorrow’s return to work for three weeks, which is probably why I can’t sleep tonight. I’ve been looking for additional work, too, so I can afford to see movies or whatever (or, um, go to the damn dentist), but that’s been as frustrating as you might as expect it to be over the holidays because who is hiring?

On top of that, I feel so silly because I’m privileged. I know that, if worst comes to worst and I absolutely need help, I have people who could help me. That’s wonderful, but it feels so weird to feel so panicked when I don’t need to be, and that just adds to the cycle.

Also, you know, teaching is very hard on no sleep, so as these hours pass I get more and more tense about how I might simply perform poorly tomorrow.

I tried listening to podcasts, I tried working out, I tried deep breathing, but the fact is, when I’m scared, truly bone-deep scared, I don’t sleep.

My friends know how easily I pass the fuck out when I’m feeling normal. It’s a running joke. It happened as recently as two days ago.

But the last time I was this petrified to the point that it kept me up was last summer, twice in a few days. The first time, I was in Quito, and I was about to fly into the Amazon the next day. I was just plain scared of the jungle. So I stared at the ceiling all night.

Two nights later, I was awakened in my mosquito net by something walking around. I thought it might be a jaguar. It was a person waking up, which I figured out after, like, an hour. By then the sun was up.

Anyway, all this is to say, those fears are pretty rational. When I’m terrified, my hearing goes into overdrive and makes it impossible for me to relax. I itch and I’m hot. The normal things that make your body do what it does become uncomfortable. I feel everything tenfold, like I’m Daredevil or some shit.

I suppose if I’m a zombie in the morning I can mainline some coffee to make it through the four hours I need to be alert tomorrow and I can skip the gym and nap in the afternoon.

It’s just this one day I’ve built into armageddon. It’s hurting my chest and making me feel awful.

My eyes are hurting now, so maybe I can keep them closed.

If I can’t I’ll just be back on here, sharing my thoughts.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality