Sunday, February 26, 2012

Source of Anxiety

It occurs to me that one source of anxiety for me lately is the overwhelming number of things that I am interested in. With the constant availability of the Internet, with the huge availability of the library, though inter-library loans, with the face to face Meet-Ups on a seemingly endless variety of interests, with all the Facebook friends and interest pages, with the magazines and newspapers that I get, with the long list of emails that I need or want to read, I am simply overwhelmed with stuff. If I were like my husband and narrowly focused on only a few areas of interest, even then I would be inundated with information. But I consider myself to be a generalist. It is one of the reasons why I have stuck with teaching. It allows me to be interested in a wide variety of things.

But recently, I have become more and more aware that it also causes me anxiety. I just can't keep up with the constant barrage of things that I want to read and the things I want to do. I actually have more time now than I have had in earlier years of my life - I am not working on a university degree, the kids are grown, I am not working full time. But that also means that I can develop new interests as well - I have started going to Meet-Ups for playing board games and for speaking German. Last summer, I started making jewelry. This past fall I started writing songs. Since I moved here I have been trying to attend regularly the World Affairs Discussion Group at our local branch library, where I am confronted continually with my lack of knowledge about history, economics, and international policy. And I want to remedy that lack of knowledge.

Perhaps this acknowledgement can explain some of the reasons that students know so little about the world these days. There is simply too much to know; too much to be interested in; too much to do. It is much easier to just focus on the easy things - the latest video game; the antics of pop stars; the latest songs. These things are straight-forward and do not require complicated understanding. Let someone else know the complicated stuff; there is too much for me to know - and by the time I learn about it, it will have changed, anyway.

I suppose other people have come to this realization already - so, again, I am confronted with the question of why should I care? Maybe I should just relax and give up even pretending to be a generalist - but which of my interests should I give up?

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