M.K.Harlan

Storyteller

I’ve been struggling for the last week or two to come up with something to write here. There’s a lot going on right now with my mental health, my physical health, and trying to figure out the future and what I’m doing with my life.

It’s been a whole year since I graduated college and I can honestly say that I didn’t expect to be where I’m at.

I didn’t expect to be working at Lowe’s still.

I didn’t expect to be living in northern Indiana still, let alone at my grandparents’ house.

I didn’t expect to have taken out a car loan.

I didn’t expect to have to go to my doctor 4 – almost 5 – months after the fact to have my back injury treated and to talk about my mental health.

I didn’t expect any of this.

But, I look back and I don’t even know what I expected.

I thought I’d have a better job, be living on my own – possibly not even in Indiana anymore.

God has a funny way of working in our lives. He puts us right where He wants us, whether or not we want to be there or intend to be there. He forces us into these situations, into our lives, for one reason or another.

I don’t know what His reasoning is behind where I’m at. I’ll tell you right now, though, that I never would have done talked to a doctor if I’d been in another city or state and not near the doctor I have right now for whom I am able to shake off my anxiety long enough to place some trust in her.

I’ve been having problems lately because while in my head I know that there’s a purpose for what’s happening in my life, for the way things are shaping up, it’s always a long journey – that 18 inches – from the brain to the heart. I can’t always make the little chemicals in my brain cooperate and reassure me that it’s okay.

When I was a kid I would spend hours and hours planing out my escape, my runaway. The day I turned 18 I was going to disappear at midnight and I was going to drive west, or east, or anywhere but home. I was going to have a life. I was going to join the Marine Corps or travel across the country with a dog and a truck and pretend that I wasn’t terrified of people. I wasn’t going to go to college, I wasn’t going to let anybody tell me what to do ever again.

Now – I don’t let other people dictate my life. I’m an adult and I make my own choices. But, I’ve started planning again. I have at least a dozen different escape plans typed up and ready for me to try one of them. Maybe they’ll end up in a story I write one day…

Or maybe one of these days someone will say or do something and I’ll just go. Just throw a few sets of clothing into my backpack with my gear and just disappear for a while, following one of my plans or making one up as I go.

It gets harder and harder, the more I hurt, the more stress I’m under, to not just pass by work and keep going – driving until I either run out of gas, money, or both. Whether or not I like where that takes me.

As a writer, and as an artist, this appeals to me. This idea of freeing myself from the responsibility of every day life. Of taking a new and exciting path.

As I want to do this – I’d prefer it be thought out and planned a little better. I’d prefer to do it on my terms, rather than terms set by the chemicals in my brain that aren’t doing their job the right way.

I’ve been asking myself all year, and especially now that Facebook has so kindly reminded me that one year ago I graduated college, what I’m doing with my life. College is done and over with and I’m still in the same spot – at least geographically and professionally – that I was 12 months ago.

Heck, I’ve barely been able to bring myself to create most of the time. I’ve been getting better, getting things to where I want them, working hard on making myself create again. Let me tell you, it’s awesome to feel that again. But, there’s something missing.

I don’t feel motivated. It’s harder than it should be to dig out and dust off the passion I once felt for my creative work.

There are days when I don’t even know if I really remember what it was to feelĀ normalĀ to feel like I could get out of bed in the morning and tackle the world. It’s an odd feeling – not knowing what I’ve rally felt, what I’ve really done. Not truly rememberingĀ years of my life.

It’s kind of depressing too, knowing that I missed out on so many milestones and experiences in high school and college that everyone else got to have while I was in a haze, convinced I was fine, but really I wasn’t.

I find myself worrying about younger me. There are times when I want to go back in time and take her in my arms, no matter how much she fights being embraced, and tell her that it’s not alright and that she needs to get herself together and figure out what’s going on before it’s too late and all of her chances to be a normal kid are gone.


I read this back to myself and I ask now, why I’m writing this. Why I’m going to share this on my blog. What’s the significance of it? It’s not something I’m looking for encouragement or reassurance on, and I’m at a point where reassurance and encouragement would just make me angry.

(Ever felt that way? It’s a ridiculous feeling.)

This is my state of the union speech.

This is my update because I know that there are people in my life who care.

This is me telling myself that it’s going to work out.

This is me just trying to figure out what I want to do with my life.

In the last year I’ve said that I want to go back to school for teaching, so I can teach English on a high school level. I’ve said that I want to go to graduate school for creative writing, or maybe literature so I can teach on a college level, or maybe just for the heck of it.

I’ve even thought about pitching an idea for a travel column/food blog type of deal. (Not completely out of the running yet.)

But, let’s be honest, none of those feel right. No matter how much I pray, no matter how many times I ask God what to do. I always seem to hear a “I have something else in mind.” kind of response.

I apply to any job I can find that I remotely qualify for that uses my degree in an interesting way, but I never get any calls back. I never get asked for an interview.

That’s okay, but the discouragement is real and there’s not much I can do about it but keep trying, keep praying, and hoping that it works out.


Right now, my greatest joy in life – teaching first grade Sunday school.

There’s nothing quite like it when you see something start to stick in their heads, when you start to see them understand God’s love and how they need to have it and show it in their lives.

And, honestly – I think I sometimes learn more applicable things from the Kids’ lessons than I do from going to the adult service and sitting through a sermon. (Even though I’ve been trying to do both.)

God’s got a plan, and while I’m antsy to figure it out, I know it’ll work out. There’s a reason I’m where I’m at, and a reason I haven’t had all the experiences I think I should have had by now.

There. Is. A. Reason.

It. Will. Sort. Itself. Out.

God’s. Got. This.

I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

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