No matter what I may be doing in life—whether it's been writing or going to school or working a day job or being in rehearsal or wandering around New York looking for tickets to The People's Court—I very often wake up feeling guilty. It's this downright nagging sense that I should be doing something or I should be going somewhere or I should be, at the very least, not in bed sleeping. But the thing is, that "something" or "somewhere" that I should be moving towards is never clear. And when I think I've figured out what I should be doing, I often feel that I should be doing something else. I never really do know what is actually wanted from me. I want to turn to the heavens like Bruce Campbell in Evil Dead 2 and scream, "Give me back my hand!"
It takes a while to shake this feeling off my body and get on with my day. But it pops in and out on occasion. For example, you know those alarm systems at the entrances/exits of retail stores? Whenever I go in or out, I can usually feel a little anxiety, a bit of fear of the alarms going off and security guards tackling me to the ground—even though I have no merchandise whatsoever and I don't shoplift. Even when I have paid for, say, a book, passing through the alarm system at Barnes & Noble is an emotional ordeal.
Generally, I don't think this feeling of guilt is necessary or rooted in sanity. I've considered that it may be connected to not only the ominous and indefinable idea of societal expectation that gets heaped upon you when you were a kid but also residue from what I have described as "Asian Mother Guilt." Do we carry these ideas into our adult lives, no matter how outdated and unhealthy they can be?
Or does this feeling of guilt have a legitimate purpose? Am I misidentifying the feeling? What if what I'm feeling is actually longing? We all have that don't we? And although that can be a huge and mysterious task unto itself—discovering the source of that longing—it seems far more acceptable than sifting through ancient, indescribable guilt.
But if those alarms ever do go off at Barnes & Noble, believe me, I'm sure to collapse to the ground, go unconscious, and wonder what I had ever done to deserve this.
—Reporting From Glendale, California