I’ve long held that I’m all but incapable of self-validating. Nothing I do is ever good enough to meet my constantly-rising standards, and I start to wither without praise or recognition from my peers. On the other hand, I always dismiss such praise as quickly as it is doled out, usually with a “thanks but I should have …”

Intellectually, in the logical parts of my brain, I recognize this pattern and see it happening over and over again, whether I’m playing video games, writing proposals at work, or speaking in public. The emotional side of my brain however doesn’t lend much credence for what the other half says, and instead wallows in what could have been—more specifically what it thinks should have been.

My wife is off with her family for a cross-country Winter vacation, and it’s hard for me to see her go. I of course want her to go out and explore this wide world, but it also feels so empty being the only person at home, not having her just in the next room for mutual comfort and support. I spend my after-work hours listless, directionless, unable to fall asleep.

She has brought up in the past that she fears I don’t need her, that I’m independent enough that she doesn’t actively contribute to our relationship, and I absolutely hate that she could feel that way. I can say quite confidently that without her kind care, love, and support, I wouldn’t have loved this long. She is a constant companion, an essential pillar which helps hold my life in some semblance of balance.

It has been said that successful people don’t talk about “stress,” they instead talk about their “fear” recognizing and accepting that often a sense of being overwhelmed or anxiety about their place in the world stems from being afraid of the possible outcome. I don’t have too many people to whom I can honestly say that I live most days in fear—what I so often call stress—and that the uncertainty of the future shakes me to my core.

I have applied for more than two dozen of new jobs in the past week alone, and I’m hoping to at least get a call back from one or two. It’s my hope that a sharp change in scenery, both workplace and perhaps geographical, will help break me out of this steep rut in which I find myself. Truly, it just feels like I’m going through the motions of being alive, of having a life, without and real conviction behind anything I do.

Maybe things will change and maybe they won’t. Right now I’m far enough away from a place of calm that I want the best for my wife and friends, to support them in living the lives they want and deserve, rather than being motivated to help myself. Yes I know applying for new jobs sounds like I’m trying to better my situation, but in the back of my mind I worry I’m seeking a change solely for others’ sakes and not my own.