[“I Can Change” – Lake Street Dive]
I am scared. Contrary to what it seems with my penchant to travel alone; jump out of airplanes; and voice my life’s trials, tribulations, experiences, and beautiful embarrassments in this very public space… I really exist in an anxious and largely scared state of mind. Maybe I am like the Bruce Banner of anxiety… Maybe it’s my superhero burden to bear (wow, self important much, Liz? Though, green is my favorite color…)
What is likely my most obvious fear… I am scared that I have used up my cosmic luck quotient in romantic relationships. I am scared that I’ll be alone for the rest of my life and now that I say this “out loud” I am also scared of the enormous cliché I am beginning to sound like (ugh, please don’t judge me too harshly as I morph into Bridget Jones for a bit).
I am scared of alienating people. Of being left behind. Of being forgotten. I acknowledged the selfishness of the thought when reflecting with a friend recently. The closest people in my life are going through so many good changes, too many for me to handle at the moment as I continue to tread the waters of self pity. My favorite people are moving, buying and selling houses, getting engaged, getting married, having babies… Meanwhile I am living with my parents (who are lovely and amazing and I appreciate every last thing about them… but this is not where I expected to be when nearing 30 years old) and still paying off a honeymoon that is now a sad memory instead of a celebration of love. A memory that has more regret wrapped into it than anything having to do with Iceland has any right to have.
I am scared that my recent travesty of a life event has left me, in a sense, futuristicly disabled… Unable to move forward. I mean, it’s been nine months. I have been stuffing hurt down inside of me now for the amount of time it takes to gestate a new life. Shouldn’t this pain baby be out of my by now? (Ok, I am sorry, that metaphor really got away from me. Essentially I am just trying to say, shouldn’t I be over it already?) I am scared that the fact I am still having a hard time means there is something wrong with me. Maybe I am now becoming a burden to others. Maybe I am too sad, needy, pathetic, or bitter to be around people. But, everything changed so quickly in my world and who is to say that won’t happen again with another important person in my life? I still have so much I could lose.
I am scared of me. No, not in any “I need to be committed” or “You should worry” kind of way – but still in a way where, on the regular, I am not sure where I will land as far as my overall emotional state is concerned. Am I depressed? Or just sad? Am I anxious? Or just over caffeinated? Am I happy? Or am I just not sad? Am I real? Do I exist in the same space that everyone else does? Or is this the Matrix and I took some kind of pill and just don’t remember? All this ambiguity is just making me tired.
I am scared of tomorrow. As much as I want my summer of fun to begin, I also get wrapped up in fear about what new stress tomorrow will bring. Will it be the report I forgot to do for the Board until the last minute? Will it be the $1,000 car payment I have to make just to pass the state inspection? Ice caps melting… Bees dying… Twitter politics… Gun violence… My cactus dying because I accidentally over watered it…
Whatever the thing is, I know I won’t want to deal with it. I’m currently operating on a “give a damn” deficit and I am somehow still fanning the flames of fear (where these “give a damn” reserves are coming from, I am just not sure). At the current moment I crave at least one month away from the rest of society just to regroup for a little while. Restock those damns because seriously, I have been out for a while. But then, if I go MIA, people will miss me and I would be abandoning them. Right? Or maybe they won’t. Which one is worse?
I am scared of this post. Of what it means to put this information out into the universe. But as much as I am scared by these truths, I also feel they are important to acknowledge. It is my unrealistic goal, in life, to appear impervious… unflappable, if you will. Unfazed by each issue that presents itself. The truth, though, is I feel each one, and I need to admit that.
Now that I have gone down that rabbit hole of fear, let’s work this through. I fear the unknown, the things I can’t control. I am a largely rational person who sometimes lets life and circumstance get the better of her.
I acknowledge there’s a difference between rationally KNOWING something and internally ACCEPTING something. I know I am loved, I know that (barring a major incident outside of my control) I will survive tomorrow. Most importantly, I know I am me – wacked out sense of self, trophies for over-thinking, depression, anxiety, self-deprecating humor, pretty eyes, moderate baking skills, and all. There is no question of what is me because all of it is me. Warts and all (well, thankfully not warts). It all exists within me (again, not the warts) and if I am to love myself then I need to love every last part of myself, right? Even the fear.
Well, why don’t you ask me to pull gold out of my ass on command or get you in contact with Kanye’s agent? Better yet, why don’t you just tell me to make my own life sunshine and roses all the time? (Well, maybe sunshine with occasional rain – for tea drinking, reading, and kitten snugs – and zinnias because they are my favorite.)
What I am trying to say is… DON’T YOU THINK I TRY?
Just like pulling gold out of your ass on command, loving yourself after after years of self-inflicted and stupid neglect does not come naturally or quickly. It’s an arduous process that may both call for planking challenges (just to see if I can) and bravery earrings, paired with “fuck it” happy hours that aren’t conducive but feel good in the moment. Loving yourself is different from just establishing self confidence (which I am also working on). Confidence stems from accomplishments and good things but LOVE even accepts failures – it encompasses and accepts the flaws and weird stuff you hate.
Loving yourself is a lifelong process and, starting to try now, I am well behind for my age bracket but I hope to persevere.
Essentially, I have a belief in my ability to change.
Bringing it all together…
So really, most of all, at the end of the day, I am scared of becoming complacent in my own self destruction. Because that’s what this is isn’t it? Letting my life be fueled by fear is holding me back. I am the only thing holding myself back.
But then I remember that just a year ago I was too scared of driving to get my license. And yet now, driving is one of my favorite things (it damn well better be after that $1,000 car payment). I remember how I grew out of my ridiculous fear of the Star Wars movies when I was a kid. I celebrate how every day I work to overcome my fear of being myself because for so long I was wrapped up in someone else, lost.
So maybe my fear is an advantage. Fear means you care, to a degree, and it highlights an opportunity to get better. From the serious to the ridiculous, I have less fear than I did yesterday and that’s something to celebrate.
My future is the most blank, yet thankfully not arid, horizon it has ever been. I have me, my cat, and my seemingly never ending debt (but that’s just the life of a millenial right?). The possibilities are endless. I am not anchored to anything and, sans mooring, I am enjoying the movement of the sea. I am reveling in the possibility of being left up to the elements and it is for that reason that I know I can change. I know I can get better and live a life less tightly tied to fear. I can live, move, and thrive.
If you are struggling, much like this begrudging-optimist-slash-curmudgeon speaking to you, I believe in your ability to change, live, move, and thrive too. Talk to me, in my somewhat self imposed solitude, and tell me your story. Loosen your grip on fear as well. Commiserate with me. Inspire me. We are fellow travelers facing fear of the unknown and we should help each other on this rocky-as-all-hell path.
And maybe, you can also just tell me if I am burdening or alienating you… You know, if you feel like it. No pressure.
No matter what, I believe in us. We can change, for the better.
Believe in the happily *fucking* ever after.
And now I am scared I offended someone’s sensibilities…
One day at a time, people. Just do your best.
Photo: E. Campbell 2017