I’ve noticed some things of late.
It seems that I no longer have the capacity to “dive in head first”.
Most times when I want to cry, I simply suck it up. Whether those times are those lovely “neg preg” test results, frustrations at work, or even something as simple as touching or sad moments in a movie, I rarely really get in a good cry.
This applies to other emotions as well. I find it hard to get truly excited about many things. It seems that many things in the recent past have been offered to me, only to be taken away soon after.
World: “Aren’t you excited?! You’ve just won tickets for a cruise!”
Me: “Um, no. When I’m on the cruise boat, I’ll *think* about getting excited.”
This, of course, reeks of ugly cynicism. But that seems to be my preferred defense mechanism of late. When you’re cynical, you can at least mask your disappointment with sarcasm and a deep sigh! You can’t emotionally grasp the loss of something once you thought you’ve had it in your possession, but if you never had it in the first place, it’s not a loss, right?
I went swimming the other day with some friends and my husband in their pool. It was a beautiful, warm summer evening, and the pool temps were perfect. Not only that, but I have always loved being in the water.
(I grew up on Lake Huron, for those who didn’t know, and Sister Bestie and I used to frequently pretend we were mermaids at my grandparents’ cabin. Those memories remain some of the best of my life.)
But for some reason, I wouldn’t go under water. It was as if my dry hair was the last bit of control I could wield in that moment, and I couldn’t let go.
When my friends, who are an adorably sweet couple, started splashing and playing around in the water together, I looked at my husband and said, “I don’t want to have wet hair. Don’t even think about it.”
Seriously? Who doesn’t want to play in the water with their sweetheart?! Anyone that knows me should know that this isn’t me.
I used to be a risk-taker.
I used to up and move once a year to a new college out of boredom.
I used to dive straight in the water when I visited the beautiful beaches in Central Florida when I went to school there. There was no trepidatious testing of the temperature, just the freedom of diving straight into those waves, and touching the sandy bottom with my fingertips.
The pool incident, as well as some others lately, have made me realize something else.
I’m so afraid.
I’m afraid to sing. This means more than the others, I think, because it is my favorite thing to do in the whole wide world. I went to school for vocal performance. I sang in choirs, sang solos, was in musicals, and sang for my jazz band in college, and I can’t even stand up to sing karaoke in a bar. The idea makes my knees shake and my head buzz. I haven’t auditioned for a play or a choral group in over six years, and I haven’t sang in any public capacity in two years.
I’m afraid to venture into any other career path. I stumbled upon the one I’m in because, as broke newlyweds, my husband and I needed something to feed, clothe, and shelter ourselves. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this concept, obviously; we do need to eat, wear clothes, and have a roof over our heads. But I’m so afraid of relative poverty that I’m unwilling to consider moving toward a more rewarding career that will pay me less.
I’m afraid to move away from our current location. This sort of goes hand-in-hand with my job fears….. we’re barely making it as it is. Could we get lucky, and stumble upon similar jobs that pay enough for us to live on, only in a place we’d rather live?
I’m afraid to let loose. To have fun. To give into something bigger than myself. I must maintain control at all times, because if I don’t, who will? How can you enjoy a roller coaster if you can’t really let loose and let out a primal scream to match it?
Why would a person choose to put a stopper on their joy? It’s like it’s sealed up in one of my tupperware containers somewhere.
More than anything else, I think I’ve strapped myself into a persona that doesn’t really fit who I know myself to be…. or at least, who I always have been. I’m responsible, thoughtful, and careful. I have lists and calendars for my bills. I have multiple, separate calendars on my iPhone to control fertility, paychecks and bills, and birthdays. I am not prone to wild, emotional outbursts.
And when I feel those tears well up in my throat, I shake my head, swallow, and move on.
I think that it comes down to the whole disappointment thing. I’m so tired of being disappointed that I’d rather settle for the mediocre than risk anything. So I trudge on with my lists, my dishes, my laundry, my bills, and my mediocre job, doing mediocre things for a company that doesn’t see me as having any kind of potential.
I was going to apologize for the drudgery that is this blog post. Most times, I try to keep it pretty upbeat, hopeful, and happy. But today, I needed to work out just why I’ve changed.
The closer I get to answers, the closer I get to resolution. Thank you for indulging me.
I’m afraid that, one of these days, I’m just going to skip out of work, spend my rent money on a rental car, and take off. Drive indefinitely until I reach the water, and when I do, I’ll dive right in.
Oh, and then I’ll find my closest karaoke bar, and sing “Turtle Blues” by Janis Joplin.