These habits, they do not comprise all of me and yet they hold sway, have a vote, a say in the choices I make from day to day. They give themselves weight, hoist themselves up a lanyard and wave madly like a flag, announcing where my loyalties lay.
They are of me but do not control me, though somewhere along the way I gave them permission to dictate my actions. I am an intelligent creature, understanding of the world around me in smallish portions, just enough to feel at home on the planet I was born to. It took years before I would admit something like that. When I was young, I was convinced I was an alien, a robot, an unnatural part of my surroundings, as I didn’t comprehend in the slightest, what made people want to be “normal”. As I grow and mature, I come to understand that normal is not the norm.
I am normal. As well as odd, eccentric, diverse, weird, and many other adjectives that describe what might be considered “otherness”, though I am not any grander or lesser than anyone else. We’re all in it together, no matter what happens. But this isn’t about you. Unless it is. But I’ve said before and I’ll remind anyone watching, I will never speak for you. You have a voice, I hope you use it to tell your story. This is a small portion of mine.
When did I learn that it was easier to not do something, out of fear, than to try and celebrate my bravery, even if I fail? Why do I find it so easy to lift those around me, without any compassion for my own struggle? Of course it could be argued that my challenges might be less difficult, incredibly so when compared to the struggles of pretty much everywhere else in the world. But how it is fair to compare myself to others and have disdain for my own lack of impedance? Would it change how detrimental being afraid is to my growth and evolution? No. Again, my story is my own and holding the reflection of someone else’s existence against mine is not only inaccurate but invalidates the worth of both our stories.
But here I consider the stories that (I) we tell (my)ourselves. They become like old shoes, there are holes, my feet are wet every time it rains, I don’t dare take them off because not only would I catch a cold from the potential vulnerability of exposure, I might drive people away with the smell. It’s really really time for some new fucking shoes. But I’ve learned to walk in just the right way that the blisters don’t hurt too much, and I have become really good at scrunching up my toes to hold them on better, because the laces don’t stay tied very well anymore.
For fuck’s sake. Take off the fucking shoes. I need to put it down, the incessant voice that suggests I don’t deserve better shoes, that I’m too old to break in a new pair, that just because they don’t fit well anymore doesn’t mean they fit badly.
Trust me, they fit badly. I’d love to run, but they’ll fall off. I’d love to dance, but one high kick and I’m going to give my partner a nosebleed. Hell, I’d love to walk without feeling like every step is a task to be conquered, and instead feel like it’s a forward movement to be celebrated.
(yes I know it might be odd that the consistently barefoot girl is using shoe wearing as an analogy, but even bare feet like to try new things)
And there. Even that. I refuse to buy new shoes because that too is a story I’ve told myself is true. I go barefoot. I have decided I want to be defined as the girl who can walk any terrain without shoes on. And I can, but it’s not always practical. A lot of the time, I do it anyway because another thing I’ve decided about myself is that I’m as tenacious as a limpet on a rock. Which is a pleasant way of saying I’m stubborn as fuck. But that doesn’t have as much appeal to me as being tenacious as a limpet on a rock so that’s how I choose to see it.
Here’s the upshot of where I’m going with this, ideally in much more comfortable footwear.
I’ve told myself for years a story where I don’t finish school. And so I didn’t. But that story got old and I decided that it might be time for a change. The stars aligned, meaning, a really amazing teacher of a women in trades course, determined to push me out of my (un)comfort zone suggested that if I have the ability to be better at something, I should take every opportunity to fulfill that. I applied on a lark, expecting a 2 year waiting list, which would give me plenty of time to distract myself with something else, and was accepted and enrolled for less than six months later.
I finished. I received confirmation today that I am an official graduate. That was new and exciting. Next logical step, find a job in the trade I’d just spent a bunch of money, practice and time (clad in steel toed boots) learning for ten months.
But that doesn’t fit with the story where I’m unconventional and wacky. I starting boasting about how it doesn’t matter if I ever swing another wrench again in my life and found my way back to a town where it was very easy to slip back into the story of a girl who is a silly, fun-loving barista on a quasi regular basis surrounded by friends and familiar faces. No one here would judge me harshly if I never stepped out of that very comfortable place and took a swing at achieving the next level, though would be extraordinarily supportive if I did.
How do I deal with the prospect of never having to? I give my time here an expiration date. At a certain point, I’m going to leave. I’ve well established the narrative of being the girl who leaves. School, home, relationships, jobs, towns, cities, continents, I’ve left them all. It’s a very comfortable habit of mine. I’ve romanced it, declared myself queen of the road trip, an expert at making the best travel playlists, with a hitchhiking superpower. A Kerouac for the twenty first century.
And since I’m eventually going to leave (because that’s what I do), what’s the point of finding a job in my chosen scholastic trade that I’ll just have to inevitably quit?
Because the thing keeping me from trying is fear. And that’s about the worst reason not to do something.
Time for some new stories, and some new fucking shoes.