The Ways in Which We Fall Apart

I’ve become such a frequent car-crier the only thing I have to wipe my snot as I call my mother is a Walgreens receipt for Funyuns and shaving cream. Ruled out alternatives include my boarding pass to New York and a still warm-from-the-printer prescription for UTI antibiotics, neither of which seemed optimal given at some point I’d be handing them to an unsuspecting stranger. In this moment I realize my depression has reached a new low. Instead of stock-piling fast food napkins and stuffing them in the glove compartment like any other self-hating 25 year old, I will have to make the pointed effort of buying tissues specifically for vehicle based breakdowns.

My mother answers on the second ring and is not surprised when a cheerful “Hey, you!” is met with jagged breaths. Like many of my loved ones these days, she is equipped with well-intended (though rarely well-received) optimism, and has stopped fighting the reality that my current version of self-care starts and ends with the simple act of reaching out. She reminds me I am wonderful, and it’s a stunning silence when I don’t protest. Though the tears aren’t new, the aftermath is foreign – the willingness to ask for help, the accepting of praise. Our pep talk wraps in a mere 16 minutes and leaves me steady enough to put the keys in the ignition and some credibility behind the mantra “I can do this.”

“Doing this” – picking up the pieces, gingerly putting them back where they “belong,” trying not to worry about the next inevitable cracking – has become increasingly tiresome. It is difficult to explain the sensation of not being suicidal but terrified to keep living. To know joy and want joy but always feel a twinge of guilt when it overstays its welcome in a body I’ve taught to foster pain.

I don’t know when everything started to feel so… heavy. How my mind can go from fine, fine, fine, fine, SOBBING HYSTERICALLY OUTSIDE URGENT CARE, fine. But if I’m being honest, that second fine is the lie I tell myself when yet another guy fails to make me feel whole; the third and fourth an attempt to remain sane as I hide in the bathroom stall avoiding emails I can’t answer. The oh my gosh, so out of the blue! sobbing is but a compounded clusterfuck of emotions I’ve told myself I have no right to feel: anxious, dissatisfied, lonely. Looking for a sure-fire way to stop loving yourself? Get upset about something and then tell yourself what you’re feeling is stupid. That you’re somehow better and worse than this, what good will crying do, stop choosing to be miserable. There is nothing quite like the exhaustion of second-guessing your own insecurities.

When I bring these thoughts into therapy or out to dinner with a friend, I’m told earnestly I am not alone. I’m young, this is common! Everyone has gone/is going/will go through this. If I were more of a sadist I might find that comforting, but alas, hearing everyone else feels paralyzed for reasons x, y, and z doesn’t help make it all better. You’ve heard that “How many [stereotype you’re arbitrarily pissed at] does it take to screw in a lightbulb?” joke, right? I’d like to present the “How many commiserating depressed folks does it take to come up with a solution to feeling ‘OK’ for more than a few minutes per day?” equivalent. Spoiler alert: our mindset is the punchline.

I’m trying so, so hard to take care of myself. I’m starting to recognize hunger instead of calling myself fat. I sleep with men because I want to and not because I think the answer to all my problems resides in a penis. I go to therapy once a week, go for runs as often as possible, and tell myself everyday I can do this. More often than not, it feels like a lie. It hurts, and it’s visceral, and it scares me. I want to promise it’s better than the alternative. I’m going to keep lying until it is.

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“Let’s Not Get Lunch Sometime” or, Things We Never Say

Today is Tuesday, the day I am meant to go out to lunch with my very nice coworker, Terry. Which means I’ve packed frozen vegetable curry and will be limiting my usually frequent restroom breaks so as to decrease the likelihood of actually running into Terry.

I recognize this to be immature behavior. Our first platonic lunch date — the result of an embarrassing breakroom breakdown followed by a friendly email offering a sympathetic ear should I ever need one — was perfectly pleasant. We talked about our dogs, our families, our shared discontentment with our jobs. He took a genuine interest in my timid aspirations to travel; asked where I saw myself in ten years too earnestly to mock. Eventually I came round to sheepishly explaining why he’d found me sobbing while loading the dishwasher, a floundering attempt at describing my depression and anxiety and months of self-doubt which he met, once more, with empathy. We walked back with promises of a second date — Let me know how your training goes! Have fun with your wife this weekend! Tuesday or Wednesday work for you? — and parted ways knowing we both had a kind face to see around the office.

But the second date never came. Our email thread became a cycle of up in the air plans squandered by unexpected meetings, a correspondence content to taper out until our next accidental meeting in the hallway. I’d get up to refill my water bottle and bump into him on his way back to his cube, the time-biding “Let me check my schedule!” blurted almost in sync with the obligatory “Next week?” A few months ago I cancelled because I didn’t have it in me to catch him up on what had been going on in my life, and I feigned a long call with a client instead. Weeks later he cancelled, reason not given, and I saw him out to lunch with another coworker. With each excuse, we are apologetic. We make more loose plans. We are not surprised when they unravel.

Lately I’ve been trying really hard to be honest — with myself, with people I’m close to, with strangers I’ve just met. Though simple in its intent, it can be really fucking difficult. It forces me to constantly check in with my emotions and acknowledge those which don’t serve me while embracing those which do. I am slowly accepting I don’t have to force myself to do things I don’t want to do, and I don’t need to apologize for not wanting to do them. This has led to a lot of convoluted pep talks, a lot of interactions ending in questions like, “Wait… Am I a mean person?” but ultimately, past the initial discomfort, a lot more clarity. I’m starting to understand the balance between who I am and who I want to be, and how the relationships I choose to invest in can alter those perceptions.

I am not a spontaneous person. Never have been, don’t necessarily want to be. I derive no pleasure from the last minute, the que sera, sera. Telling me to “go with the flow” is basically like telling me to drown. On the mornings I wake up knowing I will once again cancel “maybe” plans with Terry (should he not first cancel on me), I am filled with debilitating guilt. I spend the hours leading up to noon not excited for a chance to stuff my face but rather fighting stomach knots knowing I will yet again continue this polite charade, too afraid to be upfront and find a way to reasonably explain why I don’t want to go out to lunch with a nice man who has only ever offered sincere friendship. On these days I lay low, leaving my desk only for necessities, and microwave my backup meal long after the midday rush, feeling like an asshole forevermore.

But after doing the new “Well, why do you think you’re feeling so awful about this, hmm?” check-in I’ve mandated in the name of honesty, I realize the guilt isn’t from not wanting to spend unnecessary money and leave my email unattended for over an hour. I feel guilty because instead of communicating my difficulty with non-concrete plans; my fickle urges to be social; my inexplicable I can’t stand sitting with someone who will be nice to me today mindset, I am lying to someone who can (and probably will graciously) accept the truth, no hard feelings. My guilt comes not from not wanting to do “the thing,” but from how I am handling not wanting to do “the thing.” I may not be spontaneous, but I am also not mean. I am not a liar. I am not the kind of person who likes making plans out of obligation, and I do not want to be the kind of person who strings someone else along because of it. Not knowing how to quite word these feelings isn’t a reason not to try.

Though I regret waiting so many tentative Tuesdays to get here, something tells me Terry will understand.

Basic Bitch Road Trip

I’m going to embark on a terribly cliché “unsatisfied privileged woman in her twenties looking to find any semblance of excitement” road trip.

I imagine myself haphazardly throwing seasonally inappropriate clothing into too few suitcases at an ungodly hour (9:30, maybe 10). My eyes are wild with passion, or probably the sugar rush of too many pop tarts, as I frantically search for the archaic maps from my father I’d been saving to make a hella cute Etsy-esque collage. I sneak out of my empty apartment — pretending to leave behind a loved one who will be heartbroken by my lack of note even though my neighbors know me solely as the girl with too far a robe radius — and throw my scarce belongings into the backseat of the Honda my parents still pay the insurance for.

Freedom! I rejoice, hitting the same stretch of highway I amble through every single morning on my commute. But oho, this time I’m not going to work, not even calling in sick! Never Eat Soggy Waffles inspires me to veer east onto an unfamiliar exit, and I applaud myself for being so flippin’ adventurous. With a full tank of gas and a loose grip on reality I am immediately transported out of the concrete jungle and into the vast landscape of what can only be Utah or Iowa or someplace equally dull, heart racing at the sight of yet another McDonald’s-Valero-Starbucks pit stop clusterfuck. “Truly majestic,” I caption my 17th selfie, pouty face blocking any possibility of a historical landmark making it into the frame. I had promised myself I would take this time to connect with Mother Earth and stay off social media, but deep down I know my followers deserve to be part of these life-changing moments.

With only brief stops for Slurpees and bladder relief from their syrupy consequences, I charge forward. My hair cascades behind me, windows up with AC on full blast, while I repeatedly fuck up the lyrics to the same three Lumineers songs. I consider dramatically hurling a mixed CD from my ex out the window, but know I’m too much of a sentimental sucker to actually do so, scream-singing louder as an alternate catharsis. In this obscure tumbleweed plagued environment there are no signs mandating the speed limit, but even if there were, I would not heed! Cause, like, fuck the police, you know?

I continue practicing horrible hygiene and bathe only in the glory of self-righteousness, feeling real haughty and independent until an ominous indicator light pops up on the dashboard indicating nothing useful other than my inherent uselessness. A lack of street smarts, open road smarts, you could die out here, what’s wrong with you, woman smarts is catching up with me, but I refuse to call for help. The flashing charger from the flea market with rave-like pulsing ditched the party miles ago, and phone juice is too precious for admitting defeat. I manage to pull into the parking lot of a 3.5 star motel (a necessary Yelp search stealing the last drops of life from my bedazzled iPhone, but hey, hot tub), thankful for a queen sized bed on which to be melodramatic. I promptly fall asleep (over the covers because, germs), only to awake hours later with alarming clarity: no more soul-searching; it is time for me to ditch the faulty Civic and fly business class back home.

* * *

On this road trip, there are no out-of-body experiences while watching the sun creep its way down the Grand Canyon from the back of a stranger’s pickup. No precarious tents pitched amidst violent storms, the warmth of a sleeping bag paling in comparison to the pride of making it in isolation. I do not find renewed beauty in being alone. I do not enjoy my own company. On this road trip, the destination inevitably crushes the journey; when the young woman with the stable job and nice apartment and gut wrenching hopelessness returns from seeing the world and can still only think of herself.

The Problem with Asking for Help

On Monday at 4:48 PM I am crying in my boss’s office. I am intentionally dressed professionally, with the exception of my Hello Kitty underwear due to the lack of adequate time to do laundry without being one of those dillholes who leaves their belongings in the machine way after they’re dry — but, as flashing was not part of my plan, I digress. The snot wiping, mascara clumping, sporadic hiccuping bit wasn’t part of the plan, either. “The Plan,” which consisted of five deep breaths and a well-written speech starting with, “I am overwhelmed,” and ending in, “uhhh,” practiced in the handicapped stall, was, admittedly, not fool proof. At 5:02 I am handed a wad of paper towels and gently told to go home to rest.

Always the overachiever, I do not, in fact, rest. On Tuesday I am screaming at my can opener for being so goddamn resistant to my desire for black beans. Wednesday and someone has the audacity to drive the speed limit when I’m running late. Thursday and I’m three glasses in, slumped on the couch staining my teeth and thinking about my first love, sobbing and praying no one ever loves me so carelessly again. By week’s end I’m not sure it’s possible to feel more defeated, but I daren’t ask, lest the universe opens up and instead of swallowing me whole decides to vom all over my already craptastic attitude. No stranger to the manic episode, it’s quite clear I need help.

Admitting this is not necessarily difficult. Parading my ineptitude has always been one of my tried and true pastimes, right up there with eating too much at Indian buffet and spending too much money on flimsy dresses in the dead of winter. Recognizing while also resenting the fact that I am not a busty, golden bustier clad superhero icon makes a really healthy foundation for body dysmorphia and general self-loathing, and it’s sort of become my shtick. My favorite kind of exercise is running myself into the ground and feigning surprise when emotional exhaustion doesn’t get any easier after the twentieth or thirtieth or ten millionth breakdown. My diet is comprised of stretching myself thin and being delusional enough to think it’ll be reflected in my waistline. These charming habits have become so ingrained in my “self-care” routine I have no problem sharing them with anyone sadistic enough to listen.

If this were a 12-step program, I’d have owned the shit out of step one, reveled in my early success, and conveniently ignored the rest of the process. Because what comes next is the actually difficult part. What comes next involves telling the people around you maybe you aren’t as capable as they keep insisting you are. Maybe you can’t take their advice not because it’s bad but because it requires you to make proactive choices that lift you up rather than tear you down, and that feels so foreign, and so daunting, you can’t wrap your tired mind around it. The guilt of causing loved ones grief swells within you as you remind yourself their worry over your worries could’ve all been avoided if you just kept quiet. Just kept trudging. And everyone is telling you wonderful things — about yourself, about your future, how they know you’ll get through this — and though your heart gets fuller, with that comes a different heaviness.

Because the problem with asking for help isn’t so much admitting you can’t do it alone, and it’s not really in the act of asking. It’s the aftermath. Facing the people you have so much respect and care for and knowing you’re unintentionally hurting them each time you defy their affirmations. Secretly calling them liars. Shrinking in embarrassment when weeks later they check in on you, sheepish if they happen to catch you in a brief moment of contentment. Now you’re the liar. But, you wanted the attention, didn’t you? The thinly veiled texts of concern, the not so random hallway hugs. You opened yourself up looking for affection only to realize you’re an ungrateful recipient. It’s a cycle of getting exactly what you needed but not knowing how to handle it because you’d gone without for so long.

There have been very few moments in my life when I have felt completely helpless. More often than not, I had the support system. I had the solutions. Happiness, or, whatever the name for “not so fucking miserable” might be, was accessible. And yet I refused to reach out because I was so concerned with burdening anyone else with my problems. I didn’t want to take on the failure of not being able to turn my life around on top of the other ways I already thought I was failing. Sometimes I even think my depression is the most interesting part of me, which makes the hurdle of changing my mental outlook all the more arduous to conquer. And though I know — I know my mood will eventually change; I know it is cruel to keep tormenting myself this way; I know friends and family will always try to build me up — I also know there are only so many brief moments of contentment standing between now and the next inevitable fit of inappropriate crying. Try as I might, sometimes I can’t help but be terrified by that. You know?

If Cover Letters Were Honest

Dear Prospective Employer X,

I’ve heard it’s rude and shows a lack of initiative if I do not address you directly by name, but this is the sixth job listing I’ve applied to via Craigslist and your website is incredibly difficult to navigate, so I’m going to blatantly disregard that faux pas and jump right into why I’m an amazing candidate for your company even though I’d never heard of it until five minutes ago. Please take a minute to admire the non-Times New Roman yet still perfectly professional font I have chosen for this email, as it is less psychologically damaging for me to imagine you will judge my typeface preferences harsher than you will my existence as a human being [implied but not explicitly written out smilie-face].

In the following paragraphs I will attempt to sum up my entire character through the use of generic albeit slightly differentiated adjectives you may find flattering. I will assure you of my timeliness, organization, and spunky, gung-ho attitude as an employee, while simultaneously resisting the urge to make an inappropriate “I’d love to fill your opening” innuendo (though if you do have any perverts in the office, my rear looks great in a pencil skirt). My syntax will achieve such a remarkable balance between ass-kissery and humility you won’t even realize I’m using an adequate grasp of the English language to pirouette around the fact that I have no concrete career-related ambitions. Something about being a team player even though most people inspire me to think of violently inventive ways to use a stapler here. Senior home volunteering anecdote with a convoluted connection to this position. More ass-kissing. Cheeky witticism. Etc, etc.

If you’ve gotten this far into my groveling, I can only assume you think I’m kinda chill and might actually jive with your most likely mundane and not at all selective work environment. Which is pretty baller, considering my $40,000 degree did absolutely nothing to prepare me for the clusterfuck of responsibility that is adulthood. You may be wondering what sets me apart from all the other desperate 23 year olds with subpar experience, and that is an excellent question. Really, top notch inquiry, boss. I suppose I could prattle off some stereotypical weaknesses, but we all know you’re looking for an answer with just a hint of originality sprinkled with backhanded cockiness, and to be frank I’m much better at self-deprecation mixed with emotional instability. In fact, I should probably be up front and tell you I’m prone to blubbering outbursts at inopportune moments (like, if the vending machine is out of Twix bars or you’re being even moderately critical of my performance), but I’m comfortable spinning my crippling anxieties into something positive like “caring too much” in order to prove I’m willing to do anything for your approval. Just don’t expect me to not bitch about it to everyone in my phone book the second you leave the room.

By now you have reached the culmination of my expertly crafted first impression. Hurray. You will only have a sneaking suspicion I am certifiable and solely interested in this for the health insurance, as I have done such a marvelous job averting your attention elsewhere. Attached you may find my resume if I haven’t forgotten to actually hit the paperclip icon. If you don’t like the formatting, take it up with my best friend, Lucia—I stole the template from her and had to improvise since I’m too poor to afford Microsoft Word. Here is an intentionally placed exclamation mark to prove my enthusiasm!

Thank you for your time and consideration. Don’t be an asshole and completely ignore this message. If I wanted outright rejection I’d hit up that pretentious writer I went out with two weeks ago.

Sincerely,
For the love of God please just hire me, I’m tired of doing my grocery shopping at Dollar Tree.

Enough Already

A year ago I moved to San Luis Obispo with no job prospects, temporary housing, and not the slightest clue why all my belongings were in a U-Haul headed towards a small town where the only people I knew were my roommate and her longterm loverboy. I had just finished the four supposedly best years of my life, and while I was tentatively optimistic for what adulthood had in store, I spent most of my time stuck in emotional limbo—pining for the glory days of beachside Gaucho Ball while dreaming of starting my “career” as a fledgling artist; refusing to live in the moment because it was full of decisions I wasn’t ready to make, and trying to find the packed box of kitchenware was already hard enough, damn it. I was in love with a boy back in Santa Barbara, but insisted there was no way he felt the same about me, and subsequently threw myself into rapid-fire dating as a form of distracting validation.

In essence, I was dealing with a bunch of stressful situations (AKA simultaneous job/apartment/man hunting), all which forced me to prove who I was and what I wanted, at a time when I hadn’t an inkling of self worth or clarity about what would make me happy. And instead of finding the unknown to be exciting, I found it debilitating. Exhausting. Mentally and physically leave me curled up in my tiny ass twin bed to cry kind of draining.

Many of my peers experienced a similar awakening post-grad, and I knew I was nowhere near alone in my plight. My friends were all learning how to juggle alcoholism and a penchant for 3 AM nacho excursions with the responsibilities of a 9-5 lifestyle. I could go online and find thousands of articles telling me how to live life as a twenty-something (a term I’ve grown to despise due to its ability to make me feel both ignorantly empowered and like an incompetent twit). It was not a struggle unique to me, this “trying to figure out your next move without hurling” thing, and yet I often felt incredibly overwhelmed. Sure, I started working as an assistant photographer and was earning money using my degree. I was slack lining, beach picnicking, and bar hopping my way to “true love” with all kinds of suitors. I was going through the motions and convincing myself the dissatisfaction was normal. When my job turned into Costco runs to pick up toilet paper for my boss’s home office, and whirlwind dating left me with phone numbers of men I would forget a week later, I didn’t question whether that position or those dates were the right fit for me. Instead I started to beat myself up for not trying harder, doing better, making it work like everybody else seemed to. I got it into my head I wasn’t _______ enough,

lovable
ambitious
outgoing
talented
bubble-butt-y
creative
desirable
qualified
witty
special

enough to deserve happiness.

It’s very sad to look back and see a girl I can barely recognize now, a girl consumed with worries I wish I could tell her wouldn’t hurt so much in a mere matter of months, but at the time these insecurities were everything. It didn’t matter if my best friends or family showered me in compliments. What difference did it make to be called beautiful by anyone other than the boy I fell asleep thinking about? How could I consider myself a photographer when all my prints hung only on the walls of my childhood home? If I thought I had lost sight of who I was before, I was practically blind at this point, and there was no reasoning with me. I continued doing the things I was “supposed” to do, yet found myself tearing up in the bathroom while on the clock, sobbing on my way home from the bar after swapping spit with a stranger. I kept my composure 80% of the time and indulged in dramatic, end-of-the-world breakdowns the remaining 20, a balance which sustained me for quite some time before it became a noticeable problem.

If I’m being entirely honest, a lot of these insecurities stemmed from my romantic relationships, a confession it irks me to make as an independent lady. I had been in a non-exclusive, open-ended, gray area can’t even begin to cover it relationship with a guy I cared for very much, and it was difficult for me to grapple with the strength of my feelings and the weakness of our commitment. I’m sure if he’s reading this he’ll start to blame himself again, and I swear to god, toe, if you do I will personally punt you in the very nuts I’ve grown so fond of. Back then I wasn’t a good communicator. I had no idea what I wanted, let alone how to ask for it. You know that saying, “if you never ask, the answer is always no”? Well, sometimes when you ask, the answer is still fucking no, and I wasn’t comfortable with that. I did not like rejection one bit—not during interviews, not while finding a place to live, and certainly not while professing my love for the very first time. I let the fears of not being “blank” enough in a romantic partnership creep their way into how I saw myself in every other facet of my life, and it was heartbreaking in the most cliché way possible.

I could tell I was frustrating those closest to me (solely out of love, to their credit), and part of me knew I was letting myself wallow deeper and longer than socially acceptable. I snapped in and out of depressive moods, self aware enough to know I was letting it get out of hand but not confident enough to make a change. It’s almost impossible to explain when or how I began to build up my esteem, but all I can say is fearing the unknown became exhausting in a completely different way. I grew tired of trying to please other people at the cost of not liking myself, exhausted by the negativity I berated my poor little head with daily. I stopped focusing on how other people felt about me and cared more about if I respected and admired the person I was becoming. I forced myself to find outlets for honest expression, going to weekly counseling sessions and writing in this very blog, and grew more comfortable sharing what I wanted out of life and those around me. I became selfish in the best way possible, not to hurt those I loved, but as a reminder that anything worth having would work itself out regardless of whether or not I called myself fat or stupid or a crybaby that day. After waiting so long for someone else to convince me I was worth caring for, I chose to suck it up and prove it myself.

It was not an overnight decision to suddenly be a happier, more secure person. I’m still not consistently satisfied with my looks or my attitude or my accomplishments. I still hate when things are beyond my control, when the answers to the questions I’m finally starting to ask aren’t what I expected. But I’m putting in the time and making a conscious effort to treat myself kindly no matter what happens. It’s been a year since I moved to the so-called “happiest town on Earth,” and I’m in much the same predicament as I was before—no housing lined up, love life a cosmic joke for your amusement (though I do have a new job, aww yeah)—and yet I’m without a doubt in a much better place mentally to deal with it all. I can’t describe how amazing that feels. I can’t even begin to explain how realizing I’m “only human” is so much more than enough.

Quaint Ambitions

A few weeks ago I went out with a guy visiting SLO on a month long sabbatical from work. Spoiler alert: we won’t be procreating. I should’ve let the fact that he was consciously sober and seeing what it felt like to be “off the grid” as an initial deterrent, but hey, who am I to turn down hiking and free tacos?

In between bites of chicken and stilted conversation about misusing Ecstasy, I tried to find something we actually had in common by asking how he was enjoying the area. He gazed off at the people strolling downtown, gave a little shrug, looked me up and down and said,

“I like it so far. It’s very… quaint. Not really a place for ambitious people, though.”

Cue non-discreet eyebrow raising and a sudden fascination with the flecks of cilantro on my napkin.

Here’s a first impression tip, not just for Jonathan, but for all baseline-polite human beings: know your audience. You don’t tell a new mommy you think all infants look like overgrown potatoes. You reserve your potty mouth and sexual innuendos for your peers, not your parents (unless you’ve got a mother like mine, in which case, bless you). Likewise, you don’t tell a post-grad who purposely moved to the very place you’re currently enjoying a burrito that she’s chillin’ with a bunch of unimpressive bums.

Maybe I’m being hypersensitive. It was just an outsider’s observation, after all. God forbid dudes picked apart every offhanded comment I’ve ever made during a first date (“Can I just get, like, the cheapest beer on the menu?” “No, I’m pretty sure this is One Direction,” and “Are you going to actually kiss me, or what?” to name a few). Maybe he forgot “quaint” is usually a cute euphemism for “tiny-ass-shit-hole,” or that anyone taking a 30 day hiatus from their own life probably shouldn’t pass judgment on the choices of others. Cut him some slack, would ya?

But even after the obligatory car seat side hug and a tacit agreement to never speak again, his words stuck with me. It’s one of those seemingly insignificant insults that just happens to strike a personal chord and subsequently sucks major dick. Don’t get me wrong—I do consider myself a talented, intelligent person. I know not to go around sticking forks in electrical sockets, and I have the transcripts to prove an institution found me passably book-smart. I feel justified in occasionally tooting my own horn and gettin’ a lil huffy with sabbatical boy. But being “ambitious” isn’t exactly something I identify with. I have a hard time describing myself as driven when I’m inherently directionally challenged and have no idea where I’m going. I spend my days counting down the hours till lunchtime, 5 o’clock, Saturday morning… any time but right now in hopes I’ll have that ah-ha moment and figure out what I want other than “more.” I have a lot to be grateful for in life, and sometimes it feels like enough. But I’m still looking for that one special thing. The one to make me feel satisfied and whole even when all else is gaping. The can’t sleep, can’t wait, can’t believe I’ve ever considered any other possibility thing everyone’s always hinting at.

I’m not sure where to start looking, though. My lease here is up in August, and I’ve been telling people I want to move to San Francisco. I’ve got it all rehearsed. I say at first the city life sounded awful, but now it sounds exciting; that it’s full of outlets for art and meeting new people and I’m ready for that kind of change. It’s bold and adventurous and just what I need. But honestly, I’m scared shitless. I’m nervous to leave this town where streets are named after nuts and fruits and the owner of Chili Peppers knows me by name. I’m terrified at the thought of moving to a city where rent costs the blood of your first and second born and everyone is creative/brilliant/wonderful, get in line little girl. I’m worried I’ll give up somewhere charming and familiar only to realize I’m not being held back by my location or by a lack of opportunity but rather my inability seize it. So I purposely keep my hopes and dreams small. I keep them tucked away as musings and what ifs and let strangers like Johnny boy make me feel less than because disappointment is the worst and I’m a baby. I know this about myself. It’s not something I’m proud of, and I’d like to think being aware of the problem is a step in the right direction, but fear has made me complacent, not motivated. I’ve become comfortable not asking too much of anything or anyone because at least then nothing bad can happen.

Right?

I don’t want to wake up when I’m thirty-four and realize I’ve lost not only my decent ass but my window for socially accepted trial-n-error screw ups. I don’t want to feel like I wasted all my time waiting for my fairy godmother to shove me under a giant neon sign flashing “This is the right path, everything’s all taken care of, grab a perfectly warmed brownie for the road, would you dear?” It doesn’t work that way. We’re all a little lost and naïve, and it’s not tragic, it’s hilarious. I want to be comfortable with that mindset instead. To rest assured wanting & trying & failing are all one fun package deal, no substitutions. Maybe it’s not the traditional definition, and maybe it’s not something you can explain to a stranger over Mexican cuisine, but I don’t know… being OK with all that sounds pretty ambitious to me.