So yeah. Hi. It’s been a while. I hope you’re doing well. Suffice to say that there’ve been some big changes in the last few months and I’ve been adjusting / recovering. Well, I guess that’s not quite enough detail so the short version is that I left my job, packed, gave away or sold all my worldly goods and bought a one way ticket back to Canada. You know, just everyday stuff. Right.
Anyway, I had planned that my first post back would be titled “Go Big THEN Go home” (because I’m clever like that) but somehow I could never quite get started on it. And while I did write other things, I wasn’t in a place to do the self-reflection that this blog is all about. So I just ignored the little WordPress icon on my Ipad and just tried to find my feet again. But I’ve been flailing. Well, it’d be more accurate to say that I’ve been keeping very still and quiet and kind of hoping that something would happen that I would have to react to rather than life requiring me to take action. And being winter in Canada, it just kept getting darker and colder and I felt less and less like doing anything even while I felt more and more stuck.
So what’s all of that have to do with my title? So it occurred to me yesterday, as I came up with yet another plan for what I might do with the next few years of my life, that I’ve been doing a lot of planning and wishing and talking lately without actually doing much. And I was wondering why I was in that rut and then in the shower this morning, I finally found the metaphor that I needed to express this feeling.
I’ve talked before about taking risks and I used a food metaphor then to talk about how to evaluate a risk and decide if you want to take it. And this entry is on a similar vein.
You are incredibly hungry. It’s been a long day at work and you ended up not taking lunch and now you’re at an unfamiliar, very, very expensive restaurant with all your friends and family. And you are just staring at the menu in a mild panic because you have no idea what to get. Everyone else seems ready to order and you’re just hoping that the waitress gets to you last. And maybe you ask people around you what’s good here and what they would recommend and it seems like everyone has advice but nothing clicks, nothing seems like it will fill that gap, that need you have. None of those suggestions are right for you.
So you go back to the menu and the steak catches your eye. It’s safe, it’s easy, you’ve had it before, what could go wrong? You close the menu, finally feeling ready and then someone asks what you decided and boom! Your cousin says that they once had the steak here and it was horrible. And your dramatic friend asks how you dare copy them as they were ordering the beef au jus and it’s practically the same thing. And someone else asks if you’re really sure that’s what you want and now you have doubts. So you go back to the menu. And the panic escalates because you know that the waitperson will be over soon and everyone will be waiting on you and there’s conflicting comments as someone asks if you just can’t pick something and someone counters that you should make sure that you get what you want.
And you try again. And again. And your choices keep getting questioned. “Just a salad? Aren’t you hungry?” “Pizza? You can get that anywhere.” “The sauce is part of the dish, you can’t just ask for it on the side.” “Oh, I know someone who got so sick after eating that.” And finally part of you is just tempted to skip right to ordering dessert but you just can’t handle the looks of disapproval. Who eats dessert first, really? Not adults. And especially not adults at a fancy restaurant.
You’d think it wouldn’t be that difficult, it’s just one meal right? But you’re really hungry and it’s a really nice restaurant and it feels like everyone you know is there and it feels like this is the most important meal of your life and if you get it wrong, everything will be ruined. Forever.
So where was my big, long, probably way-too-odd metaphor leading? Well, I’m sort of at a point of starting over. And I don’t know what to do. I keep exploring options and seeking opinions and I get super excited about something only to let my own doubts and the comments of other people pull me back down. I feel like whatever step I take next is going to set me on an inescapable path. And that’s terrifying. What if I choose wrong?
In the past, I’ve copied someone else or let them order for me, to extend the metaphor. I abdicated my own choice to spare myself the responsibility of choosing. And I tried to convince myself that of course I wanted to try that dish, even if the voice at the back of my head reminded me that I hate green peppers and am allergic to mussels so maybe I better speak up against the mussels in green pepper sauce.
And wow, this is getting really long so I hope that you’re just so excited I’m back that you don’t mind that I’m just rattling on and on and on.
Anyway, I suppose the short story is that only you know what’s best for yourself and worrying about people’s reactions to your choices or just going along with someone else’s plan won’t help you find your own way.
At some point, I’m going to have to stop waiting to see what will happen to me and start deciding what I want to happen. And I have to accept that I might make a mistake and that’s okay. Hear that, self? It’s okay if you make a mistake. Just keep repeating that until you believe it. However long that takes.