On the Edge of Myself

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I’m so tired of standing on the edge of myself
You know I’m longing for it
To dive in, dive in
(Jennifer Knapp, Dive In)

I write everything off constantly. I like to imagine that I am somehow able to remain untouched or on the edge of things. I don’t want to admit that I have emotional responses that are legitimate things and that I have to take out and actually deal with, rather than trying to push back and write off as “crazy.” Any strong emotion probably isn’t crazy. Sometimes it’s something that has actually happened and you respond to it in unexpected ways. Maybe sometimes it’s a chemical response. Things don’t always have to make crystal clear sense for them to be valid. This is not a lesson I have exactly internalized just yet. 

Here’s the thing though. I do get tired of this. It’s exhausting, constantly making excuses, trying to come up with all of the reasons why everything you’re feeling doesn’t make sense and therefor the answer is to just get rid of it. I know it’s bullshit. I am very aware that feelings don’t actually disappear just because you close your eyes and wish really hard. As much as I still do this, I’m actually better about it than I used to be and so I know that on the occasions when I actually just acknowledge I’m feeling (insert whatever thing you like here) and that’s okay, it’s so much easier for me to move forward than when I spend the whole time kicking and screaming.

It’s not just emotionally either. I have a hard time accepting I can just move forward in my life. Even as things are happening, I’m constantly both excited and trying to undermine it. I got an internship at our local Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Center for the fall quarter. This is exactly what I wanted. I mean, really. This is what I want to do with my life, this is exactly the internship to help me get the experience I most want. I’ll be taking a training next month, I’ll be able to start doing actual work with clients very possibly this upcoming quarter. I should be thrilled; I am thrilled. This was the whole point of why I quit my job, turned my whole life upside-down, have taken out thousands of dollars in loans, it was all so that I could do exactly this sort of thing. And here we are, someone is going to let me do exactly this thing that I have dreamed about doing. I’m thrilled and also… convinced there must have been a mistake. I mean, this is exactly what I’ve been working towards but at the same time I can’t quite bring myself to believe that anyone would just let me do this. It seems impossible to wrap my mind around the idea that I could actually get to do the things I care most about, that life could work that way. Since it seems impossible to believe that, I start trying to come up with alternative possibilities. Maybe everything will fall apart. Maybe it will turn out that this one thing that is all I want to do is something I can’t do. Maybe I’ve been wrong about everything. The idea of people thinking I’m a grown-up who can actually do things seems so concerning and misplaced. Maybe it all goes to hell and I screw everything up. The details on this are always fairly vague. I’m such a perfectionist and I’m not really sure what “screwing everything up” would look like. E very helpfully informed me the other day that I would absolutely fuck up, because that’s what humans do but that he suspected it wouldn’t be as catastrophic as I think. I’m sure he’s right but it still makes me writhe to think about it.

It seems so much easier to scramble around the edge of things than to just commit. It seems so much safer to write off my emotions as just me being crazy than to try and work through what they are individually, truthfully and chance the possibility of other people, people I really care about, thinking that I’m crazy (even though the truth is that risk is much smaller than it always feels to me). It seems so much more sensible to look at all of the ways that my future could very likely not succeed than to embrace the fact that maybe things that are good are happening, that maybe I work hard, maybe I am actually good at things and can have a life I genuinely want to have. Embracing that would mean that if things did fall apart, I might be even more crushed and I might look foolish. I hate looking foolish. But I do think that, slowly, I’m learning to hate standing on the edge even more.

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