Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hope vs. Fear

“Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around?”
I didn’t write that quote though it seems pulled straight from my heart (it’s actually from You’ve Got Mail). Those simple words have always touched me but never more so than now that I’m no spring chicken. I guess because I know that countless of my decisions in life are directly attributable to some fear or another, including the fact that I’m single and alone. If I’m honest with myself, I can admit that I’m alone in part because I never put myself out there, granted it could also be because I’m a short, slightly overweight nerd too. In my youth I never went on blind dates or tried online dating, I never went to a bar or a wild ‘n crazy party. While it’s true that I was my mom’s care giver the better part of my adult life and those bars or parties seemed an indulgence I couldn’t afford, since it would mean selfishly leaving her alone to go and have fun, I know in my heart that a part of me welcomed the excuse. Not being able to go because of mom, meant I wouldn’t have to go to a party and risk sitting alone, or go on a blind date and have the guy see me and make a quick U-turn out the door. Rejection has always been my greatest fear; quickly followed by fear of heights, public speaking, large crowds, roller coasters, etc., etc., etc. You get the point.

I wish I could say it was just my romantic life that’s borne the brunt of my insecurities, because my single status is just a matter of fact at this point, but there were other dreams put aside too. I once dreamed of being a writer and when I was younger I actually had the audacity, the temerity to sit down and actually write something, a screenplay. Young and bold, I submitted the screenplay to an online contest and got an honorable mention, but an honorable mention seemed just a kind way of saying it wasn’t good enough, and maybe it really wasn't but I didn't get any better either because it was easier to just quit than be rejected, so now it sits in my drawer collecting dust; and so every road not taken has left me where I am today.

A friend at work jokes about the fact that seemingly all roads lead to Connecticut because it’s where I go to every weekend. The truth is that when mom was with me she was the buffer for my fears, and now that she’s gone I’ve found another safety net in my boys and family. You don’t have to worry about new people liking you when you’re with people who already love you. I tell myself I have to see my knuckleheads every weekend because they need me and I know in part they do, but in reality I need them more; they, as well as my other family and friends, are my joy and a large part of why I might be alone, but I’m never lonely. But now that they are getting older and have less time for their old aunt, it’s a perfect time to branch out and experience new places and things and maybe even use that GPS I got as my 25th year anniversary gift at work.

So at the tender age of 46, actually 45 and 3/4, I’ve decided to live a little bigger; to try and let myself be guided by my hopes instead of my fears. I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone and setting some goals for myself. I’m starting with attending my office Christmas party; wow, don’t go all wild and crazy you say; I know, I know, but you’ve got to start somewhere. Baby steps as Dr. Leo Marvin would say; taking one small step at a time to reach one's goals (sorry for the obscure reference; it’s from What About Bob?, one of Bill Murray’s funniest movies, hey the words are no less insightful just because they come from a fake doctor).

About those goals – they’re not momentous, baby steps remember, but they are a start. I think by the time I’m 80 I’ll be ready for a first date, my Oscar speech, and maybe even some skydiving.

1. Go to the company Christmas party (almost a done deal, it's this coming Friday)
2. Begin writing again
3. Submit a completed screenplay or novel to an online contest or agent; if it fails try, try again…no quitting allowed
4. Visit a new city/place (frequency yet to be determined)
5. Visit Scotland (don’t know why it’s calling to me, but I’ve always wanted to go there; maybe my destiny awaits, it could be my soul mate or a runaway carriage ( case of the second, maybe I should rethink the destination)
6. Go on a roller coaster (actually I take this one back, I’m OK with being a chicken in this regard)

Anyway, wish me luck; if my past track record is any indication, I think I’ll need it.