(the beginning: 8 August 2016)
A friend once told me that I had every capacity to be a part of something greater. She said that, in my life, the barrier to success is my intrinsic fear of falling.
It’s true. My most tragic flaw is my inability to “fall” – to commit, to make decisions, and to act on them. I’m afraid to fall into the tarot pool of life, to make ripples, to leave a less than worthy mark. I want to be perfect before I expose myself to opportunities, so much so that these chances fly away before I can grab onto them, and I’m left behind to writhe in the dust.
This has never been more true for the planning of my gap year. What if I make the wrong plans? What if I waste these dwindling, precious months? What if my body isn’t aligned enough to my ideal before I present myself to different parts of the world? What if I can’t work out in all these different places? What if I get heavier than I should be? What if I don’t take amazing pictures, or work hard enough for my “dream body?” On the other hand, what if I relapse into anorexia? Maybe I should have just moved into my dorm room.
These are the kind of thoughts that dominate my days right now. It’s hard not to have a small mind that hovers hundreds of miles and hours in the dark, sans gravity. I’ve got to wake up.
Societal pressure doesn’t alleviate my anxiety. I deferred university for a year, and this year had better be worth it. My generation is beginning to bolt out of the gates, adrenaline pumping, frothing at the mouth, racing hard and fast towards success, and I’m afraid of lagging behind. I don’t want to be caught in the latter parts of the chromatography.
Now, more than ever, I need to learn how to fall.
But, as I plunge into whatever comes next, I need to know that there are life lines, that I have roots. Even though jumping has consequences, that it can never really be sans gravity, I will have something, a talisman on the other end to both blunt the fatality of the fall and keep me from disappearing down rabbit holes.
My dad told me something this morning. He said,
“When I was young, my world was Kansas City. In fact, Kansas City was bigger than my world. Our world was our cars and our girlfriends. We were the Baby Boomers; we were taught that the outside world was primitive and dangerous, and America was the only safe place.”
This is the link to the other side, the link that wakes me up to the fact that taking a gap year is in fact an evolution through the generations of my family. This is the kind of pressure that doesn’t crush things, but makes diamonds. This is the kind of thing that feeds me with gratitude, that melts down all anxious thoughts in their tracks. Who cares what I look like, when I have an unprecedented gift to go and see what the world looks like?
I don’t want my world to be imprisoned by what I look like, or how I think I look. I don’t want it to be endless days of worry, or exhaustion, or constraint and repression so that I never leave a mark on anything, no matter how small it may be. I don’t want to never try, never taste something, because I’m afraid of it.
I’m ready to fall, to feel gravity, and to know that I come from something.