First of all, I just ate, like, a pound of chocolate. It’s one of those days…
I hate feeling unprepared. It’s the worst. I have made a religious practice out of preparing for every single thing that I can. If I know something is coming up–be it a speech I’m giving for 350 people or a simple dinner I’m trying to time correctly for when my husband comes home for his break at work–I am all over it. I write things down and rehearse them in my head. I do every ounce of research I can think of to make sure that I have ample knowledge for a task. It seems logical to me to set myself up for success.
With all of that said, I’ve come to realize that I’m wholly unprepared for life. Give me a deadline, and I’m good. Give me the simple task of living, and I’m just… screwed. I want to prepare for life’s challenges, yet it seems like the universe keeps handing down the ones I wouldn’t have even known how to prepare for.
When I was in middle school, I thought that I was being bullied because I was ugly and boring. I didn’t know that lying to make myself seem more interesting would only make the bullying worse and that it would become a weird habit that would take an embarrassing number of years to break.
When I was in high school, I favored my male friends over my female friends because I truly believed they understood me better and that they were less dramatic. I did the same thing in college. I wasn’t prepared to deal with the fact that some people could make wanting to get in your pants seem like true, platonic love. One day, I woke up and realized that I pretty much resented all men and was terrified of becoming close to any women because I had absolutely no practice in making female friendships work.
But you know, those two examples are things that people sort of warned me about. I remember receiving well-meaning advice from both friends and adults about those two things–I just didn’t listen because I wasn’t hearing the answers I wanted to hear.
Things I truly wasn’t prepared to deal with:
Being drugged and raped. Having cancer. Losing a close friend to a drug overdose. Being in an abusive relationship (or two). Choosing happiness and leaving the abusive relationship only to find out that my family forever has chosen his side. Getting divorced. Going to graduate school to start a new career only to find out I was terrible at it (and not in a I’m-just-a-beginner-and-need-more-practice way). Getting involved with a man who turned out to be married. Actually being in a loving and functional relationship and realizing I only know how to cope with chaos. Learning to be vulnerable.
And of course: living with chronic illness.
I’m 32 and I am reinventing myself. Again. It’s so scary and I don’t know what I’m doing. I only know that I don’t want to fall into familiar traps. I know there are always going to be ups and downs and surges and setbacks… but I refuse to believe that life is always going to be painful and frustrating.
I started drawing yesterday. It made me smile. I’m no fashion designer yet, but it at least is fun to be doing something while I’m sitting on the couch and feeling crappy.
What about you? Do you know what you’re doing? Did you know that life was going to be as hard as it is?