[I’ve had a strange week. I bought some wine Tuesday, finished in Wednesday night, and wrote this while under the influence. It’s long, rambling, but it’s also a good dose of in vino veritas.]
This year of mine will require tremendous courage and a willingness to fail on my part, because I’ll need to push through a whole lot of existential and emotional roadblocks that have always kept me from a few places I’ve needed to be.
It’s not like I’m not a confident person. I am. I’ve got a great personality. I can sell anything, argue anyone. I’m smart as hell. I like my writing. I’m funny. I’m kind. I’m generous. I’m creative. I’m dogged. I may even be invincible. I know these things. I know these things.
The trouble is believing them. Because I wasn’t always this way, and, before that, I wasn’t always that way.
It’s like George Michael always sings: “All those insecurities that have held me down for so long, I can’t say that I’ve found a cure for these, but at least I know them so they’re not so strong.”
Mine are not as strong. They drove me to be nearly 300 pounds at one point. But along with the 65 pounds I’ve lost in the last 52 weeks, I have owned, confronted, and altered every single shortcoming of mine.
At 35, insecurities are interesting. I’m torn three ways. I’m too old to give a fuck. I’ve completely changed myself too much to give a fuck. But then, I also give an everfuck.
Because, fact is, I think I’m awesome. I am a really, really good person. I’m fun to know. And I want EVERYONE to know it. I’ve earned it, man! Believe me. This year, I want to do the rejecting. I want to be the one who’s too busy. I just want that. All of that. And I think it’s fucking time I had it. So I aim to take it.
But to get there, to be that, to have that, I have to believe it. I have to be that girl. I have to feel like walking into a room and working the hell out of it, which I know I can because I have before. But I haven’t done it in a long time.
Somewhere between being the girl who was she and the woman I am now, though, life put me through a gauntlet. One adversity after another has forged me into some whole new kind of alchemy. Lost in there is the confidence to just be myself, because, for a long time, I’ve not had the luxury of just “being myself” and enjoying the fun and antics of life. I had to be Survivor Steff.
I nearly died a couple of times in the span of one year. I spent three years in chronic pain. I gained 50 pounds on top of an already-fat body. My mother died. I lost three jobs in a year. Took the wrong one the next year. I suffered deep, prolonged depression. And just dealt with all the other shit life left on my doorstep over the years from love, money, and all the other perennial heartaches we all have. And I kicked its ass.
Long before then, when I was 18, I saw myself spending my 20s travelling. Started off well, as I lived in the Yukon for a year at 21. Then I thought next might be Montreal, after I stopped off at home. There, I rekindled a mistake of a relationship that sort of shattered any self-esteem I had at that time, then my mother went off the deep end before getting cancer and dying. I didn’t feel I could leave, and Traveller Steff went on hold. Enter Survivor Steff.
Thus began a really vicious few years that essentially robbed me of anything I was becoming in my Yukon-and-Before days. Back when I was the girl who’d plan roadtrips based on sunrise times. The one who sucked the marrow out of life on her terms with little apology.
Those relentless 7-8 years got in the way of the life I thought I’d be living. I lost everything about who I was, because life became about surviving, not about living. So my life went somewhere else. I think I’ve spent the last three years figuring out where “somewhere else” meant. [Much of this done through the vehicle of blogging.] Now I’ve got my bearings and then some.
Now that I’m done surviving, it’s time to get on with living. Shawshank Redemption tells us to “Get busy living or get busy dying”, but Ayn Rand [no, not “a big fan”] wrote it best, that man’s greatest error is not realizing that “avoiding death does not equal living life”.
Last year I avoided the world because I had to in order to get what I perceived to be my challenges accomplished. I did it. I did it as well as I had hoped I would, albeit not at all the way I expected I would, but that’s all right. I was too tired, too broke, too spent, too busy, too everything, to be social, and then I got injured. I had a lot of excuses to avoid people.
This year, though, it’s time to put my personal growth to the test. There’s a lot I want to try. The list would bore you.
And my dilemma is, I know I’m someone most of the people I’ll meet will love to have met. I know that. How could they not, right? But after so many years of being caught up in so much drama and just, really, being a burden to so many people because of all that’s gone wrong and haywire in my life, a lot of my old confidence has taken leave of me because I forget what it’s like. I forget what it’s like to be the person people rally around for fun, not because it’s needed.
I’ve gotten past what’s been an incredible few months of strife quite casually, after a few years of it had crippled me, and I know it’s done. It feels done. I feel 50 pounds lighter emotionally, but am also 30 pounds lighter physically over that time, too. Adversity won’t beat me again.
I’m ready for joy. I deserve joy. But I’m not sure everyone else has gotten the memo. So I think the onus is on me, then, to project what it is I want them to give back. People call it being positive, but, really, it’s hoodoo-voodoo, baby. It’s manipulatin’. And I’m all right with that.
If I gotta fake it to get it, then sign me up. I’ve faked an orgasm. I can do this.
See, I’m 35 now. It occurred to me that, for a life’s first-half, man, I put on a hell of a show. I have had some seriously wild, fun, crazy, writable experiences. I may have been living a very, very reclusive life the last five years, but I had me some good mileage before then. And I know more’s on tap.
There’s so much further to go. I needed a break. I needed to survive. This is the year I re-engage. That’s why I need confidence. But… To have the confidence, you need courage. To be courageous, you have to get out there and take the chance. But to get out there, you need blind faith or mojo, and if you’re lacking in either? Fake it, baby.
It’s a mad swirl, these lives of ours. But they’re the only ones we got. A lot of the stories I tell are of the past. It’s time to write me some present.
Enter, fakin’ it.