The best way to make a change in your life and how you feel about it is to start trying new things. Everybody knows this, but we all sort of get busy with our lives and push new ideas aside because it’s so much easier to stick with our old routine. Sometimes, though, you’ve just got to go ahead and put on your big girl panties, suck it up and put yourself out there.
As a person who has a lot of anxiety about interacting with people, this is no easy task for me. Sometimes hanging out with my own friends can be tiring and nerve-racking, so making new ones is not something I’m especially good at or used to. But after weeks of talking about it with my therapist, I’ve finally found some motivation to take the plunge and actually try.
So what am I trying? Well, it’s just baby steps for now, but I’ve been focusing on: a) Cutting back on people-pleasing so damn much and actually doing what’s right for me, b) Making more of an effort to socialize with my roommates and in general, and c) Trying things that I am interested in instead of just letting opportunities slip by. How I’ve been doing this is: a) I told my roommates I want to live somewhere else this fall. I just can’t live with pets anymore without some sort of allergic reaction, and even though that’s not my fault, I was really dreading the idea of telling them I want to move out. I didn’t want them to think I was being unreasonable or hurt their feelings, so I really considered just staying where I’m at, but in the long run I know moving out is the better choice for me. b) On Monday nights I set aside time to watch The Bachelor with my roommates. Honestly, I think the show is super sexist and ridiculous, but it’s something they enjoy, and I like watching it with them because we all add our own commentary. It’s a good bonding activity, especially when we break out the wine. c) I’ve been searching for a club to join this semester that fits in with my schedule and is something I maybe won’t get the opportunity to do after college. So next week I’m going to a Tango Club meeting, because I suck at dancing and I’d like to be better at it. I’m not setting up any high expectations—I’ll go, and if I like it I’ll keep going. If I don’t like it, I won’t go, and I’ll probably try to find some sort of craft club to join. My therapist used an interesting metaphor for this; she said that it was sort of like gardening, where right now is the time to just try to plant a bunch of seeds. Some of them won’t grow into anything, but others hopefully will, and after time they can turn into something great that I can pick and make into jam or some shit. So basically, I’ve got to try some new things, find what I like, stick to the ones I enjoy the most, and eventually it will bring me a sense of purpose or some friends or at least a fun way to spend a Wednesday night. (For all of you non-therapy goers, metaphors always turn up eventually, even though it’s so stereotypical, and they are almost always something strange that sound stupid in any other situation.) Anyway, I’m planting my seeds, readers. Hopefully something will grow.
In other news, I’ve also had some good changes with Jessie, my ex-partner living in Central America. Since allowing each other to see other people, we’ve become more honest with another and more realistic about our relationship. Now that I feel less pressure to tie my future to his*, I actually feel more inclined to. But I’m not making any sort of promises still, because there’s more work I need to do about figuring out how I want my life to be. In a strange way, I think we are sort of better than ever at this point.
Being honest means I’ve fessed up to seeing someone else in the past few weeks. Now, by “seeing someone” I just mean hanging out and intimacy—it is not a relationship with labels and I intend to keep it that way. Nonetheless, I’ve enjoyed spending time with this guy (who will be anonymous for now) and it has taught me a lot about the kind of person I am looking for. After looking back at some of my old relationships I now see them in a different light; where I once thought I had serious, adult love I recognize that it was young, foolish love that was based on a naïve dream. Now I know that while it is fun to spend time with people who are free spirits and idealists in your 20’s, the person I want to marry one day is someone I could count on, who is responsible and reliable. And that’s not to say that free spirits and idealists aren’t great people…I just know now that I’m going to need someone who I can both dream with, and conquer reality with.
I had a funny sort of inspiration for all of these realizations lately. Yesterday I was sitting in my car outside my therapist’s office, looking out the window, and thinking about what it would be like if I were pregnant. Mind you, I have no desire to be a mother any time soon, but since I’ve lost track of my periods I was a little concerned about this at the time. (Just for the record, though, I’m not pregnant.) Anyway, I sat there picturing myself with a little boy who was mine and I suddenly saw this attainable version of myself that I’d like to be someday. I was independent, and I trusted my instincts though I was sometimes scared, and I stuck to important values that I wanted to pass on to my kid. Values like being honest instead of proud, being kind and fair, especially when you don’t agree with someone, and learning about the things you don’t understand instead of dismissing them. I know it sounds sort of silly, but when you think of the life you’d like to give to someone you love with all of your heart, it becomes clear what you think people deserve. And I think if you can take that idea of life, and apply it to yourself instead, you realize that maybe you deserve that too.
So this is my journey in becoming someone I can admire and aspire to. It’s not going to be easy (in fact, it will most likely be pretty uncomfortable as I push myself to do new things), and it’s going to take time and work, but I’m trying because at the end of the day if I tried, at least I did something different.
*In the past, I’ve used she/her or they/them pronouns for Jessie (or tried just avoiding using pronouns altogether), however recently I learned that Jessie’s correct pronouns are he/him, so that’s what I’m going to start using!