Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Confessions of A Troglodyte*
Growing up I didn’t have a lot of concerns about my body’s safety and spent most of my youth hurling it at or in the way of snow and ice and limbs (both human and tree) and pretty much anything that might cause lasting damage if encountered with too much force. As a result I was known for being tough, and I liked it. For whatever reason I wasn’t afraid of pain so it was easy for me, but no one needed to know that. As a result I never really had to face the things I was afraid of or averse to, like eating raw fish, making new friends or admitting when I had done something wrong. I could be a coward when it suited me and still maintain my reputation as a resilient scrapster.
Now I am 28 years old (as I write this in the year 2016) and I am afraid to try new things. I’m worried I might lose the friends I have because they’ll think I’ve changed or don’t need them anymore if I suddenly take on new interests. I’m worried that anyone I might meet in pursuit of new interests will denounce me as ignorant and ridiculous because I haven’t ALWAYS loved this thing or that. I’m afraid I won’t know what to say so I’ll resort to self-deprecation even though I know it’s weak and unattractive as a first impression. Or I will talk too much about how I don’t like baseball because I don’t believe highly paid athletes should ever be fat, which I don’t even really care about. Why do I that? I think I’m funny but I don’t always have great timing. I still play soccer, but because I am aging and have to wake up and do life even when my ribs are sore I actually have quite a BIT of concern for my physical health, and even I didn’t there really isn’t anyone around to shower me with praise for it. The NYC rec leagues aren’t much of a spectator event.
Occasionally the fear subsides and I do something I convince myself is bold and daring and just the thing to start my new exciting lifestyle like invite someone I’ve only met once to my apartment and fail to realize that their interest was politely feigned until I’ve already run with the idea that we might be friends or...whatever. So it’s a pretty consistent cycle of fear and embarrassment and I really wish I were immune to both of these things. I think I assumed that when I grew up I wouldn’t be afraid of people any more. I’m fine with being afraid of jumping into deep water and riding a bike downhill and ingesting hallucinogens of suspicious origins mostly because it turns out no one ever expects me to do these things anyway. Those things used to cause me a lot of stress and now they don’t. I assumed my other fears would take the same route. I saw myself striding confidently into adulthood, flawed yes, but unflappable and daring and full of balls-to-the-wall, don’t-care-what-you-think-I’m-awesome charisma.
But Such is not the case, and I often have to retreat into my comforts and lick my imaginary wounds, many of which are just the sore spots from knowing I’ve missed out on something I might have liked if I had tried. I’d really like to stop doing this. I’d really like to put myself in situations where I’m a little outclassed by excited, intelligent people and a little out of my element, and to trust myself that even if I don’t wow the crowd with my sparkling personality I probably won’t die. Probably. I suppose it’s time I let go of being tough and settle into being brave.