The riskiest thing I did as a kid was trade my allowance for a foil pack of Pokemon cards. Not knowing if there would be any card worth my hard earned cash (I pulled weeds, I dusted poorly, I stopped slapping Alex), it was the biggest gamble I took part in. I rarely ding-dong-ditched or stole gum from the grocery or snuck out of the house or secretly sipped wine or uttered curse words in public places (god save my soul now). I was a weenie. I still am a weenie. I hope I'm not doomed to be eternally weenie.
I must give myself a little credit in that I came to Chicago and am utterly alone and pathetic. This took balls (or if we want to get all feminist-y, it took the female equivalent of balls, which I'm guessing is where-ever the eggs are kept, I don't know, I'm pretty grossed out by all the sewer stuff) and I'm proud and all, but I'm failing on a deeper level: connecting with human beings. I've got the animals and even the BUGS in the bag. I have a million mottled pigeon friends and don't bother killing the bugs that break into my apartment. But I find myself consistently letting myself down when it comes to humans.
I share elevator rides with others and don't speak. A human opens the door for me and I say, "thank you" and immediately walk away. I am passed by a tall handsome fella who is very obviously trying to catch my eye (this is real, this happened last night, someone LOOKED AT ME) and I look at the ground because I am terrible. I am given the decision to sit next to a delightful looking man or stand and potentially fall on my ass due to unfamiliarity with how to properly stand in order to not fall on my ass while on the train, and I choose the threat of rear bruises.
I think about this a lot. I wonder why people are so scared to do things. At least some people. I guess I can only speak for myself. I am scared shitless to do a lot of things. This past weekend my friend Alice (who is the worst example because she is amazing at being gutsy in the "talking to people she doesn't know" department) urged me to talk to people and I brushed it off as if it were impossible. It's not in my nature. That's what I always tell myself. I'm not "meant" to be "that person". I'm incapable of it. But the truth is that I'm not. I could have introduced myself to the girl in the elevator this afternoon. I could have sat next to that man on the train. I could have followed that attractive boy home and watched him from his window. I could have broken the bus stop wall and stolen that Adam Driver Gap ad and hung it above my bed on the ceiling.
But I didn't do any of those things and it all comes down to one thing. I care too much what other people think. I spend a lot of time getting dressed because I care about what others think. I spend a lot of time worrying about if I'm sweating or if my make-up's smudgy or if I'm talking too loud or too quietly or if someone can see that I'm reading an embarrassing book (what am I, some walking cliche? I can't read fucking Klosterman on the train), or if someone can hear that I'm listening to and enjoying Vampire Weekend on my iPhone (because good GOD, that would be the end of it all). I worry so much that I probably look like an idiot. You can spot the worriers from acres away because they look uncomfortable. Their muscles are tense and they are sweating and they are constantly looking around all panicky and they look stupid. I look stupid. I look stupid going to great lengths to hide the book covers and turn my music to the barely audible volume and essentially hiding my face with sunglasses and my hands and my shirt collars because I'm so fucking worried. Heaven forbid I not put forth this persona of perfect taste and impeccable fashion sense. As if somehow Bauhaus and black tights will so dramatically change others' opinions of me.
I'm done being a little shit. To hell with anyone who would think less of me for anything that I do (save, you know, murder and listening to Rihanna or whatever). Yesterday I had some weird out-of-body experience where I went to the beach on a very windy day and my skirt flew up and I didn't lose my calm. I literally walked to where I wanted to get to and sat down. I'm sure at least 16 people saw my ass but for some reason I didn't give a shit and it felt great. It was something really simple that I conquered somehow. The day before, I ran outside. That was huge. That may sound idiotic to some, but it was a huge step for me.
I can't go back and correct all the things I potentially messed up by being a weenie as a younger miss. I can't redo the "mud walk" at Camp Potawatomi. I can't get drunk at 16 or wait out my freshman year in Cincinnati to see if maybe I could have succeeded there. I can't go back and actually SPEAK to the boy I had an enormous crush on and who I'd managed to get in the same room as (after much prodding of my older brother) this past spring.
I'm not a fan of platitudes and that garbage. The whole "be in control of your own destiny" shit. But it applies. I spend a lot of time thinking about "what if" scenarios and it's such a waste. I may be denied. I may feel ugly. I may get arrested for stealing Gap ads. But I'm going to start doing more of the things I want to do. If people want to laugh at my running form or peep my butt, so be it.
I guess here's to flashing people and making asses of ourselves forever and ever.