Wednesday, February 03, 2010

A Public Commitment

Winter malaise is upon me in full swing, exacerbated by some recession-induced uncertainty in my chosen fields and whatever mysterious goings on are taking place down there in the Blind Spot (*). It's deceptive because even though I'm doing fine, it doesn't FEEL to me like I'm doing fine. It also doesn't LOOK like I'm doing fine because I'm actually opening up to people--saying what I actually feel instead of saying the "right things."

It's a giant step forward, though to the untrained eye, it looks like two steps back, followed by a total meltdown.

It's tough for me, because I hate feeling weakness. More accurately, I hate other people knowing I feel weak. I'm supposed to be the one with the answers, damn it. And if I don't have the answers, I need to at least be able to fake enough certainty that people don't notice.

Anything less is unmanly.

Come to think of it, I also am equally uncomfortable feeling confident. Or more accurately, I uncomfortable with other people knowing when I feel confident. I worry they'll think I'm arrogant or cocky.

And that's why I'm doing this publicly.

For some time now, I've made a commitment to do at least one thing every day that makes me uncomfortable. It doesn't have to be a big thing--but it has to be something that forces me "feel the fear and do it anyway.(**)"

It's been awesome.

But lately, I've noticed something. Two somethings, actually.

1 - I only experiment when no one I know is around. The only times I will face a fear anyone other than strangers is if it doesn't contradict my social role in that setting, whether it's Sarcastic Guy, Shy Awkward Guy, Good Listener, Serial (sometimes Parallel) Philanderer, Dutiful Boyfriend (okay, that only happened once, but I worked my fucking ass off at it), Damaged Goods, Tantric Practitioner, Office Clown, Humble Just-Happy-to-be-here Comedian, Flirty Salsero, Sage-Beyond-His-Years Buddhist, Rebel Teacher.

I can do a lot of things in a lot of situations. But once I'm in the box, I don't easily step out...possibly one of the reasons, I keep my social groups seperate. I rarely introduce women I date to friends or family. Crisis work, salsa, Buddhist, comedy, and writing are all kept carefully apart like food items on a plate.

2 - The great majority also happen under controlled circumstances. There's risk, but no real danger, because I always leave myself an out. If the situation is uncertain or I'm in a new environment, I default to Pleasant But Quiet mode.

It's time to cut away those two somethings. I faced a lot of fears, but they were the henchmen. We're looking at two of the Boss Fears in my psyche, two of the Big Bads: Fear of Letting People See Me For Who I Am, and Fear of Abandoning Control.

I've come a long way. But until I start taking risks that MEAN something, I'm not living. I'm only practicing.

I've practiced long enough. I'm ready.

What I'm ready for, I don't know.

But whatever it is, I'm looking forward to it.

(*) The hardest part is the waiting to see what will unfold. I've always felt that the best way to find out what's going on is to Do-Something-And-See-What-Happens, and while I'm not 100% resisting that urge in this case, at least I'm taking smaller steps in various directions and seeing how each one feels instead of powering full-speed ahead into what I think I should want and hoping momentum will carry me through.

(**) Previous examples include running naked through my neighbourhood, asking the clerk at a woman's lingerie store if she had anything in my size, the Great LRT Experiment, and a couple other things I'd be better off not mentioning.


Poetry of Flesh said...

We're so alike in so many random and unexpected ways.

Good luck, Dan, even if I'm not always responsive, I am always wishing you well from my anti-social chair.

ClpX said...

(laughs) Parallel philanderer! heh, ahem.

I like sticking with the various "roles" and stereotypes because then I know what to do.

Then I think that it's funny that I ever think I know what to do. What a pompous assumption. I mean that Buddhistly. In real life, stuff gets uncomfortable, there is fear, and the good news is that in the end, it never matters as much as I thought it would.