Not only do I startle easily, but I don’t adapt well to change. And it isn’t as simple as dropping my popcorn when something scary happens on the screen in a movie theatre. Nope. This characteristic of mine keeps going right down deep into the recesses of my mind. And it stays with me when anything in my life changes, no matter how minor. This comes to mind tonight for two reasons:
- I switched cell phone providers today, getting both a new phone and a new phone number. (I won’t get into the mental anguish involved in deciding whether I wanted a 312 or 773 area code.) And while I’m somewhat secure in my decision, I’m still freaking out. Because now I have to get new business cards (or, uh, write my new number on the ones I have). And transfer all of my contacts. And learn how to type on a damn touch screen instead of a nice little Blackberry keyboard.
- I’ve been going through my books, trying to weed out the unnecessary ones. And this is causing a bit of anxiety. I mean, I know I’m not going to NEED Kenneth Burke’s Language as Symbolic Action in my life as a non-PhD student/academic. And yet… there is part of me that wants to hold on to all of the books I bought for classes in graduate school.
And let’s not even get into the panic attacks that come when I contemplate moving. You see, I’ve lived in this space almost three years. And in that time, I’ve settled. And by “settled,” I mean that people who visit my apartment often think I’ve lived here for more than a decade. Things fit, in this space. My artwork is perfect, in this space. My furniture works together, in this space. I am comfortable, in this space. And while I know that I can find all of these things in a space that is not “this space,” I’m terrified of leaving. It’s the first place I’ve ever lived on my own for any length of time. It’s the first place I’ve ever felt in control of my life. It’s the first place I could craft into something I could call “mine.”
I’m not only scared of change, I’m terrified of larger responsibilities. It isn’t so much the different apartment (or job) as it is the larger apartment (and more-important job). I like being in a confined space, in well-defined parameters of my own making. I’m like the homeless person who enjoys everything being in a shopping cart and knowing exactly where every scrap and piece of sediment resides. Except I don’t really have a handle on all of my “stuff,” which is why I have to go through it all and get rid of the detritus…or else, when it’s moving time, I’ll feel even more overwhelmed.
Seriously, I know this sounds contradictory to the point of being bat-shit crazy. But it’s the sort of struggle I have going on in my head, and it leaves me overwhelmed to the point of emotional paralysis. (I wish Oprah could send one of her counselor-organizer hybrids to my house while I go on vacation.) And the only solution I’ve found is to make the difficult decisions and keep walking. To get the new phone and learn how to use the silly touch-screen keyboard. To get out the fine-tip Sharpie and write my new number on my business cards. To sell my books. To start packing things up and weeding things out and dropping things off at the Salvation Army so that, when the perfect apartment comes up (and I know it will), I will be ready.
This does not mean I do not feel a tremendous amount of anxiety about any of these things (and dozens more). But it does mean that I am learning how to be — as they say in recovery — comfortable being uncomfortable. Winston Churchill famously said, “If you’re going through hell, keep walking.” I think the same could be said for moving. This time around, though — when it comes — I’m hiring professionals.