1) When I had my Cosmo-induced mental breakdown back in September, there was one section I didn’t pay much attention to. If you’ve read Cosmo, you know the one I’m talking about because you’ve skipped over it. There’s an article towards the back of every issue featuring true crime or horrible drama– terrible things happening to pretty blondes with perfectly straight hair and teeth. The picture is always a blurry female shape walking alone, ripe for the abducting and torturing, and the article has some sensationalist headline (So Young… So Naive… SO COMPLETELY MURDERED) that makes you want to stop and read but also keep going and never, ever find out what happened to the blonde girls and their nice teeth.
2) One night earlier this week, my friend Carin showed up at my door, asking if I wanted to run down the road to get her car. She literally meant “run”, and since I hate moving more than, like, all the things, it took a while for her to convince me. I wasn’t going until she said her boyfriend didn’t want her to go alone because he thought it was dangerous. I immediately thought of the section in the back of Cosmo. There would be nothing worse than reading about my super-kidnapped friend in the back of a crappy magazine, so I agreed to go with her as long as I could bring my stabbing-people key and my clubbing-people flashlight. If we were going to be in the back of Cosmo, at least our caption would say something like, “They tried to be smart BUT THEY’RE STILL DEAD. (Also, check out their weird brown hair.)”
3) I’ve never been a big risk-taker. I like rules and schedules, and when I don’t use them it feels less like “breaking free” and, not to be overly dramatic, more like “throwing myself into a raging death spiral from which there is no return”. I don’t even like playing the board game Risk.
As I was running down the street, trying to remember how breathing works and not being kidnapped or murdered in any way, I came to a sudden, horrifying realization: I’m a chicken. Not an adorable, marshmallow Peep kind of chicken. I’m like the Cowardly Lion’s agoraphobic cousin, Chicken McScaredyCat. I’ve been living my whole life thinking I’ll ultimately end up a blurry picture in a stupid magazine and it’s really holding me back.
For example, I once begged my parents to go with me on a pirate ghost ride at the beach, and when they refused, I got so scared that the guy running the ride felt sorry for me, patted my head and told me I’d be ok, then gave me a free string of beads “for being a big girl.” This would be totally acceptable for a nine- or ten-year-old. I was 20.
A Sampling of the Areas in Which I Would Like to (Metaphorically) Man Up
Eating Sushi: I can’t eat sushi in front of other people. I can destroy burgers and I have no shame at all when it comes to sandwiches or even pasta, but sushi is my food Everest. I can’t use chopsticks, possibly because I’m an idiot, and someone has to re-teach me every time. I can’t break them apart with any kind of grace and once I get them separated, trying to perfect the pinching-without-stabbing part of eating with chopsticks is a whole new obstacle. If I get the sushi to my mouth, I have to start chewing without looking like an obese chipmunk with bad table manners. In the past, I’ve dodged grossing my dinner companions out by hiding behind menus and distracting them by saying, “Look over there! For like 15 minutes!”
Talking to Strangers: Just once in my short sweet life, I would like to kick a party’s ass. I don’t want to be the girl standing in a corner near the food, quietly choking on a cookie because she doesn’t want to offend anyone. I want to walk up to the chattiest, social butterfly-est person there and say things like, “Oh, hello! I like your hat. Do you like olives? I sure do. My brother said the funniest thing to me the other day! Yes, he told me I was going to die alone surrounded by cats. Do you have any cats?” Presumably they will be blown away by my aptitude for small talk. Also, presumably it is a party where hats are involved. (Maybe some kind of hat party?)
Watching Scary Movies: You know how some girls are all, “I hate scary movies! Eeeee!” but they actually mean they squeal adorably and snuggle up with their significant others? I am not that girl. I can’t watch scary movies with any kind of cuteness. I spend the entirety shaking, biting my nails, flapping my hands like Kermit the Frog, and trying not to pee on anything. My criteria for “scary” is absurdly low: I can’t listen to The X-Files theme song without wanting to cry a little.
I’d like to say I’m simply being sensible about a lot of these things, but there’s being pragmatic, and then there’s being a big baby. I don’t want to be brave enough to punch bears in the face or get in a fight with Jillian Michaels. All I want is to be able to take chances without worrying the entire planet is going to implode the second I step out of my comfort zone. (It’s just that if it did, you’d all be really mad at me and no one would talk to me at any party ever again.)