People are always telling me how brave I am.
“Wow, Stephanie,” they say after I tell them about how I don’t believe in ghosts, or about the time there was an intruder in my home, or about the recurring nightmares I have about turning into a tree. “You’re sooo brave.” Sometimes they use a weird sarcastic tone, but I can tell they’re very impressed. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, though.
I’m not brave.
I am scared of every. single. thing.
I’m feeling bad right now because I haven’t posted anything here in weeks. MONTHS, MAYBE.
I know it doesn’t really matter. Nothing was riding on this. No one was staging a hunger strike to get me to write, or holding people hostage, or sending me threatening notes. It’s not a big deal, or even a little deal. In fact, the word deal should not be brought into it at all. Nevertheless, it’s hard to look my blog in the i’s, especially since it turned five in September and I wasn’t even there for it.
Some children know what they want to be when they grow up, and then grow up and become that thing and enjoy it. If you are one of those people, please never talk to me or look at me. I don’t understand you and I don’t want to see your gross contentment.
Not only do I still not know what I want to do when I grow up as a grownup, I don’t even know what I want to eat for breakfast or what kind of toilet paper I want to buy. I’m not sure how you’re supposed to tell. How on earth are you going to decide what you want to do for a career, or who you want to spend the rest of your life with, or where you want to live that life? How does anyone know what they want?
When I was a kid, everyone said it was important to have goals. “Yes,” I agreed. “I want to be an astronaut. And a writer. And a turtle. And a princess. I want to be an astronaut writer turtle princess.”
“But you can’t be all of those things,” people said. “You have to pick one.”
That’s where they lost me. And I was never seen again. To this day, you can see my ghost wandering the hills, asking itself, “What exactly am I doing here with my ghost self and is it the right thing and have I adequately explored all the options? Boo-oooo-oo!”
In December I went to a conference in Washington, D.C. My flights got all screwed up because while I was in the air the Dallas-Fort Worth airport apparently disappeared, or at least was lost in fog. Shenanigans ensued. When I finally got to my hotel room, I hadn’t eaten anything but airplane pretzels in 16 hours.
I looked at the hotel restaurant and room service brochure. The kitchen closed at 11pm. The clock said it was 11:03. I went down the hall to the door that said “vending,” but the only thing behind it was an ice machine. I stumbled to the gift shop, where I could see food behind the locked door. That’s when I fell to my knees and cursed the heavens.
I’ve been hearing voices for a long time. Not in a schizoid kind of way, or even in an “I’m picking up Top 40 radio with my orthodontia” kind of way. The ones I can hear are not as friendly as Casey Kasem sounds. In fact, they’re downright mean.
I think (read: hope) even the most well-adjusted people face an inner critic from time-to-time. Even if you don’t hear a literal voice, you know what I mean when I talk about something nagging you deep in the back of your brain while you’re trying to accomplish something.
It’s like the meanest person you’ve ever met is standing directly behind your left shoulder, nitpicking every single thing you do. “That’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen,” your inner critic says. “I can’t believe you thought you could do this. YOU ARE RUINING EVERYTHING THAT IS GOOD AND DECENT IN THIS WORLD RIGHT NOW, YOU BOOGER-EATING FUNGUS LICKER. YOU RUN LIKE A WATER BUFFALO!”