I had a lovely night. An unexpected impromptu dinner with a really lovely new friend, and one of his oldest friends. We're talking early childhood. Such a dynamic could have been awkward (third wheel, anyone?) but I've been feeling the void in male friendships lately, and it was really quite nice to spend time with two men who have such a strongly rooted friendship. And as those of you that know me know, I'm not someone that could be described as verbally reticent. But for several hours I really quite happy to mostly shut up and listen.
Now, this new friend, I'll admit to being at times a little in awe of him. He's beautiful, kind, involved in all the creative things that I am generally intimidated by, seemingly fearless - or maybe more accurately unaffected by my good friend self-doubt ...every time we hang out I find out an intriguing little nugget that makes me want to know more. About who his is, what he's done/doing - which is seemingly everything. I mean really, how many people do you know that can whip out a straightjacket and demo their escape maneuvers?
Anyhow, the straightjacket lead to a conversation about learning to do new things, and he asserted that 80% of people, with enough practice over about two years, have the aptitude to become adequate at almost anything - we're talking C+ level (the only rating system my overly academically geared mind understands). He said this like it was a good thing. A reason-to-try-new-things-type-thing. And my first reaction to that was 'eh ... two years for a C+? Why would I invest all that time and energy into something just to be mediocre at it?'
Which is of course the balls-est reaction possible.
And which I immediately had the common sense to be utterly horrified by.
I don't think it's exactly a national secret that my mid-life crisis started somewhere pre quarter-life. I've never felt like I've developed into the person I should be, or want to be. That person does not have a desk job. She spends her days making things and connecting with people. She is impulsive with her heart, not her wallet. She is more politically minded and civically active. She is less cynical and judgmental. She isn't dissuaded from taking classes or shaking her ass on a dance floor or picking up a guitar or mike because she might not be good at it (duh, that's what we call learning). She indulges and develops her creative proclivities. She looks different. She thinks different. She is, to quote Fight Club, free in all the ways I am not.
She is my Tyler Durden. Without the whole pissing in the soup thing.
Now, I'll concede that I've made a few small strides in some of these areas. I quit taking classes where I write about art with the assurance that I'll get an A+ (and then bitch about the 10% I lost, regardless of the fact that it wouldn't change the grade) in favor of taking art classes where I actually learn about and get my hands dirty with art ... and utterly suck at. I'm not being self-deprecating, I really do suck. I also really enjoy it. Mostly. I did six months of nasty ass, back agony inducing bootcamp, which I can't say I ever enjoyed, but I got through. Now, some of that has been undone by my good frenemy whiskey and his band of accomplices (French Fry, I'm calling you out!) but whatever, I did it despite the paralyzing knowledge that I indeed looked like the fatty at the gym. I'm warming up to the idea of the learning process being something to be enjoyed, not rushed through to meet the goal of Being. Awesome. At. Something.
But still, I feel like The Nothing is hovering behind me, ever urgently reminding me to move forward, move faster. And I feel like my feet are stuck in the quicksand. Like some stupid little synapse in my head keeps firing a message that I can't quit my job and start into something I'll actually, gulp, enjoy because I:
- have dick all savings despite making decent money; and
- despite being good at a lot of things I enjoy, I am not pay-the-bills good at anything.
Now, before you get your panties all tied in a knot because you love me and think I'm just swell (hi Mom!) be assured this isn't a woe-is-me-need-for-assurance thing. I know that in a lot of ways I'm a pretty excellent person. I'm smart, kind, warm, witty, considerate, generous, thoughtful, admirably skilled in many domestic pursuits and more creative than at least your average tree stump. On a really good hair day during a week that I haven't been worshiping at the alter of beer, burgers and sedentariness I'll allow for not hard to look at. These are all good things. Things I'd like the superior C+ version of me to also embody.
I guess the question is - would I rather be a comfortable and unchallenged A or A+ version (though I'd say I'm hovering around a B+) of the person I've defaulted to, or a C+ version of the person I want to be? Even knowing that it could take years to achieve it, if indeed it's even something with an end goal? I mean really, a person worth being is one that continues to be challenged, learn and change, right?
September is traditionally the toughest month for me. With my birthday on the last day of the month it usually marks 30 days of Oh shit. Another year gone, and I'm still the same me. Which is just as depressing and unproductive as it sounds. So I think this year, in partnership with (as of the 7th) Sober September, I am going to break with tradition and spend that time and mental energy launching the C+ version of me.
Because there's just no sense of accomplishment in striving for an A+ in the status quo.
* note, not troubleshooting things like CAP LOCK ON, cleaning up after other people, or bloody copyediting.