2018 rang in for me last year on a large stage in front of 100,000+ patrons, surrounded by performers from around the world. I was working, I was sober, I was happier and felt more settled in who I was becoming than I had in a long time.
I was in a relationship with a sweet boy in NYC, I was fully confident I would return to this stage for the next year, I saw much of my anxiety, self-doubt, and depression melting away, I was growing in the person I had planned to be, I saw the linear path in front of me and I was confident in where it would lead.
Less than a week from 2019 and not one of these things are true anymore.
A month later I would find myself fighting with the sweet boy in NYC, avoiding the truth that I no longer loved him, that our lives did not fit, maybe never fit the way we thought they did. I have not returned to the stage, I’m managing a new circus team for the same company but nothing to do with that giant stage this year. I unexpectedly fell in love with a Bollywood dancer. He was like no one and nothing I had ever experienced. We still referred to each other as soul mates in our recent goodbyes, despite his impending marriage to an Indian Muslim girl of his parents’ choosing this spring.
My path is no longer so linear. The destination has veered left. The confidence with it.
My city, my home the last five years no longer feels like a comforting base, but a safety net, a golden cage or security blanket I need to pry out of my fingers. The reasons I have to stay are mostly people, but people who I won’t lose even if I leave, my travels have already proven this. So maybe it’s fear.
But if not there, where?
And my anxiety is back. And depression. Not as strong as they have been, but they come to rear their ugly heads off and on since June. There’s nothing so paralytic as that combination. You’re too anxious to start any project or work or job or productive thing you know you need to and then crippled with the doubt that it will be any good, that anyone will care, that it will make a difference, that you won’t completely screw up your attempts, that anyone will want to work with you a second time, that you won’t live up to that interview/first job, and the list goes on…
So among other bits and pieces, I have a half begun training course for the fully planned and prepped business I have designs, URLs, Social handles, and business cards for at the ready. I even have people ready to write testimonials when I get my act together. But staring at the blank pages in front of me has proven to be too much and I find myself unable to push through the wall telling me ‘why bother’. I’ll fall behind or fail in the work once I launch anyway. Haven’t I already shown that I can’t be trusted to follow through? I’m too full of self-doubt to keep up a regular creative blog, do I really think I can keep up my own business when I’m the only one depending on me?
I hate letting down anyone else, I will lose sleep, stay in bad relationships, ignore my boundaries, and work too hard to avoid letting anyone down, and beat myself up when there’s even an inkling of a hint that I failed in being there to support someone.
But when it’s just me? Suddenly it doesn’t matter so much.
And that’s what is going to change in 2019.
I recently entertained a boy after a few bad dates because he needed someone to be there. I finally snapped after the 5th blatant act of disrespect (I’m a terrible feminist when it’s me in the relationship) and now he still tries to message me to ruin what small happy choices I make for myself.
Today I blocked him. Because the only reason I hadn’t was my consideration of his feelings.
I changed my profile picture on WhatsApp as well today. To not include my ex. Which I hadn’t done for 2 months because I was worried about what he would feel in Mumbai when he saw I had changed it. I didn’t want him to be hurting more. When it was him who told me we needed to forget each other. That we had no future. I still hesitate to do what would be better for me, because of what he needs.
Hands up if we see the destructive pattern here.
And what about what I need?
I realized recently I don’t actually know anymore.
I am not the same person I was last year, nevermind the person I was before I started dating anyone.
So I’ve started to make lists.
I need alone time, I need tea, I need yoga, and I need my books.
I need shared meals, someone to hold once in a while, someone who can let me be both the boss and a woman, and let me, help me, keep those identities separate. Someone who keeps me learning, and wanting to learn new things.
I need to grow. I need to keep reaching towards whatever destination I’m heading towards, I need to figure out what that looks like, and someone willing to call me on my own bullshit and give me the kick in the ass I need to stare down my paralyzing fear and say “Yes. Yes I can do this”
I don’t want someone to tell me I can do this, I just need them to remind me that I already know.
But I need to find most of this outside of someone else.
I need the discipline to find it in myself and cultivate it. And not lose it when I find someone I do decide is worthy to share my life again.
And I need to decide that I am worthy of this life that I want. For all my mistakes, fears, missed deadlines, lost opportunities, cheat weeks, procrastination, and half-started dreams, I am still worthy of the life that I want. Even if I don’t fully know or understand what that is yet.
Because I am. I just need to remember to believe it.
And guess what? You are too.