I am afraid. I am not sure exactly what I fear, but I know I am afraid.
I know it by my hesitancy to get involved, to start projects, to commit. And once I do start something, to stick with it until it is finished. I fear messing up, disappointing, being inadequate, not up to the task.
Things I used to do with confidence now give me pause. Sewing, cooking, knitting—all things I once did with certainty and ease—now I hesitate or, even worse, I don’t even try. A pile of fabric sits untouched by the sewing machine; recipes untried and yarn unknitted.
Not my usual way of moving through life, but pretty much the way I have been for the past few years. And I don’t like it. I want to be myself, more daring, more willing to try new things and more willing to take risks. What happened to that person? Where has she gone?
I wish I knew, and I wish I knew how to bring her back.
Fear has been holding me back, and I am tired of it. I want to break free.
My spiritual director recently suggested I push back against myself. “Do the opposite of what you are comfortable doing,” she said.Maybe it is all the loss I’ve experienced these past few years, all the grief and sadness. Maybe my equilibrium is just off. Maybe…do the reasons really matter? I think not.
Rather, I think I need to stop thinking, stop trying to figure it out—and just act.Before my niece’s wedding last week I went for a manicure. “Choose your color,” the manicurist instructed me. Standing in front of rows of nail polish in every shade imaginable, I was paralyzed by too many choices. I picked up bottle after bottle of different shades of pink, but could not make a decision. My niece’s favorite color is blue, and I suddenly found myself drawn to the blues. “I have never worn blue nail polish in my life,” I said to no one in particular. Another customer said, “It is only nail polish.” Right. Only nail polish. Why such angst over something so temporary?
I chose a lovely shade of periwinkle, and then decided to get shellac so it would last at least two weeks. Two weeks of blue nails! Be bold, I told myself.
Two weeks earlier, I got my hair cut very short. Jim used to call it my “chemo haircut;” I call it my “girl’s summer haircut.” I had not had the courage to wear my hair this short for a long time, but I work at a cancer support center where people have very short hair (or none at all), so it is not an uncommon hairstyle.
It took some courage to tell my stylist to cut it short, but I am happy with the result. Plus, I know it will grow back if I tire of it. Short hair and blue nails—it’s a start.