Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women


(I apologize for the terribly unoriginal and boring title. I couldn’t think of anything else.)

My fears don’t have a lot of rhyme or reason to them and although I know they’re present, I have a hard time identifying what specifically my fears are. I have the semi-but-not-totally-irrational fears of being raped or abducted, which I think most women probably experience at one time or another. Other fears from time to time flit across my brain: getting into a car accident, being in a plane crash, having a loved one die unexpectedly. I attribute these fears to an overactive imagination, with my need to always plan for the worst. I seldom seriously consider these fears, and am hesitant to even categorize them as “fears” but they do pop in from time to time. Most of my fears are more mundane.

Many seem to stem from my pseudo-perfectionism. I hate the idea of being wrong, or saying something completely ridiculous. I was always a quiet kid in school, seldom raising my hand, even though I often knew the answer to a question. Despite being reasonably confident that I had the right answer, my fear of being wrong usually held me back from answering. It really started sucking when participation became part of my grade. I was usually able to overcome this shortcoming enough so my grade wasn’t sacrificed, or at least by too much.

Somewhat related, I have a fear of failing, particularly as my career is concerned. For a long time, I felt stuck in my job. It wasn’t what I had imagined doing and worse, I didn’t seem to be making progress. It’s only in the last year or so that I finally felt like I was moving forward. I’m still not exactly where I want to be, but I feel like I’m getting closer. The problem is I have so many plans for my life and expectations that it’s important to me to make sure I have a challenging, satisfying career that commands a good salary. I think there is a bit of pride at play too. A part of me wants people to be impressed when I tell them about my job. I don’t know why I feel the need to have such validation, but I do.  Must work on that.

I also have a fear of getting lost. I often joke that I could get lost in my house, but I’ve proven to myself time and again that I can follow directions or plan an alternate route on the fly when a road I was planning to take is blocked or traffic is heavy. Driving to a new place can often be a stressful experience for me, but I think more than anything, I psych myself out and actually create the problem. If I could learn to trust myself, I’d probably find I get turned around a lot less.

The final fear I can think of happens from time to time with scuba. I’ve had great training and fortunately, I’m usually in situations where I’m diving with much more experienced divers, who are very aware and would be able to help me if I encountered a problem. Once I’m actually diving, I usually enjoy myself and don’t have a problem, but getting into the water makes me a bit apprehensive sometimes. There’s just something about taking a giant step off a boat and into the wide open ocean that makes me a bit nervous at times. Once I’m in the water and 15 feet down where I can collect myself again, I’m usually fine. The only other time I get a bit nervous is coming back out of the water. I’ve had some problems with currents and navigating the ladder. I’m sure a bit more experience will allow this process to go much more smoothly, but until then, I always have to remind myself to relax and fall back on my training.

I’m fortunate in that I recognize most of my fears, and none seem to be debilitating. What’s more is that being able to identify these fears allows me to consciously work on them so they lessen over time. It’s a slow process, but I’m reasonably sure I’ll be able to conquer at least some of these over time.

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Resolution Scorecard

Exercise: Overall my goal was to exercise more, but specifically I had mentioned that I wanted to get back to doing pilates and begin a running program.

I was pretty successful at the overall concept of this goal, but not the execution that I set out. As with most exercise goals, I did well for the first few weeks and then started to slip back into my old ways. March was a rough month, but I rebounded in April and went to the gym steadily up until the past two weeks when I started getting too busy (back at it this week though). I even went to the gym enough times to qualify for my health insurance gym reimbursement. It was pretty sweet to get a $200 check just for going to the gym.

Scuba ended up being a pretty powerful motivator. When we signed up to go on our trip to NC I realized that the trip was going to be much easier if I could get into better shape. I also figured that if I had to be on the boat at 6am, I better start getting myself ready to be up and functioning at that time. And so began my 5:30am gym visits. It’s a bit rough, but I do enjoy getting up in the morning and having some time to myself before I run right to work.

I had a lot of trouble starting a running program. No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to find a good stride to get into that didn’t end up hurting me for days after. I eventually gave up on that and focused on the elliptical and the circuit gym. I bought some new gym shoes this past weekend and am going to try running again to see if it’s any better. As for pilates, if I go to the gym in the morning, I just don’t seem to have the energy to do pilates when I come home at night. Just the same, I would still like to get back into it so I might try again once I’m back to my normal gym schedule.

Cook: I made some progress on this but not as much as I had hoped. I haven’t gotten into the routine of making the big meals on Sundays so I could have leftovers, but I do seem to be making dinner a bit more during the week. I’m also getting better at including some more side dishes to have a more balanced diet. Still lots of progress to make on this front, but I imagine it’ll wait until the fall. Cooking in the summer is no fun in a small kitchen with no ventilation.

Patience and Temper:  Wait….this was a goal I made? Well crap. Ummm….I haven’t made much progress on this front…..because I had forgotten I was trying to make progress on this front. Oh well. Maybe next year, but I doubt it.

So, my scorecard ends with one resolution pretty successfully kept, one moderately there, and one forgotten. Given my history with resolutions, I’m a little proud of that.

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Rest in Peace, 20s

As you sit here reading this (presuming you’re reading this on Thursday), I am a mere one day from turning 30. The end of my twenties has come. Part of me feels like this should be a momentous occasion, like the passing of my twenties is some great rite of passage or signifies the death of my youth. I can’t honestly say that I’m all that fussed though.  It helps that all but a few friends have already turned 30, most by at least a year. Getting older is easy when you’re still the baby of the group.

Turning 30 is a bit surreal I suppose. For one, it sounds much older than 29.  It also seems like when you turn 30, you’re really an adult (though looking again at my friends, I’m not sure where I got that impression from). For me, and for most of my friends, our twenties were a time to go to college, have fun and figure out what we were doing with our lives. At 30, the assumption seems to be that you should at least have a life plan – know what you’re doing, where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. I can’t honestly state that I’ve achieved that yet. Work is going fine but I can’t really see myself doing this for the rest of my life. But at the same time, I’m not sure what else I would do. It just seems like for all my education and everything I’ve done, I should have that figured out by now. Looking around though, it seems at least that I’m in good company.

It also doesn’t help to compare myself to the previous generation. By the time my mom was 30, she had been married for several years, had my sister and I was already two. She had a nice, two-story, three bedroom house with a big yard and my sister and I didn’t really want for anything. By comparison, I have a small 2 bedroom condo with no yard space, which my husband technically bought, and I can’t keep a plant alive –I don’t even want to think about kids. On the other hand, I’ve been able to travel and do a lot of things she couldn’t because she had the house and kids. Life’s a trade-off I suppose.

As I watch the remaining hours of my twenties drift away, I’ve grown contemplative. I had an absolute blast during my twenties. Sure, there were bumps and hiccups along the way, but in 10 years, I studied abroad in Australia, finished college, moved to a new state, started my career, bought a house, started and finished a masters degree, got married and had found new loves in camping, skiing and scuba diving. All things considered, not too shabby a way to spend 10 years. Here’s hoping the next 10 are just as good, if not better!

Here's lookin' at you, kid

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Nervous Nellie

Last week when we discussed regrets, I mentioned that I don’t “do” regrets. This is a personality trait I’ve always been pretty pleased with. One personality trait I am less fond of is my nervousness.

I’m naturally a skittish person. I blame my sister (because when you get the opportunity to blame a sibling, why wouldn’t you?!), who liked to stand in a dark hallway or room and wait until I passed to jump out and scare me. While this is perhaps tangentially related to my nervousness, this paragraph largely exists so I can get a dig in on my sister.

In any case, the nervousness I’m talking about is related to doing things incorrectly, being late, or encountering new things. I’m also a borderline perfectionist, which only exacerbates the issue. And I’m not consistent either. I can be perfectly chill about major things, like buying a house, getting married or going back to school, and completely neurotic about other things, like making sure my phone is off before going to a movie or church (seriously, I have to check multiple times, which may speak to a bit of OCD-ness but I don’t want to think about that too hard). Generally, I would say my nerves get wound up about the stupid stuff. I leave to go someplace 40 minutes early when I know it will only take me 20 minutes to get there. I check, recheck and sometimes triple (or quadruple) check the schedule when I’m going to be riding an unfamiliar train. Until I’ve been someplace consistently many times, I’ll always look up directions again. I honestly don’t know where all of this came from. I know my mom has a nervous personality and although she tried to hide it from me, I think I must have subconsciously picked up on a bit of it.

I’d like to think only my closest friends know how neurotic I really am. I try to at least present the picture of peace. My poor husband though. He’s very patient and kindly accedes to my need to be at a scuba dive site a half an hour early just so I don’t have to rush to get myself set up.

Over the past several months I’ve noticed more and more how neurotic I really am about all this stupid stuff and how much energy I waste in the process. I’m really trying to focus on letting go a bit and handle everyday situations a bit more like I handle big events. Sometimes it means forcing myself to leave my cell phone in my purse when I know I’ve already checked twice to make sure it’s off as I sit and wait for a movie to begin. I’ve also tried visualization. It sounds a bit hokey, but the scuba shop I dive with is big on it. They use it in the context of imagining the potential problems you could have on a dive so you can think through solutions and be ready in case something does happen. I find it applies to my everyday situations too. If I can stop and think things through a bit I find myself a bit more prepared than I otherwise would be. This might turn into a new neurosis, but at least it seems a bit more productive than my current one.