Saturday, May 24, 2014

Changing No to Maybe

Why is my first inclination to say no?

I've been looking for a new job and enlisting the help of friends in the search. I'm telling everyone I know that I want a new job and don't know what I should look for. This is a good start. Ringo Starr says, I get by with a little help from my friends.

I know smart, exciting people. They're generous offering suggestions, mentioning opportunities that they think might fit. They put me in contact with other people.

So why is my first though, no?

Fear and anxiety. Anxiety and fear.

Yesterday, talking with my parents, I described a friend who moves between jobs like changing clothes. My folks did the same jobs most of their lives, having found what they wanted to do. Switching jobs every few years sounded foreign and unsafe to them. I said, I used to change like that, staying in a job three years and moving on. Then I let myself sink for thirteen years where I am.

Recalling my three-year stints surprised me. I haven't thought of it in a while. Back then I picked up and moved to new things. I was anxious, but it wasn't the end of the world. After thirteen years, the thought of change has seemed too dangerous to consider, even though I ache to get away.

So I say, no. I grouse about the job I have, but I have it. I know when to show up, when I can go home, and what to do in between. Going into change voids the security of knowing and I worry the unknown will be too much for me.

Fear is strong and often overwhelms reason.

My therapist asks what I think will happen if I take a chance. Bad things, I tell her. What bad things? I can't say, but they feel mortally dangerous. She asks, you think you'll die? No, I say, not exactly. But I worry that my world will collapse. She assures me it won't. I believe her, but don't feel it. I'm like a person in church each week dubious about God. I show up, say the prayers, and hope I'll maybe believe someday. I believe more in the darkness than the light.

Overcoming fear takes small steps, I suppose. I applied for a job yesterday. I don't have high hopes of getting it, but neither do I think I have no chance. I applied and the application process, one after another, makes other things possible. I applied and the world didn't collapse. What do you know?

I say "no" in my head but can convert it to "maybe" when I speak out loud. Yesterday, as two friends mentioned jobs, I felt no, no, no, but bit my tongue, breathed, and said, "that sounds intriguing." I was anxious, but I was among friends and strong. There was no darkness there, nothing dangerous at all.


Write on.