Recently, I accomplished something I never thought possible. I drove to Chicago, a 4.5 hour trip, by myself. This is a ‘thing’ for a few reasons. I am what is nicely(?) referred to as a nervous person who has led a relatively sheltered life. I didn’t drive until I was 21 and even then it was minimal. Before the trip to Chicago, the furthest I’d driven was 1.5 hours. Even though it has been almost five years since my last car accident, I find myself very nervous when considering a trip over an hour long.
This nervousness could be read as a lack of confidence. I’ve found that I stopped myself from doing a number of things because I’d forget that I’m a capable person. I am fortunate to have a spectacular support system made up of people who are willing to help my memory. I received few pep talks, pieces of advice, and positive affirmations before I got into my car on that Thursday. They all helped.
In order to further boost my confidence and combat my nerves, I went on a responsible campaign before the trip. I filled my gas tank, I got my car serviced and I bought AAA roadside service. I checked Google Maps multiple times and I bought ten dollars worth of quarters. I emailed my supervisor and co-worker to offset any last minute work matters that might occur in my absence. By the time morning came, I was proud of myself and prepared.
The road trip itself had phases. After the first hour, I found myself enjoying the journey. I felt in charge and adult. It was amazing. I had a friend in Google Maps and Spotify. The weather worked with me and even the traffic worked with me. The rest stops weren’t many but they were clean. There were times that I got bored and times that required deep breaths. There was one point on the way there that I took a wrong turn and saw some deer. It was not a perfect ride. By the time I arrived in Chicago, I was frazzled and tired but I was also a person capable of driving to a different state. That feeling was just one of a few things for which I became grateful during that trip.
This is one of my favorite quotes so I figured it was the best way to kick off my comeback to this blog.
So, defining myself. It is one of my biggest challenges because I have craved the definitions of others. Validation was key because nothing was true if I was the only one who believed it. I will admit, despite the past tense used in previous sentence, this is not a past problem for me. It is something I still deal with on a regular basis. There is a comfort in how others see me that is harder for me to get from my own mirror. It is under that comfort that I find myself crushed at times. It is also important for me to remember that validation is not the big bad. Like most things, outside validation has a necessary place. My task to myself is not to let it take the biggest place in my life.
The journey to trusting myself and who I am has been interesting. And so enters my favorite quote. And this blog.
I have lived in the same house for most of my life. Even when we moved, we took home with us so nothing felt completely unfamiliar. I am now in the unfamiliar. I have very few things from home because now this is my first new home. All of this mine and none of this feels like mine just yet.
And so, I spent hours and made at least three (two?) trips to Big Lots in preparation for this change. I had my mother and sister guiding my hand and filling my cart. I bought the pretty dishes, pots, pans, and silverware. I have dish drying cloths and off brand dish washing detergent. You know who has stemless wine glasses? This 30 year old woman. I even got the glass containers I’ve wanted ever since I heard that I shouldn’t be heating up my leftovers in plastic. I was ready for this unfamiliar.
This confidence would last until I wanted to eat frozen yogurt. See, I never thought to buy an ice cream scooper. Nevertheless, I didn’t let that slow my frozen roll. I adjusted and adapted.
However, things got real when I realized that you need a can opener to open a can of beans. As a side note, a butter knife does not work as a substitute .
I am going to be 30 years old in less than two months. I will be slamming the door on my 20s and bravely walking into what comes after my 20s. I am taking this better than previously believed. It’s amazing when one realizes she isn’t Peter Pan.
I am technically in still in the Intimacy vs Isolation stage of Erikson’s Psychosocial Stage of Development. This stage usually takes place from 19-40. The major theme (threat?) of this stage is to develop the relationships or suffer alone. Being able to form and sustain the intimate relationships is important at this stage. I recently had a friend remind me that friendships, real friendships, take work. I have a track record of not putting in the work. I can say that I am doing better with that. I value my relationships. So work in progress but still progress.
Identity vs Role Confusion is the stage that comes before Intimacy vs Isolation. It should be over by now but I feel like it pops up every now and again. Who am I? No, really. The difference between now and ten years ago, however, is that I have more solid answers and I try to be open. I am Melissa and I’m pretty sure of my identity and comfortable in my roles with the understanding that those roles may shift and so forth. So that clears that up.
Soon, I will be adding “Renter of Own Apartment” to my identity. That’s right. For my big 3-0, I’ve decided to get my own place which should actually help to further resolve Identity vs Role Confusion. It’ll happen four days before said birthday but if all things go as planned…I will turn 30 in a place of my own.
I have done some major things this year. One my favorite things that I did was take a big trip.
I haven’t taken a vacation in about three years. Something usually comes up and I let my fear/paranoia keep me in my corner. And so this year, I decided to attend DragonCon. I made the solid decision to purchase the ticket to the convention, I bought the plane ticket, I purchased shorts because it was super hot in Atlanta and I put my time in at my job so I could leave. And then I left.
I am so grateful for that vacation. I was nervous right until I got on the plane but it all worked out. Everything worked out with that trip. I got to meet people I’ve never been face to face with before.
I attended a panel that featured Mary McDonnell and I got to see some really good cosplay. I went to what felt like the smallest gay club in Atlanta where a drag queen jumped from the bar and landed in a split. It was the type of event you only see on television. Also I ate a doughnut that was topped with caramel and real bacon. I got to see neighborhoods in Atlanta, experience the hills of Atlanta and see that people are angry drivers in Atlanta.
It was also a lesson for me. I was able to leave and come back and everything was okay. Things will be okay. The world didn’t fall to zombies. I didn’t come back to piles of mess. I wasn’t in debt due to leaving. I packed enough clothes and I was on time for both flights. It is completely okay to relax, and unclench my fist.
I will remember this lesson when planning future trips and vacations because there will be future trips and vacations. Most importantly, I will strive to remember this when I am freaking out at 2 am over something that I can’t do anything about until at least 9 am. I will strive to remember that life has the astounding ability to be okay.