I’ve never been one to get on an airplane, call the person at my destination and say, “I’ll see you in 2 hours when I land!” I shy away from believing in the positive outcome of something I’m not 100% in control of. I know in my head based on logic and statistics alone that I will absolutely see that person in 2 hours unscathed. My problem is that I just don’t quite believe it. Or, shall I say, I don’t want to believe it because I can’t bear the thought of being grossly disappointed or significantly hurt if something were to go inexplicably wrong.
This example is the perfect metaphor for the attitude that has eaten me alive since the day I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2005. The fear of being blindsided by something perfectly unlikely can be all consuming. It conquers my most basic moments of optimism. The easiest way for me to deal with it is to let it win. It’s almost effortless to allow this fear to override my thought process and disallow me to believe in positive outcomes. It has trained me to crave the high I get from the intense relief when whatever nightmare I was bracing myself for almost never comes to fruition.
Want to know what I’ve realized? This is the ugliest thing about me. (And I have cellulite, so that’s really saying something.)
When I was diagnosed with diabetes, my life was pretty perfect. I was 16, I had an awesome boyfriend, amazing friends, my family life was great. I had good grades, I was working my ass off to get recruited to play lacrosse in college, and I was getting accepted to every school I applied to. I was the happiest kid you had ever met; you probably would have hated me if you’d known me. I was hot shit, and I knew it. Then, totally out of the blue, my life turned upside down. No one died, there was no emergency or trauma, nothing near and dear to me was suddenly ripped away. But, I was told, that for the rest of my life, I would need to be kept alive by a drug that smells like 3rd grade art class. That every day I would be pricking my fingers and making major choices around a number on a little meter. That I would have to jab needles into my stomach and eventually be attached to a tube and device at all times. That there would be days when I wouldn’t want to get out of bed, and days where I would be so overwhelmed with rage I would throw shit. There would be tears and shame. I would lie and hide my pump from people. That there would be some days where I’d be so scared, ill-prepared, and disorganized I would totally meltdown. This is where the attitude of, “why believe anything is as good as it seems, it’s just going to get ruined anyway…” came from. This is when I started going through life bracing myself for a 350 pound lineman to jump out from behind a pole just to fuck up my day and leave me in shambles.
About 6 months ago, I started seeing someone (he would kill me for saying ‘seeing’ because I hate when he says ‘seeing’) who has more fight in him than Solange Knowles (not like, violent fight, like, tenacity fight…ok, bad reference, forget I said anything). Through some of our drunken life conversations back when we were just good pals, I started to realize just how powerful I can be when I actually do believe in myself. If I can be more confident about the light at the end of the tunnel, and stop raising my eyebrow at every opportunity like it’s about eat me in one bite, maybe I’ll be willing to see even bigger opportunities. I started to grasp the ROI on adventure taking. That if I just accept the fear of getting hurt by living my life to an even fuller extent, the happiness I gain from the challenge will be worth it. I spent the winter practicing. I was getting there but not very fast. Recently, after drinks with a good friend who has experienced tragedy in her life that is nearly unspeakable, she clued me in on her approach to finding self-confidence. It was so obvious: “Libby, you literally have to look in the mirror and tell yourself you’re fucking awesome. Every day you have to do this. Soon, you’ll believe it because you should, everyone else does.” Best advice I’ve ever received; and this little lady knows a blindside. By the way she carries herself, the way she hustles, and the way she grabs hopefulness and optimism by the horns, you’d think this girl and Beyonce were separated at birth.
In two weeks, I’m packing up my very comfortable, easy going life, and I’m throwing myself into a whole new kind of crazy in New York City. New job, new roommate, new everything. You can imagine, with an attitude like the one I mentioned above, that this whole process would be my nightmare. For the first time in years, during my job search, I had to truly believe that I was deserving of a positive outcome. I had to just know that I was smart enough and I was experienced enough and that I was impressive enough to land a job I would love in the city that doesn’t sleep. I had to self-talk my way into having a swagger I don’t naturally have. Or maybe I do have it naturally, I just don’t realize it. There we go, see! I’m getting better all the time.
I can’t say I’ll ever get to a point where I’m no longer peeking around unfamiliar corners to make sure there aren’t scary monsters waiting to pounce. But, enabling that fear of “inevitable failure” is a god awful way to approach new things. At 25, I’m realizing that I’m only at the beginning of my journey and if I’m already playing scared, I’m going to get eaten alive. I’ve had to earn my own trust in recent months. I had to work my tail off to land a new gig. It felt really good to prove to no one but myself that I am worthy of positive change when I put my head down, and stay focused on the end goal. I am in complete control of my own success if I really put my mind to it. After I get settled in NYC (ha, “settled”…L…O…L…), I hope to continue climbing until there is no longer any doubt that the light at the end of the tunnel is big and it is bright.