WEEK 1: START A BLOG
May 2007: “Fine, we can move to back Utah, but if we do, I’m not starting a blog, running a 5K or wearing Pretty Woman boots.”
When did I become so boring? I’m pretty sure I didn’t used to be this lame, but now here I am, a nearly-40-year-old stick-in-the-mud. I tell myself that it’s just because I’m comfortable with who I am and what I like to do, but lately I’ve started to notice that the list of things that “just aren’t my thing” is getting really long.
I have convincing explanations for why I avoid certain experiences. But I suspect the real reasons I have become such a wet blanket are just plain sad.
1. I am a chicken. Years ago, my 5-year-old niece came running to me and said, “Those kids were climbing on that railing and they wanted me to do it too. I said to myself, ‘Is it safe? Should I do this?’ And then I did! And it was fun!” (She was a seriously cute kid.) Ever since then, I find myself repeating that to myself, “Is it safe? Should I do this?” At first it was just as a joke, but now, not so much. I also conveniently leave off “And then I did! And it was fun!”
I also think that the older we are, the more we’ve witnessed the consequences of bad or careless decisions, or even just the scary reality of life. My husband broke his back snow tubing when he was a teenager, so I can’t possibly allow my children to fly down a mountain with their tailbones bouncing on icy rocks. I saw the deer episode of “When Animals Attack,” so I will not walk alone through the woods at night. (I’m not crazy – deer attack humans all the time. Google it.) These are all very rational fears. I’m totally sane. Just like Meg Ryan’s character in French Kiss.
2. I am lazy. I love to sit and sit and watch movies and sit. And eat. Doing stuff seems like too much work.
3. I avoid trends. 3rd grade: Michael Jackson, college: country line dancing, 2008-2012: the Twilight movies. I still don’t know if I really didn’t like any of them, or if my automatic response is to hate whatever everyone else loves. I used to think it was because I was just too cool to be sucked in, but my teenage son informs me I’m not cool and I never was. So maybe I’m just a grouch.
4. I don’t want to look stupid. If I stick to what I’m good at, then I’m good at everything I do! It’s perfect because then I never have to feel like a failure.
5. I am less susceptible to pressure from others. When I was younger, I cared what people thought about me and was timid about expressing myself. As a result, I experienced all sorts of new things I wouldn’t necessarily have tried on my own, just to avoid having to speak up. I’m much better now (maybe too good) at saying what I think and not caring what others think about what I think. That means when someone says, “You really have to…” I feel free to say, “No, I really don’t.”
I like my life. I snagged the very best husband when he was still too young to know he could do better. I’m good at my job and I enjoy it. My four sons are all the smartest, best looking, funniest boys I know. I am happy. But when I read this quote from Bertrand Russell’s The Conquest of Happiness, I started to realize that I might be missing out on something (or many somethings) that could enhance and enrich my life:
Suppose one man likes strawberries and another does not; in what respect is the latter superior? There is no abstract and impersonal proof either that strawberries are good or that they are not good. To the man who likes them they are good, to the man who dislikes them they are not. But the man who likes them has a pleasure which the other does not have; to that extent his life is more enjoyable and he is better adapted to the world in which both must live…The more things a man is interested in, the more opportunities of happiness he has.
I started to think, I like to be happy. Why not look for more experiences in this world that might make me even more happy? And why not start with all those things I was so quick to dismiss in the past?
So here’s my plan. Each week, I’m going to try something I had previously refused to do. I know some of these things are trivial and not even worth trying. I know it will seem silly to some that I’ve never tried them before. You’re right. It is silly, duh. That’s the whole point. I’m hoping that taking small steps away from being boring will help me open up to new experiences in the future.
No snow tubing, though. Do you think I have a death wish?