One of the main themes in Happily Never After is finding a sense of self. In the case of the book, sense of self is devoted towards relationships, but a huge part of my existential crisis was discovering myself as well. We all have our own preferences–things we like, things we don’t like–and while your preferences will certainly not be the same as mine (you may think nothing could be worse than marrying a John Grady type), but ultimately, I believe it’s so important to figure out what works for OURSELVES; for example, I know that I am too ADHD to work at a computer all day, so post-existential crisis, I know to never apply to one of those jobs (whereas many of you, that probably works for).
The way it works is, you put yourself in some really absurd situations–take yourself out of your comfort zone–do some introspection and determine, “Oh yes, I did really enjoy that, and here is why”, or, “Oh no, I did not really enjoy that and I hope to never do it again”.
Skiing: I was banned from skiing as a competitive dancer, and since Kent and I only watched him play games, take naps, and massage his feet, I never had time to go up. As soon as winter came, I hit the slopes and have been addicted ever since. It was through skiing that I realized I am #fearless, reckless, and an adrenaline junkie. I love the spiritual experience it provides, the relaxed culture (have you ever noticed no one fights to get on the ski lift?), and being out in the great outdoors is always refreshing. I don’t get up as often as I would hope, but this year, I will be sporting a new pink helmet.
Teaching dance class: Coming from a dance background, I thought I would LOVE to teach dance class, and it would be an excellent source of third-income. However, I soon realized I did not like teaching dance class. I showed up late to my class, I never prepared, never volunteered for extra duties (which is so unlike me). Through this experience, I realized that I love coaching, and I don’t like teaching dance class. I love that, through coaching, I have set goals to motivate my team; everyone MUST have a leg turn by competition season. However, in dance class, those technical marks are not as important, and sometimes kids just show up to hang out with their friends. That works for some people, not me, and now I know to never apply to teach dance class again.
Adult Softball: Like many of you, I am a perfectionist, and because I am a perfectionist, I only put myself in activities I will excel at. So imagine the cognitive dissonance took me when I began playing softball and realized I actually suck. I find myself getting lost in my thoughts in the outfield, and completely miss the ball. I got hit in the head a few months ago while running to first base and have been afraid of the ball ever since. Every week, I keep telling myself its actually really healthy to put myself in situations I can’t excel. Playing softball made me realize just how competitive I am. I get mad at myself when I strike out, I over think everything, and it helps me to remember that no one can be good at everything, and I actually do have some flaws.
Museums: I didn’t realize how much I disliked museums until I walked into the British National Museum and felt this wave of anxiety come over me. My heart started beating, my palms got sweaty. I think it was because, in Paris, we went to just about every museum possible–which was great–I got to see a lot of things. However, I never want to go again. It brings back memories of being really hot, crowded, and hungry (I actually almost got myself kicked out of the Louvre because I thought I might pass out and started eating a granola bar in the corner and apparently that is not allowed). I like the interactive museums, like the Living History Farm in Clive, Iowa (I spent at least six hours there last time), and I am museumed-out for the near future.
Dead bodies: I never want to see another dead body again in my life. Some people need to see the body in order to provide closure; they need to see the physicality of death to know the person is gone. Nope, not me. After my grandpa passed away, we were all sitting around his hospice bed, my sister came around the corner, and said, “Ew, grandpa is really turning colors”. I couldn’t be around when his body was taken into the minivan. I had nightmares for the next month. I couldn’t watch Tony kill Fred in The Soprano’s or any of the violent scenes in Game of Thrones. The chicken massacre in my backyard last summer took me at least three days to get over. I realized just how visual my memory is, and now I know that, if I have the choice, I would prefer to never see a dead body again.
My Corolla: I did not realize how attached I was to my Corolla until last week, when it was stripped from me while it got hail-damage repaired. Anytime the body shop called to confirm my appointment, I avoided the message, because I just wasn’t ready to give up the Corolla. The rental car is an automatic, and as I am driving, I am constantly reaching for a shifter, only to find out there is nothing to grab onto. There is no sun roof, I can’t figure out how to program the radio stations, and I don’t trust the accuracy of the back up camera. I can’t wait to get the Corolla back.