Actually, “irresponsible” might be the wrong word. I’ve certainly done things that were less than wise, like smoking a joint before my CompSci final in college, or going to Old Navy last week and buying a whole bunch of sundresses that I might not have needed (but desperately wanted!).
I think what I mean is that I’ve never done something completely carefree, without regard to consequences. It’s sort of weird, because I consider myself a relatively laid back, spontaneous person. I’m the kind of person that sometimes walks slowly in the rain, deliberately keeping my umbrella closed because I want to feel the drops on my upturned face. I love last minute invites and will happily change out of my pajamas and sprint out the door at any hour whenever a friend wants to go anywhere or do anything.
But I still feel like I’ve never truly let go. I hold onto everything so tightly – my money, my feelings, my pride – that somehow I feel like I’ve never truly lived; like all the risks I’ve ever taken weren’t really risks at all because I had subconsciously calculated the downsides and determined that everything was still going to be fine. I’ve never gone blindly into something without concern for anything but passion or fulfillment or just living deliciously and amazingly in the moment.
I’ve been unemployed for almost 6 months now, and people keep asking me if I’m doing any interesting traveling. Well…no, I’m not. Traveling requires money and aside from some paltry unemployment payments, I’m not making any. So even though I really wanted to go to Madrid and see a friend that was living there for the 2011-2012 academic year, I didn’t. I had plenty of free time and technically I even had the money, but I knew that this trip would probably come out to more than a month’s worth of unemployment payments, and so the rational, protective side of me wouldn’t even let me consider it. And now my friend is back in the U.S. and I missed my opportunity.
The only reason I’m not too crushed about not going to Madrid is because I know that it was the financially responsible thing to do. But part of me wonders if maybe I should have just let go and booked a flight anyway. What’s the worst that could have happened?
This is what I mean when I say I never allow myself to truly be carefree. I’ve never ventured unabashedly into travel or love or a supremely low-paying but highly-gratifying job or even wearing the fucking fedora that I bought a year ago because I wanted to be one of those people that can rock a fedora but seriously I don’t know if I’ll ever be brave enough to leave the house in it (if someone would come over and show me what outfits I can wear that go with a fedora, that would help).
I need to change this about myself. How can we truly know and love ourselves if we refuse to push our own boundaries? I’ve been coloring inside the lines for 28 years and I’m tired of it. Despite the fact that in the last month alone I’ve gone to Six Flags, worn a huge floppy hat at the Belmont Stakes, met a near-stranger for coffee (thanks, Stratejoy book club!), had drinks at a speakeasy, sang my heart out at karaoke (twice) and registered for the Color Run, I somehow feel like there’s more fun or more indulgence to be had.
I don’t know what it is, this crazy experience that I’m looking for. But I know that it doesn’t come with worrying about my finances, it isn’t fraught with drama and it doesn’t care what society thinks. It’s selfish, passionate, and yes, maybe a bit irresponsible.
I keep returning to this theme of vulnerability, and this is yet another manifestation of the fact that I have a hard time letting myself be vulnerable. But I need to stop guarding everything and just open myself up to…anything. And everything. It’s time to take all the cards I’m holding against my chest, throw them in the air, and let them settle. Instead of scrambling around trying to pick them up and reorder them as my instincts would like me to do, I need to just walk away and leave them be.
(P.S. – I know so many of you out there have had some really great experiences that forced you to just let go. I would love to hear about them! I need to get the ideas flowing.)
Photo credit: Aaron Groh Design