I’ve never been particularly adventuresome. Every now and then I’ll do something spontaneous and unplanned, but my general MO is to stay within my comfort zone. I’ll stay with a fairly boring job (file clerk, anyone?) for years rather than deal with the stress and uncertainty of job hunting, interviewing and learning the ropes at a new place of business. I’ll drive a tried and true route rather than experiment with a possibly-faster set of directions that might get me lost.
Sometimes, though, you just gotta do it – experience that first time doing something that kind of scares the crap out of you. You start a new job and not only do you have to learn how to DO that job, you have to meet all new people, find out where the bathrooms are, where people go for lunch. You have to drive to a brand new place and hope you don’t get stuck going the wrong way down a one-way street.
I still remember how nervous I was the first time we packaged orders for each type of candle we sold in our business. We had spent months perfecting the actual candles – the wax, scent, color and wick. But it wasn’t until those first orders came in that I realized I had to package them somehow, in a way that would be attractive and survive the rigors of shipping. The first party favor order was especially terrifying, because a screw-up on our part could mean a ruined shower for our customer. I fussed and played with tulle and tags for the favors, bags and labels for the pillars, boxes for tealights … and how the heck would we package votives?! It was nerve-wracking … but also kind of fun. I got through those early jitters, figured out what worked and what was a mistake, and eventually I whipped through the packaging of each item without even thinking twice.
The first time I gave Eric a bath, after I brought him home as a newborn? I was a wreck. It’s funny now, looking back, but at the time I was just sure I would either drown him or make his body temperature drop dangerously (thanks to the too-cold water I was afraid I’d use). I made his father do the actual work while I held a book and read from it, telling him what to do. Watching me then, you’d never think I’d be able to one day give my own child a bath using *gasp* common sense and instinct.
I don’t go through life terrified of everything, thank God. In fact, there’s been plenty of times I should have been scared and wasn’t. But every now and then something just gets to me and I’m seized with fear, afraid that I’m going to do it wrong and completely mess things up.
As pretty much everyone knows, it’s pushing through that fear of the unknown that brings a lot of satisfaction. Well, usually. There’s always times when all the things I’ve worried about actually come to pass, like the time I drove to a new doctor’s office, unsure of where I was going and not familiar with the town. In addition to trying to follow new-to-me directions, I also encountered a detour that set me so completely off course that I drove around for an hour before admitting defeat and going home. (Darn, no pap smear for me that day!) How mortifying it was, though, to call and admit I’d tried to make the appointment and just couldn’t manage to get there.
For most of my blog entries, I sit and agonize over that first sentence. It’s better now, better than when I was only writing once a month or so, but I still have moments where I just freeze. I sit and stare at that blank Word document and think, How do I start this? What do I say? People will tell me that I need to write a book, and I’ll think, I don’t know how to start it! So the other day I sat down and forced myself to write something, to get past that experience of doing something for the first time that tends to freeze me up. Who knows if anything will come of it … but at least I did it; I got those first sentences written.
We won’t talk about my problem with ending blog entries and, I’m sure, manuscripts. We’ll focus on the positive for now.