Friday, October 11, 2013


That's me, in the life jacket. I just caught that fish, insofar as I was probably at some earlier point holding the rod that reeled it in. Judging by my expression, though, I sorely wish this hadn't happened.

Twenty years have passed since this photo was taken, but I'm telling you, I can identify with the kid on that boat. In a way, this snapshot is symbolic of my adult life in general, with the fish representing any number of things:

- biking in the city
- trying to find a parking spot downtown
- running out of food during a day trip
- crossing paths with extended family and avoiding them on the premise that they probably don't recognize me
- riding the bus in a different city for the first time, for fear of holding up the line as I figure out just how to insert my fare card into the reader
- networking
- calling my grandparents on the phone

There have been many times when I've felt like a generally scared human being, and that no matter how much I wish I had it in me to take some particular risk, I couldn't overcome the fear of whatever awkwardness or embarrassment or mistakes might come of taking that leap. Over the past few years of general happiness and comfort, I think I let that feeling of self doubt and disappointment build up. At least, that's the only explanation I have for why I would decide to, within a matter of months, quit my job, move out of my apartment, say good-bye to the people I love, and leave a great city for a place where nothing and no one is waiting for me. 

I guess I've been craving a little discomfort.

It's an exciting and pivotal time. But with a week between me and the big move, I'm mostly scared. And just like my young, cowering self in that photo, present-day Megan could probably use a little perspective. If I had lived in a war-torn country, or fought a life-threatening illness, or survived some natural disaster that annihilated my entire community, I feel like I would gain the type of outlook where, as long as my body and health are intact and I'm existing in a relatively peaceful civilization, I'm going to be okay. But I don't have that, and I don't want to experience anything that would give me that kind of perspective. So even though I know I'll have money, a place to live, and plenty of love and support coming at me (albeit from a distance), I'm still scared. 

If little Megan had the perspective that I have now, she probably would have conducted herself with a bit more composure. But she didn't. She cried when her mom dropped her off at school, or was five minutes late picking her up. She cried when she had to transfer buses during her morning commute to first grade. She cried at loud noises, people in full-body costumes, and fish out of water.

That little girl is still very much a part of me. And just like her, I can't claim perspective that I haven't earned. Like her, I'm going to have to do this the hard way.

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