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Playing It Safe

February 2, 2016

“Au contraire. He’s the person you wanted to be: one who was less arrogant and undisciplined in his youth, one who was less like me… The Jean-Luc Picard *you* wanted to be, the one who did *not* fight the Nausicaan, had quite a different career from the one you remember. That Picard never had a brush with death, never came face to face with his own mortality, never realized how fragile life is or how important each moment must be. So his life never came into focus. He drifted through much of his career, with no plan or agenda, going from one assignment to the next, never seizing the opportunities that presented themselves. He never led the away team on Milika III to save the Ambassador; or take charge of the Stargazer’s bridge when its captain was killed. And no one ever offered him a command. He learned to play it safe – and he never, ever, got noticed by anyone.” – Q, Tapestry

How to define your life? Safe? Bland? Boring? All adjectives I’d use to describe myself. See, yesterday my friend posted a job listing on facebook, thank you you know who you are if you’re reading this. And I took it…aaaand I have an interview on Friday for the position of part time Junior Graphic Designer. The line I quoted rang in my head for quite a bit after I saw the listing posted as I really wanted this and I went all Eyeore on myself and told me not to bother. You will never have success, your career is a joke, and you lack the skill and experience to do this competently.

Inner me is an asshole. I thought about all of those moments, though, where I played it safe and where against my wishes I denied that part of myself. I never went to prom because I was convinced that the girl I wanted to ask to go wouldn’t ever bother going with me. Of those numerous times I could’ve sought employment but never did. Losing H-bomb because I was too afraid to be honest with her when it mattered and then recklessly destroying my relationship with her bit by bit because I knew my hope was lost and my heart was broken.

I. Am. A. Coward. So all of this went through my head and I whipped up a pdf version of my portfolio to send in and surprisingly I have an interview. I decided I’ve had enough of playing it safe. What has it ever done for me? Maybe I’ve experienced less pain, but the pains I have felt have been far greater than anything I ever wanted for myself. Either through being silent or delaying action until the last possible second.

Of course this interview means nothing. I still might not get hired because reasons, but I can at least hold my head high after this and say I accomplished something–even if that ultimately proves to be nothing at all. At least I am learning to take chances and seize opportunities when they come up. I really don’t want to wake up when I’m 50 with a long list of regrets. I want to be happy and to get over this playing it safe business, because honestly the shit’s pathetic.

I think I found the root of my anxiety: Playing it safe. Never doing things for myself. Never even trying. And that’s just the most pathetic thing at all…not even trying. At least if I try my best and still fail, I know I’ll at least have tried to affect change. Right now, up until yesterday, I couldn’t even say that. But no, I hid in my cocoon of safety, assured of my own inadquacy. Assuring myself of a lifetime of bullshit because hey, I may not take chances, but at least I never have to face the pain or consequences of taking a chance, of giving a shit for just one moment.

I need to stop trying to protect myself and just take chances. The real shame, and the one I will never forgive myself for doing, is that I kept up this act for so long that I missed so much and didn’t even realize I was harming myself little by little by not doing shit until finally I broke and I’ve been broken for 7 1/2 years from my one mistake that boxed me in a corner where I lost everything and have gained nothing, but am progressively losing.

Well, whatever happens after Friday, I’m going to continue to work on not being that coward anymore.

Until later.

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