beauty in the breakdown

Ever since the fateful summer of aught one, when I quit the tennis team (I wasn’t good enough and nobody liked  me and wielding a racket hurt my shoulder) and my book shelving job (I was TOO good and nobody liked me and lifting books hurt my shoulder, I’ve become a quitter.

It’s what my parents feared, I’m sure, while they watched me throw two of my extracurriculars out the window. That I would become a habitual giver-upper. Someone who folds like a wet piece of paper.

It’s now the summer of aught nine. I can safely say that I harbor not a single longing for an extra year of tennis practice, where I would inevitably waffle between first doubles on the JV team and Worst Player – Alternate Because The Pretty Popular Tennis Pro Got Mono on Varsity. Being uncertain of my position never set well with me. And while shelving books certainly met my requirements of employment, I don’t regret giving my two weeks notice. I was a Very Special Page – the kind of page that utilizes the alphabet and embarks on advanced shifting and arranging products – but I was treated like the rest of my scummy, lazy coworkers. They weren’t nice to me and wouldn’t be. Only now, as I run into my former supervisors at conferences, do they even bother to give me a smile.

Maybe staying would have built character. If I’d kept up my piano lessons, maybe I could sit down and play a few notes now and then. But I’m glad I didn’t spend my junior year crying and in pain, and I think I built character despite being a Quitter.

And now that I am a Grown Lady, one prone to stress, anxiety, and guilt, some of my purest, most joyful moments are the moments in which I Give Up.

Or even just realizing that I’ve long abandoned some worry and found something better, something happier to do with my time.

Some Things Worth Giving Up

1. Shaving the top half of your legs

Maybe this won’t work for everyone, but for me, the fuzz is barely visible and nobody gets close enough to my legs to notice anyway. Just one less piece of my body that I need to tend and maintain,  like I’m a big, overgrown garden.

2. Going to dance clubs

Dammit, I’m just too old. I don’t want to throw away all my money on alcohol that I’m just drinking to entertain myself. I don’t want to ask the question, “Is this outfit too revealing” or even worse, “Is this outfit not revealing enough?” or listening to my friends ask the same questions over… and over… and over. I don’t want to come home tired and smelling like smoke. I don’t want to attempt to dance in public. I don’t want to dance with strangers. I don’t want to make eyes at the hottest guy in the bar just because of SHEER LACK OF ANYTHING BETTER TO DO.

3. Beauty Products

No matter how much money I spend, I never turn out beautiful. Unless it’s a purely pleasure purchase – a warming face mask, a sparkly lotion – then I don’t need to bother with more than the basics. A nice mid-grade shampoo and conditioner, a can of aerosol shaving cream. Soap for face, soap for body, lotion for face, lotion for body. Eye makeup remover. The end.

4. TV as Background Noise

Maybe if you live alone, this would be acceptable. Or if you’re in the other room. But it takes about two weeks of active restraint to break the habit, and I really feel like I have more control over my life without a television yelling at me 24-7.

5. Reading People Magazine Every Week

Let those back issues pile up. The guilt will fade, and you’ll be more inspired to cancel your subscription, saving yourself not only hours of your life, but a hundred dollars or so.

6. Staying Up To Date With Every Music/Movie/TV Trend

It’s impossible for me. I operate under this philosophy – I’ll wait until moments of great boredom to explore. Otherwise, the truly great stuff out there will find ME.

7. Friends That Leave You Anguished

Like a bad boyfriend, sometimes friends need to be broken up with. Maybe this friend asks too much of you, or maybe you just don’t know how to be their friend – CAN’T be their friend without damaging yourself. I’ve let go of friends on an emotional level because of wrongs they’ve done to me or done to others. It sucks. It’s sad. It’s painful on both ends. My parents would tell me to keep trying, that friends are rare and precious, but I can’t agree. There is always a breaking point, where you realize that the cycle of Whatever It Is Between You will never end, and you have to let go. It feels amazing. Like you should have kept this emotional distance all along. Like you both would have been happier for it.

~

While talking to The Boy, I’ve often uttered the words “No. I don’t do that,” at which point he takes his position as supreme motivator of his often motivationless Girlfriend.

“That’s a bad attitude,” he says. “Don’t say that. You *could* do it. You *could* do it if you wanted to.”

He is passionate, he is self-actualized, and he prefers to spend less time Thinking and Deciding, and more time Doing. He’s happier than me. He wants to let me in on this secret, that I CAN do anything.

Which means he doesn’t get it. I love that boy to the bone but he doesn’t get what it’s like to be insecure and overdrawn and Worried All The Time and while giving something up might feel to him like he’s voluntarily sacrificing a limb, to me, it’s like a haircut. An exfoliation. Taking off the sweater you thought was cute, but it’s too scratchy and making you sweat.

You feel that much more equipped to take on the rest of the world, once you become a Quitter.

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2 Comments to “beauty in the breakdown”

  1. i love this post, and completely agree with it. i laughed at the shaving the tops of your legs things… i can count on both hands how many times ive actually DONE IT in my life.

    as for the last bit… i think that’s a big difference between boys and girls. i know that there are some girls like lance, and some boys like you, but generally it seems to me like girls will always worry more, and boys will just go with the flow. i think it has a lot to do with confidence/gender issues and stuff, but who knows.

  2. haha excellent list. I totally agree, especially item number 1.

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