About a year ago, a man I loved told me I was “vanilla”. He meant it as an insult, and I took it as one. I was kind of shocked that he would choose that term—I haven’t traveled the world, and I don’t “live on the edge”, but when I think about my life and the things I have done, I don’t think they’re boring or plain. But I realized after I thought about it, that although I like the life I’ve made for myself, “safe” and “comfortable” are probably pretty good descriptors. (Although I still believe “vanilla” is stretching).
I realized that a lot of my self image as an interesting person is tied up in things I did when I was younger—I played ice hockey, drove a zamboni, worked at a zoo (where I used to play with a baby gorilla and take an elephant for a walk), I left a job that I hated (OK, got laid off is more accurate) and took a pay cut to do work that I believed in, quit that job on a whim and moved across country with no job prospects and no money, but with good friends with an open couch.
A few years later, I realize I’ve finally become an “adult”. I have a career, not a job, with an actual official-sounding title. I own a car and real furniture that was not found in a dumpster, in a front yard, or at a thrift shop. I have health insurance. And a cat that actually requires food, water and attention (unlike the plants that I’ve mostly managed to kill).
And somewhere along the way, I’ve lost that ability to be spontaneous. To make decisions “just because.” And to step outside my comfort zone just to prove I can. So this year, for my New Year’s resolution, I’ve decided to do just that—to step outside my comfort zone at least once a month just to remind myself how it feels to take a little bit of a risk. To be a little bit scared of failure. And to remember how great it feels when that risk pays off.
So far, I think it’s going well.