I’ve been feeling down for the past few months — a bit worse than usual. I just capped off a month of first dates, a holiday visit home that contained good times with friends and family but a tumultuous encounter with my dad (those father issues I joke about are more on the nose than I let on), and my birthday. I hoped that I could power through and find something to bring my emotional state back on the upswing.
They were all reminders that for every step of progress I hope to take, my past and my fears root me to the ground, afraid of a future that would see me confined to a life and place I want to escape. Today was a good example.
I went to the mall to return a sweatshirt I bought the day before, a purchase I attributed to a whim to replace something a bit too small. I entered the store and caught the eye of an employee, ready to get my transaction over and done with. Said employee was a cute girl with a sparkle in her eye, friendly and talkative. She asked me if I was on Spring Break. I dreaded where this would go.
I explained that I had no Spring Break due to being in the working world, and I asked her if she was on her break (she was — no surprise). A problem with the return brought a manager to the cashier, a welcome gap in the proceedings. More small talk followed and led to my plans for the weekend. Wary, I ran down my mundane list — laundry, cleaning and relaxing. She then laid it out on the line: she was working today and tomorrow, but would get off at 3 the following day.
The bait. Would I take it, or would I swim past?
I replied that it would be great for her to have a relaxing rest of the weekend. I said my thanks, to which she replied “see ya.” I walked out of the store, let the door close and breathed a sigh of relief.
This was a reminder of one of my many irrational fears, manifested in the encounter with a girl that looked and seemed way too young for me. Now in my 30s, I am well aware of guys in my age group dating and sexing girls young enough to be their daughters resulting from junior-high pregnancies. And I’ve been acutely alert to the majority of overt female flirting coming my way from girls college-age and younger — most likely due to their lack of inhibitions. (To be fair, I’m mostly clueless about being hit on or being flirted with.)
The idea of being hottie-bait to young ladies, though an ego stroke, is not productive to me. I personally want a relationship with someone closer to my age, and these encounters only remind me of what I really want. And I worry that this will be it for me for the next few years until I can pass for an adult.
In thinking about this apprehension, I thought it would be productive — or at least entertaining to you “folks” (hey, Natalie!) — to write out my other senseless fears. Maybe something good will come with seeing these absurdities in HTML:
- I fear being trapped in a job I don’t like
It’s fair to say that most people tolerate their jobs and employers, a sobering reminder that growing up is not a guarantee of fireman dreams and astronaut wishes. While my job and company are the best I’ve had in my life, I’m always aware that those feelings can change. I don’t want to get to the point where I feel like Charlie Sheen’s former publicist, eying the door during the beginning of the meltdown.
- I fear my fragility
I’ve always been a sensitive guy. Until high school, I outwardly showed my feelings — good and bad. For example, my horrific junior high experience included torment from a kid in my gym class that was shorter and skinnier than me, and he used an unknown encounter at a movie theater — being spied on as I hid my eyes during a painful part of the movie Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story — to try and humiliate me.
This and other, similarly tragic events, led me to internalize my emotions. More teasing, hurt and anger followed me, and I stuffed it down for it to erupt at rare intervals — a warning that hey, I was affected by things. While I’m conscious of this part of me, I continue to live life, and things like unrequited love, job disappointments and ignored messages induce those anxieties. Maybe there will be a time where those emotions are more positive than negative.
- I fear being confined to Phoenix
Friends and family won’t be surprised by this, but I am not a fan of Phoenix or Arizona. Sure, the 5 months of the year that don’t feel like Satan’s backyard outside are pleasant (wearing t-shirts in February is pretty nice), but the one-two combination of face-frying heat and open hate (racism, homosexuality, religion) dulls the shine of the Grand Canyon State. Add to that the real estate market simulating a free-fall from a space shuttle, and I equate present life to being the TMZ writer that dreamed of working for the NewYork Times.
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The good thing about fears is that they can be overcome. As easily as life changes on a whim, so could a fresh set of circumstances that put a favorable spin on my perspective of things. Good lord, I hope something positive happens.