Perpetually Unfinished
Saturday, December 30, 2006
 
Just checking back in with everyone. Hopefully by now my handful of readers have come to terms with the fact that it'll be awhile between posts, so I won't bother apologizing or explaining.

It actually feels like it's been much longer than two months since I last wrote, since before I went to Boston. It just seems like so much has happened in my life since then. Boston was... quite an experience (or more accurately, bundle of experiences), and I've been feeling the ripple effects ever since. I can't recall a time where I have been rethinking so many of my assumptions simultaneously-- about life, death, risk, relationships, gender, courage, responsibility, respect, organizational behavior, and human nature, and that's just a partial list! On the whole, I think this is a good thing... many of my assumptions were overdue for reexamination, and I don't want to get too set in my thinking regardless. But it does lead to me feeling quite a bit shaky and unsettled of late.

Adding onto that is preparing for a move to a whole new area in just a couple months. Yep, if you haven't heard, we're moving to Maryland in February. What, you thought I would mention actual news first, instead of navel-gazing? Clearly you don't know me! But anyway, aside from the stress of packing and the other logistical issues, there's also the elevated anxiety about all the upcoming changes-- at a relatively mild level, but always floating around there.

Despite all that, and despite the sadness about leaving the city of Chicago and my (few) friends here, I'm actually really excited about this time and this move. Besides being closer to family, closer to many old friends, and in what I think will be a much happier and less lonely work environment, it feels like a real opportunity for moving forward in a lot of ways for me. I mean, I know that the great Britt Self-Improvement Project has been going on for at least five years now, not always with appreciable results, so perhaps it's best not to get my hopes up. But with so much change going on, I'm hoping to seize the opportunity to reset some of my habits and patterns in a better mold.

I am tempted to put those into another laundry list of New Year's resolutions, but considering how little I've thought about my 2006 ones since last January, I don't think it makes a great deal of sense. Sure, I should exercise more and floss more and eat healthier and be more organized, and I will try to, and I think I'll be happier if I do. But what I really want and need to resolve is much deeper than that.

Because I think my central issue is still this: to take more risks, learn to manage fear and nervousness better, find a way to accept mistakes and embarrassment and keep moving forward with my head high. When I think small and act small because I'm afraid, it holds me back from happiness and from growth. I have truly made progress at this, I think, but I am still so far from where I want to be. I am still more likely to run or hide or find ways to wriggle away from things that scare me rather than taking a deep breath and plunging in and forcing myself to find ways to cope. But I'm at last coming to an important realization that I can't keep trying to solve the problems by getting rid of the fear itself. It's just who I am-- I am afraid of making mistakes and ruining things I work on, I am afraid of looking foolish and ridiculous and unintelligent, I am afraid of not being liked by the people I care about-- and trying to just switch that off has never been successful and probably never will be. I have to stop trying to be less afraid, and instead figure out how to live my life the way I want to despite those fears, through those fears.

So that's my real New Year's resolution, I guess, if it really counts as a resolution at all. Wish me luck and strength and happiness in 2007, and I wish the same for all of you.
 
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Nature attains perfection, but man never does. There is a perfect ant, a perfect bee, but man is perpetually unfinished. He is both an unfinished animal and an unfinished man. It is this incurable unfinishedness which sets man apart from other living things. For, in the attempt to finish himself, man becomes a creator. Moreover, the incurable unfinishedness keeps man perpetually immature, perpetually capable of learning and growing.
--Eric Hoffer





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