Learning to Fly

“And as I fall apart I learn to fly / A dirty bird like me will learn to fly….” – Carbon Leaf, “Learn to Fly”

I will freely admit to being naturally pessimistic. Not in a “the world is out to get me” kind of way, but more in a “if anything is going to go wrong, it will happen to me” sort of way. For instance, today, at Fresh Market, of the three cash register lines open, all about the same length, I chose the one that took the longest. Murphy’s Law, I am convinced, was not written about Murphy – it was written about me.

However, sometimes, even my inner pessimist is defeated by a secret inner optimist. Some things, I think, just lead to a feeling of “starting fresh.” Things like moving, making new friends, new jobs, and other significant life changes. When it comes to these things, perhaps we’ve all got a bit of some inner force championing happiness for us.

It’s not a secret that I’ve been feeling a little beat up for the past few years – like not much has gone my way. The last eight months, in particular, have been really hard on me. But, I’m not one who likes change very much. I take comfort in routine and pattern. I’m sure there’s some psychological root to this; in fact, I’m sure I could give you exact reasons why I am the way I am. But, I’m trying to recognize the things in my life that are keeping me from achieving being truly happy, and one of my biggest is my fear of change. But, I feel like this period of negativity in my life is ending, and that good things are in store. I don’t know why I feel this way, I just do. Like I’m on the cusp of big things….

Maybe it’s because I’m making changes. I started last year, started focusing on myself and the things that make me happy – taking a photography class, running more, going to shows on my own, taking vacations that I want to take without feeling guilty that I’m not spending all my time off with my family. In the last year, I visited more places than I have in the entire time I’ve been in Charlotte!

The next step is moving back to a one bedroom place on my own. The happiest I was in my time here in Charlotte was when I was living by myself; it’s also when things were going the best for me career-wise and socially. I don’t know if there’s a direct connection, but I think being back on my own is the healthiest thing for me right now. I’m branching out, re-establishing friendships that I’ve neglected and making new friends who I think will be positive influences on me, and cutting out others that aren’t healthy for me.

I tend to worry too much about what other people think of me, too. I don’t know why, but that’s gotten worse in the past five or six years. I fear being “disliked” by anyone. But that tendency, in particular, leads to negativity. Because rather than saying how I feel out loud, I suck it up and let people walk all over me. Or, I let the things I care about slip away for fear of upsetting someone. This, too, is something I’ve been working at for the past year. And I’m getting better about just saying how I feel…I’m also finding out, very quickly, who my friends are. I recently ended a friendship because this particular friend betrayed my trust on more than one occasion and managed, somehow, to always make me feel bad about myself. Breaking up a friendship might be worse than breaking up a relationship, especially when you share a lot of friends. It’s amazing how much venom I had toward that friend, and I really don’t know why. I think that our life views may have just been completely contradictory; not to say people who are different can’t be friends, but when one person’s way of life tramples another, I think it’s hard to respect people. The feeling, I think, was mutual and we tried to force the friendship…but it obviously wasn’t good for either of us. I know I look like the bad guy because I’m the one that made the decision to end the friendship, and I’m sure that there will be some people that don’t like me very much because of my decision…but the toxic feelings that I had been having are completely gone.

The change in this one friendship has made me realize how much hurt, anger, frustration and bitterness I hold onto. It’s not healthy and it really does drag down everything in my life. I don’t want the inner pessimist to win.

And so, I find myself at a stage in my life where I’m re-evaluating everything, from looking at my material possessions and saying “Do I really need that?” to my relationships with people and saying, “What do we offer each other?” And I think it’s good. While change might be difficult for me, it’s necessary right now. I’ve been stagnating, living in a bit of a cocoon. But spring has come and it’s time for me to come out. I may never be a butterfly, but I can certainly spread my wings.

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