There are three weird things about me.
…oook, maybe there are more than three, but let’s say three weird things that are uncommon to dislike, or three things that are fun factoids. The kinds of things you share with people one of the first times you meet, things you know will be conversation starters, or at least will grab someone’s attention.
Those three things are, in no particular order:
- I hate thunderstorms. When I was a kid, I was convinced a tree would fall into my parents’ window at night, smashing them and my cozy little life to pieces. I used to get stomach flips when the thunderstorm warning floated across the banner at the bottom of the television. This irrational fear persisted and I still get that flip during tornado watches and warnings (but don’t try to tell me that a tornado phobia is irrational- it is decidedly not).
- I think Ketchup is disgusting. I don’t get it. It’s sweet, it’s vinegary, it’s tomatoey. It has the consistency of watered down tomato sauce. What is going there? And why is it suitable to dip perfectly good french fries into it? Don’t even get me started on people who put it on their eggs.
- I have a very serious phobia of people taking off my socks. No, it’s not a foot thing. I’m fine with my feet. I’m fine with your feet. What I’m not fine with is people pulling off my sock (from the toe- eek!) and expecting me to act like that’s a completely acceptable thing to do. This is some serious leftover childhood shit, y’all. Having two brothers who love to torment you is no small deal.
So why am I sharing this with you? No doubt it’s going into a lesson about life right? (Ah, yes, so you saw it coming. You know me better than the three-factoid-worthy-conversations people).
I’m sharing because these three tidbits about my life have been with me for as long as I can remember. People know these things about me; they are part of what makes me unique, even if I’m not the only one who feels them. They are things I’ve listed on “tell us something random about you” exercises and said to be cute to someone new I was dating.
A few years ago, I was sitting outside on my porch as the clouds turned darker and the wind picked up speed. Instinctively, I got up, went inside, and looked at the weather. And then an amazing thing happened, when the thunderstorm warning popped up, I didn’t seem to care all that much. There was no stomach flip, no impending doom. I shrugged it off and assumed that it was just because I was tired. And then, a few days or weeks later, during a nice sunny afternoon, I found myself longing for a storm. It felt odd on me, like new shoes that aren’t quite worn in yet- this is what people have been talking about all these years?!
It may sound silly, but this is a strange thing for me to admit because it’s like letting go of an old friend. A pesky old friend, but still. I may still be terrified of them when they come roaring in at night (and again, tornadoes are a different story), but during the day, thunderstorms aren’t so bad.
It all made me realize how attached I had become to certain identities. To the me who couldn’t be alone during thunderstorms, the me who couldn’t even touch a ketchup bottle, the me who used to take my socks off around groups of friends just in case one of them tried to rip one off my foot. And of course, throughout this silly bit of self-discovery, I realized I was also holding onto other, more serious identities that no longer served me.
When we identify ourselves with a belief we staunchly hold to be true, it can be alarming to find that it doesn’t fit anymore. But then we have a choice. We can shed it and make room for what’s coming, or we can hold on tighter like we’re holding onto a pair of shoes with holes in the soles.
I still don’t want to eat ketchup, but it’s not so bad if it’s present on the table. And maybe once in a while I’ll get down with watching a thunderstorm on a summer day.
But don’t ever, ever try to take off my socks.
It’s called growth in small steps.