Dive into the pool

Someone told me a story about going to a pool party where everyone was jumping off the diving board. She was not a strong swimmer, and the idea of just nonchalantly jumping off terrified her. Yet, it still looked like a lot of fun, so she made a deal with herself. First she'd dangle her feet off the side of the pool. Next she'd sit down on the diving board. And so on, until she finally worked up the courage, hours later, to actually jump off. She loved it, and she made 20 or so more jumps before the party ended. She wondered why she'd wasted so much time in attempts to make herself comfortable, when the act of jumping was not actually scary at all. She could have done a lot more if she hadn't been hampered by irrational panic.

This is where I'm at, and honestly it's a familiar place for me. I'm unemployed and terrified by the prospect of jumping into the job pool. I've danced around the edges - checking the listings, reading industry news blogs, keeping in touch with a few people in my network - but the actual act of applying and interviewing for jobs just sends chills down my spine. Partly it's a lack of confidence - I feel like this is what I've spent my life trying to achieve, and what if I can't hack it once I'm there? What if the job disappoints me? Another part is a lack of a sense of urgency since I live with someone who makes a good salary. I don't want to be financially dependent on my fiancé, but then again I've covered a lot of his expenses while he was in transition. It probably comes close to evening out if you look at our entire relationship and factor in that I didn't have a full-time job for most of it.

So, I've found a multitude of distractions to keep me from actually leaping into the pool. The worst is MetaFilter - I spend at least a few hours there every day. I also have a ton of very active RSS feeds (see "what I subscribe to" on the sidebar). I feel some obligation to at least skim them every day before I start my work, but of course this isn't necessary. I should check a major news source to see if anything blew up the day before (since 9/11 this has become a habit), and everything else can wait. I don't need to read 20 Lifehacker posts about optimizing your Windows taskbar.

I'm not so bad anymore with the chatty sites. I still visit bondage.com every other day, and participate in its forums, but not to the extent I once did. Metachat has not really grabbed my interest. Years ago, I used to spend hours every day in Yahoo Messenger chat or similar. I can honestly say I've been IM'd once in the past month, and that was from a meatspace friend. Yet I can always find other ways to kill time.

This is a long-standing pattern for me. I wanted to be an artist or a writer when I was in high school, and one day someone from the San Francisco Art Institute gave a presentation on the school and instructions for applying. I was gung-ho about this for a month or two; I'd been to San Francisco and had truly left my heart there. But when it came time to build my portfolio, I decided that none of my paintings or drawings were good enough, and I dragged my feet on creating any more. This is possibly the biggest regret I have in my life. I think it was the first time I went from being someone with boundless opportunities to someone who puts restrictions on my dreams. That's like a death in a way. You are killing yourself by stifling your creativity. Maybe I would have sucked, but I wish I would have found out for sure.

Another childhood dream I had was to become a Solid Gold dancer. For those who are too young to remember, or who were busy snorting coke in the 80s, Solid Gold was a US television show from 1980-1988 that showcased the top musical hits of the day, as danced by a rotating cast of female dancers. I was six when this show premiered, and I watched it religiously throughout elementary school. I tried to copy their moves, and I often made up dance routines completely on my own. It didn't occur to me that I couldn't become a Solid Gold dancer, or a professional dancer of any sort. See, I have severe scoliosis (curvature of the spine) that limits my movements and frankly does not lend itself to the "look" of a dancer. This is why I sobbed - SOBBED - when I saw Bryan Gaynor on "So You Think You Can Dance." The dude had a dream, and he said "fuck it, I don't care what people think, I am going to do what I love." (I'm getting choked up right now.)

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