One of the writing prompts in my #braveblogging course was to finish the sentence:
“I collect …”
It’s an interesting idea, except that I couldn't really think of anything I collect. Having moved around so often in my twenties and thirties (I count eleven moves in as many years), there wasn’t really much point. I do love kitchen gadgets, but I don’t love them enough that I can’t give them away and start over every time.
So I don’t actually collect much that’s worth anything.
But then I remembered I do have one collection.
It’s one I’ve been working on my whole life. It's never taken center stage, never been given serious shelf space, but I drag it with me in every move. In fact, with each move, I probably add a little more to it.
It’s one of those collections that you’d think I’d give up after awhile. Maybe grow out of. One that might sit around gathering dust until I finally just said the hell with it, get it out of here. Though who would want it is beyond me.
But no. It hangs around. I’m forty and I’m still collecting.
So here it is: I collect ‘what ifs.’
I know, right? Allow me to explain. I have stacks of them. Every so often, they’ve come in handy, kept me safe, or out of trouble, or in line. (Yawn. Can we say BOOOOOOOOORING!?)
But mostly they’ve been a HUGE hindrance. They’ve kept me quiet, or seemingly invisible, or on the sidelines. They’ve kept me from taking risks, or daring, or giving all I’ve got.
I don’t want to force my collection on anyone else, so I’m not going to share them all, but here’s a handful just to give you an idea:
What if …
… I make a mistake?
… someone decides I’m not worthy of their friendship?
… someone is angry with me?
… someone feels uncomfortable around me?
… someone decides I’m not cool enough?
… or too cool?
… they decide I’m a fake?
… I look foolish in front of a group of people I respect?
… I don’t actually know what I’m talking about?
… and they find out?
... what if I fail?
Phew! You still with me?
But what if …
… I let that stop me from pursuing my dreams?
… or living deeply?
… or loving fiercely?
… or being my true self?
… or showing the world who I really am?
… or being real?
… what if I die without having done what I want to do?
… all the while knowing I could have done it?
What if I stopped listening to all the what ifs?
And what if …
… the worst happens? (and I survive)
… I lose a few friends along the way?
… stretching myself means not everyone will agree?
… and there will be some debate?
… and I am challenged?
… and I end up being MORE than I thought I could be?
So those last AND what ifs are what I’m working on now. Maybe it’s getting older, maybe it’s that I’m finally settled, maybe it’s that life – despite it’s challenges and setbacks – is also incredibly delicious and good right now. Or maybe it’s just that I’m tired of collecting. Not unlike my mother’s salt and pepper sets boxed somewhere in the recesses of the garage, I don’t want these around anymore. Get rid of them!
Because, what if I don’t?