Since leaving my job, I have been putting this theory to the test in a few ways.
Trapeze school. At first, it was way more than just uncomfortable; it was close to terrifying. The appropriately named blog post is here.
Chopping off my hair. Sometimes I think people don’t know what I look like, they only know what my hair looks like. Hidden in my basement are school portraits from the last time my hair was short—in middle school. They are hidden well for a reason.
Still, I figured that if ever there was a time to try a new hairstyle, it was now. And, as I’ve heard many a parent say when asked why they let their child do X with his/her hair, “It’s just hair. It will grow back.”
Back in June I told Rebecca, my supremely skilled stylist at Parlour Salon, that come October, after my last day of work and all the family weddings, she could do whatever she wanted with my hair. Now it was October. As I sat in the chair, she asked, “Are you sure?” My answer was something like, “No, but do it anyway.” Then I tried not to watch the long curls drift to the floor as she cut off the majority my hair.
Verdict? I love it! It has been an adjustment to feel very little hair on the back of my head (hard to get a good photo, but the back is much shorter) and to use half as much of various hair products (bonus: they’ll last longer!). I now realize that I’m living the cliché about changing your hair to change your life. But hey, clichés often are born out of truth.
Eating alone in a nice restaurant. I rarely do this, and when I do, I usually sit at the bar and/or bring something to read. When I went to the other CIA, I spent a good part of the meal answering the Amuse cards to myself, so it only sort of counts. I decided when in Shenandoah to put myself to the test by just sitting with myself through a leisurely meal.
I reserved a table at Zynodoa, which I expected to be excellent based on the reviews. And it was. I also expected it to be a bit of an odd experience. And it was.
I sat alone at my table for two, with a view of the whole restaurant and the back of the bar, so there was a lot to watch. As my server was very chatty, I didn’t go the whole meal without any conversation. I used this as an opportunity to “be in the moment” and focus on the flavor of the food. I tried not to think of all of the things I had to do. (And for those of you thinking, “What things to do? She’s not working!” keep reading for one part of the answer.)
Not sure I’ll rush to do it again, but I count it as successful. I learned that I can do it and be minimally (as opposed to significantly) uncomfortable.
Saying, “No.” and “I don’t know.” Here’s the Q&A conversation I frequently engage in these days:
Friend: Do you have big trips planned?
Friend: When are you going to figure out your plans?
Me: I don’t know.
Friend: Do you know what you’re doing next?
Friend: When are you going back to work?
Me: I don’t know.
Often I feel an obligation to have amazing trips and crazy adventures to give something back to everyone who has said that they are living vicariously through me. The truth is, trips and adventures are not what I want to do right now.
I bopped in and out of DC so much the first two months after I stopped working that I successfully avoided facing the fear of an empty calendar, being lonely, and regretting my decision. I also avoided unpacking the boxes I hauled home from my office. But avoidance can be taxing, and I’ve reached the tipping point.
Now, all I want is to finish the mundane house projects. I’m 90% done unpacking the boxes that moved from the dining room (where the photo was taken) to the study (aka “the room with the file cabinet and bookcases that I’ve never once studied anything in”). There are more boxes and rooms to go. Cleaning out closets and files is tedious, but eminently satisfying as well.
Once I feel like my house is in order, literally and figuratively, I’ll start making the next plans. Until then, I’m content with how I’m spending my time even if it isn’t amazing, crazy, or adventurous.