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I Want To Believe

rigid but flexible slinky

Tell Me About Yourself

During interviews, I’ve often been asked what sorts of words I would use to describe myself. Now, I’m skilled enough to steer clear of words with negative connotations. Yet, I’m sure skepticism would be near the top of the list if I were honest.

I’ve always been a person of little faith. Mostly in the spiritual context, I find myself casting doubt at most organized spiritual practices. It takes a great deal of evidence and convincing for me to get on board, much to my poor Catholic grandmother’s dismay. Was I created this way? Or maybe I grew harder and colder through a difficult adolescence. Whatever the cause may have been, I find myself now wondering why I continue to be so rigid with belief and faith.

Like many, the challenge of being in 2020 presented an opportunity to spend a lot of quality time with myself. Unfortunately, the more chaos I saw, the more I wanted to hide inside and pretend the world outside didn’t exist. This left me with just my thoughts, and those don’t tend to be very kind. I found myself asking, “WHY AM I LIKE THIS?!” far too often. The worst part was I couldn’t answer it. I, like everyone, am a sum of parts. Everything I’ve experienced in my life led me to now. Surely, if time created me, time could fix me.

Yes. And, no.

Decisions, Decisions

Now seemed as good of a time as any. I’m logical and pragmatic. I like all the information and tend to make long, thoughtful decisions, not brash or impulsive ones. I’ve never been much for taking risks; in fact, they scare me. Thank you, Anxiety!

Santa too easily became a thing of the past. I fought my Catholic school’s expectations for religious education every step of the way. I question everything I see and hear for validity. Yet, the non-believer in me believes in ghosts (yes, there’s a long story there). And according to science, I think there’s a good chance we’re not alone in the universe. How can I sit here and say ghosts and aliens exist, but I can’t even believe in myself, for even like a minute. The system in my head has failed me. Maybe, I should be questioning my constant questioning.

Time was more plentiful in this past year than I’ve felt in my entire adult life. I liked to complain I had too much of it. After 6 initial weeks of lockdown and unemployment, I found whatever I could to help pass the days. The Internet is perhaps the greatest time-waster of all. It provides an endless environment for entertainment, interests, or information, all on a small (mostly) handheld machine. Like many, I spent a frightening amount of time liking memes, following news updates, and keeping in touch with friends. I did whatever I could to feel connected to the world that felt so small and far away.

Like the elder millennial I am, I follow a wide array of content: mental health support groups, like-minded artists, weird and spooky stories, content and lifestyle creators, make-up gurus, friends, family, humour accounts, celebrities, and news outlets. In a daily meme exchange with a friend, things took an unexpected turn. The exchanging photos commiserated how we Capricorns are disinterested in fun and mostly revel in work. Being a recovering workaholic, the message hit home.

Rigidly Flexible

If you read my other post about astrology, you’d know it surprises me to find myself “believing” in such hoodoo. I put in the work to uncover some meaning behind it all. Of course, it is not a science or even a pseudoscience. Yet, the evidence against my skeptical beliefs continued to outweigh the feeling that I had to reject it. I chose to believe. Me, the non-believer!

I view this change to my rigid belief structure to be a giant, life-altering win. Given the opportunity to choose belief purely based on feeling or choice, I never would. I instead rely on the giant list of “can’t believe because”. I take this as a sign that I’m able to be flexible. Maybe I am, in fact, capable of change within an immovable system. What other rigid beliefs about myself can I now tackle? I must be able to if this is possible, right?

If only things were that easy, kid.

Minds are complex, and after years of therapy, I can certainly agree mine is. I’d love to will my brain to re-route all destructive thoughts or snap my fingers into a better me. But that beautifully pragmatic (sea-goat) part of me is firmly rooted after 30+ years of trauma and experience. So while this is a victory over a difficult version of self, I will need to work hard to alter deep-set beliefs. Yet, if you’ve been through any version of therapy, you’ll know you take note of those small wins. They’re sometimes the only things that keep your momentum going into battle.

On the list of distinguishing personal characteristics, skepticism still is high on the list. But, luckily, I now can see believer making it on there too.

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