harden the fuck up & scare yourself

It’s January 7th, the end of the first week of 2012 (and coincidentally my mother’s birthday). It’s the first year I find myself looking toward a complete and utter blank canvas … without any doubt.

Do you believe me? No, I don’t either. Well, sometimes I do. Sometimes I believe I have balls of steel; I believe that I can do anything I set my mind to. That I can even – single handedly – change the world. But of course those are the rare moments. The rest of the time I cower in the crevices of my own self-doubt, scared of saying, or even thinking, anything… lest it be the ‘wrong’ thing. That’s what I keep thinking… What if I get it WRONG??

Wrong? WTF is “wrong” anyway? Life is nuts. We have no idea what we’re doing here in the first place, what the point of all this is. So why the hell have we locked ourselves up in these bubbles of bullshit? Why do we kill ourselves working every day for no money and less gratitude, just to get to the holidays and find ourselves too tired to enjoy it?

Everywhere I look on social media this week I see streams of people either declaring how delicious it is to still be enjoying holidays, or how dreadful it is that Monday is looming. The dark, threatening capital M overshadowing their enjoyment of the last weekend. Or if we don’t work, we live in fear of keeping a roof over our heads and food on the table, scared of what people must think of us, not sure where to turn to get out of the poverty loop, stuck in the too-hard-basket of life, struggling against depression and bitterness.

Not me; I’m still funemployed. It’s been four months now and I still have no idea from whence my next income will rear its head. I should be terrified of this, or at least nervous. But you know what? I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m free, in free-fall, free-flow. I’ve been saying for the last few months, as I couchsurf my way from continent to continent, city to city, that “my life is made of flow right now”. I’m sure that somewhere in their hearts my friends slightly hate me for that (sorry), and I know that is such a hippy thing to say, but I mean it. I have never before been so happy to just let life happen.

Not that I’m a control freak. Well, not much of a control freak, at least (*coff*). But I’ve certainly always cared more about my career than my personal life (in fact my career has often been an excuse to run away from the ‘real’ world). And I’ve definitely always had at least a rough idea of what I’ll be doing in three months time. But today, sitting in the back courtyard of a second hand bookshop in Glebe, Sydney, I can honestly hand-on-heart say I am not sure where I’ll be, or what I’ll be doing next week, never mind in the next month or three.

Sure that’s kinda scary sometimes. But this is 2012, the end of days; I’ve got nothing to lose, right? It’s also the Chinese year of the Ox*, which is my year (see Update, below). So I have decided that this IS MY YEAR. I’m truly free. I have no mortgage, no boss, no kids, no boyfriend, no restrictions. I also have no money, no job, no home of my own, no one to snuggle up to and share my world with… but life is about balances, right? What I do have is my experience, my passion, my friends (and their sofas), my first year of permanent residency in a country I adore, and a whole world of opportunity… that I haven’t quite created yet. I have a belief that life will bring me apples, and so I take each day with an open heart, looking for apples to give and receive in turn.

So far this “flow” has seen me travel to four continents in as many months. It got me live-tweeting the Amanda Palmer & Neil Gaiman New Year’s Eve bash in Melbourne. It helped me find an old school friend I hadn’t seen in 20years and discover he’s now a rock star who happened to be gigging in Sydney on New Year’s Day. And today it’s got me invited to the opening night party of the Sydney Festival. All that, and it’s still just the first week of 2012. Who the hell wouldn’t wanna trust that kind of flow?

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At the NYE party, Neil Gaiman (of whose writing I am extremely fond) sat in the Green Room and wrote his New Year Wish so that he could read it to the crowd. It starts like this:

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

You can read the whole thing on his blog, but my take-away line, right at the end, was: “Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.”

It sounds corny (I often do) but as I stood there I honestly felt he was talking to me. It felt like he was shouting down my doubts and fears about my plans for this project and the years to come. This unruly, unfunded, uncertain project and my doubts about my own creativity. As I listened, berating myself for not being all the things I probably should have been (a better tweeter/photographer, more in AFP/NG and all the superstars’ faces, a thinner, sexier version of myself…), I just thought… yes. Yes I’m scared, but that’s because what I am doing has value. It matters – if only to me. If it doesn’t scare me then it’s too easy, so fear is important. Fear is as much a part of this journey as the fuel, the conversations and the scenery.

So I want to take this opportunity, this first ‘new year’ post I have made, to take that wish one step further. I wish, in this last year of the world, to scare myself. I wish to harden the fuck up and throw myself into the situations that make me wonder – and then discover – what I am actually made of. I will try to not hide, from others or myself. I will try everything and anything, so long as it doesn’t intentionally harm anyone/thing. I will be bad at things, I will fail, repeatedly and publicly, but I will learn and I will get better. I will make decisions that I later come to regret, and I will accept the consequences. I will be a responsible human for myself and anyone I come into contact with. And I will have the best bloody year of my life.

Because, at the end of it all, the only thing we really have is ourselves. And this year, I’m starting from the novel perspective of actually liking who that is. That has to be a good way to bring in the end of the world, surely?

UPDATE: Apparently I got that entirely wrong. This is the year of the Dragon, not the Ox. wtf, I’m still claiming this as my year anyway.