Apparently my word this year is practice. I've been spending a lot of time practicing how to play, how to have fun, how to make friends - all the "easy" things in life that I find so terribly difficult to do.
I've figured out, from a classical psychoanalytic stance, what type of personality structure I have. I experienced so much relief from reading the chapter in the text I'm studying that I was actually tearful and had to stop reading for a few days. It really affected me deeply to be known and understood. And it explained a lot about me. You see, my personality structure is the type that feels their own emotions so deeply that they become incredibly overwhelmed and overstimulated by external events and experiences.
Today I turned 40. I've had some people approach me cautiously about this, wondering how I'm feeling about being so old. This one has been frustrating because I genuinely love aging and have never understood others' preoccupation with how old they look. I love my greying hair. Aging is beautiful. But beyond the superficial, I'm finding that I'm experiencing more freedom at this age than I've had before. My years of learning and growing have led me to a place where I'm a more authentic Me and better able to support and advocate for myself.
All of these factors have taken a bit to metabolise.
I'm sure some of you, at least, have heard about the wildfires that have been plaguing Alberta this week. Our city was choking on smoke this Friday from one located just 20 minutes out west of town, rural residents under evauation warning. And in the meantime we were already receiving evacuees from two more fires about an hour north of us. The sky was an eerie shade of deepest orange, like the set of a horror movie, during a time of day when it should have been bright evening sunshine with two hours yet until sunset.
My online friends, with whom I'm playing Minecraft and practicing being playful, already know that I'm pretty shy and slow to make friends. Online, I come across as a significant introvert and highly socially anxious. And then here we are faced with a genuine crisis and I don't bat an eyelash. None of it is scary because I know what to do. I know how to handle this type of thing. I was mentioning to one of my friends how amusing it was that I'm so much more adept in actual crisis than I am at emotionally challenging things like making friends.
And so I'm practicing.
I'm practicing self-expression with this blog and the one for work. I'm practicing allowing myself to play. I'm practicing how to make friends while my silly brain freaks out and tries to tell me they'll think I'm too weird or too old. I'm choosing to speak up for my preferences a little more often, even though it's not a genuine need. That practice has been a really tough one. It seems my brain draws a clear line between what I "need" and what I "don't need." And then has decided at some point that I'm not allowed to ask for it if it's not a need.
Practice takes a lot of work.