What Am I Avoiding?

And why am I doing it?

I was sitting on my couch the other day, reading a book, when one of the main characters asked himself, Why am I avoiding this? In the book, this question wasn’t part of an overarching existential crisis — the character was avoiding going out with friends.

But later when I was doing my laundry, I found myself thinking about the question further. Am I avoiding anything? I asked myself.

Nah, I answered myself. What could you possibly have to avoid?

The answer? Many things, apparently.

I’m avoiding ‘putting myself out there.’

I would like to be in a relationship, but putting myself out there is hard. Right now, I live a comfortable little life with my dog and my cat and my job and my condo. If I meet someone new, he might want to be part of that. He might disrupt this pleasant little cocoon I’ve woven for myself. He might worm his way in, and then leave me.

I went to a wedding this weekend and met someone interesting. He also seemed interested in me. So much so, in fact, that he took down my phone number, and sent me a text this morning asking about my day.

And yet, my brain is screaming at me: Abort! Abort! You’ve entered the disaster zone! No good will come of this!

Something incredible could come of this. I’m avoiding it anyway.

I’m avoiding discomfort in all of its forms.

I just agreed to plans I don’t want to participate in, to avoid saying “no.” I just apologized for something I’m not sorry for to avoid an argument. I just conceded a point that I feel strongly about to avoid a debate.

I’m avoiding speaking my truth to make others comfortable. The problem? This isn’t helping me.

I’m (still) avoiding discussing my feelings.

I smile a lot even when I don’t feel like it. I still answer, “Oh, I’m good, you!?” when someone asks me how I’m doing. When a friend asks me a question, I masterfully steer the conversation back to them without their noticing. I’m avoiding coming into the spotlight.

Ultimately, I’m avoiding change.

When I think about my life, I often feel that I’ve stagnated — and that bothers me, but the reason for it is that I’m also avoiding moving forward. I know what’s expected of me in my day-to-day; I know what’s coming, and how to plan for it. There’s a mental safety in that for me. Change feels like my enemy.

It’s not though, and I know this.

In fact, I seem to be in a toxic relationship with avoidance.