(To be edited. This version is vague. Rambling. Weak. And that’s okay😂)
When I was thinking about a photo for this entry, I decided to research animals other than butterflies that go through a metamorphosis. It seems every reference to metamorphosis uses butterflies, and I wanted to go for something different. Starfish! Bingo! I already had photos of them from long ago trips to Dillon Beach! Fun fact, they’re much easier to capture on a phone than butterflies are. Another fun fact, sometimes I don’t stay on topic. Did you know that sea stars can live up to 35 years and can reproduce sexually or asexually?
Anyway, at the beginning of the pandemic, I immediately decided that other than giving my trombone lessons on FaceTime, I would only force myself to walk or do tai chi every day, do the dishes every night, and clean the toilets once a week. Soon after I set those goals for myself, professionals wrote articles about how we needn’t expect ourselves to use the time to tackle big projects or learn something new. That had been my instinct. Do the things that absolutely have to get done, and as for things like working on fiction, I would do them when I felt like it. I didn’t expect it to take four months, but that’s okay. I’m back at it now and writing as much as ever.
Everyone had stuff before this started. We were all in the middle of decisions and hardships and new challenges. That’s life! So I can’t say that my metamorphosis would not have happened without the pandemic—maybe I was just on the verge of a metamorphosis anyway—but I suspect it must have contributed. How can it not have? The thing is, I don’t know HOW the pandemic brought about a metamorphosis, or at least gave it a nudge.
For the last couple years I have been fighting to be okay with everything about me. It is not natural for me! And suddenly this week I really felt fine about something, and I checked in with my feelings about other qualities of mine that I’ve hated or been embarrassed about, and I really felt okay with them, too. I’m 46, and that seems absurdly late, but better late than never.
Here are some of the things I checked in with myself about:
A couple years ago I found myself agreeing with writers who said that women shaving, or more accurately the expectation of women to shave, was infantilism. That debate is not important for this post, but the relevant detail here is that even though I wanted to stop shaving and enjoyed not shaving, I didn’t feel comfortable wearing shorts or tank tops. Now suddenly I don’t care. Is it because I’ve had so much time to relax? Is it because the world seems to be shifting its priorities? Who knows?
Seeming Weird on Social Media
A long time ago, someone close to me said that they thought my posts made me look weird. The way I am is that I don’t bow to peer pressure, but instead of just thinking “Well that’s their opinion, but I like my posts!” and going on my merry way, I think “I WILL NOT BOW TO PEER PRESSURE” and feel rebellious for just doing what I want. I had the same feeling about not shaving. But when I realized that body hair rebel feeling had subsided, I checked on my feelings about this, too. I was really okay with “weird” posts. I like them! And it really doesn’t matter to me who else does (although I do like it when my girls chime in with appreciations).
This is a tough one. I don’t know why it has always been so important to me that those close to me think I make “the right decisions.” I know we can’t please everyone. And I know that it’s MY life. But we can know something with a hundred percent certainty and our insecurities sabotage us anyway. I don’t know why I’ve always been like this, but I know I’m much less so now. Was it the natural timing for me or was I recreated through forced introspection these last 22 weeks?
I know that I have my own life rhythm. I know that I like to work hard for a day and rest for a day and sometimes slip into a creative, nocturnal mode for a while. I know that I am an extreme rule follower in some areas and extremely not one in other areas. I know that I’m not seeing sexism where it isn’t. I know that there’s nothing more feminine about hairless legs. I know that I’m capable of succeeding in a high level writing job. I know that no one can explain trombone technique better than I can, and I don’t feel like it’s obnoxious to think so. There’s plenty I’m not good at, like remembering the names of modes. And it always takes me two weeks to remember to write something out for my students. There’s always one lesson where I say, “Gosh darn it, I’ll have it for you next week.”
And I’m okay with all of that. It’s who I am. I was born with hair like most mammals and a talent for music and a desire to be funny that sometimes surpasses my desire to be nice. I was born with a competitive spirit that likes collaboration. Sometimes I veer off topic. And this week I feel okay with all of it. I hope it lasts!
Biologists know a lot about what happens when a starfish goes through its metamorphosis, but of course we don’t know all the hows and whys. And I don’t know the hows and whys of my change in attitude. I’m always wary of self-help advice that claims a one-size-fits all approach. Maybe the shelter in place will make some people less secure about themselves. Who knows? I hope that something good is happening for you within, whatever it may be.
(Feel like I should mention that Sonoma County had over 130 new Covid19 cases over the last 24 hours, and the 24 hours before that, over 140 new ones. Remember a few weeks ago when 100 in 24 hours was suddenly, appallingly higher than the previous highs? Theaters, indoor dining, gyms, hair salons, all closed. School is starting in distance learning. And we’re having a major heat wave. Rolling blackouts, fear of wildfires.)