I spent my third birthday in a hotel in Utah or Colorado, on a scenic detour from Edwards AFB in California to Lackland AFB in south Texas. I don’t remember much about this birthday, so it couldn’t have been too scarring, but I know how it sounds—lonely and sad, like I was denied something.
I assure you, I wasn’t. If anything, being a military child gave me a greater appreciation for unique experiences—and for constant change.
From San Antonio to Little Rock to Woodbridge, VA in a little more than three years. Another six homes over the next 10 years, not counting temporary housing, which became a standard step for the final four. Twice I lived with my mother’s parents for the summer. Twice we lived in temporary base housing, which is basically like living in a hotel-style apartment that you must leave in better condition than you found it, lest you incur a fee. So not like a hotel actually, but not like a home, either.
In Georgia, I remember spending a lot of time on a nearby playground, squeezing my nearly-pubescent body into spaces clearly designed for smaller children.
(I had a fascination throughout childhood with contorting myself into spaces not designed for my body, but that’s a story for another day.)
My first sixteen years were in a constant state of flux, and as a result, I mastered the art of starting over.
I did not master the art of following through.
This is not to say that I have no follow-through—I have written a couple of novels (one of which was “published”—again, later), completed graduate school, completed years-long work projects.
But follow-through is always a struggle for me. I get three-quarters of the way through something and I’m ready to move on to the next thing. I have a series of ideas all at once, and choose to binge-watch Parks & Recreation instead of working on any of them. I create blogs and YouTube channels and social media accounts, then barely use them and eventually abandon them just as they are gaining steam.
I think part of me is terrified of seeing the end of something. I watched my parents’ marriage end, and while I believe it was the best thing for our family, it was extremely difficult to be a part of. I watched my grandmothers’ lives end in rooms filled with their loved ones, and felt buoyed by that love, and was still devastated by my loss of them.
If I don’t finish my projects, commit to my blogs or channels, then I don’t have to face the other side. I don’t have to deal with edits, or critique, or failure. They can remain pristine in my vision of them, without taking a single risk to make them real.
Now I’m 30 years old and have met nearly none of my personal life goals.
This isn’t completely the fault of my routine of starting over—I have dealt with chronic illness since I was 13, and in the last three years have seen a steep decline in my health, which has forced me to rewrite the plan I had for my life—but I can’t deny that my fears have held me back to an alarming degree.
Why am I telling you all of this?
Because I want this time to be different.
No—this time is going to be different.
And the only way I know to start is to admit all the times I’ve failed before and promise to be different.
Which in retrospect is probably the worst way to start—look at all the times I’ve not done what I’m pledging to do this time! Who would subscribe to a blog or channel that provides evidence of its inevitable demise in the first post or video?
I hope you do.