I have a rock solid imagination. It’s been one of my most under-utilized traits over the years, and something I’m hoping to find an outlet for as I move further into the design parts of my job. But in my personal life, my use of imagination always has been off the charts.
I’ve come to realize fairly recently that I feel more comfortable envisioning happiness and fulfillment than I do actually experiencing it. I think Tod put it best when he said that I didn’t allow myself to be happy—it’s true. That barrier comes from fear, I think. Fear that I will get a boatload of great stuff happening to me and find a way to screw it all up. I am known for missteps, tiny blunders that put a damper on otherwise successful endeavors, at least from my own perspective. So I fear giving myself that opening in the first place, letting joy rush in and ruffle the feathers of anxiety, depression, jealousy and darkness. Those are the hens that like to roost in my head most of the time, so throwing open the doors and letting joy strut in with a bright noonday sun? Not OK. It messes with the run of the hen house.
To give a specific example… The person I like. This person I have liked for months now. The person that I am slowly realizing I like the idea of more than the reality. And I’m not sure if it’s the image I’ve created through fantasizing or the image I’ve composed by focusing only on his positive traits—loosely stitching them together like some hobo quilt—but I’ve now given him this alter ego that just isn’t accurate. He’s a lovely person, yes, but we are in constant conflict. Our opinions on some serious issues are very much out of sync. It’s like Tod all over again, but with an entirely different sack of dissimilarities. Every time I think I’ve moved on from liking this person, my insides get all mooshy over some singular moment of kindness or sweetness that really isn’t the majority of his personality. I’m imagining the man I wish I could have, that I think seems like the kind of man he could be. Problem is, he’s not!
Imagination is one of the reasons I love going to bed at night. Because that time before falling asleep is my time to fantasize. It’s not always about men and sex and other dirty nighttime things. In fact, as a t(w)eenager, it was very clean—thoughts of becoming beautiful overnight, turning in stellar projects to teachers, playing an awesome solo in jazz band or impressing some boy or another by being cooler than I had the ability to be at that time in my life. Nowadays, my fantasies are a mixed bag. But they embody the life I can’t seem to live in reality. I conduct my desired lifestyle in my head. That’s where I buy a little house and decorate it with kitschy/cool stuff like I see at friends’ homes. That’s where I take walks regularly and get smiled at by good-looking, dark-haired, dark-eyed strangers passing by. That’s where I work out my arms to just the right buffness and lose the thunder thighs. That’s where I actually give the cute EMT my phone number and say, “Call me sometime,” with a wink. I’m very good at imagining all of this and more.
But it’s unhealthy. Sure, having a vibrant imagination is great. And those who don’t wish they did. But when it crosses over from being a fun accessory and an asset at your job to being your whole life, you’ve stepped onto dangerous ground. I think I’m there. More than just being lonely and having nothing to do on weekends, I’ve become completely solitary again, like I was for much of college. I have a great job and the potential for a great life, but I’m holed up in my head all over again. I’ve never been one of those people with friends and family calling all the time, showing up at my house, never giving me a moment’s peace. I HAVE TOO MUCH PEACE. I CAN HAS LESS PEACE, PLEEZ?
I guess what I worry most about is that this mental isolation is going to hinder my ability to live a real life when I am given the chance. What if the dark-eyed stranger shows up when I’m mid-overanalysis? Or if I’m fantasizing so much over Current Crush that I totally miss the real Mr. Right? Or if my fear of taking risks and actually being happy stops me from pursuing the things that will put me there and challenge me and take me out of the comfortable realm? I fear self-isolation, self-imprisonment, self-sacrifice (the bad kind). I fear that I will kill myself, not by means of gun or knife or pill, but by mental encapsulation and strangling the life out of whatever real life I have left. I need help!