I was talking to a friend recently, trying to figure out what appeared to be a contradiction in my behavior. But then I hit upon an interesting idea. “I think I just hate the middle ground, you know? The uncertainty, the ‘this might happen, but I don’t really know.’ It just makes me uncomfortable.” And as I’ve thought about it more, I realize how true that is for me.
I know people who are getting “You should hear good things from us soon” messages from colleges, and I think, I would rather wait a week or two to hear a solid Yes or No than get that weird half-commitment. What if they change their mind? Why don’t they want to tell me they’ve accepted me now? College, I don’t understand! For those of you in that boat, don’t listen to my irrational thoughts about that. They don’t make sense. Just be excited about college. So I recognize I have a problem with this, the middle ground.
But you know, the basic fear is not completely irrational. The middle ground is a scary place to be. There’s potential for all of your hopes to come true (whether that’s for getting something wonderful or avoiding something terrible), and there’s also potential for so much disappointment.
I might get into my dream school, I might not pass this class, that person might feel the same way about me, I might get the part, I might have this disease, I might get the job…
When you’re in the middle ground, you are vulnerable. That’s just what it means to be there.
Especially when you tell people. I think that’s one of the things I hate the most. I can deal with my own disappointment, but I don’t want other people to be disappointed for me. Or maybe I just don’t want people to see me fail (because apparently being disappointed means failing in my mind…).
And oftentimes it is much easier to see how everything could go wrong. I know I do that. It’s easier to just prepare yourself for the worst so that it’s not more painful later.
And that works sometimes; it’s even healthy. Life is disappointing. Not all of your dreams come true. And it’s good to know that. But it’s also good to take risks. And I feel very hypocritical saying that, because too often, I just stay in my comfort zone. I say Nope! Life is scary and painful, and this right here is comfortable, and comfortable is good.
I take risks, but I don’t take every risk. I’ll take a risk if I feel like it’s necessary for me to be a decent person. Because even if I cannot be brave, I will always try to be good (that’s why I’m pretty sure I’m a Hufflepuff and definitely not a Gryffindor). I’ll take a risk, venturing out into the middle ground, and then I’ll run back to my comfort zone. And I’m not proud of that by any means.
But I’m working on it. And that’s okay. I don’t know if there’s much more to do than keep trying. So I guess that’s my step towards the middle ground. By saying that I struggle with it. I might get better at being brave. I might not. We’ll see.