One of the most significant times I ever failed at something in a way that hurt was my senior year of undergrad.
I’d been running for months to train for the Colonial Half Marathon, a race held annually in my college town. All the most active people who weren’t otherwise playing a varsity sport ran the Colonial Half. Lots of girls I looked up to had run it in years past, and I desperately wanted to be one of them.
I was sitting across from an incredible human being over salads and coffee in a local lunch spot and I was scared to death.
It wasn’t this human’s fault. She was becoming a person I trusted. You know those people you meet at random times in life who make you feel like God cut you from the same cloth? Like your souls share the same threaded design? This was how I felt with her, a person slowly becoming a friend as we decided to share small swatches of our hearts with one another, bit by bit, testing the waters to see if they felt safe.
And they had so far. But things were getting scary for me. Because I did feel safe, and that meant I had to wade a little deeper. I had to share a little more. If I wanted to take this acquaintance-becoming-friend to full-fledged-partnership, I knew I needed to make my way to the deep end, revealing more vulnerable realities I carried around inside clenched fists so nobody could see them.
All I could do was blink at the screen. My body felt lethargic, drained of any semblance of motivation. I was staring at my bucket list and I had no desire to complete the next item I was supposed to accomplish.
What was I thinking? I thought to myself. Back when I was making this list it seemed like this item might be a fun thing to do, but now it just seems boring. I have no desire to cross this off my list. Why did I even put it on here?
While I felt totally comfortable writing about it on the blog, I’ve realized it’s not a popular topic at dinner parties. “Sarah, can you pass the mashed potatoes? Also, have you considered your imminent end lately?” is not polite table manners.
For real though, it’s really hard to talk about death in American society without being met with resistance. People don’t like to talk about death, and I think it’s because we don’t like to think about death either. We have negative emotions about it, and we don’t like to feel negative emotions. Ever.