Convenience: wearing clothes I already own. Are they suitable for the weather? Do I feel confident in them? Do they reflect who I am? I don’t think about it.
Convenience: taking the path of least resistance. Am I taking the most logical route? Is crossing the street really going to slow me down that much? Is walking through a building of people that much more difficult than my convoluted detour? I don’t think about it.
How do we recognize whether something suboptimal is actually a hindrance? How do we know it isn’t the most convenient option?
I recently got an actual winter coat, you know, one that is made to withstand the elements of winter. I haven’t owned a real made-for-winter coat in probably ten years (i.e. grade school). I never questioned it, really. Oftentimes it is easier not to think of things as options that we don’t want to deal with or don’t know how to deal with. My fingers may turn corpse-yellow by the time I get to class, my ears and face windburnt, but getting a coat would involve getting a coat. Going to the store, being in the store, checking out the selection, deciding what coat is reasonable, convincing myself it doesn’t look ridiculous, and settling a coat that is likely not even what I would need anyway. I’m not any worse off than I have been. I’m fine. I’d rather not think about it; This is not who I am. I do not feel confident. I shouldn’t have bothered.
Now that I have one that I like and know is good quality I do realize how needed it was. Still, it’s not me who realized I needed it.
But let me go back a few steps…
I live with undiagnosed (but unquestionable) anxiety, and I would add “social” to the beginning of that. Even now I often feel all my senses simultaneously close up and intensify in certain settings– noise becomes louder but unrecognizable, lights seem brighter yet everything feels vignette. A couple years ago my personal challenge was merely walking at a good clip straight through the student center never diverting my gaze from my path. While my throat closed up and I felt like I was swimming against a dark current that bombarded my senses, it was an accomplishment. While I knew that wasn’t necessarily a great baseline, what I didn’t fully realize at the time was how much that actually hindered me and controlled my life. I also didn’t really know what to do about it.
My dad works at the university I attend, so I’ve mostly been able to work in his office and go to lunch with him for food. When I started, I couldn’t see the difference between taking advantage of a solitary working space vs. boxing myself up away from everyone. Admittedly, I still leave for lunch with him when I don’t have plans to spend time with a friend or a project to complete (who wouldn’t take a break from eating the same selection of things at the student center?!). But what I don’t do anymore is go 14 hours without eating because I don’t feel I can manage to buy food at an on-campus vendor by myself. I don’t keep myself busy and ignore it so I feel I have a viable excuse to have not eaten (full disclosure that only happened a couple times, I usually eat continuously– but that’s how much confidence I lacked in my ability to handle a potentially unknown situation). Though maybe it’s less the case that I couldn’t tell the difference in these instances and more that I just… didn’t.
I suppose one question to ask is, “how much am I needing to ‘logic’ my way to this option?” If the answer is “a lot” or a bashful “maybe”– it’s probably not out of true convenience.
Lest anyone read this and think I have gone unsupported, I most definitely have not. I am lucky in that I have a mother who knows how my mind works. She has often translated the world for me (in a sense) and made sure I have the necessary skills to navigate it. Encouraging me to know what I can do and, when necessary, pushing me to do what I must. Still, we must become our own educators and navigators– it takes longer for some than for others.
Good night for now! Never settle for complacency, treat yourself well.