Old Stories

What stories do you tell about yourself that aren’t true anymore?

I’m bad at traveling. That’s one of mine.

The last time I took the Meyers-Briggs test, I was about as J as you could be. Schedules, familiar routines, lists: I like them. But with travel, there’s always the unknown factor. No matter how much you plan, a certain amount of spontaneity is necessary. It used to terrify me.

School trips to Europe. Vacations with my family. Band trips to Disney World. Even post-college vacas with the Bril Playwright Husband (then Reporter Boyfriend). It all made me so, so anxious. Which lead, charmingly, to upset stomachs and minor panic attacks, and the warring desires to schedule every minute or just stay in the hotel and take a nap.

Of course, I was also dealing with undiagnosed anxiety. And I was thirteen, or sixteen, or twenty-two.

I haven’t traveled much in the last few years, but then this winter came along. The SCBWI conference in New York. Two invitations to writing retreats. Three trips in four weeks. I’d be flying alone a lot. I was nervous. After all, I’m bad at traveling. How would I handle it?

Totally fine, it turns out. Because I’m not that scared little small-town girl anymore. I’ve lived in DC for nine years now. I can hail a taxi and navigate a city. I’ve got my ever-present iPhone to call, text, email, google, and map it out if I need help. I can sleep on planes and read in airports. I can handle changed flights and snow delays. I can do this now. And, surprisingly, I’m pretty zen about it.

I suspect we all carry these outdated stories around with us. My characters do. Cate tells herself that she has to protect her sisters, even if it means keeping secrets and lying by omission and making decisions for them, even though they’re growing up. She tells herself she’s not smart, because she’s not as bookish as them, even though she’s resourceful and capable in other ways.

What about you? What stories do you tell about yourself that aren’t true anymore?


4 Responses

  1. What a great thought! You can grow and change, it's so nice to know. I'd have to think about it to know what stories I still tell about myself. Stuff like I'm still the chubby valedictorian shy chick in the corner still supersedes my size 4, pierced tongue, tattooed 30 year old self. Can't quite shake the fat girl vibe. Hmmm. I'm gonna think more about this. But thanks for putting it in perspective, and congratulations on your empowered traveling self!

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