I honestly thought that there would be an M to F transgender, bi-racial, asexual, left-handed Prime Minister of Australia before I could type the following line. Recently I have been doing what many people refer to as ‘dating’. Perhaps a shocking sequence of events given my history of romantic failings and neurotic misunderstandings of platonic social cues. Despite my natural inclination to downplay it, I’ve definitely been ‘seeing’ someone lately.
Unfortunately the bliss of newfound romance was cut short by the inevitable ‘What are we?’ conversation. The ‘What are we?’ question is usually nervously posed by the party that is most romantically interested in the pairing, unless of course you’re particularly dickish and follow the question up with, ‘because someone on Grindr is hitting me up and I just need to know if that’s like, AOK with you?’
It was a strange situation to be in, usually since it was I asking that question like 15 minutes into a first date. (I joke, I joke) but since I have become so chill being overseas (LOL RIGHT) I had somehow managed to act like a normal rational person and was now the one expected to provide answers on the longevity of our pending relationship.
This just added to my recent anxiety around the future and my future plans. Over the holiday period I was feeling a little naturally homesick, thinking about when it was I was going to go home. I started to get worried about whether there were jobs waiting for me back home, whether I would miss London, and if it would work out if I stayed, could I stay, what was for dinner? I digress. I managed to fill a shit tonne of time imagining the various versions of the future and missing the past that I had left behind back home. This sort of behaviour was characteristic of a lot of my time while travelling, and even back home. I decided to try and analyse why I found it so hard to separate the past, present and future.
The present is something that I find hard to enjoy. Particularly when I’m alone, my mind is never really focused upon the immediate present, it’s trying to consolidate the future or thinking about something from my past is missing. A quote from the SuperModel of the World RuPaul goes as follows
One foot in the past and another in the future has U pissing on the present
— RuPaul (@RuPaul) June 3, 2013
The present requires more answers of you than past or future times. The uncertainty of decision can motivate and inspire some, and leave others paralysed into inaction. In an exaggerated sense, the present commands decisions and choices that will manifest an unknown future. The bold choice you so confidently make today can lead to a future reality of boredom, excitement, loss, euphoria or hurt. As young people we are heralded that our potential is limitless and there are so many opportunities for us to follow our dreams. We were always told to do our best, but never that doing okay is fine as well. In that way choices can be paralysing, if the result in a life path that diminished the potential you once saw for yourself. It would seem I rather enjoy wallowing in the stress of a decision, rather than making one and find that the ~glimmer~ of my potential fades instead of ~approach my open hand~.
The past is an easy place to revisit, because it’s full of answers, outcomes, and definites. Despite how free-spirited we all claim to be, past experience is the reason we all go to McDonald’s after a night out. It’s proven the food may not be great, but it will be open, and deep fried, and will probably give you diarrhoea, and we like that. It is also easy to be selective about what you remember of the past. When you feel like something is missing you can easily pick a memory that reminds you when you possessed that tangible, but forget the source of that tangible may have caused you other negative feelings, downgrading it to ‘not that bad’ in your mind. Even though you might have pain in your past, it’s confirmed pain, and as is won’t suddenly morph into something you can’t handle, because you’ve already handled it. Hence I think of my past and can only remember the things that I miss, that I don’t have, and find it hard to remember how stressed and bored I was back in Melbourne. Reading back on the blog posts from last year almost not recognising the people and time that I was writing about.
The future represents a blissful unknown. Dissatisfaction and insecurity in our present is easily remedied in the fantasies we create through the gaps that the future allows. Beyond practical planning, daydreaming allows us to imagine how we can manipulate people and circumstance to regain what we feel is missing in the present. While comforting, it battles with an anxiety about things not working out, and a hopeless future, and since most people are realists at heart, the latter can triumph and bring us back to, the inactive present.
Since human nature is to pursue the path of least resistance, if the future seems too uncertain, we will often put off decisions until an issue resolves itself. However, a choice unmade is still a choice, but one that has a slightly reduced personal responsibility. It becomes less about a wrong personal choice and demonising time and circumstance as the enemy; simply ‘doing the best I could with the available options’.
Bluntly put, I realised the root of indecision and apprehension in my life was plain and simple – fear. I was scared of being wrong, because being wrong usually meant being hurt (past experience see?). Making a decision meant abandoning the sadistically comforting definites of my past and opening myself to the unknown.
I sort of knew that ignoring the present was a problem, and I lazily resolved on New Year’s Eve to ~pay more attention to now~. I think I’ll have to change that to something else. In 2014 I’m not going to be a victim of circumstance. I will boldly make decisions and take pride in the fact that, positive or negative, I chose to be in the future present I find myself in – and that makes all the difference