“You know when you have so much stuff to do, but thinking about it makes you stressed out, and then that stress keeps you from doing anything? Well you have anxiety, you know what I’m talking about right?” My coworker asked me while leaning against the beige wall of my cubicle. Possibilities were swimming in her eyes, while I was thinking about how to get through the rest of my day without feeling sad.
“Yeah, I know exactly what you mean.” I smiled back.
This same coworker spent time teaching English in Latin America and Malaysia. At 18, she ran away to Canada for a weekend. Somewhat recently, she dated a boy from Australia. A boy that she still video chats. A couple of weeks ago she convinced me to play pool in the middle of a semi-crowded bar; that was the equivalent of my Malaysia.
It’s not that I can’t be spontaneous. I like to do things, I have done cool things–and have a small yearning for adventure that is sometimes poked and shifted. But I live inside of my head and the worlds there. I see my imagination and my fears, while she has seen the actual world.
I laugh when I think of how she looks at me and my interests. We have little in common. She sees me as someone that sits around in cosplay licking Star Wars VHS tapes that I hold in one hand and playing a tabletop game with the other. I like this visual; at least it’s interesting.
Talking to her allows me to reflect; what have I done? More importantly – what am I going to do? It is easy to entertain the idea of traveling; or “at least trying something once”. When I was a freshman in college I convinced myself that by my senior year I was going to intern in Disney World living out my childhood dream. I graduated 6 months ago, and haven’t been to Disney World in five years. I ask myself if I regret not trying, and I am not sure if I do. By staying at my school I was able to go to Ireland and have a memorable senior year with friends that I love. It could be a fair trade. I was too afraid on missing out on what my current life had to offer to try a new life in a different place. Plus, I could never live alone. Some days, I barely survive living with others.
I have always thought that I don’t want to be on my death bed asking, “What if?” (although honestly, I contemplate three different ways daily that I could end up in this situation sooner than expected, and I really have a few things that I would like to do if this were to happen, well, now). I have sent out a few pieces to be published since I graduated college, and they were rejected, which is expected. I want to be published by May of next year (one year out of school), so I need to keep trying. I also have a website in the works that I haven’t officially launched or paid for. I have small goals in place. These are the stepping stones to my new dreams.
“You know when you have so much stuff to do, but thinking about it makes you stressed out, and then that stress keeps you from doing anything? Well you have anxiety, you know what I’m talking about right?”
I think about it every day.
In the spring, I went hiking with my boyfriend. We tried to go to a different park every weekend, and successfully did this for a little over a month before the rain started or we became too tired to think of new places to go. While in Hocking Hills, we paused at a cliff. We were alone on the trail with the type of silence that you can hear if you listen closely. I was feeling an ocean in my stomach while looking at the ground below.
“What happens if I jump?” I asked him. “You couldn’t stop me. Part of me even wants to, though I know that sounds completely crazy.”
He laughed, knowing that I wouldn’t do it. “I was thinking the same thing,” he said. “It’s called “The Call of the Void”. I read about it recently on Reddit.”
He went on to explain that it is an unexplained psychological phenomena that almost everyone experiences. When we are driving, we could briefly think “What if I ran my car into oncoming traffic?” or while holding a knife “I could hurt myself or someone else right now if I really wanted to.” These thoughts are fleeting, and as long as you don’t dwell on them or contemplate seriously acting them out, then they are not a problem. The weird impulses are merely a fun little part of the weirdness that is being a human.
They are different than intrusive thoughts, convincing and paralyzing speculations that seem to be true. The worries and warnings that seem like they are coming from God himself, and can keep you from leaving the house to go to the grocery store when you are out of food, or from visiting the bank to deposit a check that you need. On a “good day” I can mostly tell the difference between these two types of thoughts.
I often think about the conversation I had with my boyfriend; about how it felt to look into the open air. I wonder if I could’ve flown if I really jumped. Maybe people really can fly and I could’ve been the first one. My boyfriend would have been scared at first, but then would have seen me soaring upward, and smiled, thinking – wow, she looks really happy. Eventually the other hikers would have seen me and been glad for me too. I could have looped through the trees, and took off to see elsewhere, creating ripples in the ocean with my fingertips and then zooming back toward the sun because unlike Icarius, I wouldn’t have had melted wings. I would have flown around the world, and yelled below to my coworker’s ex-boyfriend, telling him that she asks me questions in my cubicle and makes me play pool in bars. I could have if I tried.
But here I am, on the ground, thinking of the opportunity that this void has given me to theorize metaphorically. What if I send things off to be published? What if I just finish my stupid website so that people can see the work that I love to do? What if I plan a trip somewhere, or run off to Canada too? I can’t let the amount of exciting things that I want to accomplish keep me from moving forward. I need to try flying, We all need to take a deep breath, and try flying.
So we can start now. We can form plans, set goals, or at least talk about dreams. We can speak of fake dreams, ones that will never come true, but realizing them will be just enough. We can get through the day without being sad, because for each chance that we lose out on, we have an infinite selection of more.
Basically, The Void is calling.
And you might as well jump.
Jordan Abbruzzese recently graduated from Otterbein University with a B.A. in Creative Writing. She is an aspiring blogger that currently works as a Content & Communications Coordinator for a nonprofit organization. Jordan spends most of her time watching Science Fiction, eating crunchy peanutbutter, and trying to keep the bamboo on her desk alive.
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