I often fantasize about being totally impenetrable in various ways.
Sometimes it’s intellectual: I’ll be faced with a hard task or decision and fantasize about ways to move forward entirely scientifically, down to the last bit of minutia. Every micro-element validated by peer-reviewed findings from Google Scholar, every piece arrived at logically with a citation, and no one can argue with my conclusion.
Sometimes it’ll be about physical strength: I’ll imagine being so tough and strong, no one could ever hurt me or treat me like I’m weak. (Probably a component of why I’ve been involved in fighting sports since I was 10.)
Or it’ll be emotional. Like, when I knew I wanted to buzz all my hair off but was afraid of what people would think or say, I imagined posting my new cut with a Facebook post to end all Facebook posts pre-empting anything hurtful someone might throw at me, like how I looked better before, how they don’t get why I’d do this to myself, etc. I would make the perfect rock-solid statement to justify myself and my decision, and neutralize any painful thing that could come my way.
Obviously, this is all ridiculously impractical. I know that science doesn’t have the answer to every aspect of life (especially academic research!). I know human bodies are always to some degree fragile. And I know there’s no way to avoid all possible emotional pain without totally shutting down. It’s all me just fantasizing about living a life where I never need to be vulnerable.
However, when things challenge me deeply like they’ve been challenging me here, it gets so tempting to re-engage with these impenetrability fantasies. I have to remind myself that no matter how awesome it sounds, even if it were practical, I don’t want that life. I’ve tried being a perfectionist, wearing thick protective armor, and holding everyone at arm’s length: it was honestly just lonely. I felt like a defective unit from the people-maker factory, more robot than human, incapable of honest love and connection. Over the past several years, I’ve become more comfortable that life contains risk, uncertainty, and imperfection. I’ve learned that if I want deep love, I have to trust people with a living piece of me they can choose to care for or harm. And I’ve grown to find peace and beauty in all of that. (Most of the time.) It’s been gratifying to grow into feeling more and more resilient, more and more human.
So nowadays when I feel like I want to crawl in giant shell and tell everyone and everything to go away, I stop myself and write about it instead, or I listen to “Let it go” from Frozen.
YES, FROZEN. When I first watched it, I was dealing with some hard things, trying to hold them all in, outsmart them, and be strong and perfect for the protection of myself and others. Watching that lil’ princess finally storm away from all the expectations and people and hiding and restraint, watching her let herself be free, seeing her ice-magic herself an awesome new dress and hairdo and fancy house where no one could ever see her cry, I was like “YES GIRL! Let it GOOOO!” But of course in making herself free in some ways, she was also building herself into an isolated palace where no one would ever reach her. I felt her in that moment, because Disney is smart and knows how to reach peoples’ neurons.
Anyway, long story short, being raw is a journey for me, and something I still struggle with. But I’m over here doing my best with Elsa.