I am a creature of habit. I like patterns. I feel secure in the rituals and routines of daily life. I am change resistant, and I do not appreciate disruptions to the norm. Our cat has a scratching box that he runs to like clockwork when he wakes up from a nap, when he squirms away from unwanted attention, and when he comes out from under the bed after a fright. We refer to this box as his “safety-safe”.
Our home is my “safety-safe”, my sanctum where I feel somewhat in control of my surroundings. Getting me to leave the house requires a plan. It means having a specific destination with a purpose. I need to know the whys and the wheres ahead of time. I have been known to plant myself near the front door, refusing to step outside until the endpoint of the trip has been established. Yes, I do want to grab something to eat, but no, I do not want to figure it out as we drive. I would be happy to go to the mall just as soon as you tell me what stores you need to visit. Are you gathering that spontaneous is not a word that I have a close relationship with? I am not a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person. It is a rarity for me to act on a whim, and I have trouble accepting last minute invitations. Our close friends and family know this well by now as they have heard the excuses and received the declinations. It is not that I do not want to see them. It is not that I do not want to do fun things. It comes down to the simple fact that I need time. Time to digest the idea, time to play out the possible scenarios, and time to calm down the anxious introvert who lives inside of me. Ask me a month ahead of time, and after a week I will more often than not accept the invitation. Ask me a few hours, or even a day ahead of time, and I answer with an automatic declination.
That is the way it has been for years. I am working on changing this, and I am determined to find my spontaneity comfort level. I am realizing that while it may feel like it sometimes, I will
most likely probably hopefully not burst into a human fireball by taking a leap of faith and acting on the spur of the moment. My husband and two of our close friends precipitated the change, though I not sure they are aware of it. It happened last March when our friend texted my husband the night before St. Patrick’s Day, telling him that we should drive down the next day to meet them for a big outdoor celebration. Knowing me as he does, he added in the text that his wife said to tell me to be spontaneous (as if). I am awoken from my slumber to my husband telling me about the text, and do I want to go? Um, no, I do not. Because we all know that I do not do spontaneous.
I must have had an overnight epiphany as I woke up the next morning thinking about it. Be spontaneous seemed like a challenge, and I was going to rise up and accept that challenge. To my husband’s shock and delight I said yes, and we packed a bag and took off for an out of town overnight trip. Without planning. Without analyzing. Just going. In a funny twist, when we arrived my friend told me that it was not her who said I needed to be spontaneous. Her husband knew that she was one of my favorite people, so he put the words in her mouth thinking they would carry more weight. They did, and we wound up having an incredibly fun time. The type of fun time I had missed out on in the past due to my reluctance and hesitation. It was the kind of thing many would not consider as a big deal, but it was a game-changer for me.
It was a baby step away from my safety zone, the invisible boundaries I had drawn that I would not have crossed before. Since that day I have loosened up considerably, and life has become happier and more adventure-filled. I have not done anything as dramatic as skydiving or parasailing, but there is hope for that in the future (the parasailing at least). I have, however, agreed to last minute dinners and happy hour get togethers. I accompanied my husband on a trip to see our favorite team’s college football game when we were gifted with tickets just the night before. This was a trip he would have previously made solo as I remained stubborn and steadfast at home, unable to reconcile the possible enjoyment with the change in my routine.
What will happen the next time someone asks me to go on an impromptu adventure? I will say no, of course. And then ten minutes later I will say yes.
“The fun stuff comes when someone is not so strict on sticking to the script. You’re allowed the spontaneity, and great moments can happen.” ~ Jennifer Aniston
How do you react to spontaneous moments? Do you need advanced time to plan your outings, or can you take off on a moment’s notice? As always, I welcome and encourage your comments. Cheers! Karen photo credits to: http://www.pixabay.com