Muscle memory…or how automatic isn’t always good

Things have been fairly routine in my life lately. So much so that I’ve blinked and it’s February.

I feel lost in my own life a little right now. Things that were always so stable aren’t, so I’ve chosen to turn inward and focus on the things that are stable and consistently make me happy, namely, my son.

Out of some bizarre sense of obligation I hold onto a job that makes me so miserable I can’t speak when I come home. It’s kind of like being in a relationship with someone for a really long time and you don’t know how to get out of it. This moth-eaten, worn in all the right places pair of jeans that for some reason I think I’m comfortable in. Why change. It’s all good. I fear making changes to anything because it’s no longer just me that I have to take into consideration. It’s him. Will I be able to find something with as much flexibility as I currently have. I’m in no way, shape, or form at the point in my life where I want to put in long hours at a job. It’s just now how I feel the need to define myself. Yet every listing I see (that I’m qualified for) kind of implies that working late is of the norm. I fear losing the ability to spend time with my son. I fear losing the freedom to come and go with minimal questions asked. At the same time, I need some form of structure. Because the routine I’ve developed, the routine I’ve been in for 8+ years here, 12+ years total, no longer provides me with any structure, and the longer I sit here doing very little, the mushier my brain becomes.

It has been said that it’s a good idea to take a slightly different route to your destination from time to time in order to shake up the brain…it is, after all, a muscle. If we continue to take the same turns over and over again, our minds will grow weak, grow increasingly unable to adapt to change.

I think this would all be so much easier for me if it was just me that I was dealing with. Life becomes so much more complicated when you have to factor in a million other variables. There’s support all around me for whatever I decide to do, whichever path I decide to take to get there. I only wish that knowing that would make taking any sort of leap simpler.

Muscle memory is a strange thing. I thought about this while sitting at a light to turn left into my office park this morning. I’ve sat at this intersection countless times since 2003, through all four seasons, through a pregnancy, through snowstorms…my hands know exactly how far to crank the wheel in order to make the two-laned left hand turn. My foot knows how soon to depress the brakes if the next light is red. I reach for the parking pass, stored in the same location, and can find it without looking at it. I park in roughly the same spot and take the same path to the elevator lobby. Nothing’s changed, and yet everything is different. So why do I still feel the need to be here? Because I don’t think I know how to do anything else.




4 thoughts on “Muscle memory…or how automatic isn’t always good

  1. It’s funny — as much change as there has been in my life (random, unexpected moves, impulsive life-changing decisions, etc), I hate change. Even when it’s positive change, my body almost reflexively seizes. Deep down I’m terrified of the unknown. Maybe where I am sucks, but what if the next step isn’t any better? Or what if it’s worse?

    Even when in a bad situation, routine is comforting. The expected is comforting, because the unknown is completely terrifying at times. I stayed in a bad relationship for over two years because it was easier than leaving even though I was miserable. I stayed in a mindless job with no growth potential because it was easier than leaving, and there were just enough perks to keep me around.

    In the end, I never got the balls to leave that douchey ex, and to this day I hate that he got the satisfaction of ending something I grew weary of long before he pulled the trigger. I’m definitely happier without him. And as for my job, you know how that turned out.

    But I do understand that hesitation. It’s weird how we become almost psychologically dependent on the monotony of situations that are bad for us in the end. Even with a safety net of friends and family ready to assist us, we are the ones who still have to jump. We are the ones who have to take that leap of faith and sprint away as fast as we can out of our comfort zone.

    I don’t really have any profound words of wisdom other than you only get this one life. Spend it where you want to be.

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