A while back, I wrote about facing fears and “jumping in”. When I was little, I mostly remember hearing about looking before you leap, but one time, an adult told me, “He who hesitates is lost”. When approaching a challenge, I tend to go the look-before-you-leap route, carefully thinking and planning, and then the courageous, more ballsy, leap-of-faith-y “He who hesitates is lost” takes me the rest of the way. This a story about considering that leap of faith, and then turning back in the face of fear. I think.
If you know That Interpreter, you know that she spent her 20’s getting an education on what it’s like to be in a bad relationship (actually, many bad relationships), and then her 30’s learning what it’s like to be happily single: She went back to college and finished her bachelor’s degree, she bought a house, she began her interpreting career, she traveled all over, and she built healthy relationships with her friends and family.
I always thought, If I ever meet someone whose companionship is better than single life, I’d consider marriage. A couple of years ago, I met him, he proposed marriage, I accepted, and a couple of weeks ago, I ended our relationship. Was it fear that broke us?
The plan was to get married and move to Michigan, just miles from where I was born and raised, and though it overwhelmed me with fear (leaving my job, selling my house, moving away from my family), I was excited to begin the next phase of my life. At times I had to laugh at life: For years after moving from Michigan to Indianapolis, I would have done anything for the chance to move back, so near to my hometown, and now I found myself digging in my heels at the thought of going back home and leaving the life I’d built for myself in Indianapolis. Recently, I couldn’t help but think that he was also overwhelmed with fear, but because he didn’t actually want to get married. Did I really want to marry someone who didn’t want to get married?
When I ended it and he accepted it without protest, I knew I had made the right decision.
Or had I?
Maybe he also thought that, because I was so afraid of the move, I wasn’t going to be able to commit to the marriage, and so he didn’t want to commit to it either, out of fear that I couldn’t commit? Did we both have the very same fear that, in the end, put us in to a tailspin that we couldn’t come out of?
If this were a romantic comedy, you’d be waiting for us to come to our senses, and he’d show up at my office and make a public profession of his love to me, and there would be applause, and I’d jump into his arms, and we’d live happily ever after. But, since this is my life and not a movie, I will tell you how this story ends. Or maybe, how it begins.
Months ago, I scheduled the oral exam for my national health care interpreter certification (kind of a big deal for interpreters) at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The test sites in Chicago or Columbus, Ohio would have been closer (there are no test sites in Indiana), but Ann Arbor was part of my strategy to begin developing a professional network in Michigan, and then get work there as an interpreter. I’d checked out the UMHS Interpreter Services website, and it impressed me! My plan was to walk in to the exam, in my fanciest work clothes (including my tall-tall heels, boosting my little frame to just under 5’7″), and impress them with my professionalism, and shmooze them with a little, “By the way, I’m considering moving to Michigan, do you know anyone looking for a good interpreter?”
After the breakup, I actually thought about not driving up to Ann Arbor for my exam. What was the point? Then I reconsidered.
As I neared my exit for Ann Arbor, the reality knocked the wind out of me: This was to be the first step in moving up to Michigan with my future husband. I was so overcome with grief that crawling into bed and never coming out from under the covers actually sounded like a good idea. What’s so wrong with spending the rest of my life in my pyjamas?
I put on my fancy work clothes, my tall-tall heels and fixed up my hair and makeup, and I went to the University of Michigan Interpreter Services offices for my exam, and shook hands, and smiled, and talked, and I saw that it was an amazing interpreting team.
When I walked in to the room where I took the exam, I saw a whiteboard where someone had written, in all caps, “BE FEARLESS”. I took my exam, and I did what all interpreters do: I stopped thinking about everything else, except for what I heard, and I interpreted it all, accurately and completely. Because that’s what interpreters do. As for what That Interpreter will do? I’m going to try every day, a little bit, to let go of the future I’d imagined for myself. And I’m going to leap toward my new future, whatever that might be, no matter how scary it might be (and believe me, it’s scaring the shit out of me).
Now, who’s with me?
PS Click here to find out how I did on my oral exam for national certification.
7 thoughts on “Jump In and…Splat.”
Elizabeth, I am enthralled with your writing ability. So interesting, but so sad that you and your young man broke up. You know there will be some one
else out there for you! Or, you will live happily ever after single!
Liz, I love your honesty and openness in your writing. It makes me feel less alone to read what you write about your experiences. Congratulations to you for making a tough decision that you feel to be the right one for you, especially when it goes against societal pressure for those of us in our late 30’s to pair up. I am proud of you for making the hard decision instead of the easy one. Carry on, strong woman and keep up the excellent interpreting, in and out of certification exams!
Elizabeth, our hearts are all with you, in support of all your choices. With love, “Aunt” Linda.
I too grew up in Michigan and experienced an eerily similar personal and professional journey. I admire your brave writing style and lifestyle. Here’s to always listening to your inner north star!
Thanks for commenting Samantha! I hadn’t looked at this post for a couple of years. Looking back, that breakup seemed unbearable at the time, but it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. We are resilient when we believe in ourselves!