Firm & Consistent Progress.

A friend of mine recently moved into a 3 bedroom house that
she’s renting with her boyfriend up in the Berkeley Hills.
The process for her of finding this house was not easy. She
looked for over a year for the right place, staying as she was in the rental
house in East Oakland, where her car got broken into twice, and her home once.
They looked and looked. They raised their price point to see if maybe that
would bring something in. They looked still.
At one point, she tells me, she broke down to her boyfriend
in despair, saying that nothing was happening, that they’re right were they
were a year earlier.
He said to her, No. We’re making firm and consistent
She felt calmed. “Firm and consistent progress.” Not, “going
nowhere,” “nothing changing,” but “Firm and consistent progress.” Alright. She
could get behind that.
Not long afterward, they found this house, which fit into
their original, lower price range. And it’s gorgeous; and she’s happy.
I remembered this story this morning, because I became aware
of something. I’ve spoken a lot here about my reluctance to take on
responsibility, that responsibility for me had meant more than I was
developmentally able to do when I was young, and so I have a “thing” about
shirking it.
But what I realized, is that it’s not necessarily responsibility that I avoid, it’s consistency.
I am not a very consistent, or reliable person in many ways.
I have felt too flighty, too magpie – ooh shiny! – to stay in one spot, or one
job for too long. Even this blog has been difficult for me to maintain on a
daily basis.
One of the positions that I’m in the running for, I was
reflecting this morning, will demand that I hone and discover the quality of
consistency. Because of the nature of the work, I would have to be “on top of”
several things, repeatedly, and consistently, in order to garner the kind of
support and engagement the job expects.
Oy. This is not an ingrained skill in me. Or, at least, I
haven’t seen it as one. When I’d considered my dislike of responsibility, and
recognized its effect on my professional and personal life, it made sense as a
reflection of how I grew up. When I look at consistency and how that might have
been a quality that was skipped in my development, I can plainly see why as
There were the days, or even hours, when things were good.
And others were showing up for me, and I was showing up. And then, things would
turn, and it was “abandon ship.” This cycle of calm and storm was so … consistent in itself, that that kind of existence became the
norm for me.
There’s always been a period of calm, and a period of storm
in my life. Sometimes, perhaps even most or all of the time, I’ve been the
impetus of that storm. Don’t get too comfortable where you are – things are
about to shift.
Oh yes, I feel that. It’s why I’ve moved so much; it’s why
my friendships ebb and flow; it’s why my relationships always dissolve – or
erupt – after a few weeks or months.
I have no experience with “firm and consistent progress.” I
have experience with one step forward and two steps back. I have experience
with, as my college roommate told me, being “always one step behind where [I]
want to be.”
Consistency. What is that like??
And, moreover, consistently showing up to my
responsibilities, for my friends, for *gasp* relationships?
I honestly have no idea. I have switched jobs every two
years or fewer since I was 16. I have moved every two years or fewer since I
was 18.
The moving thing is occurring more to me now. In my first
month of college, each year beginning in a new room or house, I would have rather bad insomnia. After the first
two years, though, alcohol helped that. When I moved to Korea, the day I
landed, we went out to the bar and got shitfaced. The night I moved to San
Francisco, I insisted that we stop in all the bars we could as my
friend/acquaintance and I walked down Divisidero.
When I moved, sober, into a new place within San Francisco,
I had anxiety flutters the whole time I was moving. And now, I’ve been having
trouble sleeping for 3 nights in a row. Which is rare for me.
Except during these times of actual change. It’s like a
switch gets thrown, and all my fight or flight instincts get kicked up, even
though there’s nothing to fight or flee.
Faced with the opportunity, no matter how this job thing
comes down, that come Monday morning, I am sure to have a new job, I’m a little
fucked up.
I know that either will give me the opportunity to be
consistent, but one demands it more directly in its job responsibilities.
Consistent outreach, consistent updates, consistent ensurance that the company
name and mission get out there in several ways, on a regular basis.
On a regular basis.
What on earth does regularity mean? I haven’t learned that in my bones yet. My
bones are still primed for
don’t you fucking trust a damn thing to
remain as it is
. What an exhausting way to
live life? I’ve perpetuated the story. I’ve made decisions that would give me
new evidence that things in life are not to be trusted or relied upon.
I’ve made decisions that would inform others that I’m not to
be relied upon. And so they don’t. They expect me to flake. To be engaged for a
period of time, and then withdraw. To be totally around and happy to be there,
and then to be removed and distant.
I have learned that to be engaged is a temporary thing. I
have learned and honed my skill of doing the same thing I learned from others –
to allow others to depend on me, and then to pull the rug out. It’s a
self-fulfilling prophecy.
I guess, I’m looking forward to trying out this thing called
“consistency.” To attempt, however falteringly and humanly, to show up engaged
on a regular basis. I also imagine that I’ll have internal reactionary moments,
of This is too scary, This can’t go on being good. I may have more moments of self-sabotage. But, perhaps, on the road
to learning how to be a responsible and consistent woman, I can be comforted by
knowing I’m making “Firm and Consistent Progress.”

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