My mother has always categorized people into two groups: rollercoasters and merry-go-rounds.
Rollercoasters are fast-paced and wreckless, winding life's curves at breakneck speed with little to no visibility. Strap yourself in, hold onto the handlebars, and close your eyes if it gets too scary. A curve will come soon enough, and things will change.
Merry-Go-Rounds are safer. Slow, moving up but then down, and always in the same way. Colorful, but contained, with lulling music and no real end in sight. Sit comfortably, hold on, and spin without getting dizzy. And stay as long as you like.
She uses this allegory to explain why people tend to gravitate through relationships. First, we go for the rollercoaster. And when things get scary, or that chug uphill takes too long, we walk away. Often times, to the merry-go-round. There, we catch our breath, bask in the slow safety, and promptly get bored. And off we go for adventure — to the rollercoasters. And so on. And so on.
I often think about my life this way. When was I last a rollercoaster? Have I always been a merry-go-round? Am I a merry-go-round trying to live like a rollercoaster? Or am I destined to be a rollercoaster, but built more like a merry-go-round? I have never really found the answer.
I think the generalization goes too far. It enforces the belief that you must be one or the other, and your choice is definitive and eternal. I have found that I have a little of each inside me. And so do you.
I think that it is wise to plan. I think that fear can be healthy. And I think that expecting anything to go according to plan is foolish, and living in constant fear will send you to an early grave.
This year, I have faced changes and challenges that I did not ever expect to. Accordingly, I have risen to far more difficult occasions and overcome greater odds than I ever thought I could. My merry-go-round side prepared as best it could. Then the rollercoaster started.
I've never been one to take leaps of faith, but the ones I have taken this year have brought me great reward. My freelance career brought me a great deal of stress in the beginning, but paid off in the great work I got to do and the wonderful colleagues and clients I met along the way. Shortly after, I was presented with an opportunity to spring forward in my career, but all plans had to be put on hold (or thrown to the wind, as it were). So I took it.
And I'm so very glad I did. If you're a merry-go-round, you're probably a little bit worried for me. If you're a rollercoaster, you probably stopped reading after the first few sentences. Therefore, I'll direct this to my MGR comrades — Do it. Jump in, two feet at a time. Press pause when it's too much. Sprint when the wind's at your back. Grab opportunities by the throat. Dare yourself to be brave. Be who you needed when you were younger. Live the life you want. Sometimes, that requires you to close your eyes, hear the chains clicking as they pull you uphill, open your eyes, and ride the rails with your hands in the air.
We all have a little rollercoaster in us. Enjoy the ride.
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