Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s... what is it?
What is it that makes her glide so effortlessly down the hallway? What is it that makes her smile in a way that tells me she’s not secretly worrying if she’s doing this right or wondering what’s coming next? What is it that deals her the Dutch Colonial, Farmhouse, and Victorian cards in the Game of Life, and you the Spit Level?
Maybe it’s her parents, a mix of their money and genetics. Maybe it’s her strong, naturally straight and never-tangled blonde hair and that’s why you started to die yours black from the box or cut it all off every time you got fed up feeling like you couldn’t measure up.
Maybe it’s her brain. Maybe she’s just built differently, and by differently I mean better. She’s not wired the same way which is why you pretended you didn’t study, either, when really you spent the whole night sitting at the kitchen table crying into your textbook, hoping this next A will be the one that fills you up.
Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s something else.
Whatever it is, it’s the feeling of not having it that makes it that’s exacerbated anyone tries to lend you a hand or teach you something new. It’s the subtext hidden between each utterance of “I know” and “I can do it on my own.” You’re not very coachable and, although you won’t admit it, you know it’s true. You also know they’re just trying to help but they don’t know how much it hurts. They can’t feel the pulling, straining sensation in your throat each time you’re reminded of the never-forgotten fact that you. don’t. have. it.
“What is it?” is the question I used to ask to no one and the entire universe at the same time. “What is it?” was the self-appointed name of the quest that sent me reeling, for years, into unfinished projects and uninspired choose. “How can I get it?” is the worry I tried to answer through food, and lack thereof, through obsessive habits, through overcommitting and overstimulating. “When will I get it?” is the wonder that broke my heart. It kept me waiting, waiting, waiting, as life kept happing around me right on time.
“Does it even exist?” is the question that started to let me let go. “What if it’s already there?” was the sign I was getting there. “Does it even matter?” is the thought that set me free.
This morning, as I sat across from a dear friend and felt the spring sunshine pouring color into my face, I wasn’t thinking about what it is or what it was or if it ever was. Instead I was thinking about tacos, and relationships, and photography projects, and travel plans, and friendship.
And that feels like joy.
Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, please know: