The Contradiction of Diving In

“We cannot process a permanent change and then believe that the situation can be just as it was.”

Kier McDougall

We ask each other: “What does it mean to be afraid of new and unfamiliar experiences?”

The answer to that question is simple enough. It means we’re afraid of leaving our comfort zone, and therefore that we actually don’t want to partake in an unfamiliar experience. We’re just fine sticking where we are, away from the edge of the cliff and the swirling waters below.

But this question is not far away from being the real question, with some amendments, and the real question is one that I ask myself as part of the constant inner monologue about my personal contradictions.

What does it mean if you want a new experience, but you also want it to be familiar at the same time?

The answer to this question, I have not found as simple.

How can something be different and the same, all at once? Surely, the two are opposites, and this thing therefore can never exist.

But it’s a contradiction which has come to define my life, in so many ways.

It starts simply enough, for example with the media I consume – television, films, even video games and books. The Danish Girl was a film I was long anticipating. It became available in 2015; indeed, I have a digital copy of the film in my possession. And yet, as I go back and watch films I’ve already seen ten times or more, The Danish Girl remains unwatched.

Of course, it extends beyond such trivial analogies. Approaching my gender, for one, is hardly a trivial concern, but even as it moulds my days like clay, there is still a part of me that wants to temper all the swings and roundabouts into something “easier” to deal with.

We cannot process a permanent change and then believe that the situation can be just as it was. The nature of a changing thing demands that the wider situation around it is also changed. But damn it, I want things to be the same, even after I’ve changed the terms myself to the point that those close to me can never look at me the same way. 

It’s a selfish yearning, wanting everything to be fine, to stay back from the precipice. How else should I expect the situation to be, when I forced the hands of all the players involved?

And on another hand, I feel and accept the forces pulling me towards the edge, towards a light at the edge of the dark. Sometimes, I need to remember that simply choosing to dive into the dangerous waters can reassert some form of control over my life – no matter how brief.


This blog entry is part 2 in a blog series by Kier McDougall, titled “Loose Threads“.

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