Shame

Today is my last day riding my bike on tour. I’m about 100km from Hilo, my starting point, and as the ride is all mostly downhill, tonight I should be arriving where I started. Tonight, the big two-wheeled adventure ends.

Today is February the 24th, and in three days, I will be “home”. Truth be told, I’m scared of returning. This morning I woke up, and I started to get the feeling like, “nobody loves me.” I know in reality this absolutist judgment isn’t true, but emotionally, I can’t deny that there is something disturbingly pressing about it. My family have been wonderful throughout this, having to put up with probably the most anxiety they’ve ever felt about my wellbeing, and settling eventually into an acceptance of my choices and therefore an acceptance of me. Their acceptance has even at times turned to pride. My friends have been amazing too – curious and supportive along the way – and they’ve been so awesome in response to my starting of this blog. I’ve started to make ties with the larger bike touring community as well, and they are just a bunch of inspiring and incredible people. One thing I do feel insecure about is that I’m not coming back into any form of stable work, or income, and I have plans for the near future but I’m not sure how to execute them. But then I know there’s something else, something deeper than my practical concerns.

I’m scared. When I look deeper inside, I’m scared that when I come back, I’ll find that people resent me for going away. I’m scared that people will resent me for having all of these big and wonderful experiences. I’m not expecting fanfare upon my return, but I also don’t want hostility. It’s hard to tell yourself “Fuck the haters. Haters gonna hate,” when you’ve had such big experiences and all you want to do is to honour them and be proud of them.

Ii this a shame hangover? I did something bold and proud – I fucking bicycled around the big island, alone. I did what few people have done, and I posted about it. I posted photos on Facebook, and worse than that, I started a blog about it. “But I was vulnerable in my posts! I was honest!” And so I wanted to be. “Cut me some slack!” Perhaps? I guess I’m just not this used to making myself noticed.

My catch cry amongst all of my friends has always been, “Don’t look at me!” We always make a joke of it – everyone purposefully stares at me and I’d cower in a sort of mock shame. “Don’t look at me!,” I would yell, and the game is complete. We all laugh. As much as it is a game, we all know its roots stem from reality. I have no idea what to do or how to be, when people pay attention to me. Surely they want me to do something, or be someone, but who, and what? I could never figure it out. Of course what they really want most of the time is for me to be just me, but I’m so uncomfortable with that. And it’s unfamiliar. I don’t quite understand what it’s like to be accepted.

So it’s a shame hangover, I know it. I’ve never made this much noise before, or marched so resolutely to the beat of my own drum. And been proud of it! I’ve never put my hand up, and said, with confidence, “please listen to me.”

And it’s ridiculous that I should feel this way, because I’m not doing anything wrong. I went and did something enjoyable and meaningful, and I’m sharing the experiences that I had. Perhaps some people enjoy reading about what I did and thought and felt. And in response to the rest, my friend advised me, “Let the uninterested scroll past.“ It’s something I’m learning more and more how to do.

But in the meantime, I’ll explore that grotesque feeling inside me. That shame. I’ll vomit it out, into words, into brightness and clarity of day. I’ll unpack it, expose it, and let you see. And I feel like there’ll be more of this to come: being honest, being me, and letting myself be seen.

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