Last Sunday night, I endured 40 fraught and contemplative minutes lying on top of my bed with my shoes tightly laced and my coat zipped all the way up. My position was flat and off-center, diagonally balanced over a host of miscellaneous bedroom items. On personal record, it was a highly unimpressive moment with only one saving grace: the thought that maybe I resembled a quirky Deseree Akhavan protagonist, making pathetic look contradictorily sexy.
In the truest cliche, I had psyched myself up to shout “step aside!” to my perpetual mental oppositions — a.k.a. pride — and make an overdue romantic declaration. Instead, I ended up on my bed, immovably afraid and very, er, horizontal. The state du jour was a bleak one. I was neither here nor there, bobbing in the emotive waters of uncertainty and straddling the infamous fence of hesitation. The fantasy that had originally propelled my evening’s events remained fictional — I was exactly where I had started.
When I accepted my static fate, I realized that this irrational interlude wasn’t solely a physical personification of being overwhelmed, nor was it unique to me. Lying on your bed with your shoes on is, in a sense, a frame of mind. It’s feeling prepared but unable; ready but fearful; dreamy but complacent.
Weighing one’s options is a necessary part of progress, sure, but lounging with one’s outerwear on comes into play when that consideration period evolves into daily life, thereby shelving dreams that once enjoyed a soap-box. Perhaps it’s a career move, or starting your own project, or going back to school. Maybe, like me, it’s a personal gesture: telling someone you love them, reaching out to an estranged family member, asking a friend for help. It could even be something small, like cutting your hair short, piercing your nose or taking up an art class you’ve always fancied.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? So why do so many of us regularly find ourselves stuck in the middle?
Perhaps this in-betweensy mentality is a symptom of a society obsessed with options. The freedom to choose is an undeniable privilege, but oversaturation of choices can also serve up a fast track to paralysis. For me, decision fatigue has evolved into so many things: a cautiousness around timing, a fear around regret, a secret longing for fate and an attraction to the wondering charms of what if. Too often I have found myself complacent, living where I knew I ultimately didn’t want to be, just so I didn’t have to make a decision.
As I lay on my bed that day, I realized that my authority over my future had slipped away from me through my perfected art of doing nothing. I had convinced myself that the suppressed ideas and intentions that I had previously flirted with were still in motion, but the truth is, they weren’t at all. They were tucked in right next to me in bed. It was then that I woke up to the disappointing lure of the middle ground; it wasn’t so attractive anymore. The justification for my prolonged snoozing had to be a worthy one.
I did, eventually, get up and off my bed. I made my way out the door, traveled across London and confronted the man in question upon a concrete platform of extreme vulnerability and awkwardness. It was a moment worth seizing, because the victory wasn’t in what happened next, the victory was the leap itself. And despite the amount of mental preparation and planned speech scenarios I’d concocted on the way, there were just 11 words that I managed to cry my way through:
“You can’t lie on your bed with your shoes on forever.”
Collage by Emily Zirimis.