I think nowadays most of us would have a little chuckle if asked if we take superstition seriously. The thought that we might get bad luck from walking under a ladder, seeing a black cat, opening an umbrella inside or breaking a mirror, all these things no longer hold much meaning for most of us. We still might not want to do them but we won’t walk away convinced we’re doomed if they happen to occur. However, and there’s always a however, I think we’ve created own superstitions. Personal ones that we most likely keep to ourselves and are secretly embarrassed by.
One of the old wives’ tales that used to bother me as a kid was the whole ‘step on a crack and break your mother’s back’ thing. My mum was a single parent and my dad was dead so the thought of something happening to mum was particularly scary for me growing up. I took pretty good care not to step on cracks as a child. Of course, sometimes I would forget and, when I noticed that I’d transgressed, I was filled with a sense of unease. What if…? Of course, it never happened but that doesn’t stop you worrying for awhile.
In adulthood, this superstition has morphed somewhat. I’m generally a compulsively honest person. I hate lying and liars and all forms of dishonesty. However, I have often found myself in the unfortunate situation of needing to come up with a reason as to why I can’t attend something. I don’t want to tell someone that I don’t like their friends or can’t come to work because I’m hungover so I come up with something else, something more palatable (to both sides).
The one thing I will never, ever use as an excuse is that someone is sick. I will never say ‘oh, my mum’s not well’ or ‘my nanna’s in hospital’ to get out of a prior commitment. Firstly, my nanna is dead and, secondly, I feel like it’s just bad karma to kind of ‘wish’ that on someone who’s perfectly healthy (or passed away, in my nanna’s case). The thought of doing it makes me very, very uncomfortable, like saying it will make it so as punishment for my lying.
Ok, that’s one superstition. My other one is a bit more nonsensical. Say I’ve gotten some good news about something – perhaps a job interview or a promotion or an invite to something I’ve really wanted to go to – but it’s not 100% confirmed as yet. I am of the belief that, if I tell anyone about it before it’s a definite confirmed win, it will fall through. Somehow that job interview won’t materialise or the promotion will disappear or the person will forget to send me the invite or realise they can’t take me after all. And this belief of mine is pretty damn certain. In many cases, I have never told a soul because I know in my heart of hearts that it will 100% not go ahead if anyone knows before I have whatever it is in my hot little hands.
Which is ridiculous, right? If I’m going to get something, it’s not going to be decided by whether or not I’ve told someone. And usually by the time I tell someone, it would have already been decided. The universe isn’t going to snatch something back because I told my mum I think I’m getting a second interview. Madness! If I look at this superstition more honestly, it’s more about embarrassment. I don’t want anyone to see me all excited about something that then doesn’t happen. They’ll know I got worked up for nothing and am now disappointed. Why do I care so much? Shit happens to everyone but somehow vulnerability is not something I’m willing to risk.
So, I’m trying to work on this. The lying superstition can stay. I shouldn’t lie anyways so if there’s an added guilt factor there then great. But this other one, it’s a problem. On Thursday, when I got the email saying I would be contacted about the next stage in the job application process, my first instinct was to not say a word. But then I thought, fuck it. That’s not how the world works. So I told my partner. And then, after some mental warfare, I told my mum.
When the company never called me, my lizard brain started whispering, ‘That’s what you get, you told people’. I’ve since told it to pipe the fuck down, we don’t need its type of crazy talk ’round here. We’re rational adults. We don’t believe in superstition. Or, at least, we’re working on it.