I’m twenty years old. Changes come at any age, but being an early-twenty-something is a whole different ball game. I’m doing grown up things. I live in an apartment with my roommates, I work two jobs, go to school, buy my groceries, cook (kind of). I feel like a real-live grown up— most days.
Then I have days where I am slapped in the face with the reality that I’m just a scared, immature little kid.
It’s tough because everyone around me is at different levels with different types of growing up. And it’s so ingrained in most humanity to compare, to judge yourself against others (good or bad) that this is about all I do. I look at certain people around me and think, “Oh, so and so is just so young. It’s not that anything is wrong with them or that they’re a bad person. They’re just not really matured to the level they should be.”
I look at others, like my dear friend who I had coffee with this morning, and think, “How on earth are you so grown up? I don’t understand how you have so much maturity, how you just get things. YOU’RE YOUNGER THAN ME. WHY DO YOU GET IT ALL SO MUCH EASIER THAN ME?”
And the answer is that whatever guidebook we have entitled “Maturity: You should be here” needs to get chucked out the window. Or fed through a meat grinder, is more like it. It needs to be demolished. Maturity has nothing to do with age- it has to do with experiences, and what we learn from them.
For the rest of my life, I’m going to do incredibly stupid things. Things that are hurtful to me. That are hurtful to other people. Some of them will be a mild irritant, others will be catastrophic. Some are things no one but me will ever know that I did, but I kick myself over them anyways. We are all going to do this. All of us. For the rest of our lives.
This isn’t an excuse. This isn’t a license to be thoughtless or cruel or just plain stupid. It’s an acknowledgement that sometimes, we are thoughtless and stupid. We get wrapped up in ourselves and don’t think about how other people are feeling. We lose our empathy. We have lapses in judgement and forget how to think, how to censor, how to determine who is trustworthy or not. A million other things can happen.
This doesn’t make us awful people. This does not in any way define who we are. What does define us is our response.
What I realized today is that it’s about time I stopped kicking myself for things. I can feel bad for the fact that my actions or words may have hurt someone. I should feel bad about that. But guilt, regret, and self-hatred or pity are stagnant emotions. They lock us into a certain mindset, usually a self-obsessed mindset, and suffocate growth.
Even more importantly, it’s crucial that I stop letting my first thought be, “What are people going to think of me?” People are going to think what they think regardless. This is yet another restricting and self-obsessed mindset.
Rather, I think I’m ready to try acknowledging the mistake. Acknowledging the immaturity and the faults that led me to make these mistakes, doing what I can to fix the damage, and then improving. That is path through it. That’s true maturity. It’s not exactly about where you’re at. It’s about the fact that you’re moving forward.
Progress, not perfection.
Truly. It is. I can think of few things more horrifying than staring into the depths of my own being and finding the truth about myself looking back. It ranks up there somewhere with losing someone I care about, and buses. (Don’t ask.)
But, now’s as good a time as any to face that fear. I’m finding that people are sort of like any sort of body of water. Turmoil, even of the worst kind, stirs up all of the things that have been lurking at the bottom, safely beneath our sight or recognition, but suddenly brought to the surface, ready to be examined. So, in times of emotional turmoil, I have the largest amount of material to sift through.
There is one thing that I keep coming back to as I sit here staring at this computer screen. It’s a conversation I had with a friend of mine the other night, where I told him that people think that holding on to something is the hardest thing we have to do, but that in my experience, I’ve found that letting go is so much harder and requires much more strength. This trend has been popping up in my life over and over again. No matter what it is that people put me through, no matter how hopeless a situation or a friendship, I can’t seem to let go of them. And the more something hurts me, the easier it is to hold onto it.
The problem is that then I’m left with scars and burns that deform who I am, and who I want to be. I lose the trust that once came so easily with others who have never hurt me. But I still can’t let go of the origination of all this bleeding. I hold good people at arms length, but cling to those who inflict the most damage.
In some ways, there are good aspects of this. My loyalty, for one thing. But I keep making the same mistake, not learning how to open my hands up and let go of the things I want to keep, but were never really mine to hold onto in the first place.
Letting go was never high on the list of my strengths. Maybe it never will be. As I said in my last post, I’m not going to begin a crusade against my own weaknesses. I’m not trying to revolutionize myself— I’m trying to understand myself, and let the change come naturally. And maybe, along the way, I’ll come to accept these things about myself, and find a way to turn them into something good, rather than eradicate them altogether.
It’s been a while since I’ve written on here.
I know at least a few people were somewhat following along with my blogs, the wonderful plan I had to blog every day for 365 days.
Well. Clearly, I failed.
That didn’t come entirely as a surprise to me. Looking back on it, I’m pretty sure I knew from day one that I wouldn’t make it through. Tried congratulating myself as I made baby steps, but I am not good at making myself write when I have no inspiration. That’s why I don’t like deadlines.
After about a months worth of blogging every day, inspiration failed me. I was struck with an overwhelming apathy, and I not only stopped writing the blog, but slowed down on my other writing as well. And as I had more and more people bring up the blog (people I didn’t even know were reading it) I felt worse and worse.
Inspiration struck again. And, as such, I made some amendments to my plan. Because, before the dark cloud of apathy began looming over my head, the blogs were actually helpful. And if there is one thing that can be said for me, it’s that I do not quit trying. As a writer, I know quite well that not everything is going to be a success. I have folders on my computer filled with ideas that were started and never completed, or completed but will never go to anyone’s eyes but mine. (Yes, they are that awful.) It doesn’t mean that I am a quitter, or a failure. It just means that those particular attempts weren’t quite right. That they weren’t worthy of the attention, that I couldn’t contribute enough to them, and that they couldn’t contribute enough to me. But that folder is there because it’s filled with more than half-finished drafts. It’s filled with everything I learned from them— all those things that ultimately contribute to what I do complete, what will be seen by others, because of what they taught me.
I learned from my last blogging attempt. And now I’m going to take what I learned, and try again. And if this fails, I will keep trying, until I accomplish just what I’m looking for.
To outline what I’m going for this time, first off, I’m not putting a time limit on myself. I will try to blog every day, but there will be some days I miss or forget or just don’t have the energy to write. I plan to get at least one hundred entries in here of this. plus a few pictures or quotes here and there, as they may be needed. But beyond that… I’m not sure. Let’s see where the wind takes me!
I’ve also come up with a wonderful new subject matter:
In my thinking today about my previous blogging, I realized that I have a bad habit of trying to change myself.
—I constantly try to bite off more than I can chew, knowing that I’ll just quit, but doing it anyways in an attempt to force myself. It never works.
—I try to make myself be positive. But I’m great at fooling myself, and other people. It’s really easy, when I know there are people reading what I’m writing, to play happy-go-lucky. I just use the same tricks I use in person. So forcing myself to be a “positive person” is only proving that I’m a good actress.
I do this with so much. I spend a lot of time trying to change me, rather than figuring out “me”. I don’t even know who I am… how could I even begin to make a dent in changing someone I can’t even figure out? So, instead… I’m going to try to use my time writing to do what everyone is trying to do— find me.
My final change in my plan this time is to do what I always preach to people when they ask me about writing: find flexibility. Writing is the expression of what my words and thoughts cannot dictate. It’s rash and passionate and sometimes thoughtless, but ends up being exactly what I need it to be. So I will begin by writing about who I am. But this blog is going where it wants to go.
Me? I’m just along for the ride.
Alright. I’ll admit it— after a successful two weeks of blogging, I fell down on the job. Today is actually the thirteenth of November, but I’ve got some catching up to do! I am determined to have 365 blog posts by 365 days of my first post— even if a few are late.
The challenge here is trying to get my short memory span to flash back as far as Tuesday of last week… But, after using the wonderful tools of my student planner and, of course, facebook, I’ve got the gist in my head. But here’s where the real trial is… I remember last Tuesday, but my first inclination is to recall the negative sides.
Dear brain: THE WHOLE POINT OF THIS BLOG IS TO BE POSITIVE. TO REMEMBER THE GOOD THINGS. WHY ARE YOU FOCUSING ON THE BAD STILL?!? Love, Me.
But the fact of the matter is… the after-effects of the bad mood I vividly recall being in the midst of were nothing short of wonderful. My good friend who I went to talk to has become one of two people where I live who I can go to when I’m having a bad day, and I don’t even need to tell them, yet somehow they make everything better, in the littlest ways. Just a simple smile, or a hug, or something as silly as a gatorade, somehow fixes everything in a moment. That closeness that I’ve found with her makes me feel at home, even though I’m far from my home. And all I have to do is knock on her door. Instant homesick fix? I think yes.
Wow. I have officially been doing this for two weeks! Yay, hopefully this means I’ll be able to keep it up for a year! Two weeks is a good sign, just saying :)
Yesterday was one of those “uneventful” days. I took two tests, I did some work, I watched a little TV, I had a meeting… The usual, nothing particularly wonderful, but also nothing particularly bad.
But in the evening, there was one event that stood out. I had a (unfortunately brief) phone call with somebody very close to me, somebody that I love more than words could say, who is going through a really tough time. I hated that I had such little time to call, but I felt like it was important to take what time I did have to tell this person that I love her and that I care.
Through the course of the conversation, I struggled with finding the right words to say, with finding something comforting but not cliche, something that would mean something. Yet as we talked, I found that she already knew everything I had to say. In a weird way, I had called her to help her, but the reverse happened. As we talked, I saw something in her that I desperately wished I had in myself- the strength to do what’s right, to do what one needs rather than what one wants. I called her to try and inspire her to be strong, and in the end, she inspired me.
Many of you readers already know, but I am a firm believer that we are made up of the lives that come in contact with us. Who we are is a blend of who we know and what we’ve experienced, what I like to call our “puzzle pieces”. All that I can say right now is that this girl, in the midst of feeling weak and broken, has exhibited more strength and class than I know that I have. And she is building up who I am in the best way possible right now— I just feel really blessed to have her in my life. Like one of my favorite songs says, “Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.” It’s not only refreshing, but it’s hopeful, to meet someone who is able to fight through the hard, because it’s right.
Being totally inspired to be a better person? Definitely a positive side of my day :)
Today was yet another wonderful day, filled with food, and movies, and studying, and more food, and more studying, then a brief freak out ending in an epiphany, and studying, and then a brief reprieve to blog, and then, you guessed it, studying again.
Ironic that working most of the day would make me feel so productive and wonderful.
Now, more about the epiphany.
For the past few weeks, or, rather, the past few months, I’ve been struggling with something many girls my age struggle with: relationships. Between wanting one, and being fed up with how complex they are, and wondering why I don’t have one, and wondering why certain other people do (yeah, I know it’s awful… But it’s honest), it just is hard to deal with. And today, in a conversation with my dear friend “Monica” this frustration came up and I (much to the joy of her AND her roommates) went on a rant for way longer than was necessary about this irritation. As I began tearing myself down, and then comparing myself to other girls, Monica kept trying to calm me down and reason with me, and I for some reason wasn’t hearing her.
The epiphany came moments later, however, as somehow the stream of babbling from my mouth went: “NONE of my almost-relationships work out. It’s a curse. I’m doomed to be alone for the rest of my life. No, just none of them have worked out so far. I’m 18. I’ve got plenty of time for that later. maybe none of them worked out now because I’d miss something wonderful later.”
And just like that, everything was fine. The rant ended, and I went back to studying.
It would appear that this blog is doing it’s job. The positivity is working it’s way out mid-thought and changing what I’m thinking about. Yay.
And now that I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy AGAIN (though that could be attributed to the fuzzy shark hat I’m wearing), I shall end this rant, and go back to studying.
So, another blog out a day late. but I’m still doing one for every day, so it’s still okay :)
Day two of the show I’m in went wonderfully- tonight, one of my best friends came, which made me quite happy, and in spite of some technical difficulties, both the cast and the audience left rather satisfied.
We all went out to bond afterwards, which was so much fun. Honestly, this experience has just brought me so close with so many wonderful people. They’ve become a second family, and I couldn’t imagine what my first year of college would have been like without a “theatre family”. I was just marveling, as I sat there at the restaurant with them, that in such a short time, I had come to care for them all so much, and even more so, that they had come to care about me.
And I leave that only to go spend time with another good friend watching Disney movies. What better ending could there be to a wonderful day than 101 Dalmatians?
The point I’m trying to make is that I spend days and days feeling alone and secluded and isolated. And then days like yesterday, the world is beating me over the head with a sign saying, “YOU AREN’T ALONE! PEOPLE CARE ABOUT YOU! LOOK AT ALL THESE LIVES THAT PEOPLE HAVE WILLINGLY ALLOWED TO INTERTWINE WITH YOURS!”
And honestly… being beaten over the head has never felt so wonderful :)
So I promise once I’m done being sick and once I’m done with this show, I will actually write these blogs on the day they’re about! :)
Yesterday was crazy. I’ve discovered that I’m incredibly sensitive when I’m sick and stressed. It was a day where everything that could go wrong, did, and I was so overwhelmed. I seriously almost broke down several times throughout the day, and if it weren’t for one of my really great friends who was accompanying me on my errands and keeping me calm, I would have. She was such a life saver.
And the funny thing is, as soon as I calmed down and started to try and have fun as I prepared for my show that opened last night, everything clicked. The show was wonderful. The audience was great. We all had so much fun. But it was the aftermath that just lifted my spirits so much more.
I’m recording all of this here not as a way to build up my self esteem, but to have these little reminders somewhere that will help me on my bad days.
Last night, I was told by a cast-mate that she was so happy to have met me and to have me in her life. I was told by a friend that a mutual friend of ours said that in one evening of conversation he felt he could trust me and genuinely cared about how events in my life played out. Those are two comments that specifically stood out to me, but left and right last evening I was receiving compliments and comments about how valued my friendship or my company is… and it felt wonderful.
I told my above-mentioned friend recently that I have a hard time making new friends. That I feel like an inconvenience or an annoyance. And I’m always second-guessing people’s opinions of me. Yesterday, I guess I needed a bit of a reminder that all of my notions about myself aren’t necessarily shared with those that I encounter.
In my life, I do what I do to try to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Nothing feels better than hearing that I am doing just that.
So, its now the fifth day of me being sick, and I’m only marginally better. But, life keeps moving on even though I’m sick, and I have to keep moving with it.
I have a show that opens tonight. Luckily, I don’t have to actually say anything in it, but there’s still a lot of high energy nonsense going on that I have to do, while fighting back this hacking cough.
Needless to say, this has been a source of stress for me the past few days. How will it go? Am I going to be the one person who single-handedly ruins the show? How mad is everyone going to be when this, inevitable, happens?
But then I had to stop myself. I was doing it again— doing that thing where I make everything so much worse in my head than it actually is. Where I was borrowing trouble and planning to be awful. I have a firm belief that if you tell something that an event will go a certain way, odds are, you’ll be right. I was jinxing myself. So I took a step back, and I said to myself, Yeah, I’m sick. Yeah, it sucks. But I need to go in there and do just as good, if not better, than I would when I’m healthy. I haven’t worked this hard these past few months to throw it all when it’s actually important. Impress them!
It was hard to do. It was hard to be happy and peppy and energetic when I felt as bad as I did. But it was important to me, and I had told myself I could do it. I told myself I would do it. And somehow, I did. It felt really good to know that I managed to get through it. I sort of impressed myself, in a weird way. The power of positive thinking is crazy, huh?
And then, at the end of rehearsal, my director walks up to me and says that I had awesome energy, especially for being sick, and tells me I did a good job. I don’t know, there’s a certain amount of satisfaction that comes from doing well for yourself… but it’s just made that much better when someone else notices, too. Warm fuzzy feelings are just the best, aren’t they?
So, obviously, since I wrote day 9 this morning, and I was sick then… I still am. It’s no fun, honestly. But I’m looking for silver linings on every grey cloud, and this is no exception. Surprisingly, I found one!
This whole thing is making me slow down. And I hate slowing down. I feel like I’m wasting time that way. Sleeping too much, spending too much time in my room… If I’m not working on something, I feel like I’m failing at life. But because of this, sometimes I neglect to appreciate rest, and how good it is for me. Not even just sleeping, but resting. Resting my mind and my body.
Today, I couldn’t do anything mentally or physically strenuous. I sat in my bed, all day, drinking tea and eating soup, sewing, and watching TV. I was getting work done—the sewing was important stuff! (Honestly! I’m making a costume!)— but I was doing something brainless. It was hard, but I was letting myself take some much-needed down time.
It’s not good that I work myself into the ground so my body has to force me to take a break. I know this. I just don’t always wrap my head around it until I’m in the moment of the illness. But now, I’m writing it down. Now, here’s hoping it’ll stick and that next time I’ll remember that some down time isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s just what the doctor ordered!