Sunday, February 18, 2018

I’m certainly enjoying this invisible snowstorm we’re having today. I wonder if it’s safe to drive in invisible snow?

Friday, February 16, 2018

Validating


This is such a validating song for me. Seriously. I'm not gonna outgrow it.




Sunday, February 11, 2018

PSA

If you send me "inspirational quotes" that are supposed to be motivating and make me feel empowered, you are making me feel worse and it is YOUR FAULT if I feel worse.

If you send me inspirational quotes when I'm feeling bad, I will hurt myself more and it will be YOUR FAULT that I hurt myself more.

You will have to live with that for the rest of your fucking life, I hope you never sleep again.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Hypocrisy Litmus Test

To everyone out there who keeps telling me that age is just a number, that my age only has the meaning that I assign to it, please ponder this for a moment...

If I cry because I don't get my way, would you judge me for being immature?

I'm not talking about a major life event like losing my job. I mean like, if we had plans to go to the beach or something and then we couldn't because there was a thunderstorm and I cried and threw a tantrum over it...would you judge me for being immature? Would you have higher expectations of me than you would have of a six-year-old in that same situation?

My guess is that you would.

And if you would, then you can't really, truly mean it when you say that age is just a number. 

Saturday, February 3, 2018

For My Fellow Full House Fans...

To my fellow Full House fans, ponder this for a moment...

What if Danny had died and Pamela survived and was raising the three girls herself? How would our perceptions of that be different? In the current show, we accept that fact that their father would have a hard time raising three girls all alone and that he needs two friends to move in and help him. Would we accept that if it were their mother who survived? Would we understand why she needed her sister-in-law and her best friend to move in and help her raise her daughters? Or would we expect her to do it on her own? How would we feel about three women raising three girls? Would we view it as a success that the girls are doing so well in spite of losing their father, or would we just *expect* everything to work out fine?

Now here's an even bigger question - Uncle Jesse. What if it were the above scenario, where their mother survived and her sister-in-law and female best friend moved in to help raise the girls. What if instead of Uncle Jesse, the girls had a 26-year-old aunt who was wild and rode a motorcycle and played in rock concerts and was living this young wild party lifestyle, and she gave it up to help raise the girls? Would we see it as the major sacrifice that we see in Uncle Jesse? We would think that it was so over-the-top sweet that she loved her nieces so much that she was willing to miss those wild parties in order to read bedtime stories and tuck the kids in at night? Would we have the sympathy and compassion for her that we have for Uncle Jesse? Would we fully *get* how big of a deal it is for her to make that lifestyle change? Or would we just *expect* it? Would we just act like that was what she was supposed to be doing anyway?

What about the episode "Seven-Month Itch," where Uncle Jesse misses his rock and roll days and runs off to be with his friends? Would we understand that kind of crisis if it was their aunt instead? Would we see it as valid? When their mother tells their aunt that it's okay if she needs to run away and take time off sometimes, would we view that as reasonable, or would we expect their aunt to grow up and leave that lifestyle behind?

What about "Dr. Dare Rides Again," where Uncle Jesse almost tries a dangerous stunt on his motorcycle to prove that he's still the same wild guy he always was? When Stephanie tells Jesse's friends that he took her class on a trip to the dairy farm and he gets embarrassed because that's the opposite of what he and his friends think is "cool," would we accept that from an aunt? Would we accept that their aunt has a desire to be the hot young wild gal that she's always been, that she doesn't think taking some kids on a field trip is as cool as being in a rock and roll band and partying all night? How would we feel about her attempting a dangerous stunt while being in a mother type of role to her nieces, because being that wild chick she used to be matters more to her? Would we ever give her the empathy and understanding and validation that we all gave to Uncle Jesse?

Something tells me we wouldn't.

And that's why I'm terrified of becoming an adult in this kind of a world. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Where I'm Headed

I still remember this one time 4th grade, when my classmate said that to be members of her secret club, we all had to "act like 4th graders" and that I couldn't be in the club if I was still going to watch TV shows like Barney and Sesame Street. So I said fine and I quit the club. In private later, my best friend whispered to me that why didn't I just lie to the girl in charge of this club and tell her that I would quit watching those shows, but still keep watching them anyway. I was always at home when I watched TV anyway, so it's not like she would find out. But I said no, I wasn't doing that.

I was not willing to be part of the club or be friends with that girl under those circumstances. I was not okay pretending to be someone I wasn't in order to be part of a group. I knew that there was nothing at all wrong with me watching Barney and Sesame Street at age 10, and that it was a problem that other people were making fun of me, not a problem that I watched the shows. I knew I wanted no part of a club or a friendship where I would have rules about what I could do and how I needed to act.

This is sort of what it feels like to be about to turn 30. I keep worrying that people are going to have rules and expectations about how I'm supposed to act and what I'm supposed to be interested in. But it's different this time:

1. I've had to deal with this kind of "act your age" pressure in higher-stakes circumstances, for longer durations of time than a 15-minute recess, where I couldn't just climb down from the jungle gym to get away from it, where people didn't forget about the club rules altogether by the next day. I feel like every single time in college and with my ex that I was expected to "act my age" is flooding back to me now, and I'm terrified that I won't get validation anymore once I'm 30.

2. I care more about fitting in with my peers and having friends now than I did when I was 10.

3. I don't feel secure now like I did back then. On a gut level, I don't truly feel like it's okay to be me in this world and that it's other people's problem if they don't accept me. I always feel like there is some truth to how people tell me I "should" be and I have to work hard to fight those beliefs. I don't have this inherent sense that being me is perfectly okay.

4. I have more freedom now. I was stuck with that "act like a 4th-grader" club because I went to school with those kids and didn't have any friend circles outside of school. I'm not in that position anymore. I can be friends with anyone now. I can go anywhere and do anything and I can find people who don't have social rules about acting mature, and it's actually much easier to do that now that I'm an adult. I'm not trapped anywhere. I can walk away much more easily now. I can keep searching until I find those anyone-can-join kinds of groups that I've always thrived in.

I'm going to be 30 in 2 weeks. And I'm not aiming to act 30. I'm not aiming to be mature. I'm aspiring to be like that 10-year-old who walked away from that 4th grade club without a second thought.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The REAL Reason Why I Don’t Drink, and Why that Doesn’t Make Me Less of a Wild Party Girl

If I drink a small cup of coffee at 8 AM, I can be awake until 6 or 7 AM the next morning. Caffeine affects me more than it affects most people. I’ve learned that the hard way enough times. Caffeinated black tea or green tea in the morning has kept me awake all night, when I’ve left the tea bag in a little bit too long. The one time I tried a pumpkin spice latte, I didn’t sleep for 24 hours. I can’t take Midol anymore because the new caffeinated formula makes my hands shake. On New Year’s Eve two years ago, I drank half a can of Red Bull and was awake for 36 hours, and I felt jittery for a full week, long after it should have been out of my system. I should mention that my friend who drank a Red Bull with me fell asleep a couple hours after drinking it and, as far as I know, was not affected by it after that day. I am a Highly Sensitive Person [link] and I can’t process caffeine the same way that most people can.

When I say that I can’t have caffeine because I don’t like the way it makes me feel, the way it makes me feel is different than the way it makes most people feel. In other words, most people who start their day with a cup of coffee are still able to fall asleep at night. It’s not like the point of coffee is to stay up all night, every night, and I’m this boring person who doesn’t like that. The caffeine affects me in a different way than it affects you.

Drinking alcohol is similar for me, in that it affects me differently. When I drink alcohol, I feel dizzy and like I have a fever, and everything around me becomes way too much stimulation. I don’t feel looser, I don’t feel like I wanna dance more or party more. I don’t have fun laughing at goofy stuff with my friends. I almost instantly feel like I want to go home and get away from all the stimulation of the party. Alcohol essentially prevents me from having any fun. It ruins my good time. About a year ago at my friend’s party, I tried a slice of watermelon that had been soaked in margarita. It was such a tiny slice, I didn’t think it would affect me at all, and everyone was raving about it so much that I really wanted to just try one piece. Within about ten minutes, I felt like I had fever. I felt dizzy. I felt like the party was way too much stimulation, everything was too loud and too bright and I wanted to go home. I got really upset. I had been looking forward to this party for such a long time and I had to go and ruin it for myself with a slice of watermelon! Luckily it was only one slice, so I instantly tried to counteract it by eating a lot of food, even though I wasn’t hungry, and I eventually felt better and was able to stay and enjoy the rest of the party. All while other people were eating multiple slices of the watermelon and saying that it wasn’t having any effect on them.

This made it sink in with me just how different my experience of alcohol is than most people’s. For the longest time, I really wondered what was wrong with me, why I couldn’t enjoy drinking like everyone else could, and how other people could possibly enjoy something that felt absolutely miserable to me. And then I read about how highly sensitive people have a different experience of things like alcohol and caffeine, and I understood. Like with the coffee, alcohol affects me differently than it affects most people. It’s not a matter of me not enjoying what you enjoy – it’s that I’m having a different sensory experience altogether. If you knew that a cup of coffee in the morning would keep you awake all night, you probably wouldn’t drink it. And likewise, if you had the experience with alcohol that I have, you probably wouldn’t drink at all.

It’s not my fault that I process these things the way that I do. I need you to accept that this is the real reason why I don’t drink.

Remember back in elementary school, when we had the DARE program and they made it sound like you would instantly drop dead or have something horrible happen to you if you took one drink? I will admit that I bought into that when I was a child. I bought into it when I was a teenager as well. As a teenager, I didn’t drink because I was scared that something horrible would happen. And if you knew me back then, you might think that I’m still that way. But I’m not. I took my first shot at age 20 and learned from that that I didn’t like drinking, although I pushed myself to like it for several years. But after age 20, I wasn’t scared anymore. I just legitimately hated the sensory experience of getting drunk. Given the choice, I’d rather be at a party with a cold than be at a party drunk. Being drunk just ruins everything for me and I have never enjoyed it, even if I pretended to.

I need you to understand how sensitive to alcohol I am, and that it’s not an ethical issue to me, it’s not an out-of-comfort-zone issue, and it’s not a not-wanting-to-party issue. I know sometimes people want me to just take one shot together with them to celebrate a wedding or birthday or something, and I appreciate that you want to do that with me, but when I say I can’t have even one shot, I really mean that I can’t because it will ruin the rest of the night for me. Please let me use my own judgement on how alcohol, caffeine, and anything else will affect me, because it doesn’t affect me the same way it affects you.

Not drinking because I don’t enjoy it is completely different from making a choice not to drink even though I do enjoy it.

Imagine that someone can’t have dairy because they’re allergic, but they eat absolutely everything else that they want. That person is not going to fit into a vegan club just because vegans also don’t eat dairy. Because that person is not actually vegan. Now, imagine that a huge portion of mainstream partying and entertainment was centered around eating ice cream. Entire parties were based on ice-cream eating contests and people acted like if you didn’t eat ice cream, you weren’t really participating in the party and you weren’t really having fun. And imagine that the only way to find other people who don’t base their parties on ice cream is to hang out with vegans. Do you see the problem here? Do you see how much it would suck for this person who is allergic to dairy to essentially be forced into a community where they will be expected to give up other foods that they *do* want to eat, simply because it’s the only place where they won’t be pressured to eat ice cream? Do you see that if this person does not want to restrict their food in any way other than dairy, they will essentially never fit into either the mainstream ice-cream party culture, or the vegan culture, and it would be a problem if those were their only choices?

This is what happened to me at college.

I may not drink, but I love to party! (Now, to be clear, I don’t want constant partying, I want most of my time to be quiet and low-stim and by myself, and it was not okay for me to live with roommates or to live in a dorm or to be in any kind of circumstance with forced social contact. But as long as I have those needs met, as long as it’s fully consensual when I want to interact with other people, and as long as nothing horrible is going on in my life, then I definitely want to go out and party. I’ve talked a lot about the issues I had about being an introvert at a very extroverted college, and that was definitely a major problem, but what I’m describing here is problematic as well, and contrary to what a lot of people think, the two do not contradict each other). In high school, I considered myself to be a wild party girl. We had so many wild parties that were awesome and did not involve drinking, and those are still some of my happiest memories. I had always heard that college was a ton of fun and lots of clubbing and wild partying, which I was so looking forward to.

But my college was essentially divided into two cultures – hardcore drinking culture and non-partying culture. In the hardcore drinking culture, people got extremely drunk on the weekends. I mean, if you walked the campus on a Friday or Saturday night, it smelled like vomit. Everywhere. And urine. People would pee on the floor when the bathroom was like ten steps away. People threw furniture out the windows and the rest of us had to pay for all the dorm damage at the end of the year. One time they threw an armchair down from the third floor that would have killed someone if it had landed on them. People regularly were hospitalized for alcohol poisoning. People talked about having gotten their stomachs pumped multiple times, as if that was just a normal part of life.

We used to have a 24/7 health center on campus, but one year they announced that it would no longer be open 24 hours and if you had an emergency in the middle of the night, you would have to go to the hospital. We all signed a petition to keep the health center open 24 hours. When I signed, I was mainly thinking of someone being physically ill or having a mental health crisis in the middle of the night. But when I talked to other students about the issue, almost everyone’s main reason for wanting to keep the health center open was that people who get so drunk and need to be hospitalized will not go to the actual hospital because they could get in trouble for underage drinking, so they were going to die of alcohol poisoning if the health center was closed at night. Everyone went around saying that people would die of alcohol poisoning if the health center closed at night. The concept of not drinking so much that you could die was not a viable solution to that problem. That was just a part of the mainstream college life.

My friends at home liked to drink as well, but it was nothing like what I saw at my college. Even at home parties where people got extremely drunk, people didn’t break other people’s property or need to go to hospital. I will admit that I had a lot more fun at home parties back in high school, before drinking was involved. But I was still able to have fun at drinking parties without drinking because people were not so drunk that you couldn’t talk to them. I could still dance and play games and socialize and have fun without drinking. But my college classmates got so drunk that you just couldn’t even communicate with them. They’d be falling all over you and slamming into walls and it was just impossible to have any fun at those parties without being drunk. The couple times I went to those types of parties with friends, all I did was babysit my friends while they got drunk. Make sure they didn’t fall or break anything or hit their heads on the wall. A couple times I walked people back to their dorms and I had to let them lean half their weight on me, like you would if someone sprained their ankle. I had to hold onto them really tight when we walked down the stairs and I had to say “Step, step, step…” each time so that they would know when to step. I didn’t go to those kinds of parties very often. I didn’t go to college to babysit people my own age.

Home parties were more accommodating as well. For example, when you play beer pong, you normally try to throw a ping pong ball into a cup of beer, and when you get it in, your opponent has to drink the beer. At home, we always played this game with cups of water, where you would have your own drink off to the side and when someone got the ping pong ball in the cup of water, you’d take a drink. This allowed everyone to have control over how much they were actually drinking, because you could choose how big of a sip to take from your drink. It also allowed people who didn’t want to drink to play, because you could just fill your cup with water or soda or juice and no one would know or care. But at college, people always played with real beer, and when I mentioned the home method to people, they told me that that was wrong and not how you were “supposed” to play. They also told me that it was “so ghetto” that my home friends had once taken a door off its hinges to create a long enough table to play beer pong. The students at my college had a better solution to that problem – one year, some students from another dorm stole the ping-pong table out of our dorm and never brought it back and we all had to pay for it at the end of the year. As well as the couch that they threw out the window.

Needless to say, I didn’t fit into the drinking culture at my college. But the non-drinking culture was even worse. And I was trapped in it. There were only two cultures at my school: drinking and non-drinking. And the drinking culture was simply out of the question. The non-drinking culture at my college was essentially a non-partying culture. A culture where if you didn’t drink, you were expected to be a completely different kind of person.

I was so excited for my first college dance. I loved the dances in high school, but there were never enough of them. My college calendar had a dance every other week, all with some sort of fun theme, and they lasted till 2 AM! I couldn’t wait for all that partying! Now, I lived in a substance-free dorm, and the way the social circles worked, basically everyone I knew outside my dorm was a from a substance-free dorm as well. When the first dance was coming up and I started talking to people about how excited I was, they all looked at me really strangely, like I wasn’t supposed to be that excited. When I asked around about who else was going, everyone was like meh, it sounds like high school. I loved high school dances!!! I had no idea that people would reject stuff in college because it was “like high school.” Now these substance-free students were very social (too social in fact, they never went away when I wanted to be alone). It wasn’t like they just didn’t like going out. There seemed to be a specific issue about dances. So I started talking about this super hot outfit that I wanted to wear to the dance, I was going over possibilities of what would look sexier, and all the girls in my dorm gave me a “what the hell is wrong with you?” stare. Every single person I talked to acted like there was something wrong with me being so excited and spending the effort I was spending on my hot outfit for my first-ever college dance, like I was “supposed” to be over that. I was supposed to be too mature or too feminist or too studious or too concerned about serious issues to put the effort that I was putting into what I wore to a dance. 

The summer before college, my friends and I had wanted to go to this nightclub on the beach, but we couldn’t because not everyone in the group had turned 18 yet. We all kind of thought, oh well, before long we’ll be in college and we’ll be doing that sort of thing every weekend. The first time I expressed my desire to go nightclubbing in college, everyone put me down for it. Everyone. When I said that it was one of my life goals, I was flat-out told, “That’s not a real goal.”

When I told everyone at college about my awesome beach week with my high school friends and how I had my first summer fling and that I was heartbroken that it wasn’t for real and I still felt kind of empty and desperate for that kind of experience again, I was told that I wasn’t supposed to have a boyfriend or do anything sexual and that we were too young and we’re supposed to be smart and independent and focused on learning, not like those people who get drunk and get to dress as provocatively as they want and have all the sex they want.

For the first semester I sometimes had people to go to dances with, but after a while, the substance-free students stopped going. Sometimes they’d have alternative events that were fun, but often times, being substance-free meant that Friday and Saturday nights were ordinary nights, and people would actually stay home and study. The people I hung out with would study all the time. They talked about economics at campus barbeques, which were supposed to be fun events. They’d actually bring their textbooks to the beach. There was one time at the start of freshman year that I went on a partial weekend trip with a few people from my dorm, and it was just constant homework and studying the whole time. Like, I literally packed and rode in the car to this beach house so that I could listen to some boring, complicated intellectual conversation in the car that I knew nothing about, spend less than an hour walking on the actual beach, and spend the rest of the time in the beach house with everyone doing homework. (This was also the trip where I was expected to know what rhubarb looked like). Great vacation.

One time there was a slip and slide down the hill, and I had no one to go with. Everyone on the slip and slide was drunk and falling all over the place, it was like it was an activity specifically to do while you were drunk, and everyone I hung out with who didn’t drink either thought the concept of a slip and slide was silly and childish, or else they wanted to talk about how much water it was wasting. I literally had no one who wanted to go with me and not be drunk.

The “work hard, play hard” motto at my college should have really been “work hard, drink hard,” because it was only the drinking students who lived by that motto and valued fun as a top priority. When you worked on a group project or any kind of activity with drinking students, it was just a built-in assumption that you would never ever work on Friday or Saturday nights because those are party nights. But anytime I worked with a non-drinking student who knew that I also didn’t drink, they’d expect me to meet them on a Friday or Saturday night. They would name those times as if it was no big deal, when the rest of the campus was out partying at those hours no matter how much other work they had to do. I was in a play that my friend had to direct for her class and she actually scheduled a rehearsal for the Friday night before spring break, assuming that we would be okay leaving for break on Saturday morning instead. I told her there was no way in hell I was staying, I was leaving on Thursday because I didn’t have class on Friday, but she had the rehearsal anyway and the other two people stayed even though they could have left for spring break on Thursday as well.  Because they were substance-free. With drinking students, that would simply be unheard of. With drinking students, they would have thought the director was out of her mind for thinking that anyone would stay and miss a day of vacation for a rehearsal, but they all looked at me like I was wrong to skip it.

I did not get invited to one single party in college. I only got invited to academic lectures and discussions about important issues. I got invited to “come over and study” on a Friday night. I got invited to do education and academics basically all the time, but in a “fun” setting because there lots of people around and someone happened to order a pizza. I never wanted to go to any of those things, I just wanted to have fun, but I was expected to go because I was substance-free. Being part of that group came with so many expectations. I went to a bunch of events and clubs that I never had any interest in joining simply because I was expected to. The people around me were always complaining about how it was such a problem that everyone else cared so much about their wild party weekends and weren’t willing to talk about important issues and go to educational events and have intellectual conversations and all that. From the moment I stepped on campus, I was expected to reject the very culture that I actually wanted to be a part of, the culture that was the main reason I had looked forward to going to college at all.

Even the school administration viewed drinking as the only way to have fun. Towards the end of my junior year, when three students had to be hospitalized after an annual drinking event, the school admins wanted to address the excessive drinking issue. These were the proposed solutions to cut down on the drinking culture:
-Schedule more classes on Fridays. (A lot of us had Fridays off and had a 3-day weekend, so this would reduce the weekend time that people drink).
-Make the January terms classes more rigorous and have more homework. (The January term was advertised to prospective students as at time where you take one easy class and mostly just party, so this would be deceptive).
-Have more academic events on the weekends so people can go to educational talks instead of drinking.
After advertising themselves as a fun-centered school, their plan to deal with the drinking issue was to remove the fun rather than having actual fun events where you didn’t have to get drunk!

THIS is what I mean when I say that I never had my 20’s. I never got to party like I was 21. And now I’m 29.

So as you know, I was horribly damaged after college (I’m not just referring to this post, you can read The Unencrypted Truth [link] if you don’t know the story). It took years for me to even feel well enough to go out again. I had gone to some wild parties on my summer vacations during college, but summer after graduation I wasn’t up for much. By 2012 I felt a bit better and went to the beach and to some parties and clubs. A lot more stuff happened after that – my first job, the breakup, getting my own place, just a lot of stuff, and for a long time, I didn’t feel well enough to do much of anything. Summer 2016 was really fun, but my Grandma died at the end of that year and I had yet another year of not feeling well enough. But I do feel well enough now. I’ve been doing therapy and getting better from the bad stuff and as long as nothing else horrible happens, I feel totally ready to party right now.

Except that I’m about to turn 30 and everyone I talk to says that the last time they went to wild parties was in their 20’s. Everything I read online says that you stop going clubbing in your 30’s. Everyone is saying that they can’t live like they did back in college because they just can’t stay up that late anymore. People my age are posting, “Yay, look at me cooking and cleaning and having workout goals and doing adult responsibilities!” I rarely see the kinds of pics we used to see back in our early 20’s.

And I know you’ll all tell me that I didn’t miss anything. That it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. That you didn’t party hard in your 20’s and you’re okay with it. That’s fine, but that’s not how I feel about it. I will never, ever be okay with not having that party lifestyle.

Some people I’ve talked to have said that I need to “get this out of my system,” but I’m not planning to do that. I don’t like the concept of getting something out of your system. When someone says that someone needs to get something out of their system, the end goal is to get rid of the desire altogether. The idea is to do something to the point that you feel satisfied enough to no longer do it again. I don’t want to get rid of this desire to party hard. I want to actually party hard. I want to party hard my entire life. If a day comes that I personally get bored with partying hard, that’s fine, but if that day never comes, that’s fine too.

When I told my coworkers that I felt like I had never had my 20’s, they said that that was the reason I didn’t want to grow up and be 30, but I don’t see that as the only issue. I don’t grow up and lose interest in things in general. Did you know that I played with my toys and didn’t lose interest until I was about 16? That’s not a problem, it wasn’t because I had an issue or something. If I like something, I keep doing it until I personally lose interest, and I didn’t lose interest in playing with my toys until I was about 16. If I had had all the wild partying that I wanted in my early 20’s, I think it’s very likely that I would still want to continue living that way.

I believe that in order to truly know that you’ve lost interest in something, you need to still have the option to continue doing the thing, and choose not to do it. When my interest in playing with my toys faded, I had the ability to keep playing with them, but I found myself losing interest and being drawn to other things instead. But if I suddenly *can’t* do something anymore, like when I couldn’t get into any plays in college because the auditions were more competitive, that is absolutely not okay. If you have a sweater that you don’t wear anymore and you decide to give it away, that’s fine. But if you have a sweater that you do still want to keep, but someone else gives it away without your permission because they think you’ve outgrown it, that’s not okay.  And even if you cope with that situation by telling yourself that you would have outgrown the sweater eventually anyway, that doesn’t make it okay that someone else took it. The only way I’ll ever know if I don’t really like party culture or if I’ve “outgrown” it is to actually have it.

I don’t want to go hiking. I don’t want to take up knitting. I don’t want to have people baking cookies in my house. I don’t want to do serious gaming. I don’t want to be geeky. I don’t want to reject mainstream music or movies or TV shows. I don’t want to go to academic lectures or discussion groups. I don’t want to join a gym. I don’t want to cook. I don’t want to become career-focused. I don’t want to do all the stuff that I was expected to do in college just because I don’t drink.

I want to party. I want to wear super tight short skirts and sequins and sparkles. I want to rock out to mainstream pop music under a strobe light. I want to close the place. I want to be there till they turn the lights on and the music off. I want to stagger in from a dance club at 3 in the morning and crash in my clothes and wake up at noon the next day. I want all-night parties that actually last ALL NIGHT, past midnight at the very least.

And remember that cup of coffee that I mentioned at the start of this post – the one that I can’t drink because I’m so sensitive to caffeine? I want a reason to drink it. I want to know that I’ll actually need to be up all night because I’ve got a wild night of partying ahead of me. So give me that reason. That’s what I want for my 30th birthday. 


Not just once. Not a last hurrah. I want it for a lifetime.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Late Night Survey!!!

Please take this survey and help me gather evidence as part of my therapy exercise:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YJPGTFC

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Hammer

Imagine that you lived in a beautiful house all your life that you loved very much. One day, someone handed you a hammer and instructed you to break one of the windows of the house. This didn't sound like a good idea to you, but this person convinced you that breaking the window was the right thing to do, that it would be good for you, it would bring you more happiness in the long run. So you break the window. You're not happy. The house is freezing in the winter and you try to cover the window but it's just not the same. You express how upset you are at the broken window, and you get told to break another. And another. Just keep on breaking those windows. Once every window is broken, this same person tells you that the solution to your anger and sadness is to break more of the house. So you bang that hammer into the wall to make a hole. And another. And another. You keep doing this for years until your beloved home is shattered to the ground, until there's nothing left of it. All under the assumption that, as you've been told, this will make you happy. That you should be lucky that this person gave you that hammer in the first place.

You spend years just living in these shattered remains of what was once your home. Until one day, you reach out, You express a desire to try to rebuild that home. Someone listens to you. Someone assures you that yes, what happened to you before was wrong, and yes, you can rebuild your house. You can rebuild it to be whatever you want it to be. This person helps you think about what you want your house to be like, and they help you find all the right building materials. And then they hand you a hammer. They tell you to use that hammer to rebuild.

But you can't. At least not right away. Because the sight of the hammer reminds you of the hammer you once used to destroy your house. You've only ever known hammers to be tools of destruction. Not to rebuild. You never knew you could use one to rebuild.

So it might take you a little longer to get there than it takes everyone else. It might be more difficult for you than it is for someone who is more okay with using the hammer, someone who's built things before and sees the hammer as something you use to build things, not break them. But you'll get there. If you have the right people helping you, you will absolutely get there.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Start to 2018

I'm still working on a lot right now with therapy, and I just want to be clear about a couple of things:

-My greatest fear is being brainwashed, and I am being extremely cautious not to get brainwashed at every step of the way. I have a therapist who respects my boundaries and I think even shares my beliefs about not going along with positivity culture, and she respects and validates that the bad things that have happened in my life are actually bad and doesn't try to push me to feel differently, so that's important. I am monitoring my therapy goals very closely in conjunction with my other goals and with the person that I want to be. I believe that I can use therapy to help me achieve my goals, live my life according to my beliefs, and to become more of the kind of person that I want to be. All of the goals are coming from within me, and I am not pushing myself to have new goals that are not really mine. 

-Remember when I was right in the middle of working on the validation book, and I said that I would not be posting as much on my blog because I was hard at work on the book, but that it didn't mean anything was wrong? That's what's going on with therapy right now. I am doing a lot of writing and creative thinking exercises for therapy, and it's leaving me with less energy for writing on my blog, and that's okay with me because therapy goals are a high priority for me right now. 

Also, writing is therapeutic for me, a lot of my blog posts are a form of therapy for me, so sometimes I simply do not feel the need to post something on my blog or on Facebook because I'm already working on the issue in a different way.

Also, a lot of my specific therapy goals and accomplishments feel private to me, so I'm doing a lot more private writing that I do not want to share on my blog.

-The fact that I have not been posting as much stuff on Facebook does *not* mean that I no longer believe in those things anymore. I do. My beliefs haven't changed. It's just that I have a better understanding of why I post what I post, and what's really behind it. Like, I used to post a lot of stuff on Facebook about how I was never going to clean or do housework or any responsible stuff. That fact has always been true, but I never felt the need to post about it so much until I was with my ex, who threatened that part of me and made me feel like I had to grow up and do those things at some point. The reason that I post a lot of the angry stuff I post on Facebook is because I feel insecure about it - I feel like I'm not being allowed to do what I want, like I'm trapped, like no one will like me or be okay with the way I am, etc. and that's why I have to scream about it on Facebook - to fight back. I am not purposely trying to avoid posting as much on Facebook anymore - I've just reduced the urge a lot because when I got to post angry stuff I stop myself and I'm like, wait, this isn't the answer, I need to deal with the underlying issue here. So, it's not about saying, for example, that I'm going to start doing chores around the house. It's about feeling secure and confident enough in myself that I can simply not do chores and feel okay with that, and as a result, not feel as much of a need to scream about it on Facebook. So I'm not changing or lessening my beliefs by posting less, I'm working on becoming more secure in all of the things I posted, leaving me with less of a need to post.

It's gonna be an intense year of healing, and lots of awesome. I can feel it. Happy 2018.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

2018

2018 will be scary. But it will be worth it. Because I'm in control now. I wasn't before, but I am now. I have full control over what I'm doing and I can stop at any time, and I can alter it in anyway. It's my choice. My pace is my choice.

It's taking all my strength right now to believe that you won't drop me for not being fast enough, that you'll stick with me till the end, till I'm ready. I know you will. You won't give up on me. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

2018

I just don't have any hope for 2018. I've given up on the concept of new beginnings.

I've had high hopes for every year since 2007 and I've been wrong.

How can I be turning 30 when I never got to be 20? I really feel like I never got to be 20.

If you do have hope that's fine, but it's just not where I am right now.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Therapy and Complications

I have a lot on my plate right now with therapy. I know I've been pretty MIA on my blog for a while. I'm hoping to change that soon. I just have so much to deal with regarding therapy, and it takes quite a bit of my energy.

I'm following this therapy vlog on youtube that I need to stop following because it's making me feel more triggered, but I can't seem to stop watching it. Like, I'm sort of hooked on it now.

Here's the deal: Towards the end of 2015, I suddenly felt really close with all of my coworkers. It just felt like such a warm and caring group, and even though I'd prefer not to have a job, I actually enjoyed going to work and seeing them every day. I looked forward to it.

For a while, I felt so attached that I was craving more time with my coworkers and more of a close relationship with them. Right now, I have a friend I met at work whom I talk to outside of work and whom I'm working on becoming closer with. But the rest of my coworkers were my parents' age and didn't really get together outside of work. I desperately wanted to have a closer relationship with all of them. I was annoyed at the boundaries we had from being coworkers, that I felt like I couldn't talk to them the way I'd talk to people outside of work.

At some point, I found a blog called askamanger.org, where people write in work-related questions. I immediately fell in love with the blog author and loved her answers to a lot of questions. But over time, I found that that blog was upsetting to me. I'm just not a work person, I hate the pressure to have career aspirations and to behave in "work-appropriate" ways. I'm not okay with the expectations of a lot of jobs, and a lot of what I read on this blog made me scared to ever look for a job somewhere else.

But even though it was bothering me so much, I kept reading the blog. Why? Because it satisfied a desire that I wasn't getting fulfilled. I would go home, wishing I could be closer with my coworkers, wishing they could come over to my house and we could be our real selves around each other. I'm not a work person, but I obviously associate my coworkers with work, reading this blog about work questions made me feel closer to them. It helped satisfy that desire that wasn't being met. I eventually stopped following the blog when it was really causing more harm than good for me, but it took a long time for me to stop.

Therapy has brought up so many things for me that I need to work through, and I feel like I'm craving more time with my therapist than our once-a-week-meeting. It's not that I'm in a super bad place right now (although I feel like I'm heading towards one once my class starts up again). It's just that I have so much to work through in the therapy, and everything has so many layers because I get triggered by the therapy itself and then I have to deal with those meta-issues as well. I'm thinking about these issues all the time, and I really want more therapy time than I have currently, because I have so much stuff on my plate and we never get through it all. So, similar to the way I started following a work-related blog when I wanted a closer relationship with my coworkers, I've started reading more therapy stuff and following a therapy vlog to help satisfy my needs. The problem is that, just like with work, I'm not actually a therapy person. I know that sounds weird because I'm so focused on it, but I'm actually very against a lot of mainstream therapy concepts and I find a lot of therapy stuff to be triggering. It's only when I'm actually working with my own therapist one-on-one that I feel safe because she's willing to help me work through my issues with the therapy itself and she is very respectful about what works and doesn't work for me. So all this extra stuff I'm reading and watching about therapy is making me feel worse, yet I keep doing it because it's satisfying this desire in me, and I don't know how to stop.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Where Did You Go?

I'm not gonna say, "We used to be so close." That wouldn't be true. "Close" isn't the right word to describe it. I'm not sure how close you can get seeing each other as infrequently as we always did, and not talking at all in between. But I will say that I miss you. I miss us. I miss the way we used to be. And I don't know where you went.

You never used to talk. I didn't like to talk to other kids either, but you were even quieter than I was. If we asked you a direct question, you'd look at us and smile and then look away and not answer. Sometimes you'd get hurt - physically or emotionally - and you'd cry. You'd cry for a long time. Sometimes for 20 minutes at a time. Over things that wouldn't have made me cry. We'd try to comfort you, but nothing helped. We kept asking what was wrong, but you wouldn't answer.

You used to fight all the time - yelling and hitting and throwing toys and books. You'd scream every time your mom tried to brush your hair. I thought I was the only one who still did that sort of thing. There was constant screaming and crying in your house over food you didn't want to eat and piano-practicing you didn't want to do and toys you didn't want to pick up off the floor. I thought I was the loudest screamer on earth until I set foot into your home.

You cried because we were going swimming. Because you had to carry two noodles to the pool. Because the balloon was the wrong color. Because we weren't allowed to use chalk in the basement. Because you had a 15-minute car ride where you didn't get the seat you wanted. Because someone was washing the sand off the beachball when you wanted to hold it. Because we did eenie-meenie-minie-mo to decide who would go first and you didn't win. Because someone told you not to stick your hands straight into a dessert that was for everyone to share. I thought I was the one who had to get my own way all the time, but that barely registered when you were around.

One time we had planned a special surprise when someone told us that the plans had changed and offered an alternative. I wanted to cry. I was trying so, so hard to hold back the tears because I didn't know you all as well and I didn't want to cry in front of you and I got the sense that I wasn't supposed to be so upset. Then you started crying. And I knew that what I felt was real, that I wasn't alone. I was so grateful to you for expressing yourself when I couldn't.

One time we were playing with a dollhouse. I always liked to play that the kids took over everything and pushed the parents out the window or off the roof. But I never thought through the consequences of that. I never had the parents be killed or injured. It was more of a prank, like "Ha, ha, we pushed you off the roof!" But it was no prank with you. When I went to pick up the mom, you told me that no, the mom couldn't say anything because she was dead. Because that's what happens when you get pushed off the roof. I had the daughter dancing on the table, climbing up the poles, and swinging on the chandelier. You had the daughter bring in a bomb and blow up the dollhouse so that everyone died and she could do whatever she wanted forever. I never met anyone who played rougher than me. You scared me a bit. You were my partner in crime.

And yes, this was a long time ago, but not as long ago as you think. You probably estimate it was 25 years ago. But it was only 18 years ago. And yes, that's long. But there's a difference. 25 years ago would make it "normal." It would make it just regular kid stuff. But 18 years ago makes it how we were. It makes it us.

And I know we weren't close in the relationship sense, but we were close in terms of being like each other. We were close in the sense that I was never the most difficult kid to deal with when you were around.

I just want to know where you went. I look at you now and you're so perfect. You'd never know where we came from. You'd never know that we used to be so alike. When we look through the photos, you say it was all perfect. But I look at those photos and I still see your tears. I still hear you screaming. You grew up to be perfect. The past looks perfect to you. And maybe you don't remember. Or maybe you laugh about it now.

But I wish you'd come back. I wish you hadn't grown up without me. I miss that little girl who knocked the parents off the dollhouse roof. 

Where did you go?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Standards of Mental Health

1. I consider anything that is forced on someone without their consent to be abuse by default. This includes forcing someone to go to school, therapy, residential treatment, or anything without their consent. If someone tells me that they were obligated to do these things but they do not consider it abuse, I respect that and will not consider it abuse for that person. But my *default* assumption will be that it is abuse until the individual tells me otherwise. A lot of adults consider it acceptable to force certain things onto children, and you have to work hard to convince them that your experience was not okay. I'm the opposite. I assume that anything forced on you was not okay unless you specifically tell me that it was okay. You don't have to work to prove to me that a situation was abusive. Just say the words, "I was forced" and I believe you.

2. When it comes to how well a person is doing or how well a particular program or treatment is working for them, I only believe the testimony of the individuals. I do not consider testimony from parents, teachers, therapists, or anyone else to be valid. This is because parents may have different goals for their children than the children have for themselves, so I cannot judge that a child or teenager is doing well by the child's or teenager's standards if I only hear from parents or other adults involved. I will always accept your testimony of how you are doing as the truth, regardless of what anyone else involved in helping you has to say.

3. Compliance is not consent, and I will never trust compliance as a valid measurement of success. For me to believe that any kind of treatment was successful, I need to see that you either:
A. Feel better emotionally.
B. Are better able to do things that you personally want to do (and you have explicitly stated that you want to do those things)
I will not judge an increased level of compliance - either with adults' orders, with household or school rules, or with the standards of society - as a form of success. If I see an increase in compliance without seeing an increase in your interest in doing the things that you are doing, I will become even more concerned about your well-being.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

No Positivity Allowed

Every time someone says something positive, I'm gonna hurt myself.

I'm gonna keep slicing deeper and deeper until I stop hearing positive things.

Friday, October 13, 2017

On Depression

[Content - depression, self-harm, suicide, severe bullying]

The TV show 13 Reasons Why is about a girl, Hannah Baker, who kills herself and leaves behind 13 tapes for the thirteen people who drove her to that point because of what they did to her. While I don't really like the show and I think it has a lot of issues, I've had a huge problem with most of the criticism that it's gotten. The main criticism I've seen is that the show fails to address mental illness. It never actually comes out and says that Hannah has depression, and it doesn't discuss mental illness as a risk factor of suicide.

This criticism struck a nerve with me because of my own experience with suicidal thoughts. When I was hurting myself and having thoughts of suicide in college, every single person I talked to, with the one exception of my friend Eli, assumed that I must have had a history of depression before I was in college. No one believed me when I told them that I was fine when I came in, that the college and everyone in it shattered me. The premise of my validation book, and of my beliefs in general, is that we are all fragile and we are all responsible for not breaking each other. And that's why I like stories like 13 Reasons Why that put the responsibility on people to treat each other better, that show how you can hurt someone badly enough that you cause them to develop depression or an anxiety disorder or suicidal thoughts, and that you are responsible for that. So when I saw all these criticisms about the show not addressing the fact that Hannah has depression, I was upset because it felt like just another instance of people not wanting to admit that you can drive someone to kill themself. The idea of focusing on depression as a mental illness would make it seem like it's just something that Hannah has, something that needs to be treated by professionals, something that no one else had any responsibility in.

When I told Eli about how much these criticisms upset me, Eli reminded me of the fact that people don't always have to be driven to have depression or suicidal thoughts. They certainly can be, but there are plenty of people who do just develop depression, the same way that you might develop any kind of physical illness, and it doesn't have to mean that they were abused or bullied or that they suffered any kind of trauma or distressing life events. Sometimes you just get depression and there isn't a clear cause. And Eli told me that maybe some of the people who criticize 13 Reasons Why for not discussing mental illness have had experience with the other kind of depression - depression that just comes on and doesn't have a clear root cause. Perhaps those people feel that their experience is being erased by a show that only shows depression and suicide as things that can happen as a result of all the horrible things that people did to Hannah. Because if you have depression and have experienced suicidal thoughts, but you haven't been abused or bullied or had something horrible happen to you, then you've probably experienced a lot of invalidation about how someone in your position could be depressed, a lot of feelings of guilt because you don't think you have anything to be depressed "about," and seeing a TV show that portrays suicide as only a direct result of horrible events could feel invalidating to your experience.

I get that. I had the reverse feeling when I first saw the movie Prozac Nation back in college. I had high hopes for this movie. Back when I was in high school and college, there was a common trope that high school is miserable for everyone and college is awesome for everyone. I had seen so many movies about middle-school and high school bullying, including bullying that led to suicide attempts, and I was desperate to find a story about the same thing happening in college. But I was disappointed when I realized that Prozac Nation was not simply the college version of a story like 13 Reasons Why. In Prozac Nation, the protagonist develops depression while she happens to be in college, but nothing that happens at college seems to cause the depression. And while the protagonist's experience of depression is totally valid, the movie made me feel invalidated because I felt like it was trying to say that depression always works that way - that you just develop it the way that you develop any physical illness and that it's not caused by events or how people treat you and it's not anyone else's fault. I was looking for a story that did put the blame on other people for treating you horribly. I was looking for a story like 13 Reasons Why. I was looking for a story like mine.

I have a hard time seeing depression presented as something you just develop without a clear cause, because it feels like it's invalidating my experience. But I'm sure people who have had depression develop without a cause feel like their experiences are being invalidated when they see depression presented as a result of bullying, abuse, or trauma when they have not experienced those things. And sometimes the causes of depression aren't necessarily "bad" life events - lots of people experience postpartum depression after giving birth - a time when other everyone else probably expects them to be overjoyed. I even knew someone who became depressed and developed suicidal thoughts as a bad reaction to a medication that they were taking for an unrelated issue, when they had been fine before taking the medicine.

I guess what I want to emphasize in this post is that ALL of our experiences are valid. It's valid to say, "This happened because YOU hurt me" and to hold those people accountable. It's valid to say, "This happened because of this life event" even if that life event is not something that most people would think is traumatic, or is not something that you consider traumatic. It's valid to say, "I don't know why this happened, but it did." There are a million reasons why these things can happen, and one reason does not erase another. One person's experience should never erase another's.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Remember

[Self-harm content]

Cutting paper is better than cutting yourself.

If you need to cut the binder, do it.

If you need to shred those pages, do it.

Do whatever it takes.

Destroy everything around you (not everyone, just everything) before hurting yourself.

Take 1,000 selfies before the year is done.

Stop brushing your hair.

And most of all, be as creepy as you want to be on paper.

Be everything that you want to be.

But most importantly, maintain and protect your ability and freedom to be everything that you want to be.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Always

I have *always* been good enough.




















Always.

You Don't Know

You don't know what it feels like to be threatened by everything.

Literally everything.

To be threatened by the very things that are supposed to help you.

It's like you're drowning and someone throws you a pole and you try to grab on but the pole is drenched in poison and burns your hands upon contact and you want to let go but you also don't want to drown so you grab that pole as tight as you can, you wrap your whole body around that pole and climb and climb and your skin is on fire and you keep shutting out your brain's message to let go but finally you can't take it so you do let go, you let yourself fall, but you grab that pole again and climb again and burn yourself again because you desperately don't want to drown, despite what everyone thinks of what you're doing, you don't want this, you don't want to stop breathing, you're doing what you think you have to do to get out. You climb as high as you can up the pole, though not quite as high as the first time, until your brain says let go and you fall again. You grab hold a third time only this time you don't have the strength to climb, you just wrap around the pole and hold on for dear life until you can't take the burning anymore. You fall. You sink to the bottom till someone pulls you out, for a brief moment, and asks what the hell you burned your skin for, and you try to explain that you were drowning and you thought the only way out was to grab that pole drenched in poison. The pole that this person told you to grab, that they told you was the way to save yourself. And you want to talk about the drowning, but instead it's all about why you burned your hands. And the next thing you know, you're drowning again. With no swimming instructions. Just instructions on how not to burn your hands.

You don't know what it's like to be hurt by everything. Every way out.

I know we'll find a way out. I know you won't give up on me.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Today Stuff

Asking, "Can I see your arm?" when you are physically able to see someone's arm without asking is extremely consent-conscious, and I can't express enough how much I appreciated it.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Scared

This is scary. I don't think anyone quite understands how freaking scary this is for me.

It's certainly less scary than the last time, because once you've been caught, it's easier to jump. But it's still so freaking scary.

We're still learning. No one understands how high the cliff is, no one understands how sharp the rocks are at the bottom, no one realizes just how instantly I'll shatter if they can't catch me. And believe me, you've missed on occasion. But I trust you. We're still just learning.

I am so scared of tomorrow. But I can handle it. I really believe that I can handle it. Not in the positive-thought way, but in the sense that I can handle expressing my needs, I can handle explaining how high the cliff is and how sharp the rocks are and how many pieces I'll break into if this trust-fall doesn't work. And I can trust you to listen and understand, and trust myself to know if you do.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Mental Health PSA #1

If someone you knew broke their leg and they went to a doctor to get medical treatment, you would still need to accommodate them in many ways because their leg is broken. You would not say, "Well, you went to a doctor so you should be all better now, let's go a run a marathon!" Seeing a doctor would not replace the person's need for accommodations.

The same is true of mental health. When people have told me or others in a condescending way that we need professional help, they often imply that us getting help is in place of them treating us better. It's not. Seeing a psychologist does not replace people treating you better anymore than seeing a doctor means that you can walk on a broken leg. Professional help is in no way a replacement for being treated with the respect that you deserve.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Song

I don't normally like songs that mention being strong, but this one is really resonating with me right now, about college:


Life Update

I'm seeing a therapist right now who is awesome and I think she can help me with a lot of things. I am very focused on the therapy right now, and a lot of my writing energy is going into written exercises that are part of the therapy, so I may not be writing as much on Facebook or my blog at the moment. (Eventually I will be writing normally again, once I sort of settle into the therapy and it becomes more routine, but while it's still new to me, it's getting a lot of my attention). 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Friends Don't Let Friends Internalize Feelings of Worthlessness

At least not if we can help it.

[Content: feelings of worthlessness and suicidal thoughts]

When someone says or does something that makes your friend feel bad about themself, feel like they can't do anything, feel pathetic, worthless, useless, hopeless, like they have no value or like their life will never get better - HELP THEM FIGHT THOSE FEELINGS. Reassure them of their worth and make it clear that the people treating them that way are doing something wrong. Express your shock, anger, however you feel towards those people and keep reiterating that those people are WRONG and have problems, that it's not your friend who has the problem. I mean that. KEEP REITERATING every possible chance you get. Don't stop. Don't ever think that it's over, it's in the past, your friend must know enough not to believe those things because they're awesome, and it's so obvious to you that they're awesome. Keep telling them that they're awesome. Tell them every day how much you care about them. And every single time the subject comes up of the people who hurt them, keep reiterating that what those people did was not okay. Every. Single. Time. Keep reiterating. Keep fighting. Don't let your friend internalize.

We can't always entirely prevent our friends from internalizing, especially depending on how severe their situation is and how long it's been going on before we entered the picture or came to know about it. But we can help. We can prevent a lot of internalization by reminding our friends of their value and of the fact they are being mistreated.

My last year of college, I believed I was worthless. I thought I had no value. I saw no hope of life getting better. I believed those thoughts about 98%. If I had believed them 100%, I might not be here. But I had one rational thought buried deep in the back of mind, which told me that I was being mistreated, that the people who flat-out told me that my life had no value to them should be fired, that the system was to blame for what happened. My friend Eli kept that thought alive in me. Every single time I told them what was going on, they kept expressing frustration at the system, not at me. They kept reiterating to me that what people did to me was not okay, they were the ones who had a problem, not me. That's what kept me hanging on in the end. I had to survive if I wanted to change the world by being a validator and fighting positivity culture. Eli is the one who convinced me. Eli reiterated to me every day that I was being mistreated, that there was nothing wrong with me. In doing that, Eli saved my life.

I still have a lot of internalized worthlessness as a result of college, and I'm just beginning to acknowledge and confront a lot of those feelings. But I wanted to share this, so you know how much power you have to help someone. You can't always completely rescue someone from a situation, you can't always prevent them from internalizing any bad feelings at all, but you can help. You can help them to not feel entirely worthless if you keep reiterating their value and keep reiterating the problems with all of the people and systems that have mistreated them. You can save someone's life.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

And More Trust

There's a saying, "Love is giving someone the power to destroy you and trusting them not to." But I don't think that this just applies to love. I think that's kind of the relationship you have with a therapist as well. It's scary. It's so freaking scary when you realize how much that person could break you, when you've had therapists break you before.

It's like you have a rock in your arm, and you're told, okay, to get this rock out, you need to cut your arm open. So you cut your arm open. And you're hoping that person knows how to get the rock out and stitch you back together, but you can't be positive, so there's always that potential that you're gonna come out worse.

But I think I can trust this person immensely. So here goes...

Friday, June 23, 2017

Potential

This has the potential to go extremely well. I can feel it. It's scary though, because by nature of what I'm doing, it also has the potential to shatter me into a million pieces. But I'm hopeful this time. I've done the proper research and I'm ready. I am so ready.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Trust

I'm trust-falling off a 100-foot cliff at this point. And I'm scared. I believe you can catch me. You've shown me that you can catch me, you've given me the opportunities to jump. I'm pretty sure I trust you, but I'm scared. It's a long way to fall.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Developer Strength

I've mentioned before that I got to take the Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment for free through a program at work, and I wrote a post about being a maximizer. I'd like to explore something else I learned about myself from the test, relating to my developer strength.

"Developer" was my 5th strength (out of 34), which surprised me a lot. A developer is someone who skilled at helping other people to develop their talents, someone who is good at training and teaching and mentoring. It's interesting because I really never saw myself that way until I took this test. I mean, I know that I have some of that quality, I enjoyed mentoring new students in high school, and my boss has told me that I'm good at training people at work, but I never would have imagined it being one of my top five strengths.

When I was in high school, I LOVED volunteering on orientation night for new students. One year I got to talk to students about a club that I was in, and senior year I actually gave tours of the school to incoming students and their families. I loved that. I felt so in my element. I also volunteered to have a middle-school student shadow me around the school, which was less exciting than I had imagined because my students wasn't really interested in being there (I think all the students were at our high school on a required field trip or something), but still, I always loved volunteering for stuff like that because I loved my high school and loved being able to help new students to have a better experience.

I had always imagined that I would continue with that sort of thing in college, giving tours of the school and having prospective students stay with me, but I never did. I completely lost that interest, and it hurt me to see everyone else doing that stuff knowing that I used to be like that but now I wasn't. I knew logically that it was because I didn't like the school itself, that I probably would still be interested in giving tours if I loved my school, but I really felt like and interest that I had lost. I recently got an email from my grad school (different school) asking if I wanted to be part of an alumni network where I could be a mentor to current students. In theory, it sounded fun. A part of me really wanted to sign up. But I didn't, because it was a business school and it's all about climbing the corporate ladder as high as you can. Most people who go to that school want career mentoring on how to be aggressive and get the best jobs they can and all the stuff that I'm not really interested in.

Seeing the developer strength show up in my top five made me realize that that interest is still in me. It's just gone dormant for a while because I haven't been in places that I wanted to promote, and I haven't been with people who have the kinds of goals that I'd like to help them develop. But I have that quality, and I want to use it more with the people I know. I already used it when I was writing the self-knowledge section of the validation book, where I coach people on how to achieve goals, learn how they work best, and make decisions that are right for them.

At my first performance review at work, my boss complimented me on being so supportive and welcoming to all the new people. I never stopped and thought about that, but when we suddenly had a bunch of new people join, it was really important to me that they felt welcome and understood what to do. I didn't have the best experience when I first started my job, I was in a less warm and friendly department, and so I wanted to make sure that no one else had that kind of experience, that I could make their experiences go as smoothly as possible. It felt like making my culture the kind of culture that I want to be a part of. I want to focus on that more, not just at work, but any time I'm in a situation where I can make it easier for newcomers to enter a group.

I also want to focus more on encouraging people to achieve their goals. One of the qualities of being a maximizer is that you not only focus on developing your own strengths, but you focus on developing other people's strengths. When you combine being a maximizer with being a developer, I could really help other people to develop their strengths! I've always known that I'm not one of those people who would say "Put away your video games and finish your homework," I would say, "Wow, you're great at that video game! Have you ever thought about designing your own video games?" I want to do that more in my interactions with people. I've already helped a friend get out of a bad job situation with a blog post I wrote, so I want to try to do more things like that. I'm getting my query letter together for my validation book, and once that's published, my self-knowledge section will help a lot more people to achieve their goals and develop their strengths.

Finally, one piece of advice that the Strengths Finder results gave me as a developer was to know when to quit, that I have a tendency to keep trying to develop someone to be good in a particular role, and I don't always know when it's time to say that that person just isn't best suited for that job and would be better off moving somewhere else. Now, I didn't think this applied to me very much. I'm normally the first person to say that it's okay if someone is not good at something, and to advise them that they might be happier doing something else. (Although I've never been in the position where it was my choice whether or not an employee could keep their job, so I don't know how difficult it would be for me to let someone go if they really couldn't do the job). But when my mom and I were looking at the results together, she pointed out to me that I *did* do this with some of my friends. Not with my current close friends, but with past people who were not treating me the way that I wanted to be treated. A few years ago, I wrote this post about the essential qualities that I look for in a friend or dating partner: http://yourownkindofmusic.blogspot.com/2014/10/relationship-and-close-friendship.html

I have held onto *a lot* of friends who did not treat me with validation and consent-consciousness, either because we had been friends for a long time, or because they treated me better than other people did, so I felt like I had no other choice. But I always held on thinking that there was hope, that I could get them to be validating and consent-conscious if I worked with them enough.  I mean, no one is 100% invalidating - even for the most invalidating people I know, I can think of individual times when they *did* validate someone's feelings or respect someone's choice not to do something, and I would focus on those things. I would tell myself, okay, I have seen this person be validating and consent-conscious, so I know they have those qualities in them somewhere, I just need to bring them out. I gave these people a lot of praise. I praised them for every single time I witnessed them being validating. But it wasn't just normal praise - it was positive reinforcement. It's like when you praise a child for brushing their teeth, not because it's a huge accomplishment, but because you want them to learn that brushing your teeth is a good thing so that they will continue to do it every day. I gave people over-the-top praise for every time that they were validating in the hopes that they would learn that that was important to me and start treating me with validation all the time. But it didn't work. And like the test said, maybe that was my developer quality coming out, maybe that was my tendency to try to train people and not step back and say that maybe they are just never going to be that way. Going forward, I want to make sure that I don't do this anymore, and that instead of praising people and hoping they will get the hint, I need to talk to people directly about what I am okay and not okay with.

Friday, June 2, 2017

How I Find the Time

There's one question that I've been asked a lot throughout my life.

It came up in high school, when I would tell people that I was on my 9th or 10th journal.

It came up in college, when I was working on my first novel.

It's come up in the past three years, when I was working on the validation book, and also now that I've finished it.

It's come up when I've mentioned how many blog posts I've written, or that I wrote a 100-page blog post about college.

It comes up every time someone looks at what I've done with my coloring calendar.

The question is always, "How do you find the time?"

I want you - the person asking - to consider this question for a moment. Consider why you are asking me how I find the time for something that I do, but not asking other people how they find the time to do the things that they do. Consider how you would feel about asking someone the following questions:

"How do you find the time to study and get good grades?"
"How do you find the time to play on your high school sports team?"
"How do you find the time to work at your job every day?"
"How do you find the time to clean your house?"
"How do you find the time to cook meals every day?"
"How do you find the time to exercise?"
"How do you find the time to take care of children?"

If you think these questions sound weird, then why are you asking me how I find the time to do what I do?

The reason I get asked this question so much is because my culture had always just expected me to put all of these other things first. From the moment I started preschool, I was being pressured to be good at academics, sports, and socializing. Arts were "extra." Art skills were never forced or expected like the other stuff. Sure, we did artwork at school, but it was always treated as extra, as less important, as something that it was totally okay to not be good at. I was never forced to do art like I was forced to do schoolwork. I was never "expected" to be good at art the way that I was expected to get good grades. The only time I've ever been criticized for my art not being good enough was when I was in a special niche group where everyone else valued that type of art, like in drama club and in college creative writing classes.

When it came to the other stuff - school, sports, and socializing - I was being criticized for those things everywhere.  Everyone picked on me for not talking to anyone. Everyone, no matter what group I was a part of. And everyone picked on me for not being athletic. When I went to summer day camp where we did a variety of activities, I was picked on for not being a fast runner, but not for not being good at arts and crafts, even though the camp itself didn't put more emphasis on sports than on arts and crafts. 

When you're an adult, it's the same way - you're just expected to do certain things like have a job and clean your house and cook meals and go to the gym and go to social obligations and raise a family. Those are things you're just "supposed" to do, and everything else is extra.

The reason I have time is because I have never valued any of the things that I was expected to do. The reason I have time is that my art IS my priority, it is an essential part of my life, it is not some kind of extra bonus thing that comes after I've made time for everything else. 

Have you ever read this professor's analogy with the jar of golf balls:


The reason that I have time is that all of my art pieces are golf balls. All of my art pieces are the first things that go into my jar. If it seems incredulous to you that I could have time to write a book, it's because you are subscribing to the idea that I am supposed to put a bunch of other things into my jar before writing a book, and you're wondering how I have room. I have room because I never put anything else into that jar before my book.

This is my basic priority list:
1. Relationships.
2. Central Passion.
3. Other Fun.
4. Everything Else.

My "central passion" is whatever I am most passionate about, which at the moment for me is writing, and specifically writing my current book. That means the only thing in my life that is more important to me than writing my book is maintaining my relationships with my family and friends. (And the first priority only involves maintaining relationships I already have, not forming new ones). That's it. There is nothing else that comes before it. Other writing and art projects - such as blog posts and the coloring calendar - are at the top of category 3. There are some fun things that come before them, but they are pretty close to the top of my list. There are not a lot of things that come before any of my art projects.

So, you wanna know how I find the time?

1. I didn't have any school-related goals. I did just enough to get by, I chose to do what I wanted to do instead of studying more, and I spent a lot of my in-school hours mentally writing and mapping out personal projects.

2. I don't have serious career goals. I chose a job that would not be mentally stimulating so that I would have plenty of time and energy to do whatever I want outside of work. I never think about work outside of work. I only work the minimum 40 hours a week that are required. I never come in early or stay late no matter what. When my company went through this nightmare transition where they were basically begging people to do overtime, I didn't do it. I was probably the only person on my whole floor who was offered OT and didn't do it. I don't care how bad that makes me look. I never work more hours than I'm required. I don't aspire towards any higher position where I'll be expected to work longer hours or to take work more seriously than I do now.

3. I never cook or clean. I do laundry maybe once every two or three weeks, depending on if there's something I want to wear that's dirty. I do dishes maybe every three or four weeks, basically until I run out of dishes to eat off of (and I usually push it beyond that). I hardly ever do anything else. Besides laundry and dishes, I clean maybe once every two to three months. I probably cook my own food about once a month, sometimes once every two months.

4. I don't have fitness goals. I go walking and jump at the trampoline park regularly because I enjoy it, and because certain forms of exercise stimulate my mind and help me to write. But I always treat exercise as a fun activity and never as an obligation, never as something that I need to do before I do other things that I want to do. 

5. I don't enjoy the same quantity of socializing that other people do. I socialize less, and I don't socialize purely for the sake of it - I have to either have a close relationship with the people and really want to spend my time with them, or I have to love the activity that we're doing. One time, I was working on a writing piece, when my boyfriend said that we got invited to go swimming with some friends. I said yes I'd love to go because I love swimming. When we arrived at the friend's house where we were meeting, it looked like it was going to rain, and everyone had pretty much decided that we weren't going to swim anymore. They were all just hanging around the apartment talking and saying maybe we could go to Panera or something instead. I turned around and went home. I was only interested in going swimming, not in just hanging out at someone's apartment or going to Panera. I may have stayed if these were my close friends, but they were more my boyfriend's friends, and I was not interested in staying if we weren't going to swim. Most people wouldn't turn around and head home in that situation, but that is generally how I roll. I would much rather do something I love by myself than do something I don't love with other people.

Additionally, I don't do social obligations. Yes, I'll go to someone's wedding, graduation, birthday, etc if I have a relationship with them, but I will not go to stuff like that when it's an obligation through someone else, like when I went to anniversaries and birthdays and graduations for people I didn't know because I was my boyfriend's girlfriend so I was expected to be at those events. I had no fun, I did not want to spend my time that way, and I did not have a relationship with these people where it meant a lot to them for me to be there. I regret spending my time that way, and if I ever get a new relationship, I will make sure the other person understands all of this and is not assuming that I'm going to be their +1.

6. I will never enter into an intimate relationship with anyone who expects me to put my priorities in a different order.

So to answer your question, THAT is how I find the time.