December 18, 2014 ~ 0 Comments

ownership and identity

You know how people are supposed to feel like their house is theirs? How you expect that one day you’ll feel at home in your own space and in your own skin? Well, I don’t. And I never have.

I have always felt as though I’m just biding my time wherever I am. In my relationships, in my dwelling places, my offices, my jobs. I’m just filling a space, bridging a gap, pausing for a moment but never truly settling in. Whether I’m filling spaces for others or for myself, I can’t be sure. But that’s all it’s ever felt like.

I’ve never felt as though anything I have is truly mine. If someone came along with a compelling reason he deserved my coat more than I did, I’d probably give it to him. And then I’d apologize for having kept it so long.

As with all other character traits of this sort, the worst part is not the listlessness or the feeling of being alien even on my home turf. It’s the shame of feeling that way. It’s the knowledge that I will never be perceived as “cool” by the people around me because I have nothing that is mine. The recollection of being deemed a “chameleon” with no defining characteristics, no hobbies, no real identity that wasn’t formed in an effort to fit in. I thought someday I’d move past that. I was sure I’d get older and more fully formed and suddenly I’d have passions and convictions and things that make me me. But I don’t. And I don’t feel at home here. Not just in Memphis or in my house but in my body, sometimes even inside my head. I feel as though I am both trapped and drifting. And it’s the worst feeling in the world.

April 03, 2013 ~ Comments Off

the reality of having kids

I had an incredibly refreshing conversation with my dental hygienist last night about having children. Thus far in life, when I have brought up never liking children or really wanting any of my own, people have never failed to tell me my opinion will definitely change, that it’s different when they’re your own, etc. But even if those people are over-the-moon in love with their offspring, that doesn’t mean I will be. So I’ve given up on trying to be positive and open-minded-sounding about it. When my hygienist asked whether my husband of 9 months and I were thinking about having kids, I said, “We’ve talked about it, but I definitely know we’re not ready now, and I’m really not sure I’m ever going to want any. I was never one of those teenagers who babysat, and I’ve never spent much time around children, but I just don’t have an affinity for them.”

And you know what she said? She opened her eyes up wide (the rest of her face was covered with a surgical mask, but I have to assume the remainder of her expression was just as earnest) and said, “Then don’t have any. I never wanted kids, so ours were more of an ‘oops’ situation. And while I wouldn’t trade them for the world now, if I’d never met them? I wouldn’t choose to have kids again. You have kids and you give up your life. It’s not really your life anymore – it’s theirs.”

I have never had anyone speak so bluntly to me about this topic. The closest I’ve gotten is having someone say, “Well, sure, you just got married, so you should wait a year or two – then you’ll definitely want to have some!”

Maybe it’s that I’m still very much a girl rather than a woman, or because I grew up way too fast as a kid and then got stuck in the later stages of childhood, quasi-Freudian-style, but I don’t trust myself caring for another life. I spend way too many waking hours as it is arranging things just so and doing things in a particular order in the hopes that the universe will not smite my husband out of existence. And I can really only use my universe-wrangling skills for one person at a time, so he’s bound to die if we have a kid and I get distracted protecting him/her from untimely demise. I just can’t let that happen.

We had a dog once, for a week. She was a two-year-old border collie with a few nervous tics, but mostly just an average dog’s inclination to bark and whine and be weird in a new person’s home. And we couldn’t handle it. Bryan worked from home every day at that point, and we couldn’t handle it. He would stand frozen in the backyard, covering his ears, while she barked in unison with a perturbed neighbor dog. I’d clench my fists in frustration when I’d take her outside over and over again to poop and she’d just flat-out refuse. We barely keep up with the cats’ litter box as it is. I sleep five hours a night already, due to insomnia and stress. I have no desire to shake things up. I have no maternal instinct. Thank you, hygienist lady, for making it feel OK for the first time ever.

March 20, 2013 ~ Comments Off

my life as one long identity crisis

I think one of the most frightening things about having little to no self-assuredness is wondering if your interests are really your own. It sounds weird, I know, but I’ve never really had a hobby. Like, I guess you could say writing in this blog (and others, mostly LiveJournal) is a hobby, but I do it so irregularly nowadays, I feel like it doesn’t count.

But, seriously. I am passionate about nothing. I barely have the energy to engage in the activities I’m forced to on a daily basis (work, not punching people in the face when they annoy me, commuting, brushing my teeth) let alone finding and doing things that make me happy.

At the age of 28, you’d think I would no longer be wondering if I draw just because Shawn does, enjoy geeky shit just because Bryan does (and Matt S. and Jason F. did before him) or love animals because my mom banned anything bigger than a hermit crab. My interests are vague and scattered, like my life is one giant Pinterest board mishmash of really cool shit I’m never actually going to attempt myself.

Here are some things I said I’ve wanted to do in the last year or two:

  • Buy a kayak and use it regularly, even just on the small lake at the urban park
  • Draw something every day and improve my pitiful drawing skills
  • Write in my blog every day, or at the very least three times a week
  • Exercise every other day so I can stop feeling like the most slovenly of fat slobs
  • Eat more vegetables and fruit so I can stop hating them so much
  • Make at least 5 new friends with whom I can share more than awkward pleasantries and/or who actually think to call me when they’re going to hang out and do something fun
  • Travel somewhere cool at least twice a year
  • Re-learn how to knit and crochet
  • Make some cheap artwork for the walls of our house
  • Re-learn some conversational Spanish
  • Decide about going back to school
  • Become a freelance copy editor in the hopes of pursuing it as a full-time career
  • Listen to more music and find ways to learn about new bands/songs
  • Go to some actual cultural events in Memphis, because there are TONS
  • Read at least a book a month (I’ve really sucked at reading for the past… 5 years? It’s ridiculous.)
  • Watch some of the movies people say are awesome but I’ve never seen (working on this – see: Silver Linings Playbook and Safety Not Guaranteed)
  • Become part of a club or group or loosely knit social something-or-other that engages in regular outings of a cultural, food-centric, fun, crafty, geeky or girly nature
  • Become good enough at some kind of handicraft that I can either give everyone as holiday gifts or sell on Etsy
  • Learn how to do all those household DIY things that abound on Pinterest: handmade soap, laundry detergent, makeup, shampoo, etc.
  • Refinish my desk from Goodwill and start on some other woodworking projects with my new Christmas tools (power sander, jigsaw)
  • Find a place in Memphis to volunteer that not only does something good for someone else and helps an organization in need, but truly makes me happy and involves a great group of people who make me feel welcome

We all have lists like this, I know. And not all of these are potential passions, or even hobbies, but they’re not lifelong goals either (apart from one or two). I do, however, feel like they’re doable. I just have to find the energy to do them. And I have to stop questioning my reasons: I mean, honestly, if I pick up a hobby because of a friend, and eventually become passionate about it myself, does that invalidate it somehow? And if I end up doing it for a while just to spend time with that friend, is that so wrong? I hope not.

I do someday want to feel like I have a definition, though. Maybe it’s just that I’ve been surrounded for years by self-assured people who are extremely defined (aside from my best friend, who feels a lot like I do about hobbies and passions these days). But I want to feel like that too. I don’t want to think about other people or their opinions when I’m drawing a picture or building something from wood. I don’t want to do things for others (aside from as gifts or in a volunteer capacity). I want it to be something that drives me from within, something that pulls me to it like a brightly glowing flame and won’t let go for several hours at a time. I have literally never felt that about anything in my life. I really want to feel it someday.

March 14, 2013 ~ Comments Off

rare expressions

I’ve realized recently how rarely I hear and say things like, “I hope we talk tomorrow.” It’s so easy to say, but we don’t. I always thought it was the more overt things that got overlooked with time – I love you, I miss you – but the smaller expressions actually have more of an impact on my heart.

I hope we talk tomorrow.

I’m glad we’re friends.

I’m glad we met.

I had so much fun tonight.

You make me smile.

My face hurts from laughing.

You’re sweet.

You’re my favorite person.

I can’t wait to see you.

Thank you for being there.

March 14, 2013 ~ Comments Off

the pervasiveness of low self-confidence

It occurred to me today just how much having low self-confidence affects my daily life. And how much I’ve avoided dealing with it by choosing to be isolated from the world.

I had a brainstorming session this afternoon with a good friend/coworker about a multimedia presentation for our company’s upcoming national convention. It’s set to be a 30-minute mix of PowerPoint-led talks and video segments, all tied together neatly with one strong thread of a theme. But I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around how to create it, because, well, I’ve never done anything like this before. So I enlisted the help of the guy who will be making the video segments and who is a screenwriter and a creative mastermind in his spare time too.

But I realized I am the world’s worst brainstormer. Typically meetings like that involve me sitting there quietly, taking notes while other people talk, and nodding enthusiastically when someone has a particularly poignant thought. This time, it was just me and him (and *I* had called the meeting) – clearly I had to say SOMEthing.

What I found was that every thought came out couched in the most absurd of apologetic statements: “This is going to sound stupid, but…,” “…but that’s just an idea; it may not work” or “I have no idea if you can do this, so it’s probably a terrible idea.” I spent exactly 50% more time laying out ideas because I couldn’t stop myself from making sure he knew that I didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, nor should he think any of it had value.

I’ve always been this way, and I’ve never had great aspirations of someday becoming a manager or leading any sort of charge professionally. And I’m sometimes pretty good at tricking people into having confidence in me by being really awesome at what I do quietly, in the background, and making sure I’m not invited to too many meetings where they’ll be able to see my true shy, incompetent colors.

Beyond the brainstorm example, there’s the fact that I am too scared to ask my husband to rub my back when I feel sad or suggest sex when I’m feeling sexy. What if I make him feel guilty for not thinking of it first? What if I make him feel like he’s doing things wrong somehow?

Sometimes I feel like, between the problems I have with communication and the even bigger problems I have with self-confidence, I am not really clear on how to be any sort of functioning human being in the world. I can’t get past this plexiglass case I’ve built around myself for protection, and I don’t know how to embrace who I am enough to really want to. It is the surest self-fulfilling prophecy I’ve ever witnessed. And I’m all wrapped up in it.