I became an egg.

Ben and I got into a discussion earlier in the semester about how we’ve both changed. And a great chunk of it is for the better. But because we’re both in school, and surrounded by people that aren’t us, we’re picking up the mannerisms and behaviors of those other people. Me more than him. (I’m a people sponge.) And as we were talking, the story of the boiling water popped into mind.

The Campbell’s soup (condensed) edition of this story is that a child had an anger outburst and the parent, boiling water on a stove, asked them to retrieve an egg, a carrot and coffee. Pouring three cups of boiling water, each of the items was placed in a separate cup for a few minutes. When asked what the foods had to do with the anger, the parent replied that the egg, which had started off soft and fragile, when placed in hot water, became hard and rigid. The carrot, while firm and strong at first, became pliable and easily enough cut down. But the coffee, the coffee changed the water itself.

This is, of course, the metaphor for dealing with hard times. You either become tough and hardened, soft and depleted or you change the situation altogether.

Unfortunately, law school was my hot water and I became an egg.

Last semester was all about me surviving the frying pan without jumping into the fire. I threw up walls, didn’t let others in and became an all-around really oppressive force. I was so convinced that I needed to constantly prove my worth that I began to be, well, a bully. And I felt the change. I felt the words tumble out of my mouth the way bile does. I didn’t seem to be able to stop myself. I had wanted so badly to prove that I could handle everything that I was actually proving exactly the opposite.

Thus the talk.

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(Image from FreeImages.com)

Now, I don’t know if it’s possible to become coffee from an egg. But I’ve noticed the shift-just slightly-and I like it much more. I hold what I’ve deemed “Lunch Therapy” where other students come and we all sit and talk about what’s bothering us while we eat lunch. I ask people about their day, their life, I take an interest. Not because I’m trying to change the climate of the school, but because that’s who I am. Not the person who picks up on insecurities and jokes about them, but the person who cares too much. A couple people have really gotten into the idea, and I’m hoping that it will catch on, because it helps everyone focus on that self-care.

And I don’t know why I thought that was a bad thing. Empathy was my style since high school-when I used to stay up all night and talk people down from suicide. People would call and text me and I’d sneak around my house to find a private place and listen. I’ve always created a safe space for people to help themselves heal. Why was I so unwilling to carry that trend?

Because I had wounds that needed healing too.

And that, friends, is the thing about self-care. If you don’t keep up on it, if you put it to a back-burner for a while, you’ll be notified really plainly that you’re in trouble. And it’s so much more than drinking water and getting sleep and social activities. It’s the small, annoying things that make a huge difference. And for me, it was a void of validity. I needed something to make me feel worthy/respected/accepted/etc. And I thought that what I was doing was it, but I was wrong.

When I gave up facades for lent (for a religion I don’t practice, no less), this was the journey I agreed to. Restructuring my life so that instead of a rotten egg, I’d get back to being the earthy, grounded, free-spirit, passionate, hurricane of a me.

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My Own Version

When I was little(r), my dad told me that I shouldn’t dye my hair because it was bad for me. I told him that it was my hair, and that if he didn’t like it, he didn’t have to wear it everyday. I look back at that and laugh. I was so stubborn, so convinced that I knew what was right for myself that I resorted to a simplistic sort of logic.

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(I’m the one with her mouth wide flipping open haha.) I went to prom that year as Cinderella. Literally. But while we’re looking, quick shout out to my beautiful friend: Amber for putting up with me since we were chill’uns. This is literally one of my favorite pictures from high school.

Anyway, I don’t want to flood this post with nostalgic pictures of me, but darn it, my hair looked so great in high school. Look:

See? I really did go as Cinderella. And the bottom right is my favorite picture. The top right is what happened after I dyed it again.

I’ve always done things my own way. Even if that means that I gather some really negative feedback. My hair was literally the most rebellious thing I have ever done. I have never done drugs, I didn’t taste champagne until I was 17 (from my parents’s glass at a wedding) and I didn’t have my first glass of wine until a week after my 21st birthday. I didn’t drive illegally, I almost always made curfew and I basically stayed out of trouble and did homework. But I needed to express myself the only way I knew how: artistically.

I’ve been in college since January 2012. I will be done in May 2020 (with ALL my schooling) and I have to say, since I started school and had jobs, I’ve been pretty much plain.I go to class, I go to work, my clothes grow more “professional” each year and a little less “punk-grunge-emo”. I’ve added weight when I added classes and I grow more “adult” with each passing day. But I crave the way I used to feel. Indestructible, flawless, powerful. I had problems. I was a little caterpillar struggling to fit in my cocoon. But I knew I just had to emerge and be beautiful. And now I struggle for the fierce me that I used to be.

So the thing is, I put off taking “care’ of myself for the future, when I regain control of my life. I’ll buy new clothes when I lose weight. I’ll get that tattoo I’ve been talking about for years when I graduate. I’ll work out more right after this stomach flu/period cycle/bad day is over. And suddenly I’ve reached the point where the out-of-control feeling is starting to look like I controlled myself right out of the life I wanted. I talk about self-care a bit, and I mean every word. But I guess I always interpret it as physical or emotional care. But mental and material care are really important too.

I always tell myself that I can’t do what I want because it will cost me something in the future. I can’t get my tattoos because no employer will hire me. I can’t keep piercing my ears for the same reason. I can’t be unprofessional because I won’t be as valued by society.

And then I thought about how many stupid times a day I stand in my own way. I literally control myself to the point that I have become an abusive relationship WITH MYSELF.No wonder I wake up spiraling because I feel trapped!

Here’s the most recent picture of me. Notice the rounder face, the longer hair that is basically the most natural color I’ve had since I was in 8th grade. (Doing my civic duty, no less!)

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This story does have one perk though!

Although I feel oftentimes that life is pushing me into the mainstream adulting model, I know that it’s not the end of the world. And if more people take what I have to say seriously, then I will keep my straight-laced, no shenanigans me. Because I know that I will change the world, I just haven’t gotten there yet.

Maybe this summer will find me with carefree hair and hair chalk. Maybe I’ll keep the long hair and just work out or something. At the end of the day, it just matters that I love the person I am-regardless of the consequences. Maybe I’ve just been scared to not love myself enough. And that must change. I have to regain my ability to do things my own way or risk losing the fabulous person I’ve worked so hard to become.

Hindsight

When I was in high school, there happened an event that has stuck with me ever since.

I was the field commander of the high school marching band. It was the best thing that could have happened to me, honestly. I took my job very seriously, regarding each of the band members and color guard as members of my own family, who I would defend to the death (I was very theatrical back then). Anyway, part of my duties was to ensure safe transport of persons and equipment post game. Our instruments were hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. So I would holler out “Band coming through!” And other things, like “Watch out!” And “Excuse us!”

 

(This is basically my podium/ladder-basically huge)

 The event happened one home game my first year commanding (I was commander for 2 years-the first in school history, I believe). I was VERY passionate about my job, but also very polite and I was trying to get all the band and guard members into the school without damaging anything or anyone. Carrying my “ladder” (it was a platform I conducted from which was more than twice my size and a workout all its own), I was announcing our departure when a group of our school’s football players came up from behind me and yelled “No one gives a shit about you band faggots.” And I do not think there has been a single moment in the history of who I am that I contemplated murder more seriously. I think I could have wafted my ladder at him (and yes, I know exactly who he was) and it would havebeen a blood bath. Thankfully my director saw and heard what had happened and talked me down. If I recall, I had to stay after the game because he was telling me about how some football player wasn’t worth my future. I fumed about it for days.  And when the football player came down to the band room to apologize to the director (but not the rest of us), I saw red once more. If it had been a band member, we would have been crucified! How dare he just get off with some shitty apology! Make him pay, dammit!

  

But this story doesn’t end there. Fast forward to the last day of the year 2015 (so today-6 years later), that same football player and one of his cohorts is playing Call of Duty with my husband. They know who he is, but none of them know who I am, other than his wife. So my husband (who was in the band as well) asked if they remembered that incident, as well as a couple others. And they did. I held no hopes that they might have changed, fully expecting them to make more slurs and laugh about it. My opinion was so low, even after over half a decade of separation that I expected them to be the same low-life people they had been before. And after six years of holding that grudge, I got my apology. 

  

So, there was enough time in 2015 to see to it that I learned one more lesson. I spent a good chunk of time today thinking about the implications of the entire event. How is it that I try so hard to hide the mistakes I made in high school from the me I am now, so that people judge me (and you know they will) based on the person they see before them and not the one from before-but would not extend the same courtesy to someone I barely knew? Why did I expect him and his friends to not change what-so-ever, but to have seen nothing short of a revolution in myself? What did that say about me?

And as I look at the clock, watching time pass by, I have a smile on my face. I cannot condone his actions, but my own are no different. I had originally started this post as a declaration of how we are all pressured into being unique but also conforming. And what I learned was that those are the struggles which have defined my past. I’m going into 2016 with a keen awareness that maybe I need to do more to be a kinder person, to keep less stereotypes, to open my heart to forgiveness and the pursuit of happiness. Because one of the only things that is more liberating than”I love” is “I forgive”.

  

Time may change me, but I can’t change time.

The Part that Slapped Me In The Face

I made my post earlier, about the things that bother me and I’m going to add a little to it,but also record my experience today. I’m going to approach it all as openly as I can. I’m not trying to prove anything, I just want to write today. I admit, the irony is a little astounding, and I will just say that I am human and sometimes I make mistakes.
The Background:I celebrate Christmas because it’s engrained in my head as something I shall always do. I also celebrate Yule, because I enjoy the solstice. I looked at the clock, after trying in earnest to get some homework done. I  switched gears a little to explore housing for next academic year. And I found some potential places which look wonderful. I shared my finds with my husband, we settled on a couple and  began to dig into them a little deeper.

The Emotion:I seldom feel so defeated as when I look at the cost of things. Like, basic necessity, right to life things. It amazes me how much it costs to live, even when you skrimp and save to afford the basics. Not luxury items, just the bare necessities to get by. So I closed my screen and curled up beside my husband and just cried. I cried for myself, for us both, for people out there who also have to make hard decisions each and every day. I felt overwhelmed, broken down and exhausted. He said “at least we have each other.” I couldn’t even make myself smile about that. How sad on my part. I was so overcome by all the things that were hard.

The Reality:I made up my mind that I hated being poor. I hated that we had to choose our level of comfort based on the electric bill. I hated that we had to show up to our parents’ houses without presents for everyone so that we had enough money to buy groceries. I hated that we were given a  1-foot tall tree (by my wonderful parents) that we couldn’t afford to decorate nor could we afford to turn the attached Christmas lights on, because we need every dollar we have. I hated that we are so close to the holiday season and we can’t give our friends anything more than a smile and a text message. I felt so disheartened. So I got on my phone and looked at the Christmas radio station. Have a Holly Jolly Christmas came on and I was offended. How dare music try to force me into a good mood when I had so many complaints? 

 I still have all of those feelings. It makes me sad, and very much so that I cannot afford many of the luxuries that accompany the holiday season. And in the back of my head, there was a little voice that urged me to please, just believe in all the good things, that there are so many who have even less than you. I’m not sure why people use that line. It’s meant to get you to stop whining, but it honestly just makes me feel like a 1. bigger piece of shit and 2. even more upset for them. I just sat, curled into my blankets crying, wondering why it was so painful, why it was so hard to just live.

The Slap:Why couldn’t I have been born without the need to help people live better lives? Then I could work at a meaningless job and make money and have whatever I wanted. Or if I had to help people, why couldn’t I have been born to a wealthy family who could use their resources to further my ability to help, making it possible to first help myself? But you can’t always get what you want. And I know that. It just hurts my feelings that so many people have loads of things that they aren’t thankful for, and I have so little. And it was that thought, that singular thought that halted me.

Why did I feel entitled to anything more than the body I live in? What really are the basic necessities of life? The universal rights of human beings?

The Resolution:And I decided, over a cup of coffee, that it didn’t matter. I cannot let the world bring me down forever with its injustices and unfairness. If I want the world to be a better place, I am exactly where I need to be. Because if I were rich, how could Ipossibly understand the way that “socioeconomically underprivileged” people felt? How could I possibly relate? So in all honesty, yea, I still hate that life isn’t fair. But maybe that’s why I have to experience it. I can’t know how to help if I don’t even understand why the help matters so damn much.

And for the record, I’m making our ornaments out of a cardboard box, with tin foil and markers. Because:

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” 

― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

The One With All The Problems

I’ve been trying to come up with a blog that isn’t preachy or condescending or depressing or overly critical, and I’ve come short almost every time. I know that my interests and passions are not those of others, and I respect that there are people out there with different opinions. I try to be understanding and accommodating of those differences. We all have different backgrounds, different vantage points and different futures. Each of them is valid and it is something of a marvel, truly. 

And then I remembered that this is my blog, and if I want to complain or preach or whatever else it is that I so choose, I can. I do not live in a country where I feel the need to be afraid of my words and ideas, and for that I will always be thankful. And it is with that in mind, that I would like to engage in a soapbox rant. But first, a little side note: I chose the title, because I’ve been binge watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. in my spare time (when I have some) and I have a little bit of a nostaliga problem. Anyway.

If you say you are going to do something, do it. If you claim to be an adult, act like it. If you live in the apartment below ours and you feel like having a party in the middle of the night in the middle of the week, grow up!

But I guess that’s all besides the point, isn’t it? I mean, my real frustration right now isn’t necessarily the lack of responsibility shown by a lot of people, it’s the general lack of respect and common decency.

My parents were not perfect, are not perfect. But I know that. And as an adult, I know that they gave it their very best, every day. But the one thing I am exceptionally grateful for is the fact that no matter what they tried to teach me (I was a stubborn child), the lesson that stuck was respect. So naturally, growing up in a small town, with small town values and settings and friends, I grew a little too fond of the way we all knew each other’s parents and values. Some got a little rebellious, and that, I suppose you could say happens. There are also the people from that small town who never understood what it meant to be considerate and respectful.

I’m not perfect, and I will always be the very first person to admit that. The stubborn streak I had as a child, it only grew and with it, little spurts of anger accompanied by a large amount of ranting. But I know that when someone asks me to keep a secret, I do. When someone needs a hand, I lend one. When someone needs an ear to bend, a kind word or a healthy dose of reality, I am there 100%. Sometimes I need those things too. But I’ve found that outside of some of those lasting friendships I made in the small town I grew up in, not too many people understand that.

It’s all take and no give. And I can’t seem to wrap my head around that. 

 You see, the thing is that of all the things I listed up top about “understanding”, not having a code of conduct which follows a general “Don’t be a dick.” guidelines doesn’t make sense to me. How is it that you cannot seem to understnad that being an adult means being responsible, but also so much more than that. It means understanding that you aren’t the only person in the whole wide world who matters. It means working toward a compromise instead of calling in someone older or bigger than you to solve your problems for you. It means helping out, even when you think you are better than the task at hand (In which case you NEED to be helping out). Being an adult was never about a show for power-that’s being a child. Being an adult means taking the hard way every time so that you will be refined into a success story.

I also don’t understand people who leech off of their parents even though they are “adults”. My parents, whom I love, were not exceptionally wealthy while I was growing up. They worked hard for everything we had, and I saw that. I may not have always understood, but I do now. When I was an only child, I remember Christmases where presents stacked almost higher than the tree. When I turned 4, my brother had just been born and I was still well-gifted. By the time I was 8, my sister had been born, and there was a slight change in Christmas. By the time my brother and I were teenagers, Christmas was more intimate, more family oriented. And you know what? I knew at the age of 15 that my parents were working harder than ever to make sure we had everything we needed, let alone what we wanted. I understood. 

And when I went to college, I moved out on my own. I understood why life was so hard. Money comes from 16 hour shifts three days in a row, followed by a full day of classes, homework and then more work. It doesn’t just appear, it (like respect) has to be earned. When someone who didn’t understand that got in between my boyfriend (who is now my husband) and I from moving to a new apartment, I spent my  21st and 22nd birthdays back with my parents. It just so happened that my husband and I needed to move closer to campus and found two other college students who did as well and we all became roommates.

I’ve met people since then who need their parents for just one thing-money. They go out to eat every day, buy things they don’t need and have no time for, waste resources that could be conserved. I watch people, you see. And it greatly influences my perception on the world. Or maybe it just increases how confused I am by it. And there continues to be more confusion.

I spent my first year of undergrad thinking I wanted to be a pediatric oncologist. I had the grades, the study habits and the desire. A year later, I thought I wanted to be a nurse, because that was who I felt would help the most people. A year later, I settled into anthropology. I didn’t pick it for the fame or the recognition or the reasons I wanted to be a doctor or nurse. I picked it because, well, it picked me. And now, I get to look at cultures-but more specifically, I get to look at religious hate crimes and religious extremism (as well as the occult and all things mythological and religion based).

But why am I telling you all this? Because I have come across quite a few kinds of people in my short time on this planet, and I have only ever found three types I didn’t understand.

1. The ones who don’t know how to respect someone else, have some decency and responsibilty.

2. The ones who use thier parents for money, and cannot stand on their own.

3. The ones who are so filled with hate that they cannot fathom each other as equals.

When I look around, I see huan beings, filled with potential, open to the world. And it hurts my heart to see people hate so much that they do not see it too. It hurts my heart that there are people who only look out for themselves, their own best interests. I don’t understand, and I feel like maybe that’s okay.

  

A Rant, If You Will

I’m almost 23 years old. I work hard to be the best adult I can be. That means some very specific things to me. (This list is in no way complete. It’s just a snapshot.)

1. Paying bills before buying non-essentials

2. Putting others before myself, but never neglecting myself

3. Being responsible

It is this last one that I need to rant about currently.

  
If you say you are going to be somewhere or do something or behave in a certain manner, you had best do it. I know life comes up, but that is only an excuse once or twice. Any more than that and you are WELL aware that you are not capable. For example. I have a really large issue driving and being in a car in general. It’s PTSD from a bad crash a couple years ago. Therefore, I do not volunteer to drive places. And since I moved to the big city, I am forced to either push my comfort zone or be a shut in and ask my kind friends to come to me. I do not say “Oh yes! I would love to drive!” and then back out, because I am aware of my personal limitations. 

Moreover, I am bipolar. I know this, and now so do you. I don’t use it as an excuse, it is simply a part of me. I have periods of time where it is difficult for meto get out of bed, change into anything besides pajamas, or even brush my hair. I also have periods where I sleep half an hour a day and think that a 20 page paper is no sweat. But no matter which of those moments I am in, I force myself to keep up with my general way of life. Going to class, wearing day clothes, doing homework, doing house chores, answering my texts and phone calls. It is difficult, but I do it because I know that I can’t just let my life pass me by. I am the only one who can live it, and there are a great many things on my bucket list that need accomplishing. None of those things will ever be done if I don’t keep pushing myself.

Being responsible means being able to admit when you CANNOT do something just as often as when you CAN. And it bothers me that there are so many “adult aged” individuals that I come in contact with on a daily basis who cannot seem to understand that. I am blessed with the friends who understand what this word means, and for that I am forever thankful. I just wish there were more people who understood the gravity of their actions. I mean, being an adult is no walk in the park, but if you’re going to try walking with the “big boys and girls”, you had darn well have your walking shoes.