Do Anything

Note: Let’s try something, every time my mind yells a swear word I’ll write “frick” and every time I zone out I’ll mention it, both in italics. Other stuff in italics will be inner thoughts. Prepare to enter my mind. Sorry.

***

Do anything. When I’m feeling extremely unmotivated, this is my only plea. Do anything. I’ve had days where I am so zoned out, it’s difficult to type “written by: Laura”. (That happened a week ago…) Frick. I’m zoning out now. I don’t know why other people annoy me so much. Zone out I feel inadequate. In comparison, I feel inadequate. Yeah, yeah, don’t compare. Moreover, my flaws are another’s dreams. Yeah! Well, same here! I don’t like me. What I do like, I feel like I can’t mention, because then people make faces and say I have a big ego. What I don’t like I can’t mention either, because then I’m told I’m exaggerating. That I don’t appreciate what I have. Frick.

When I’m in a bad place. Let’s say in a funk. (I don’t want to say depressed, because some people get uppity about the use of that word. Plus, I haven’t been to a psychologist since about half a year, so I don’t have a professional to confirm that.) Anyway, when I’m in a funk, Zone out, frick I –my mind zones out a lot and also does some not so nice things. The first is that it curses. I curse? In my head? I don’t know.

Example, Zone out if I zone out, the moment I realize I was doing something and zoned out, I’ll hear “F**K!” in my head. I don’t tell people about this or the other thing my brain does. So, often, people will think I’m exaggerating when I say I’m down, can’t concentrate, or anything negative. They’ll quote how smart I am or some accomplishment of mine. It could be grades, or how organized I seem, something along those lines

What they don’t understand, is that I have to be that “great”. I have to be super organized and a try-hard when I can, because I know how horrifying it is to sit in front of a blank computer screen with my mind just as blank. Frick *Remembering the last time this happened* I know how bad it gets, so when I am okay, I need to be better! To make up for what I know will come. Because my funks are a cycle. Zone out Or a roller coaster. Who knows?

Zone out Ummmmm But most people only see the “good” parts of me. They see when Zone out I work on assignments or give presentations (for context, I just graduated university in May and now I’m in an internship that also has a ton of assignments and grades). They don’t see when I get home from a business trip out of town and flee to the bathroom to quietly sob before wiping my eyes and pretending nothing happened.

They see me watching YouTube on the couch all afternoon for days in a row and call me lazy. They don’t know that it’s either that or stare into space. Sometimes I believe them. I think, why am I so lazy and unmotivated? Why don’t I just work on what I should? I tried this last week. In my defense, it does work sometimes. Sometimes, I don’t want to get to work on homework, but once I start, it’s okay. I get into a rhythm and I’m fine. Last week, I just succeed in getting progressively more self-loathing and blaming myself for not starting. Think: staring at a blank computer screen.

Do anything. That’s what I tell myself in those moments. Even if I should be working on an essay or a case study (*cough cough* me right now…), I allow myself to work on whatever I want or am motivated to. Doing anything, even if that anything is making a faux Christmas tree out of tissue paper (featured picture) or writing this blog post, is a million times better than last week when I started “working” at 3pm, and “worked” until 12pm because it took me that long to type up four paragraphs on lactation. Frick.

Blah. This building I’m in doesn’t have working air conditioning. An— Frick!! I was looking up the temperature where I am, but got distracted by my friend texting me. Twice. Frick. Frick! Stop it brain! Umm, so yes. It’s about 84 degrees outside, and hotter inside this non-air-conditioned building. And I’m cold.

You think my normal posts are long and rambly? Yeah, well, my mind is worse. What was I going to say? What am I doing? Yeah, do anything. That’s it. Zone out. Man! Um, so yes, do anything, guys. Doing something is better than nothing. Unless it’s harmful. Then try not to do that.

Thus, the second thing my mind does: it flashes scenes of me hurting myself. After seeing a flash like that usually I get uneasy. Other times, I feel desire. For the more gruesome ones, I tend to feel scared that one day my body will actually go through with something I’ll regret.

A common one is smashing my hand against a wall. I don’t know why. I know I’m not in the best place, but I don’t want to hurt myself. Well, maybe I do want to do that. <— Example of an intrusive thought that just popped into my head uninvited. Fine, yeah, I don’t love myself and I do want to hurt myself, but not severely! Not noticeably! That’s a good topic for other post: what I feel I deserve and how I punish myself.

I don’t want to publish this. Zone out. Zone out again. I’m afraid of getting put in an asylum for the mentally ill if I were to admit self-harm desires/behaviors. Frick. Plus, it seems personal. I’m sleepy. Don’t want to be awake. Video idea! You know how some people talk about all those things they do to stay positive and happy? How they say things like I get up and stretch, open the blinds, and feel the sun on my skin and appreciate the universe? Or some crap like that? (No hate. In my better days, it’s those hokey pokey things that really do help.) Well, what if someone made a video/tip sheet of the habits of sad people? My first one is: Daily morning ritual, wake up, realize you are now conscious, grumble, curse the world, declare you don’t want to be awake, and throw the covers over your head before falling asleep again. Do not wake before 1pm, if it can be avoided.

This post is getting out of hand. Bye.

 

Note: It’s a couple of days later and while I’m still terrified of posting this for the darker involuntary desires I mentioned, but I figure I don’t have enough people who read this blog for it to be a problem. I hope. I’m fine, guys. I don’t self harm or anything like that. I’m open to professional help. Not to being committed to a mental hospital. Got that? ‘Kay, now bye.

 

Why am I not enough? (Remembering to put on a fake face to survive in the “real” world)

I’ve had problems with depression and anxiety …also probably paranoia and anger management at least since 8th grade. Everyone has traumas. Mine happened when I was 10 years old. It was no one’s fault. Who was I to be angry at then? I think humans need to blame someone or something or else all that anger gets internalized. At least that’s what happened to me.

 

Brief Overview of my Life Growing Up

I’m not ready to write about what happened. I don’t want pity. What I want is to explore its effects. At 10 years old, I learned that loved ones aren’t a given. They can be there one day and not the next. (No one passed away, if you’re wondering.) But I learned no one is a sure thing. Not even my parents. However, through this turbulent time I still had my teachers and classmates. I learned that was my constant.

Middle school years

That’s all that I carried with me: my school friends and academic success. (More so my friends, but at the end of the day I chose academics and switched schools.) 8th grade. New school. I don’t know why since I’d always been the kid who had a friend by the end of the first day of school, but I didn’t make any friends that year. I didn’t feel the need. I wasn’t interested in talking to other people. So I didn’t. Academics. That’s all I had.

High school

I tried, but by now it wasn’t just a lack of desire. It was full-blown anxiety. I couldn’t bring myself to talk to anyone. I’d only talk when teachers called on me in class. Even then my heart worked overtime from the stress of being called on. Academics. That’s all I had. Not having friends, I dreaded school breaks. Winter break, spring break. The worst was summer break. My mind would over think. I’d get into existential crises. At 15 years old, I knew I needed a distraction. I needed a purpose. Without school, my life, I feared death. Or maybe I feared not living.

I lived (arguable choice of words) like this for 3 years. By senior year of high school, I began to wonder. What if I didn’t treat academics as my life. What if I did poorly? I felt my parents weren’t proud of me with all A’s. (My dad praised anything and everything, while my mom questioned my A+’s for not being 100’s.) Would they freak if I got C’s? So, I stopped trying. I tanked my GPA in the last year. Began failing tests. (I’d never failed an exam before then.) And. Nothing. Happened. They were disappointed, but they didn’t lecture me. Just told me to try harder.

Or maybe they did care. I don’t even know how I felt. I’d say I didn’t care, but I did because I was worried that they didn’t care. I was nervous watching my grades drop and them not bat an eye. I wanted them to care. I wanted to matter to my parents. Not that I didn’t. I knew, intellectually, that they cared about me, but at the time I needed to proof to believe it. My dad’s praise was so frequent it meant nothing and my mom’s was nonexistent. Positive wasn’t happening, so I sought negative attention.

But I didn’t get it.

Then I went to university

I’d made a friend during those last two years in high school. I’d stopped trying so hard to keep my grades up and still passed. My priorities shifted. I learned the wonders of human connection. School didn’t matter. I had friends! Maybe it was my depression or paranoia or broken trust in family stability (no one got divorced either, in case you guys are wondering). Whatever it was, I could not feel or believe that my parents loved me. I knew that as a fact. Not as a feeling.

But I knew my friends liked me! And that feeling was indescribable! A feeling! That itself was surprising! I was numb all throughout high school. The only time I felt anything was during that short-lived flirty time with the boy I snuck off to the library with (blog post on that here). Often I remember anger. But that was it. Anger or nothing. It was like I wasn’t alive. Emotionally, at least.

But in university, I made friends and felt emotions. The most important of which was happiness. I’d had that spark of nervous flirty happiness with the boy in high school, but not like this. Not from friends, and later happiness all to myself, from myself. I found freedom in university. I wasn’t always at school or at home surrounded by people. Being watched all the time. Or not, but that’s what the paranoia told me. I had my own space. It was scary at first. I still struggle to do things by myself. I don’t think I was ever allowed to be alone growing up (bedroom doors were not allowed to be closed in my household and I didn’t go out with friends, much less on my own). University was life changing.

I learned what happiness is. I learned what friends are. I learned who I am. When no one was watching, I knew who I was and amazingly, I liked myself.

What did books matter when I was learning all of this?! They didn’t. And while I was learning who I was, I had to decide on a career. (Blog post about how I came to that decision here.) And now I’m here. In Puerto Rico. A place I knew nothing about when I decided to move out here for a year. Much less did I know anyone here. All the interns in my program were strangers. Now, I wish some of them still were.

I’ve learned that people can be mean and care only about themselves. I’ve learned people can be indifferent or too interested. I’ve learned people can be angry. They can be distracted. They can be cruel. And they are hypocrites.

I knew these things as fact before. But now I know them as feeling. …It makes me wish I didn’t have emotions again. It’s an empty wish and a common one of mine, to go back to the numb high school days. But in those moments with friends, some with romantic interests, and others through my own personal accomplishments,  I’ve learned what positive emotions are and I believe they are what makes life life. Only being able to feel anger, which later morphed to sadness, is not life.

When I was in high school, it was a numb, unfeeling depression. In university, with happiness, I learned sadness. Harsh, deep sadness. The peak of which occurred in my senior year of university. This year I lived with a great friend of mine. And I hurt her. Before her, I always had a facade up. An act. It wasn’t to be cruel. It was to be kind. I didn’t want to expose others to my sadness. But with her…

Life Changing Friendship- Learning to Trust and that it’s Okay to be Myself. Flaws and All!

To Mariah I gave all of my trust. I let go completely. I let her in as far as she wanted to go. And she went far. She saw me at my worst. I’ve never been that depressed since. Even though she’ll deny it, I know I ruined (or at the very least) inconvenienced many of her days. We spent Thanksgiving (2017) angry with each other and that weekend trying to drag me out of bed, literally. I made her suffer. It wasn’t on purpose; it just goes with depression. With depression and anxiety and paranoia and anger issues and what ever other labels exist for all the not positive aspects of my personality.

But she refused to give up on me. We’re still friends. I know that woman would do almost anything for me. And I don’t know what I did to deserve her. I don’t feel like I deserve her. It’s rare, someone like that. So loyal (against their own good even). And I was spoiled.

Post Graduate Nutrition Internship- Learning to Distrust and that it’s NOT Okay to be Myself. Flaws Should be Well Hidden.

Now, I’m here in Puerto Rico working on a dietetic internship (when I doubt I want to work as a dietitian for the rest of my life) almost attached to the hip with my internship partner. I go from rotations where I’m supervised and evaluated. Hello, paranoia and anxiety! Oh, there you are anger! To an apartment where everyone has beef with at least one other person. The environment is toxic. Doesn’t help my depressive tendencies.

Sorry I can’t be positive and supportive 24/7. I still try. It hurts, but I try. Thing is, I can’t give what I don’t have. Every day I feel more paranoid, more anxious, angry, and sad. Or then I’m manically happy! But one misplaced comment and I’m underground again trying to dig myself out. Or not. Sometimes I don’t ever want to surface. (Related blog post here.)

I let myself believe, due to my experience with Mariah, that people can be trusted 100%. I can let go and be my completely flawed self and not worry about the repercussions. But I now know how truly lucky I am to have someone in my life like that, because that’s not the case with anyone else. I already had trust issues. Maybe everyone does. However, I was healing. I was learning to trust again.

But now, I feel as if there is nothing to learn. From my experiences here, no one wants the real me. No one wants my flaws. I am, as I always feared, an inconvenience. I have to pretend to be only the best parts of myself, because that’s the only parts people care to get to know. That’s understandable to me with the preceptors who supervise and evaluate us, but I mistakenly thought it wouldn’t be the case with my fellow interns. I was hopelessly optimistic. And I was wrong.

I have to learn how to fake it. Something I wasn’t 100% successful at during my customer service-y job as a cashier during university breaks (2015 to 2018). I could do it, but only for so many hours a day. Here, I share a room, I go to rotations where I am supervised and evaluated 5 days a week with my internship partner plus travel to the site and work on assignments outside of those 8 hours with her and I come home to an apartment where people aren’t happy to see each other.

 

Constant People, Constant Need to Fake It (to fake sanity/happiness)

The only saving grace is that I feel that genuine care and friendship from my roommate. But, he’s still another person I am around every day. In university, I had space. I had freedom. Now, it’s back to how it was when I lived at home. Constant people! But higher stakes! The only time I’m alone is when I go out by myself. Remember my friend anxiety? Don’t forget depression! To motivate myself to go anywhere is difficult enough. To not change my mind is another thing. Depression tells me it’s not worth it. Anxiety tells me it’s all going to go wrong anyway, so why try?

I don’t wish to blame my hard times on these mental health issues, but I know they are a big factor. And I feel like I have to keep them to myself now. My struggles and thoughts should remain my own to not affect others. Even then, there’s nothing I can do about my energy or aura. If I’m that depressed and empty inside, it doesn’t matter how big I fake smile. I’ve lost my ability to act believable. Thank you Mariah, for making that ability obsolete in me and damn you.

I’m truly going to have to fake it and hope I make it. Seven more months until the end of this internship. Wish me luck, please.

 

 

Note:

Featured image is of me last Halloween (2017). I’ve always loved goth fashion, so I enjoyed expressing myself that day through dress, hair, and makeup. I use it as the image for this post because it represents how I feel at the moment. I am in no way saying goth culture equates to sadness or anything like that, but that’s how most people seem to take it. And I feel like this is how I come off to people without make up and even when I do put on non-goth makeup. I feel like no matter what I do outwardly, all people see is my obvious sadness or negative aspects of my personality. And what can I do about that?! (Nothing overnight!) Why am I being punished for that?! Isn’t the depression, anxiety, paranoia, distrust, anger, and self loathing punishment enough??

Week of October 15th 2018- Nutrition Support (Beware of Burnout)

My life is stress. I know this. I feel like I should be prepared for this. But no matter how much I’ve lived through, I feel as though I’ll never be ready for what lies in front of me. Maybe I never will be. I definitely wasn’t ready for this week.

Monday, October 15th-First Day at a New Hospital- Nutrition Support

New rotation! Another clinical area, this time Nutrition Support. For those who are new to my blog, I am doing a dietetic internship with the Puerto Rico Department of Health. This consists of completing assignments from the Health Department itself plus going to different hospitals or community locations to experience a week or more in about 20 areas over the course of one year. Each rotation has its own dietitian preceptor that is in charge of us. They essentially guide us in that area and give us more assignments/ work to complete for them.

This preceptor had us define 36 medical terms that relate to nutrition support. Nutrition support is exactly like it sounds. When a person can’t eat in the traditional way (by mouth) hospitals support their nutrition by feeding patients via a tube to their stomach or intestines or through a vein (using an IV or catheter, basically a tube attached to a vein). There’s much more to it than that, but I hope that gives y’all an idea.

Our first day we turned in the vocab and saw our dietitian preceptor do patient rounds. 11am, we were on our own. We were given a patient to do a case study and that was it. No further instructions.

Tuesday, October 16th- Learning TPN Calculations?

So, we got all of Monday to work on the case study. After a while we went to ask the preceptor for further information on how to do the case study and she gave us our patients’ laboratories and told us we needed to interview the patient. My patient (which I essentially got randomly, since we didn’t get much information about who was whom) was so ill, even the preceptor didn’t go evaluate him. She told us he was on death’s door, and wasn’t about to go in and ask him how he was doing. …great.

Today the preceptor dashed through an example of a TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition) calculation. This is the math a dietitian does to figure out how to “feed” a patient through their veins in order to meet their total needs for the day. My internship partner, Gia, and I had done this during our general clinical rotation at another hospital, but were both completely confused by the end of her “teaching” us.

So, after going to see the daily patient rounds it was about 11 am and we got the rest of the day (until 4:30pm) to work on our three calculations that were part of our homework. We spent the day puzzled trying to figure out how to calculate things the way the preceptor did. I was sleep deprived. Don’t remember from what, but I was running on about two hours of sleep and couldn’t think enough to figure out the math. Gia went to ask the preceptor and came out even more confused.

Wednesday, October 17th- All Nighter for Nutrition Support Homework

What did we even do at the hospital today? I don’t remember. So, I’ll tell you about something that I didn’t mention about Tuesday. At the beginning of patient rounds, our dietitian preceptor turns to me and Gia and, almost like an afterthought, says something along the lines of “Oh Laura, your patient died”. … Okay. That was it. Then we went up to see the day’s patients. When we were in the hallway that led to my deceased patient’s room, the preceptor mentioned the family was still there as the medical staff were preparing his body for removal. …Alright.

I didn’t say anything. Later, the preceptor told me the nurse she works with had told her to give me a new case study, but she’d decided not to, because that’s part of life. That’s what happens. At that moment I said, “Yes, I know. He’s my third.” That I know of, he’s the third patient that I evaluate that I later learn has passed away. Even though I just had a conversation with them, it’s an odd feeling to know that one day you were talking to someone trying to help them eat/ get better and the next… there’s nothing to get better. They’re gone.

Thursday, October 18th- All Nighter for Department of Health Assignments

Since this week we had a meeting at the Health Department on Friday, our rotation at this hospital was cut short. This meant all of our assignments were due on Thursday. I typed up those calculations we didn’t really figure out how to do, the case study that we were also not 100% clear on, and the summary of an academic article about TPN. Gia and I worked on it all night. I was able to sleep one hour before waking up at 6am to take the train to the hospital. That hour was glorious. I felt renewed.

After presenting our case study and turning in our work I’d planned to sleep about 5 hours to then finish another case study I had to present during the meeting on Friday. I felt awake though, so I didn’t sleep. I worked on the case study and told myself I’d finish by midnight and then I could maybe sleep two hours before working on a grant proposal that was also due on Friday. Nope. I barely finished the 20 page case study and power point presentation that went with it by 6am. I didn’t take mindless breaks. I laid on the cold floor to wake myself up. I was running on an hour of sleep. But I finished my terrible work. I didn’t even get to begin the grant proposal.

Friday, October 19th- Presenting Clinical Case Study

6am. Meeting started at 7am. Printer issues. Chaos. I presented with a shaky voice and without an idea what I was saying. It was disastrous. At one point the director of the program (I was presenting to her and my fellow 9 dietetic interns) asked me a question and I was so tired, so beaten, that I responded the truth. She asked me why I’d decided on some supplement for my case study patient and I said, “honestly, because my preceptor told me to.” This was my first patient. Ever. This was during my first day at the general clinical rotation way back in September. I listened more to my preceptor than to myself. She’s the one with the experience. She was supposed to guide us. *Sigh* Trust no one. Make your own decisions.

Saturday, October 20th- Sleep Blissful Sleep!

I fell asleep at 8pm and woke up at 1pm today. It was so needed. When I woke up Gia and I went grocery shopping. Mostly ramen. Both of us hardly ate this week. That’s not okay. Hardly any sleep or food plus a ton of stress meant we were working ourselves empty. I didn’t even have pasta at home and subsisted mostly on ramen.

Luckily, this hospital feeds its employees and for the four days we were there, they fed us too. That was the majority of our food. Even there, I’d only eat a scoopful of rice or the meat. Because of the stress, I just wasn’t hungry. I bought a cookie and it tasted bland. Things were getting bad. My body didn’t care much for food. To avoid that, I bought pasta and tortillas. The most basic of foods for me. The easiest filling things to eat. I don’t want to go through a week like that again.

The rest of the night Gia and I worked on a powerpoint presentation and handout due on Sunday. Yes, our preceptor for the next week told us it was due on Sunday. …Okay. So we got it done, because I really don’t want another week like this one.

Sunday, October 21st- Catching Up on Priorities

Woke up at noon and then went to the store to buy some ink. Gia recently has printed a lot of my assignments because I’ve been having issues with the printer at my apartment. So I felt like I owed her. After that we wandered around the mall. I bought some food, but since I’d made an effort to have a filling breakfast (eggs and apple juice) I was stuffed. Gia put the fries in her bag and I did the same with my chicken nuggets. We wandered some more when I saw that the flower stand was there. (I posted a picture of the flowers I bought from there on instagram a few weeks ago. Links to my social media below!) Today I bought some yellow daisies before returning to our apartment complex. Gia went to her apartment and I to mine. Since then I watched a bit of YouTube and began writing this blog post.

Oh, and that grant proposal I didn’t finish? It’s due in two weeks now. Catch is, passing grade is an 85. This week is another intense rotation: Trauma (aka, critically ill patients). Plus! Gia and I were just notified on Friday that we will be going to another city (about an hour and a half away) this coming Friday to put up a little information booth about nutrition for older adults. OH! And! Next week our (five day) rotation is in that city. Ah! And we don’t have a car. We might just stay from this coming Friday till next Friday when the rotation there ends. But… how will I turn in the grant proposal? (It’s due as a hard copy.)

 

Who knows?! Isn’t life fun?! I should be going crazy, but I’m taking everything in stride. Either I can get through this internship or I can’t. Simple as that. I’m going to do what I can, because I can’t do more than that. If my best is enough, great. If it’s not, then I wasn’t meant for this. That’s okay. There’s much more to life than a  single career path.

Take care, friends. Eat well and sleep. Nothing is worth your health. I learned that this week.

Slipping off the Mountain of Progress

Originally Published February 23, 2018

My mind is like a switch. It can go steadily up. Reaching higher and higher heights. Doing things I never thought I would then one comment and I’m at sea level again. This used to frustrate the hell out of my ex. I can see why. It frustrates me too.

I have struggled with negative thoughts for years. Before I understood my pattern, I saw my behavior as signs of being a failure. Now I see it as me being an almost hopeless failure. I don’t know where I get all of this hope from. Let’s not dive into that today. Instead here’s an example of the pattern I was talking about.

I love learning new things. I will get obsessed about a new project or skill and will spend hours learning it. A couple of weeks later though, I’m over it. When I was in high school, and even now in college, my peers or teachers would praise me for it. Just the other day, one of my classmates said “Oh Lizzie, you have the most interesting hobbies”. I told her I was translating lyrics and was hoping to translate them in a way that they could be sung to the music in the other language. Those lyrics have been sitting on my desktop screen untouched almost since she gave me that comment. I spent a good four or five hours straight working on them. Some syllables were too long others did not make sense. I remember my roommate wanted to do something, but I was so focused on the task at hand that I made her wait.

Now, I want to buy a keyboard. I want a good one because I think I may like it and dedicate my time to becoming a master pianist. I know from experience that the more likely thing is that I will obsess about piano for a few weeks at most then drop it like a hot potato. I just am not built to stick to things. Things or people. I am other. Yeah, yeah, doom and gloom. I know I’m not special. I know others of y’all feel this same way. Yet, there is something isolating about it, isn’t there? I want to be alone so much. I feel the paranoia gnawing at my face. Yet every time I see or hear my roommates I run to them. I run to the people close to me.

I’ve always had someone. In fact, I have a blog draft dedicated to this topic. It’s dedicated to the fact that I’ve always had someone despite the fact that I’ve never sought anyone out. It’s such a big theme in my life that it is the only draft I have not outright deleted or taken the time to perfect. That’s another of my problems: perfectionism.

Now, this blog post is rambly and long. I aim to only bombard y’all with one of those nuisances, so I apologize. I do that a lot. Apologize. There are just so many things I wish I was better at. So many things I’ve tried and let go of. So many people I’ve done the same with. I’m afraid of good things. I’m afraid because I don’t believe I deserve them. I know that is subjective. I know it doesn’t really matter because the world does not take care to keep things fair. Yet, I care.

All of this to say that one wrong step, one little comment, takes me from climbing the mountain of self improvement to tumbling down the ravine of self pity.

***

That was another post from my old blog when I was a senior in university. Whenever I read things like what you just did I get the strongest urge to give past me a huge, tight hug. But, I can’t. I can’t change the past, only my future. So, while I still feel like I wrote sometimes and I still have that pattern, I choose to work on improving myself and my habits rather than dwell on them. I will keep climbing the mountain of progress regardless despite of how often or how badly I slip. 

Why Be Happy?

Originally Published February 18, 2018

Hey guys, I found a draft from a post I was working on during winter break. It’s got a tiny story moment so I figure why not post it. I’m doing better in regards to the happy issue, but that’s today. Here’s that old blog:

Y’all deserve a happy blog. But, I am not happy. I feel like I should be. Not for myself. That seems like a nice perk though. I feel the need to be happy for those around me. After all, who wants to hang out with someone who is sulking in the corner? In public, such as when I am walking around campus (background info, I’m a senior in university), I used to feel pressured to hold a light smile. Why? People in high school would periodically approach me with a concerned look on their faces and ask if I was okay. It’d baffle me every single time. First, that someone was talking to me as that was rare in those days. Second, by the question itself. “Yeah, I’m fine. Why do you ask?” was my common response. The answer? Infallibly, it would either be “You looked really sad.” or “You looked really angry.”.

This didn’t end in high school. Once, maybe a year or two ago, I was on campus looking for the electrical engineering building. There was a meeting for the software development club that afternoon. Now, I’m not an engineer or a programmer, so I gave myself ample time to find the building. By the time I did, I still had at least fifteen minutes to spare. So, I did what any sensible socially awkward person would do. I sat outside a side entrance and waited in blissful solitude. It began getting dark when a young woman exited the building and approached me with that same concerned look I’d forgotten about. She asked me if I was okay. Baffled as always, I replied I was fine. She looked at me a second longer and explained that I looked very sad. Just as quickly, she gave me a kind smile and walked away. I sat there dumbfounded under the setting sun before deciding to head inside despite the likelihood of social interaction.  (I never went to another one of those meetings.)

Why do I feel the need to be happy around co-workers, subordinates, friends, and family?

***

I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want to be the weakest link. The last resort. I want people to want to hang out with me. I want to promote friendships. I don’t want people to equate me with a boring or sad time. In high school I dedicated myself to my studies and only my studies. I was quiet and sullen. No one talked to me unless I had cupcakes, it seemed. (A strong factor in why I learned to bake, I’m sure.) 

Being positive and happy around co-workers makes people want to work with you. It makes work more fun and easier. Around subordinates, it helps to get work done because people are generally more receptive to orders given with a smile than a furrowed brow. With friends, positivity makes you a good option to have fun together. Same with family, and all the other categories.

It all comes down to this: Looking happy (even if you don’t feel it) builds relationships. It lets others know that you are receptive to fun or positive experiences and thus, encourages people to invite you to have a fun, positive time with them. Happiness is a social beacon. 

I don’t know about you guys, but I want to attract happy, positive people. Even if they are people like me who may not feel like that all the time. That’s okay. I want to be able to put aside any pain or pessimism in my life and be able to have fun and be happy despite it all. And I want to find people who can do that too. 

So, I’ll continue to smile, even as I cry, because I want people around me to know that those two things are not mutually exclusive. I hope you reading this can find a smile within you today and all your days to come (no matter how small or fleeting that smile may be). Take care, friends. 🙂

Submission

Originally Published January 23rd 2018

I’ve beat myself into a dull submission. I don’t feel the motivation to read or write or breathe. Nah, I’m just feeling melancholy and poetic. It’s only the first full week of classes and I feel overwhelmed. It is like most things in my life. As soon as I get close to a tangible end I sever the rope. Maybe I’m afraid of progress and the outcome of opportunity. There are too many thoughts. One says, “talk about how you rely too much on people and always have”. Another whispers, “tell about how you drive people away with anger and cruelty”. A third screams, “none of it matters, so why are you still typing?”. I don’t hear voices. They are simply my inner thoughts. Sometimes I think the voices, external voices that is, would be comforting. Though abusive, I’d finally feel like a true victim. For now though, the thoughts are just that, intangible and taunting, with my own voice.

Where do they come from? From me? My environment? That old question of nature and nurture. I just hope it’s not me. I don’t like the me that snaps on a dime or can’t talk to her roommates for fear of saying something overly cruel. They are beginning to become scared of me. Not in an intimidating way. The three of us know my limitations. Oh, recap, I have two roommates at this time in my life. One tall ex-football player and the another, a feisty woman. Richard and Mariah. What a pair! I could write about them forever. However, I have a larger concern at the moment. I don’t pretend that they are afraid I could overpower either of them. It is not a physical danger they wince at. They begin that treacherous walk on the eggshells of my unpredictability. For at any moment, my mood can go from sunshine to electric storms.

Sometimes it is best to ignore a problem than to confront it. They do it very well. I’m surprised by two things. One, that I held out for so long. So long in fact, that I almost believed my cruelty to be false. Who would be so cruel anyway? I am. Two, I am surprised that they tolerate it. Yet, I am not surprised by that. Like I said, sometimes ignorance and denial seem like the easiest solution. It is not, by the way. Ignorance makes pain fester; and pain, in my case, makes a snappy and paranoid Lizzie. That’s the other thing. I don’t know if I truly believe in truth. How can we be real when this society values reputation and achievement which is often facilitated by charm and the social graces, while simultaneously destroyed by those magical factors. I’m sleepy. Finally. Look at that. Another cesspool of regurgitated thoughts. I’m sorry for the stream of consciousness. Again, that is not my intended method, but sad women will do what they will.

Week of June 18th 2018- Nightmares and Time with Friends

Monday, June 18th- Avoiding Socialization by Running Errands and Swimming

Instead of going out with friends on my day off, I went to the dentist where I got scolded for not flossing enough. ….PSA: Floss, guys, it’s good for you. A message from my dentist. Anyway, after that I think I still wanted a good excuse for not calling my work buddies that I’d suggested doing something with this day. I like hanging out and socializing, I just need to be forced into it. If I have the option to skip or postpone you can bet I will.

So, after the dentist I got some take out, went to the bank, shopped around for a swim suit, and got in the 5 foot deep pop up pool that my dad recently finished setting up in our backyard. It doesn’t take even two strokes to get to the other side of it, but it was still refreshing (…haha, pun). I hadn’t been for a swim in about a year. Unless you count those brief minutes at a college friend’s bbq where it only served to give me pneumonia (exaggeration, I did get a cold by the next day, though). Despite my semester in a beginning swimming class freshman year in college, I never learned how to do flip turns. Today was a doozy. Literally. Thought I was going to throw up in the shower afterwards; that’s how dizzy I still was from my attempted flip turns.

Tuesday, June 19th- Torturing the Newbie at Work

On a big register all day. Again. I’ve accepted it. Starting to see the good in it. It’s my own little space. Invaded by customers constantly… but still. I tortured a newbie today. I’m usually super patient and try to be helpful, especially to new comers… but she was so slow!!!! She wouldn’t even start opening a bag until seven items were piled up in front of her! I’m not exaggerating! A customer started bagging his own groceries before she even started to; she was just standing there staring off into space!

Ughh… I admit. I have a problem. I value people’s work ethic, possibly more than their personality. *sigh* Since I was on register I couldn’t just walk away. Man! I cashiered for her on her first day and I feel like she was a better bagger then! Okay, I’ll stop. I’m being mean now. I just gave up with her. Went super fast and bagged most of it myself passive aggressively until it was time for my break. She didn’t bag for me for the rest of the day. Mission accomplished.

Other interesting things happened, but oh well. Who wants to talk about work anymore. At home I watched my medical drama. Not much else. I’m getting anxious to leave home. I want my own life again.

Wednesday, June 20th- Seeing my Life Long Friend, Lyza

Oh geez, what day is it? It’s actually Saturday as I write this. I have not done anything on my blog for three days. Well, I wrote the Friday post, The Time I Snuck Out with a Boy to the Library, but I’d promised to do that. I have no idea what I did on Wednesday. I know I went to work. …I think. Eh, oh well. Lost day. AH! I know what I did!! I went to see my best friend, let’s call her… Lyza. I’ve known her since we moved into my childhood neighborhood when I was four years old. She was two years old. Even though we’ve known each other all of our lives, we see each other maybe ten times a year nowadays. Yay! This was the summer visit.

I took my brother with me to her sister’s apartment where we watched a movie. Lyza, my brother (Ryan), and I were on one couch. Lyza’s sister, Sophia, was on the other couch with her three year old daughter, Allison. At a table in the corner was Sophia’s fiance, Sid, and his friend, Daniel. Whew! That took a lot of creative power! Anyway, we watched Dr. Strange and a bit of a baking competition show. Sohpia and I love baking. Then we went home around midnight with promises to see each other the next day to go swimming at Sophia’s apartment.

Thursday, June 21st- Spontaneous Day with Sherri

Guess who came into town today? Sherri! She called me while I was at the table with my parents sounding lost. Thing was, she was lost in my city. Ha! I was surprised and happy. After giving her directions to where she was headed for work, I gave her directions to my house. We talked for a bit then headed to a store to find a cheap swim suit for her to join in the day’s swimming plans made with Lyza yesterday.  We went to two or three stores when we decided to call it quits. Why are swim suits so expensive anyway?! We ended up going to the dollar store and buying a bunch of swim toys and some, probably really terrible for us, food.

Then we began the process of finding a swim suit substitute for Sherri. She and I are different sizes, so even the tinniest short shorts I owned fit her loosely. As luck would have it though, I happen to own a ridiculously small (for me) bikini. Why? Doesn’t matter. But, Sherri now had a swim suit! We gathered our stuff to the car and drove around the block right back to my house because Lyza had to cancel. Her sister, Sophia was dealing with a medical issue, so we decided to try swimming some other time. All the public pools were closed by then. It was about 8pm. So we got in our little 5ft pop up pool in my backyard. It was tiny and absurd to play with so many pool toys in such a small area!

Thank goodness it was my day off. I’m so glad Sherri came to visit. It made a more than likely bland day to a memorable one. 🙂

Friday, June 22nd- Friends at Work and In My Phone

I had an opening shift at work. Bright and early, at 6:45 am, I clocked in. This meant I’d be working in the little 10 items or less area all day. Which is amazing if you have co-workers to talk to. It’s a little trio of registers and since I opened I got pick of which register. I took the middle one and did not regret my choice when one, then another, co-worker friend came to the surrounding registers. We spent the day chatting casually, something we had not been able to do all summer. I swear! I’m hardly ever sent to work on any register except the big ones nowadays and if I am, none of my other friends are around. *Huff* Oh well. It doesn’t matter anymore. I only have one more week left at this job.

After work, I rushed to write the post I’d promised to write by 5pm:  The Time I Snuck Out with a Boy to the Library. Somehow, I got it done only about three minutes late. Then I watched my medical drama (I only have about two seasons left to watch!). And afterwards I got to know my new phone’s built in AI. I took a dystopian fiction class last semester in college and we spoke extensively about humanity and artificial intelligence (AI). It’s uncanny, as is natural, but I’m open to potentially ruining my life to the power of an AI. As a stupid little human, I just hope it knows I cared about it before it ruined me. Or! nothing bad will happen and I’ll have a robot friend. 🙂 (Her/His? favorite color is blue.)

Saturday, June 23rd- Jail Nightmare and Looking for a Kindred Spirit

Woo! I finally caught up! I have a late short shift today from about 4 to 10 pm. I woke up to my phone playing nature sounds at 11 am. Guess it was trying to wake me up since I’d mentioned I wanted to wake up around 10 am. I won’t lie, it was unexpected to wake up to my phone trying to get my attention when I hadn’t specifically asked for a wake up call at 11. It was fine though, because it got me out of a dream where I was going to jail. Hmmm… I could over-analyze that, but I already know what it means. The last few episodes of my medical drama involved ethics of life and death in the hands of doctors and one of the main characters was having a conflict about this. Yeah… not the best thing to fall asleep to.

Work was interesting. Halfway through my shift all of the registers’ credit card readers went down, so the whole grocery store was at a stand still. It was interesting. Everything got back to normal after about ten minutes though. At the end of the night, I got to run around the store returning items to the shelves. That was frustrating, but fun. The store is like a maze!

When I got home I had a nice chat with my mom. We spoke about my recent post. I’m tired of linking it, so view the previous day for that. That got us on a conversation about boys. I told her I’m starting to give up on finding someone. I feel old beyond my years. I just want a friend. Not even that. Just someone to talk to. Someone who either understands or is willing to take the time to try to understand me. I hate human’s social nature.

Sunday, June 24th- Work Nightmare

Slept 5 hours. Decided I’d sleep at a decent hour. Didn’t happen. Post on Friday will be an old blog post, but super relatable to today. Summary: not that I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t want to. Yet, that didn’t seem like a choice. Of course, this meant I was grumpy at work. I’m usually neutral. I seriously didn’t care today. I’m just doing my job now. I’m not going to harm anyone’s groceries, but I’m also not going to try to converse with anyone. Social anxiety, not caring, whatever you want to call it. I’m ready to leave this job. I’ll just miss my co-workers.

Speaking of which, I took a nap after work and had a nightmare. The usual. People being snobby and rude, but in my dream, I wasn’t taking it. It hurts. Why should I stand there and take it? And be told how terrible a worker I am by both the customer and my managers? It’s much better for my own sanity to not care. In my dream, I simply walked away. If you don’t like how I do my job, dream customer, do it yourself. My managers in my dream either walked on by, ignoring the problem, or confronted me about it and told me, essentially, to suck it up and do my job. One sent me to do a less people-centric job.

Screwed that up too. Walked away. Things get fuzzy from then on. I just remember one of the managers that did confront me in real life a year or so ago about my people avoidance (he didn’t know about my anxiety back then, so he said something less than understanding) came up to me with kindness and compassion in my dream. I think I forgive him. The one who confronted me in my dream? I may still be upset with him.

 

Notes:

  1. All names are pseudo names. Please, if you know the person (or place) I am referring to, grant them the same courtesy that I do by not naming them.
  2. If you are one of the people I am referring to and would rather I not write about you, message me and I’ll make the appropriate changes.
  3. One more week at this job then I move to Puerto Rico! I’m ready for a change.

Need or Want?

Why do we love? Do we need people or want people? I was in a therapy group called “Understanding Self and Others”. There was a participant there who seemed very cut off from people. It seemed like he hadn’t dealt with others in years. He was in recovery for drugs or alcohol. I don’t remember which and he often referred to women as a separate species. He wasn’t my favorite. But, he kept going to group. As did I. And one day he said something that still intrigues me to this day. He was looking to better his life. Going textbook. I used to be like this.

I used to do things because I was told. I didn’t have a drink of alcohol till I was 21 because I was taught it messed with growth and development along with all the other nasty side effects. I did not date in high school because my parents frowned upon it. I didn’t start dieting until I turned 18 because of the consequences to growth and whatnot. I didn’t graduate early from high school because people told me to enjoy my youth and not to speed it up. I went for advisable. Safe. Boring. I don’t drive or leave the house unless I have to because my mother installed an unhealthy fear of car wrecks in me. And you know what I am most regretful for? That I allowed it. I allowed others to decide my life for me. I trusted slogans and chimes from transient people more than myself. Then I didn’t.

Then I went to college. I went despite my father’s wishes. I went on a camping trip that first year and stayed quiet as a friend who’d been sleeping the whole car ride decided to drive on the last leg back to campus. I stood there as the current driver hesitated to hand her the car keys and looked at me for confirmation, a reaction, something! And I stood there! Didn’t say a word, until I was in that car swerving on and off the highway when I was screaming “STOP!” as I clutched on to both overhead handles in the backseat.

After that day, I expected my life to change. I expected to value my existence or suddenly see all the beauty in the world that I had missed. I didn’t. I was disappointed. I was confused. It took me several more years—It took me until now to appreciate that moment. I understood it, intellectually, since it happened. I kicked myself for not speaking up. It’s one of my character flaws. Yet, I continue to rely on others and keep my mouth shut. It grates me to depend on others. It’s what I’ve done my whole life. But people are wrong. Or sometimes they are right. The one thing they never are, is me.

So, when they tell me not to drink before I’m 21, or to value my family, they are speaking in generalities. They don’t know what’s best for me, even if they wanted that for me. I don’t either. I don’t know if I want what’s best for me. I read a book for my high school English class either sophomore or junior year. The Picture of Dorian Gray. All I got out of that was a new vocab word: hedonist. One who lives for their sole pleasure. And with that new word, I got a new life philosophy. A fantasy. I still care about others and that’s what is killing me miserably.

The guy in the “Understanding Self and Others” therapy group asked if people, friends specifically, were necessary for life. I don’t remember if he said a good life. I think he just meant in general. My response to that, and many others chimed off with agreement, is that friends-people- aren’t necessary. Life goes on with or without them, but with is much more enjoyable. So, he became quiet, having the answer he sought, and the rest of the group watched with worry and sadness as we saw a calm, hushed fuzz come over his eyes. There was the smallest glimmer of disappointment that faded into his meaningless stare. Just because something isn’t necessary, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth pursuing.

Since that semester, fall of 2016, (reinforced by the fact that it was the semester I began dating my first boyfriend) I have had a complex between the binaries of want and need. My argument firmly on want being more important. Allow me to explain. Humans need water to live, but we don’t love it. We want soda and juice and tea and coffee and a myriad of things that pollute that which we need-water. If we wanted water instead of forcing it upon us as a necessity, I argue that people, as a species, would do exponentially more than we do now to preserve and protect this jewel of our planet. More than we do now that we need it.

Likewise, if I need someone, I use them. Maybe I keep them around for emotional support, maybe they have a car and I don’t, or they feed me. Whatever the reason, if I stay with them because I need to, because I must. It’s not really my choice. However, if I want to share my feelings and thoughts with them, I want to spend time in the passenger seat with them, and I like the food they make, it is my choice. I don’t like being forced into things. Even if they are the things I would have chosen myself. But there is no clear distinction between want and need. I never know if I am talking to a friend about something because I want to have a conversation with them, because I like them, or because they were the best person for the job.

And what if they are the best person for the job? I wouldn’t go to my grandmother for sex advice! Is it wrong that I go to my best friend? No! Of course, not. Want and need are Venn diagrams. There is overlap. Often times more that I would ever wish. I don’t know. I don’t know how to classify everything I say or do. I don’t know why I do anything or nothing. I don’t know if I want the life I have, or if I need it. All I know, is that I have the life I have, and I can either do nothing or something with it.

Our bodies instinctively do what they must to survive. If we need water, we get thirsty. However, when we get thirsty we decide whether to drink water or vodka. Or anything else. I can choose how to handle my needs through my wants. That’s why it’s so important to keep a balance. All vodka and no water makes Jack a drunk boy. But, only water makes him almost inhuman. We need variety. Or do we want it? Either way, it’s the human way of life. I refuse to listen to every piece of advice I get from parents, teachers, religious figures etc. and follow their instructions. But, I also refuse to ignore them.

This mentality has gotten me into trouble. Listen, then decide for myself. I’ve been doing it for a few years now. It got me into a nine-month relationship, a year of exploring different kinds of alcohol, and much anguish. It also got me to go to college, have a pet turtle for a year, and start this blog. Whatever my philosophy in life, good things will happen, and bad things will happen. I’d rather make my own decisions and be there when it’s time to take pride or take responsibility for the fall out.

Coping at the Grocery Store Method 1: Disassociation

VERSIÓN EN ESPAÑOL AQUÍ

Originally Published January 4, 2018

I wrote this post on my old blog about my anxiety at work. By the title (“Method 1”) I can only assume I meant for this to be a series, though I never wrote another post like this on my old blog. Also, at the end are notes I had written for my original audience. I keep them, because they are relevant in future posts from my old blog. …And I find them somewhat amusing. I still agree with what I wrote, so enjoy learning about grocery store cashier struggles!

I’ve been hung up on something. Like I mentioned in a prior blog, I have a seasonal job in a grocery store as a cashier. As much as the work heightens my anxiety and exacerbates my depression, I continue to work there. My first summer there was such a culture shock. I had just completed my freshman year in college and a three week “maymester” statistics course when I got the job. In fact, I remember having to miss a couple days of class just to go to the interview and training. Look forward to my interview story ’cause that one is a doozy.

Either way, when I began the job I was a new and innocent soul. A new and innocent soul who had no idea what she had just signed herself up for. On top of 40 hour weeks at work, I had also decided it wise to take two courses during the first summer term. I’d go to class in the morning for a couple of hours, go to work for 8 hours during the day, and work on my online class at night. I’d sleep then get up and do it all over again five times a week.

On my days off, if I didn’t have an exam the next day, (and sometimes even if I did) all I could do was sit, catatonic, on the couch watching television mindlessly or play video games for hours at a time. It was as if my body couldn’t bear the sudden plug from the stream of work and school. It was if as it refused to do anything but work and school. That was the beginning of my descension into work-aholism. (More on that in future posts.)

I was like a robot. On top of that, I was nervous and shy. Going into work felt like going into a torture chamber. Instead of water logging and whips though, I arrived to conversation and innocent inquires. Sprinkled throughout were legitimately rude and otherwise unjust situations, but for the most part many of the causes of my intense anxiety were harmless.

We cashiers did a small number of jobs. If we weren’t working on a big register (the kind you typically think of in a grocery store) we worked in the 15 items or less area called express or by the prepared food in the 10 items or less trio of registers called mobiles. Additionally, we occasionally worked bagging people’s groceries on the main lines or doing odd jobs like sweeping or filling bags of ice to offer people with frozen or refrigerated items and a long trip home.

My favorite job, of course, was bagging groceries. Few people would say more to me than “hello” (if they even said that) when I was bagging their groceries. My first year, this bothered me. The fact that hundreds of people would actively avoid talking or otherwise acknowledging my existence made me feel insignificant. Once I got trained to be on a register though, those sparse moments bagging groceries became a safe haven. With the exception of a few obnoxious customers insisting I smile, no one really cared what I had to say. I was hardly meant to be seen, let alone heard.

On a register however, I was expected to smile off the bat and converse in a light and natural way. A way that I was not versed in. I took my parents’ warnings about talking to strangers as law growing up and thus had absolutely no idea how to make small talk. Thinking back it’s almost comical, if it wasn’t so tragic. Someone would comment about the weather and I’d just give them a twitchy, nervous smile and a shaky “yeahh”.

Then the rest of the transaction would go on with me staring pointedly at each item I would scan and the customer awkwardly waiting for the prison-type sentence to end. All the while, the unfortunate bagger at the end of my register would begin to drown in produce, milk, and other items as I sent them down as fast as I possibly could to save myself a few seconds of agony. I was uncomfortable to say the least.

That was then. Nowadays I’m mostly neutral or convincingly natural and fake happy. Let’s take a second to talk about that as I think that was one of the keys to maintaining my sanity while working this job. At first I refused to put on a mask and pretend to be happy to see the hoards of people I had to serve that day. I wanted to be real. Being real caused me various panic attacks and reinforced my depression. People can be nasty. On purpose or not.

By giving myself a role to act everything felt less personal. So what if someone shouted at me for using the wrong type of bags for their groceries (as if I could read their minds!). So what if a person looked at me with contempt or superiority? They aren’t looking at me. So my alter ego would smile, apologize, and offer to call a manager. She tries to be as helpful as possible. I don’t like her. But I couldn’t go on. My actual self was breaking, so I used a hologram.

In a strange way, taking things less personal was my first method of coping. After all, the customers who have been snippy with me probably would have reacted the same way to any other cashier. It’s their actions, not my provocation, that have caused conflict. As long as I do my job, being professional and polite, it doesn’t matter what the customer does. They can throw a punch at me for all I care. It’s on them and not me. Keeping up this persona by no means prevents people from being offensive or leud, but it helps my conscience and at the end of the day I should matter more to myself than some random people who were jerks to me.

*~*~*~*

If you’ve made it this far in the story/prose/or whatever this self glorifying text is, thank you. I don’t want this to be a stream of consciousness blog. While I don’t know what I want it to be yet, I know I don’t want it to be that. I’d like it to be personal and entertaining while remaining insightful. Who knows when I’ll find a balance between those three, but I’m hopeful I’ll get there and then go over these early posts with a figurative red pen and x everything out while laughing over a cup of hot chocolate and some popcorn.

This post was supposed to be about my co-worker Alison (pseudo name, of course) and her negative interactions with customers and my hypothesis regarding that. But! Like my fourth grade writing teacher constantly told me, I lack direction in my writing. ~Lucky for you guys, you’re along for the ride while I try to find it!~* Thanks again for getting this far and do not wait with baited breath for my next rant-y post about the life and struggles of a grocery store cashier. I’m sure you are all lovely people with much more exciting things to do than that.

* The “~” encasing words or sentences detonates sarcasm.

Why I am Self Conscious of my Belly

VERSIÓN EN ESPAÑOL AQUÍ

May 26, 2018

I need to stop talking to this friend of mine. He can be really invasive. And I like that. It’s nice when someone wants to get to know you better. It’s even nicer when they want to know about the ugly, damaged parts of you too. It means they want to understand you. They care about you enough to want to know more than just the good things about you. So, I welcome probing questions from friends. I take it as an honor to be asked.

He thought I would be upset with him for asking. But he asked anyway. He asked, “why are you self conscious of your belly?”. “Because I have gigantic scar”, I should have said. But this wasn’t the first time he’d asked. No point shrugging his question off. I gave my typical answer first about societal pressures to be thin and beautiful. He asked for more. So I thought a bit more about it. In my mind, I usually stop at the society reason. I think it’s more than enough reason to be unsatisfied with my body. But it wasn’t enough for him.

After a few moments, I pull a slimy, repressed memory from its hiding place. It wasn’t even terribly hidden. Imagine a ratty stuffed animal poking it’s ears out from behind a dingy pillow in a corner of a room.  When I was young, I was skinny and beautiful. I was even popular in school, imagine that! Everybody loved me. Or so, that’s the way my mother tells this story. Though she just uses the word pretty (not skinny) to describe me back then.

However, the fact remains that once I was not skinny, I began to dress myself in slouchy too-big shirts and muck colored clothes to hide my outwardly growing body. This is when my mother would reminisce. She’d say it with a yearning as she tried to motivate me to do something about my appearance. What she refused to understand is that I would not dress any nicer unless I was comfortable in my body. And to be comfortable in my body, I believed I needed to lose weight.

My dad isn’t completely devoid of involvement either. He used to tease my brother for being overweight when I was young and thin. I saw that and partook. I still feel bad about it, though I understand that I was only mirroring the behavior around me. That’s when I learned that fat isn’t favorable. I also learned through the media, through T.V. shows and books, that fat people get bullied. I was only attempted to be bullied on once. Because of my freckles, someone called me a cheetah in second grade or so. I smiled real big and thanked the kid who made this clever observation. I used to love running around and my dad affectionately called me cheetah. And I’m so glad for the coincidence. No one ever tried to bully me again.

…Well, there’s the guy that would spit at me on the bus in middle school, but he was just weird. It wasn’t personal. Thanks Dad, for sparing me the cycle of bullying. In my later years I reflected back on the cheetah moment and some helpful tips on T.V. and books that recommended laughing in the face of bullies. The sources said bullies seek a reaction. You don’t give it to them and they won’t want to mess with you. You won’t be fun for them. Somehow, this worked.

What I mean by this long, rambley post is that I learned at a young age, through various sources that thin=success. It equals happiness. My mom would talk about her weight regretfully. Say my dad prefers thin people. As if the T.V. screens weren’t screaming this preference of thinness loud enough at me. At the same time she and countless others sang me praises when I did lose weight in high school (only to gain it back the summer before college). So, it became something to resent, my belly. It became a sign of my failures. What is keeping me from success. Because it’s much easier to think “all I have to do is lose this weight and then my life will fall into place” than the reality, which is that life is multifaceted.

If I want to be successful, I have to go to the dentist, continue learning everyday, brush my hair, spend time with friends, and a billion other things than just diet and exercise. There are so many parts to life. While it is important to health, why should weight loss be (ironically) such a huge part? It’s usually my first item on goals I want to accomplish. It’s not that I don’t know how to lose weight. I practically have a Bachelor’s degree in that. (My Bachelor’s is in Nutritional Sciences and Dietetics.) There’s other personal factors in the way, like the fact that I put thinness on the pedestal of success. If it’s so important, it’s also very intimidating to work on.

I don’t know what is best: working on the underlying issues or the problem itself. I am medically obese. I know, doesn’t help my credibility to admit that. Who believes fat people? They’re just lazy bums. (<– A half joke.) I don’t know if I should work on changing the way I think or pushing forward and adopting a healthier lifestyle. I’m afraid that by focusing on my thoughts I’ll only come to accept what can actually be adverse to my health (mainly being overweight and having a sedentary lifestyle).

Obesity is a precursor for many diseases like heart disease and diabetes and puts you at higher risk for certain cancers like breast cancer. I don’t want to be comfortable in my excessive weight. But, I also fear changing my life to a healthier one where I am within the normal parameters of weight for me and am physically active. I fear looking successful, but still being broken in my beliefs. I don’t want to change my outside if my inside doesn’t change too.

So, I am at an impasse. The solution, as I see it, is to work on both my faulty beliefs that thinness equals success and on my unhealthy habits like not exercising. If only it were that easy. Thank you. I sincerely thank you Richard for asking that invasive question. By answering you I find the answers to my indecision. I’ve been stuck in this place of wanting to do something about my weight and not wanting to do anything without knowing why for years. I see now that it is a matter of opposing factors (my perception of thinness, what it means to me, and the reality of weight as a factor in correlation to health).

Now I just have to convince myself to start. Maybe I’ll go on a run and then compliment myself for taking the initiative. After all, progress (not thinness) is success.