So many of my posts here have been negative, or at the least, not very positive. I don’t like that. The reasons behind my frustration are often complex and require writing out to explain them to myself and then to the world. I don’t feel as much of a need to explain the good moments, I just accept them as they come.
Still, I’m aware that the blog is unbalanced in that aspect. Today I want to talk about something that does lean toward the positive. I want to put together a picture of who I am and who I want to be.
Like most kids who experience bullying, or those who get themselves tangled in controlling friendships, I sacrificed parts of myself to please those around me and secure my position in the group. I smothered my feelings, I taught myself to hide all of my hurts, and I learned that standing out and being different was wrong. I learned not to talk to people about what I was feeling, that my needs were less important than another person’s time. I learned that my problems were mine to deal with, asking for anyone’s help would allow them to see myself as I truly am–and once that ‘secret’ was out, I would be outcast.
There weren’t any exceptions to this rule. It didn’t matter how long, or how close, or how important someone was in my life. I wanted to be easy. I didn’t want to be trouble. I wanted to simply exist in the company of others for as long as I could fool them that I belonged there.
I think I was twelve the year I burned the side of my leg after a motorbike ride. The burn was about the size of my hand and stung like a bitch. I knew I’d been burned, but I said nothing. It was Christmas day. Everyone should be happy on Christmas day. If they saw me injured, they would be worried and distracted from their fun because of me. I went out the back with a cold wet face washer and tended to it myself.
Naturally my parents found out a few days later and it got seen to properly, but that explains the sort of thought processes that went into keeping that secret.
Those processes still exist. The desire to be easy and not upset those around me still governs the majority of my decisions. I do catch myself doing it, and when it comes to things I deem serious, I correct it. I force myself to ask for help. The real damage is in the suppression of the things I love, and want to be. My silence when I want to speak, my muted reactions when I want to burst with emotion. All because I don’t want to bother or trouble another person.
That’s where I’ve come from. It means that who I feel I am, and who I project myself to be are at odds with each other. I don’t feel that I am a quiet, stand-offish, secretive person. That’s not who I want to be, either.
This is who I feel I am, written in third person because it’s somehow easier.
She’s relaxed, talkative. She says dumb things and goes bright red when she realises what she’s said. It doesn’t shame her. She laughs with a snort out of her nose first, and then a belly laugh that sputters through her lips out into a full sound. She doesn’t care how inelegant it is. It’s a laugh, and laughs happen the way they do.
She can talk about almost anything, stopping her is harder than getting her to start. She talks fast. Sometimes she needs to be asked to slow down. She gets excited when telling stories or talking about things she loves, waving her hands emphatically. You can see when she loves a subject, it lifts her. She’s equally animated on subjects she hates, arguing rational points with the confidence of a lawyer. She might be wrong, she’s not always right, but she’s always passionate. Especially when it comes to politics. She wants to see a better world, a fair world.
She’s an idealist and an optimist. Even though the skeptical side of her knows that a perfect world will never happen, she argues that there’s no reason not to aim for it. That’s the function of idealists: to dream bigger and better, to inspire continuous change rather than settling for good enough. She believes in continuous improvement and life-long learning. She believes in understanding her self and optimising her strengths, developing her weaknesses. Her optimism is balanced by a grounded sense of logic, she hopes for the best and understands the consequences of the worst. She believes that St Kilda and Richmond will win premierships. When they do, she’ll cry with happiness because she knows how much it means to people who mean the world to her.
She wants those around her to be happy. She wants to make them happy, to help. She can’t walk past something that she knows another person will love, she has to buy it and surprise them. It’s worth the smile. That makes her happy. She loves surprising people. Her methods of helping are often physical things, gifts or tasks done. Words never seem as useful as something concrete. This is her proof that she cares. That she knows what you want and need and love, and that she goes nowhere in her life without those she loves in her mind and heart.
She’s affectionate, and wants to show it. She’s a ‘huggy’ person. Everything she feels, she feels it intensely. There’s no middle ground between elation and sorrow. There don’t need to be reasons to explain why. Her mood changes with the world around her, the things she delights in or takes sadness from. It’s a never-ending rush that can be exhausting.
She overthinks. She needs to know why and what and how. She struggles to accept that some things just have to be a certain way. Knowing how things work is how she remembers. She had this argument about trigonometry. Until she knew why the formula worked, it was impossible to remember.
She’s confused by people. They don’t make sense. They aren’t direct in what they want, they communicate on a wavelength she can’t tune into. In spite of every attempt to mimic and follow along, they still know she’s not like them. She has rules to follow when talking to others, pre-considered answers to give when the situation requires it. She wants to break free of them and just be herself–but reliance on the rules got her this far, and she’s afraid. Without the rules she will be weird and most likely Wrong.
She’s plagued by anxiety. Not for spiders or heights, but in her interactions with other people. It’s not, as people assume, irrational. There’s so much to remember. So much body language to analyse. So much to keep up with, it seems impossible. After every conversation she reflects, tries to spot what she did right and what she did wrong. This is how she built her rules. Anxiety tells her to be careful in her communications, the cost of screwing it up is too high. Mess it up and she won’t be accepted.
She knows this. She’s lived it.
She wishes she could ‘just relax’. Sometimes she is told to be herself, others she is told she needs to push through and be like everyone else. Which one is she supposed to do? The former is hard for people to accept, the latter is exhausting. It burns her out. Pretending is supposed to increase her ability to do things the ‘right’ way, pushing on should be the key to tolerating and surviving the world. It just feels like a heavy mask. It feels like a lie. She’ll never truly relax until she can be herself and be accepted.
She wants freedom and justice, equality for all. She wants to see refugees settled in peaceful neighbourhoods, communities working together, understanding and acceptance for LGBTQI+ people (and anyone else who’s different). She wants everyone to be happy. She hates the ineffectiveness of politics, the drama-mill that is journalism, she’s disgusted by how words are twisted and turned to portray people in a bad light before all the facts are known. She believes wholly in knowing all sides of a story before judgement.
She believes in people, in their goodness, and will always try to find an explanation that keeps that intact. She doesn’t hate. She gets manipulated from time to time for giving people more chances than they deserve, but she refuses to change that. She’s happier in herself knowing that she gave someone every opportunity to correct their behaviour before giving up.
She’s bloody minded. She gets fixed on problems and how to solve them. Sometimes she gets so caught on the angle of one solution she doesn’t see other, more obvious, solutions. She will throw herself at a problem until it cracks or breaks her. She’s notorious for sending emails with her thoughts and theories on how to improve things. She’s rarely defeated for long, and always comes back to a task more determined than before.
She’s picky about things. How the groceries are stacked on the conveyor belt, how dishes are stacked in the dishwasher. She hates pegs left on the clothesline when the washing is taken in. Errors in advertising and other mass communication irritate her. Stores should have logical layouts that make sense, with checkouts by the door–none of this ‘Kmart registers in the middle of the shop’ nonsense. She can tell when an image is a pixel out of alignment, or a shade wrong in colour. She hates the font Scriptina more than she hates Comic Sans (both are overused).
She’s scattered and disorganised in her own organised way. Her long-term memory is good, but she forgets where she put her drink… constantly. Spaces that are too organised and too clear make her anxious, she likes to spread out and see things. Her desk is a pile of papers. She knows what all of them are, and how to get them when they’re needed. She has her processes for doing things and stumbles when they’re interrupted or changed. She does not like change.
She constructs her plan for the day every morning, and gets frustrated when it doesn’t work out. She hates uncertainty in planning, likes to know what is happening and when it will happen. Additions or changes to a plan at the last minute will frazzle her, and when plans fall through she is left with a void that feels too big to fill. When things happen regularly, she expects that to continue. She notices patterns around her and uses those to project what might happen in the future.
She’s extremely passionate about her hobbies, though she keeps them mostly confined to the communities they belong in. The online world introduced her to so many wonderful people through games and blogs and forums, people without whom she wouldn’t be who she is now. Her life is full of rich friendships that reach across the country and the world. None of them are less for not being present in her physical life. She is grateful for their existence. Online she can pretend less and be weird more, and these people embraced her for it. She learned how to find her ‘tribe’ and begin the process of accepting herself. It continues here.
She’s brilliant at pouring her heart and soul into a task, less good at splitting it between multiple tasks at the same time. She’s a perfectionist who worries about things not being done well enough, sometimes that makes things hard to start. She can get lost in tasks, as well, so absorbed that any other outside needs are forgotten. Her ability to produce in this mode is phenomenal. She just has to remember to stop and eat.
She wants to be more. Not just more successful, but more true to how she sees herself. She wants to wave her arms with excitement, chatter on endlessly about her favourite things, bounce on her toes while she speaks even if it annoys those she’s talking to. She wants to sprawl comfortably beside friends and binge-watch TV, to not hear herself calculating every move and word she makes, she wants to leverage the intensity of herself and use it. She wants to squeal and dance and even get visibly pissed off when she feels it.
She’ll get there. It’s a long and slow process, breaking bad habits takes time. And when it’s done, she’ll be an unashamedly loud and animated, intensely-emotional, scatter-brained creative with a wicked sense of humour and a superhuman ability to focus on single tasks.
Bring it on.