Solicitude

Guess who’s back. Shady’s back.

Oh, and me.

It’s funny how I  attempt to maintain a blog during the school semester. Turns out, it simply cannot be done.

Today marks the conclusion of my first (and last) summer semester of college. That’s right-I voluntarily signed up to attend a 7:30 AM lecture twice a week at a school located 45 minutes from my apartment.

Oh, yeah. Did I mention I moved out?

I am now the resident of my state’s capital city. I have a “Maddie-sized” basement apartment in a cute, old-fashioned house near downtown. I live all by myself, though I had a beta fish named Brendon Urie for a time, but he died within two weeks. May he rest in peace.

Anyway, turns out moving out is really super duper fun. Nobody gets mad at you for listening to the same Twenty-One Pilots song on loop for three hours. Nobody makes you do the dishes or sweep the floor. Nobody tells you to put pants on. Or to do your laundry. Or to feed yourself.

Nobody except you.

Sometimes my dishes pile up. Sometimes my lightbulb burns out in my bathroom and I shower in the dark for 6 days before doing anything about it. Sometimes a spider emerges from the corner of the room and I spray it with Raid until it ceases to move. Sometimes my fridge is empty so I eat peanut butter for dinner.

C’est la vie.

Initially, moving out had done wonders for my anxiety. I felt like I had much more control over my life. After all, I’m an adult with my own place and everything that happens here within my own place is entirely up to me. Liberating, yet terrifying.

It turns out that you can’t simply abandon your anxious, perfectionistic self. When I moved, she moved with me. As I mentioned before, I was enrolled in summer classes at my university, in addition to beginning a program to become a certified pharmacy technician. As the end of the semester neared, my body decided that we were exhausted, and before I knew it, I was having a panic attack at work.

I was “processing shipment”, a term in the retail world that means taking clothes out of bags, putting sensors on them, and hanging them on hangers. Anyway, as I was doing this, the room gradually began feeling hotter and hotter. I broke out in a sweat, and found it difficult to breathe. I fanned myself, gasped for air, and finally retreated to the break room in the back, doubled over, and hyperventilating.

I sat in a chair, cradling my head in my hands, and tried to force myself to breathe. The air kept getting thinner, and the temperature kept rising, and finally, I ran out of my workplace-tears and mascara streaming down my flushed cheeks-and was on my way to the doctor’s office.

That was rock bottom.

Since then, I’ve taken some serious therapeutic action. As advised by my doctor, I’ve been exercising regularly, getting proper nutrition, and removing stressors from my life. I quit my job (the one that housed my anxiety attack) and moved to a much more flexible, relaxed one. I’m taking the fall semester off at the Uni (a concept that initially gave me much more anxiety than any school semester ever could) and now I basically get to work when I want to and attend Pharmacy Tech school.

Things finally feel manageable. Things feel comfortable. Suspiciously comfortable.

I’ve noticed over the past few days that just when I feel like I’m allowing myself to enjoy life, I am overcome with guilt. My brain buzzes with constant, self-shaming thoughts: “I shouldn’t be this happy, I shouldn’t have this much free time, I shouldn’t sit still or relax.”

And so I don’t.

The best way I can describe chronic anxiety is when your mind races so fast that it forces your body to attempt to keep up with it-an impossible task. From the moment I open my eyes to the time I close them for the night, my entire body is buzzing. That’s the best word for it.

Then you combine that with eating disordered thoughts, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. It’s been seven years since I’ve been weight-restored, and I still can’t eat a soft pretzel (one of my ABSOLUTE favorite foods) without mulling over it for the next three days, not resting nor sleeping until I perceive that I’ve adequately purged the calories from my system by means of vigorous cardiovascular exercise.

I want so badly to let myself be happy, but the truth is, I’m afraid of what that entails.

 

M.

 

 

 

Ontogeny

Please excuse my extended absence from the blogging world as my time, energy, and soul have been completely consumed by collegiate education and self-discovery over the course of the past quarter-year.

I am a Psychology major, and even though I have no intention of working in this field, I feel that my studies have facilitated a complete shift in the framework of my worldview of humankind, in addition to the pace and style in which I conduct my day-to-day life.

I am a new person.

Okay, perhaps not a NEW person. I am still definitely myself, idiosyncrasies and all. But something clicked within me and created a (hopefully) permanent change in my outlook on life, and how I want to live it.

Perhaps the most impactful thing I learned all semester was a concept coined by Carl Rogers, a humanistic psychologist. He calls it “existential living.”

Existential living can be summarized by living in the “here and now.” This requires being fully present, both mentally and physically, in every moment and every environment you are placed in, which, as you can imagine, can prove exceptionally difficult to do when you have six upper-division level courses constantly competing for your attention, among other things like, I dunno, men? Facebook? Grey’s Anatomy? Philosophical podcasts?

I am guilty as charged for my preoccupation with the future, which I feel has robbed me of having meaningful experiences in the present. My former self never made time for actual experiences, other people, or simply stopping to smell the roses every now and then. Fortunately, a series of interrelated events and individuals have yanked me back from the future, and I am much more open to experience, flexible, and, dare I say it, relaxed.

I’ve learned a thing or two ever since this lightbulb went off in my little head. Let’s list them off, for organizational purposes.

  1. You don’t have to protect yourself from everyone. My previous self was so concerned about my own endeavors that I put relationships with other people on the back-burner. I had such tunnel vision that I had convinced myself that I didn’t need anyone else until I’d maxed out to my fullest potential. In retrospect, I admit that I was making excuses for my self-induced isolation as a defense mechanism. However, my newfound understanding of the human psyche has convinced me that people aren’t meant to go through any part of life alone. Attempting to do so can make you crazy, but, then again, so can people. It’s all about balance.
  2. More often than not, there is no definite answer. This concept terrifies me to this day, but I’m becoming more and more comfortable with it. The reason why I do not intend to work in the field of Psychology is due to the fact that there are so few, if any, definite answers as to why people behave the way they do, and, as I mentioned earlier, I don’t like that one bit. I’ve decided to focus my energy on the biological sciences, which are arguably significantly more concrete than theories attempting to account for human behavior. Take Freud, for example. The guy was a total nut case, and any theory I can draft up pertaining to psychological phenomena is just as valid as his were.
  3.  I can’t be good at everything. I suffer from chronic perfectionism. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Poor M, what a curse, to HAVE to be perfect at everything. Cry me a river.” Where’s your empathy, folks? Claiming perfectionism is not intended to draw attention to my accomplishments. It’s a symptom of anxiety, and it has claimed more years of my life than I would like to admit. Anyway, the reason I include this in my “Life Lessons Learned Spring 2016 Greatest Hits” is because, for the first time in my life, I faced the possibility of failing a class. As it turns out, I am no statistician, and I don’t play one on TV. In all honesty, I exhausted my mental resources in the fight for a satisfactory grade in my Statistics course, and no matter how hard I tried, I was incapable of earning an A in this class. My previous self would have been devastated, my self-esteem shattered. I got a B. My current self thanks the heavens that I passed the class, and has severed the tie between my grades and my own perception of self-worth and competence.
  4. There is no rush. I plowed through my undergraduate degree. This December, I’ll be receiving my diploma at the ripe age of 21, just three years after graduating high school. While I am extremely proud of this accomplishment, a part of me wishes that I’d allowed myself to enjoy the journey a little bit more, and perhaps I could have achieved a higher level of authenticity and security in what I want to become. Besides, I have the rest of my life to go to graduate school, and then work until I can retire in the next 50 years or so and live happily ever after with an obscene amount of dogs at my side.
  5. Breathe. This one was probably the most beneficial to my physiological health. I am a frequent panic-attack victim, however, despite this semester being my heaviest course load, I experienced minimal panic-attacks, and my heart thanks me, due to my newfound ability to control my own stress levels. Rather than allow myself to activate full freak-out mode, I am now able to withdraw from the stressful stimulus, recompose myself, align my Chakras, and return to the task at hand as a much more composed and serene individual.

I’m sure that I’ve learned numerous other lessons over the past four months, but for some reason, we as a species are comfortable with the number 5. Besides, I’m sure that you all are tired of hearing my enlightened self express how enlightened I am.

Anyway, I exited this semester more sane than I entered it, which is refreshing, because I only have a week to recuperate before I dive into the summer semester.

I don’t know who I am without academia.

Onward, ever onward.

M.

 

Purposive

Now that everybody’s done sharing their tentative New Year’s Resolutions with their online social circles, I think i’ll finally reveal my plans to make myself a less-shitty person than I was in 2015.

 

Though I love the person I’m developing into since my faith crisis, nose-dive into feminism, and increasingly curious mind, I find myself becoming exponentially more cynical, which is something I hate about myself.

I find myself often looking for reasons to be pissed off, which makes it really, REALLY hard to be the happy, energetic ball of sunshine I once aspired to become, but will never be, due to my chronically sarcastic and brazen personality. Indeed, since I’ve been exposed to a whole new world of liberalism, I seem to have the tendency to search for things that people do that strike me as problematic, and will consequently set me off.

There are specific groups of people that are extremely hard for me to get along with (i.e. meninists, anybody who still subscribes to traditional gender roles).  I totally feel justified in avoiding individuals who fall under this category completely, but I also feel that I am much too hard on people.

For example, my dating life is a literal train wreck. Most of my interactions with men are terminated by me giving them a lengthy, wordy lecture about how sexist it is to not be interested in a girl who can’t cook, or won’t send a racy snap-chat after the first date.

I feel like I’m constantly having to defend my feminist views; nothing flips my bitch-switch faster than when a gentleman i’m dating says anything that could be seen as sexist, even if you have to flip it upside down and squint with your left eye.

So i’m going to work on that. Perhaps instead of ripping his head off every time a suitor says something I don’t agree with, I can calmly present my point of view on the matter, and then change the subject as I squeeze the hell out of the stress ball I just bought.

This resolution’s due date might extend into 2063, but it’s all about progress, people.

Additionally, I am going to get out of my own way when it comes to relationships with other people. This is a very poorly-defined goal, but I have very specific quirks that I use in order to build sky-scraping walls around myself, thus protecting my isolation.

First of all, I have got to make peace with my relationship to food and to my body. I’m talking about my obsession/preoccupation about eating in a manner that will cause me dramatic weight loss, and dutiful, religious, nauseating exercise. When one is as engrossed in the aforementioned activities as I have become, there is little time or energy left to spend on stuff that matters significantly more, and after 6 years of eating-disordered behavior and body dysmorphia, I’m tired, damn it. And ready to invest myself in building some meaningful relationships and kicking ass even harder in school.

This problem is never going to resolve itself, so I’ll have to look back into going to therapy.

I always complain about how pathetic it is that I’ve attended my current university for two years, and haven’t made a single friend, but if I’m being honest with myself, I have never once initiated any kind of effort to make friend at college. So this year is going to be different. I am going to focus on becoming more inviting, friendly, and talkative. I am going to take some risks, start some conversations, hell, even ask out a hot guy from my Stats class (after checking his finger for a ring, obviously. We have lots of super young, married folk where I’m from.)

In addition to all of these resolutions, if I have time to spare, perhaps I’ll attempt to kick my caffeine addiction.

Just kidding, I’m taking 19 credit hours. There is no way in hell I’m decreasing my latte consumption.

So there you have it. An outline of how I am going to go from a shitty person in 2015 to a noticeably less-shitty person by the end of 2016.

Happy New Year!

M.

 

 

 

 

Authenticity

Are you still there?

Good. Cuz M is back, baby.

This past couple of months has been nothing short of crazy. First of all, I took on 18 credit hours of school, which literally killed me. I am dead inside, and my soul has been sucked away in a flurry of final exams, which completely kicked my ass.

Also, I switched my minor to neuroscience, and have made the executive decision to enter the medical field, and specialize in something super cool and prestigious, like brain surgery. (Grey’s Anatomy may or may not have slightly influenced this decision.) I discovered that my one true passion is neuroscience, and that the brain is by far the coolest and most badass organ in the human body.

So, school is going well.

Employment, however, is not going so well. Over the course of the Fall semester, I have held three different jobs. I spent a solid THREE WEEKS as a barista at my local coffee shop. I learned during this time that it takes more than an obsession with coffee to master the art of espresso-making. Additionally, I am really, really good at spilling liquids all over me, my coworkers, and my customers.

Job number two was as a receptionist in a mental health clinic. All I can say about that is that frankly, I don’t want to be a receptionist.

And job number three, which I am proud to report that I have held for 2 MONTHS, is being a sales associate at one of my favorite clothing stores. I love it and want to work there forever because first of all, I get an average of 4 hours to work a week, which makes my paychecks big enough for about a quarter of a Victoria’s Secret bra, and I also get a 40% discount on all clothing items, which I can’t afford because I never work.

Kidding, I have no desire to work retail any longer than I have to.

But what I really wanted to tell you all about is that I got a tattoo!

Tat

Do you LOVE it?

It’s the Hand of Fatima, which is symbolic of the “feminine holy hand.” It’s located on my upper side, which, I’ve been told, is the most painful place to get a tattoo.

I’ll have you know, though, that I didn’t even flinch. My tattoo artist said I took it like a champ, which I obviously am.

I’ve been wanting a tattoo for a long time now, and I feel like getting inked is my way of claiming my body as my own. I feel empowered to live authentically-It’s funny what a little permanent sticker can do to a person. Also, I want like 300 more of them.

So there’s a semi-decent update on what I’m doing with my little life lately. More to come soon.

Cheers!

M.

Assign

You know how in cartoons, a giant lightbulb appears over one of the characters’ heads when he/she has an epiphany or suddenly solves the issue at hand? I swear to goodness that’s what happened to me on my last day of my Intro to Literature class. My giant lightbulb was caused by an epiphany. An epiphany as to the real reason why I declare myself a feminist.

On our last day of class, we were assigned to present a chapbook of poems that all relate under a central theme. Naturally, my theme was “Self-Representations of Women.” I actually thoroughly enjoyed this project, as I found multiple poems that I could completely relate to. Anyway, my epiphany hit in the middle of my presentation when I began slipping into the unscripted abyss that is a college kid’s Intro to Literature Chapbook Presentation.

At some point, I had said “The real problem at hand is that we assign virtually EVERYTHING a gender. It is either masculine, or feminine.” That didn’t really resonate with me until after i’d finished my presentation with the words “Smash the patriarchy!” with blushed cheeks and returned to my desk to find a hand-written note from a classmate that was seated nearby.

His note applauded me for presenting feminism in a way that had never occurred to him before, and he concurred that it is extremely problematic to assign everything from character traits to colors of the rainbow to a category of either masculine or feminine. I suggested hie look further into feminism, and we parted ways.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how this binary mindset our culture has ingrained in us limits us to who we think we are allowed to become. Unfortunately, femininity is considered the lesser of masculinity, giving most feminine things a negative connotation when compared to more masculine things.

For example, math and engineering, toy trucks, and football have all been deemed “masculine” and “boy activities,” and those who are not masculine are discouraged from engaging in “masculine” interests.

On the other hand, cooking, sewing, dancing, and hair-styling have all had the word “feminine” slapped to their foreheads to ward off masculine intruders.

This is problematic for dozens of reasons, and it affects all genders. Rather than allowing each individual to choose his/her interests, we steer them toward what we believe will be most fitting for them, based on their sex. This holds true not only for interests, but for emotions and personality traits, as well.

Women are supposed to be weak, submissive, gentle, soft, and nurturing. If we’re not, we’re considered masculine women, and what could be worse than that?

Men are supposed to be strong, athletic, assertive, and smart. If they’re not, they’re considered ‘femmy,’ which is even worse than being a masculine woman, because, after all, masculinity reigns supreme in the realms of the patriarchy.

I am a feminist because I don’t believe that everything a person can be needs to be assigned to a gender. Society is shaping who we are going to become, and we are playing right along with it. I am sick and tired of the “pink is for girls” and “blue is for boys.” Because I like blue, dammit. And superheroes. And math. And tacos.

Stop gendering everything, people.

M.

Absentee

On today’s episode of M’s Beautiful Life, M skips school because, well, she can.

The first snow has fallen in Utah today. I had to wake at the crack of dawn in order to take care of some personal affairs before class, and aforementioned personal affairs caused me to be late for my 9 AM lecture. For today, I’ve adopted a “screw it” attitude, and have decided to completely bypass my university lectures.

I’ve never felt so alive.

The first item on my spontaneous agenda of Hooky Day was to take an impetuous drive up the canyon. As I mentioned earlier, it is snowing, rather intensely, I might add, so this drive up the canyon ended up being a drive up a fourth of the canyon due to personal fears of swerving off the road because my Camry is good in the snow, but not completely trustworthy. Neither am I, as a motorist.

Then, I returned home from this adventure to document my activities for you fine folks. I’m on my third cup of coffee and am sipping from a chevron-patterned mug, and am sporting my very favorite sweater. I will be carrying on in this manner for the next hour or so.

Next on my unbidden schedule is Target. I am going to go roam Target and “pop some tags,” in the words of the legendary Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Once my funding runs dry, but not before the guilt of spending my entire paycheck sets in, I will go to my favorite cafe (which I luckily have a gift card for) and enjoy a cozy, culinary experience.

After my tummy has been sufficiently filled, I will attend my therapy session, because I couldn’t possibly sluff off all of my appointments for the day, and also these sessions are rather expensive. Then, I will go to work like the diligent, dependent worker my resume says I am.

I’m the kind of badass that skips school to blog and go to Target. YOLO.

M.

Veracity

Fact: everybody has something wrong with them. That’s what makes us human.

And sometimes, once we discover what’s wrong with people, we are not willing to tolerate it. This typically ends in the termination of a relationship. I’ve been thinking lately of ways to avoid this phenomenon, and i’ve come up with a viable solution. Why don’t we all just start asking each other from the get-go, “hey, what’s the matter with you?” Just so there are no surprises.

If we all decided not to be offended by this question and just offer up our behavior-affecting issues to people as we meet them, they’ll be able to decide then and there whether or not they are willing to stick around, despite whatever issue you have shared with them. Because if they decide initially that they won’t tolerate your individualized type of crazy, it won’t hurt you as bad when they decide they’re done with you before you can develop the feels.

Like on dating websites, in addition to asking you what your hobbies and interests are, there should be a field where you can describe what makes you a little psycho. But don’t feel bad, because we’re all a little psycho. I just think that if we were all more up-front about it, we’d all get along better. It’d force us to own up to our own downfalls, too, so we can all find ourselves even if we can’t afford a plane ticket to India.

I don’t propose this idea just in the case of romantic relationships. It’s directly applicable to coworkers, friends, roommates, all of the voluntary relationships we form throughout life. Let’s all just own up to our personalized forms of crazy and wear them on our T-Shirts.

Who’s with me?

M.