Pieces

I find it notably paradoxical that oftentimes, I feel most lonely when I’m surrounded by people.

Interestingly, I don’t tend to feel this stomach-sinking emotion when I am all alone.

I think that I’m a fringe person. I dwell just on the outside; within arm’s distance of others, but never closer.

At work, I float around from clique to clique, managing shallow small talk and building bridges just strong enough to give me someone to eat lunch with in the break room.

Within my family, I am amidst most of the inside jokes. But oftentimes, I sabotage our kinship banter with annoyance or moodiness or an inability to just let myself enjoy experiences.

When it comes to anything relating to the male sex, sure, I’ve got a list of dudes that would likely be more than willing to spend an evening with me. They grace me with their attention and overdrawn compliments on the Snapchat or when I post a new selfie featuring my legs.

And I keep them around. Y’know, just in case loneliness sets in.

And for just an initial moment, I gain a minuscule taste of satisfaction.

Every now and then, I feel ballsy and decide to reach out. Give somebody a chance, if you will. But they say that there is no loneliness like the type you feel in another’s company. And they are right.

I’ve caught myself time and time again making the horrific mistake of trying to open up to someone and truly be understood. My cries for help are dismissed, and people come and take what they came for, and then they are back on their merry way.

Cynical? Perhaps.

That being said, I think I’m just intended to be a fringe person. And that entails drawing further and further inward, playing it all safe.

I’ve accepted this reality since the day the pieces of me shattered into too small of fragments that they simply don’t fit together anymore.

And so I carry on, broken and wounded from yesterday’s mistakes.

M.

Advertisements

Stuck

I typically try to be a little bit more eloquent and creative in titling my blog posts, but this simple, 5-letter word seems to be the most appropriate for encompassing the mood I’ve been in for the past, well, months.

Some nights, when I’m out inhaling the heavy summer air, enjoying the romantic landscape of a late night sunset, I feel carefree and optimistic, and completely in love with my life.

Other nights, and honestly, most nights lately, I feel a sobering sense of hopelessness- like I’ve dug myself into the ground, and there is no rope long enough to rescue me.

I miss who I was before I became who I am now.

I used to wake up every morning as a girl on a mission. I was charismatic, passionate, and a bit of a know-it-all. I knew where I was headed, and nobody was going to stop me. I knew I had a lot to prove, but I also knew more than anyone that I was more than capable. I was engaged in my everyday experiences, and I drank up every opportunity I had to learn something.

Even despite my history of trauma, anxiety-based pathology, body dysmorphia, and self-imposed tendencies to isolate myself.

But now, I am uninspired.

Or, perhaps, simply unconvinced of my own capabilities. Disenchanted with me.

I’m in a maze-no-multiple mazes at once, and I’ve hit a dead end in every one.

I chose an academic path that is insufficient for my career goals.

I chose to associate with people who were capable of more damage to me than I could have ever foreseen, and can no longer outrun the impact.

I am stuck in a body-a cage that I hate-and will never be able to mold into something that I can tolerate.

I am stuck in a toxic atmosphere, where I see real suffering by real people everyday, and am incapable of alleviating it.

I am stuck in a brain that won’t turn off, or simply even slow down.

At home, I feel like an intruder.

I feel distant from everything, as if I’m watching it through a glass barrier in a museum. Close-but not close enough to feel.

The best solution I can draft is the “clean slate” method. I want to run away-start over in a place where nobody has met me. Go by a different variation of my name. Become someone else. Someone better. Someone stronger.

A change of scenery is what I need.

And that, is the sole mechanism that propels me forward-the opportunity to never look back.

M.

 

 

 

Empty

There’s nothing like a solitary summer night drive to really get your feelings to surface.

But big girls don’t cry, and so I will write.

I spent the last hour coasting up the hillside in my car to the sobering melody of “Me” by the 1975, and thinking too deeply about how I got here. I’ve come to a couple of conclusions.

For starters, I genuinely like the personality I’ve developed. I like that I’m witty and weird. I like that I can talk about almost anything for hours and that I have posters of chemical formulas and DNA helices on my bedroom wall. I like that the people at work know me as a sassy-pants know-it-all who is a little neurotic about cats. I like being the cool girl that lets everything roll off her shoulder. I like the things I say, and the way I think.

I don’t like my body-it doesn’t feel like mine. I don’t like how my body is satisfying to men who have touched it, or thought about doing so, while I can’t even bear to look at it in the mirror sometimes. Or worse-that I can’t stop looking at it sometimes, and allow my thoughts to tear me apart, limb from limb, as I fight back tears of frustration and inadequacy.

I don’t like that I try so hard to be attractive. Even now, nearing the middle of the night, I sit here in a “waist trainer” that closely resembles the rib-crushing corsets that the ladies of the middle ages laced themselves into every day, in a desperate attempt to shrink myself smaller and smaller. I don’t like my freckles, or the fact that I can’t tan.

I don’t like how painfully aware I am of myself in space. I don’t like constantly trying to read others’ minds as they encounter me. I don’t like over-thinking every human interaction I have and anxiously hoping that I haven’t done anything wrong.

I don’t like living my life as though everyone is going to hurt me. I don’t like snapping at anyone who makes a pass at me-I’m practically biting their heads off all the time. I hate that I use previous unresolved trauma as an excuse for not allowing anyone within a five mile radius of me. I really don’t like feeling alone all the time, watching everyone else be, y’know, not alone.

I don’t like being considered an “attractive girl,” because that implies that my physical attributes are the primary cause that allures people in my direction. The “attractive girl” doesn’t seem to get what I want more than anything, which is the security of someone somewhere who understands me in all my flaws and contradictions, has seen me at my ugliest, and wants me to stay.

I don’t like holding myself to standards of perfectionism, and inevitably falling short of it every time-doomed to perpetual disappointment.

I don’t like that I’m still up writing this stupid post that will likely be deleted in the morning.

I don’t like thinking that things will always be this way.

M.

Progression

According to WordPress, I’ve been at this blogging thing for 3 years now.

But the “I” who started this blog hardly even remotely resembles the “I” who sits behind the keyboard now.

DownWithTheNorm was founded by an 18-year-old girl during the spark of her *formal* feminist awakening. That girl was fiery, angry, confused, and determined to fix the world. Misogyny was her only foe, and she was vigilant and determined to take him down, and took every opportunity to bare her teeth in the face of opposition.

But, as with all sparks, hers was extinguished.

Gradually, she let her inquiring mind guide her as she learned more and more about the world; how it probably works, and how it most likely doesn’t. She developed an air of cynicism, and became understandably tired of fighting the good fight. Others grew tired, bored, annoyed, or a combination of the three of her persistent, yet non-refreshing wordy posts on social media that accomplished nothing but a temporary emotional relief for our young author.

She did her best to keep her mind open, while simultaneously drawing her own independent conclusions. Especially in the context of her religion.

She spent a short duration as a walking contradiction; trying to force her newly acquired world views into a mold that simply would not fit. She wanted to be the change from within, but that resulted in her being pushed out.  She lost friends, but she gained an identity that she felt comfortable in. An authentic lifestyle was drawing nearer and nearer, but exponentially more solitary.

This girl was anxious-so much so that she couldn’t bare to even hold still even for a minute. Sleep was just a five-letter word. She had to be the fastest, the best, the smartest, and the skinniest always. And she was failing miserably at all of it.

But, breaking down turns into breaking through, if you let it.

The girl behind the keyboard is an enhanced version of the girl from 3 years ago.

I’ve had so many experiences that have shaped me into who I am now, whether that be for the better or not. I’m not the girl with the eating disorder anymore. I’m the girl who maybe spends too much time thinking about food and not enough time about breathing, and probably uses her bathroom scale more often than the average joe. And binges on breakfast cereal once in a blue moon. Oh, and HATES going to the gym.

I’m not the Mormon Feminist Anomaly anymore. I’m simply the feminist woman-person who believes that whether or not there is an afterlife is irrelevant. What really matters is that there are plenty of opportunities for me to develop and enhance as many interpersonal relationships as I possibly can during the time that I am allotted here. I believe that this life isn’t a test at all. Rather, it’s an opportunity to develop oneself to the fullest extent possible, and perhaps find an individualistic sense of happiness while we’re at it; whatever that looks like.

And for all of you looking to slap a label on me (because that’s what people do-no judgment), you can call me an Agnostic. Like I said, I’m not looking to shut out any possibilities completely.

I love tattoos, science, coffee, wine, and angry heathen misogyny-laden rap music. And I let myself love these things, because this is MY human experience. And what I choose to drink, put on my body, or listen to, does NOT make me a bad person, contrary to what I was led to believe growing up with religion

I’m not anxious anymore. Through the process of extensive trial and error, I’ve finally settled on a path that suits me. I got a job that makes me excited to wake up in the morning. I have a degree of self-sustainability that I never have had before. I feel liberated and powerful and in control. Rather than planning for my future, I’m actively taking steps toward living it, and I’m doing it calmly, mindfully, and relatively maturely.

As far as interpersonal relationships go, I’ve made strides toward getting out of my own way. I’m still a bit more self-isolating than I’d like to be, but baby steps are the name of the game. I can let loose now, and go out with friends once or twice a week. Hell, sometimes even on a school night! Because, as I mentioned beforehand, in the grand scheme of things, people are what matter. Yeah, going to bed early so I can bring my A game to school and work is important, but so is making time for those I care about. It’s all about balance.

I breathe easy, sleep easy, and am patient and engaged in every moment, which is much more than I could have ever said 3 years ago. I know I’m no sage of wisdom, and that I have much more developing, improvement, and revision to do, but I genuinely like the direction I’m heading.

Documenting my experiences over the past 3 years has been truly enriching for me, and hopefully at least mildly entertaining for you! I genuinely appreciate anyone who has ever and will ever take the time to read anything that I write.

Here’s to 3 more years!

M.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Irascible

Today, I am bugged.

And I have plenty of legitimate reasons to be. I can count the hours of sleep i’ve gotten in the last two days on one hand. We ran out of my favorite caffeinated drink packets this morning. My Chapstick melted all over my jeans on the way to work. I cut my lip on accident whilst trying to pry open a cup of Greek yogurt at lunch today. Global warming.

So EXCUUUUUSE me for being a little “tender.”

Work went well, though, despite my 10 hour shift and it being Friday.

Not to toot my own horn, but I am becoming quite the efficient little receptionist, if I do so humbly say so myself. I even get my very own pen which i’ve labeled with a note that says, “This has probably been in Maddie’s mouth.”

One of the major tasks of my position as Efficient Receptionist with adorable name tag and special pen is to check in patients and also schedule their next appointments.

Never a dull moment in customer service jobs.

We get a lot of older men coming in to my work, and i’ve suffered more than my fair share of passes from these older dudes. But today was noticeably higher-saturated with passes from older dudes.

Wow, please excuse the atrocious grammar in that last sentence, and then note again the lack of sleep of which I am suffering.

Allow me to elaborate:

Old Dude #1: Thank you, missy, you are too sweet.

Me: …..

Old Dude #1: Uh, umm, (stammers, ad lib.) That wasn’t sexual harassment. (Turns and bolts toward the exit, but stops suddenly upon grabbing the door handle and shouts behind him, “have a great day, my dear!”)

Why in the actual hell would you even say the words, “sexual harassment” in this situation?! We could have easily both ignored your forward and borderline inappropriate comment about the sweetness of which I was exhibiting.

Scenario Dos:

Old dude #2: Hey, gorgeous! Sorry I’m late!

Me: ….

Old Dude #2: Oh, no, I was talking to him. (Nods to my coworker, who is a male.) Otherwise, that’d be sexual harassment.

“Sexual harassment.” Can we just delete that phrase from our vernacular? It gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Scenario Tres:

Me: Okay, Old Dude #3, are we scheduling you for 2 appointments next week or three?

Old Dude #3: two, unless the third one is me and you for dinner.

Me: *slams head against keyboard just hard enough to escape consciousness for the remainder of the work day.*

So that had me in a pretty sour mood for the majority of my shift, but it was my very last patient of the day that about made me lose my marbles.

Before you call me a man-hater and start throwing tomatoes at me, please return to your designated seat, make sure you’re caught up on your meds, have a sip of water, and continue reading.

Last patient walks in, and I go about my routine of getting her checked in and ready to go.

Last Patient: It’s so nice to see young girls like you being so efficient!

Me: *looks up from what i’m doing, eyebrows knit together in confusion and disgust*

I was unaware that “young girls” had a track record for being non-efficient.

What’s so surprising about my abilities to accomplish office and admin tasks at work? Is it that i’m a girl AND that i’m efficient? Is it that i’m young and efficient? Does she not know any girls who are efficient? And when can people finally start referring to me as a woman rather than a girl gosh dang it I am almost two decades old.

Maybe I just read into these things way too much because of my constant, ever-waxing feminist attitude. Maybe I should have just taken her comment as a compliment and not thought anything more of it. But WHY is it nice to see young girls being so efficient?! Would it still be nice if I were a young boy and being efficient?! Would she even say anything?! WHY AM I YELLING?!

I’m pissed off. I’m pissed off and tired. And now i’m going to angrily slump on my couch and efficiently eat Nutella from the jar with a miniature spoon.

M.

Rose Amongst The Thorns

Y’know how in High school the pretty people always had the easier life? The hot chicks in Human Bio always got a better grade on their group project because Mr. Smith was a single, sixty-something with a thing for blondes? And how the handsome boys just happened to be excessively, athletically inclined and how all the pretty people seemed to gravitate toward each other in an un-penetrable mass of popularity? 

High school never ends. 

You see, in the real world, the pretty people still come out on top. The cruel reality is, beauty is bliss. And your life will be significantly easier if the big guys like what they see when they look your way. 

Exhibit A: My big girl job (see previous post) 

At my new place of employment, I work with a team completely composed of men. I have no problem with this-in fact, I quite like it. When we’re not busy, we talk about dude stuff like food and modern warcraft (is that even what it’s called?) and wrist watches. And we can all make fun of each other without calling each other “bitches” behind our backs. Boys get along nice.

Anyway, our customers get randomly selected and surveyed on the customer service we provide. It’s nearing the end of the quarter, so at our little pep-talk meeting, I was told not to worry about getting bad surveys because I’m “cute and bubbly” and that people will just give me a perfect score because I’m cute. 

Are you seeing the perks yet? 

That’s all fine and dandy, but there are definitely hardships that come with being the chick that invades the wolf pack. 

Some of our customers are full-on sketch. 

My coworker was helping this man with a transaction, and I was standing nearby, shadowing him as part of my training. The customer asked my coworker if he’d been “staying out of trouble,” to which my coworker replied, “i’m trying to!” The customer was an older gent. He looked at me and said, “Well, how can you, when you’ve got a beautiful blonde right next to you?” Instantly, my cheeks flushed the color of ripe tomatoes. Did I mention my coworker is married? Neither of us could vocalize a decent response. 

That same day, I was helping another older man with a transaction. He tipped his hat to me and winked, and before he left, he handed me one of those individually-wrapped lifesaver candies. I know what you’re thinking, “what a sweet, old man!” But if you were a bird on my shoulder, getting a whiff of his stale-cigarette scent and noting his messy and unkempt appearance, you would understand. 

I’ve even been formally warned by my coworkers not to help certain customers because they’re “too creepy” and will “hit on me.” 

For the most part, customers are pleasantly surprised with the my being the new addition to the team. They call me the “rose amongst the thorns.” And who am I to argue? A rose I shall be. 

Sigh. The patriarchy at work. 

 

 

Buzzz

Hey kids! Please excuse my lack-of-posting. One day, I was a ridiculously under-occupied little lady who had her entire summer wide open with no official engagements and ample time for shenanigins. The world was my oyster. And the next, BAM! Adult life decided to hit me like a ton of bricks. And now I’m all sorts of busy. The kind of busy that required me to stop at Walgreens on the way home from work and purchase myself a planner to keep track of all my appointments and all that jazz. 

I know what you’re all thinking: “Maddie, what could possibly be robbing you of your precious free time?!” Well i’ll tell you. A big-girl job. That’s right. The kind where you have to wear slacks or a skirt, and jeans are strictly prohibited. I am now Maddisen Tingey: blogger, student, competitive eater, feminist, and grown-up employee. 

As part of initiation into professional grown-upism, I have been enrolled into an intensive, virtual class in order to develop my professional people skills and such. It’s an 8-5 kind of gig, which I’m not used to at all. And I have a rather hard time sitting still for prolonged periods of time in an stuffy office that reaches somewhere between 2 and 7 zillion degrees in the afternoon. 

Sounds pretty brutal, eh? 

Eh. 

But I am an optimist. And as an optimist, I have discovered several gratifying features of my new workplace. For starters, my chair spins. And the spinning motion is superbly effective in keeping me alert during the late after-lunch hours when my eyelids are ready to give out and the clock gradually ticks slower and the conclusion of my shift seems to drift further and further away. 

Also, the window of my office faces a self-serve car wash, and I find pleasure in watching its patrons accidentally drench themselves with the hoses when my focus refuses to remain on my computer monitor. The building in which I work has a popcorn machine, so there is always a fresh aroma of movie-theater butter deliciousness in the air. 

And also, I get an hour break for lunch, and there’s a Starbucks a block up the street. 

See, it’s not so bad after all.

I’ve only been at this new job for two weeks, but i’ve already learned many vital, and occasionally painful, lessons about the real world. 

Lesson #1: Nobody cares if it’s your birthday. 

That’s right. This past Tuesday, I turned 19. The big 1-9. I can legally buy cigarettes now. (I won’t, because lung cancer and premature wrinkles wouldn’t look good on me, but I could if I wanted to and that’s what matters.) But in adult-world, your birthday is just Tuesday. And daily requirements persist as if it were nobody’s anniversary of birth at all, and there is no cause for celebration. The cool coworkers wish you a happy birthday, but despite their wishes, your birthday doesn’t get particularly happy until after you’ve commuted back home to the people who appreciate you for existing for the past 19 years and demonstrate said appreciation by showering you in generous gifts, sushi dinners, and cold stone. Image 

That’s me and the sis on the glorious anniversary of my being on planet Earth. 

I have one year left to be able to rationally call myself a teenager. I’m practically ancient. 

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to lately. 

And now i’m off to go be a 19-year-old for 51 more weeks. Here’s to immaturity and recklessness! 

M.