The number of unposted drafts siting in my WordPress dashboard speaks to the kind of year I had in 2015. There was so much that I wanted to say and didn’t, so much that I wanted to do and didn’t. I felt utterly stagnant, like I was wasting my life. I cried a lot. I drank a lot. I cursed a lot. I looked at job postings in completely different places. I thought (and still think) about ditching my professional field and doing something completely different. I freaked out about the unfairness of potentially giving up even one more thing. I tried desperately to keep a positive face, which really just made things a hell of a lot worse. I fooled absolutely no one, made an utter ass of myself on many occasions, and solved exactly zero problems.
It was a crap year, personally and professionally. I got paid for around 50% of the work I did, for various reasons. I had to have awkward conversations with many, many people about baseline practices of being grownups. There were good things (even great ones), but they felt mired in with the bad, the dramatic, the idiotic.
All of this is to say, in the inimitable words of Radiohead, “for a minute there, I lost myself.”
I feel like I started turning a corner in November, and I’m finally getting back to myself. That’s my mantra these days: “I’m getting there.” I’m posting this now because I feel like I’m in the clear to a certain extent; I’ve started feeling hopeful again. I’ve been laughing, which I felt like I’d almost forgotten how to do for a while. I’m also starting to identify triggers for my depression, I’m communicating better, and I’m standing up for myself even when it totally sucks. I still have to be careful and take very proactive steps to prevent backsliding. I’ve gone so far as to make yet another chart to check off the life maintenance things that keep me moving in a positive direction, which is embarrassingly helpful.
Life is going to be better this year. I know this for sure. So, hi. I’m glad it’s a new year. That’s all there is to say about that.
I had a conversation this week about the shock we all have now and then when someone tells us how they perceive us… and their perception has nothing to do with how we perceive ourselves.
I think this happens to all of us now and then, and I find that I fret about this more than is probably healthy. I desperately want my intentions to be clear. Simultaneously, I don’t want to be perceived as an over-explainer. This particular example is but one of the many ways in which I care far too much about what other people think of me.
A few months back, while I was in the throes of the World’s Most Absurd Freelance Situation, someone made a throwaway comment that I have a hard time making decisions. I found it hilarious (and slightly insulting) at the time, but I’ve also found myself thinking about it a lot since then. I think of myself as a very decisive person in most ways, though there are certainly examples that buck the trend: it took a year of living here before I finally, finally picked out a new moisturizer for my skin, which had been screaming for a new product for months. We’ve had the same jacked up coffee table for over seven years, and I’ve been putting off picking a new one for probably five of those years. We are trying to plan our First Ever Real Vacation (requirements: getting there necessitates a plane, nothing involving an obligatory or family-fueled event, minimum of five days away), and I’m totally paralyzed.
My own perception of this is that I have a hard time making decisions when they are “luxury decisions,” but I am very decisive most of the time. At work, when faced with twenty decisions, I have no problem at all. I can also go with the flow and defer to someone else’s preference, and I wonder if that’s what inspired the comment above. On the other side of the coin, there are people who have let me know that they find me bossy because I make decisions so quickly, so there’s really no winning here. I also suspect that there’s no real way to know how we’re perceived outside of ourselves. It must be kind of like how one’s voice sounds so different inside one’s own head, and the total shock of hearing your own voice recorded and played back to you.
Have you ever discovered a weird way in which you were perceived by someone else? Did it rock the boat for you, or were you able to just brush it off and move on with your life?
I’m lonely in San Diego. It feels utterly pathetic to admit this, but when I think about the root of whatever’s bugging me, the thing that rings truest is that I’m very simply lonely. I failed to predict the extent to which this would be an issue; I’m an introvert, but I also enjoy being around people, and I’m sort of absurdly friendly. I kind of figured that I’d get plenty of alone time and hit it off with one or two people here and there, and that would be that.
No such luck. I have one lovely friend, but one friend does not a social life make. Particularly when one is working in a silo. I finally have a part time job here, which I thought would help in a big way. Unfortunately, there’s no physical location and my colleagues don’t meet regularly. I feel isolated, and some days, the only familiar person with whom I interact is the Horse Whisperer. He, on the other hand, is often over-socialized through work, and he wants nothing more than to come home and sit quietly.
FaceTime is my new favorite thing, since it gives me the chance to interact with my friends in a way that feels more substantial (and less scary to this phone-phobe). But I need some buddies. I crave having people with whom to take a walk, or get a glass of wine, or whatever. And I miss running into familiar people out in the world – being recognized from across the room and greeted with a quick hello. Those interactions simply don’t happen when you don’t know anyone.
It’s gotten silly enough that I have just applied to work at several retail stores, largely for the purpose of getting some forced socialization. I’m nervous that I’m starting to lose my interpersonal skills; even writing this feels stilted. I’ve found myself acting more socially awkward than usual in the past few months, and it is getting worse. Time to do something about this.