Strength to Be Me

I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection recently.

Recently, I had to do a presentation for work that I was really nervous about. As I practiced it, I felt myself slipping into the “try to be funny so they’re laughing WITH you and not AT you” defense mode. I’m not funny in that mode so it makes it all a lot worse and then I get more and more nervous.

So – I felt myself constantly reminding myself to just be me. If they didn’t respond well to me being me – then they weren’t worth the energy I was putting into getting them to like me. There’s this part of me that really believes that I need people to like me to respect and listen to me. I mean, that’s probably not true, but it makes it A LOT easier. Right? The whole catch more flies with honey than vinegar thing.

When I finally got to do the presentation and the time after, I felt this huge relief of just letting go. I spoke my mind and didn’t worry about what people thought – and I think they respected me more for it.

That’s a hard thing to do though. I mean, I’m 29 years old and just now I have this self confidence to let my barriers down and just be the raw version of me. It makes me wonder, where did this self-confidence come from? And – it’s not just being confident, it’s being comfortable with me.

My parents laid a strong foundation, and my coworkers have helped, but the one person that deserves the most credit is my husband.

I think a lot of the time, people put up those walls around who they really are because of fear of rejection – right? And rejection is hard, but I think rejection is tied into a person’s fear of being totally alone. Alone physically and emotionally.

My husband is my absolute best friend. I savor the times where we laugh so hard we cry over the smallest things. I love going out and sharing the smallest observations and events with him (like the goofy little bird taking a bath in the puddle as we drive past). Having someone that I trust totally and completely to be there for me is such a wonderful feeling.

Remember group projects back in school? I was always the kid who got stuck with the slackers. I’d wind-up doing everything, because I couldn’t count on the others to pull their weight.

Being married, at first was like being in a group project and hoping that the new kid could pull their weight. Then, as time goes by, you see that they can and will without you having to ask, but you ask anyway because there’s still that doubt there. Now, having been married for 5 years, that doubt it gone. I know Husband will be there. I know in my soul that I have someone that loves me and supports me in a way I never knew was possible.

Having this relationship with Husband has been so healing for me. Before, I had high levels of anxiety. I worried too much about the smallest things. Now, I have the strength and confidence to be me. So Superman gets his powers from the Sun and is able to be this awesome superhero, right? I mean,  I feel that Husband is my Sun and because of him I can be the superhero of my own story.

Husband is my home. I can face each day and grow as a person because I know that I can always go home.

The Dangers of Being True to Yourself

There’s all this emphasis on being true to yourself. Google “being true to yourself quotes” and you get like a million hits of a million pages all full of inspirational quotes.

Well, words will only get you so far.

I’m not sure how many of you watch The Big Bang Theory but at our home if one of the few channels we get has it on, we’re watching it.

If you’re not familiar, I have a clip.


So, a lot of days I feel like the guy in the blue shirt. “It’s not that I think you are worthless. Just what you do (or let’s substitute in the word “like”) is.”

Yep. That’s how I feel most days.

I am someone who…

  • loves Star Wars – so much so my license plate reflects this love. Also, there is an R2-D2 action figured super glued to my dashboard
  • is falling in love with Star Trek. I didn’t want to really, but it happened. 
  • watches Dr. Who
  • reads like a meth-head smokes
  • loves children’s and young adult literature
  • enjoys discussions on how the Disney princesses reflect various views of women/ why Sleeping Beauty sucks/ how Disney himself sticks to the tradition of fairy tales much like the Grimm brothers
  • enjoys debates on the psychological undertones of Harry Potter
  • loves animated movies – I can’t wait to see Hotel Transylvania 
  • is getting a Masters degree in not only creative writing, but in Children’s Literature

 None of these are horrible traits. However, when they’re all combined …well, let’s just say I tend to feel like a minority. I know that there are other people like me out there. That’s why I love my program. I can totally walk around in this shirt …

… and people get it. I can have serious discussions about Disney princesses and not get ogled like I’ve just grown a second and third head. 

I would like to pause and mention that none of this comes from anyone in my family. They tend to share a lot (but not really all) of the things listed above, and support me none-the-less. Granted, on more than one occasion a few of my loved ones have exclaimed upon meeting my grad school friends, “Oh look! There are more people like you!” I know that’s supposed to be encouraging but what I’m hearing is “Oh honey, you aren’t as big of a freak as I thought.” Is that what my loved one means? Hell no! They just are excited that I have people I can relate with.

*sigh*

Okay, here I am getting to the real meat of my post. I am who I am and that’s not going to change. I’m damn stubborn enough to like what I like and march on. But the thing is, I just get so freaking tired some days.

Here’s how I want some days to go at work:
(PS – I work at a catering/ cafe/ bakery place)

Me: Hello there, can I help you with anything today? 
Customer: I think I’d like a few frozen casseroles.
Me: Well, I can help you with that [INSERT CASSEROLE SPEIL HERE]
Customer: (while I’m ringing them up) So, are you a student?
Me: Yes I am.
Customer: Oh, that’s nice. What are you studying?
Me: Well, I’m getting a Masters in Creative Writing with a focus on Children’s Literature.
Customer: THAT’S AMAZING! HOW IS IT THAT YOU ARE SO COOL?

Reality:

Customer: (while I’m ringing them up) So, are you a student?
Me: Yes I am.
Customer: Oh, that’s nice. What are you studying?
Me: Well, I’m getting a Masters in Creative Writing with a focus on Children’s Literature.
Customer: Oh, well, so what …uh… what do you want to do with that?
Me: Well, write. And maybe teach. 
Customer: That’s sweet.
Awkward silence
Me: *sigh* well, my husband is going to be a nurse. He’s finishing up his degree.
Customer: Oh thank God! Well, at least you’ll have him and won’t have to starve. 


Yes, I am so thankful for my husband. 

But come on. I mean, upon reading those two different scenes to him out loud just now he laughed and said, “Oh dear, that’s horrible.”

I know. I live it.

So like I was saying, sometimes I just get so tired of being unique. I mean, I know that there are more people like me. I see them when I go to other places in the US. But if there are any near me (and no, the creepy comicbook store guys don’t count – why?  Because the main adjetive there is “creepy.”) I sure can’t find them.

What do I do? I mean really, how do you just keep on going all the time when people ask you what you like/ what you want to do and you get that same damn blank stare over and over again? 

Really, I see two choices:
  1. Suck it up and just keep going. You will find people who understand you and when you do, you should really develop those relationships and get fulfillment there and from yourself.
  2. Give up

I don’t like choice number two. I don’t want to force myself to like TV shows I hate just so I can relate to the general public.


I guess what I’m saying here is yes, it’s exhausting staying true to oneself when you seem to be in the nerd minority. But what other choice do you have?

If you are reading this and are like, “Holy shit that’s me!” Awesome. You are not alone. Keep it up. Keep doing what you do and loving what you love. 

On those days when I feel the weight of the world on me. Like I’ll never fit in. Like I’ll always get those blank stares and that no one will understand me again, my amazing husband comes through. He reminds me of this quote… 
  
Ending thought: Stay true to yourself. Sure, we may be some fish among birds, but at least we can breath underwater! Kapow!

Vampires

Do you all remember the song I posted about back in July? The song about vampires? Okay, if not here’s a bit of background: The song is called Die Vampire, Die! From a broadway show. The whole point of the song is that being an artist of any kind (singer, songwriter, creative writer, painter…) is hard. It’s hard to create and even harder when people doubt you. They tell you how unimportant your work is – and while that can fuel you, too much of it can really take it’s toll. BUT, the worse vampires (and vampires in this case are people who beat down on you and your creativity) are these vampires…

Susan: 
The last vampire is the mother of all vampires and that is the vampire of despair.
It’ll wake you up at 4am to say things like:
Backup: 
Who do you think you’re kidding?
You look like a fool.
No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be good enough
Susan: 
Why is it that if some dude walked up to me on the subway platform 
and said these things, I’d think he was a mentally ill asshole, 
but if the vampire inside my head says it, 
It’s the voice of reason.


And those damn vampires are the ones who have been flying around in my head the last few days. It’s been brutal. Work has been super busy and then I come home and bust it working on my Harry Potter paper. But then Husband comes home (and I want to make clear that he is NEVER EVER a vampire to me) and he tells me about the babies he helped save in the hospital that day or the person who he gave some ice too and it made a world of difference to them. And I compare myself to him. I see my Husband as a superhero (and to me he is one) but I don’t see myself like that. And in swoop the vampires…

So – I finally broke down (crying) to Husband about this this morning. I told him that he doesn’t make me feel unimportant but I compare myself to him and I see him learning to save lives in nursing school and me making salads. I see him going to get a degree that promises to help us out finically in the future and I see my degree as fluff.

And this is what husband did: He let me cry and then told me that I am important and amazing. That sure I make salads, but that’s not bad. I’m getting through school and that he couldn’t do what I do. That when people ask him what I do and he tells them they are all impressed. He told me that he saw a quote the other say that I need to remember – it goes along the lines of everything has genius in it, if you ask a fish to climb a tree sure, it’ll fail – but it can breath underwater! And that’s it’s own kind of genius.

I know I married the right man when he can help me slay my vampires of despair. All I have to do is just keep swimming…