(This song has been playing on repeat in my house. I’ll upload it to the sidebar so you can listen, but you’ll have to wait until Bryant gets home because I’m having technical difficulty right now.)
Category: what’s inside
Before I had a job, it used to feel like the only thing people ever talked about was their work. I dreaded meeting new people, going to parties, or anything else that would require small talk. I was so mortified at what I perceived was my enormous lack that I couldn’t handle the possibility of having to talk about it.
It’s funny because now that I have a job, I never even think about it. I mean, I guess people still talk about it, but it never feels like the only conversation topic anymore. And honestly, most people don’t really care what it is you do, or whether you get paid for it.
But I REALLY didn’t used to feel that way.
So strange how your insecurities mess with your perception. I wonder if there would have been a way to get over that insecurity without my circumstances changing. I wonder if I could have been comfortable enough with myself and my joblessness that my perception of things then could have been more similar to my perception now.
Also, I think I might define myself too much by my occupation/career goals. How do you not do that?
I know what I said earlier, but I realized today that I can indeed do small talk, when needed.
Sometimes it’s simply more needed than others.
It’s pretty funny to learn something new about yourself. It happened today. Actually, it wasn’t that I learned something new, but someone finally put words to a part of me that didn’t have a label.
I’m enrolled in a Medical Assisting program, and today a large number of my classmates graduated. I was saying goodbye to a lady who always could make me laugh. Mid hug, I told her something like, “I’m going to miss you, you’re always so funny.” And she said, “You’re funny too, Kelly. You’re funny without even knowing it because you’re so serious.” I laughed and said, “Yeah I probably am too serious.” We finished our goodbyes and away we went.
I keep thinking about what she said, though. It was not something I expected her to say. This classmate with whom I hardly spent any time—and the little time we did spend together was spent joking around—thought I was funny because she thinks I take things seriously. I didn’t realize I had ever acted particularly serious around her, especially not enough for her to find it amusing. And I didn’t realize that it was so easy for other people to notice that about me. Am I really that serious about life?
I was trying to figure out what, in our limited time together, had given her that opinion.
The best answer I can drum up happened last week. Our class was planning on dressing up for Halloween with a “geriatric” theme. She asked if I was going to dress up, and I told her that I wasn’t because it seemed mildly offensive; I didn’t want to feel like I was making fun of the people at my work. (I work at a retirement home.) Maybe this is it? Me being a little overly serious about a very nonsensical topic. The truth is even though I do think it had potential to be a tiny bit offensive, mostly I just don’t care a thing about having school spirit, especially when it means exerting energy to put together a costume for a holiday I don’t even like.
Yeah, I just reread that paragraph.
No matter how I spin it, that sounds like
a person who takes things pretty seriously.
Or I’m just a grump.
(Probably both are true.)
Anyway, I thought about this the whole car ride home (the mark of someone with a serious personality?) and have come to grips with the fact that I probably do come off as serious, even to those who don’t know me well.
There are times when I get silly, times when I’m the farthest thing from serious. But the truth is that even then I always have my critical lens within reach. I think about things a lot. …”Things” meaning everything. And I normally think about these “things” with a serious perspective. I think about society and how people treat each other and what our actions mean below the surface and the origin of our words and our traditions and world religions and conflicting view points and the point of life and yada yada yada. I sometimes have a hard time with small talk, and my preoccupation with these thoughts is probably why. I’d rather sit and talk about heavy things than be entertained with lighthearted topics. Isn’t that kind of messed up? But truthfully, the big, heavy things are what entertain me.
I don’t think it’s a good thing, necessarily. Sometimes I wish I were different. Sometimes I think it’d be easier for everyone around (myself included) if I just didn’t take things so seriously. But, Kermit said it, and I ought to listen: “When green is all there is to be, it could make you wonder why, but why wonder why wonder? I am green and it’ll do fine…”
So I’ll keep to it. I’ll just be here writing long, serious analyses of why people perceive me as serious. And all will be right with the world.
(Title from Indigo Girls’ Galileo.)
I just found this:
I happened upon some of my old journal entries from many years back, during some of my darker days when just being alive was hard work, and this was one of the things I found.
It’s so strange and funny, and sometimes shocking, to read things written in the past. Because I don’t think I always realized what I was saying… how true and real the things I hoped for could be. How now, years later, I’d still be me, but be so different. That I’d have such a new view. That Me Now would be reading these words from a place that Me Then would have wanted to be. That it’s possible to grow. That those growing pains back then were just a part of the whole, long, messy process. They were a part of my “failing and continuing on anyway.” They were—in some terribly inconvenient and uncomfortable way—a part of my dream.
. . .
Bryant and I were stopped at a red light when a car pulled up next to us. The passengers caught my eye. A mother and her son were having a very animated conversation. When my gaze met with theirs, they looked suddenly surprised and erupted into a huge fit of laughter. The son, with arms flailing, very clearly shouted the words “I TOLD YOU!” The mother quickly averted her gaze from mine and, looking down, tried unsuccessfully to hold back her amusement.
. . .
I stood in the aisle of the grocery store debating “to buy, or not to buy” when a couple with their two teenage kids rolled by me and started to laugh. As the mother passed in front of me she said to her husband under her breath, “I guess I was wrong!” It was hard to make out his response through his laughter. It was something like “it’s a girl!” Or maybe “good girl!” I don’t really know. But “girl” definitely was in there.
. . .
Stuff like this happens around me all the time—maybe it does to everyone—but for some reason when it happens to me, my hyperactive paranoia gland kicks into gear. I become convinced that people are laughing because they couldn’t tell if I was a guy or a girl. I become super self-conscious about my short hair.
Then anger pours into me, and I try to make these laughing strangers feel as uncomfortable as possible. I stare them down (in the case of the car at the stop light) or I walk right up to them and try to give them as much eye contact as possible while I peruse items on the shelf where they’re standing (in the case of the grocery store). The laugher always stops and they awkwardly avoid my gaze.
They were probably laughing about something totally unrelated and didn’t even notice me. That is, they didn’t notice me until I became the freak in the grocery store who stares strangers down for no apparent reason. No wonder their laughter stops and they try to avoid my gaze.
It’s ridiculous. It’s disgustingly egocentric of me to think that the whole world is having a laugh at my expense. There are millions of other more plausible reasons they could be laughing. But I have a really hard time controlling my reaction. I become convinced that me and my short hair have just become the butt of their joke. Call me crazy, but I react this way every time. And I have a really hard time recovering from it. The grocery store thing just happened less than an hour ago and I’m only barely emerging from my cloud of embarrassment and anger.
They probably weren’t laughing at me. But maybe they were. Weren’t you ever a teenager hanging out with your friends when someone spots a stranger who seems a bit gender ambiguous? Everyone gets a real kick trying to figure out what “it” is. I’ve been with that group before, I’m sorry to say. More than once. It’s something people find hilariously awkward. It’s possible that I could be on the receiving end of that joke, considering that I’ve been on the giving end of it before.
However, whether I’m the object of their jokes or not isn’t really the issue for me (despite the fact that it does hurt my feelings). This is something that irritated me even when I had hair long enough to ensure that everyone felt confident about my gender. I know that there are times that people laugh at the expense of others, and whether it’s at my expense or not, it infuriates me. What makes me so angry is the sense of superiority the laughers have… their total lack of respect for another human being. They laugh when someone looks different, when someone has a birth defect, when someone has a deformity, when someone’s hair is too short. Really? Is it really that hilarious to discover that people different from you exist in this world? And what I find totally intolerable is the idea that parents would be laughing along with their children. What amazing examples these adults are to their budding bigots.
Wow, the rage. …Talk about a sense of superiority… Sorry, I’ll come down now. But can you see? This is what happens to me. Total anger. Not healthy, especially considering it stems from paranoia. I have got to figure out a way to get over this, especially because I actually like my hair and don’t plan on growing it out any time soon. Why am I so self-conscious of it?
Driving home yesterday, I was wishing I was better at remembering. Remembering everything. Foreign languages, cranial nerves, the names of my friends’ siblings, and just the regular details of living.
I was thinking about the stories old couples tell. I love hearing them recount how they met fifty years ago, the hard times they went through together, the funny thing that happened that random day so long ago. I wish I could remember all the details of my life like that. I know they don’t remember everything, and their retellings likely change with time, but I am still amazed at the minutia they can conjure up. I was thinking as I drove, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to remember everything? To be able to tell those stories to your grandkids, so they could learn how you “knew it was right,” how you got where you are, and all that other good stuff. But I already feel like I’ve forgotten so much. So many of my memories are already hazy. I’ve never been terribly confident in my memory.
Really, we are our memories. All we are is what we remember. If every day, we forgot everything we knew from the day before, we’d never survive. I mean literally. We wouldn’t be able to do anything—walk, eat, talk. What we remember makes us who we are.
There in my car, wishing I could remember everything better, this quote from my favorite book came to mind: “Student of memory. I remember some things and have forgotten others.” I’ve always loved that. Something about it just feels right. It’s calming. And sitting there at a stoplight, I realized it’s ok to forget some things. If we are what we remember, I’m glad I’ve forgotten some things. I thought of this woman I saw on a show a while back (coincidentally, I can’t remember what show) who remembered everything she ever saw. It wasn’t just a photographic memory. She actually remembered everything. She said it was a curse. To never have traumatizing memories fade? To never be able to quiet your mind? I hadn’t ever considered it before then, but it seems being able to forget is a blessing.
I am a student of memory. I forget some things and remember others. I learn from the things I keep. I just hope the things I remember and the things I forget are the right ones. And I hope the things I remember stay in tact in my mind for a long, long time to come. (And I hope the material from my anatomy class stays in tact at least one more week… long enough to pass my last two exams.)
Ever notice how saying “okay” after someone apologizes is very, very different from saying “it’s okay”?
In fact, it kind of means the opposite. The simple “okay” is more acidic and insolent than just letting there be silence.
Just thinking about that today. Funny how the “it’s” is so important.
Some types of change can be really exciting. Like moving someplace beautiful, or accomplishing a new goal, or moving your furniture around and getting a new bedspread. Those are all great changes.
Some types of change really suck. Like when a disagreement changes a friendship ever so slightly, or when you learn something you wish you hadn’t and things become awkward, or when you sense a change in the way a friend treats you and you can’t figure out why. Those changes suck.
Those types of changes leave you empty handed, with nothing but this uncomfortable hint of regret that you can’t really pin down because you don’t really know what it is that you would have done differently. They just leave an irritating sore where they keep rubbing against your thoughts. And you wish you could get some answers, or just let it go.
Almost regret. That’s what it feels like to me.
Um, so you probably shouldn’t read this post unless you’re my mom or something, because it’s one of those obnoxiously happy ones that makes you want to gag. Sorry. You’ve been warned.
I’m a little stressed. Life is this series of small fires needing to be put out. Nothing big and blazing—they’re all little things. But it’s getting old to constantly be running from one fire to the next. It’s hard to get ahead of the game. I’m behind on my reading; I’ve got a quiz today; supposed to have all the major blood vessels memorized by this afternoon; we’ve got this mysteriously appearing & disappearing swarm of fruit flies plaguing us (gah! I hate those things!); I have to register for summer and fall quarters in less that a week—definitely haven’t planned that far ahead yet; I’ve got two big, stressy exams next week—haven’t started studying; and I have to teach in church this weekend—haven’t organized my lesson. And I know when these things have passed, there will be more little things to worry unnecessarily about.
Somehow, I feel so happy. I’ve got good friends coming to visit over the next few months. Bryant and I just planned a summer trip to spend on the beach with my family. The stars have miraculously aligned and on that same trip I get to get to spend some time with my soul sister that I haven’t seen for seven years. We spent the first sixteen years of our lives joined at the hip and have only gotten to see each other once a decade since. (Though I guess technically, there has only been one decade since…) But still, it’s been a long time, and I couldn’t be more excited. I love where I live. I’m making good friends. I love what I’m studying. I’m married to the best man. And we had a giant thunderstorm last night—first one since moving here—and I love a good thunderstorm.
Is this possible? It seems like it’s not allowed for things to be so good.
Admittedly, my moods still swing like a pendulum. But things still are good.
I know these kinds of posts are the last thing in the world a sane person wants to read, but I just felt so satisfied and happy that I wanted to get these feelings down. That way in thirty minutes, when I’m in a bad mood again, I can remember that, yes, things are good, and yes, I am happy.