I spent most of this weekend attempting to deal with the fact that more than anything else, I’m afraid of being misunderstood. And I don’t mean that in the “what if I say things one way, but I really mean another and someone doesn’t get what I was going for” kind of way. What I’ve been worrying about (probably more than I should) is the problem where something gets lost at the most basic level, where it’s not clear to someone else who I am, what I’m about, and what I really, honestly can let go.
I think I worry about this a lot now because I spent the past year really trying to figure out who I am, what I believe, what I want, and then dealing with the frustrations and impatiences that come with first having to develop the right set of questions, trying to make sense of them, developing a set of answers, changing those answers, and then trying to figure out how to move forward. And it’s not that I have all, or even some, answers. Just a few. Probably not enough. After all, this is a process. But, when I look back at where I was this time last year — when I was dealing with someone who did everything short of setting me on fire* — I can see a lot has changed.
I found out that I can take a lot, which sometimes makes me a pretty strong person. This is both good and bad. While it means I don’t break easily, it also means I’m a little tougher and harder to reach on certain levels. It means I can handle most things and not lose myself, but also that I’m not quite ready to give up keeping some things at arm’s distance. This, in turn, makes some people in my life frustrated and puzzled by my need for walls and rules, but I’m trying not to make those permanent structures.
I learned that I’m not all that silly and I don’t like silliness, trouble, or drama. I mostly knew the second half of that, but I found out that I really, really loathe those things. Recently, I’ve worried that in my enthusiasm for trying new things or simply my desire to show up, I’ve come off as silly, flighty, or even clueless. And that concerns me, because I don’t suffer fools easily, especially when I might be that fool. Really, for all the smiling, chatting, and goofiness, I’m aware of more than I let on about, especially in situations that leave me mildly puzzled. So, while I’m sure that a lot of my worrying is worrying, I’ve noticed that the thing I care about most is making sure other people know I’m not just some silly girl who doesn’t get it. Maybe because I was treated like that for a long time and it was never true. Basically, I do get it, I’m not being weird, and I seriously, seriously, am cool with it.
I also got a lot less shy about saying what I want. I wasn’t shy in the first place, but I find myself less interested in being indirect.
I learned that despair isn’t my default when things look pretty bad. While I have hesitated about a lot of things, worried and over-analyzed, and wanted to crawl out of my skin on at least three occasions, I’ve also been hopeful, even when those things have been fool’s errands. I’ve also been more comfortable with myself than I can remember. I’d like to go back to high school me and give her a pep talk and some advice on jeans buying.
Also, I’ve learned that I’m more okay with things than other people probably expect. I’m not particularly judgey, and I’m more understanding than my smartassery would lead others to believe. I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of meeting people where they are and how that is totally fine with me, as long as they’re honest about it. For example, I’ve had the mortifying experience this year of dealing with my own middle school-level emotions. And I’ve been more or less okay when my reads on things — for better or worse — were basically dead-on. Rather than dwell on how the universe and other people don’t always bend to my will, I’d rather move forward. Otherwise, I’m going to end up in the middle of a field, shaking my fist at the sky, and demanding a personal chef/safety monitor. What I actually worry about is the fact that our culture tends to push things that could be (but aren’t) conflicts between people towards situations where they’re not okay, or okay is some kind of act. And that’s just dumb.
Oh, and I also learned that the conservative talk radio station is the most effective alarm setting. Nothing gets me out of bed at 5:30 am like a rant about long-form birth certificates.
* Though I’m sure if I think about it hard enough, I can probably come up with an instance where I was steered too close to open flame.