Tag Archive | self doubt

Walking Through The Park And Reminiscing


I’ve been riding a wave of euphoria for about two weeks straight, basically since moving in with J.

Well, it hasn’t been completely euphoric, as that would be a fantasy. Who can be that happy all the time?

I’ve been trying to remember the events of 2011, as if it would matter to look back at something that should be forgotten. I remember being mad at J, though I don’t remember what I said. I don’t remember how he reacted, if he just kind of let me walk away or what happened. I remembered that his girlfriend at the time had me labeled as someone who would steal men from their girlfriends, and I knew I wanted to get away from all of that.

I looked at the old texts I had. It was always him writing to me first, and me responding in a rather indifferent tone. It wasn’t that I was bothered by talking to him, but I wasn’t overjoyed. I had forgotten how much fun he was, but I had apparently forgotten the rough patch as well.

To be honest, I wouldn’t even want someone telling me what I said or did back then. If I can’t remember it, if I can’t pull up old messages with others that had my side of things, then my mind is probably blocking it from my memory for a reason. And I should just let it go.

After all, I’m living with J now. And I don’t remember having to apologize to get to this point. I have text messages from him, where he clearly started the conversation. He kept reaching out to me, until finally I needed a place to stay and then he let me in. A part of me feels like I don’t deserve this.

I’ve been doing little things around the house, from cleaning up the bathroom to doing the dishes and even making sure the dog is let out to do her business. J has said that other people have had an issue with doing the dishes, but I’m sitting here thinking about the dishes I have in storage that I can’t wait to use because it will mean we won’t be using paper plates all the time. I don’t mind doing the dishes, especially since it’s just the two of us. In fact, yesterday I washed out his lunch containers, despite him saying he would do his own dishes and didn’t mind. I was already doing the dishes at that time. It needed to be done. I’m beyond the point in my life where chores are a pain in the ass. A year ago, I lived in an apartment where I had to do all the chores because the ex fiancé had every excuse why he couldn’t do anything to support our household. Now I’m looking at dust, thinking, “I should clean that… I wonder if he would mind, or if he would get suspicious, or what would happen.”

For the most part, I did the dishes to pass the time yesterday. It wasn’t a problem.

The problem was being woken up at 6:30 am, maybe sooner, because the cat was insane and he woke me up. As I laid in bed, the aroma of coffee wafted through the air, and I was so tired that it wasn’t until midday when I thought that I should have asked J to make me a cup of coffee while he was at it. Just before 7, I gave up, and I sleepily made my way down the stairs to the living room where J was watching Firefly. It wasn’t because I wanted to be around J, it was because the dog would be in the living room and the cat would be too scared to approach me. It was my way of getting back at him for the wakeup call.

J finished that episode of Firefly, and then I bid him farewell as he left for work before getting myself ready for work.

After I returned home, I put the dog out, even though J would have been home about 20 minutes later and would have put her outside out of habit. To me, it didn’t matter, it needed to be done and there was no sense in making the dog wait any longer.

I put some chicken on the kitchen counter to thaw, and then I started doing the dishes. When J walked in, we talked for a bit and then he went off to play video games while waiting for me to get done. After I did the dishes, I made a few more as I cooked dinner. By the time I was done, it was a late dinner for me but slightly early for him. I made enough for two servings, but it would have been three servings if I had a little more tomato sauce. I just cooked the chicken in a frying pan, then added pasta and tomato sauce, and put some cheese on top once I put mine in a bowl. It wasn’t anything special or fancy. I offered some of it to J, who wasn’t going to eat it if it meant that I wouldn’t have any to take to work the next day. After some “do you want it or not?” he finally gave in and agreed to having some. After all, I had time before work today that I could have made something more, and there was still some plain pasta that I could do something with. I ended up eating the last spoonful of the chicken and tomato sauce mixture alongside the plain pasta that I added cheese and butter to to make macaroni and cheese.

That night, we watched The Avengers, which I’ve seen before, but since we’re going through the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe, we re-watched it for the important details. So of course, since we’ve both seen the movie already, we called out random trivia and quotes at various moments.

By night’s end, I was starting to feel a bit down. I cried myself to sleep, as I felt like I was bothering him and taking up too much of his time, probably even wasting my time by trying to do the right thing. I had closed my door, leaving a gap for the cat to leave to use the litter pan, but otherwise I kept it from being opened any further by putting my binder of music CDs behind the door. I figured if J got up in the middle of the night, he might wonder why my door was actually closed. Maybe he would care. But it doesn’t seen like he’s been waking up in the middle of the night anymore, at least since giving him the letter.

Saturday was a slow day at work. I wrote a letter that told him I had a thing for him. I told him I had written a letter, but didn’t tell him who it was for or what it was about, just that I stayed in the break room at work to finish writing it. So after I came home that day, and we went to the grocery store and looked like a romantic couple to at least one other customer (despite not wearing his jacket after he offered it to me, because I was dumb and chose to get my own hoodie), and we had dinner and watched a movie, it wasn’t until we were going to sleep that I handed off… the letter. After he hugged me good night, I handed him the folded up piece of legal pad paper, telling him “that’s the letter, good night,” then I headed for my room.

“What?”

“That’s the letter. Good night.”

I asked about it on Sunday, and he said he had read it. But nothing seemed to change between us, which was either a good thing or a bad thing, I figured it was a good thing for nothing to change, because that would mean he already felt that way about me. But it was a bad thing if nothing changed, because I had written the letter in such a way that said he wouldn’t be held responsible for making sure I felt good, and that even if I wasn’t involved that I did want him to be happy with someone and that he would likely make some woman happy, so he could be left to just do whatever, which would mean he wouldn’t have to start a relationship with me.

The letter was probably the stupidest thing I could have done. I’m 33 years old. I just did the 13-year-old thing. Clearly I’m not ready for a mature relationship.

So that, of course, weighed on my mind last night, along with everything else. I felt like I was bothering him. So I vowed not to bother him.

I managed to sleep in a bit today. I got ready at my own pace, and let the dog out just before I left for work as a means of preventing any accidents until J got home. I was scheduled to work until after dark, and normally on such days, I would drive to work so I could avoid a dangerous situation. I wasn’t yet brave about walking alone at night, but I decided I would do it anyway. I figured I needed the walk to clear my mind of whatever the sleep hadn’t erased.

I didn’t send any text messages to J all day. I didn’t check in with him at all. I spoke to a mutual friend of ours, and told her I felt like I was bothering him but it was probably just being tired after a long day. I also told her about walking to work, and how I wondered if I would get a text message from J when he got home and saw my car but not me. Well, I didn’t get any such messages. After work, she and I spoke for a bit outside the building, about the safety of walking after dark. I was going to listen to music on the walk, but then decided to take the precaution of keeping my ears open. As we parted ways for the night, she told me I should text him, just to let him know I was coming.

“On my way” was all I said.

A moment later, I got, “I’m still downstairs to keep an eye out for ya.” And okay, that thawed my heart, somewhat at least.

I wasn’t quite on the steps leading to the front porch when I heard the door unlock. He was right there waiting for me.

We spoke for a moment. He hugged me and asked how my day was, and I said it was fine. The calls were uneventful, but I wasn’t thinking of work when he had asked me about my day. I thought about telling him how I felt like I had been a bother, but no part of me had the courage to admit that, or at least no part of me wanted to create an issue if there wasn’t one.

We headed up the stairs. A little more chatting.

He opened his arms for another hug, so I hugged him. And then he kissed me on the forehead. For the first time since moving in, he kissed me, even if it was just on the forehead. That’s, like, the kiss of a guy who feels protective of you. If I didn’t already feel like he was watching out for me after I got out of work, that kiss sealed the deal. Suddenly, I didn’t feel like I was bothering him, at least not for more than the end of a long day.

My bedroom door is open again tonight. I like to think that when he wakes up in the middle of the night, or even when he starts his day, he peeks in my room and smiles. I’m probably snoring, my hair is likely a mess, and my body is probably contorted in some weird fashion. But I’m here. I’m not sure if that’s what he hoped would eventually happen if he kept texting me off and on again, but it did happen. I should just let the past stay where it is, in the past. He and I aren’t in our twenties anymore, a lot has changed in 6 years, and this is clearly the makings of something else as well.

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Where Is There A Towel When You Want To Throw It In?

I started a new job almost two weeks ago, and let me tell you, a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Granted, I’m one paycheck down and my bank account is still in the red, but the next paycheck will put me back in the black. It’s just a matter of time, but things are looking positive just the same.

I’m a relay operator at a call center, so blogging is a bit of typing practice for me even though I have to drop punctuation and type everything as I hear it being said to me. It’s a fairly simple task.

Training went well. The first day or two, it had been said that training was the hardest part of the entire job. What seemed to be the hardest thing for me was the fact that there were countless macros, keyboard shortcuts that would automatically enter text to the deaf or hard-of-hearing caller to tell them what was going on with the call, and other macros that affected the call itself or the interface we use to relay calls. However, we had cheat sheets listing the macros and how they were used, which made things easy.

I suppose another difficult thing about the job is that there is a certain flow to each call, a certain procedure which needs to be followed. Press this button to start the timer, because that’s how we get paid for outgoing calls. Use this macro so the caller knows the person speaking is a male or a female. Record the recordings so you can relay them to the caller and they know everything being said. Yeah, I guess it’s not a hard job at all.

This past Wednesday, we went from practicing the call flow in the training room, to being on the call center floor taking actual calls. It started out easily enough, as there were four of us in the training group and we were paired up, one person taking calls and the other person listening in and being there to assist the other person if need be. For the first hour, I was on the listening end. It didn’t seem too bad, and I think I was either bored or maybe distracted, because I kept glancing around the room and taking in my surroundings. There was a window nearby, and I looked out at the businesses below and the rooftops of houses in the distance. The weather was typical for Syracuse, as it altered between being sunny and cloudy.

We went back into the training room for a bit, and asked questions if we had any. Then we took a lunch break, and came back after that to the training room. We spent some time in the training room before going back to the call center floor. When we went back, it was my turn to take phone calls.

I didn’t feel nervous or anxious, but I did feel like I needed to take a breath and level off. I needed a bout of confidence, I needed to relax, I needed… something. Most of all, I needed to tell myself I’d be fine, but with hardly anything to go on, I really didn’t know if I’d do well or if I’d screw up completely. I did my thing, logged into the system and started taking calls, and I let everything sort itself out.

I was terrible! Maybe I wasn’t completely terrible, but I forgot to assign genders, I forgot macros, I didn’t record the recordings to relay them accurately,… ugh. I had a call where I was going through automated prompts, and had to wait for the hard-of-hearing caller to give me the necessary response I needed for the prompt. By the time I got that info, the automated call would try to transfer to a live representative, but there was a half-hour-long wait if the caller wanted to wait that long. I was getting stressed, I felt like I wasn’t serving this person as well as I should have been, I felt like they were getting mad at me, and I hoped I wouldn’t be taking calls for much longer after that.

We went to break after that period on the phones. I took out my cell phone and went to YouTube, searching for a 5-minute meditation to somehow relax and calm down.

What was going on with me? The last time I can remember getting that overwhelmed from being on the phones, it was the second project of my first job when I wasn’t making any sales. I remember being on the verge of tears as I went to my supervisor and asked to quit that day. I didn’t give a two-week notice, but I just remember him seeming a bit disappointed that I didn’t try to stay on yet understanding that I realized it wasn’t a job for me, at least not at that point in my life if at all. Years later, he came through my line while I was a cashier at a grocery store, and he remembered me and was friendly to me and asked how things were. It was a step down, career-wise, but I was also working for a really great grocery store, and I think maybe he could tell I wasn’t the same person and was just doing what I needed to do.

But was I ready to quit this new job? I was thinking, at that point, that maybe it wasn’t the job for me. Maybe I can’t do relay services for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. It’s too much work, and the bosses are going to complain that I’m not doing things properly. And, I just had anxiety, even if it wasn’t a full-blown panic attack, even if I was still able to function at life. Do I want to have anxiety, day in and day out? I had anxiety after one hour on the phones, so what am I going to do when I have to spend 8 hours on the phones?

The meditation helped, but I still wondered if I could do the job. Somewhat thankfully, I had to stay late to make up for time I lost while trying to get temporary living assistance. My after-hours time was spent just shadowing another person on the call center floor. The woman and I talked for a bit, and she told me that the supervisors expect new recruits to make mistakes for the first few weeks or so. Yeah, that made sense, but I also wanted to be less obvious that I was a new person when people called in. I didn’t want to seem like I didn’t know how to do my job. The woman told me to give it a few weeks before giving up on it. I knew it was good advice, and I knew I wasn’t in a good enough position to give up my job so soon. I needed the money, and I didn’t have any other offers lined up. I had to stick with it, for better or worse.

The next day, there was another hour on the call center floor. I still wasn’t amazing at this job I considered keeping, but I didn’t need the 5-minute meditation afterwards. Maybe I had better calls, who knows. I can’t really say what the difference was, but it seemed like it was just another day.

Friday, we spent at least 7 of our 8 hours on the call center floor. I was half-awake and a bit hungry as I had skipped breakfast. The first call that dropped onto my screen was a teletypewriter user who typed, “HURRY” and the number for me to call. As I was dialing, they told me they wanted me to press the button during the automated prompts to connect them to a certain department. My trainer listened in on the call to help me speed up the process, because she recognized the caller. My trainer told me that I had a difficult caller and that it would be a challenging call. A few expletives later, which surprisingly didn’t come from me in this instance, I was speaking to a different representative for one of the calls I had to make for the teletypewriter user. I had to make a few calls for this person, and some of the representatives just weren’t good enough for them. When the call ended, I wasn’t even exhausted. I was entertained, if anything.

The few calls I had that weren’t wrong numbers or hang-ups, I had a mix of rude people and sweethearts. I was feeling far more capable of doing this job after four hours than I had felt after the first hour of being live on the phones.

Towards the end of the work day, I ran into the woman I had shadowed on Wednesday. She asked me how things were going, and when I told her I was feeling pretty good, she basically said, “I told you so!” I explained that I didn’t know if it would be a few weeks before I felt more confident, and that I was surprised that I was starting to get comfortable with the job. She was glad to hear that I wasn’t giving up, not that I really talked like I was on the verge of throwing in the towel, just that I wasn’t confident in my ability to do the job until Friday.

Friday night, I got a text message. “You’re working with meeeeeee!” It was from a friend of mine who I met when I worked at Media Play back in late 2005, who I later worked with at another call center by pure coincidence. She saw my picture on the board of “New Graduates” and asked which section I worked in. She does CapTel, which is a captioning service for phone calls. I’m not sure how different it is from my relay calls, other than different software or equipment being used perhaps. All the same, it’s nice to know I’m working with someone I know even if we’re not working together.

I know I still have some performance issues to work out, and that a number of things will get easier in time (such as memorizing those macros). But I wanted to be challenged, I wanted to take job skills I already had and use them in a new way. So far, I’ve been challenged, but so far it’s also been rewarding. Learning Japanese won’t help me advance with this job, but it does give me the ability to work towards my dream of going to Japan. Hey, I’m not giving up on that dream, and I’m not giving up my job too easily. Both are a challenge, but both can be attained by stepping up and facing that challenge head-on.

Let’s do it!

Gotta Be Coached

Just when I thought things were picking up, I learned there was an emphasis on the word “temp” in the phrase “temp agency.” I was hoping for a longer run, but the work dried up and the need for me was no more.

A lot of good came from having a job again. Probably the most important thing was being able to pay off one of the smaller creditors. Unfortunately I also had a $500 car repair bill, which would have helped to pay off more of my debts if I didn’t need the repair. It is what it is.

Before I left New Jersey, when I had just started with an insurance job, there was one day during training when one of the owners of the agency came in to our class and spoke to us. He gave us four things to remember to do:

  1. Write down your dreams
  2. Be coachable
  3. Have a good attitude
  4. Let go of fears

At the time, I wasn’t writing down my dreams even though the idea of going to Japan was at the forefront. I did have a good attitude, as I was convinced, even while I was watching everything fall apart, that I was doing just fine and that my problems at the time were starting to turn around. I didn’t even think of my fears, so how could I let them go? What was I even afraid of at that time? As for being coachable, I wasn’t in a position to be coached, so I didn’t have to worry about that at the time.

I was coached once in this past month. When I was told I would be coached at some point during that day, it felt like the equivalent of saying to me, “wait until your father gets home.” I was a bit nervous, wondering what I had done wrong in my calls and everything else.

It wasn’t as terrible as I had anticipated, though. To begin, one of my calls was audited and I scored a 92 out of 100. That came later during the coaching session. The coaching actually started with trying to overcome rejections, people telling me they weren’t interested and me accepting that as an answer. I was also asked to change the tone I used for the introduction script, as I was far too cheerful and also sounded like a recording. My boss played one of my calls, and it was one where some woman answered the phone with a curt, “What do you want?” I went into the introduction, completely broken out of the tone I had been using.

“You were talking so naturally,” my boss remarked.

“Yeah, because I was scared of her!”

My boss talked about how I could carry on conversations rather well, as he had asked about my umbrella earlier in the day and I was telling him that no, it wasn’t actually a sword even though the handle looked like a katana. I love that umbrella because it always sparks a conversation or at least catches someone’s glance.

But the meeting wasn’t entirely me being told what to do or what I was doing wrong. If I had questions, I asked them. Sometimes I asked if I was doing something right, or if it was acceptable at all. Sometimes if I was given advice, I would slightly question that advice or explain why I was doing things my way, because I was looking to understand the methods used instead of just blindly doing things a certain way.

I walked out of that coaching session feeling pretty good about things. Better still, I applied some of the advice I had been given, and I noticed an improvement in my metrics, my number of completed surveys per hour.

So understandably, I was sad when work dried up because I’m not working there now. I feel like things had just begun, you know? I was honing my skills, and now I have to see where I’ll be going next.

But I was coachable. And it worked out well.

There is another side to this. Not that there was a time when I wasn’t coachable, although I’m sure I’ve had stubborn moments when I just didn’t understand what I should have done and then didn’t change.

I had one job where my immediate supervisor actually refused to talk to me.

I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting a uniform shirt. Someone said I had to “earn” the shirt, but no one told me what I needed to do to earn it. My first shirt was a pink shirt, for breast cancer awareness month, which meant I still needed the regular blue shirt by the end of the month, but it was a start and I wouldn’t need to wear my own shirt anymore. When I got my name tag, my first name was split, and below that it said “Media” while everyone else in my department had a name tag that said “Media Specialist.” After a year, I was no longer on the schedule, despite my willingness to pick up extra shifts when people couldn’t work when they were scheduled. I knew exactly who my immediate supervisor was, and we were rarely scheduled at the same time, but when I did see him, he was always too busy to talk to me. So I never knew what, if anything, I was doing wrong. All I knew was I wasn’t getting the best treatment, but I stuck with it because I thought things could improve or that I could show that I’m actually a decent employee.

Of the four points I mentioned, while I agree with all of them, I think being coachable is so often overlooked and forgotten. I think people get into this mindset of doing things how they want to do them, or they might do their own research to see how to improve, but I don’t think people actually invest the time to talk to others who could point out their flaws and how to change. Even if a person allows someone else to tell them what needs to change, I don’t think enough people actually try to understand what’s being said, they might think they know the advice they’re being given but they don’t know how to apply it or how to change.

And also, write down your dreams. I think I’m going to go do that now. Oh wait, isn’t that why I have a blog?

Self-Awareness Exercises, Question Four

I am dumb. There’s a retraction I might have to post in regards to a confession I made.

Then again, as far as going forward, I’m second-guessing things. It’s not him, it’s me, and it has to do with the Easter fallout with my brother and my trust being shaken. Well, my trust is shaken in the sense that my brother seems to be a textbook narcissist, so I’m really questioning how much my brother cared about me and if I might actually be part of the problem. But then that’s more baggage for other people in my life to deal with, which isn’t fair to them. So I have to work through it, maybe stop talking about my brother and just claim to be an only child (which, biologically, I am).

Ugh. So then, let’s work through another one of these self-awareness questions, shall we? It should help.

Just a refresher of the introduction:

“We each write our own story for our life.  What story are you writing for yours?  Set a timer (there should be one on your phone if no where else) for 5 minutes for each prompt and write as fast as you can for those five minutes.  If it goes off mid sentence, finish your sentence and stop.  You can always go back and do them again.  And if nothing come out at first, just start writing random words, and free write even if it seems like gibberish.  Remember to give yourself at least a little time to digest everything that comes to the surface for each prompt.  It may not hit all at once, or it may do so and it may even possibly overwhelm you.  Let it out and let it go.  There are no right or wrong answers here, only your deepest truths.  If it helps, look at these exercises as writing prompts for a novel, with you as the hero/heroine and write your story.”

And what’s the task at hand?

4.  If I were to descirbe myself, I would say that I am. . .

I am dumb.

Okay, let’s take this seriously! Five minutes on the clock… and GO!

If I were to describe myself, I would say that I’m relatively intelligent. I would also say that I’m a nice person, perhaps too nice at times. Usually I wouldn’t say that I’m compassionate, but then I have moments when I see something and I actually care, like my heartstrings are pulled or something. I don’t really know if I’m introverted or extroverted, so because I seem to go both ways, I must be an ambivert. I would say I’m antisocial, but then I do want to socialize with people, and then I just want to be in my own little world when I’m around people I can socialize with. As for looks, I don’t think I look terrible. I think I actually look pretty cute at times. Then there’s moments when I’m self-conscious but don’t have the means to fix the issues I see, like my skin breaking out because I stopped caring since I wasn’t going anywhere. But I don’t think I’m a terrible person overall.

And that was five minutes.

I use the words “relatively intelligent” because of a quote about everyone being a genius, but if you judge a fish on it’s ability to fly, it will always think it’s stupid… or something like that. I believe Einstein is quoted as having said that, and I could look it up, but then I’d probably find a page that says, “this was originally quoted as this person, but it was actually said by this other person years ago in this ancient manuscript.” Long story short, there’s a quote, I wasn’t smart enough or old enough to think of it first, and it applies. So when I say I’m relatively intelligent, I might know more about computers than you, but I know there are people who are hackers, networking specialists, programmers, you name it, and they can run circles around me. I might know my way around a kitchen, but I’m not a five-star chef. I might not be working up to my potential as it is, I could probably do more if I focused on something and honed my skills in that one thing for a while.

I’d say I’m too nice at times, not in the sense that I would tell others I’m nice and they should believe it, but because there are times when I feel like something should run its course because I can’t find a way to excuse myself that doesn’t seem rude to me. I’m not entirely sweet, because I can be sarcastic or cynical at times. But I try to use my manners, I try to allow others the right of way before myself, I try to save or hold things for people. I try to care for others, sometimes putting strangers over myself.

In regards to being compassionate, some things don’t affect me. Starving children or dying pets in those commercials? I’m sorry, but if these charities have money for advertising, then they have enough money to allocate more resources to help those in need. But if my friends have a pet or a child in need of help? What do you need? What can I do? I want to help, if I can.

No people, some people, a lot of people, it’s all the same to me. Talking to everyone, talking to people I feel comfortable with, talking to no one, it doesn’t matter. I can exhaust myself if I’m left to my own devices, I can be exhausted after being with people. So as far as I’m concerned, I’m an ambivert. I do have antisocial moments, but then I have other times when I want to be around people and get disappointed when I can only get a small group of people together. Again, it’s all the same to me.

Ugh, I let myself go and my complexion is suffering right now. I need to get to Lush and get some of my favorite facial scrub. My face has some good days, but this isn’t one of them. But I wouldn’t use that to describe myself, because there are times when my complexion is better than this.

And again, I don’t consider myself to be a terrible person overall. I don’t really try to make new friends, but sometimes it just happens. I don’t usually try to reach out to people, but sometimes I need people for something and I get to see who’s looking out for me. I don’t think I’m anything too special, and I’m probably not interesting to most people. But I’m not going to try to be popular, or highly sought after, or even loved. I’m going to let things fall where they may. Right now, I’m comfortable with my existence. There ARE people who care about me. There ARE people who I care about, who matter to me. But there’s things I have to do for me, that I can’t ask of others, because it’s my burden to bear.

That’s about all I have to say for that question. If you’re following along, click the “self-awareness questions” tag for everything so far. And if you want to do the question for yourself, you can post in the comments or write in your own journal or blog. I keep forgetting to mention, you could also post on Facebook if you so desire, or just go there to follow me and any brief updates I might have to make.

Self Awareness Exercises, Question Three

Can’t I just skip some of these questions? Tonight’s seems to be difficult and boring!

While I have been putting it off, I will admit to being busy and having other things going on. Also, I did want to get the entry written up about the Japanese-learning apps I’ve been using. Needless to say, if I don’t live a life away from a computer, I won’t have many interesting things to write about when I’m back at the keyboard.

Tonight’s question, I’ve put some thought into ahead of time. I’m not sure if that’s within the rules or not, but it’s a question where you have to debate whether your answer fits at all or even a little bit.

Anyway, let’s get this out of the way, shall we? Here’s the introduction, if you need a reminder:

“We each write our own story for our life.  What story are you writing for yours?  Set a timer (there should be one on your phone if no where else) for 5 minutes for each prompt and write as fast as you can for those five minutes.  If it goes off mid sentence, finish your sentence and stop.  You can always go back and do them again.  And if nothing come out at first, just start writing random words, and free write even if it seems like gibberish.  Remember to give yourself at least a little time to digest everything that comes to the surface for each prompt.  It may not hit all at once, or it may do so and it may even possibly overwhelm you.  Let it out and let it go.  There are no right or wrong answers here, only your deepest truths.  If it helps, look at these exercises as writing prompts for a novel, with you as the hero/heroine and write your story.”

And tonight’s perilous question?

3.  The dilemma at the heart of my story is . . . 

The thing here is not to confuse a dilemma with a problem.  Problems can be solved or fixed like a flat tire for example.  A dilemma can only be resolved by a shift in perception, like the bigotry behind women not having the right to vote years ago.  An example on a more personal level, realizing your parents aren’t as bad as you thought, and while they may not have been good parents, they did the best they could with what they had.  (This is a good one to come back to as you grow and work through things.)

I’m off to hide in my pillow fort now.

Oh, right, I actually have to write this, correct? For those of you following along, I could just post the question and bow out. But some of you might be interested in how I think, or at least how I’m going to answer. So let’s set a timer for five minutes, starting… now!

I would say my dilemma is that so many people think I make the wrong choices in life. Even if I don’t follow through in what I want or how I want to do things, there is always someone close to me who says I have the wrong idea about what I should do or how to do it. So I have to wonder, if I start to do things the way other people want me to do them, will I be true to myself and what I want? Will I achieve my goals, even though I’m not taking the path that I believe to be correct? Or will listening to others put me in a place in life that I didn’t want to go to? I can admit that I haven’t always made the best decisions, and while it would be easy to say that I have regrets and wish I could reverse time, the fact remains that my mistakes have caused me to learn something about myself or to rediscover some part of myself that I left behind. So should I start to listen to other people, so I don’t have to hear them complain that I’m living life in a way that they wouldn’t want me to live? Or do I continue to make my own decisions, considering the wishes of others but ultimately deciding my path based on all the information I’ve been given and have found on my own?

And that’s five minutes! I went a little over the time because I was finishing my sentence.

So where did I get that answer from? Well, I’ve been thinking about how my general plans for moving to Japan have some people’s undies in a bunch. I’ve been thinking about my upcoming interview this week and how I might have lost a guaranteed job that I interviewed for last week because I’m now gambling my future. I thought about moving to New Jersey and how I probably shouldn’t have done that.

But, moving to New Jersey caused me to find Mitsuwa Marketplace, which in turn reignited my interest in Japan. So I can’t say I regret ever moving to New Jersey for that reason. I’ll know if I did something stupid if I don’t get the job I’m interviewing for this week. As for moving to Japan, or even visiting Japan, I don’t feel as if I need to have everything planned out just yet, not when I have things I have to take care of first, so I have time to get everything lined up.

Why did I go with this as my answer? Well, can it be fixed? I would have to shift my perception and decide to listen to other people, then evaluate the results. There’s no guarantee that a shift in perception would resolve things, it might actually put me further away from my goals. There are times when people might actually know the best way to go about doing things, I will admit that.

Lately I’ve listened as people, in person and on YouTube, gave me advice on how I should go about learning Japanese and going to Japan. My favorite JVlogger Victor, who you might know as GimmeABreakMan and GimmeAFlakeMan, said in one of his videos that if he had to do it over, he would go to Japan first and learn Japanese in one of their language schools. Before I came across the video, my plan had become just that, enroll in a Japanese language school and go over on a student visa. The friend I’m staying with insists that I shouldn’t go over without learning Japanese first, because “nothing is in Japanese and the people don’t speak English.” There’s actually only SOME truth to that, as some Japanese people DO speak English but knowing Japanese makes things a bit easier for them, and there are some signs that are in English or have pictograms for people to understand. Still, I’m at least trying to learn a few things before going to Japan, so I’m not completely in the dark as I wander around, and so I don’t have to rely so much on translation apps on my phone. So do I listen to the guy who’s been in Japan for well over ten years, or do I listen to my friend of over ten years who has always lived in different places in Upstate New York?

And there’s my dilemma. What’s yours? As always, you can post it in the comments, or add it to your own digital or paper journal. Don’t forget to check the tag labeled “self-awareness questions” for the other questions I’ve done and the ones I have yet to do.

Self-Awareness Exercises, Question One

It seems strange to think that I feel a little better than yesterday, when I started the self-awareness exercises and only needed to list things that made me feel comfortable and safe. Maybe there’s something about the realization of safety and comfort, no longer overlooking what I actually have, that made all the difference.

So I must press on, and see what challenges await me!

Here’s the introduction I was given:

“We each write our own story for our life.  What story are you writing for yours?  Set a timer (there should be one on your phone if no where else) for 5 minutes for each prompt and write as fast as you can for those five minutes.  If it goes off mid sentence, finish your sentence and stop.  You can always go back and do them again.  And if nothing come out at first, just start writing random words, and free write even if it seems like gibberish.  Remember to give yourself at least a little time to digest everything that comes to the surface for each prompt.  It may not hit all at once, or it may do so and it may even possibly overwhelm you.  Let it out and let it go.  There are no right or wrong answers here, only your deepest truths.  If it helps, look at these exercises as writing prompts for a novel, with you as the hero/heroine and write your story.”

Okay, sounds easy enough. So what’s the first question?

1.  I am afraid to move forward in life because . . .  (I find this one works better in list form.)

You’re kidding me, right? Okay, here goes.

I’m afraid to move forward in life because I’m afraid of losing everything I’ve established. I’m afraid of moving forward in life because I’m afraid I’ll get in over my head with challenges, and they’ll be things that other people like me should be able to accomplish. I’m afraid to move forward in life because I’ll have to change and be boring. I’m afraid to move forward in life because I’ll fail. I’m afraid to move forward in life because I’ve always been told that my ideas are wrong, so I’ll do something wrong. I’m afraid to move forward in life because what if my efforts get me nowhere, and I’m stuck in a perpetual cycle of dreaming things that are always out of reach?

That was my five minutes, and I have tears welling up.

I’m not sure what I meant by “losing everything I established.” It was the first thing that came to mind.

Despite being an Aries who likes a challenge from time to time, I am actually scared that I haven’t “adulted” as well as I should have, and I’m going to face something that I can’t tackle. I feel like I should already have a certain skill set when it comes to working and having a job, and that I just don’t have those skills though I don’t know where I’m lacking.

I am absolutely afraid of change and becoming boring. I don’t consider myself to be immature, for one thing. I’ve been told that I don’t have any adult interests. However, I abhor flatulence humor but favor puns, and I can’t stand to watch anything on television that seems to cater to less intelligent individuals. But people have said that I should act more my age, yet that’s not where my interests lie.

Of course I’m afraid of failure. If I have to risk something at a time when I can’t afford to lose it, then I’m not going to advance at all. That’s why I considered having friends and family fund a trip to Japan for me, because I don’t even have enough to risk on that venture. But then, if I do fail, at least I tried. I might be deeper into a hole, but there would be another lesson learned. Then again, if there’s nothing to catch me once I’ve fallen, it’s going to be worse than, “ho hum, I failed, back to the drawing board to try this again.” I mean, I make it sound like failure is scraping my knees, when it’s more like the bike has fallen apart and I’m too badly injured to try riding again.

I usually am told that my ideas are wrong. I wanted to be a famous singer when I grew up, so I was in the school choir to learn a few things. When I finally managed to make my parents realize that it wasn’t six-year-old me cutely dreaming about life as a singer, but rather sixteen-year-old me using the internet to research things such as million dollar contracts and contemplating the best way to get to NYC to get discovered, my parents told me to join the church choir. Singing in the church choir, in a small town, would never work towards my dream. At least vocal lessons would help, but they never invested my time or their money into such things. It wasn’t even, “go to college and have a backup plan,” it was “don’t even consider it, your backup plan should be your main plan.” So I’m seeing a repeat of that time in my life, as I have friends who think I should learn Japanese before I even consider going to Japan, while I think I’d do better by immersing myself in the language while working a job where I don’t even need to know Japanese. There’s more to my plan than that, but apparently it’s wrong and makes no sense, and that’s coming from someone who has done less research than I have on being in Japan.

That also brings me to the part where I said that my dreams might constantly be out of reach. What if I become a wage slave and can never make or save enough money to get to Japan? Do I give up on the dream, or do I insist that it’s possible and work myself to death trying to achieve that dream?

I also happened to think just now, moving forward in life can also relate to loved ones.

Am I afraid to move forward in my love life? Yes? I mean, I jumped back on OKCupid after a week of being single again, because I really didn’t want to waste any time. It’s been about six months since I met someone on there who I’m still chatting with. I’m at the point where I just want to know all of a person’s flaws so I don’t get too attached, and that way I’m not wasting any time on someone who’s going to ruin my life. As for my ex, I talk about him less and less as time goes on. I need someone to step up and be so awesome that I can’t help but talk about them instead of my ex.

Am I afraid to move forward in regards to the passing of loved ones? Well, they’re not really holding me back from anything. I don’t feel tethered to any one place right now, though, and having my Mom in my life gave me a reason to be in a particular place in the world. I’m always going to think of the loved ones I’ve lost, especially my parents, but I don’t feel like I need to stay near my hometown or to do certain things because I don’t feel like they really expect me to stay in one place and not live my life in a way that would make me happy. I believe they would want me to do what would make me successful and happy in life, and that means putting one foot ahead of the other and going where my heart kind of leads me. Besides, I don’t think I can really “move on,” because no one can replace my parents. I can’t even imagine having in-laws who I would consider to be parental substitutes.  Maybe I don’t need to move on, since I’m rather functional despite the losses.

And that was the first question, plus my analysis. Just a reminder, if you want to participate, you can post a comment here or answer the question in your own journal of some sort (digital or paper). Check the “self-awareness questions” tag for more of these questions and how I’ve answered them.

The Valentine Conundrum

All of my best stories start with the words, “So, there’s this guy…”

So, there’s this guy… and I like him, and he seems to like me. That’s a good start, I think.

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. What do I do?

Chocolate is out of the question. I don’t live close enough to get it to him. Should I have thought of that sooner, and then possibly shipped it to him? I did think of that. Unfortunately, when I had the time, I was uncertain of what I even felt for him and what he felt for me. So that rules out not only chocolate, but also anything handmade.

I could write something, like a story. But I decided against that.

Instead, I decided I would record a video and put it on YouTube.

My first thought was to record myself talking. Let’s face it, I’m nothing special to gaze upon, my speaking voice isn’t the greatest, and I’m otherwise boring when it comes to things to say. With my luck, I would even make dumb jokes and laugh at myself, or I would use so many filler words and awkward silences that it would be difficult to watch. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. After all, if he’s interested in me, he might ignore all the flaws and think it’s the sweetest video ever.

Personally, I don’t really want to stare at myself as I replay the video, because I’m going to criticize everything about myself before I decide I wasted some amount of my life trying to make something nice.

Instead, I decided to aim my computer’s built-in webcam at the television screen. I opened up SingStar on my Playstation 4, then complained about the distinct lack of music in SingStar’s SingStore before complaining about my very limited library of songs to choose from.

Before recording anything, I performed the one song that I decided would be acceptable to record. I ended with the top score, beating out my previous scores. I wasn’t too thrilled, because that would mean I had to work harder to beat that score. Of course, it wasn’t the score I was really going for, it was the performance.

I pressed the button on my computer to record the video, then started to play the song. I sang as naturally as I could manage, not trying to adjust my pitch to hit certain notes. When the song ended, it tallied up my score, and I ended with a score that topped my previous attempt. I stuck my head into the video recording and grinned widely, proud of what I had achieved, and then I stopped the recording.

I uploaded the video to YouTube, marking it as unlisted because it’s not meant for anyone else and I especially don’t want to deal with copyright claims. Once it was uploaded and processed, I watched the video for the first time. The lighting wasn’t the best, as the television screen was coming in too brightly and nothing on the screen could be seen. My singing was better than I had feared, but still worse than how I always think it sounds. And then I looked like an idiot when my head popped onto the screen. At least I was the only person in the house at the time, because I think I would have been the butt of a number of jokes for about a half hour after my recording session.

My next trick is sending him the link. That’s as good as done.

But then, what if it’s not as special as I think I’m trying to be? What if he raises an eyebrow and thinks I’m weird? What if the feelings aren’t reciprocated?

On the other hand, what if I do nothing and he hoped to get something from me? What if he thinks I was being too casual while he feels something more?

But… what if it works out just right? What if the meaning isn’t lost to him? What if he has something more amazing in mind for me?

What am I even worried about? Haven’t I already learned that if things are awkward, it’s not meant to be? Haven’t I learned that if the feelings aren’t reciprocated, it’s no reason to worry because someone else out there might be a better fit? Haven’t I learned anything?

I am calm, I assure you. I won’t lose sleep over this. Well, I might lose sleep if things work out too well, because I’ll ask myself what I did to deserve something so wonderful.

But if it’s all a fantasy in my mind, if I’ve exaggerated things and fell in love with my hopes and dreams, then it’s been fun but I need to return to reality. But not today! Today, I’ll celebrate love and romance. I will not be depressed because I’m single, but I’ll rejoice in my perseverance to find love, and I will give myself the love I deserve. And if my valentine becomes a new relationship, then everything would have been worth it. If things don’t go in that direction, then I’m prepared to let go.

Am I prepared to let go? Is anyone prepared for that? No, I don’t want to let go, at least not to what I feel for him. I want to let go of the thoughts that tell me this won’t work out, that he doesn’t feel that strongly for me, every thought that would sabotage a perfectly good thing. Haven’t I had these thoughts before? What do I really fear?

No, we will boldly go forth, and we will let things happen as they will. Because if things don’t work out, so what? One day, there will be another, and I’ll make a fool of myself again. And if things do work out, then maybe I don’t need to worry about finding love in the future.

Also, if things do work out, then I won’t have this internal monologue of self-doubt and confidence, I might just have the confidence.

Isn’t it fun to fall in love have the emotional roller coaster?