Tag Archive | self improvement

Thoughts You Never Want To Think About

“Mommy wants to throw you out,” said the 8-year-old boy at the dinner table. I don’t even remember what was said before that, I just remember the context. He wasn’t trying to scare me, it was an “out of the mouths of babes” moment.

So I replied, “Oh really? Tell me more.”

“You’ll have to ask Mommy… I don’t remember.”

“Mommy,” the friend I’m staying with who I’ve known for over a decade, was playing World of Warcraft while eating her dinner. The rest of us were around the table in the dining room.

I knew if I asked her why she wanted to “throw me out,” she would begin by sighing, as if it was so hard to give me an honest answer, and then she would give me a nice answer that wouldn’t be the truth. So instead, I asked her significant other.

“Did she say that out of anger, or does she really want to throw me out?”

He sighed. “She wants her space back.”

“I have a few things here. I’m not stopping her from sitting on her couch, I’m not taking up the last chair at the dinner table. I don’t tell her to go to bed so I can get to sleep. If she wants to watch TV downstairs with the boys, I’m not going to stop her. But this is how she’s always been; every time I’ve come over to hang out with her, she’s had her back to me while she’s played WoW, she doesn’t sit on the couch with me and talk like friends.”

The only way I can get out is to get a secure job that will pay me enough that I can afford my bills, I can afford rent, and have enough coming in that I can pay off my debts. But applying for work and sending my resume isn’t enough to get a job, I also need to find an employer who looks at my application and likes what they see. Years ago, I could submit enough applications to count on one hand, and from that I could get an interview and a job. It’s no wonder that I’m getting so discouraged these days.

It was my night to wash the dishes, which presented me with about an hour’s worth of Thoughts You Never Want To Think About.

Like, I miss the days when one of us would mention on Facebook that we wanted to go to the store, and the other liked the idea and asked to go as well. In my case, I had the car, so if she wanted to go and I had the day off from work, I could take her to the store. Usually I go shopping by myself, but there were times when I’d try to see if anyone else wanted to go along.

Now, I’m right here. My car is across the street. If she wants to go to the store, or she just wants to get away from everything, we could go. But no, she asks her significant other to take time off from work if she needs him in the afternoon, or some of her other friends rescue her in the evenings on rare occasions.

But not me. Because I can’t rescue her right now. Instead, I’m the problem in her life. I can’t help her escape from her problems when I have to stay back at the house to try and fix whatever I’ve screwed up.

It’s not as if I don’t try to be a good houseguest. But there’s a level of anxiety involved with being a houseguest. It’s one thing to do some cleaning to earn your keep, and I do have a daily chore assigned to me which I do every night. But there’s other things I notice here and there, things I’d do at random when I lived in my parents’ house. I’ve cleaned grime off the bannisters, light switch plates, door frames, and even the walls themselves. I’ve dusted shelves just because I was tired of seeing dust. I don’t do things like that here, unless we’re going through another period of, “I’ve turned off everyone’s wifi until this place is clean.” If I do tasks like that, they go unnoticed, but it also takes time away from other things I could be doing, like finding work. Also, I’m always worried that I’ll be told, “oh, you don’t have to clean that! You’re doing more than you need to.” Not to mention, I’d be doing the most cleaning in this house, and would likely be cleaning up messes that existed before I even started living here, and in rooms I don’t even use. And for what? Even when I do my nightly task, I’ve been told I haven’t done it as well as I could have done it, even when I swear I’ve done exactly what she claims I didn’t do.

Sometimes I play video games. She won’t say it to me, but she apparently doesn’t like when I play video games. All she does is play WoW and Diablo. I just want to lose myself for a few hours in a world where I can defend myself in a fight and make money from it, or at least I’m on a Yakuza binge right now. I can’t spend every waking minute between job searches and cleaning, I need something that will make me feel like I accomplished something without having a reason to scream, “I JUST cleaned that!” It’s an escape from my problems, and I would think that she would understand that, of all people.

Worst of all, this situation is making me think I should cut ties with so many people, not just the friend I’m staying with. Back in the day, I was working part-time while living at home with Mom. Instead of contributing to my own household, I didn’t mind skimming a little money here and there, what I could afford, just to help out a friend. You need a ride? I’ve got this. Something broke, and you can’t afford to replace it? It’s in the mail, just wait a week. Right now, I can’t afford to be that friend to anyone, and I feel helpless. But then I look around and think about the friends I’ve tried to help, and what have I got? I’m staying with the friend I did a lot of things for, and she wants me out of her house so she can “have her space back.”

And that hurts.

It hurts because,… well, maybe it’s a fantasy, maybe it’s just an ideal situation that one would hope for, but I wish I had a friend who would think, “she’s done a lot for me/others, and now she just needs to figure her life out and get something started.” I don’t know, maybe I’m not explaining it as well as I could. I guess I wish I had a friend who would sit down with me and be like, “so how are you feeling about your ex? You guys broke up, it’s pretty lousy, but let’s get you past that. Cry if you need to, vent to me if you want, but let’s start to forget him because your life will be better without him. Now, you do need to find a job, so let’s talk about what you’re good at doing and let’s see what we can find for you.”

It’s not like I have the exact opposite of that. But lately I’ve started telling her less about what’s going on, because she won’t tell me everything in regards to how she feels about me still being here. I feel like ending my friendship with her, but I can’t do that until I can get out of here. So maybe I excuse some of the things she says and does, and I tell myself she’s just trying to help me in her own way. And yet, I feel like if she was a friend, she’d be more sympathetic to my problems and not try to add more stress. But then on the other hand, I tell myself how selfish I’m being by thinking that, because I expect her to think only of me and not about what would make her feel better. So are we working together to come up with a compromise? No, because that would be the rational thing to do.

I’ve been honest with her about the whole situation. I had another friend who offered a trailer home for me to live in, rent-free, but it still needed some work done on it. A month past his original time estimate, the place still wasn’t livable, and I wasted two hour-long trips to find that my time was being wasted and that friend wasn’t being completely honest with me. I couldn’t keep excusing his behavior, especially since I couldn’t afford to keep wasting my time and gasoline. He lost my trust, and I felt like the friend I’m staying with was losing her trust in me. Things were out of my control, but I was trying to communicate everything I knew about what was going on.

I really wish things were different. I wish I wasn’t a burden to anyone, and could go back to helping out friends in need. I wish I wasn’t in debt. I wish I could get a job as easily as I used to. I wish I had the friends that everyone else seems to have.

Some days, it feels like going to Japan is less about the destination and more about the clean slate. I can’t be a burden to anyone in the States if I’m in Japan (or any other country, for that matter), and I can’t help anyone out which means I won’t be kept around just to do things for people who aren’t equally as kind or generous. I don’t have a network of people in Japan, I don’t have people I can rely on and there’s no one that I can help. I have only myself, and if I can get to Japan, it means I did all the work by myself to get there. I’ll start my life over, and maybe I’ll build metaphorical walls to make it harder for people to get into my heart, because I’m really starting to wonder if I let people in just so I wouldn’t be lonely. Well, I haven’t died of loneliness, I’ve actually embraced it a little too well, so maybe I should just learn to live with it.

I never want to be negative in these entries. I always want to find a silver lining. I don’t want to speak ill of people who won’t read this (because I won’t let them know I wrote this). Lately, I’m just stressed, fearful, frustrated,… and I hate it, and hate in any form is probably the worst thing I could feel. But I remember being happy, I remember being confident and courageous. I remember feeling like breaking up with my ex fiancé was the most freeing thing ever, like I could focus on what I wanted to do and didn’t have to worry about trying to motivate him to put any work towards his dreams. I felt like being back in my old stomping grounds was going to be the best thing ever, since it put me back with my friends and not friends I met through my ex. I want to get back to feeling like I can take on the world, like my desire to go to Japan is still something attainable. But for now, I need to stop lying to myself that everything is all right, because it’s not. I am scared. I am angry. The only way to feel less scared and angry is to get money, but I need a job to get money, and not getting a job is making me scared and angry which is probably making it harder to sell myself for the sake of getting a job.

But…

If I don’t acknowledge the negatives, I can’t work past them. I need to understand what’s bothering me, and then I need to fix it.

So if you’re reading this and you don’t like what I’m saying, I am sorry. Life isn’t perfect, at least not for me.

It all makes me think of Algernon. Himuro has an album called Flowers For Algernon, which is the title of a short story or a novel or something. I had to look it up on Wikipedia, but the premise is about this guy who has less intelligence than a normal person. He undergoes some kind of experimental procedure that boosts his intelligence, and while he’s smarter, he understands social cues a little better and realizes how many people had been mean and condescending to him, when he just thought they were being nice to him before. Algernon is apparently the name of a lab rat they perform the experiment on as well, and the main character gets to see the effects of the procedure on the rat, including the eventual deterioration and the death of the rat. So, I think about the friends I thought the world about, and how things change in life and suddenly I see people differently.

And I know I’ve changed, but I don’t know if I’m a better person, if I’m stronger or if I’ve just become colder. I don’t know if isolating myself from people who upset me is good for my well-being, or if I’ll be one less problem to people who don’t want me around.

Welcome to the Thoughts You Never Want To Think About.

Value of You

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The above image appeared in my Facebook feed today. Normally I’d just nod and click to share the post, but today it really got me thinking.

How can you tell the difference between a guy (or anyone, really) who values you, and one who just likes you?

To begin, I think you have to place a value on yourself. What do you believe you’re worth? Think of anything, think of everything. Are you worth living in a mansion or are you worth living in a run-down studio apartment? Are you worth having a clean microwave to cook your food?

You shouldn’t settle for less than that, but you should also be worth the effort it takes to have that. So for the microwave example, if you can’t clean that microwave, you’re not worth having a clean microwave.

Do you know why wealthy men have gorgeous wives? Because the guy believes his worth is to have a gorgeous wife. He worked hard for his money, so he earned her. What is her worth? A man who can afford her lifestyle, because she works hard to be beautiful. His money can go to her outward appearance. The value she placed on herself is such that she believes she deserves a wealthy husband. That’s a completely superficial example, and I hope that if you’re one of my dear readers, your worth is something more valuable than just appearances and money.

Back to the original quote. I thought about my friend from Japan when I pondered the quote’s meaning. Does he value me or does he just like me?

There are days when I think he doesn’t like me, that I’ve said or done something I can’t come back from. But then he writes back, and I think he must like something about me.

But does he value me?

I can’t tell you how many dead horses and broken records there are in our e-mail conversations. If I mention an incident that happened while staying with a friend, he immediately suggests that I should move in with my brother or another close family member. I remind him that it’s not even feasible to do so. If I talk about the job search and my need for money (still not asking him for money), he suggests that I ask family members for any assistance.

Personally, my patience might wear thin if I kept telling someone over and over again what they should do. I don’t know how he puts up with me sometimes.

I can’t move in with my brother because he’s a toxic narcissist. I don’t mean that in the sense that he kisses mirrors because he’s so beautiful. With him, it’s about being seen as the best. If you were exhausted after working 40 hours, you have nothing on him because he worked 50 hours doing back-breaking work. If you won an award, he undermines your achievement and acts like it was undeserved, but if he wins an award, you have to praise him for it because he put a lot into winning. After Mom passed, he bought a car, and I was supposed to be in awe at this expensive sports car that he had to have. I shrugged and acknowledged that he bought a purple car, because that’s all it meant to me. I wasn’t trying to be difficult, it just didn’t matter to me, but that was the wrong reaction.

If I had to determine my value based on who or what kind of person I chose to live with, I am worth more than living with my brother based on his personality. I am worth more than someone who wants to make me feel like I’m less than they are. I am worth being treated as an equal.

But if I had to analyze my Japanese friend’s intentions, it would be to hold on to my friendships.

Living here has had its tense moments, due in part to differences in personality between myself and the friend I’m staying with. A little over a week ago, I was ready to throw in the towel, but I knew I didn’t have any better options for a living space. Even as a bitter moment faded back to calmer attitudes, I was still agitated. But why? Well, my friend wants me off of her sofa, and out of her house. But to do that, I need to have a stable income. To get that income, I need to find a job, and I need the internet going to my computer to do job searches. So after she took the wireless internet away from everyone (but herself) and then returned it, she returned only the internet going to my computer. I’m still livid about that, because I can’t afford to have my cell phone bill incur any charges for going over my data allowance. But if I want that, and don’t want her to keep shutting off my internet, I could always move out.

My friend deserves to keep someone here who isn’t freeloading, but at the moment, I’m doing the best I can.

But does she value me?

She doesn’t like me. She’s trying to get rid of me so she doesn’t have to deal with my puns and other lame jokes and one-liners that come to mind. Actually, while I do understand that she’s bothered by that part of my sense of humor, I don’t really think that she doesn’t like me. And if she didn’t place any value on me, she would have been more forceful about kicking me to the curb, I’m sure. No, I believe that she knows I’m capable of more, that I’m worth having a job and that an employer somewhere needs to find me and see how awesome I really am. That’s why she’s been limiting my access to entertainment (because I can’t watch YouTube on the television if my Playstation 4 doesn’t have internet), so that I’m more focused on searching for a job.

It might be weird, but I’m actually more focused on working if there’s something of interest playing on the TV, or at least I’m calmer. That’s a story for another day.

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Admittedly, that’s my favorite e-mail yet, second only to maybe the Valentine’s Day message. It was a Friday night, after a long day of running errands and dealing with so many things. It had also been two days since his previous message to me. It was almost 1 in the morning my time, so it was about 2 in the afternoon on a Saturday for him. I sent him a quick message to try and get his attention, just in case he could jump on something to make a VoIP-based call of some sort but otherwise to tell him that I had to tell him about my day. That’s what he wrote back to me. I should have gone to sleep at that point, instead of writing back to say I was awake or even typing up my full message, but I figured I would forget some of the details that I thought were important.

If he liked me, he would have called.

But he doesn’t like me.

Because he values me. He wants me to live a healthier lifestyle. He wants my friendships to thrive. He wants my family members to care about me, and to take care of me because I’m a sister, a niece, a cousin. And okay, he does like me.

So if I had to smack someone upside the head with the knowledge of whether someone likes them or values them, I would ask questions until it became obvious. I’ve been liked by guys in the past. It’s fun, it feels nice, but there’s no challenge. Now I feel like a guy values me. Now I have to figure out what I’m worth. I have to figure out how much value I’m placing on the guy.

And you know what?

I’m worth a job that pays no less than $12 an hour. I’m worth a job that makes use of my customer service skills, my computer skills, my Associates degree.

I’m worth a decent shelter. A simple apartment that’s in good shape is enough for me.

I’m worth more than a brick of wavy ramen for meals. I’m worth a processed meat patty, at least. I’m definitely worth a greater variety of flavors than “chicken, beef, shrimp, and oriental.”

I’m worth first-hand clothing. I’m worth my skirts and dresses as much as I’m worth my t-shirts and jeans. I’m worth the fancy occasions and professional atmosphere that would require skirts and dresses, just as much as I’m worth the opportunity to be laid back and relaxed in my t-shirts and jeans.

I’m worth being valued.

And yet, I’m still worth so much more.

 

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 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 Two

The month of March ended fantastically, and it was just what I needed after it seemed like I should start giving up hope. But that’s not the energy I want to put out into the universe, I want to be hopeful and have good things happen, and they have!

So I started doing these self-awareness questions to try and bleed out any negativity in my system. The first part was making lists of things that comforted and made me feel safe, and the next day I was feeling a bit better, probably because I was more conscious of things that I was doing to feel comfortable and safe. The first question was about why I was afraid to move forward in life, and maybe my fears are reasonable but maybe they’re just things I have to work through on my own.

And then I turned 33, and I had an incredible birthday that was full of tears and laughter and heartfelt moments. It reminded me of the friend who sent me the self-awareness questions. She once told me that my energy was “fire surrounded by water”, and that I shouldn’t be afraid of being emotional or crying from time to time. Maybe it was building up inside of me and needed a release, or maybe I cried just because I was moved to do so, but it seems as though it was necessary.

But I can’t just start these self-awareness questions and stop after only the first one! I feel like you’re counting on me to at least post the rest of the questions so you can do them for yourself, but that would still be giving up on my end. So without further ado, let’s do question number two!

A reminder 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 tonight’s story of my life is…

2.  One thing I feel strongly about is . . .   (Think of something you belive in with such conviction you would fight for the death to defend it.  Ex. Love, Respect, Civil Rights, Animal Rights, etc.)

Let’s go!

One thing I feel strongly about is actually love. If there was one thing that has motivated me for so long, it was to find a romantic relationship that would make me happy. I’ve always wanted what my parents had, and that is to say that I’ve wanted a marriage that lasts well over three decades and works well in spite of differences in interests because there’s similar personal values. I don’t just want that for me, I want that for everyone, to be happy with someone who makes them that way. I don’t even care if they love someone of the same gender, different gender, or whatever the case is. I don’t care if it’s romantic love or platonic love, or even just the love that’s shared between a parent and a child. Love your parents, love your children, love your partner and take care of them. If you care about a person and you hope they don’t die, then show it somehow.

And my five minutes are up.

Love is really all-encompassing. Even if I said civil rights, or I said something about saving the planet, it would come back around to thinking of others and caring for them.

I’ve probably had more crushes on celebrities than I have had crushes on real people. Maybe it was just because it’s easy to project an ideal personality onto a person that I’m never going to meet, so I’d never have to feel disappointed that they didn’t match the version of them I created in my mind. Of course, as social media has blossomed, it’s actually become easier to find out more about my favorite celebrities. While it changes the perception, it also presents information that might make me idolize a celebrity that much more. There is a point to this paragraph that makes me seem quite pathetic. Say what you will about fantasizing over celebrities, because it hasn’t stopped me from meeting real people. I haven’t set my standards so high that my qualifications are, “you must be (a famous male singer/songwriter or actor) or similar,” because that’s ridiculous. However, knowing what I like about a celebrity is a pretty good start, because I know I like that quality in a person and will search for it in possible romantic partners. Even if it’s just something I projected onto a fantasy version of that celebrity, it’s obviously something I value and therefore worth searching for in a partner.

And yes, I’m more likely to fantasize about love than anything else. Even if I’m angry, I don’t contemplate violence and bloodshed, I’m just angry.

So a Yankees fan married a Red Sox fan and they lived happily ever after. A country girl married a city boy. A republican married someone who was more democratic/independent. A frugal woman married a guy who liked to buy nice things. A prudish lady married a gentleman who… you know what? These are my parents I’m talking about, and I won’t go into how I reformatted my Dad’s iMac after he passed so I wouldn’t have to see the porn he downloaded. There wasn’t anything wrong with it, and I would have kept it, but then I’d be reminded that it was my Dad’s porn.

Which brings me to my next thing. I’m bisexual. For the purposes of this blog, that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I support people regardless of their sexuality or gender. If you’re straight, that’s awesome! If you’re gay, good for you! If you’re asexual or aromantic, fabulous! Personally, I don’t think anyone should force themselves into something they’re not comfortable with. Be with who you love, marry them if you want to.

There’s not much else to say. I mean, I shouldn’t have to say much to defend myself. It’s love, love for all humans and all living beings. It’s not just love for people like me. It’s not just romantic love. It is the absence of hatred. Hatred is what I would fight against to the death, if I could try to show people that caring about your fellow man is far more rewarding in the grand scheme of things.

As always, if you want to do the questions, you can either comment here or fill your own journal (digital or paper). Just look for the tag that says “self-awareness questions” and click on that to get all of the questions so far.

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.

Why Still Single? What Should You Change About Yourself?

I was watching videos on YouTube earlier today, when I came across one from a channel called Find Your Love In Japan. Well okay, I won’t rule out finding love in Japan, and I’ve watched a few videos from that channel which have given me hope that I could find love over there. But the one video in particular was titled, “Why Do You Think I’m Still Single?” It was the owner of the channel doing his normal street interviews, but he was asking people what he could change about himself to become more attractive to the opposite gender.

In the video, people asked Nobita about his personality, and they cited various things about his appearance and such. As someone who knows as much about him as everyone who met him on the street, I have to say I wouldn’t change a thing about him. Let me tell you why.

People could tell you to go to the gym, either to lose weight or to bulk up your muscles. There will always be people who like chubbier people or less muscular guys.

People could tell you to dress more nicely, either to wear a nice suit or dress or just to not wear sneakers. You never know when you might need to get a little dirty or you might need to run or climb for the sake of helping the one who’s caught your eye.

People can tell you to change your sense of humor, to be less sarcastic or bitter or something. You could bore your partner if they’re holding back because they don’t think you’d appreciate their sarcasm.

You can cut your hair short, but there will be someone looking for long haired partners.

You can hide your interests, perhaps going so far as to sell every comic book or video game or figurine that you own. True love might have walked in to the nerd convention that you decided not to attend.

Maybe you’re sensing a trend. If not, here’s the secret: no matter what you change about yourself, there will always be someone who wants a person like how you used to be.

“But what if there’s something I really have to change about myself?” you ask. That’s a good question. Start with your last relationship. If you’ve never had a relationship, I highly recommend jumping into one. You might have to lower your standards a bit, and that might be part of your issue (looking for absolute perfection and expecting to find it without getting to know a person). After your relationship comes to an end, evaluate what worked and what didn’t. Now you have a starting point to figure out what it is you need to change, because now you’ll know that something didn’t work and you’ll know what it is. If it’s something you can change, then you probably should try to change that.

If you just want to change something for the sake of being a new person, then take cooking classes, or learn how to do basic maintenance on a car, or learn massage therapy, some kind of skill that might be useful later on. To start, any classes you take will put you around people also trying to learn the same things, which means you have a chance to ask someone out on a date to “practice what you’re learning.” Whether or not you use it as an opportunity to practice your new skills is up to you. If your classes are filled with people who are absolutely not your type, it’s not an issue. When you finish the class, you’ll know how to make something better than blue-box macaroni and cheese, or you’ll be able to change the oil in a car, or you can work on achy muscles, or you’ll have learned some useful skill. Then when you do meet the right person, you can impress them with your cooking, fix their car when they’re in a bind, take care of their neck muscles after they slept in a weird position, or whatever else you learned.

But of course, everything comes down to one thing: how confident are you?

Confidence is your ace in the hole. You need to be confident enough that you have a genuine smile on your face. Shyness will only get you so far, as it’s one thing to be shy because you’re nervous but chronic shyness will keep you from everything. If you’re not comfortable in the clothes you’re wearing, or the way your hair looks, or the shoes you’re wearing, then change and wear something that will make you feel comfortable and confident. Decide for yourself if you want to find someone who likes you for you, or if you want someone who likes people who are everything you aren’t. Also understand that you could still attract a person whose type is usually all of the things that don’t equate to being you, and they might find you charming as you are.

Ruling out negative personality aspects, if you’re still single, it’s not you but rather just timing. You will find love eventually, and whatever dry spell you’re facing exists only to make you appreciate love when it comes. Just be the best, most honest version of yourself that you can be, and things will eventually fall into place. If your heart pulls you towards a certain location, try traveling there and see what happens. Even a failed relationship gives you an opportunity to learn about yourself and what you need to change, if anything. Don’t be afraid to fall in love, and don’t deny your feelings to yourself.

And denying your feelings works both ways. If you’re into a person, but things don’t look right in theory, give it a shot regardless. If you’re not into a person but can’t figure out why not, give it a shot but keep one foot outside in case you need to run.

Beyond that, if you’re still single, tell yourself that a significant other would just hold you back from your real destiny, then focus your time and energy on your passions. Who knows? You might be a writer of some sort, who would channel your emotions into a song or a poem or a full novel.

But go forth confidently, and become the person you believe is deserving of love. (Here’s a hint: you are already deserving of love, you just need to find it)