Tuesday, November 29, 2016

On getting help

A couple of years ago I admitted to feeling depressed. I was at a job without much to do, so I was bored and felt useless and began to blame myself for the way I was feeling. Nothing would really lift me up like it used to. For 4 months at school, it was just hard to motivate myself, but I figured that was an adjustment period. For the 4 months after, when I was at home for summer, I had no explanation. I tried to ask for help and was told to "think positive thoughts" and this dissuaded me. I went back to school in the fall and felt better and didn't question it.

I'm not sure if it came back again until this summer. Same deal- a job at which I often had little to do, or was stuck doing small tasks. I felt useless and judged, like I wasn't behaving appropriately or saying the right things. At least once a week I would get so overwhelmed by my own thoughts I would just go to the bathroom and cry, and only once was that noticed. I tried to stop hurting myself. Most of the time, though, I felt okay.

This semester was fine, midterms were stressful, but I did well. But as the year wears on I only get more and more aware that this is the end of the certainty of my life. From here on out, it seems, I am destined to stumble around clumsily trying to find a place in the world. There is no script, there is no thing I can just do because it's a common thing to do, like university after high school. Even if grad school technically counts as that for some, the entire process of getting INTO grad school is unlike anything I've ever dealt with before, and last week it all kind of came to a head.

I think everything was set off by an email I got from the very prof I worked for this summer. I wrote to him and asked for advice for applying to graduate school. This is something I'd done with many other profs I knew well enough to ask, and they all gave me the same kind of advice- just secure a supervisor. Email them, get to know their research, set up a meeting, and then you go about applying for admission and grants. This prof, however, went overboard.

The suggestions seem insane to me. Read all the recent research I can get my hands on from these profs, and write a one-pager detailing a project I'd like to do in their lab. Make them want me, email them updates about me presenting posters (which I currently do not have an opportunity to do) or getting my name on papers, or updates about my grades (the example he gave was "just finished the semester with a 3.9 GPA!" which is unfathomable to me). For someone who already feels like she is overloaded by trying to keep up with a heavy full-science courseload, including a course that is a research project and therefore demands daily attention and constant planning, I think it was just too much, and I broke down completely.

Last week was very, very bad. I've never been that depressed in my life. Almost every waking moment was consumed with sad thoughts and unlike before, I couldn't seem to find a way to dig myself out. I didn't do a damned thing all week besides go to class and to the lab, paying attention about half the time. I managed to get into the peer support centre here- which is really just lightly trained students who listen and direct you to other resources. I thought I had finally accepted that I need to see some kind of mental health professional- a therapist, counselor, psychologist, whatever.

This weekend I went to see Freckles' choir concert in her uni city, and now that I'm back I feel... strangely fine.

This, of course, is making it really hard to book an appointment to just even get a consultation at the counselling services on campus. I don't feel like I can accurately explain why I feel I need help when I don't feel like I need help. I got so many things done today. I drank enough water. I even got up early enough to have a shower and make it to class mostly on time (I never shower in the mornings). I just feel... better. And it's so weird.

First of all, it's frustrating, because it makes the whole thing seem fake. You're making this up, it's not real, quit lying for attention, you don't really want to feel that way. But it's like all those destructive, horrible thoughts are still there, just.. in the background. I don't have trouble getting up for class anymore. Sometimes after class I still sit to wait for the between-class rush to die down (if I can), it's still overwhelming. And humming just out of focus are the other thoughts. Jesus, if you can't even handle this much work now, how are you going to cope in the real world? Whiny baby. Oh, poor you, you don't want to do this? Too bad! You're overwhelmed by THIS? And you think you can handle grad school? Grad school will eat you alive if this is too much. In fact, all of real life will eat you alive if this is too much. You're not equipped for life, you're not going to make it in the real world. No good experience and if you don't get into grad school? If you fail? All your future is is struggling to get a minimum wage job and disappointing your parents. And if you're out of school you'll never get into grad school ever and all your hard work will be for nothing. So why even bother trying?

But it's like, this week, I am a little more aware that those thoughts aren't realistic. So I'm able to function. Which makes me feel like I don't need help, and furthermore, that if I were to ask for it, I would be turned away because I don't really need it, until this happens again and it's worse, so I can't ask for help then. I'm so frustrated, I don't know what to do. Was that email just some kind of trigger or something? Did it somehow tap into all my fears at once, overloading my system? And if so, how did I get it out? Was it being away for a weekend? Was it taking some time last week to just... recover? And worst of all: will this happen again? And next time, will it be worse?

I just want to feel consistent here. This rollercoaster is exhausting. And it's not like I'm riding some kind of euphoric high right now either, I just think... well, I'm going to do things. I feel like I'm in denial, and whenever I'm like "well last week you were worried about x, y, z" my brain just shoves that thought into a box and says "Nope! We're not going to contemplate the uncertainty of the future right now! Save it for later!" which is what I have been doing for the past 3 years. Only now I can't avoid it anymore and it keeps pushing its way to the forefront.


I think writing this, though, has reminded me a little of how I felt. Which sounds bad, like why am I trying to induce this in myself? And I'm not. The feelings of last week feel hazy somehow, like I'm feeling them from the outside of the snowglobe where they reside. I can see them, I can shake them around and see what they do, but it's not the same. But I guess they're still there, so that's something.

I promise I'm trying. I'm still here. People know what I'm dealing with. I'm not alone.

yer pal,
swegan

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

On Jealousy

My roommate from first year got into med school. I know about it because of facebook. And I am wildly, nonsensically jealous of her.

This doesn't make any sense, it's not like I've ever expressed a desire to get into med. It's not like I was trying at the same time she was and I didn't get it. It's not like anything. It doesn't make any sense. And the only reason I can think is that she is- and was- a Pretty Girl.

I think more than anything I still want to be one of them. I want to rewrite my past so I was tall and had boobs in the 8th grade, so I was athletic and popular and still smart, so I got all those awards for having the highest social studies grade and be a three or four star athlete. I want to change it so that I figured out makeup somehow and figured out clothes and came to my adult life looking like the girls who look put together every day.

There's not even an excuse for me anymore. I could do all those things, I know that. This isn't my old roommate's fault; she was always very hardworking and I'm sure that this was no exception. She deserves good things and I'm happy for her. She isn't a bad person. And I could be one of Those Girls too, if I wanted, I could let go of my inhibitions about everything in life and start wearing makeup and dressing myself nicely and fuck, I don't know, going out to drink?


I feel like maybe there's also a lot of pressure on me to want to go into med. My dad is a physician, and I'm doing lab work in a medical science lab, and I guess the other lab I was in was medical science too. I have good grades and a desire to help people and I'm interested in biology and health research. I still feel like I could do it... it I wanted to. Do I want to? I don't know. I do want to do a master's degree, or a Ph.D. I do want to work in science. I've considered a job outside of academia, in industry. I've considered programs to become a genetic counselor and a cytogenetic technologist. I don't really know what I want to do.

And med always looks so impressive- just like law or dentistry would too, I'd imagine. But med always seems to take the cake. Everyone has such high respect for doctors (rightfully so), everyone knows medical school is hard to get into and hard to complete and that a life of work as a doctor is challenging and demanding but also rewarding and part of that reward, I think, is being judged very positively in your community for your vocation. I can't lie and say none of that appeals to me. But I think I need to make a career choice based on the fact that I love the work I am doing and it feels important and rewarding to me. But it still feels like I'm always going to be ranked against my peers that went into med.

I have friends that want to get into med (and I have no doubt they will). Redbeard wants to get into med (and again, no doubt). These people are all smart and talented and hardworking- just like my first year roommate. Just like me, I hope. But I feel like no matter what I do, especially at this point in my life, it's never going to look as impressive. That people will judge them as smarter and more talented and harder working than me (and consequently all the other kids who don't do med or any professional program but instead do research or go into industry, or even teaching, which I guess counts as a professional program of sorts anyway). There's such prestige associated with getting into med, and that's what I want.

It feels stupid but it's human, and I know that. It's human to want to be praised and thought of as a good, smart kid- I want the things I do to reflect well on my parents, too, even though I know it's not my job to make them look good by having their offspring succeed. I know my dad would be happy that one of his kids followed in his footsteps. I know my parents would be able to help me since they're both involved in health careers.

I just... I think about medicine. I think about learning about the body and how it works, and that seems cool. I think about applying that to actual people, and... ick. I think about long days and charts and paperwork, and billings. I know my dad loves his job. I don't think I've ever heard of or met a doctor who didn't love theirs. I just don't know if it's for me and I feel like there's so much pressure on me to keep that option on the fence all the time.

Sometimes I wonder if arts degrees are appealing for that reason. Because maybe if I just got an English degree instead, everyone who knows what my dad does would shut up about asking me if I want to get into med. I know these people mean well, I'm not mad at them, they're certainly not trying to offend. But god, I'm so tired of getting asked and having to answer. They don't react one way or the other when I tell them maybe or just plain out "no, I don't think so." But I can never fully commit one way or the other and it feels like there is always some kind of silent pressure on me to swing towards yes, and I think it's because I'm in a field that's so close already. Do you know how many times in first year I heard biology majors say they wanted to go into med? It's like half the program here has their heart set on being doctors. It's insane.

I think the jealousy too is that like- the hardest part is over, and I think a lot of people would agree with me on that. In med, you have classmates and instructors who want you to stay in the program and will help you out. Once you finish, you can get a job anywhere you want, and it will pay well. You barely have to plan your life out anymore. And that- that- is what I think is most tempting. The security- not just financially, but like, in terms of thinking. I'm sitting here wondering, is it worthwhile to get my masters and then my PhD, or should I just get a PhD, but will that even be useful? Should I bother doing special training programs for biotech? I think I want to work in industry for a while because I like the idea of applying results more than just generating them, like in academia. But what if I take those courses and get in there and hate it? But in academia you have to be so much to the community, you have to teach and research and be involved... Like, if I was just in med, I could just say "all right, now I can just focus on the next two years of class. Then, I can just focus on the two years of"... fuck, is it residency? I don't know how med school works. Then the big decision is specializing, and getting through that training, and more residency, and then you have to start out and deal with hurdles like that but then you just... keep... working. And it feels like you get like built-in job security because we always need doctors. And if you're something special like a highly trained surgeon your job is high stress and high reward and you will always been in demand. Always. Whereas in industry... I'll be competing forever.



I've just had a really bad day, and everything sucks right now and I have one year of my degree left and I have NO IDEA what to do with my life. I know I should just concentrate on my classes and clubs and having a good final year and working hard and learning what I can from my research project. This year I was given opportunities to present which let me learn that I have some good presentation skills, even if they do need a little honing; with help, I was able to design really good, logical presentations and learned what should and shouldn't go into them and that you NEED TO MAKE GRAPH TEXT REALLY BIG and I actually had so much fun with that and felt so confident afterwards. I loved my research project. So maybe I am talented? Maybe? Maybe I'm good at writing too, even if that needs a little honing? I realized the other day when hearing that a program required 3 reference letters that I had at least 4 people I could ask who are all big fancy PhD people.

Maybe I'm doing something right after all??

I still wish lab jobs paid minimum wage, though.

-swegan

Saturday, June 11, 2016

How do I prepare for a lifetime of this

Hey, sexy, hey, honey, hey, sugar, hey, baby, hey, cutie, what's your name? On my way to my very first job interview, walking with that kind of innocence, you soil me.

You're hot, you're a nice piece of ass, good job to your boyfriend- to my boyfriend: "Good job, good on you, nice property, nice piece of ass." It feels good to win a trophy, but not to be one.

Fuck you, you dumb bitch, you dumb cunt, your comment is cancer, you're illogical irrational emotional stupid stupid stupid girl, stupid little dumb girl, you need help, you need to see someone. Feminism is cancer. This movement you have built yourself in, this community this love this group that validates your pain, that listens to you when you are hurting because people hate you for what you are, is cancer. It's a fast growing mass that ruins everything it touches, and it touches everything.

Nothing is safe for me anymore, I've suffered too. Let me in your space, this is mine too, let me in or else you're selfish and I'll hurt you. You have to include us too in every conversation you have, in every thought that floats through your head, because to do otherwise is transgressive.


And for me? This may be as bad as it gets. There are labels you plaster on them they don't get applied to me, there are facts about my body that help me stay afloat in this world I was born into. And I'm still hurting. I'm still afraid, that's what you've done, you've only ever walked in your own shoes, only ever lived in your own head, only ever existed in the world with a body you use to keep me under the water.

It feels far too exhausting to exist in this body filled with pain, designed to be pain. I feel like my sex was a curse bestowed upon me by chance and a chromosome. And to this child, I give, the gift of eternal suffering, attention from those who wish to do her harm, a body that tears itself apart, a body ripe for abuse. And I cast her into a world filled with people who will not just wish, but will, do her harm, will fail to treat her as one of their own, people who will not listen when she asks for more, people who will tell her she has enough already, people who tell her she is too much by asking for any more.

And when she and people like her, people who have been outed and made to suffer, try to build up a better world, those who hurt them will say, let us in or we will tear this apart, and they know there is little they can do to stop them.







I'm so tired of being a girl. I'm tired of wondering who the next man to catcall me is going to be. I'm tired of wondering when I'll run into the next man to talk to me like an object. I'm tired of my pain being dismissed as fake, or real but not real enough to warrant a cure, or any sympathy, or empathy. It hurts, despite the people who do listen, who do build me up and validate and listen and comfort, the people who try to help me heal. And I'm still privileged. I'm still sitting near the top. This is what it's like near the top.

I am not a victim but vile men make me out to be. They shout things at me that victimize me, and those things don't exist in a vacuum. I cannot pretend real things are fake, and their thoughts, their personalities and the world that allows them to be that way without recompense, is real. If the world is so perfect, why are some people still poison?

Nothing about the abuse of my own sex even surprises me anymore, there's no more emotion in my responses, no matter how deep the horrors. I feel as if I have read all the stories there are to be told about the things I should be afraid of.

Catcalls aren't just comments, they're ways of saying "I noticed you, I like you, and you have no way of knowing how well I handle your response, whatever it may be." There is no correct response, and it feels like a nightmare to live in a world where people just like me are victims of crimes that take advantage of the bodies they have and they receive no justice for it, only further violence by a society that refuses to believe monsters like their abusers exist in their own ranks. In that dynamic, of girl and abuser, the lesson learned is always that nobody will believe me, and the abuser gets away with it. And I'm ridiculous for being afraid of the man who harrassed me until I gave him $80 when I was walking alone in the dark on my way to school? And I'm ridiculous for being afraid of the man who said "Hey, cutie, what's your name?" To me on the way to my job interview? I'm ridiculous for being afraid of the man who pulled over in his car after he stopped for me when I was on my bike at a stop sign and I pointed at that stop sign angrily, that man who felt the need to confront me to say "I was just trying to be nice" and made me yell at him that he wasn't driving safely? I'm ridiculous for being afraid of the man who told my boyfriend, in earshot of me, from the back of a taxi cab, "Your girlfriend's hot"? No. I am not some stupid girl making up sympathy sob stories, I am a girl raised to be on her guard for the incident that sets off more abuse. I have been raised with horror stories that once you are abused, you must spend the rest of your lifetime trying to cope with the fact that you received abuse and not justice after the fact. Fuck you. You don't know the fear I live in every day for existing in public like this.

And you don't know their fear. People have been killed for being like me, but not white, but not cis, but not able bodied, but not able minded, but not what girls typically look like. I am not naive enough to think I have it the worst of all. I am not naive enough to think I am not shielded from some of the world's abuse. And I should not be thankful for that, I should be angry- how dare you treat me better than them? How dare you treat me- treat any of us- different from someone like you?



I'm not here to debate this. I'm not offering up an argument on my lived experiences. I know how they have gone, I know my own story, thank you very much. The comments on this, though I know they will likely remain empty, are not open for debate about whether or not I should be afraid, about whether or not I am smart, about how cringey this entire post is. I know it's bad art, it's clumsy poetry. I never claimed to be an artist; if you don't like what you see, you can leave.

Furthermore, this comment section is not for the issues and the plights of men. This is not your space. Your troubles and concerns are not welcome here. Do not act so entitled as to deserve that like you do with ever other female-created safe space on the internet. I have said this so many times I feel like a robot. This space is not for you. Do not be entitled. Do not be selfish. If you don't like me, if you don't like what I have to say, leave. Nobody is making you stay here.

-swegan

Sunday, May 29, 2016

I need to write about what happened, but this isn't for you

So at the end of August, my ex effectively terminated any and all positive feelings I may have had towards him. He send me the nastiest fucking email I've ever read, and the only way I can make sense of it is that he wanted me to hurt like he did (this was out of character and was why I had posted in September that I wasn't going to do this anymore). Accused me of hurting him on purpose. Referenced a whiny Alanis Morisette song. Accused me of "replacing" him (my breakup with him had exactly nothing to do with Redbeard, and that's the last I'll mention of him in this post). And I've been furious about it.

Let me be clear- the fury comes and goes. Seeing him on campus sends me into a rage, especially in the science buildings. It's like- get out, these are my buildings, I am the science one, you need to fucking leave.

The whole thing was extremely childish. He knows I never meant to hurt him, I gave him sincere apologies, and if he didn't want to believe them, there's nothing I could do. I did not owe it to him to help get over the breakup with me, that was not my job as a friend, you did not have the right to learn about the new things happening in my life in regards to relationships because I knew they would hurt you. So you went on here, read that I had found somebody new, and instead of seeing the entry where I had written that the last thing you deserved was to be hurt, you thought that my finding somebody new instantly meant I thought nothing of you. Which is the most selfish, ridiculous thing I've ever heard. That wasn't what was happening, but you had to make it alllll about you, didn't you?

I've been sitting and stewing on this a lot lately, which is how I know I'm probably going to be rid of it soon. I'm so angry that you got to hurt me and have the final word, but I wasn't about to sink to your level, and I'm still not going to. I'm mad at you, and I have every right to be. You lashed out to purposefully hurt me and did not apologize. I tried misguidedly to protect you and apologized for it many times. I am sorry I hurt you, but that wasn't my intention, but your intention with that email was absolutely to hurt me. You wanna think about that for a minute? What that says?

Like, congratulations! You decided to act like a kindergartener with the logic of "you hurt me, so instead of being the bigger person, I'm going to hurt you back." There were a MILLION better ways to burn this bridge. You could have said "I'm sorry, we can't be friends anymore, I can't do this anymore, I don't want to talk about it, don't talk to me again." That would have stung, but it would have stung less than deciding to lodge yourself, in the shape of a knife, firmly between my shoulder blades. I'm still trying to fucking heal and I hate you for that. It seems clear from the time I saw you following that other girl to the class after mine that you've moved on.You took all your pain and inability to heal and dumped it on me instead. How thoughtful of you. I wanted to grab that girl and warn her- stay away from him, you want to hear what he did to me?

Look, I'm sorry we didn't talk much. I didn't know what to say. Maybe I should have explained that to you, but you could also not have jumped to the conclusion that I hated you. I mean, what the fuck? "We don't talk much anymore. Is there a reason for that?" would have been, y'know, the adult thing to do. Like, oh my GOD, dude, what the hell??

You know what's funny? I still wonder what your mom thinks. Whether you told her this entire drawn out story and made her hate me, or whether she saw what was really going on and is disappointed in you for sinking to such a pathetic level as to attempt to hurt me for what I "did" to you. I'll never know. That makes me sad. It's not like I haven't debated sending her your email on facebook, just to see if she knew about it or not. But it's better not to. I don't want you to know that I even exist anymore.

Furthermore, I don't want to know anything else about your life. I don't want to know if you've met some other girl, I don't want to know if you're still miserable, I don't want to know if you still go to our school, if you're still getting a degree, if you're still in this city. I want you out, out, out. It's like sucking out the poison from a snake wound, even if I'm told that's what you're not supposed to do. All my memories of you are poison now, and you did that. Congratulations. You hurt another human being. Are you happy with yourself?

Are you proud of yourself now? Does this make you happy? Is this what you wanted? Is this who you wanted to be?

I've been sitting on this entry for ages. I feel like I can't rant to anyone. Writing about it privately doesn't help. I need to get this OUT, I need to be free of it. I don't want to be bothered by it anymore. I am so done. This is old news. This is annoying. This hurt has no place in my life anymore, and I am trying my very best to be at peace with it.

I know you'll never read this; I don't want you to. This isn't for you. This is just... a public declaration to the world. On this blog, I've always found it comforting that anyone could read this, even if no one did. It's the could that helps me, heals me. I'm hoping this post will allow me to let go, let all this hurt float away into the sky like a balloon until it bursts somewhere high and far away from here, and is no more. I guess posting this feels like revealing evidence. Our relationship got rough near the end, and I made some mistakes, and I'm sorry. I told you that and I meant it. I did not meant to hurt you. I guess you didn't believe me.

Honestly, I could fill this post with a million nasty thoughts. But I don't want to do that. Those thoughts are very obviously private- they're not something you air out in public. Sometimes we don't like other people, sometimes we want to hurt them because they have hurt us. But I'm trying to do what you couldn't-be the bigger person. So I'm sorry I hurt you. I hope the rest of your life is.. I dunno. OKish. Whatever. Just leave me alone.We're not friends anymore, and I'm not going to forgive you and let you back into my life. We're just done. That's it. The End, as your email was so dramatically titled. The end.

-swegan

Sunday, April 17, 2016

On Developing Habits

Since December of last year, when I was at my unhealthiest, I've been trying to develop good habits, and I feel like I have a couple in place now. At that point, I was eating a lot of junk food because "I shouldn't let anything stop me!" but I stopped once A) I lost the taste for it in the quantities I was eating it, B) I was blowing a bunch of money, and C) my clothes were honestly starting to get a little tight. I decided I wanted to reverse what was going on, so I made two decisions. First, that I would walk to and from school every day. And I actually really enjoyed it, because going for a little walk before class helped to wake me up and was some form of exercise into my day. Second, I would only buy junk food on the weekend. I made the rule this way because it didn't seem super restrictive. If I bought enough oreos to last me until Friday, I could eat oreos every day of the week. Otherwise, if I ran out of chips on Monday, I'd have to wait until next Friday (after class) to buy them. This really helped me stop wasting so much money and also allowed me to stop eating so much crap. I settled into a much healthier place, and was a lot happier for it.

For a long time now I've been meaning to work out. I feel like everyone does it in some way, even if they're really lazy about it, and that if I was to become a Normal Average Person, I should do it too. But I never really did. This semester, I started doing stairs as part of a deal with Redbeard- if he took swing dancing lessons, I would improve my cardio to go on hikes with him. For a while, we did stairs a few times a week, in the Ed building. I had actual thigh muscles and didn't get winded walking up the stairs to my apartment. It was great. Then, Redbeard started doing them at weird times when I couldn't join him. This left me with no good place to leave my stuff and no partner to do stairs with, so I just... stopped. Having a buddy really helped me stay motivated, because I could sort of piggyback on his motivation, or steal some for myself, or whatever.

I also downloaded an app this semester in which, whenever I drink water, I water a plant. It sort of guilted me into drinking water (if you don't drink enough in one day, the plant begins to whither and makes a sad face and the saddest squeaking noise ever) but also gave me a little incentive. It helped me track how much water I was drinking, and holy fuck, do I feel so much better drinking enough water (mostly it's just that before I actually had physical pain in my kidneys because I was barely drinking anything). So yeah, sometimes incentives do work. Just getting to click a button that said I had finished my water bottle again was something I wanted to do, so I'd find a way to get there.

Most recently- just yesterday, actually- I decided to harness the power of "reminders" on my phone. They annoy me and the only way to make them go away is to mark them as completed. So now, at 8 AM every morning, a reminder appears for me to spend "15 minutes doing literally any exercise at all." So far, so good- I was kind of tired today, but reasoned that if I could even just do 5 minutes, it would be better than nothing. I ended up getting in 20. I'm hoping having that reminder there will keep me more on track.


For each of these little goals, my motivation was different. When I stopped eating so much crap and started walking to school, I wanted to stop gaining weight (and possibly lose what I had gained to go back to healthy- I was only really 10 pounds heavier than where I'm comfortable at now, but it took me 4 months of doing what I did to get back down there, so it wasn't some quick-tip-fad thing) and also stop spending so much money. When I decided to do stairs, I was participating in a relationship in some way, and wanting to be a little healthier. When I started drinking more water, it was because I knew I wasn't drinking enough and was constantly dehydrated. When I started working out, I decided that some exercise was better than no exercise.


What I've found is that allllll the fitness and habit and whatever tips floating unsolicited through the internet (and by the internet, I mean tumblr) really piss me off. I hate those blogs full of skinny white girls with abs in expensive workout gear and shiny hair and 10 pounds of makeup holding a smoothie, and those same girls in big white t-shirts and little panties laughing with a salad with "messy" hair. I hate those kinds of things- they just make me feel like shit about myself. I get it- they're selling a lifestyle, and some people do find that motivating, they want to look like that... but I just resent the idea that my life isn't pretty too.

This isn't to hate on those artsy blogs with those pictures of skinny white girls with nice hair. Those girls are pretty. I'm sure many of them love their lives, and feel happy with themselves. I'm sure there's also some who hate themselves, starve themselves, restrict, work out too much, or don't eat the day before taking pictures like that.

It would be kind of nice, though, to see a pretty life portrayed as something like mine. Something like the average person. No, she doesn't have a flat stomach, but she makes sure to eat 2-3 square meals a day. No, she's not conventionally attractive, she'll never be a model or grace a magazine cover, but she's still happy. Her life still has substance. She's good at science, she likes swing dancing, she's still working on not hating herself. Her GPA is average, she has a love of dill pickle chips, she's got friends who love her, and boyfriend who does too. I know that it's hard to convey that in a visual medium, while it's so easy to snap pictures of those girls with workout clothes and big t-shirts and perfect smiles and smoothies and kale salads. That also sells, that's what makes money, because people want that.

People lust after that lifestyle. I'm as guilty as anyone. Sometimes I think, if I'd just gotten into makeup earlier, if I just hadn't been so weird as a child, if I wore the right clothes, straightened my hair just so, if I went out to parties, if my GPA was higher, if my abs were more defined, if I could climb four flights of stairs without getting a little winded, maybe I'd be happier. Maybe my life would be all happy sunshine and laughing in big white t-shirts. Maybe I could live in those pictures.

But it's not realistic. I'll never get there. I won't. I just don't think I'll ever be in a place where I care enough to put on eyeliner every day, or do something different with my hair more than twice a month. I don't think I'll ever want to go for runs in the morning. I don't think I'll ever go to a gym, honestly. I'll never be the girl full of healthy recipes and perfect ponytails. I won't. And even though that life has never been sold to me as a happy one, I'm going to make it so.

So: on developing habits. I've found that developing habits because you want to be more like the girls in the pictures, it just doesn't work. It just makes me hate myself for not having started earlier. It overwhelms me with what I think I have to do. The tips reek of shaming (which quite frankly is just my opinion). But when I develop habits because it's something I genuinely want to do for my own well-being, it works. They stick better. When I actually am focusing on taking better care of myself, when I am actually loving myself in that way, habits form, habits stick, habits WORK.

Maybe this isn't for everybody, I get that. I just want to say, it's ok if you're not developing a new habit right now. It's ok if you only develop a new one every semester, every year, whatever. It's OK to be OK with yourself right this second, and decide you want to improve something later. I know this is probably obvious to a lot of people, but maybe others are still learning like me. You don't have to change everything today unless you genuinely want to and that is perfectly fine. Work on yourself at your own pace (or don't work on yourself at all, none of my business). You'll be fine.

yer pal,
swegan

Saturday, March 5, 2016

When everyone else is friends

This keeps happening to me, and I hate it.

This semester, in terms of Being Social, is so much better. The building is still mostly the party krew- I've heard them described as "cliquey" and honestly that about sums it up. They're still nice people and all, and I've had some nice one-on-one conversations with a few of them, but together, they're a group, and they don't need anyone else. I'm still not sure how anyone gets in that group beyond knowing someone in it from high school and liking to go out and party. Dance is great, I have been getting closer with most of the team, and especially with three of the girls (two of whom are very talkative, which makes it easy). Everyone in my lab course is so nice and chatty and we're all in the same boat, which leads to people trying to arrange schedules in lab. Plus having something in common with people, no matter how small, makes it much easier for me to talk to them. I'm really good at small talk now. AND I got invited to a little potluck tonight which was mostly people I've known and befriended in my past few years at the building, and it was actually way nicer than I thought to see everyone again. I even got some advice on apartment renting this summer.

But in each case, there's always been something someone said that lets me know that other people are way closer to each other than I am with most people. "Oh, it's way softer than that blanket I got you for last christmas!" or "If you weren't here every weekend I'd probably never clean my room" or just "oh man, remember last weekend?" "Oh yeah, someone else from dance texted me to let me know!" (while I have the numbers of two people). I know people aren't trying to exclude me, they're just trying to talk to their friends about shared memories. But it really bums me out,  because I realize I don't have a connection like that with any of the people involved, just when I finally start to feel like I'm getting good at this, this is normal! Oh, wait, no, other people have the numbers of everyone on the team. Oh wait, other people are good enough friends to buy people presents. Oh wait, other people have more history with each other. Oh wait, everyone else is more outgoing than me.

It really makes me cling to the friends I have who I have some kind of history or deeper connection with. Carina is one example, along with Redbeard, and many of my friends from home. And I know these people still like me, and probably do want to be friends with me, and I know I make that really hard. I swear to god I'm trying to put myself out there but I still feel like I'm just not good at it.

Obviously I can still make friends. I realize very much that never again in my life will I be so constantly surrounded by people my own age who are also growing and eager, grasping at every opportunity we see. I realize people still want to be friends with me and include me. I don't think everyone hates me, it just seems like everyone is becoming better friends with each other.

I wish I wasn't so quiet, so much of the time. It takes me so long to finally open up to people, though I think my average time is getting shorter. And I really do appreciate everyone who takes the time and effort to stick with me and get me to talk. But I also get that sometimes I just come off as quiet and awkward and that makes it difficult for other people to deal with me sometimes because talking to people who are quiet and awkward is no fun at all (there are still people more quiet and awkward than me and I find it so difficult to talk to them), and that just really blows.


I still just wish I knew how to be normal. I wish I had played sports in high school or something. I wish I didn't second guess everything. I don't want to be like everyone else, but... I want to be like everyone else, just with my own twist on it that doesn't involve anxiety. I don't want to be the one who worries too much. I don't want to be the quiet one who can't just make interesting conversation. I don't want to be the one who never knows what to text to people, ever, at all. It feels all at once like I'm doing too much second guessing of how everyone will react to me putting myself out there more, and that I just don't know how people act. I feel like some weird kind of outsider, an imposter who can put on the mask and fake the facade and be happy and smile but inside I'm worrying. They didn't do something like that with me. No one does. Do I really have good friends? Are we just casual buddies? Will they forget me as soon as they leave? Is our entire relationship just small talk?

It would be so nice if I could turn the worry off. Like, for good. Just be myself and try my best and be nice and see how everything worked out. But I can't. Lord knows I try, every single fucking day, to turn the worry off. Maybe I'm just too open about it. Maybe other people worry this much too but they don't say anything about it because it's taboo to say? I don't know. I wish I did. I wish I was more normal than this.

yer pal,
swegan

Monday, January 4, 2016

Gratitude

I'm starting to wonder if I should start a journal for this of some sort. I'm going through a rough time right now (and it's not even me who's directly affected), and I'm thinking maybe trying to focus on all the little good things that happen even in the shittiest of times will cheer me up.

Besides that, I feel it might be wise to develop some... positive thinking habits, or something. The future might be even darker than this (and yes, it is true, it may well not be). From here on out things are going to be tricky and different and scary, at least for a little while, and I have to find some way to get through it.

Thankfully not on my own, since many of my close friends and my family know what's going on. I think I figured out that "a worry shared is a worry halved" thing- when you share a worry with someone, you don't have to pretend you're not stressed around them. Hiding stress from people is really tough. When you tell someone and they offer support, that is one less person around whom you have to pretend.

I'm also trying to take advantage of campus resources. And encouraging others to do the same. I don't know how helpful it will be but maybe just talking about it more will do some good.

Either way, I'm coming out of this. And I'm coming out of it better equipped to handle shit. This certainly won't be the last time I'll face trials and tribulations as a result of loving people. Eventually it will come to some kind of end, whether that be temporary or permanent. I know this hell can't last forever.


Sorry for the dramatics and being vague, but this isn't really my problem to talk about in public. To be clear: someone really close to me is going through a lot of shit, and I'm worried about them. A lot. But it'll be ok. Even when it feels like it won't.

yer pal,
swegan