Monday, July 1, 2013

"I make the same mistakes"

I never did grow up  
Feels like I never will
My friends are all adults
I'm still a teenage girl

         I've always been better on paper. by which I mean to say, I've always been able to gather my thoughts and say what I need to say by writing it down, rather than saying it out loud to someone in the moment. I guess this makes sense, you have time to think and edit, self-censor and generally make a nice, air-brushed version of yourself or events. But I try to reject these safeties of the medium, to be as honest with myself, any readers or listeners, as possible. It feels like it's the only time I get it right. As so often, in person, I feel like I get it wrong.
          I am shy. This is a difficult concept for those that know me to understand, yet anyone who has seen me in a social situation where I have to talk to new people can see it. Last month I went to my friends' baby shower and I was the only one there who didn't know anyone else except the expectant parents. I knew this would be a difficult event for me to attend. I talked to myself, prepared. The father-to-be, my friend for some years now, knew it would be awkward for me as well. I just don't do well with small talk or the unknown. As I parked the car, I literally almost had a panic attack. I started to shake a little and breathe harder. I yelled at myself for being so silly. It was just meeting people. But this is what social anxiety of the shy is. And even if you know me as the outgoing loudmouth, spouting her opinions as fact, the truth remains that deep inside I am often a ball of nerves and insecurity.
          In this way, I feel often times like a split personality. Among friends, I am me. Honest, brash, someone who thinks she is far funnier than she is, and kind. But around strangers and occasionally acquaintances, I am stand-offish, quiet, removed from the fray and always on the offensive, a bitch. Outside of my comfort zone I feel like I am in a social war of sorts, always preparing for the side-look, the critique, the misconstrued words that tell me I am not welcome here, that I don't belong. Mostly because I often feel, in those situations, that I do not.
           But the thing I have found, through a series of tough run-ins, is that it is a self-fullfilling prophecy. In my effort to seem effortless I am awkward and intense and rough around all the edges. I am the opposite of who I feel like I am. I am the opposite of the way I know my friends see me and this is beyond frustrating because I don't know how to stop it.
            The why it happens is clear. At 33 when I should have things figured out, when I attempt to hold myself up as some role model for children day in and day out, the reality is that I still have a lot of work to do. I recently had a falling out with one of my friends. And there are a lot of reasons why, but one was that she felt I was constantly criticizing her. I hate that she felt this way. I hate that what I said or how I (involuntarily) rolled my eyes made her feel less than. I work really hard to put good out in the world and it just crushes me when I think I haven't.
             This isn't the first time that I have heard people tell me they think I am judging them. And the ironic part is that I just flat out am not. I am far harder on myself than those around me. But I forget, subsumed as I am with my own shit, that they hear me critique myself or a Kardashian (not Khloe though, she is amazing)  and naturally think I must be thinking that about them as well. I struggle to not sound sarcastic at every turn and often fail to sound sincere even in my most honest moments.
            Learning to become an adult is difficult work. We are shaped by our formative experiences far more than we would like to admit, and I am no exception. I am haunted by them. The things people have said to me, the way I have been treated by those that were supposed to care about me are always in the forefront of my mind instead of tucked safely in my subconscious where they can only do harm in dreams. I take comfort in the everyday, the routine, the control of the known and, in the past, I have tried to stay there.
            In the last two years I have worked to change. I saw things in myself that I didn't like. The way I saw the world and the way I approached it was all wrong. I did the work and things got better and I think I thought that might fix other things that are, well, harder to fix. I am learning that I was wrong.
            I write to define myself. The stories that I read at shows help me hold a mirror up to myself and show me how I am living my life, mark the mis-steps, celebrate the clarifying. In the telling of stories, we remind ourselves that things are not always happening to us, but that we are active participants in the process. Sometimes I don't think I am very good participant in my own life. But now that I've written it down, I can begin to see the next place to start.

Monday, March 4, 2013

I just want you to "like" me: a deactivated account

        I haven't used my facebook account in a week (well, technically 6 days), but who's counting? Welp. I was.
         I haven't used this blog in more than 2 and a half years and didn't miss it at all in relation to my fb account. Which is admittedly, kinda sad. Or is it? I didn't miss it in the way that I thought or imagined. And really I feel like I could have stayed off for some indeterminate amount of time, but that I was ready to come back.
        I decided to deactivate on Tuesday morning after I started to feel too connected. The social networking site was suffocating me. I felt claustrophobic. I was posting too much. People were reading it too much and reading into it too much. Too many messages and comments about my musical choices on spotify. And I just needed to get some space from my own internet presence. Which is funny, because besides this dusty ol' blog and my fb account I don't really have one.
         When you google my name or image search me, nothing comes up... for pages, or at all. I have a twitter, but only so I can follow friends. I have never tweeted. I didn't even know what imgur was or how to pronounce it until a week ago when I asked a friend about his post. The rapid ascent of instagramming as networking is a little bewildering to me and I just can't keep up. So I am pretty happy to maintain with my fb account and the occasional blog post here or at my professional blog (which will go unmentioned here because I don't want that connection to be made outside of fb friends). I am painfully aware of the power (both positive and negative) of the internet and how a post can leave a lasting impression. Because of what I do, I tend to err on the side of caution, even going so far as to change my pen name on my writing when it is occasionally posted on other sites so that my professional life and personal choices do not intermingle.
            But there is a feeling of safety associated with facebook. You have a sense of control. They even have "security settings" meant to make you feel like what you say can't be used against you if that should ever happen. I never friend anyone I haven't met in person and keep a tight lid on who gets to see what posts and pictures. A friend once chastised me for sort of cursing on the site because I should be setting an example. My response. Not here I don't. I am protected. But he was probably right, everyone can see what I am posting if they want to badly enough. I guess I just don't think anyone wants to badly enough. And that is okay. I half post for friends and half post for me, fb is a journal of sorts, especially since timeline. Amiright?
          You definitely know you are off the facebook
First was the realization that facebook OWNS us. I'm not just talking images and words and thoughts. I deactivated and 99 percent of my phone contacts went unknown. I had to cull through all my text messages to figure out what number belonged to who. Even people who I know I put in manually were sent to unknown status. Who are you facebook and why do I let you control my phone? Then I was denied spotify, which is a real hardship for those who know me. I constantly listen to my playlists and friends' playlists, use it to keep my aging finger on the pulse and I couldn't use it or see my friends without reactivating my account. I did eventually start a non-linked account, however it was a lonely world without my friends' choices feeding on the side.
          Besides these annoyances though, I felt sort of free, which I think says more about me and my choices than the site itself. If people really care about what I am doing, they have my number and can text me. Otherwise, I dunno I'm just using it because I am bored. Which is okay I guess. And while part of my departure was not just because I wanted people to stop seeing me, but because I wanted to stop seeing some people, I missed the banter. Facebook feels like a family of friendship at times. A baby picture goes up or a cute video, someone links their blog or makes an interesting observation and I get to participate in a multi-way conversation (actively or passively) with those I have chosen to keep in my larger circle. And I like this idea. This was what I missed. And so I'm back, ready to be friends with Facebook (and all of you) again. I'm sure ya didn't even miss me and that is fine with me. I didn't miss you either....well maybe a little. You're just so darn interesting.