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On Being Imperfect (and Why That's OK)

Jul. 9th, 2013 | 11:25 pm
mood: coldcold
music: Tiny Waist by Eleni Mandell

I made a little more progress on combating my perfectionism today. I'd gotten pretty good at forgiving myself in the present for the mistakes I made. The little depressions that beset me were very severely diminished... but I realized that I hadn't learned to forgive myself for mistakes in the past.

Every time I would think of something I did in the past that made me uncomfortable, made me embarrassed... I would loathe myself so completely that I would wince in the present, that I would feel this pang of anxiety and shame and desperately try to push it out of my mind. But sometimes it wouldn't go away, and I'd end up focusing on how terrible I was and how it was all my fault, blah blah blah blah.

The problem was/is that I can't seem to tolerate ambiguity in myself. In other people, I've learned how. With other people, I can certainly acknowledge the qualities that annoy or sadden me, but I can in the same breath remember the good in them, try to put myself in their shoes, and in general soften the edge. I suppose because I'm already in my own shoes, I give myself less of an excuse.

But why not? Am I not just as human as everyone else around me? Can I not forgive myself for mistakes I've made? Just because I may have done something distasteful, it doesn't mean that's my personality. I can make mistakes while still being a kind, loving person. I can fail at my endeavors without blaming myself for being a sluggish lazybones.

Just because I'm not the best, it doesn't mean I'm the worst. There are certainly shades of grey to myself and everyone. It's another artifact of that black-and-white perfectionist thinking that splits the world into good and bad, perfect and worthless. It's not true. And it's unhealthy.

This is a lesson that I have to continue to teach myself, as I encounter it. I'll probably have to spend the next few days actively monitoring my thoughts to try to head it off at the pass. But I think the most deeply ingrained patterns open up the most possibilities when they're replaced with more healthy ways of thinking.

So yes, I'm flawed. I'm incredibly flawed. Sometimes I'm selfish, sometimes I'm clingy, sometimes I'm overexcited and annoying, sometimes I'm sullen and grouchy. Sometimes I get myself into negative depressive thought spirals. But it doesn't make me a bad person, and it doesn't limit my capability to offer the people I love my support, whenever they need it.

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On Being Unique

Jul. 3rd, 2013 | 12:39 am
mood: relaxedrelaxed
music: Slide by the Goo Goo Dolls

Daily, daily, yes.

OK, so I woke up this morning (with a hangover, but I'll speak about that later) in a pretty bad mood. I felt so sour, annoyed by every driver on the road. I felt unappreciated at work, I felt... nothing else so much as disposable. Replaceable. I felt like I was an extra in the show of my own life. It was really shitty.

But on thinking about it, it makes quite a bit of sense. When I was growing up, I was The Perfectionist. At school, I received extra praise from the teachers and from my family for being the best performer there. It became the thing I was known for. As I grew up and suddenly wasn't so perfect, that rock was pulled away from beneath me. I had no real quality that I could point to and say "This is me. This is what I'm proud of." And thus I felt undistinguished, and unwanted.

Today, I wanted to hear nothing so much as this exchange:
"You don't have to keep me around, you know. Anyone else could do what I do for you."
"But, Rally, we don't want anyone else. We want you."

I wanted to feel wanted. I wanted to feel special. I wanted to be irreplaceable. I wanted to know that there was a quality of myself that other people actually valued, something that wasn't as frustratingly difficult as being perfect.

But then, I realized, you know... I probably do. I know that on my part, each and every one of my friends has their own special qualities that I cherish about them. Some of them are funny, some are kind, some are experimental, adventurous, passionate, resourceful, and each of them have these little endearing qualities that I hope they never give away. They are qualities that I find seldom repeated in others, or if so, in quite limited qualities. Each combination of talents and quirks, each unique melange of traits that make up every individual, I notice, and I enjoy them.

So why, then, should I not apply that kindness to myself?

I live in my own skin every waking moment, so it would make sense that I seem rather bland to myself. But that isn't the case with other people. How often do you tell your friends about their qualities you admire? I know on my part it's not that often. And I assume that's the case with many other people, on account of actually talking about the matters at hand and not being aimlessly lovey-dovey.

Each of us are a completely unique product of the times, our surroundings, our genetics, the people we love, the things that happen to each of us. There never has been and never will be an exact copy of you (or me). And the value that you bring to other people is enough to make you special, even if in the eyes of only a few. I'm comfortable with thinking that.

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Love, not fear.

Jul. 1st, 2013 | 01:18 am

I've been trying to shift my source of motivation recently. I realized just how much of my recent activities were borne of compulsion and fear.

Fear of being disliked, being rejected, being disowned.
Fear of being poor, being a failure, having unrealized potential.
Fear of being cast out.
Fear of losing self-control.
Fear of losing control, period.
Fear of parts of myself that I found unpleasant.

And, granted, some of those fears are valid, in certain situations. Sometimes the fear of retaliation is what it takes to keep people in line and on the right track. Sometimes the fear of failure is what it takes to push oneself. But I firmly believe that fear shouldn't be the only motivation, nor even the primary motivation. It is stressful, it's unsustainable, and it breeds nothing but neurosis.

I prefer to be motivated by love.
Love of oneself, to fuel one's ambition, self-discovery, and self-growth; to avoid needlessly punishing ourselves for our mistakes; to know when rest and self-care is important.
Love of others, to make one's work worthwhile; to serve others out of true goodwill rather than obligation; to be able to recover from the hurt we receive, intentional or unintentional, and trust again.

I know it's hokey, but I'm trying to make a strong statement here. :) In my (quite limited) experience, we have so much more motivation, and that motivation flows easier, when we are pulling ourselves TO happiness, instead of pushing ourselves away FROM unhappiness.

I'm babbling, aaaand I've got work early tomorrow, so I need to get my behind in bed like yesterday. But yeah, that's what's on my mind.

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We Now Return to Your Regularly Scheduled Ottering.

Jul. 1st, 2013 | 12:42 am
mood: chipperchipper
music: Make You Feel My Love (Bob Dylan cover) by Adele

Hello there! It's been a while again. I guess I'll try to sum up the last few months in a few words.

I've been working the same job I've had since February, which is close to making it the longest job I've worked (unfortunately). It's not a difficult job at all, but I'm getting rather tired of the changing schedules each week and the fatigue from being in the sun and carrying around heavy parts all day. It pays decent money, and I'm finally getting a decent amount of money saved up, but I still need to start looking for another job. I'd love to actually code for a living. :/

I'm still single, though I am rather okay with that for the time being. I know several people who might be interested, but I would like to practice being a functioning, self-sufficient adult first before I go making any commitments. I'm not going to be perfect, of course, and if I do end up falling for someone while I'm working on myself, it would be fine. But I'd prefer to work through some things first. ^^;

Mentally, I've been kind of all over the place. I thought for a while that I'd grown humorless and bitter with life, given the recent circumstances. But I am absolutely refusing to be so down on myself to think that I can't turn things around. I'm getting better and noticing the triggers for a bout of self-loathing, so I'm attempting to target the toxic thinking behind these reactions. It isn't easy-- replacing what are by now mental reflexes takes a deal of awareness that I don't always have. The important thing is that I'm trying.

To that end, I'm trying to start journalling daily again. The more data I can record about my day-to-day and how things make me feel, the easier I can spot a pattern in my thinking. That's the idea, anyway. I've seemed to respond better to writing entries by hand, especially when I'm caught in the throes of an emotion. I'd like to be more used to writing passages on my keyboard-- not only for my journal, but for my fiction-- so I'll try to put this on LJ from now on. It'll be easier to keep this all collected in one place instead of an armful's worth of notebooks. I'm not sure which method will be more efficient, but I'll work with things as I go.

That's the general synopsis of things, anyway. I may follow this up with another more introspective entry, as this one's pretty long.

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The Writing on the Wall

Mar. 8th, 2013 | 01:12 am
mood: determined
music: Fortunate Fool by Jack Johnson

You know, a friend of mine once told me, "You only journal when you're sad about something." I'm beginning to think he's right, ha ha.

Life's been pretty boring. I've felt this oppressive sense of stagnation that frightens me. I don't feel like I'm at the end of my race yet. I imagined a life better than this! Better than waking up to tedious shift work six days a week. Better than having to wonder whether I'll be able to stay with my parents another month without fighting over something petty. Better than losing contact with all the friends who used to energize me, simply because I'm out of money and time to spend on keeping in touch.

I was meant for better things! I was meant to move away to my own place, to learn what it's like to be truly, truly independent, to suffer the crushing loneliness at night, to have the freedom to stay out all night, to stand on my own two feet, pay my own bills, make my own friends, own my own pets, go where I want, do what I want!

To get there, I'm going to have to find a way out of the hole I've dug for myself. And that means getting into fighting shape. It means making my health (physical AND mental) a priority, to keep myself going through the tough times. It means making plans of action and sticking to them, to keep the momentum going, and to bolster my spirits. It means completely overhauling my way of living, instilling newer, better habits. It means overcoming my impetuous, id-fueled side, tempering that raw bestial passion in the service of something important! It means working through my fear of opening up to people, to be brave and vulnerable enough to ask for help when I need it, to share my thoughts with those who need to hear it, to learn to make an actual connection instead of just an acquaintance. It means working through my fear of my own negative emotions, to admit my petty feelings, my envy, my regret, my fear, in order that I can truly see them for what they are. Because right now, it's pretty clear I'm boxing shadows.

I've got to get started as soon as I can, and find a way to stick to my guns. I refuse to sit here and wait for the life I want to happen to me.

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A Sendoff.

Feb. 4th, 2013 | 01:22 am

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To-Do: Shows to Watch

Nov. 12th, 2012 | 08:09 pm

Community
30 Rock
Mad Men
Breaking Bad
Modern Family
Gravity Falls
BBC Sherlock
Parks and Recreation
The Guild Season 6
MLP:FiM Season 3

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"And You-u-u-u Take Me the Way I Am."

Nov. 1st, 2012 | 09:25 pm
location: 77021
mood: relievedwhole
music: Mírame, by Belanova

I kind of realized something about myself today, after doing a bit of reading. Kind of related to the recent thread of thought here. It isn't just that I enjoy being a rescuer when it comes relationships, but that I need to be needed.

Is it any wonder that I am so powerfully drawn to the aloof, the emotionally unavailable, those with deep-seated troubles? In my head I imagine being the crutch, the power that pulls them out of their despair, and for that (I hope) I receive the love and respect that I've always craved.

And the only reason I crave that so badly is that I was denied that sort of unconditional love and emotional validation through my childhood. I wasn't allowed to feel unsure of myself or to feel overwhelmed when it came to difficulties, especially academic ones. I always had to "get a hold of myself" and get things done, so I internalized the thought that showing weakness is always bad.

And, maybe, to compensate for the internal conflict of never showing that weakness but feeling it intensely, not to mention the added stress of berating myself internally for even feeling it in the first place, I sought out those who I perceived as weaker even than myself-- so that I could feel like the rock, the strong one, to convince myself that I really did have all my shit together.

How fucked up is that?

I am not a perfect person, or even a strong person, most of the time. I do have weakness. There are plenty of times that I feel lazy, or decadent, or just anxious, jealous, angry, another of dozens of negative emotions. And I may be vulnerable, yes. Foolish, yes. But those are my emotions, and there is not a damn thing wrong with my feeling them. Acting them out, maybe, given the circumstances, are not the smartest thing to do, but repressing them internally, telling myself that I shouldn't feel that way, does nothing but add stress and self-loathing.

And the chances are, until I can really feel 100% OK being myself and feeling the way I feel, all of the time, I'm not going to have a chance in hell of engaging with anyone on anything more than a superficial level. In fact, it's probably the source of that whole period where the sense of being "fake" was really strongly brought to the fore. If I can't respect myself for being myself, I'll very seldom have any self-esteem.

I really do need to delve a little deeper into this, but I wanted to get this down before I got to bed, for fear of forgetting it tomorrow.

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Plans

Oct. 9th, 2012 | 09:28 pm
location: 77021
mood: determined
music: Unfaithful (Instrumental) by Rihanna

Another day, another entry.

So I was thinking about what all I could do to actually make those changes I was talking about yesterday really stick, and I realized... something. Wait. What was it?

I need to weigh the pros and cons of each decision, before I make it. And I don't just mean the short term benefits, which is what I was doing before, but the long term ones.

Like, take, for example, a regular workout schedule. If I were doing the same near-sighted routine, it feels like a lot of work and time for very little instant payoff, other than the rush of endorphins and that pumped feeling.

But looking further ahead, at the cumulative benefits of the thing, a healthy heart, excellent strength and stamina, maybe even a little bit of attractive bulk... that sort of stuff doesn't come overnight. And taking that into account, it for sure outweighs the passing benefits of anything short-term I could do with that hour. You can play a game, you can eat a fabulous meal, you can smoke away a cigar, but... none of that is going to affect your life by the next week.

As much as I love my games and hobbies, they really don't do anything for me outside of the short time I play them. Spending my time on something that builds up over time... not only is it more enjoyable, because the benefits really last, but I can take more pride in my efforts. Most people can take a stroll up a gentle hill with little fanfare. Many people will applaud a climb up Everest.

So yes, in the future, I'm not just weighing present pros and cons, because that short-sightedness is what got me here. I've got to weigh as much of the future benefits as I can, as well. Planning is key.

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A Creature of Habit

Oct. 8th, 2012 | 10:05 pm
location: 77021
mood: draineddrained
music: Elementalls, by Greg Maroney

I had a great weekend! It was full of friends, fun, games, and my favorite hobbies. Even though I felt exhausted this morning waking up, I don't regret one moment of it.

But while I did enjoy the weekend greatly, the contrast between that fun and my work week is a bit depressing. I love having the money to go out and do these sorts of things; make no mistake, I really do. In fact, it makes me regret having to go back to school before I can really start on my career path and not have to worry about where the next paycheck is coming from.

I guess I'm just frustrated because, if I had done everything right, I would be out of college, owning my degree, and moving on with my life. And the fact that I'm being held behind and forced to finish it up well after all my friends are moving on just gets me angry at myself, because looking back on the situation, I could have avoided all this.

I could have avoided all this if I was outgoing enough to make friends in class and not force myself to work alone on group projects.

I could have avoided all this if I would have just gone to the classes' office hours and asked for help when I needed it.

I could have avoided all this if I had decided to put my selfish desires on hold, rather than putting off work because it was boring or there were more "fun" things to do that ended up being worth jack after the fleeting moment of pleasure.

And although I realize no amount of self-flagellation is going to change the way things were, I can't help but feel I haven't really taken any steps to address these issues and become more proactive and responsible, even though I'm suffering the consequences of my actions. That's what really gets to me. If I could just find a way to make these changes stick and not feel so deprived and dreary when I'm doing the responsible but perhaps more tedious things in lieu of the fun things, I think I'd be well on the way to making a real change.

So now, I've just got to figure out how to do that.

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