Oh, That’s Not Normal? I Guess I’ll Go… Question My Actions Now…

What is “normal” anyway? That’s a pretty subjective term, anyway. Reminds me of that joke about society urging people to be themselves, and then when they become brave enough to do so, are judged for it… because it’s not “normal”. You’re probably wondering what I’m talking (writing) about, what evoked this train of thought. Well…

I was at work, and had taken a break to talk to a co-worker (GASP! Shocking I know…) and as is per usual in human conversation, I was asked about my plans for that day after work.

Ever since I came home from Italy, I’ve been making the effort to be a better daughter/sister/friend/worker/etc. (if you recall my Selfishness post) by my standards. Part of this involves hanging out with my dear younger brother. Now, we’ve gotten closer over the years as he’s gotten older and so we would hang out (watch movies, take walks, play cards, etc.) pretty regularly. But after I began college, I wasn’t around as much to do that. And when I was home, I was often too busy to spend much time with him–especially recently as I finished finals and have begun to move closer and closer to graduation and all that entails. So basically for me being a full-time student and devoted sister-friend doesn’t always work out. But with moving home and having time off of school, I planned for things to change.

Even with my jobs, I do have a bit of free time some days. And on those more open days, I leave my free time free for my dearest, now 15-year-old (yikes) brother, for whatever he wants to do (if he wants to do anything in particular, sometimes he doesn’t, but it’s nice to have that option 🙂 ). Anyways, the particular day I was asked about my after-work plans was an open-Max-hang-out day. I related a condensed version of the above while another co-worker entered the conversation and listened. When it became clear I was finished talking I was met with a comment along the lines of “Not many 15-year-olds want to hang out with their college-age sisters.”

Now, the comment wasn’t unkind; in fact, if what communication expertise I’ve gathered from my studies were any indication, I’d say the remark was made with admiration. Like what I’m doing is just so worthwhile… yet, different.

Different_Ash

Fantastic Mr. Fox… Anyone?

I don’t remember how I responded. But I remember my internal reaction–a jumble of thoughts flew through my head at once: Why not? Why wouldn’t a younger kid want to hang out with their older sibling? Is that not something siblings do? Not at this age? Should my younger brother not want to hang out with me? Is this not considered normal? This was one of those instances where I was so used to a certain aspect of my life, I hadn’t even considered the possibility of another reality.

What if? What if my brother weren’t who I know him to be? What if we didn’t have the bond we do? Didn’t spend time together like we do? Anything aside from what I have now didn’t occur to me, and that was so grounding, gratifying. What if I didn’t have what I have now? Had something else? I don’t know how things would be different, but I know there would be pros and cons to the situation just as there are in my current sibling bond. I think you know where I’m going with this, and I think you know it’s going to be terribly clichĂ© but c’mon, I can’t not; even with all the rough patches–including a rather field-y patch at that–I wouldn’t change a thing. Because, let’s be honest, my brother nor I nor all the other individuals close in his life would not be the same if he were different.

“The crisis might be what sticks in my mind, but the in-between moments are the ones I would not have missed for the world.” –Jodi Picoult, House Rules

So yes, admiring co-worker, maybe 15-year-olds don’t typically hang out with college-age siblings. Maybe it’s not normal. But mine does. And it’s my normal. And we have a pretty smashing time. You know, most of the time…

Love your siblings. And your parents–particularly your father today, as society demands. But if you remember my Mother’s Day comment, don’t show appreciation for loved ones just on their acclaimed holiday, but everyday–explicitly and implicitly… in your own way. Happy Father’s Day (if applicable). 🙂

Also, is anyone impressed by abilities to cram the weirdest, opposing references into my posts? I think it’s my new talent…

Let’s Talk About (Write About?) Selfishness

Specifically my selfishness. How’s that for irony? As much as I’d like this to be some phenomenal self-help piece applicable to all readers, I know that’s just not possible. So like most posts, I’m selfishly using my own experiences to maybe, kind of, on the off-chance, indirectly help one or two people in addition to myself. Yep.

Lately I feel I’ve been selfish (hence the theme of the post). Beyond regular human capacity. And I don’t mean selfish in terms of greediness or only looking to benefit myself, but rather placing my needs above the needs of others so as to ensure my personal well-being/stability. While of course, caring for yourself and ascertaining your own needs are met is vital to, well, living, I think there’s a limit to just how extensively those needs should be met. And I think I’ve exceeded my limit…

In former posts I’ve mentioned my introverted tendencies/social anxiety/simultaneous people-admiration yet fear of socialization; I’m pretty open about these aspects of my personality. But that wasn’t always the case.

Acknowledging my social anxiety in particular is an act relatively new to me. I just started coming to terms with it and talking about it a few months ago. And ever since, I haven’t been able to stop. This is great! I’ve become more self-aware, self-accepting. I’ve made great progress from where I was prior to talking. But now I feel I almost use this facet of my personality as an excuse. To do things. Not do things. To justify my periodical antisocialness. While yes, social anxiety can be and at times is in fact a valid reason for certain situations, I think I may be… taking advantage of this part of me. I think, ever since I’ve begun to talk about my social anxiety and come to grips with it, I’ve gotten so comfortable with this part of my life, I treat it like I treat all constants in my life–like a… security blanket. Like I’m just a little too comfortable with this part of my identity.

Because I’m so comfortable and so easily able to justify my behaviors or decisions by my anxiety, I easily refuse to take advantage of opportunities (big and small) that hold the potential to sprout my growth socially. Because saying no and staying with what you know is so much easier than the alternative. Than trying something new. Or even not so new.

Ever since coming home for the summer, I’m finding it harder and harder to be the person everyone is expecting–the person I want to be. I want to be a daughter, sister, friend, student, employee, writer, explorer, investigator (and probably more but this list seems long enough). But I’m also introverted and socially anxious. And those bouts of reality combined with my aspirations don’t always work. It’s not impossible, no, but it is… a challenge. Or so I seem to think.

It is a challenge to be all this, all I want to be, but I think with my comfort in excuses, I’m exacerbating this challenge into something bigger. So as to simply not do all I want to do and to give up. Well, my version of giving up, which isn’t very similar to most peoples’ interpretation of the idea, but… And (in a very roundabout way) I think that’s selfish. I’m using facets of my personality and meeting the needs of those aspects to not do things. And that’s not okay.

Take_Care_Selfish

Oh good… Silver lining

I need to find a balance, a way to somehow be all that I want to be yet still care for the parts of me that need extra TLC (i.e. time alone/away from people). I just can’t get too CAREried away in the process of caring for my needs. Ha… that wasn’t funny. Sorry.

This potential balance achievement is going to be a journey–not so easily completed. Maybe not ever completed. Maybe full balance isn’t possible, but rather a trial of give-and-take that varies each day. I guess there’s one way to find out.

Alright dear reader(s) who were totally helped by my rambling bout to self-discovery: remember, take care of yourself. Meet your needs. But… don’t forget about those needs you share with others. Those need tended to too. Ha! To too. Yikes, I need a good laugh… And less ellipses.

I realize this is not my usual posting time. Don’t worry, we’ll return to regularly scheduled programming; I already had a post in mind for that but I was feeling really passionately about this topic, ergo the gift of extraneous blogging. You’re welcome! 🙂

Enjoying the Little Things

Hi Friends.

I’ve been feeling pretty down lately. Or rather emotionally all over the place, I suppose is a more accurate description. But if I had to choose one emotion to rule them all, I’d say down, or sad. I can’t pinpoint why exactly. And that, to me, is the worst part.

Of course, feeling sad or angry or nervous or really any emotion not in the content or happy families is not typically a fun time in itself (for obvious reasons). But feeling sad or angry or nervous and not knowing why so you can then work to address whatever it is causing your unpleasant feels–assuming its something within your control–evokes an additional sense of misery. At least for me. Maybe it’s a control thing… Which would explain a lot… But anyway, sadness.

I don’t like feeling sad for long periods of time (does anyone?) and for the last few weeks, this feeling has held a constant presence, and I’m not able to figure out why. I have it in my head, if I knew, I could determine why what’s making me sad is making me sad and then try to alter the causation so it maybe doesn’t make me so sad anymore. But no dice. So instead: coping. Which brings me to today’s central focus…

…enjoying the little things! I know, it sounds clichĂ©, something you see printed on a motivational poster or coffee mug. But the thing is, the saying only really seems clichĂ© because it’s spoken so often. We know the saying, but do we really listen to it? Believe it? Practice it?

I’m not going to outright make the claim acting on this mantra works–I certainly haven’t experienced a 180 turn in emotions–but it definitely helps. A warm blanket on a freezing day. A sincere “good job!” on a project you worked hard to complete and complete well. A laughing fit with a close friend. When you take the time to enjoy those seemingly minute facets of life, to momentarily release stressors and negative feelings, you move that much closer to experiencing a 180 in your emotional state. You feel lighter, happier, because whilst enjoying those “little things,” you aren’t focused on feeling sad or whatever is causing you to feel sad. The process is really pretty simple. Yet so many of us miss it…

I don’t know if any of you are going through something like this right now or have in the past and I’m not going to pretend I know exactly how you feel or that this advice is a cure-all for whatever you’re feeling right now. But I really do recommend trying to implement this, to enjoy the little things, because it really does help. Albeit slowly and not permanently. But happiness and relief–even for a moment–are still happiness and relief. They’re still valid. Still better than none at all.

And if you’re not going to listen to my sad, rambling, blogging self, at least read and believe/practice/ignore this beloved and at this moment incredibly relevant Harry Potter quote:

Harry_Potter

Always

So wise, Dumbledore. So. Wise.

Have a… week. Of the relatively okayish and even happy sort, if you can.

 

 

It’s Happening

That moment supposedly every college kid endures while in school, in which they question their career ambitions, the meaning of life, whether 2 and 2 really equates to 4, etc. Call it what you will–a breakdown, an identity crisis, a mid-life crisis (a few decades early)–but after remaining confident in the belief I was set to breeze through college knowing exactly what I wanted to do, I have begun to experience my breakdown/identity crisis/mid-life crisis. A few years too late.

I’m going to pause right here to integrate some perspective before continuing. I realize this is going to seem over-dramatic, unimportant in the grand scheme of things–considering all that’s going in the world right now (though when is there not something going on?)–but as made clear in a former post (Connotations of The FUTURE), uncertainty begs discomfort. And I don’t like discomfort. It makes me uncomfortable.

That wasn’t funny.

I have a lot of feelings on this right now and I feel the need to work out my seemingly unimportant crisis so that I may become less uncertain and thus less uncomfortable and if that means writing it out on my public blog for all to see, then so be it. Oh my word I’m rather defensive today, I am so sorry… uh… back to the post!

Feelings

Always.

So. I’m going through a minor crisis of the identity sort (if you hadn’t gathered) right now. Have been for awhile, but it hadn’t really come to head until a couple weeks ago while I was writing an article for work.

My school prides itself on sending students off campus to get “real life” and “outworldly” experiences (which actually is pretty ironic–that’s like saying, “Our academic institution offers students top-notch experiences…By sending them as far away from campus as possible.” Rather, my university connects its students with these opportunities. But anyway.), and the central focus of my story was on a fellow student participating in one of these “real life” experiences. My university is partnered with a non-profit organization and program that integrates students into city-living in the hustle and bustle of Chicago, as this a place known for its diverse communities and need for assistance. The idea is a student aspiring to work with this sort of group lives in the same type of environment as said group. Thus, the student gains perspective, an improved insight into what their “clients” experience on the daily. As a sucker for both non-profits and the observation of daily lives (that aren’t like mine), I became pretty smitten with the idea of taking on an experience like this. What better way to learn to serve people than to live their life? In the non-creepy sort…

I’m going to backtrack for a moment (ah, digression): depending on how familiar you are with my blog, you may or may not know of my English/communication studies double major status and my aspiration to write. I want to be a writer–perhaps in journalism though not so sure about the traditional newspaper sort. And what I’ve been told about aspiring writers in college is to plow forward and study English or communication or journalism (something writing-based), but pair it with a subject about which you’re passionate, about which you’d like to write upon achieving your professional writer status. So, say, if you wanted to write and specialize and in money-related topics you could major in English and finance. Or something.

Coming into college, I learned about this study-writing-and-subject-of-interest rule early on. But I didn’t know what the subject of interest was for me. I have a lot of opinions on various things in life, but not enough passion to dedicate my writing career to a particular field. So instead I paired English with communication. Essentially two writing majors. So I guess I’m the most bestest all-knowing writer of all time! (You caught that, right?) And simply don’t have an area of focus.

Which brings me back to the city-living partnership with my university. Up until that point, I’ve noted my passion for helping others and likeness for non-profits, but didn’t know how to merge that with journalism-esque writing. This experience seemed like a good place to start and gave a name to the subject with which I’d like to pair my writing skills: sociology. I’d like to write about people and they way they work, they way they live. Actually, I’d love to do it… I think. So where’s the crisis?

Remember near the beginning of this post I talked about experiencing my crisis a few years too late. Yeah… timing is not my friend here. I’m a year away from graduating (and on time, I might add, so maybe timing can be a friend), and switching up my area of focus now would, essentially, “throw a wrench” in that plan. I’m not such a tightly-wound ISFJ that I’m opposed to altering my college/career plans (I have too many P’s in my life anymore to be such a big planner), but I am a year away from finishing a degree for which I’ve worked really hard. I mean that. Full semesters. Multiple internships. Volunteer/leadership/”outworldly” experiences (though not in Chicago). It would seem so… undermining to the work I’ve put in for the past few years. Like it didn’t really matter, that these experiences that I have undergone (even if not Chicago–sorry, like I said: smitten with the idea), that have shaped the person I am today, both good and bad, don’t matter. And they do. I am certainly not unhappy with where I am headed career-wise. I’m not displeased with my decisions. Yet I still wish I had uncovered my interests sooner. I know I have had plenty sociology-esque, groundbreaking experiences (though on a smaller scale) without active pursuance of a sociology degree, but I’m going to wonder what could have been had I traveled down that path.

Alright, so maybe I’m not really having a crisis. Maybe this writing process really did help me sort out my “lot of feelings.” I am, however, a little disgruntled now. I know, grand scheme of things, don’t linger on what ifs–I got it. Just let me have my feelings.

How Do You Define Busy?

Apparently my idea of busy does not align with that of others… Depending on who you ask.

I mean, a full course-load (16-18 hours), two jobs, volunteering, a few extra curricular activities/committees, among regular student/sister/daughter/roommate/friend duties–that’s not that much, right?

Yeah… Like I said  (wrote)… Depends on who you ask.

If you were to ask my pre-college self what I thought about my current schedule, I would have been astounded–at my gumption to do so much in the first place and my ability to pleasantly function despite my lifestyle. Three years later, however, and I’ve just found this to simply be my life. I don’t really consider it busy even when others tell me so.

Don’t get me wrong, I recognize that my life is rather hectic (as a side effect of college), but my busyness has become such a constant facet over the years, I’m just used to it and thus unbothered. But do you know what’s really sad? I seem really busy (I’ve been told), but I can think of dozens of fellow students at my school who are significantly more busy than I. Enough that they forego sleep or eating decent meals or other basic life necessities to get all they need done. Granted, they have different priorities and ambitions than I which alters time management and layout of the day, but still… Clearly something is not right in our college system. Or maybe entering your 20’s sparks some sort of hidden ambition gene all humans share… I don’t know, I just find it suspicious.

Even so, I like being busy. To an extent. Not so busy that I feel like I’m about to cry from commitment overload, but enough that I don’t feel like I’m wasting my life away doing nothing (relatively speaking). As a professor of mine says, “I don’t want to feel overwhelmed or underwhelmed–just whelmed.” Whelmed is not an official word (in this context), but I like it and completely identify with the sentiment so I’ll allow it. My whelmed just seems to be everybody’s overwhelmed… Or underwhelmed in some cases. Like most things in life, it’s subjective… Sigh.

What do YOU consider busy or too busy? Do you like being busy or more underwhelmed? Why or why not? Maybe everyone can get some nifty life advice here…

Have a perfectly whelming week! 🙂

UPDATE: I Went on an Adventure!

And I’m back now. And clearly fairly okay if I’m writing this…

I wish I had some sort of surprise ending for you with how everything turned out, but with as many stories that exist, there are just as many endings, and of those, rather well-known endings, so the ability to actually surprise you with my follow-up is pretty non-existent. Unless you don’t possess the talent of easily predicting things much like myself, in which case, prepare to be surprised…or “surprised” (if you already know where this is going).

In my last post, I expressed my mass anxiety in anticipation of the aforementioned adventure (a retreat on diversity and leadership) as well as my lack of confidence in believing I was an ideal candidate for such an opportunity. I experienced these feelings while writing the post and the in the days that followed all leading up to the retreat. And then those feelings became heightened at the beginning of the trip and began to feel fairly justified during the first few hours. I knew next to nobody. I didn’t feel like the right type of person for this sort of experience. I didn’t know what to expect. Ultimately, I felt way out of my element, and thus feared the next couple of days would be absolutely miserable for my mental health.

And then something changed…

I can’t pinpoint an exact moment when my anxiety melted away, when my nervousness was replaced by near giddiness, but early sometime after our workshop began would be a fair assumption. During this time, focus shifted onto the central issues of the retreat–the primary reasons my fellow students and I were in attendance; our objective is to promote both a diverse and an all-welcoming and inclusive environment for students on campus. Priorities transitioned to others and  their needs, and because of that, I wasn’t so worried about myself and sense of comfort or lack thereof. Everyone at this retreat was brought together by a common interest–one about which we are all passionate. From that, connections were formed and vast progress in planning for the future dynamic of our campus was made. *happy sigh* It really was just a great time. 🙂

The only complaints I have are the lack of recharge time for my introverted self (seriously, I was around people for 36 hours straight with no privacy–how I’m still pleasant and functioning I don’t know) and with that, lack of sleep. College students, when banded together, do not seem to like to sleep…

Overall, my adventure did not begin with excitement like that of Bilbo Baggins, but I can say it ended with utter happiness similar to Annie’s and Hallie’s when they found out they were twins. (I know the reference seems kind of random; I was aiming for an adventure/camp vibe here. It works, right?) Very much a success!

The_Parent_Trap

Aww! Does that just emanate connections and inclusiveness or what?

…But I shall still no-doubt be overcome with unreasonable amounts of dread and anxiety come my next big adventure! Oh, anxiety, whatever would I do without you?

Where Do You Get Your Morals?

This is what I was asked the other night (more or less–though the question may have been worded differently), because apparently I have a pretty well-established moral compass, considering my current life circumstance (i.e. college). As providing improvised yet thoughtful answers to deep questions and, well, talking, are not my strong suits, I gave a pretty haphazard response about my personality and relating that to inner-motivation and people-pleasing–major ISFJ traits. None of what I said was inaccurate, but I wasn’t really satisfied with my answer. So I’m going to attempt to work out a more elaborate response here.

In all honesty, I’ve never explicitly thought about the origins of my morals. In that respect, I don’t think; just act. I don’t recommend adhering to that life advice in any other situation, but when it comes to following my moral compass, that mindset seems to work for me.

I’m going to reference back to my Myers-Briggs personality to try and exemplify what I’m saying. ISFJs are easily motivated people; we function with a work-first-and-play-later mindset and are motivated by the sense of accomplishment that arrives after completing a task (more on that here). That is simply how our minds are set up. So whenever a fellow student or parent or teacher compliments me on my work ethic, my immediate response is Why wouldn’t you strive to finish your work right away? I don’t make the extra effort to be productive or finish assigned tasks. I don’t think; just act.

In all honesty, I don’t know from where I’m drawing my morals. At this point, what I believe to be right and wrong has been so thoroughly established and followed in my mind, that attempting to stray from that isn’t a possibility to me, as though I was “made” to act a certain way.

With this being said, I don’t actually think everyone is born programmed to follow certain morals alone. But I do think everyone is born with traits that are likely to adhere to particular morals and that those morals can be shaped early in life. At the risk of entering the nature vs. nurture debate, I’d say both our environment and personality partake in forming our sense of right and wrong. As I believe the bulk of this shaping happens early on (though morals are subject to change throughout life), the environment involved in this process would have to be family (parents), some form of early education, and any other group constantly present in your young life.

So naturally, I’d have to conclude my morals were primarily formed as a result of parental and educational influence, which have in turn interacted with my personality and created the moralistic mindset I now follow. I can’t cite a specific lesson or life event that took place in my early years that solidified any of my morals–which frustrates me to no end, mind you; perks of practically non-existent memory–but the above is what I believe is likely what happens to us regarding morality formation.

Now I’m interested: Where do YOU think our morals originate from, dear reader? Family? School? Faith? Something else entirely? I’m curious to learn about other perspectives on this–hopefully yours is a lot simpler than mine…

Have a wonderful week! Keep on following your compass.