Woe to the man whose heart has not learned while young to hope, to love, and to put it’s trust in life.
– Joseph Conrad
I AM Enough by Chelsea Hellings
You cannot change what is a part of you,
Although I’ve often tried.
My body was never thin enough,
My imperfects I’d always hide.
I smiled when they said I was beautiful,
I laughed when they said I was great.
But it took a long time to believe in their wrods,
I figured lonelines was my fate.
The boys I wanted, didn’t want me.,
I was tossed, used and torn.
So many took me as a joke,
I crawled inside myself- scared and forlorn.
My self-eteem had let me down,
My belief in myself was nil.
I did not understand where I was headed,
Could not until….
I finally decided to believe in me,
I realized that I was worth so much.
This was when I could see through the storm,
When I allowed my soul to be touched.
I sometime wish for money and love,
When times get distressing and tough.
But I know that I will always love myself,
No mater what….
I AM ENOUGH!
Somehow during our playground days, certain phrases, facts and games are psychology embedded into us for life. Even as we learn to discern and dislodge children logic from real logic, it still remains deep within us.
“Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
It’s an idealist statement, and one probably fit for a utopian society but, if I’m being honest here, no matter how many times I told myself that phrase, as either a child or an adult to this day, words could never not affect me.
One ordinary late night in my apartment after work, I was sitting in the livingroom with my roommates, friends and boyfriend. Three of us were sitting on the couch and my roommates were playing video games on the floor. We were laughing and talking which was quickly becoming a daily thing in this house when, my roommate D turned around, looked at me after a point I’d made about being introverted and chimes in and says, “Sarah, you are so not introverted.” Suddenly, in just an instant, I was thrown off my guard and didn’t have any words to respond. I didn’t know how to explain how this seemingly very loud, boisterous happy-go-lucky girl they had grown to know was actually a very fragile new skin that I was still growing into. I didn’t know how to explain a flaw I thought was obvious as my pink elephant.
I may have come a long way from running from childhood bullies in tears, hating the way I looked, or mentally locking apart of myself away from people so I don’t get hurt but, a small part of that fear still remains. There are days I feel like I have to be dragged out of the house like a horse by its bit because I just can’t summon the courage to leave it. There are moments when I just feel like all I’m doing is waiting to play the martyr, just waiting for the people I care most about to hurt me. And there are times when I just want to believe the worst in people. I had this fear that there was something wrong with me for feeling this way, so I kept people away.
Being introverted for me was never about not having friends. At any given time there would always be people I considered friends. There have also been plenty of people in my life who I like well enough to call acquaintances and talk to from time to time. If I really wanted someone to talk to, I could strike up mundane small talk with a stranger while waiting for a bus. You can surround yourself with people and still be lonely. Instead, with the occasional exceptions, I chose to stay in my room and lock myself away from others. I blew people off, canceled made plans at the last second and I kept myself distant.
Not many people like admitting their inadequacies or insecurities to the world and I don’t stray too far from this particular genre. Like most people, I strive to see myself in the best of light. I fight to be strong so others don’t see me as weak. I work hard at pleasing others so I can keep peace, even at the cost of mine. By keeping myself distant, I felt like I could control what people knew about me and therein, how I could get hurt. It never worked of course. Eventually, I would find myself inconsolably upset, in tears, and back to where I originally started and every time my world grew a little smaller.
And this is how I lived for a huge chunk of my life, alone but never with more than a handful of people at any given time that I kept in contact with. And every year that group that grew smaller and smaller till I realized I had literally pushed away every person I held dear to. I am not going to lie and say that a part of me wasn’t happy to be alone. Years at a time, I found ways to find solace in my own company, to hide myself away. But it was always in small isolated moments when I would realize how lonely I actually was. Because, I didn’t want to get hurt. Because I trust people too much and too little at the same time. I want to believe in the best in people and yet it seems like I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m always waiting for people to let me down.
“Sarah, just trust me!” I was told one night by a rather frustrated manager, while I impatiently waited for the green light to go home. The sentiment might not have sent the message it was implied, I had been a little anxious to leave, but it impacted me in a different way. Three little words, just trust me. Trust? For all the optimism that I’ve been stereotyped to have ever since I could remember, I realized my trust lies very cynically. I trust people to talk behind my back, screw me over, for myself to fail and for everything to eventually fall apart. I trust the worst in people and in myself.
So I figured, if I can change the negative attitude how I feel about my body, can I change how I view about others? Can I trust other’s enough that I won’t get hurt? It’s hard, this trust thing. It’s easy to believe that as long as I keep apart of myself locked away that when the enviable happens, that the words of others won’t hurt. It’s easy to play the martyr, and I don’t want to. It’s harder to let go and put my faith in hands of others. It’s hard to have blind faith. But nothing in this life comes easy if you really want it. I can never know the character of a person, no matter the tests I set for people, if I don’t believe the best in others.
The truth is, I want to believe, I want to trust. There are a lot of things I want. It’s somewhere in the depths of that dreaded stomach pit, lie all of my fears. I want to believe that the bonds I’ve created are genuine and the feelings that I feel are returned. Some of those requests are reasonable while others are a little delusional. But everyday that I spend a little less time worrying, wondering, or over analyzing are moments when I seem to be simply just happy. Life may not be perfect and I’m okay with that. Like I learned to love my body for what it is, so will I have to learn how to come to believe the best in people. At least I hope so anyway.
So here’s to sticks and stones never breaking my bones and may let words never hurt me.
Once upon a time, there was a girl. And she was fat. She didn’t like being fat either. She thought everywhere she went people were judging her on her fatness because as life experience had taught her, they were. But this girl kept her head high, ruthlessly resilient and determined to prove to others that she was more than she appeared. For years she shouted from rooftops, preaching her differences, her ideas and ideals, believing that they made her special. The people around her would shake their heads and chuckle, sometimes even giving a small patronizing pat on the head, before shuffling along. It wasn’t that they didn’t believe her, they just never once took her seriously. She was of course, the girl with a million and one dreams. And she was lonely.
Then this girl met a boy. She had met boys before. But the boys of Before either couldn’t see past her fatness or they tried to hold her back. The boys of Before were like statues, perfectly content where they were in life, and the girl wanted more. She wanted more, much more, only she wasn’t sure how to get it. And this boy, the boy of Now, was on a similar journey. The boy of Now understood how she felt about her body. He didn’t try to fix her but never the less, he was always there to help. He didn’t just listen with interest to every one of her million inane plans or her body concerns, he selflessly jumped in with both feet to help her. And befuddling to the girl, he found her beautiful. The boy shared his life with her. And so this girl and this boy became fast friends and helped support each one another.
For a few months, this boy and this girl lived in a bubble built for two. They shut the rest of the world out of their lives and for a while, that was enough. Months passed by and suddenly, the girl became restless. Through the bubble, she began watching the world move around without her. The life of two was just no longer good enough for her, and again she began to crave something more. Part of the void inside of her had been filled but it was like watching carbonation bubbles deflate after it reaches the top of a glass. Her cup had not yet runneth over. It wasn’t enough that the girl had found someone who loved her completely, she wanted the relationships she idolized that were cultivated on television. She wanted a Kramer and a Carrie and a Lorelei and a Phoebe in her life. In her own way, this girl wanted to create her own family.
“Suddenly I realized – two people isn’t enough. You need backup. If you’re only two people, and someone drops off the edge, then you’re on your own. Two isn’t a large enough number. You need three at least.” – About A Boy
But like any illusionist would have you to believe, such things are often much harder to come by than they appear. The thing was, the girl was lucky. Like all human beings, she had the tools to accomplish anything she ever wanted but, she just didn’t know how to use them. And so she went through life constantly asking the imaginary audience, “is this your card” until this girl finally had an epiphany. The truth is, the answer has always been there, had always been there and always will be. It was a simple question really: How could you really comprehend another’s love for you when you cannot understand what it is to love about yourself. Most know what it is to unconditionally love another soul but cannot comprehend what the other see’s in return. Or at the very least, I didn’t.
And so, a little over a year ago I went on a journey to change myself. I may not have understood what I was getting into when I started it all, and my attempts certainly didn’t intentionally begin that way but never the less, it’s where my feet, and heart, ended up. I don’t have all the answer’s yet, and I doubt I ever will. There are days when I feel like I am little more than an annoyance to be tolerated by all those around me and then other days that are full of such joy that words could not even put justice too. I understand now what it’s like to completely surrender one’s will to thyself, not to a god or any one person, and to love what they see. It’s more than not feeling guilty over eating a whole box of cookies. I don’t have to love the parts of me I deem as flaws, but I do accept that, as a whole, it doesn’t make me an ugly person.
It’s a journey of just letting yourself be happy, even when the world around you is constantly trying to rain on your parade. And it’s time to move on to the next chapter, I guess. If the first stage, or chapter, is just loving yourself, then the next is letting people in. That in itself is a scary thought. There are too many fears to simply relay in an already long-ish entry. Fears that are common that almost every single person has ever had like, what if I get hurt? If I can forgive, how do you trust again? How can I communicate well to others? How can I make others understand how I feel?
And the truth is like before, I don’t know. I don’t know how this next chapter will play out but, I can make the same promise as I did when I started out last year, to just keep trying.
I long for the days as a kid, where I would eagerly waited to be big. My “bigness” was a trait I adored. I was the one my friends relied on to grab the cookies on top of the fridge and I could get to the top shelf in the hallway closet where anything from Christmas Presents to art supplies were stored. While being bigger came with it’s challenges, like not being able to play dress up with my friends or finding places to hide for a hide and seek challenge, for the most part, I enjoyed my “bigness.”
Being big meant that I was growing up, and like most kids, I couldn’t wait to be older. Being big meant that I would get more and more grown up privileges that I longed to earn. Being big meant that I could stay up later and watch TV Shows I wasn’t allowed to watch before. Being big meant that I could ride public transportation without supervision and be out on my own. Being big meant that I would have my own money to buy things like Christmas presents, or things for myself, without having to ask or explain why. Being big meant that I would someday get to travel and write my own life filled with stories and memories that I only got to hear about from all the grownups around me.
But being big also meant to me that I was unique. Until fourth grade, I was always the tallest girl in my class. But as I lost one status, I gained another kind of “bigness”, except this one was around my middle. Early on, I found ways to put positive spins on my incessantly never-ending growing body. When my mom started taking me shopping in the juniors department, I told myself that I got the cooler, more grown up, clothes. My mom helped me make sure my clothes were hip and tried her best to make me fit in. Instead, the more my waistline increased, the more socially awkward I became.
Because I couldn’t quite fit in, I found ways to tell myself I liked being different. In fact I realized by sixth grade that, if I couldn’t be exactly like my friends, then I wanted to be as different from them as I could. I wanted my own tastes, my own interests and my own quirks that made me stand out from the crowd. I wanted to be different so badly that I had placed a semi-barrier between me and everyone around me so slowly, but surely, I had distanced myself from ninety-nine percent of the people I knew. By the time I reached high school I had packed on a good two hundred pounds. I was wearing size sixteen jeans and I had grown very tired of my bigness. No one refered to me as “cute” or attractive anymore and all I saw was BIG.
My bigness had turned me into a self-conscious recluse. I didn’t like going out very often because not only was my bigness the only thing I thought people saw when they looked at me but, I felt like an elephant in a room full of mice. I was constantly going out of my way to try to make myself smaller because it felt like my bigness was constantly getting in the way of other people. “Excuse me” as my backpack and I bumped into strangers on the bus. It didn’t help that I was growing up in Los Angeles, the universe of superficial people. It was just added pressure because I didn’t know of any other socially awkward bigger girls like me.
But one of the many thoughts that have been mulling over in my mind lately is, what if big is just relative? My whole life it feels like, or the last decade or so, I’ve been the fattest girl in the room. And I felt like that’s the only thing anyone ever saw when they looked at me. Fat, fat, fat, fat quiet don’t give two cents about girl. I thought was no way a guy was flirting with me unless he was old and creepy. I was so sure at what I saw in the mirror, and while I didn’t think I was ugly, I didn’t think it was quite possible for any one guy, not even my ex, to truly find my body attractive. The only thing I thought a guy could ever love about me was my goofy personality that I worked so hard on making loveable.
When I was five, my grandpa was the biggest person I knew. Not only was he wellover six feet tall but he had the biggest, most impressive belly I had ever seen. The older I grew, he was still large, but he was no longer the giant I had imagined him out to be. It wasn’t like he had shrunk, it was more like my perspective had just readjusted. But even as a giant at five years old, I didn’t love my grandpa becauseof his size. I never saw my grandpa as ugly or unloveable or even clumsy because of his size. Just because he was big, it didn’t make me love him any less. His bigness was not the only thing I ever saw in him.
And as I grow bigger and bigger, so does my perspective. Now, at a fluctuating two hundred seventy-five pounds, I wouldn’t have called my teenage adolescent self fat back then, just clumsy. As I start to shift my perspective now though, I still see myself as a really big girl but, I don’t make myself out to be the giant I originally perceived myself to be. That’s because I’m not. And neither are most people. Like my roommate Devyn explains about how the same aura color can mean different things on different people, so does the numbers on the scale for different bodies.
I have no doubt in my mind that I am fat, and that I need to lose weight to be healthier. That isn’t the point I’m trying to argue. What I am trying to get across is that, what if we were to just readjust our perspective that fat doesn’t make you unloveable. Fat doesn’t make you unattractive. Fat isn’t the only thing people remember about you. Fat doesn’t make you clumsy or mean that you have to make excuses for your size. And here’s the hardest one I had trouble for the longest time believing… that fat is beautiful.
I’ve learned that people aren’t going to remember me anymore as that fat quiet nice girl with brown hair. Because I can literally “put my fat behind me”, I realize people see and will remember me as I am. People see me as the friendly big girl with a pretty smile who likes to laugh, who is silly and who is sort of a brat. Maybe that’s how people always saw me before, and I just didn’t want to believe it.
The weirdest thing is how most days, I don’t feel big as I actually am. Like an old man who still has a young mind, my body (or mind) seems just not to care of its actual physical size. I squeeze pass without embarrassment when I need to get by. I hold my head a little bit higher and sometimes I sway my hips just to feel my feminine curves and remind myself that I do have a waistline. While I do desperately want to lose weight to feel healthier, and yes attractive, I don’t let it stop me from just accepting who I am now. I’ve beenable to take the “weight” off my mind and stop comparing myself to other people. I am enough.
There are many universal facts that everyone knows but no one really talks about. Like we all know that there are many different types of people in the world. We all know these people not only look different, but have different, opinions, interests and tastes. And we know that these opinions, interests and tastes don’t always match up with our own. What one person may love, we can safely assume that there is probably someone not so far away who will hate what we love. We learn that even if we try to deny ourselves, or force feed people to like the same things we like and have the same opinions are ours that the independent will of a person is, inevitable. For instance, a child could find this out simply when a bully confronts them and makes that child cry for no apparent reason other than they’re different.
And so we spend our childhood and early teenage years trying to get by and fit in as best into whatever cliché niche we can. Essentially, most of just want to be liked and accepted. For some, fitting in comes more naturally than it does for others while the rest of us are constantly working or struggling at it. We try to figure out how to balance fitting in and finding our own likes and dislikes as we continue to try on different outfits of ourselves. But in the end, we learn that no matter how hard we try, not everyone will like us nor will we like everyone we meet.
At some point, there is a moment when we notice a boy, and we start to think he’s cute. We’re not sure why we find him attractive, but we do. And we start to like him. Then there’s the moment when a boy first starts to like you. You may not know why they find you attractive, but they do. Sometimes we like them back and sometimes you don’t. The first time a boy had a crush on me, I was mean to him. Not only was he not in any socially cool cliché but not even known by association like I was. He was tall, chubby and a complete dork. Just like me. So the moment he passed me a note in 7th grade English class if I would go to the Halloween dance I was help putting together, I circled no. I avoided him every chance after that I could. And when it couldn’t be avoided, I found ways to taunt him away.
In truth, he scared me. I had never had a boy like me before and yes, I was a little shallow. All around me were these ideal expectations being driven into my head about the kind of boy I should like. Because by tween standards, Eric was a loser. And maybe I should have been too, if my two closest friends hadn’t been in the “popular” group. But, I had also developed my own reputation by being acquaintances with at least a couple of people from each social group from band to a members of Student Council (a great way to get out of class I tell ya!) I never quite fit in, but I was accepted. Much like my life today.
It didn’t take me long after to fully appreciate and understand the sentiment, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” It wasn’t hard for me to admit the statement not long after I started high school. I felt bad how I treated Eric because I knew I had been unfair. My thirteen year old self had assumed that if I circled yes on that piece of paper then I was signing my life over to a boy I didn’t want to be with. My thirteen year old self didn’t understand I could be casual friends with a boy and do things like, go to dances with, without being labeled as a boyfriend/girlfriend. But then, that’s middle schooler’s for you, always in such a rush to grow up.
However I felt though, it didn’t seem to wash away the guilt. I still felt bad for how I treated the first boy to like me. I knew after I left middle school, I was going to choose a guy for what I saw in him and damn anybody’s else opinion. Some people consider this lowering my bar but,I saw it as readjusting my perspective. As long as I saw a decent human being, I was going to give every guy a chance and not care what anyone else thought. Maybe it was also a way for me rebel against the “good girl” I was cast typed as and maybe I was also growing up a little bit faster than my peers around me.
Over the years, while I had learned to love and accept other people beyond their physical appearance, I forgot to love myself. Yes, I just went there with that corny sentimental LifeTime television network phrase. But it’s true, I did. I could love a guy unconditionally for the potential I saw within him but there would always be something slightly missing. No matter how happy I told myself I was, there would always be a wedge of doubt. I found myself continually making compromises for another person’s happiness instead of my own. Which is only half unfair to say, because bringing joy into other’s life does bring me pleasure. I had just lost my voice.
My “me” had turned to a “we” and I had to learn how to insist what I wanted and I liked in guys instead of reinventing myself into the type of woman a guy would want me to be. Before, all my stories consisted of memories of “us” and most of the time when someone was referencing my name was just thrown in with his, if at all. I wanted my own identity but I felt the security in sharing one, and I felt guilty while I felt myself pull away. But, I found one. Or more like, little by little I just learned to love myself unconditionally and to let others do the same.
Because of the billions of people we share this planet with, there are many, many different types of men. And although it feels like I’ve been out with every single one of those types, I realize that I haven’t even come close to touching the tip of the ice burg. Frankly, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how many dates you’ve been on or what type of person your attracted to if you’re not honest with yourself about your own needs and let yourself be happy. Sometimes that’s hard and sometimes it hurts other people. Okay, it’s almost always hard and the medicine is what I need to keep reminding myself to swallow. But like I said in the beginning, the independent will of a person is, inevitable. I know that no matter how hard I try and fight against myself, that I will eventually lash out and free myself from any bonds I let myself get tied up in.
I know that you like to sleep, because it feels so damn good most of the time, I know! But I would sincerely appreciate it if you would stop hitting the snooze alarm on my phone and wake the hell up! I have a lot of stuff that I would like to get done today but can’t because I can’t seem to pull your lazy butt outta this comfortable bed! I would also appreciate a little bit more energy in the mornings. I’m tired of just waking up and rushing to get ready for work instead of having time to do things.
I hate that you never have the energy to go out and do anything! I hate that you always make me yawn all day long and have bags under my eyes letting everyone see how tired I am. I know I don’t always make it easy but I feel as if I can’t win. I’m tired if I don’t sleep enough and I’m tired if I do. I feel as if I’m slowly getting more energy but common already, can’t we kick it up a notch?! I all but stopped drinking soda and I want those instant results!
I am sorry for poking fun and hating you over the years, when instead I should be loving every jiggle, every dimple and every curve. I’m sorry for thinking that you weren’t good enough. You are. And now that I see that, I think we can collaborate into becoming someone great. I just hope you see this and want to jump on board too. I know that your scared that your heart will get broken again. I know that you are afraid of letting other people see you. I know that you are afraid of people not accepting you. I know you want people to love you because your you, regardless of your weight. And I know that you use that weight as a tool to stick up your double chins and proudly dare for others to love you and your weight. People do.
But here, see my hand and take it. I will walk with you and together we will face all the critics. You won’t go alone in this. We won’t go alone in this. Because believe it or not, I’m scared too. We have Chris and we are slowly letting friends and family into our lives outside this blog who care just as deeply and love you as much as I do. You will not be alone.
I just want to let you know that I’m sorry. I’m sorry for not listening. I’m sorry for ignoring you for so many years. You are beautiful, even when your hair is flying a million different directions because of frizz. Even when you cannot control it when it’s put back into a half bun. I want you to know that when I curl my hair, I curl it for you. I spend two hours of my time to show you how beautiful you are despite the weight. And the compliments you receive aren’t for me, they’re for you.
Together, we’ll do this. I’ll hold your hand on one side and Chris will be on the other. And I hope someday you will have the courage to take off your fat coat and come off to play. But there’s no hurry. No one’s dying, yet. I want us to start living but we can only do so one step at a time. And we will. And I know your trying. Everytime I pass by a mirror I start to see more and more of me in you and less of the you pretending to be me shine through. Just keep trying girl and don’t ever give up.
I love you fatso and someday there won’t ever be a need for me because you’ll have already changed. But I’ll still always be around to remind you to keep your stubborn lazy butt going.
Awaiting your reply,
Your “Thin” Alter Ego Lilly
Groggily, I stretch my arms above my head and curl my toes. I stumble out of bed and make my way to the bathroom. My pony tail has mostly fallen out from the night before and the other half of my hair is sticking straight up. I pick up my toothbrush and start brushing my teeth. About halfway through my twentieth brush stroke, a clear thought pushes its way forward. Fat American! I furrow my brow, spit and stare at myself in the mirror. Fat American!
“What’s that Sarah?” Chris asks me from the next room.
“Nothing!” I reassure him. I hadn’t realized I had spoken aloud. I rush out to the diningroom table, grab the notebook out of my purse that’s sitting on the table and thousand pens sitting next to it. I take the notebook back to the bathroom and write the ugly phrase down. I jot down my thoughts as I continue to get ready for another day at work.
This is just a typical experience for me. I have a whole page of topics I hope to someday blog about. Most of them started with similar experiences. While it may not be that uncommon for me to be inspired, when they actually make it to paper or onto this blog are. Can you imagine if every thought, every word, and every idea were to make it down to paper? I’m not saying that they would all be Pulitzer prize winners. Some would be sad, some would be happy and other’s down right silly. Like, “The bear stared at Claire at the County Fair while she was eating an eclair and demanded his share.”
But if you chronicled every thought, you (hypothetically of course, I when I say “you” I’m referring to myself) and others could begin to track patterns in your life. You could track what is making you sad or who makes you happy. You could start living your life. I’m not saying I would, or could, ever write something as memorable as “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” But hypothetically, I could. One can only speculate that if every idea or silly phrase I ever created were to be put down, that it would eventually turn me into a better writer.
There is something to be said about discretion though. Not all thoughts are my best or ones that anyone would really want to read, as I’ve already learned the hard way. I have blog articles that are half way started but not finished because I know I need to publish them in a certain order and after a certain amount of time has passed. Not because I have to, but because I know in order not to lose the small audience I have, I should gradually introduce people into my life.
Because I realize that if circumstances were reversed, if I were to read a blog about someone I knew and read details about their life that made me uncomfortable or words I didn’t agree with, the odds that I would keep reading what they wrote would not be great. I fight that battle of crossing a line and staying true to myself. So far, besides one mishap, I think I’ve done a pretty good job. There are things I want to write about, things like boys, dating and sex. All things that are tied in with being fat. Then there are the more serious issues, like writing about the sexual abuse and heart-felt apologies of wrongs I’ve done to others.
Those are issues that can wait, it doesn’t all have to be all so dark and depressing! I like to take things day-to-day. I like to write blog entries the same way my mother enjoys putting puzzle together. My mother will turn the box over and scatter all the pieces onto the table. Slowly, she methodically separates the pieces into categories. First, she sets up the outline by finding all the edge pieces. Second she sorts the pieces by color. Then she just sits and stares at the pieces. She waits with the patience of a cat, almost waiting for one to squeal on the others about where it belongs. She looks at the picture on the box and then back to the puzzle. My mom keeps doing this over and over again, till eventually she picks up a piece and places to where she hopes it belongs. Sometimes she’s wrong, places it back and tries again.
I like to think that I have that same patience when it comes to my writing. I setup the outline of where I want to go, usually tied in with the blog title. Then I sit here and think. I mull words over in my head. I type them out and then I erase them. Over and over again. It’s harder without a title for what I’m working on as the title helps me focus and stay on track to my point. It’s the closest to cognitive therapy as I get. And that’s okay. I will never get every idea I ever have from now on written down and sometimes I might toss away the ideas I do remember to keep. Because life is about quality, not quantity.
Every now and then, I play therapist with Chris. About a month ago, I demanded more than requested, “Tell me five things you like about yourself.”
It was a task I knew he wasn’t really comfortable with and didn’t know how to begin. And I knew that even as I helped him point all his wonderful qualities, that nothing I said that moment would truly stick. Because I’ve learned this, that if you can’t find qualities that you like about yourself, you will never be happy. No matter how much weight you lose, what clothes you wear or how much make up you cake on your face, if you don’t have qualities that you like about yourself, you will miss life. You will miss the sun shine on a beautiful day as your holed up in your room watching TV. You will miss opportunities to get out and bond with people. And when you’re in the company of others, you won’t truly enjoy yourself. Because what happens is that when you don’t like yourself, you both physically and emotionally wall yourself away.
I know this because I was that person, and sometimes I still am. Everytime I go home on the weekends to my mother’s house, I feel as if I’ve become Rip Van Winkle. Walking inside, I feel the calm air settle over me like pixie dust. My shoulders begin to sag and I lethargically make my way upstairs to my bedroom. I only emerge from my fortress of solitude when I’m rested but never fully rested. Sleep still lurks on the corner of my eyes and doesn’t escape until I’m about two blocks away from home, on my way to work. I can’t seem to motivate myself to do anything while I’m home. Boxes sit half packed all over my room, for my move with Devyn & Jack and a ton of little details that need to be taken care of are still left undone. I yank the curtains closed to block out the sunshine that’s trying to taunt me to come outside and curl up under the blankets all day. Even when I am over at Chris’s, I have realized that I have holed myself up. It might not happen as often or to the same drastic extent, but there have been days when I have had a long list of errands to do on a rare beautiful sunny day in Portland, and I find myself curled up on Chris’s couch playing Oblivion while Chris sleep’s the day away, simply because I didn’t feel like it.
Days like that happen because of the way I feel about myself. While days like that are happening less frequently, they still happen. I still hole myself away. I miss out on the sunshine I rather be playing in. But instead of wallowing in regret, I just remind myself that their is a tomorrow for another try. And as many tries as it takes to get it right. Maybe I am like a fly that doesn’t give up, banging into the light bulb over and over again. I may still miss out on opportunities, but because I believe in myself and because I like myself, I never doubt my capabilities of ever succeeding. And I’ve learned to just enjoy myself when I’m with others, instead of worrying about fitting in.
Like my mother is always snidely reminding me, I’m not a doctor and I didn’t go to medical school, but I do listen to my intuition. And I like to think that my intuition is sometimes as good as a doctor’s analyse. Just cheaper. I like to think that most of the time, I can read people’s emotions pretty well. Usually, because I just look at people. But just because I can usually read a person, doesn’t mean I know how to act about it. I can look at my mom, a few other friends, even a few coworkers and just know their sad. I know they’re hurting. I know that specifically, that they don’t like themselves. Most of the time I think anyone who just looks at another’s body language and uses their intuition would be able to tell too. Because it’s the little details people over look. Most of the time people are caught up in their own narcissistic problems to really care. But I do. But just because I care doesn’t mean I pry… most of the time.
If a person seems upset, distracted or bored, my first reaction is to play the clown. My first reaction is to try to find a way to put a smile on their face. My second reaction is to watch and listen. I usually have a thousand of questions to ask but I don’t, because I don’t want to come across as nosy. Instead, I think the best question to ask is just, “Are you okay?” And I leave the offer open to talk to the recipient. Sometimes, like with Chris, I am a little bit more persistent and annoying because I know he won’t come easily come and ask for help. But while I deeply want to know and I want to help, I can’t genuinely force someone to tell me what’s wrong. What I can do, is leave the offer on the table to talk. And I can hope the person I’m asking will take up the opportunity. Because a conversation is not just a dialogue. It’s not about one person being heard above more than the other. A conversation is about expressing, “I hear you.”
I’m not the girl you come to for advice, because I’m not good at giving someone answers on how to fix their problems. I’m great at listening. I’m great at understanding. But just because I understand, doesn’t mean I have the right words that a person wants to hear. It doesn’t seem to stop me from wanting to try to help. It doesn’t stop me from trying to unload a little bit of their burden unto my own. But in the end, am I a help or a hinderance? For as much as I keep wanting to inspire other’s to finding their own personal happiness, to have a little slice of my pie, I know that I can’t make anyone happy who doesn’t want to let them self be happy! I can’t make anyone to just instantly have the inspiration it takes from deep within to just let go. To let go and not care anymore about their insecurities, to dig up the strength to push yourself everyday and live in each moment. I can’t force someone to just let themself be happy.
We all have different insecurities. We all have different reasons why we hole ourselves up away from society and think it’s more fun to watch other people live theirs. We all have different regrets and different pasts. We all have different reasons to be sad. Someone I was very fond of once asked me a long time ago, why I always smile. And the answer is simple. Because I want to be happy.
Despite the impression this blog may imply, I am actually a pretty private person with most people in my life. It’s not for lack of wanting to be private, I am actually a very open person who will share any parts about my life if you ask, it’s just very rarely people bother to ask. Very few people choose to talk to everyone simply because they are genuinely friendly. I’m one of those types of people. I might not always not know the right thing to say or have some witty joke pulled out behind my back pocket but I do genuinely like talking to people.
So I’m having a hard time understanding what it is exactly is so strange to hear that I am friends with certain people? My best friend all through middle school and high school, someone I’ve known since Kindergarten, is an one-eighty from me. From our skin color, our taste in music, to our mannerisms all scream we should not be in the same social circle. But she’s someone I consider my sister and want standing as my maid of honor when I someday get married. To me, I don’t care where you came from, what you did or who you are to like you. I don’t care what music you listen to, how you wear your hair, or even if you do drugs. What I care is how you view reality. I care about how you treat others.
I’m moving into an apartment with a couple of coworkers in a few weeks. And I’m having a hard time to not be upset against several co-workers who have not only come up to me, but also the other two soon to be roommates, all with the same surprised expression, “You’re friends with Sarah?!” I know no true malice was meant by the question and if it had just been one or two people, I wouldn’t have been offended. But what about me screams that I’m not a friendly person? Apart of me did wonder, as if they expected some sort of gross retort “Oh, no I’d never be friends with her.” I mean, what reply were they expecting? Maybe more along the lines of “Yeah, we talk every now and then but I’m not sure you could say we’re friends.” I don’t know? I can’t say I’m surprised about the reactions, nor am I truely offended. I’m just a little disappointed in the people who asked. I just don’t see why it should even matter enough to even ask the question “Your friends with so and so?” The exception being of course you are good friends with all those involved and just found out that two good mutual friends of yours, were also friends. But that isn’t the exception in this case. This isn’t to say that everyone I work with weren’t genuinely happy and supportive and not surprised at all about who I was moving in with.
I know I’m the one who technically started this wild-fire by being so over the top excited and happy about moving into an apartment. There is no excuse for that. When I’m excited over something, it’s hard for me to contain it. If you come to me and tell me that you some happy news about yourself like you just got a job offer/promotion, are going on a trip to well… anywhere, or even just learned how to make a pancake, I’m genuinely happy for you. I might be slightly envious and tease you to take me with you (or ask if you’ll make me a pancake), but I do want you to be happy. And I’m sorry for wanting to receive the same reaction. I don’t publically gloat about myself very often or go advertising all the ways I enjoy finding little ways to brigthen up people’s day. My gestures are small and I try to make them anonymous. Because making other people smile makes me happy. I think I just get overlooked as this nice quiet fat girl, who yeah is friendly but not many really care to take the time to get to know. I admit to not always being a great conversationalist. I have trouble thinking on my feet and I’m usually trying to filter Sarah bluntness to political correctness. I try not to let moments like when asked by a customer where isle six is, by replying, “Next to isle seven,” happen.
Like everyone else on the planet, I can only be me. I have thoughts, ideas and words I want to articulate but don’t usually do and when I try, I usually botch them up so I smile and stay quiet most of the time. But if you peel back the wallpaper even a little bit, you’ll find a kind, a little bit weird, a little bit too talkative, silly, slightly nutty girl who wants to know you. So please don’t ever be surprised again on who I’m friends with.