Get Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

Someone once told me that writing is good therapy… That person may or may not have been my therapist, but when did I ever listen to them? That is a different story (although not entirely). So here we are, at the start of something new. Thanks for joining me on my inaugural weekly ramble!

How new are we talking here?

Well, to be frank, as new as my favorite pair of jeans that have faded and now bear holes in their tired age. But older. When I was just learning how to write as a child, I would jot down thoughts that I thought other people would enjoy reading… or at least I would enjoy re-reading. When I was in middle school I felt destined to be a dedicated vlogger and potentially become “YouTube Famous.” I was just missing the dedicated part. High school? Welcome Tumblr – insert angsty rants and a cluttering of memes representing hours of procrastination and early existential dread. I even eighth-assed my way through attempts at a fitness and health blog, a “shit I do when nobody is watching” online journal, and other capricious sparks of mindful (less?) infatuation.

Enter college – commence my cross-country move, little fish in a big pond independence, new experiences, and last but definitely not least (yuck, cliché), a newfound psychiatric hell, depression, amongst the stress of a rigorous college and the perceived pressure to have everything figured out. My struggles have been no secret to those close to me and over the years I have been open to sharing my experiences to connect with others in comfort and inspiration. Over this time, isolating myself in my room for hours on end gave me a lot of time to contemplate how I could express my experiences – both the good, the bad, the ugly, and hopefully the funny – in a manner that could be appreciated by many (not to mention, of course, the constant contemplation of the meaning of life). And yes, I did begin therapy; yes, many recommended that I journal my reflections, and no, I did not. Therapy didn’t seem to help (I wonder why?). It was an hour a week that I rambled about random nonsense to someone who occasionally listened and rarely provided me advice or tools to conquer my life-controlling barriers. What I received instead was a lot of procedural validation and the occasional “homework” that I just added to the ever-growing pile of my actual work that was inaccessible through my veil of apathy. Of course, this expanding monster I created and fed myself only made it harder to tackle tasks, the least of which seemed to be writing, just to write. Writing was not therapeutic. It was stress-inducing junk food for my internal enemy to grow unhealthier… and somehow stronger.

So, what stopped me from writing all of these years? Sure, I can’t deny that depression played a huge part in my literary darkness, but I had been trying to engage with this expressive world long before I lost my ability to express myself (don’t worry, that isn’t a euphemism for its death, it was simply misplaced under the mind’s equivalent to a grungy pile of crinkled clothes and old pizza boxes in the house of a workaholic that has finally burnt out and is now taking a hiatus to crash for an undetermined amount of time). And also, it turns out, this was even bigger than my lack of dedication and persistence to this art. I did not have a shortage of ideas – that was for sure. With my education it wasn’t as if I was at a want for vocabulary and sentence structure, either. I had all the platforms available to me – thank God for google! Heck, I even started this blog page years ago, design and all. So why couldn’t I, as some of my academic mentors would (read: did) say, “just fucking write!”?

It came down to one “P” word. No, it wasn’t lazy Procrastination, as many such as myself assumed. And sadly, the word isn’t Penis, which would probably make for a much more entertaining story. It was Perfectionism.

perfectionism

Perfectionism has been my trusty sidekick for as long as I can remember. Spelling? Hated it when I was a kid. I am talking throw-the-thick-book-across-the-room-and-shriek-bloody-murder-when-you-miss-two-words-out-of-twenty type of loathe. Yet, I was often praised for my high level of achievement, attention to detail, and “perfect” progress. Perfectionism helped me focus on massive projects through late hours in the night. She was there for me with every homework assignment, quiz, and exam. She pulled me through exhausting homecoming and prom weeks. Perfectionism probably applauded with pride when I graduated in the top ten of my class, countless scholarships under my belt, and on my way to an Ivy League institution. I definitely smirked right back.

She doesn’t seem like such a bad friend to keep around, right? Well, what was hidden in the shadow of my accomplishments, was the way Perfectionism abused me. I despised anything that I wasn’t immediately good at until eventually I became too anxious to try new things. I never wanted to appear weak, even at the gym where the whole point is for you to grow and become stronger. You could ask my mom about my frequency of yelling tantrums in frustration at something being “not right” – even through high school. I was terrified of being judged for my shortcomings – not noticing that I was almost always the only critic. I’d practically be lying if I said I didn’t abuse her, too. I was consistently cracked-out on my high stress (stress high?). I was chained up, locked in a box with weights stacked atop, in the darkest corner of the basement – reminiscent of when my older siblings would roll me in a blanket burrito, tie jump ropes around me, and leave me to Houdini my way out.

Sometimes I escaped. Sometimes I didn’t. And sometimes Perfectionism led me astray until I was dropped from my university for my lack of products reaching the grading desk. My trusty sidekick became my betraying villain. She and I had become one, but we were failing. We were incompatible. Instead of Perfectionism being the spark to light my nice-smelling candle that provided light, warmth, and comfort, she became the flammable substance that lit the fuse to my own personal unexpected firework show – a bright experience, dangerous, loud, lived fast and out of control, and ultimately leaving me in smoky darkness awaiting the next year’s grand performance – if there would even be one. Eventually, something reached me in this obscure dim place of confusion, and just like when the bad guy removes his mask in front of the shocked heroine in one of those classic cinema moments, I saw Perfectionism for who she truly was. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t that distinct – that just sounded cool. The honest side is it was a long murky road to realization. The end decision was still the same, though:

Perfectionism is a bitch.

What to do now? Well, fuck bitches, get money #FBGM. It was time to learn to disregard the minutia-turned-Godzilla parts of Perfectionism and value the things I have learned and achieved because of her. Of course, just like fucking bitches and getting money isn’t always easy, the untangling process of the parts of myself that had been infiltrated by Perfectionism has been and will continue to be a challenging lifelong process. I have been wounded and weak from Perfectionism dropping me on my ass – exactly what I thought she would protect me from. The healing process of this injury has been exhausting. There are days when I don’t want to go to my equivalent of physical therapy, even if I know it is for the better. And you know damn well that I have the occasional short fuse with my “trainers” and beg for a pill that will make all the pain go away. Unfortunately, as we learn in nursing school, that would only be treating the symptoms and not the disease. It wouldn’t fix the problem. It would neglect and potentially exacerbate my hardships in the future. So here I am, slowly converting to some ambiguous form of a type B person. Growth has been so painful. It has been uncomfortable beyond my wildest imagination. But it has been worth it.

Okay, ramble, ramble, I get it… So why are you writing now?

Perfectionism has held me back from my biggest dreams and ambitions. Although ranting once a week on the internet isn’t one of my life goals, it is something that I have never done because of her. Normally, writing goes a little like this:

*type, type, type* *backspace, backspace, backspace* *type type* *backspace* *type, type, type, type, type* *read* *hold backspace* *sigh* *type, type, type* *feel unhappy with product* *never post*

               Repeat as necessary.

Now, I am standing up to her. So what, a blog may not be as important as those papers that remain unwritten that kicked me out of school, but that is exactly the point. Perfectionism would gasp at the vulnerability that will be shown. The raw product that can be tied to my name. Perfectionism would tell me that it has to be all or nothing. She would say that despite even Olympians having to start somewhere, doctors fighting through years of school and residencies, and the numerous failures before a success, I should be able to spring up from my injury and present the best product as if my life depended on it. Perfectionism can be so irrational. Of course you can’t run a marathon after many sleepless nights, with an injury, or without training on the lower mileages. Hell, you don’t even like running at all! Life isn’t a 0 or a 26.2. Sure, you can go zero to a hundred real quick, real fuckin’ quick. But you cannot go 0 to a 100 without 1-99. Sorry, Drake, we can’t all be Trump’s children, although I am sure he probably tried.

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So, in conclusion (remember whenever you learned this phrase and felt like a genius when you used this in a paper even if everything else was total BS?), welcome to my hot-mess of a blog. If you’re here to observe perfect grammar, read coherent thoughts, and avoid tangents … bye, Felicia. Also, if you’re Type A enough to require posts being at least vaguely in the same topic as one another, sorry not sorry. If you’ve made it this far into my debut ramble, congratulations! I would love to have you along for all my adventures. The only thing you can expect from me are new posts every Sunday. I even give you permission to be my accountability and tell me to “just fucking write!” because, that’s exactly what this is: me just fucking writing (finally).

 

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