Trend Watch: Hearts Worn on the Sleeve

This is something that I’ve written and rewritten several times since I rebooted this blog last month. Maybe it would’ve done better as the first post, but I didn’t have the words yet then.

I’ve always  been a really solitary person. Going to the movies, out for a meal, even going to a foreign county on my own are all things I’ve done and sometimes actually prefer to do on my own. I’m at the Regina Folk Festival this weekend and will probably spend 90% – if not 100% of it – on my own. I’m okay with this.

My frustration, however,  comes in when I hear people from different circles of acquaintances talking about what they did when they all got together the other night, or their last lunch date. I’m not the person that ever gets asks to come shopping, or for coffee or the movies. If something is going on in someone’s life, I’m the last to know. I’m just not worth people’s time to talk to.

I don’t think of myself as stand-offish; I think I’m pretty friendly and inviting. I actually try really hard to appear open and friendly. At the same time, though,  I don’t like to overstep boundaries and make people uncomfortable or feel obligated to do something.

A friend once told me that my worst flaw was not wanting to inconvenience people. I didn’t know we could classify that in the “worst flaw” category. And really, if that’s the worst thing about me, then I guess I’m pretty fucking awesome. Yet I can’t be, because I’m always the odd girl out. Even at work, I’m never invited when most of my team goes for lunch together or leaves the building for a coffee break, instead of just going to the cafeteria. While my sister might have phone numbers and text back and forth with a lot of our cousins, and have them all added as friends facebook, I’m excluded from this circle too. Family members will come to town, spend time with a lot of relatives and go home before I ever even know they they were here.

Another friend told me, in response to my mentioning how easily intimidated I am, that I, myself, am really intimidating. I’m trying to understand what she meant, with my thick glasses, comic book collection and three knitting projects on the go right now. Who gets intimidated by a nerdy, crafty, spinster cat lady who spends 95% of her time alone? But, my friend clarified, I’m a quiet person and actively work to stand out (with my fashion choices, my music/movie/literature preferences, etc). This is off-putting to new people; they don’t know what to make of me. When I complain of being outside the fray, people tell me it’s nonsense – I’m great, I’m interesting, and people like me and want to be like me. Until it’s time to plan a dinner party or road trip. All of a sudden, I’m not so great.

I don’t initiate a lot of things myself because, after years of many different people turning me down, I just don’t have it in me to take much more rejection. I’ve had so many “friends” over the years say they’re busy and can’t do something with me, only to learn that they didn’t have any plans whatsoever, and just didn’t want to do something with me, specifically. It’s a long history of not getting the respect and consideration I know I deserve.

Sometimes I think it would make things easier if I could wear a sign that said “I’m quiet and self conscious, incredibly mercurial and have chronic depression, insomnia and anxiety. Thanks to years of abuse, absentee-parenting and a host of other fucked up familial situations, inter-personal relationships are hard for me. Please don’t write me off because of this; I know I’m difficult, but I think I’m worth it”. But that would be a really big sign, and probably wouldn’t be too practical.

I’ve been reading a really popular blogger’s posts a lot lately. Some people seriously hate her and some people really like her. I am in the latter camp. Her words have been particularly meaningful and helpful to me lately in figuring out what I want (out of life, out of work, out of myself).

I very nearly quit everything I’m involved in this summer – crafting, dancing, talking to certain people – everything. It just felt so difficult to continually be Lisa Simpson. The one who pays attention, knows what she’s doing, practices and works at her various craft/art forms. Whether it’s work, a dance class, art class or something else, I get so tired of having to continually rehash the same concepts. I think, “if I know this and have been working on it, why haven’t you? If you’re obviously not interested in this, why are you here”?

The other day though, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror during belly dance class. During the day, I’m Captain Slumpy-Shoulders of the good ship No-Posture. Belly dance kicks my ass in this respect and at least one of my teachers, when it’s her turn to teach the class, corrects me several times throughout the class. “Elbows up! Shoulders back! Chin up!” She doesn’t even have to say it anymore; if she’s looking at me, I know I need to correct my posture. So looking in the mirror last week at class, my chin up, chest out, neck elongated and back straight, I really, really liked what I saw.

I was calm. I was capable. I was confident. While over half the class was in various states of “wait, what are we doing? I don’t get it… *whine*”, I was more like “we’re doing this. I know how to do it and I’m just going to keep going. I’m good”. The image of myself in that mirror – sweaty and with bad skin, but owning my movements and knowing that I was doing them correctly – has stayed with me for the past week and a bit. 20-year-old me would not know the woman in the mirror. I want to keep her around.

It wasn’t during that class that I decided to stay in dance classes, and making art and everything else I’m interested in (I still left that class frustrated at the end and drove home in tears). It was only a couple days ago that I decided that giving up on everything I love doesn’t benefit anyone. The less that people step up to the plate – as annoying as it may be to me – just leaves me more room to shine. I put 100% of myself into everything I do. I do too much, knowing full well that it’s not going to be reciprocated or even noticed or fully appreciated. I make cupcakes for everyone’s birthdays, knowing that I’m not getting any of that love back in April.

Tonight, standing alone in a crowd of hundreds of people at the Folk Fest, I realised that if I waited for someone to go with me every time I wanted to do something, I’d miss out on a lot. Seeing all these great artists tonight was better than not seeing them, even if I didn’t have anyone to turn to at the end and say “that was awesome!”

I’ve started implementing little changes suggested by the aforementioned Famous Blogger. They’re not changes that are going to instantly get me invited out to dinner, or asked what my opinion is – this dress, or that? – but they’re going to to help make me appreciate the good that I do have.

This was incredibly long, for which I don’t apologize. It’s the one of the truest things I’ve written in a long time and I’m working on honesty – with the world at large and with myself. It’s also scary though.  In my 10+ years of blogging in various forms, I’ve never had as many “in real life” people read my blog as I do this time around. People I have to interact with every day have gained more insight into my brain and – gasp! – I’m not perfect. I don’t have all, or any, of the answers. As much as I try to differentiate myself from others, I’m really just like everyone else. I could use a coffee date and a hug, probably just like you. I promise next post won’t be as long, wordy or uncomfortable.

And it will have pictures. Promise.

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