Tag Archives: confidence

battling the buts

Confidence. That dirty bastard seems to be poking his giant, mangy head into my life these days. In fact, a lack thereof has always been an issue for me for so many reasons, really. But more specifically, I remember that being a theme in my teachers’ comments on my performance: “you’d do so much better if you had more confidence,” “your biggest issue is confidence,” “have more confidence in your work!” You get the picture. As if my lack of confidence in my body, my social skills, and myself were hard enough to handle back then; now we were throwing my strong suit into the mix.

So, in high school, confidence in everything from my formulas in math class to my paint strokes or color choices in art class was an uphill battle. I thought once I graduated high school, moved away to school, and began living (loosely) on my own, that I would shake most of that off like wreckage from a construction site.

Well, as it happens, I noticed this annoying little habit I’ve developed recently: when I meet someone for the first time, I talk to someone I haven’t spoken to in a while, or basically whenever I’m in any slightly uncomfortable social situation, and the topic of my post-grad plans comes up (thus taking any level discomfort and maximizing it by, oh, 1000), I always seem to respond with some vague description of my not-so-vague goals, followed by, “but yeah, I have no idea!” As you can see, I have an issue with my buts (and my butt, for the record).

Or say someone asks what I’m studying at New Paltz. I always respond in a confident voice, “I’m majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in Visual Arts,” then wait a few seconds and sheepishly add, “but we’ll see where that takes me I guess,” as though my major/minor combination is so bizarre, or as if majoring in creative writing can be likened to majoring in friendship bracelet making.

In reality, neither one of these circumstances reflect how I really feel; I know exactly what I want to do, and therefore I have a legitimate reason as to why my major/minor combo makes sense. I hoard a lot of solid goals for the future up in my noggin. They change every day, sometimes every hour. But for right now, I’m working towards becoming an interior decorator (with my own business) and/or (eventually) a published young adult author. I figure both careers could be done from home, and neither are full time in regards to being cooped up in a stuffy cubicle with Casual Fridays. When I graduate college, I’d like to work in publishing for a few years (haven’t decided what area of publishing yet) and save up a lot of moolah and eventually get my own apartment. I’ve also started researching decorating and potential online classes I could take. While you don’t need a degree for decorating, I imagine it would probably help to have some kind of experience in decorating-related color theory.

But honestly, I’m not going to outline a long-term life plan – complete with presentation boards and WordArt, of course– every time someone asks me this question.

I’m just tried of being asked the same follow-up questions. Let me demonstrate:

“So you’re going to be an English teacher?”

“Oh, English? Like, English education?”

“Do you want to teach?”

“What grades would you teach?”

Et friggin’ cetera. I am in no way knocking teachers. One of my role models happens to be my eleventh grade English teacher, not to mention several members of my family are teachers and several of my friends at New Paltz are doing education. So obviously, no disrespect. I just don’t see why that has to be where everyone’s minds go when they hear I’m an English major. Sure, I guess it’s the most obvious? The more economically wise decision?  Okay, I’ll give you that. But then, I have to almost guiltily reply, “No…just English. I want to be a writer,” and feel as though I’ve just slaughtered an animal right before their eyes. It makes me feel like my choice is a giant “<” in the face of everyone’s expectations, especially when followed by a furrowed-brow response.

So, after two years of this hogwash, I’ve learned to put up yet another proverbial wall in my life. I find it easier to sound like some lost puppy of a soon-to-be-graduate than to have to explain that, no, I am not planning on becoming a teacher.

Either way, I need to minimize the “buts” in my life (and then maybe I can finally work on the butt). In fact, why don’t we go ahead and erase the preceding commas altogether? They serve no purpose. I need to learn a thing or two about assertion.

I bet we all could use a good detox in that department, whether the “but” is any general nay-saying Negative Nimrod or, if it’s a nagging feeling, a cloud of doubt holding you back from truly embracing all of our nooks and crannies.

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Filed under Introspection, Rants

the moment it all changed – when was that exactly?

Bear with me people, I wrote this next post right before falling asleep a few nights ago. Decided not to post it out of fear that it sounded too self-loathing. After editing it, I realize it is still self-loathing. Deal with it.

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At the risk of getting all existential right before bed, I can’t help but pose the question that’s been on my mind the last few days: When/how did I become this person I am now?

Allow me to elaborate:

In high school I was a little bit of everything. I was smart – getting A’s in all of my classes. I took calculus in 10th grade for Christ’s sake. By today’s standards, you’d think that qualified me for four years of ostracism, but despite my good grades (and my pride that came with them), people liked me. For starters, I had a best friend, the same best friend from the start of middle school all through high school (and some of college). In high school, we did everything together, and in the rare times when we weren’t there to delight in each other’s success or grieve in each other’s defeat, we told each other everything. From there, I had a small group of friends to fill my weekends with activity and adventure. And then I had what I could only refer to as “marginal” friends. Sounds harsh, but really, what I mean is that aside from my group of close-knit friends, I had various other people whom I talked to in/before/after class. I was close enough to befriend each of them on Facebook, but only a select few did I see on the weekends. It was a mutual and unspoken understanding. My weekends were booked up weeks in advance, and although this probably was not a reality, I felt popular, surrounded by love. Sure I wasn’t a cheerleader or beauty queen, but people enjoyed talking to me, laughed at my jokes, appreciated my company.

Point is, I talked to everyone. I was highly intelligent. I bore the gift of creative talents, such as painting and writing. I was a walking smorgasbord.

And if I could, I would love to pinpoint the exact moment when all of that changed. Instead of going out every weekend (and weeknight, for that matter), I’ve recently been couch-bound on the computer or in front of the television every night. When instead of getting text messages or phone calls out of the blue, I now sit by my phone pathetically awaiting hours-overdue text message responses. When my inbox remains empty, I wonder what I did wrong. Whereas I once was “popular” I am now unnoticed and paranoid.

Until recently, I was under the false impression that social interaction was supposed to get progressively more bearable as you got older. Sure, as an adult you worry about careers and money and taxes, so life itself isn’t “easier,” but in the midst of all that chaos, I thought, one needn’t worry about asinine drama and foolish text message misunderstandings. I thought high school was the time in one’s life set aside for angst and feeling left out or misunderstood. But now, as a 21 year old with a squeaky-clean social track record, I feel as though my prime has passed. This cycle is working in reverse for me.

When in the hell did this happen? When did I become a “friend” (notice the quotes), someone that people sacrifice in the name of fun? When people have to cut down the guest list, or have a choice of inviting me or someone else, why am I suddenly the person to get cut out of the equation, if I’m even lucky to be considered in the first place? Most days I feel restless, like there’s something I should be doing but can’t. I walk around a mall and instead of getting shopping fever, I mourn the loss of my former life as a somebody.

I know that college had something to do with it. We all dispersed, creating our own place in a new world. Coming back home after that is hard. But it seems as though everyone else pretty much stayed in touch, kept things as they were, minus me. I’m sure that’s partially my fault; I’m sure I left a few texts unanswered myself, a few parties ignored. But can it really all be my fault? Doubtful. It’s one thing when the aforementioned “marginals” – people whom I can easily convince myself I don’t care about – exclude me from this world, but to have some of my oldest and closest friends – people I thought I could count on – cast me aside is a feeling too painful to ignore.

I should be happy with my life, and I suppose some days I am. I have an increasingly close relationship with my family, a boyfriend who – for some crazy reason – loves me and is not afraid to show it, and I just recently found out that my internship seems to be turning out a job for me when I graduate. Then why can’t I have it all? When did everyone decide I wasn’t good enough for them?

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