Introspection and Inspiration

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“The healing of the spirit has not been completed until openness to challenge becomes a way of life.”
― M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth

I have to be constantly introspective in order to write.

I think that’s normal. But that’s what my problem was in the year 2016. I just didn’t want to be introspective. It’s hard work. And I spent a few years doing it and then for whatever reason I just didn’t want to last year. It’s not a good thing. Every time something would come up I would scrounge for something sweet, or watch tv, or play a game. And I would ignore whatever it was that really required some introspection on my part. I would ignore the feelings.That’s what I’ve been doing all year long, trying really hard to ignore the feelings. Again.

I have a lot of practice doing that.

That’s why I couldn’t write. I just didn’t want to deal. I have to get back to it. I think I’m ready now. And as upsetting as it’s been that I’ve gone so long without doing it, I’m starting to realize that it is ok. It’s not ok to spend your whole life refusing to look inward and deal with yourself, but it is ok to stop for a while and not do that. It’s ok to not want to always be thinking so hard, just as long as you don’t stay there forever. Staying forever is very bad. Staying is what makes the person who never changes and never grows.

It was an extremely difficult year and I was sick a lot. I didn’t have the mental energy to be introspective enough to write every day or every week or even once a month.

I’m ready though. I’m ready to move on and start really dealing with things again. I think it’s ok I took a break for a while, even though it was a pretty long break. There are some unfortunate consequences to having taken such a long break, and I’m certainly not pleased with some of the things I allowed to happen during this time. But I am human, and I can deal with those consequences. I honestly do feel better prepared to tackle things now so maybe this unintentional break was meant to be.

I have a lot of work to do this year and I’m ready for it. I have goals. A lot of really big goals. And for the first time I’m excited about that. I’ve never really set goals for myself before. I think I was always afraid to set goals. It’s weird. I spent a lot of my childhood and young adulthood just surviving. Just getting through another day aiming to simply keep the peace as much as a young girl is able to. Just hoping that I would wake up to another day of my parents ignoring each other, as that was preferable to them yelling at each other.  Hashtag goals is my motto for the year though. Because I don’t want to just get through another day anymore. All of the goals will be met this year. Just watch me.

I’ve never considered myself a perfectionist for some reason. But as I’ve done a bit of reading, I’ve realized that maybe that is what I’ve always been. I never attempt to try things unless I already know I’m going to do it well and succeed. And I have a rather debilitating fear of failure. I think that’s exactly what perfectionism is. If feels like a personality flaw to me but I am sure there are ways to change that.

I was planning on attending an event recently, the Women’s March on Washington, and I began to get severe anxiety over it starting a week or two ago. So as part of my plan this year to focus on my health, which includes mental, emotional, and spiritual as well as physical, I decided not to go. It was partly because I could not articulate what my reason was for going. I’ve attended marches in DC before, and because I no longer believe in the cause I was marching for at the time, I didn’t want to attend a new march without having some conviction about it.

I am happy to say that I know many women, both friends and family, who were willing and able to march and I am thankful for their participation in something that is a hallmark of the freedom we have in this country. My hope is to better be able to understand what the true goal of the march was and begin to contribute in my own way to the political scene of my local government over the coming years.

I studied political science in school and I notice myself easily forgetting how much I do enjoy it. Politics are emotionally charged and many issues in politics are so charged between the two sides of the aisle that getting involved in discussions is triggering for me. Especially when those discussions happen on social media. I’ve had to click the ‘hide post’ button probably hundreds of times on facebook over the past few months, and I will continue to do so, for my own sanity. For me personally, getting involved in political discussions on social media is a very bad idea. Maybe one day I’ll be able to handle it better, but discussing things that I have very strong personal convictions about with strangers on the internet who believe the complete opposite is not serving myself and my mental and emotional state well.

Practicing self-awareness and self-care is a huge part of being introspective. And is also something that I have very much neglected over the past year.

I, thankfully, haven’t battled with depression in quite a while. But I have been complacent, content with mediocrity, and mostly unwilling to be uncomfortable. And it’s time for that to change. The things that are most worth having are the things that take the most hard work and dedication and yes, a willingness to be uncomfortable with what you’ve been doing.

My uncle asked me to read a book a while back, and while it was excellent, I wasn’t ready to tackle the subject matter and apply it to my own life. One of my favorite quotes from Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled, “Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.”, stabs me right in the heart every time I read it. As painful as it is to admit it, that’s exactly what has been going on with me. I haven’t been doing anything with my time.

Much of the book, The Road Less Traveled, is about discipline. And I have a complicated relationship with that word. Where I came from, discipline meant spanking toddlers for not taking naps, and public declarations of wrongdoing in front of church congregations (a practice I still find extremely bizarre), and standing in a line waiting to be spanked while having to listen to my siblings scream in pain from their own beatings, and listening to parents brag about the bruises they left or how they won out over the stubborn spirit of their child. Hearing the word discipline makes me cringe.

The rod of discipline. Telling everyone your sins. Guilt over not reading my bible or praying well enough or often enough. Feeling responsible for my siblings getting spanked. These are all the things I associate with discipline. When I first listened to The Road Less Traveled, I cried. A lot. I knew everything the author was saying was true, and yet I also knew how horrible “discipline” had been in my life. I somehow have to change what discipline means to me in my life. In order for my to have it myself, it has to be something different.

I greatly admire and am inspired by my sister and sister-in-law. I have seen discipline play out in a positive way in their lives and I need to get there somehow. My sister is raising her son on her own while attending medical school and successfully preparing to become a doctor. As if raising a child, and doing it alone, wasn’t hard enough, she decided to throw ‘become a doctor’ into the mix. That takes some serious grit and dedication. I don’t know how she does it, but I am truly inspired by her perseverance even in the face of so much hardship.

I’m inspired by my sister-in-law as well but in a very different way. She has put so much hard work into relationships. Her marriage with my brother and a lot of other familial relationships have come upon some serious bumps (more like mountains) in the road and I’ve watched as she didn’t just sit by and let things fall apart but truly put all of her effort into repairing and growing and changing. It’s an awesome thing to witness. Working on relationships is harder to come by for me and I only hope I can do it as well as she has so far. That is a goal for me this year as well.

I’m Here

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I have not been finding my voice this past year.

I’ll maybe get into things in more detail in the future but suffice it to say it’s been a long, rough year. I moved twice, once from a horrible, mold-ridden apartment into an only somewhat less horrible second apartment in the same complex, and then moved in with my brother and sister-in-law, which was a huge relief and blessing in disguise for everyone. I’ve been very sick because of the mold exposure and sugar addiction problems and just plain eating very poorly and not taking time to care for myself and my body.

It’s time for some really big changes. And I’m not just saying that because it’s a new year. I’ve been thinking about needing to make some really big changes since my 30th birthday in September, and really for most of 2016. I just didn’t know where to start. I don’t want to live a life where I feel like I’m just getting by or just barely doing what I need to do to survive life.

I haven’t written anything at all since I think April of 2016. It’s bad. I love writing so much and haven’t even attempted to tackle it for a long time because I’ve been afraid or something. My depression has honestly been good, almost non-existent. But my anxiety has been worse then ever. I do believe my antidepressent may actually be causing increasing anxiety and I have to tackle it head on. No more avoiding because it is definitely making my mental health much worse.

Every time I’ve thought about sitting down to write again, the dark shadow would come along and choke me, and I couldn’t do it. I’m not sure why it got so bad. Usually writing is what keeps me sane and able to manage things. But I haven’t even written anything in private just for myself either. It makes me sad. And angry. And disappointed in myself, yet again, for failing to stick with something, yet again.

Life is so fucking hard sometimes. I want kids, I don’t want kids. I want to travel, I’m afraid to travel. I want to live in another country, I’m freaked the hell out to live in another country. I need to deal with my mom issues, I can’t deal with my mom issues. To say I’ve avoided doing things because I’ve been afraid is the biggest understatement ever. It’s all I’ve ever done. Be afraid.

I think my mother made me feel afraid. Afraid of life. She was never happy. Not ever. She and my father had a terrible, hateful marriage. Even though I did everything, she was never happy enough. And then she left and by doing so solidified that I was utterly unimportant to her. That there was something wrong with me. That there was something about me to be fearful of because I wasn’t worth staying for.

I’ve spent my life attempting to be invisible. Trying very hard to not make a big splash or cause any controversy. I am definitely a peace-maker type but mostly I just avoid because I HATE confrontation of any kind. So I shrivel up into my little shell and stay there so I don’t have to confront things or people. I’m often uncomfortable with compliments or recognition because I have a hard time believing it comes from a place of sincerity.

I’ve tried so many things in 2016 to make myself feel better. To get rid of the very often crippling anxiety. I’ve tried different workouts, many different diets, drinking, staying home and doing nothing, sugar. And I’ve failed over and over again to stick with anything good or wholesome. I know my real problem is consistency, but I get impatient very quickly when I think something should be working and it’s not. I’m not good at “thinking outside the box” and finding other ways to do things or solve problems so my pattern is to move on to something else before I’ve even given the previous thing a chance to work. It’s a serious flaw I have.

I’m putting it out there now that I want to do a lot of things this year. I want to write a book. I want to write a children’s book. I want to become a certified newborn care specialist. I want to find freedom with food and not feel like a slave to sugar. I want to have fun going out without feeling pressured to drink in order to have fun. I want to lose fat, gain muscle, and feel strong in body, mind, and spirit. I want to become confident in the kitchen. I want to read 2 books a month. I want to travel. I want to love again.

I’ve never been a list maker or a goal setter or a planner. I’ve always just hummed along and let whatever is going to happen happen. I’ve seen many people talk about having to let go of their perfectionism and obsession with list making but that’s never been me. I realize that is not a way to live but it is a seriously huge shift in thinking to go from not ever planning anything to being a planner and a goal setter. It’s something I really want to do and am going to have to work at because I know I need to if I ever want to accomplish any of the things on that list above. Any planners out there have any advice for a newbie, I’d be grateful as I feel a little lost at where to begin.

Writing really is my passion and I can’t let it disappear from my life because of fear. I don’t want to end up regretting letting something I am passionate about and good at go to waste. I don’t know exactly where things will go from here…

But I’m back, here again, hoping someone is still at least marginally interested in what I have to say. And if not that’s ok too. I have to take a leap even if no one but me cares.

 

Finding the things that save you

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I’ve been absent for a while. I swear sometimes it feels like I take one step forward and five steps backwards. My depression has been pretty well under control with medication and a variety of other things but my anxiety is at an all time high.

I really want to talk about how incredibly important physical activity is for both depression and anxiety. The real kicker about both of those things for me is that they paralyze me. When I go into a depression or when I’m having crippling anxiety, I freeze. I shut down. My absolute last inclination is to get up and go workout or get outside. But that is exactly what I need to do most.

It may sound like a lofty claim, but working out literally saved my life. I was never a super active or sporty kid. I never played sports of any kind. I did spend a lot of time outside though with my four younger siblings when we were young playing in the woods, and climbing trees, and riding bikes, and walking down the lane to pick berries. Looking back now on what my life was growing up, I honestly believe that being outside is what saved me then.

And yet how very easy it is to forget the things the help you the most. After I finished college I was so horribly depressed and I was living in my parents basement. No light really, and very dark and cool. It suited me in the sense that that was how I was feeling. Dark. Empty. Alone. It wasn’t the best place for me to be at that time. When I finally went to the doctor and started taking medication, the biggest change I made that, as I said before, saved my life, was beginning a workout regimen. I had never been comfortable working out at a gym. I felt clumsy, didn’t know what I was doing,  and felt self conscious about people looking at me so an entire workout program that I could do all at home was a dream come true.

It was frankly, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. As I said, my natural inclination is not to exercise when I’m feeling bad, it’s to crawl under a blanket and sleep, a lot. But when I decided to commit to doing this workout program for 90 days I knew I needed to prove that I could complete something. And I did. I lost 18 lbs and gained a lot of freedom and at least a little more confidence.

Fast forward a few years and I have once again forgotten that working out saves me. When I don’t move my body and sweat, I literally lose myself and sometimes feel like I want to die. So yes, working out saved my life in every way you can imagine. At a time when I really didn’t have anything else, exercise was my lifeline.

Depression does something to you though. It does something to your brain. It makes you forget all of the things that you know already that you need to do to feel good. I’ve lost friends. I’ve lost years of my life not living how I really want to live. At times I’ve lost respect for myself and done really incredibly stupid things that I’m still paying for. I don’t think I believe in that saying that ‘everything happens for a reason.’ But I do believe that with whatever hand you’ve been dealt in life, if you choose to, you can use that to help change someone else’s life. But it has to start with you.

When you have nothing inside you, you can’t give anything to anyone else. I don’t speak to my mother. But one thing I do believe I have sort of come to terms with is that she just didn’t have anything to give. She couldn’t be a mother because she never got what she needed as a child. Unfortunately we have no control over what our childhood is. I can’t go back and change any of it because it wasn’t mine to change. But now… now I can change something. I can change myself.

And that’s the turning point. At some time when you finally become an adult you have to admit that you are now the one who controls what you make of your life. And I will not be my mother. I will not be a person who never changes. That is probably my greatest fear. Not changing. Not growing. Not becoming more and better.

My greatest struggle in all of that attempting to grow and change is that I really can’t do it alone. I mean, I am ultimately responsible for whether I do or do not change. But what I mean is I can’t do it without support. That is also a hard lesson I’ve had to learn. I’ve always hated asking for help or asking questions. I’m not sure exactly why, but I’ve always felt that I should just be able to do everything. Well, not literally everything, but things like being an adult and feeling that there is no room for me to need or ask for help or build a support system for myself.

I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in some groups that relate to both my job and physical fitness and I cannot begin to tell you how much they have started to change my life. Fear of falling and failing is so much easier to stare in the face when you know you have people to fall back on. People who understand. People who aren’t judging you. People who are on the same journey with you. It’s everything. So thank you to all my support systems out there. I’ve never really had them before and now I can’t imagine my life without them.

Maybe there isn’t a formula…

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The formula didn’t work. The promises were not fulfilled. The books were wrong.

I prayed. And then I prayed harder. I memorized verses. And I forced myself to read the bible every day. I listened to my mother talk about how much God loves us and how good he is. And she left us. She abandoned me and betrayed me. She betrayed the God she claimed to worship. She used the bible as a weapon to manipulate my feelings at the age of 14.

And you know what, for some reason I still kept trying. The anger was starting to build but I still kept trying. I thought that if I just did better in school, got involved in more at church, read more, prayed more, waited more that somewhere around the corner some miracle must be waiting for me. It had to be.

I went to a Christian college. I did all the right things. I didn’t even date. I waited. And waited, and waited, and waited. Every one of my friends also graduated and got married and started having kids. And I was all “what about me God? What do I do? Aren’t you going to help me?”.

Now I don’t say this to say that I wish I had that life. I don’t. It’s just that the prescribed path that everyone was on wasn’t there for me. I’m certain that’s a good thing. But it has left me isolated from everyone I’ve known through the years. I don’t have anything in common with them anymore. I know it’s a common thing that happens for everyone in life. People move, and grow, and change, and start families and that’s what is supposed to happen. Some friendships just end naturally because people go different ways. But I haven’t had anyone to replace them.

The end of college for me meant nothing. I didn’t have any marketable skills and I wasn’t in any better of a place than before I went. Do you have any idea how fucking depressed I was when I graduated from PCC? I went and did what I was supposed to do and then I graduated and then I had to go back home to live with my parents who hated each other and to a life that was exactly the same as it was before I went to college, full of misery and lies and hurt. And I had absolutely nothing to show for all the work I did. I was still stuck.

Where was the success? The joy? The happiness? The calling on my life? The sign that I was supposed to go a certain way? That thing that I was supposed to do? It was nowhere. And guess what I did. I prayed some more. I pushed my feelings deep, deep down inside and I prayed more and volunteered for God more and read the bible more and threw my entire self into church still waiting for some kind of direction or sign from above.

It literally felt like God was ignoring me. Like he had been ignoring me my entire life since I “got saved” at 4 years old. How long can one person continue to pray and work and push through ignoring the questions and doubts and not expect to have an answer at some point?

This was the first time in my life that someone was actually paying attention enough to notice that I was very deeply depressed. And that in and of itself is depressing. Nobody around me who should have noticed, noticed. And the few people I did end up telling didn’t believe me even though I basically wanted to die. It is mind boggling to me that parents could be so utterly and completely oblivious to the fact that their child is depressed. How can you not notice something like that about your own child?

I think part of the problem there is that depression isn’t taken seriously. It’s not a health concern, it’s a “spiritual problem” or it’s just not even a real thing at all and you need to get over it. When I go back and read some of my journals from both my teenage years and college, I’m baffled at how it was possible that no one recognized how desperate I was. For acceptance, for relief from my “mom” duties, for someone to listen, for someone to understand that no matter how adorable my whole family may have looked singing together in front of everyone at church on a Sunday morning, I was in pain. It’s not adorable or sweet or precious when children are being neglected and in pain.

And isn’t church supposed to be the place where healing can happen? Isn’t it a place where people are supposed to be kind and selfless and actually pay attention to people who are suffering? I’ve been told that some people knew that something was very wrong with our family when we first started attending. That something was going on that wasn’t right. But no one did anything. My life got worse, and worse, and worse until my mother left. And then things exploded.

I don’t understand that. What is the point of church if not to reach out to those who are suffering? You can have as many programs as you want to bring people in and “get them saved” but when you neglect one of your own families in the church who are very clearly fucked up, there is a problem. When you see a problem but do nothing and wait for everything to blow up and then attempt to help pick up the pieces, it’s too late. The damage has been done. You can’t come in and be the hero after you’ve sat back and watched it all implode.

In the end, I spent 20 years of my life desperately searching for this god who was supposed to be all of these things that he wasn’t. While I agree that everything that happens in your life is what makes you who you are, that doesn’t mean that it is okay or good or a blessing or whatever that awful things happened to you. I don’t find any beauty or redeeming qualities in my childhood. That is not my fault. I suppose where the beauty and strength will come from is rising above all of that. It isn’t because of those things that I will get stronger, it is in spite of those things.

What’s your passion?

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This is going to be super vulnerable and transparent. So brace yourself.

I feel like I’ve spent my entire life so far wandering around aimlessly. I’m hugely jealous of people who have direction and focus. My sister knew since she was in 9th grade that she wanted to be a doctor. She is a single mother now and she’s going to medical school. I’m so impressed that she has stuck it out and I am so proud of her. But I am also jealous that she’s always had this sense of definiteness. She got knocked around by life and went what would seem to be off track a few times but now here she is killing it in medical school. With a son to take care of.

What is my direction? Where is my calling in life? I honestly have no fucking idea. My brain gets filled with all these ideas of things I think I would like to do. And then something happens. I freeze. Sometimes I have a full-blown panic attack. Other times I just cry. Sometimes I just sit and stare at nothing. Those seem to be the only reactions my body knows to do to process things. But I still feel paralyzed. And I can’t make a decision because it’s as if my brain doesn’t even know how to choose. It feels to me as if finding your passion or your calling in life is this huge thing that you have to choose and I’m afraid to choose the wrong thing.

I bought this journal a few months ago and it’s been sitting under my bedside table with empty pages. I picked it up a few days ago to read through it and I just cried. It’s an idea journal. And it asks a lot of questions. Questions that I can’t answer. Some of the questions throughout the book are: “Write some beautiful things I’ve seen, heard, felt, dreamt, thought”, “Name 20 things that make you happy”, “What is your ultimate dream: job, car, vacation, party, adventure, place to live, date?”, “People that make you feel good about yourself and why”. And it goes on and on with similar types of questions about what you want to do with your life and what your plans and goals are. And I am again struck with this feeling of immobility.

I enjoy my job and I am supporting myself. But I don’t know where to go from here. It doesn’t feel like enough.

A lot of thoughts that I have about things that I like end up making me feel guilty or shameful. I’m not supposed to like this. And I’m supposed to like that. And I’m supposed to want to do this. And I’m not supposed to want to do that. I should do this. And I shouldn’t do that. These thoughts beat me down sometimes and make me feel like nothing in me is okay or worthy of just being what it is. Not okay because I’m a girl. Not okay because I’m single. Not okay because of where I come from. Not okay because I’m expected to act or be a certain way to be acceptable to people. Just not okay. Which means who I am is not okay. How do you find what you’re passionate about when deep down you feel that who you are as a person is not okay?

I’ve been following a workout and nutrition program to try to get to a healthier place. It’s been going pretty well. I’ve stuck with the workouts and mostly done well on the nutrition end. But I will never love working out. I kind of hate it. I don’t end a workout with a feeling of euphoria. More like “thank god that’s over!” I don’t excitedly look forward to my next workout. I will never be one of those people who just can’t wait to get to the gym again.

The way I’ve been getting through it and sticking it out is literally by zoning out. I make myself go sort of numb in my head so that I’m not really thinking about the workout, I’m just doing it to get it done. Sometimes this works, sometimes not. Working out often makes me cry. I know. Weird and embarrassing. That’s me. But when I do a particularly strenuous workout, I go to that zoning out place in my head, and often I find myself crying half way through the workout. I’m not crying from physical pain. I think it’s some kind of other pain coming from somewhere I don’t even know about. It’s been really confusing me lately. Thank goodness I work out at home.

I like music. Scratch that, I love music. I’m pretty certain that if I didn’t have music I would die. Music feeds me in many ways. When I can’t or don’t know how to express something–which is often–a song can do it for me. Sad songs, happy songs, painful songs, heart-wrenching songs, dance songs, sexy songs, thought-provoking songs. They all feed me in a way that I can’t really explain. It’s not even just that music makes me happy. It literally feels like food for my soul. I would shrivel up without it.

I don’t know what that means though. Do I do something with that? Is it something I should be pursuing? I used to sing. Back when I still went to church, I used to sing a lot. I don’t miss church at all. Too much anxiety. But the singing, the singing I miss. It’s one of those things where I can’t really explain what it does for me. Music just makes me feel whole. Complete. Safe.

I like something I’m not supposed to like.

I like reading.

When I have people to cook for, I like cooking.

What am I passionate about? I don’t know. I think nothing right now. My question is how do people find their passion? Is it accidental? Do they just fall into it without intention? Does someone else tell you what your passion is? Do you just pick something randomly and decide to make it your passion? Is everyone born with some hidden passion that you have to go look for? Is there a formula to follow to discover what your passion is?  Tell me. I want to know.

“When are you going to get a real job?”

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I’m struggling with how to go about being authentic and true to myself while also finding a way to have more human interaction in my life in a meaningful way. I may be an introvert but I still really like being around people. For the most part, hopefully, people who aren’t judging me. I have considered joining the junior league and technically I am a provisional member right now but I’m not sure it’s the right place for me. It feels strange. I love the work they do for young girls but I don’t feel I fit in.

I love my job but I don’t feel I’m on the same level as the other women there. They’ve done so much and are involved in so much and are so accomplished and busy and I look at my life and see I haven’t accomplished anything at all. They are engineers, and bankers, and health care workers, and educators and I just do the thing that is the only expected “job” of the environment I grew up in, the job of a fundamentalist good little Christian girl, the job of caring for children.

Being out in the real world, when people say things like “when are you going to get a real job?”, I don’t even know how to respond because it hurts. It’s a hurtful thing to say. As if I’m just biding my time until I go and do something “real.” Some people don’t say it right out in those words, but they find little ways to make it sound nicer while still making it very clear that they don’t think anyone could possibly want to do what I do as a career, if you can call it that.

While I do believe that there are noble professions such as a doctor, I really kind of hate the sort of obsession we seem to have with knowing what people do for work and making a judgement on that as if what you do in order to live makes you a good or bad or successful or unsuccessful person. Honestly who cares what you think about someone else’s job.

Sometimes I don’t care much, and sometimes I have a good argument to come back with, but a lot of the time it feels like a knife to the heart. Many, many people have said it to me many, many times. People I’ve dated have been especially judgmental of what I do assuming that I must be planning to do something else more acceptable(?). God I hate dating.

I think this is one of the reasons I’ve been so adamant about thinking I wanted an accredited degree. People look at me and wonder when I’m going to do something that matters or something that follows an assumed desired corporate office job life track. I can’t tell you the number of fights I’ve gotten into and the number of tearful nights I’ve spent agreeing with these people who try to make me feel like nannying isn’t a real job and that I need to eventually find something else to do. I resent them for that. It’s probably why I’m still single.

I’m not an office job kind of person. And I’m not a people person. But I do love getting hugs every day from baby arms. And I love having conversations with a toddler about how they see the world. I also love my life and that I get to go home at night to no children that I have to be responsible for. For me, it’s the best way to have it. I get to get paid to have my kid fix and don’t have to actually have kids myself.

But however much that means to me, it still doesn’t seem to be acceptable to a lot of people. If I’m making enough money and supporting myself, I don’t understand why it matters so much. My ex boyfriend used to make comments all the time about me finding a “stable job”. My job wasn’t good enough. Except when I did go and get a “stable job” I made much less money. He even yelled at me for not asking him exactly what words I should have said at an interview for a teaching job, which I didn’t get and didn’t want anyway. All because my job was unacceptable. I don’t need people like that.

I would love to see a shift in society where people don’t judge you based on what you do for work. It’s really no one else’s business. You do what you have to do to live. Some people love their jobs and others not so much. Some people don’t love their job but also don’t really have the option of choosing to do whatever they want. They have to earn a living. Either way it isn’t something that we should praise or condescend to people about.

i hate school

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I officially hate school. Not because I don’t enjoy learning but because I was ill prepared for an actual real, accredited school. I now officially have zero desire to attend school anymore. I talked a bit recently about my aptitude with memorization and about how it served me well in school. I don’t see that as something to be proud of. The reason it served me well in high school and college is because the curriculum used for both was based in memorizing information and spitting it back out. They tell you their version of the correct information and you memorize it and repeat it back and that’s it.

School was fairly easy for me. I don’t say that to brag, I say it because it is a great disappointment to me. School, in every way possible, from kindergarten all the way through college is supposed to teach you how to think. Not what to think, how to think. And there is a huge difference between the two. I have a huge problem with teaching children what to think. It’s wrong.

I’m going to be a little transparent here and tell you that I’ve now failed two graduate courses. That’s right, me, Larissa, the girl who’s fallback has always been school. The girl who has spent practically her whole life truly believing that grades and doing well in school was really the only thing she had going for her. The only thing that got her any attention or made people think she was smart. The only thing that ever made her feel as if she had a tiny smidgen of worth.

I know it’s not the only thing I have going for me. It doesn’t actually matter that much. But it’s always been that thing. My thing. When I came out of homeschooling and started private school with A Beka, I discovered I was very, very good at memorization. And that’s why I did well.

I have heard many complaints, especially from my former world of homeschool Christian fundamentalism, as well as from others, about common core. And I honestly don’t understand it. I worked as a teaching assistant in a first grade classroom for one school year and all I can say is that it was an eye opening experience and one I’m am very grateful to have had. It turns out public school isn’t actually the complete and utter evilness I was made to believe it was.

The thing about common core is that it is just a set of standards, which any school should have. It’s a set of standards that each student should be able to meet. There is no one specific required way to teach these standards but every student should learn to meet those standards. And that’s a good thing. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of problems with the public education system, and I personally hate the standardized testing. It puts a ridiculous amount of pressure on teachers and stress on students and doesn’t really accurately demonstrate whether or not a student is doing well. There are no doubt many flaws in the way common core has been implemented. And there are certainly many other flaws in public education including both the way student’s learning is measured as well as in the way teachers are being taught to teach.

All that aside though, I like common core. When I had to sit every afternoon with my group of first grade students and work with them on their math I was surprised at how much sense it made to me to teach them to come at a math problem in a number of different ways. I understand the frustration of parents when they are expected to help their children with homework and they don’t understand what it is that is being asked. And that is definitely something that could be improved upon as well. But honestly, learning math in a way that asks you to come up with 3, or 4, or 5 different ways to answer the same problem is a GOOD THING. The point isn’t necessarily just to get the correct answer. The point is to learn how to work through the problem and to learn creativity in solving problems.

We are always going to face different situations in our lives whether at work or in our personal lives or when dealing with other people that more likely than not are going to require us to come up with more than just one way to approach the problem or answer the question. And that’s the problem with having a closed, singular mindset. Too many people believe that there is only one way to answer a question. That there is only one right answer. That if you don’t do it the one true correct way, then you are wrong.

Innovation. Isn’t that what moves society forward? If we all only ever believe that there is just one single right way to think and believe and do everything, we wouldn’t be where we are today. People who are innovators didn’t do what they did because they sat back and memorized information and gave the correct answer every time. I mean, don’t we believe that failure and incorrect conclusions are often the things that teach us the most?

Thinking outside the box is important. And that is something that I regret to admit I do not have any skill in. I am not a creative thinker. I can come up with maybe one way to fix a problem or approach an issue and if it isn’t going to work, that’s it, I’m done. I don’t know what else to do. I am perfectly willing to listen to other people’s ideas but I really dislike the fact that I am not an out-of-the-box, positive, innovative, creative thinker. I think some people are probably born with this skill just as I was born with the skill to memorize but I think it is far more important that every person is able to learn how to think in creative ways than to just memorize information.