“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.

Being Authentic

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A huge goal that I have for this year is authenticity. Not that I’m walking around being a fake person, but it’s really important to me to focus on being truly authentic. Being myself. I think that that involves some transparency as well as a willingness to let people actually hear some things from me that I have never been comfortable saying.

The reason I don’t look at this as a resolution but as more of a goal is because I’m not looking at it as something that I am going to either fail or succeed at. I am deciding to just take a small little step each day to do something more authentic.

Vulnerability is scary as scary can be. But I also like it. Because I like human connection and you can’t have that without some level of vulnerability. The scariest things can also be the best things.

One of my absolute favorite accounts I follow on instagram is a yogi girl. If you notice anything at all about the yoga world you have probably noticed a lot of showiness. And that bothers me. It turned me off to it for quite a while. But there is something about this girl that really draws me in. And I believe it is her authenticity and willingness to be vulnerable. With strangers. I think it’s possible it may actually be easier to be vulnerable with a stranger than with someone you know. But it just amazes me that she is able to be so real and genuine and not flashy. She is making connections with people and opening herself up and I think it makes her a lovely person.

I am striving for that. To be known as a lovely person because I am vulnerable and authentic. It’s what I want. I don’t care about being what I’m “supposed to be.” I just want to be the actual me.

It just dawned upon me, today actually, that when I’m dealing with feelings of worry and anxiety and nervousness, or any overwhelming feelings really, the best thing I can do is acknowledge it. I’ve never really done that before. I freak out because something is happening inside me that I can’t or don’t know how to control/address and I usually just try to distract myself. I don’t think that is a healthy way to deal with such feelings. And I have definitely noticed it play out in my personal health.

Sometimes I get this knot in my stomach that just won’t go away for days and days. It doesn’t make me feel sick per say, but I usually can’t eat much and don’t sleep well. I would say that a majority of the time I don’t really know what it is that’s bothering me and causing my stomach to knot up. I go about my day trying to ignore it and hoping it will fade away on its own. As I said before, I think the root of this problem is in not acknowledging what’s really going on.

I know for certain that ignoring things doesn’t make them go away. And that includes feelings.

Something that has really bothered me a LOT this past year is people (myself included) being disingenuous and inauthentic. I mean it really eats away at me. I don’t like it. At all. I like people who are straightforward and honest. I even enjoy people being blunt as long as they aren’t being rude or obnoxious or intentionally hurtful.

This is not an easy task for me, being direct and straightforward. I witnessed my parents, my mother especially, constantly manipulating conversations and skirting around issues and just plain not being direct about what they wanted/needed to say. I hate that. And yet it is still a great struggle for me to be direct with people. I actually envy my niece sometimes as she seems to find such ease in stating what she’s feeling without any apprehension. She is a very expressive 5 year old.

So my goal here is not to go around telling everyone every single thing I am feeling all the time. My goal is authenticity. I want to make sure that I am true to myself and my own feelings, concerns, desires, needs, and passions. I think a part of that also includes allowing other people to be vulnerable with you. A true, deep friendship, or any relationship can only come from being authentic and being allowed to be truly and fully vulnerable.

Isn’t that the whole point of our existence? To connect with people? It is something that is vital to our well being and survival.  And all I know is that I can’t do without it.

Lets have a party

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I went to my first party ever this New Years Eve and I have to say it was awesome. I’ve always been very afraid to go to parties like that because I thought for a certainty that God would strike me down. No joke. I really seriously thought that would happen. It didn’t.

And it turns out I really like who I am when I go to a party. It’s all so new to me I’m still a little bit taken aback. But it was fun. I actually for real had so much relaxing honest to goodness fun. I literally don’t even remember the last time I actually enjoyed myself so much and had fun. I love to sing and dance and alcohol helps me be much less apprehensive about doing those things. I never felt out of control, just really, really, REALLY good.

I cried the next day remembering how happy the whole night made me. Just pure, simple unadulterated joy. Me. The somewhat boring, sit-in-the-corner-and-watch-people, doesn’t-dance-or-sing, gets-nervous-around-lots-of-people, battles-with-depression, introverted girl had loads and loads of fun. At a party. I didn’t think I was the party kind of girl.

And here’s the thing. I almost didn’t go. I went through my usual talk in my head of why I shouldn’t go or why I couldn’t go or why I wouldn’t like it. I was having a bit of an issue with an allergic reaction which was making me a little miserable so that was also a big deterrent. But I went. And I think it’s the best decision I’ve made in a very, very long time.

This past year has been hard. Really incredibly, ridiculously hard. Something happened last fall and then something else happened in the spring that just beat me down. It’s been so exhausting I don’t ever want to relive it. But who knows. Maybe I needed all of that to happen for me to get to a place where I realized I desperately needed to just have fun.

I’ve always had a very hard time answering the question from people, “what do you do for fun?” I mean it’s not a complicated or difficult question but the problem is that I wasn’t doing anything for fun. Of course I couldn’t answer. I wasn’t having fun. I wasn’t enjoying any part of my life.

I spent all my growing up years being the good one and the responsible one and the grown up one and the obedient one. I never rebelled or snuck out or did anything I wasn’t supposed to. I almost feel like I’m living in reverse. I was already a responsible adult as a child and now I get to sort of let go a bit and be free without the enormous amounts of guilt piling up on me. I have to say that that is one thing that has changed a lot for me. I don’t have guilt following me around anymore like a dark cloud. It feels so good.

I think self care is so important. I never learned it and it’s something I really want to focus on this year. I’m a people pleaser and I’ve never really done anything just because it makes me happy. For a long time I didn’t think I deserved to be happy or have fun. I would feel guilty if I wanted to do something that wasn’t productive or for someone else’s benefit. I would feel guilty when I couldn’t make other people happy. I would feel guilty if every single thing I wanted to do wasn’t for “God’s glory.”

I don’t know exactly what yet I need/want to do for self care but I absolutely need to find something that I love doing and that is fun and that makes me happy just for the sake of being happy. I think it partly comes from my fundamentalist background but I also think it’s a problem in our society that being super busy or exhausted or constantly productive is some kind of badge of honor. That you’re somehow a better person if you are at your absolute wits end all the time. That’s weird. I don’t want that kind of life.

I am determined that this is going to be a year of fun. I want to shine.

I have a lot of time to make up for so bring on the parties! 

I wish I could forget

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Memories are hard. It always served me well in school, but I often wish that I didn’t remember things so vividly. It hurts. When memories start flooding my brain I get caught up in this whirlwind of little bits of nostalgia and happiness, but mostly large pieces of heartbreak and deriding comments and self-doubt and self-hate and an unbelievable desire to forget it all that just keep pounding on me over and over again.

I went home for Christmas this year, and while I was excited about it for a long time, the longer I stayed there, the harder it got. It’s a little hard to explain what happens to me when I go back to that house because there are good things that leave me feeling relieved that it was a good idea to go. But then there are also a whole lot of emotional windstorms that pop up when I least expect them to. By the time most of my family had already gone back home, I was extremely anxious to leave myself. I couldn’t put my finger on it but I knew I needed to leave before I really started to lose it.

We moved into that house when I was 13. Almost exactly one year before my mother left us. I do have good memories from this time. When she left, a very nice lady in our church came to live with us and take care of us as our nanny while my dad worked. And I loved it. I loved it so much I couldn’t even believe that that was what life was actually supposed to be like. That a mother figure was supposed to take care of you and be there. That a 10, 11, 12 year old girl wasn’t supposed to be responsible for 4 younger siblings, and cooking, and cleaning and wishing desperately that her mother would get out of bed today and actually be pleasant and present.

I actually just realized recently, though I didn’t know it at the time, that this may be where my desire to be a nanny came from. It is honestly the only time in my childhood that I can remember feeling like I was allowed to be a kid and be taken care of.

One of those very clear memories is the day I came home from school and my dad told us that my mom had left. He picked us up of course which was out of the ordinary and as soon as we climbed into the car, I immediately knew something wasn’t right. The drive home was pretty quiet and I could sense a foreboding as we pulled into the driveway.

When we got inside my dad had us all sit down in the living room (the same one I just went home to and spent Christmas day in) and again I felt like something horrible was about to happen. I held onto my brother to sort of protect him and then the words started coming. “I got an email from your mom. You know how she said she was going on vacation to visit an old friend from school… Well she left us. She’s gone.”

Silence.

I didn’t cry. I didn’t like my mother very much and I greatly resented her, so it was almost a feeling of relief when my dad told us she was gone. But it didn’t take very long for the feelings of extreme anger and dare I say hatred to flood over me. My little 13 year old heart was smashed into a million pieces and I knew that I would never ever trust her ever again. It was true. All those thoughts I’d had in my head for so many years were true. And here was the proof. She left.

“What did I do wrong? I must have not taken care of my siblings well enough. I must not have cleaned the kitchen and washed the dishes as much or as well as I should have. I must be a terrible cook. I must not be doing well enough in school. I must not have tried hard enough to make my mother happy. It’s my fault. I know it. She doesn’t want me because I am not a good daughter. I deserve this. She doesn’t love me. I didn’t love her enough, but now I will never love her again. She hates me. I am unworthy of being loved by my own mother. I am unlovable. I hope she never comes back.”

I watched my dad change that year. I watched him get sadder and older and it showed on his face. This was the first year we went to Myrtle Beach on vacation and I was immensely relived when I saw my dad’s face relax just a little as we started our trip. He needed this. We needed this. And I was happy my mother wasn’t going to be there. I couldn’t stand her. And the anger grew larger inside of me each day as I obsessively dwelt on the fact that my mother had abandoned us.

“I will never do this. If it means I never have my own children, so be it. I will never do this to another child.”

This is not a new years resolution post

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Where does the darkness come from? I want to know so I can punch it in the face. How can I switch so quickly from being gleefully happy to utterly miserable? The darkness does it to me every time. And I never really see it coming. Reveling in the happiness is awesome. Why would you be looking for the darkness.

I’m sitting on my couch right now looking out the sliding glass door and wondering what the hell I’m doing. I guess I’m living. I go to bed at night and wake up every morning and go to work during the week and clean my apartment (sometimes) and eat and breath. But what am I actually doing. Aren’t you supposed to do something else besides those things. The things that everyone does. Those things really don’t have any meaning in and of themselves. They are just the things that we do automatically and the things that we have to do whether we want to or not. But is that living?

I want to do something good. Not something that makes me look good but something that is good for other people or even just one person. I don’t know what that is yet, but I am most definitely not content to spend my life just working and surviving. It’s a little funny that my working life has revolved completely around caring for children and yet I don’t really want my own children. What I want is to do something for children to make their lives better. I want to make it possible for as many children as possible to not have to live the kind of childhood I had. I will fight to the death to protect children. My younger self needed someone to advocate for me and there was no one. So I will be that someone for another child.

I don’t really understand loneliness. I am not talking about being physically alone. I’m talking about the feeling of loneliness. It shouldn’t exist. Not because it’s an unpleasant feeling, but because there are so many people in the world. How can there be so many people in the world and there still be no one who wants to be present with you. No one who wants to understand you. No one who wants to hear the dark things and not run away screaming covering their ears. Loneliness is awful. It makes you think things you don’t want to think. It makes you contemplate doing things you wouldn’t normally contemplate doing.

I greatly dislike the stigma surrounding mental illness. Depression is most definitely an illness. It’s an illness that isolates you from people and makes them not want to deal with you. Or worse yet, they leave you, dump you, stab you in your heart feelings, or straight up tell you to your face that you are not good enough for them. Unfortunately, you can’t actually choose whether or not you have depression. I mean honestly, who would ever choose that.

I really love that quote that was in my last post from a while back.

“Home is not where you live but where they understand you.” -Christian Morganstern

It makes perfect sense. You understand me therefore you feel like home to me. Being truly, truly understood leaves a feeling of acceptance. If you really understand someone, how can you not be accepting of them. I believe acceptance is the most wonderful gift. It’s not always an easy place to get to but when you accept something/someone and they are accepting of you, there is such freedom and peace. To me acceptance is the epitome of true love. Truly loving means truly accepting someone for exactly who they are. I don’t believe you can say you love someone if you don’t accept them in all of their faults, and darkness, and ugly stuff. Because let’s be real. Everyone has darkness and ugly stuff. Without it we wouldn’t be fully human. Someone who can’t accept my dark side isn’t someone I can be vulnerable with. And after all real human connection is all about vulnerability. And can we really survive without real human connection.

My only “resolution” for a new year is to focus on a word. It’s not really a resolution. It’ just a word I’ve chosen for this year. Possibility. I can be pessimistic, although I mostly consider myself to be a realist. Which is fine, it’s part of who I am so it doesn’t bother me. But ‘possibility’ just felt like a good word for me to focus on because I often think that something isn’t going to work before I’ve even attempted it. Possibility is just about being open. And I am definitely a more closed off kind of person. Possibility. Possibility. Possibility. It is possible I could be less closed off and stop putting up walls. It’s possible I could make more human connections. Possibility.