2018

Going into this new year, I have a few resolutions. Nothing concrete or technically measurable, but there are just some things I want to be more aware of for the time being. And some things I’d like to toast from last year.

I’m tired of feeling stuck in the past. I’m tired of feeling like my life is passing me by like a ship embarking on a journey, while I wave it off from the docks with my handkerchief.

I’ve been trying to compare how I feel about life to some kind of cycle. Things will turn around. Things will repeat themselves and eventually we’ll be back to the start. This is just a minor setback and soon we’ll be back to how it used to be.

I always compare what I’m currently experiencing to something that has happened in the past. Comparison is the only way I know how to make sense of things. But maybe some things don’t repeat themselves. Maybe some things only happen once and maybe that’s what makes them so beautiful.

Here’s to the one-offs, the once upon a times, the only ones, and the best ones I’ve known so far.

I’ve recently come to realize that going in a circle is kind of like spiraling in on yourself. And this is not a good thing. Despite all my begging and pleading, I’ve been convinced. I think the best way to go is up. It think it might all be linear. No matter how hard you fight it, there is no going back.

Once something happens we should’t be waiting to start back over. That thing happened to prepare us for the next thing ahead. We’re going forward, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.

Forward is the only way we can go. Expecting the same things to happen over and over again is insanity. It’s fighting against an unrelenting current constantly pushing us towards new and exciting things.

Here’s to the new beginnings. Here’s to more to come, and here’s to appreciating what’s behind me.

 

 

 

 

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Suburban Sketch: Running on Empty

Sometimes little things strike me as a pretty visual, or a nice feeling. I like jotting those down into story sketches. Sometimes metaphorical, mostly fictional, maybe the beginning or middle of a story. This is one of those.

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The gas pump wurrs and clicks rhythmically as the diesel flows through the tube connected to my car. The waves pumping through the hose gently rock the car a little as I lean with my back against it; back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

It’s late October and the night air is clear. Faded music from the half-broken speaker set above Pump No. 2 is carried in on a breeze. Whoever closed up the station lobby and left the radio running didn’t let it know that the only audience member to this quiet concert tonight would be alone. It’s playing only the left half of an old love song; something from the 50s.

Thursday, 10 PM, isn’t exactly prime time for a four pump gas station. Letting my head rest on the rusty roof of my old sedan, I close my eyes and tighten my arms closer to myself from inside the pockets of my sweater. One singularity, alone in the flickering fluorescent spotlight.

I needed to fill up before leaving from home. Or leaving for home, I guess. It’s been getting harder and harder to tell these days. When you make a new home where does the old one go? They say home is where your heart is, but my heart carries a home in each chamber and ventricle, and it’s starting to get heavy.

Either way, I always end up back here. Always returning to start, and never actually starting. Never fully leaving, but not fully there anymore either.

As the cracked screen counts the flowing gallons, I look up and count the stars above me.  All those little white dots in the inky blue sky. Little singularities, flickering and floating around on their own. All reflecting and illuminated by the same big, bright moon.

There is one more long wave of fuel before the pump clicks a final time, cutting off the flow to the nozzle. Going in circles uses up a lot of gas.

I am, I am, I am.

About a month ago, a fellow blogger and sweet friend, Ainewanders, wrote a post titled Concerning Identity. She is funny but thoughtful in her post, optimistically reminding readers that we all have value and we should all strive to find the core of who we are.

Thinking about how easy it is to feel lost when certain aspect of our lives fall through the cracks inspired me to think about the things that I do know about myself. (Although, let’s be honest, I don’t really need a whole lot of encouragement to over-analyze myself. That’s basically this whole blog’s m.o.)

That being said, I encourage you to think of at least 3 truths you hold to be self-evident. 3 positive things that you relate to, that you are proud of, and that —no matter the circumstances— you know you can hold onto to.

Here are some things that haven’t changed so far in my 25 years of life. To quote Sylvia Plath in The Bell Jar:

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.”

Loyal:

I was not raised to quit, and I have been privileged enough to have most of my family stay the same for much of my life. I realize this is lucky and isn’t the majority case, but I think it is why I hold on so tightly to the things that I love. To me loving is staying and fighting through problems, because when you’ve come so far you can’t stop now.

My loyalty makes it very hard for me to start new relationships, though. Everything I’ve known I have known for a long time, and so I tend to be distrustful of new things. I dislike flings, and don’t believe in passing fancies. It takes me a very long time to feel comfortable but once I am in, I am in for life*.

In the past I have stayed at jobs and stayed in places that I might not have loved because I loved someone I was doing it for. I like to travel, but doubt I could ever move away because this is where my family is. I am very deeply rooted, but I am learning to be more independent. I am learning that even old relationships can be unhealthy, and I am learning to love my own space.

Persistent:

Just like my devotion to those around me grew through examples, my hard head did as well. I think my steadfast desire to stay loyal bleeds into a lot of things that I do. I definitely don’t take “stubborn” as an insult, but I do know that I can be a bit of a boulder when I want something.

There’s this ring I wear every day; at certain angles it looks like octopus tentacles which is initially why I wanted it, but the design is actually supposed to be two ram horns. In high school I started making a pun out of my name turning rampage into rampaige whenever I felt determined. Thinking about rams butting heads is usually considered negative; two equally strong forces using all of their strength to make barely a difference, but I see that as inspiration. I think being stubborn just means you have an unshakable core strength, a fire in your belly, and a passion to get shit done. If you’re going to make your progress by bulldozing thorough things head-on, you at least want that head to be hard, right**?

I am learning, however, that sometimes things actually end up better when I don’t get my way, and that life has a tendency to work itself out. The hardest thing for me to do is let go, and not try to have some input or offer assistance. But forcing something just for the sake of being right, usually isn’t really right at all. And as hard as it is to convince myself of this, life is honestly so much more relaxing when you just let things, and people, be.

Loving:

Maybe this is actually the root of it all, but every stubborn, overbearing, and smothering thing I do, I do because I feel a lot of love. I love love, and I care waaaay too much about other people’s feelings. I care when people hurt and I hurt when I can’t help them, but I’m learning sometimes the best help is to let them go. A little healthy space ensure that I also have space to love myself***.

I always try to put other people first, and do things for them that I think they will like. I love finding good presents for friends, putting effort into cooking a meal they like, sending silly things that remind me of them throughout the day, and making people laugh.

Honestly this all sounds very self-serving, but I really don’t ever want to do those things for praise. And really, in life, if you only do things for praise, you’re going to be let down. But I’ve seen that if you do things honestly for other people, just because you want to make them smile, it really will be a reward in itself.

……….

There it is. 3 things I know about myself independent of anything else and unwavering no matter what life throws at me. That right there, is who I am.

It’s honestly a little scary to post this. Because anyone reading it could easily find some way to dispute it if they wanted. “Nu-uh, Paige. This one time you were really mean.” Blah, blah, blah. Honestly you could find plenty of times I was really mean if you wanted to. I’m a human. We make mistakes. But this is who I know I am, and I feel good about having it down in words.

Really, I encourage you to write down 3 things you love about yourself. For inspiration, I leave you with another one of my favorite Sylvia Plath quotes:

“There is nothing like puking with somebody to make you into old friends.”
― Sylvia PlathThe Bell Jar

 

*That’s what she said #1

**That’s what she said #2

***Aaaand that’s what she said #3

Getting Back

In the sake of trying to post on this blog more frequently, here is a stream-of-consciousness word dump that I felt compelled to pour out yesterday…

Basically just some free therapy.

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I still feel more like an observer of my life, rather than a participant. Things will happen to me, and I recognize that they are good things, and I know how that should feel, but I don’t actually feel anything… ya feel me?

I’ve heard about disassociation, and I haven’t done enough research to see if that actually applies to me or not, but based on the little that I do know it sounds pretty close. I do things that I know I used to like, just because I feel like I’m supposed to like them, but I don’t have any genuine emotional response. Or no new response anyway. Things are happening, and I am here, but I don’t feel like I am actually taking part in them. I don’t feel like I’m making memories. I wonder if it’s apparent to anyone else in the room.

I remember that, back in the day, I used to have this one thought a lot: “Everything is so good, I could die right now and it would be okay.” Now that I say it, that sounds a little dark, but I used to just feel so content in life that I didn’t care if anything else happened. I didn’t feel like I needed any changes from where I was. Now I don’t often feel fully alive.

This might not necessarily be a bad thing either. I’m not mad or sad, I’m just here.

But I also know that this isn’t very fair to anyone else. I am aware that my life is good. I know that I am blessed with a good number of things, and I know that I have had minimal real stress. I just went a vacation backpacking Europe with my cousin for goodness’ sake. I know I am not struggling, but this doesn’t wake my heart up.

While I was away, I won’t say that it magically fixed how I was feeling. I still felt aware that amazing things were happening, but I felt like I was watching the movie of someone else’s life.

There was one moment; however, where I know I felt very real joy. I landed back in the states, and I was by myself in the ginormous Charlotte airport, after having just flown for nine hours with nobody that I knew. The tinkling of one of those little lobby pianos caught my attention and I realized they were playing Yellow Submarine. With no warning to my brain, my legs involuntary skipped themselves, and I realized that, for no real reason I just felt so happy. I was perfectly content, and I could have stayed in that airport by myself forever.

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Optimistic that I could hold onto this joy, I figured I would just be able to remember the amazing things I saw, and take this feeling with me as I went home. It lasted for about a day or two, but then -as the weekend loneliness set in- I was disappointed in my already-diminishing joy.

If this had always been my emotional state, I don’t think I would much mind. But it’s the fact that I know I never used to feel like this that gets to me. I’m stubborn. And I’m mad at myself for not being able to feel as happy as I used to. I’ve been trying to fake-it-till-I-make it, and reach a point that feels genuine again, but I’m exhausted. And I don’t know what to change to fix it.

If anything, now that I have that moment of pure joy  to compare to what I feel now; actually feeling that emotion I knew I had been missing almost makes me feel like I’ve taken 10 steps back. Now I know it’s there, and it’s just out of my reach.

But maybe that’s not true. Maybe it’s just one of those tiny incremental growths that you can’t see the difference in while it’s happening. Then 10 years pass, and you look back and remember all the things you did that got you to where you are and smile because it’s so much better now. Maybe it’s the kind of thing that you have to sit and wade through for a long time before you see the outcome.

Maybe I’m just being dramatic. So at least that never changes.

Waves

At my job we talk a lot about waves. These metaphorical currents of rises and drops in our workload that seem to affect each of us differently every couple of months. Either we’re really really busy, or we’re basically dead. There are few plateaus where we actually feel like we are getting things done without feeling overloaded. I’m currently in the middle of a slow period, in case you were wondering.

Thinking about this metaphor made me realize recently that pretty much everything comes to us in waves. Those pesky ups and downs of life, refusing to find a neutral state, refusing to let us find homeostasis. But maybe that’s just me. I tend to feel things in waves of high highs and low lows where either everything is amazing or everything is awful. Because to me, things affect each other. If one thing is bad then it makes the next thing bad, making the next thing after that bad, and so on and so forth. The converse is true too where one person’s smile can spread to a whole town, you know? That sort of thing.

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A mantra that I try to remind myself is: “You aren’t what is happening to you. You are you, no matter what.” Maybe things aren’t just good or bad, but it’s how we react to them that makes them one way or the other. Maybe the loads of work come because when there is downtime we relish in it, rather than preparing for what’s to come. Maybe we create the extremes for ourselves by dwelling in the one that we like best until it’s unbearable, and trying to ignore the one we hate until it passes.

But it still works like waves though. In general life is going to make some decisions for us, and I don’t think we’re skirting too much responsibility to realize that there is little we can control. Some things are just objectively good, and some are just objectively bad –although I’m sure our reactions have some hand in making things worse or better. I still like thinking about waves though, because it really does make sense.

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There’s only so long that you can idly float on the calm eddies, relaxing and basking in the breeze. Unless you’re in a particularly calm creek, you can only soak in the gentle currents for so long before the tide pulls in, sucking the loose ground out from under your feet, and pushing it back at you and over you in a white-capped curl while you tumble frantically beneath. Alternatively, the maelstrom you’re enduring can only last for so long before the swell finally slows and the clouds part and the sun reveals itself again.

The only constant is change and the only thing we can ever really hope for is balance. Good times to remember in the bad, and bad times to help us appreciate the good. Big waves and still waters.

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Of course all of this is easy to say as I’m currently in the emotional equivalent of the kiddie pool, relaxing in an inflatable tube with sunglasses on and a drink in my hand. If you had asked me last month, (when I actually started writing this little comparison and also why it took me so long) I was begging for a lifeguard.

But, of course, whatever I was going through passed. As all things do. And I guess the only lesson here is to try not fighting the currents. Just let go and let life take us wherever it’s going. The more we force it and foolishly try to push against the strength of the ocean, the weaker we’ll get until we think we’re going to drown.

And just in case you thought I couldn’t play out this water theme any more, let me just remind you that by patiently waiting for a good moment and enjoying it while it lasts is the only way to successfully surf the big kahunas.

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Woogity, woogity, woogity

Microblading

Before you get too excited, microblading-despite the assumptions I made based on the name-does not involve tiny skateboards. Microblading is the latest eyebrow beauty trend, and I got to learn all about it in a freelance project I was assigned to.

One of the things that I’ve been working on lately, is getting back into freelance journalism with a publication local to New Orleans, the Gambit.

Most recently, I interview the owner of a beauty salon, who explained to me the process of microblading and why someone might want to get this trendy procedure-which is basically tattooing your eyebrows into a specific color and shape.

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It sounds a little terrifying, but then again I am also very afraid of needles. Hey, if the end result of the few minutes of pain is a few months of getting to sleep in longer and skip part of your makeup routine, then I can see why some people do it.

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Click here to read the whole story, and learn about the artistry behind microblading. And if you happen to live in New Orleans, and are looking to have your eyebrows on fleek permanently, look into Brow Design by Dina. If you’re just looking for little bitty ollies and kickflips, then I apologize. That is a different kind of microblading.

 

Reflecting

“Everyone is always on the hunt for a mirror. It’s basic psychology. You want to see yourself reflected in others. Others… want to look at you and see themselves. They want you to be a flattering reflection of them and vice versa. It’s normal… But being somebody else’s mirror? That is not your job.”
-Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeny; The Nest

So what is your job? What do you do? I think as humans we place a whole lot of weight on the answer to that question. And I think we do that precisely because of the reasons listed in this quote; other people’s expectations. Pressure from society to make something of ourselves, pressure from our parents to make them proud, and pressure to feel like we are keeping up with our peers. Whatever definition those phrases have to you, and whatever kind of weight they hold, it probably goes into how you make decisions about your life.

We gravitate both towards and away from certain people for so many reasons. Maybe as a kid, you found out about a band through an older, cooler relative and decided to start listening to them. Now their music has been so ingrained in your life that you can’t imagine ever having not liked them, even if the idea wasn’t originally yours. Maybe a bully was wearing a shirt with a certain band’s logo on it. Now, even if you don’t hate their music, you just can’t seem to get into that band for some reason. People influence each other in positive and negative ways constantly, and this influence lends itself to expectations.

We turn ourselves into mirrors for the people we admire. Setting goals to impress those people is when we make it a job.

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Figuring out why we like the things we like and why we do the things we do is a convoluted task of untangling years of impressions, repression, reactions, and regret, weaved thicker than a pair of headphones that got lost in the dryer-and best if performed by a trained professional. But, figuring out if we actually like the things we’re doing, is a little bit easier. All it takes is removing the mirror. Take away expectations and if you like what is left, you’re probably doing alright.

Maybe you love your job. Maybe it is truly your passion but it doesn’t pay as much as someone else’s, or because it’s not a “real job” it makes you feel inadequate around peers. Well, once you take away the pressure of comparing yourself to someone else, all you’re left with is a passion that fulfills you. Or maybe you couldn’t get a job that makes your heart sing, but does help you out financially. Take away the fact that you want a cool title to be able to say at your high school reunion, and at the end of the day you still have something. You’re still you, and what you fill in under “Occupation” on your doctor’s forms doesn’t change that.

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If you are a mirror, constantly reflecting other people’s ideas and expectations in every decision you make, then nothing will feel true to you. Your actions will be as shallow and thin as glass. Turn the mirror around and look at yourself and look at who you are. Looking into a mirror, it goes on forever. Without the pressure to be anything other than yourself, what do you see?

Presently

Please excuse the thought-vomit word-dump that this post is about to be. It’s been a while since I’ve written on here and I’m mostly just trying to get myself back into it. Although that’s kind of what I wanted to talk about anyway. It seems like I’m always trying to “get back” to something, and recently a friend pointed out that I might not be as appreciative of what I have as I should be.

The past always seems better than it was, and certainly better than the at-best-boring, at-worst-debilitating present. And don’t even get me started on thinking about the future. The future is too scary. So indulge with me for a moment while I take in the present.

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Today is Friday. And it’s a gorgeous almost autumn Friday at that. It’s warm but there’s a little breeze every now and then. I love the weather right now because it feels like my two favorite seasons, summer and fall, at the same time. And it’s also almost my birthday.

But I guess what has mostly been weighing on my mind lately is my inability to keep my mind in the present. To just be the blissfully unaware, happy-go-lucky, child that I used to be. Completely unaware of comparisons, everything in that moment was the best because it was happening. Right now! And I was completely okay with that! Can you imagine? Kids just do what they’re doing and and love every minute of it because they aren’t constantly worried about something else. How do they do that!?

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My inner grumpy old man is dangerously close to escaping.

Instead of just enjoying myself, what I’ve found myself doing is thinking about how much I used to enjoy myself. Sure, sure, this is a fun time we’re having but remember how much fun we used to have? Those were the days. What if I just ruin the fun time we were having right now by wallowing in my own sadness, you know, just while I’m at it.

However, (Transitional word! Here comes the twist!) I have decided that constantly making myself sad is no longer fun. Not that it ever was, but I’m more aware of my doing it now. And when my friend told me that I was being a little unappreciative of all the good things I do have right now (her friendship for example, as well as the friendship of plenty of beautiful wonderful women that I’m so happy I’m so close to) it made me want to try to be more present… in the present, in the hopes that actually taking into account the good things of every day it will help me be a little bit happier. And that’s a good goal for anyone. No matter your circumstances, we can all benefit from staying in the present.

Life might not be exactly what you want it to be at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that what it is is bad. In fact, if you really think about it, there’s probably a few good things about your life. Even if there’s just one. One is plenty. And although it might be easier to think about the negatives, it’s much more rewarding to repeat your one good thing to yourself over and over again.*

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Think about the fact that you’re a human, alive right now. Isn’t that just wild all on it’s own? You can literally do anything right this very second if you wanted to. And then think about where you are. Right this moment you’re sitting or standing, reading or scrolling, breathing. And there’s over a billion other people all doing something too. Isn’t that neat?

It’s small, but the present moment is all we really have when you think about it. The past has happened, and for better or for worse, it’s what makes you you, and that in itself is awesome. The future is so terrifyingly full of possibilities that it could literally be anything.

So where are you right now? What’s around you? Stop and breathe for a second and feel your heart beat. Even if you have nothing at all, you have that. And that isn’t so bad.

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*I would caution here that doing this out loud might make you seem a little crazy, and as the current conductor of the Crazy Train I would know. Don’t worry, it’s easier to just accept it. Acceptance is the first step, right?

ENFP

Recently, my work encouraged employees to complete the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality assessment to learn a little bit about ourselves and our coworkers. It’s a quiz that algorithmically figures out which of 16 different personality types best describe you. It breaks your preferences down into the way you direct and receive energy (either extraverted or introverted), the way you take in information (either by sensing or intuition), the way you make decisions (by thinking or feeling), and the way you approach the outside world (judging or perceiving). Basically the scientific version of getting sorted into your Hogwarts house (Hufflepuff all the way).

As it turns out, I am an ENFP which means that I am extraverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceiving. I’m very observant to things that affect me (which often feels like everything) and when I feel something, I feel it a lot. I’m an overly sensitive and excitable idiot who wants to make the world a better place, but might not be using the most effective methods (see: emotional outbursts and general “too much”-ness) Good intentions, poor execution; like I said, Hufflepuff.

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(Don’t worry. I know Seamus is a Gryffindor, he just serves to illustrate my point.)

Learning about emotional preferences got me thinking about how people’s personalities and actions can easily be influenced by certain situations or even other people. It’s important to realize how many sides to themselves each person has and that maybe that one negative thing you know about them might not be the whole picture. Sometimes your actions are just a reaction and it’s not fair for people to make assumptions about who you are based off of that. Negative times in your life do not fully reflect the person you know you are.

Rumors are started on fragments of stories, and reputations are often ruined by exaggerations of the truth. It’s so easy when we don’t see the whole picture to make assumptions about people and see a certain version of them with no hope of reformation. I know how painful it is to walk into a room and know that everyone was just talking about you, and I know how hopeless it can seem to try and change the way you know you are viewed. Lately I’ve been making mental efforts to try and consider the other facts, the quiet truths that don’t get told, when I’m faced with negative feelings towards someone. I like to think that what you put into the world comes back to you, and at the end of the day we’re all just floating on this tiny rock hurtling through space, trying our best.

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But I guess that’s what I’m afraid of. People who don’t fully know me but think they do. People who believe stories they are told rather than simply asking the source. Not having control over how I’m seen is terrifying to me and not being able to explain myself feels even worse. I often worry that people will only ever see me as one incident rather than the reason that incident occurred. Then I try to remedy the situation, usually growing it into something worse, and creating a new story to get passed around.

Sometimes It’s hard to feel like you have a good grip on yourself when so many other people seem to be saying something different. It’s hard to feel like you ever knew yourself sometimes, when you know that people will only see one small sliver of you. And you almost want to scream at them to explain it, but then, of course, now you’ve only proven them right. But I feel like, on my slow journey of self-identification, it’s helpful to understand how certain things affect you. Knowing how you might be inclined to react in a situation might help you to make a more positive choice.

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Feeling more in tune with my emotions has helped to take a little bit of blame off. I know that few people mean to be hurtful intentionally, and I know that I never want to actually hurt someone, but I also know now why certain things do hurt, and why I might react the way I do. I also now know not to react, but I can’t say anything for Past Paige.

But that’s kind of the thing. We’re always growing, and we’ll simultaneously never be smarter or more stupid than we are right now. You don’t know the things you don’t know. And that might have caused you to do some things in the past that you never would have done now. I can’t change the things I’ve done, and I can’t change the way people see me because of that. But I can change the way I consider other people and the way I see myself. Really all you can do is apologize and move on, knowing that you’re working every day to your best self, and someday people will see that, as long as you make an effort to see it in them.

Good luck out there, friends and fellow ENFPs.

Reset

Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Taylor Swift, and it’s not just because her “1989” album is fan-freaking-tastic, but that does have a little bit to do with it.

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Finding myself feeling understood by T-Swift’s lyrics lately has sent me skyrocketing back to the last time I was really into her music. It was her debut album and she was just starting her career while I was just starting high school. Friends I had had since the age of four were going to a different school, my new school wasn’t close to my house, and the only person I knew who attended it at the time was my older sister. If you think I’m dramatic now, imagine how I was at 13.

It always seemed to me that everyone else had an easier time of flowing with the natural ebbs of life than I did. I never understood why growing up was something that had to happen anyway. My paw-paw still likes to tell the story about how after my first day of kindergarten I announced that that was it. I was done with changing grades, and I would like to stay in kindergarten forever please and thank you. (To be honest, I still don’t think that’s a terrible idea).

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Now, since graduating college, I have bounced around through five different jobs, friends have moved or moved on, dynamics have changed, and there’s a definite disturbance in the force. It’s been a lot for this late blooming creature of habit to take in, and it’s left me feeling like I’m going through some kind of strange second puberty.

So, for a little dose of TMI, here are the top 5 ways I’ve noticed my life mirror itself from 10 years ago.

1) Music: With the exception of Taylor Swift, I don’t listen to exactly the same stuff as I used to 10 years ago. That being said, I have noticed that my early 2000’s-hot-topic-wearing “music is life” phase hasn’t really died as much as evolved, if only slightly. I still use music to cope and feel understood. I focus on words more than the actual sounds because the lyrics are what make me feel like the world might actually be okay, at least for two minutes and thirty seconds. (Also I still have dopey thoughts like that.) But seriously, “New Romantics”? I can’t handle the accuracy of that one.

2) Relationships: What are they? Who has them? How does this work and is anyone actually having fun? Maybe this is all just me, but the idea of giving another human all of my heart is a teensy bit terrifying. And then intriguing. And then terrifying again. Mostly because human relationships feel about the same as they did in high school. Everyone cares about who’s with who and what they did more than their own personal wellbeing. The only difference now is that “going out” has turned into “getting engaged” and “having a date to prom” is “having someone to go to your friend’s wedding with”. Breakups and separations still suck, and everyone else knows more about your own relationship than you do. I want to say this one gets better, but my research isn’t exactly sound at the moment.

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3) Lifestyles: Getting into a school and graduating has become getting a job and moving out. Like into a house that you paid for, instead of a dorm that your school is responsible for. Some people achieve these quicker than others, some never really do, depending on your definition. Either way, it’s just more of those inevitable life goals that, one way or another, everyone experiences eventually but it still feels like it’ll never happen to you. Someday you’ll all be on your own and you’ll know how to cook for yourself, but for now it seems like all your friends are getting their SAT scores back, or new cars, before you.

4) Literal physical puberty: I swear I get more zits and hair now than I did when I was in high school. Apparently bodily changes never stop, they just get weirder. I still can’t run a mile and I never got any taller. And don’t even get me started on the mood swings. I promise I’m not crazy.*

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5) Parties: I’m still not invited to those. Probably because I’m still a massive dork, but whatever. Points for consistancy.

To quote another band I’ll probably never stop listening to, Bowling for Soup, “high school never ends”. Life is always throwing curveballs, forcing you into something new, and people will generally always kind of suck. I guess it’s pretty damaging to think that someday everything will just magically fall into place, as opposed to just enjoying what is happening now.

Sure, the stakes feel higher, but what I like to remind myself is that I already survived actual high school (the most gruesome of tortures, naturally) and if I can do that, then the rest of life’s little resets can’t be that hard. People will always be mean, someone will always be prettier than you, and you won’t get picked to be on the team sometimes. Maybe you failed a test, or maybe you tanked a meeting at work. I think back now on when things would get bad in school and how I could have sworn that the world was going to end. I knew that this was, without a doubt, The Worst Ever, and I would never make it through. But eventually I did. Usually without even realizing it.

Shit happens and it’s going to keep happening. But maybe that’s okay. Starting over gives you a chance to grow and reinvent yourself. Maybe even become closer to the kind of person you’ve always wanted to be. And, good news, you get about a million chances to do that.

While you’re busy getting a fresh start**, the rest of the world probably is too. And, as it turns out, nobody else knows what they’re doing either. The only difference now, that I’m just starting to realize, is that I don’t think they ever did. Everyone was either just really good at pretending in high school, or I was just really bad at acting.

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In the meantime, through all the twists and turns of life, I’ll still be trying my best to be myself, and not take too many things too personally. I’d like to come out of all of this mostly unscathed, because I’ve always been bad about picking scabs. And at this rate I probably always will be.

*I mean, not any more crazy than anyone else anyway. Duh.

**I’m including myself in this “you’re” by the way