As the growing season presses onward, we should be seeing signs of growth all around us….
If you look hard enough, I’m sure you could find it….
Well….this is interesting for me.
I’m sure that I could look a lot of different ways. Perhaps best though is to look at myself. Which seems obvious, but is always hardest for me. I don’t like looking at myself. It usually makes me see things I don’t like. That’s good in a way, because once I see things I don’t like, I can try to change. But it’s uncomfortable and painful at times. My own image of myself isn’t at it’s greatest. I’m feeling better about how I see myself physically. Hell, I’m getting to where I feel pretty again. Not hot, not gorgeous…but definitely attractive under the right circumstances. That’s a start.
But once I look inwards, well then my nice feelings explode.
I’m not a nice person. I’m a horrible person, if we’re honest. I’m blunt, forward, I don’t know when to keep my feelings/thoughts to myself. I’m very well known to hurt people when I speak out, even if I don’t meant to. I never have learned this whole thing of “tread softly”, like to watch what one says. I’m the one who says my opinion as plainly as I know how…and realizes after the fact that it might have come across harsh or rude. And yet, even then I don’t normally care. To me truth means more than playing kindly and speaking in flowery words to avoid all trouble. Don’t get me wrong, I can talk my way out of trouble with the best of them, I know how to flatter and how to turn anger away from myself most of the time. I’ve been told I can be quite charming when I want to be. I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or a bad if I’m honest, because usually me being “charming” is only when I know I’m about to get into major trouble, and if I talk fast enough and pretty enough I can avoid the punishment. So I think it’s not good most of the time.
Then there’s the fact that I’m always on the darker side of things. I’m diagnosed with dysthymia, it’s a form of chronic depression. It’s usually on the mild side, chronic, long-term. With me though…I have an unusual type. Mine is severe, like constant deep depression, but I have major depressive episodes with my dysthymia. Imagine how much fun that is for the psyche. I’m already severely depressed constantly, and then “bam” there’s another deep spike of making it worse. Really, it makes me a pretty pessimistic person. That’s not acceptable in American-US culture. We’re supposed to be merry/peppy/happy at all times. I’m not. I’m wired mentally to not be that way, which means I’m constantly getting told “Smile” or “Why are you always so gloomy? Just brighten up already”. It doesn’t really matter that it’s not in my nature to just be peppy and cheerful, because I don’t fit in with the norm, so I’m deliberately being a downer. Of course.
And my personal favorite – I’m an introvert. I’m actually extremely people-phobic. By that I mean I’m claustrophobic. In the traditional sense of the word, but also in the sense that I have near full-blown panic attacks if I’m in groups of more than say 3 people. It makes meeting new people and dealing with people painful and terrifying for me. For example, WG meeting (flat meeting) with my 14 Mitbewohner last week was nearly torture. I’ve lived with these people for 9 months now…and yet I still just wanted to run into a corner and hide. I can’t do big groups. And not to mention – I’m just not that outgoing to begin with. I like my quiet, my “me time”, my solitude. I’m extremely introverted, and yet, that’s another problem that people have with me. I’m “aloof, standoffish, arrogant” because I don’t interact with people a lot. I’ve a “superiority complex” because if I’m observing conversation and I smile at a joke that everyone else laughs at, because I’m not actively participating, I’m somehow mocking everyone involved. My being an introvert is a major problem. My own family is constantly telling me to “open up” and “go out and do something”, as if it were that easy.
I’m a perfectionist to the point of failure. I sometimes paralyze myself with my perfectionism. I’ll not do things, or put them off until the absolute last minute, because I know I can’t do it perfectly. If I’m not the best, I won’t do it. Or if I can’t be in the top of the group, I avoid it. Small wonder that I stuck it through with histories and languages…I’ve always been the best at them. And I dropped sciences and math as soon as I could, because I’m only average at math and I nearly failed my science classes. If I can’t be good, I don’t do it. That’s a flaw, one that I’m acutely aware of, and yet I still cannot stop myself from repeating the pattern.
All in all, I’m not a good person. I’ve major flaws. I haven’t even touched on some major ones here, they’re too personal for me to feel comfortable sharing with anyone at this time. However, there is growth for me.
See, I’m recognizing these things. I know what people say of me. I cannot change who I am, that is impossible. But what I can do is adapt. I’m an introvert, dealing with people terrifies me. 3 people might sound like a tiny group to most, but for me that’s a huge step. Even a year ago, I would panic if confronted with more than 1 person. It’s slow…but I’ve begun to find out ways to handle groups. I can present in front of a class now without forgetting every little detail. Yes, I still forget a good 60%+ of what I know by heart, and have to read from note cards, but it gets slowly better. I’m still depressed. Dysthymia is not something I can cure. But I can work with it. And slowly, my doctor is helping me to figure out how to handle it. So eventually I should have that mostly under control.
I’ll always be blunt, I know that. It’s just not in me to play tip-toe round the issue. I can talk kind, and I know that sometimes kind words serve better. I’m slowly learning when there are times I should not say exactly what I’m thinking. Some people cannot handle it. And while to me it seems ridiculous to tell little lies to save feelings, I’m learning that it’s culturally necessary at times. It’s small, but I can at least catch if I say something, or if something I want to say might seem to be crossing that line of “societal niceties”. I can’t always catch it before I say it, but I have gotten to where I can recognize to apologize when I’ve hurt someone’s feelings. Because even a year ago I would seriously not realize when I upset someone with my words.
It’s all quite small. I’m aware of that. However, even small growth is something. Perhaps what I’m most happy about though is that I can even look and see some improvement. That’s not something I would have done a year ago.∗