B-word

I once told my grandmother that I rarely scream but can always find the words that will truly hurt.  It’s a flaw I’m trying to fix, trust me.  When I make that snide comment is when I want to push the reset button.  I want to get back to the factory setting where the cynicism is less blatant and patience is more present.  But reality bites and here we are.  I’m just trying to be better.

As I grow older though, the less I want to apologize.  Of course I feel guilty when the conscience kicks in.  I don’t have the right to hurt people’s feelings.  It’s immature and inconsiderate but the snark is part of who I am.  As Carrie Bradshaw would say, there is the time when you don’t shut the fuck up (context: season 6, she gives Berger constructive criticism about the scrunchy).  The ability to speak up is useful when standing up for what you believe in and is part of being comfortable in your own skin.  When you don’t suffer fools.  I’ll just learn when to keep it to myself and to know the distinction between wit and negativity.  Afterall, it is not my job to enlighten the whole room, I’ll leave that to Gwyneth Paltrow.

I find there are so many words that are used to define assertive women who are not afraid to tell it like it is when the occasion calls for it.  Hint: it starts with a B and rhymes with witch.  Obviously there are negative connotations associated with it like being a nag, bossy and unladylike.  There are also ways to own it like being capable, decisive and goal-oriented.  How many B words describe men who behave in a similar way?  Bold, brash, beautiful, brave even when they are deserving of the description of bully.  Perhaps it’s because they don’t make excuses and their socially constructed gender gives them more leeway to go after what they want.

Earlier this year Hillary Clinton mused on her experience with youth and gender: “and it’s always surprising to me how many young women think they have to be perfect,” Clinton said. “I rarely meet a young man who doesn’t think he already is.”

Hell, if appearing to be perfect and leveraging my abilities and intelligence allows me to win, I’m all in.  Is that what it takes?  No apologies.

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Flippant

It’s a fact universally acknowledged that the very moment that you say “like I care” is when you care the most.  God, I wish it was not true.  You gain a lot of baggage when you give too much credit to people’s opinions.  You risk very little when you don’t want to be made a fool.  But here’s the concession, there are strategies to not give a damn and rewards associated with it.

It’s Andrew’s coping mechanisms to brush things aside.  He reasons that it’s a way to not waste energy on things that don’t really matter.  Sure his feelings rarely get hurt but sometimes I wish he would pay more attention to the finer details.  The downside is that it can make you sloppy when it comes to your personal life.  Sometimes you have to do nice things for people even when they’re not particularly considerate or attentive to your needs.  It’s work to be a bigger person.  But here’s the good stuff, not caring allows you to not fear instabilities that are just a necessary part of life.  People always wonder why successful people don’t have regrets that haunt them.  It’s because they know they would not be where they are without all of those setbacks.

Another liberating fact is that more likely than not people are too busy to think about you anyways.  Schedules are hectic and even when you screw up, most people will devote a nano-second to ponder your situation and then are distracted by something they have to get done.  They are probably already checking their phone.  Who says that self-interest is always a bad thing, heck I’m pretty sure that it can be an integral part of self-preservation.

But I believe there is a point when you would not let things faze you as much, when you’re not looking for gratification from everywhere but within.  I believe the path to this zen, this security, is finding something that you’re passionate about and taking steps to master it.  Work hard to excel.  I’m currently reading “The Goldfinch” and upon seeing the cover Andrew said, “Donna Tartt, that’s the worst fake name ever.”  To which I replied, “she doesn’t care, she’s won a Pulitzer.”

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Public

Can a private person be active on various forms of social media?  There must be some disconnect in keeping your personal life under wraps and putting it on display right?  I think the line is fine and depends on where you want to set it.

As someone who writes on a blog three days a week about her everyday life and aspects of her past you must wonder how I even define myself as being private.  Well, I very much am.  I can count on one hand the number of people who I am truly myself around.  Let me list them now: my husband, my mother, my son and my best friend K.  Four.  Four people whom I trust enough to reveal it all.

I write about all this stuff because it’s my way of learning.  I document this not necessarily as a reference to mediate on later, I just think better with words.  And the fact of the matter is that I think ALL the time so it’s nice to let some of it go, you know?  I figure for all of the use that particularities can encourage, like respect and empathy, some of the universalities are sometimes good.  We’ve all probably had the guy issues, blown off commitments, been a flake or broken people’s hearts.  So it’s nice to know that it’s part of the narrative of life.  That we’re all fumbling around a little and that frailty is allowed.

Plus, what you see here is a fraction of what’s actually going on and a sliver of what I want you to see.  And whatever you read from it, be it neurosis, confidence, frustration, acceptance, all of those interpretations are perfectly acceptable.  It’s meant to be read anyways, it’s public.

And that’s where there’s trouble.  As someone who’s very much part of my history and obviously my present Andrew appears now and again in my writing.  It doesn’t always make him comfortable because he’s so private.  He’s hard to decipher but it’s intentional and I agree that it’s effective.  If you show people all of your cards, you make yourself vulnerable to their critiques and ridicule.  The difference between us is that I just assume that the feedback from the peanut gallery is just a part of developing as an individual.  If you didn’t have that reflection, how could you possibly define who exactly you are?  To know who you don’t want to be?  Plus some critiques are meant to be dismissed.  They make it too easy.

I think it’s common for anger to be defined as an undesirable trait.  In some ways I do agree.  People with higher emotional intelligence see the manipulative aspects of tantrums and how useless they are.  Most of the time they just produce tears and people thinking that you’re kind of a loser.  But I think that human emotions are far too complex to create such stark contrasts, like how the words neurotic and aware have different connotations but similar motivations.  Don’t these people just want to see and question?  Some just manage it better and they get placed behind the “fun” line on the spectrum.  So management.  Management and mystery.

I’ve always preferred to try to problem solve independently.  It’s a force of habit.  For all that you have to say about only children you have to admit that our hands don’t always need to be held.  If that makes us distant, well so be it.  At least we don’t advertise every paper cut.  Most of us just put our heads down and get shit done.

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#fail

The best advice I’ve ever received came from my friend K, who in his loud, witty way told me to buy a ticket.  At the time it was in reference to some game we were playing but it stuck with me.  Now I basically use it every time I consider a job opportunity or try to change my current reality.

The advantage of having a low threshold for humiliation is that you’re more careful.  The disadvantage is that you’re more fearful.  I used to be so afraid of failure that I missed out on some great opportunities.  But if you don’t put in that application or volunteer that time or buy the fricken ticket the answer will always be “no.”  The answer might still be “no” in the end but at least you were in the running.

This is all within reason of course.  I’m pretty sure that one of the definers of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, looking for a different result.  That or you’re a masochist.  Of course don’t give up and try, try again.  Just make sure that you change the parameters or the strategies.

There are so many ways that we get in our own way.  We tell ourselves that we’re not good enough, that we suck at math, or that we’re not intelligent.  It’s human nature to want to fuck it up for yourself because at least that way the rejection came from you and not from someone else.

When I was young I celebrated the Christmas holidays with my extended family.  One year my mom and aunt got stress balls for the three of us.  My cousin K got one that said “whatever” and a stick figure who didn’t care.  T’s said something that doesn’t come to mind but probably had something with her “knowing what she’s doing.”  Mine was pink, had a shaking person and said “me, nervous?”  It’s not like they were saying anything that wasn’t common knowledge.  I brooded over getting my ears pierced for two days till finally my aunt put a spray meant for freezing throats on my ears right before the procedure.  I was a nervous wreck for a long time.  I built things up so much in my mind and set the ground for overthinking it.  Since then I’ve learnt to look objectively at the stakes, know that they’re not life or death, and to do my best.  I’m also older so I can do something fun afterwards like go shopping or have some champagne.  Yay!  I screwed up!  And just like that the sun rises and you move on.

For me, standardized tests used to be the enemy.  Now I just know that the best thing to do is study.  Duh.  But don’t psych yourself out when the time comes to put that learning into practice.  You deserve better.  You are better.

Update: T’s stress ball said “I’m not listening.”  Ha.  Fits her to a T.

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Bestie

For someone who says that she relates much better to women, I was one of those girls who ditched all their friends for her boyfriend.  Truth be told I’m surprised that it’s not more common.  First loves are all-consuming and I was lucky enough to gain a best friend in the process.  I ended up marrying him too.  When we spend time together we just have that kind of rapport.  We problem-solve, fight and enjoy life’s pleasures first and foremost as individuals choosing to be together.  As best buds.

It was only as I matured that I learnt the distinction between my partner and my friends.  They are different and serve distinct purposes.  The reality of it is that my husband is the person I trust the most and go to first.  No one will ever take that position, no matter the amount of love and affection I have for them.  But with a friend, the relationship is lighter though no less significant.  It’s nice to have a breather from your legally-binding teammate.

What I can say about my best friend K is that she is the very best of people.  She is considerate, generous, fun and above all very well-raised.  We work because we have the same expectations for what our friendship will entail.  Currently we are living on separate coasts but even when we were in the same city we were not in each other’s faces.  What I like about K is that she is low-maintenance.  There are no hurt feelings about not having Skype dates or questions about what we mean to each other.  The simple answer is that we love each other, are in each other’s lives but don’t need constant updates.  Nothing changes.

If I had to name what I admire about her, it is her loyalty.  K was there for me through some tough times in undergrad and beyond and she is there for me still.  That’s why she was my maid of honor and my son’s godmother.  She is so very honourable.  I can’t even list all the ways that she has been such a good friend.  I just hope that I can be the same and repay half of what she has given so unconditionally.

So if you find your bestie consider yourself lucky, because not everyone gets that privilege.

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