Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hard Lessons to Learn About One's Self

I haven’t written in a while. A lots been going on in my head lately, but I’m trying to make sense of a lot of it, and then with this time of year (which is not one I’m all that fond of) keeping people (myself included) busy and stressed, it’s all sort of hindered my writing. But I’m going to write now because I have sort of missed it and I also know I have some loyal readers that continue to “check-in” even when I’ve gone this long without writing (which is possibly one of the longest times for me). I don’t know that this will be much worth reading, but it’s what’s been on my mind lately.

If there’s one thing I’m learning more and more about myself nowadays it’s that I care a lot more about what people think of me than I like to admit (or than I give off the impression of being). I want people to like me, and I dwell on how I can better any relationship that I become aware of that include someone having an “issue” with me, or that they “don’t like me” or that I “bother them.” I’ve been known on several occasions to confront people that I know have these sorts of concerns about me. I don’t confront in a rude or “well take this then!” sort of manner, but rather a confrontation in that I know (or have heard) that I bother you and I want to do whatever I can to work on this issue because I don’t want you to not like me if there’s anything I can do about it. Sure, most the times the person is apparently pretty content on not having any sort of a friendship/relationship with me, so they make no effort to discuss with me the topic of concern, but I try nonetheless.

The above is just an example of something I can dwell on. When I find out about someone that I care about (even if it’s just in the manner of caring for them as an acquaintance) having “issues” with me, that’s something I will never forget unless I’m able to get it resolved. Unfortunately, I’ll always have that concern of theirs tagged to them whenever I think about them and it’s not in a mean sense, but in a sense of my genuinely wishing I could do something to “fix it” (assuming that’s even possible). What’s even worse is when it’s a person that I greatly admire/respect and I wish with all my power that I could “fix” their views/thoughts of me.

Okay, honestly, I have no idea how and why I just started going off on all that. That sounds like something that needs to be discussed out with a counselor of some sort…HA! Oh well, it’s me and I don’t mind sharing it, so I’m not going to delete it. Maybe it will either help people to understand me better or to possible be able to relate or maybe even better understand their self. It has been something I’ve recently been learning more and more about myself, but it’s not really what’s been on my mind most lately.

My most recent self-discoveries have been rather discouraging to admit to myself and so I’ve been dealing a lot with trying to rebut them or come up with a better understanding (AKA something I’d rather hear about myself).

I’ve never been a consistent date-er, but as with most every other part of my life, when I do date, I’m quick to think everything through and try to make the best understanding of it all. Is this bad? Probably, but it’s me and why would my dating life be any different? So, as with any area of my life, I’ve taken an interest in trying to understand why I feel and act the way I do in different dating relationships. There’s actually a technical psychological study for this, but its way to late for me to get technical (or to even act like I remember what it’s called), so I’ll leave that out. Anyways, I try to understand why is it that I’m nervous around this guy, or not nervous around this other guy. Why is it that I feel comfortable telling this guy flat out that I’m not a drinker and I like to wear a ball cap when I’m just being lazy, but this other guy I worry about what he’s going to think? Why is it that when this guy does this particular thing it really bothers me, when it’s what most girls would love in a dating situation? [Then I compare. Yes, I know, God-forbid I compare one dating experience with another one, but let’s face it, it’s “human.”] Why is it that with this guy and that guy I find myself feeling bothered in the same way, even though they are similar in ways, but yet not really?

It’s that last one that has really hit home. In a way it shouted the classic “breaking-up phrase” of “it’s not you, it’s me.” For heaven’s sake, how could I admit that it’s my fault I feel this way? I mean, I didn’t feel this way until he came into the picture! Isn’t it his fault?!

Well, I believed that in the early rounds, but it’s becoming old now and it’s hard to continue blaming others when I’m always ending up as the common denominator…

As someone that’s not a “consistent date-er” I’ve learned to thrive and appreciate what comes with the single-life. I’ve learned to love the benefits of independence and freedom. I’ve become quick to choose things that please me in life and to not feel compromised by what others might want to do. If I want to do nothing because that’s how I’m feeling, then I choose to do nothing and I feel no guilt in doing it. It’s selfish in many ways, yet harmless in being single. I’ve learned to live my life in what feels as a balance for me between social interactions and self-time. Sure, my social time is probably higher than some people’s, but it’s what the balance is for me. Yet, even with a high level of socializing desired, I still rely on some self-time. Whether that’s to be lazy or to try to think everything out that’s going on in my life and during my social times, then so be it—whatever the case, its needed time for myself.

So one thing I’m noticing about myself when dating is I find myself struggling with rebalancing. A new person has come into the picture and I have to get the balance correct or it bothers me. I have a HUGE pet-peeve for “girls that ditch their friendships for boys” so I refuse to do that, so between fitting another person into the puzzle and keeping conscious of my friendships, I can often find myself struggling in the beginning to reestablish a satisfying balance. Sure, I realize if it’s going to work I will have to find a new balance (because obviously with a new character in the game the numbers will be different), but I have a hard time accepting less of one thing I enjoy and have been happy with and am familiar with, in order to include something that is unfamiliar. I’ve got to learn to cut the pie differently because while I still have the same size of a pie, I’ve got more areas I need to share it between.

Now if this rebalancing was all I had to deal with, I think I could have adjusted to this and worked through it without much fretting; however, I’m learning much more about myself…

I think it comes down to a combination of 1.) my love for freedom and doing what I want to do and 2.) my interest in caring about what people think of me. Sure, I want to talk to people when I feel like talking to them, or I want to hangout whenever I want to hangout, and if I don’t want to hangout or talk to someone, I don’t want them to be offended by it either, because many times it is NOT something personal concerning that individual; it’s probably more of my interest in self-time or that I am trying to balance time with other people as well.

This is a BIG issue for me. As someone that’s been content and accustom to a single life, it’s easy for me to feel smothered by someone new coming into my life and having interest in trying to get a major portion of my time. Sure, it can be selfish in some ways, but it’s also considerate in other ways, as I want to do my best to balance all my friendships that mean so much to me. Sure, I might really enjoy the time I spend with someone new that has come into my life, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy my time with my other friends, especially my best friends any less. I’m still going to greatly look forward to time with these friends, and if I want to spend time with these friends (without feeling the pressure to invite along the new person, or to have to worry about feeling guilty for not inviting them), that’s what I want to do.

I guess the toughest thing to swallow with all these recent self-revelations is that it seems to say rather loudly that without being willing/able to sacrifice some of my freedom and selfish ways, I will never be able to dedicate myself to a relationship to the level of marriage. I’m informed enough to know that marriages only work with a willingness to compromise and work together. One can be no more selfish than another in order for it to workout.

Man, it can be so hard sometimes…


Melody said...

Dating sucks. It does. The end. But when you date someone that you can really see yourself marrying one day, it is VERY hard to let go of the independence that you have. I still struggle with that. It is very hard to balance your friendships with a serious relationship as well. It is possible...but hard. Basically what I am saying is that you will eventually have to make sacrifices. They aren't all bad but just hard to let go of.
And it is good to "analyze." Be picky! This is the rest of your life! :)

jules said...

glad to have you back. i've already started quite a long comment. that'll come later. needs to be a little more thought-out... this is a topic about which i'm very passionate! :)

but, i'll give you a sneak peek - you and i think very, very similarly.

FeedingYourMind said...

Melody: Yes, yes dating does suck. I hate the fakeness and constant sense of needing to impress and worry about how it all came off that can oh-so-often occur.

I think it's good to hear the comments you shared coming from you. It's nice to hear that even as a married person, our desire for independence can be something that we still find ourselves needing to work on. I mean that can come off as sounding like it's hopeless (in that the struggle might seem like it never goes away), but to me I see it as something that reminds me that it's possibly to still struggle with a sense of independence, but to still fall in love and get married and be happy even with the struggle being there.

Jules: Thank you; it was good to be back. I'm glad I could write on something you're passionate about, as I always look forward to some words shared by you. As for the "sneak peek"--it's good to know I'm not alone. =)

I anticipate your "long comment."

FeedingYourMind said...

Tonight I watched an Oprah episode which aired back on what I believe was December 4th. It was a follow-up episode to the first episode containing Elizabth Gilbert, the best-selling author of what is apparently an AMAZING book that has been in the Top Sellers for MANY weeks--"Eat, Pray, Love."

Gilbert seems like such an amazingly intelligent and gentle soul. She makes me smile in her pleasant happiness and she's one of those just simple and naturally beautiful women! As Oprah has spoken with her in this episode (as well as the last one) I can't help but think what a wise woman she is.

One point in the episode I watched today made me think of this blog entry. Gilbert was commenting on the word "selfish." She explained that she learned that in the Mandarin Chinese there are two words for "selfish." One means "doing that which is beneficial to you" and the other means "hoarding, greedy, and cruel". She mentioned how it is so unfortunate that in the English language we've come to combine the two into our interpretation and settled the meaning of "selfish" into the latter of the two.

The more I thought about this, the more I agreed. Why is it that things that are selfish are merely thought of as "cruel" or "greedy"? Is one being cruel to others by taking time for him/herself to benefit his/her mental health? One should be able to be selfish in ways that are beneficial to his/herself and it not be thought of as a "bad" selfish, because it is not an action of cruelty or greed.

Just some thoughts...

Anonymous said...

One thing I admire about your entries is your total and complete honesty. You have a lot of guts to share to us what "we all" just think about. It is amazing the love that you have not only for those you know well but also for those you don't know as well. Not too many people can love the way you do. You are like christ....totally amazing.

FeedingYourMind said...

Anonymous: Thank you for the comment (whoever you are). And based on what I can know about you from it, I'm humbled by it.

You're a good person for leaving it. It takes a loving person to do such a deed.