Tag Archives: bravery

The Writing on this Wall

This evening I had a very brief but very meaningful exchange with a dear friend. He said, “I’m not a secretive guy, so it’s hard for me when everyone is secretive.” And in a fit of unexpected honesty I replied, “I’ve always had issues with owning my life. Like, I’d rather not apologize for it, so I hide it, which ends up sucking for me and, more importantly, for those around me. I should grow up.” And while he kindly made excuses for me, I realized that what I said was so so right and something I had thought for a long time, but never said. And in saying it, I felt it–I felt ashamed.

I have, too often, been incapable of owning up to my own choices. Even when I feel not at all misguided or unwise in my decisions, even when I would have no problem defending my path should I be confronted, I go to great lengths to avoid such a confrontation. Like, when I decided to move in with my significant other (*cough* in hindsight maybe that was a misguided decision, but at the time it seemed like a good plan. Sue me. *cough*) all those years ago, I tried to keep it from my very Catholic family for a long time. As a 21 year old woman who had willingly entered into an adult relationship, I shuddered at the thought of my family judging me for it. Judging me for what? Being human? Being *gasp!* normal?! I felt that there was nothing wrong with my actions, yet, because someone else might, I tried to keep my life under wraps.

How. Fucking. Pathetic.

I admire so much the people I know who are unapologetically and unabashedly up front about their lives (like her, and her). Having the confidence and the courage to say, “Yeah, this is me. This is my life. Not everyone is going to be OK with all of it. So-the-fuck-what?” is so incredible to me. I want to be that awesome. And I am going to be that awesome. Starting now.

I have wanted to write this blog for months, but I kept talking myself out of it with really weak ass excuses. So I am done.

This…finally…is the story of my tattoo.

First, if you don’t either know me personally or have never read this blog before, you might want to brush up real quick and read this post. But long story short, last fall my asshole father told me to get the fuck out of his house. So I did. It was really really scary to grab my purse and walk out the front door with no idea where I was planning on going or what I was going to do the next day…and the day after…and the day after…but I did it. I left. When, after several weeks, my father ate crow and said, for the first time in my life, “I’m sorry,” I was a little surprised but not impressed or moved, as he had so clearly expected me to feel. So when he said, “Just come home. Do it for your mother,” I surprised both of us by saying, “Don’t you dare tell me what to do for my mother. You want to do something for her? Quit drinking.” It was the bravest and the most self-assured I had ever felt in my entire life. And, needless to say, I didn’t move back in.

It is quite nerve-wracking to turn down a roof over your head and free food for uncertainty and homelessness, but, in that moment, the truly frightening thing would have been to be back under the roof of the man who tormented me most of my life. In that moment, I was fearless. And as I rode the high from that burst of bravery over the following weeks, I wanted nothing more than to feel that sense of sheer unstoppable courage in every aspect of my life. So, though I had not ever really thought of myself as the type to get a tattoo, I decided that that was just what I needed: a permanent and tangible something to remind me, every single day, of the bold, unafraid person I can be.

So I had “without fear” inked into my left ribcage…right next to my heart.

Every day, when I get out of the shower, I see those words on my skin, and they remind me that I don’t have to be intimidated by life. Life leaves its scars (I have 98 visible ones so far, and many more invisible), but worrying about the pain that’s to come hurts just as much–if not more–than the actual pain when it happens. I will live a much fuller life if I hope and love and experience as much as I can without fear.

Now, I am in no way saying I am fearless. LORD, no. But I am a less fearful work in progress. When I start shying away from good things, simply because they might go away at some point, I give myself a shake or a slap and say, “HEY! You’re wasting time being afraid. Knock it off!” and then I try to forge ahead with a little more courage and a slightly higher held head. And when I step outside myself and do things that are foolish or risky and then suddenly feel a little more alive, I know I am becoming the kind of person I want to be: the kind of person who has “without fear” scrawled across her ribs.

Have a problem with what I just told you? Sorry, but I’m not sorry.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under self-reflection, The Good Moods, Wellness

Sometimes I listen to people. It’s rare, but it happens.

For the 3/4 of a person that cares, I am once again quite sorry for disappearing for the last few weeks. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say or the time to say it, I’m just a horrible horrible person.

I kid.

No, it’s just inertia working against me. The less I write the harder it is to get back into the proverbial saddle and wride on (get it? get it?).

But, anyway, I’m here now, trying to get my mind-at-rest to stop staying at rest. I’ve been struggling for an hour or so to organize my thoughts and decide what to say and what is unimportant, and then I remembered that once upon a time, I had readers; and once upon a time, one of my readers gave me some advice. On one of my lazy posts, someone left a comment saying:

“You should write in bullets more often. They’re much more entertaining.”

Well, I aspire to someday be considered entertaining, so reader and friend, these bullets are for you.

  • Several weeks ago I retook the GRE (Graduate Record Exam for those of you lucky enough to not have taken it on yet) and improved my score since the last time I struggled through that POS test, so I am now one step closer to going to graduate school. About. Fucking. Time. Now I just have to apply, get in, get grants and financial aid and loans, and actually GO. Not exactly a done deal. But this will all happen eventually, I just know it.
  • September 2nd officially marked my last day as a nanny. The babies are growing up: Edy started 5-day-a-week preschool this week, and Graham will be entering Montessori in just a few months. It’s bizarre and sad not seeing them everyday, but this change was very very necessary.
  • After fearing that I’d be unemployed for weeks after leaving the kiddies, and going so far as to start planning a road trip that would fill a month’s time while I waited for new work, I landed a job before even saying farewell to the babes. Last week I began working at an after-school Academic Center as a “Coach” (a.k.a. tutor). I’m working with younger students on math and reading, high schoolers with writing essays and the like, and I’m also an ACT prep coach. It is a job vaguely in my field (Praise Allah!), and I also feel like I’m doing something good for the world: in a few weeks we start working with children in the No Child Left Behind program, and I’ve already been assigned one very troubled student who just needs someone to push him, yet be patient with him. I already feel so much more fulfilled doing this than I did watching Sesame Street with the babies, and it’s only been one week. This is where I’m meant to be for a while, I suspect.
  • I hate, so much, living at home. I have officially reached my breaking point with my parents and thus try every waking moment to be…not here. The hours of this new gig (11AM-7PM) are awesome for avoiding the parentals, but I’m still constantly looking for reasons to escape the homestead: drinking on a Tuesday, eating sushi I cannot afford, visiting my BFF in East Lansing literally every weekend, working to have walked aimlessly around every Target in Southeastern MI, etc. I really like my new job and don’t want to leave it for a while, but I am still applying for any and all work that requires me to make Billy Joel proud and declare that, “I’m movin’ out.”
  • My self-esteem, for several weeks, was taking a sharp nose-dive, and I was having difficultly stopping it from just crashing completely. But then I realized that the magical thing that got my self-esteem high a few months back–high enough to, say, walk away from a bad relationship and to wear a roller derby outfit in public so as to catch the eye of the lead singer of my favorite band–I had forgotten altogether: my mantra– BE BRAVE. I was caught in a vicious circle: the less brave I behaved, the shittier I felt about myself and thus the less brave I wanted to act…and so on and so on…but I think I finally got myself out of this negative feedback loop and my confidence is on the road to recovery.
  • After bemoaning for weeks that I was emotionally broken and all I wanted was to feel something, now I may be experiencing feelings again and it’s freaking me out. I don’t know if I should be happy that I am fixed (or, rather, getting there) or if I should just re-break my emotive bone to keep from doing something stupid…like maybe being happy. GASP!
  • I am getting back into Paleo pretty hardcore. All I want to eat is tuna steaks and salad anyway, so why ingest other stuff that’s bad for me, right?
  • I feel pretty good right now. How often can I say that?

Leave a comment

Filed under self-reflection

Sometimes the greatest gift you can give yourself is permission to be lame

The life I lead currently and the life I lead 3 months ago are two very different animals: like, I was a hamster, running on my sad little wheel, and then overnight I evolved into a carnivorous capybara.

(Attempted Pokemon reference FTW!)

You see, approximately 2 hours after I became a single girl, before I had even packed my first box or properly grieved my newly-ended relationship, I informed one of my friends–Jessica, single girl extraordinaire– that she and I would be spending a lot more time together. Well that lovely girl went all momma bird and took me under her wing, and I have been her apprentice ever since.

Most nights of the week I am instructed to meet her and her partner-in-crime Jen at one bar or another. I am resistant to this midweek debauchery: it’s a foreign concept to me, drinking on a Tuesday (a.k.a. Boozeday). But I have pretty swiftly adopted their live-for-the-weekend mindset, and I look forward to putting on my Hot Girl Disguise (thank you to Jenna Marble’s for inventing that term) and tipping back a drink or two at the bar with the girls every Friday. I can count on J & J to be doing something fun (if not certainly alcohol-related) at any moment of the day, and I feel honored to have been accepted into their topsy-turvy Do-I-Look-Hot-in-This? world.

The funny thing is, as much fun as I have been having with them, your average person find my recent behavior very strange: I wear sneakers and pigtails; I laugh at comma placement and enjoy children’s television; I listen to alternative music. So when I don 4-inch heels and dance to Usher songs in a crowded club, it seems out of character. I understand that viewpoint, I do; frankly, it felt very odd zipping up that first cocktail dress and walking around that bar looking for my friends. But I think that’s why I’m so enjoying it: it’s not the norm for me. It’s an Amp-like thing to do. Or, as Jess and Jen have taken to calling me, Spicy Pam.

So for several weeks, this has been my life: receiving text messages all week from the girls asking, “Is it friday yet?”; getting instructions on Friday about what time to meet them at the bar, and to dress cute, goddamn it; sipping Manhattans till midnight, then I sober up so that I can drive; dancing, and rejecting the weird men who attempt to molest me on the dance floor; Coney Island at 2:0o in the morning; finally, gloriously, sleep around 4:00AM. Repeat (sometimes) on Saturday, and once on a very odd Sunday. Wait for the next weekend all over again.

It’s not a bad life. I have had a lot of laughs, quite a few cocktails, and a couple hangovers; I have made a few good friends, a couple great friends, and maybe one or two enemies (well, maybe I wouldn’t go that  far, but they are certainly persona non grata);  I have kissed a girl, a couple boys, and have taken many ridiculous OMG-We’re-at-the-Bar! photos like so:

So cliche, so tacky, so fun

I have had very very much fun and do not regret a minute of it.

So all of that said, I am so fucking tired.

Having a life is exhausting.

I just a need a friggin’ break.

Jess is leaving for Law school soon, so I have been trying my best to power through and keep on partying it up till she departs.  This past Friday, come 10:00PM, I was tired and cranky and had resolved myself to simply staying in, but instead of sticking with that healthy plan, I stayed up until 5AM playing monopoly and drinking too much wine. Fun, but not smart. I was a zombie for most of yesterday, nearly falling asleep at the wheel and barely able to sit at the dinner table without collapsing with my face in the jambalaya. When I returned home from my aunt’s house, I was just passing out when I got the “You coming out?” text. I said I needed a nap and I’d meet them at midnight. Well, that never happened. At 11:30 when my alarm went off I said, “Mmm mm, no way, fuck it,” changed into more sleep acceptable clothes, and curled up with my dog.

But oh shit, it was a Saturday night! I was supposed to be getting hammered or getting hit on or complaining about how I don’t know how to dance with guys! Well, at least that’s what I was thinking last night as I was dozing off. Just as I’d drift off I’d pop back up and think about how pathetic it is to go to sleep early on the weekend and how my friends were out expecting me to join them and I felt vaguely guilty and very very lame.

But I finally told myself that maybe, just maybe, it’s ok to turn the Amp off once in a while. Maybe Spicy Pam can go in the closet for a night and I can be just Pam. Maybe I’m allowed to be lame. Once I granted myself that it was like the Heavens parted and the angels sang and it was raining gumdrops and my cat’s whiskers were rainbows and…

You get it. I got to sleep. And it was amazing.

We all need to be kind to ourselves now and then. A little self-forgiveness for our inadequacies, a little sympathy, it goes a long way to maintaining our happiness and our sanity. And as someone with a weak ass immune system, being kind to myself means letting myself rest. Telling a friend recently that I am old and get tired early prompted him to say, “Psh, sleep when you die.” Well, let’s be honest, if I don’t sleep I will die. So, I am not taking that sage advice.

I can be a “spicier” version of myself. I can say “yes” to experience and “no” to boredom and loneliness. I can Amp it up. But I am also allowed to know my limits and have the self-love to act accordingly. I am allowed to have mercy on me. And I am 100% allowed to sleep on a Saturday when I am deathly tired and not feel like I wasted my weekend. It takes a certain amount of courage to do what is right for you even when it’s not the popular option. So, frankly, by being lame, I was Being Brave (yay Return of the Mantra!). By turning down the volume I was actually being totally Amp: she is not afraid to be true to herself. EVER.

Awesomeness through lameness. It happens.

Leave a comment

Filed under self-reflection, The Good Moods, Wellness

I was dreaming when I wrote this

It is nearly 2:00AM where I sit right now, and I should be tired. But I am not. I have too many thoughts, too much music in my head right now to sleep. And not just actual songs–though those are certainly present: one lyric after another streaming through, one bass line overlapping another, drums and drums and drums–but also the music of the rain, the music of my dog’s slow breathing next to me, the music of my the computer keys under my rapidly moving fingers. It’s so mesmerizingly distracting.

For the record, I am not on drugs.

I have had this one line running on loop in my mind for a few weeks now, and I have to share the series of emotions and thought bubbles it has inspired. No one who has read this blog before will be surprised that the line is from a 30 Seconds To Mars song, A Beautiful Lie:

“Lie awake in bed at night, and think about your life. Do you want to be different?”

My response to that question is a loud and resounding YES.

YES, I do want to be different. In so many ways that I can’t even bear it sometimes.

The first way in which I wish to be different is that I do not want to be an asshole. Is that crude? I’m sorry. But, frankly, I am disheartened by the number of just unfriendly human beings I encounter on a daily basis. I am always pleasantly surprised to encounter kind, sociable people, but I shouldn’t be. Kind and sociable should be the norm. I should not be taken aback when someone holds open a door for me, or smiles at me as we cross paths when I’m out walking my dog, but I am. I am always dumbfounded when I meet other nice people, because it doesn’t happen enough.

That. Is Tragic.

So, yes, I wish to be different and be (pardon me while I utilize an old church analogy) a light for the world rather than a black hole sucking the light from the sky. I try to smile at everyone I can, from the grumpy teller at the bank, to people who pull up next to me at red lights. I try to make someone laugh every day because A) laughter is a cure all for them and B) for me, making others laugh is the greatest feeling in the whole wide world. I want to be one of those people that you meet and in a seconds-long encounter, your day is changed for the better. It depresses me to think that I have ever made anyone sad–and I know I have in the past, and I am sorry–but I hope from here on to only (or at least, mostly) bring happiness. I owe that much to the other nice people in the world: a little reciprocity.

But I am also a conceited little fuck and want to be different for the sake of…not being like anyone else.

If my parents got one thing right with me, it is my name. I LOVE the name Pamela. Spot on, ‘rents, spot on. I mostly loved that name as a child because no one else my age had it. There were a handful of Amandas, a couple Nicoles, plenty of Jessicas, but just one Pamela, and that ROCKED. I never appreciated the existence of Pamela Anderson in the world, particularly when my 3rd grade teacher made that my nickname, but for the most part I enjoyed my unique title. I wasn’t always so down with being different, but sometimes, your soul just takes over and originality happens.

Destined to be different

I also learned from an early age that scars are cool. I have over 80 scars on my body, and while I don’t remember where all of them came from, I do have a story for most of them: the dime-sized spot on my forearm is where my dad’s parrot took a chunk out of me for no reason except it is the devil; the raised purple knob on my knee is where a piece of my high school track is still embedded from falling flat on my face during my first ever track meet; the long thin line on my toe is where a screw wedged itself once; the spot next to my right eye is where my mom cut me with a poorly sharpened eyeliner pencil while getting me ready for my dance recital as a tot. I adore each and every one of my scars because they are proof of the life I have lived. Even the crack in my skull, the one that you can follow with your finger from my hairline down to my eyebrow, is a wonderful part of me that I embrace, for had I no scars, that would have meant I have lived a safe (and utterly BORING) life. Each time I fell off my bike, that was a life experience I wouldn’t give up for anything. Each time my brother pinched me with his dirty little fingernails causing tiny infections all over my arms and eventually leaving a dozen little pockmarks, those were…well, not great experiences, but they shaped me. All my “flaws” are evidence of the life I’ve lived up until now, a life that is all mine, not yours.

Over the years, learning to appreciate what makes me different has led me to yearn for even more originality. I don’t want to be like anyone else but me, thanks. When people say, “You know who you remind me of?” my heart sinks a little, because I only want to remind you of Pamela Wall. I want to be so badly one of those people with a certain je ne sais quoi. I have an asymmetrical face, crooked ears, an annoying voice, and enormous and intrusive hand gestures: you should remember me, goddammit. I am flattered when people tell me I look like Chyler Leigh but I don’t see it, and I don’t want to see it: she is a perfect china doll, and I only wish to be imperfect, lopsided, lovable me. Is that so much to ask?

I am always looking for more ways to be more like myself, more ways to show the world who I am inside. And, you know, that’s not an easy task, seeing as some people don’t want me to be me. Ralph Waldo Emerson is my hero, and he said something that I tell myself on a daily basis:

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

Fuck yeah, it is. I have people telling me how to look, how to behave all the time: don’t cut your hair, be more like a girl, stop wearing Converse All-Stars, stop being so loud, CALM DOWN. Well, guess what, if I want to chop off my hair, I’m fucking going to. I am a girl, even if I don’t fit your form of what a girl should be. My Cons are my FAVORITE and I will not give them up for anyone or anything and why do you care what I put on my feet anyway?! I AM loud: I am Polish and Italian, it happens. And I will NOT calm down. I am a high-strung crazy chick and I know it, but I thrive on a good dose of anxiety, I get help when it gets to be too much, and it’s up to me to decide which it is, thank you very much. It is real work to ignore all the voices pressing in every day, but when I do, that’s when I feel right. I feel good. I feel…like myself.

In my still-rocking Be Brave phase, I want all the more to stand out from the crowd. I happily danced, sang, and skipped on a 4-mile walk with my dog the other day, and it was SO FUN. I got some weird looks from passing cars (well, actually, the cars didn’t look at me, they’re cars. The people inside the cars did, if I’m using correct English) and a few people who were hanging out on their porches laughed (I’m assuming at my singing which is unabashedly awful) but so what? Even if I see these people again, will they know it was me? And frankly, if I saw a girl skipping down a main drag I’d say, “Damn, that girl has flair.” I’d like to think I have flair. I try to have flair. I hope to someday have flair.

YAY FLAIR.

Anywho, I keep humming to myself and answering the “Do you want to be different?” question with a soul-shaking “affirmative!” I’ve never felt like I fit in, so why should I try now when it is so much more fun sticking out like a sore, goofy thumb. It might embarrass the people around me but, clearly, if they’re embarrassed of me then I don’t really need them around and they can fucking leave. I am staying right here, with my purple converse, my nerd glasses, and a smile, because life is so much more fulfilling when I get to be myself, unashamed and unrefined.

Aaaaaand, now it’s 3:00AM, and the music plays on and on and on and…

2 Comments

Filed under self-reflection, The Good Moods, Uncategorized, Wellness

That Familiar Old Itch

For a few weeks now, my self-confidence has been on the rise. Skyrocketing, even. Ever since adopting my new mantra (Be Brave) I’ve just been finding more and more reasons to believe that I’m AWESOME. And let me tell you, I spent a very large portion of my life being my own worst critic. So thinking positively about myself is still a bit new for me, but lordy, does it feel good! I am happy.

I like it.

This feeling of self-contentment is why I am so puzzled by the creeping on of another feeling: the urge to flee. This isn’t the first time I’ve just wanted to pack my bags and change up my life in a big way, but usually thoughts of flying the coop come along when I am MISERABLE, not happier than I have been in a LONG TIME.

I look at my life, and, frankly, there is nothing bad about it. I may not make much money, but what would I do with more money? I may not have my dream job, but my dream job is writing, and seeing as I’ve posted here more in the last week than I did in the first 2 months of this blog’s existence, clearly I am writing. I may not have a beautiful home but I have a homey home, and that’s what’s really important. I’m getting healthier and fitter by the day. And I’m loving myself. I have no complaints.

And yet.

And yet I am once again yearning to live in a studio apartment in a big city; or to backpack through Europe staying in dingy little hostels; or to just drive my car as far as I can until I almost pass out behind the wheel, and then wherever I end up I camp out there for a week or two, and then move on. I am simply itching to shake up my life, even though my life has finally become such a contented little snowglobe.

Why? Why am I considering give up something so good? I don’t know that I’m even considering it, but the thoughts are coming and going as they please with greater frequency these days. I find myself day-dreaming about moving to Chicago and marching into every company that has a position I wouldn’t suck at and demanding that they hire me until someone finally breaks down and does, and then I find a cute little loft and I buy really chic business clothes and I make new friends and I get to spread my cramped, sore wings. This day-dream is also becoming a night dream, by the way.

So again, I wonder, why? Why do I feel suffocated and smothered now? Here’s my guess: Because of that stupid self-confidence. Because I am feeling so goddamn good about myself, I’m wondering how far I can push myself? I’m curious about how I would do on my own in a new place surrounded by strangers? Would I shrink back into the self-doubting little shell of a person I was even a few months ago, or would I continue thriving?

Or, and this is the really BIG question: Could I possibly become even happier with myself if I was doing something else?

I don’t want to answer that question just now. Because if I do, and the answer is yes, then everything will change. Everything. And as brave as I’ve been trying to be, I don’t think I have the courage to push myself out of my entire comfort zone all at once.

Maybe the itch will go away. Or maybe I can give it a little scratch by taking a brief trip. Road trip, anyone?

Leave a comment

Filed under self-reflection, The Good Moods, The Good Moves, Wellness