Tag Archives: confidence

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?
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Allow me to introduce…Amp

You may recall, if you’ve ever been bored enough to browse this website before, that I have been working very hard to ban fear from my life. My mantra of “Be Brave” has led me to make a myriad of decisions that have proved to have been EXCELLENT choices, because they have made me feel alive  for the first time in years. It’s like I was sleepwalking through my life. I was so afraid of experiencing anything remotely negative that I missed a lot of experiences that could have enriched my life.

Well, no more.

A dear friend of mine said just last night, “If only the Pammy I met could see the person sitting in front of me right now. She’d be like, ‘That’s not me.'” And she is 100% correct. The girl I was when I went away to school in 2006 claimed to want to find herself and have some fun but…that didn’t really happen. I was too fucked up from the less-than-healthy homelife I was leaving to get anywhere close to having fun. I had to play it safe for a while, recuperate for a while, and find a little sanity-come-boredom. But while I know at that time I needed that, now, as I’m finally, finally, bursting free I can’t help but think, “What a waste, what a waste, what a waste.” I think of all the friends I didn’t make, the parties I didn’t crash, the boys I didn’t hook-up with, the recreational drugs I didn’t try, and I just shake my head. Did I even go to college? I may be a logical girl who knows that, just maybe, not experimenting with drugs wasn’t the worst thing, but seriously, I kept myself so sheltered. It’s like I was still living with my parents, afraid to come home late for curfew. I got one hickey in three and a half years, and I was mortified. Now I’m like, “Hey, it was FUN getting that goddamn hickey.” Fuck.

So now, a couple years late, I’m finally wanting to be a little…adventurous. I don’t want to be a slut or a druggie, I just…want to live. But every once in a while I step back from myself and that shy, fearful girl I used to be takes over and I have to ask, “Who IS this woman?” Well, I’ve decided to dub this new brave, fiery person I’m allowing myself to be my alter-ego…and I’ve named her Amp.

My fantastic and inspirational cousin Stef once mistyped her name in an email to me as “Fest,” and it was such a cool moniker that I looked to my own name for a fun anagram. For a split second I thought, “Oh man, all I have is ‘map.’ Boring.” But then I stopped being stupid and saw that my name comes equipped with a rad nickname that embodies everything I am hoping to be. I want to turn the volume up on my life, I want to be and see and do simply more: I want to open-mouth laugh more, dance all the more ridiculously, sing louder and more off-key, and just…ROCK. I want to rock. And thus, Amp was born.

Amp, dancing as if everyone is watching and she DOESN'T GIVE A FUCK

When I start to shrink away from a new experience, I have to ask myself:  What Would Amp Do? During my recent trip to Chicago (so much more on that to follow in future posts), I was considering not venturing into downtown and just hanging out at the hotel. And, you know, I would have enjoyed the peace and solace of time alone in a king-sized bed, but I also would have been very disappointed in myself. So my alter-ego took over, and was all, “Get the fuck up and get the fuck out. You’re in CHICAGO  bitch.” And so I did. And then, when a long long lost friend suggested we meet up, my mousier self sort of hesitated: “I don’t really know him anymore, it could be awkward, and I have to get up early tomorrow.” Lame.  But again, the fearless girl in me came out and I took a leap and got dinner with a guy I haven’t seen in 5 years. And guess what? It ended up being an incredibly fun night; some people, it turns out, still know how to party.

I was beyond pleasantly surprised, but, frankly, I should just start expecting happy surprises around each corner. You take a chance, good things follow. I have to start believing this with my whole heart, because life has been revealing to me that it is so so true.

So, I don’t even need my mantra so much anymore. Now I simply have a split personality: the sorry excuse for a young woman I was before who just won’t die, and the new, vibrant, lively girl I am becoming more and more each day. You can still call me Pam if you wish, but, these days, I prefer Amp.

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It’s the end of the world as we know it…

…and I feel FINE. Great, even.

In case you live under a rock inside a cave at the bottom of the ocean, let me fill you in: the world is going to end next Saturday, May 21, 2011. Or at least, that’s what this guy thinks.

Judgement Day, The Rapture, the End of Days…whatever you wanna call it, supposedly it’s a’coming. And even if you are like me and don’t believe that for a second, the mention of the end of the world tends to make one take a close look at his or her life and wonder: what’s waiting for me “on the other side.” Well, I’ve considered that question myself, and I’m fairly certain that if anything is waiting, I’ll be happy with it.

You see, I was raised Catholic, but from an early age, I just knew that their doctrine and dogma was not for me. Sitting in Catechism in the 8th grade, I got in a heated debate with a substitute who suggested that anyone not Catholic, who didn’t go to church every weekend, and who didn’t read the “correct” version of the Bible was going to Hell. I staunchly refused to believe…nay, I simply knew in my heart that god would never condemn someone for what their parents did. Because, frankly, that’s where most people get their religion: from the people who raised them. There are plenty of us who abandon religion altogether, and there are a few people who search for a religious community that suits them, and to those select few, I say, good for you! But, for the most part, you believe what your parents told you to believe. And thus, there I was, 13 years old, shouting at this droopy balding man that my very close friend who was Hmong and far from Catholic would NEVER end up in hell because she was the nicest, sweetest, least judgmental girl I had ever met, and any higher power would know that she had earned a place in a beautiful afterlife, no matter what label her faith was given on Earth. Catechism guy disagreed with me and instructed me to “save” her, but at that moment, I stopped thinking of myself as Catholic and instead as someone who “hung around Catholic people and was influenced by their ideas.”

Over the years I’ve pulled fairly far away from all religion. I no longer attend church except for holidays (because it makes those days seem…special, I guess is the best word) and when I am on vacation with my mom (it makes her happy, dammit!), the last time I went to confession was nearly 4 years ago (and I felt dirtier after walking out of confession than I had going in), and I don’t really “pray,” per se, anymore. My mom finds value and peace in her faith, and thus I have no qualms about it. I feel that some people use religion as a weapon, as an excuse for ignorance, and as a way to make others feel as if they are less than you, but to those who simply nurture their soul with their religion, that’s great for them. I just don’t want any part of it.

Now, would I call myself spiritual? Sure. I look around the world and see god everywhere: in each purple blossom on the lilac tree outside, in the clouds swimming across the periwinkle sky, in my dog’s adoring eyes, in my yoga instructor, everywhere. Do I define that “god” as a powerful-grandfatherly-thinking-being-in-the-sky? NO. Do I believe in a god with set rules for what is a sin and what is alright? No. Do I believe we go somewhere when we’re no longer here? Nah. But I do believe in…something. An energy, a force (not The Force, a force), a uniting positivity, something that makes here have enough meaning that we don’t need an afterlife to justify it.

But I also believe that even if there is a grandpa-in-the-sky, he’s not such a selfish, jealous bastard that he’d be pissed that I don’t believe in him. If anything, he’d think I was a silly little girl and enjoy watching my antics…much like a real grandfather. He might even smile bemusedly, put his hands on his hips and shake his head in disbelief sometimes, but I know no god or gods in the universe would really give a damn about my little slip-ups.

See, I am a firm supporter of The Atheist’s Wager. Unlike my mother who I think would agree with Pascal and say that she’d rather believe in god just in case he does exist, just to be safe, but here’s my problem with that line of thinking:

A) There is a slim-to-none chance that you’ll even believe in the “right god” because there are so many sects of so many religions that whatever you choose to believe is probably WRONG. (Unless, of course, everyone is somehow right, but how could that be? God would have to be…GOD…to make that magic trick work.)

AND

B) I think there is more value, more beauty, and more good in acting morally because you simply should, not out of fear of retribution. My mother has on various occasions expressed to me that she takes comfort in the notion that bad people will someday be punished and she will be rewarded; and furthermore, if she didn’t think she would someday get props for being a good person, that she wouldn’t be a good person. I’ve tried to explain to her how fucked up that is: you don’t want your son to not hit his sister because if he’s a good boy he’ll get a cookie; you want him to not hit his sister because it’s mean and everyone will be better off if he doesn’t. But she doesn’t seem to get it.

I, however, feel it is much better to live your life as best as you can; forgive yourself when you make mistakes or do something that may not have been definitively good because you are, after all, human, but learn from those mistakes and try to be better; and use your intellect and your empathy to dictate your actions, because the world will be a better, happier place if you live that way–NOT because you want to get something in return for being a nice person. Let’s work to create happiness and well-being on earth, and then we won’t need heaven later.

If there is a god out there with an afterlife all set up for us like a painted and furnished nursery awaiting a baby, I think he’d be much more impressed with the latter way of thinking. Doesn’t it just seem so much more rightt–dare I say, more Christian?–to act morally simply for the value of being moral? I think if you said to god, “Yeah, I really wanted to kill that guy but I didn’t because I knew you’d be pissed and I didn’t want to get in trouble,” he’d be a little peeved. But if you said, “I was very angry, and even had murderous thoughts, but I didn’t kill him because killing is wrong and by violating the social contract I would only have made our community a less safe and comfortable place for everyone,” I bet god would give you a high-five.

Yeah, if there is a god, I’m pretty sure he’s a high-fiver.

OK, I’m dragging this out. I had a point, and now I am going to get to it: If the world ends next weekend, and it turns out that there is a god, and he has expectations for our behavior, I think I’m in the clear. I doubt he’ll care about any underage drinking that I did (which, yes, my mom has made a religious issue in the past), any premarital sex that I had (which doesn’t hurt anyone), or any time I used his name in vain. I think he’ll see that I tried to put others’ needs ahead of my own as much as possible. He’ll see that I loved my neighbor as myself: I hurt when they hurt, and felt joy when they felt joy. He’ll see that I didn’t steal or cheat or lie (except when I was saving someone’s feelings, which I think falls on the side of morality) or seek to hurt. He’ll see all that, and he’ll be pleased. And if there is an afterlife, even though I don’t believe there is, I’m confident he’d let me in.

So bring on the end of the world. I’m ready.

P.S. I just realized I referred to god as a “he” for that whole post when I’ve always been a fan of the notion that any god worth believing in would totally be a chick. So here’s a little something to make up for my gender-slip.

Yeeeeaaaah, 90’s.

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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…

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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?

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