At first, I folded my legs and held them close to my body. Then the space got smaller and I do everything in my power to bend, to flex, until I’m the size of a speck of dust. Around me are strangers who sit with their bodies spread out, in the space I used to occupy. I wonder what they could’ve possibly done to take the place that I thought was rightfully mine. But if I’m brought along, that’s okay. I don’t need to take up space. I don’t need a lot. I’ll become so small that I weigh nothing. Just don’t leave me behind. Please take me with you.
Last week, I went to a Confidence and Performance lecture, and it was then I realized I’ve been living this way for 10 years. For literally half my life, I’ve been picking at every spot to find flaws, comparing every single aspect of myself to other people, and basically just feeling like shit in general.
As I sat in the lecture, I felt so familiar with the content that I could probably teach it. “Here are some symptoms of having low self-esteem…I know it’s true because I exhibit all these thought patterns and behaviours.” At points I was almost reduced to tears because I felt so alone. Everyone in the room made it seem like it was so easy. Here is what confidence looks like. Now that you know, go and do it. I realized I shouldn’t have been there, but instead in my therapist’s office.
We had to come up with a list of good traits that describe us, and there were people who said it wasn’t a difficult exercise. During that time, I looked at each suggestion at the bottom of the page and measured them against myself. Are these things I’m supposed to just know? How can I be sure of anything? Why does this need to be so damn difficult?
Am I just not fighting hard enough? Is this my own doing, my fault? I go through everyday having to reassure myself again and again. It’s okay. Don’t compare. You’re doing well. Don’t worry about that. It’s not important. Just keep going. Good job, Flora. You can do it. Just keep moving.
Goodbyes are always so difficult when you’ve barely said hello. Today was excruciatingly long, and it started when I woke up this morning alone in my bed. The strangest things happen when you miss someone. I wish I can hear the sounds of his light snoring that I found annoying when I wanted to fall back asleep. I wish I can feel his arm against the spine of my neck and his cold feet upon my ankles. I wish I had paid more attention when he embraced me, enough to feel his presence in his absence.
He looked at me with such kindness and waited at the top of the stairs for me. He bought me those fattening Kit Kat bars again and said my cooking was yummy. He held me and reassured me that I’ll be a great mother and squished my cheeks saying I was cute. This day was destined for downhill when I woke up and he was not there to say good morning.
These comments on my writing assignments are spirit-lifters. The words like “compelling”, “beautiful”, “amazing”, all so cliché and overdone, but they recharge me better than a nine-volt battery. Of course, I will never know if my writing professor is exaggerating or not, but my heart accepts these compliments like oxygen. I write. I can write.
“Writing is a craft”, I remind myself. There are so many things to be improved upon: my wordiness, clichés, and the use of passive voice completely ingrained into me by biology lab reports. I also appear to lack a personal style in my writing, which feels strange seeing how I run a blog where all I do is write whatever I want. But that’s a bit difficult to develop in a short time frame, so editing is going to be my new best friend.
I foresee a painful process of slashing entire paragraphs and struggling to find the perfect phrasing in this upcoming assignment. But oddly, I’m not dreading it. It’s probably because I’m not at the stage of the beautiful 2 AM panic yet, but I look forward to carving out a piece that is laced with pain.
P.S. I just sent in my first query letter and I’m so shaky. It could be because I haven’t eaten yet, but let’s not focus on that.
P.P.S. I sent in an application for a staff writer position and that also makes me incredibly anxious. But I need to stop thinking about it.
P.P.P.S. I need to improve my telephone speaking skills. I made such an embarrassing phone call to the newspaper editor. He’s going to remember me for sure, but I’d rather not have that as my first impression the next time around.
P.P.P.P.S. My fungi course has asked me to culture some fungi on an agar plate. I’m doing all kinds of things for this B.Sc degree I swear.
This is a bit uncomfortable for me, but I recently wrote a review article for a blog that I am currently working with. It’s the first time I’ve written for something that isn’t school or my personal blog. I have lots to improve on but this is a start :)
I have also registered a domain and will need to work on getting my website up and running hopefully by April. I’m feeling all kinds of regrets for giving up on web design all those years ago now. I’m having trouble even just trying to make a page show up and downloading a content management system. But Google has my back, so I’m not too worried.
Other than that, I’m job hunting for the summer still and I found a job that actually seems perfect for my circumstances, except I’m a bit lacking in my qualifications as always. It’s still exciting though and I’ll be working on that sometime this week. These last two weeks before April comes is going to be so hectic because of my procrastination the first two weeks of March. As always.
Now I’m not certain how to end this post. But I’m making some small progress towards making my dream happen, and I’m learning to be proud of that.
Being committed feels good. To venture into a part of town I haven’t been, and dance and laugh until the sweat soaks through the denim jacket that isn’t mine feels good. Roughly seven months ago, I made a somewhat calculated impulse decision to join a recreational dance team, and it turns out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made since turning 18.
And it was through our practices in one of the busiest locations on campus every Tuesday that I realized I do like people. There is a power in numbers and I feel it every time strangers pass by us mid-move. We laugh at each other’s inability to do things with the swag and groove that hip hop requires, and cheer for each other when we get it right. None of them know my dreams, my struggles, my history, but none of that matters when we’re laughing at an inside joke.
We had our showcase yesterday evening and I still can’t believe I actually did it. We did our makeup in the men’s bathroom, we ate on the floor, we talked to the only guy about tampons, and took a bunch of silly pictures. I felt at ease and happy that I found a space for myself in such an unlikely place.
I close my eyes to the sun, and in this moment I feel brave. The sun has a warmth like the promise of spring. My jacket is open to the chill of the late winter breeze, but I feel fine. Safe.
For some odd reason, I do not feel compelled to avoid the sun’s death rays, with their threats of skin cancer and freckles. It whispers to me kind words and strokes my cold skin with concern. You are also a child of this planet. You are deserving of my light. I do not compare. The warmth dilates my windpipe and the lump in my throat disappears. In this moment, I am me and I am not fighting me. My horrible thoughts that take up so much space in my mind do not make me. I am warm, I am compassionate, I am beautiful.
My hair shines a shade of caramel brown under the sun. I feel wonderful. I am possible.