Life Recycled: Why Certain Situations Tend to Repeat Themselves

Invasive. Intruder. Imposter. I am all of those and I always have been.

I’m eleven years old, promising my mother as she cries on the side of the bed next to me, that one day I will leave this house and after that, I will never come back. I’ve been keeping that promise more and more, having not been to my parents’ house in over a year. This is counting two Thanksgivings ago when I came back to visit for the weekend and was immediately kicked out. My mother still visits me from time to time, but I don’t go back there and I don’t intend to. I don’t belong there and I was never welcome. I was unwanted and yet I was needed to keep hold of the dynamic that was present.

I’m fifteen now, falling for a boy I will later refer to as my ‘first love’. I’m fifteen years old and I know nothing about myself, but I know everything about him including how his heart is still with someone else. I am not wanted by him, but he needs me. I cater to the attention and reassurance his ego craves. I am his punching bag when his doubts and insecurities arise. We’re both lost, but he always knew what he wanted. I always knew what he needed.

We continued our on-and-off-again relationship for the next couple of years until he left me for a girl who liked going to the gym and playing video games. I disliked both, and suddenly I was unwanted, and no longer needed either. I promised myself that I wouldn’t get into another relationship until I gained more clarity on who I was on my own. I haven’t been in a relationship since.

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I’m 20 years old now, a few months away from 21. I just came home from a dinner with a group of friends I considered ‘my people’ for the past three years. They sat in a cluster around a table at a Vietnamese restaurant. I sat in my own discomfort. I stared at the strategically placed TV in the restaurant the way that people stare at their phones and click random buttons to look like they’re doing something important while waiting alone in a crowd of strangers.

I wonder if they could see the discomfort through my silence. I wonder if they could feel my insides screaming, “I don’t belong here!” I am not wanted here, but my presence is needed to keep hold of the dynamic. I wonder if they notice, but I tend to forget how well I’ve mastered the art of pretending.

Over the years, the situations have often been recycled into alternative, modern versions of the past, but the feeling is always static. I can distinguish it before I even walk into it. And yet, I walk into it anyways.

What I do know is that life tends to keep recycling the same at you until you finally learn the lesson it is trying so hard to teach. I guess I’m still in the midst of figuring this one out.

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Connecting Hope with Resilience: How to be a Woman Today

“Every girl must decide whether she to be true to herself or true to the world”
– Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior

Two years ago. That is what I can remember being the first time I opened up to a man. The funny part is that I barely knew the guy. We were neighbours who occasionally said “hi” to each other in passing, and from time to time, he would come over to my porch and we would have cringeworthy small talk while smoking a cigarette. That was all, until it wasn’t.

One night, I went out to my porch and he made his way over, as he typically did. This time though, the conversation was far different than our typical script and I, for once, did most of the talking.

To be completely honest, I’m not exactly sure how the conversation began and how it turned into a lot more sharing on my part. I guess that’s what you get from having too much tequila in your system.

I shared a lot of my past and a lot of my present that night. Maybe it was the tequila. Maybe it was my need to let go of everything I keep bottled up inside me for so long. Maybe it was a weird connection I felt having finally met a fellow writer (who by the way, doesn’t consider himself to be a writer, which is such a writer thing to do).

Anyways, I feared a response of pity. That’s typically what I always fear. I don’t really know what response I wanted in return, but what I received was something I never could have expected. Or perhaps it was something I should have seen coming all along.

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He said, and I quote, “You’re so lucky you’ve been through things. Like, actual hard stuff, you know? You get to have a cool story.”

First of all, why is it that so many of the writers I have met are terrible speakers (myself included)? Our written words are delicious, but as soon as anything comes out of our mouth, we either sound like two-year-olds learning vowels for the first time, or high school teens trying to act cool after being confronted by a group of popular kids.

Anyways, all I could feel in that moment was disgust. All I could feel was a tremendous amount of insult and a lack of perspective.

Here is what I wanted to say:

“How dare you? How dare you distance the credit I deserve for holding my shit together and reward the lottery system of the universe for starting me off in poor circumstances? How dare you stand there feeling jealous of my story? How dare you even call it a story? Because no, this is not a story or a movie or a book where everything is tidy and scripted and edited and the ending is wonderful. This is not a story. This is my fucking life. 

And no, I will not stand here pitying you either for not having your “story” be more “hard”. I will not taste the venom for your privilege of being a caucasian male who comes from a well-off middle-class family. I will not pity you, nor will I feel jealous of you. Why? Because you sir, have the amount of ignorance that I am incapable of even breathing around.

When I tell you about my father’s suicide attempt when I was 15 years old. When I tell you about the dark hole of peace that alcohol gave me, along with how it completely ruined me. When I tell you that having a home or groceries on the table was never a guarentee. And when I tell you the embarrassment that came along with walking into food banks and then being turned away. When I tell you these things, the LAST thing I want to hear is that I am lucky. I am NOT lucky. I am fucking strong. This is not the story I was given. This is the life that I made.”

That’s what I wanted to say. Here is what I actually said:

“I’m not lucky for having a hard life. I’m just managing things as they come and I’m not really good at it but I’m trying and I’ve always tried. But I guess you’re right. I’ve learned a lot from having things be pretty difficult.”

It’s not like I didn’t speak the truth because I did. However, I didn’t allow my opinions to have a voice either – a problem I find many women tend to have. You put a smile on your face and you agree with his stance even if a fire is burning your insides in opposition. You do it because that is what history has taught us to do.

I didn’t use my voice that night. Instead, I let him continue to think that I approved of his ignorance. To this day, that is the story that haunts me, and also reminds me to never let that happen again. I should be able to say something and I should not hesitate to stand up for myself. It is not my circumstances that should get the credit, it is me.

It took me a long time to learn that, and I’m still learning. We’re all always learning. To be a woman in this day and age comes with a lot of uncertainty. History has expectations for us that our minds and hearts contradict. We don’t have the same role models that men do. We don’t have generations upon generations of women who have the type of freedom that we are being given now. So ,we don’t exactly know what to do with these choices and this freedom. I can’t tell you what you personally have to do with it. However, what I can advise is this: Do not hide behind it. Do not hide behind your freedom and do not hide behind yourself.

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I Don’t Have a Passion and The Reason I Stopped Looking For One

These days I’ve been feeling like I’m in a cycle of perpetual exhaustion. There is not enough time to do all of the things I want to be doing and I’m expanding my days by staying up later, waking up earlier, to do them all. I can’t seem to keep up with my own interests. But what I’m scared to ask myself is this: Can someone get burnt out from doing all of the things they love? IS THAT A THING THAT CAN HAPPEN? Because if it is, I would appear to be the most selfish human in the world for complaining about something that is such a privilege.

I want to continue working 40+ hours a week. I want to do my readings and assignments for university. I want to read for fun. I want to blog and write. I want to journal. I want to meditate. I want to learn photography and coding and enhance my graphic design skills. I want to keep learning how to play the guitar. I want to listen to latest episodes of the podcasts I’m following. I want to meal prep for the week and clean and do laundry (but let’s be real, cleaning and laundry end up moving to the bottom of my priorities list). I want to continue writing my book and I want to see that friend who I made plans with 2 months ago and still haven’t gotten around to. I want to wash my hair because it’s been so long that dry shampoo can’t even fix it! I want to spend more time with my cat because he’s so lonely and I’m not home enough.

I get to do a majority of these things, but waking up at 5am every day and going to sleep around midnight is too short of a time period. I need more time. I almost feel like I’ve transitioned from someone who dreaded having to be alive for another day to someone who is addicted to life. A former insomniac who wanted to sleep to just get away from the world to someone who drinks so much coffee to stay awake and continue making things.

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The most wonderful and terrifying part about myself is my motivation to keep working, keep learning, and most importantly, keep creating. The scary part is how fleeting all of my interests are. I hop from one thing to the next and the one after that. I have to constantly remind myself that this is what a life of following your curiosity looks like and this is the life where I feel happiest, but it is also not the life suggested by western society.

Sometimes I wonder why I can’t just like doing one thing and stick to it and grow with it. I admire people who have that kind of dedication. Often times, I wonder if I’m even cut out for any long-term commitments in general. Why is it that I don’t only have one passion and why is it that my many interests become a bore after a certain amount of time? Why is it that I move from one thing to the next and then go back to the first one, and then move on to something completely different, over and over again? How am I supposed to make any decisions in my life if I’m not even sure I’ll want to move forward with it a few weeks from now? And lastly, WHY IS EVERYTHING ALWAYS SO MESSY?

So that’s just about what has been racking up in my mind my whole life. It is also the reason I’ve always felt very out of place, even growing up. I’ve always felt like I was born at the wrong time or the wrong place. The basis in which I work, think and behave goes completely against the ways in which we are made to believe we should be. We are supposed to passionate about one thing and we are supposed to follow that, and only that, all throughout our lives and grow it into a career. So basically, I should be the exact opposite of myself to get anywhere in life, which means I just have to change every part of who I am. Just what I needed to hear! I’ll get right on that, thanks.

And then I stumbled on this.

And suddenly, it all made sense. The woman Liz Gilbert was talking about was everything that I was and still am.

She explains the world as being divided into two very different kinds of people: the Jackhammers and the Hummingbirds. You put a passion in a Jackhammer’s hands and they just drill away, never veering. That is what they do and that is who they are. Hummingbirds, however, spend their lives doing it very differently. They move from tree to tree, from flower to flower, from field to field. Trying many things, weaving various aspects of the world together. The service that they do in the world is cross-pollinating. Both kinds of people are essential in this world because that is how we were made to be. But in a world that fetishizes passion, the hummingbirds are made to believe that they are doing it all wrong.

But both kinds of people are essential in this world because that is how we were made to be and I’M A FREAKING HUMMINGBIRD.

So no, that doesn’t mean that life has suddenly become simple and I never beat myself up about the way that I am. It’s not that I don’t fear the constant change I bring about in my own life on a daily basis. But a lot can come from just knowing that you are not alone and that has brought more than just comfort into my life. It has also given me acceptance. It allowed me to give myself the permission slip to continue doing what I’m doing and being who I am, and not feeling guilty about it (most of the time).

No, I don’t have just one passion. I’m passionate about many things – some fade quickly and some last fairly long. Everything is always fleeting and moving and changing. But what does stick is my passion for life and my passion for creating.

No one should ever have to feel guilty about the way they are wired because that is who they must be in this world. That is who we were always made to be. Being exactly who you are in this world is doing a service to humanity as a whole.

 On that note, I hope you all have a magical Tuesday and continue to follow your instincts and curiosity.

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