Questions from Melony Hill’s Writing for My Sanity Therapeutic Writing Workshop (@STMSBmore), held online.
• Has your character and humanity been forged more by pleasure and success, or by pain and disappointment?
I really do believe that who I am and my base character was forged from the loving environment my parents afforded me. It gave me the space to daydream, to be tender, to be open about some things, and to grow and learn in things I was interested in.
However, I think my humanity was forged from the pain I experienced, the bullying, the tragedies of losing classmates and loved ones around me, of watching things I cared about being destroyed, and from being lonely.
The contrast between those two things helped me understand that the world did not have to be a place of tragedy and that people could do something about it and have influence over it. And it informs much of the way I operate in the world today.
• In my relationships, am I always digging deeper or am I always settling for mediocrity. Give yourself examples of how you do either.
I think I am constantly digging deeper into people I’m interested in, and sometimes I feel like that’s a barrier to dating casually.
I’ll be sitting with someone, getting to know them, and my mind will be racing trying to figure out what this person will be like 10-15 years in the future. I try to figure out how they are with kids, how sensitive they are, what they think about feminism, where they fall politically, how they talk to the waiter who’s coming up to us, how they are with money, how the deal with conflict…
And because of the trauma that I’ve been through, I inevitably start to worry about how things would go if our relationship begins to deteriorate. I worry about how we’ll fight. How she’ll try to hurt me if she’s angry. How it will hurt when we’re not talking anymore.
All of these things come crashing into my mind instead of taking things as they are, instead of relaxing and being in the moment, instead of just being.
It’s very hard. But I’m working on it.
• How do I respond to situations that force me to step out of my comfort zone? When was the last time I had to? How did I handle it?
This is interesting, because most of the time I force myself out of my own comfort zone. I enjoy doing that, and pushing myself so that I grow in ways I know I need to work on.
However. When I get pushed out by some other force, I don’t always deal with it well. At my base, I’m stubborn. And because I am already pushing myself, something or someone else pushing me sometimes feels like stretching me beyond my breaking point.
• What is the lie you tell yourself most often? What is reality? Why do you tell yourself this lie?
The lie that I tell myself most often is that things are not as bad as they are.
I choose this lie on purpose.
The reality that things are terrible and that life is hard and that everything is stacked against me succeeding would devastate me. Things ARE terrible. Life IS hard. A lot IS stacked against my success.
But, there are other things in life. There are little things that are beautiful, there is joy, there is love, there are friendships, there is passion. And those things make going through the terrible hard things worthwhile.
There is science that shows that hopeful people actually succeed more. There is something about hope that is infectious, not just for those around you, but for yourself too. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Making room for hope allows you to experience it.
Telling myself the lie that these beautiful things exist even when I don’t see them at the moment allows me to be open to them. So that when they do show up, I can still recognize them, and not still be stumbling around in the dark.
• What activities cause you to feel like you are living life to the fullest? How often do you do them?
I try to exaggerate and magnify all the things about any situation just to help me enjoy wherever I am. Right now, I cannot do my most favourite things. Travelling, being around people, hugs… But I can’t. So I have to make small things bigger.
Right now; it’s the golden hour. A brief 40 minutes where the sun sets and casts everything in gold. It feels wonderful. I’m drinking this amazing draft latte that found that tastes great, and is keeping me awake. I love both Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill, and they played back to back. I’m typing on a brand new keyboard that I bought for myself. I have a small heater next to me, and it’s keeping me toasty and warm. God is everywhere, and in all these things.
By noticing all the little things around me that make me happy, it helps me to live every moment with as few complaints and regrets as I can.
Even in annoying situations, like waiting for my number to be called at the DMV, I’ll try to find something to appreciate about it. When I’m standing in line and waiting for my ticket, I’ll notice with every step forward, my situation is just a little bit better. When I finally have my numbered ticket and I’m waiting on those plastic chairs to be called up, I’ll be thankful that I’m sitting and can rest my feet.
I try to be grateful as much as I can.
• What stands between you and complete happiness? What can you do to close the gap?
I think I’m actually pretty happy. There are some circumstantial things that would likely make things better and make me happier, but for now I’m taking pretty good care of myself and my happiness.