"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Monday, October 29, 2012

how I learned to be myself

Now Playing: Change (and you can walk away, say we don't need this but there's something in your eyes says 'we can beat this')

I didn't used to be as gung-ho as I am now. There have been countless blog posts - brilliant, funny, sarcastic, insightful blog posts - that I have deleted because it had a 'bad word' in it. There have been countless times that I have bitten my tongue and held my peace in conversations about things that really mattered to me, that were really important to me. There have been countless times when I have copied people and mimicked people and taken everything they said to heart, let everything dictate and crush me, because I was too afraid to be myself. I remember swearing that if I ever managed to get a boyfriend, or a friend who hung around longer than three milliseconds, I would be the most forgiving, compassionate person since Mother Theresa. I wanted to be for someone, for anyone, the kind of person I simply couldn't find. Anywhere.

I now know that people are not so inclined to opening up to all their inner kinks and secret fears when you're hellbent on becoming a carbon copy of the many people who tear them down on a regular basis. You don't win any allies by pretending to be the enemy.

I was too focused on what I thought other people wanted from me - not only was I wrong, but it was an utter waste of time. I realized - finally - that even if I did manage to act and dress and be a certain way that appealed to people, if they didn't appeal to me - or did appeal to me and then started putting me off once the sugar coating started to melt away - then nothing would ever work out. I have been so unbelievably forgiving to people being rather rude about what they didn't like about me that I forgot to recognise all the things I hate in other people. Not only could I not change who I was - I shouldn't. At all. I forgot that I was beautiful in my own way and that they could all go fuck themselves.

Actually, it wasn't so much that I'd forgotten, I was just too afraid to do that. I hate being alone - and I've been alone, a lot. I couldn't push people away because I needed them too much - and people can sense that, and take advantage of it. But I've never been very good at break ups - at all. I miss people too much. At any rate, I didn't even know breaking up with crushes or friends was 'a thing'. I wish I could have told fourteen year old me that yes, it is a thing - possibly even more important than breaking up with a boyfriend. Actually, if my girlfriends are anyone to go by... I still haven't really mastered that. My idea of 'breaking up' isn't so much 'breaking up' as 'throwing a tantrum that solves absolutely nothing in particular'.

So when all the boys were telling me that they'd never date an Asian, or a fat girl, or a feminist, or a nerd, or a bookworm, or a girl that they didn't have 200% certainty didn't have any sexuality/sexual curiosity/interest in sex and definitely under no circumstances didn't and would never masturbate or have sex or watch porn, I forgot that I would never date someone who would think that being an Asian or a feminist was a bad thing, that I would never date someone who called me fat and ugly, I would never date someone who didn't see my intellectualism as an exciting opportunity to have some intelligent conversation, for once, and I would never be happy with anyone who treated me as a sex object instead of a sexual being. I forgot that I didn't particularly like boys who smelled or picked their nose or swore incessantly or constantly made ignorant/dim/sexist/racist/homophobic remarks. I forgot that I had standards, too. I hate it when people are shocked to find out that I've turned down some guy, because they either think I don't have standards or I'm not worthy of being picky. I forgot that these people who made me feel cheap and unworthy and utterly worthless had their own turn offs - but at least mine were either changeable or not worth changing.

It is hard to explain how being a late bloomer has affected me. Because the truth is, being a 'late bloomer' is not something innate, but something forced upon you - and in my case, it was forced upon an 'early bloomer'. Puberty kicked in pretty early, as did all the weird and wonderful things that also kick in during puberty. The anticipation and curiosity was killing me but, for one reason or another, I was always passed over. And, being a proud sort of person who generally gets her way when she puts her mind to something, that pissed me off to no end, having no way to explore and express myself. And so I became, as they put it, 'clingy'. In a boy they would call it 'normal', but c'est la vie. But it was a vicious fucking cycle. This combined with non-stop bullying, deeply embedded insecurities and not having anything to prove me or any of the bullies wrong...it fucked me up, big time.

It's all very well to do this whole personal growth business. I was the one who started fearless. I was the one who said 'fuck it, I'll do what I want'. I was the one who, when presented with a new friendship, instead of pretending to be what I thought he might like me to be I was myself - not because I thought he would like it or that it would lead to a strong friendship (it did and I was gobsmacked), but because I was so tired, so tired of being a phony. I was the one who wrote posts about sex and sexuality and porn and abortion and gay marriage and I was the one who hit 'send'. I was the one who stood up for my gay friends on Facebook. Being fearless, being myself, that was all me.

And it wasn't so brilliant, to be honest. I slipped up a lot of times, and hid in the comforting default of being one-dimensional. I lost basically all my friends, most of which can't actually give me a better reason than 'you're loud and opinionated and smart' (which, last time I checked, wasn't a bad thing, only an intimidating one. Wimps.) I preferred 'we just don't like you and we never did'. At least that was honest.

But I did make a few amazing friends. I made friends who were crazy - crazy to the point of...probably need professional help. The kind of people who had that kind of fearlessness that I wanted so badly. The kind of people who could say anything about themselves so casually that I didn't even have a chance to be disgusted or offended. The kind of people who didn't object to my being so grotesquely human. To be honest, I've known my best friend for a long time and for a long time I was actually too petrified to even look him in the eye - because that's what you do when you're thirteen and you have a crush on someone (because that's totally how to reel them in ladies...it didn't work.) But a combination of being fearless and being beyond stupidly persistent, we get along better than I've ever gotten along with anyone else. I guess what I'm trying to say is that if people love you, they love you for you. If they don't, fuck 'em. So yes, I became fearless by myself. But to say 'fuck you', that was something I had to learn.

I credit my best friend a lot for making me fearless, and some people have given me some shit for that. They say you have to be independent and all that shit. Well, yes, you do. But you don't steal a person's crutches and tell him to walk on his broken leg. And once his leg has healed you don't tell him that he has to be alone for the rest of his life otherwise he's a pussy. I was a broken person, and I was a lonely person. Whether you like it or not...you need people to cure both.

I also had to learn that even though people thought I was proud and arrogant, it killed people that I was so unsure and insecure and hung up and shy. It killed the people I loved that I cried myself to sleep every night. I had to learn that the people who thought I was proud and arrogant were the ones who were making me dangerously depressed, and that these people thought I was proud and arrogant because they were weak and intimidated. I learned that there was no way that I was genuinely proud and arrogant when every day I looked at myself in the mirror and hated what I saw, and for every insensitive victory dance at a good mark on an essay there were countless other times that I cried over all my other failings and shortcomings. I learned that I was only coming off as proud and insecure because that's what they had reduced me to - a weakling hiding behind armour. I learned that it wasn't arrogant to be proud of myself, to be proud of what I can do. And It's not arrogant to think that I am above and beyond some asshole who treats me like dirt.

Do you know what else I had to learn? Well, re-learn - do it again and do it properly, Jenkins. I don't know whether it's a consequence of living most of my life in very very small communities - my primary school only had about 500 students and Perth Mod only has about 1000 - but I always had this idea that if people didn't like you at school or if you didn't get a high school boyfriend you were doomed. Because, ya know, high school is such a realistic representation of the big bad world. I was convinced that, because 1,500 thought I was a fat ugly nerd that I was a fat ugly nerd. 1,500 might seem like a lot. It did seem like a lot to me, when I was fifteen and stupid. But applying for unis and meeting new people (actually, that has reminded me how small Perth was. I befriended a boy out of school thinking 'hey cool, I'm getting better at this being friends with total strangers thing and then finding out that he's actually going out with one of my friends. but moving on) has made me realize how BIG THIS EFFING WORLD IS. AND THERE IS NO POINT IN BEING INSECURE. BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH I FOUND MY BEST FRIEND AMONGST THESE ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED PEOPLE I HAVE SEVEN MILLION PEOPLE TO GET THROUGH BEFORE I COULD ACTUALLY SAY THAT I WILL NEVER FIND MY SOULMATE.


No comments: