New Experiences & Old Pains

I have a job that I like. The people are awesome, the tasks are interesting and exciting, and I feel like there is plenty of opportunities for me to grow professionally. Not to mention that it’s much better than the previous (short-lived) job I had, and a very good improvement over my first job. I’ve been given the opportunity to work here, and I don’t want to lose it.

And, I think, for most of my short time here, I have not been able to escape this anxious feeling that I am not doing enough. I realize that some of it is because until I pass around the six-month mark, and I finally feel secure, I will always be wondering if I’m actually filling the shows. Six months, I think, is about when I stop myself from thinking this is all a mistake, and I will be given the boot.

But while some of it is that fear that someone, somewhere, made a mistake, there is something more worrying happening: I see the gap of what I could be doing, and what I’m actually doing, and I feel myself lacking.

I’ve told myself that I felt like my short stint at my previous job broke me. Too many things felt wrong and I developed some bad habits as a way to make it through the day. So, while I was on the treadmill from my first job working remote, I fell off it on the second, and now I need to get back on it.

Being on the treadmill isn’t easy, you see, but I know I can do it. It takes time. If I saw myself get better at it over time, knowing that it’ll be a matter of time until I get up to speed, it’d be okay. It’s not great knowing you used to do better, but at least I could get my head down and keep on trying.

What I’m frustrated by is that getting on the treadmill is so tough. It feels like a constant battle with myself just to approach it. I try to trick myself, and it sometimes works, but I can tell that it’s only a temporary victory. I try to work from somewhere else in the house, and it works (despite some technical issues that come with it), but I can see that it will, eventually, stop working. Could maybe working from an office, with the pressure to at least pretend I’m working, help to do what I must? Probably. At this point, I’m open to the idea.

What I do know, however, is that I want to do a good job, live up to my own expectations and the standards of the team, and that I shouldn’t need to fight myself to do something I want.

And I know, there are plenty of suggestions and tricks to do a better job at that fight. I shouldn’t need to. If I want to do something, it’s not crazy to think that, barring some survival instinct or moral quandary, I shouldn’t just do it. But that’s not what happens internally, and I’m not sure it ever did.

University was an ebb and flow between taking advantage of classes where possible and the stress of cramming and all-nighters because finals were coming. If I go back far enough, the only time it hasn’t been like this was back when I still studied along with mom. She’d sit us down every day to do our homework and study if need be, and things were a breeze back then. But I certainly wasn’t the one setting the pace – I’d only keep it because I knew there wouldn’t be an escape from it. I’d have to do it, and I couldn’t run from it.

And I insist. Surely that isn’t where it should end. Surely, it stands to reason that if I want to do something, I could just do it. I’m not even talking about keeping at it or being good at it. Oh, no. I’m merely talking about getting on the treadmill and saying “I’m doing this” and then doing it.

Noise

I am frustrated.

For a few months now, I have noticed that I have been doing my best to drown myself in sound. At first, I believed that I was trying to avoid facing my thoughts, doing my best to not sit with myself. It didn’t help that until recently, I was in a job that wasn’t for me and that made my days terrible. It wouldn’t have been the first time, either. So, I figured that keeping my computer on and always playing something was both a literal and figurative way of ensuring that I couldn’t think of anything else. Why, though? What was it that I was trying to shut off?

Meanwhile, the desire to go to a hotel just for the sake of being away from everything, maybe going to a spa or something like that has been growing on me. Maybe I have run out of emotional credit and just need to shut off everything for a bit.

And then I turned the noise off.

I had forgotten that the dogs bark throughout the night. I had forgotten that my mother goes outside because the dogs bark outside. And it’s not just that. The realization made me notice that it’s not myself that I’m trying to shut off. I’ve been itchy to write, to talk, to think things through and voice my conclusions and opinions. I have been doing my best to gain the confidence to do so, too.

Instead, I am trying to shut the outside world out. I’m trying to shut off the barking of the dogs throughout the day, no matter how much I often just don’t notice. I’m trying to shut off the regular arguments and discussions about the same subjects over and over with my grandparents whenever they come. I’m trying to shut off my parents, who are venting all the time about the same things, in the same way.

So, I’m frustrated. I don’t feel like it’s in my hands to change it. I already do my best to remove myself, given that I don’t really hang out outside my room anyway. But it isn’t as soundproof as it could be, so at the end of the day either I put on headphones or I play something on the speakers. And, at this point, I don’t believe my parents want to change, if they even think there is something worth changing.

I wish I had anything worth concluding. Instead, all I’m left with is frustration and anger. At some point I will move over to resignation, as I move towards a new equilibrium.

The Long Endless Walk

For a long time, a friend has wanted to take some self-defense classes. During the lockdown, she learned that we had some institutes nearby that had the classes she was looking for. Since Covid-19 containment measures have eased up in Portugal, and gyms and other establishments are open again, she figured this was the perfect opportunity to start. She asked me to go with her to the place and, although I didn’t want to have the classes myself, I figured I could go for a walk. It’s been a while since I have taken one, as I’ve been spending most of my time at home. So, that day after work, I went with her and while she had her try out class, I walked.

In the town I live, we have this long, straight road with a walking and cycling paved path next to a long road, which connects the city center with the closest beach. It’s lined by decent sized detached homes with small gardens, and through the closest parts to town a kind of suburb has grown. The walking path is separated from the roads by threes, with gaps for pedestrian crossings I don’t trust because no driver is ever going to see you before you’re about to cross. It’s the kind of path that’s too straight and too level, with not much going on besides the rows of houses that slowly thin out the further you go. Mind-numbingly so.

If you look straight ahead, it looks endless and, for the next thirty minutes or so, it might as well be. It’s both the perfect stretch to turn off your brain for a while, and to let your mind wander through subjects you’ve been avoiding. If the weather is just right, it becomes a short, walk-able version of going for a drive we see so often in American movies.

The blue sky served as a great backdrop for the fluffy white clouds. It made me wish I had taken my camera with me

There aren’t many distractions along the way. At most, a bike goes around you and quickly pulls away from you. Or perhaps you find the odd group talking as they walk. Otherwise, it’s just you and your thoughts – or your music, if that’s the kind of company you’d rather have. If it was closer, I would sometimes just stroll in the evenings when I need some time to think, or maybe to be away from everything.

Sharing

I have been less afraid of sharing.

It’s weird to write those words because I don’t know when I began being afraid of sharing the things I like with people. I can point to some perspective changes throughout my late teenage years, such as when I understood that there were parts of who I was that I needed to change. Regardless, the reality is that I’ve struggled to share and be open about my likes and dislikes for too long. I felt like my tastes were so unrelated that the spaces I had wouldn’t fit – after all, I was so afraid people would see that and simply walk away.

I wanted a space to be the entirety of me, because there was nowhere I could be the entirety of me. Yet I also craved the attention, and the knowledge I reached a lot of people. Of course, such is impossible. Specially because the only place I can be me is within myself.

It took me having the freedom to define myself on my own terms. It took having the freedom to experience, explore and simply understand what worked for me and what didn’t. And, I’m sure I still have a long road in that regard, but I think I have a much more clear idea of who I am. Enough for others to notice, too.

I also learned that, while I can try to be likeable by everyone (or at least not hated), it’s unpleasant to regulate myself based on what people I don’t like would think or not. In a workplace it is a useful skill, for sure, but my social life can be so much more than that – and even if it wouldn’t, I’m at a place where I’d rather focus on the relationships that I do have and cherish, than to be stuck with ones I’m not particularly pleased about.

And I know – this is pretty much the advice many give. I’m certain I’ve given the advice myself in the past. But it’s one of those that I had to learn by myself, regardless of how much I knew what the right path might be.

So now, sharing isn’t so scary. I’ve mentioned it to a couple of people, and they seem to agree I’ve been much better in that regard. I must admit. I’m quite proud that I managed to get here.

I am…

I have always had trouble answering who I am. Never quite sure, a grey mass seemingly full of possibilities. But not knowing who I am is not good enough anymore. As part of the work I’ve been doing with a therapist, I was asked to write about who I am.

I have always had trouble answering who I am. Never quite sure, a grey mass seemingly full of possibilities. But not knowing who I am is not good enough anymore. As part of the work I’ve been doing with a therapist, I was asked to write about who I am.

Continue reading “I am…”

Moving

My sister bought a house. It’s a forty year commitment to a house, and at least ten years of struggling to save money. I moved in with her, just like we had planned from the beginning. The new space is nice: there is plenty of more space for us to be, and the house is in much better space than where we lived. It is warm inside, despite how early we are in spring. And, to be quite honest, I like having a window and waking up with the sun.

Adapting to the new space was quick. A matter of expanding the space I occupied – now, I do have the space to just be in my room. I thought that, perhaps, all those years living in the old house would have made me somewhat attached to it, but I am honestly merely glad we have finally left. Staying would have meant sinking a lot of money into something that wouldn’t ever be ours. It wasn’t particularly comfortable either. And, honestly, my room felt more like a space to sleep in and where I’d retreat when needed, than a space where I could express myself. Perhaps better described as I space I was constrained to, than one I lived in.

It still feels quite odd, however. It’s been at least a month now, and I can’t find within me anything resembling an emotional response. And that should be okay — it is okay. It never felt mine, so why should I feel sad about leaving it behind? Still, somewhere in the back of my mind, a whisper says I’m strange for not feeling much. A whisper I hope to one day never hear again.