Y’know how sometimes, you start a blog post, get probably 2/3 of the way through said blog post… and then think, hmm, this sounds familiar… so you go to your blog… and you realize you’ve written almost the same exact post, not even a month ago?
Whoops. Let’s try this again, shall we?
Hello, readers. How are you? I’ve clearly lost my mind, but it’s okay, I’m fine, it’s fine!
The past few weeks have been… something else. I won’t get into the specifics here – and everything is okay, don’t worry – but I will say, I’ve learned a lot about myself in a very short time, and it’s sent my brain reeling, clearly.
I will salvage a few things from the post I just scrapped. I’m writing today from a college library, one of those cubicles with a cheap Dell that has a too-loud spacebar that I can hear above the U2 I have blowing out my eardrums. It’s making me self-conscious, even though I know I’m just contributing to the normal week-before-finals hushed din. The middle-space I’m staring at today is endless shelves of books these students probably hardly know how to Dewey Decimal their way through anymore. It’s a lovely change from my living room, I have to say. I’m not one to be overly sentimental about college, but I’ve found I write best in libraries? I need to do this more often.
Anyway, I’m feeling a whole slew of things this morning, and they’re wholly positive. I’m so close to 30 I can feel it (ehm, I can feel the inexplicable back pain I woke up with…), and for the first time in my life, I feel truly confident. That’s what I blogged about before (I’m still laughing a little at myself for entirely forgetting about that?), but today I got to put all those abstract feelings into action and it felt amazing.
I caught up with a friend this morning, one that I hadn’t seen since leaving my old job. He remarked how much happier and confident I seemed, and I just had to laugh because that’s been the general theme these almost-three months – in losing job security and a steady paycheck, I’ve found actual, almost tangible, confidence in myself, for the first time ever. That makes me laugh now, because growing up doing theater, I sure seemed like I had all the confidence in the world – I was often the loudest kid in the room.
I tweeted a little thread about this a few days ago, and I don’t mean to make every post here about U2, but those lads have become critically important to me over the past few months, and it’s my blog, so I’m going to do what I want. Their new album, Songs of Experience, dropped on Friday, and one of the songs, The Little Things That Give You Away, has come to affect me in a really profound way. The song is a glimpse at the insecurities, the little things, that are often hiding just below the surface of anyone (say, the lead singer of the biggest rock band of our time), and builds to include the whole band in a way that brings me to tears every time. There’s one line in particular that I’ve latched onto:
It’s the little things that give you away / The words you cannot say / Your big mouth in the way
For so long, too long, I sort of… lived behind a fence? I will say, I was sort of sheltered in my Catholic grade and high schools (and college… omg…), but that mental fence is what I’m really talking about here. I would call it a wall, but I absolutely could see through it, if that makes sense. I’m lucky that my depression and anxiety never fully completely shut me down (though they sure have tried), but there have been so many times I could see myself doing more, saying more, being more, but I let my brain psych me out. I know that train of thought inevitably leads to the “what if?” game, which I don’t particularly enjoy, because I’m quite pleased with where I am now, but… it’s something to think about, for sure. At the same time, though, I know that my struggles and the things I’ve been through are exactly why I am the woman I am today, so like… it all had to go this way, even if it wasn’t entirely a good time?
Back to that lyric, though, before I talk myself into too many circles and lose you all.
“Your big mouth in the way.” In six words, Bono summed up my entire experience of being the center of attention, the life of theater cast parties, but struggling to express myself the way I wanted to. I think my closest circle of friends understood that struggle (I’m lookin’ at you, Danny and Teresa – I’m thankful all the time that we’ve remained close for all these years), but realizing that so many of the people who were such a big part of my life didn’t really get what was going on with me? That’s a lot to reconcile.
I think it’s why I’ve become so unapologetic about myself today. There’s been a whole slew of other things and people who have helped me come to accept the woman I am, and be damn proud of her. I have a handful of younger friends that I try to force this love and self-confidence on because I don’t want them to for a moment feel any of the self-doubt I dealt with just out of college.
And it’s funny, because I again find myself in a similar situation – being between full-time jobs has put a weird financial strain on me and my husband, but this time, it isn’t as bad. We have a good handle on things and we are making it work. If you’ve been in my life for longer than a few years, you might remember just how bad things were for me when I was just out of college; when I had to leave my last job, I was so worried that was going to happen again, worse. But… it didn’t. Life has been surprising me in the best ways over the past few months, and I am so, so lucky for it. I know a paragraph about money doesn’t make much sense here, while I’m talking about my brain, but that stress in 2011 affected me profoundly and sent me spiraling in a way that terrifies me to think about even now. I knew I couldn’t let myself go back to that place, and I feel so much stronger for fighting it head-on this time around.
That has to be where this confidence is coming from. Life has dealt me so many blows; hell, my own brain, in its imbalances, deals me a new hand of anxiety every day. But when I look back on the things I’ve made it through… that’s a confident woman. That I’m finally, finally surrounded by people I’m not afraid to share that with? That’s a really beautiful thing.
I need to wrap this up now – I have a shift at the brewery soon, and that in itself makes me smile. It’s a part time job, one that doesn’t pay much, but it’s a job somewhere I enjoy, with coworkers I get along with, and it affords me time and space to remain myself. I might not be the portrait of professional success, but I finally fit the picture of the woman I always wanted to be. That’s good enough for me.