Saturday, January 13, 2007

Self-Reflection: Outside Looking In

I'm not one for New Year's Resolutions, but I do a little self-reflection at this time of year and the 1st of the year is always a good time to start over, whatever do over you need or start fresh. For some reason lately I am feeling like a lot of things in my life need to change. I need to work harder on my faith journey, I need to exercise, I need to be better at keeping my house, etc. It is all so overwhelming and since I can't seem to pick one over the other, I just put them all off and do nothing.

Recently two high school friends have been reintroduced into our group of girl friends and that has gotten me thinking a lot about who I was in high school I guess. I was a miserable person in high school. I was a very depressed teenager. I was very shy most of my life and didn't really start coming out of my shell until high school. I wanted everyone to like me, just like every other teenager, but in my mind, no matter what my friends said to make me believe that they liked me, I never believed it. My expectations of those around me were always so high, that there was no other outcome but dissappointment. That was my fault entirely. In my early to mid-twenties I made a conscious decision to not be like that any more and my life took a complete 180. It was a gradual 180, but it happened and it was worth all the turmoil and torment it took to get me where I am now. I asked one of my girlfriends who I am very good friends with now, but who I also was a cheerleader with in high school what I was like in HS. She told me I was very angry. I was very negative and so it was hard to be my friend. I am so happy to no longer be that person and have others confirm that I am a much more positive person now than I used to be.

I have been thinking a lot lately about who I am. How's that for a loaded question? I think we all have multiple... personas... for lack of a better term, that make up our actual personality. We have the Us that we truly are. We have the Us that we let others see. We have the Us that others actually see (affected by their own feelings and experiences). And lastly, we have the Us that we strive to be. How does one reconcile all these personas to fit into one nice little package? Don't ask me.

In my reflection of self, I have been taking a closer look at these 4 personas outlined above. This could be a long one.

1. The Us we truly are. This is the one that defines how we see ourselves. This one is ugly and scary. This one is the one that shows me things on the screen of life that I see and I know others see, but are too polite or love me too much to point out. Here is just a short list of how I see myself. Not all bad, not all good.
  • I'm self centered. I know this about myself and I hate it, but I can't seem to break it. I am the type of person that is very out of site, out of mind. It's not that I don't care, I just get wrapped up in my own life and I forget. It isn't that I am not thinking about the people I care about either, I just think to call right when it's time to give Boo Bear a bath, or at midnight or first thing in the morning. When the time is appropriate, I am in the throes of my own life and I forget. But I think about the people in my life and what they are going through a lot. But they might never know that or feel that I care, because I forget to call and say so.
  • I'm lazy. Let me say that again LAZY. At the end of the day, I can say that I did the work I was supposed to do for my job, and I can say that my child got clothed, fed, and bathed (okay, bathed is questionable), and most of the time I can say that I also fed my husband, but that's it. Most days I fail to get anything else productive done. This includes laundry, vacuuming, cleaning, to do lists, organizing, etc. On the weekends when I don't have to "work", I should be cleaning and doing laundry, but no, that's when I read, or shop, or blog, or veg out in front of the TV. (In my defense, squeak, um, we don't watch TV with the girl, so the only time I get to veg out in front of the TV is when she is napping or gone to bed.) So, come Monday, the house looks exactly the same and then I'm stressed all week because I now have to cram laundry and cleaning and grocery shopping, etc into a week that already consists of me having to try and work 20-25 hours while entertaining a one year old whose attention span is about the length of her age, one minute.
  • I'm insecure. I know, I know, we are all insecure, but the way I manifest mine is by having to be in the loop on everything. The most in the loop. The one with the most information about something, or the one closest to somebody, or the one with the best ideas or best this or best that or the most needed. That's where it stems. I need to feel needed. I am a horrible gossip. I had a really hard time just writing that sentence. But it's true as ugly as it is. I don't gossip to be mean or snitty, I do it because I want to be in the loop. I want people to think, she knows. And it's wrong and it's one of the things I most want to change about myself. Someone recently said that if all you ever talk about is yourself, you won't have the chance to talk bad about some one else. As broad as that sounds, it is essentially true. If you put everything in the first person, you can't very well talk about someone else badly. So, one of my goals for myself is to stop talking about others and worry about my own darn self.
  • I'm a terrible listener. Really I am. I used to tell people that I was a great listener, but I'm horrible. My mind is always going a mile a minute and I forget things easily, so it's not unheard of for me to interrupt a conversation, repeatedly, to say what is on my mind. Again, it's selfish and sometimes it's like I am watching myself do this from outside myself and I hate it, but I can't seem to stop it. I think some of this comes partially from being younger and being such a wallflower that I let people walk all over me and not force people to hear me. Now I want to make sure that doesn't happen.
  • I am quite opinionated and can be quite pushy with my beliefs or activities or whatever and am quick to tell you how I feel. Again, see last two bullet points.
  • I never finish anything really. I mean, if I tell someone I am going to do something, I will finish it, but in terms of hobbys or workout plans or house cleaning or anything like that, I am gung ho in the beginning and try to convince everyone that whatever I am stuck on at the moment is the best thing in the world. When I discovered FlyLady, I was so into it and talked it up so much and practiced it for about 2 months. Then, as we say in our house, FlyLady flew the coop. She's nowhere to be seen. I still try to do some of the things in her plan, but I can't seem to get back on track. About four years ago, I discoverd Body For Life and was a born again gym rat. I worked out all the time and lost a lot of weight and fat and felt great. I pimped the program to everyone who would listen. And then, I petered out. I quit. I'm a quitter.
  • I like to think I am stronger than I am. In the face of difficulty, I can put on a strong front, but as soon as there is anyone there to catch me if I fall, I fall and I fall hard. I'm the type of person that can hurt herself and be absolutely fine if no one is around. But if I fall or cut myself, as soon as someone so much as touches me, I lose it. I cry, I freak out. In college, I pitched for an intermural softball league. One day we were playing a pretty good team and a pitch got lined right back at me. I managed to turn a little bit, so the ball nailed me in the left arm (better than my left breast) and it hurt like H-E-double hockey sticks. I started pacing the field, trying to walk it off and trying not to cry. I sensed someone coming close to check on me and snapped, "Don't touch me." I didn't mean to offend, but I knew that if anyone touched me, I would be bawling on the field. I don't know if you've heard, but "there's no crying in baseball." On the flip side of this, my ex and I came across a really bad wreck one time in the middle of the night and I had the courage to pull some girl from her truck that was leaking gasoline. Don't know where I got that from. Maybe that's just stupid.
  • I guess I could list some of my better qualities that I see in myself. I'm very loyal. Fiercely loyal. If you are my friend, I will be there for you if you every need anything. I will stand by you, I will defend you, I will fight for you. I will do stupid things for you.
  • I am very protective of my friends and family. Don't piss me off. If you are ever in need and you want something that is within my control, I will ask for it and get it if I have anything to say about it. Before I actually became a Mother, my friends called me Mama.
  • Not sure how to put this, and not sure I am as good as I used to be, but I guess I am a people pleaser. I say this in the sense, that I try and sometimes do without trying, predict what people are going to want or need. It's not really all that hard, and I think it's a skill that is hard wired into most women. I can see that you are looking for something and know exactly what it is you are looking for and I will just hand it to you. Not sure how better to put this.
2. The Us that we let others see: This is the everyday life. The way we treat our children and our spouse when others are around. Ideally this shouldn't be any different than when the outside world isn't watching, but I think it is. I may choose to not bite my husbands head off in public and wait until we are in the privacy of our own home to do so. I may let my child scream her head off at home when throwing a tantrum, but in a store I will try to calm her and soothe her and do just about anything to make her stop the scream that could end all screams. (Side note: I seriously think my daughter has a pitch in her voice that should be reserved for some sort of torture. When she hits such a note, I always think of a dog whistle and how loud that sound must be to a dog's ears.) The Us we let others see is the one with the best manners, except with the closest of friends and family, the best smile, the best temperment, the best everything, usually. On occassion if you see me at Wallyworld, you may not always be seeing the best of me, but usually the Me I let others see is on my best behavior, at least I try to be.

3. The Us that others actually see: This one is of course very open ended as this view is affected by each individuals experiences, histories and outlooks and temperments. I can say little about this Me, but perhaps you would like to enlighten me. Who is the Me that you see? It will be interesting to see the different responses based on my readers, some of whom are family, some are friends I have had for at least 15 years and others are e-friends that know me solely from this site and possibly email.

4. The Us that we strive to be: For me this one is where this post is probably coming from. I want to be a better Mother, a better wife, a better friend, a better daughter, a better photographer, a better writer, a better body, a better advocate, a better volunteer, a better time manager, a better eater, a better worker, a better neighbor, a better faithful, a better Me. Right now I feel like I need to improve on all of those things and it's overwhelming to me. Where do I start? Which one is the most important? How do you prioritize your life? For me, I think of that saying, (paraphrasing here), "I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes multiple days attack me at once." By the time I get to a point in my day where I really have time to think about improving on one of these things, my day is over and all I really want to do is sit and stare at the TV or computer.

Well, that turned into a longer post than I planned and probably a lot more revealing than I planned, but it felt good to purge and now maybe I can sleep.

Remember to answer the question, Who is the Me that you see?

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