Ten Years: A Reflection

I debated between making this a birthday post or a blog anniversary one. I chose birthday since it’s not about the blog.

Today is my 28th birthday. A decade since what was supposed to be my HS graduation year (was forced to take an extra year due to transferring districts). It feels rather surreal. I don’t know how to feel about it.

I know 18-year-old me would be surprised I’m still here, and at the things I do. I dealt with bullying throughout all of my school years. Always had a few friends, but was overall extremely shy, didn’t do extracurriculars, and struggled with schoolwork. Didn’t date at all (because any guy who asked me out did it only as a joke), and I was heavily sheltered, so outside of the occasional afternoon with a friend, my time out of school was spent at home. Wanted to work, but they didn’t want me to do even that. Yet, complained I never went out. Huh.

If you told me at the age of 18 that in ten years, I’d:

  • Almost never spend a full day at home
  • Have a relationship of now 7 years with someone who cannot take his eyes off of my undressed body
  • DRIVE (I failed the class my high school provided us and never tried again)
  • Regularly travel between NJ and NY, and travel all over NJ (I used to do Uber/Lyft)
  • Meet men who deem me attractive, and who flirt with me (I hate this, but it still shocks me)
  • Be in college again, do well, and not hate it (dropped out of college when I was 19)
  • Have money, have credit, get into investing (Budget? In my family? What is that?)
  • Wouldn’t be pregnant (never wanted kids, but family always talked about pregnancy as something inevitable; everyone is a single parent or in a toxic marriage, no in between)

And, finally, the biggest one of all:

  • Be capable of holding down a full-time job and financially supporting myself, even if I struggle for a while. (Everyone from my family to my teachers told me I wouldn’t make it in adulthood if my grades didn’t get better, and my high school pushed college as a life or death thing)

If you told me at 18 this is what I could reflect on in ten years, I’d call you a liar and glare at you like you sprouted a second head. If 2020 hadn’t been the year it was, my boyfriend and I would’ve moved in together, but it’s now in the cards for 2023.

I say often I don’t feel my life differs much from when I was a teenager, but what I listed above is very different. None of that describes me at 18 at all.

But I still want someone to hug me, rub my back, and tell me I’m okay. I still need that.

“Children Are The Future!”

…until when?

This is an expression I noticed goes in a cycle.

I remember as a kid (age still in single digits) in summer camp, the counselors taught us a song about how “we” (the present kids) are the future.

My 27th birthday is next month. I don’t think I’m the future anymore.

Exactly how long are kids the future?

Legally speaking, childhood lasts until the age of eighteen. But life does not, and it goes without saying people are in their twenties (especially under 25) are considered adults only in the legal definition of the word. One of my former bosses told me I’m a baby after I told him I was 23. Barring premature death, 18-year-olds are still have a long future, but no one is singing about how young adults are the future.

No one idealizes teenagers either. In fact, the teen years are notoriously hated because they’re not adorable cherubs anymore, but they’re still too young to be (legally) kicked out of the house. Nobody gushes about cute teen clothes or posts a thousand pictures of a cute thing their teenager did (that’s a good thing!). So, I’d argue few people consider teenagers the future either. At least, not unless they’re joking the future is doomed, thanks to whatever stupid trend is currently getting attention on the internet.

That leaves kids under the age of 13. That’s a very short future.

I was born in 1994, so I’ll use that as an example. After 2007, I was no longer the future. I still had a (terrible) future, but as far as society was concerned, I was no longer “the future”.

Here’s a hopefully not-too-crazy question: Why is the future always romanticized? Why does nobody care about the present?

Presumably, the thought is the present sucks (and I wholeheartedly agree!), but the future eventually becomes the present. If the future is bright, but the present sucks, and the bright future eventually becomes the sucky present, why do we continually look forward to the future? This cycle never stops, which ultimately means it never gets better.

That was certainly a depressing revelation.

Children are the future in the sense they will grow and age over time. But at 13, 18, 25, 30, they are still the future. I’d argue anyone with at least twenty years left to live is the future. But kids are cute blank slates, so it’s much easier to picture a bright future of them before they reach that future.

Every terrible person in history started out as an innocent baby imagined to have a bright future.

It’s (not really) funny children are considered so important for the sake of the future, yet in the present, they’re treated more as things than people. My existence is the product of two people who went “oops” and didn’t know what else to do. So are their existences. And that’s the story for nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States.

Put the pitchforks down! I didn’t say unplanned parenthood equates to being a bad parent.

My point is one would rationally assume if children are the future, and it’s so important, more thought would be put into having a child than what’s for dinner next week. But until recently, having kids was thought of as more “that’s what people do”, to the point it was considered absurd to not a parent. Not having kids is more acceptable today, but there remains certain groups and people (particularly highly religious, but not always) who believe not becoming a parent equates to failing in life. The most common reason given is it’s selfish not to have them, completely ignoring the only possible unselfish reason for having a child is being forced to. Not to mention it’s completely natural to act in the interest of one’s own life. That’s the point.

The retort to that is usually it’s natural to want kids. Homosexuality is natural too, but that’s condemned to the point of being a crime in some countries. Next!

I strayed far from my original point…

To sum all this up, I agree children are the future. They can’t not be. However, they don’t stop being the future when people stop singing songs about it.

People stop being the future when there no longer is a future – bright or dystopian – to look forward to. Maybe the present sucks because more time is spent fantasizing about what can be done later instead of now.

Hope

I sincerely believe this lockdown will last for the remainder of 2020 and well into 2021.April 2020

Unfortunately, it seems I was correct. What I was wrong about was the rare possibility of reopening my blog in 2021. I’m going to do that now.

My shutdown post wasn’t for the sake of attention. Every word in that post is what I felt at the time. Suicidal feelings are strong, and I’m beginning to think I may struggle with them for the rest of my life, despite a decade passing before I felt that terribly again (although the first time, the mental struggle didn’t end for three years). That actually makes me wish that much more my life had not come into being. Struggling with the concept of your mere existence isn’t fun, to put it mildly.

As I said in that post, the only reason I am still here is I’ve yet to be able to intentionally bring harm upon my body, and I truly resent that incapability. However, a huge part of what drove the feelings that led me to write that post and shut down my blog was fear.

…if going outside absolutely dooms people to the virus and death, if it’s terrifying enough for suicide to be a better option

This post was in April. It’s now July. Yes, I was that scared of getting sick. That’s what hearing “stay home or people will die” will do to a person.

Months later, it’s now occurred to me… people really like to preach and pat themselves on the back.

The term I’ve found for it is “virtue signaling”, and if nothing else, I’ve realized life on the internet is really unhealthy. That’s nothing new, but with the economy on death’s door, the viciousness seems more blatant. If you ask social media, going outside is a crime akin to manslaughter and worthy of the death penalty. Offline? Nobody cares.

…people being arrested for being outside, celebrations being broken up…

Including the police. At least, in my town. My neighborhood had an unofficial little block party for the fireworks. The cops came by… and didn’t give two cents. They asked for a car that was double-parked to be moved, and told a couple to stop shooting fireworks off their lawn, not to ruin our fun, but because it posed a hazard. This was at night, after the city’s curfew (9pm). No arrests, no citations. Just wanting to stop safety hazards. The officer moved on – never got out of his cruiser! – leaving us to enjoy the unofficial fireworks show we were getting from the distance.

Watching those fireworks with neighbors as meringue music played. Somehow, I was so incredibly happy. The happiest I’ve been this year.

Today, I went to the beach. I haven’t been to the beach since 2013 or 2014. I prefer the pool, but the one I usually go to is under construction until late 2021, and the other open pools require summer memberships. Thus, the beach was my only viable option. It was nearly a one hour drive (oh, yeah; I got a new car in May), but a one hour drive that was worth it. Though I wished I had someone with me, I still had a great time and spent seven hours – from their opening to their closing – at the beach. The weather was perfect. Somehow, when I was enjoying myself in the water, all of these thoughts came to mind. Everyone was here to have fun. This is not what the internet would want to see, but this wasn’t the internet. It was real.

And somehow, I began to think if I really have to be here – if I can’t find the strength to take my life away – I’ll have to make the best of it. The more I pull away from the internet, especially social media, the more I see not only isn’t it a substitute for life offline, but it never came close.

That also means I am done feeling guilty for taking care of myself. I take care of a household. The internet expects everyone to be responsible for everyone. No. People say “think of someone besides yourself” until the people you think of are personal to you. You’re supposed to care about utter strangers, but not your family and friends. That is, unless said family and friends agree with the internet. Then, it’s okay to care about them.

While I was enjoying the fireworks last night and the beach day, I also thought about my relationship. My boyfriend and I are still a couple, but I do think the relationship may have run its course. In those moments, I wished he was with me, but I still enjoyed myself without him. Regarding the beach, I know I would’ve been waiting on him to get up and get ready because he almost never wakes up in the morning. It was very nice to be able to just go.

Simply put, we will not be partners in life. I want someone to actually share the responsibility of a household we build together, not someone whose idea of living together is me solely being responsible for a home while he lives in a parked RV nearby and still visits occasionally. The tension in our relationship has gotten so noticeable, even his sister believes I may call it quits, and I’m unsure she’s wrong (side note: his sister and niece have the same frustrations with him that I do). I said at least once I could imagine my life without him, but I don’t want to. Seems it’s called the “honeymoon phase” for a reason. I want him in my life, but I’m not so opposed to the idea of him not being there anymore, especially when I’m seeing I don’t miss him when I am having fun so much as I miss company. Had I watched the fireworks, danced to the music, or visited the beach with a friend, that longing to have someone with me wouldn’t have existed.

I want companionship, not specifically romance. I really wonder if coming to these realizations may spell the end of our relationship. I haven’t checked out yet – it’s not foregone – but it may be getting there. As for his sleeping late specifically, I now don’t care to bother. If he doesn’t get up, I go alone.

This post is titled “Hope”, but it’s not because I have hope for 2020, 2021, humanity, or my life. There’s definitely a chance down the road I will regret this post and the feelings that led me to shut down my blog will resurface. I really hate I’m not someone who’s glad to be alive and instead just making the best of being forced into existence since I’ve not found the strength to terminate. This post’s title is for the mere fact I want that to not be the case. I do hope I don’t regret this post and re-opening my blog. Only time will determine that.

In the meantime, I won’t feel guilty or ashamed for not being a hikikomori like Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter deem I should. Am I a murderer? The internet would say yes.

But I’m not sorry I don’t live online.

Shutdown

Work plus lack of desire to live equals no blog content. I’m too tired to write what I want, so I’ll copy and paste what I’ve said elsewhere:

Yes, I know the country (I’m in the US) lockdown is for the sake of physical health. But I don’t see the point in living anymore when life is literally a cycle of going to work and going home (if your job is still open) or living indoors indefinitely (if your job is closed). I sincerely believe this lockdown will last for the remainder of 2020 and well into 2021. A pandemic will not vanish by May. I’ll be shocked if it’s gone by December. In all honesty, I’m hugely doubtful the government would be willing to give up all this power and authority over the people.

I miss my friends insanely. I didn’t know the last time I visited my (ex?)boyfriend would be the last time I saw him, the last time his niece would hug me. One would think as an introvert, I’d love this, but there’s a difference between willingly staying inside and being ordered to. My job is still open and I’m working six days a week, not because I’m scheduled or want to, but to have an excuse to get out the house. It’s not helping.

Yes, I’ve kept up with the news. Rates of violence have gone up, the economy may be close to an actual depression if it’s not there yet, suicide (some murder-suicides) because of COVID-19 fears or testing positive for it, people being arrested for being outside, celebrations being broken up, my city’s local police utilizing drones as spy tools… I’m truly more fearful for my life via violence and the police than the virus, but my point is I don’t see the country recovering from this at all, and I’m finding myself questioning if I want to continue being alive; a feeling I haven’t had since my school years and I hoped to never have again. My birthday is near the end of this month and I couldn’t care less. Usually, I take off work that day, but with work the only thing that’s not closed, why bother?

I don’t think 2020 is worth seeing to the end. I don’t think April is worth seeing to the end, let alone 2020. I really don’t. I feel bad for having all of these feelings because I know many people have it much worse (for starters, I’m not sick). But I’m not optimistic. I feel like a prisoner (minus the bars). If everything is so bad that the country must be indefinitely shutdown, if going outside absolutely dooms people to the virus and death, if it’s terrifying enough for suicide to be a better option (I confess if I tested positive, I’d look at that route too), how can there be a bright future if the pandemic passes?

To put it simply: I don’t think there is any positive future, I don’t believe the pandemic and shutdown will end before 2021 (if the pandemic ends at all), and I do not want to be here to see the rest of 2020. The only reason I’m still here is being too chicken to bring harm upon myself. I wish I’d known ahead of time the last time I saw my loved ones would’ve been the last time because I would’ve said goodbye instead of “see you next time”.

Not copy and paste: Thank you to everyone who’s read my blog over the last eight years. I have to bring this blog to close. If – and that’s a big if – I am here in 2021 and the world has resumed, I will reopen it. I sincerely love this blog and the record it’s become of myself. I’m leaving it up as something for my family to read of me, if they find it. Besides that, it won’t serve a purpose in 2020.

I truly hope you, whoever is reading this, are having a better time than me and haven’t lost your want to be alive. Whatever happens, I wish you a happy life.

Goodbye. And thank you so much.

“Show Yourself!”

Into The Unknown and Show Yourself are, without question, my most favorite songs in Frozen 2.

Into The Unknown is more vocally powerful, but Show Yourself has a stronger emotional connection. And that’s the one I can’t get out of my head. Particularly, this set of lyrics:

“You are the one you’ve been waiting for!

All of my life!

Show yourself!

Let me see who you are!”

I did not see this film for these emotional attacks!

Elsa’s story of struggling with her powers and who she is has often been compared to coming out as a part of LGBT+. I’ve never seen it that way, but I absolutely relate to struggling with your identity, feeling the need to hide, yearning for freedom, and eventually learning to embrace and love who you are.

It’s taken me several years (school bullying and family shame will do that you) and I am still not there, but I’ve gotten better in recent years. I don’t hate my reflection anymore, I’m more open about the things I love, regardless of how strange they’re considered to be for someone of my age, and I am okay with being me most of the time. The most helpful thing has been partially disconnecting from my family, not enough to cut them out, but enough that my well-being is not attached to them.

Note Elsa was never ashamed of her powers in the first movie. She was terrified of hurting people. Just as Elsa is happiest when she’s embracing her powers and free from pressure, I’m happiest when I’m enjoying the things I love and away from those who say I shouldn’t. I am absolutely not happy for the experiences I’ve had (because they are terrible and no one should go through them) and I still would’ve preferred my existence being cut, but I’m managing with what I have.

That doesn’t mean I am obnoxious or try to make a show of being “different”, but I am very okay with “showing myself” and to be able to do that freely is indeed something I waited all of my life for. I’m learning who I am without all the pressure to hold back for others’ feelings. Some people will care to know. Most won’t, and I expect that.

But I will gladly show them all who I am.

Beauty Queen

Why is she so beautiful?