Well-Meaning, But Uninformed

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Indeed it is.

I’ve struggled with my hair for years. My family was obsessed with it. As a kid, my mother forced me to my hair permed and professionally styled with extensions, not caring at all for my discomfort or how much getting extensions hurt. Trips to the hair salon were seen as essential to my living, and any protests were met with verbal/emotional abuse and accusations of me not liking to look “pretty”. As an adult, the obsession continued with my grandfather. Let me tell you, an old man obsessed with a young woman’s appearance is all kinds of creepy. Only recently has my family shut up about my hair because, frankly, I can’t afford a bi-weekly visit to the hair salon and I don’t have time for it.

I’m anemic because of iron deficiency. I have not had my hair permed since late last year, but I had no idea stopping those treatments meant your hair begins to fall out. I have been using certain hair oils – something I was recommended by people in personal life who aren’t family – but they’ve had no effect, and my hair is still falling out. Some advice-seeking in a Facebook group got me an interesting bit of knowledge: lack of iron can cause hair loss.

I did a research of my own. It turns out iron is necessary for hair to grow. Iron, the mineral I’ve been deficient in for at least eight years (when I was diagnosed with anemia), is necessary for hair growth.

Never did my hair-obsessed family mention this. And I’m furious.

I don’t expect them to know such a fact. I do expect them to care more that my hair is healthy rather than pretty. But they didn’t. Hair care has been a trial-and-error process for me because I only knew it as “washing, perming, and hair spray”, and I got sick of it. Only when my family’s obsessive behavior stopped did I care to try to learn if there were other ways.

I intend to see a doctor to ask questions and rule out other medical problems, but for the time being, I’m going to take some multivitamins I have and see if my hair changes at all. I don’t expect too, but if there is a good change, I’m going to be both glad and angry. Glad because my hair is finally fixing itself, and angry with my family for not teaching me better hair care habits while growing up to begin with. At the very least, if it doesn’t grow, I’ll be happy if it stops falling out.

Eighteen Versus Twenty-Four

I’m almost finished with my first class of trade school. I even finished the final project already. Despite my anxiety about the next course, I am glad this first one is almost over. Though, I’m disappointed I genuinely struggled with the “Student Success” half of it. Of course, I attended trade school to avoid such classes, but four weeks is better than two years of them.

One thing I hate my high school for is making life sound so black and white. They pushed the idea everyone who is successful goes to college, that there’s no other way, that there’s no excuse not to go, that community college is a waste (it was referred to as “the 13th grade”), and that all incoming college students were our age. What a load of trash. And I say that with zero fondness for community college.

I’m still getting over the feeling of being an “older” student, but I must admit I think I’m doing well because I’m not 18 years old in college. While I went to college for bad reasons to begin with (family pressure), there was more to it than that. I was also burned out from 14 years of mandatory schooling since the age of 5. Birth, if you count daycare, preschool, and head start. I didn’t want to go to any school anymore! I wanted to work, make some money, and go to college later! Obviously, that plan fell apart and I despise retail with an intensity that matches the sun’s, but I don’t regret it. I had more freedom as an uneducated part-time retail worker than as a jobless college student. If I had the personality for retail to be a lifelong career, I’d go for it and never have chosen to return to school. Unfortunately, being an introvert means that’s the equivalent of hell.

Having some years off of school let me have some experiences I couldn’t do while in school. And while not all of them were pleasant, it was still a nice, long break from being confined to one place for nine hours. It’s insanely ironic how being surrounded by hundreds of people for over a decade of your life can turn you into a misanthrope. I think my preschool self who was happier building blocks alone than being forced to “make friends” was on to something.

Experiencing something besides school (and bullying) let me feel more motivated and focused when I returned to school. Sure, I still have my grievances. I hate having to wake up at 6 AM and I wish I could’ve stayed with the first group of classmates I started with. But unlike my mandatory school days, schoolwork is not my life. It’s part of it, but I’m not forced to make it all of it. Again, the irony is insane. I get my schoolwork out of the way as quickly (and meticulously) as I can, to the point I will work through lunch to finish it. High school and under? Classwork and schoolwork was a battle to get me to finish if I wasn’t interested in the subject. I know some people do well under pressure, but I think I’m proving time and again I’m not one of them. It seems I do well when the pressure is off. That, and when I feel what I’m doing is worth my while. I still remember almost nothing I learned in high school, and what I do remember is limited to the Italian and French classes I took.

So, I don’t mind being a “non-traditional” student, as it’s called. I’m actually glad I can pay for my own schooling. It means no one needs to keep tabs on it besides me. Want to know my grades? None of your business!

No Birthday

My birthday is in two days. I could not care less.

Is it what I’m putting myself through even worth it?

Is all this stress really going to pay off in the end?

Is there a point to this struggling besides making me wish I didn’t exist to deal with it?

Does it matter if I return to school or keep working?

Is being frugal worth it if I’m broke anyway?

Why am I still going on with this? Why am I still trying? What am I getting out of this?

What is the result of all this? What am I supposed to look forward to?

Does it even exist?

The only “good” thing about this birthday it lets me return to school.

My hours have been cut, I am pinching pennies, I can’t afford so much as a pack of cupcakes, and I have no one to spend it with.

There is nothing good about this birthday. I don’t want this birthday. I don’t want to remember it.

No, I’m not okay. No, I’m not happy. No, I’m not looking forward to my birthday. It can die.

I don’t care.

United In Struggle

A common question kids are asked is what they want to be when they grow up. As teens, that question becomes, “What do you want to do after high school?” (usually, the expected answer is college and little more than that). As an adult, the question is, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Or any number of years, but I’ve mostly heard five.

For me, the answer is: I don’t know.

While I’m not one to think life just happens with zero control over its events, I don’t think in the other extreme of having absolute control over everything. My life certainly has not gone as planned, and I do not mean solely my adulthood. My life has been going unplanned since my childhood days. While I’m not entirely ungrateful, it’s only because the end result is I lived through it to reach what I’m happy to have now. And even that can be counted on one hand.

Something I have noticed with my co-workers is almost everyone either attends college or has a second job. The former is obvious, but in the case of the latter, it’s simply because it’s that hard to manage for them. And of the jobs I know, their first ones aren’t what’s usually considered low-paying. On one occasion, I also had a customer mention he works three jobs. Why? To pay his mortgage. Even my former clinician, who is well-established in her career of 10+ years as a psychologist by now, has told me she and her husband resides in his family’s home because they struggle financially otherwise.

That is truly terrifying to me, even more so than having nothing planned to begin with. I understand what they do is out of necessity, but merely one job for me creates feelings my life is slowly descending into a meaningless existence of work and sleep. To need to hold two or three to survive? I question if passing life in a coma would be preferable. I suppose those examples emphasize everyone has it hard in some way, but that’s little comfort to me. I do not want to have the same struggles at 33 I’m having at 23.

If someone were to ask where I see myself in five years, I truly couldn’t answer. Any position I’ve gotten myself in, especially my job, has been unexpected. If someone asked me in 2015 where I saw myself in 2016, the answer would not have been anything close to working. The truth is I cannot see myself in any position I’m not currently in or haven’t been in previously. Until it happens, I subconsciously believe it can’t happen.

Perhaps this is another discovery of adulthood taking me by surprise and I’m slow at keeping up. At 23, I feel as if I haven’t aged a day past childhood, despite my life as it stands resembles nothing of my childhood (and I’d have killed myself by now if it did). In the end, many things feel very confusing and I’m uncertain if they’re supposed to feel any other way. The one thing I’m certain of is no matter how much I learn, how much better I supposedly become, I still feel like I know absolutely nothing. That makes no sense, and as far as I can tell, neither does much else.