Treat Others… And Yourself

A long conversation with my boyfriend this early morning gave me huge insight into something.

I enjoy writing, particularly fan fiction and my opinions (gee, what gave the latter away?), but it dawned on me less than half a day ago I’ve been writing fan fiction for twelve years – nearly half of my life!

I never put thought into it or considered it a hobby or noticed it becoming one. I don’t recall what sparked it. All I remember is I started shortly after I watched “The Little Mermaid” when it came out on DVD in 2006, when I was 12 years old. It was the first Disney movie I ever watched, and what introduced me to Disney to begin with. I don’t remember that being any sort of inspiration, but it’s closest I can think of as a reason I may have started writing.

There were other hobbies I tried to develop later on, but I failed at them, despite genuinely liking them. As it turns out, it’s not always a bad thing to be selfish.

When I wrote, it was always for myself. Even if I made it public, and I do enjoy sharing, I was still writing for my own sake. I did it when I was bored or had some random idea pop into my mind. Most of the stories I write are kept private. As a pre-teen, I kept it secret partially out of embarrassment because they weren’t good (not to suggest my more recent stories are), but being a reserved person even back then, I didn’t care for anyone to know anyway.

But when I started drawing or playing some games or learning languages, it was for other people from the start. Drawing was sparked by my then huge love of Winx Club and jealousy of others’ amazing art, and the goal was becoming skilled enough to create fan art to share with the fandom. After finding the Sims community, I played the game more and more to create stories to share with the community. I first began learning another language in second grade, but when I got older and tried to study on my own, it was for the sake of being able to communicate with other people, not because I wanted to study. And I should mention I hated writing too… when I was forced to do it.

None of those reasons are necessarily bad, especially not the last one. But the pattern there is I became miserable with those hobbies because I was doing them for other people’s sake, not my own. Yes, I truly liked them, but they reached a point of solely being done to share with other people for their enjoyment. I stopped caring about my own. Realizing that, it’s no wonder they eventually died when I tired of trying. Yet, I never tired of writing stories, nor can I remember ever feeling burned out. I once wrote eight pages in a day. In the huge world of literature, that may be amateurish at best, but for me, it was a big deal because I wasn’t trying to.

This is not restricted to hobbies either. I did poorly in a number of things, particularly school, because they were for the sake of pleasing someone else. For a while, I succeeded in school over, but after a certain age, being a people-pleaser became too exhausting to keep up and I stopped trying so hard just to hear some praise that meant nothing to me because I didn’t want to do it in the first place, nor was I getting anything valuable out of it. Yet, I’ve discovered I am good at finding friendships, as I’ve made friends even when trying to avoid it, and I am good at holding my own relationship. But I am good at those things because although they involve other people, they are still for me. My friendships and my relationship make me happy, which is why I’m rarely hesitant to and very much enjoy doing things for my friends and my boyfriend. And the reason I hold them so highly is because they care for me. What I got out of friendship is love (platonic and romantic) and happiness I didn’t find elsewhere (please forgive the cavity-inducing sweetness). And I clearly have no problem sharing my friendships with the world!

Of course, there’s such a thing as priorities and some things have to be done, no matter how dreadful they are. This is not about that. What I’m referring to are things that are optional (yes, that now includes school). The truth is I have missed those hobbies. I miss when I did draw in my sketchbook, drawing either from imagination and tips I read, or trying to recreate a specific picture. I miss when I played video games because they relieved my boredom and I was interested in continuing the game’s story, not trying to create a story from the game to upload (though I have been slowly getting back into this one). I always hated studying, but I did like to try reading books in other languages after some weeks of classwork in my language classes, and much of the time, I could. I didn’t care I couldn’t understand what it was actually about (because I couldn’t translate quickly). I just enjoyed I could read it. I once got fun out of reading an Italian dictionary when I was still taking Italian class in tenth class, and I used to play around with DuoLingo, an app for learning languages, for the fun of the games. There may be other hobbies I’ve dropped as well, but I don’t recall them.

All along, the burn out wasn’t from doing too much, but from trying to give so much. During most of my childhood, I heard how “giving to others is a gift in itself” and “it’s better to give than to receive”. Maybe there’s such a thing as too much giving. As I said, I rarely am hesitant to give to those I care most about because I also enjoy sharing. It’s much simpler than I’m making it sound. It makes more sense to go through so much effort for someone you really love instead of dozens or hundreds of strangers you’ll never meet.

My boyfriend asked me if there’s any way to reignite those former hobbies. After realizing what I did, I think there may be. If I choose to try picking one or more of them up again, I have to remember who they’re intended for: me. They’re for myself and my pleasure. If I make them public, it’s because I want to have another place for them, not because I’m after attention and recognition. I realize those can be good motivational tools for some people, but I’m clearly not one of them. For me, hobbies are much more fun when it’s my enjoyment I have at heart. Thinking only of myself is selfish, but this is not exactly hunger I’m talking about. I’m talking about pastimes. I’m positive no one’s getting hurt.

However, I don’t think I’ll ever overcome the shock of taking twelve years to discover this. I now fear for what else I may be oblivious to. Can I trade this “identity crisis” thing for some more sketchbooks?

I Found The Diamond

There’s an expression that goes, “Never ignore someone who cares for you because someday, you’ll realize you’ve lost a diamond while you were busy collecting stones.”

I couldn’t find a quote about finding a diamond among stones, but I did find one. Lots of stones. Annoying stones that hurt my foot. But I talked about the “stones” last week and I’ve finally kicked them all back in their pond.

So, why do I mention the quote? Because not only did I almost lose the diamond, I almost missed it entirely.

I met him way back in January, when I was still traipsing OKC. In fact, it was the second day of the year. I don’t even know why I logged in that day, but I suppose it was on the off-chance something good was in my inbox and I had nothing better to do. Being honest, my very first thought before even checking the message was along of the lines of a snarky “Hmm, let’s see what you want.” Gladly, that little bit of cynicism vanished because the conversation that followed was very pleasant.

To keep this story from getting long, I’ll sum up the rest. We met in-person after two months to go see Cinderella and since then, we’ve been meeting up with each other every so often ever since. He holds the record in my book for shortest time taken to bring someone home (not in that context!).

I can honestly say he’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever known in my life. He doesn’t complain about anything and has gone out of his way multiple times to make things easy for me. Sometimes, I feel like I am not deserving of him because he is just that nice to me.

Along with being the only good that came out of OKC, he’s pretty much the highlight of this year for me. I never have a bad day with him and I always look forward to the next day I’ll be able to spend with him. He’s shown me a lot of things and I even got to have my first sleepover with him. I feel bad I can’t bring him to my home like he’s brought me to his, but he does not deserve to be subjected to my family. He’s way too nice for that.

There is a part of me that fears I’m letting myself fall into an illusion and I’m setting myself up to be let down later. That’s not out of distrust of him, but out of my own insecurities and fears from all of my previous experiences, not to mention all the failed relationships within my family. But I try not to think about that because I’m genuinely happy to have him in my life and I want him to stay for a long time.

Taking Care of a Grumpy Bear

Today, I went out with my boyfriend. We try to do something different everyday, so we hung out at my favorite plaza in the next town over. While I enjoyed myself (and, hopefully, he did too), I started to become tired as time passed and my legs got sore.

Unfortunately, tiredness plus soreness equals grumpiness. Naturally, I wasn’t in the mood for any kind of affection and started rejecting him. Rejection isn’t a bad thing, but what I’m really not proud of is that I started raising my voice at him over every little thing he said, even when he was trying to help. On top of that, when we finally left the plaza, I was so tired, I was stumbling like a drunk person and I still was rude to him, despite that he essentially kept me from walking into traffic more than once.

Nevertheless, he was patient with me. He didn’t yell at me once and still protected me from potentially hurting myself by accident. In fact, he was smiling most of the time, as if I wasn’t even bothering him.

Any other person would’ve decided “screw you” and left me there alone. When I was still talking to Emmi, he once told me he would throw me out of his car if I ever ticked him off, even if we were in his town (which I’m unfamiliar with) at night in the middle of the road! Of course, I wouldn’t purposefully try to anger anyone and I feel terrible about how childish I behaved, which is why I’m very grateful Jia didn’t leave me.

Later, we talked about it and he said that’s a silly thing to leave someone over. He even flat-out said Emmi was an idiot for saying what he did to me. Having had a number of people walk out on me for having a bad day or being frustrated, I was surprised by Jia’s point-of-view.

We’ve only been together for a month, so I don’t want to get too far ahead, but I really hope this lasts. However, time will tell.