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?

Your Friends Lost You

Lately, I’ve seen a somewhat popular post from Whisper going around. I won’t post the image, but the quote is: “When I say I won’t tell anyone, my husband doesn’t count.”

I’ve always been neutral about marriage. This is one of those things that pushes me toward the more negative side of it.

My boyfriend and I are not married yet, but he does want to marry me and I’ve already agreed, so we will marry someday. However, if I ever catch myself thinking “Well, I’m getting married, so soon, my friends won’t matter anymore”, that’s when I call off the wedding. This works the other way around too. If I ever found out he was being distrustful to his friends because of me, I’d call it quits. I am not going to be someone’s reason for being a jerk.

I used to read often that newlywed couples, particularly the wives, tended to lose their friends when they got married. However, if that quote gives any suggestion to married life, it’s no wonder why. They didn’t lose their friends. They decided their friends no longer mattered and chose to permanently put them aside. Perhaps people have different ideas of what “friendship” means, but for me, if I cannot trust you, we cannot be friends.

I love my boyfriend and I am content with the idea of someday being his wife. But I also love my best friend. She is like a sister to me, and she was in my life four years before he was. She is not going on the back burner. Yes, I talk to my boyfriend about my best friend, and vice versa, and I’m hoping I’ll eventually have a chance to introduce them to each other since they are the two most important people in my life. But if she ever comes to me and says, “Please don’t tell anyone this”, he will not know. If I ever do reveal something she wanted me to keep secret, I’ll apologize.

That’s what real friends do.

Continuing to respect my friends does not make me a bad girlfriend, nor will it make me a bad wife. On the contrary, letting him be the reason I stop doing so is what would make me a bad partner.

I’m Not Leaving

The last time I made a post like this, it was in December 2013, and I’m not linking it because all but one of those things are completely and wholly untrue now.

Recently, I started thinking about Disney’s upcoming, new Disney Princess, Moana. I plan to see it in theaters with my boyfriend and it will be the very first Disney Princess movie I’ve ever seen in theaters. What crossed my mind was if I’d acted on any of suicidal thoughts I’ve had in the past, that wish wouldn’t be becoming reality.

In truth, I have those thoughts more often than I feel comfortable admitting. I suppose it’s not really bad, but aside from my boyfriend and my best friend, the things I list are usually small. Video game series, television ones, art and stories I’ve created, even this blog. I’m happy to know these things. While I still hold the belief I’d prevent my existence if I could go back in time to do so, since I’m already here, I don’t want to leave.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with my self-worth and value as a member of society. I very much do, as I’m sure I’ve made evident. Even as I type this, those thoughts of if I’ll ever be more of a contributor than a tax burden are going through my head. Every so often, those thoughts do take over and become very powerful, but the upside is it usually passes within about two days. A very mentally painful two days, but two days nonetheless. It’s not enough to make me wish I wasn’t an adult or make me miss my childhood.

This past weekend, I was with my boyfriend and I realized I frequently call his house “home” when we’re together (“Are we going home after this?” “Who’s home?”). In the latter example, it might make sense because I’m asking who’s at his home, but the former example is obviously including myself. He’s fine with it, but that was the first time I caught myself doing that. I do feel at home with him, not only in his house, but in the state and city he lives. Not so much I’d dare venture around it alone, but enough to have no anxiety about ever going out there. If it were possible and I knew for sure I wouldn’t become homesick for the city I live in, I’d stay there for a week if he and his family allowed it.

I don’t have everything I want in life, but I’m happy because I do have what I wanted more than anything as a kid. I wanted to be surrounded by people who love and care about me. The “surrounded” part doesn’t exist in a physical sense, but I feel it’s there. I never cared if it was a huge team of people. Him and my best friend really are enough (although that doesn’t mean I’d be closed to more). I wanted to go on trips like I did as a kid. I go out of town, out of state, to visit him and it’s a lot more fun than the same museum five times in a row. I wanted another place to call home. I found it.

I’ll keep trying, particularly since I can’t do much else, but I’m not completely unhappy with where I’m at now. I understand things do happen slowly. It certainly took a lot of friends to find my best friend, and a lot of bad dates and relationships to reach my boyfriend. It only makes sense it’ll take a lot of missed jobs to finally find one. I still did score an interview, so that’s something. At least, I know I’m worth being considered.

I’m not happy to be alive, meaning I’d still have preferred not existing to begin with, but I am happy to have things and people in my life that make it not so bad.

The Reset Button

I’m part of a Facebook group for depression and self-harm support, and someone recently posted this image.

Some people said yes and some said no. The answers were about evenly spread. Mine was as follows:

I want to say yes, but I’d lose my boyfriend and best friend, so I say no.

There’s more to it than that, but I didn’t want to go deep into answering the question at the moment.

If I reset my life, I’d lose everything, which means my life would most likely happen identically to how it already has. Resetting would be pointless. I might grow up in a different generation if resetting meant simply reverting my life to newborn instead of reversing time as well, but that’s it.

I used to say I would go back in time and prevent my existence if I could. On occasion, I still feel that way, but the feeling is rare now. Were this question posed to me back in 2012 and I would retain memory of my current life, I would be tempted to say yes, if only to fix the mistakes I’ve made. However, the full truth is I’d prefer death over repeating any part of my life prior to 2012.

No, I’m not totally in love with my life as it is now. I’m having a hard time. I’ve yet to be able to find a job, I can’t return to school for at least two more years, my family is irreparable, and I live with someone whose biggest priority is how my hair looks, to the point I’ve had to assure certain people there isn’t any sexual abuse going on in my house because without the knowledge he’s a family member, he sounds like a controlling partner. I don’t see myself as an adult and feel like a worthless member of society much of the time. I could definitely be doing better.

At the same time, it’s taken me a long time to finally reach a point where I can genuinely feel glad I have my life. My best friend and my boyfriend aren’t the only reasons I’m happy, but they are a big part of why I feel the way do. If I were somehow promised they’d be waiting for me, I still would refuse the chance to reset my life. Why miss out on that time with them? Not to mention how unfair it’d be to have them wait on me or forcibly reset their lives along with mine.

Naturally, my feelings do flip-flop a lot, but overall, my answer at the moment to this question is no. No, I would not reset my life if given the chance. I’m not willing to go through everything I’ve experienced again and I’m absolutely unwilling to lose any more people than I’ve already lost.

Time Does Fly!

Oh, who am I kidding? Aging is the slowest thing in the universe. But when another year has finally passed, it can certainly seem short.

Today is my 22nd birthday! I have been getting birthday wishes since midnight, mostly from Tumblr, but I’ve gotten ones from family, friends, and my boyfriend. I also got a few gifts and the day in general was pleasant.

I also learned something today. “Birthday” is not necessarily an easy word to spell.

What the whozits is a “bartlay”?