Analyzing is just part of who I am, part of my chemical make-up. I was born a natural worrier and planner and with that comes excessive thinking, nitpicking, and anxiety. I am the type that finds pleasure in taking personality quizzes or breaking down a situation and figuring out the subtextual context each person was thinking about. But is all this planning and thinking harmful? At what point do I tell myself to stop, and at what point do I actually stop?
Let’s start with the bad. First of all because it is so easy and because that is what most people focus on when they think of obsessive behavior. So yes, “over-thinking” is bad. It causes anxiety which causes a slew of medical conditions (such as high blood-pressure, weight troubles, depression, etc.). Anxiety is felt because the person doing so is often making up hypothetical situations which they can control, but in reality those situations do not play out. Or the situations they create mentally are ones that are out of their control, thus they compensate in reality by controlling things in their own grasp. The best way to describe this is that there are two different worlds in which someone who over-thinks lives: reality and the hypothetical world. Sometimes though reality can seem less “real” than the hypothetical world in which the person operates in.
Now after that…the benefits. I would not like to condone over-analysing to the point of mental exhaustion, but thinking things over once of twice is actually a good thing. I think that people who over-think have the romantic ideal to be more spontaneous and care-free is to be perfectly happy. It’s good to let go once in a while, but having the conscious mind to think things over before you have to make a decision is a blessing. A lot of people don’t have that quality. Amongst my friends, I’m always the one that looks at a situation with a critical eye before making a decision. It has saved us a few headaches.
Thinking is okay it’s human, but don’t let it lead you down the pathway to over-analysing where anxiety and helplessness are just around the corner. Use your natural ability and discretion to analyze a situation to be beneficial rather than self-destructive.
Ever been likened to a donkey? Not in THAT way…but meaning that you are stubborn and unyielding. Either way, being likened to smelly animal that resembles an ugly horse is not the ego boosting compliment you hoped to receive. But nay (or yee-haw) being stubborn can actually be a good thing as long as you don’t allow yourself to be short-sighted and ignorant.
The donkey has been famously mentioned and personified throughout theology, mythology, and is famously the US national symbol for Democrats. What makes this bucking wild thing to alluring? Well the pure brash temper and unyielding nature of the animal has made the donkey famous, but donkeys rarely show this side of themselves unless pushed to.
My point is that if you are called stubborn or find that in life you just don’t want to change your opinion, then that is perfectly okay. It is when you refuse to hear the oppositional side with a non-bias, or without at least giving the oppositional side time to be voiced. I have noticed in my life I can look back on times when I was just plain stubborn and it was obnoxious. It was obnoxious because I was also ignorant of the other side. I did not want to hear nor did I care (apathy: another deadly attribute that sometimes gets associated with stubbornness) what anyone else had to say about a subject if I did not agree.
Being stubborn can be a positive thing as long as you don’t associate other negative attitudes with it, such as, apathy, carelessness, ignorance, anger, and cockiness to name a few. Instead, focus on associating positive attitudes with your stubborn qualities like; well-educated, powerful, wise, confident, and self-assured as starters. When you decide to be stubborn about something first ask yourself: Why am I feeling stubborn about this topic? Then evaluate and ask yourself: Would I ever change my answer, if so what would it take for me to change my opinion? Gather all of the facts and opinions of the opposition. By taking time to reflect decide what is most important, you may decide to change your mind about a topic or you might be committed to your opinion right now and realize that could change. If it doesn’t that’s fine too, you don’t need to change your opinion, just make sure if you stick with your initial opinion you are educated about your opposition so that if you do decide to behave like a braying ass you can defend your side with facts rather than relying solely on your opinion. Also, just the knowledge that you gained from learning about another opinion could be helpful in understanding and being empathetic with the other opinion which you may have never before thought about in that way.
Either way, be stubborn but do not be ignorant.
“Let’s go. Yes, Let’s go.”
– Waiting for Godot
Life has a way of becoming cyclical. You think you are making progress, but you end up turned back around to the same problems you thought you got over. Ever find yourself thinking, hey I’m old enough I thought I was over caring what people thought about me? Yeah, well the good thing is that we don’t have to be confined to a never-ending tail-chase. Even if our problems seem the same hopefully our perspective about the problem has changed, and the ways in which we have solved it has changed.
I find myself coming across the same types of problems, but maturity and experience has shaped my perception of the problem. For example, my response and reaction when asked the life-long question of: “What do you want to do when you grow up?” I have in the past tried to ignore it, tried to cover it up, tried to make a decision I thought my family or friends or other people might want to hear,and just claimed ignorance. None of these work…obviously. Instead, making my own decision has been the most important.
When I start to feel like I am fighting the same battles over again, I try to stop for a moment and reflect. Why am I learning this lesson again, and what can I do to learn differently from it this time? Maybe I have not learned my lesson yet and there is a reason why I am still pursing these questions.
“This is no time for wearing the shallow mask of manners! When I see a spade I call it a spade. “
– Cecily Cardew (Importance of Being Ernest)
As we go throughout the day an interesting phenomena occurs multiple times, of which we might be entirely unconscious of. The phenomena I am talking about is called adaptation, or Social Competence. We act as chameleons changing our verbal life, our physicalization, our mood and anything that could fit under the umbrella of our behavior to “fit in” with accepted social expectations of any given situation. Some people admittedly are more aware of social cues and choose to adapt more than others based on many differing objectives. One might adapt to be more polite in a setting where he or she is being interviewed for a possible job position, and the same person might curse and use slang in a lax social environment amongst their close friends. Some people might call people with high Social Competence “two-faced” , but the reality is that most people have a degree of Social Competence; you could fall anywhere on the spectrum. When does a person change from simply adapting to a situation to wearing a mask? My answer to this question is this: when that person begins to change so much for a situation that their core values are being compromised for the sake of the situation. Now this is not a clear definition, and one might say that anytime someone must change their views they are putting on a mask. I would have to disagree. I think that people have a set of core values. These are the values that are very difficult to change. These are the values that you hold as true and moral in any situation, you feel passionately about them and these core values make up who you are. For example, a core value you could have is “family first”. Even if you are at work where you have to behave professionally, if a member of your family calls you in need because your value is “family first” you will do everything you can, perhaps take the rest of the day off and get a co-worker to cover your shift while to attend to this family matter. I think that having a Social Competence is important and necessary to make our society function. I do not believe that masks are. Masks to me are the ugly side of Social Competence. They are destructive and time-consuming. A mask forces the wearer to hide and thus shame is accumulated if the mask is broken. How can we fix this? How does one know if they are hiding behind a mask? I think the start to that question lies within your own judgement. Once you start to feel the agony and shame and you realize that your mask is a crutch, that you are constantly putting energy into something that hides who you are, you know that you have crossed the line from politeness to being fake. Once a mask is broken the wearer is forced to take one of two options: 1) pretend that the incident did not occur and go on wearing an even thicker mask, or 2) accept the fact the mask was broken, pick up the pieces, reevaluate the you under the mask and move onwards. The things about masks is that a mask is a facade. It is not real and it won’t and cannot last forever. Sooner or later you have to face the person behind the mask and discover who they really are and what they sand for. Embracing that person is scary and at first can seem rather painful, but once you stop pretending and start taking off the mask you being the journey to a healthy and fulfilling life.
Lately I have been involved Stage Managing a show at my University’s Theatre Department. It is a labor of love. All the positions at our school (acting, tech, backstage) is entirely volunteer. You can get class credit, but the amount of hours you put into it makes just taking a class more “worth it”. I have gotten a lot of flack for agreeing to volunteer for a show, which will inevitably take away all my free nights, weekends, and sanity for the next month or so, especially since I have been struggling to find job. Why would I keep doing this to myself? Ah…she’s a masochist, that explains it! You think. But indeed I may be to a point, but the real reason I continue to do Theatre is because I love it. I know I won’t get a paycheck, or stability, or a guaranteed retirement plan. What do I get? I gain a sense of responsibility, and I grow with each production I’m involved in. My confidence is ever building. I meet the most passionate and creative people and form bonds with them that long outlasts the run of the show. I learn how to solve problems, how to delegate, when to take criticism and when to stand up for myself. I learn patience (the virtue I am least fond of) and how to take a breath and be in to moment. I learn how to multitask and how to be present and focused. I think that while I may not be paid for what I do now, there is not waste in doing what I love. I am learning so much more than any 9-5er could teach me. The work I am putting in now is being invested in the future, and what better investment could I have made? Ah yes, working hard has its advantages, you really do reap what you sow. I will never regret working hard to get what I have now.
Growing up, watching the ever poplar T.V. series F.R.I.E.N.D.S, I imagined that my life in my 20s would yield a similar outcome. I would have a group of attractive male and female friends, we would hang out, do grown-up things like drink wine at each other’s places and go see plays in the city. My 20s were sure to come pre-packaged with an interesting and viable career that I could live comfortably off of, and a stylish apartment with my very own french bulldog. I would have a steady mature boyfriend that would bring me roses and champagne and cook for me. He might even have a drawer at my place. Yes, 20s surely was the best age to be.
Wrong. My romantic ideals and naive notions that life in my 20s would be just like a quirky feel-good sitcom, soon diminished when reality started catching up. Oh yes, things like bills, food, gas, insurance, time to study, time to socialize (who has time for a social life…that’s why facebook was invented, right?) relationships, grades, tuition, exercise, body image, and so much more just keeps getting hurdled at you everyday. No one told me that I would seemingly go through puberty a second time with more acne and hormones than before, or that I actually have to make time out of my schedule to exercise and plan to eat healthy. Unlike Rachel Greene, I was not blessed with beautiful blonde hair and flawless skin, and men falling at my feet. I am more of a Monica, a little neurotic, and a little more real, although Monica is far from perfectly realistic. I had the rose-colored glasses that lead me to believe that life was just peachy-keen, fun, and most of all easy when I hit 20.
What I know now is that there is no substitute for experience. Even if you don’t have a made for T.V. life you can to view your world like a sitcom; when things seemingly couldn’t get worse they do and there’s a humor in that (however sadistic that may sound). In that way my life is like the 90s shows I would watch as a kid, their cheesy message that family and friends are always there for you really does help when you look back at the times when you were in most need.
Here’s to a crazy wonderful 20s!
Ahh! The dreaded realization that every woman goes though, when you say something or do something that is exactly synonymous to something that your mother would do to you as a kid. The famous, “Just be yourself” that your mom would try to comfort you with, is easier said than done.
Lately, I have been discovering my own values apart from that of my family. I have learned that I view spirituality, religion, political, career, and many major values on the opposite spectrum or at least on a different plain than the bulk of my family. The thing that hasn’t changed is that I am still my mother’s daughter. No matter how I change, or how I view the word, I will still have the past experiences of being raised in the world with the views my mother had while I grew up. This isn’t a bad thing, in fact, it gives me insight into a different mind-set and a sensitivity and greater understanding on how my family thinks. It makes my decision to choose differently stronger, and my own decision.
I have had a constant fear that I will one day become my mom. She has time and time again reminded me, ” I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did.” This pressure to somehow be clairvoyant and foresee possible mistakes I might encounter has caused me a great deal of anxiety and stress. I know she is just trying to look out for me, but this anxiety I put on myself is crazy! it’s impossible to know if I’ll make the same or different mistakes as my mom. The best we can do is have an ope dialogue so that she can tell me what she considers “mistakes” in her life. Also, I would like to challenge the connotation of the word “mistake”. The mistakes my mom has warned me about such as falling in love too young, not going to college, falling in lust, divorcing twice, not taking care of your body, not becoming financially stable, all turned out to be learning experiences. I would categorize these mistakes as prime experiences of growth and maturity building.
Becoming my mom would not be the worst thing. Even though she does not have a job that pays much, is twice divorced, struggles with her weight, all things our family and outsiders might consider “failures” or “mistakes”, my mom is known for her optimism, kindness to complete strangers, love for children, and warmth. She is goofy and although she may not easily forgive herself, she forgives others quicker than you can say “I’m sorry.”
From every relationship, every opportunity, every “failure” we can learn something. Self-discovery is just the beginning to a life long romance with yourself.
Sometimes we have the stubbornness to need other people. By this I mean we are stubborn, or maybe oblivious to the realization that being alone is a bad thing. In times of solitude you can quiet your mind and discover what it is you really want, instead of focusing on how that might affect another person, or disrupt your life together. Learning to love your quirks and know what it is you want most out of life is alluring. You gain a confidence about you. Don’t be afraid to separate yourself from daily distractions, meditate, pray, relax, journal, whatever it is that you do to be alone and keep a clear mind. You may just discover that solitude is a refreshing change from a demanding life.
I was recently asked; “What did you learn?” when a relationship of mine ended. I learned that I was willing to sacrifice way more of my happiness than I would have eve done if I were alone. I was thinking about the future and telling myself; “I would stay here over the summer to be with him, even if that meant not going to Paris.” That’s crazy, I’ve been wanting to go to Paris since I can remember.I also learned that I need to partake in some self-love. I need to be okay with my body and myself first before I can share it with anyone else. I think that having someone to tell me I’m pretty even when I didn’t feel like I was beautiful, was flattering, but it was just a bandaid for the real pain that held my insecurities. I also learned that I really want to travel and I want to discover what it is that I want to do with my life. I want to be involved in Theatre, but what would be my role specifically? Now is a wonderful time to try and figure all of that out.
When I choose to be involved in another relationship I will have a clearer understanding of what I need to do. I need to be clear in my intentions and not be afraid to be honest. I learned that I want emotional intimacy as well as physical, and commitment on both ends.
I hope that you can allow yourself to learn and ask yourself what you want most out of this life and reevaluate and see if your relationships and actions match your answer. If not, what can you change and what can you accept?
“So when life gets you down what do you gotta do? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!”
This quote from Pixar’s Finding Nemo, is such a simple reminder of the idea of persistence. More than that, the concept of letting go. Letting go is something that I struggle with all the time. Not allowing yourself to dwell on your minor mistakes throughout the day and practicing self-forgiveness, allows you to let go and to keep swimming on to bigger and better adventures. You could never move forward if you continue to dwell on what tripped you up half an hour ago, or how you messed up that conversation twenty minutes back. The weirdest part about dwelling on our past mistakes is that you are the only one replaying what went wrong. The other person has probably long forgot about what you might consider a huge “blunder”. The only person you hurt by holding on to your mistakes is yourself.
Remember that whatever last week was, this week (or moment) is a new beginning and you don’t have to repeat anything you don’t want to. Keep your head high and remember to let go of whatever is holding you back from accomplishing your dreams.