personal

How to Kick Yourself in the Ass and Other Important Advice

In most cases I think being nice to people is the only possible way of being. The fact that I’m, just like everyone else, surrounded by rude, pushy, generally just very self obsessed humans doesn’t stop me from holding up the wall of niceness throughout the day. That wall isn’t built because I’m an amazing person, it comes from selfish reason. It’ s almost like self preservation even though I feel it damages me more and more in a subtle, but visible way.

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I think it’s selfish because I don’t feel good when others don’t, especially if  something I may have said or done made them uncomfortable. I’m thinking of small stuff that happens in daily interactions with neighbors, colleagues, people you meet during the day, but don’t know them or you just don’t share a deeper connection.

Before writing this I spent a good 10 minutes unconsciously damaging the skin around my finger nails just thinking about situations when a person was being insulted, humiliated or just failing at something and me trying to smooth things up, calm people down or trying to give a humorous tone to an awkward situation. Again, I do it to protect myself from feeling anxious, hurt or most likely trying to hide from the horrible agony of second hand embarrassment. I invented cringe before it existed, I must have cringed at bad jokes and disgusting pick up lines on TV as soon as I could make sense of the words I was hearing. Or maybe even sooner, I was born in a floating balloon of cringiness that is too powerful to break down.

Be nice to keep things going without unnecessary trouble even if the lady at the bank is giving you shit. You’ll see here now and probably never again. Fake a smile or two, trow in a wink if you’re feel like it, it confuses people and gives you enough time to escape and let them think. Maybe. If not, still, you win by the score Universe is tracking.

This doesn’t mean I am against a good argument and heated discussion. I’m all about that, actually I’m not into people agreeing with me completely on every single subject because I can’t learn or improve myself from being around those people. Again, the selfishness is my hidden charm.

The lack of lashing out at people has its downsides because I seem to directly inhale all of the negative and passive aggressive energy I get thrown at and carry it around in my gut like a ticking time bomb until I can’t do it anymore and the only wish is to disembowel myself samurai style. The results of the bomb finally exploding is me being offensive and mean towards the people I love for a short period of time and then being incredibly mad at myself for much longer period.

Luckily, the explosion doesn’t kill me but makes me wait until my limbs are ready to grow again, learning how to crawl first and then getting up to walk slowly, rebuilding the fragile brain and body connections from scratch while replacing all the negative with clarity and hugs. Lots of hugs.

Final step means saving the energy for future battles because it is certain that they never stop completely. It’s much easier when you’re aware that all of this is bullshit with a casual ticks of fun – that’s what I meant by clarity.

 

P.S. Today is Virginia Woolf’s birthday, it’s time to celebrate so grab your balloon.

 

 

 

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Shoes and Prejudice

Well educated, not as much formally as informally when it comes to hobbies, foreign languages, exploring other cultures and wast interest in popular culture in general. These are the self confessions of a snob. Never the materialistic, fashion label obsessed kind, but the more subtle, equally annoying specimen. Lurking from the dark, sitting in a semi comfortable seat of an old art cinema, reading Le Mond and Le Nouvel Observateur in public transport, having coffee and initiating discussions on existentialism, judging you for your ‘too mainstream’ way of wearing Docs and rolling eyes so hard it hurts when someone proclaims their love for Starbucks.

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Huhhh, try typing and then saying all of it in one breath, it was as exhausting on paper as much as it is in real life! And it’s just the tip of an iceberg. The persona behind the mysterious description is me, of course, but it’s not a post only about me. There are many ‘me-s’ around me: educated, somewhat intelligent young people who are often subconsciously looking down at different lifestyles and interests. At the same time, we will be the first ones to raise our hands when asked if we believe in diversity, tolerance and acceptance through breaking the mental and physical borders that our world is constructed on, but fail to lead with an example in our closest surroundings.

The unusual part of this millennial paradox is that, unlike in case of other flaws and misconceptions, I’ve noticed it in my own behavior on many occasions before even thinking of looking for it in other people first.

Living In a Bubble

I know I keep returning to this topic, no excuses, it’s because I feel this has been a problem of mine for a long time. The simplest way to function in every aspect of life would be surrounding ourselves with people who are similar to us. Similar background, habits, level of education, interests, whatever. Everything similar, not too many surprises. We are drawn to that concept, mostly led by past experiences and the usual, just go with the flow of what is already close to us attitude.

No matter how much time and effort you put into creating that firm bubble of safety, there will be a time when you’ll just have to break it and step out of it. Or life will break it for you just because it can. Luckily.

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All of this is closely connected to the overused but true ‘it is important to step out of your comfort zone’ mantra. What I’ve learned from my humble experience is that people are the most challenging, but also the most rewarding part that comes with the discomfort zone. The range of emotions, both good or bad, can’t be overpowered by any experience that doesn’t include dealing with people.

The Rule Book

I used to have rules. No, that’s a lie, I still have them, but some of them are fading away. Not strict, army type rules, but more like a list of details that served as an elimination system in meeting new people. The places people like to go out, music they listen to, movies they watch, the way they dress (shoes are the biggest deal breaker for me), how much make up a girl wears, what school did they go to, etc. Those are all either visual or superficial traits you can check by scrolling through someone’s Facebook profile for a second.

‘No way I’m hanging out with him!’ In under 10 words it’s done like it’s a no big deal, like there may not be any missed opportunities behind it. The number of times I’ve jumped to conclusion combined with the number of times someone didn’t want to have anything to do with me based on the first impression leads to….  a pretty big number I guess. But anyways, that’s not the truly sad part, what sucks is never realizing how inefficient our personal scanning machines are.

Becoming more opened towards people with different tastes and thoughts about how to live a life doesn’t mean forcing an introvert into turning into a very loud, outgoing person or abandoning your firmest beliefs and passions. The trick is letting the guard down, at first by focusing on it until it finally happens spontaneously. New experience begins with letting other people’s ideas come in and out again, like taking deep breaths while trying to relax.

What’s the worst thing that can happen? I can only think of not liking and completely disagreeing with someone’s way of thinking and it’s totally alright,  as long as it’s respectful.  I like to remember situations where I had to collaborate with different individuals which led to a pleasant surprise, making the grumpy old me admit I learned something new and useful from the horrible shoes wearing people.

This Is My Party, I’ll Cry If I Want To

I like to sit and sleep in weird positions making my limbs go numb and weak or even lead to painful sensations. When I sleep it’s mostly on my stomach with both hands underneath my full body’s weight because that’s when I feel safe. If I lay flat on my back my chest could get split opened in the middle and cold, stiff air would keep me awake forever.

I often clench my fists inside the pockets. It happens on tram stops when I’m on a ‘no smoking cigarettes for a few days’ break not knowing what to do with my hands.

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Zoning out is a special talent that requires years of practice and comes in different forms. I pick at my skin, not in a self harm enjoying the pain way, but as a obsessive compulsive urge that is sometimes easier, sometimes harder, sometimes impossible to repress. During the summer me and my skin both go crazy, we don’t like the sun. But avoiding it completely is not a solution, even though a dermatologist once told me I may be allergic to sunlight. I don’t think that is the case, but it made me laugh because my brother often states that I’m actually a pretty well adjusted vampire.

I zone out for different reasons. Like when I used to stop in the middle of whatever I was doing to closely observe my thumb’s finger print lines with the help of my laptop’s lightning. The OCD part of the brain is upset with the uneven texture of the skin, wishing it was completely smooth, no dents. I had to google the word ‘dent’ after I wrote it down because it looked suspicious even though it sounded right in my mind. The aesthetic part is impressed with body’s appealing (im)perfections.

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I don’t bite my nails because it damages the teeth but I don’t let them grow, either. When under bigger amounts of stress I grind my teeth while sleeping. It damages them, but it’s out of my control so I guess it’s alright. Waking up with the clenched jaw requires a special morning exercise routine. It happens every time when I dream of loosing all of my teeth in an accident or by a weird experiment, waking up scared, but relieved because getting a new set of teeth would be both psychological and financial drag. They say it’s one of the most common dreams, or nightmares if you like.

On one too many mornings I tend to convince myself coffee is a better choice than herbal tea and sometimes regret it later.

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I can’t keep the same gum in my mouth for more than 30 minutes because it makes me nervous. A high school chemistry teacher told us gum chewing destroys the jaw. She always had a really bad breath.

I choose passive aggression over direct conflict and that is one of my greatest flaws. In attempt to change that, my goal is to start as many fights as I can.

I often express my affection with physical aggression which can cause misconception.On the other hand, I tend to express my politeness with gentle physical contact or affection which can also lead to wrong conclusions.

Imposter syndrome is a stubborn part time roommate turned full time friend.

Almost every paragraph and sentence starting with the word ‘I’ is a telltale sign. Occasional self obsession is necessary, but killing the ego is a long term goal. That is my manifesto.

 

Ilustrations by Elliana Esquivell