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Posts Tagged ‘learning self confidence’

It’s after midnight. December 23rd.  And like last year, I am awake and pausing to reflect on where this year has taken me.  Last year, I was dealing with things collapsing around me regarding my ex-friend, I was grieving being single at my age and facing the reality of not having kids — maybe never getting married, finding that partnership that we all seek and that person with whom I’d want to have kids.

I was pretty sad — I was in the beginning stages of what was a difficult beginning to this year.  This guy was one who I thought was a best friend, who surprised me by changing the status of our relationship. Who then didn’t follow through, lied about me to those around me, apologized, and when I’d forgiven him and reached out when I needed it most he betrayed me. Now, most of this happened at the start of the year, but it began late last year and I was in the middle of this on my birthday last year.

It was a poignant reminder that I am single and have been for a very long time.  Last year I felt like I was on the same path that I’d always been on, that nothing really had changed ever.  I felt frustrated and inhibited by my life and felt like I was making no significant contribution.  It was a very difficult birthday.

But how am I this year? I’m okay. I don’t love birthdays. I do find them difficult.  It’s another year where I’m single (as always), no prospects and facing another year with that major path the same as always hurts. I don’t like it.  But it’s a very different year.

This year my grandma passed away, I dealt with the loss of someone I thought was a friend. It was a year partly of grief. It also was a year of major decisions and life changing choices.    I ended up choosing to obtain my original birth registration and my adoption file it was a profound experience to consider ideas of identity, self, life.  I haven’t finalized this exploration or this path.  But for now, I need to set it aside. I’m not ready to open the door to a reunion, though I suspect I may have found (through the wonders of social media) my biological family.  Will I walk that path one day? Maybe.  Right now I need to concentrate on another path.

As regular readers of this blog (if any are still checking in after my long period of being AWOL!) will know, I’m in nursing school. Making the decision to go back to school was difficult.  I did not want to give up a regular paycheque and the stability of the ‘known’.  But I felt trapped, useless. I was in a job that I was trained to do, but couldn’t see any growth potential. I have things that excite me but nothing in the job that would directly take me to a place where I wanted to go.  Plus, with the instability in biotech I felt like I was trapped in a low paying job with no recourse to building anything better.

So I took the leap and decided to go back to school — nursing school.  So, now, I’m back in an undergraduate program, have little work and no money.  But, I have peace. I know that I’m doing something radical, yet it’s necessary.  It will bring me to a place that will let me make a difference in people’s lives. It may be on a small, individual, scale and being able to affect people’s lives is what matters to me. It’s why I went into research — to make a difference, yet now I have a chance to do it directly.  It’s a major change to my world, but it’s one that’s finally ‘right’.

I spent the early part of the year trying to run and dance as much as I can, though in recent days that’s tapered off.  I’m going to go to Portland for a dance weekend over New Years, and it’s possible that this will be a tapering off of my dancing for the time being.  I LOVE dancing when I’m in other cities, but don’t always love it here.  So I’m trying to plan my time carefully. With so little free time the question becomes ‘how do I want to spend it?’ As one friend has commented — the live music is often better — with those with whom we most enjoy dancing.  So, if I can manage the time, I’m going to try that — I want to make sure that I’m going to have fun in my free time as much as I can and if I can focus on the venues that are open and fun.

And running.  Running is something that’s kept me sane this year. I ran a second marathon. One that stressed me out much less than the first one — I was too busy stressing over school! But, I did it! My second marathon. My life in the fall was intense — I trained for a marathon, worked ~10 hours/week, and was a full time nursing student (in an accelerated program).

So, although my ‘big issue’ — that of relationship and family — hasn’t changed. I can easily say, I’m not the same person I was this time last year. I’m not thrilled about my birthday, but I’m at peace. I’ve made changes that will lead to better things, better days in a mere 16 months.

So I wonder, where will I be this time next year? Will I still be single or will that path take a turn too? This time next year I will have finished most of my courses and will be facing only one more term — my clinical major and my practicum.  I will have started to work as an employed student nurse and will hopefully have clearer steps about what will happen after my program is done (will I leave Vancouver as I hope, or will I decide to stay? What area of practice will I choose?).

This year has been profound, full of transitions. Some transitions I hope continue and I hope for a year of more joyful times in my life. For now, I’m going to stop, enjoy my birthday, finish preparing for Christmas (one more gift to buy and I’ve been sick so need to brave the stores on my birthday… ugh!), and will work on a post of some thoughts and goals about 2010.

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It’s taken me a while to write this post as I’ve been dealing with school, my first clinical placement, projects, homework, essays, working part time and training for a marathon (as much as I can train).  Fortunately, the busy-ness means I have an outlet of distraction as I deal with the other more emotional sides of things.

I’ve briefly alluded to the distraction being done, and that’s been a bit difficult to deal with. I can’t really explain why, because I don’t know, other than to quote the title of a book that I detest (mostly because it’s harsh, doesn’t provide a solution, and it’s true) “He [was] just not that into me”.   He’s pretty much disappeared and I’ve been going through all sorts of emotions — frustration, sadness, anger, denial, acceptance.  The classics.  I’m getting to the point of acceptance more continuously. Perhaps if he ever calls me, I’ll be pleasant on the phone and be able to converse at a neutral level. I’ll think about that at the time, if it ever occurs.

For some self-reflection, I did get more emotionally involved than I would have liked. That scared me.  I’ve been realizing more and more lately that part of the reason I am where I am in my life is that I’m hesitant to trust, to open up. I don’t know how to bring up those tough conversations when it’s easy.  In some ways I’m again behind a wall I’ve been trying to get rid of — but it isn’t totally gone.  I’ve been thinking a lot about why do I find it so hard to open up when I’m in a non-platonic relationship? And I think it has to do with vulnerability.  Particularly in recent years, I’ve been wounded a lot when I’ve tried being vulnerable, particularly with family members.  That’s made me shut myself off and I don’t like opening up those difficult conversations. If they happen and I don’t have to be intentional about opening it, that’s fine.  But when I have to open myself up, be vulnerable, it scares me.  And when I’m stressed (as I am — see the opening of this post!), it’s even harder.

But what it means is I need to learn some tools, how to open myself up when it’s not scary, how to make it safe for me to open up, because hiding behind an emotional wall is not what I want!  So for now, I’m just going to carry on, thankful that I’m not on a rollercoaster of emotions and finish this term with strength (1 month to go until the term ends, exams and I get a BREAK! WEEE!!) and try to come up with ways that I can be more vulnerable before it gets to a point that scares me and develop tools that I can use so that I can achieve what I want in all areas of my life, not just my career.

For now though, I’m going to sleep hopeful that I’m not coming down with something. THAT would be terrible timing.

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Sometimes I sell myself short, and I’m hard on myself.  The lessons I am learning on a day to day basis are this: Not to sell myself short, to speak — out loud — positive words about myself (even when alone), to recognize when others are speaking falsely and to not own those false words — also, to not speak or think false words about myself.  The challenge to all of this is that when those false words come from someone who I love a lot, whose approval I badly desire, who I want to be proud of me and to see me for who I really am — it has the potential to be damaging. It has damaged.

But, I am learning that my self confidence comes from within, and cannot be dependent on others, even someone I love deeply.  We all look at the world and others through the lens of our own past and experience. I am not the person I was 5 years ago. I’m not the person I was 1 year ago. For that I am thankful.  But what this means is that when I am viewed through a lens that is so clouded that they cannot see me for who I am, I cannot, should  not, let them affect my self confidence.  Indeed, my self confidence should not come from any other person, and for many years I have sought the approval of those most important to me — and allowed these people to dictate my level of self confidence.  I touched on this topic briefly in my epic 445-hits-in-one-hour blog post from a few months ago “Processing Adoption Questions”.  In that post I wrote:

I don’t know where I would fall in that opposition, perhaps growing up my parents would say that I fell into the testing out side of things. But now I am quite sure that I am more responding with ‘acquiescence, compliance and withdrawal’. This is definitely how I now respond to those ripping wounds when I realize that I am rejected by those I care about, the difficulty I have in trusting after that trust has been broken.

And I do believe it’s true – and I’ve learned that it’s not likely due to being adopted that is causing this. But those feelings, they are like ripping wounds when someone who I’ve been trying to please, to make proud of me, on one level to make them love me for who I really am, speaks such damaging, false, words to me.  My natural response has been to hide, to build up walls, to doubt myself. I become nervous about making myself vulnerable and I doubt myself in certain situations (particularly when it comes to relationships).

I am fighting this battle right now after the Challenging Day of a few weeks ago. A good friend of mine called me on it tonight (we were chatting about guys, of course), and she’s right, I was selling myself short, doubting myself. And I’m faced with a choice: I could just hide, not say anything, take the easy way out (and, I’d probably have fun, because the choices I’m faced with in this situation: both are good options).  But if I open myself up, be vulnerable, take the risk I could end up with an amazing option. But if I take the easy road out, I am re-building that wall of ‘safety’ that I’ve been working so hard to take down. I don’t want to do that.  So, I owe it to myself to take the risk: to make the choice to be vulnerable because in the end I think I need to do that, for myself, to be a whole, self confident woman who knows what she wants and how to get it.

And really, in this particular situation where I have a choice to make, and need to risk being vulnerable, it’s a fairly ‘safe’ situation. It’s not the damaging, stressful, “Challenging Day” situation, it’s a good situation, perhaps one of the safest I could find to take the chance to be vulnerable — I’m sure I’m missed.  But I wasn’t ready tonight. I knew I needed to do more thinking first: maybe tomorrow I’ll be ready. But I’m glad for good friends, who recognize when I’m selling myself short and will say ‘enough’. So thanks. 🙂

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Careful with sharing. Needing to talk about something that could open a giant can of worms. Taking a risk. These ideas open me up to a risk of rejection. There’s fear there.  For the last few weeks I have realized that I needed to open up a conversation with my family.  That’s not a bad thing. But if you remember back to my ‘Careful With Sharing’ post from the other week, if it’s not an easy conversation, or if it’s a conversation where there is a perceived risk of rejection, I don’t like to be vulnerable. I’ve been preparing for that conversation with my family now for a few weeks.

Realistically speaking I had nothing to worry about. They’re my family. But I still didn’t know how they’d react. So I thought, planned, made dinner plans to see them yesterday when I was in their neighborhood.  I took the earliest opportunity to talk to them. I thought, planned and hoped for the best opportunity.  I received it. Yesterday, going over to my mom and dad’s my mom was alone in the kitchen. My dad wasn’t there yet and my brother was in a different room.  As she was cooking, I had a chance to share what was on my mind. I had the best possible response. My mom was wonderful. I was afraid, that what I had to say would hurt her. That it could cause rifts, or pain, or family difficulties. But it didn’t. She was interested in what I had to say, asked questions, was very supportive and understood my perspective completely. Supports any choices I may make in the future.

My dad too, in many ways, I had the best response possible.  Later on at dinner, I repeated the conversation — this time with my mom’s support (in fact she initiated it since there wasn’t an easy opening for me — thanks mom!). My dad was very clear that he too supports any choices that I may make in the future relating to this conversation.  It was challenging to discuss it on his level — this is very much an emotional feelings type situation for me and my dad is not one to express or focus on emotion at all. It was all about the analytical side of things.  But, he was clear that he will support and stand with me.

My brother, I knew would support, yet I wonder if he understood. He has been in a place of challenges right now. A place of transition. I know he’s stressed out. I know that my choices in this are not his and I don’t know if they ever would be. But I know that he supports. When he heard the news, he just listened.  I wonder how this will impact him. Whether it will drive him to think.  For now, I’m sure it’s not where his head is. He has many other things on his mind and I don’t think he’s ready.

I am relieved. Feeling full of emotions, some of them very unexpected and new, but more peaceful. Partly because now that this conversation is complete I can be more open here about things in my life that have gone on.  I was fearing a type of rejection with this conversation and I was not rejected.  Ah the things that I am dealing with.   I will continue to process. Continue to deal, and hopefully come out the other end a more whole, healthy person.

As to what the conversation was about? That will wait for a later post. A subject on it’s own. But I will share. When I’m ready.

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Tonight I had a lovely evening seeing Twelfth Night at Bard on the Beach. I went with a few friends of mine, and unintentionally met up with another friend of mine. It was an evening full of delight and laughter. It definitely made me smile and it was a fun relaxing evening.

After, one of my friends and I went for a walk, and got talking about life.  Some of it came because one of my dearest friends got engaged yesterday (I’m thrilled, by the way — but I wont say any more, yet, as I don’t know if this friend is finished telling everyone yet), some of it came from the stress and intensity of the other week.  And that’s where the title “I don’t compete” comes in. I have a habit of hiding how I feel, of not showing it, trying to minimize it. This is on many levels, but right now I’m thinking particularly about relationships. When there’s ‘risk’ I don’t want to take it.

That being said, I am trying to learn how to be more honest and open and able to let guys know what I think.  But, I will not compete. 90% of the time, if I am aware that there’s a competition, I back off.  Thinking back, even to the post on July 18th, was somewhat related. The guys I was noticing surrounded by women are guys I wouldn’t necessarily date at this point in time (and some are a 100% absolute never), one of the reasons I would not jump in there and join in is the same idea: I DON’T COMPETE — even when from my perspective the guy’s just a friend… I’ll still back off.

This past weekend. I went to a blues party in Seattle, and I was particularly conscious of this idea, and I was chatting with a guy I’ve met once or twice (but don’t really know), he had his arm around my shoulders at that point. While we were chatting, a girl walks up and gives off those signals that women can give off that say ‘back off, he’s mine’. I won’t compete, so I left them to it and danced with someone else (awesome dance it was too, by the way… yay good yummy Seattle blues…). It turns out they weren’t dating.

Yet this is all well and good, but it seems that sometimes it’s inevitable.  There’s the friend code, of course, but it seems that sometimes, when there are so few men around who are ready and available for a good relationship, paying attention to that code too much means that no one would ever date. So that means, for me, being willing to take the risk, be more open. And sometimes, it’s going to backfire.

I suppose what this comes down to… there’s a game out there being played, and I apparently need to re-learn how to play it, backfire or no.  And maybe that means competition (though I hope not), but I still won’t initiate a competition, nor do I want it. But I wont run scared from it. Not anymore.

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Okay so Yale Stories are usually reserved for that particular bar where they regularly occur. However, it’s probably the best description.

I’ve been in an interesting place this weekend. Realizing that I’m dealing with things, and being frustrated that I’m not in the ‘dealt with things’ phase of life.  I’ve realized the importance of support systems in all of this, and I feel a little like I’m not sure where that is – especially this weekend. Some friends would like to be support, but I can’t lean on them all the time. Others are support, but can be clueless at times.  Still others aren’t here.

So, after a fun Friday night and a great time having brunch afterwards with the Seattle People, I spent a quiet weekend mostly alone with my thoughts, even when I was around other people. Because of where I was at, I almost didn’t go dancing tonight as I’d promised I would. But I decided that I’d go, have fun, dance when I felt like it, and just be.

When we got to the dance (in Abbotsford), it was pretty early, so I decided to go for a solitary walk. I ended up at a Gelato place. I couldn’t resist the temptation. As I tried to figure out where the entrance was, I got some smartass comments from a bunch of guys, which made me chuckle (about them eating all the ice cream). I grabbed my two favourites: hedghog and tiramisu. Or at least, currently, those are my two favourites.  As I left they also made comments about flying the ice cream from Italy just for me. I had some wisecrack back at them.

As I left, I decided to wander down a different road, and I came across this in construction pub. The security guard came up to me, chatted about the pub, encouraged me to come back, chat with him as he’ll be head of security when it opens and to enjoy the place.  I was at least a little amused at this exchange, and eventually continued on my way.  As I started back towards the dance, a couple of guys in a pickup come screaching up to me. Asked me about the lollypop I was eating (they couldn’t see the ice cream part).  I explained it was gelato, and they asked me to go for a beer. I said ‘no thank you’ and they commented that I was beautiful, which made me smile a little. Their response was that the whole exchange was worth it to make me smile.  Then they took off, tires squealing.

By this time it was time to go back to the dance, so I walked back, feeling a little less horrible than I did before.  I had some dances that made me smile, spent a lot of time relaxing between songs – trying to keep my hair dry (had my hair done yesterday and it can’t get wet until Tuesday night), and am now at home, still feeling uncertain, and in some ways a bit ‘raw’, but I’m glad I went out.

Oh… PS. My last post… I tried password protection rather than 100% private, see how that goes, that way I have control over who reads it… 😀

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So I worked late today. As of yesterday I’ve switched to 8am – 4pm and it’s wonderful! But, today 4pm rolled around and there was no one in our department. So I stayed around.

I was after 8 hours so I figured that I was just there to deal with anything if needed, so I pretty much just surfed the ‘net. And of course at 4:50pm, a rep comes by to ask a question.  Then at 5pm someone calls in. Fortunately their question means I have to talk to the scientist — who had already left for the day, so I didn’t have to stay beyond 5pm, but still. Late.  That’s okay, I didn’t mind it. Had I checked and considered, I could have figured out that this would happen and I could have started at 9 instead today. Oh well.

I was pretty tired when I got home so I napped. Woke up late and chatted with one of my girlfriends. It was getting late-ish so I had to choose: Showboat or Running. I came up with a compromise. Run to showboat. Was not the easiest run with a backpack on, and it was a short one, but it was better than nothing.

At the dance it was amusing to see one of my friends KA. She had on a bikini top under her sundress. And one of the leads somehow managed to untie the back of the top, while dancing.  And her sundress started to slip. I didn’t know whether to congratulate the lead on his talent or shake my finger at him. I danced a couple of dances but didn’t really have it in me.

I went up to the top to watch a little bit. Peppered all over the area where all the groups were hanging out, there were individual guys — each surrounded by at least 3 women. It just made me sigh.  So many people are looking for the same thing and so many of the guys seem to just enjoy the attention but are without any intent (though I haven’t asked every guy, perhaps this is an unfair blanket statement). I look at the situation and can’t help but think, no wonder I just stay in my oblivious self-protective shell, refusing to jump into the mix and ‘compete’. There are so many women all looking for the same thing and sometimes I wonder if they (at times, we???) are looking in the wrong place.

The girlfriend I was chatting with earlier tonight dances. Sort of. I say sort of not because she’s not good — she’s a fabulous dancer and easily a favourite of many of my dance friends. But in the last 7 months or so she’s gotten involved with this great guy. She’s fallen deeply in love. I think her exact words were “He’s the love of my life”.  This guy isn’t a dancer, so she has to make the choice — time with her guy and her friends or time dancing.

Needless to say dancing loses and it’s a choice she’s happy and even very willing to make. She comes out occasionally, and he even comes with her occasionally (that impresses me!).    I too would choose to spend time with a guy who is the love of my life. Easily.

So I look at the guys and can’t help but think “WAKE UP” there are many amazing women in the dance scene and the guys would be lucky to connect with any one of them.  There’s several who have commented that they wont date in the dance scene – perhaps they’re afraid of ‘dividing a small scene’ if a break up happens, perhaps they’re afraid of ‘the fishbowl’, perhaps it’s a fear that if something goes wrong in a couple they could end up leaving dancing. Perhaps it’s something else. I don’t know. All I know is that so many of these women would make the same choice as my friend. I’d make the same choice as my friend. In a heartbeat.

I’m not even sure what my point is. Perhaps how futile it all seems, how regardless of what I may or may not feel and think, I refuse to jump into the mix because I don’t want to be just another one of the crowd.  How sad it is that so many people seem to be looking for the same thing yet aren’t finding it.  No clue. It just struck a chord in me.

So with that melancholic pondering running through my mind, I decided to leave. I slept wrong last night and my neck’s been a bit stiff anyways. So it all felt a bit ‘off’ tonight. I stopped at Safeway (and mental note: next time, IGA is also open late… I picked the grocery store farthest from my house and had to haul groceries home by walking. Not the brightest idea…), grabbed some groceries. As I was entering into the parking lot of Safeway I looked down the street and out in her yard was a woman who goes to my church.  I don’t talk much about church, and haven’t seen anyone from church in a while. She didn’t see me. She’s very wise, and very trustworthy. Had she seen me I probably would have poured all this — and all that I’m not saying in this public pondering post out to her. But she didn’t see me. I didn’t go up to her.

I was craving ice cream. I miss my Jules and our gelato tradition. I kept myself from buying ice cream at the grocery store as that’d be too much. But I decided if I still craved it I could grab one from McDonald’s (the only thing with ice cream open right by my house – sadly enough).  I did. I had a Rolo McFlurry. I asked the sales girl to add chocolate to it too. She did but apparently they don’t use real rolo piece. It was this horrible fake chocolate stuff, with no caramel in the middle. Not real Rolo Chocolate. And since she added chocolate she didn’t add the caramel. And she was being very kind and added extra chocolate syrup for me. So it made it too runny.

All in all a disappointing ice cream. Next time: I’m just going to get a twist cone. If they still exist.

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