Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Playlist #1

I have never been complimented for my taste in music, but regardless, here are a bunch of songs that have been stuck in my head very recently. I spend a total of an hour and a half on the road commuting with four other people to and from work every day, so music is a big topic of conversation - in particular, what ought to be the summer song of 2015. These are all contenders, in my completely humble opinion.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A legit paradigm shift.

I was dealing with heartbreak one LSAT practice question at a time when suddenly - just like how the answer to a puzzle suddenly hits you when you realize you've got all the pieces but couldn't put them together - I had a minor personal eureka moment that was sadly not relevant to the LSAT question. I was just sitting there and suddenly I thought, "I can see through your bullshit, OT. This whole time you've been approaching your love life in a way that you don't even realize. Your mindset in the past year? Yeah, fuck that. You. Are. Just. Insecure."

This was so profound that I had to stop working and just sit there as my world got a bit clearer. I haven't ever not known where my stance was in the context of love at any given time in the past ten years. Okay, so it took me about nine years to stop relentlessly chasing it, but even after that I was very conscious of how I defined my approach in avoiding love instead. I have lied to other people and to myself at various points about what my stance was, but I have consistently been conscious of what my stance is, what it is supposed to be, or what I want it to be. I don't think I'm articulating this too well, but basically, love - or the absence of it - is always on my mind in one way or another.

I now totally see that I prefer nothing over an unserious relationship because unserious relationships have uncertainty and room for rejection, and I'm not very good at taking rejection because I'm not as secure about myself as I thought I was. In my opinion, the worst kind of rejection is the kind where you thought you had a real chance, and all of a sudden you get rejected and you feel upset and stupid for believing that it might work out. I looooove serious relationships because I have the flawed assumption that if you and I are in one, you'll never, ever, ever want to leave me and that will make me never, ever, ever want to leave you*. However, as soon as I feel like the relationship isn't as serious as I'd like it to be because I feel like there's a chance you might leave me, I will beat you to it and leave you first. Or point out all our problems so neither of us really wants to continue. On the other hand, if I knew with absolute certainty that you were in it for good, for life - as long as there were no real red flags, I'd overlook some incompatibilities and completely accept being happy without questioning whether I could be happier. I've fallen into this situation a number of times and all have ended not too well because the person I'm with tends to not think the same way too. (I don't mean in this in accusatory manner at all. I mean that if I was with someone who felt the same, I would probably never have needed to really flesh out what defines my mindset.) I think now that my insecurity was a large root cause in a lot of disagreements or conflicts in that it exacerbated concerns that were already there.

Given my recent stint at cooking, an analogy I can think of is that my insecurity is like the cooking oil in a pan on a heated stove - yes, the food cooked with (because of?) the oil, but actually putting food into the pan came first. Say that you think staying together while apart is going to be hard? Or that this is an age to explore around? You just slid the vegetables in and you can hear the sizzle of the pan. (I'm sorry, I know this is an awful metaphor. Couldn't think of anything else.) I feel like the people who are always supportive of me would say the person I'm with should make me feel fully secure and that I deserve somebody who has no doubts. They would probably also point out that looking back, I have felt differing degrees of insecurity with different people, thus suggesting that the actions of each person played a role in the outcome.

Nonetheless, this realization about my M.O. towards love is worrying, because:
1) People generally do not feel compelled to romantically commit to someone for life immediately when meeting them (except maybe on The Bachelor[ette], and we all know how successful that show is in creating lifelong relationships). I don't, either, and it is unreasonable to hold other people to a standard that I myself don't meet. That means that whether I like it or not, every relationship that I'm going to have is going to have at least some uncertainty - which is like, my nightmare.

2) I really am insecure, and that doesn't sound so good. Just like the person who looks pretty skinny and good but is actually pretty unhealthy and just happens to have luck/a high metabolism at the moment, I think that these past few months I was working hard to create more anchors of security because I didn't want to feel like I was alone and I had nothing else going for me. So not "false skinny", but more like a "false secure". I mean, I think that my achievements exist (but do they exist because I think that they do? or do they have intrinsic value? deep shit) and I believe that very good things come out from my anxieties. I wouldn't have the grades or the resume that I have today if I completely didn't care about proving my own worth to myself by accomplishing things independently, or didn't care about how people perceive me. Again, I don't think this is well articulated, but it bothers me a bit that however good the ends, the intentions are problems that I have to address if I am to grow up a bit. I think I've managed to not realize or admit this whole thing because my end results - tangible outcomes - have received positive feedback and that obviously matters to me a lot. When people praise the poetry I write, or I land a summer internship because of my academic transcript, I feel successful and the reasons for each particular success become increasingly tangled up with my personal identity. But when I'm in a relationship and I know that my significant other is thinking that staying together might be hard, it's really difficult because my GPA and work ethic and all of these things won't change the way he feels and so...maybe he thinks I'm not good enough. But how can he possibly think that? I am doing so well! He's wrong, he doesn't appreciate me for who I am, so it's time to end things with him.

3) Isn't it ironic that my insecurity might drive away people who might eventually become serious?

It was a harsh realization that brought on many more thoughts. Would many things in my life have turned out differently if I had been more secure in my love life? Why is it that I am so insecure when it comes to this? (Daddy issues? Scared of animals, so I can't even be a crazy cat lady?) Am I just insecure in general, or are these insecurities really more romance-based? (I'm not sure? I feel like my friendships are nowhere near as turbulent.) Should I necessarily strive to be more secure? And more importantly, how can I become more secure? As I sat there, I slowly wiggled my left ear and took a deep breath, I thought, wow, maybe this is the moment people always talk about when they realized they needed God in their lives, or something. (Religion is a complicated subject for me right now.)

I obviously don't have the answers to all these questions, but somehow, seeing all this gave me a lot of perspective and acceptance. The stinging pain from some previous breakups where I felt like the other person just didn't get it became much less stinging. Gotta love relationships, and breakups, in a weird way, because I learn so much about myself each time. Breakups show you some things about yourself that you have to identify and confront, and once you've seen them it's hard to just pretend you never noticed. It's like, even though having answers to these questions will definitely be some steps forward, being able to identify these questions are, too, and I feel...I don't know, calmer? Happier? So that was nice. I think I'm going to be more aware of my insecurities before making decisions in the future. And well, this realization puts a new spin on a lot of things I've said before, but you might have already known that I'm quite self-contradictory:

Time period 1: Ugh, I'm so in love with X or fuck boys, this is so complicated and I have no time for this thing you call love.
A month after time period 1: Just kidding, that wasn't love. I'm dating Y! So we're all going to pretend that earlier post didn't exist. Or maybe I'll be so embarrassed at myself that I won't allude to dating someone until it's over.
(repeat once/twice a year)

Let me be the first to recognize my own hypocrisy here. At times, I've been tempted to start a new blog or delete old posts so that I can hide all these inconsistencies. But being positive, I think I'm just constantly questioning what I know. Somehow, (I think) I get a lot of life lessons that challenge some fundamental ideas of mine and I have been open enough to think through and embrace these changes. Essentially, #sorrynotsorry, #cantstopwontstop. I think that I've been very genuine about how I think in a given moment without ulterior motives here, and it's just that I am constantly learning new things. I'm also sure that people change and have paradigm shifts too, but my changes are just more apparent because the old drafts of my mind are still on display here. Relationships aren't quite like LSAT problems; people might have the same account about what objectively happened (like "he asked her out" or "she broke up with him"), but there are infinite ways to explain why and each answer is like a "to what extent did this factor play a role" argument. On the LSAT, if you said that flight K is the flight that leaves first and your logic is wrong, you will probably just be wrong. Somewhere, in my search for the correct answer that explains everything, I've accepted that there might actually just be a ton of correct answers and in life, the correct answer might just be the perspective that gives you the most peace in that moment. So here is my current correct answer to all things romantic.

I hope this had some sort of logical flow and made sense. Or should I say that I don't care what you think about my writing? That would be a pretty big lie.

*This is a huge, all-encompassing generalization - of course there are other factors, but you get my point. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

#throwback to when I had Friendsy.

Friendsy is this app that's kind of like Tinder, where you can filter people by school and gender and then choose "friends", "hook up", or "date" for each person you come across. If somebody chose the same option that you did for them, the app informs you that you guys matched and it's like, do what you will with that info, bro. In light of my recent singledom, I thought it would be conventionally fitting to start using the app because that's what single people do, right?

But then I found out that I was incredibly bad at it, or at least, I was using it in a way that was completely ineffective in achieving the larger purpose - that is, if we define the conventionally desired outcome as ending up with someone. I ended my day-long stint at using the app with three friend matches (guys I'm actually good friends with) and a sore thumb from swiping repeatedly, because for everybody I didn't know, I just swiped instead of choosing anything.

Because I'm a kind of intense person in most things, I took the choices pretty seriously was just really weird realizing how I can't really tell if I want to hook up with or date somebody solely based on their appearance. Like, how would I know?? The guy in the lovely presentable outfit and carrying a dog might have a completely incompatible personality to me. I'm sure I knew this on some level all along, but I realized how much a person's personality and way of talking really matters to me. And additionally, I had kind of forgotten how much I dislike the "in-between" stage of a relationship; when two people get into this huge, valley-like place where they dance around how much they care about the other person for fear that the other person doesn't feel the same (pretty sure I just paraphrased Eleanor Roosevelt there). I don't really care for nonserious relationships when the other parts of my life are going so well and are worth focusing on instead - so I feel (no, I know, from experience) that being in the in-between, or even trying to get there, is very stressful and anxiety-inducing for me. I recognize that an assumption that lies behind everything I just said is that all matches result in casual relationships. I'm sure that's not always the case, but the idea of having to be in an environment that tends to breed casual relationships in the hopes of finding something more serious sounds stressful. Maybe I'm just not very cut out for meeting people in a romantic context casually. I think my most recent relationship happened because the person was really persistent and had serious intentions from the beginning, and somewhere along the road I realized there was a lot of potential. But before that opportunity was thrown in my face, I wasn't really seeking any. I don't think I am, now, either, and that probably is the underlying cause of my failings in using this app.

"The really complicated race where I loved in first place but lost"

My nose ran, my thoughts on its heels, in
the race away from me that your love won;
all I can say is "please help me". Please help me
accept that I can't ask you to open the door again
when you pushed me against it, doorknob jutting
into my lower ribcage. Please help me accept that
I did the right thing when I realized the door
opened outwards into the hall. Please help me accept that
though I loved secondly, I loved loudly and loved more. Please -
please, give me the strength to accept that I know,
but will never see again, what you look like
in pyjamas and in tears
and in love with me.

Please take all the tears that have been scheduled
in me for the next two months and do
an emergency C-section now, for
I have a spare hour before work. Please help me
enjoy the things that I couldn't have with you. Please
help me see the wonderful person you are without
wanting to see you up close.

Please let me grasp that you don't own me
just because you know me so well. Please
push me to go on new adventures so that I
can look back and say I can't imagine
life together with you and I no longer need
to ask for help. While I would learn a new language
and eat the grass visible from my window
just to have you back now, I did the right thing when
I realized the door opened outwards into the hall.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Summer 2k15

Hello! It's been a while. This semester has been a train wreck, but in mostly good ways. I had my last final (final final?) yesterday and so...I'm halfway through college, which is really crazy. I'm staying on campus for the first ten weeks of summer and working at a legal firm nearby. It's absolutely beautiful in upstate New York when it's warm (in winter it's beautiful too, but not always bearable), so I'm excited. The nature of my summer plans also mean that:

  • I will be packing (and moving) five times within ten weeks:
    • From my dorm to my "extended temporary housing", because my dorm is used for people staying for graduation
    • From the "extended temporary housing" to the townhouses, where all the summer kids stay
    • From the townhouses to a professor's house - my roommate and I will be cat-sitting for the month of June - should be interesting because I've never lived with a cat before and I will be, with two...
    • From the professor's house back to the townhouses, after she returns from her research trip
    • From the townhouses to Hong Kong after my ten weeks of work are over
  • I'm going to be more responsible for preparing my own meals for the next 70 days than I've ever been in my life. This is super daunting because I don't know how to cook and I've managed to avoid having to learn so far. I'm afraid of hot stoves, knives, and most things in kitchens so...that has to change. My roommate likes to cook and will probably do most of it at first, but there's an understanding that we will eventually get to the point where we can switch off between us. I went to the farmers' market this morning to buy food that both of us liked, could last a week, was within a budget...and I felt really grown-up. It was a reminder that one does not just live on the college meal plan forever. 
  • I will be having way more free time on my hands - I work a four-day week, and have to take classes on Friday mornings with other kids who are working for other organizations in the upstate region. But other than that - no homework, no papers, no exams! I haven't really had a lot of free time since the beginning of last summer - before I started hardcore teaching at a summer school and then going back to school less than a week after it ended and then boom, boom, boom, two semesters flew by. I've become quite a workaholic in the past year, so I'm currently thinking that this summer will be a good time to continue working on the list of books I said I would finish before the end of the year, and study for the LSATs. There's probably also a lot of fun to be had, though - picnics under the sun on the weekends, trips to the nearby boathouse and lake, trips to malls, and I hear the kids who stay over the summer become a really tight-knit community. 
It's going to be a blast - I'm really excited about this but had to put these thoughts aside as I focused on finals so now it's like, overflowing excitement. I'm catching up on all the sleep I missed these past two weeks, so that's what I'm going to resume doing right now :)