A few weeks ago, I fell into a massive black hole of suck. I’ve had down days here and there, but this was the first time in really long time that I was scraping the bottom of the emotional barrel for no discernible reason. It was the kind of bad that made me bribe myself with take away coffee and overpriced pastries in order to get myself to go work. And once I got home, I could not pry myself off the couch. Continue reading “Back in the Habit”
Me comparing myself to strangers is nothing new.
When I was a kid, I became obsessed with characters in movies, books, and TV. And when I was old enough to realise they weren’t real people, I became obsessed with the actors who portrayed them. And once I was old enough to realise they weren’t real people, I… uh, yeah. I was still obsessed with them. When I was about 10 or 11, I discovered my mom’s high school year books, and became fixated with people in the pages, imagining what their lives were like, giving them back stories and pairing them off. I loved other people’s photo albums, other people’s year books, for the same reasons. And when I became a young adult and blogs and social media became not just A thing but THE thing, it was like realtime photo albums and year books – but for real people. Seemingly real people in my stratosphere.
I just liked learning about other people’s lives. And what came along with that, rather insidiously, was endless comparison. What me and my life looked like stacked against every one else’s.
You guys, I’m in my 30’s now and nothing about the above has changed. In fact, it’s only gotten worse. Thanks to social media, I’m
always often distracted by Other People’s Lives to the point where it’s detrimental to my own sense of self (says my therapist).
People on the internet have it all together. There’s nothing like perfectly imperfect curated feeds with consistent, matching over exposed and slightly pink but not obviously pink filters; lovely and perfect pastel or colorful and gold tone sparsely placed flat lays; homes with elegant but casual decor – the effortless but unattainably chic blend of “quirky” knick-knaks and high end modern furnishings and beautifully “messy” rooms; “I woke up like this” artfully tossled or thrown up hair seflies; impossibly organised pantries with chalkboard labels and mason jar storage in copper wire baskets; perfectly comfortable, perfectly ripped and perfectly rolled jeans with amazing shoes; blasè mentions of brilliant careers or stay at home mom projects; workspaces with industrial stationery and expensive technology; kids that will be smarter, funnier, and better dressed than you or yours will ever be; outings with friends that will be 800% more joyful than anything you’ll ever do with your friends; captions that are effortlessly funny or ridiculously relevant with well timed emojis, hashtags as punchlines only; and 678 likes in 24 mins to make me feel like I need to throw out my life and start over. That make me overthink 99% of all my posts. That make me second-guess what I actually want, what I actually like, where I’m going with my life.
Before I know it, I’ve wasted 3 hours of my life falling into a black hole of Instagram posts and Pinterest boards trying to curate a life that I think I really need and want — because @put_together_pipers_mama decorated her room in blush pink and pastel geometric shapes with deer heads and natural wood furniture and damn that looks good on her post so now I’m convinced I need ALL THE THINGS even though I know in my deepest heart of hearts that I don’t own pastel, geometric, marble based ANYTHING because it makes me gag.
But shit, it’s hard not to fall prey to comparison when every time you open a social media app, you’re inundated with people’s high light reels. And people’s poetically phrased fail-reel. Because once you think someone is better than you, even they even seem to fail or fall on hard times, they’re doing it better than you. And it all can make you feel like a wet fart.
Humans are social creatures. We compare ourselves to each other because want, nay need to be liked (this is another soothing bit from my therapist). But what’s happening lately is we’re becoming so consumed with comparison that we’re losing sight of ourselves, with what brings us joy (thanks, doc). So whenever I’m drowning in Not Good Enough, I have to remind myself that these people have shit in their life, too. And not glamorous shit. But real, every day, life draining shit.
They’ve let the laundry pile up for 3 or more weeks.
They’ve spent $200 on groceries just to come home and order $75 worth of pizza.
They’ve waited 3 or more weeks to do laundry and instead of doing laundry, bought new underwear.
They’ve moved the bits and the bobs and the piles of crap and the stacks of shit from one side of the room to the other so they can take a picture of the clean, organised area of the room.
They’ve been alarmed at how bad their arm pits smell. In the middle of the day.
They’ve been sitting in a meeting, mindlessly touching the edge of their chin and found an inch long whisker that sprouted out of nowhere.
They’ve gotten pimples in their ear and only realised it when they put the phone to their ear too fast and with too much pressure and yelped out loud from the shocking pain.
They’ve had explosive diarrhoea in the middle of the afternoon from eating too much dairy.
They’ve done a Google search for a sweater Kristen Stewart wore in Breaking Dawn.
They’ve had diarrhoea and put their feet up on the door when someone used the stall next to them, lest they be recognised by their shoes as Someone Who Has Diarrhoea in the real world. (Why is knowing someone knows you have had diarrhoea the worst thing in the world?)
They’ve gotten awkwardly teary at work when “Must Have Been Love” by Roxette started playing on the radio at work because damnit Vivian just wanted to be loved.
They’ve left a blog post unfinished for 4 weeks only to delete it later.
They’ve failed Alegbra II. (twice!)
They’ve let the one table top surface become so covered in bullshit that they forgot there’s a table underneath it.
They’ve come up with a great come back, 6 weeks later.
They’ve gone to the grocery store specifically to get coffee, milk, and bread, and forgot to get coffee, milk, and bread.
They’ve suddenly come to, only to realise they’ve lost nearly 3 hours and have scrolled 6 years deep into Jenelle Evan’s Instagram.
They’ve had a serious emotional crisis in the grocery store deciding between shampoos.
They’ve waffled between 6 critically acclaimed, award winning, culture shifting movies and ended up binge watching both seasons of The Ashlee Simpson Show. Again.
They’ve spent 40 mins banging out paragraphs of contrary view points, laced with vitriol, in an email or a text message only to delete it all and type “ok that’s fine.” as they grind their teeth to nubs.
They also can’t parallel park without help.
They’ve, on a whim, followed a recipe to a T. They took no photos and put in no pizazz, and the recipe turns out great. They repeat the same recipe to a T on a staged surface, photographing everything, only to have it turn to shit.
They’ve almost shit their pants in public. They’ve had a side booger and no one said anything. They’ve felt frumpy and old standing next to someone better dressed, or someone who took a shower that morning. They’ve worked or are working bull shit jobs, they’ve been or are still being rejected. They’re facing heart break. They’ve felt small and neutered. They’ve known that this wasn’t their best, but they did it anyway. They’ve watched loved ones deteriorate from bad decisions or bad luck. Shit, even Beyonce was cheated on.
We are all people. And there’s no escaping the bullshit.
*they’ve also made an entire blog whinging about First World Problems, that, when compared to say, a child kidnapped and forced in to war, are probably the best problems to have.
Helloooo, blog land! And by that I mean, helloooo Mom (thanks for reading!). I had planned to do Blog-Tober, where I post every day. Then I was all “well, I’ll do Blog-Vember, since I missed Blog-Tober.” And then, I did nothing. Continue reading “Catchup.com – uh, November?”
Sooooo – how about September, huh? It’s like the whole month happened, and I slept through most of it. Today is the end of the month, and since it’s been a bit quiet around this corner of the internet, I thought I’d write a little catch up post. Mostly so I can figure out where the hell the time went. Continue reading “Catchup.com – September”
Do you ever have those moments where you’re all, I’ve been here before? Continue reading “Flashbacks”
I showed up to my writer’s group tonight and couldn’t wait to share how productive I was last week – an outline! Research! Narrative! Character design! I AM PRODUCTIVE! Continue reading “Twinkies (or, Notes on Inadequacy)”
On New Year’s Eve, our group started talking about resolutions. My friend Michael asked me about mine. I proudly said, “I resolve not to have any resolutions.” to which he said, “but that is a resolution.” and I was all “Well, shit.”
As I’ve said before, me making a list of resolutions is like me making a list of things I’ll only get worse at/not do. But this doesn’t stop me from thinking about them. And they’re always the same goals/desires:
- spend more time pursuing dreams, less time worrying about day job
- eat better so my arteries won’t crap out by the time I’m 50
- move more so I don’t go into cardiac arrest when I’m climbing stairs; also so pants will stop not fitting
- take better care of my skin so I won’t look like I’m still in puberty
- read more so I don’t rot my brain
- do more so I don’t one day die with regrets (spoiler alert: likely to happen no matter what I do)
- make a billion dollars so I can stay home and not have to worry about putting on real pants
2016 was, for the most part, an extremely hard year. Going into January, I was super confident. I thought, “this is going to be a good year. I have my new, awesome job where I get to contribute creatively and work with great people, my hair is growing out (this is important), my office is organised, I have a writing plan, and everything will be gravy. I’m happy, I’m content, and I feel like I’m on the right track.”
And then, it hit me. I woke up on the last day of my Christmas holiday with an unshakable sense of impending doom. And on January 4 I woke up in an anxiety attack that didn’t dissolve for almost a week. So I went back to the doctor for a benzo script, after close to two years of not needing xanax. And that sucked.
I thought I was just anxious because we had a big month at work coming up – there was a lot at stake, so I was nervous/excited to be a part of it. But January blurred into February and February blurred into March. March blurred into April. April into May. It never got easier. I wasn’t sleeping without having nightmares. I dreaded every single day. And at some point I came to and realised that all my savings had been burned through, the apartment was constantly a mess, our bills were late, and I found myself paralysed without my phone, jumping at every notification as if someone’s life depended on it. It was easier to count the days that didn’t end in some form of panic. Every weekend included some sort of sobbing breakdown, either to Joel or to my Mom or in text messages to my friends. I just couldn’t control myself.
It was hard to admit to myself that I was back in a shit place. I spent so much of 2015 in denial that I was so homesick it spun me into depression, and there I was, robbed of 6 months because I refused to admit defeat. I mean, I knew I was good at standing in my own way, but it turns out I’m really good at putting myself in harm’s way to prove a point to no one.
After I quit my job and took some time off, I realised my two rough patches were the result of me pushing myself for a career that I knew I wasn’t suited for, but that I felt I needed to be suited for, and thusly wouldn’t let myself quit. I realised I have to listen to my own red flags – it doesn’t matter how cool your job is, how awesome the people you work with are, if the stress makes you go back on medication and back into therapy, it’s not a good fit.
So this year, I would like to focus on one things only:
do not be a passive aggressive asshole to self
And really, that’s it. I don’t think of this as a resolution, because it’s not like losing 20lbs or drinking less alcohol. It’s the “be kind to yourself” bullshit that’s not actually bullshit but a really important life skill.
Naturally, I want to develop better habits and achieve things, too. But I’m not going to make a giant posted list, because I’ll feel like I have to achieve them all RIGHT NOW or I’ll be a failure. So I’m going to take it one step at a time and you know – not be an asshole to myself about it. I need to get myself to a place of stability and consistency before I can stack myself full of expectations and plans.
I’m taking this year one month at a time. For January, my goal was to find a more interactive writer’s group and a class of some sort. I got the Master Class for Christmas and I’ve already started it, so now all I need to do is find an additional group to join. I don’t know what my goal is for February, because I haven’t gotten there yet. That’s February’s problem.
See? I’m already applying my resolution. (ha)
ALL THAT BEING SAID – here are things that Joel and I plan to make happen and that I’m REALLY EXCITED ABOUT for 2017:
- ADOPTING A DOG
- Taking driver’s safety course and getting more experience on the road so that we can
- Go on non-staycation holiday! (although Joel and I had 4 uninterrupted days together for the first time in 2 years and it was fabulous. I’d rather have the time in the Blue Mountains or on a beach somewhere tho)
- ADOPTING A DOG
- Upgrading to a queen size bed
- ADOPTING A DOG
- Becoming an Australian resident and finally putting all the visa jibba jabba behind us (fingers crossed this happens around July)
- ADOPTING A DOG
- Investing more time in myself
- ADOPTING A DOG (my biological clock is barking)
- make a billion dollars so I can stay home and not have to worry about putting on real pants
I mean, not having to put real pants on every day is the dream.
Set the bar high, folks. And be nice to yourself.
Being in transition is irritating. Mostly because it feels like there’s no guarantee of stability. And contrary to my recklessly impulsive, leap and the net shall appear style, stability is crucial for me. Lack of stability makes it hard to plan for the future, which makes me unable to enjoy the now. I mean, I have a hard enough time enjoying the present because I’m usually re-hashing the past or making unattainable goals for the future, so the lack of stability or predictability makes me worry even more.
The stability I’m talking about here is financial stability – and my irritatingly persistent need for it.
At this point last year I was on the job hunt, and so I was at this time the year before that. Looking for a new job, and the first 3-6 months of working a new job can be shitty and stressful, not to mention what happens when you spend months looking for a job and ducking work so you can go on interviews and then you score a new gig and then you start and it’s really promising and after a few months you realise it’s not the right fit for you but you don’t want to give up and you really don’t want to start job hunting again so you deny that you need to find a new one until you almost have a nervous breakdown and you finally admit you need a new job. So there’s that.
Two years to settle might be a normal time frame for someone moving to a new country. But being someone who is not only recklessly impulsive but who also plans to run marathons when I should be crawling, I’m really disappointed in myself that it’s taken so long. I’m disappointed because, even though finding a stable job is really important for things like rent, student loans (thanks, mom and dad!), bills, and groceries, my reasons for not settling down and creating a full life here all feel like excuses. I just kept thinking “as soon as I find the right job, I won’t have to worry about money anymore. Everything will fall into place. I’ll start writing more, I’ll feel better, and I’ll start doing more.” And really, all that thinking did was keep me in an obsessive little bubble. I feel like I’ve been so consumed by the worry of instability that I’ve robbed myself of time. I’ve robbed two years from myself. Two years of living in a new, exciting country, two years where I could have been doing more. Could have been living more.
Basically, I’m getting a bit sick of my own shit. I know depression is difficult to fight, and it manifests in so many different ways that you feel like you’re fighting a 60-front war, but I’m so tired of it. I’m tired of not being in control. I want more. I need more.
And that’s it. I’m sick of it. I want things to be better. I may wake up tomorrow morning hating myself again, and I don’t want to jinx it, but I’ve been taking more and more baby steps to getting my shit back together, and I feel good. Empowered, if I want to use my therapist’s language. It means working hard. And working hard when all I want to do is NOT work hard. Which admittedly, will be the hardest part.
I want to thrive again. I want to make up for lost time and make the rest of this year count.
Happy October, everyone!
Let me tell you about my friend, 3 Day Birthday Weekend. She was pretty badass, and her surprise visit helped me jump into 32 with much awesomeness.
Here’s what happened: on Thursday night, we made chilli hotdogs and watched Goodfellas. We decided to go hard core with the chilli dogs and we replaced the buns with Turkish bread rolls. The result was CHILLI DOG MOUNTAIN, a gut busting pile of meat and bread and coleslaw that left us struggling to live after we cleared our plates and feeling ill afterward. I’m not sure why we felt compelled to have a whole pile each. This meal shall hence forth be known as “Chilli Dog Hubris”
On Friday, we woke up to eggs and bacon, and made our way to my mothership – Ikea. I could go to Ikea every weekend, because Ikea is goddamn awesome. It’s a wonderland of Swedish modular design, $1 hotdogs, and words with Ü’s in them – much awesome. But really, I love walking around the show room and touching everything in the tiny apartments. Joel likes Ikea, too, but not on the slightly concerning level that I do. And he really hates crowds. But he came along because he loves me. Yes.
Although, now that I live in a tiny apartment, I’m bummed out that Ikea’s definition of teeny tiny apartment living and reality’s definition of teeny tiny apartment living are drastically different. I would love to see a 500sqft Ikea apartment where the kitchen is in the lounge and the lounge is actually a small rectangle shaped room that’s a lounge/dining room/office/bedroom and where you can’t nail or drill into, or use command hooks on ANY the walls. Show me how you’d make this space the most efficient, Ikea. SHOW ME.
After some fantasizing about a place big enough for a butcher block kitchen island and full size sofas and comfy arm chairs, we wandered to the market place to get what we came for – new dishes. No more stolen plates with scrape marks and no more stolen pint glasses. Come over for dinner, and you’ll be served on the finest stonewear that Sweden has to offer (totally). And your spoons and forks will be shiny and matching. We are officially adults.
I really wanted to get a shelving unit that would make better use out of the space we have for Joel’s camera gear, but we didn’t plan it very well and couldn’t agree on what would work best. So instead of buying something that might work, we just scrapped the plans altogether – like a real person would do. This was an Audrey first, as I am queen of “just buy it and hope for the best, or return it later.” I feel like I grew up a little.
We left Ikea with our big blue bags and spent the rest of the day napping and obsessively rearranging (ok maybe that was just me). That evening, we met up with some friends at the pub down the street for a few games of pool (I’m improving at a glacial pace, but it’s still fun), and then home for a late dinner and Casino (one of us has been on a crime flick kick. It’s Joel.)
Saturday brought us MY BIRTHDAY! Joel woke me up with presents in bed, and we had coffee and sat around until it was time for brunch with Joel’s mum’s side of the family.
We finally got to try the Italian place we’ve been curious about, Dulcis Domus. The food did not disappoint, and I was spoiled within an inch of my life because Joel’s family is ridiculously thoughtful when it comes to gifting.
Stuffed with lunch, I came home to play with my presents and make the ultimate birthday pie for us to eat that night – Honey Walnut Banana Cream Pie.
And in true Audrey style, I didn’t re-read the basic recipe before I waited til Saturday to make the pie, and thus I forgot that it takes 4-6 hours to set, and is actually best when you let it set overnight. Shit. So I made the pie anyway, and later we had Birthday Ice Cream Pint while we watched Sherpa, a documentary about sherpas rebelling on Mt Everest.
Sunday I basically spent in planning mode – scouting and measuring and drawing up ideas for our office space:
Followed by lots of reading and chill, an amazing salmon dinner by yours truely, and one glorious Banana Cream Pie photoshoot by Joel.
All in all, it was a great weekend, full of fat and naps and food and friends and a surprisingly large amount of Ray Liotta.
Last year, my birthday came about during a time when I was really unhappy with myself, my work, my health, and yeah, everything because I was really just in a shit place. I didn’t want anyone to know it was my birthday, I didn’t want presents, and I just wanted to hide. I had a busy day at work combined with a lunch outing that stressed me out because it meant talking to people when I just wanted to lie under my desk in fetal position, then Joel took me out to dinner after work, and not only could I not eat, but I threw up three times. It was awful. And I felt wretched about the entire fiasco, so I set myself up on a strict GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER plan that I of course, failed because giving yourself too many challenging goals too soon is exactly what you need when you have the emotional strength of wet paper. So for the next two month I stagnated, miserably obsessing over who I was and what I was doing and all the time I was wasting. I ended up going from a shit place to a real shit place.
Ah, 31 was a fuckin’ banner year.
I’m much happier to report that this year, I felt the exact opposite. I told everyone who’d listen that it was my birthday. I don’t know if it’s therapy, or the change in jobs, or what – but I feel more … optimistic. Like everything is going to be ok. And last night as we sat in Julian’s kitchen with friends and everyone eating the rest of the Banana Cream Pie on a night that I would have bailed on before, I thought to myself, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”
32 feels good, you guys. And I’m excited.
Things have been much better around these parts.
Last week started with the amazing news that my visa was granted. Which, based on the all consuming sense of relief and fantastic good feelings that came with it, must have been weighing heavier on me than I originally assumed. I had a few moments throughout the week where I thought I might lose it, but they passed pretty quickly. I got some weird, sad news about my grandfather on Friday that left me pretty worried for my mom, but it didn’t send me into a tail spin like I thought it would. I also started therapy on Friday.
Meeting with a therapist for the first time is a lot like going on a first date. There’s a lot of small talk at first, a lot of awkward answers to questions like “Where are you from?” “What do you do?” “Is there a history of mental illness in your family?” Just like a first date. Except in this date, one person is asking the questions and is sometimes writing notes or giving you confused looks bordering on judgemental. This is the 4th therapist I’ve seen, technically 5 if you count the social worker/guidance counsellor that we were required to see freshman year of college to make sure we weren’t falling behind in class, but who I saw as weekly (or some times 2x or 3x a week). So I’ve been on some strange first dates.
In the weirdest first visit I had, the therapist told me that I was likely bi-polar, and obsessive compulsive, but said it was ok because everyone was to some degree. She went on to make an example by telling me, “Your bangs are covering your right eye just slightly, and so I can’t see both of your eyes fully. It’s really bothering me. In fact, it’s bothering me so much that I want to ask you to put your bangs back with a bobby pin.” And she immediately shot up, got to her desk, pulled off a bobby pin from its package, and handed it to me. I looked at it, like what? * In the saddest first date I’ve had, I showed up in my pj’s with dirty hair, sobbed at an uncomfortably loud volume for the whole hour, and left without paying my bill.
My new therapist and I seemed to hit it off. She had a nice, comfortable office and she let me guide the session and ramble without end, only offering her opinion when I came to a stopping point, which was extremely helpful to me. I think that’s important for a first session, to just get everything out on the table without judgement. She did say one thing before I left that really resonated with me.
“I think you’re exceedingly hard on yourself. I think we should start discussing the idea of ‘good enough.'”
I understand what she means, because I am exceedingly hard on myself. I’m my own disappointed parent. But I don’t like the idea of being good enough. I’ve always been the one that wants to be the best at everything. I want to over-excel and be the most badass at everything I do. And what comes hand in hand with that is a near-paralytic fear of failure. So you can see how well this desire to be the best has done for me so far – i.e. a lot of untouched goals, missed opportunities, nights where I stay awake counting heart palpitations.
I’m slowly beginning to realise that there’s no point in having this drive to be only the best when it prevents me from getting anything accomplished.
However… I don’t think the answer is simply accepting good enough, and not pushing myself. I think the answer is managing my expectations, and acknowledging that mistakes and failure are a part of any process. I shouldn’t be so afraid of what isn’t guaranteed to happen. It’s going to take a lot of work to train myself out of these depressive habits, but I’m looking forward to feeling confident one day. It’ll take baby steps.