A lot of people have told me before that they don't think I'm confident.
Often times, it made me feel embarrassed and sad. I didn't feel like they were saying it in a nice way, but unfortunately, I knew that they were right about me.
Sometimes, I tried not to be too sensitive about it, because I knew that they were coming from a place of love and trying to help me.
Many times, it really annoyed me. I didn't think that they were in any place to comment on my confidence. Who were they to judge how confident I was? What did they know about my deep inner workings and human psychology?
Going off my last point, this is why part of me hesitates to write about judging confidence. Confidence is something felt on so many levels in ourselves. How can we possibly sum up whether we are confident or not in one, simple answer? As in..."Yes, I'm confident" or "No, I'm not confident" or "Sort of, I'm kind of confident."
One time, when my mom and I were trying to find a therapist to help us work through our issues, the therapist asked me, totally out of the blue:
"How's your confidence?"
At that point, I knew, definitively, that she was not the therapist for me. The answer to her question doesn't exist; confidence is much too complicated to be able to judge like this. How did she expect me to answer?
On the other hand, I will admit that I was not confident before. When people told me that I wasn't confident, they were right about me.
So, I guess, confidence is one of those complicated things in life, that is both easily judged and not easily judged.
Yesterday I went to see the Nutcracker in San Francisco with my mom and cousin. I have never been to see a ballet before (I think I may have gone with school once in junior high, but I don’t really remember it). I’ve never been to any Nutcracker performances ever. I didn’t know what to expect, but I had been looking forward to this!
It was GORGEOUS!
I loved the colors, the details, the smiles on the performers’ faces, their elegance, and the fun! This was a very high quality ballet, but it didn’t take itself too seriously.
But I am the ultimate girly girl, and proud of it. My favorite part of the performance was watching the prima ballerina (princess Clara) dance in her tutu. She was beautiful.
I have been asserting myself more lately. In a few different situations. And I'm beginning to clearly notice that there's a general pattern to how I operate here and how things go for me.
One of my greatest faults (and I have many), is being oblivious to people who treat me badly. I should know better though. But I just don't want to face the truth about these people. It's easier for me to think good things about them, and I convince myself that they're really nice to me.
So, I don't say a word, don't give even a hint that I'm not okay with how they treat me. And then I choose to still keep being around them and appear to totally enjoy being around them.
What has happened in the past in these situations, and what is happening now as well, is that after being so oblivious to how they treat me, I finally wake up one day. Then I begin asserting myself with them, as I should have done in the very beginning.
Unfortunately, one of the things about finally asserting myself, after I have made people 100% believe that I am totally fine with how they treat me...is that people don't take my claims against them seriously.
After all, in their minds, it's been 100% established that their unacceptable treatment of me is actually okay. So they are able to rationalize to themselves that if I'm upset with them now, it must be because I'm emotionally unstable and unfairly accusing them of things, or just downright crazy...instead of admitting that they were actually bad to me the whole time.
With these people, I'm oblivious (or was oblivious). To a great degree, to a great fault. But I'm certainly not emotionally unstable in the way that they think I am, or crazy.
Dressing up to look good By dressing up, I don't mean wearing fancy clothes necessarily. I just mean, putting in enough effort into my whole appearance so that I feel feminine and attractive. I have to express myself, be myself. I know I'm good stuff. I'm feminine and attractive!
Where is my Christmas spirit? I have not been very giving this holiday season. I kept telling myself I had other things to think about or focus on...and now, I don’t even know what they were. I think I was just making excuses, basically. Sometimes giving doesn’t come naturally to me. I have to be pushed into it...by myself. This...is one of those times.
I’ll start off my giving by baking something nice for the office this week.
And from there, hopefully I’ll do more nice things :).
My sister got engaged. There is no rejoicing. There is only shock and disappointment. And worry too.
(This is what made me feel so awful in my last post). I have been in a really bad state for two days now, ever since it happened.
In the past, people thought that I was being too negative when I was judging my sister’s relationships. I don’t think they understood that they only saw things from the outside. They saw the surface. They saw so little. I don’t think that they should have judged my negativity about her relationships.
Anyway, there is no rejoicing. And at the end of the day, everything is out of my control. It’s her life for her to live. The consequences of her actions and decisions...she will have to face them now.
I had a tough last 24 hours. I should do something nice for myself now. Just to feel okay and smile again. I don’t know what I can do. This is hard. Maybe splurging on eating a nice burger. I still don’t feel great, but it’s better than how I was feeling before, and this is the best that I can do right now.
Here's the post I wrote about guy friends earlier.
I do think that this is possible, and not as in a gay guy friend or as in a brotherly/familial way. Those friendships are different from what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about being purely platonic friends with a guy who you could be attracted to, or who could be attracted to you, or both.
Anyway, the thing about platonic opposite sex friends...the reason I think they are so tricky...is because I think that this kind of friendship exists in a way that many people might not expect a friendship to work. Which is that, I don't think you can get too close or be a significant part of each other's lives.
But it's still a real and important kind of friendship to have. And I think that we can survive just fine without it, but there will be a hole and emptiness in our lives without it, especially if we aren't even aware that we're missing this kind of friendship.
I'm passionate about friendship, about true friendship that is rooted in love. It's what makes life warm and colorful. It's the antidote to a cold, gray, and very depressing world. So I'm going to talk a lot about guy friends.
I really care about my best platonic guy friend. More than I care about an average person.
I think we have a lot in common. An incredible amount in common.
I need to apologize to him for things. I need to tell him personal things about myself. And vice versa.
When I think about him, I feel really happy and warm.
In some ways, this feels similar to a romantic relationship. But that doesn't mean that this has to be a romantic relationship, or that this is supposed to be a romantic relationship.
Which is why, we are, more than anything, not close at all. And that feels really good and really right.
I do not have a good relationship with my sister. It pains me to write this, but it's true. She is not someone that anyone can have a very close relationship with, in which love is equally given between both parties, in which love is equally reciprocated. She will always take more than she gives. She doesn't understand that this is totally unfair to the other person. She thinks that she's being quite nice, in fact. Because in her mind, she's still giving. But she expects to receive so much more than she gives. And she thinks that this is normal--that this is totally fair to the other person. Basically, she thinks that the purpose of being in a close relationship with someone...is ultimately for the other person to serve her. And she has always been this way towards me. I'm the one closest to her; I grew up with her and have been around her significantly. I feel and know these things about her more than anyone else in this world. My parents are partly to blame for this problem. They never bothered to hold her to a higher standard. I think it's because she's the youngest one in the family, and they were just very lenient with the youngest one. I also think it's because they always perceived her as being somewhat weak, so they never demanded too much of her. They've started being a little more demanding of her recently...not tolerating immature and selfish behavior from her...but they still let her get away with too much. Much more than she should get away with. They're still part of the problem. They probably can't control her now, but they certainly don't have to show her support when she doesn't deserve it. Their support and tolerance of her bad behavior, not just towards me, but also towards them, just makes it that much harder for me to demand being treated fairly by her. Their lenience is an injustice to me. They let me be "abused" by my sister. They think I'm being mean when I stand up for myself. When my sister was upset because I was not tolerating her immaturity anymore...they actually blamed me for making her upset and got mad at me. Their lenience is also an injustice to my sister. When they don't demand more of her, they are part of the reason for why she is not as good of a person as she could be. I guess my sister could go on being this way for the rest of her life, no problem. She can still have relationships with people. They will just be more about having fun, or using each other for their own selfish desires...rather than deep caring. She's my sister. We have a long past. I can't just ignore it. If she can't acknowledge how she treated me in the past, the ways that it was seriously wrong, then I can't really have a relationship with her going forward. Regardless of whether someone is my sister, a stranger, a friend, an acquaintance...if they can't recognize how selfish they were towards me, then they deserve that much less from me going forward.
Irritated There's this "friend" I know who really irritates me. I'd like to downgrade her to a casual acquaintance, not a friend. My mom met her on a plane a few years ago. They were sitting next to each other, and my mom befriended her. She was moving to this country by herself. Understandably, she needed help from people. In a general sense. She's been really nice to my mom and me. But I'm tired of it. I know she's only nice to us because of my parents' resources. I really hate people who are nice to me only because they want to use me for something. And in her case, I can totally see through her. It irritates me that she thinks I'm this naive, or dumb, or weak, to put up with her superficial "friendship." I deserve someone better than her. I had a strong sense that she was like this from the start. But I also wanted to be open to people. And in time, her actions have confirmed what I've always thought about her. I'm so tired of people who want to be your friend, but only because they see you as a tool to get things they want. Friendship wasn't meant to be like this. It was meant to be so much more than this.
Finding joy in cooking every day It's all about balance! Balance between cooking things that make you feel creative, versus really mundane things. Balance between cooking things that take more work (including grocery shopping and clean-up), versus not a lot of work. Balance between meals that you know came out well, versus meals that you know came out very sloppy.
Optimism I believe that things will turn out okay. I'm not exactly sure why or how they'll be okay; I don't have rigid or concrete standards of what life must be like in order for it to be okay. I see reality. I also fully appreciate the unknown. I'm free.
She was referring to the fact that I went to law school, and I'm smart, so why am I choosing to work here at my very low-level job?
1) I don't bother her. In fact, if anything, I go the extra mile, and I'm nice to her. I'm also fair to her.
2) I'm happy enough doing my own thing.
3) And though I'm sure that she can tell that I have problems in my life (Why am I not married? Why am I still living at home at age 35? Why don't I make enough money to support myself?)...this shouldn't be used to conclude that my life must be bad. Everyone has lots of problems in their lives. My problems are just very obvious to other people.
I'm so insulted by her question.
I'm sure that many other people around me have wondered the same thing about me too, under the same conditions. I'm so insulted there too.
I'm tired of feeling like I need to justify myself to people. Because I do care and get hurt when people judge me. Especially when it's so openly and so many people.
I have felt so wrongly judged by almost everyone around me. It has hurt me so much and been so difficult. I didn't, and don't, deserve this meanness from people. From people who are so quick to think badly of me.
But in turn, my suffering has taught me not to judge others. Being a better person than everyone who judges me, is my peace.
I have a recurring nightmare about flunking out of school. There are many variations to this nightmare. The general gist of it is that I’m trying very hard, doing too much work — but it’s not enough. And I’m about to meet my doom.
This nightmare can be disturbingly intense and feel very real.
The thing is, just the opposite of this scenario happened in my life. I did not flunk out of school. I either excelled at school, or had definite passing grades. I’m satisfied with my past performances in school.
This nightmare is about feeling a lot of pressure to achieve many, many things.
This was how I felt when I was in school. I gave myself too much pressure.
And I still feel it today. I still give myself too much pressure.
When I was a kid, I loved to read. I just gravitated to books. They had a magnetic pull on me.
When I went to Costco with my mom (I think it was called Price Club back then), I automatically went to the book section in the middle of the store. I loved it there.
Whenever I went shopping at the mall, I pretty much thought about the bookstore there, above all else.
I love books. I always will.
The problem now though, is that it’s very hard for me to find books that I like to read. I need to read books with some kind of significant moral to them or greater purpose to them. I want meaning, I guess.
Recently, I bought two books that I think I would enjoy. One is a large collection of traditional fairy tales (written for adults). The other seems to be a collection of essays about deep, important things in life.
(I actually wrote this post yesterday, but I'm delayed in my posting.) The holidays are here! Today I passed by my neighbor's house as I was taking a walk, and I saw their gorgeous holiday lights display. I feel the holiday magic in the air. It makes me feel so warm.
Closing post to my series of posts on independence I started this series of posts back in August, almost four months ago. Ever since then, every single post I have written on here has been devoted to the subject of independence (in a personal sense, not in a political sense). That’s a lot. I can’t believe I have been on this topic for this long. But I can also believe it. Independence is an important topic. Without independence, what am I? I would be a terrible person. I would be nothing. I think that a lot of people try to convince themselves of independence and try to portray it, through outward appearances and a checklist of accomplishments. But I think that this is the wrong way to judge independence. I think that judging independence in this way cheapens it. I think that independence is so much more than outward appearances and a checklist of accomplishments. I think that independence is, most importantly, a feeling. A feeling that is deep, real, and hard to come by. A feeling that comes from facing the most difficult things in our lives that we should face. The MOST difficult things. For all of us, one of those things would be facing our past...all of it. The past isn’t easy. How much harder does life get than facing our past? It doesn’t get any harder than this. And then there’s the future. We need to dream big. To go after the best. We should feel as if we’re pursuing, or have achieved, the impossible. I don’t mean literally impossible things. But, FEELING as if we are pursuing or have achieved the impossible. Because our goals are that difficult...in fact, the most difficult. Pride. That’s what I’ve been talking about here. Being the most proud of ourselves that we can possibly be. This very deep pride in ourselves...this feeling, to me, is true and real independence. I have a past that no one around me (thus far) can understand. The things I went through were not common and were very difficult. As I was trying to get over my past, people criticized me. People didn’t understand what I was doing; they didn’t understand what I had to overcome. On some level, I felt this criticism from everyone. I have a dream that not a lot of people would understand. Because I’m not superficial...at all. Well, very little. And I’m noble in a way that’s pretty unique. A part of me is morally very different, in a really good way...and a lot of people can’t understand this part of me. So, as I started trying to pursue my dream, people didn’t understand what I was doing with my life. On some level, I felt criticism from everyone. The only exception to this was from my dad. In his case, I think he realized that he simply did not understand my dream at all, and he looked at my life with zero judgment. So, currently: I’m still trying to get over my past. All of it. I’m trying to be more active and trying to pursue my dream. My dream that feels impossible because it is the most difficult thing for me to do. Am I proud of myself? Sort of. Do I feel independent? Sort of. I started this series of posts on independence by saying that when I was younger, I didn’t like the idea of independence. It’s pretty sad that I felt this way.
I think that I had not had enough positive experiences with independence: I hadn’t accomplished many things that I was proud of (I had accomplished some things, but they weren’t things my heart was into). I hadn’t felt responsibility. I hadn’t been encouraged to be myself. I hadn’t really understood how to be around people socially. So, there was a lot of work that I had to do, to fix my mentality on independence. There still is work to do.
I am going to end my series of posts on independence very soon. I have been on this topic for months now.
When I first started this series of posts, I had no idea how it would end or when it would end. I couldn't imagine the end.
I couldn't imagine myself getting to a place of peace, somewhat, on this issue in my life.
But now the day is basically here, for me to end this series of posts on independence. I have conquered the issue of independence in my life, somewhat. And as I'm writing this, I really don't know how I got to this point...
And maybe, for once in my life, I'll just leave it at that: “I don’t know”.
“I don't know”, for something that I could probably get more answers to if I dug around a bit more...but that I don't care to do right now, or anytime in the foreseeable future.
This is really difficult for me because it exposes my selfishness. I really want a group to satisfy my need to belong and be accepted, instead of thinking about what I can do for a group. No person can be a leader among a group of friends with my selfish mentality.
This is really important to me because I know I can be good at this. This is also so enjoyable.
This ties into independence because it requires a lot of skill and wisdom to be a good leader among a good group of friends.
If we are independent, this is a situation we constantly find ourselves in. With all kinds of people. From strangers, to colleagues at work, to friends, to family, to acquaintances. This situation always requires our best.
Here is a list of the basic and important things to be aware of, in my opinion:
-My health -The health and basic well-being of other people around me -The degree of my success -The state of my relationships with people -Significant national and world news (It's usually negative) -Whether I have enough money and/or assets (The key here is "enough". Not necessarily "abundant", though that would be very nice!)
Facing reality, part 2 I think it's important to face reality. You won't proceed in the right or optimal direction otherwise. Then you won't get what you need or what's good for you. You won't feel good about yourself or life, deep down. Something will feel off. Because it is off. And yet, facing reality also means admitting the fact that you can't know everything about reality. You don't have the capacity to know everything about reality. You have to actually keep yourself in the dark about reality, on purpose. If you don't...you won't get what you need, you won't get what's good for you, something will feel off. I don't think I'm doing great at facing reality. I think I'm doing okay though.
What saves me My brain. My rational thoughts. They tell me there's no reason to freak out and get emotionally carried away in that direction. They give me peace. They tell me the right way to do things. They give me power. I feel independent...strong and tough. But not hard.
Ruffling feathers, part 2 I need to: -Be more vocal about controversial issues I'm passionate about -Surprise people with my actions more. They think they know me...but they don't! -Say "no" to big stuff more
Independence and gender One reason I dislike, heavily dislike, independence is because I equate it with masculinity. Being female, I feel repulsed at being masculine. On men, I think masculinity is great. Me, not at all. I just don't like being masculine. Why should I? But I think I need to review my idea of how independence equals masculinity. I think one of the reasons I have this twisted, unhealthy notion of independence is because of how it was portrayed in society, to me, during my formative years. How society's portrayal of independence, femininity, masculinity--all these concepts together--came across to me, and subsequently influenced me. The message that came across, to me, was that women are weak. Being feminine is weak, and therefore, bad. Therefore, it is best to eliminate our femininity. One way to do this is to heavily pursue independence. Now, I don't know if this was the message that was really swirling around me during my formative years, but this was the message that I took in and internalized. I no longer think that femininity is weak or bad. But the idea of independence being a femininity-killer, still sticks with me. Independence can be very femininity-killing, it's true. But here's a novel thought (for me anyways): Independence can also be incredibly feminine. How so? Because independence is about being ourselves--our interesting, unique, special selves. So if we're female, then being independent equals femininity.
My old roommate/landlord in LA was pretty independent
We weren't exactly friends. I would describe our relationship as acquaintances on good or polite terms. Which was fine. Anyway, thinking back on things now, knowing what I knew about her, I realize that she was a pretty independent person.
She seemed like a reasonably capable person, in general. She seemed to have more-or-less healthy relationships in her life, on all levels (with family, significant other, friends, acquaintances). She spent a good amount of time alone (from what I saw), and seemed to be cool with that.
I think that truly independent people are the most patient people. If they are capable, capable of doing the most difficult and meaningful things in life, then they must have loads of patience to achieve these things.
I'm a woman. The reason I would admire and like, really REALLY like, a man would be because...I saw how independent he was. It would be very attractive to me. I would love how he was his strongest when he was completely, absolutely alone.
I can be independent, but this kind of independence in a man...would be something good and would be something I would never be able to be. I would have to admit this.
In my late twenties, I went to a weekend church retreat with my aunts and uncles.
I didn't know anyone there except for my relatives. Through the retreat, my aunt had introduced me to one guy. He was about my age, but a little older than me. Through him, I met a few of his friends who were about the same age as him.
The problem was, this guy wasn't particularly nice. Not a terrible person, but just, not nice. I didn't really like him for this reason.
At the retreat, I also met a group of much younger people. They felt like they were significantly younger than me. I felt like I was in a different generation than them. But, they were welcoming and fun and open-minded.
I should have hung out with that guy and his friends. I "belonged" there more.
But I didn't care about fitting in. I ended up hanging out with that much younger crowd the majority of the weekend instead.
Here is a list of things that I believe significantly contributed to me developing independence. In roughly chronological order:
-Going to law school and graduating: I learned/developed thinking and analytical skills that will stay with me for life. This elevated me to being a better and stronger Donna.
-Interning at a law office for a few years after I graduated: I saw the kinds of things that I'm able to achieve in the real world, the level I can operate at. In general, not just in law (and law isn't for me anyway).
-Attending young adult fellowship at church: I experienced genuine and positive social interactions with all kinds of people who had different backgrounds from me.
-Going to therapy for unresolved childhood issues I had with my mom: I went every week for almost a year, diligently. Therapy helped me get over my past.
-Working the same job, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for several years: There was nothing glamorous about work. But I still went and stayed everyday. I developed self-control.
I have an independence problem, and today I want to talk about the point in my life in which I believe my non-independence was at its worst.
It was right after college. I was in my early twenties.
I was done with my required schooling now -- as defined by my community's social standards. So, I was not to be taken care of anymore. I was responsible for myself in this world now, for the first time in my life. It was a very new stage of life. This was the mindset.
A healthy, independent person would have felt scared, yet excited, being in this stage of life.
But this was not how I felt. Instead, I felt totally unprepared. I knew I was inadequate. This wasn't just an insecure feeling. This was the truth.
Even worse, I had no idea what to do about my inadequacy. I had no idea how to improve.
The independence in my life made me feel shocked and sick. A wonderful thing, turned into a terrible thing.
Defining independence My definition of independence is the ability to do everything on your own. But interestingly enough, the Bible, which is the foundation for how I approach life, doesn't really mention, stress, this concept too much. Instead, the Bible focuses on relationships with others...with other people and with God. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that we are not meant to be lone entities in this world. My takeaway is that I think independence is wonderful and necessary, but it's too easy to get carried away in the wrong direction. In the quest for independence, it's too easy to harden our hearts. It's a delicate balancing act to be fully independent and also have full hearts. And that's what the Bible is here to do (one of the things)...to keep me on my toes and remind me of this delicate, tough, balancing act.