Icosahelpme

My friend Cameron wrote about the girl she was in high school not too long ago, but I (as usual) was late to the game reading it, and only got to it just now. I really liked Cameron’s post. She talked about her edges being softened as she opened her heart to God. It made me feel good reading it.

There aren’t a lot of things that make me feel good, right now. There are moments, yeah, and days, even, where my edges don’t feel rough and my brain doesn’t feel like it’s going a thousand miles a minute. But I feel like I keep trying to climb my way out of a hole that I’m actually, accidentally, digging for myself, somehow.

So there’s that triangle of balance that’s not actually a triangle, right? Where the expectation is that you only have to balance Social Life, Grades, Sleep–but the reality is that you have to balance Family, Friends, Relationships, Grades, Money, Sleep, Health, General Ability to Feel like a Person. I wish life were as simple as a triangle.

It’s probably something more like an icosahedron.

I keep trying to find a thing that feels like it can create balance. Right now it feels like if one thing is wrong (and something always is) then I’m turned inside out, or sideways, or backwards, or upside down. Nothing feels small. One thing feels…colossal.

I remember this feeling from high school. This burned out, End of World feeling. I remember being stressed about my grades, my future, a boy, friends, family, my body, money. I remember thinking that One Day I was going to be not quite an adult yet, renting a house with like seven of my friends just off campus, going to class, kicking ass, and taking names.

I guess that’s why I need to quit daydreaming because One Day is Now, and it’s definitely Not That.

I’m not saying that Now is bad. I love my Boyfriend (so much, it’s kind of gross). I love my friends (they aren’t plentiful–but what they lack in quantity they make up for in quality). I love my family (I’m going to be an aunt!). I love my classes (which sounds like a lie–but I really, genuinely do). But I still feel like I’m missing something.

It makes me wonder if Jesus is the answer, the way Cam talked about.

And I shit on my Boyfriend about his religion, a lot. So I’m sure when he reads this he’ll expect something harsh or rude or insincere.

Because frankly, religion makes me uncomfortable. The idea that an Omnipotent Being is Judging me is terrifying. Mostly because I’m already pretty busy judging myself. Likewise, I think the rules are dumb. I don’t think any God will love His children any less for not believing in him. What a narcissistic dick, amirite? But, further, I don’t think any God will love His children any less for loving someone of their sex, or for not identifying their Sex with their Gender, or for eating Meat on Fridays during Lent. I don’t think God gives two shits about whether or not you come up to me and talk to me about Him, I really don’t. Because you know what I think God cares about?

I think God cares about how you made me feel when you walked away. Or how you’ve made anyone feel ever.

I don’t think God cares about things we do that don’t actually hurt people. I think God’s got bigger fish to fry, if you will. Like perpetuating Love. Like perpetuating Happiness. Like perpetuating Change. I digress.

My God doesn’t really fit the mold of any religion I know. Every God I’ve heard of has these arbitrary rules. Every God has this Black and White way of looking at things: Did you follow all the rules? Heaven. Did you break any? Hell.

But if God made us, then doesn’t He know we’re not Black and White Creatures? Does one action really define a person?

I hope not. I am not a bad person, by any means. But that doesn’t mean I’ve always done good things, either.

But I don’t think stealing a rubber pencil from the library in elementary school means I can’t kick it with the Big Guy Upstairs. That’s just me, though.

-HH

Being Un-Abnormalized

I always have things I want to talk about–like my experiences with the Tangle Toy I just bought, or the fact that my boyfriend and I almost broke up on Saturday–and then I sit down to write, and something else takes over. So I want to talk about my philosophy class, and the way my professor invalidated and trivialized what I based a large portion of my value on last week.

So I’m taking this Education Philosophy course. It involves a lot of (really awful) dense readings. Last Tuesday my Professor started talking about a bifurcation on Davis’ genealogy–structuralism VS poststructuralism (it’s honestly not even worth explaining what that sentence means, but here’s a link to a description of the book if you’re interested).

She talked about the societal need to ‘normalize’  students. That we give a group of kids a test, and the average score in the room is deemed “normal,” the lower percentage of scores is deemed “at-risk,” and the higher percentage is deemed “advanced.” And then she basically shit on it (it being this classification) for ten minutes.

I wish I had a better way of saying that. Wish I could explain it in intricate, fluffy terms, but that’s what she did. She shit on the only thing that has ever made me feel worth anything my entire life: my intelligence.

I was classified as Gifted when I was eight. My sister was the Dancer, the Nice One, the Pretty One. And those things are all true of her. But I didn’t have those titles. I wasn’t nice. I didn’t dance. I’m not pretty. All I’ve ever had is my brain. So when I was told that my brain really was special, or different, or Worth Something–well, I latched on to it.

So I had a bit of a breakdown, after lecture. Because what she said, in a nut shell, told me that nothing about me was actually Different, or Special, or Worth Something.

I should clarify that I have never been the smartest person in a classroom. My best friend was Valedictorian and is a kind of smart that I can only hope to be. I spent every class for  six years aspiring to be her level of intelligent. So it’s not like my Professor walked into the room and completely crushed my soul.

It was more like she took this thing that I had as an Identifier for the past twelve years and set it on fire.

My sister is still the Nice One. The Pretty One. The Good Cook. The One who Works with Animals.

Now I’m not Gifted. I’m not Worth Something. There aren’t a lot of things I’ve ever wanted people to remember me as–if any, the only ones were Trustworthy, Loyal, Hardworking (oh man, my Hufflepuff is showing), and Intelligent.

So I’ve lost an Identifier. And I know that College is all about Finding Yourself–but this isn’t exactly what I imagined.

-HH

Failing and Flailing

I fell asleep thinking about writing this post and, as a result, had a really shitty dream. So I have to write it out now–when I smell like an Almond Joy (because of a coconut oil treatment to my hair) and I still haven’t picked out an outfit for my date with Boyfriend and am overall just stressed–or else it’s going to haunt me all day.

In tenth grade I failed my Chemistry final, but I got a C in the class. That was the closest to school-related failure I’ve ever reached.

This semester I received a 54 F in a class. I will have to retake it.

Here’s the thing. I can blame the Professor–because, well, he was awful. I can blame the material–because, well, it was difficult for me. But the fact of the matter is that I have to blame myself.

I went to class once a week, instead of the three times a week I should’ve been going. I didn’t read the chapters I should’ve read. I didn’t do the project worth 15% of my grade. I didn’t study for the final the way I should’ve. I dropped the ball this semester, and I couldn’t bring myself to care until I saw that big, fat F show up on my Final Grades Report.

Now I’m dealing with those consequences.

There are a lot of factors outside of school that affected my ability to do well this semester–and not just in the class I failed. Before this semester, my collegiate GPA was a 3.75; after this semester I will have a 3.2. Overall, I just did worse academically.

Frat life got in the way, big time. This is my first semester as an active Brother, meaning I let myself get wrapped up in events and sucked into late night dinners when I needed to be studying, doing homework, going to class. I didn’t bother to find a balance; I just prioritized one over the other.

I had a lot going on with my family, and a lot going on with N.A.U.L. I lost a lot of sleep. I didn’t let myself develop good study habits. I prioritized other people’s happiness over my own well-being–which, normally, is how I roll. But I guess I’m learning that I have to find a balance there, too.

Also, my anxiety has never been worse. There were days I couldn’t leave my room without feeling on the verge of crying because someone looked at me. I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until it started to calm down and I realized I had been missing out on a lot of stuff-academically and socially. I’ve been thinking about going to therapy to deal with my anxiety. I just don’t know how to have that conversation with my mother.

Internal and external conflicts manifested itself into a lot of nights filled with “I have to take care of me” instead of “I need to finish this assignment.” I’m discovering it’s about balance. I had forgotten about that balance–had forgotten what it’s like to need it, because it’s been so long since I had socialization and friendship and my mental health to prioritize.

I’m figuring it out. Next semester will be better, and I’ve got a month to figure it out before it has to be.

-HH

Phase 10: 4 Sets of Finals and 1 Week-Long Panic

I knew I was going to write today–and, around 6 o’clock this evening, I thought I knew what I was going to write about.

I wanted to talk about dating someone who’s your polar opposite. About finding balance, if you can, or if you’re doomed. About when is too early to start talking about things if you know they’re going to be problematic later?

And then the rest of my night happened. And now I want to talk about dating while having anxiety. Actually–I kind of just want to talk about existing with anxiety.

The thing about anxiety is that once one thing sends you into a tizzy–once those cyclic, obsessive, negative thoughts start–it’s really hard to get out of it. Which is to say everything triggers those thoughts.

Last time I was in a relationship while having anxiety, I wasn’t fully immersed in it yet. I didn’t know what was going on, just that sometimes I needed to cry and hyperventilate and pick at my skin because I felt like I was going to crawl out of it anyway. I’ve spent the past year being single and discovering all of my anxiety on my own.

“My own” being operative words here. See, this semester I have people. I have more people than I know what to do with. People who snapchat me, who ask me to lunch, who invite me over, or to hangout, who call me, who walk me back to my dorm, who ask me (before they ask anyone else) to study with them. I didn’t have people before. I had me, my anxiety, Cameron, and my Roommate. And the only person who actually dealt with my anxiety was my anxiety.

I thought that having people would make me feel amazing, wanted, assured. And it does, to an extent.

But I’m discovering recently that there is such a thing as having Too Many People. Especially when you’re just getting into a relationship.

I’ll be honest, I don’t understand why ‘normal’ people date people like me. Why they find joy in being with someone who second guesses everything about the relationship, who misreads (and over analyzes) every conversation or glance, who goes down one road assuming they’re being followed–when, really, it turns out you’re not even in the same neighborhood. It’s exhausting, I’d imagine. I’m exhausting.

So I’m overwhelmed a lot, recently, because I’m trying to figure out what’s worth bringing up, what’s not crazy to analyze or question. It doesn’t help that my Boyfriend and I got together two weeks before Finals.

I will (probably) receive my first ever F in a class this semester. I’ve been secretly harboring a lot of feelings over it: shame, embarrassment, guilt, anger, disappointment, and anxiety.

On top of all that, because it was Finals Week, all my People wanted to study with me, or take lunch breaks to eat with me. And I love my People. I do. But even Not-Exhausting People get Exhausting when you stress the way I stress while having anxiety the way I have anxiety.

My Boyfriend doesn’t get my anxiety in that he doesn’t personally understand it. He listens, and does what I ask him to in order to help me calm down. He’s perspicacious, and attentive–he knows I’m tired before I know I’m tired, knows I’m hungry before I voice it, knows when I’m asleep or just pretending, knows why I’m giggling at nothing. He’s known since I arrived at his apartment that my anxiety levels were high.

“If you don’t want to go, tell me now,” he said as he pulled on a hoodie. We were going to play a card game at a friend’s. I knew everyone that would be there, but I was already dreading walking into the house. He’s the type that can go all night, though. He loves people. And we’ve both been so stressed with Finals. I wanted him to have fun.

So we went. And I did have fun! We played Phase 10, and I lost (terribly) but it was okay.

My Big texted (and Snapchatted) me while I was there. She kept asking if I was okay (because of my F) and how I was feeling (because I was socializing) and what was I going to do about the fraternity camping trip this weekend and she loved me and was I sure I was okay? And I felt bombarded. Too cared for. I thought I wanted to be coddled, but I really wanted to be left alone.

Then we arrived back at his apartment, and as I started doing a coconut oil treatment in my hair, my Boyfriend offered Taco Bell. We bickered as we discussed what I wanted.

“You’re really complicated,” he grumbled as he sat down. “Has anyone ever told you that?”

And, no, they hadn’t. But I have. Plenty of times.

I worry that my complicated will be too much. That he thinks the anxiety is endearing now, but will get sick of it soon. That he can leave the anxiety and me without thought–which, he can. It’s just frustrating because I can’t.

I don’t like being anxious like this. I wish I could stop apologizing every time I think I’ve done something wrong. I wish I stopped thinking everything I did was bothersome. I wish I didn’t feel like the world is ending because of an F. I wish I wasn’t thinking about skipping out on something I have been buzzing for because the thought of three days of socializing with no breaks is absolutely terrifying.

I wish I wasn’t like this.

I wish I knew what I wanted. From my Big I wanted Space. From my Mom I wanted Space. From my Friends I wanted Space. From my Boyfriend I wanted to be reassured. There is no consistency.

No method to the madness.

But Finals Week is over. I just took a hot shower. I don’t have to decide to go camping until noon tomorrow, and I had nachos for dinner.

I’m hiding in the back room while he watches a movie with friends. The bed is warm, and the outside is cold. It’s almost Christmas.

There is still good. I still have good left.

-HH

Finals

It’s Finals Week. My third Finals Week, to be exact.

This semester, academically, has been a struggle. I’m a Humanities major for a reason; I’m terrible at science. I decided to knock out my last two Gen Eds this semester, and I’m worried about the way my GPA will suffer because of it.

I never wanted to go to college. My entire life I wanted to write books, and I always thought that my books would be most good, authentic, influential, what have you, if I graduated high school and jumped into real life. Real life, after all, was what I wanted to write about.

But I have always been the Smart One, in my family. I come from working class, uneducated parents. I was denoted as Gifted when I was eight years old. I attended an Academic Academy my entire middle/high school career. In my family, I had the brains. And that’s really all I ever had–besides my voice, but that’s for another time.

So when Senior Year came around, and everyone was applying to schools and picking majors and Finding Their Way–well, that’s what I did.

I don’t regret it, not for a second. My mom would never admit this to me, but I always felt like if I didn’t go to college she would’ve taken it like a slap in face. She worked hard to provide for me so that I could dedicate all my time to my studies. And she may not be putting me through college now, but she’s part of the reason I made it this far. I owe it to her to be the first person in my family with a Bachelor’s–the second ever to graduate from college.

In the light of Finals Week, it’s hard to find that same justification.

I have disappointing grades and low motivation to improve them.

I probably need to see a doctor about my anxiety.

I probably need to recognize my unhealthy relationship with food.

There are a lot of things I probably need to do.

Instead I will go to my history final exam review. I will chug this mocha from Starbucks. I will read three Chapters of my Astronomy textbook, study the Quizlet for German, fill out the study guide for Women and Gender Studies. I will try to go to bed at a decent hour.

I will do it all again tomorrow, and breathe when the air doesn’t taste like stress anymore.

-HH

Not What You Got, It’s What You Give

I am not the girl who gets–not the boy, the joke, the invite, the crown. If there are three things in my life I know to be true, that’s one of them.

The other two?

Karma and Soulmates.

Karma’s a pretty easy one for me: you receive from the universe what you put out into it. My life may not better or worse than it was when I was sixteen, but I’m a lot happier now because I’m a lot less angsty–and, so, it feels a lot better.

Soulmates is a little harder, because my views on it have changed. I used to think you only had one soulmate. That they were your Forever. But I think it’s probably (a lot) more complicated than that.

There’s Binta. She’s my Soulmate. She’s been my best friend since sixth grade and she gets me so well I usually introduce her as my sister, or my soulmate–not my friend. She and I have suffered through enough similar traumas that we have always inherently understood each other.

Then there’s Kayla. She’s my Soulmate. She’s also my polar opposite. She grew up in a progressive, religious, lower upper class household with two parents who’ve been married since college. She has always known privilege in ways I never will, and she is my best friend. On an intellectual level, we’ve always understood each other.

Then there’s N.A.U.L. Or–Mark. He’s my Soulmate. I used to think I was gonna spend my life with him. But over the past two months I’ve realized why we have built and maintained our friendship.

He reminds me of my dad. He has a lot of the same addiction problems. He ignores his feelings the way my dad did. He’s what my dad would’ve been like if my dad had had me in his life.

Which is to say–better.

I love him because he needs me. Because if I was not there to be his Panic Attack Battle Buddy, to talk him down from suicidal thoughts, to listen when he wants to talk about his problems–he would be dead. And so I do the only thing I know how to do in response to a situation like that. I open my heart and I love. I love him. But–and this had taken me awhile to understand–I am not in love with him.

I am not the girl who gets. I give. Unconditionally and to a fault.

I have so many pieces of me that I’m willing to give that it doesn’t even make sense that I would have only one Soulmate. There are so many parts of me to give. It’s hard to do that, to want that One Soulmate Forever Meant to Be, when you feel like you don’t get anything in return.

Recently I’ve been getting. I’ve been feeling valued. I’ve been finding value in myself. And having it reinforced from others.

It’s been amazing. And weird. I spend time with people I care about because I want to, and because I feel like they want to be around me. But when I leave them, my anxiety spikes. Should I have said what I did? Should I have done that? Do they think I’m annoying now? Should I just stop participating?

But I don’t. I’ll keep trying. Because I think I might be getting.

And it feels pretty damn good.

-HH

P.S. Thank you Tesla (the band) for my koala-tea blog-post-title.

A (Sweet, Delicious, Human) Potato

It’s been almost two years since I got into my first serious relationship. It’s been almost a year since I got out of my first serious relationship. I haven’t dated, or even tried to, since then.

Friday night was the post-Induction party for my fraternity. That night, at my second-ever college party, I learned that drunk college adults are the equivalent of sober twelve-year-olds at their Spring Fling–glow sticks included.

By that I mean that once one person heard who I’m interested in in my frat, so did the drunk girl next to her, and so on. I thought it would end terribly. It actually worked out.

Turns out, he likes me too! And yes, he was drunk at first. But no, I wasn’t just a convenience.

I DD’d for eleven people that night, him included. I brought him home last, and we went up to his room. We laid in his bed, fully clothed, and talked.

“I’m wide awake,” I told him. “So I’m going to keep talking.”

He didn’t mind. He talked to me about his family, and asked about mine. We talked about fraternity stuff. We talked about liking each other.

“How did you not know?” I asked. “I thought I was obvious.”

“When we were leaving the volleyball game Wednesday night, people started teasing me about you–‘So what’s up with y’all?’ And my heart hurt.”

“What does that mean?” I laughed. He mostly was talking into his pillow, words slurring together. He wasn’t saying it directly, but I knew what he meant: I didn’t realize how I felt until it was pointed out to me.

“There was a literal pain in my chest, and I was like ‘Oh no. I’ve never felt like this before. What do I do?'”

It’s been a long time since I felt like I was experiencing such genuineness in a person I know is interested in me. Everything felt comfortable but not boring and fun but not exhausting.

“I’m a potato,” I told him. It’s not a new phrase for me to use; most of my fraternity have heard me say it several times about myself.

Throughout the night he’d responded to my saying that with different adjectives, “A sexy potato. A beautiful potato.”

His drunken and tired stupor left him with only a handful  of adjectives before he stopped having good responses.

“A delicious potato.”

And as I burst with laughter, he groaned. “I’m drunk, please ignore that.” But I didn’t.

Instead I told him about N.A.U.L. (I introduce N.A.U.L. as my Best Guy Friend to new people). “I called myself a potato the other day to my  best friend and he told me I was never allowed to bring it up again, but that if I am a potato, I’m a sweet potato.”

He groaned. “I messed up. I missed my opportunity.”

I laughed and liked him a little bit more.

Then I started to worry aloud. “What if things don’t work out between us and we’re both still in the fraternity and–”

He tightened his arm around me. “Don’t think about that.”

So I didn’t.

I was the little spoon, and we’d been quiet for awhile. I was worried he was asleep when I asked, “Will you regret this in the morning?”

“Nope,” he said immediately, tiredly. “Never.”

And I squeezed his hand, and asleep we were.

He was right. I woke him up around 8:30 with a joke from the fraternity GroupMe. We barely left the bed all day, talking and joking and laying on each other. He gave me a donut. We talked with his roommate.

At 4 I left after napping on him.

And I don’t know what we are. But I’m excited to find out.

-HH