I am not one for New Year’s resolutions, it’s not a tradition I ever really felt the need to participate in. Sure, as one year ends and another begins, things creep into the background and there’s always a passing thought about things that I would like to see change in the coming year, but actual concrete resolutions? It never felt genuine enough, which would only have inevitably led to failure and disappointment. However, I’ve been reflecting on this past year a lot lately, and one thing that has become painfully obvious is that I need to work on being able to be proud of myself. So that will be my resolution: Take pride in who I am and the things I accomplish.
This is maybe a bit of a tricky line to walk, because I’m fully aware I’m a mostly-privileged white guy and haven’t faced any kind of REAL hardships, so being proud just seems kind of…gross. I’ve always been way too aware of people who were full of themselves, who I deemed egotistical, but it has gotten to the point where I have tried so hard to not be THAT GUY, I’ve become perhaps an even more obnoxious iteration by going in the complete opposite direction and am completely self-deprecating ALL OF THE TIMES, and I need to be okay with being proud of myself once in a while.
In the past year and some odd months, I’ve managed to lose and keep off 30 pounds (though, to my annoyance, I need to accept that I will never be “lean”…my body just isn’t built that way and will always be broad, no matter how much weight I lose). Beyond that, I’m eating healthier and my weight seems to be more regulated. I used to, quite literally, lose and gain 10-15 pounds over the course of only a couple days based entirely on what I ate the day before, which I know can’t be very healthy. I have now been working out regularly, eating regularly and healthier, and now on the very occasional days when I might do a little splurging, my weight remains constant. All my pants are too big (which requires daily belt use, and annoys me to no end, but there are worse problems to have!), and am starting to have noticeable muscle tone, which isn’t something I thought I would accomplish after no longer being a competitive swimmer. I still have further goals I would like to meet in this area, but my body issues aren’t something I’ve really talked about much, and this journey isn’t something I’ve shared much of with anyone, but it’s something that I deserve to be proud of and I should be okay with that.
A year ago I was in a serious, committed relationship, which at the time I tried telling myself was happy, but if I am to be completely honest with myself, I knew pretty much right from the start it didn’t have a lot of long-term potential. We were able to have a lot of fun together, but we were also more than capable of making each other miserable. The relationship left me mentally and emotionally battered (and I really do not use that term lightly…things were royally effed up), and any semblance of self-confidence or self-worth I may have had prior to that was completely destroyed by the time it ended several months later. I had a lot of relationship-centered baggage to begin with, and this experience only increased that exponentially. It took me a while to recover from that relationship, or at least, recover enough to be able to start dating again (because really, do we ever fully “recover” from relationships?).
During that time while beginning to date again, I met some truly awesome people, had some great experiences, but nothing that ever turned into a relationship for one reason or another. I even recently very unexpectedly found myself in love. I tried telling myself for a while that I wasn’t actually in love (okay, still trying, and probably will be for a while to come), because that would be preposterous! I tend to look at relationships fairly rationally, but this was some straight-out-of-Hollywood bullshit I have never believed to be real life, but it’s impossible for me to deny that I felt something special in a way I never thought was very realistic and saw a potential for something wonderful that I don’t think very many people often get to experience, but, as it turns out, was unrequited, which is beyond foolish of me I’m completely aware. It has left me struggling with a lot of internal turmoil, because in addition to the usual heart-broken thing, it is also making me question my very instincts, which is something I have always put a lot of faith in and have usually been spot on. How could something I felt so deeply, so viscerally, be totally unreciprocated? But instead of focusing on that, I want to be able to be proud of myself. My heart has taken a lot of beatings, I have had a lot of various iterations of relationships over the years, many of which have left me hurt and broken, and my heart has also reacted by spending VERY long periods of time asleep and lonely, but through it all, I am apparently still capable of loving strongly and deeply, and that is something I want to be proud of, even when it hurts. Because that’s kind of amazing, right? Despite the brokenness, despite the scarring and the feeling of loneliness, I haven’t yet given up, and I am still willing to love so incredibly deeply and passionately.
A year ago I was in a job that everyone said I should feel proud for choosing. I was “serving my country” and supposedly making personal sacrifices, but it was a lonely job. I didn’t feel challenged, I didn’t feel like it was helping me grow in any significant way, and I certainly never felt fulfilled. Now I am getting my Master’s degree in a highly-ranked program and in a fairly decent position of being eligible for the national academic honors society associated with said program which is something that is fairly important to me (well, before finals I was in an even better position. Above mentioned heart-vomit kind of threw me off my game a bit). I love the things I am learning, I see their practical value, and I have a lot of motivation to work hard, which isn’t something I really experienced during undergrad. I used to LOVE school, and it was always important to me, but after graduating high school, for whatever reason that all went to shit. Maybe because I didn’t really like my undergrad institution very much, or maybe because my program wasn’t really providing the kind of academic experience and practical knowledge I would have liked, so it was disheartening to go through that change of not really caring about school anymore. But now, I am loving my program, I love my professors, and am proud of how well I am doing in my classes (though, I need to be WAY better at making friends with my fellow students…I am never one to make the first move towards friendship, and for whatever reason I apparently come off as very unapproachable which makes for a fairly lonely experience).
I don’t often word vomit, especially publicly, and especially especially when it comes to feelings, but maybe by putting this out into the world, it will be a reminder of where I have been and the things I deserve to be proud of so I don’t forget, because it’s far too easy to overlook my accomplishments in favor of the failures.
I am surprised by how much sex I have had in my life that I didn’t want to have. Not exactly what’s considered “real” rape, or “date” rape, although it is a kind of rape of the spirit - a dishonest portrayal or distortion of my own desire in order to appease another person.
I said yes because I felt it was too much trouble to say no. I said yes because I didn’t want to have to defend my “no,” qualify it, justify it - deserve it. I said yes because I thought I was so ugly and fat that I should just take sex every time it was offered, because who knew when it would be offered again. I said yes to partners I never wanted in the first place, because to say no at any point after saying yes for so long would make our entire relationship a lie, so I had to keep saying yes in order to keep the “no” I felt a secret. That is such a messed-up way to live, such an awful way to love.
So these days, I say yes only when I mean yes. It does require some vigilance on my part to make sure I don’t just go on sexual automatic pilot and let people do whatever. It forces me to be really honest with myself and others. It makes me remember that loving myself is also about protecting myself and defending my own borders. I say yes to me."
Margaret Cho, “Yes Means Yes” (via thewastedgeneration)
This is important. And is making me a bit weepy. This is something I certainly identify with and have struggled with, and has definitely resulted in more than a little baggage on my part.
The Veronica Mars movie is scheduled for release on March 14th, which is Pi Day, which in addition to the mathematical significance (not really but okay), can also be used to abbreviate Private Investigator. Was this intentional, or just a ridiculously nerdy coincidence that nobody else could possibly care about?