“I’ve seen people drink themselves to death,” my former therapist told me, “but you, you on the other hand might very well think yourself to death.” I sorta laughed when he said it, as did he- this didn’t really seem like standard therapist-client discourse, but then again, I didn’t really feel like a typical client. When you spend large chunks of your day around therapists and psychiatrists the veil wears thin in regard to the magic often experienced by folks on the leather couch.
He was right though, I tend to think and over think about things that many find simple answers to. Some of those things have very little consequences at all, for instance, my distaste for sport coats and lip-selfies, while others hold greater weight and meaning such as faith and belief systems.
Tomorrow marks my 7 year anniversary here at Skid Row Housing Trust and to commemorate, while also staying in the spirit of the aforementioned, below I am offering you a glimpse into the ramblings of my mind- 7 things I have recently pondered while commuting to work:
1. Dating. Good God dating is miserable. There’s a reason the only time I’ve written about it, it was satirical. I am convinced that people who think it’s fun must be masochists and never worry about going to the bathroom. I am an anxious dater…which is not a shocker, I am an anxious live-r. I don’t get asked out some crazy exorbitant amount but for the reason stated above, when I do, I am always a bit reluctant to say yes.* And don’t even think about trying to convince me to ask someone out, that will never happen. Ever. You want me, come get me. End of story. But recently something changed ever so slightly- I read a quote by Angelina Jolie where she stated, “I always play women I would date.” I didn’t really think about it before replying in my head, ‘I’d play me. I like me. Shit, I’d date me.’ It sorta shocked me at first, I mean, I know my flaws and they aren’t pretty, but then I realized ya know, in spite of those, I really do like me. I’ve put myself through hell getting here, it’s been a long and rough road- so much so that I almost missed that I’d arrived at this destination at all. But I did. I find there’s a lot freedom in knowing that I like me regardless of what anybody sitting across the table thinks. That said, I recently met a guy and shortly after our introduction stated, “if you think I’m great here, you should see me on Twitter,” so I will probably remain single for a really, really long time.
*I imagined as I wrote this part my grandmother reading this thinking ‘Ugh Rachel, don’t say that- you need to make yourself available!’ as I laughed and refuse to press delete.
2. I think it’s incredibly embarrassing that Christians are willing to fight over the acceptability of yoga pants. There are way too many horrific things going on in the world (read: OUR OWN BACKYARDS) for us to be wasting emotional energy on this. I am wearing yoga pants right now. That is all the words I will use for this topic.
3. I consider myself a feminist, I believe women are equal to men and can do far more than history has allowed us to…and I hate the term “mansplaining.” It shuts people down and is not helpful. Do I believe there are a-hole men out there that would like to tell me what, why and how I should feel as a woman? Yes. But there are also just as many who have really valuable things to say and/or are trying to understand what it’s like to live in skin other than their own and they feel completely disqualified simply because of their gender…isn’t that what we are prejudicially accusing them of doing? That word needs to go.
4. I am afraid our generation has become too sensitive and ready to throw down in the name of emotional self-defense. Hear me on this, I abhor offensive slurs and I will never stand for them- I would rather stand on the side of the oppressed over the oppressor any day of the week. Oppression is real and needs to be addressed with venom, but I fear that we are so emotionally charged that we jump on and want to crucify anyone who disagrees with us or misspeaks- even when accidental. We need to create more room for people to learn through healthy dialogue. It’ll be messy, it could be ugly, but it’s through conversation that we gain insight into what it’s like to be different than our own. I’ve been lucky to live my life amongst folks who are very gracious with my ignorance. They field my questions and gently point out when I am being narrow minded. I want to be like that. I don’t want to trigger-happy with bullets of fancy rhetoric and passionate prose, merely to say I have won and argument. I want to foster change.
5. I think moms should be more honest with one another. I recently talked to a mom friend of mine who confessed how difficult she finds motherhood. While it may not have been the most sensitive thing to do, when she told me that she thinks she’s the only one who feels this way I started laughing. I laughed because it’s just not true, I’ve heard similar sentiments from every new mom I know- and I am 32, I know a lot of them. Moms, get to talking, it’s simply not as comforting when I confess to similar feelings but am referring to mothering Bella, my pitbull…quite honestly, things get weird.
6. I think everyone else needs to be more honest with each other too. I am guilty of this. I don’t particularly like admitting to people when I feel like I am going to lose my mind or when I feel insecure or when I question our very existence. I’d really rather keep everyone believing I’ve got it all together and feel none of these things, but alas, I do. All of them. Almost everyday. The sooner we let those walls down with one another, the sooner I think we will find the real authenticity we crave- the kind that heals one another. In a recent conversation with a friend I confessed to him that I had a hard time trusting him because he was so honest and unscripted- and that made me sad. Sad for me, sad for him and sad for the current state of our society. I don’t think we give each other enough room to be imperfect or rather, be works in progress…but we all are, aren’t we? Let’s be better at this. In order to bring on this change we need to also be better listeners and acceptors of the truth. We need to stop trying to fix one another and simply be a friend. I am mainly writing this to myself, it’ll merely be an added bonus if someone else gets something from it too.
7. Faith confuses me. I will admit, I am a habitual doubter. I recently began compiling a list of all the things I question regarding my faith and good grief it multiplied quickly. I have questions about everything from creation to prayer to sexuality and everything in between. In all honesty, I often feel as though my faith is merely hanging on by a thread- but it’s a thread that has woven itself in and out of my life and held me together thus far. About a year ago I realized that I had, up until that point, spent most of my life teetering the line of commitment; having one foot in and one foot out all over the place, ready to bail when things got too uncomfortable. Relationships, jobs, plans, everything was held fairly loosely. In noticing this I decided to change- to follow through and to dig in my heels even when things were rough and uncomfortable. I’ve found this brand of tenacity to be especially poignant as of late, in regards to my faith. More than once I have found myself wanting to jump ship, thinking that maybe what I’d always believed about God was just too crazy…but I am beginning to think that maybe that’s ok. Perhaps doubts aren’t necessarily a bad thing and they certainly don’t merit the scarlet ‘D’ I once feared. I don’t think God freaks out when I doubt, in fact, if He is who I think He is, He welcomes my questions with more grace and freedom than I give myself.
I am learning to say it’s ok. It’s ok to be imperfect, to be confused, to have questions and doubts and to not always have the right answer. It’s ok to hate dating or struggle through motherhood. It’s ok if I spend 90 minutes reading about Bruce Jenner’s gender identity…wait no…no, that’s probably not ok. But it is ok if I think I cry too much and yet fear I am far too insensitive. It’s ok if I over think most everything and then make a mistake because I didn’t think something through. It’s ok to be afraid to open up to people and it’s ok to hate sport coats. It’s even ok if you hate yoga pants. It’s ok. It’s all ok. I’m ok. You’re ok. We’ve just got keep going, moving forward as the works in progress that we are. We are by nature learners and growers and are constantly changing and it’s going to be ugly and messy and totally weird, but you know what? IT’S OK.
It’s been a fun 7 years. I am lucky to have spent them doing a job that I love. Maybe next week I will write a reflection on that– but not today- today I am going to share this with you, panic a little, as I always do when posting something new and then over think what to eat for lunch.