Truth Day 01 - Something you hate about yourself

Photo Credit: Kym Shumsky (Relishing.ca)My friends mean a great deal to me. Friendship, in general, is something I value. Having people in my life that support me through good times and bad is priceless. And I try to be a good friend in return. But I hate the way I handle friendships.

It goes back to a situation over 10 years ago that hurt me deeply. In one fell swoop, I lost many friends and my ability to trust. It’s something that I’ve consciously worked on for the past couple of years. Because I think friendship is important.

I’m realistic enough to know that I’m not going to connect with every person in my life on a deeper level, but I’m reaping the rewards of opening up. There is no group better than my Book Club (BK). There is no group better than the women who’ve become my friends who lose weight together. There are countless other people in my life outside of these groups who lift me up and encourage me constantly.

I am so blessed.

And yet, I still hold back. I still fear intimacy in friendships. The fear of possible rejection stifles my openness. I hate that about myself, but I don’t want to be hurt again. Recently, my fears came true in the ugliest possible way. 

Despite that, I know that there is no better feeling than knowing that a friend has your back when times are tough. That lesson has been hammered home to me as well in the past couple of weeks no less than a couple dozen times. 

I am beyond blessed.

And, one day, maybe this thing I hate about myself will become a thing of the past.

*****

This post is all about truth - Day 1 of my 30 Days of Truth. I’m not the only one, so here are others if you’re interested in getting to know other bloggers.

Coming to terms with my left-brained self

When I was in high school, I was in the gifted program, and we did all these "special", "enriching" things like the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator (I'm ISTJ, by the way). Actually, I tied on the T/F back then and I'm pretty sure I'm still sittin' on the fence today, which makes for some weird mental and emotional tug-of-war episodes at times.

Myers-Briggs wasn't the only test we did. There were tons. We had a teacher who seemed to have an obsession with promoting self-awareness so we could make better choices for long-term careers. One of the other really short exercises we did measured where on the range between left and right brain you fall. In other words, are you extreme left or right or somewhere in the middle? I was secretly devastated when my result put me just left of the middle. I wanted to be right - far right. I wanted to be creative and artsy. I was in band, I played the flute, sang at church - solos even! I was musical! Why was this stupid test saying I was left brained?

Probably because I answered honestly and it came up with the right result. I fought that result hard. I graduated from high school and left the next day to go on tour with a singing group. We toured for three months and then I went back and spent about nine months gearing up for my audition for music school - as a voice principal. I had some serious cajones to walk into that audition. I was asked questions about my singing background. All I could say was that I was in band in high school and had no formal vocal training other than a few weeks to prepare for my audition. I can't remember ever thinking that I wouldn't get in. Everyone who heard me sing was so complimentary - I had to be a shoe-in, right?

Wrong.

I got in - on probationary status. Which meant I automatically lost a year because I had to spend my first year basically proving myself. (You have to pass four juries to graduate, so I was going to have to double up at some point to be able to graduate in four years - or sign up for the five year plan.) I'm pretty proud of my first year of music school, though. It was hard work, but I loved it and I did well - except for learning arias and other classical music. I loved singing, but I didn't LOVE singing and classical training was way harder than I expected. I didn't have a passion to perfect my instrument the same way that others did. I should have known that I was a fish out of water after the first semester, let alone the first year. But I didn't ever admit it to myself. I got caught up in the pride of being accepted to the prestigious Florida State University School of Music...blah, blah, blah. I didn't know what that meant when I was accepted, but I had a lot of friends who were happy to help me learn. So, I just kept plowing through, trying to attain the title of music educator for myself.

My second year started out pretty well, though I didn't have the same connection with my teachers that I'd had the first year. By second semester, I was really sick of Sight Singing/Ear Training and usually missed a class or two each week. I also ended up with a horrendous case of laryngitis - I lost my voice for about a week and couldn't sing for over a month. My vocal coach cancelled my jury and said we'd do it in December. I gladly agreed even though I'd have to play some major catch up later on. I was already having doubts about the direction I was taking and this gave me some time to figure out what I really wanted to do. After participating in some real class observations and doing a couple of practical teaching assignments, I was experiencing some definite second thoughts about the direction I was choosing for myself.

Everything came to a head when I got a call in June during the summer break. It was my frantic vocal coach calling to say I had a jury scheduled for THAT week. She'd told my accompanist but he never bothered to call and tell me. Nevermind that I hadn't practiced anything since school had let out six weeks before. Nevermind that I was supposed to have juried in December - six months away. I had to be there or I was out. We had a quick practice two days before my jury and my teacher and accompanist said I'd never sounded better. It felt great, too. Saturday, I walked in to my jury scared to death. I had six songs "prepared". I got to pick one to sing and the jury would pick one. I sang my choice and it went well. I sang their choice and it went pretty good. Then they decided to throw me a curve ball and pick another song - one of the two I'd prayed they wouldn't choose. I faltered and then fell flat on my face - metaphorically of course, but it might as well have been literal.

I didn't fail my jury, but I didn't pass either. I was going to have to do it all over again. By that time, music school was starting to feel like an ill-fitting outfit. I'd tried it on, spent time making adjustments and checking myself out in the mirror, but no matter what alterations I made, it was just never going to fit right.

I don't regret trying it for a moment, but I left that day and never looked back.

I learned a lot about myself in those two years spent in music school, though it's taken me over ten more years to realize that I'm just not an artist. I can be creative, but not in an artsy way. My brain is still firmly pointed to the left and I'm okay with that now. I can't relate well to my friends who are passionate about music and poetry, but I do enjoy a good quality tune - especially if I can sing to it. I hope to instill love and appreciation for music in my son and I'd love it if he played an instrument one day, but if he ends up being left-brained too, then we'll probably have a cleaner house.

I have abilities that many "artsy" folks sometimes lack. The differences are complementary, not competitive. Neither direction is better than the other, despite my best efforts to squeeze myself into the "artsy" mold.

Do you now or have you ever wished you were wired differently?

"Getting to know [me], Getting to know all about [me]."

 

I’ve spent the better part of the last two months thinking through 2009 and all that happened throughout the year. It’s taken me that long to process and get some perspective on everything that happened. A couple of key events in 2010 have impacted how I view 2009 as well. All I can say is that the last 14 months have been about nothing but change in every area of my life. The changes have taught me a lot about myself – things I don’t think I knew before.

I had a little baby boy in my life a year ago and he’s grown into a little boy. Though he will always be my “baby”, there is nothing “baby” about him anymore. He is a boy with determination, stubbornness and intelligence that make me smile daily with pride. Every new word he says, every new game he plays, every new adventure he goes on all give me a thrill that this is my child growing up and learning so much! Is there anything at all more exciting than watching a child explore this world? It’s hard not to have a radical change in perspective when you get to see the world through your child’s eyes.

At the start of last year, I was on maternity leave, but within a couple of weeks, I was back at work full time. I had a job that I thought I was going to be in for the foreseeable future. It didn’t take long to realize that things had changed. Despite that I had no plans to leave, but I wasn’t enjoying my work anymore. When I was laid off in May, it was one of the worst experiences of my entire life but I can’t say I was surprised or even all that bothered to be leaving. My biggest fear was whether I could find a new job quickly enough to avoid the difficult circumstance of being forced to make other major changes in our life circumstances.

Being laid off for five months right on the heels of a year’s worth of reduced income due to maternity/parental leave was challenging, but we made it. On a bit of a whim, I applied for a job at a company that I’d long known but never really thought about working for. I didn’t get the job I applied for but was offered another position – one that we all felt was a better fit. Having been there now for almost 5 months, I can say I feel well-suited to do the job but it doesn’t give me quite the same sense of satisfaction that the work at my last job did. I haven’t figured out how I feel about that yet.

In a way, it’s good. I can leave my work at the office at the end of the day. But there isn’t as much opportunity for me to be creative and use some of my other valuable skills. That’s been hard for me to come to terms with, but I’m in the unique position of being on contract. So, I get to check out my employer for over a year while they check me out too - longest job interview ever! If I prove myself, I could end up with a permanent job offer or, at the very least, a strong, positive reference from a well-respected organization.

The role I’m in has reinforced some of the knowledge of myself I was gaining throughout the year. I have had to face a number of difficult situations that could have gone one of two ways – I could either lose my temper and let my anger and frustration reign free, telling them exactly what I thought without reservation. Or I could respond with dignity and grace. I hate confrontation. I always have and I probably always will. I’ve often used classic passive-aggressive techniques to avoid confrontation. Who doesn’t?

To be brutally honest, I only barely managed the dignity part of my layoff and, initially, I think it was only because I was in shock at how I was treated. By the end of my final week, I just wanted to be able to say that I truly took the high road and conducted myself with civility, respect and integrity – fulfilling my role right down to the very last day. Perhaps the experience helped me to deal with some of the situations I’ve found myself in since starting my new job. I’ve discovered a wealth of patience inside of me that I truly never knew existed before. Perhaps it was always there and becoming a mom has forced me to use it. Maybe it wasn’t there and I’ve just been forced to develop it. Who knows? I’ve learned that I can handle confrontation. I can face it head-on, keep my cool, stay rational and dignified.

When I realized all of these little tid-bits about myself, I figured that I might just finally deserve the title “adult”. Maybe 2009 was less about change and more about getting to know myself and what I’m capable of doing through the circumstances I’m thrown into. Either way, it’s been both empowering and enlightening. I still have a long way to go, but I’m finding I like myself a little bit more this year.