I Don’t Fit in a Box…

There are so many times when I want to scream the title of this post out loud.  People want you to fit into a nice neat package that makes sense to them.  Except I don’t.  Oh, there are all sorts of words for it.  Highly Sensitive Personality or HSP is one term I’ve come across.  Another one is that I have a high EQ or emotional intelligence or something like that, I would have to look it up.  More labels and more terms to describe the fact that I am a bit of a complex person emotionally.  I don’t do it on purpose, I just was made that way.

Trying to explain to someone why I feel the way I do, I usually have to simplify it for them.  For them A = B.  For me A = B but then it also equals I, P, Q and Y.  Even my husband who is highly intelligent cocks his head sideways at me like a puzzled dog at times when I try explain why I am feeling this way or that.  Trust me, I wish A = B and sometimes it is that simple and other times it’s not.  

A person who is HSP usually doesn’t like crowds and interactions with a lot of people can drain them.  This is true of me to an extent.  Depends on what the crowd is for and who the person or people I am dealing with.  It is not that there is something wrong with me, it is just I am sensitive to things other people are not.  A study published showed that after you reach a certain point of IQ, up in the ther higher intellect levels people rate themselves as less happy than their counterparts with lower IQ’s.  I believe it is because their minds never shut off and there are too many outcomes, too many outliers and too many things to consider to ever feel completely content and settled.  Of course that is strictly my own theory.  Maybe there is a thing as being too smart.  

Some of the most creative and genius people struggled with just day to day functioning.  Look at Van Gogh, ultimately creative and cut off his own ear.  I won’t bore you with other somewhat depressing examples but there seems to be a theme among the gifted. For me it is that I sometimes don’t feel like I fit in even in my own life.  My mind won’t shut off, I’m always over analyzing and over thinking things.  Sometimes I must be reminded to relax and have some fun.  Enjoy what I have.  I always feel I must be achieving something, doing something and being productive.  It’s hard for me to shut down and have “down” time.  I find my down time best spent riding my bike or hiking.  It combines peacefulness and doing “something” which seems to work for my personality.

Sometimes in my work, I have a hard time letting go of the fact I have to wait for someone else to do their job especially when it interrupts my day or puts me behind.  I am sure it is because I do not have control of the situatuion and I just make myself miserable by being angry and anxious.  Laid back people wouldn’t even bat an eye but my Type A ways just works against my inner peace.  I need to learn to take a deep breath and remind myself, the world is not truly ending.  

As I venture into a new chapter of my life where my kids are grown and I’m thinking now what, I struggle with the fact I don’t have a set plan.  Before my life was on this particular track, whether it be surviving and keeping a roof over my head, raising my girls or taking care of my mother so I didn’t have time to think of “what’s next?”  You can revisit your old dreams and then you realize well they don’t matter anymore because you’ve changed and those things don’t seem important.   You’ve even put yourself in a box thinking this is who I am.  Then one day you wake up and you realize the box is too small. You’ve outgrown the parameters of the life you had once lived.

I will admit, it is a bit scary thinking of what’s next in my new chapter.  Right now I’m finishing a degree program I have been working on for 10 years though not consistently.  Most of my adjustments have been that my life has changed dramatically and I am not a caretaker anymore.  Being a caretaker took up a lot of my time.  I now may have a whole day where I don’t have anything I “need” to do and that feels very unsettling at times.  Though I used to dream of that day when I wouldn’t be so scheduled and taxed.  I look around and think, Okay, what do I want to do today?  What should I do? My Type A-like personality starts listing all these things I could do to be productive.  But what am I being productive for?  Usually nothing significant.  Busy work or chores that I can do any time.

As I crawl out of my self-made box, I have started to think of new possiblities.  Publish that book.  Travel more.  Start my own small-business on the side.  Mostly I want to learn how to really take care of myself.  I have a tendency to put everyone and everything else first.  I grew up in a very dysfunctional family and I tend at times to fall back on those types of relationships when things become difficult in my life rather than putting energy into the relationships that are good in my life.  I just recreate that which does not work only to be miserable.  Pretty stupid if you ask me.

I need to not worry about what others think and focus on what I know about myself.  Stop letting my own fears, other’s doubts and my own doubts keep me from creating a life that fully makes me happy and fulfilled.  Not a perfect life of course, that will never happen but there are a few areas in my life I need to work on.  I don’t want others to put me in a box so I shouldn’t do it to myself either.  One of my biggest impediments is my own self-doubt and fear.  And some of it is still following old defense and coping mechanisms of my younger years.  These aren’t needed anymore, so I need to leave those behind too.  Drop the chains in that box I’ve kept myself locked away in because it felt “safe”.

When you grow up in an unpredictable and volatile environment, your need to feel safe is paramount.  You will avoid risks and challenges just to keep things on an even keel.  You are afraid to give more of yourself, to open up your heart fully.  Just as a rape victim might keep themselves unconsciously overweight as a protection against people or men taking notice of her, you come up with defense mechanisms.  Then you have to shed the layers and become who you were meant to be rather than living in fear.  Bad things happen and it wasn’t your fault.  It is only until you let go of your coping mechanisms and behaviors that you can really be free.  And it’s a hard lesson to learn.  And even harder to fulfill but not impossible.  

I’ve been on a long journey to overcome much in my past that I never talk about because frankly it doesn’t need rehashing.  Every day is one baby step into a better life for myself.  Every time I set a boundary, say no, or decide maybe that wasn’t good for me is a triumph.  But now I need to start living my life a bit more in the direction I need to go.  To focus my energy on my talents, my hopes and my dreams or at least figure out what some of my new dreams will be.  I am hugely blessed in this life with a supportive husband, three amazing daughters, wonderful friends and family. I

In conclusion, I’ve come a long way baby but I’m not even close to being done yet.  IT’s time to shrug off my self-imposed chains and step out of the box… It’s time to stop being afraid and just do it.  It’s time to really start living.


Smart Phone Zombie

Hi I’m Laura and I’m a Smart Phone Zombie.  

The other night, my husband and I went out for a casual dinner five minutes from our home.  Two minutes into the five-minute drive, I impulsively reached for my iPhone only to find the pocket in my purse empty.  A moment of panic hit me until I remembered I had been charging the phone on my bedside table.  The phone wasn’t lost but I felt as if had left my arm at home.  A limb was missing.  Once my heart rate and breathing returned to normal, I thought that is a ridiculous response to something I had once not even owned.

There was life before cellphones, I remember it.  Where people left you messages on a machine that took tiny cassette tapes.  The internet was something in the future and not the lifeline it has become.  So I took a deep breath and thought it’s only for an hour.  Dinner with my husband without my face in my phone was relaxing.  I wasn’t trying to split my attention between him and the cute cat videos were on Facebook.  After dinner, we got ice cream and took a drive out in the country as the sun was starting to set into a perfect summer night.  Since we bought a house eight miles outside of town, we like to drive out to see it, oh about every night.  As if stalking the place will convince the current residents to get the hell out so we can move in earlier than Labor Day weekend.  But mostly because we are trying to make the transition real in our minds and well, we like looking at our future abode.

I opened the car window and let the warm air rush in over me.  Closing my eyes, I could determine the different crops in the fields by the smells as we drove past.  Hay, corn, soybeans.  Spending my earliest years on my paternal grandparents farm in Bumfuk, Missouri, schooled me in the smells of the country.  Cows, chickens, hogs.  These are the reminders of the best memories of my childhood.  Running free over all those acres with my cousins was always a grand adventure in otherwise tedious growing up years with an alcoholic parent.  I had been missing this on all our other drives.  Because I had my head down and my mouth gaping open like a zombie.  Uuuuggrrrhhh…  That’s probably how I sounded to my husband when he’d talk to me or ask me a question to get my attention.

So the next day, I put my phone in a drawer and left it there several hours.  It’s an addiction, much like cigarettes, I found myself wanting to go into the bedroom and retrieve it.  Like for a smoker and you just ate a satisfying meal, but you are craving that nicotine with a vengeance.  As a former smoker, I know what this is like.  You are a slave to an object.  Cigarettes I finally quit.  Now I have to find a way to live with my smart phone as well as my tablet as I can’t completely give them up like smokes.  Tonight my phone has been in the drawer so far for 2.5 hours (who’s counting?) as I’m on mandated hiatus until bedtime around ten p.m.  I keep wanting to go open the drawer and peek at the screen like an anxious kid waiting for homemade chocolate chip cookies to come out of the oven.  It’s pathetic how addicted I am.

I am writing this post on my tablet but I am only allowed to open my WordPress app.  I have to ignore the numbers by my text message balloon icon and my mail.  Whatever is in there, has to wait. No peeking at Facebook either.  I have to admit it is really hard.  It only takes two clicks to cheat.  The other day I was watching a movie my cousin suggested called Local Color about a young artist who mentors with an older Russian artist.  There is a scene in the movie where the young man is painting outside, plein air, and the neighbor woman comments on his painting.  He remarks that he isn’t living up to his potential.  For some reason this statement has stuck with me.  I’m always focused on goals but not really my potential which maybe is part of my problem.  Was I living up to my potential?  No.

One of my passions is writing but outside of this blog, a few articles and stories published, at forty-five I haven’t truly applied myself.  I’ve finished one novel rough draft but can’t stand to go back to edit as the story drags too much.  I’m on my fifth or sixth rewrite of my current novel.  In my mind unless I have perfect conditions to write or maybe I have too much going on, I really don’t write much or pursue my potential.  My smart phone addiction has a lot to do with this.  It distracts me from being productive in so many ways.  My addiction is also a good distraction from working toward my goal of publishing a book, exercising, finishing that home project and the list goes on and on.

We only have so much time in this world.  I realize that I waste a lot of my precious life to my addiction.  After that phone-free drive the other night, I realized I was actually calmer and happier.  While it is important that I am available if my daughters or husband need me, I don’t need to be a slave to the electronic brick.  It’s past time to put that down and get back in the game.  I hope I can find a happy medium of having my phone and not missing out on life or not pursing my passions in life, developing my potential.  I’ll post an update soon…  

There’s a blue moon tonight.  Smart Phone Zombie Out.