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Epiphanies / My Recent Mental State
Girl Genius, Oggie, Jenka, Studio Foglio, Jagermonster
 Okay, I know I said my next post would be about Las Fallas, but today, in between panics and class (okay, during class but in my defense he was talking about sports and once he got through the odd Basque stuff and into the soccer stuff, it was really boring), I had some positive introspection, which, lately, has been rare for me, and writing it out helps. So bear with me on this. (and please read)

For a while during this process of breaking apart and putting myself back together, due to this whole existential crisis thing I’ve been experiencing since about mid-February, I’ve thought about the concepts of self-image and self-worth, and lately I’ve realized that I have a rather shoddy sense of both.

Aside from the slightly-more-than-occasional, transient phases of Sparky egotism or sour-grapes superiority, I’ve never thought of myself as all that special or all that interesting. Lacking real-life friends for most of my childhood/adolescence was a big part of that, I think. Sure, I had (and still have) people I’m close with on line, but there’s a difference. With the internet, you can be a bit more idealized. People on the internet don’t need to know that you bombed the math quiz, or that you always eat lunch alone on a bench because no one will let you sit with them, or that you’ve had to beg people to be your lab/gym/whatever partner. You can tell them of course, but they don’t get the same rumor mill real-life cospecifics do. And until recently, I never really posted pics of myself online (I still don’t, usually), so no one really knew what I looked like.

Until relatively recently (and this is still a process), my sense of self-image was stuck in high school, which for me, was awkward and hellish. The awkward phase for me began at about age 11 when I stopped growing upwards and started growing outwards, going from A to DD in less than a year. Short, top-heavy, thick-waisted, hair that was both greasy and tangly (the greasiness aided by the detangler I used), wearing the day-in, day-out combo of glasses, baggy jeans, and baggy t-shirt or sweater. My style, such that I had of it, could at best be described as “practical”, “body-hiding”, and “geeky”. Never pretty.

The thing is, I do like to dress up. I get a kick out of wearing pretty dresses and pretty shoes and I have several lovely dresses I wish I had an excuse to wear more often. But back then, every time I tried to dress up…it never worked. I tried too hard, and it showed, and all I got was more derision. So eventually I stopped trying. It was easier to hide in baggy clothes and sneakers. I kept that up in college, too. I was used to it, after all, and unlike my hopes, for me, college was just as isolating and cliquey as high school. All that had changed, it seemed, were the classes.

I also have a lack of skills. While I can manage mascara (sometimes) and lipstick, I have no idea how to do eyeliner, or eyeshadow, or foundation, or to put my hair in anything more complex than a haphazard braid. My default style for the longest time was a tight-pulled ponytail at the nape of the neck, because it was easy and it kept my hair out of the way.

But I still loved dressing up. When I started LARPing, I had a chance. Like Halloween, LARPing provided a way to step outside of my own self and be someone else, and get to have fun and look good doing it. I could pretend to be someone else. Someone more interesting than boring old me. I mean, I tried to be more interesting (read: exaggerating), but I never really tried just being me. I had the mindset of “well, I tried that back in middle school and a few times in high school and it sucked” and every other foray into going sans artifice just proved to me that I was too geeky and socially awkward for society. So until recently, I stopped being who I was, and kinda forgot about it. I was so wrapped up in being who I thought others wanted me to be, desperate for attention and for someone to like me, that I shoved the real me in a closet. So a lot of lately (ie, over the past few months) is me trying to figure out who I really am. It’s taken a lot of self-examination and introduced a lot of self-doubt.

But even after all that, I still never thought I was anything special. Call it the Dunning-Kruger effect or lack of self-worth, or whatever. But I’d always see people who were better than I was at stuff, and so concluded that if there was always someone better, I must not be very good. Silly logic, yes, but it stuck. I still saw myself as the fat, short, awkward, unathletic, top-heavy nerd with glasses (nevermind that I’d been wearing contacts since freshman year of HS). No one had ever called me pretty save my mom (and I figured she’d’ve said that no matter what, even if she does (rightly) still bug me about my weight). Everywhere, I saw people that were acknowledged by other people to be good-looking, and when I compared those people with my own assessment of my looks, I came out the loser.

I still have a hard time with this. I look into the mirror and see only flaws: crooked nose, bushy eyebrows, general facial asymmetry (therefore signaling to potential mates that I have poor genes, according to some theories of sexual selection), visible pores, chubby belly, greasy hair that’s sort of bushy, like some strange Granger/Snape hybrid, hair whose color can best be described as muddy brown with a bit of red in it. I’ve got breasts that I still think are a bit too big, my hips and rear are big, my feet are like skis, and I have rather short legs and a short torso. “The Hobbit version of the Venus of Willendorf” is how I used to describe myself to myself.

But sometimes? Sometimes I look in the mirror and go “You know, maybe I do look kinda good.” My lips are nice and red, and now that my hair’s shorter, I’ve realized it has a bit of a natural wave to it. And since being off the meds, I have lost weight (down to around 130), though I blame that on being immensely stressed lately as well. But I like the way my rear looks in my new miniskirt, and maybe my breasts are nice. Like a lot of things lately, it is a process.

Self-worth is also a process. Some days (a lot of days) I don’t feel like I’m anything special. Maybe it’s because I am depressed (I looked up the criteria for a major depressive episode. I fit most of them), and maybe it’s because when I took a look at myself, a really hard look at who I was behind all the artifice I’d built up, I wasn’t pleased with what I saw. For one, I’m rather insecure. Lately especially. If it weren’t for my mother and my two best friends, I’d be even more of a basket case. For another, I’m a paradoxical coward. Stuff like traveling alone in a foreign country, or rollercoasters, or scary movies – I can do those with ease. But I can’t watch the Matrix or read anything that gets too in-depth about the nature of reality or entropy and the heat-death of the universe without getting all panicky and having nightmares full of existentialist doubt. I have a whole list of topics I’m avoiding reading about at the moment because they don’t help my mental state. I haven’t been able to finish the third Science of Discworld book for this reason, either.

I also tend to want attention from others. I’m a people-pleaser by nature, and I like people to be happy with me and want to be around me. I need to learn how to make my own happiness and not rely on outside sources. It’s just very, very hard. I tend to tell people what they want to hear, or at least I used to. I did identify that as one of the things I needed to work hard on changing, and I’ve gotten a lot better. I’m not as afraid of telling people I disagree as I used to. I still hate/fear arguments. I’d rather avoid conflict if I can.

And I’m a person who needs other people, I realized. I need regular human contact or I get lonely and gloomy. If I’d done this study abroad in an era without Skype or IM or email, I don’t know how I’d’ve coped, I tell you that. I’m being more social in my group here, though, and am trying to interact more. It doesn’t help that my default response when I’m really stressed is to retreat into fantasy stuff, but I am getting better!
I honestly think that despite days (like yesterday) when I feel like I’m losing progress, I am getting better. Writing this down really helps, as does talking about it. I tend to keep bad stuff inside and it makes me bitter, and for why? My bitterness isn’t hurting anyone but me. Like a girl in my group said to me today, when I confessed I keep having existential doubts (in this case, about religion), she said: “If there is an afterlife, it’s going to be awesome. If not, well, then we ought to enjoy what we have and not worry.” And that’s right. Because if I spend all my time worrying about my eventual mark on history, or what the future holds….it’s a waste of time. I should be enjoying what I have right now. Like this weekend. I’m going to Gibraltar! Isn’t that awesome? I can’t wait!

So I guess the point of this blog post is kind of an insight on my mental state lately (as if the bunch of depressing poetry my deviantart has been getting lately isn’t enough of a clue), and how I’m feeling better. As always, advice is appreciated. Thanks for reading.

Next post will be Las Fallas, I swear.

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I’ve been into blogging for quite some time and this is definitely a great post.Cheers!

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