Should Show.

I first began writing the beginnings of this blog post on various sheets of BARBIE notebook paper. It was a week ago, and I thought what better way to pass the time waiting in lines at Disneyland, than to jot down a few thoughts and feelings that were circulating themselves in my head.

Evoking a sense of mystery as fellow park guests looked eagerly on at my sloppy scribbles, hoping to catch a glimpse of my perplexing content, my thoughts came to life on paper, and I found myself in the beginnings of a story line that simply begged to be told.

The story takes place at a sports bar in Brentwood, California. In the midst of March Madness, the group I was with naturally attracted a few raucous basketball fans who made themselves comfortable at our table.

There was conversation, laughter, and then came the inevitable request to exchange info via Instagram. Forget Facebook, phone numbers, and Snapchat: it’s the Instagram handle people are most interested in nowadays.

Instagram apparently is the legit way to determine who people are and what they’re like. Based on followers, you can garner access into someone’s popularity, social status, attractiveness, and of course see who that person is. And if they don’t have an Instagram? Serial killer!

Never mind the fact that you just spent the last few hours talking to said person face to face. No no, that’s all pushed to the wayside as your Insta name is now typed, searched, and found for others to creep on.

In the middle of this exchange, the one guy with whom we were conversing most with (or “putting up with”, I should clarify), suddenly asked what my phone’s background photo was. Shy, I showed him the photo, which was a photo of me, and he immediately asked if I was a model.

“Noooo. I used to model a little, but not anymore.”

Oh. Well that explains everything then.

“What does that mean?”

Only models would have background photos of themselves on their phones. Because models are selfish and arrogant.

“Excuse me?”

Now his comments shouldn’t be something to take to heart because 1) they’re false and the only thing I’m taking away from their meaning is that it makes for one hell of a topic to write about and 2) this is the same drunk doofus who later thought it prudent to send me…. pictures of a particular appendage of his.

But his comment stayed with me.

See, without really knowing who and what my story was, he assumed I held certain personal traits, such as vanity and selfishness, because I was attractive and happened to have a selfie as my phone’s screensaver.

What he didn’t realize, in his drunken and probably sober state as well, was that I wasn’t arrogant, selfish, or even a model. I was a sensitive young woman who had this photo on her phone as a reminder of the feelings she felt when it was taken. This photo was one of my most cherished pictures, taken after I had finished writing my heart out, leaving me vulnerable, sensitive, and profoundly beautiful in her skin.

That selfie didn’t symbolize a narcissistic woman who loved looking at herself. It represented a brave decision on my part to practice self-love. That my purpose for even being in this Brentwood bar was for my health and happiness, a brave declaration that I was there taking care of me.

I had a rough winter, and after moving back from California, I’ve been thrust into the family business, without a chance to really take care of me and my health.

I went down south this past weekend to take care of that. After months of 40+ hour work weeks and confined days spent indoors avoiding the cold, I decided it was high time I treat myself and get out of town for a change of scenery. And doing so wasn’t egotistical of me, it was an act of self-love, which this world seems to have a tough time separating.

In an effort to get better, I’m making small changes in the name of taking care of me, decisions I believe are more powerful than ones created out of necessity of “should.”

Despite slowly coming to terms with the fact that I am not lost, I still struggle with this expectation of being someone the world assumes I should be.

I should have a successful job in my field I studied in college.

I should have a boyfriend.

I should have it all figured out and displayed primly on my Instagram layout.

I’ll just keep shoulding all over myself if I go through life following the expectation of what I should be.

And what this Brentwood bonehead assumed I should be was an afront to all that I practice and embody. It was never his business to comment on the intimate photo of me, but I thank him for giving me something to write about because it’s something we, as a collective whole, need to distinguish.

Self care isn’t selfish.

Whether self care for you is kissing your reflection in the mirror, hugging your curves at night as you snuggle in for the night, cancelling on that concert that you’re too depleted to attend, or having selfies on phone is not for anyone to pick apart and criticize. There’s this stigma that taking care of one’s emotional, physical, and mental well-being means you’re not thinking of others; when in reality, it gives you the tools to better support other people. See, if we forgo taking care of our needs and wants, we end up stretching ourselves too thinly and we end up cranky, sad, and critical of people who do put priority on their health (case in point to my bar buddy).

In fact, I find it more of a selfish and vain notion to think that we need to caters to others without paying any attention to ourselves.

Being attractive and feeling good about it shouldn’t mean I’m selfish and vain and yet it seems this guy thought the two should go together.

It doesn’t bother me though, for in the end, he’s the one who created the should show of embarrassment.

 

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Oh Boy.

Deep breath in. Exhale out.

Deep breath in. Exhale out.

That has been my routine for the past seventy-four hours, a routine that is physically helping the weight that’s currently chained itself around my heart, to be lifted.

Sifting through a variety of emotions that range from confusion, attachment, heartache, and longing, I sit here in Alaska having just returned from a delightful weekend down south.

A weekend that was spent in the company of a friend, a male friend, the kind of friend who, since dropping me off at LAX, has clouded my judgement and muddled my emotions.

This friend of mine is someone I’m attracted to and whose company I genuinely enjoy. Flying down there, I armored myself with the intention of having a good time and not getting emotionally invested in someone who’s definitely not in the right place to date. 

3500 miles of distance between us and one of us currently studying an esteemed degree (you guessed it- not me), our circumstances make anything more than friends (with benefits?) near impossible.  

But there’s this charming chemical called oxytocin that got in the way of my plans. Coupled with the realization that I may like this guy a little bit more than I intended and you’ve got yourself one emotionally distressed young woman. 

Having been through the bolts to the bathroom to weep in silence, the crushing reminders of my fun trip popping up whenever I find evidence of his cat’s hair in my bag, and grisly rips through tissue packs whenever I feel a wave of heartache come my way, I’m confused now more than ever as to where I stand with this guy. 

It’s the 21st century and we live in a day and age where we’re socially encouraged as women to be be emboldened in our choices when it comes to who we sleep with. 

Problem is, a vast majority of women (myself included), succumb to natural and biological chemicals that cause us to become attached and emotionally invested in someone after intimacy. We suddenly become slaves to our emotions, which pressure us to hunker down and attach to said person, as part of a survival method that we’ve been programmed to do since the beginning of time.

It’s natural, but it hurts like hell when we leave their apartment and wonder if we’ll ever hear from the guy again.

As if I wasn’t confused before where I stood with him, I had to make it more complicated by dousing my senses with the love drug.  

I was talking to my friend about this, a friend who happened to be the first whom I shared my weekend with (over a fabulous meal at the Blue Bayou restaurant in Disneyland-really no better place to gush about my love life), and her advice resonated best with me. 

Upon hearing about my emotional roller coasters (plural, there have been many), she encouraged me to feel what was happening. Let the tears flow, let the reminders affect me and let it ride, the ups and the downs. Suppressing or ignoring telltale signs that my body is in dire need of a good cry only makes my thoughts and feelings fester in an uncomfortable way. And as childish as I feel to succumb to the inevitable bout of tears coming on, I know the best way to move forward is to let myself feel whatever it is I’m feeling. 

This pickle of mine is temporary, my friends assure me. Catching up on my bathroom floor with another one of my besties on the phone, I was assured that it was COMPLETELY normal to feel what I was feeling and that it will eventually clear, leaving me with a better understanding of what I’m actually feeling, and not what my body is tricking me into thinking I’m feeling.

Having the knowledge that my body is simply following biological processes helps me understand my emotions and will eventually help me move forward in whatever direction I choose. Despite strong urges to call him up on the phone and delve into what our relationship is, I know that at this point, this “what makes women crazy” drug (oxytocin, gotta love it) is completely disrupting my judgement and that I need time to get through it’s high before I’m back to a safe and sober state.

Eventually, and in due time, I’ll fess up and open up to the guy about our relationship, if there even is one. But it’s not happening while I go through this natural phase of attachment. It’ll be after I have time to reflect and proceed forth with a clearer understanding of what I’m feeling

In the meantime, I’m going to let myself cry it out and when my emotional state has been washed thoroughly through with tears, I’ll bravely make the move to talk to him again. 

Luckily, I’ve got some incredibly wise and been-there-done-that friends who have been able to kindly help guide me through this first of mine, with inspiring stories and encouraging words.

But boy, oh boy, you gotta love those emotions.  

 

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A HUGE thank you to my friends Whitney (for spending a day at Disney with me) and Jordan (who maternally helped me through many tearful breakdowns).