Ordering Off-Menu

So yeah. Hi. It’s been a while. I hope you’re doing well. Suffice to say that there’ve been some big changes in the last few months and I’ve been adjusting / recovering. Well, I guess that’s not quite enough detail so the short version is that I left my job, packed, gave away or sold all my worldly goods and bought a one way ticket back to Canada. You know, just everyday stuff. Right.

Anyway, I had planned that my first post back would be titled “Go Big THEN Go home” (because I’m clever like that) but somehow I could never quite get started on it. And while I did write other things, I wasn’t in a place to do the self-reflection that this blog is all about. So I just ignored the little WordPress icon on my Ipad and just tried to find my feet again. But I’ve been flailing. Well, it’d be more accurate to say that I’ve been keeping very still and quiet and kind of hoping that something would happen that I would have to react to rather than life requiring me to take action. And being winter in Canada, it just kept getting darker and colder and I felt less and less like doing anything even while I felt more and more stuck.

So what’s all of that have to do with my title? So it occurred to me yesterday, as I came up with yet another plan for what I might do with the next few years of my life, that I’ve been doing a lot of planning and wishing and talking lately without actually doing much. And I was wondering why I was in that rut and then in the shower this morning, I finally found the metaphor that I needed to express this feeling.

I’ve talked before about taking risks and I used a food metaphor then to talk about how to evaluate a risk and decide if you want to take it. And this entry is on a similar vein.

You are incredibly hungry. It’s been a long day at work and you ended up not taking lunch and now you’re at an unfamiliar, very, very expensive restaurant with all your friends and family. And you are just staring at the menu in a mild panic because you have no idea what to get. Everyone else seems ready to order and you’re just hoping that the waitress gets to you last. And maybe you ask people around you what’s good here and what they would recommend and it seems like everyone has advice but nothing clicks, nothing seems like it will fill that gap, that need you have. None of those suggestions are right for you.

So you go back to the menu and the steak catches your eye. It’s safe, it’s easy, you’ve had it before, what could go wrong? You close the menu, finally feeling ready and then someone asks what you decided and boom! Your cousin says that they once had the steak here and it was horrible. And your dramatic friend asks how you dare copy them as they were ordering the beef au jus and it’s practically the same thing. And someone else asks if you’re really sure that’s what you want and now you have doubts. So you go back to the menu. And the panic escalates because you know that the waitperson will be over soon and everyone will be waiting on you and there’s conflicting comments as someone asks if you just can’t pick something and someone counters that you should make sure that you get what you want.

And you try again. And again. And your choices keep getting questioned. “Just a salad? Aren’t you hungry?” “Pizza? You can get that anywhere.” “The sauce is part of the dish, you can’t just ask for it on the side.” “Oh, I know someone who got so sick after eating that.” And finally part of you is just tempted to skip right to ordering dessert but you just can’t handle the looks of disapproval. Who eats dessert first, really? Not adults. And especially not adults at a fancy restaurant.

You’d think it wouldn’t be that difficult, it’s just one meal right? But you’re really hungry and it’s a really nice restaurant and it feels like everyone you know is there and it feels like this is the most important meal of your life and if you get it wrong, everything will be ruined. Forever.

So where was my big, long, probably way-too-odd metaphor leading? Well, I’m sort of at a point of starting over. And I don’t know what to do. I keep exploring options and seeking opinions and I get super excited about something only to let my own doubts and the comments of other people pull me back down. I feel like whatever step I take next is going to set me on an inescapable path. And that’s terrifying. What if I choose wrong?

In the past, I’ve copied someone else or let them order for me, to extend the metaphor. I abdicated my own choice to spare myself the responsibility of choosing. And I tried to convince myself that of course I wanted to try that dish, even if the voice at the back of my head reminded me that I hate green peppers and am allergic to mussels so maybe I better speak up against the mussels in green pepper sauce.

And wow, this is getting really long so I hope that you’re just so excited I’m back that you don’t mind that I’m just rattling on and on and on.

Anyway, I suppose the short story is that only you know what’s best for yourself and worrying about people’s reactions to your choices or just going along with someone else’s plan won’t help you find your own way.

At some point, I’m going to have to stop waiting to see what will happen to me and start deciding what I want to happen. And I have to accept that I might make a mistake and that’s okay. Hear that, self? It’s okay if you make a mistake. Just keep repeating that until you believe it. However long that takes.


Getting what I want

So I’ve talked before about the difference between need and want in a relationship. And I’ve been thinking lately about the difference between wanting and being wanted. In my last post, I talked about being active in one’s own life and the I vs me debate applies here as well.

You see for a lot of my romantic life, I’ve looked to see who wants me, not for who I want. I let myself be the object in the scenario, not the subject. Well, for the most part; CR was a situation where I took the lead. And you know what? I got exactly what I wanted at the time. Of course, that situation led to the realisation that I wanted something more, something different and that led me to mistake being wanted by someone who wanted the same things as I did as me wanting that person. And that was a mistake on both parts. The Easter Egg Hunt can get confusing sometimes. And isn’t this a linktastic post?

And I’m guessing that some of you may be saying “Hold up, isn’t me wanting someone making them the object in this scenario?”

Yes, you are indeed making this person the object in this scenario. But wanting and going after what you want carries the risk of not being wanted in return. Presumably (and hopefully), you will respect what this person wants and if it’s not you, you’ll accept that with grace and dignity and icecream and sad music and maybe a few comments about how they chewed a little weird. And it might make it tougher to take that risk the next time. But wanting someone is being active; just going along with being wanted is being passive when it comes to your own life.

And here’s what I’ve learned by settling for being wanted, for accepting a role as an object, by being passive: you don’t get what you want when you are just wanted.

There’s nothing wrong with looking twice when you find out someone finds you attractive but make sure that one of those looks is within yourself. Do you want them in return or do you need to be wanted? I needed to be wanted, I needed external validation of my own worth and honestly, it hasn’t brought me happiness. All the attention, the compliments, the sheer adoration, all it led to was a very long fall from a pedestal I never wanted to be on in the first place. And I can’t go through that again. I can’t be complicit in my own objectification.

Now I just have to tackle this crippling fear of rejection and hopefully, I’ll be on my way to getting what I want.

Reclaiming “I”

“Sam lied to me.” “Sam made me happy.” “Sam hurt me.” “Sam made me laugh.” “Sam betrayed me.” “Sam made me a better person.” “Sam made me angry.” “Sam supported me.”

So I was going to use gender specific pronouns for the statements above but I decided that I would use our old friend, Sam, for a couple of reasons. For one, while I may have specific situations and individuals to which those statements could be applied, I want both of us, writer and reader, to focus on the generalities rather than specifics. As well, I think that depending on which pronoun I used, the statements take on different connotations and I’m not really interested in what Sam actually did.

What I want to focus on is what’s going on with the ‘me’ in these statements. Think about where you’re putting yourself when you make these statements. Physically, you’re at the end. Grammatically, you’re the object. You are what’s being acted upon, you are the passive recipient of an action, not the active subject.

Now, the idea of “I-statements” has been around a while and to quote from the Wikipedia article, “I-messages are often used with the intent to be assertive without putting the listener on the defensive.” They are often proposed as an alternative to “you-statements” and are used as a tool to prevent conflict or improve communication between two people. I’m not sure if they are still the ‘thing’ in terms of interpersonal counselling or not and to be honest, I’m going to be lazy and not bother to research that issue as it’s beside the point I want to make.

What I want to talk about is the idea of “I” compared to “ME.” And I’m going to start with something weird and just ask you to look at how both words look. The way I imagine it, “I” is like a big, straight stick that I could use on a variety of ways. I could use it as a bridge, as a ladder, I could climb up and use it a look-out, I could even use it as a weapon if I needed to. But it doesn’t given me a lot of room to hide. If I stand by my “I”, I am exposed, visible, and potentially vulnerable if I’m not strong enough to carry it.

Meanwhile, to me, “ME” looks like a saggy little tent with a defensive wall. It’s not comfortable, with that saggy middle you’d be awfully squashed but hey, you’re safe within those walls, right? You can peek out the ‘windows’ in the “E” and see what’s going on without anyone being able to get close enough to see in. And while most days you could convince yourself that you can see what’s around you easily, I bet part of you is aware and worries that you’re missing something, a something that might get around your defences, might sneak up and upend your little “ME” tent. But it’s worth it, right, for the security and comfort of being able to have everything arranged just how you like it and to be able to blame any discomfort on outside forces beyond your control.

I’m not saying that we don’t all have crap that happens to us, crap that’s outside our control and that can completely disrupt our lives. And I know that I’ve used my own fair share of “me” statements and I spent some time in my own “ME” tent so sure that my happiness was dependant on what was happening to me and not what I was doing. But let’s go back to Sam and look at things this way: “Sam hurt me but I recovered.” You can’t really flip that around; “me” can’t recover, “me” can only be acted upon.

“I” can act for you, is a tool that you can use, can be a source of great vulnerability but also strength as you keep using it. “ME” is a place where you hide, where you have a limited outlook and see the world as something that happens to you, not something you can act within.

It’s terrifying to accept responsibility for yourself. To not hide behind anything, to discard any illusion that you are not an active part of this world, to understand that the only thing that stands between you and happiness is yourself.

So what about rephrasing those statements above? “I believed Sam” “I was happy with Sam” “I was hurt by Sam” “I found Sam funny”. Be the subject of your own story, not the object.

Going dark

I still have a lot of things in my head but I think I have to give myself a break regarding posting everyday. I’m just exhausted at the moment, mentally, physically and emotionally. My plans this weekend include pizza, tv and a lot of candy crush. Perhaps not the most healthy of coping mechanisms but I just need a break. The next few months are going to be crazy and I just need a slight lull before the storm hits.

I’ll probably still post sporadically but to be honest, I feel like I’ve been shouting in the abyss lately and I’m going to indulge in a pity party for one.

I know some people read this, I know I have friends, I know I have people who love and care for me but I’m coming down off the intensity of spending so much time with my family and it’s left me feeling even more alone than usual.

I woke up at 5am with my mind racing so, as is my habit, I relocated to my couch to keep bed for sleeping. It was about half an hour before my mind settled enough to go back to sleep. And now I just feel exhausted, mentally and physically, and if I didn’t have so much to do at work today, I’d definitely just go back to sleep for the day.

Ugh, I hate when I start my day wishing it was already over.


Now I know the whole ‘head in the sand’ thing is a myth but it’s a pretty widely known metaphor for pretending problems don’t exist so I’m just going to go with it.

I’m not really avoiding a problem, per se, at the moment; it’s more that I want to dodge reality as a whole. Or maybe I’m just waiting for my montage. I have a lot to do and not a lot of time to get things done and while I’m full of plans, I haven’t seemed to find my starting point yet.

And I know, I know, that I should give myself a bit of a break seeing how I just got back in the country a week ago but if you can’t be unreasonably hard on yourself, who can you bully?

Anyway, I’ll be okay once I write out my to-do list and frame a time line. The trouble is that Candy Crush is calling my name for some sweet escapism.

So, self, maybe it’s time to reframe this and look at what you have done. You’re unpacked (mostly), you had a great weekend with a friend, you’ve made a really big decision, you’ve informed most of the relevant parties of said decision, you’re adjusting to being back at work for the first time in six weeks and you’re dealing with some lingering jetlag. Maybe the ‘you should be doing more’ committee in my brain can take a few days off and leave me to my cheery music and falling candy. What do you think?


I’m writing this entry while sitting on my couch as my table is still full of things I brought back from Canada but haven’t put away yet. Now this clutter bothers me. I hate having my table filled and I’m stressed that nothing is in its ‘proper’ place. But have I clean it yet? No, I have not. I’ve just turned a blind eye to it all and am pretending that I never really use my table anyway.

I often joke that I have a brain like a magpie’s nest, full of weird collection of random shiny things that I often don’t even remember picking up. It’s served me well for things like trivia nights but when combined with a strong associative memory, it can lead to a lot of brain clutter. For example, I have at least three big blog posts, a few replies to emails, an emotionally taxing email, and about a half dozen reminders for myself floating around in my head at the moment. Any of these can be brought to mind throughout my day by a song, a random comment someone makes or even just picking up my iPad to play Frozen Free Fall and knowing I should be writing instead.

The problem is knowing where to start. Do I write out the blog entries so my thoughts are clearer when I go to write the emotionally taxing email? Do I do all my errands so I can mentally cross off all those reminders? Do I reply to those emails so I can get more feedback on decisions I have recently made?

I’m too lazy to go find it at the moment but I recently saw an illustrated quote about meditation. It said “When life isn’t busy, meditate 20 minutes a day. When life is busy, meditate 40 minutes a day.” Or it was something like that. The point (as I understood it) was that it’s when we are feeling most overwhelmed that we have to be sure to take time for ourselves. With regards to clutter, it might be easier to ignore it or run from it but it’s just going to grow and become more of an issue.

And honestly, I hate when the answer I work out for myself is to just go and face my problems. I know it’s best to get the words out of my head but it feels safer to have them in my head as opposed to out in the world, being read, being reacted to, doing stuff that I can’t control. It makes me just want to go back to sleep or play more silly games even though I know the words will keep bouncing around like a room full of five year olds high on sugar.

Ugh, self-awareness is the worst sometimes.