Treat Others… And Yourself

A long conversation with my boyfriend this early morning gave me huge insight into something.

I enjoy writing, particularly fan fiction and my opinions (gee, what gave the latter away?), but it dawned on me less than half a day ago I’ve been writing fan fiction for twelve years – nearly half of my life!

I never put thought into it or considered it a hobby or noticed it becoming one. I don’t recall what sparked it. All I remember is I started shortly after I watched “The Little Mermaid” when it came out on DVD in 2006, when I was 12 years old. It was the first Disney movie I ever watched, and what introduced me to Disney to begin with. I don’t remember that being any sort of inspiration, but it’s closest I can think of as a reason I may have started writing.

There were other hobbies I tried to develop later on, but I failed at them, despite genuinely liking them. As it turns out, it’s not always a bad thing to be selfish.

When I wrote, it was always for myself. Even if I made it public, and I do enjoy sharing, I was still writing for my own sake. I did it when I was bored or had some random idea pop into my mind. Most of the stories I write are kept private. As a pre-teen, I kept it secret partially out of embarrassment because they weren’t good (not to suggest my more recent stories are), but being a reserved person even back then, I didn’t care for anyone to know anyway.

But when I start drawing or playing some games or learning languages, it was for other people from the start. Drawing was sparked by my then huge love of Winx Club and jealousy of others’ amazing art, and the goal was becoming skilled enough to create fan art to share with the fandom. After finding the Sims community, I played the game more and more to create stories to share with the community. I first began learning another language in second grade, but when I got older and tried to study on my own, it was for the sake of being able to communicate with other people, not because I wanted to study. And I should mention I hated writing too… when I was forced to do it.

None of those reasons are necessarily bad, especially not the last one. But the pattern there is I became miserable with those hobbies because I was doing them for other people’s sake, not my own. Yes, I truly liked them, but they reached a point of solely being done to share with other people for their enjoyment. I stopped caring about my own. Realizing that, it’s no wonder they eventually died when I tired of trying. Yet, I never tired of writing stories, nor can I remember ever feeling burned out. I once wrote eight pages in a day. In the huge world of literature, that may be amateurish at best, but for me, it was a big deal because I wasn’t trying to.

This is not restricted to hobbies either. I did poorly in a number of things, particularly school, because they were for the sake of pleasing someone else. For a while, I succeeded in school over, but after a certain age, being a people-pleaser became too exhausting to keep up and I stopped trying so hard just to hear some praise that meant nothing to me because I didn’t want to do it in the first place, nor was I getting anything valuable out of it. Yet, I’ve discovered I am good at finding friendships, as I’ve made friends even when trying to avoid it, and I am good at holding my own relationship. But I am good at those things because although they involve other people, they are still for me. My friendships and my relationship make me happy, which is why I’m rarely hesitant to and very much enjoy doing things for my friends and my boyfriend. And the reason I hold them so highly is because they care for me. What I got out of friendship is love (platonic and romantic) and happiness I didn’t find elsewhere (please forgive the cavity-inducing sweetness). And I clearly have no problem sharing my friendships with the world!

Of course, there’s such a thing as priorities and some things have to be done, no matter how dreadful they are. This is not about that. What I’m referring to are things that are optional (yes, that now includes school). The truth is I have missed those hobbies. I miss when I did draw in my sketchbook, drawing either from imagination and tips I read, or trying to recreate a specific picture. I miss when I played video games because they relieved my boredom and I was interested in continuing the game’s story, not trying to create a story from the game to upload (though I have been slowly getting back into this one). I always hated studying, but I did like to try reading books in other languages after some weeks of classwork in my language classes, and much of the time, I could. I didn’t care I couldn’t understand what it was actually about (because I couldn’t translate quickly). I just enjoyed I could read it. I once got fun out of reading an Italian dictionary when I was still taking Italian class in tenth class, and I used to play around with DuoLingo, an app for learning languages, for the fun of the games. There may be other hobbies I’ve dropped as well, but I don’t recall them.

All along, the burn out wasn’t from doing too much, but from trying to give so much. During most of my childhood, I heard how “giving to others is a gift in itself” and “it’s better to give than to receive”. Maybe there’s such a thing as too much giving. As I said, I rarely am hesitant to give to those I care most about because I also enjoy sharing. It’s much simpler than I’m making it sound. It makes more sense to go through so much effort for someone you really love instead of dozens or hundreds of strangers you’ll never meet.

My boyfriend asked me if there’s any way to reignite those former hobbies. After realizing what I did, I think there may be. If I choose to try picking one or more of them up again, I have to remember who they’re intended for: me. They’re for myself and my pleasure. If I make them public, it’s because I want to have another place for them, not because I’m after attention and recognition. I realize those can be good motivational tools for some people, but I’m clearly not one of them. For me, hobbies are much more fun when it’s my enjoyment I have at heart. Thinking only of myself is selfish, but this is not exactly hunger I’m talking about. I’m talking about pastimes. I’m positive no one’s getting hurt.

However, I don’t think I’ll ever overcome the shock of taking twelve years to discover this. I now fear for what else I may be oblivious to. Can I trade this “identity crisis” thing for some more sketchbooks?

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To My Best Friend

Today is my best friend’s birthday. We’ve known each other for six years (and counting), and there’s not a day I’m not grateful for her.

We don’t see or even speak to each other much because of what goes on in our own lives, but we try. The one thing that makes me miss my high school years is we walked home together every day. And besides that, those years can die in a fire.

I don’t know what she thinks of herself, but I know what I think of her:

  • She is a wonderfully kind and strong person who works hard and deserves her dreams more than anyone I know.
  • She’s an inspiration to me. Seeing her get ahead with her life makes me happy for and motivates me to keep going with mine.
  • She’s fierce. She doesn’t give up. But she’s kind. She doesn’t stomp on those beneath her.
  • She loves to help others and she gives herself a lot. Sometimes, even if it means putting her needs behind for a bit.
  • But she knows what she deserves. She knows she shouldn’t be treated unfairly.
  • She gives her all in what she does. From a high school student to a regular worker, that hasn’t changed.

She’s someone to be admired and I’m so glad our friendship didn’t falter as high school friendships typically do after graduation. Whatever her goals are, she has me behind her.

Happy birthday, Jen.

Your Friends Lost You

Lately, I’ve seen a somewhat popular post from Whisper going around. I won’t post the image, but the quote is: “When I say I won’t tell anyone, my husband doesn’t count.”

I’ve always been neutral about marriage. This is one of those things that pushes me toward the more negative side of it.

My boyfriend and I are not married yet, but he does want to marry me and I’ve already agreed, so we will marry someday. However, if I ever catch myself thinking “Well, I’m getting married, so soon, my friends won’t matter anymore”, that’s when I call off the wedding. This works the other way around too. If I ever found out he was being distrustful to his friends because of me, I’d call it quits. I am not going to be someone’s reason for being a jerk.

I used to read often that newlywed couples, particularly the wives, tended to lose their friends when they got married. However, if that quote gives any suggestion to married life, it’s no wonder why. They didn’t lose their friends. They decided their friends no longer mattered and chose to permanently put them aside. Perhaps people have different ideas of what “friendship” means, but for me, if I cannot trust you, we cannot be friends.

I love my boyfriend and I am content with the idea of someday being his wife. But I also love my best friend. She is like a sister to me, and she was in my life four years before he was. She is not going on the back burner. Yes, I talk to my boyfriend about my best friend, and vice versa, and I’m hoping I’ll eventually have a chance to introduce them to each other since they are the two most important people in my life. But if she ever comes to me and says, “Please don’t tell anyone this”, he will not know. If I ever do reveal something she wanted me to keep secret, I’ll apologize.

That’s what real friends do.

Continuing to respect my friends does not make me a bad girlfriend, nor will it make me a bad wife. On the contrary, letting him be the reason I stop doing so is what would make me a bad partner.

I’m Not Leaving

The last time I made a post like this, it was in December 2013, and I’m not linking it because all but one of those things are completely and wholly untrue now.

Recently, I started thinking about Disney’s upcoming, new Disney Princess, Moana. I plan to see it in theaters with my boyfriend and it will be the very first Disney Princess movie I’ve ever seen in theaters. What crossed my mind was if I’d acted on any of suicidal thoughts I’ve had in the past, that wish wouldn’t be becoming reality.

In truth, I have those thoughts more often than I feel comfortable admitting. I suppose it’s not really bad, but aside from my boyfriend and my best friend, the things I list are usually small. Video game series, television ones, art and stories I’ve created, even this blog. I’m happy to know these things. While I still hold the belief I’d prevent my existence if I could go back in time to do so, since I’m already here, I don’t want to leave.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with my self-worth and value as a member of society. I very much do, as I’m sure I’ve made evident. Even as I type this, those thoughts of if I’ll ever be more of a contributor than a tax burden are going through my head. Every so often, those thoughts do take over and become very powerful, but the upside is it usually passes within about two days. A very mentally painful two days, but two days nonetheless. It’s not enough to make me wish I wasn’t an adult or make me miss my childhood.

This past weekend, I was with my boyfriend and I realized I frequently call his house “home” when we’re together (“Are we going home after this?” “Who’s home?”). In the latter example, it might make sense because I’m asking who’s at his home, but the former example is obviously including myself. He’s fine with it, but that was the first time I caught myself doing that. I do feel at home with him, not only in his house, but in the state and city he lives. Not so much I’d dare venture around it alone, but enough to have no anxiety about ever going out there. If it were possible and I knew for sure I wouldn’t become homesick for the city I live in, I’d stay there for a week if he and his family allowed it.

I don’t have everything I want in life, but I’m happy because I do have what I wanted more than anything as a kid. I wanted to be surrounded by people who love and care about me. The “surrounded” part doesn’t exist in a physical sense, but I feel it’s there. I never cared if it was a huge team of people. Him and my best friend really are enough (although that doesn’t mean I’d be closed to more). I wanted to go on trips like I did as a kid. I go out of town, out of state, to visit him and it’s a lot more fun than the same museum five times in a row. I wanted another place to call home. I found it.

I’ll keep trying, particularly since I can’t do much else, but I’m not completely unhappy with where I’m at now. I understand things do happen slowly. It certainly took a lot of friends to find my best friend, and a lot of bad dates and relationships to reach my boyfriend. It only makes sense it’ll take a lot of missed jobs to finally find one. I still did score an interview, so that’s something. At least, I know I’m worth being considered.

I’m not happy to be alive, meaning I’d still have preferred not existing to begin with, but I am happy to have things and people in my life that make it not so bad.

Lying Versus Lying

Not all of my family members know I have a boyfriend, and the few who do have never met him. The reason for this much of my family is racist and I don’t feel my boyfriend deserves that. This means more often than not, I’m not honest with them about where I may be going with him or what I’m doing. In short, I lie. Yes, I know lying is wrong and I’d never claim it’s not. However, while I’ll admit my own lying is as wrong as others, it seems some people disagree.

What prompted this post is I had a certain relative told me if I have to lie to do something, I shouldn’t do it. The problem here is this same relative also regularly lies and has been doing it for years on end to keep multiple relationships hidden, not from family, but from the people he has those relationships with. When I brought that up on one occasion, his argument was that’s a different matter. I’m not claiming to be any less wrong than him, but I fail to see how lying to double-cross people is better than lying to see your partner and keep them away from your family.

In fact, to one of my family members, my boyfriend’s race does not exist. To him, there are white (Caucasian) people and black (African-American) people. That’s it. No other race exists to him. He refuses to acknowledge there are many more than two races in existence. I do not feel guilty about keeping my boyfriend away from him, even if it is through lying. While I’m on the subject, this same family member is also guilty of lying for the purpose of starting family drama and getting other family members angry with each other.

I’ve had some people tell me I should be honest anyway and my family would come around, but I know this is not true. My best friend shares the same race my boyfriend does, my family has known her for five years at this point, and they continue to be hateful and distrustful of any person of that race. I’ve had to stop them from making racist comments within earshot of her because they believe being in the next room means she can’t hear them. If meeting my best friend multiple times in five years isn’t enough for them to come around, why would meeting my boyfriend be any different?

Another reason I know this is purely about race is when I was with an ex who is the same race, my family had absolutely no objections whatsoever. None. There was no care for where I was going or what I was doing with this person. Only the time I’d return would be in question and that’s merely because my family knows it’s unlike me to stay out after night falls. They never met him because that relationship was short-lived, but I told them everything and got no arguments. Yet the second I mentioned my boyfriend’s race to answer where he’s from when they asked, suddenly, there were a thousand terrible things about him. They didn’t even know his name.

Sometimes, I’m not sure if I will ever tell my family the truth. They may not ever meet my boyfriend and while that does make me sad, it’s a possibility I’m okay with. Maybe it’s the behavior of a teenager, but I’d rather keep our relationship hidden than let him be exposed to that. I’ve told my boyfriend about their racist beliefs, so he knows why I refuse to let him meet them and he’s unsurprisingly fine with it.

When I think about this and read all of this post over, I feel like I’m justifying my own lying, which is the same as what the relatives I mentioned above do. Perhaps I am justifying it and excusing myself. I can’t say I don’t feel like it’s justified, if only because I’m not trying to cheat on my partner or start family problems where there are none. Yet, aside from the one time I tried to explain the hypocrisy, I keep my mouth shut because I still don’t feel I’m right in calling them out on their lying when I also lie.