United In Struggle

A common questions kids are asked is what they want to be when they grow up. As teens, that question becomes, “What do you want to do after high school?” (usually, the expected answer is college and little more than that). As an adult, the question is, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Or any number of years, but I’ve mostly heard five.

For me, the answer is: I don’t know.

While I’m not one to think life just happens with zero control over its events, I don’t think in the other extreme of having absolute control over everything. My life certainly has not gone as planned, and I do not mean solely my adulthood. My life has been going unplanned since my childhood days. While I’m not entirely ungrateful, it’s only because the end result is I lived through it to reach what I’m happy to have now. And even that can be counted on one hand.

Something I have noticed with my co-workers is almost everyone either attends college or has a second job. The former is obvious, but in the case of the latter, it’s simply because it’s that hard to manage for them. And of the jobs I know, their first ones aren’t what’s usually considered low-paying. On one occasion, I also had a customer mention he works three jobs. Why? To pay his mortgage. Even my former clinician, who is well-established in her career of 10+ years as a psychologist by now, has told me she and her husband resides in his family’s home because they struggle financially otherwise.

That is truly terrifying to me, even more so than having nothing planned to begin with. I understand what they do is out of necessity, but merely one job for me creates feelings my life is slowly descending into a meaningless existence of work and sleep. To need to hold two or three to survive? I question if passing life in a coma would be preferable. I suppose those examples emphasize everyone has it hard in some way, but that’s little comfort to me. I do not want to have the same struggles at 33 I’m having at 23.

If someone were to ask where I see myself in five years, I truly couldn’t answer. Any position I’ve gotten myself in, especially my job, has been unexpected. If someone asked me in 2015 where I saw myself in 2016, the answer would not have been anything close to working. The truth is I cannot see myself in any position I’m not currently in or haven’t been in previously. Until it happens, I subconsciously believe it can’t happen.

Perhaps this is another discovery of adulthood taking me by surprise and I’m slow at keeping up. At 23, I feel as if I haven’t aged a day past childhood, despite my life as it stands resembles nothing of my childhood (and I’d have killed myself by now if it did). In the end, many things feel very confusing and I’m uncertain if they’re supposed to feel any other way. The one thing I’m certain of is no matter how much I learn, how much better I supposedly become, I still feel like I know absolutely nothing. That makes no sense, and as far as I can tell, neither does much else.

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A Teen In Her Twenties

There is something about myself I cannot stop laughing at.

When I was a teenager, my family constantly told me I wasn’t a normal teen. “Normal” teenagers hang out at the mall with their friends every weekend and normal 20-year-olds hang out into the early hours of the morning every night. I stayed indoors, keeping to myself as I played video games, watched television, and browsed the internet. Not an exciting life, but a quiet one. Interestingly, they never answered the question of where a jobless teenager would get the money for weekly shopping trips.

However, I am 23 and I am now more of a “normal” teenager than I ever was during my teen years.

  • I do shop. A lot. Granted, this is mostly due to getting an employee discount from the store I work, but I shop plenty at other stores too, mostly online. I am getting control of this habit now, but when I first got my job and, later on, my credit line, it was crazy.
  • I have a boyfriend. More so, I have a secret boyfriend. Hiding who you’re dating from your family is definitely a teenage thing!
  • While I don’t have a group of friends, I do have one best friend I hang out with when our schedules allow it. We don’t hang around at the mall, but we do hang around each other’s houses and watch anime together.
  • I have a lot more drama now than I did in high school, and at one point, that did include jealousy and boy drama, a problem I never had in high school!
  • I go out a lot, even when I don’t work. My days off are taken by my boyfriend, my best friend, or errands I’m trying to get done. It’s to the point my family now occasionally complains I’m not home enough whereas they used to complain I stayed in too much.
  • I’m more social at work than I was at school. I talk to new co-workers without shyness and while I would only call one or two of them friends, I easily get along with almost everyone.

Of course, having a job is the reason behind most of this. I shopped because I have money to shop with. I have money for transportation. And I can still save up money by budgeting and not losing my mind. Somehow, having a job has done a lot for my self-confidence in more than only work-related aspects.

I know being a “23-year-old teenager” isn’t really something to brag about, but it makes me curious about how I’ll be when I’m in my late twenties. I can’t say I’d be unhappy with a life that has my “sister”, the love of my life, and some shopping and hanging out mixed in with everything else I enjoy in life.

A Different Jealousy

I’m beginning to wonder if relationship jealousy would be easier to handle than this.

My family is jealous of how I treat my boyfriend. To be more specific, they believe I treat him “like a king” while I treat them “like crap”. The problem here is they were jealous because… I wore a dress.

I very rarely wear dresses, but I chose to for our anniversary weekend. Somehow, my family believes daring to wear a dress for a special occasion means trying to impress someone rather than just doing something special for a day that’s, well, special.

In other words, treating my boyfriend like a king means wearing a dress to his house. Meanwhile, treating them like crap was akin to… not giving them the password to my personal computer.

If there were ever one absolute bit of proof that shows how poisonous my family is when it comes to relationships, it’s this. I don’t expect a date between my boyfriend and me to be of any importance to them, but to be jealous over your family member’s partner? To get upset because I wear a dress for one special day instead of all the time at home?

To be truthful, a small part of me always suspected jealousy from them, but I don’t like to play the “you’re just jealous” card because I see it as immature. But I really don’t know what else to call it. It’s not the first time they’ve gotten upset about me spending time with my boyfriend. It’s just the only time they’ve accused me of treating him better than them. They make the same accusation when it comes to how I treat my friends too.

The kind of funny thing is they might be right. It’s not something I can personally see, but there’s a good chance I do treat my boyfriend better than I treat them. Except what they view as “special treatment” is really just the treatment that results when you don’t demand respect because “well, I say so”. My boyfriend and I have had our pitfalls, yes, but most of the time, we treat each other well and respect each other’s space and feelings. Most of my family wouldn’t know “respect” if it smacked them behind the head, and it’s a generational thing.

To give a recent example, my father wiped out my computer. It’d broken down and I intended to take it to a tech expert to be fixed. Instead, he took it upon himself without any permission from me whatsoever to try repairing it, and worsened the problem. On top of that, he had no idea why I was so upset, which didn’t surprise me since it wasn’t his computer he wiped out. Prior to this, he’d used my computer numerous times without asking, often when I was asleep or out of the house. When I restarted the computer after it was wiped, I set up the personal account again, but did not re-enable the guest account. Yet, he still tried to use it without my permission and asked for my password while I was visiting my boyfriend. I didn’t respond to the messages and deleted them.

This happened after a night where my dad and my grandfather had a heated argument that became physical because the latter intended to drive the family’s car while drunk. The car is under my father’s name and he believed my grandfather would get into an accident, which would result in him being penalized. That’s a legitimate concern, but my grandfather did not care at all. Note that my grandfather also has no valid license, which means he’d be breaking two laws. I don’t believe physical violence is how to solve things (my dad says my grandfather attacked him first; I didn’t see what happened), but look at the link there. My grandfather has zero concern for what could badly affect someone else. Thus, my dad, who was raised by this man, doesn’t either.

Those stories are two of many examples across my family. And yet, they still believe they’re entitled to my respect for no other reason than “family comes first”. If I really do treat my boyfriend better than I treat them, I have no guilt about that. Their jealousy isn’t something I’m going to worry myself about. At this point, I’m genuinely convinced they simply do not want me to realize the way they think of and treat people isn’t a positive thing. I figured that out years ago, but the more I get out into the world, the clearer it becomes. I often think about how my teenage self would be horrified if she knew what she’d be doing in the years to come, but maybe it was so horrifying because I was afraid of what I didn’t know and only had my family’s stories to go on. As it turned out, the world outside of what my family made for me is tough, but not so scary. It’s big and bright and alluring. They know it. And they know they can’t keep me from it anymore.

Which Priority Is Which?

I mentioned briefly in my last post I was hoping to move out by my 24th birthday next year. But lately, I’ve been considering postponing that even further.

At 23, I do not have my driver’s license. I’ve wanted it since I turned 18, but I never tried to get it because I didn’t see any point since I’d have no car to drive, and eventually, I forgot about it entirely. Lately, however, it’s been on my mind again due to my job. More specifically, because I’m gaining a growing hatred for public transportation.

The problem here is for the time being, it has to be one or the other: the apartment or the car. I feel like the answer should be obvious, yet I’m having trouble deciding which to make the priority. Both would bring me freedom I crave, but I cannot decide which advantages are worth more.

Advantages of having my own (or willingly shared) apartment:

  • My own living space
  • Living alone, or with my best friend or boyfriend
  • No smoking, drunkenness, and loud noise
  • No one touching my things without my permission (I’m fortunate my boyfriend and my best friend have manners!)
  • Not having to hear gossip or petty complaining
  • Being able to bring my boyfriend to my house almost any time (or my best friend if my boyfriend is my roommate; she’s asthmatic, so I can’t let her come to my family’s apartment)

Advantages of having a car for myself:

  • Not needing to rely on public transportation (except when I travel to visit my boyfriend)
  • More choice in where I can work
  • Less restriction on where I can travel in general
  • Shopping is easier since I don’t need to lug bags on a bus or train (even a bunch of small bags can be a nuisance)
  • More places to go with my best friend and boyfriend (these two awesome people get all the free rides they want!)
  • A small place to go when my family inside wears on my nerves. It’s illegal to live in a car, but not to sit and unwind in it for a while.
  • Aside from an auto accident or something else unforeseen, I’d never have to worry about being late for work because the bus or train is running late (and trains frequently have delays!). I use Lyft’s service in these cases, but their prices fluctuate, so it can get costly.

I’m aware having a car is more than just making monthly payments because there are expenses like repairs and maintenance. Likewise, I realize living by myself or with a roommate in an apartment is more than just the rent, as there are also utilities to pay for. In the case of the car, I still have to get my driver’s license to begin with. Plus, I’m assuming I’ll even be able to find someone to lease an apartment or a car to me (my credit history is nearly non-existent). I fully expect I’ll panic for a period of time and feel like I’m in over my head. But that happens to me with almost everything, so I’m willing to experience that and let it pass.

I’m not sure if I should be deciding which advantages are worth more, or which disadvantages are worth less. I also worry whichever I choose, I’ll regret not taking the other one, but I can’t change my mind on a whim about such a big choice (not without heavy consequences anyway).

I don’t know if this is a sign I’m still trying to fit myself into adulthood, and failing miserably at it, or I’m indecisive and nothing more.

Follow the Timeline

Way back in 2013, I made a timeline starting from 1999 (as far back as I could somewhat remember) of how my life had gone so far. It’s not happy. I can’t remember why I made it, but I suppose it was something that crept into my head during nighttime, when many of my deepest thoughts tend to surface.

With 2013 here, it’s been four years and my life certainly didn’t pause, though I had more moments than I can count of wishing it had. I mistakenly believed things would finally be good at the end of 2013. They weren’t. I don’t want to post the whole timeline here, so I’ll link it, but I will start from the very last one.

  • Age 19 (Birthday-October 2013) – Graduation; move back in with my mom and sis, therapy continues, attendance to college starts, tries to start dating
  • Age 20 (2014-2015) – Move back in with grandparents, drop out from college, job searching
  • Age 21 (2015-2016) – Still job searching, suicidal ideas return, meet my boyfriend
  • Age 22 (Late 2016 to early 2017) – Found a job, begin building my accounts
  • Age 23 (Birthday-Now) – Holding down my job, searching for a second job, continuing to save money, creating plans to move out

Hopefully, I can add I have moved by age 24. I must admit besides a desire to write things out, I’m not sure what the point of this timeline is, but it is nice to look over it and know I’ve lived this far. That’s not to say I’d be willing to do it again. Surviving once feels more than enough because aside from the typical transition to adulthood, no one should have to deal with that. But I’m glad to say I’m getting closer to where I want to be. With a lot of planning and some luck, I may be there by early 2018. That’s still a long time, but we’re already in May of 2017. In another month, the year will be half over. If I can control my spending urges, I shouldn’t have too much of a problem.

Wrong Way To Motivate

A certain post in one of my Facebook groups reminded me of something from high school.

When I was in tenth grade (for the second time due to transferring schools), one of my teachers once mentioned planning to get her master’s degree. In what subject, I forgot, but I suppose I asked her about it. I really don’t remember what I said, but I do remember her answer. She told me she was pursuing it because she wanted to be able to walk into a store for a pair of $600 shoes and say she has the money for them.

I didn’t know what to think of that. To this day, I still don’t. I do now understand her intention with that answer was likely motivating me to take my own schoolwork more seriously, but that came off as an extremely shallow reason. I realize she meant she was trying to financially better herself, but surely, there was a better way to phrase it.

I won’t lie and pretend I don’t like shopping. I do, and in the last few years, clothes have made the list of what I like to shop for (when it’s of my own wishes, not someone else’s). But I don’t think there’s any article of clothing on the planet that looks so appealing, I’d be willing to give $600 for a single quantity of it. Especially not clothing that’s worn on the ground! One “talent” I do have is the tendency to give my shoes a pounding. That $600 would become a waste in 2 to 3 months.

Obviously, these are my values, but I don’t like the idea of materialism being a motivator for education. For starters, education itself is expensive. I think I’d sound very funny if I told someone I spent thousands of dollars to be able to blow thousands of dollars. That sort of reason would likely motivate only someone whose end goal was wealth. My end goal is stability, which is not synonymous with wealthiness. That doesn’t mean I’d complain if I were rich. It means it’s not necessary for me to be happy. For me, when I can say I fully support myself without living paycheck to paycheck, I’ll see myself as successful, regardless of what the number allowing me that privilege is.

For the sake of not coming off as “holier than thou”, I’ll say right now I do not think I’m better than anyone whose end goal is wealth and purchasing multi-hundred dollar clothing. If that teacher’s given reason makes sense to someone else or motivates, great. I’m just not that person. Yes, there are expensive things I do want and sometimes obtain, but those things have many more functional uses than strutting pavement, so I see them as more valuable for my own use.

I’m certainly not above materials. I have a big collection of books, games, DVDs, and dolls, as well as some smaller collectible things like jewelry, boxes, and stuff animals, and I have a $100 phone. Whenever I think about that teacher’s comment, I think about how much $600 could buy besides a single pair of shoes. Perhaps it’s only because she said shoes I found her answer very weird since shoes are meant to be worn outdoors and would naturally ruin over time from use. Maybe she was exaggerating and merely trying to emphasize a point. Maybe she thought that was the goal of all students. Or maybe it was some kind of last resort since I wasn’t an easy student to motivate. I value the job I have now over school, so she wouldn’t be entirely off the mark. Only wrong it’s money I care about most.

I do plan to return to school, but I have my own motivation and finance is only a part of them. The most important parts are somewhat intangible. And one is human.

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.