Post 100: I’m a writer!

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I know that by having a blog, it should be obvious that I’m a writer. However, a recent social situation has made me take a harder look at the way I see myself.

When offering an introduction to a new group of people, the words “I’m a writer” did not flow out of my mouth. For some reason, since it’s not part of my official job, it seemed strange to identify myself in this way. So, I need to be more confident in acknowledging that I am a writer. It’s not just a secret hobby; it is very much part of who I am.

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Broaden your view

As I turn the page on another year (happy birthday, Lindsay!) and look at what I’ve achieved so far with this blog, I really want to focus on improving my negative attitude toward myself. I want to continue to remove the blinders I seem to have, which lead to getting stuck with tunnel vision.

I’ve been reflecting on the yearbook comments I received and the resulting blog post. Throughout my life I’ve had a tendency to get so caught up in a few details, in insignificant things, that I miss the big picture.

Maybe we won the basketball game, but all I can focus on are the shots missed instead of the ones I made. Or perhaps I got a 95 on a test, but I mentally beat myself up for the stupid mistake that lost me 5 points.

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Yearbooks: A lasting impression

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Seventh grade was the start of asking as many people as possible to sign my yearbook. I don’t know what prompted it because it had never been a thing before. But I asked friends, teammates, coaches, teachers, people I barely knew, people who rode the same bus as me. I knew a lot of people’s names but that doesn’t mean I knew them well or they had any idea of who I was.

It wasn’t a popularity contest of trying to get the most signatures or messages. That may be hard to believe because in high school especially I had people writing over ads and I even taped in blank sheets of paper just to create space. I brought my tenth grade yearbook with me to Governor’s School and asked as many people as I could to sign it. I received quite a number of weird looks from people as they reluctantly wrote something down.

But it was never a popularity contest. It was deeper than that. I was trying to cobble together some sense of what people thought of me. What was their impression? How am I actually viewed?

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Depression of high school

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pixabay.com

Along with being unable to accept compliments, there was also this long held concept of being less than and inferior to others, which began early on for me. I struggled in so many ways to match the speed, ease and ability of my classmates that I saw it as a flaw in my very character rather than strictly my ability. It defined me to the core, this idea of not measuring up. That even if I managed to improve, it seemed to matter very little because someone else was still better. My focus was all about how I compared to others instead of establishing my own track of development.

You’re supposed to pay attention to your interests and abilities to recognize talents as those might influence future areas of study to pursue and a potential career path. How do you successfully accomplish this with a negative view of yourself? Yes to a degree I saw that writing and creative writing were more strong suits. But it wasn’t enough to completely draw confidence from it or to see it as an actual talent. I still felt misunderstood for preferring to write in a notebook rather than trying to talk with others.

I twisted most of the compliments I received, convinced that people were just trying to be polite or telling white lie because they felt sorry for me. And with this internal, self-defeating attitude, you can tear yourself down pretty far. I didn’t need extra help in this area. So the emotional and sometimes verbal bullying/antagonizing that I received in previous years just reinforced this feeling of being inferior and incompetent, unworthy.

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Poetry philosophy: Show me, don’t tell me (also struggling with compliments)

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Theodysseyonline.com

I’m not sure where the phrase “show me, don’t tell me” first originated. I think it was through exposure to creative writing exercises and other writing efforts. But I took that to heart. I took that seriously. And in many ways that influenced my approach to poetry writing.

You don’t want to just say “she was upset”; that doesn’t tell you much. But instead you describe the used tissues scattered on the bed, the box laying nearby, how her eyes are puffy. You acknowledge the remnants of a bowl of ice cream. You describe the girl curled up on a bed, clutching tight to a pillow or stuffed bear. These images offer more details, they help tell the story. She probably didn’t just screw up a pop quiz; it’s more likely that she had a fight with her boyfriend or they broke up.

I was much more interested in showing the details of a story and describing the scene versus being straightforward. I still had trouble balancing what was described and how much to describe rather than saying things outright. I often went overboard on the descriptions and imagery, especially early on, but I was trying to find my style, trying to figure out what worked. How much detail do you really have to give?

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Why didn’t Cinderella wear Airwalks?

The shoes I had but different colors.

My church was trying to establish a consistent presence with the youth in our parish. There had been a few different leaders/youth ministers over the years but none at the time lasted more than a year. The constant turnover didn’t help with creating stability in the program and keeping interest.

By tenth grade church leaders were trying again, and there was a guy in charge. I remember we had a social event. It must have been an actual dance because there was dancing that night and I can’t imagine dancing just being a small part of the evening rather than the focal point. Anyway, it’s awkward enough to go to dances, but I was trying to push myself and trying to meet people.

Anyway, what I’m sure was intended to be a fun ice breaker ended up having an isolating effect. Wouldn’t it be fun for the girls to leave a shoe in a pile and the guys pick up a shoe and that’s how the first dance begins? What could possibly go wrong?

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Preschool through 8th grade: Where do things stand?

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Since my preschool diagnosis of sensory processing disorder and the completion of eighth grade means about 10 years have passed, I thought I would do a review of how things have progressed. I’m looking to address these questions:

  • What areas seemed to have improved?
  • Have I grown out of anything?
  • What am I still struggling with?
  • Has anything new developed?

If you missed my big rundown of sensory issues, you can find it here. And don’t worry, throughout this list, there will be links back to appropriate blog posts to offer further explanation. 

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Seeing yourself through eyes of faith

Part of what forms your self-esteem and self-confidence is knowing who you are. I had images of a wallflower who was unsure of what to say, convinced everyone else’s opinions were more important, images of a clumsy kid who didn’t need any help tripping over her own feet. While to some degree I was shy and quiet, there was so much more going on beneath the surface. Things that I couldn’t quite put my finger on to explain. (I’ve illustrated some of that here.)

What I’ve come to understand, though, is that the true strength of knowing who you are is in your relationship with God and Jesus, in your faith. It’s through faith that you really achieve a true, complete sense of self. The flaws, talents, insecurities etc. are put into more proper perspective.

Not that I completely knew it at the time, and certainly not during eighth grade. I knew God and faith were important. I knew prayer was important. There were reminders for me all over the house. We had multiple crucifixes throughout the house, and I had one in my room near my bed. I even had a small plastic statue of St. Joseph that glowed in the dark. There were other devotionals, tools and images of our faith in different rooms.

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Why are school dances so awkward?

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Movie: Napoleon Dynamite

Seriously? Why are school dances so incredibly awkward?

If it’s not completely segregated with boys on one side of the gym/cafeteria and girls on the other for a full hour, then it’s a matter of dancing with someone with two feet of space between you.

Or maybe the space thing had to do with the Catholic school dance experience. You have to “leave room for the Holy Spirit,” after all.

I was not comfortable with my body, comfortable in trying new moves. I was the self-conscious kid who very much didn’t want to look stupid.

And yet, I did show up. That’s something. I didn’t just avoid these experiences altogether. (Good job, young Lindsay, for pushing yourself and testing out different environments!)

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Becoming a Lady Ram

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First, I need to offer a glimpse of playing basketball during sixth grade. It was pretty routine with practices and games. I do remember jumping the bleachers. Seriously we jumped from the floor up to the next bleacher, and then continued jumping up.

It looked something like this video, except we were jumping on bleachers and not the stairs. It required a higher vertical jump. And the part I remember most is how scary it was; I was afraid of completely missing the next bleacher. I never did miss, but that scared feeling never went away.

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