Breakdowns

I don’t know where they come from.  I haven’t figured out what triggers them.  Maybe it’s hormones.  Maybe it’s the weather.  Maybe it’s the food I am eating, the amount of time I’m spending with other people, the skipping of a yoga session, the waking up to a phone full of things that need tending to.  Maybe it’s the weird dreams or the social media comparison game. All I know is that I hate them.

They are why, for a long time, I stopped admitting to having good days. Or saying that “I’m enjoying this season” or “feeling so healthy.”  Because then when the hard days or moments inevitably hit again, I feel naïve, I feel like I lied. Or jinxed it.  Of course, nobody thinks that just because I am doing well in the moment, that I will not struggle any more.  Only I expect that of myself.  And then only I am shocked when another wave of anxiety-sadness-existential crisis washes over me.  Nobody thinks that my words are carved in stone, that everything I say is unchangeable, accurate, timeless. Only I expect that of myself.

“Yesterday you said how much you had grown, how much you were enjoying this season, how grateful you are for the ability to pursue your own artistic endeavors.  And now today you are crying because you feel directionless and unable to cope with your emotions. How fickle. How unstable.  What a liar.”

And the spiral begins.

I know I have grown.  I know I have coping mechanisms that I didn’t have four, three, or even two years ago.  I know these emotions are temporary (even when they don’t feel that way… when it feels like I will forever be in a cycle of normalcy-depression-breakdown-normalcy-hope-depression-breakdown…) But mind knowledge and heart knowledge are two completely different things.  And in the hard moments, my heart is so much more persuasive than my mind.

Sometimes I just need a good cry. To let the toddler in me throw a tantrum and wear herself out so that when she takes a nap, my adult self can actually get shit done.  But then if my teenage self is still awake and feeling angsty, there is still another hurdle to climb.

The conversation of the day is going something like this:

Adult self: What are we going to do today? What needs to get done? What goals are we trying to accomplish?

Teenage self: Does it matter? None of the things we did yesterday made any difference.

Adult self: Of course it matters! We have bills to pay, a household to run.  We need to be functioning members of society.  Adding value to the world.

Teenager: And you think we’re doing that by making dumb illustrations and shopping guides? Self published children’s books purchased by a handful of people?  Planting basil and rosemary on the windowsill?

Adult: Our impact doesn’t have to equal that of bestselling writers, celebrities, and activists.  Why can’t you be content with more modest goals? Plus, none of those people making big impacts got to that point in a day!  They had to build up to it.  Work for it.

Teenager: Okay sure, but what are we even working towards?  You’ve just been running around like a chicken with your head cut off trying to ‘produce content’ but what is that really doing?  Are you even having a small impact?  Are you bringing in enough to pay the bills? Are you happy?

Adult:

Teenager: See! You don’t know what you’re doing either! You just pretend to, so that we think everything is under control! So we don’t freak out and just keep mindlessly chugging along.

Adult:  Well, maybe we need an entrepreneurship class or to reevaluate our business plan.

Teenager: We reevaluate our business plan every other day!  We’re losing the little credibility we have every time we say, ‘we’re revamping/rebranding/moving in a new direction.’

A: Well, maybe we need to find worth an purpose outside of our ‘day job.’ Let’s start volunteering or…

T: Volunteering doesn’t pay the bills!

A: Why does every conversation come back to money??

T: Because you’re always harping on making a living and paying the bills and being a functional member of society and retirement and saving for a house and future children and—

A: Okay, yes, money matters. But it isn’t everything!  There’s friendship and caring for the environment and creating beautiful things—

T: “Beautiful” things for people to consume, adding to the consumer culture that we so desperately despise, and destroying the environment that we claim to care about.

A: Well maybe we need to go work for an environmental agency then!

T: We have no skills pertaining to that.  We have a degree in architecture and design, remember. And not the type of design that lends well to infographics and marketing.

A: Well, maybe if you spent some time learning those things and actually committed to something for once…

T: This conversation is getting out of hand.

A: I wish I could write for a living.

T: See!! Neither of us know what we want or what we are doing…

A: Let’s go for a walk.

T: It’s like 18 degrees outside.

A: Indoor yoga then.

T: Fine.  …But that’s not going to make us any money.

A: But we’ll have toned thighs.

T: Ah, yes. Finally the meaning of life.

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Breakdowns

Internet Famous

If I make some silly rhymes
If I post at different times
If I add a trending tag
Will I have it in the bag?
Will I make it to the top
If my tweeting doesn’t stop?
Will I finally get success?
Will I stop at nothing less?
Will that fill this empty void?
Will my haters be annoyed?
Am I happy and fulfilled?
Am I meaningfully skilled?
Does it matter, oh who cares
As long as I get stranger’s stares
If they follow and subscribe
If they choose to join the tribe
I’ll have love and I’ll have fame
And I will crush this fucking game.

Internet Famous

visceral

years ago
a Stranger dug a pit
in the soft earth of my mind
and it was in that excavation
where the branches of events were thrown
and burned
charring the pit beyond recognition
or repair
and now
when I return to that site
everything returns
the anger the hope the hate the embarrassment the shame the sadness
everything returns but the branches themselves
because that’s how the universe
and the arrow of time
function…
entropy and chaos and
forward,
always forward

visceral

Had Enough?

What’s one more poem one more pot
One more I with one more dot
One more drawing one more book
One more thing at which to look
One more scarf or one more cake
One more picture of a lake
One more house, one more show
One more online store to go
One more place to spend our cash
One more added to our stash
The collection now is growing large
Swipe that card for one more charge
Consume more music, books, and art
Make more things, add to your cart
Are we that bored, that lost, that sad
Is what we’re doing all that bad?

Had Enough?

. . . t i m e . . .

Time is minutes, seconds, hours, days.

Time is duration.

Time is movement, time is change.

Time is the beating of my heart, the pulsing of blood through my veins.

Time is scars, wounds, scabs.

Time is mechanical, time is fluid.

Time is bodily.

Time is a subjective experience.  Time is an objective reality.

Time is measurable, quantifiable.

Time is incomprehensible.

Time is the rotation of the earth, the movement of the planets.

Time is the changing of the leaves, the wrinkles in skin.

Time is the holes worn in clothing, the decay of buildings.

Time is the space between moments.

Time is the fourth dimension.

Time is long and short.

Time is waiting, time is living, time is breathing.

Time is eternal. Time is temporary.

Time is t; time is a variable.

Tim e is the ticking of a clock.

Time is a human construct.

Time is a social agreement.

Time is cyclical. Time is linear.

Time is regret, hindsight, planning, anxiety, remembering, forgetting.

Time is felt.

Time is overlay, layering, building, destroying.

Time is a canvas.  Time is a stage.

Time is a song with many tempos.

Time is an abyss.

Time is energy. Time is chaos.

Time is god.

. . . t i m e . . .

The Freedom of a Wasp

I think we have a wasp nest near our apartment. Every once in a while some lone wasp makes its way into our home and I watch it crawling on the window, trying to get out. The wasps I have seen don’t frantically or haphazardly run into the glass over and over again like the flies do. They are more calm, more methodical. And they don’t take a break to go meander lazily throughout the apartment like flies do. They stick to their search for freedom, dedicated. I don’t know how long they would continue in their quest, if they would die trying to try to free themselves or eventually abandon their attempts to escape. I don’t know because I always end up rescuing them. I grab a glass and a piece of paper, gently trap them and then release them on our balcony.

I paused today after one such rescue mission, watching a wasp reach its antennae and then its front legs into the open air in front of it. It quickly realized it had a free path and took flight into the crisp autumn day. I paused and wondered why I always chose to help them when so many would ignore or squish such a disliked insect. It’s not like it was a butterfly or a ladybug. It was a wasp. Infamous for stinging, for frightening children.

As I thought, I realized that I free them for two reasons. One, because of their poor reputation. Wasps are made out to be these horrible creatures with their only aim being to harm. But that specific little guy hadn’t hurt me and it only would have hurt me if it had felt threatened by me, as self defense. It’s not a beloved creature; It’s the bumblebee’s ugly cousin, and even the bumblebee can be loved despite its sting because of its role in honey production. But it’s still a living thing, it still has a role to play in our ecosystem, and it still is beautiful even if it isn’t in the same way a flower or a horse are beautiful.

And secondly, it pains me to watch such a small thing be trapped, captive. To be held back from the one things it wants. I felt in that a moment a great amount of affinity with that wasp. Because isn’t that what we all want? To move unhindered toward the thing we love, be it the sunshine or otherwise. Don’t we all get stuck behind the glass of insecurity, depression, anxiety, only wishing we could be on the other side where all the beautiful, sunny things are? Where the freedom is.

The Freedom of a Wasp

I’m not here! (12 of 30)

(aka Why You May Not Be Finding Your Personality Type)

Sometimes when talking about personality typologies, I have heard the response “I don’t connect with any of the types.” Or another similar response of, “I see myself in many of the descriptions.”

As I have been thinking about it, I have realized that there are a few different reasons as to why these responses come about:

1. Incomplete (or inaccurate) information

There are a LOT of online tests and quizzes, websites, articles, books, and podcasts about personality typology. It is very easy to go online, take a random quiz that “tells you your type,” read the description, think that it doesn’t describe you at all, and declare the system stupid. The problem is, most of these systems were not designed to be reduced down to ten multiple choice questions analyzed by a computer.  Psychologists have spent decades writing books upon books about these topics and so if you are relying on a 5 minute quiz, it’s very possible that it will (a) not give you an accurate result or (b) describe the type in a quick, shallow way that feels oversimplified.  None of us like being reduced down to a number or combination of letters.  I know I even resist tests that seem to categorize based solely upon external behavior.  And rightly so! We are so much more complex than that!  My husband and I can both agree to go to an event, for example, and it be for entirely different motivations. Our behavior may look the same, but the complexity of our decision isn’t necessarily outwardly reflected.

So, what to do in this situation? 

Do More Research. I suggest, if you are really serious about determining your type, that you look for some resources that are less pop psychology and more academic.  I’m not saying you have to go read the original writings of Carl Jung, but maybe find someone who has. Find a book/site/podcast that specializes in the system you are looking into.  Better yet, find a few.  Compare and contrast the ways they describe the types and take note of the depth of their analysis. (Note: be prepared… you will actually have to READ, not just take a quiz.)

Look for Subtypes. For example, some people who study the Enneagram (a typology system) have different ways of looking at subtypes. One may focus on your wings (the types adjacent to yours) and the other may focus on instinctual variants.  Is one more accurate, nuanced, detailed? Is one more helpful? More beneficial to your understanding of yourself and others?  Or even, is there a way you can synthesize the information and learn from both? I can’t give you the answers… That’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself.

blue


2. Blindness

Not physical blindness, but a blindness to your own ways of operating, your internal mechanisms, your wiring.  Some of the typology systems deal with things you may have never thought about before (your way of taking in information, for example. See the perceiving functions in Myers-Briggs) or emotions you may be avoiding or repressing.  We all repress, to some degree or another, certain thoughts or feelings.  Subconsciously we may deny our loneliness, shame, anger, neediness, etc. because they are not enjoyable feelings.  This can make it very hard to fully identify with a type if it is describing struggles you deal with but don’t consciously recognize.  If you aren’t connecting with any specific type in a system, consider that it may be your understanding of yourself that it causing the disconnect. Thankfully, this is one that doesn’t require a library full of psychology textbooks…

So, what to do in this situation?

Pay Attention. Start to cultivate self-awareness.  Watch how you interact with the world and pay attention to what is going on behind the curtain.  Try meditation or journaling. It can be quite difficult to see your subconscious motivations, to be self-aware of your triggers, emotions, thoughts, etc. We pick up so many habits and automatic ways of functioning from childhood that often times we really have to dig into ourselves to see them.  Plus it can be really intimidating to get in touch with these parts of yourself! And so my next suggestion…

Find a Counselor or Therapist. Seeing a mental health professional can be incredibly helpful for unearthing the deeper parts of yourself.  It can provide you with a safe space to explore and a guide to come alongside you through the process.  Sometimes having someone else there can bring a lot of clarity and point out things you may have never seen (or acknowledged) about yourself before.  You may even be able to do this with a spouse or close friend, just make sure it’s a safe and honest place.  And at the end of the day, it is you who has to see (and accept) what is going on inside of yourself. Again, we all do things for different reasons.  Other people can guess at what is going on in your mind and heart, but only you can truly discover and know that.

black


3. Type Transcendence

If you are having trouble identifying with a type in a system, and have already fully and honestly considered #1 and #2, there is a possibility that you have transcended type!  I believe that one of the primary aims of systems (like the Enneagram in particular (yes, I know I am bringing it up a lot… it’s the one I am currently deep diving into so it is on my mind!)) is to identify areas of growth in order to work towards developing balance.  Theoretically, with real and sustained personal development, one would successfully transcend type.  I personally haven’t known anyone who is at this place, just given the fact that it would take immense amounts of courage, self-awareness, persistence, and time to achieve this state, but I definitely won’t deny the possibility!

So, what to do in this situation?

If this is you, honestly I am surprised you are on this little blog of mine! You probably have read quite a bit about personal development and therefore know a lot about yourself and humans in general.  In this case, maybe you should consider starting your own blog/website/podcast/book.  You could share the things that have been beneficial to your journey and come alongside others (myself included) as we try to work towards a whole, balanced, and healthy self.

There is one final reason I have been able to think of for why you may not identify with a certain type in a personality typology system…

complex


4. It may not be a useful system.

All personality psychology up to this point is theory.  And sometimes theories are wrong. It is entirely possible that you can’t find yourself in the system because the system is an outdated or incomplete way of looking at humanity. Because in reality, of course all of these systems are going to be incomplete. Humans are incredibly complex. However, I would recommend using this reason as a last resort.  Before you write off an entire system, make sure you fully understand the nuances (NOT the pop psychology version), make sure you have taken an honest look inside of yourself to see if you are overlooking or suppressing anything that may be linked to the disconnection, and understand that growth, balance, and transcending type can be a marker of a healthy person.

And a final note, while it is completely okay and understandable to not find a certain system beneficial for you, remember that other people may be growing and developing because of it.  And isn’t that what this is all about?

(Actually, you may find yourself wondering, what are typology systems about?  Check out this post for my view on the subject. Thanks for stopping by!)

I’m not here! (12 of 30)