My Super Sweet 24th

November 30, 2010

This year, I awoke on my birthday from a bizarre recurring dream, quite literally on the wrong side of the bed. Cue the waterworks. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, after 24 Gregorian calendar years, this is the sort of very mature behavior I engage in. Throwing a tantrum in my jammies.

After scraping myself together, with a little help from the most wonderful gentleman a girl could ask for, I managed to get out of the funk and put on a smile. Thanksgiving dinner with my family and friends was mellow and nice, I got my gluttony on, and it didn’t snow– which is a rarity for the end of November ’round these parts.

Most people would probably consider this an acceptable birthday and call it quits; but not this girl. Not only did I close out the day with a good sob, but I, then, woke up in the middle of the night for an encore performance. Not just a couple tears, I’m talking full shudders.

(Yes. On Thanksgiving. I know, I should have been making lists of things I am grateful for, and counting my blessings, and all that.)

Every year, for as long as I can remember, I have cried on my birthday.

Why?

It’s a fair question. One that, until this year, I found myself at a loss for a sufficient answer to. Beyond the superficial triggers, I could only rationalize that some underlying cause was at work; making me feel much less than enthusiastic about my planetary anniversary. Naturally, I assumed it was my human perception of finite time making me nostalgic. Hence, the tears. Birthdays tend to highlight our status as mortal, and thereby fragile, beings.

Ah, yes, perhaps feeling Newtonian in spite of myself. But that sort of philosophical scapegoat never fit quite right. No matter how erudite this hypothesis makes me sound, the birthday tears seem to be caused by something much deeper than superego-fueled aesthetics.

A bit reluctantly, I turned to a more obvious culprit: the little Kat inside me who– even after almost a quarter century– wants her princess birthday. I concede that birthdays are generally underwhelming, and my inner child might have had difficulty coming to terms with this reality. Somewhere, deep inside, I want to wake up on my birthday and have it be the *most awesome day of my life* that it felt like once upon a time. Subconsciously struggling to recapture a feeling I haven’t been capable of since I was maybe 5 years old. A sense of inevitable disappointment 364 days in the making.

But blaming the Id part of myself for the tears didn’t feel right, either. Sure, I guess there is the “perfect” birthday, but I’m no stranger to reality– not any time of the year– November 25 doesn’t really come with much more expectation. What I felt wasn’t really “disappointment” as much as a general desire to absolutely, and inexplicably, bawl.

Some days later, having gotten over whatever trivial matters I let disturb me so, I came to the realization that maybe I cry on my birthdays just because… I can.

Is it “normal?” Or “uplifting?”

Who cares.

“Should” I be crying?

Who cares.

The bottom line is that celebrating our own life anniversaries is incredibly self-indulgent, no matter what. For me, weeping shamelessly seems to roll right into that. Impetus irrelevant.

Peculiar, maybe, but I don’t owe any apologies. With or without the tears, I am glad to be here– another year older, arguably wiser, and still waiting on the maturity I assumed I’d be handed when I “grew up.”

I never think of the future. It comes soon enough. [[AlbertEinstein]]

Are We There Yet?

November 12, 2010

Recently, feeling down on myself (bummed about the change of seasons and creatively frustrated, among other things), I sat down with a notepad for a bit of self-analysis.  My blank page immediately became–

Things that suck about you:

Good Qualities:

In that order. Just like that. And I started to fill it out.

The last time I made a list like this was when I quit drinking, which was definitely a low point for me. My sobriety list inspired a complete reorganization of my personal agenda. As a language-oriented person, as well as a brutally honest Sagittarius, I find it advantageous to put thoughts into words. Throughout the years, I’ve composed a number of these self-evaluations, and like to consider myself a pretty actualized individual.

All that said, one persistent trend– more important, in some ways, than the actual traits on the lists themselves– is that my negatives list consistently dwarfs the positives. No matter what. In fact, I even ran out of room under my “Things that suck about you” and began annexing the “Good Qualities” space for such traits as “Insistent,” “Brash,” and “Impatient.” I had well over a dozen bad qualities written before I even so much as considered penning a nice thing about myself.

Then it took me a minute. Maybe even two. Before I put down “OK Writer.” Yes, just OK. And another minute, maybe two, before I came up with “Nice rack.”

Honest to Icculus, people, the second “Good” thing I could come up with about myself is my breasts. Shame on me. For real.

So, I made this list. And I cried. But, to be fair, I was pretty depressed when I started the damn thing, I wasn’t really doing it for the uplift. As I re-read my carefully selected adjectives, I added “Harsh Critic” to the end of my “sucks” list. Then wrote it again at the end of my positives.

And then I got stuck.

Suddenly my cleverly divided list wasn’t so black and white anymore.

It dawned on me that the “uncensored opinions” from the “Things that suck about you” analysis were the same opinions that made me “always truthful,” which had seemed a Good Quality. The “over-analytical” negative trait, in another light, becomes “socially observant,” an aspect of myself that I embrace.

Well, shit, I thought to myself. Now what? My intention in compiling an evaluation had been enacting positive change. A year ago, I was incredibly productive using this method. I recognized a number of undesirable qualities and was able to eliminate some degree of self-loathing via personal growth. I can actually pinpoint milestone moments and epiphanies. I consider the last year of my life, in that regard, a smashing success.

Why, then, was I sitting a year later at the same kitchen table crying over an equally lengthy bullet-point analysis? How successful is that? Where did these additional Things that Suck come from?

…Again, I am a “Harsh Critic.”

Of other people, yes, but most of all myself. I tried to remember the last time I felt really awesome about anything I had said, written, or done… and quickly I was left questioning how “awesome” anything I ever did really was…

I am my own worst enemy. I know I am not alone, either. Lots of people in the world are insecure. Lots of people think everything they do is garbage. And, most importantly, lots of people are absolutely sure that they will never be good enough. Good enough for what? It honestly doesn’t matter. It’s an insatiability. The feeling that there is room for improvement. It goes beyond “positive quality” or “detrimental trait.” It’s human. It’s a civil war of the ego, and it’s nothing unique to any of us.

If none of us ever felt like monumental failures, would we be motivated to progress? If we all walked around, confident in how we look, act, and present ourselves; confident that we were always in the right; confident that everything we did was top-notch– what encouragement would we have to improve?

At the end of the day, it became evident that although my “Things that suck about you” list was nearly double the length of the “Good Qualities,” many of these divergent characteristics were rooted in the same damn personality traits. It’s unfair to myself to count “conversationally dominant” and “doesn’t know when to shut up” as two separate negative qualities, while considering “easily social” as something I like. They represent the exact same characteristic displaying itself in different contexts.

Failure, success, perfection, hard work. All relatively defined terms. In our universe void of inertia, none of these words mean the same thing from one moment to the next. Weighing ourselves against these slippery terms is like attempting to measure love in yards.

Not to say there is no room for self-improvement, but, in the scheme of things, I have taken enormous strides toward becoming the person I want to be. The next evening, feeling a little less depressed, I sat down and, instead of creating contrast, I re-composed the exact same list of characteristics into one list titled “Things I Know about Kat”

[[Nice rack is still on there]]