Tag Archives: Life

Taxes (blech)

Hello friends, it’s Friday and while I was originally tempted to talk about fugue states – today I want to jump on my soapbox and talk about taxes.

So, as most, if not all of you know, it’s tax season – which is fun for some but miserable for the rest of us. Why? Well, simply put the government undoubtedly knows how much they owe each of us but instead of cutting checks, we are sent to calculate a bunch of numbers and deductions and pray we don’t get them wrong, and if we do, we can get in trouble…

Anyway, this year I am using H&R Block – again – because they don’t charge me extra to do my own math online (this is not an ad). But last week I got a message that they would b charging me if I didn’t get my stuff finished by today.

And before you freak out – no, you didn’t miss a deadline – I’m just lazy and started the forms like a month ago and got so discouraged that I haven’t sent them in yet. And, while this would be the opportune time to tell you all not to procrastinate, the fact that I am using this time to write this blog rather than finish that paperwork, somewhat exempts me from being a rational voice in the conversation. And should I get busy today and not meet the deadline, I suppose next weeks blog can be about doing better with my time management.

Adulting is Hard

Look, in my early twenties I definitely had this grand idealistic mindset that lead me to believe I’d have my life together by 26 or 27. And in my head, if I didn’t reach this goal I was a failure. In my head, by 26-27 I’d have a nice boyfriend, a stable job, properly managed healthcare and mental healthcare, I’d live in a nice apartment or house or – anyway… in short, I was completely and utterly wrong. And while I am usually one to blame myself for this and everything else, what I am realizing is that it’s ok not to know everything by 27. Especially because we are so ill equipped to manage most of the things we have to figure out in our early to late twenties.

Fact: No one taught me how to do my taxes growing up – so how was I supposed to know where to start with it? And don’t get me wrong, over time I did figure it out, but it has been and continues to be a process because being an adult is hard.

And look, while I could twist this piece to talk about the rich and the poor and who gets away with less taxes and how that isn’t fair or how it’s a man’s world because I feel like I always bring up the same topics of men and mortality and yada yada. Honestly, today’s feelings are just cut and dry. Being an adult is dumb and taxes are dumb and half the time the world we live in doesn’t make sense with the way it works.

So… if you’re still here, and you’re like me – equally confused and upset about the process of being an adult and doing your taxes, know that today, you are not alone – and that, at any age, you are allowed to not know what you are doing all the time. Because Adulting is Awkward – and day by day, we’re all just trying to figure it out.

Preach Don’t Practice

Have you ever noticed that the most vocal pro-american, pro-freedom people are also the first to decide how to limit the rights of others? That these “Americans” are the first to decide who is allowed into their mostly all boys club – and that the people they let in, rarely reflect the world as it truly stands.

Have you ever noticed that as one of the largest and most formidable world powers we don’t actually lead anyone toward progress or rank well in matters concerning education or welfare?

Have you ever noticed that people are much quicker to preach, than they are to practice? And if you have noticed these things, do they ever bother you?

Does it both… Yes

It’s no secret that the world has been a mess lately. Covid got demoted to an Endemic, but still affects millions, Putin started a war over in the Ukraine because he was bitter and bored, and the United States of America continues to stand divided when it comes to our most basic promise of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness for ALL american citizens. And while the first two issues get me heated, the third has been really boiling my blood.

Don’t say Gay…

In the past couple weeks multiple states have been criticized for the creation of bills that target children… and yes you heard me right… children.

So to start I am going to give you a bit of an aside to tie a couple things I mentioned above–

In the Ukraine right now there is obviously a war going on with the Russians, but one of the first things that societies do in war time is protect the women and children. They do this, I assume, because their children are more vulnerable, but they are also their future. Their children are the ones to carry on with their beliefs and practices and legacies. So in war we protect them the most.

Similarly, when we look at crime, in the United States and in the world, one of the most dangerous criminals to be incarserated as is a pedofile – because even amongst murderers and thieves, crimes against children are inexcusable and if the court won’t find justice, the criminals will.

As terrible as it is to say, in our world, there are an infinite number of ways to damage or hurt or break someone. In fact, for centuries men have been finding new ways to perfect the art of hurting one another. So much so that some of the only things we, as human beings can agree upon is that certain methods of harm and certain methods of killing are to inexcusable to use, even in war time. But for all the laws forbidding crimes against humanity and all the rules preventing chemical warfare, psychological harm and domestic violence are still issues that continue to run rampant everyday, and for what? When will we stop classifying people as worthy or unworthy of being treated with decency? That’s the question we should be asking.

Anyway… Bills, Bills, Bills

In the past month or so, multiple states have been creating bills that target LGBT children. In one iteration of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill there was even a clause where florida teachers were to inform a students parents that their child was gay within 6 weeks of finding out that they were. Other bills in multiple states forbid trans youth from getting healthcare or playing organized sports, and almost all of the bills in question focus on limiting what students learn in the classroom when it comes to race, gender, and sexuality.

Similarly, these bills will force educators to create a full school year of lesson plans by June so that PARENTS can weigh in and determine what their kids will actually learn, and if these parents don’t agree with the lessons or are made uncomfortable and the teacher still chooses to educate on these topics, then the teacher can be fined a crippling amount.

Excuse my french – but this is bull shi*

Let’s get one thing straight

LGBT concerns aside — Teaching is not a group project, even if education is.

Let me explain.

When it comes to our education as a whole – there are hundreds if not thousands of people that get a hand in what we learn. Friends and family teach us love and how to pursue our passions, they teach us about what is socially acceptable and that maybe you shouldn’t pick your nose…? Bosses teach us best practices at work and relatives teach us about our histories both shared and personal. But when it comes to the classroom – teachers are the only ones in the room who have been trained to educate us on specific things and themes.

Sooo….

Teaching is not a group project. But I am not surprised that it is the one place that people (who have zero experience in the field) think that they can reach in and do the job. Because you definitely wouldn’t try to represent yourself in court, and you certainly wouldn’t want to perform heart surgery on grandma – and in most cases you wouldn’t jump onto the field if your favorite quarterback was having a rough day – but you have no problem telling a teacher what they can and can’t or should and shouldn’t teach.

Practice more Preach Less

Look, at the end of the day I really didn’t even scratch the surface with this topic. But it’s not my job to teach you as much as it is to start the conversation and practice the kind of acceptance I preach. And while I used some pretty strong examples to try and get some thoughts across I hope in this ending I can pull it together well. So here we go.

In a world where so much has been going wrong, in a decade where so many lives have been lost already, and a modern age where we still exist amongst so much hate, the last thing we should be doing is isolating children from their identities and giving teachers one more reason to pack up and pick a new profession. So, if you got anything from what I am saying today it is that we need to stop fighting the wrong kinds of wars. And protecting our kids from the wrong things. We need to stop fighting over territory and the belief that only one type of people deserves respect and we need to accept that our history is an equal a part of our story just as we know our future is – and the more we waste time ignoring where we’ve been and limiting growth and holding ourselves back with false promises the more we are going to prevent our future from rising to what we know it and they can be.

Death, Dickinson, and Daddy Issues

Because I could not stop for Death — he kindly stopped for me — The Carriage held but just Ourselves — And Immortality.

EMILY DICKINSON

So this week I turned 26, and while my mother did not receive a goat or cow or horse in exchange for my hand in marriage, I can fairly say that it’s been a rather productive week – and I believe that productivity is, in part, due to a question I asked myself and a question I would like to ask you all (my fearless readers) now.

At what age did you stop chasing death, only to realize you had to start running from him?

I was 14, His Name is Death, and I could have loved him but I didn’t

I was 14 when I met death, but it wasn’t until I was 18 that I stopped chasing him.

I don’t remember the exact day of course because it wasn’t a stand out performance kind of day. There was no epiphany that lead me to want to stop dying inside and get to living – I guess I just finally started to find moments where living was less of something I had to do for others and turned into something I got to do for me.

That said, if I had to pick a moment it was probably around June of 2014 – I had just graduated high school and I was in Florida (of all places) on the back of a 4 wheeler, clinging to my best friend, drinking bud light, caked in mud and getting bitten by fire ants. And admission of underage drinking aside, I guess it was just a moment where the scales tipped for me. Where living felt lighter and more free than dying.

Anyway, So yeah I was 18, which I suppose is fitting, because most people chasing death are the ones who think that they have the power to escape it – but by the time we become adults with the freedom and aggression and resilience to fight the good fight — well I guess that’s when we all usually and finally realize that we cannot out run death, but we can certainly make it harder for him to keep up.

When it comes to Death, I look to Dickinson

Emily Dickinson was a prolific writer but she was also an outcast for much of her life. Mostly because her vision and her ideals existed far outside the limitations of her time. AKA she was super wacky.

Now, while I certainly cannot compare my writing chops to Emily’s I could argue that my friends and I have a similar strangeness to us. Why? You may ask. Well, because like young Emily Dickinson – Death is a popular topic of conversation between one of my friends and I. And before you call a therapist, please allow me to explain.

For many, death is a frightening topic because we, as humans fear the unknown, I mean look at all the time spent creating narratives to explain what we can’t and know what we may never know.

ANYWAY – I find it strange that in a world that mostly clings to a fear of uncertainty — the thing we fear the most is inherently certain and unarguably unavoidable.

three things cannot long stay hidden, the sun, the moon, and the truth

TEEN WOLF

Truthfully, death doesn’t scare me because I used to chase him before he thought to chase me. I mean, don’t get me wrong, he did scare me at one point, but, in most ways I am more afraid of what happens to the ones I love after I am gone – but in terms of whatever the universe has in store after I am, I’m not all that concerned. Which again, is why I believe that Emily Dickinson’s poems always resonated with me – because like her and like Wordsworth, I realize that there are more paths to immortality than those that have to do with escaping and avoiding death.

His name was Death, hers Dickinson, but in their love story — everyone just blames the Daddy Issues

I think we all reach a certain point in our lives where we become desensitized to loss – and don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t stop the hurt, but it does – slowly – begin to hurt a bit less.

We begin to fear it a bit less. Because Death is not a bold or dangerous man.

Now, personally, I experienced a lot of loss at a young age. And because one of those major losses was my father, people assume I must have “daddy issues” – but I don’t (at least, not in the traditional sense of the term). These days, media plays the game of selling girls with daddy issues as commodities, and while I believe myself to be quite valuable, I am also not for sale.

Yet another reason that I exist in multiple states of inherent contradictions. But that’s besides the point.

And arguably I lost the point like three headings ago so here it is.

In all of our lives there is a time when we realize we have been taunting death – most blame youth for this, but I’d argue the opposite. I think this fear has a trickle down effect. That those closer to death, fixate on it more and thus they hide it from the ones who are younger – which in turn allows them to forget that he exists – and so in those moments we chase him and the ones he takes – because we are too young, by comparison, to be taken too.

When we are kids we believe we can live forever because everyone around us is big and grown and free and alive – so we chase that dream. But when we grow, the ones we love die and because we have always followed them we lose all sense of direction. And then by the time we find it again – we turn around and chase death again. So when did you start running? And who will catch who first?

No Buts

I know it’s ok, but…

I know it’s ok, but I’m not where I thought I’d be by now.

Its psychological you know

When it comes to expectations, we approach them from what we already know and what we see and experience around us. So, we can’t actually picture what our life will look like – yet society and pinterest tricks us into planning it all out and pretending that the best we can do is white weddings and trips to the hamptons with our two and a half beautiful babies. Big houses, and little league and – clearly I grew up very lucky because I know how much privilege comes with those dreams.

And it’s funny because these expectations, they aren’t unlike how we view happiness because subconsciously we all have a level of happiness that we can rise to, before we believe it’s “too good to be true.” So we expect what we already know to happen again, just as it has, and when it doesn’t, it jars us. We grow up expecting what we think we deserve, but at any age we are still learning what we deserve based on our own developing definition of worth so — in short, we can’t fathom what the future looks like, but we honest to goodness believe we can. And then we get disappointed when it doesn’t happen.

Back then I had it all figured out

Or at least… I thought I had it all figured out. Typical youth dilemma, I know.

Anyway…

Lately I’ve been excessively retrospective, telling my friends that “I had a better idea of what 26 would look like when I was 16, than I do now.” Which is somewhat a lie, because back then I didn’t think I’d make it this far but also true in that – when I skipped to this part of my story, being an adult and having freedom etc. it did look a lot less complicated. But back then, so did life.

A decade ago, in 2012, my future looked a lot less complicated and a lot more straight-forward. And despite what you may assume, it wasn’t because I was young. It’s because the world we know now, was just getting started.

[Insert HUH?]

Let me explain…

In 2012, I was 16 years old, just over 3x the age of the first iPhone, which was made in 2007. And this was also the year, most of us thought the world was ending, not because we had real proof, but because at least 4 movies came out saying that it was going to based on a calendar that was thousands of years old. In 2012, the music industry was much harder to get into. Like a lot harder, and it wasn’t because the talent wasn’t there but because the technology needed to make an EP was much less accessible than it is now. In 2012, I was still watching the Disney channel… and all the shows were still irrefutably iconic and High School Musical wasn’t a remake it was still a story being told for the first time. In 2012 I was binging the vampire diaries, and writing the first draft of my novel. I was grieving, and living with it, and praying to a godless sky that I could find answers that I knew wouldn’t come. In 2012 I had no possible idea of what my 20’s would look like beyond fiction and fantasy – but in that way, I suppose a part of me then, knew more than I do now. Because that’s exactly what the concept of our twenties is before we actually get there… it’s fiction, and fantasy, and excessively hormonal teen dramas with all the sex and none of the quarter life crisis that we all inevitably go through.

So yeah, a decade ago I had a more clear picture of what 26 would look like, but 5 days out from my 26th birthday – I have no recollection of what I could have been thinking at 16.

I know it’s ok… but – no buts

I know it’s ok, but yeah, I’m definitely NOT where I thought I’d be by now… and that’s hands down the best gift I could have given myself this year because when I say “I’m not where I thought I’d be” it’s not a feeling of inadequacy, and, surprisingly, it’s not even a feeling that I’ve fallen short of my own expectations, because frankly those would have been with me, buried 6 ft in the ground or scattered across the lake that my dad and his siblings grew up on. Truth is, if I had ended up where I honestly thought I’d be now, at 16… well let’s just say I’m really glad I didn’t. And this life, it’s not a fantasy, and it’s not a show on HBO and I don’t have a super sexy vampire boyfriend [or girlfriend] – but I am figuring it all out, day by day, and on my own time.

So yeah… when I say, “I know it’s ok… that I’m not where I thought I’d be,” I mean it. Not because I never wanted to be somewhere else, not because I never wanted someone else’s life, not because I wish I had become the princess of Genovia living in a castle with Sandra O answering the queens calls [although, that would be pretty damn cool]. I say, “it’s ok” because I’m here. Because I made it. Because I kept picking points on the path to run to and telling myself, “Rachel, if you make it there, you can stop. If you make it there, it’s not giving up… but also, keep going.” And honestly, the more I think about it, I love that I am not where I thought I’d be in my imagination ten years ago, because when things get hard now, and when someone tells me it’ll be ok… I believe them. And the rest? Well, that’s all just part of the ride.

Getting Honest [With my Watch Lists]

Most people take their honesty hour with a side of 4 vodka crans, but today (and since its not mid day) we’re gonna do this one with water.

Dear Netflix,

I am sorry for my false promises. Sorry that I have lead you to believe that I could consume the amount of content I have saved – I realize now, that I could never maintain the rouse I have created for myself. I am sorry. Please forgive me. Or don’t… Look. to be honest, I’ve never said that follow through was a strong suit. I mean look at this blog… on the year I had barely anything to keep me from writing I avoided it like the plague. Back then I just thought I had nothing to talk about – or, at least, nothing I felt really comfortable sharing. ANYWAY, I am getting way off track so — reeling it in. I’m sorry – I probably won’t do better, but who knows… maybe this is the year I grab my watch list by the … titles? And finally tackle some of the shows that have been building up dust. [but like probably not…]

Some could call it a gateway drug… but… that’s definitely too dramatic for this context…

It all starts with a peak into the rabbit hole

Look, you don’t need to be ashamed, we’ve all done it. We’ve all been scrolling through social media or on netflix and clicked the little (+) or the “save for later” bookmark – and then never revisited that page ever again. Hell, I mean, are you actually alive if you didn’t once have an entire pinterest board dedicated to fancy recipes that you NEVER actually made. [or maybe that’s just me….?]

Point is, it’s easy to get drawn in by the exciting trailers and the rave reviews, but sometimes time and follow through are just hard set realities that we all have to deal with… and if no one else has told you lately. It’s ok, I accept you.

Talk about toxic

I often joke that my longest relationship is with Netflix, which is fitting because as someone who was typically afraid of relationships – it would make sense that the thing I was in bed with, was also in bed with most of America (and beyond). Now, despite our differences and daliences (I can’t blame netflix, I understand that it is their job and we both knew that they wouldn’t and even couldn’t always meet all of my streaming needs. So, while unspoken, we both understand that I have had to step away from our relationship to pursue others with other services like Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Apple Tv, and even HBO… but upon recent reflection, I suppose my major discretion is not how I juggle these platforms, but rather the false promises I have made to each of them. False promises, in the form of… my watch lists.

Jokes aside

No, but on a serious note, let’s talk about this, because I know I cannot actually be the only one that has dozens of titles in their watch list that they added in the moment, but later realized that they would never get to it (or even that they didn’t want to). And as I get older it’s less about having all the time in the world to explore these things and more about developing the ideas of what I actually want to explore and what I’m trying to convince myself that I want to explore.

And this would be fine if I didn’t also do this with shopping carts on websites because while my mother thinks that I have a lot of packages coming, there is a whole other world of impulses I have proudly (or maybe shamefully) talked myself out of. But that is an aside that will have to be dug into on another day.

I’m not indecisive, nor loyal, I just don’t want to have to click through everything to remove them from my list. (so, basically, I’m just lazy)

Anyway, so look, I get it. People change. We grow, and for some of us – especially me – and my ADHD, I grow and I change but I also often struggle with object permanence (aka. if I don’t see it, it doesn’t always exist,) so, if I am being honest, this issue is usually out of sight and out of mind. I mean, these days our streaming services cater the experience to us and our habits, so half the time I don’t even think to look at my list to figure out what to watch next – it just shows me something fun, hot shiny, or new and whoop! off we go…

Maybe it’s just me

When it comes to lists, and old scraps of paper, and yes, even my streaming services. Those histories can tell us a lot about where we’ve been. Looking back can help us remember those times we needed someone, the times we didn’t, it shows date nights and nights in and even times when we thought we could stay up all night — but definitely shouldn’t have.

And sometimes, like last night, I spent 30 minutes (probably less) adding old disney titles to my disney watch list because seeing them again gave me a boost of nostalgia. So sometimes things are there not to actually be seen, but to just trigger old happy memories. Which is crazy and probably another cornerstone sign of a mentally ill person but hey, if “the fox and the hound” makes me smile – who is to say I shouldn’t embrace that?

And sure – it’s trivial but it also speaks to something bigger. Like, universally bigger. It speaks to the fact that there are few types of people in this world, the least of which may or may not contain – people who have watched everything they’ve saved, and those who really have not. And I for one am someone who most definitely has not and most likely will not. But at least that has taught me something about how my brain works and hopefully it’ll continue to teach me that time spent with ourselves and with others is and always has been about choices. That it is and always will be a question of, will this add to my life, or could this time be better spent somewhere else – and for learning that, I place no apologies… but on a completely unrelated note… I fully intend to do some decluttering this weekend, you know, just because I can.

“The Greatest in the World”

“Last name greatest, first name ever…” but when it comes to living in this country, we rarely, if ever, used to ask – but at what cost?

Unpopular opinion: the United States isn’t the greatest country in the world, nor do we, as citizens have the most freedoms of all the countries in the world. So unless you go by the United States definition of “Great,” we aren’t the “Greatest” we’re just the most powerful, and the most likely to defend our ego and our position as the most powerful, at any cost. That said, why am I coming at my country’s throat today? Easy, because this week another state, South Dakota, has passed a bill banning transgender athletes from participating in school sports. But I’m not upset for the reason most people would assume.

“Let the kids play”

So when it comes to the transgender athletes in sports I have no stake in the game. As a cis gender female myself, I obviously cannot speak on behalf of the trans experience… but neither can cis male legislature! And yet they continue to do so. And personally, I think that’s wrong.

Look, as someone who grew up playing sports, someone who lost a incredibly large part of her identity when she walked away and aged out of sports, and someone who genuinely believes and supports the ideals only taught and learned in organized sports – I can completely understand why lawmakers and coaches and athletes want to continue to compete on a level playing field. But the problem they are addressing isn’t genetic advantage, the problem isn’t what genitalia the participant has. It’s bigotry. And it’s transphobia and they are simply hiding behind false platitudes and the fact that trans people aren’t a represented and they aren’t a part of the conversation.

So Rachel, are you saying you think men should be able to play women’s sports? No. But I’d also argue that most male lax players (for example) wouldn’t want to play women’s lax because it’s a much slower and very different game.

But trans women are… They’re women. So they aren’t men playing women’s sports, they’re women playing women’s sports.

But don’t they have different bone structure that would give them a clear advantage? Maybe? I mean there are women in different countries born with different builds that give them a clear, genetic, advantage – so the issue wouldn’t be bone structure or body type it would be estrogen/testosterone levels, and sports test for that when athletes reach a certain level. I mean there are even cases where women who had too much testosterone were not allowed to compete because of it. Truth is, there are exceptions to every rule. So if your best argument is the age old – men are stronger, faster, etc. than women… then I’d just suggest you open a book, because even if the fastest woman in the world is slower than the fastest man, odds are she is still stronger and faster than quite a few men.

Ok… but what about women who want to play mens sports? If that sport isn’t accessible to them, yes. That’s what title 9 is for. But if you meant to ask, can trans men play mens sports? Yes, let the men who train and qualify for that level of play, play the mens league sports.

So this is just some feminist bs? Not at all. It’s debunking the idea that men and women are trying to cross boundaries when it comes to playing sports, because all this legislation says is that they don’t accept trans men and women are men and women and thus it’s not about sports it’s about transphobia. And at the end of the day it’s not about what we as cis people believe or don’t believe. It’s about respect – and not just for our fellow man. But for the game as well.

Show your work

I am going to say this once and I’m going to say this loud. If you don’t understand someone’s experience, and you haven’t made every attempt to within the bounds of your existence to walk a mile in their shoes — You have no right whatsoever to make decisions on their behalf.

There’s no grand plot to indoctrinate your kids to the queer or trans “agenda” there’s no law that says – if we give them more, we get less. Or if “they” compete, we will lose. And from my perspective, people don’t transition so they can get a leg up, they don’t transition to be olympians – they do it to finally and for the first time in their lives have the world see them in a way they have always seen themselves. And I’m sorry if anyone disagrees with that — but frankly, it’s not about YOU.

RESPECT – the basics

If you don’t have a uterus, you can’t understand the cost of carrying or birthing a child let alone the decision whether or not to terminate.

If you are not trans and have never spoken to someone who is, how can you begin to understand what decisions they might want to make, let lone now incredibly difficult that journey toward becoming their true selves actually was.

Are you religious? Don’t apply your theological interpretations to someone who follows a different faith. And if you don’t believe in God – don’t invalidate someone who does.

Are you straight? Then why do you spend so much time thinking about how wrong it is that someone might be gay, and why assume that their love for another person is different than yours? Or that your faith will condemn them, when they may believe in something entirely different. Stop looking at love from a purely sexual lens because news flash. There’s more to relationships than who and how frequently you sleep with someone. And stop pushing your beliefs at someone who has developed their own.

Understanding nuances

Look, I know that this is a polarizing topic. I know that my opinions are probably unpopular ones. But I’m not being unreasonable by wishing for a world that allows people to freely represent themselves as a genuine part of the conversation.

I’d love to believe that everyone could live and coexist with one another, I’d love to believe that this country wasn’t built on the blood of immigrants and the bones of natives AS WELL AS the backs of people who fought for our freedoms in various capacities. I’d love to believe that we could all simply respect each other and that people could believe in all people being created equal. But I know that’s not true. So I can’t be surprised that this is happening. And why be mad when it’s not happening to me? Well that much is simple. It’s not about me – it’s about keeping those whom it does concern out of the conversation because frankly, no one should decide who gets to be heard and who gets silenced. And if the United States was actually the greatest country in the world. Maybe we’d do a better job at acting like it.

Morals of a story

Growing up a writer, but not a reader, I have always had a disjointed view of stories and the vocabulary that describes them. For me, people weren’t broken into protagonist and antagonist [people are too layered for that] and sentences were almost always improperly punctuated, not for lack of knowing how to but because my cadence and the way my brain flowed, never followed traditional rules. In my head sentences don’t start and stop. They just move. Fast.

So I guess, [to be a narcissistic stereotypical writer for a second] In more ways that one, my stories were never meant to be read off a page, but rather heard and felt and seen. But maybe that’s why I often find myself stuck. Maybe that’s why the main character in my stories was was never really me, but my braver and more self assured contemporary.

My contemporaries and me

When it came to storytelling I was always good at building the scene, but when it came to characters, I wasn’t the best at delving deeper than skin deep. Characters always followed the typical tropes of popular shows and movies. The conflicted jock, the boy broken, the promiscuous girl who wanted more, the nice ones, the mean ones, and all the ones that were always understood more easily than I felt I was.

I fancied myself an enigma, and it took years to figure out that’s something I never was.

Which, I guess, is why I found it oddly relatable when I recently heard an interview where Halsey talks about being young and thinking we’re the main character of everyone’s story.

“You are not the main character”

But I guess, back then, when it came to my stories on paper, I thought I was.

Just Rachel

It’s wild to me, the way life works. The way we are raised to create a sense of self, but also a self that fits into the mold of others. We are meant to be unique, but often only within the bounds of what others find palatable.

And while society is slowly growing away from this, for most of us, it is still very much an issue of who am I, (vs) who can I be? In certain spaces.

“It’s a hard concept to understand in your twenties…”

It’s sometimes strange to think that things don’t happen to us. But things do happen in proximity of us and because of us; and that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. And yet all the while it’s still up to us to take accountability for the things we do and accept that we can’t change the things that are beyond us.

“the most important and difficult lessons to learn in your twenties, you are not the main character of everyone else’s story.” She said. “You’re the main character of your story. But not everyone else’s.”

Halsey

And as someone in my twenties, obviously this resonated with me, I mean, duh, I’m writing a whole blog around it. But also, as a human being of any age, I think this is something all of us need to hear sometimes. Because we all find ourselves a bit too self important sometimes. And we all have things that we refuse to change.

The funny thing is that for most of my life I often haven’t felt like the main character — of my story or anyone else’s. And on the times when I should have or was meant to, I really didn’t want any part of it. But then again, maybe that’s a tell tale sign that we are because sure, I’ve been selfish, I’ve made things about me. I’ve taken anecdotes too far because I think something I say could help and beyond that I’ve even taken something personally when it really wasn’t about me.

I’ve been the girl that thinks she’s important.

But I’ve also been the girl that was shown she wasn’t. (And at the time I accepted it)

Or at least I’ve wanted to be important. And who hasn’t? Ur maybe the difference between a sense of main character syndrome and just wanting people to know you exist is that you need to learn to matter to you, so you don’t feel the pressure to matter for everyone else – because you won’t and you can’t always be that for them.

Moral of this story

Truth is, I don’t really feel like a typical 20 something and I certainly don’t feel like main character. And more than that I stopped pretending to be a hero in my stories a long time ago. So I guess at the end of the day I don’t want to be the main character right now, and I don’t really wanna be the hero either – but I’d love to explore being the villain for a little while at some point…. But I feel like that’s more of a story for next week.

Knowing, Not Knowing, and things to Unlearn

Before we get started here’s your fair warming that this piece might be part one of a saga. Self awareness is hard so, should you choose to stay, bare with me.

Subconsciously, we’re all geniuses. Consciously…. Not so much

Alright I want you to think about your kidney, think about where it is in your body. Think about what it does and all the crap it has to deal with. Now, most of us have no conscious clue of where our kidneys are – but in order for our body to work, our brain has to subconsciously know where each vein and muscle and piece of tissue is. In other words our brain knows, because our brain has to keep everything working, but if our brain knows, why don’t we? If our brain knows, and we don’t, then what else are we lying to ourselves about? How much do we know, not know, and need to unlearn?

Sight, truth, and knowing

Now, think about your nose. How much of it can you see if you really try and think? Not much. But that’s a trick. Supposedly, we can see all of it, but our brain blocks it out and tricks us, because we can’t handle it. And so this got me thinking. How much of me, the way I think, the way I act, the way I scrape my teeth with my fork when I bite into food, how much of this is instinct? How much is conscious choice? And how much of who we are, is simply attributed to our “factory settings?”

Nature vs. Nurture

Now, I know what you’re thinking. That factory settings are the same as what we’re programmed with and how things change over time. And to a mild extent you’re night. But when I talk about factory settings I’m more looking at life through the scope of conscious decision making and how most of us gaslight the hell out of ourselves to negotiate what is true and what we can’t handle if that truth was true.

So as an example – is straight the base line natural setting of sexuality? Or is straightness the factory setting that we adhere to even though sexuality about is meant to be about what feels good and society is just to blame because it determined that keeping people in boxes is more digestible. In other words, there’s nature, there’s nurture, then theirs society. And while not all of us choose to 100% get in boxes and conform – some of us have to work to understand and even unlearn the factory settings that were molded into believing.

Learning and leaning away from “Factory settings”

The idea that we exist similar to that of an IPhone IOS update might strike you as odd, but taken in the context of internalized misogyny and internalized homophobia, in insecurities and the seemingly continental United States ideal that all of Africa is huts and hungry people (which it’s absolutely not) – it isn’t insane to assume that many of us have been programmed via nature and nurture alike to condemn ideals and hold tight to others. It’s no surprise that after being gaslit in our most formidable years that we continue to believe the voices that hurt and condemned us. But it is surprising how few of us dive in and do the work needed to reset and reboot ourselves because, frankly, It’s not insane to, at a certain point, question… am I doing this for me, or am I doing this to get by. Do I actually like x,y, or z or was I trained to respond to these things in these ways. And while the obvious examples are the big ideals in prejudice, like race and sexuality it’s also as simple as asking the kid in class who misbehaves, “what did you do this time” rather than, “why? Why did you do this?” It’s as simple as changing the narrative from – I endured this, so you can survive it too – to – I survived this so you wouldn’t have to… and luckily I think some aspects of our world are starting to warm to that idea, but we are definitely still very far off from making it common practice.

My point? Assumptions are dangerous. Bias is dangerous. Prejudice is and can be deadly. But there’s nothing more dangerous than settling into assumptions you’ve made about yourself because yes we all create a narrative of who we are, but we also allow others to flip the script and write it for us too and the fact of the matter is, they don’t know us like we do… then again sometimes we also allow ourselves to revert to “factory settings” and in the end, that doesn’t really benefit anyone either.

The reboot

So, like I said earlier – sometimes I wish my brain had a check engine light. One that could tell me when I need servicing, when I’m out of gas, when I need an oil change or my tires rotated. (None of this is sexual innuendo so.. mind and gutter need to detach.)

Look sometimes I wish I had someone or something in my brain that could check me and tell me how much of my personality has been updated or upgraded and what is still just adhering to the factory settings. And yes I could go to therapy… but realistically and as a millennial, that’s more expensive then avo toast and frankly it’s not immediately gratifying enough.

Sometimes I just want to see my nose

Look, most of us have heard the forest through the trees argument. And all of us, knowingly or not have fallen into habits of believing what’s easy over what is right and believing what makes us fit in over what could make us truly happy. (And if you don’t believe me just find any tiktok lesbian because a lot of women figured a lot of things out in the past year and most of them aren’t in their early years.) being able to identify what you know, what you don’t know and what you need to unlearn ISNT EASY – and it’s also not concise or succinct, so I apologize.

I guess what I’m trying to say, in my own just Rachel way, is that I’m in this process of working with my settings. I’m trying to be more intentional with my actions in relationships and in friendships and in the work I do here and at the place who pays my bills. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m trying to do the work and trust me it sucks, but it’s also really great to feel like I’m developing the kind of relationship where I can actually trust myself.

So I guess to wrap it up, for now, I’ll just say that my advice is to ask more questions. Especially when you don’t think you’ll like the answer. Because it’s about time you make conscious decisions in terms of what you want for yourself and not just what others want for you. I guess it ties in to that stuff I said about changing you to please them.

And honestly, at the end of the day, it’s just about working on what you want and resetting your expectations – because sometimes it’s not worth lying to yourself – and it’s never worth it to gaslight yourself just because it’s something you were conditioned to do.

New – Years

I’ve never really loved the concept of birthdays. Not in terms of the celebrating or the cake (I do love cake) but in the practice of hyping one day up to be more transformative than the last. The way we celebrate birthdays – past the age of themed parties and the party favor era, tends to perpetuate this idea that we should feel different or feel more like a certain age. But the problem with that is our pre conceived notion of what that age “should” feel like, when we have no basis for understanding it because we haven’t felt it before. So I don’t know about you but, more often than not, I don’t “feel” different or like I’m a certain age. And I mean, sure, the hangovers started hitting harder after 22 but it wasn’t an over night sensation or anything, it just gradually became more and more unbearable until I decided to adapt. And for me, the concept of New Years strikes the same way. See it’s not the celebration I take issue with, but the idea that January first brings new habits or allows us to remake ourselves. But realistically, all this does is just tee us up to fail – because unlike the date, discipline doesn’t just change in a day.

Look I’m not trying to be a pessimist. I just think we should do things differently. I think we should build change when it’s called for, not when it’s popular or convenient. I think we should celebrate days as they come and not place pressure on a select few to be more transformative than the rest. And this doesn’t just go for personal habits or changes. Throughout our society we put so much faith on particular days. On big moments of change, but in doing so we avoid giving credit to the people and things and thoughts and moments that actually got us there. Think about the biggest changes in your life. A marriage, a loss, a revelation. These things rarely happen suddenly. Getting a job, writing a book, even making a sandwitch – the steps that go into making these things a reality, arguably start long before you put two slices of bread from the loaf or place pen to paper.

Change just simply doesn’t happen overnight. So why do we continue to put stake in these things and these quick fixes? (Rhetorically speaking)

All this said, this year I’m approaching change differently. And more specifically I’m approaching days differently. Over the past couple years I found ways to resolve my goals as they come – no longer waiting for tomorrow or Monday or a new year. And I intend to continue that trend. But I also want to start enjoying smaller moments. I want to be braver and smarter when it comes to speaking my mind, I want to respect myself and my relationships where they stand. I want to be honest with myself when it comes to what I can handle and what needs more work/patience. And despite how this may come off this isn’t a New Years resolution. It’s just a resolution to do better and be better than yesterday. And the way I see it, that’s all I could ask for.

Time wastes for no one.

This morning I woke up with an almost unshakable belief that it was Saturday. I think checked my phone three times to look at the day and the date before convincing myself to get out of bed and get some chores done before work…. And while this was undoubtably just a byproduct of the self care and Benadryl I partook in last night, this isn’t the first day I’ve woken up thinking it was another time.

When it comes to wasting time, to wishing time away, to looking forward and wanting to fast forward moments of my life, I haven’t always been innocent. To be honest, these days it’s usually more of a subconscious thought than one I’d actually wish on stars for, but nonetheless it’s there, in the back of my head, reminding me I am human and that there are no shortcuts to life’s great successes. But I’m also equally guilty when it comes to wanting to rewrite time, and while neither actually move me forward I don’t think I could put a finger on which is actually worse.

See, I find it funny that time moves slower on the days we wish it wouldn’t, and faster on the good times to remind us how fleeting things are. Last night I was watching my favorite show, and every week that it’s on I have to remind myself that it’s an hour-long program, because it never seems like it is. I find it funny how time is constant, but the feeling and the passage changes constantly. How a hard mile can feel like an hour but 10 seconds or less in a hundred dash can be long enough to change history. And don’t worry – I’m not going off on this tangent to be prolific, I promise, I’m just thinking aloud so I can get to my point — so here it is.

Time isn’t linear,

It’s cyclical.

But not for lack of trying, but because we, as societies, are constantly trying to best the plans that time has for us. Because we are so often too power hungry and privileged to realize that consequences don’t always affect us, but they do affect someone.

So——? So, we wake up, we go to work, we count the days of the week and whether we want it to or not we always get to Sunday night wishing we had two more days of rest over a Monday that we have to slump through. The days of the week rotate, the hands of the clock rotate, the whole damn world rotates, and our actions fall into cycles and ruts and sometimes we break it only to end up in a new cycle that may or may not be better than the last.

So, you see, one could argue that all things in the natural realm turn on a forward moving axis and that we are just along for the ride… so yeah, this morning I woke up thinking it was Saturday, but it wasn’t and maybe that can happen without consequence considering I was able to right what I thought I believed, but on the other hand, just last week the Supreme Court woke up thinking it was 1973. So while I sit here, contemplating how I could have missed a day, they’ve missed nearly 4 decades… which honestly is less surprising when you take a pause to note what motivates me and what motivates them.

See it’s one thing to look back at “simpler times” where we’ve contemplated and rewritten our youth to fit the narrative of who we are now. It’s easy to gaslight ourselves because frankly, the rest of the world has been doing it to us for years – but who is it actually benefitting? When we put ink to paper in these history books, when the victors claim truth in a boy who cried wolf situation – who actually benefits? Because it isn’t women, it isn’t democrats or republicans, it isn’t politicians, or anyone with or without a uterus. It isn’t minorities or people of differing genders and sexual orientations. Hell it isn’t even people who follow a particular religion or have spiritual beliefs.

See all of us are familiar with the phrase, time waits for no man. But the truth is, time doesn’t waste for us either. We don’t get to pick and choose how it moves, or chase alternate realities because time doesn’t forget injustice, it doesn’t sugar coat politics, it doesn’t provide power. Time is not to blame for the choices man makes and the time man wastes. It just moves – and it always moves forward. So why can’t we?

The things WE want us to be

You know, people tend to use the term over thinking as a one off or a write off. “Oh you’re just over thinking it.” Which actually, in most cases, acts as a dismissal. Something to say, “just get out of your head and go for it. Take the job, take the leap, date the guy, whatever the situation, stop thinking, and go for it.” And as much as I’d love to say it’s not that easy, that’s a write off too, because it’s not about easy. What it is about though, is fear, coping with past trauma, and avoiding whatever core issue that this issue is triggering. But most of all, it’s about an instinct toward recognizing patterns while also refusing to accept where they lead. (Aka – denial)

See, I don’t know about you, but as someone prone to overthinking, being an over-thinker is something I wish I wasn’t. And I only wish I wasn’t because everyone else has identified it as bad or unfavorable or made it seem like I’m crazy because of how much time I allocate to avoiding stuff that ‘could’ or ‘could not’ happen.

And sure, if you look at my past, most of the things I overthink wouldn’t surprise you but if you didn’t know me from a brick wall you wouldn’t think it’s something I deal with as often as I do; and obviously, that’s intentional but it makes it that much harder to be me.

On any given day I’d bet that 50% of my time is me overthinking – or reevaluating something I did or said – or anticipating what might come next. And to be clear, that’s a fictional assumption, but it’s also probably lowballing the situation. See, in a lot of ways that percent of my time becomes the kind of beginner code I programmed into a robot in middle school. A living embodiment of “if this:then that” situations. And the funny thing is that I also know life isn’t that predictable, but I am. Or at least, I could be.

I think the biggest check I’ve ever taken to my ego was at a Irish pub in 2016. I was at temple bar drinking and flirting and loving life when the guy I was talking to told me that I was not nearly as complicated as I believed myself to be. And among other sentiments on that trip, that simple statement tipped over the first of dozens of dominoes that finally made me realize that the only person who thought I was complicated, was the same person trying to solve herself like a god damn Rubix cube, when in reality she was more like a puzzle with a couple edge pieces that fell off the table.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s easy to say that we lie to ourselves every once in a while, but what’s hard is justifying the excuses of why we do it and what’s harder is justifying those excuses to people who occasionally know us better than ourselves. But you know what the real kicker is, no one knows us better than we do. But we hide behind the idea that they do because it puts it off us. So we think that if we can convince someone else, maybe we can finally believe it, but that’s not actually how it works.

As an over thinker I’m sometimes stuck in this cycle of thinking I can win – and to be clear I’m fighting myself- so I keep trying new ways to tackle the same surface problem over and over and over again until I realize that the problem I was trying to fix was just the top layer of what needs to be tackled next. And so I regroup and take a step back, I grab some water, and return to the ring to fight the next thing – as if there’s an end to the means.

Look, at the end of the day no one is exempt from getting in their own head, and it’s no secret that while others can take a step back, we’re trapped. But the important thing is that we take time to realize that we are the ones trapping ourselves. That we are the ones saying we can’t be the things we want to be. And it’s not easy, but once we can put a face to our demons, we can realize that the world is not about being the you that someone else wants you to be – it’s about living with who you are.

Don’t doubt you, to please them

You know, people tend to use the term over thinking as a one off or a write off. “Oh you’re just over thinking it.” Which actually, in most cases, acts as a dismissal. Something to say, “just get out of your head and go for it. Take the job, take the leap, date the guy, whatever the situation, stop thinking, and go for it.” And as much as I’d love to say it’s not that easy, that’s a write off too, because it’s not about easy – it’s about fear, it’s about coping for past trauma, and it’s about avoiding. But most of all, it’s about instinct.

Lately the narrative surrounding first impressions has been taking a turn. Most of us were raised to think that someone who we meet, who gives us butterflies, is someone we should pursue, but now people are saying “if they give you butterflies, run.” And the idea behind it is that lasting relationships make you feel safe and butterflies are this exciting high that our bodies get used to and then depend on. So when things calm down, we get bored and we bounce. And aside from internalized and externalized misogyny I think this is also why mothers tell their daughters not to sleep with a guy on a first date. Because the truth of the matter is, they’re either interested, or they’re not – and anything that happens in between is just grey.

Let’s talk about the grey

I can’t say where I developed the ideology that love is transactional. That dates should be reciprocated with something more than a thank you. That getting someone in your life and keeping them in your life means sacrificing parts of you to fit or compensate for parts of them. And I can’t place where I gained the impression that I owe so much more to a world that has chewed me up and spit me out, than I do to myself – but I fight it every day. And on days when I decide not to, where I decide to try to break the cycle, I quickly end up back at square one fighting a mind that’s trying to anticipate a dozen outcomes just to avoid the one or two where I get hurt.

So, in short, it’s exhausting being me.

But it’s also exhausting being right… On any given day I’d guess that a minimum of 50% of my thoughts are comprised of replaying conversations I’ve had (either during that day or anytime in the past should those memories be triggered) or curating what I’m about to say next or talking myself out of saying that thing because it would create all kinds of problems. Another 20% is tangents which means another 10% has to be allocated to reeling myself back in. Leaving a very generous 20% to play with but realistically it’s more like 15% after you take out anything related to tiktok.

Look, this isn’t minority report, my brain does not have a special algorithm that allows me to predict the future because if it did I’d probably a whole lot better off . I guess what I’m trying to say or even just emphasize is that 50% of my time goes to stuff I can’t control, 30% is distractions, 15% is realistically just in the moment people pleasing and the last 5% is a god damn clock app. And while I am completely and perpetually aware that these numbers are completely fictitious my point is that I’m now questioning my sanity as much as I’m grappling for control.

Accepting yourself and your thoughts

That said, lately I’ve been turning my own narrative. I’ve been trying to put myself out there and work with my emotions rather than control them, especially when it comes to relationships. And this isn’t a sign of me giving in, or compromising or lowering my standards to fit what life looks like for traditional 25 year old over-thinkers.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m trying to develop my own sort of butterfly effect (not the one with time travel), working with nerves and fears and instinct. Working on ways to better support myself and those around me by understanding that ideals I developed growing up, and the basis for my relationship experiences are just that, a basis. A basis, rather than a hard and fast rule.

Look when I started this blog I didn’t know much more than I do now. But I did value myself a lot less than I thought I did compared to now. Things I used to settle for, the attention and money I used to chase because that was what I thought made young people great — none of that matters as much as it used to. And that’s incredibly freeing.

See I used to think that I owed the world everything. I’d spiral down to the belief that I had to chase my fathers name and I had to make my own and that I had to be so fiercely independent because I wanted respect and I don’t know, power? Long story short I got trapped in intrusive thoughts and now I’ve turned certain parts of my overthinking into an asset. And I’ve done that by accepting myself and my crazy too.

The moral of the story

Look, at the end of the day no one knows you better than yourself (and maybe your best friend) but at the end of the day you can’t sacrifice you to please the them (men, women, mom, or dad) because even if your mind is dark and even if you have to replay moments to understand – it all helps you grow and make better choices than you did yesterday and hopefully today or tomorrow or next week you’ll trust yourself more.

And, if you can’t trust yourself everyday, then think about it this way – Even if this life takes a village, it’s up to you to build the home that lets those people in. So be brave enough to let them in but never for a second apologize for being you to be more palatable for them.

In other words, don’t doubt you, to please them. (You know, like the title says)