Thursday, February 23, 2012

Musing: Fear, Love and Chess...?

There was once a time where I was fearless. I would get on a bike, knowing I would be almost magnetically drawn to the one pole/ditch/bench/object in the area, fall and scrap something, and yet I'd do it anyway. There was a time when I was fearless, and wrote a boy in my class a love poem, because he told me he thought it was cool that I read above our grade's reading level by at least 4 grades. I used to be fearless once.

When my Dad left my Mom, I thought I handled it well. My dad was my best friend in the world at the time, and all I knew for sure were the three of us (and my dog Lucky) and suddenly I didn't have that knowledge any more and couldn't be sure of the ground I stood on, much less the people in my life. And now that I think on it, that's when I started to become afraid, not only of doing things away from my two people but of life in general.

So between the ages of twelve and eighteen I was existing in this world; life was happening to me, and I didn't really have any feelings about it. Point of fact, all I was interested in during those years was falling in love, and being somebody's everything and having something, some love, that I felt was lacking. And I looked in all the wrong places for that validation. Once I hit nineteen, for the first time in life I lived exclusively with my Dad. I stayed with him no more than two years all together.

When I was nineteen I fell in love with this guy who could never and would never love me back. I spent the better part of my year or so knowing him trying to force myself to be what he liked, force myself thinner, prettier, funnier, anything so that he would see things the way I did, so that he would see me as a woman who could love him. And then I spent the next two years learning to trust myself again, and forgive my foolish heart for not taking the hints that were given; I spent those years undoing all the damage that he and I caused myself.

Over time I've become fearful. I fear not having things as much as I do having them. I fear making friends, as because of my nomadic past I have a tendency to pull away from people once I feel like I'm no longer needed or that I may be moving. I fear not being near either of my parents, because to me they (and W) are all I've got. I fear falling in love again because the first time was disastrous and took me so long to come back from, and I still feel like I'm missing pieces from it.

But I can't let fear govern my moves anymore. Life is scary. You fall in love and you don't know how or when or why but you do, and for someone not knowing how and not having answers that could be terrifying. You find a new job that you're not sure you're even qualified for, where it seems everyone, including you are expecting you to fail. You make a move that's so out of character for you, you question your own mind and intentions. Life is scary, but not living it would be the real nightmare.

Not taking those leaps when they present themselves is short changing yourself, psyching yourself out into believing that, for whatever reason, you don't deserve or wouldn't know what to do with those things that you crave and that you do, indeed, deserve.

I keep thinking that I confronted my fears on a snowy day in Fayetteville, that the day my heart was broken was the day I came face to face with my worse fears and overcame them. Only now do I realize that fear still hides behind my advice to others, my cautious way of living, my unusually tough walls to get behind. I give the veneer of being shy and reserved, but the fact is I'm amazingly outgoing...once I stop being afraid of you. And I'd never realized it until, once again, I got overwhelmed with feelings of missing home, and remembering that crazy dude who didn't realize that he'd broken me. I got caught up in the 'what if' game of these new things I'm attempting, this new life I'm trying to forge for myself. And I cry when I get overwhelmed which makes me feel really...girly; more than one emotion at a time and I'm pretty much putty that's another blog for another time.

Fear of rejection. Fear of pain. Fear of losing things you hold close to your heart. We've all got them, and we all process them differently. I forget that not dealing with them doesn't make them go away, rather for me they make them all the more tangible. As a woman who's going through this inner change into who I'm meant to be, I neglected working through my fears as I figured you grow out of those, right? You grow out of not being picked first for the teams, and the teasing, and whatever else made you fearful as a kid...right? No, fear is something that'll grow within you if you let it.

So my sage words for today are diminish the fear. Everything you do is going to have risks and consequences, and anything you think you deserve is going to take sweat and tears and work. Not taking those risks to avoid those consequences cheat you out of the rewards. Letting fear rule you makes you a pawn on the chess board of life when you should be the Queen (or King), the piece that makes all the moves, the most valuable piece on the board. That's not to say be hasty and just move your Queen around whilly-nilly, but recognize the good before it's too late. Don't let the fear of losing the Queen piece cost you the entire game.

Tes Gets Jealous Easy

I am messy. The two rooms that are my responsibility have clothes everywhere, maybe a couple empty containers of God knows what and hair paraphernalia literally everywhere. I start off this way to say, I'm not perfect, as much as people may peg me as such, or as much as I'd like to be.

I'm also easily jealous, especially if I'm not sure of my standing with people. I learned  acknowledged this earlier in my college life where I was in the running to be this guy's potential girlfriend; he was a flirt and almost no girl was off limits. As such, I became really insecure; was I not enough for him? I wore make-up and sexed up my look, I dumbed myself down and acted a little more like those girls he was into, but yet it was like he was still searching for the next best thing, not realizing (or maybe realizing and not caring that) he had a girl who would care, love, and be there for him all in me.

It took me two years to fully get over that guy. I think it was because I wanted it so badly and it just ending up not holding, but what I never got over was that irrational jealousy when people I genuinely care about are involved. I wish I could get over it, as life would be so much sweeter for me that way.

Jealousy for me doesn't feel like "look at that b*tch, over there eating crackers like she owns the place;" jealousy grips my heart like a very vague but very biting fear. It's never just towards women on the street; if a woman's doing her thing (and doing it well) I'm the last person to hate on that. But if there's a guy involved I've been known to get a little vicious.

I mention it today tonight because there's this guy I'm interested in (not sure if you noticed...) and I fell asleep for a few hours to find some new broad all up and through his Twitter. Now, for most women I'm not sure if that would be a problem but for me? Oh, my aching little heart went all tight in my chest and I kind of wanted to ruin her life just a little...

But I took a step back (and a deep breath) and assessed not only the situation but myself. I found I was feeling this way because I, despite my cool demeanor about where he and I are going, am still unsure; he likes to credit me as being the level-headed, patient one, and this is true but not when I get all jealous. At that point,  nothing else matters but removing that source of jealousy from the picture all together. And...that's wrong; I shouldn't have to start removing people from another person's life to make me feel better - that's childish.

Me being jealous isn't because of some random girl, it's because of me. Because I'm not confident in myself and what I have to offer, any other person moving in on my person seems threatening to me. Because I don't know what this guy sees in me, it makes it seem like any girl off the street would be able to give him something he could feel (literally and figuratively) and that scares me more than I'm willing to admit; my heart is all caught up, but what if his isn't, or he doesn't feel the same? I'm back in that boat I was two years ago, pining after someone who would never, and could never feel the same for me when I promised myself I'd never go back there.

I read once that jealousy is like drinking poison and waiting for the object you're jealous of to die, and it's  been true so far, but I've never been able to see it that way until now. All the times I was jealous in my life I'd put so much energy towards disliking, and ultimately screwing around with and hurting this other person that I neglected what doing that to them would do to me. It made me feel, in the long run, like a vindictive, petty little monster who manipulated people and their nature to get what I wanted. The sad fact of it is, in doing all of that, I never ever got what I wanted.

So after assessing all this, I calmed myself down: this guy thinks I'm one of a kind and the feeling's mutual. This guy is kind and wouldn't do something to intentionally make me feel a negative way. As for the girl? I've no idea who she is or what her intentions are or if she even has any. My overactive mind was just putting doubts in a situation where there's so much room, in my eyes, for error, trying to make me fail.

Jealousy, I think, is a product of our insecurities trying to make us back down or lose focus from the things that really matter. I really matter; I've done so much fine tuning within myself that I've become comfortable with who I am as a person but I'd be kidding myself if I said I didn't have so much room to grow. And this guy matters, because he legitimately makes my heart sing and makes me feel comfortable enough to actually be myself when I talk to him. Everything else? Well, none of that matters much unless I make it matter. And for the first time, I refuse to let something like jealousy get in the way of me being happy; I refuse to make jealousy matter.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Tes is A Little high-Strung

Okay, who am I kidding? Very high-strung. I don't remember ever not being high-strung, and even now, with me trying to grow into a better person, that sad fact still hasn't changed.

As I was getting ready to go and do errands on my day off a distinct ringtone stopped me from going out the door. I have Twitter alerts sent to my phone when I'm mentioned or a certain person posts something that could interest me. Turns out it was both; the guy I enjoy...crush... like had posted a blog. I knew I should probably get going, as the places I needed to go closed earlier that day, but I was compelled back to my laptop to read the post he'd written. And I was floored.

You see, I have a hard time believing my own hype. I don't believe I'm someone inherently special and irreplaceable. I think I'm just a normal girl with a slightly off-kilter outlook on life, love and relationships. My philosophy may be different, but in my eyes, I am not different. But to me he is, and he says I am, so what does that mean?

To know someone you're developing feelings for is in the same boat is an overwhelming feeling, especially if it's the first time you've ever encountered such a thing. Most of my life all my crushes have been totally one-sided, with me pouring out my little romantic poems and expounding my feelings in very subtle ways which to me, at the time, were large but were never returned. I'm prone to being a monochromatic person externally, but inside rays of different colored light streak my heart and soul like harp strings, each one different and unique, playing a different note that adds up to the song of my being. And after reading what he said, all those emotions shot out of me.

On the one hand I was heady than a motherf*cker and happy that for once a guy actually understood what I was saying and could articulate it back to me. Then all these fears and doubts started creeping in. What if I get bored? Or what if he does? What if at the end of all these we just end up being nothing to each other? But the one that kept repeating, kept confusing me and making me doubt myself is "Why me?"

Personally, I think this dude is probably the dopest thing since...Pete Rock and C.L Smooth's "T.R.O.Y" and for him to think of me so highly makes me all...high-strung. It warms my little heart something fierce and makes me sing (internally and externally) to think that he digs me. Like legit, I've been singing "Sweet Thing" for days now. Digress. In knowing that a person I think is so cool thinks I'm so cool kind of puts my growth to the test.

I'm still wondering why. Why would he like me? I don't do or say much anything special. I try not to be overly tempting or flirty (which is really hard) or move too fast to the point he has yet to hear my voice. So how could he, why would he, like some nobody from Podunk, Texas? Someone who he's yet to hear in stereo? Someone he's yet to hold hands with (although, if I'm being honest, that would make my year)?

And then I convinced myself to stop wondering, to stop worrying; it doesn't really matter much why or how but just that he does. I mean, he wrote for me. Nobody's ever done that for me. And he's trying to get to know me as a person, where nobody's ever ventured and that's all I've ever wanted anyone to try to do with me.

So who cares why? Who cares if, months from now, he may forget me or I may forget him (though I really doubt I would)? Who can really say what's going to happen tomorrow, or next week? Right now? The good that I feel is enough. More than enough. And us being so similar, I hope he knows all that for himself as well. I hope he knows that if I'm being distant, it's just my way of not trying to crowd. If I'm being shy, it's just that he makes me nervous, not anything necessarily he's done. I hope he knows that he's a reason for me smiling and singing so. And I hope for now, that's enough for him too.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tes has a Crush

I've had a few crushes in my lifetime enough to know myself when I get one. It starts off with denial; no, of course I don't like them, they're just funny and smart, and cute and witty and whatever else. Soon enough though I ease into full on teenage girl mode and just start picturing us together running through meadows of knee-high grass and kissing...okay, no, not really, but you get the point. After the romantical mind space I start freaking out; "do they like me back? Do they know I like them? Can they tell? Should I dress up more often? Flirt more? I have no idea what I'm doing and he totally knows..."

haven't had a crush in awhile. Admittedly, awhile back I tried to make myself like these guys I worked with because I was thoroughly convinced if I didn't have a boyfriend by February that I would die of embarrassment. Truthfully? I liked them, but I didn't have any particular feeling towards them. I felt like I needed  to be with one of them to validate myself. As you can see, I've grown a lot in a really short amount of time since then. Can't explain why, but now I know better; liking someone can't be coerced, forced or pushed - you either do or you don't. Funny how now that I do seem to have a crush on someone new, one of them seems to be sweating me more.

I digress. Did you read that? I've got a crush on someone. And I'm feeling either really ambivalent about it or really geeked, depending on when you ask me. 

The conundrum is that he is literally states away. I can't win for losing, swear to God...

Now, relationships for me are deep things. I never enter into one without considering where they could head and if that person is someone who would bring just as much joy to me as I feel I would bring to them. And the man would bring joy alright - buckets of it. I'm just not sure if I'm cut out for a relationship, as I've never had much practice, and admittedly the first go 'round should be something a little less tricky/sticky than a long distance one, but you want what you want right? 

You see, once upon a time, I lived my whole life virtually. Literally woke up, went to school, went to my after school job, and then came home and went chat room surfing. In the three or four years (yes you read that right, and yes, looking back I'm entirely ashamed) that I lived that way I had a few relationships with the guys who found their way into the mix. Truthfully, I just was lonely and too scared to venture out in the real world to face true, biting rejection. As a cartoon, any rejection you get doesn't sting as you're not real there, and neither are they. And one day, I just stopped.

I know now the reason why, but back then it was inexplicable why all of a sudden I had no desire for these guys who desired after me. It was lust on their part, pure and simple, and me being lost and muddled in the brain I wanted to be loved in any way I could find and found myself mixing the two in a world in which the rules of attraction didn't matter. I didn't like those guys, but they liked me and that was all I needed. But they didn't like me, rather the things I did, pieces that I'd created to mimic what I thought their desires were. And they were shallow, so it wasn't that hard. I got bored with being lusted after and not loved, read but not understood. And so I quit.

Now this guy comes along, years and years (okay, four years or so) after these things ceased and...he's different. I'm different. The world is different. I don't remember where we met on these mean Internet streets but since then we're kind of in a constant state of awareness of the other. I enjoy his company; he makes me laugh and puts me up on music I'd have never found without him. We're odd, I suppose, but we're odd in a way that's so similar to the two of us it's normal. We're both Virgos, early twenties, living and working near home and smarter than smart. We love music and speak the same musical language which, I'll admit, is tough with me. A guy has to have music knowledge like my father  to even put a dent in impressing me with what he knows, and my father's taste is as vast as America and The Carpenters to DMX and Mystikal. Snobby? Yes, but we've all got things we grade people on (which is another blog for another time). 

I dig him. Seriously. At first it was like this little tickle in my tummy when he said something nice or posted a new link to some music I'd never heard. And then we had a really long talk about nothing in particular using song and song titles - that's when I acknowledged it all as more than I was willing to admit. 

Because of my shady past with innerweb guys I tend to shy away from those kinds of relationships now, even though logically I know I'm different and those guys are long gone. This guy sees me, I think. Sure, there's the flirty, sensual me that plays 'Say Yes' and 'Lay Down' by Floetry, but there's the sensitive and inquisitive me, the angry me, the me that curses like a sailor, and so far, he's seen a lot of those sides of me in minor doses. And he hasn't run yet. I don't know really how to feel about that.

I would like to explore it more, but I'm afraid of broaching the subject and being too forward. I'm a traditional girl with a liberal mouth; I talk all progressive, yes, but I still feel like a lady doesn't approach a man unless she's sure he's into her like she's into him. And I am never sure. There are times when my friends tell me that a guy liked me and I have the most confused look on my face; I guess I have a hard time with 'why' instead of just accepting it and moving on.

I digress. Again. Sorry. What I'm saying is, I wouldn't mind giving it a try. But I have a strong fear reaction, a feeling like I'll fumble the ball and no amount of Tebowing will bring back the glory. My mother, if she's reading this (and she probably is...hi Maaa!) is rolling her eyes, and saying "again, Tes?" She knows I have a tendency to get enamored with the idea of these guys and then end up forgetting them months, hell, sometimes days later. But I think Mommy knows that I've changed. I think she feels it too. If I were to go all "Laith and Christina" for this guy, I think she'd just shrug and throw up her hands and let me learn. I can't tell you how much I appreciate her for that.

In any case, I'm in between decisions. The dreaming romantic in me is a-flutter as she's had nothing to do for ages while my cynic is somewhere writing a list of why nots. But me in the middle, the me that's inert in thought? I'm enjoying what's going on. Maybe that's all I need to do; not worry about tomorrow or next week, and just be cool with a cool guy vibing with me in a way that's new and seemingly synchronized withow I've always thought it would be.

But yes. I've got a crush. Lord help me, it's the first one I've had since...awhile. I don't know what this me does when enamored with a person. But I'll sure as hell have fun finding out. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Different Perspective

I don't think I'm extraordinary. I think every word I have ever and will ever write have already been written, and most likely by more skilled authors, poets and lyricists. I think I'm average and un-intimidating, but a conversation with my mother has shifted that train.

For as long as I remember, Mommy has always gotten me Valentines Day gifts. In my early teen years I always neglected them, wishing they came from some know no good boy, but now that I'm older I really appreciate the effort (and the jammies). This year I got her a teddy bear, some of our favorite candy, and Adele's "21" album (because seriously, Adele has to be one of the coolest artists out) and she got me a really good dinner at Red Lobster, which is a treat for me because I eat fast food and "freezer to microwave" meals more than anything.

We talked about how life was going, and I sort of lamented the fact that I don't feel much noticed in the world and my lack of conviction about being different. And my Mommy looked me dead in the eye and said, verbatim, you are somebody, and somebody really dope. She says my hair, my demeanor, the calmness that lies below my surface can intimidate people, especially guys my age, and make me seem unapproachable. My wit and intelligence are easily observed and that, she said, can be scary; how do you approach someone who knows the game and it's pitfalls?

I'd never considered my outward appearance to be daunting. I'm five fee tall. Natural hair. Kinda large in the chest, spreading in the hips, with a bit of a tummy. I don't necessarily think I stand out because I look at myself every morning, but I'd be blind to not notice the sea of weaves and perms, made-up faces and starved stomachs that surround me. I'm not afraid to wear my glasses. Not afraid to buy bigger sizes and accessorize in an understated way. I don't speak too loudly in public, most times I have earbuds in low enough to hear my surroundings and keep focused (I take them out when people are talking) and pretty much keep to myself and keep it moving.

Flipping the script, if I were someone different, and I saw me, I'd think I was really cool looking. My hair isn't the stereotypical natural of afros and braids, rather it's two strand twisted out, kinks and curls, varying in size and standing at odd angles. I walk and read, headphones on, which amazes people as I've learned, because I manage to avoid bumping into anyone and actually turn pages. I would guess, if I were to see myself outside of myself, I wouldn't look twice, but that first look would leave enough of an impression to make me look over my shoulder.

I don't surprise easily. I notice a lot of folks when they meet me try to gauge if I'm prudish or wild, steady or reactionary; they never really figure me out. I like that about myself. I like to help people, open doors for elders and say thank you when someone does something courteous for me. I'm always carrying something in my hands to occupy myself, i.e coloring books, actual books, tarot cards, diaries. Yeah, I'd say I'm a unique person.

I've been told for the last few years of my life that I am the exception and not the rule. Most girls do this, but Tes doesn't - she's the exception and not the rule. That being the case, as much as people say they are Billy Badasses, the rules are rules for reasons, and none too many question them. So more often than not, I'll be the odd woman out. And I'm learning to be completely okay with that; someday, somebody's going to be looking for a short, natural haired, brainy exception, and I'll be in there like swimwear.

I guess I forget that perception is so much of who we are. Because I live in myself I don't see what others see in me. When, through my eyes, it seems as if people don't bother, in their eyes they may just not know where to start. In my eyes, where I see flaws and things that make me less than, someone else's eyes are admiring those imperfections as the perfect make up of me. Perceptions change over time, and of that I'm glad. Maybe it's time I start perceiving myself a little outside of myself, not enough to get a big head mind you, but enough to maybe edge out my own shyness and muster up the courage/strength/chutzpah to continue to be unique, despite a sea of sameness.

So I guess that's the thing to take away from this one today ya'll: Dare to be different. Be that one red-head in a sea of blondes. Be that one natural girl in the sea of weaves. Be the reader in the room of tweeters. Be whoever you are, and realize that doing that makes you more amazing than you realize.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Musing: Tightropes

I had a guy tell me recently I was lucky that my flaws were physical and not inward. A million and one synapses sparked in my head, but the ones that kept circling were on differing ends of the spectrum of "Gee thanks!" and "Gee...thanks...."

I feel a lot of times that I am a philosophical person, a person of thoughts and ideas, dreams and other intangible beauties that elude a lot of people. In being that, I get real deep into myself. To people trying to look into me I'm a loner; I won't deny it and say that I don't spend a lot of time alone. Part of it is I do genuinely like to be alone with my thoughts, because only then do I feel really free to be myself and think in a way uninhibited by the needs of the outside, the people who I've let in my life. The other part is my fear, which I've spoken a bit about, that keeps me bound. I'm inert, because the object in front of me is me; it knows what moves I'll make and has counter moves already ready. It's kind of like playing a video game versus the CPU for the first time. At first, you don't know what's going on and it's beating you, but after awhile you learn. But newer games adapt, I adapt; for every positive move I make forward not only do I log it away, but my oponent, the other me does as well making sure I can't win the same way I did before.

I'm glad that a person thinks I'm unmarred inwardly. Because I'm totally not. I'm insecure and fearful. I'm really hard on myself and don't know how to let up. I worry and feel anxiety about almost everything (sans moving across the country and starting school again...weird, right?) I get jealous, and tend to be either really long-sighted or really short-sighted. A lot of times I feel like I carry too many emotions and thoughts in my person and feel heavy and plodding. But this dude? Thinks I'm respectable, sweet, funny and smart. This dude thinks I'm well put together and know where I'm going in life. On the inside, he thinks, I'm the perfect woman.

And then there's the other-hand: my flaws are physical. Given all I've revealed already, you can already tell how that would wreck within me. Given my admitted awkwardness with accepting myself fully, and my insecurities with the very minor things I may or may not be doing wrong at any given moment, him saying my flaws were physical was the only thing my vicious mind could focus on. In the minutes after he said it, I began picking myself methodically apart: acne scars, bad vision, stretch marks, not enough ass, not flat enough tummy...and it just cycled and cycled until I couldn't think of anything else but fixing myself or crawling into bed and crying. In typical me fashion though, I finished the conversation as if nothing were wrong and spent the better part of the last three days trying to convince myself to see the good in what he said.

It hurts because it feels like he just confirmed every bad thing I've ever thought about myself and other people. It feels like he's saying "You're not fooling anybody, you're not beautiful," while simultaneously saying "Tes, you're beautifully put together, how do you manage to be so put together?" making me question, do they see me as I see me, or do they not see me at all?

It's a very taut tight rope I walk within myself. The littlest things can send me over on either side, can send me spilling into despair, or floating into acceptance. I know I can't possibly be perfect but the fact I keep trying is either insane or really noble depending on how you look at it. I don't want to be perfect and I don't want to be "normal," I'd rather be whatever I'm supposed to be. It's just finding what that is that's the trouble.

So instead of making this one person's opinion of me make my heart heavy, I decided to just accept a compliment as a compliment. A person thinks I'm well put together, despite me knowing differently. They think I am wonderful and heading in the right direction. But mostly, they can kiss my ass.

I am beautiful and it takes me so much strength to even look at myself and say it. I know the way I write I can make myself sound hideous but the truth is, I'm actually really cute. It's all in the eyes they tell me. In any case, my inner beauty is what makes my cuteness morph and mold into beauty. And if that's not enough for someone, then clearly they aren't enough for me.