Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Authenticity

"It seems to me that being authentic is being brave enough or just candid enough to be honest about what you are experiencing or who you are, whether it is popular or not. A person gives a gift to other people when they say, 'This is what happened to me or this is how I truly feel, no matter what the popular belief is about what I should feel.' Whenever you are honest, you are speaking for a thousand silent people who don't have the voice to say what they really feel or are really experiencing. So, if you ever talk about [the thing you went through], you will touch a million hearts. Because you are speaking for more than just yourself. You are never alone in what you are feeling" 
CupOfJo






The preface:
I have been having a hard time writing (and perhaps living) lately. And it all comes down to authenticity. And my commitment to that. I want to be real and open and honest. But writing about life when you arent to the place where you can understand it all, can come off sounding whiny and pathetic and in my case, rather pessimistic. And I don't want to be that kind of person. And my life doesn't warrant only that perspective. I want to be honest but I also want to avoid being all 'woe is me'. Because I do realize that I have a lot to be thankful for. But having good moments doesn't really temper the other moments. Thus the debate about what to write. Because writing is my forum for relief but I don't always have it in me to paint a perfectly content picture. Nor does my very expressive face allow me the benefit of hiding beneath it. Whether I like it or not, its out for the world to see. 
I am going through something. For the most part I can't even articulate exactly what it is and can't tell if it even matters. Somedays I'm not even sure if its real or if its all in my head. It ebbs and flows. Maybe its called dental school. Maybe its called life. Maybe I'm hitting some sort of quarter life crisis. Maybe thats it. I don't really know. But it simultaneously feels important and irrelevant. I am on a precipice in my life. I feel the urge to try to talk about it, while also feeling how sick people must feel, hearing me try to work through this general vagueness. And how few people I actually have to even attempt to listen.
I used to think I was a very forgiving person. I've re-"dated" (and I use the term loosely considering it was never a formal second go around) many people that hurt me. Its kinda my thing to beat a dead horse. But forgiveness? I say I've forgiven and I'm over it. And I truly feel that I am over the emotion. But is it really forgiveness if it still keeps me awake at night? If it still impacts my future decisions and ability to trust. I may allow people the opportunity to vest new interest in me, but I have not forgotten the past. And as much as I give second chances, it is a half-hearted opportunity, allowed only because I have a romantic notion when it comes to history. And even if it was the worst, it still means something to me. And while I may be over the moment, I'm not over the pain it caused me. 
People tell me I need to learn to get over the past. I need to make it into some grand lesson of self-betterment. Using the history I have logged to my own advantage. But as much as I know in my head that forgiveness and noble feelings should rule my life, I don't feel that. Instead, I feel how wrong my feelings are. My feelings are never the right ones. I'm sad when I should be happy. I'm hurt when I should be forgiving. I hold tight when I should let go. I'm wrong when I should be right. I'm well aware of how short I fall. I wish I felt the right way. But knowing how I should feel and getting to that point are two very different things. And all the advice of 'how to not be haunted by the past,' does is bring to the forefront of my mind how much people think I need to change and how inadequate I really am. And I really don't need any help with that. I'm well aware of my shortcomings.
When I think about myself and people meeting this version of me, at this stage of my life, I can't help but think of the moment at the end of Fight Club. "You met me at a very strange time in my life." Indeed, I am simultaneously more myself and less myself than ever before.

Sometimes I wander across people's blogs that I am only remotely acquainted with in real life. I know the names but most of the time nothing more than surface details. So stumbling across their blog feels so personal. Reading a strangers blog is much less invasive and more akin to fiction than reading an acquaintances. I often feel like I am a coward. I toss and turn with all these half thoughts, and only have the courage and skill to post the smallest fraction on my blog. Because most of my thoughts are just vague, wordless feelings that I have neither the skill nor the clarity to describe and understand. I read other people's blogs and I am amazed at their honesty; their bravery; their ability to make their lives so full of insight. I wish I was the brave sort of person. I wish I could make sense of things.

But mostly I wish I saw myself differently. I wish the thoughts in my head didn't feel so irrelevant. And like such a broken record. A whiny, self-indulgent, pompous broken record. To be quite frank, I'm sick of myself. I get it, I'm not the version anyone thinks I should be. 

The future freaks me out. Its cliche but true. I could do anything with my life. I could be anyone. But all I feel is how much I don't want to make any decisions. And how weighed down with obligations I already am.

I talked a while ago with a couple friends about travelling. And as we talked, it became blatantly apparent that if I'm ever going to travel, I'm going to need to take charge and step out of my comfort zone. It reminds me of my decision to try to get into dental school. Before I could commit to applying to dental school, I had to decide if all the hard work I knew would be required was worth it. If I could be smart enough. Because I had real doubts about my amount of intelligence. It sounds lazy and full of self-deprecation, but I guess it was my way of mentally preparing for what was to come; conserving energy for later use. I didn't want to work so hard for something that I would then hate. It had to be a conscious decision that all that effort would not be wasted. And thats kind of how I feel about travelling and the even broader topic of my future plans. I know that potentially it could be great (and I have wanderlust like nobody's business). But there is something terrifying about knowing that after all your hard work and careful planning, that you might fall flat on your face. Would the goal still be worth all that sacrifice and work, if failure and catastrophe should happen? 


I'm still working on that.

There is an implied (and often suffocating) safety in doing what you've always done. And I know that once I decide to make future plans (be it moving somewhere different or travelling or whatever), I have the ability to make it happen. After all, despite the intimidating endeavour of dental school applications, I made it, didn't I? 


Didn't I. Most days I'm not so sure. 


But right now, it feels daunting. Like every move I might make would be a mistake. The time to commit to it isn't right just yet. Which is fair considering I have neither the funds, the certainty of a direction nor the freedom of time to settle my affairs.

Before I was accepted into BU, but after I finally felt that dentistry was right for me, I had the overwhelming feeling that the path I was embarking on would be difficult. Naively, I assumed that meant that I wouldn't get in and I would have to struggle and toil to get accepted. That was not the way it played out. Boston and dental school has challenged me in ways I could not have expected when I felt so strongly that dental school was the direction my life should head. And I don't know that I have succeeded despite the difficulties. I'm supposed to graduate in just under two months. And a lot of the time when I think about the future, I'm not sure anymore that I made the right choice. I have changed since moving to Boston. And I'd love to say its been for the better, and while I think I've grown a lot here, I don't know if even a quarter of that change made me better.

I feel lost. And empty. We have meetings about the future and all I can think of is how little I want to plan and make decisions. Should I stay in the US? Should I go home? The thought of getting a job makes me physically ill. All I want is to get the hell out of BU. But to go where? Because I don't want to be anywhere. I guess it doesn't matter where I go from here since I don't know where to be. Part of me thinks maybe my problem is that I spend too much time focusing on myself. But turning my focus elsewhere doesn't feel like its helping. Mostly it just feels like I'm pretending my life isn't going to continue to move forward. Which it will continue to do whether I'm paying attention or not. I know I make too much of too little. But I am in turmoil. And dental school and stress are contributing factors.

Now for the real authentic me.

I'm angry. And I know a lot of people won't understand why I would have anything to be angry at. I am, after all, living the dream of graduating from dental school. Off the top of my head, I could name three close family members who would trade me places in a second (barring of course that they get to keep everything good in their life and also get the benefits of mine). But what people don't realize is that actually graduating from dental school sucks. And has probably been one of the worst experiences of my life. I hate my school. I hate my class mates. I hate all the crap they put us through just so we can get out of this hell hole. I hate Boston. I hate so much. "Oh but you get to be a dentist after you make it through it all." Great. Just in time for me to officially hate everything about dentistry. Lucky me. I feel like I can hardly interact with anyone I'm filled with such anger.

Everyone tells me that I'll make it through. That this is just a short moment. That I have a lot on my plate and it'll get better. That I'm oversensitive and not seeing the big picture. But this moment has been slowly building for years. This anger wasn't overnight. It is from weeks and months and years of frustration. I must not be as strong as other people. Because they seem to have made it through similar struggles unmarred. Whereas I feel like an open wound festering. 

Thats overly dramatic. Add that to the list of my faults. Just one of many.

I read an article about how you'll never be happy, if you're always saying "I'll be happy when..." And how people need to be happy in whatever circumstances they're in. Looking on the bright side; Positive, optimistic, happy people. Of course knowing and feeling are not the same. 

I feel barely able to function; barely able to keep a grip over the emotions that are always just beneath the surface. And I think that if I didn't think getting trapped in Boston, with this church and this school were the worst options ever, I would crumble under the pressure of it all. So I continue to work. But the cracks are showing. And they are multiplying. I just hope that I can last long enough to get out of here. Of course, knowing what I know, I make no promises about my state of happiness after this time in my life. Because knowing me, I'll probably hate that too.

3 comments:

Erika said...

Hey Melissa!

i just wanted to say that I love you, and my favourite thing about you is your authenticity! I think I have always been drawn to you because of it! You're great.

Love you!

erika

PS. I would love your phone number

hailey said...

melissa, i hope you know how much this post meant to me. i think about you often! i'm so glad we're "friends" :)

mom said...

You are brave. This is definitely a difficult time as your facing more demands and exams. My prayers and thoughts are with you. LOVE MOM