Friday, October 14, 2011

30 Before 30: Ch-ch-ch-changes

All right, time for the "How I've grown in the last 30 years" post. I promise I'll resist the urge to get TOO maudlin. If anything, this post is mainly only of interest to ME, but I still feel it's necessary to recognize how I've changed (for better and for worse) if only to note what needs work and where I'm a-ok.

Of course, the most awkward part of these kinds of entries is where, exactly, to begin. I mean, compared to 29 years and 363 days ago, I've changed a LOT. Now I walk, I talk, I usually don't soil myself. ;D So at what point am I measuring from? Let's say 18. I was technically an adult starting then, at least according to the law, so let's figure out how I've changed since then.
  • I'm BETTER about giving too much of myself: I say "better" because it's still a natural tendency to give, give, give - and then be butt-hurt when people take, take, take without returning. However, not only do I not give AS much anymore, I've smartened up and don't associate with "takers" nearly as much as I used to. There's still always one or two irresistible "takers" that I can't quite quit hanging around, but I fully accept my own implicit behavior in those relationships (and the resulting butt-hurtedness). I've also gotten better about not just letting the "takers" continue to take without saying something... still figuring out the best METHOD for getting my point across, though. One method I've stopped using, however, is...
  • Being passive-aggressive: Oh, sweet, sweet passive-aggressive behavior. You're non-confrontational, you make me feel better, and... you are either completely lost on people or completely maddening on people. Yeah. It had to stop. I can thank an old friend L. for putting a stop to THIS behavior, when she called me on my bullshit when I aired my grievances in the form of a letter. She was right, that's lame. If I'm upset, I need to ball up and say it to their face. Ignoring the reality-show cliche' of that phrase, it's hard but it's the best method - as long as I'm doing it when I can be mostly calm and not impassioned with righteous anger or overly-dramatic hurt. I won't lie, though, the urge to post vague, drama-queen-like comments on Twitter or Facebook still lurks, but I hate READING them, so I sure as hell won't give in and POST them. 
  • Drama Queen, thy name is no longer Samantha: Oh my goodness, so many bad decisions were made due to my drama-queen nature. SO SO MANY. It's painful, and too personal, to give examples, but longtime friends know just how bad some of those decisions were. I blame my intrinsic love of DRAMA and the need to punish myself for whatever reason on most of those decisions. I was an emotional flagellant for far too long because I thought it made life exciting... and it did, but it also made life miserable.So many years wasted feeling bad about myself. (I know I still put myself down a lot, but I used to be WORSE, if you can believe it.) Hindsight is 20/20, and I'm proud to say that I can now recognize my own negative contributions to those situations (aside from poor choices in the first place) and share the blame, but oh, the addictive drama of those situations... so good. So painful. So "THIS is what it's like to LIVE" being my overarching attitude towards things, which is fairly typical of young twenty-somethings. I mistook pain for passion, and passion was my main motivator for too many of my actions. Oh man, I shake my head SO HARD sometimes. 
  • I wasted too much time: There are so many things I could have done in the last 10 years, but I wasted too much time waiting for life to start. Again, Hindsight=20/20, but I bemoaned my life's lot rather than working to change what I was dealing with. I have a nasty tendency to give into the gloom too easily, and I'm glad I've finally gotten sick of doing so. I still have my bad days, but at least they're becoming a bad DAY as opposed to a bad WEEK or MONTH, like it used to be. Still, though, I try not to think about how much farther I could be in certain areas if I hadn't been my own worst enemy... I can't change what's already happened, so I can't punish myself for lost opportunities; I can only work on not losing opportunities in the future. 
  • I've actually learned a thing or two:I'd say one of the best things I've learned in my life, that has made most of my relationships SO MUCH EASIER on myself, is that you can't control people. Yes, that probably seems so obvious, and yet most people still obsess on all the things that bug them about their loved ones and that they wish they could change. Once you accept that you can't change people  and that you can't force them to do what you THINK they should do, oh man, it's like Atlas putting the world down for a minute and taking a breather. Making that peace with that constant desire to force the other person into the box you want them in gave me so much free time! I'm still susceptible to it (I'm human, after all), but I'll usually manage to remind myself that I can't change them, but I can choose how I react to them... and doing so usually results in my feeling mostly better. (I can control my own actions towards them, but I can't magically erase any hurt feelings they cause.)
  • The best things remain the same: I don't know how it happened, but I have seen growth in the areas of myself that I like best. I find myself to be funnier, smarter, more talented in my select areas, and more kind and giving (in the good way) than I was when I was younger. I've always been mature and responsible to an extent, but especially lately I've recognized in myself that there has been marked improvement in those areas as well. I credit this to a natural progression, as well as a small boost in overall confidence thanks to many people who love me deciding they were sick of me decrying my own awesomeness and working on getting me to STFU with the badmouthing myself. But seriously, confidence is such a booster; even a little bit makes such a big change in attitude and overall appeal. I still struggle with feeling confident daily, but I know I have more confidence now than I did 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago. Hell, maybe even more than ONE year ago! (Plus denying all my good qualities to maintain this facade of low-self-worth is just EXHAUSTING, so the more often I knock that crap off, the more energy I tend to have!). I'm not letting myself get TOO swelled a head, 'cuz I still have a WAYS to go (annoyingly), but I should give myself a small pat on the back that the things I like about myself are still around, for the most part, and the parts I don't like about myself are slowly working their way to either being banished completely or at least controlled thoroughly. 
I've always had an attitude of wanting to regret very little... and to be fair, I don't have many regrets. There are some, yes, but if I regret all that I COULD regret, I won't get out of bed ever again. I have to learn what I can from the mistake, forgive myself, and move the f*** on.  I find myself chanting the refrain "It is what it is" often, because I need to remind myself that what's done is done and I can't change it.

For all my quibbling and mock-crying over getting older, I'm actually looking forward to the next decade. My frustration over this impending birthday had more to do with my perfectionist, over-achieving nature; I had a mental list of things to do before I was 30, and to be honest, a good chunk of them are still unchecked, which eats at me. (I'm slowly making my peace with it... slooooooowly. Can't do anything about it now, I'm turning 30 on Friday whether I like it or not.) The number has never been the issue; to be honest, when I look back on my 20's, the memories are more grimace-inducing than smile-bringing. There's a lot of hurt and (self)hate back there. So I'm looking forward to moving into a new decade as a hopefully fitter, better, happier, more productive me, and my attitude towards the mental checklist is that just because I didn't achieve it before my 30th birthday doesn't mean I can't still achieve it in general.

Besides, I've got 10 years until I'm 40, and EVERYONE knows that's when your life is REALLY over, right? ;D (KIDDING.)

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