(Dis)engaged.

I’ve gotten to that age, where everyone around me is in a (seemingly) happy relationship. I have spent the whole day re-watching earlier seasons on Hell’s Kitchen. Priorities.

Don’t get me wrong, I would like to be in a relationship. Sure, who doesn’t want that validation that their lovable? And normally, I’m okay with being single: I do what I want, I go where I please and when I cook, there’s more food for me.

But every now and again, theres this feeling that creeps in. One of loneliness and worry. Am I unloveable? Usually I just prefer not to open that door and find something productive to do – to get my mind off that. However, this is not one of those times – hence the 2 am post on a Friday night.

My friend just got engaged. Yes, I’m happy, why wouldn’t I be? They are a loving couple and I’ve known them since the beginning. Besides, it’s not about me, it’s about them. Only, this is the 3rd engagement this year from my friends.

My first friend, was engaged this Summer. She knew it was happening and when it did, I was happy for her. Then a month later, another friend got engaged. She’s an awesome person, I’m definitely happy for her. Now this friend. Again, still happy, just…hmmm…what about me?!?!

Now granted, I don’t want to be engaged. I don’t know if I ever want to get married. But I want to be on the path heading somewhere along those lines. Hell, I’ll settle for a callback for a second date. I digress.

The fall season, the holidays…all times where people are snuggled up with their significant other doesn’t help either. I’ll resign to the fact that at least I know what a Beef Wellington is and there’s always alcohol this time of year – readily available.

Gated In.

As I watched the construction people put up bars for my bedroom window (we’re doing renovations), I can’t help but to wonder if it is an analogy to how I am. Gated in.

Sure, we’re all a bit private at times and as of recent, it has become trendy to self identify as an introvert, but seriously, these “walls” that we’re so proud to build up, is it useful?

Yes, it prevents us from being hurt, a form of self-protection, but when we’re closed off from the world, who can help us? Support us?

I may not know all the answers, but I’ll leave you with this quote: “Don’t build up these walls where no one can see in and you can’t see out.”

Why are you single?

As of recent, I’ve been getting this question a lot. As mentioned before, I got out of a 8 year relationship about 2 years ago. I should’ve moved on – and in some ways I did: I focused on my career, my friends, my family, my cats. I didn’t feel ready to date – I needed time to digest what happened.

Now I know I have no excuse for this: I initiated the break up and told everyone who asked, I was okay. But some days I struggled and some days I feel fine. I wanted to be completely sure I was over it before even thinking about dating.

My friends have been amazing: supportive, kind, funny, caring, etc. I can’t complain. but I feel that anything you go through, only you know how you feel. Often times I felt like their intentions were good, but I preferred to be left alone.

After a while, I was back to being myself. Better even. I gain new appreciation as to who I was, my strengths, my weaknesses and concentrated on positivity.

But ever so often, I get the dreaded question: why are you single? And I’m baffled. I get thrown off. I’m a bumbling rambling idiot. “Uh, I…um..I don’t know”. Maybe I’m not thinking clearly: if I knew why I was single, wouldn’t I work towards coupledom? I don’t know why I’m not in a relationship. Ask them.

I know they have good intent and they usually couple it with, “you’re an amazing guy”. I know that too.

In the beginning, my response was “I just got out of a relationship.” Perfect. They nodded in understanding and we went back to our mindless conversations. Now, 2 years later, I have no idea. I’d like to say I am actively looking and dating but I haven’t. I don’t know how to start that – that seems like a lot of work: can’t I just be awesome and someone recognize that? Nope, doesn’t work that way.

So the follow up question is “why aren’t you dating, then?” I don’t know. Then I’d have to dig deep within myself and come up with some answer about how flawed I am to date and how many things are wrong with me – again, good intentions but I feel like roadkill.

I told myself I would date more but that hasn’t happened. I know my friends mean well, but I guess I can’t help this feeling of sadness when they ask it. At times, I just think, well what’s so good about being in a relationship? You have to be considerate of their “feelings” and such? I like my freedom and independence. Besides, jumping from one relationship into another is not a good pattern to get into. But of course they retort with “dating doesn’t necessarily mean relationship” and pause for my reaction as I gaze downward and say “yeah, I guess you’re right.”

I feel like as adults, you’ll be placed in these situations where you will be compared to what milestones you’re supposed to accomplish. Career, relationships, friends, engagements, wedding, baby shower – in no particular order. And you will be interrogated as to why you haven’t achieve these milestones yet. Is their something wrong with you? Tell us, then go to the corner while we stare, point and talk.

Of course that’s in my imagination but I do feel their pitying on me. It’s like a blanket – and I feel smothered.

I know this will be a conversation I will have until, I master this whole relationship thing and I get to be a judge on this crazy reality show of life.

But the one thing I remember is that for the most part, they want you to be happy. As one friend put it: “I want someone to love you the way you love people.” Dammit. That was good.

By Any Comparison…

This morning, as I went on my morning coffee run (I have a coffee maker but it’s for decorating purposes), I started noticing a thing I was doing. I was actively comparing myself, to other people – strangers in the street. “Look at him, off to work…or school.” “Will my coffee lady think it’s strange I’m getting coffee at 10 in the morning instead of being at work?” “What will become of me?”

What’s interesting is how natural, how effortless these thoughts came. Obviously, I have reason to be thinking theses things; I just quit my job and my 10 years in the education field does not translate to very many other things; but still, it was so easy to compare myself to someone else.

It’s been said, that we, as humans compare each other. We compare ourselves. It’s human nature. Like when we judge someone based on first impressions. There’s no solid explanation, just accepted theories. But if we are to be our own individual, with our own path and our own unique talents, experiences, etc; why do we feel the need to compare ourselves?

Maybe we’re used to our parents comparing us when we were younger. I can’t tell you how many times, my mother compared me to my peers or herself: I wasn’t smart enough, skinny enough, ambitious enough, essentially good enough. But I now know better, and while she doesn’t compare me as much, I also don’t take stock in her comparisons.

Nod intently and find a point on the wall. Now.

So why do I do it to myself? I panic when I think friends my age are married, have children, in a relationship, successful models, bankers, teachers, artists,  social workers, and the only thing I’ve accomplished is rearranging my closet (new shelf!) and getting coffee – already made for me. I’ve been told and sometimes agree that everyone is on their own timetable – we are all successful in our own right and our time will come, yada, yada, yada. It’s the unconscious sizing up of people and comparing them that bothers me.

Emphasis on the plural form of cat.

I realize we do this primarily because we, as humans on earth, we want to have an impact. We want to make a difference. We want to be seen, heard and valued. However, we don’t have any tools that will tell us how to attain that. We don’t know how to get there. There is no WikiHow or DIYs on that (I Googled). So we compare ourselves in order to have a template to follow. Whether it be our parents at our age, or our peers. It can be a bad thing when we take it too seriously but I’ve resolved that I’ll just be more aware, draw inspiration when I can and not take it too seriously. Who knows, maybe someone’s comparing themselves to me. Good luck with that.

Anxiety for the masses

It’s Sunday night. The dreaded “back to work tomorrow” feeling has unfortunately sunk in. But for me, it’s a bit more overwhelming. I just started “my dream job” a month ago but yet, I’m ready to quit. I became a high school teacher. Something that over the last couple of years, I had been so excited about. Something I would proudly tell people that I fell in love with – something noble. But here I am on a Sunday night blogging about the anxiety it’s given me.

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I genuinely love to teach. I always recall that one student, my first year as a tutor for a non profit education company, asking me a question because he didn’t understand. I remember explaining it to him again and seeing his eyes light up. I’ve told this story in my interviews over the Summer before landing my position. I still think it is one of the mot defining stories I’ve told.

I get it. I worked so hard to get here. I’m doing a disservice to my students by feeling this way. My parents, friends and family are so proud. I feel like I’m letting them down. But here’s the thing: I feel this is no longer for me. I need to live my life where I am truly happy. Not what others’ opinions of me and my choices are. And the fact is, I’m not happy.

I’ve become disillusioned. The education system is no longer what it was when I was growing up. I loved my teachers who took time aside to get to know who I was. It felt like a community. Now? It’s about high stakes testing and lesson plans. New techniques, new methods, new curriculum, new students. As educators we say that our students need consistency. Where is it in our educational policies?

Why do I overworked, unappreciated and guilt tripped? Why do I feel hopeless?

I shouldn’t complain; I am lucky. I teach 3 classes, 2 self contained special ed and for the most part, I haven’t had major behavioral issues. My workload is light and I’ve managed so far. The administration has been supportive and nice, but I know deep inside, that this anxiety I feel – there’s a strong chance it won’t be going anywhere soon.

It’s my gut feeling. I know I can’t last this long. My anxiety is a warning that I need to leave. I need to leave soon. But I can’t. I can’t let these students down after hearing about their history. Their home lives. Our school is on the state list to be closed, I can’t abandon my new colleagues.

What will become of me? I am in the middle of my late 20’s. I should know what the hell I want to do with my life.

At this point, I want to sleep, eat, watch tv and forget my job for a good couple of months. Instead I will pack my work bag and prepare for tomorrow.