I spend more time feeling guilty for things I should have done than I do enjoying the things I want to do: that’s not totally true, but some days it feels true.
The truth is that I’m overweight and a little too brash and a little too likely to hermit up.
I gained weight when I started teaching and twenty years later it is hard to figure out how to get healthy. I don’t mind weighing a little (a lot) more than average, but I hate feeling so out of shape. So, I’m working on exercising more (I’m up to sixteen brutal minutes on the rowing machine); I’m working on eating more fruits and veg. I love walking. I like rowing. I’m not a runner or a biker or someone who likes to walk when its too hot, too cold, too windy, too wet. I like food; eating for enjoyment seems to be vastly underrated in our current world.
I grew up with The Fear. Basically, I spend a little bit of time wishing I’d known how to talk to my parents about how I was feeling when I was 15 or 16 (not that they would have known what to do to help me in the late 1980’s). I wish I’d found someone to talk to in my twenties or early thirties. I feel no shame in admitting that I take anti-depressants or that I take anti-anxiety pills when I need to. It’s no different than when I take pills for my migraines. I’m glad for people growing up today that there is less stigma around needing pills to help balance whatever is out of whack in our bodies and brains. Less isn’t the same as none though.
In college I learned to be louder, to fake being a people person in order to be normal. It wasn’t much different than faking crushes in high school (and college) in order to be like everyone around me.
The first time someone referred to me as asexual I was totally offended, because I didn’t understand most aspects of sexuality or that not really doing “the sex thing” was alright whether my reasons were religious or personal inclination. Well into my late-thirties I had people telling me that I would feel different when I met the right person, or I just needed to get laid, or…This is why I spend time explaining these things to my students when they come up subtly in books or poems. It’s amazing how much classic authors (even all those dead white dudes) got right when they wrote about depression, PTSD, or alternative sexuality. However we describe them, they are still part of the human experience.
I am insanely lucky to have had wonderful friends who invite me along on trips, over for holidays, over for dinner. I’m lucky that I get to listen to and laugh with these people. I’m lucky to have seen their kids grow up. I’m grateful that I still have these friends despite the ebb and flow of time spent together due to life’s vagaries. I’m also pretty lucky to have parents that are still alive, a brother I still talk to, and all the extended family.
And I’m lucky to have a job that’s worth the bad days.
This is my year to swear less in favor of being more subversive, exercise on the daily, and stop apologizing for the little things.
I’ll still apologize for being thoughtless or malicious, but I’m going to try to stop apologizing for being myself.