Birthday Anxiety

I actually made realistic New Year’s Resolutions this year, and one of them was to blog at least once every month. Technically, I have. I’ve posted many, many times this month to Off Color TV, but not here. And when I made the resolution, it was with this blog in mind, so here we go.

I recently had a birthday. It wasn’t a seminal birthday, I didn’t hit a milestone, it didn’t feel like a big deal. The biggest change, really, is that there will no longer be a Taylor Swift anthem with which to associate.

But the whole week or two leading up to my birthday made me incredibly anxious, anyway. I had to really sit down and think about why, but I think, eventually, I came up with the reason. I’m terrible at making decisions. Rather, I’m terrible at making a decision if it could affect another person in any way, shape, or form. Like, never ask me where we should go to dinner.

I’ve never really been a person who celebrated their birthday. I think I’ve had two actual birthday parties in my life? Maybe three. And I think there are a few reasons why. One is that I’m a pretty low-key person. I can talk and talk, but I don’t really love being the center of attention. When my friend texted me to ask what my plans were for my birthday I said that I wasn’t sure because I don’t know how to celebrate myself. It took an hour for the truth of that statement to sink in. I really don’t. I don’t know how to really splurge on myself. I don’t want for that much and anything too big seems excessive. I don’t know how to ask for a birthday party because I don’t want to put other people out. I don’t want to be an inconvenience.

Which is… a thing I have. I don’t know. I’m insecure and have low self-worth sometimes. It happens. And it’s dumb because I have so many friends that would be willing to celebrate with me that that’s almost an inconvenience in and of itself. What a hard life, right? God, I hate even complaining because I’m so lucky to have all of these friends but there’s too many friend groups and no good way for them all to mix and I’m coming back from a brutal bout of illness that I’m 90% is mono and I’m just tired.

I don’t want to make a decision.

In the end, I didn’t really. That same friend that texted me about my plans took the reins. She asked me what I wanted (margaritas, maybe Mexican food), and picked a restaurant, gathered the troops and led the charge. It was just what I needed.

In the end, I had a pretty great birthday. I got to see a ton of my friends, including a few who happened to be in town for the long weekend. I got to go to some delicious meals, laugh a lot, watch Studio 60, and my friends gave me some thoughtful gifts (I now own ALL of the fox stuff, you guys. It’s wonderful). And then work was cancelled due to snow, extending the already-long weekend.

Just because my birthday and the weekend went well didn’t erase my anxiety surrounding my birthday, or planning parties in general. In those situations, I’d rather be someone’s second in command, helping them make decisions and execute plans, than having to hold the mantle alone. But a lot of my anxiety was assuaged simply because I had people to share my birthday with. It was realizing that a lot of the anxiety I was feeling came down to me not wanting to be alone, not wanting to think that people wouldn’t want to spend time with me. And I am so, so grateful that they all took time out from their lives for me. That’s what really made the day special.

Fantasy Christmas List

It’s mid-December and I still don’t have a real Christmas list cobbled together, so I thought I’d give you a peek into my fantasy wish list. All of them would be pretty much guaranteed to improve my quality of life, albeit to varying degrees. I’m going to start from the most realistically do-able and move to the more farfetched and fantastical.

  1. The ability to save gifs as phone/computer backgrounds. It is 2013. This seems like the most reasonable request I could make. Soundhound/Grooveshark can exist but this can’t? I think not. I would really like to be able to have a folder of gifs consisting entirely of foxes and Dylan O’Brien that would constantly rotate. This would improve my mood by at least 66% every day, I’m sure. How could I not smile like a loon every time I checked my phone? It would be impossible.
  2. Implantable microchip medical records (e.g. allergies, pre-existing conditions, medications, etc.) Update via wifi or bluetooth or something. I’m sure science could make it happen. Doctors could just scan and go. This would be so overwhelmingly convenient and would save so many lives. It’s ridiculous. Getting hold of medical records in emergency situations can be entirely too difficult between incapacitated patients and frantic EMTs. Realistically, this would probably be mostly used in first world countries, but the global impact is too great to ignore.
  3. Closets like Cher Horowitz’s in Clueless. Seriously, I don’t have time to mix and match the perfect every day for work. It’d be pretty great if I could get a computer to do that for me. It’d be even better if the closet came pre-loaded with clothes I would be guaranteed to like that were also flattering, but that might be a bit of a stretch.
  4. Videoscreen showers. Not, like, a TV in your shower as I’m pretty sure those already exist. Even I think that’s excessive. More like tiles that display images/video. How cool would it be to be in your shower but be in a forest? Or a beach? I don’t know, whatever you find tranquil.
  5. Enchanted windows a la the Ministry of Magic. Imagine being able to set the weather to your mood. My office workspace is in a walled-in area with no natural light. It makes me kind of crazy. And there’s nothing I love more than watching rain/snow, so this should just be a thing already.
  6. Moving tattoos. Listen. I want a tattoo, but what I really want is a moving tattoo. I read an article about a guy with a gif tattoo, which sounds cool, in theory, but then you have to watch it on your phone and I think that kind of defeats the purpose, you know? I don’t want to have to use a phone to see my tattoo. I want it there, on my person. Moving. Preferably to my moods. Like, if I’m restless and I had a fox tattoo it would pace or stamp its foot. Or if I were sleepy it would curl up and take a nap. I just think this would be adorable and awesome.

Basically I just want magic to be real.

I don’t hate my job…

but I don’t love it. This week marks the 3-month anniversary of me being hired, and the end of my probationary period. The end of the probationary period really just means that I can start accruing paid time off at an entry-level rate. And so, with these 90 days of experience behind me, I’ve been thinking a lot about this job and what I want for my future.

It’s weird to think that this is the point I’ve been working towards all my life. Entering the work-force – the one comprised of adults, those working full-time that have to commute and dress in business casual clothes instead of a uniform, those that aren’t simply filling the seasonal employment void – was the first thing I wasn’t prepared for, even though life up to this point was on on-ramp for success. Merging proved to be the difficulty, as it always has been for me. Am I going fast enough? Too fast? What if I cut someone off? What if I fuck up and wreck? I worried about everything that could go wrong, had contingency plans for contingency plans, but I never really stopped to think about what life would be like when everything went right.

Getting a college education was the first step. Years of indoctrination in public schools had prepared me for the classes; I knew I could handle the homework. Making new friends terrified me, but living with people I had already vetted via Facebook helped. I could handle living in a new city because I was ready to leave my hometown. The thought of only seeing my parents on a sporadic basis was difficult, but it’s not like we couldn’t call each other, and email, and videochat. And when it came time to graduate, well, I’d seen friends do it; I braced myself for how difficult it could be to find a roommate, to find an apartment, to be able to afford an apartment, to find jobs to apply for whose descriptions didn’t sound completely awful and like something I might like to spend my life doing. Everybody told me about the importance of internships and a good resume, GPA and references.

But no one really told me about the shift from the academic life to the ‘real world’. Graduating and getting a job didn’t suddenly change my perspective on life, the universe, and everything. My life isn’t that different – I have the same friends, I drink the same alcohol, I go to the same places, I can only make the same dozen basic dishes.

I always knew that waking up five days a week at 7am was going to be a bit of a problem. I’ll own that I still hit snooze four times before rolling out of bed 10 minutes before I need to leave for work. (I shower, pick out my outfit, and pack my lunch the night before.) I still struggle to go to bed before midnight. But I make it work.

The thing I wasn’t prepared for wasn’t finding the balance of business and casual to get ‘business casual’. It wasn’t the commute, or using a Windows computer, or drinking coffee regularly.

The thing I wasn’t prepared for is how mundane my day can be. The rote tasks, the vaguely uncomfortable swivel chair, the lack of natural light – I never knew how much I liked natural light until I was put in a walled-off office space, with my dual-monitors and fluorescent lights as my only sources of illumination.

In preparation for my 90-day evaluation, my coworker mentioned that my boss is considering the possibility that I’ll keep this job and work through library school and work here indefinitely. But I don’t think that’s what I want. This was a position with which I was familiar from my work-study experience and knew I could do well. I expressed interest in the field, knowing full well that in a year or two I’d want to leave to pursue a Master’s degree, potentially in the Library and Info realm. But it was never definite. And the more time I spend here, the more I’m sure that, even if I do end up with an MLIS, I don’t want to work in law again. I’ve seen the reference requests and they don’t pique my interest. To me, they aren’t something I think I would find fulfilling.

 

The other day I was told that my paid time off (PTO) accrual between now and the end of the year would be 6.5 days. The PTO at my office covers vacation, sick, and personal days. And it wasn’t until I realized I’d only have 6.5 days available for my use that I realized how badly I want to go home and visit. I didn’t realize how badly I wanted to go home until I figured out that I don’t know when the next time I’ll be able to is. I realized that I have to sacrifice going home for Christmas because, what with the way the calendar worked out this year, Christmas is the only day I get off. Most likely, I will go for longer than a year without seeing most of my extended family.

I realize that I kind of want to quit. Even though I’ve only surrendered a few times in my life I start thinking ‘is this even worth it?’. And I know it is. I know this job I don’t like is paying for that apartment I really do. This job is the thing that’s keeping me surrounded by friends instead of living at home with my parents (where, let’s be honest, I’d be way more miserable than I am now). And really, and I know this – not even deep down, but superficially! – my job isn’t bad. I like it.

I know that this job is a stop-gap. It’s giving me the time to decide what I want to pursue for my Master’s degree and will give me a bit of a financial cushion when I do take that plunge. It’s giving me time to write, paying me a better salary than I expected, getting me out of the apartment five days a week. So I need to suck it up. And I will. It’s just taking some adjustments.