character flaws

Contentment and Satisfaction – Strange Bedfellows Indeed

So not to lose you in the bog surrounding today’s philosophical journey, forgive me jumping straight to the point of my thoughts and not leading you in by the hand with a friendly introduction. It seems a central theme in my life is risk-taking and satisfaction, and now that I’m actually an adult I’m wondering if I forgot where contentment fits in all this mess. I believe that tolerance and contentment are related, whereas contentment and satisfaction are strange bedfellows that have no business breeding.

What??

 

Life has been in a bit of upheaval in the last month or so. I’ve left the desert for the homeland of the Midwest and am now embarking on buying a house. After a whirlwind move I’ve had the opportunity to be catching up with several friends, a few of whom are the long-lost sort. Despite these friends being far-flung and of different personalities our conversations echo the same theme.

 

The most startling comment I’ve heard was from a friend I hadn’t really talked to since well before the snowboarding accident. We had been catching up on life and after summarising my recent move and the events of buying a house he said something about my personality that stopped me in my tracks. I can’t remember exactly how it was said, but the gist is that I’m fiercely independent and that the wild girl who wanted to set the world on fire he’d first met 10 years ago still hasn’t died out. Sure, I might also be described as brave and tenacious, and being independent isn’t really a bad thing, but this made me take a step back and think.

 

I’ve made a career out of taking calculated risks and I’ve had some wonderful life experiences by setting out for myself to accomplish things. Not all of them have been as hare-brained as the others, but I guess there is truth about me wanting to set the world on fire. Passionate has always been a word I’ve used to describe myself.

 

So in the course of jumping through hoops to buy this house I’ve got my eye on, I was speaking with another old friend who went through the same process last year – except with fewer hoops. He was suggesting finding a new realtor to do all the heavy lifting for me, lamenting that he couldn’t just wave a wand and make all the complicated pieces fit in place. Without thinking I replied that I’m in this mess because I trusted other people to take care of things for me in the first place, and if you want something done right you’re better off doing it yourself. These were reflexive comments made without forethought, so when I actually looked at what I’d written the conversations of the last few weeks about the fiery independent streak that’s still burning in my blood flooded back and hit me like a wave of bricks.

SMUSH

One of my besties makes an off-the-cuff comment lamenting the difficulties of buying a house and I immediately go to my “fuck everyone else”, “put the team on your back” place? What the hell is wrong with this?

 

Nothing is wrong with me, per se, but thinking of all the events in life that have led me to this solid steel wall of GOTTA DO IT MYSELF I’m  beginning to realise that I’ve never learned to be content.  I’m unable to tolerate myself when I’m not striving for my best, to make a reasonable dream happen. What I have learned is that the disappointment of a failed risk is infinitely better than the disappointment of the current situation, no matter how temporary it may be. If I had many regrets then maybe I would have thought of this earlier. Instead, I’ve learned to take failure as a learning opportunity, an opportunity to better insulate myself, and a badge of honour on my Girl Scout sash.

 

Life is all about those achievement badges.

 

Where my independence is concerned, I can’t say that I regret any of the decisions I’ve made in the last decade or so. I’m going to be able to look back on my life and be satisfied that I didn’t let any opportunities pass me by, and also that I didn’t give up on anything too soon. I can also say that I know how to find contentment in other areas of my life. Parts of my body are built in awkward ways and I fully embrace it. When I was younger I dreamed of being a billionaire, a world-renowned theoretical mathematician, an acclaimed scholar, and I’m perfectly content with letting those dreams go. However, when it comes to certain issues like financial planning and cleanliness I completely lose my cool and am completely unable to be content with any differences from what I believe is right and responsible. I seriously find it impossible to tolerate any standards that are less stringent than my own. Not that my standards are impossible, they’re just particular.

 

Tolerance and contentment go hand in hand and I think they’re unrelated to satisfaction and risk. Risk leads to satisfaction, whether you succeed right away or if you fail and have to keep trying. Learning to be tolerant of differences, both between ourselves and others and between our ideals and reality is what allows us to be content in life. I never learned to relax my expectations and tolerate anything less than doing one’s absolute best. Giving 80% or 5% is the same when you know the actual capacity is 100%, at least in this twisted little head of mine. It’s not something I’m sure I want to learn to tolerate in myself, but it’s something I MUST learn to tolerate in others if I ever have any hope of dampening this wild, fiery blood of mine.

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Categories: character flaws, getting old, pet peeves, reflection | Leave a comment

What Do I Want?

My friend Josh was telling me today about the girls he’s tried dating since the last time I talked to him this Fall and I started thinking about what I want in a partner. I’d gone through a self-discovery exercise about two years ago after the breakup with J and made a list of the qualities I want and need in a partner to be happy. Earlier this Summer/Fall I started thinking about this list and wondered if I needed to re-evaluate what I want in my life since it’s obviously changed in the last two years.

 

Yes, some of the things on my list have changed. Then I started wondering if I’m offering all the things to my partner that I need in order to not only be happy myself but be happy in a partnership. You get what you give and I know lately I’ve been cranky and dissatisfied – primarily with myself. It’s not pleasant. Is the unhappiness in my life just an extension of the unhappiness with myself?

 

My ideal partner is someone who is financially responsible (or at least has started planning for the future), self-motivated, an open communicator, someone with good hygiene and wants a commitment like marriage and a family. I would say that the ones I really fulfill are wanting a commitment and being self-motivated and more or less I’m financially responsible despite having less-than-desirable credit.

 

As much as I need to be with someone who can communicate their feelings to me openly I know that I’m a shitty communicator. I hate confrontation and I wait until I’m going crazy to bring something up. I grew up in a house where passive aggression was the norm and I still have problems with it. Half the time I don’t realize it until it’s too late but I know that I’m not good at having constructive discussions.

 

I’ll admit it, I’m not the best with personal  hygiene. For the moment it’s because I’ve got serious medical issues but it still disturbs me. It’s tough not only to bathe but also to clean up after myself. I try not to go around being filthy but it’s still something I’m very self-conscious about. Not being able to clean up after myself really is what makes me feel the worst.

 

Overall I’d say I’m pretty positive – life is good and I’m headed in a good direction. I know there are plenty of good things about me and the other people in my life but there’s no growth without looking at what makes up our lives and what makes us unhappy though. I’m committed to making the best life for me that I can and that includes becoming the best person I can.

Categories: character flaws, commitments, crippled, reflection | Leave a comment

Get Me Out Of My Stuff!

I’ve posted before about when I moved to Las Vegas, cramming everything I owned into my car and driving 2,000 miles across North America. After surgery I’m having difficulty lifting and moving things and trying to keep my space tidy has intensified for me the dilemma of materialism.

At this point in my life I’ve consistently had more money and earning power than I’ve ever had before. (Key word is consistently) Even when I was a poor college kid, though, I would collect things. Whether it were cool plastic cups or Incredibles tee shirts I was always the queen of employee discounts and clearance sales – I was good at finding ways to find things that would express myself and make me smile.

Let me be clear – I wasn’t focused on showing my status by spending money, it was surrounding myself with things that expressed my likes, my point of view. I wasn’t a hoarder but it was similar I guess.

After I moved down here and had to keep carting my life around in my car with little or no money I came to appreciate not acquiring things. When I moved into my own two-bedroom apartment almost 3 years ago I didn’t have much in the way of furniture. I didn’t even have a TV. My need for furniture subsided and I slowly got focused on clothes.

I’ve got more clothes than I can wear. It’s still not about status – this time it’s more about an idea of “replacing”. I’ve gone down two dress sizes and had to buy new clothes a couple of times, so on top of “replacing” the things I’ve left behind I still feel like I need to replenish my clothes.

How many pairs of jeans does one girl need? How many shirts, dresses, sweatshirts are really vital to life? Over the last two or three years my self image has changed too. At first I went from being comfortable with being a curvy size 10-11 to feeling insecure in Vegas culture. I lost some weight and started to feel a little better about myself until I went through some unrelated issues and just stopped eating out of nerves. People commented on how sickly I looked and I honestly started to miss my curves. Now I’m at the point where I realize I’m on the doorstep of 30 but at the same time I really do look the best I ever have. I feel the best I ever have, save for that I currently can’t exercise much because of recovery.

Once I get a handle on how I see myself I don’t think I’ll need to keep buying things. I know that the clothes I wear won’t change me and what size I wear doesn’t determine my value. A small part of the problem is that I travel to Europe for work frequently and I feel the need to fit in. I’m starting to embrace the sexiness and maturity I finally feel and once I get a handle on that I think the rest will fall by the wayside.

Weeding out the toys, books, and cups is easy. Clothes are harder – I really need to get a handle on my self image and NOT use clothes shopping as self-discovery.

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Never A Bride?

Today I was talking to Bill, a good old friend from high school and he asked me why I’m not married yet. Actually, he more specifically asked HOW I’m not married, not WHY.

Is it really a foregone conclusion that all girls want to grow up and get married? I know I did for the longest time, maybe even up until this year. I answered my friend as if he’d asked me WHY I’m not married – I work too much, I think I’m too independent and set in my ways anymore, I just don’t know. Now I’m really thinking about that HOW.

Nope, sorry

Nope, sorry

Growing up I dreamed about finding a mate and living happily ever after, staying together forever like my grandparents did. As I grew up and dated I’ll admit that I did rush to think “Is he The One?” and usually I was too excited to answer myself honestly. That’s part of growing up though, trying different flavors and finding out what you do and don’t like and why. Bill has known me through all of these periods, especially on my journey out to the desert to follow our other friend Ogre because he was the love of my life. Naturally you think I would have settled down already.

It’s not that there haven’t been opportunities. I dated a guy very seriously in college and we wanted to get married, but when he wanted to buy me a ring and propose I asked him not to because we had bills to pay. Even though I still loved him and still planned on a future together, he saw that request as me not loving him enough. I saw my decision the other way around – sacrificing something pretty for food, clothing, shelter and a promise that we can stick together through thick and thin. Things went south in a nasty, drug-fueled break-up later that Fall. Still, I kept hope that I would find a mate.

What the EFF was I thinking?

What the EFF was I thinking?

The turning point might have been two and a half years ago when my relationship with J went sour. After Ogre and I went our separate ways I met J online and after a few spurts we started dating. We started dating seriously, a really passionate thing early on and he even started talking about getting married. I didn’t see it then, but looking back I see how expertly he played me. I let him manipulate me – I thought I was pretty smart and I’m insecure enough to blame myself for the stupid shit he would do to me.

Let me get to the turning point. Somewhere in this disgusting tale J told me his ex was having his kid in the Fall, started cheating on me and I was testing the waters by leaving – my dumb ass didn’t just pick up and go outright. I went to see my younger brother in San Diego since he’d just gotten back from deployment and this was a huge problem with J. I went, I came back, we stupidly had sex.

Without getting into the sordid details my period was a few days late so I used it as an opportunity to play a farewell FUCK YOU and tell J I was pregnant. I wasn’t pregnant, he didn’t know – but the fake pregnancy and miscarriage I used to fuck with this guy’s head turned out to ACTUALLY be something. After this shit was over I went to the doctor and explained what happened, the specialist said it was most likely a miscarriage. Go figure. (Yes I know this was fucked up – it’s the only time I’ve ever done something that crazy, and after all the shit this bastard put me and his family through I thought it was justified.)

Oh no...

Oh no…

This really screwed up my head. Any crack whore or high school teenager can get pregnant and have a baby. Ridiculous women get married all the time. How is it that my body can’t keep a fetus alive and I can’t keep a relationship going for more than 8 months? I live a pretty healthy life. I’m college-educated, I have a good job. What the FUCK is wrong with me?

In the end I think I’ve dealt with this like I’ve dealt with my shitty family relationships and I’ve just swept it under the rug. I sincerely enjoy my job, I have my health to look after with the injury; I don’t think this whole settling down thing is really a priority anymore.  I’ve looked out for number 1. I’ve done what I thought was best for me and the people around me, and in the end I think I’ve just shot myself in the foot. Bill says that the right person is out there and it will happen – I’m not sure I want it to though. I always feel guilty when I do what I feel is necessary to take care of myself, I don’t know that I want to drag someone else in.

What’s the conclusion here? I don’t think there is one. I’m blessed enough to have some wonderful people in my life, especially ones who take care of me. I know that I’m a good person and my self-esteem isn’t an issue, I guess I just haven’t learned to trust other people to have my best interest at heart, or I don’t trust myself to make tough decisions about what I do and don’t need in my life. I don’t handle people very well. Maybe once I learn to do that settling down will happen.

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Uptight, all right, outta sight – Character Flaws #1

I’m losing my mind today, thanks to my “perfectionist” nature.

For those of you who don’t know me very well, I’m pretty uptight. As scatterbrained and cluttered as I am I’m a nasty mixture of OCD/Type A/tunnel vision.  Often I feel quite masculine – if there’s something I want I find a way to get it or make it happen.  These qualities have done a lot for me – I’m driven to succeed (with the right motivation) and I don’t take no for an answer. I’m a bit of a daredevil and a dedicated adventurer, which is much nicer than my parents’ label of “perfectionist” when I was little.

Pirate Nurr, age 4

Let me give you a few examples.

  • I keep my budget in a little graph-paper notebook in my purse, check it against the budgeting software on my phone, and meet with my financial advisor about once a quarter. At any given moment I know my investments’ totals, how much cash I have liquid, and how much of that I can spend for fun.
  • When my hands work my shirts are arranged by color and sleeve length (or function, depending on what my work dress code is), along with my dresses and work pants, and all of the hangers face the same way.
  • I stack my tupperware and my lids don’t go missing – they’re right there with the containers.
  • Despite having a well-kept calendar in Outlook and a BlackBerry for work, I have a paper calendar for personal commitments on my desk wall and I keep a spiral planner with all of these things. It’s not just a back-up for my BlackBerry – it’s color-coded and I cross off meetings I make and circle meetings I missed.

 

 

I function in the normal world even if I can’t keep my life organized like this, but I am usually much more care-free and happier when I have my life organized and somewhat planned. I love being spontaneous and I’ve learned my lessons about being spontaneous after a few disorganized disasters in college. If I know where all the pieces in my life and my calendar fit I know where I have free time, free energy, and money to spare.  This way I know how far I can extend myself and I feel comfortable being flexible.

The last point above is probably the most important illustration of my character if you’re going to understand my pet peeve.

When I have events, chores, or purchases planned it’s very important to me to stay on course. I try to be generous and pad my plans but it’s not always possible.  I’m cautious about relying on other people for help or participation because not everyone views deadlines the same way. When I make a commitment I intend to honor that commitment , even if it’s only a commitment I’ve made to myself.  Nobody’s perfect and I fully appreciate that delays and other things happen – I can’t keep my commitments all the time.  Knowing myself and my limitations/needs as well as I do though, I try to make all of this clear to other people when we’re undertaking a project together.

(Can you tell I’ve run a business or two before?)

All together now!

 

It shouldn’t be surprising that one of my biggest pet peeves is when people offer or suggest to do something and then have no intention of following through.  It comes in either one of two forms and I hate them both.

Either people say “Yeah, maybe we’ll hang out on Wednesday after work” or “I wanted to go see that movie, we should go see it” when they have no intention of doing whatever they brought up.  I know you want to sound friendly and like you’re thinking of me, but if you don’t want to do something don’t bring it up!  If you have no intention of going, not only have I wasted my time – you’ve lied to me. I feel totally disrespected and lose faith in our friendship. It’s all relative to what’s being brought up, but it’s the same feeling at the core.

The other form is “I’ll come get you at 7 and we’ll go to the party” or “Wake me up at noon so we can go finish that chore”.  This time, we don’t end up leaving until 9, or I get shooed away for a few more hours’ sleep.  I know that everyone’s perception of time is different, but my time is my biggest asset and I don’t like to waste it.  My stepdad is habitually late and his family always plans around it by telling him to be at a function 2 hours before they plan it to start.  This is one way of coping, but I hate having to plan on other people being late. I see it as disrespect because if you know you won’t be ready until 9, why tell me 7?  I should know that you’re late or take forever, but I expect you to manage that aspect of your life and show me enough respect to be ready when you say you will.

The biggest irritation with this subject is when people say “and if I’m not ready, kick my ass” but then get upset with me for doing what they asked.  Please don’t ask me to do something or say you’ll be ready if you already know you’ll need more time or won’t be able to follow through.  I’m more than happy to respect your schedule and your needs and I only ask that you respect mine in return.

 

I try to communicate my needs/limitations clearly because I know I’m uptight, and on top of it I’m sort of crippled and that can cause a bunch of complications.  One of the biggest compliments you can pay me is to respect my time, communicate your needs, wants, and limitations clearly, and TELL ME if you don’t think you’ll be able to do what you say you’ll do.

I’m going to have a heart attack or an aneurysm by the time I’m 35, I swear.

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