It’s a Saturday night. I’m standing in a gay bar wearing tight bondage pants, red lipstick and a thin film of sweat. It is 80s night and I’ve just gotten done dancing to “Rock Me Amadeus” with some gay dude who tried to get me to kiss him. I look around the room and feel like me again.
It’s an odd, happy thing to feel after 6 or 8 months of feeling decidedly unlike myself. I had been feeling all gray and sad, sandwiched between a deeply abusive work life and a relationship that was making me spend my whole life feeling like the walking wounded. I went through life zombie-like, feeling like everything I did was something I was doing for someone who wouldn’t care or appreciate me or my efforts. Like everybody was telling me, “you should feel lucky to be here,” when I felt miserable to be everywhere.
If I’d had time to do something of my own, I’d have just thought “oh, everything I like is stupid,” consumed some wine and fallen asleep. I got into an endless death loop of jigsaw puzzles. It was like a default setting. Toward the end of the relationship, I would just sit and do puzzles and cry. For hours. The only thing that gave me any real pleasure was helping my friends do stuff: move, paint rooms, etc. because it made me feel like I was good for something. The thing about that kind of slow roasted sadness is that you don’t see it for so long. Until multiple friends ask you what you have done with their Amy and when you’re planning on returning her.
Eventually, I dug out of that hole. I got a new job working for people who appreciate me and have told me repeatedly that I’m doing a good job. I’m not a person who needs a lot of praise, but I am a person who (for better or worse) defines a big part of herself by her work. It is nice to feel valued. It is nice to work for someone who is not insane. I don’t have to fill out detailed time sheets or answer 100 crazy emails or get yelled at because I didn’t answer my phone at 10 pm.
While cleaning some pictures off my phone, I had occasion to go through my Flickr photo stream. There were all these pictures taken while biding time. Sitting around his living room, walking around some store, sitting around his living room some more. Then, as I went back further, there was my life before him: DJing at one of Abbey’s goth nights, going to parties, Dragon*Con, Jen’s wedding. All of that is mostly my fault. It was a life scheduled around HIS life, because he refused to schedule with me. I shouldn’t have even let it start happening, much less allow it to continue for so long. My life slowly just became some stupid, pointless accessory to his because I let it happen.
The feeling of being all gray and old creeps in so slowly that you don’t even notice until, one day, you look at your life and realize that you’re miserable. That you haven’t felt like you in a long time because part of what makes you who you are is going out dancing, making art pieces that might or might not work out, playing music, weiring odd outfits and being a weirdo. And what have you been doing? Sitting on someone’s couch watching tv. Being too afraid of failure that you never even try anything new. When dancing, you have to commit to the move, even if it turns out imperfectly. Do it all the way and stop second guessing yourself and secretly thinking that everything you do is lame. Get out there and find your groove. (Also, stop hanging out with people who make you feel like everything you do is lame.)
The groove is hard to find because it’s all over the place. I hate monotony and would rather do something new that might kind of end up sucking than just do the same thing all the time. I like going new places, eating weird things, and doing stuff that might end awkwardly. This gets me into trouble sometimes, but it usually works out pretty well. My first circuit blast class was super awkward; I couldn’t even remember how to jump rope. Two months later, I can get through class pretty easily, though my rope jumping is still more “3rd grade double hop” than “Rocky Balboa.” Hopefully, the future experiments in furniture refinishing, bread making and pyrography turn out as well, if I ever get time for them. Stupid school and life goals are taking up too much of my life.
Then again, the groove is easy to find because all you have to do is whatever you feel like doing at the moment. Failing that, just go do something new. There’s a solid 50% chance that you’ll end up having a good time. If nothing else, whatever you do could be horrible enough to get blog material out of it. There’s a part of me that is always screaming, “let’s go have adventures!” even when day to day life and finances require that “adventures” be a new restaurant, hanging out with someone new or going to a party where you’ll only know 1 person. When you have school and work, Adventure becomes Adventure Lite, but it’s still better than just sitting there.
So, the template is this: work when you have to and spend the rest of your life doing stuff that makes you happy. Or pissy. Or whatever. Just feel some way about something. Go do something worth writing about.