Self-love

Recently, it’s been so difficult to love myself; I’m always trying to compensate by giving and giving and giving until I feel worthy and appreciated. But then again, it has been a running theme for… my whole life. If I care for you, I care that you don’t want me. I feel like I’m not worth your time. And if I care about you, I long for you to think the best of me, though I believe your love for me is ungrounded. Why do you think so well of me? Why do you think I’m great? You mustn’t really know me. You must be deceiving yourself. You must have low standards to be impressed by me.

I’m unsure of what I deserve. And sometimes, this means settling for less. At least I get a kiss. At least I’m desirable on some level. I can call it pathetic or I can be sympathetic– it’s human to want to feel loved in some way. But I want to be loved for my whole person, to believe that I can be loved, as imperfect as I am. As impossible as it seems. And it’s not self pity, it’s a terrible acceptance. It’s not something I dwell over- I just carry it day to day, like background noise.

I cannot wait to go home, surrounded by people who remind me that I am already loved. This is belonging. This is acceptance, security, comfort. This is home.
I feel a fraction of God’s love through my family and friends, who hurt when I do. “You’re such a wonderful girl, I don’t understand why you feel that way”. “You’re amazing, I just wish you could see, just for a second, the way people see you. It would take all these feelings away”. And the sincerity I feel behind those words is so humbling. Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you for loving me enough to accept me, flaws and all #beyonce.
Do I make you feel the way you make me feel? Am I as good to you as you are to me? You make me believe it. I’m enough!

By the power of God, I am enough.
How can I love myself when I am so imperfect? I am embarrassed, ashamed.
But still, He loves. His love makes me whole- it’s okay to be what I am, because perfection is futile.
Through Him, I believe that it is possible to be lovely.

I am amazed by and thankful for this love because I know I don’t deserve it. But since I am loved, I will accept that I am loveable. That there is nothing I can do to deserve it, because it is a given. I am not defined by the love people have failed to show me but by the love of the Father.

You’re a good good Father,
It’s who you are.
And I’m loved by you.
It’s who I am.

My type

There are those who will extend kindness to anyone, wherever they go. They leave a trail of sunshine. The sort of teachers that are not intimidating but encouraging when it’s clear that you’re not nearly as smart as they are. The kind of friend who’s a genius and doesn’t scoff at your blank expression. The focus is not on how much you don’t know, but how much you will know. They speak as though you’re not all that different from them; you’re not stupid, you just have more to learn and they can’t wait to lift you up. It’s not look what I have and what you don’t, it’s here, let me show you. The have a faith in you that is not based on merit and yet it makes you feel like there’s nothing you can’t do. Everything they touch turns to gold.
Then there are people who are highly selective in who they are loving towards. Ignorance is unforgivable. “See, I’m actually such a nice person!” But only to those deemed worthy. Only to those who are as rational, as accomplished, as well-read. “We” is a group held above all others and no spot is guaranteed. Having an opinion is good, but too much fervour is not recommended. Having conversations concerning the evolution of jazz over glasses of Moscato may earn you some respect but you must do so without pretentious mien (who uses ‘mien’ anyway??). You have to be your best self, always. It’s this rhetoric of: are you on my level yet?

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbours for their good, to build them up.

– Romans 15:1-2

Losing sleep

I can’t stand the rustle of paper. The crinkle of a plastic bottle in your hands upon suction, that resonant gulp. Shuffling, the repeated shutting of the door and the intermittent illumination of the left side of the room. I can just see you, the tap running, the buzzing of the electric toothbrush. That loud fucking voice two rooms over. The laughter.
I think about how I could phrase it in the nicest way possible and fuss over the delivery. But it’s 2am. I shouldn’t have to. And to make matters worse, I have to wake up early tomorrow. Maybe: “can you guys please keep it down? Thanks!” but I don’t think I can say it without closing the bathroom door a second too soon- unapologetically, before they react. I’m too used to apologizing before making a request.

I didn’t mind that sleep crept painfully slowly with you. The alarm was set at 7:45- but we both knew we wouldn’t be up for another half hour. And I’d find myself tired and blinking at the walls, wondering how much longer we had until daylight. I’d shuffle and try my left side. Sometimes you’d come in closer, and one arm I’d hug close to my chest like I used when I didn’t know how to sleep alone. And by the time the alarm sounds, I’d question whether or not I ever really fell asleep. I know I took from you too and I am not sorry.

Wish list

The truth is that I wish I had a dog on my lap. I wouldn’t mind the fur on my leggings. I wish I could pick up the guitar and play jazz chords without thinking. I’d like to feel like Ed Sheeran. I wouldn’t mind being ginger. I wish I knew what good cheese tasted like. And how to describe good cheese. And where the best cheese is manufactured. I wouldn’t mind being French, feeding my daughter diluted wine with her kids meal. And I wish I could breathe underwater and scout for beautiful shells and dead starfish to adorn my hair. I wish I could trade dead starfish for a living. I wouldn’t mind being a mermaid. And if it weren’t so crazy, I wouldn’t mind if you’d spend some time smiling to my current favourite songs. Racing to the tops of mountains with me- mostly waiting for me. And if you think I’m funny, wait till I burn the house down whilst making us pancakes. It’s the thought that counts, right?

I can’t have it all, can I.

SENSE

One thing led to another,
or several things in four dimensions,
and it feels like it’s your fault.
Sometimes mine, you’d agree.

I don’t know who said what first,
or who missed a beat.
For the hopeful, “later” means “soon”
and “no” means “yes”.
I mean what I say-
Are you a hopeful too?

I have my theories as to why
people are cold and step on toes
but I only know what I’ve got
and not how we got here.
There is no sequence:
Minds are not equipped for when
things happen all at once.

It’s like opening your mouth
when your jaws are locked.
It’s like screaming
when the music is too loud.
It’s this tangled feeling like,
I want to love you
but I can’t stand you.
And I don’t know how to fix it.

Strippers and Snapchat

A friend talked about the uglier strippers scrambling for ones on the ground in the sexiest way they could. He’d never seen anything so demeaning. There they were, ignored by the fattest, seediest old men. And yet, the ladies still competed for attention.
“There was nothing empowering about it”, he said.
“But what if they know they’re beautiful and sexy without having to seduce someone? What if they’re just doing what they like to do?” For a moment, I thought that it could just be possible for stripper-empowerment. But stripper success is based on whether or not people think you’re worth a one dollar bill. If you’re not attractive and you don’t manage to get people going, you’re not a good stripper. Being regarded as hot is part of the job description. You cannot be an objectively good stripper, happy with your day’s work when you have failed to abide by the golden rule: 1) Be attractive. 2) Don’t be unattractive.

This helps me to understand the meaning of empowerment; the less we depend on others for validation, the more empowered we are. Talent that goes unrecognized is still talent. It is empowering to know that you are doing a good thing when no one is watching. It is empowering when you are not framed by the perspectives of others. When you don’t have to prove anything to anyone- how happy you are, how successful, how sexy you are. It is this independence and self-assurance that is so admirable and inspiring.
When we place too much value in superficial things, we let people compartmentalise us. People can think you’re pretty… So what? Is that all there is to you? Surely not! However, when we care too much about how we appear, we become what people see: an appearance. We become people who operate based on others’ projections and we are less authentically individual. Disconnected. And that is always going to be less than what we have the potential to be.
Your dinner looks great on Snapchat, did it taste just as good? That sunset must have been gorgeous, did you look up from the your screen to experience it? You look so popular with those girls, are you trying to show me how much you don’t care about me? Would you be just as satisfied knowing that I didn’t see that post- that I never check your Facebook page? Who are you trying to convince?

When we demonstrate that we are real people with unique qualities, we are empowered. When we know who we are and how we feel, it doesn’t matter if people speculate. Even if we are not appreciated, we are objectively awesome. When we feel insecure, the worst thing to do is look for empty validation. You are not meant to be everybody’s cup of tea. You are a particular.

On a side note, musicians who exploit sex or dress provocatively under the guise of self-empowerment are not doing themselves any favours. If your goal is to liberate women yet are subject to the male gaze, you are not achieving what you have set out to achieve. You are contributing to the system instead of breaking free from it. Also, if you do the easy thing (ha ha) and pull the sex card, you are casting a shadow over your own talents. Nothing says insecure like pulling the most generic, easily-digestible stunts. People may like a highly strategized display of yourself but they may not like you. Okay, maybe that’s better than being disliked. But there is 100% probability that that will sometimes be the case.

I will a will

I’ve successfully read pages of books assigned that I don’t remember much about. Functionalism, mental computations, materialism and shit. So many things, so little time. Or maybe I’m just lazy and the task of understanding requires more effort than I am willing to expend.

“You drive a car, not knowing how its engine works. You ride as passenger in someone else’s car, not knowing how that driver works. And strangest of all, you sometimes drive yourself to work, not knowing how you work, yourself”.
– Marvin Minsky

This is too accurate. Literally. Without even having to talk about minds, I’m floored. I don’t even know how to drive. I don’t even know the rules of street navigation. I think they’re called traffic laws. I don’t have a well-defined framework to understanding how buildings are constructed, how an iPhone works. And I’m entertaining a switch from Psychology to Cognitive Science? Maybe I have to rethink this.

It’s weird to me how I will have an aching desire to do and know yet I am unable to sustain the motivation to do the research necessitated by the level of understanding I wish to obtain. Why can’t knowledge be implanted in my mind? Imagine if all we had to do to know anything complex is to transfer information from a chip to our brains. Catching up to the latest knowledge without having to read/ re-read years-worth of research would allow us to come up with new hypotheses at a faster rate. We could uncover connections that we’d never seen before, based on cumulative knowledge accessible to us at any point in time. But then again this would be too easy and I value intellectual challenge.

I’m all over the place. I want life to be easy but I value hardship- or rather, what one can learn through it.  I envy those who “love the grind”. Our limitations force us to work hard. As annoying as this is, perseverance and discipline are admirable. I’d say, more rewarding than the actual content that is learned… Which should in theory transform the way I approach anything I do not yet know. Sometimes, knowing how or where to start is the most difficult part.

WHOLLY YOURS

Before we fuck,
anoint my faithful heart;
thank you, heart, for your persistence,
study the configuration of my soul;
thank you, God, for your gentle breath,
cherish my thoughtful mind;
thank you, mind, for minding.
Touch me with compassion and
caress my misfolded thoughts.
Know me, love me, honour me.
Then, use me because I love you.

Humble

To the one who has given me everything, I will hold back nothing.
My life is no sacrifice in light of your goodness. Thank you for every blessing I do not deserve.
Your vision is perfect. You are my song.

‘By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me– a prayer to the God of my life’.
– Psalm 42:8

Balance

Swing dancing is so interesting. A conversation with a partner. The lead speaks through the subtleties of movement, a gentle release or a push, prompting a step to the left, a pivot, a twirl. The follower anticipates a shift in balance, attentive to the flow of motion. Experts of bodies, they transfer energy to and from one another. When it works- when the legs do not twist awkwardly and the rhythm takes over, it is magic. Like lovers kissing.
—–
My recently-graduated statistics professor sounds Canadian. “Any questions? No? Erright”, she says. In a hood, framed black glasses and a variation of the short man bun, she looks slightly boyish. Her arms move just as I’d imagine Kristen Stewart’s would: stiff but sufficiently enthusiastic. Today, I couldn’t help but smile as she embodied the mean, pretending to be the center of balance, tipped over towards an outlier with her arms outstretched. Adorable. “Good question”, she always says. I can listen to her talk forever. I’m also surprised by my appreciation for statistical measures which have such a simple yet profound impact on data interpretation… This won’t last, I don’t think.