That Time Everyone Gave Me The Same Advice (and didn’t know it)

When I was in high school, trying to pick a quote that would hold up long after I walked out of high school, my mom told me what hers was. “This above all, to thine own self be true.” It was a Shakespeare quote so naturally I was like, ‘shit, how do I even top that?!’ I didn’t get it because I didn’t know who I was. Years later, I still have no true concept of it but it was interesting to think that that quote would always float around, flying in and out of my life and conversations the way a little bird would when trying to deliver an important message.

Or Keenan Ivory Waynes reminding you not to miss the things that happen in life.

I’m still reeling, dealing and trying (and failing) to conceal the fact that I’m really devastated about my separation. I need things real and concrete to keep my mind off the fact that the person I love most in this world is pushing me away with a fifty foot pole; it keeps me from losing my mind so I dive deep into work. I don’t and can’t really socialize with some of my other friends because we’re either on different ends of the spectrum or my perpetual sad eyes makes them uncomfortable. I spend a lot of time at work, honing my skills, teaching myself new things, trying to craft something out of the piece of a large cake that I’ve been offered. There are ups and down, new things to learn, things to understand, puzzles to puzz and I’m the kind of personality that has to figure them out or die trying.

So when the advice came to me, it was like, well what am I doing that you’re so wigged out?

Nothing.

I’m not doing anything.

I’m at work.

I go home.

I write.

I repeat.

I’ll see a movie and be so distracted that I wind up feeling like I wasted time and money even going and GOD KNOWS I LOVE MOVIES.

I overwork myself, bash in my own head to get great ideas and make something of myself so that whenever I leave a room, people notice that I did something that was worth the time spent there.

I guess in that regard, I’ve come to understand who I am but really, I’m seeing what I’m capable of. Embarrassingly, I’m on autopilot a lot of the time. It’s a little dangerous. I’m deliriously tired and either talk too much, fidget or just stare. I spent some of Saturday evening with Waffle and all I kept thinking was, ‘I’m so tired of chasing you but I’m still out here in this desert, running as fast as my legs will carry me. I’ll crawl goddamnit I really will’ while talking about the hum drum things with work and life. I’ve driven around in the car and thought, ‘I can really go for a wicked nap right now’ I’m capable of doing amazing things but is that WHO I AM?

Am I a problem solver?

am I the cause of problems?

am I just taking shit as it comes?

I’ve yet to figure it all out honestly but you’re not here for the psychology, you’re here for the fact that I heard the same thing from people completely unfamiliar with the situation.

Persons A:

This past week saw me really opening up to the possibility that I am changing and I’m not sure what I’m changing into or if I’m even actually changing. I had conversations with some great friends over some drinks (which in case you don’t know, is the best time to receive advice) and the recurring, unsolicited advice was “Don’t lose yourself.” It was interesting to hear this from them since I wasn’t even talking about work.

Person B-

While leaving work, I walked out late with a co-worker who, while we were shooting the bullshit, I joked about being able to multitask until I have to put an OUT OF ORDER sign around my neck. “Don’t forget who you are.” I was warned while we parted ways. Who I was? Who I am? A casual joke about overworking to the point of madness and that’s the message I get?

I guess you can tell when someone is having a crisis or when someone is tuned into the body language. I’m going to be completely honest. I think, overthink, re-think, think again, THEN go forward with something before doing anything work related. Caution and pre-caution forever.

-My personal life, is a shitshow, but we can’t get all the W’s in life right?-

Which brings us back to the quote. “This above all, to thine own self be true.” My own self is what? An android? A work bot? A worker bee? My life so far has been about some kind of survival, or at least the ability to pay bills on time, feed my family, worry over my brother and make sure my mom doesn’t keel over. I don’t think I’ve had an actual vacation where things were taken care of, where I didn’t have to worry, where I could get shitfaced and be fine in the morning. I haven’t taken a ‘break’ even while struggling with unemployment; I was so busy trying to make moves I was losing patience, losing my mind and crying myself to sleep. I have a need to celebrate even the tiny successes (which I’m told one shouldn’t celebrate because that’s corny) because I’ve been drinking losers lunch for so long. It’s insane that I’ve taken the long way around to get to something instead of being able to just GET TO WHAT I WANT. My own self is apparently a work horse that works until she can’t, takes a moment, watches the world, tapes herself up and continues to work.

I mentioned it a long time ago where I learned I’m a writer with a busted suit of armor who keeps going to war and perhaps, hyperbole aside, that’s who I am. I can’t forget that. I can’t get comfortable with the idea that I’m ‘settled’ somewhere; I can’t rest on laurels or on the idea that I’ve ‘arrived’ because just as easily as I walked in, I can get thrown out on my ass. My own discomfort makes me a mess and I guess I have to dig around to find the wide eyed 17 year old who wanted her name in lights, who wanted to make movies, date pretty people and live in a nice apartment to find out if I’m still that girl, if I can still be that wide eyed, happy and optimistic. If I can accept the fact that I have a truly fortunate run so far, that I’m not fucking up that I’m not a mess and most importantly that I am someone worth remembering.

in case you were wondering, my high school quote “Its your own lack of faith which stops you from having a bloody good crack at anything. It’s go hard or go home.” – Lucy Lawless