On playground politics, regretful hairballs, and being your own story’s superhero

I wish I could say it’s the first time I’ve been here.

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Or the second.

Or the third.

The truth is I’ve probably been in similar positions dozens of times my entire life and I conveniently forget how difficult a previous experience was to make room for feeling sorry for myself in a current situation.

I remind myself of the facts again.

I have talents. I am intelligent. I am articulate and well-spoken. I am manically passionate, recklessly impulsive, fiercely loyal, occasionally quick to anger but equally fast to forgive.

I also know I am flawed and imperfect but unceasingly resilient in regards to improving those shortcomings. I believe recognizing your strengths and acknowledging your weaknesses keeps you humble. I also believe it gives you something to work toward.

My name is Meg and I honestly believe that tomorrow will be better than today.

However, right now, on this super fun Saturday morning, I feel sorry for myself and despite my pathetic scratching feeble attempts to escape, I have concluded sitting down cross-legged in this wallowing dirt hole of NOTHING IS GOING RIGHT is in fact, my destiny.

… For now.

When things go wrong (as they often do), I think it is human nature to first blame the situation. When similar situations happen again, I think it is also natural to find that fault in yourself. Different place, different time, different people, same story, same Meg.

The logic is there. It makes perfect sense. But yet, it’s a slowly growing hairball in the back of your throat and the more you dwell on it, the more you hack and cough on its presence. It’s counter-productive, and ultimately, it’s choking you.

Because it’s only when you let it go and get it out, that you can breathe again.

…Or at least that is what I assume, as I am not a cat and have never hacked up a giant hair ball, and let us all take a moment to thank God for that.

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Did you guys ever watch the TV show, Recess? It was a Saturday morning cartoon about a ragtag friend group and amid all the slap-stick humor that is Saturday morning cartoon television, offered up some (in my opinion) pretty profound advice to the youth of the late 90’s.

A particular episode entitled, “Nobody doesn’t like TJ” has always stuck with me. TJ Detweiler (main character, cool kid with backwards hat) spends an entire episode attempting to convince the one kid at school who doesn’t like him, that they should be friends.

And TJ really chucks his “A-Game” at this bro. He truly throws out his best bag of friend-related tricks. It’s impressive work. As a 10-year-old, you’re kind of watching going woah, I wish TJ was MY friend!

At the end of this particular episode, TJ, in so many words, asks this kid, “Yo, so are you Team Teej or what, homie?” And this guy responds “Yeah, I had a good time. But I still don’t like you.” AND THEN?? HE. WALKS. AWAY. Like… what!!! Damn kiddo, that is some straight-up cold cereal.

At the tender age of 10, I got this adult thematic lesson loud and clear. Not everyone is going to like you Meg. Not everyone is going to want to be your friend. Not everyone is going to have your back or have your best interests in mind. You can put on a smile, compliment, include and welcome them and those same people will continue to do and say thoughtless, manipulative and unkind things just for the sake of pissing you off and getting ahead.

Yet, you have to rise above it. You have to adopt your superhero good-before-evil mantra, imagine you can fly, appear to be invincible, focus on your passion, find your people, turn your ball-cap backward, and shake it off.

At 10 years old, I got that. At 25, the playground of life is a bit more intricate. I like you and I don’t like you are no longer as one-dimensional as Saturday morning cartoons suggested. FYI to all nursery rhymes–no one’s really throwing sticks and stones anymore because it’s not the Middle Ages. These days, we’re all throwing words and yeah, our limbs are just fine, thank you, but our hearts and our minds have seen healthier times.

And despite the lessons I continue to learn as an adult that I thought I understood as a child, I still find myself wanting to be TJ Detweiler. I still desperately want the approval, admiration and acceptance of everyone I surround myself with even though I know in my scarred, bruised and beaten heart, what a fool’s errand that really is. And time and time and time again, I find myself exhausted and defeated, sitting at the bottom of a wallowing hole that I personally put myself in, wondering wait, how did I get back here?

These words are my rescue ladder out. My reminder to myself that the facts above remain true. That I need to continue to work toward being the best version of myself regardless if others like or want to associate with that person. To work toward solutions and not being a part of a problem. To being a superhero in my own story and being ok with being the villain in someone else’s. To always being the main character and not just some anonymous victim stranded in a manhole waiting for someone to rescue me.

Remember why you’re here. To laugh. To smile. To learn. To grow. To adapt. To change. Not to wallow. Not to choke. Not to dwell on lost friendships, ruined relationships, missed opportunities, stupid mistakes and all the kids on the playground that just don’t, for whatever reason, like you and just never will.

“You can’t have a better tomorrow, if you keep thinking about yesterday.”

To today–

m

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One thought on “On playground politics, regretful hairballs, and being your own story’s superhero

  1. Gray Phoenix Scott says:

    A very eloquent reminder… Like you, from a young age I was indoctrinated into the beliefs of TJ, though for my own personal history, I grappled (and continue to grapple) with seeking/realizing inner-peace and joy and the urges, many of them programmed by others, to seek others or perhaps “need” a significant other in order to be happy, white picket fence, 2 and 1/2 kids, etc.

    Due to my own flawed reasoning, and not having the most supportive or loving upbringing, I already felt I was inherently flawed and unlovable… So once I got into school, then started wearing glasses, (no, being called or considered a “nerd” or “geek” wasn’t a compliment sadly) and naturally received my fair share of teasing and bullying, I gave up on that game. ESPECIALLY when it came to girls. The inner conflict morphed from one of “Oh, I want to have friends and a girlfriend! I want to be liked by others! But I’m inherently broken so I don’t know who would like me…” being the shyest nerd in the class, to “Fuck them, they don’t like me the way I am, they have the nerve to reject or judge me without even knowing me?!” and at the time, in high school, observing all the clique-type groups of friends (yes, even my school had stereotype skaters and jocks and cheerleaders who seemed to propagate some caste system in school, when here I thought we were all equal regardless of race, gender, or something as silly as clothing and lifestyle choice), felt I’d refuse to participate in it, becoming a self-proclaimed loner.

    Combine this with a tendency to daydream and fantasize, convincing myself I’m incomplete without my soulmate or other half, and you have yourself a great formula for a “hopeless romantic” (emphasis on hopeless). To be completely truthful, I haven’t completely gotten over this earlier self-talk and negative conditioning from my parents, not to place blame on others at all, but it’s a struggle. I DO have maybe 200 friends on Facebook, but when I haven’t actually spoken to or hung out with any of them in the past 2-3 years, meh…

    But getting back to the positive message at the end of your post, this bears repeating, and I have often heard it spoken that things harmoniously fall into place when find inner peace. I feel kind of embarrassed even writing this because it sounds cliche (even more than the last line) but I truly believe (more so as I continue to expand my views of myself) that keeping ourselves in a positive mindset like you wrote, and not placing blame on others or circumstances, we will start to draw to us the circumstances and people which will encourage and support THIS positive energy… Contrast it to going to the whole “Woe is me, I’ll never be anyone, no one wants me, I really WISH I had a girlfriend, I really WANT someone to like me!” which is just projecting lack and want to the universe. I have ALWAYS despised arrogance and cockiness (no pun intended but I can’t think of a better word) in guys, always avoided being this, yet coupled with my shyness and feelings of inferiority (and being tied down to glasses until recently), but I’m starting to realize why women so often list off confidence as the top qualities they look for in guys…

    I tend to roll my eyes at this point, equating confidence with arrogance, wanting to be humble, then the few times I go out I don’t approach any women and wonder why they don’t talk to me when I’m there thinking “Oh my god, I can’t stare, that would be super creepy. I came here alone so I’m already putting off stalker vibes! She’s so cute! But she probably has a boyfriend, and anyway, since she is so cute she probably gets approached all the time, THAT must be exhausting, the last thing I would want to do is make someone feel uncomfortable when to be honest I’m just a little bored, a little lonely, and people don’t wear giant labels proclaiming their relationship status, so it can’t hurt to at least say hi, right?…” all in the space of a few seconds, but the “be modest, don’t be like those arrogant guys, if she’s interested she’ll talk to you, you have no idea how to read their signs so wait until SHE says hi” kicks in, I try to send some psychic heart signals to get her to talk to me or at least let her know I’m interested (again, without looking directly at her or making eye-contact, let alone smiling, ’cause that could be seen as a major creeper-move, for any period of time), she never does, I go home again feeling like “See, it’ll never happen, forever alone!”

    Buuuut, back to what I was getting at, if I am just being myself and being happy with who I am I will naturally start to approach people I want to (right? I hope so?) and positivity in general will come my (and our) way as I stop stressing about what I can’t change and focus on my own inner image.

    So sorry if that was a lot, I am glad I found your blog and find it very insightful, even seeing how many of my beliefs/behaviors are miraculously not limited to me (wait, you mean I’m not the only one out there who thinks this stuff?!). Thanks for sharing yourself, it’s really inspirational and I too have played with the idea of starting a blog to get a lot of these thoughts and feelings out, it’s great to read yours though ^_^

    Warmly,

    Gray

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