LJ Idol - Week 12 - Open Topic "Gifted"

I have always been "gifted" or at least that's what I have been told.  When I was in school, I thrived on procrastination.  I was able to get things done by half-assing them, but because I was "gifted" I usually received good marks on everything.

I remember when I was in my senior year of high school I was just done. I didn't want to do any hard work anymore. Since about 7th grade I'd taken honors and gifted classes and by senior year I needed a break. All my friends who I'd taken all my previous honors and AP classes with were all in AP Biology, AP English, AP Physics. I opted to take regular bio and English and I did everything I could to not take physics because the teacher had a reputation for being strict. My English class was just way too easy for me. I remember that we wrote a paper on the Hero's Journey, where we had to watch a film of our choosing and describe how it followed the Hero's Journey. I distinctly remember receiving my grade back of 100/100. My teacher wrote that she literally could not find one thing wrong with my paper. So while I felt great about that, looking back on it, I often feel like I had some wasted potential.

I went through my Bachelor's program pretty easily, I think. I changed my major a couple times. Communications, then Economics, then finally Social Sciences. I originally picked economics because I really enjoyed the subject. I thought it was interesting and I wanted to be a great economist like Amartya Sen. If you read my last post, you will see that I am not a fan of math. And what do you know! Most of the Economics courses were centered on some sort of Calculus or Algebra, so that was out. Eventually, I decided to major in Social Sciences because I had already taken some courses that would count towards the credits and I didn't want to have to retake anything. I didn't know what I wanted to actually do with a Social Science degree. I just didn't want to have to spend more time in school than I had to.

I later graduated with my Bachelor's degree in Social Sciences and a minor in Geography due to having taken some courses that could count for both. I ended up graduating two quarters early because I took 4 or 5 classes at a time. When I graduated, I applied for the teaching credential program because I felt like that was the only thing I could actually do with my degree. For reasons I won't get into here, I ended up not doing that program. I later went back to school and took a super easy online Master's program and obtained my Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree. I really half-assed my thesis, and it is NOT something I am proud of, and I do not even know why the program allowed me to graduate. But, I did, somehow. However, I do not currently work in the field.

So maybe I actually am "gifted". I don't think I am. But looking back on how easily I got through college and my Master's program, maybe I am.

Looking back, all I can see is wasted potential and laziness.

In my current position, I really don't have to do much at all. I answer emails and sometimes look things up in programs to do some research. The truth is that I spend a lot of my day on my phone playing games. I feel like I should be doing more with my life. I would like to get a job in Urban Planning, but it's been so long since I graduated that I am afraid I won't remember anything.

I used to be more motivated, but I feel like I am just burnt out on life, honestly.

My very own "Gifted Kid Burnout Bingo"

One day, I will make something more of myself. Self-loathing and fear of failure really get in the way sometimes.

LJ Idol - Week 12 - Failure

I can still vividly recall the first and only time I ever truly failed a class.

When I was in high school, I prided myself on always getting straight A's, with the occasional B. I graduated with a 4.5 GPA due to honors classes. Naturally, I walked into college thinking my shit didn't stink and I would ace everything.

I was wrong, at least that first quarter.

See, I hate math. Still do, to this day (it's been 15 years since I graduated high school, don't remind me). So when I chose my major, I carefully chose something that didn't include a lot of math, because that wasn't my forte. Going into college, I chose the major of Communications because I wanted to get into advertising. Lucky for me, I only had to take one measly statistics class. I figured this would be a piece of cake and I would just walk right through it like I did everything else.

Imagine my surprise when I showed up to class and I had pretty much the worst professor. She treated the class like middle school students. She would berate us for not turning in homework with staples specifically in one particular centimeter. It was rough. I had a hard time adjusting to college, especially with this teacher and this course. I don't know if it was just an overwhelming sense of anxiety but I pretty much shut down the entire length of the class and I just couldn't "get it".

The end of the quarter rolled around, and there it was, plain as day, on my report card: F

I panicked, hard. I didn't think I would be able to make it through school. I thought my world was crashing down. This couldn't happen to me, super smart Honor Roll student. But it did.

Somehow, I rebounded, and a few quarters later, I went to re-take the class so I could clear that F off my record. Only, I had waited too long to retake it.

So what happened? I had to retake the placement test. Okay, no problem, I took pre-calculus in high school, I got pretty good grades, I could do this.

I don't know why or how. But I failed THAT test too. The results of that placement test placed me into the most basic, remedial math class that the college offered. I had to pass THREE MORE MATH CLASSES just to be able to take Statistics again. AGONY.

For an entire year, I sulked in those remedial math classes. The funny thing is that I got an A in all of them. They didn't count towards my GPA, though.

Finally, FINALLY, I was able to retake the Statistics course.

Guess what my grade was?


I still passed.

I still hate statistics. 

LJ Idol - Week 11 - Part 2 - If The Creek Don't Rise

One of my frustrations with my husband is centered around the fact that he always has plans, and if the plans change, he gets frustrated. Instead of letting things "go with the flow" as it were, every week he makes some kind of strategy around his Uber driving. The work is erratic, and frustrations are bound to happen. It's one of the reasons I have been urging him to get a "real job". His work is a constant battle of "well if everything goes to plan, I should have x amount of money by the end of the week". Today is Wednesday. He told me on Sunday that he should have $300 to give me to replenish my account since I had to cover one of the bills he's supposed to pay for. How much does he have today? $75. Last week didn't go according to plan, either, which is why he had to borrow money from me.

The problem is, it never goes according to plan.

There's always something. He needs an oil change. He gets sick. My mom gets sick so he has to stay home and take the kids to school. The rental car needs repairs so he has to sit in Pep Boys for 7 hours. Always something, every week.

But in his mindset, if the creek don't rise, we will be in great shape financially. Which is true. If things always went according to plan, we'd be great.

We are always flooded, though.

I hope one day that things will change. I feel like I am paddling a life raft every week. We live paycheck to paycheck for the most part. I just want for once to be able to coast through without worrying about money. 

LJ Idol - Week 11 - Wild Goose Chase

The alarm sounds at an ungodly hour
the morning has not yet started
Quietly, showering and dressing for work
so as to not wake anyone in her stead

A dark drive, yawning
The sun has not yet risen
Turning the corner to the street
Where she spends nine hours a day

Walking in the gate to work
Hearing nothing but quiet
for most of the town still sleeps
as her footsteps echo through the alley

Turning on the computer
Where she will stare and stare
To begin another day
Of frivolous activities

For each and every day
is a wild goose chase
What will happen today?
The same thing that happened yesterday.

Always looking for something new
Never finding anything different

LJ Idol - Week 9 - Milkshake Duck

I don't really share this with a lot of people because it is embarassing for me.

Anyone who knows me on Facebook or IRL should know that I am a very tolerant person. I champion for equal rights, I'm an ally, I try to help use my privilege as a heterosexual white female to give a voice to those who need it.

My husband and I have been married for 8 years now. We dated each other for only about 4 months before we got married. So, you can figure out that we didn't know each other as well as some couples do when they get married.

It wasn't until a little while after we got married that I discovered my husband is racist.

Every time he gives some sort of racist comment or remark, I call him out on it. I try to help fix his behavior, because I know that it's ingrained in him after growing up with his grandfather. But, it doesn't always work. For example, when Colin Kaepernick was hot in the media I tried to explain to my husband the reasoning behind it and why it's important. He had plenty of negative things to say about Kaepernick and the media attention. To this day he still defends his position.

Being married to a racist makes me feel like a hypocrite. I always tell him that if I'd known he was like that before we got married, I would not have married him. Should I divorce him over it? Probably. Most of the time he keeps his opinions to himself. I absolutely do not let him talk to the kids with any sort of racist remarks. I talk up equality to the kids and let them know about the issues that people face daily. I could probably be doing more. I am not claiming to be perfect or even the best example but I feel like I help in some small way. I'm hoping at least to end the cycle with my husband's generation and not have him pass that down to my kids.

My husband is my own personal Milkshake Duck. 

LJ Idol - Week 8 - True North

I have never really had a clear cut path in my life. Never had a True North. I could never decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. When I was young I really had no idea. I never dreamed of being a lawyer or a doctor or an engineer. I changed my college major twice before I ended up majoring in Social Sciences. With this degree, I decided that I'd be a teacher. That was my plan up until January 2009.

I had just graduated in December 2008. I applied for and was accepted to the program to get my teaching credentials. I'd decided to be a high school teacher. Things changed when, in January, I became pregnant with Julia. I was in a very short-lived relationship with her biological father. Here's a little bit of the timeline:

  • November 2008 - Broke up with Chris, who was my fiance. I was vulnerable and found Brian as a rebound relationship.

  • December 2008 - Graduated with my Bachelor's. Brian became increasingly more emotionally manipulative and abusive. That's another topic for another day.

  • December/January - I moved in with Brian. I can't remember exactly when.

  • January 2009 - Became pregnant with Julia. For some reason I did this mostly on purpose. I was going through a lot of things emotionally and I thought that having a baby would make me feel better because I'd always have someone to love me.

  • March 2009 - Brian broke up with me because I was "too emotional" and he didn't want to deal with my pregnancy hormones. I took the opportunity to run because by this point I could see the writing on the wall. He'd started distancing me from my family and friends. He made threats. So when he wanted out I didn't try to talk him out of it.

Here we were, March 2009; I was about 7 weeks pregnant. I was going to be a single mom. So, what was I to do? I couldn't go back to school for my teaching credential program as it was scheduled to begin in September and I was due in October.  Brian and I had an agreement that if he left us alone I wouldn't go after him for child support. I was completely petrified of him. When we broke up was the last time I saw him in person and I wanted to keep it that way.

Julia was born in October. I had my pregnancy leave and went back to work shortly after the new year. I worked as a supervisor for a store that sold home furnishings. I didn't know what else to do but work. I had to make sure I had enough to take care of us. We were living with my grandmother at the time and she didn't charge me rent but I paid for some utilities and the TV service. I was only making like $9 an hour and I'm not really sure how we managed, but we did. It's pretty accurate to say that when Julia was born, my True North changed. I had a trajectory that I was going towards, but one small decision changed it forever.

I tried to remedy the situation over the past few years. I moved my way up in the retail company and worked in the corporate office until the company closed. I was able to get my master's degree in Urban and Regional Planning in December 2016. I have not, however, been able to find any sort of job in that field that pays well enough to maintain my current standard of living. At the time I graduated with the degree, I was making about $50,000 per year and most jobs I saw were about $36,000 for entry level. I attempted to apply for jobs out of state. I came close to getting jobs a few times. I was invited to an in person interview for a community in Texas. But, it was at this time that we had another True North changing decision. We were living in an apartment, the rent was about to be raised. We had to make a decision if we wanted to stay, or move. We ended up buying a house here in California. Since we bought a house, it was no longer feasible for me to look for jobs outside the state and the immediate area. I did look for some planning jobs within a reasonable driving distance but was unable to find anything.

It's been over two years now since we bought our house. I feel I have worked my way towards contentment, but I do not think I have found my real, honest, True North yet.

So many life altering decisions in a decade. Sometimes I think I am holding myself back from finding my True North out of fear. I seem to be the one making the decisions that keeps me from finding it. Will I ever be fearless enough to look for it?

LJ Idol - Week 7 - Feckless

I live in a home with two people with ADHD, one person with ADD, and two people (including myself) with depression. Our daily life is HARD. Everyone is on medication. Most days, I feel like all my efforts are for naught. We've enlisted the help of therapists and doctors for everyone to help manage our mental health. Most days it seems like everyone in our home can be described as feckless. Who thought that we should be parents? Why did we decide to be parents? It was definitely irresponsible of us to have children given our pre-existing conditions.

We try to make the best of our situation. Most days, however, I want to scream and cry and run away. My weeknights are filled with screaming matches over homework, trips to therapy, monthly appointments with the psychiatrist. Every day I worry whether or not I will get phone calls from my son's school due to his behavior. My off Fridays are filled with my own therapy appointments, shopping, and self-care.

Day by day, we work on building ourselves a happy and healthy life for ourselves and for our children. On the surface, it looks like we are being irresponsible. Deep down, we are trying HARD. One day, I know that my kids will be self-sufficient and that my husband and I will finally have some clarity to look at life through the eyes of responsible people. But for now, we are managing. Still irresponsible a lot of the time, especially with money. But the right idea is there. We are working on it.

Keep going.
Every day.
Don't stop pushing.
Our kids are counting on us!

LJ Idol - Week 6 - Solvitur ambulando

The Light

I stand here at a crossroads
To see where I should travel

Quietly creeping forward
The sun lights the path
Seemingly glowing and opalescent
My pathway is lit

I can see clearly where to go
I have made that mistake before
Walking, towards the lighted way
Do I dare travel that path again?

Glancing beside me
I see smiling faces
Roaming in the dark
While I am in the light, unsure

I continue to walk
to see where I shall go next
The divide in the path suggests
The darkness is where I should be

But to what end, should I remain in the darkness
For walking in the light has given me hope
That even though the smiles exist in the dark
The happiness I seek
can only be found
by walking towards the glistening path
to where I belong, to the light.

LJ Idol - Week 5 - My enemies are all too familiar. They're the ones who used to call me friend.

I was a really, really immature teenager. I was super boy crazy (I probably still would be if I were not married). Some of you have been around long enough to know that. One story stands out in my mind where my craziness really materialized and cost me some friends.

When I was in high school, I had a group of friends like many kids do. It was me, Rebecca, Cori, Justin, Diana, and Ruth. Justin was the only male in our group, but he fit in with the rest of us. Rebecca, Ruth, and Justin were pretty religious. Cori and I are not. The three of them would kind of poke fun at me and make jokes about how I was the only one sexually active and etc. I think at that point I should have probably stopped being friends with them, but I didn't, because it was high school and I was already a bit of a loner and friends were hard to come by.

When I was 16, I started dating an older (19) guy named David. I'm not really sure why, but I fell hard for him fast. Our relationship was pretty new and he was my first major boyfriend that I had. As such, I wanted to spend all of my extra time with him. I met him through Diana, and in retrospect, I think I kind of "stole" him from her.

One day in Junior year, my friends and I were working on a class project and there was some kind of miscommunication on the time we were supposed to meet. I got really angry at this and I felt like Justin was purposefully giving me a hard time because I wanted to spend my time with my boyfriend. I recall having an explosive argument with him over him "inconveniencing me". We were all supposed to meet at Diana's house to work on the project. I got there and since this was about 16 years ago, I don't remember exactly why, but I slapped Justin, hard. I guess I had just had enough. I then got back into my car and drove home.

The following day, I received a note that I was to go to the principal's office. Justin's mom had called and complained so I was getting put into another class so we wouldn't have any classes together anymore. Since this didn't happen on school property I didn't get suspended. After that, our friend group kind of diminished because Cori was kind of on my side and the others were kind of on Justin's side, though they still talked to me in our classes we had together. It was at this point, however, that I did really start to see who my true friends were. To this day, Cori is the only one I keep in contact with. Over the years, I have tried to make amends with Justin to no avail. I keep in contact with Ruth sparsely. Rebecca doesn't have any social media and lives far away, but I'm friends with her sister on Facebook. Diana left the school not long after that and I really haven't heard anything from or about her since high school.

After that, I started doing some new activities at school such as color guard and drama, and made new friends there, that I have to this day. I still think about my old "friends" and wish them well, and I wish things hadn't happened the way they did, but they did become my enemies. 

LJ Idol - Week 4 - Impossible

Everything seemed "impossible" at one point. A few months ago, I was in a pretty dark place, and daily tasks were daunting. Work was boring, home life was habitual. I didn't want to be at either place most of the time. I still sometimes feel like that, but it's at significantly smaller scale than before.

I started therapy, and things started looking up. My therapist takes the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approach. This has been pretty useful for me because part of my depression is a lot of black or white, or "all or nothing", thinking. I'm still working on getting some of those cognitive dissonances out of my head, but I'm improving. It's at least getting easier to recognize the negative thinking, even if I can't do much yet to prevent them from happening, at least I am more aware of them when they come.

My therapist gave me a list of "25 Things You Can Control".

I keep these posted at my desk at work; in fact, they are about 8 inches above where I am typing this right now, so that I can see them and remind myself of them on a consistent basis. They help to remind me that things are not impossible, because I do have control over some aspects of my life.

A few of the key points that I try to remind myself of:

  • Whether you look for the negatives or positives

  • The kind of attitude you have

  • Owning up to your mistakes

  • Saying what you need

Putting a positive lens on life really makes a difference, and helps those little things that seemed impossible yesterday be possible today.

Changing the narrative definitely takes time. But I'm putting in the work. I don't want things to be impossible anymore. I want to have goals and achievements, too. And I am getting there.