2011

I feel like a New Year should symbolize something bold and brilliant; it should be some sort of clear signpost aligned with a major life change.  I am graduating from college this May, so I guess that signifies something. But nonetheless, I feel damp; cold; stagnant.  It’s not that I’m not excited about graduating, or that I regret 2010 (quite the opposite; it was a joyful year).  It’s that the overwhelming characteristic of my emotional landscape right now is fear.

I have a tendency towards anxiety in general (I believe it is often associated with depression), but it has never been particularly associated with the changing of years or the passing of time.  As a child and adolescent, I was so unbelievably eager to grow up that sometimes I felt as though I might explode from waiting.  And there are many pleasures of adulthood: romantic love and sex, of course, but also things like living on your own, exploring new places without constraints or boundaries, and choosing the life that you want to live, in terms of education, career, friends, lovers, location, etc.  There is an exhausting number of variables.

More than anything, I felt my childhood crumble away in late 2010.  I had a similar feeling in late winter of 2009, just about two years ago. You can read my essay about that here.  Maybe there are a series of sudden moments or realizations or overcomings that signify the end of childhood.  Maybe this is one of the moments in that series.  But it still feels too sudden, too painful.  From the time I was about 12, I had the skills to take care of myself.  Granted, I was not an emotionally sound adolescent, but I was remarkably good at cooking, getting myself to and from places, and keeping track of events (gymnastics meets, doctor’s appointments, school concerts).  I don’t remember thinking of myself as a kid past the time I was 11 or 12.

And now I’m 21 and I’ll be 22 later this year and it’s too late to go back.  I want to at least stop time, if I can’t go back.  But I’m not allowed to do that either.  For the first time in a decade, I don’t want to grow up.   I want to stay the same.  I want to play outside with my cousins.  I want to catch minnows in the summer in glass jars.  I want to build intricate snowmen in the winter and not worry about how many calories are in the elephant ear I’m eating.  I want my mother to live with me and make me pad thai or spaghetti with meatballs. I don’t want to take planes and trains and buses by myself.

Maybe I’m being a bit melodramatic, but I see 2009 and 2010 as the last years of my childhood.  In May, I will graduate from an Ivy League university with absolutely no clue what I want to do in this world.  I will probably delay the inevitable entrance to the real world by travelling and going to law school.  And maybe I will eventually do something that’s sort of un-adult, like teach kid’s dance lessons or be a nanny.  But my little safe cocoon of late adolescence is peeling away.  Soon, I’m going to have to do things like pay bills and taxes and apply for grown-up jobs.

So that’s the fear and the anxiety that I am feeling.  But as I write this, I’m beginning to feel a spark of some other feeling: it’s not exactly joy or excitement.  Maybe possibility?  Or curiosity?  Or calm?  There are wonderful parts about being a grown up.  And I have a feeling that I will always be the sort of grown up who doesn’t think twice about wearing colorful mittens or sifting for shiny seashells at the beach.  So maybe 2009 and 2010 do signify the terminal point of my childhood.  But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

The very end of this year (the second half of December), which I spent with no less than 27.5 relatives from my mother’s side of the family, was rough.   But I think that it makes sense: I was acting out in ways that a seven year old might.  I alternated between fits of misbehavior and moments of deep, deep sadness.  I think somewhere inside, I knew that this was not just the ending of a year, but the ending of an important segment of my life.  Maybe I was trying to delay the onset of 2011.  I will admit that midnight, January 1, took me by surprise.  I was sitting on a couch with my favorite aunt and uncle.  We didn’t notice until it was about 12:03. We promptly went to bed.

In 2011, I do not want to be a misbehaving girl any more.  I want to be a real woman.  This, of course, is probably dangerously undefined, but that’s how I want it to be.  I think that my transition to womanhood began a long time ago.  USB probably sped things up, and then my 21st year ended and I was nudged over the edge.  In this next year, I wish to move away from the child who had to do everything she could to take care of herself and thus grew up too quickly.  I will never leave her behind; that girl is a big part of who I am and how I am today.  Instead, I want to move closer towards the bright, collected, exuberant young woman that I want to be.

Over the next few days, I will begin to compile a list of ways in which I intend to become such a woman.  If it is blog-appropriate, I will most definitely share.  I am not sure they will be resolutions, per se — I strongly dislike the pressure of a resolution.  More like ideas.  Let’s call them ideas.  Stay tuned!

What did 2010 signify for you?  How will 2011 be different?  What are you favorite parts about being a grown up?  About being a child?

Love And Spaghetti Squash And Jeans

Today’s I am proud of myself because: of how open and brave I was that day in the park when I met USB.  At that point in my life, I was truly convinced that I was unlovable, romantically speaking.  That no one would ever want to be with me. Sure, there were parts of myself that I liked.  But I thought that I was just too weird for anyone else to ever like those elements of me.  I wanted to meet someone.  I was 20 years old, about to start my senior year of college and had never had a serious relationship.  I had made out with a few boys.  But that was about  it.  Nothing ever clicked.  With USB, everything clicks.  I didn’t know it then, but I think a big part of the sadness I have felt over the last three or four years — the constant aching in my chest — was simply because I wanted to share my life with someone.  And now I do. And it is even more wonderful than I imagined.

I didn’t do a happy note!  It was really hard for me to change, lol.  But sometimes change is good, as USB has taught me. 🙂

Just wanted to say hello quickly and hear about your weekends!  I haven’t done any full workouts yesterday (Friday) or today.  The social time is infinitely more important for my health.  I probably walked a few miles both days anyways.   I also got in plenty of studying.

Other exciting things:

My first spaghetti squash!

Believe it or not, spaghetti squash has always been a secret fear of mine!  I steamed it in the microwave for about 10 minutes (cut in two halves, with the flat side down).  At first, I took it out and didn’t see any spaghetti!  I freaked out, thinking that I was a spaghetti squash failure.  That, or the farmer had simply sold me a different type of squash by accident.  But then I noticed about a teaspoon worth of “noodles” and scraped those out.  Lo, and behold, the scraping produced more noodles.  So I kept scraping and more and more noodles appeared!  Slowly, a giant smile crept onto my face.  It was great fun.  Seriously, if you’re ever super stressed, try scraping the noodles out of a spaghetti squash.

Totally unrelated, but relevant to the blog as a whole: yesterday, I went shopping.  Clothes shopping.  Clothes shopping is not easy for someone who hates every little part of her body.  I went to a bunch of different stores and kept telling myself over and over again, “you will look fat and horrible in that; you should not even try it on.”  I was starting to get really down on myself.  Eventually, I wound up in a designer jeans section at a discount store.  I am NOT a clothes elitist — I don’t have the money to be — but I truly believe that with things like jeans, and dresses, a really nice brand can sometimes look and feel better, making it worth the price.  I got into my determined mode and said “Caronae, you are going to try on some jeans and find a pair that you like and you will look beautiful and you will buy them.”

And I did.  I found a pair of jeans.  They are Seven brand.  I have never had a pair of Seven jeans before, but these really are quite nice.  I like them a lot, and a tiny part of me thinks I look decent in them.

So there. Take that, jeans.

Time to go find USB! 🙂

What are you all up to this weekend?

Grete’s Great Gallop/Mental Health Update

Today’s Happy Note: The sunshine on my skin in the afternoon.

Mental Health Note: I have been struggling a bit lately, I must admit.  I don’t necessarily feel sadder than usual — in fact, I feel more in control of my depression than I have since, well, before I was depressed (which was long, long ago — like middle school long ago).  It’s the body image stuff.  It’s miserable.  It’s painful.  It makes me want to die, in certain ways. I feel like I’m being taken back to a dark place in my life — say 2-4 years ago — where my body was never good enough.  Every single day was spent hating myself, because of my body.  Everyday.  I thought of so many ways to say “I hate you” that it isn’t even funny.  It wouldn’t even make a bad comedy routine.  It’s too sad.

So this moment finds me facing difficulties with my body and my weight, and, as a consequence, my mental well being.  The most frustrating thing about this anxiety and weight gain and hatred and queasiness — whatever you want to call it — is the fact that I know better than this. I know not to do this.  Not to work myself up into this state.

I guess that admitting how much I am struggling is a good first step.  Better than outright saying “alright, I’m a failure, I’ll just give up and let it all get worse.”

Also, I surprised myself and opened up to USB about it.  That was a big step for me, I think.  A really big step that I’m proud of.  And L, as always, has been there for me.  I think I sent her an email late last night and she responded today, a Saturday, with a long comforting response.  I guess I haven’t talked a lot about therapy/L lately, as things have become more and more private, I guess.  It’s a really beautiful feeling to know that someone is there for you 24/7, no matter what, when, where, why.  She’s there.  And I need her, very much, at this moment in my life.

Grete’s Great Gallop Race Report!

This morning was my third official half-marathon! Unlike my first two (read my recap of the NYC half here), I was not going into this one with the goal of running fast or PRing.  I had two goals:

1. Get into a “race mentality” — early wake-up, race breakfast, getting ready to run fast.

2. Run slightly under Marathon Goal Pace.

That’s it.  Plain and simple.  And I satisfied those two goals, which means that I am happy with the experience.

A few notes:

~I probably should have slept for more than 4.5 hours last night.  USB is such a wonderful, wonderful distraction though…I’ll be sure to get 8-10 hours of sleep before the marathon.

~I went out at a solid 10:00 pace and worked my way down to a 9:00 (overall average pace was 9:36).  This is good.  I would like to replicate this slower-to-faster strategy on marathon day (although probably being a bit slower overall).

~I think GU Shot Blox are my favorite mid-run fuel.  I had to take a clif mojo bar today which wasn’t ideal.  I also need to figure out my ideal method of carrying fuel or water.

~It’s time to get new shoes!

~If I can run a half marathon in 2:05:50 at the end of a 57-mile week, with relative ease, I most definitely can run a marathon, while tapered and well-rested and properly-fueled, under my goal pace of 4:30!

So today was an experiment of sorts.  A happy, succesful experiment.  I’m pleased.

Oh, and USB took me to get a foot massage afterwards.  I can’t really explain what I feel for him.  But just know that it’s a lot.  I feel a lot.

Tell me about your weekends thus far?!?!  Any races? Long runs?  Non-running related exciting happenings?

What do you do when you feel like you’re in a mental health rut — like you’re slipping and you want to be able to get a better hold of things but you don’t know how?

Goodnight friends!

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