Thursday, May 29, 2014

Heavy Lifting

 I don't really make a big deal of my "glory days." Which I hope will one day be eclipsed but anyway... if I've had glory days, I'd think it would be in high school. In marching band and winter percussion. To this day I feel a twinge of pride in the fact I marched fucking bass 5... well, technically 4, but the biggest drum in any case. Despite the fact that it was the one position that, even in our atypically feminine line, was always filled by a guy.

         Even before then percussion gave me, among other things, a certain pride in my strength. And it isn't even so much that I pride myself on being extremely strong (I'm not, really), so perhaps pride is the wrong word... I simply refused to accept the idea that "oh, you're a weak little girl, you can't do that."

        Maybe men overall have more physical strength. I'm frankly too tired at the moment to do proper research to refute or back up that common belief. But the idea that in every day tasks, it makes sense to assume that a woman can't do what a guy can? Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you.

         I'm thinking about this right now because there was a heavy box that needed lifting at work. And while I was right there and it was my task, the guy I went to for help (because it should be team lifted) grabbed a little scrawny guy to assist instead of letting me. The other woman who happened to be nearby made a comment of "find a man to do it", which is almost worse. I guess it's a joke, but where do you think jokes get their humor? And then I got to deal with a tire display, and a coworker mentioned that they shouldn't be making me do that. Actually said something like "are there no guys there?" I just. Ugh.

            And, sure, maybe the guy in question was being polite, or chivalrous, or something along those lines. The (female) coworker who got mad on my behalf I certainly wouldn't get angry at, she was being protective. But what underlines this is still seems closer to sexism than anything else.

         I am a woman, that does not make me a delicate little flower. It doesn't in itself make anyone a delicate little flower, I'm not special. I'm not as strong as I'd like, especially now. But I am strong enough to do what needs doing.

         And I am tired enough of the perception that I'm not able just because I'm female that I feel like smacking everyone who acts according to that paradigm, even though it's never intended as offensive. And that's really the part that bothers me:

         No one actually says "you can't do, you're a girl." They just imply that I can't help them move something, or that a guy should have to do what I've been tasked with, or call someone in so I don't have to do work. It always sounds nice, or at worst business like. No one says it in a way that I feel like I can yell at them for.


          And then I decided that I'd go almost straight to the gym from work and go for some at least recent power lifting records. And then I crashed and ached. But the fact that I'm sick has nothing to do with missing-Y-chromosome related weakness (well, technically maybe, for some reason myalgia is far more common in women, but I digress), except that my mind tried to make that connection. One of these days I'll get better at not just ranting.

          POINT IS! I'm tired of society saying that women are inherently weaker, and shouldn't - or can't -  do heavy lifting.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

New story

         I don't know the version of myself I want to become. I know traits that I admire, but this isn't really the same thing; not everything which I can appreciate would fit me. I've spent the "go explore, make mistakes, have fun" phase of my life - which I feel like should be coming to a close - wasted in some level of depression and isolation.
           I know this version of myself quite well, and I'm very practiced in this area. I'm good at ruminating until it's too late to actually do anything. I'm good at pushing people away, and assuming that there's just no point trying to make friends. I'm good at staying in the shadows. I know the pain and emptiness that I tend to feel, and how fleeting moments of joy are, and how I'm never able to tether dreams to the ground because, face it, they'll always be only daydreams....

            I think the last time I truly had an identity based on something healthy was when I was a "band geek." And even then, if I elaborated on that, it'd be "band geek who is severely underachieving and depressed and about as isolated as one can get within marching band." I don't know if I've ever had an identity without the negative aspects of that... can a five-year-old be said to have an identity?

           Everything before now, before now, before now, is just a story I carry around. I guess that would apply to anybody in the world. What I need is a new story about who I am.” - Invisible Monsters, Chuck Palahniuk. 

                    Just a story, but how do I force myself to look forward to a new premise, new themes, new characters? This old story, as horrid as it is to live, is comfortable. It's what I know. 

                   A new story...

                   I am going to go back to school in fall, and in a couple years I will graduate with a neuroscience major and a minor in something artistic. I am open to the world, and growing towards being the kind of person who others look to for inspiration. I am learning to pursue my dreams, and have a dance solo performance to prepare for.  I'm outgoing, and cheerful, and confident...

                   And there are still a lot of gaps. But it's about time I kick depressive-empty-worthless-me out of the spotlight. It's time I work on a new story. 

                  What would your story be?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Feeling earthy

        When I do my nails, more often than not, there's some meaning between the colors I choose. A need for energy can be reflected by red polish, despair by black, a need for calmness by blue... I've occasionally wondered how uncommon this is, is this something that isn't rare but no one talks about it? Anyway.

         Today I got a mani/pedi, and it hit me that what I need isn't raw energy and passion. I've been going towards reds a lot recently, but that isn't really what I need. I need to step back and focus on a god support, positive growth. I need to get more grounded, and build myself a base on which to dance and sing and, I don't know, spin fire. Whatever. But the point is, that's where I need to focus. Natural, grounded energy.

          So instead of fire, I have toes with a dark, slightly red woody tone and dark green fingernails. I don't know if this makes any sense.

           I feel as if I've been focusing so much on my high aspirations that I've been completely avoiding the gap in between. Trying to build a fire without wood. It feels strangely empowering to recognize that. I'm not in a place to burn brightly, but I can start slowly growing.

           I can't burn yet, but there are wild and beautiful things in my future. I know it. I just have to step back, and deal with what I have, and strive to deal with now, rather than mope over my current state or dream of a distant future. I need to ground myself, and for once, that doesn't feel so bad...

(My first phalaenopsis)

           Even epiphytic, beautiful orchids need to settle into a bit of dirt and moss and whatever before they can bloom.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

... Thinking too much is actually a thing, isn't it?

        I had some interpersonal drama explode several weeks ago. Yes, I have to be vague. It broke my heart, and it consumed my thinking for longer than it probably should have. I rationalized it by saying that I have to "process," but so much of it was just thinking in circles. It was dwelling in the pain, and repeating to myself (especially at first) that I am a horrible no good person in so many forms. I latched on, and it only hurt me further. I did need to process some, if I'd tried to ignore it I probably wouldn't gotten past the "I'm a horrible person" interpretation of what happened. That might have festered, and I might still be walking around hiding behind my hair. But I was too far on the other extreme...  I thought about it to the point of only hurting myself more. 

         I keep coming on here, but right now... writing doesn't help. Not just with drama, but with everything. Writing focuses my thoughts, and somehow right now that seems to be a bad thing. I couldn't say why, because it's not that what I sit down to write is inherently negative. It's as if my mind is telling me to knock it off. 

          Maybe there's something intelligent about my escapism. Watching netflix, spending perhaps a little too much time with my animals. I'm avoiding deep thought, and maybe that part is right. Maybe the key isn't to learn to think more or better or whatever right now... maybe what I need is to gear my "escapism" towards action instead of inaction. Distracting myself from thought with actual endeavors instead of trying to numb myself. 

           My thinking is going in countless circles with very little new insight. I need to break free. I need to explore, I need to do, I need to get more life into my existence. Pure rumination is good... but there is a limit. 

            (I may have started this whole blogging thing prematurely... =/  )

Friday, May 9, 2014

Managing and leading

        I had to go through a few leadership classes with band. I went through a semester program at school. Neither of those made me realize the difference in terms here. Managers are not (at least by definition) leaders. At least, not how I would see it. I took an assessment at work that's intended to see if I would be a good leader, I ranked as "competitive." It asked questions primarily about communication/diplomacy and level of authoritarian/free-reign ness, and about response to feedback. It just hit me how ridiculous this is. I've been contemplating trying to find some weird position I could take, like substitute supervisor when someone is on vacation or something, so that I could develop my leadership skills. And it finally hit me.

          My managers are just that: managers. They point fingers and go "do that." Occasionally they'll point to our bottom line, which honestly is really bad motivation, and that's as close as they get to trying to actually lead. That's not true... some of my managers show a good bit of gratitude, which counts for something. Let's see if I can remember the leadership styles/traits from last year (this isn't mine, but I honestly don't remember the original source. Here's a page that briefly discusses it though:

    • Inspire a Shared Vision: Not really. There isn't much inspiration in the shared vision of lining someone's pocket way up the ladder. 
    • Challenge the Process: Ha. Haha. No, this is a system of "just obey the process, stop asking questions." At least at my level, and as far as I can tell just about all levels in the store. Maybe not the main manager, but I'm pretty sure at least the first three from the bottom.
    • Encourage the Heart: eh. Some of my bosses (of which I have a lot) make a point to compliment me on a job well done, are sure to pass on compliments (i.e. someone I helped out commenting on how awesome I was), and show gratitude. One of them is particularly nice and tries to be supportive, as little as she sees me, and one of them thinks it's totally awesome that I'm looking at leadership. This is something that might be roughly half and half. 
    • Enable Others to Act: No. Kind of? Once in a while input is appreciated, but I never feel comfortable giving unsolicited input because it's rarely received as if my ideas are worthy of any respect. I predominately feel treated like a brainless drone. The best case I've had in this respect is being let to go without orders, which was less about trust and more about bad managing. 
    • Model the Way: Sometimes. For the most part, my managers are at least decent about getting their own hands dirty if needed. But they don't model respect for the individual, or open communication, or anything else beyond the work itself.
             My managers are generally not good leaders. And if I go into this management trying to learn to be a leader, I have a feeling I'll just go even more crazy than I am  on the bottom rung. I'll be in the system, trying to play along. Maybe I'd "model the way" for other managers into trying to actually lead, but I suspect I'd get beat down instead. Granted, it's a moot point right now because I can't supervise and go to school. 

              But maybe I should attempt to be a leader from the bottom. Not in a manage-y sense, but in every other way. Daring to challenge the process when I really think it ought to be challenged, trying to inspire a sense of at least helping others and making each other a little less miserable ("vision" might go a little far).... 

               I don't know. The reality is, I want to be a leader, but I don't care to manage. I was looking at management because I thought it might force me to exercise those atrophied traits and skills... but maybe I just have to resolve to practice leadership without being forced by an official role. And yeah, I have a really crappy job. But while I'm there, I may as well try to get as much from it as I can. 

              And I want to lead. I want to become the kind of person who leads others towards achieving what greatness they are capable of.