Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Radvent Day 21: Wrapping

I've always thought I was most myself around the Joneses, a family of six kids and two awesome parents that I grew up with. They loved me and took me in like one of their own. They were always very warm and very close, there was never any pretense. Things were always a little messy and there was always tons of music and tons of laughter. I felt really comfortable letting my not very cool side out, being goofy. I never cared how I looked and it was impossible to embarrass myself in front of them. Being friends with them did a lot for my confidence and for helping me grow into someone who isn't very phased by people's opinons of her. I always had the feeling that they valued me for who I am inside (that somehow they could see that, or cared to see that, when most people didn't) and that who I am inside is good and interesting. I still feel that way around them, and since then have sought out relationships that make me feel like that.

Of course there are things that I hide. I almost always hide my religious or spiritual thoughts and feelings. I am actually terrified of talking to anyone at all about them. There's no one that I feel comfortable relating to about this stuff, so I keep it to myself... I guess until I understand it better. I'm not really talking about dogma, but I am talking about some basic system of belief, ritual and sacrifice or giving back. I have lots of thoughts and feelings on this that I keep 100% to myself. 

Other things I try to hide:

anxiety
an eating disorder
a propensity to take on too much and not finish projects
insecurity in the work i do
irrational, outlandish, funny thoughts
exhaustion

I guess I try to hide the things that make me look like I'm not capable, or that I don't have it all together.

This idea of caring what people think is funny... I like impressing people. I truly love making people feel good, like someone cares enough about them to put in a little extra effort to make something -- an assignment at work, a birthday party, a present, a lunch date, a favor -- special, or better. But, I ask myself all the time, am I really trying to do something good for this person so they'll be happy, or so I'll be the one making them happy? That question haunts me, but it also helps me keep myself in check. For the most part I think it's a little of both. I don't need designer clothes or perfect makeup or a beautiful blog, but I do have a certain package that I like to wrap myself up in to hide my flaws from the world, and minimize them to myself. 

I like to wear dresses and I keep my hair in a style that I know works on me. I like to use good manners and keep my speech innocuous in settings that aren't intimate. When I'm not sure what to say, or how to talk to someone, I'll often keep quiet rather than risk saying the wrong thing. In more casual settings I try to be approachable, friendly and fun without drinking or drawing negative attention. I approach most things in life emotionally, but I can become defensive and quick to hide emotion when I feel that it's being judged or criticized. I like to do great work and when I can't (like in the case of writer's block or not understanding how to do something that's asked of me) I clam up and panic, often to the point of not being able to do anything. Even though I know it's not a good idea, I always cover this up by not communicating and acting cool about the whole thing. It's bad, but it's a defense mechanism that I haven't been able to change yet. I like to pick really special presents and wrap them perfectly. I love to throw parties. I like to put extra care into my cooking and to make sure that my son looks and acts presentable. (Have you ever met a 9-year-old boy? If you have, you know how frequently I succeed at this.) It always bothers me when parents let their children leave the house in pajamas and messy hair, or when well-dressed moms walk around with kids whose jeans don't fit and shoes are untied. I know that's judge-y and awful, but part of my "wrapping" (so to speak) is this need to do present cleanliness, order and love/care outwardly. I feel like how I present myself reflects who I am. When it doesn't -- like right now, when I am carrying around a few extra pounds and don't have a job that I'm proud of -- I feel off balance and incomplete. 

At the same time, the people I can really be myself around are the people who don't care at all about these things, who aren't impressed with my outfit at the holiday party or my career or the tie I made my kid wear, who just appreciate the Christmas card because they appreciate my friendship. There are certain people that I never have to get defensive around, that love me when I'm being a sucky friend as much as they do when I'm on top of my game. So I guess, at the end of the day, all of the hiding, and wrapping and impressing is really just for me.
This is a Christmas card I sent out this year, adorning my friend Sneve's tree. I love sending out personalized Christmas cards, but I'm so bad about getting them done in time and getting them to all the people I need to. I'm still beating myself up about leaving people off my list. 

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