The Great Pretender

Memoir Mondays

Today’s post comes courtesy of The Daily Post’sThe Great Pretender” prompt, which asks:
Are you full of confidence or have you ever suffered from Impostor Syndrome? Tell us all about it.


There isn’t the slightest doubt in my mind that I have almost always suffered from “impostor syndrome”, which basically states that a person is unable to internalize their achievements. In other words, no matter how well you’re doing, you never feel like you truly deserve your success. You’re an impostor. You’re somehow fooling everyone into believing that you’re anything special.

I’d never put words to it before coming across the definition of the syndrome, but now that I’ve read it I realize that I’ve felt this way for quite a long time. I expect, perhaps, that it popped up sometime around junior high school. Way back in elementary school I was actually quite confident. I was a smart kid who made awesome grades, I was musical, I read way beyond my grade level, and I was pretty damn confident. I was never the most popular kid, and of course I had my doubts here and there, but I knew that I was intelligent.

That slipped aside by the time I’d hit junior high, which is unsurprising really because junior high is similar to rounding up all the kids and throwing them into the fifth circle of hell. At that point everyone is a swirling maelstrom of hormones and frustrations, and as I’ve already mentioned I was never the most popular kid so my cause was already a lost one right from the get-go. And French Social Studies was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was an extra class that we could take; Social Studies in French instead of English so as to help advance our French-speaking capabilities. I did great in the class. I think I left with something like a 95. And while part of me jumped with joy because I loved making good grades, part of me also felt like an impostor because I didn’t learn a goddamn thing in that class. No joke. I did not learn any extra French, and I learned considerably less Social Studies, because the entire class was a memorization system. I was good at memorizing and regurgitation the sentences, so that’s what I did. Half the time I didn’t have the slightest clue what I was writing, but I kept getting the answers right, so that was all that mattered at the time.

And those kinds of things continued to happen throughout the rest of school. Don’t get me wrong…I was still a smart kid, and I know that, but there were always those certain classes, or those certain teachers, or those certain subjects that I managed to wing my way through with little to no effort for a number of reasons, and those instances always gave me that split feeling of success, and feeling like an impostor. Mind, I didn’t pay much attention to the impostor part because I was a kid, and a kid nearly always chooses the easy route when available.

But that feeling is one that persists into many areas of life. I felt like an impostor at my first post-graduate job because I was the first tradeswoman to ever work there and everyone was expecting that I must be amazing in order to have been hired. I felt like an impostor when my husband and I were looking at houses because I still felt like a kid who was nowhere near mature enough to be a homeowner. When I went out West for the first time I felt like an impostor because I’d never so much as set foot on a plane before and here I was traipsing to the other side of the country for work.When I self-published my book I felt like an impostor, because surely if my book was worth reading it could be traditionally published instead. Every time I read the comments on my YouTube videos I feel like an impostor because people seem to like me and I feel, for some reason, like they shouldn’t.

But you know what? I’m willing to bet that, even if they don’t admit it, most people suffer from “Impostor Syndrome” at some point or another, if not on a regular basis. Because it’s just human nature to doubt yourself, second-guess yourself, feel like you didn’t really earn something. And that’s okay, in small doses, as long as you’re still able to step back every now and then and accept that you got where you are because, at least in part, it’s where you were aiming to be. Who’s with me?

Thoughts on the “War on Christmas”

A while back I made a post on my Facebook account that got a lot of “Likes” and comments, and one friend in particular told me that I should share the story in question on my blog as well. I thought that today would be an excellent day to go ahead and share that story, given that we are only one day away from Christmas and my household is all a titter with childish excitement.

So here’s what happened…
Several weeks ago, during one of my shifts out West, it just so happened to be the Indian holiday called “Diwali”. One of my coworkers – who is a Canadian citizen, born in India – took the opportunity to bring in a traditional Indian sweet to our team’s morning meeting, and then he handed them out with a cheerful “Happy Diwali! to each of us.

In the morning meeting that day there was a wide variety of people. There were mostly Caucasians, but also a few people from areas in and around India, not to mention one of our leads who is from Australia, and one of our DCS techs who is from the Philippines. The ages in that room ranged from 27 to approximately 60 years old. There were two Atheists, two non-practicing Catholics, a practicing Christian, two Muslims, and several people who don’t make a point of talking about their faith. There were men and women from different parts of the country, different parts of the world, with different backgrounds, different belief systems, and different viewpoints on life.

And do you know how we reacted to the offering of a sweet and a “Happy Diwali”? We took the treats happily, enjoyed them, thanked our coworker, and then happily listened to him explain just what Diwali is all about. When our morning meeting was over we went about our day as coworkers and friends who now had a little bit more knowledge about someone else’s background.

It’s really as simple as that. No one screamed about the “War on Christmas”. No one shouted about how he was trying to convert us, or yelled at him to go back to his own country. No one rolled their eyes or said anything rude or called him names for pushing a holiday that we don’t celebrate on us. We acted like human beings, grateful for a treat and a request to have an excellent day.

The tradespeople have it, ladies and gentlemen, that’s what I think. Say what you will about us, but we’re decent human beings who accept one another and treat each other with respect.

So let me ask you this: can we not all adopt this mentality? Can we all not just turn off that hair-trigger-switch that wants us to get offended about anything and everything and just enjoy the fact that many wonderful holidays are being celebrated at this particular time of year? There is really no need – no need at all – to lose ours minds when someone wishes us the “wrong” happy holiday, or says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”, or when a coffee shop changes their “holiday”cups (*cough cough*). A good wish is a good wish, no matter the exact word, no matter the exact denomination, and any decent person would never reply to “Have a great day!” with anything other than “Thanks, you too!”

So if someone wishes you a happy ANYTHING, maybe try smiling, shaking their hand, and sending the good wish right back at them, because there are a lot of things in this world worth getting upset over, but being wished a good day is definitely not one of them.

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Happy Whatever-You-Do-Or-Don’t-Celebrate, everyone! ^_^<3

Some Things I Love Right Now

Today I felt like sharing some random products and services that I personally love a ton, because why not share the love? Maybe you guys will even find your new favorite thing on my list!

Dead Nation

I’ve been replaying Dead Nation on my Playstation Vita lately because I want to finish off the last of the trophies I have to get, and it’s reminded me how damn fun this game is. It’s a zombie apocalypse story that’s set as a top-down shooter, and the waves of zombies that sometimes come at you all at once are intense. I’ve literally replayed the story mode about fifteen times at this point, and it really isn’t getting old any time soon. There’s just something immensely satisfying about blowing away wave after wave of zombies and zombie-like monsters. I’ve been working really hard on the “kill 53,596 zombies” trophy. >:)

But seriously, if you’re looking for a really fun little top-down shooter, this may be the one for you. Check it out if you get a chance!

Fitbit

FitBitChargeHRYou guys know, via my constant whining, that I am not the best person in the world for keeping fit. But if there is one thing that helps me want to get fit, it’s my Fitbit. These wearable devices are activity trackers, and depending on which version you get they do much more as well. I personally have a Charge HR, which not only tracks your steps and flights of stairs climbed (based on changes in elevation), but also continuously monitors your heart rate and adjusts a calculation for calories burned based on that info. So in other words, if you walk 10,000 steps in a day but your heart rate stays pretty close to resting, you’ll report fewer calories burned than if you went 10,000 steps and your heart rate was elevated for some of them. This was a big improvement to the previous Fitbits, in my opinion, because the non-heart-rate-monitoring versions can’t tell if you’re casually strolling or sprinting uphill against the wind.

You can also pair a Charge HR with your phone so that it buzzes and shows the incoming number whenever someone is calling you, and you can set silent vibration alarms to wake you up in the morning. Not to mention this particular model is also a sleep monitor. And on top of that, I’ve recently discovered the joy of having Fitbit friends, with whom you can set challenges, motivating you to be the one to exercise the most. Brilliance, I tell ya. Check them out!

Metamorphosis Quad by ColourPop and Coffee Break with Dani

If the title of this one made absolutely no sense to you, don’t worry, I’ll explain. First off, ColourPop is a cosmetics company that sells all kinds of awesome stuff at pretty affordable prices. Coffee Break With Dani is one of my favorite YouTubers. Dani, who is a beauty guru, collaborated with ColourPop to make this four-piece eyeshadow set called “Metamorphosis”, and I decided to pick it up both because I love Dani to death, and because they really are amazing eyeshadows.

The two brown shades, Bravery and Strength, are classic colors, one in a matte and one in a satin finish, but the real players here are Hope and Kindness, which are both duo-chrome with opal finishes. These two shadows are so awesome because they are super-versatile. Basically, you put them over top of whatever other eye color you’re in the mood for, and they transform the color. I can’t even really describe it, but for instance, I’ve tried Hope (the one that looks pinky-white) all by itself, and it looks like a lovely shimmery, sparkly pink, but when I put it over top of a blue eyeshadow, all of a sudden there are gorgeous purple shifts everywhere. Kindness, on the other hand, looks kind of dark purplish-blue when I wear it on its own, but when combined with a green eyeshadow it pops full of gold and blue sparkles. And they change significantly depending on what you have underneath them!

Best part? They are totally inexpensive. The set of four is $20, and though the pots don’t seem that big they last really, really long. I’ve been using Hope and Kindness steadily and I don’t even have a significant dip in the surface of the pots. But this is a limited time set and we don’t know when Color Pop is going to pull it, so if you’re interested get it soon!

Doctor Who

Okay, okay, Doctor Who isn’t exactly anything new. Even the new version of the show started a decade ago. So yeah, I’m pretty late to the party. But that said…

I started watching the new version of the show about a little over a year ago and my reaction was pretty much, “Why have I not been watching this?” So after about two seasons of that I started thinking, “Why have I never watched the old version of the show?”, and I went out looking for the old version. Turns out the old version has, like, 800 episodes. So…yeah. None-the-less, I’ve been slowly making my way through those old episodes. I’ve watched about five years now, and I’m only just making it up to where the first Doctor regenerates into the second Doctor. @_@

So yeah, I have assloads of episodes left to go through, but I am loving it. Even the super-old episodes from the 60’s in which they had little to nothing for special effects are awesome. The stories are great and so inventive for the time, and the most of the characters are just so likable. The first Doctor has actually really grown on me, so I might be sad to see him change!

And of course, the new show is absolutely fantastic. So far I’ve only watched the Christopher Eccelston episodes and about 3/4 of the David Tennant episodes, but I’m really itching to watch more! If only I could trick my husband into watching them with me more often. ^_^


So those are a few things that I’m loving right now. What about you guys? What are you just, like, super into right now? Please share!

Why “SuperWhoLock”?

I’m a fangirl. Nobody who knows me personally, reads this blog, or follows my YouTube channel should be surprised by this fact. Even my coworkers know that I’m an unapologetic nerd. I scarcely get through a day on the job without making some kind of geeky reference that makes my coworkers look at each other in that, “Oh, our Tracey” kind of way.

I’m also a fangirl of equal opportunity. I love all kinds of fandoms, from the ‘Avengers’ to the ‘Green Arrow’, from ‘Star Wars’ to ‘Star Trek’, and from ‘Harry Potter’ to ‘Game of Thrones’. I’m a nerd of many colors, a geek who loves many fandoms equally.

And among those many fandoms that I do so hold dear, there are three particular television shows that have sparked a strange, combined fandom that has taken over the internet. I did not come across this multi-fandom myself. It was my husband who introduced it to me one day after stumbling across the word and looking it up in his confusion: ‘SuperWhoLock’.

124833aa7492375fcb7266aad36bd841When confronted with this odd amalgamation of fandoms I had to admit that I do, in fact, fall into the category of a “SuperWhoLockian”; that is, one who has a great love for the three shows, ‘Supernatural’, ‘Doctor Who’, and ‘Sherlock’. But despite my sudden inclusion into this vast community of squealing fangirls (and boys, presumably) who are quite fun-loving and amusing, my first real question was, “Why?”

Why these three shows? How and why did the internet come together and decide that these three particular shows deserve to be grouped together into some kind of mecha-fandom?

Many others have asked the same question, and no one seems to really be able to pull a real answer together. This is a curious conglomeration that just seems to have sprung out of the ether and entrenched itself in the waiting minds of the many. No one can explain the reasoning. There is no real answer.

The shows have almost nothing in common. ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Sherlock’ are both British programs, but ‘Supernatural’ is American. ‘Doctor Who’ is a very old show that has gained new success in recent years, while ‘Supernatural’ is only a decade old, and ‘Sherlock’ started as a famous series of mystery books. ‘Doctor Who’ is science-fiction/fantasy, while ‘Supernatural’ is occult/fantasy, and ‘Sherlock’ is more firmly entrenched in the realm of actual possibility (i.e. solving crimes). ‘Supernatural’ follows two young adult brothers trying to save the world from monsters and demons, ‘Doctor Who’ follows a centuries-old alien time lord traveling the Universe and trying to save everyone and everything he possibly can, and ‘Sherlock’ follows two middle-aged men matching wits against some of the world’s most notorious criminals.

There are very few ways in which you can group the three shows together. One way I’ve seen people try to explain the connection is by bringing up the intensity of the relationships. In ‘Supernatural’ we have two Winchester brothers who have literally gone to hell and back for each other and always follow each other into the fire. In ‘Doctor Who’ we find that the Doctor is so in love with the human race (and his companions therein) that he’s been willing to die for them on numerous occasions. In ‘Sherlock’, the titular character and his companion Watson become such close friends that the nigh-emotionless Sherlock risks his life for Watson multiple times.

But that can’t just be it, can it?

I’ve also heard the idea that it’s all about the light and dark of humanity. ‘Supernatural’ shows the horrible side of things, the way monsters and demons use the human emotions of anger, lust, envy, and greed to feed and further their gains, while also showing that redemption is always possible. ‘Doctor Who’ shows how, even though humanity does horrifying things, it’s a powerful race with powerful emotions and has done (and will do) amazing things as well. ‘Sherlock’ has constant comparisons of love and hate, courage and fear, terrible evil and self-sacrificing good.

But I still don’t think that’s quite it.

There are always the simple, obvious, completely meaningless points, such as the fact that all three shows feature drop-dead gorgeous actors. (For my part, my husband has added many of the characters from these shows to a mental list he refers to as “Tracey’s Boyfriends”.)

But I’d hate to think that that’s the only reason for the grouping.

Me, personally, I don’t know what the answer is, and I’m actually quite confident that there really is no answer. However, there is a connection between the three shows that binds them together for me.

I’ve written before that I’ve often been moved to tears by an excellent story, especially if that story is brought to life by excellent actors. And while there are certainly other shows and movies that I can put on the list, the three shows that make up the “SuperWhoLock” fandom are three that I have absolutely sobbed like a little baby to in more recent years.


!!!!!!SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!!


Throughout the seasons of ‘Supernatural’ there have occasionally been deaths of important characters, because you can’t have that many episodes of a show about demons and nightmare creatures without someone eventually dying. A few of those deaths have almost killed me in turn. The most recent one was Bobby Singer, who was always one of my favorite characters and a huge father figure to the Winchesters; during that episode I had to struggle to bite back the tears so that my husband wouldn’t torture me relentlessly. Call me crazy, call me a total sob-queen, but whenever Jensen Ackles gets super-sad it makes me want to burst into tears and hug him to pieces.

Most people probably wouldn’t consider ‘Doctor Who’ an inherently sad show, but there’s at least one episode that weaseled its way into my heart and squeezed, and that is the episode in which the Doctor lost Rose to an alternate universe and used a one-time method to speak to her and explain that they would never be able to see each other again. That tore away at my insides because it seemed so much more horrible than if one of them died…to know that the other was out there, but to never be able to see or touch them again no matter what you were willing to do. It was a brilliant way to end the Rose saga, but it was also a hateful, horrible ending that made me want to curl up into a little ball and cry forever.

‘Sherlock’ also isn’t a show that many people would think is likely to be very sad, but there’s a lot of emotion involved, especially between Sherlock and Watson as they slowly become extremely important to one another. The actors did such an amazing job of bringing the relationship between the two characters to life, which made it all that much more heart-wrenching when Sherlock leaped to his death with Watson watching. Of course, having already known that this was a storyline that played out in the books and that Sherlock was going to turn out to have faked his death, you’d think this scene wouldn’t have that much of a punch, but it really did. In particular Watson’s reaction to the whole thing had me weeping like a little baby.


So maybe it’s a combination of things. Perhaps these are just three awesome shows with great (good-looking) actors, interesting takes on good and evil and humanity in general, and they also happen to evoke an amazingly emotional response in those who enjoy them. But then again, that combination of things could probably quite easily describe a great many different trios of TV shows.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever really understand why legions of fans suddenly started grouping these three shows together, but in the end I guess it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we “SuperWhoLockians” love them, hold them dear, and wish to never let them go.

EVER.

emotions

each has an episode that made me bawl like a little bitch

Mommy Confessions

I love reading stories about parenting adventures because they make you smile about the kinds of things that, in your own life, would make you want to pull your hair out or hide under a bed for eternity. My friend and former classmate, Katie, understands this perfectly and shares the joy/horror of motherhood regularly on her mommy blog, She Didn’t Come With Instructions. Recently she wrote this post full of “mommy confessions” meant to give hope and a chuckle to those ladies out there who are beating themselves up trying to be the picture-perfect mom. Katie’s confessions made me laugh, cry, and nod enthusiastically, so today I thought I’d share some of my own mommy confessions.

"Confession" #1: This is what true love looks like.
“Confession” #1: This is what true love looks like.

When we first put the little missy in her own room at night (around 6-7 months) I used to rock her to sleep first while singing to her. Why is this a confession? Because I would sing the love songs from Disney movies.

At around 8-9 months we hit a period during which she would neither go to sleep nor stay to sleep, and we were pretty much at our wits end. Somehow we discovered that by sitting my portable DVD player outside her crib and playing “Baby Mozart” on it, she would lull herself to sleep, and I didn’t give two rat’s tails what anyone said about how babies shouldn’t watch TV because the solution meant daddy and I actually got to have more that an hour’s sleep at a time.

At four, my daughter still goes to bed with a TV show on, and I still don’t give two rat’s tails what anyone has to say about that because it settles her, keeps her in her room, let’s daddy and I get our sleep, and trust me, she gets plenty sleep of her own.

When I was home with my daughter during the first few months of her life, I would often lull her to sleep on my chest, and then use the fact that she was sleeping on me as an excuse to not move for hours (while watching Netflix, of course).

I have, on occasion, given my daughter crackers and cheese 2-3 times in a single day because I just couldn’t be bothered arguing with her. She never gets constipated, so I guess it’s all good in the end.

Until very recently I was still wearing some of my maternity shirts and sweaters (I only stopped wearing the sweaters because the zippers broke on both of them).

Sometimes, when I was home alone with the baby while my husband was at work, she would start crying and I would have no idea why. While entirely normal, this would spike my blood pressure and stress hormones (hey, I was getting next to zero sleep) and more often than not I would end up curling up in the armchair and crying with her.

In the past four and a half years I think I have taken at least five hundred pictures of my daughter sleeping. The most recent one was about three weeks ago.

We try to encourage our daughter to help out with the chores, and I definitely think that it’s super-important to do so, but sometimes when she comes running out to the kitchen to help me with supper I get a little nervous twitch because I was planning to whip through the recipe super-fast so I could move on to other stuff.

My husband and I are raising our daughter to be an ultra-nerd. We teach her the names of comic book and video game characters the way other parents would teach their kid new words.

My daughter watches tons of stuff that would make some parents raise their eyebrows. At 3 years old she watched all three Alien movies with my husband, and we’d all often watch Futurama together. These days she has quite a liking for Godzilla and Gamera. For the record, she has had about three nightmares in her life, and none of them had anything to do with what she’d watched the night before.

I often sneak candy behind my daughter’s back. Doubly so after just explaining to her that she can’t have cookies for breakfast.

Addendum: Mommy sometimes has cookies for breakfast.

When I first returned to work at the paper mill (when she was around 7 months old) I still wanted her to be having breast milk, so I had to pump. Pumping didn’t work well for me, so I had to do it every couple of hours in order to get anything at all, which meant I regularly had to sneak off, lock myself in the women’s locker room, and strap up. The industrial noise just outside the door probably did nothing for my nerves in these moments.

I was so relieved when I finally decided to stop pumping because it meant I didn’t have to worry about having an alcoholic drink whenever I wanted anymore.

The first couple of times I left missy with someone I was a nervous wreck because, despite having raised some pretty awesome kids of their own, I somehow felt that my parents and the inlaws were in no way capable of taking care of my daughter.

I still enjoy singing Disney songs to my daughter. So does she. We just do it in the car when daddy’s not around.

I’ve lost, like, 2 lbs since I gave birth. At my current rate of loss I should be back to my original weight in approximately 47 years.

I want my daughter to be an outdoorsy kid; I just don’t want to be outdoors with her all of the time. I’m a vampire. Sue me.

I have absolutely no shame about letting my daughter see me changing or getting in and out of the shower. My husband thinks it’s weird, but my mother was the same way with me so it seems totally normal to me.

I have gotten through entire conversations with my daughter by nodding and saying, “Mmm-hmm” whilst concentrating on something else and not hearing a single word she’s said.

I often find myself thinking that my husband is definitely the better parent, and though I know I’m a great mom, it still makes me feel small and insecure.

There is nothing in this world more wonderfully satisfying and comfortable to me than when my daughter and I snuggle up to watch a show or movie together and she lays her head on my chest and wraps her arms around me. I would do that exact thing every single night of my life if I could.


So there you go; some more confession-like than others, but a hearty list of mommy confessions none-the-less. Did any of them make you chuckle? Commiserate? Shed a tear? Let me know in the comments, and feel free to share some parental confessions of your own!

It’s the Little Things

Memoir Mondaysimage

Those of you who haven’t been following me for long might not know that I have a non-traditional work situation. I’m a tradeswoman, working on the Alberta oil sands on a fly-in, fly-out rotation. That means that I fly into the work site, stay there for two weeks while working 12-hour days and living on a work camp, and then I fly home for two weeks. The two weeks off are great, and I definitely have one of the better shifts (some people work two or three weeks and then only get one off), but that doesn’t mean that the two weeks at work are a walk in the park. I live almost as far away from the site as you can get while still being in the same country, so the shifts away can be rough. Sometimes I have bad days. Sometimes I have really bad days. Sometimes I get so homesick that it makes me loathe every single thing about my job and that stupid camp.

Times like that are when it’s really important to enjoy the little things. Things like when the camp makes tacos, or when our safety guy brings in coffee and donuts. Things like having a strong enough cell signal to Skype my daughter during my break. Things like how someone finally ordered coveralls in my size for a change, so I’m not wandering around site looking like a little kid in daddy’s work clothes.

Sometimes those little things are hard to recognize, but sometimes they hit you when you least expect it.

Last shift I was hauled away from my cozy, control-system-based desk job, and thrown out into the field, and I was none-too-impressed with that decision. My coworkers and I had to drive out into the middle of nowhere, where a man-made lake had been created as part of the plant process, and we were commissioning the two boats that would be dredging that lake. I didn’t want to be there, and I’ll admit that I was fairly cranky about the whole thing.

But on my second day down there, as the wind was changing directions, I caught a whiff of a familiar scent. That scent made me breathe deep, and the next thing I knew I was calm and smiling. What was this wonderful, calming aroma? Nothing more than fresh, clean water and sand. You see, Alberta is an extremely dry province, with dusty air that makes your skin crack and your nose bleed. So even though the smell wasn’t quite right without the addition of salt and seaweed, getting a whiff of that aquatic aroma reminded me of home and made me smile, at least for a little while.

What little things make you smile on an otherwise unhappy day?

The Funko Pop! TAG!

I’m a big believer in allowing yourself to enjoy the things you love, regardless of outward influence. Such an attitude is more difficult to cling to when you’re, say, a teenager, because at that age it seems like no matter what you do or say there’s someone waiting in the wings to torment you about it. But as an adult I’ve settled into myself and come to know that it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about how you spend your time and money; as long as you’re enjoying yourself (and, obviously, not hurting anybody).

That’s why, much to the eye-rolling disbelief of plenty of the older generation of family members, my husband and I have become collectors of the nerdy variety. We love figures, sculptures, posters, comics, toys, and collectibles, and in recent years have amassed a nice little hoard with which to decorate our still-in-progress Nerd Basement.

Amongst the collectibles that have been piling up in our house is my rapidly-growing-out-of-control Funko Pop! collection. I’ve shared my hauls here before, including the ENORMOUS one that was a result of my husband getting out of hand with last year’s Christmas gift. I just love the little guys to death, and there are so many of them in so many awesome fandoms that it becomes impossible to stop getting them.

Because of my obsession fondness, a while back I was approached by fellow YouTuber, The Lawn Gnome, about participating in his upcoming Funko Pop! TAG. I was more than happy to comply, and recently I finally got around to actually filming the video. So if you’re curious as to which Pops are my favorites, which ones I’m looking forward to, or how I got into Pops in the first place, feel free to have a look!

What’s your opinion of Funko Pops? Do you collect them? Which are your favorites? Which ones are you just dying to get? Please share!

Anxiety, Explained

A while back, a coworker of mine asked me what “anxiety” really is. As a happy-go-lucky young fella without a care in the world he just couldn’t fathom the idea and seemed genuinely curious. So I gave him the best answer I could come up with, and I thought I’d share a more detailed version of that answer with you today, so those of you who have friends or family with anxiety might understand a little better.

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An excellent visual to start off with from Mr Munch

Imagine that you’re driving across a bridge in grid-locked traffic. Everything is fine and dandy until, from the opposite end of the bridge you start to see cars seeming to vanish. You realize that the bridge is collapsing, and this disaster is slowly making its way toward you. You start to panic. You try to back up, but there is a wall of vehicles behind you and their owners have abandoned them to run from the bridge. You try to abandon yours as well, but something strange has happened and none of the doors will open. You try kicking the doors and windows as hard as you can, but no matter how much strength and energy you put into it you can’t get anything to break. You’re trapped in your car with no way out, and the bridge is about to collapse beneath you. From the windows you can see that some of the people who fell in the water are alive and swimming to shore, but others are also trapped in their cars and are slowly sinking to the bottom of the water to drown or suffocate. You’re pretty confident of which people you’ll be joining. You’re terrified. Your heart is racing so hard you can feel it in your throat. You feel dizzy and lightheaded, and your stomach is in horrible knots. You might throw up. You might burst into tears. All you know is that this is the end of the world, and you can’t fathom any kind of positive outcome for yourself.

Now imagine all those horrible, twisted up feelings…but you have them as a result of mundane things like speaking to a crowd, or eating at a new restaurant, or riding on a public bus. You know it’s ridiculous, you know it’s not REALLY the “end of the world”, but you can’t stop your body from having the reaction, and now you feel even worse because you know how foolish you’re being.

That’s what anxiety feels like. It feels like any tiny thing that makes you uncomfortable is the worst possible thing that could be happening to you, even as you’re conciously telling yourself that you’re being an idiot. It’s like a bad drug that you can’t shake off the effects of no matter how much you tell yourself that what you’re feeling isn’t logical. It’s like your body and mind are broken and you don’t possess the tools to be able to fix them.

And all the while the people around you say things like, “Just calm down,” and “Geez, it’s not a big deal,” and, “Come on, what’s the worst that could happen?” And you can’t even answer because you know they’re right, but it does nothing to change the way you feel.

So there you go. I think I’ve about covered it, and I hope this helps anyone who has wondered, because it’s entirely unhelpful – and very hurtful – for people suffering from anxiety to be told things like, “Just get over it,” by their closest friends and family members.

Do you suffer from anxiety? Or maybe you have a friend or family member who does? What do you think of my explaination? What does anxiety feel like for you? Please share!

Past, Present, and Future of the Mind

Let’s play a game. Imagine yourself from 10, 15, or 20 years ago. What do you remember? Do you see that time in your life through rose-colored glasses, or does even thinking about it make you cringe? If you asked other people about that time in your life, how do you think they would answer?

Now let’s flip it around in the other direction. Imagine that 10, 15, or 20 years ago someone asked you what your life was going to be like that many years in the future. What would you have said? Where would you have expected yourself to be? What would your closest friends and family have said?

Here’s the thing: human beings are absolutely awful at both viewing the past and predicting the future because our brains tend to want to glorify or vilify everything. Did you get teased a lot as a kid? Even if it was bad, you probably remember it being a lot worse than it really was because the memories of the teasing overwrite the good times in your mind. . Did you party every night in college and have the time of your life? Even if there were lots of awesome moments your brain probably glazes over all the epic hangovers and panicked all-nighters. As for the future, did you imagine yourself in your perfect job with an awesome house and a cool car, because you knew that you would settle for nothing less? Yeahhhh…how did that work out for you? That’s not to say that your life turned out poorly, but if you were to answer honestly how many of you ended up exactly where you expected to be when you thought about the future a decade ago?

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Can you say “Throwback Thursday”?

16-17 years ago (man, that makes me feel old…) I was in the middle of junior high, which for those of you who don’t have the same kind of school system set-up, is the 8th grade, or 9th actual year of public school. That’s me, second from the left in the first row, taking a weird pose because there actually wasn’t enough room for me on the end of the bench and the guy who was taking the photo couldn’t have cared less. I do not recall this time in my life with a great deal of fondness. Junior high is a period of time during which young people start to be real jerks to each other, and I exacerbated that by being an awkward, self-conscious nerd. I was constantly teased and tormented because I was good in school and liked things like Star Wars and anime, and I made myself an even bigger target by neglecting to keep up with my peers…I didn’t wear the right clothes, listen to the right music, or pick up the right habits. I was a loser, and I was convinced that I was both fat and ugly. Seriously, look up at that picture again, and consider the fact that I thought I was fat and ugly. It was an absolutely awful period in my life.

Except, that’s not exactly true; it’s just the way the awkward, self-conscious girl in the back of my mind wants me to remember it. The truth is that I had several good friends, many of them in this picture with me, and we had lots of great times together. I was making excellent grades, developing a life-long love with writing, and I was in the best health of my life. I had an excellent support system in my friends and family, and I had the freedom to choose what clothes I wanted to wear, what music I wanted to listen to, and what habits I wanted to keep. I was a good kid with a good life. It’s just difficult to remember this because time has a way of warping memories in one direction or the other. The teasing and tormenting left a mark on my psyche that persists to this day, always desperately trying to push the good out of the way so that I have to focus on the bad.

Thinking into the future, of course, is a different beast because it doesn’t involve memories, but it’s similar in that we rarely see it the way it is likely to turn out. When a junior high student thinks about her future life and career she doesn’t consider that her hopes and ambitions may have changed, that her priorities may have shifted, or that the opportunities that she took for granted would be available may have never shown up. Back in the days of the above photo, I knew that I was going to be a writer. I’d had other dreams and ambitions up to this point, but right then, right there, I knew for sure that there was no way I was going to be anything else. I was going to write novels, and someone was going to pay me to do it, and I was going to be happy with that. I had no image in my head to represent a husband or children, because those things meant nothing to me at the time. I never would have imagined living anywhere except right in my own hometown, because the concept of not being able to work and live right there was ridiculous. If you had told me that I was going to end up working a job that required me to spend 20 hours on a plane twice a month and work 12-hour days for 14 days straight, I would probably have fallen into a deep depression because that couldn’t have been further from the “reality” that I had in my mind.

And yet, my life has turned out pretty wonderfully. I have a loving husband and a beautiful daughter, and we live in a great house in a quiet part of town. At 30 years old I am very close to having all of my debts gone. My job is not ideal, but it allows me to have extended periods of time off with my family. I’m surrounded by things I love, and I even managed to go ahead and publish a novel as well. Past me may have looked at this picture and seen a hundred things wrong, but future me thinks that things developed pretty well.

And I find that kind of funny, myself. The human mind is a strange thing that likes to warp memories and distort future realities, and only by understanding that can we create a more accurate image in our minds of our own lives.

So look back at the questions above again. How do you remember yourself from the past? Can you admit that your recollection might be a little warped by the extreme good or the extreme bad? What about the present? How different is your current life from the expectations you had in the past? Now take a look at the future. Can you imagine it with clarity and realism, knowing that we can rarely predict such things with accuracy?