I Want This Quote Tattooed On My Body

“We don’t give other people credit for the same interior complexity we take for granted in ourselves, the same capacity for holding contradictory feelings in balance, for complexly alloyed affections, for bottomless generosity of heart and petty, capricious malice. We can’t believe that anyone would be unkind to us and still be genuinely fond of us, although we do it all the time. Years ago, a friend of mine had a dream about a strange invention; a staircase you could descend deep underground in which you heard recordings of all the things anyone had ever said about you, both good and bad. The catch was, you had to pass through all the worst things people had said before you could get to the highest compliments at the very bottom. There is no way I would ever make it more than two and a half steps down such a staircase. But I understand its terrible logic: if we want the rewards of being loved we have to submit to the mortifying ordeal of being known.” – Tim Kreider (READ THE ARTICLE TOO)

Yesterday I was in the mood to write a blog post so I could finally share some of the thoughts I have meant to flesh out recently, but after I procrastinated that for an hour, I came across a simple post on Instagram from a quote account I follow. I mostly follow it for its aesthetics, if I’m being completely honest. I like the gradients, the pretty colors, the font. But the post from yesterday, captured above, hit me so hard that everything I’ve been worried about for a while now suddenly connected into one giant problem that I now understand! That’s cool.

I’ve had a lot of trouble with friendships throughout my life, starting around middle school when I started to despise being alone (mostly because I thought everyone was hanging out without me). In high school it took a while but I found my people, or so I thought. And in college I tried to find my people, I might have found them, I don’t know, or so I thought. It seemed that everyone I tried to count on, or even counted on in the past, just let me down one small incident at a time that by the time I tried to bring up my grievances, they didn’t get it. I felt, and I still feel, like an irrelevant human being that doesn’t deserve friends. That is the biggest lie I believe about myself.

I don’t want to 100% put this on myself, because I know for a fact I have encountered some grade-A horrible human beings that for sure wronged me, but I think I project this feeling outward. I also have hyper-focused on it this summer to the point I stopped doing things I was supposed to do to improve the quality of my life, like clean my room or take a shower at a convenient time or write in my journal. All because I was convinced my life was boring because people weren’t knocking on my door to hang out with me. I was just waiting for them to do so, and I lost the whole point in the process. If you just live your life and focus on what you do have control of (yourself and your actions), people will come to you. Friendship isn’t a job; while it does take work, it’s supposed to be fun work that will benefit you and other people, like volunteering.

I remember freshman year towards the end of the year when I sat on a field eating a papaya by myself while I watched everyone around me play frisbee with their friends, listen to music with their friends, skateboard with their friends, study for finals with their friends. I’ve had so many moments like that; visible representations that I’m very, very alone. They all seemed to happen in college, but when they started to happen at home, the place where I am comfortable and can be myself, I noticed that it wasn’t college. It wasn’t being away from my home at all. If you tell yourself you don’t deserve friends, and after each friendship that fizzles out you blame it wholly on yourself, you aren’t going to make good friends. You’re going to get desperate. And I got desperate and gravitated towards people that sucked the life out of me. This also happened during an identity crisis, which I think I’m towards the end of! (or maybe my life is just one big identity crisis!)

That identity crisis is the crux of why I struggle to make friends. I used to think that no one wanted to be friends with me because I was confusing; I dressed seven different ways each week, I went to the gym for two weeks and then didn’t go for two months; I listened to Alvvays and Current Joys but also Travis Scott and NAV but also really, really like Sweet Home Alabama and Wagon Wheel and I could never not like The Doors because of my high school obsession and I also really like stuff on Soundcloud that sounds like you should be laying on a beach and just having a fun time and not caring about important world issues but I also just want to listen to one song on repeat for six years; I cut my hair, then regretted it, then didn’t, wore makeup every day and didn’t shower or the opposite. I was doing a million different things everyday. But that’s just who I am right now, and it shouldn’t confuse people, because we are all contradictory and complex. We are more than just dual, like my gemini sun sign says we are, we are multitudes, we are everything. I’m tired of feeling like I have to subscribe to one shell of a person just to fill this abstract idea of being liked. Because no one really likes me, and I don’t really like anyone. Why should I pretend?

This realization, while comforting, is also scary. It just reinforces the idea that I will never want to be in a relationship which is annoying because all my friends are in one or want to be one or are always talking to a guy. I don’t remember the last time I talked to a guy other than my dad. To be honest, I don’t care. I can say that with complete confidence. The only time I want a relationship is when I’m bored out of my mind and no one will hang out with me. When I’m at a concert, or singing by myself in the car on the way to work, or making a really fucking good sandwich, or talking about stuff I love, there is no lingering “I want a boyfriend” voice in my head. If there is in yours, I’m glad, because you’re listening to your wants and needs and I hope you find a boyfriend or girlfriend or someone in the near future that makes you happy. I remember when I really liked someone in high school and heard that voice when I was just living my life and I listened to it. But recently I’ve been making up these voices in my head that just don’t need to be there and I need to stop it, it just makes me drive myself crazy for absolutely no reason.

I want people to know that I am hard to grasp. I want myself to know I am hard to grasp. I change every day, all the time. And I hate that, I really do. I wish I had as concrete of an idea of who I am as I did others. But I think it would do me well to remember that nobody is just somebody, everybody is everyone. Everyone does dumb shit all the time, myself included. I will never be perfect and I will never please everyone and I will never be able to PR for myself or control my image. I think Instagram gives people the idea that we can do that, and maybe if you’re very constant and boring (which is a good thing, we need to destigmatize boring, I want to know what that’s like) it’s easy to get a cohesive idea of what people should think about you, but most people can’t. If you are one of those people, I encourage you to embrace the fact that you are imageless. No one can bottle you up and distribute you to others. Not able to be described; the ingredients change and may vary. The salad bar of life. You pay with cash and card and sometimes throw out pennies and your hands are sweaty and feet are cold, but your stomach is quite warm. Nothing is black and white! We have gray, but we also have apricot, and aquamarine, and pink. Because fuck the spectrum it does not exist. Remember that the color wheel was invented for a reason. WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE ALL OVER THE PLACE, if you feel that inside of your soul.

What I want myself and hopefully whoever reads this to take from life today is to forgive other people for being complicated. Imagine if everyone wasn’t complicated; yes, life would be so much easier, but everyone would be predictable. And while it’s nice to value consistency, consistency does NOT equal predictability. And adopting this idea will be hard, because where do we draw the line between people just being complicated and them treating you badly? It’s one of the things I think I will try to learn throughout my life, but will never fully understand. I think it’s something we can’t change but can learn to deal with.

With that, I am going to leave Cilantro in Guilford with my peach iced tea and go home to make avocado toast even though I just ate Doritos yesterday, and on the way there I am going to listen to country music, and I just emailed some girl from South Carolina about believing in God, and then I’m going to go to my high school job where everyone drinks Monster and smokes weed in the parking lot during breaks while I drink kombucha and eat a nectarine. Yeah I’m a ~contradiction~ people what are you gonna DO about it. I’m laughing at myself right now. Which is good. I’m going to start letting myself be known. Not just the good parts of me, but the bad parts too. And especially the things that don’t make sense. Because they don’t have to make sense! People don’t make sense. (That’s why I hate science sometimes because when it comes down to it everything is made of dust and I don’t know how we got feelings or fireworks or lemonade or stickers from dust) Have a great day everyone.

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Realizing You Don’t Have a Personality (Help)

For a long time I believed strongly in astrology, and sometimes it seems like I still do. I have inclinations to believe things about people based on their birth chart. I understand that astrology can be full of errors, because people can easily mold themselves into who they want to be (which is basically the topic of this post), but I still think there is a level of truth. I see it as two types of personality: instinctive and distinctive.

The instinctive personality lies in people’s private inclinations; their first thought or reaction, the way they carry themselves when no one is looking, what they do when they are alone, their thought processes and inner dialogue. My private inclinations when first meeting someone are to assess 1) who they are as a person, 2) what they stand for, 3) if they are somehow cooler/prettier/better than me, and 4) how they carry themselves. Then I try to mirror it, relate to it, or instinctively present myself as distinctly different from them if I don’t agree with who they are.

I think this corresponds to my sun in Gemini and mercury in Gemini, or in other words, my sun conjuncts mercury. This aspect of my instinctive personality makes me want to win people over. If I don’t win someone over, I have a problem with it for several days straight. So, with my instinctive personality, I create a distinctive personality tailored to my setting or a specific person/group of people. This is why I think I find it hard to make and keep friends, especially in college.

In high school, everyone already had a reputation, so although some people definitely evolved and changed, no one really forgot who you once were. Since I couldn’t escape this, my distinctive personality had some limits, or at least some dishonesty if I was ever to present myself as something completely different than who people thought I was. In college, no one knows who I really am, and my instinctive personality really tries to use this to my benefit. For example, I met a girl wearing dirty checkerboard Vans, a Polo hat, rounded sunglasses, and an ironic graphic t-shirt at a Soundcloud rapper’s house party. I talked to her about certain kinds of music, certain kinds of people we mutually knew, concerts, city life, and hypebeasts. I could assess from the way she presented herself that these were the topics we could find common ground in. And while it seems like a normal thing I do, and it probably benefits me in the long run connecting with people, I can’t seem to get past this step.

I feel like people can tell that I’m insincere. But I really can’t help it; I have multiple personalities. Not in the concerning medical disorder way, just in the socially handicapped way. I made a friend similar to the one at the Soundcloud rapper party last year, and we Snapchatted back and forth and kept in contact. He started working at a campus restaurant, and I was unaware of it, so I ordered corn tortillas with sour cream one Tuesday afternoon wearing a preppier outfit than I usually wear and I could see the confusion in his eyes. Whenever I hung out with him I always wore clothes that matched a different personality than the one I decided to be today. The Maina that hung out with him was completely different than the caught-off-guard Maina that was ordering corn tortillas.

While I know people don’t think about it as hard as I do, I can definitely catch the drift from people that they aren’t sure what to make of me. Like I wore normal nice Connecticut-ish outfits to Spanish class a lot and this one girl from a few towns over always talked to me, and one day I wore distressed jeans, vans, and my huge multicolored Polo jacket over a sweatshirt with round sunglasses and she didn’t talk to me in class. It upsets me that I can predict how everyone else is going to act and what they might wear on any given day but I have no clue who I will be even two hours from now or even tomorrow.

I wonder if I’ll be this inconsistent for the rest of my life. Not even just with clothes; with anything. More importantly I wonder if I can ever get over my outward appearance affecting the way I treat people and life in general. I think in college it’s so hard to know who people actually are and you’re surprised a lot by what is actually going on in people’s heads. And I know here there is a culture of certain what people wear and what certain people don’t. There are groups that people fit into and I can’t bring myself to stick to any group. And that sounds all social butterfly-ish but it’s really not. In these four inconsistent and weird years people just want solid friends to rely on, and I am very liquidy and change randomly. It makes me freak out about random stuff, like I’ll get mad that my Instagram is too normal. It literally doesn’t matter and I know that.

From typing this out I learned and admitted to myself that I’m definitely unhealthily obsessed with image and sometimes it’s super detrimental, and I should probably just not care. But I’m not happy with the fact I’m inconsistent and it makes me feel inconsistent in general. I just want an identity. And I want people to see that identity and be like okay yeah I could vibe with this girl, and then be friends. It’s that easy.

I feel more like myself in private because my identity is only made up of thoughts, feelings, and daydreams/fantasies (brought to you by Psychology for Dummies). In public, I have no idea what is going on with my personality, appearance, and style. I feel like none of it is my own. It’s always reflective of what’s been inspiring me lately. I think I’m a walking blog, or mood board, or something. But not as cool as that sounds. Just a mess. How can I mold myself into who I want to be when that changes on a daily basis? I wish I could just not have a body and just be an amoeba. I would know who I was for sure. I can easily give people a spiel of who I am inside, but outside it’s a little difficult.

Maybe if I established solid friends at the beginning of freshman year, everything would be different. Or maybe it wouldn’t. Maybe this is just who I am, and I’ll never develop into anything solid. I apologize in advance.