Reflex bickering

On a morning of what would become a scorching summer  day, I was walking around the city center, making my way to work. As I had left home early after having drank my morning coffee, I was starting to feel peckish and even a bit dizzy. I decided to buy a hot dog specialty which is a boiled hot dog wrapped in bread dough and baked. It is something you can find all over Cluj-Napoca and most of them are absolutely yummy.

The place I stopped at is a small kiosk chain that you can find all over the city. I had been walking for a while and really wanted that carbs load for the way to work as I had decided I had enough time to walk there and needed the exercise. As I approached the counter I could feel a wave of heat coming from inside the small establishment (keep in mind, it was already over 23 °C outside). There was nobody ahead of me so I looked in expecting to be served immediately, but the lady inside was a little busy with something, though she did ask me what I wanted. She asked the second time for my order and I was already getting crabby, but I answered nicely. The third time she asked if I wanted only one piece, but I thought she wanted my order again because of the noise from the street, the machine that was baking behind her and the earphone in my left ear. I snapped a bit at her trying to relay again what I wanted and she snapped back at me that there’s no need for me to get angry so of course that pissed me off more than the whole situation.

The whole interaction only took a minute or two, but it was enough for me to lose sight of all the experience I had myself with angry customers and being on the receiving end of a snarky reply. The reaction I had was a mere reflex as my instinct took over and my reflexes kicked in. All the work I have been doing on and with myself was displaced by the easier reaction in a moment of discomfort, proving it to still be in an incipient stage or if you will ~Shallow.

Community

I have been reading a book about Gurkha soldiers in Afghanistan. To be honest law enforcement and the army have always been jobs I could see myself doing. Unfortunately, I am short and quite bad at sports. Frankly, I am much more dangerous to others when speaking, rather than when welding a weapon.

These guys are the best of the best, Nepalese soldiers fighting in the British army. It’s been like this for two hundred years. The soldiers come from all over Nepal, including rural areas. The man who wrote the book used to be a hill boy. When he was young he used to live in his grandparent’s house. His grandfather had a lot of brothers who married and also lived there. They were about thirty people, living in six rooms.

When I was a young girl, my mother used to tell me cautionary tales about people who had to share their house with ten people or families of seven who only had one room to live in. This was to make me feel grateful for what we had, because she knew we had so much, though my childish eyes did not see it that way. It seemed horrible. Ten people sharing the same room. It was too much for me to share a room with my sister, let a lone eight more people. Most days I would agree, that would be my perfect description of hell. But the way he talks about it, with the non-complacent tone of an expert soldier, it made me realize that this is what a community of people is.

It might seem to me, to us, young people that living in closed quarters with others is suffocating, but we never think of the benefits. In today’s urban world we are each on our own. Young people leave the home built by their parents in hopes of a brighter future. We end up in big cities, with large populations of isolated individuals. We develop facades, masks we put on when we leave the house because other people don’t care about our growing feelings of uncertainty and fear. They are too busy nursing their own.

People evolved as parts of groups, each person finding their own role and being part of a whole. This is why corporations today have team building exercises and activities for their employees. We work better as a group if we each know where we stand and if we feel good about that position. It makes us productive. The main dilemma of the twenty-first century youth, or millennial as we’ve been named, is that we’ve been taught to be individuals. So many of us want to shine in their own spotlight as the queen bee with a crew of anonymous worker bees around us. Being one part of a whole doesn’t allow that.

We sacrifice the support we are genetically programmed to receive in order to prove to ourselves that we are better than others, that we don’t need help in figuring out life. I am very much guilty of doing this. Only yesterday I refused my mum’s reassurance that if I need money, I can always ask her. I turned the offer down like she was offering me poisoned cookies. I want to be my own person and be independent. Financial independence is as important to me as emotional independence is and there are a lot of times when I struggle with both. I am capable enough to keep down a job that covers my expenses, but I can’t save up much, at least not as much as I would like. Emotionally I am distressed much more often than I let on. I have doubts about my future, I am haunted by the most annoying of questions- what am I doing with my life?

In the past year I have worked quite closely with people in my age group who are more or less in the same situation. The same issues arise in their minds as well. What are we doing with our lives? I was talking the other day with one of the girls about child birth and motherhood. It seems we both struggle with the same doubts- am I fit to be a mother; will I be capable of loving my child unconditionally; will I resent it because I will have to make sacrifices in my career and  life is so much more complicated with the responsibility of bringing up a person? A few weeks ago I was talking with another one of my colleagues about my anxiety at the thought that I feel like I am not doing anything relevant with my time. Turns out, he is thinking the same thing about his own choices.

Growing up I had a small circle of friends and we discussed concerns like these quite rarely. We were teenagers and thinking of these kinds of things did not seem as important then. We still had so much time. To find that other people my age are fighting these demons quiets mine. They are not entirely defeated, but easier to live with. I am gathering courage and making plans to defeat them and enjoy as much as possible out of life.

One more thing, though. I would still like to experience the complete trust that those soldiers have in each other.

Triumph

Life is full of ups and downs. At least for me it is, I don’t know about other people that much. I always struggle with myself, but I have come a great way. A lot of times I used to feel tense on the inside because I didn’t know how to behave. I literally did not know how to react to people and situations around me. My default reaction was anger or violence and it obviously put people off. So I didn’t know what reaction would bring people closer.

As I grew up, going to school made me anxious. I had a couple of friends at home who were neighbors, but they went to other schools. I had to make all new friends and failed miserably. For eight years I barely connected to the people I spent five-six hours a day with. I was most comfortable in my seat during breaks or on the edge of large groups if they made us go outside. I was struggling not to be seen because being seen meant being judged and rejected. I am, to this day horrified of rejection, but I have learned to deal with it a lot better as with pretty much everything else.

After eight years of being an outsider, you can imagine how happy I was when it was finally time to change school. In Romania the school system is made out of three cycles of four. We have four years of primary school and four years of middle school are usually attended at the same institution, unless you move town, school or in some villages they only have the first four years. The last four years are attended at a different institution where you apply and get in depending on your grades. I made it into the high school and class of choice (yay!).

I was 14 and after such a long time being ostracized, I didn’t really care about being included anymore. To my surprise this actually helped me integrate into the class. Turns out not caring if people like you makes people like you. Weird. By this time I had had one or two disappointing experiences with friends outside of school and didn’t really trust people, a trait I still share with my teenage self, but I didn’t feel anymore like the weird kid trying to look as much as possible like the paint on the walls so people can’t see me. I started reading a lot and got smarter, my English got better so the Internet opened up to me and I actually had a really good friend who I could talk to about my family life.

When I was eleven, my mum moved to Italy so she could work there because she could get paid a lot better. My sister and I were left with my father who I never really connected with. I was a mama’s girl and my dad was becoming more and more of a religious nut and an alcoholic. I tried to spend as much time as possible ignoring him. We used to see mum only for two- four weeks a year. In rest we talked on the phone. She moved back home a few weeks ago. I am twenty-four now.

(Don’t mind me, I’m just tearing up a bit)

Finishing high school and getting into university was my way to freedom. I didn’t get into medical school the way I wanted and my mum advised me to enroll in a cheap, private law school. I only went for one semester. The literature was killing me. It was a depressing period, but I decided I would move cities and start reading for bachelor degree in English, choosing a minor in Chinese. And so I did. It took me a while, I got to spend nine beautiful months in China, I failed exams, read a lot, crammed even more, but I am about to take my final exams for my bachelor degree.

I have come a long way in my interactions with people. At the moment I work in a call center, talking to people a lot of the day, and I even enjoy most of it. I still get blind-sighted sometimes by people being hypocrites and selfish, but I am learning to let go of the anger it causes. That will hurt only me. And each day I manage to be my natural self feels good. It does indeed feel like a triumph.

Triumph

via Daily Prompt: Triumph

Travel

 

It’s a cold night of a wet Chinese winter. In the middle of a city I remember well, with smooth bark trees. The air smells of bunt oil from the street food vendors combined with the sour flavor emanating from the unwashed sidewalk. Vestiges of previous nights passed in cold drizzles.

In the cab, sitting in the back on a yellowed leather bench filled with cracks and stale cigarette smoke, the lights on the buildings dance around in a spectacle while I wonder how much is this costing in electricity. The tall buildings run past with the lights being the only indicator of their actual height and looking up I feel small trying to imagine how many people would it take ti fill up one of those buildings. I mean fill up from wall to wall, from floor to ceiling, from ground floor to the roof. That’s a lot of people, but that doesn’t even come close to the number of people in this city, in this country, on this planet. I really do feel small. Safe as well, in my anonymity because in this particular evening there’s nothing to do but let this car drive me to my dorm where I can lay down ans sleep a deep sleep of an irresponsible student.

I sit and watch the buildings running by, the trees that have become familiar by now as we are getting closer to the campus. The experience is as familiar as the feeling of knowing this city. And I find myself imagining living here for a few years. Having a job and going out to dinner, knowing places and discussing streets by their names. I love getting to know cities like this as I never have the issue of missing home because I carry home with me wherever I go. I meet friend and coworkers for coffee and meals in the city. I rent an apartment that becomes comfortable after a week of cleaning. I get to know the local shops and I have my favorite coffee place, my favorite fruit store, my favorite bench in the park and as time goes by, I forget the time when I wasn’t living in this place.

Then the cab arrives to the dorm and the cold air feels five times colder than it really is and the first thing I do when I get to my room is turn on the AC. My roommate and I start chatting about nothing while we get ready for bed and silence falls as it’s someone else’s turn to be carried around in a cab through the sleeping city.

Give

It’s the strangest thing really. Giving, or rather receiving. You’re walking around, minding your own business and all of a sudden someone walks into your life and they give you something and it makes you happy (at least for the moment).

Let me make things clear. I am not referring to gifts like for your birthday or Christmas or things like that. I’m referring to the kinds of things that you receive every day from the people you love like a smile, a hand squeeze, a surprise lolly pop, a phone call or a ‘Have a good day!’ text and you know they care. It’s these small pieces of my every day life that I’ve been noticing lately and started to really try to appreciate. It is incredible how much we give to people and how much it takes out of us when it goes unnoticed. I know my life is so busy sometimes that I barely notice my shirt is on backwards or really slow so I barely get out of my pajamas and my attention spam doesn’t reach as far as the person next to me but it feels like it shouldn’t be such a huge effort. It is though. Because the closer people are to us the harder it is to see the details in my relationships with them. They’ve been here for a year or two or five so they’ll be here tomorrow as well to wake up ten minutes early and make that cup of coffee and make a sandwich or ask me if my date went well so I’ll just concentrate on my thing here in my corner then wonder why I feel lonely and deserted.

When relationships are new though we notice every single detail, every smile, every kiss, hug or advice and I know you can’t keep that up for ever and ever and ever and ever and ever, but how do you get to the other extreme? Not long ago I met someone who I really appreciated and was acutely aware of this fact and when we argued a few weeks ago that person said ‘I don’t want to lose you’ (or something along that line of thought). It meant so much to me, that little line that I tried to move past what was bothering me. This got me thinking about the persons in my life that say to me ‘I don’t want to lose you’ through their actions, the people who have been next to me when I was being annoying or sad or just plain stupid and the people I’ve told this to through my actions as well. It’s amazing how many people don’t listen or don’t believe it.

The sad thing is that we never really know what we had util we don’t have it anymore (yes, I said it, I’m a cliche) and we rarely realize how much we give to a person who doesn’t deserve it. We don’t realize when we become dependent on someone else for something they offer that we think we can’t get on our own and can’t live without. Gestures get lost in a sea of events.

So this is what I am trying- I a trying to pay attention to the people who love me and show it so I can reciprocate. I will appreciate and value and be happy with what I have. I have to defeat my reflex of getting involved with people who have proven to me that they don’t deserve it because I am hopeful and optimistic and want them to be the person they are not. This and much more, I hope.

Working on it

I think about the future in fragments and I never see it as a complete picture. I like to think of how I’ll have a job doing something or how I’ll live in a certain city or how I’ll have a beer with someone at some bar but these things never really connect. It goes like this: if the weather is too hot around here I’ll think of how I’ll be living in a city where it rains a lot and they don’t get that much sun or high temperatures. I’ll imagine myself buying waterproof boots and big umbrellas and cozy sweaters. I imagine myself people watching in the window of a coffee place, struggling to find parking spaces in the morning and the air in the parks always smelling like wet trees. Or I think about my nondescript future job that happens in an office with so many people that I wouldn’t interact with normally so I always struggle to keep my calm like I’m such a delight to deal with.

I like to daydream about these things, but what it always comes down to is that I don’t really have a plan to deal with life and I have to come up with one. I’ll probably end up improvising anyway because plans, or my plans at least, have a way of being sidetracked, altered or completely shattered all the time. I’ve learned not to try to make long term plans anymore because life just doesn’t follow along unless you really really force it’s hand and I’m not the forceful type. I see these people trying so hard to bend the world to their version of how it should be and it makes me sad. I can imagine the sort of tension and pressure that strains your every nerve and waking second, pushing back against your waning will, making your nerves snap and killing your capacity to enjoy life. I’ve seen this. I don’t want to do this to myself and to the people I love. I’m learning to give breathing space and find peace in it. I’m dreaming happily. I am letting things go.

Ambition

I’ve never really been an ambitious or competitive person but I’m in this moment in my life where I feel myself getting determined. I am soon to finish my Bachelor Degree in English and even though these last few years have been amazing I feel I am ready for something new, for a new challenge. I wake up in the morning with a weird nervousness constricting my intestines and I’m almost sure it feels good. It feels like I have choices and opportunities ahead of me and this is both exciting and intimidating. I have to learn a lot and pay attention to myself and my surroundings while finding ways to get motivated.

I want to learn to write well, I want to learn to be around people, I want to learn to communicate, I want to learn how to sell stuff, I want to learn to manage my time better, I want to learn Illustrator and most of all I want to know what I want.

That is my major issue: I’m not exactly sure what I want to do with my life. I mean I love reading and watching films and TV shows because I like stories,  but I never found out what I am good at. So I am starting this blog to develop my writing skills and hope for the best like so many other people on the internet. Even if nobody reads this, I will be really proud of myself if I just keep writing, if I just keep trying.