Usually the first thing anyone learns about my personality, before the smiles and silly songs kick in, is that I’m stubborn. Most of the time, I consider this a virtue. I don’t give up…ever. If something is too hard or not coming together, I will fight to make it work. Forcing myself to stick with it a just few minutes longer has rewarded me with so many wonderful experiences. Even when, after years of struggle and hard work, I have gained nothing, I know that I’ve at least become a stronger person for my determination to persevere. Peer pressure is as close to a non-issue in my life as it could be. Sometimes I’m sad and feel like I’m missing out, but I won’t let that feeling compromise who I am and what I feel is right for me and my body. Usually, I don’t regret my decisions.
However, on some rare occasions, my stubbornness lands me in a rut. I don’t let go of good things, but I also can’t let go of the bad. Heartbreak cuts deep and heals superficially. Worry is eternal, happiness elusive. I internalize everything. When something is hard, I won’t ask for help, because I’ve made it through this before. It’s just who I am. I hoard, and I keep. I never ask for help; I never stop trying, but I never…ever let go.
So, here I am…in a rut again. As much as I love to say “I told you so,” here’s one situation where I’d really rather it be different. The job I thought I’d gotten turned out to be only temporary, a fact they conveniently forgot to mention on the phone. (I guess saying that I’d take “any” position probably lead to the assumption that I would really take “any” position, but we all know what they say about assuming…) Since it’s rush period with all the first years arriving and upperclassmen returning, I’m putting in so many hours at the store that I don’t really heave time to start another job that will keep me afloat when rush ends and my hours at the store dry up. Thankfully, I found a restaurant that is flexible enough that I might be able to make this work. Unfortunately, it means future days like this coming Sunday, where I will be working from 10am-6pm at one place, and 6pm-10pm at the other. It’s a good thing I have Monday and Tuesday off. I’ll need them to reclaim my soul.
Regardless! Here I am. In my rut. Sulking and moping and greedily fueling up on more than my fair share of misery. I’m looking at my life, and I’m not liking what I see. For the first time in a very long time (maybe even ever), I think it’s time I actively start to change. Here are the facts: I just graduated from college. Everything is up in the air. I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life. I don’t know where in the world I’ll find myself. I’m on my own out here, and the truth is… I just don’t know. It’s time for a new me for this new life. Enter: Positive Jen.
Now, it’s not like I’m saying a complete farewell to Negative Jen. I’ve never believed that someone can just “turn off” the sad. There’s no switch in my brain I can just flick and find euphoria. When I’m sad, I’m sad. Those are just the facts. No question about it, Negative Jen still dominates my life. I do, however, believe that smiling leads to success. Most of the people from my graduating class that are off doing successful post-grad things are truly happy individuals who smile all the time. (Being who I am and generally suspicious of all good things, I once seriously considered the theory that these people were secretly visitors from Planet Goodwill. No human I know smiles that much!) If I’m going to figure out my life, the first thing I need to learn to do is smile. It invites people in, after all. A sweet “I’m doing great” is a much nicer way to continue a conversation than “I just stepped in dog poo, so you tell me how I’m doing.” Strangers will go home tell their friends that they met a really nice girl at the burrito joint, and maybe she was kinda pretty, too. Friends will genuinely want me around, instead of letting me tag along out of pity.
And maybe, just maybe, after a few months of this, Positive Jen will start to take hold. Maybe, just maybe, after a few months of this, I’ll start to believe that I’m pretty again, and I’ll really believe my friends when they say they enjoy my company.
I’m not saying that this will happen instantly. Ideological revolutions of the mind take hold slowly. Just look how long it took for colonial Americans to realize and accept that Independence was the logical step forward. The things that hurt me now are going to hurt me tomorrow, and maybe they won’t ever stop hurting me. But maybe if I stop letting this rut control my actions and take hold of every conversation, that stupid fortune my friend found in her stupid cookie, that “a new outlook brightens your image and brings new friends,” might actually come true.
Well… here’s hopin’….