The Ways of the World

Always stopping myself
From living
Because I think I shouldn’t,
Because I can’t,
Because I have no right to do so.

Living is not something for me.
It’s not something I can do.
It’s something I must watch
And applaud
And congratulate,
But not participate in.
It’s not something I’m allowed to do.

I can’t dream either.
That is foolish of me.
That is not something I have time for.
That is a luxury,
Not a necessity.
What I need to do
Is submit,
To follow,
To listen,
To do as I am told,
To be quiet,
To go along with,
To be humble
And not bold,
Not my own person
With objections,
One who questions
The way things are.
I should be obedient,
Okay with not understanding,
And simply
Work hard.

But not at what I want to do
Or who I want to be.
I must work to be admired
By the eyes surrounding me.
It matters not
That I don’t believe
In what I’m told I should become,
Because in time I’ll surely see
It was the right thing to have done,
So whatever thoughts I have
Of living life how I see fit
Should completely be abandoned
And done away with.

There was nothing wrong with dreaming
When I was a little girl,
But by now I must have realised
The ways of the world.

Becoming a Woman

I’m not used to having what feel like grown up conversations with my father. It’s strange. I still feel like a small child around him, so when he talks to me like we’re on the same footing I’m uncertain as to what I am supposed to do. I’m not used to him relating to me like someone on the same level as him. He usually just tells me to do something, or that he’s going out. If not that, then he’s teaching me something I didn’t know about politics, or telling me something that’s from the Bible. These recent conversations where he’s talking to me like a person…are so different. He’s not talking down to me – well, not so much. He’s actually speaking to me like I’m an adult too and like it’s okay now to include me in these kinds of things. They’re like the conversations he has with my older sister. When they talk they don’t sound like father and daughter to me. They sound like too adults. I always found that a bit unusual, and now that it’s happening to me it’s even more strange. What am I supposed to do with this newfound… what on earth is this called? Status? Yes, I’ll go with that. What am I supposed to do with this newfound status? The other day, in another one of our conversations, my father told me that I was a “big woman” (our Jamaican way of saying grown woman). I was astonished that he said that to me, and that he meant it. I still think about that phrase sometimes and wonder what it really means for me, and what I should do with it…

I’m at a serious loss here…

I just got a call from my older sister. She asked about where I lived, whom with, how I found the place, and how much it cost. She also told me to read up on things about money and finance, instead of “the novel or whatever”. She told me to sign up for an account on credit karma, to stay away from store credit cards, and to get one of the others that offered cash back so that I could get some money in my pocket.

This is bothering me for more than one reason. Firstly, I’m not a finance person, a business person, or a money person, or a math person. It’s really hard for me to read on those subjects. Secondly, I just finally started reading tonight, after not reading any for so long because I was so busy with school. Thirdly, I had already planned to get one of those cash back credit cards. I’ve been pre-approved or whatever for one already. It’s just that when I was going over the information there was something about the interest being 0% for only the first year,  or the APR rather. I looked up APR and wasn’t able to understand what it meant, and I don’t want to be paying anything after the first year of having a card. Just now when I went on my bank’s website to try and chat with someone I received a message that there was no one available and that I’d have to come back another time.

I’m also kind of stuck in a rut. I had to move suddenly. I don’t start my second job until this Saturday. I’m broke. And I still lack some things that I need. I knew that I’d have to do without some things for this month, and I’m fine with that, but…I’m such an anxious busy body. I never stay calm for too long. I always pick up something I thought I was done worrying about, or I find something new to worry myself over.

I guess that’s why I’m writing this. I was worrying – the way I always do.

Snap Out Of It

Tonight’s as good a night as any to lie down and think about life, like I haven’t been thinking about it all day, like thinking about it all day wasn’t the reason I was in a slump all day, because life is such a nice thing to think about what with me lacking roots and the courage to find them.

Today, like all other days, I thought about society and its expectations of me, my family and its expectations of me, and how I am failing to meet these expectations because I’m not entirely sure what they are. That and I don’t want to meet some of these expectations because I think they are either pointless or a complete waste.

There is me wanting to be an individual person and not worry so much about others and what they think because that is a terribly big source of stress and I have quite enough of that with my school work and my job and having to put up with unpleasant people so very often. There is also the recent realisation that maybe I’m forgetting that the unpleasant people I find to be a source of stress in my life are still people who have their own stresses to deal with which gives them a legitimate reason not to tend to mine, you know, because they’re busy, working and taking care of whatever businesses they have to take care of; adult things that I don’t have to deal with yet and that I’m not in a rush to get to.

There’s also the larger society which involves religious and racial groups. This is problematic for me because I no longer identify myself with a religious group and the racial group I’m supposedly a part of is further divided into different ethnic groups and those don’t always see eye to eye. There’s just a lot of discord that I have no idea what to make of so even though I “think” about it I don’t really go into it too much because it would just cause a larger headache than what it already does. Instead of really “thinking” about it, I just look at it as a terribly large, dark cloud that looms over my head somewhere and that will soon burst and create some severe problems.

The religious thing is a problem for me too because now I don’t have anything to govern me. I feel like I’m not standing on anything and I don’t know where I’m going. I’m wondering if I should look into some other group or if I should just be one of those people who say they believe in God and leave it at that. I don’t know if I’m okay with that though because there’s all the hell/judgement stuff still in the back of my head. Not that I didn’t think I was headed there anyway, it’s just…I don’t know. There’s nothing there.

Oh and the childhood memories. Those keep popping up and I haven’t the slightest idea why. The growing up thing bothers me too. I don’t like the demands, or shall we call them requests, that are made of me because supposedly I’m old enough now. Like I was taught at some school that this is how one acts at the age of twenty-one. Sure. I must have slept through the whole thing. Sorry. I guess you wasted your money sending me there. Seriously though, I’m having this thing, this withdrawal thing I want to call it, where I’m trying as much as I can to stay away from anything that I know will bring me further into the grown-up world. I found myself thinking about Peter Pan and Neverland a while back, wishing it was actually real. I mean sure, I dislike some attitudes toward me that I think are more suitable for someone who is under the age of twelve, but the rest of it I think is unreasonable. I think people forget that I’m still very young and that,concerning how to relate to people and be socially polite, I really don’t have much of a clue. I didn’t grow up going to parties and accommodating guests. I never called my grandparents or any other relatives just to say hi. I wasn’t taught how to engage in small talk or to check up on people. I was just left to play and then called in when dinner was ready. I know to say thank you when I receive gifts. I know to greet people when I meet them. I think that is sufficient. It turns out however, that I have a bad habit, that I’m impolite or rude or inconsiderate or something like that.

I’m tired now. I wore myself out trying to live for other people which, by the way, was never noticed and completely taken for granted. Now I’m ignoring them and trying, very hard because of how unnerving it is, to do I what I want for a change because, one, I’m older now so I can get away with some things that I couldn’t before, and two, all of what other people want is too freaking much and it’s seriously heavy and weighs me down. I don’t know if it’s working so far because though I feel a bit better, I’m still not very pleased. Those around me aren’t either. But what the hell can I do? Add to this that I’m depressed…I just said that… Can you see the problem here? And as much as I would like to, I can’t “snap out of it” as my sister so graciously suggested. Like I wouldn’t have done that a long time ago if I actually could.

Living

It’s tiring,
This life I live.
It’s tiring,
Trying to figure it out while going through it.
It’s tiring,
Trying to be happy when I feel nothing like it.
It’s tiring,
Trying to develop and maintain good posture.
It’s tiring,
Trying to eat well, to exercise, to feel beautiful.
It’s tiring,
Trying to stay awake when all I want to do is sleep,
To work when I want to rest,
To stand when my body feels all wrong.
It’s tiring,
Having to be strong, when I feel utterly weak.

And this is what they say
Living is.

Life Is Too Short to Not Be Happy

As you may, or may not, know, my mother died last month. She was only 46 years old and had she lived but three days longer, she would have been 47. She wasn’t ill. No one expected her to die. Something just went wrong with her surgery, a surgery she had done several times before.

For some reason I’m not terribly sad or upset about her death. Maybe it’s because I know she was doing well in the last years she was alive. She was making plans for herself and doing something about them. She was living. She was laughing. She was having fun.

I want to emulate my mother and be happy. I want to take her advice and not let anything stress me out, not let people stress me out. I want to do what I have to do and not get bogged down by the negativity that surrounds me. I want to go places.

I’ve never thought of life as something that I had a whole lot of, or that was ahead of me, like it was spread out before me and I could take my time to do whatever I wanted to with it. Especially now that my mother has died, I dislike people telling me that I have my whole life ahead of me, or that I’m young. That means nothing. At any given time and in any of a number of ways, I could die. It could be today. It could be tomorrow. So I want to live my life and be happy.

Life isn’t something that can be rewound and played out again. There are no do overs. I knew this before, but now I want it to be a constant part of my thinking. I only have one. I want to spend it laughing. I want to spend it loving. I want to spend it being happy, because life is too short not to be happy.

Epiphanies at Twenty Is Over

Starting today I am twenty-one years old; therefore, “Epiphanies at Twenty” is over. I was going to publish a final epiphany before my twentieth year was done, but I never got around to it. I’ve been a bit busy with the death of my mother. With that said, I am going to list all the epiphanies I’ve shared so far just because I love you so much. I’m also going to briefly share one now.

Final Epiphany: You Really Do Have to Grow Up

Yes, yes you do. I’ve been trying to avoid it as much as possible, but lo and behold, I have to do it after all. Recently I’ve been noticing instances where I have to do things for myself that previously an adult or parent would do for me. Sometimes I just leave those things alone because I don’t want to do them (because I’m lazy), but the adults are really busy with work and what not so sometimes I have to get off my butt and get them done. (Isn’t it weird that I still say “the adults” like I’m not  one of them?) My mother dying has made me realise even more that I have to grow up. I have to become more and more independent the longer I live, and I have to start getting things done on my own. I can’t keep waiting around for people – grown ups – to come and help me. I have to make the first move and try to do it myself. Not that I haven’t been told this before, I have, but today I had the epiphany. I should actually say yesterday since it’s past midnight. I should have written this post yesterday. Anyway, this is the last epiphany I will share with you for now.

And now, for all the epiphanies in the order they were published:

People Aren’t Perfect, They’re People

Laughter Is a Cover-Up

I Procrastinate Way Too Much

I Live Mostly in Retrospect

I Hate Underwear

I’m a Hater

I’m Selfish

Epiphanies at Twenty: I’m Selfish

I knew this before I was twenty, but I’ve come to really embrace it recently. A while back, my older sister, who was staying with us for a while, called me selfish. Mind you this was because I didn’t want to do something that she wanted me to. I didn’t like that. I didn’t like her calling me selfish because I didn’t fulfill a request of hers. I’ve never thought of my younger sister as selfish for not doing something I told her to. She’s just mean and likes having her own way. But who doesn’t?

Really? Who doesn’t? Who doesn’t want to have his own way? It’s called will. We are all individuals with our own individual wills. Me not wanting to do something for someone doesn’t make me selfish. Or I guess it does, since that’s the point I’m trying to make. I am selfish. I am. I want to have things go my way, and I get upset when they don’t. So does everyone else I know. It’s just that our reactions to not having things go our way are different. Some people really don’t mind it much, and good for them, but some do. I do.

So what if I don’t want to do something you ask me to? I’m selfish? Yes I am. And you’re not? You don’t also think of yourself first? Not really venting about my sister here, but I have seen it in her, in myself, and in others. We all have things we like or want, and things we dislike. Choosing someone else’s preference over your own, especially if you don’t share that preference, is considered a good thing to do. I think so too. And it’s something we all have to do. It’s called compromise; keeping the peace. Whatever. What I have a problem with is people calling other people out for things when they’re on the same ship on seats that are right next to each other. Calling someone selfish because that person doesn’t want to do something for you is crap. It’s crap because that person might have a damn good reason for choosing not to fulfill your request. And it’s crap because if that person asked you to do the same favour you would probably say no as well.

I’ve been thinking about this for over a year now. I really didn’t like her calling me selfish, because she was being selfish at the same time. She was thinking about herself and trying to hand off work that she could do herself but didn’t want to. It was wrong of her, but it helped me to realise that I am selfish – that a lot of us are, and it’s not a bad thing. That’s just the way we are. We all want what we want. And sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes, we have to put what we want – what we need – before what someone else wants or needs. So am I selfish? Yes I am, and it’s time that you admit you are too.

A Good Summer

“This was a good summer.”

“…yeah”

“Because I got to meet you.”

“Because I went out a lot.”

For her it was because she had a social life – a real one – for the first time in the twenty years that she’d been alive. It was because she finally got to do what everyone else was doing; going out with friends, staying out at night. She was doing something new, something different, and she liked it. It wasn’t him at all. He was just a part of it. One of the things she was trying out. Everyone else was walking around holding hands. She wanted to know what that was like. It wasn’t him at all. He was just a part of it.

“It wasn’t me?”

She shook her head. It never occurred to her to lie.

“Oh okay I take it back then.”

“Okay.”

He didn’t sound hurt. She wasn’t very concerned. They remained in their embrace as they waited for her bus to get to the station. It had been a nice evening.

Discoveries: Seeing with Age

It turns out my father isn’t a perfect man, and there are some things he doesn’t know. He is also capable of crying.

People do grow old and die, and cancer can affect even people that are close to me; people like my grandfather, and my uncle’s godfather, whom I called godfather too.

Everyone who smiles at you isn’t your friend. Mean people are numerous in this world.

Family isn’t always family. Love can have an end.

Mommy and daddy had to do actual work to send us to school and feed us. And when they said they didn’t have any money, they really didn’t. Bills are things they had to pay so that we could stay in the house.

People forget each other. They just do. It happens when you haven’t seen someone in a long time.

We don’t all get to stay together. We each have our own lives, and they take us to different places.

Money is something that you need, but you can never keep it for too long.

Africa is not the only place with starving children.

Adults can hurt you on purpose too.

 

 

This is the second of a three-part series. See parts one and three here.