Not taking it personal

[Disclaimer: This post is NOT directed at any one individual, rather a reflection on my internal battles and my interactions with people in general.]
One of the things I’m struggling with as I reemerge from the hole I was hiding in is to not take things personally.
I don’t have the energy to take on anyone else’s shit. I barely have the energy for my own shit right now.
I cannot make their attitude and their shit my problem/fault to fix. I cannot fix it.
Not my circus, not my monkeys.
i-start-stressing-on-what-others-are-doing-then-i-remind-myself-not-my-circus-not-my-monkeys-06b8c
I cannot fix it.
I do not have any control over their attitude or actions or words and it may or may not actually be directed at me. I might just be the bystander that gets sideswiped. I have no way of knowing if it’s personal unless they tell me directly. It’s not possible to figure out intent based on tone or other non-verbal actions.
I don’t know what’s going on with them and they (most likely) don’t have a flying fuck of a clue what’s going on with me either beyond the surface.
And unless they say directly it is me they have a problem with or that I’ve pissed them off, there’s nothing I can or should do.
I cannot fix it.
I have to remember to not take on their shit, to not try and fix it, to not take care of everyone else (or put myself last) and worry about what everyone else thinks or feels. You’d think I would have learned my lesson by now. Ha!
It won’t matter what I say or do if they’re not open to hearing or seeing anything from me. I cannot fix it unless they want it fixed and it’s not my job to fix it anyway, only to help if asked.
I cannot fix it.
::deep breaths::
 
Let it go. Don’t take it personally.
I cannot fix it.
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A place to start

Finding my way back to the world after hiding is a process. And it’s ugly at times.
I’m learning my limits all over again, some changed, some new, and (re)discovering what is healthy and unhealthy for me mentally and/or physically. I’m learning what triggers an anxiety or panic attack, versus what just gives me a headache. I’m also re-learning what I really truly enjoy/love/look forward to doing and what makes me [want to] run away screaming.
A few things I’ve figured out:
1. The current high tree pollen counts? OMGWTFBBQ is this hell?! I’ve never had severe seasonal allergies. When the pollen count gets high, I, like everyone, notice it, but not to any extreme. It’s usually more of an annoyance. Not so this year. My sinuses are making me miserable and I’m stashing tissues in every pocket. How do you people live with this? Asthma’s bad enough; I really hope these allergies are temporary and never clog my sinuses again.
2. I still love metadata, cataloging, and librarianship. I had a nice long debate with a friend over the weekend that cemented for me that I am passionate about my career. I think I needed that confirmation. No, I know I needed that confirmation. The underlying interest is still there, and I don’t have to wonder if being a librarian is something I want or something I just did. I do want it. It is a good fit for me as a career focus.
Now I just have to figure out what kind of direction I want my job/career to go, or the answer “where do you see yourself in x number of years” standard interview question. There are a lot of things I mistook for truths about building my career: you must move into management to climb the ladder; you should do x or y to be successful; to do “q” you must do “l, m, n” first; to be taken seriously you must publish; you have to be involved in specific organizations a, b, and/or c; etc. etc.
I need to forget about all of those “truths” as I move forward. Forcing a direction rather than letting things grow organically is not healthy for me. No matter how much I try, I, the square peg, will never fit in the octagonal hole. I may partially fit, it may even look like I fit, but there will be gaps around the edges. I’ve been trying to make myself fit, because it was expected of me or it was what I “should” do. I was trying to meet everyone’s expectations, stated, implied, or assumed, not just in my personal life, but in my work life as well.
I know. I know. I’m just figuring this out in my early 40s. But in my defense, this is the first time I’ve ever actually stopped and really *looked* at my life since I was trying to pick a college my senior year of high school. I’ve continuously put one foot in front of the other, moving in whatever direction I either faced or was pushed. I majored in Spanish language and literature in college. Why? Because I had to pick something by a deadline and I was told it was best option based on the classes I had taken. Not necessarily my main interest, but the best option when I had to declare something. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Spanish language and literature (Jorge Luis Borges is quite possibly my favorite author ever), but as a hobby. I had planned to minor in Spanish because I enjoyed it, not because I wanted to use it as a foundation for a career. If I had really stopped to think about it, I probably would have ended up in sociology, psychology, or something similar, with a side of history. The parts I liked best of my studies were the intersection of literature and culture, how culture and history was portrayed, cultural development, how people learn, organization of knowledge and culture(s), and anything about development of culture and identity.
I’m not looking for a do-over, I’m looking to understand and to figure out what really draws me. I loved college, but you could not pay me to do it again. Ever.
But I do love being a librarian. Specifically a metadata librarian. How to mesh the practical with the theoretical in terms of making things findable fascinates me to no end. How people look for things, and follow the trail down the rabbit hole of information. Organization, subject analysis, indexing, optimizing data, the “guts” (scripts, programs, etc.) behind the user interface, metadata management, how to make things fit together, all of that. I love it. The hour long conversation I referenced earlier with my colleague was all about how to define a “work” and what that really meant in terms of application in the practical world of data, both in the wide wild world of the web as well as a local database.
Yeah.
I’m a metadata geek.
That’s a good a place as any to start.
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Unreliable

I’m struggling with being unreliable in my everyday life/work. For the first time in my life, starting months ago with my collapse, I am not the reliable, responsible, get-things-done person.

It’s been both a welcome relief from pressure, and it continues to scare the shit out of me.

A number of things, beyond and on top of my battle with depression/anxiety, are causing an ongoing state of flux. Which means it’s hard for me to guarantee I can be there and complete tasks. Which makes me unreliable. I can’t promise something when I honestly have no idea what the next few weeks/months will bring or what will happen next.

And all of this right when I’m trying to re-enter life and move forward beyond my breakdown. To get back to being reliable, but with better boundaries. The timing sucks rotten eggs.

I know there are people in my life that have walked away from me (some without talking to me) because I’ve been unreliable. It makes me sad. And a bit angry. Why? Because I have been the reliable one for my entire life. For everyone. And now that I can’t be that, some folks walk away without even a conversation. It hurts, too. Hurts a lot. But mostly it makes me sad. Because I know there’s nothing I can do to “fix” it or change their mind/opinion, even while I respect their decision. I don’t know what their struggles are right now, and they might not be able to deal with me and my struggles/issues/depression/anxiety.

I also don’t have anything left to fight anyone or anything. All of my energy is focused on other things, both moving forward through my mid-life breakdown, and the recent things beyond/on top of it. And as anyone with depression/anxiety will tell you, many days just continuing to breathe is a big ask.

Which brings me back to struggling with being unreliable.

I can’t remember ever being that. I’ve *always* been the one to get-stuff-done. The one that is always there to help, to support, to step in and fill in the gap. The substitute player from the sidelines, that people depend on and assume will step-in, even though most of the time they forget I’m there. The one people call when they need something because they know I’m reliable/responsible and trustworthy and won’t judge them no matter what is going on and what they need. It’s not my place to judge them and their challenges/journey. I’m not them. So instead I do my best to support them, to be there, and be that reliable/responsible/helpful person. For anyone and everyone.

It makes me uncomfortable to not be that reliable person for everyone. To be the one that needs help but is still learning how to ask for it. It had become part of my identity, to be reliable. I feel like I’m floundering, floating along un-tethered. I’m not sure how to ground myself.

I don’t want to be unreliable. But right now I have to choose to continue it. Because turning my back on the things that are causing the flux and uncertainty isn’t something I could live with. I have to put those things first, to take care of me, to let someone else be the reliable/responsible/get-it-done person for everyone. The alternative, to walk away from the things causing the uncertainty in my life…I know I’d regret it. So it’s a non-starter. I can’t do it. I won’t.

And it’s hard. I feel guilty when I think about what I’m not doing and what other people have had to pick up starting when my collapse/breakdown happened all the way to now. But the thought of not putting everything causing the flux before everything else makes me ill, which is worse than the guilt.

So I choose the guilt. I choose the struggle with being the unreliable one in my everyday life/work.

I’m working on finding a happy medium where I can be present in my everyday life/work yet be unreliable in the long-term picture, but it’s a struggle. It’s not black and white. There are no clear defined lines/boundaries to work with in this struggle. It’s all gray and nebulous.

But some things will always outrank everything else and will always be worth the struggle. And being unreliable right now is worth it.

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