Mislabeled

  • One of my first middle school teachers, my math teacher to be precise, couldn’t for the life of her figure out my name. Every day at role call, for my entire stay at that school, she would call a different name. She’d watch me expectantly, waiting for my hand to rise as she breathed the name “Shae?”. The day previously it was “Shaina?”.
  • The rest of my time in middle school, at a different school, I was frequently mistaken for a good friend of mine named Jessica. That is also my sister’s name.
  • At a middle school music festival, the list on the door proclaimed that the next low brass soloist was ‘Shaisna’.
  • Highschool brought the continuation of being called Jessica, and four years of people yelling ‘Shawna!’ down the hall when they really wanted LaShawna’s attention. I developed a bad habit of ignoring my own name.
  • On my 21st birthday, the DMV apologized to me, but explained that I either needed to remove the space in my last name or hyphenate it, because it was causing confusion in their computer system. I chose the classic ram-it-all-together approach, minus the hyphens.
  • Shannon was a coworker on the same shift, and our names became readily interchangeable from day three. I think we both just started responding to either name.
  • A new coworker on the shift prior to mine was also named Shawna. We didn’t realize that we kept signing in and out eachother’s equipment in the logbook until a boss called for me over the intercom, and both of us appeared. Our signatures were nearly perfectly identical, and it was the first person I’ve met with the same lazy scrawl as mine.
  • New shift, new coworker named Shannon. Except this one lightly teases anyone who mixes up our names, all in good fun. I still don’t have the heart to correct anyone. After all, what is the purpose of a name outside of the identification of an individual? If they’ve found me, they’ve identified me.

 

Live well, friends. I hope you have a fantastic day,

Shawna

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Learning to Chill

For the first time in years, I have time for myself. Real, sweet, quiet quality time. I told myself that as soon as I graduated, I would take a week to be a total vegetable, and then after that I would learn to balance my life so I could spend both quality time working, and quality time chilling.

A year and a half later? I’m not doing so hot.

Turns out I was so ingrained with the hustle, the nearly-falling-asleep-in-public, that taking that out of my life equation so quickly sent me reeling. And while I expected that to happen to some degree (A couple weeks? A month?), I never expected to find myself in the midst of still-chilling-down-from-college a year and a half later. This unrealistic (and cemented) expectation for myself has also taken another unforeseen toll on me: the sensation of failure that vibrated down into my entire being. I didn’t consciously own a hard and fast deadline for my recovery, but subconsciously I did, and I had missed it by a million paces. My moods became volatile, and my workplace happiness became strained as I wallowed in my self-proclaimed inferiority to the people around me who ‘have their shit together’.

You see, I had been one of ‘those’ students. The ones who chronically looked one step shy from zombie, who were absentees in their own social groups, who were nearly always late to something because their calendars didn’t allow for proper prep time for anything. I was working full-time (thank heavens for the insurance that came with it, which is a story for another day) overnights, going to university during the day, and capping it all off with a cutesy part-time job in the evenings. Many days, by the time I was able to lay down and set my alarm for the ‘next day’, a little Android animation would remind me cheerfully that I only had four hours to sleep, if I fell asleep right now. I learned the art of napping, usually grabbing another hour of rest somewhere in the wee hours of the morning between getting off work and going to class, if I hadn’t forgotten to do my homework over my lunch period the night before. And if I were lucky, I could frequently grab an hour nap over my lunch period if I had already done my homework on the bus earlier that day. The weekends brought little to no relief, since most weekends were filled with extracurriculars, and those that were not were often spent spread out on a bed frantically catching up from the week previously.

In short I had become a work junkie, unwilling to admit to anyone at the time how frequently the world around me would slide through my vision with lazy abandon, the fatigue I felt starting to alter my senses. I made doubly certain to never let my boss know how forgetful I was becoming through sleep deprivation. One night it was so pronounced that I had forgotten what she had told me just moments after she started to walk away. She was still so near I could lunge and touch her shoulder, and yet I couldn’t remember a word she had said. I decided in that moment to let her go, and when I was done with my current task (likely after my lunch and nap), that I would feign a normal level of forgetfulness and ask what I was doing next.

Ending that part of my life was like cutting off a feeding tube. I was so dependent on work and working that I heavily considered taking a second job after graduation in order to fill that new void in my life. Maybe if I could work more hours again, I would no longer feel worthless or incapable. I only declined because I realized what an unhealthy addiction it had become, and I had also realized what a toll it had taken on my life in the form of disconnected friendships and general apathy towards both old hobbies and the people around me. I knew that chronic fatigue with little true entertainment wasn’t a lifestyle I really wanted to live out, so I had to give up my abnormal workload in favor of a normal one, even if it left me with too much time to think and worry in any given day.

And now I’m finally finding some space to breathe. I’m starting to relax more thoroughly at home, becoming content in my ways. I’m actually making an attempt at meeting up with a couple friends now and then, and I’m discovering just how much I enjoy having my own quiet little niche in the world. I’m very far from fully content. Most of my free time is still spent in an ever-evolving state of self loathing and disgust at my personal decisions, and frankly my moods when home still lean a little volatile because of it. But I’m relaxing, and each month I find myself becoming calmer and more accepting of free time. I’ve even set aside nearly a full week of me time, free from work obligations and social expectations. Hopefully relaxation is a lesson I can learn to embrace.

 

Live well, friends

Shawna

A Love for Privacy

A quirk, a social trend, an aversion to platforms such as Facebook and twitter. That insecurity I feel as someone knocks at the door, a hesitation to move a muscle for trepidation that my unknown visitor might notice I’m home despite rampant barking. That unwillingness to elaborate on emotional matters or considerations in public – even the internet public, where so many are able to remain faceless – for concern that in a year or two I might just happen to look back and hate myself for the decisions I have made in my comments. The distinct sensation that now that I own my privacy, I need more of it. The flaming rage I feel when someone knowingly encroaches on my home, knocking at the door late at night. The realization that I will need to own more land if I wish to be left totally alone.

I guess I hadn’t realized my internal need for privacy. I knew that I enjoyed anonymity, and that I preferred to remain only lightly biased in social affairs. Even though I disagreed, it lent me comfort to agree with the elderly couple that the best place to meet my future husband would be in the church. It gave me social confidence to agree, nearly blindly, with the moans and complaints of my coworkers. I gained experience in my work by remaining the unknown, completely forgettable, staff member. That is, until the powers that be agreed that my general likeability and handling of people made me a prime candidate for one of their most social and outgoing roles. Now I make rapid decisions based on ever-changing information, often feeling like I’m losing grip on the situation at hand, gaining near constant feedback on my performance from the public and my peers. Often times I make mistakes, both socially and professionally, and am sent reeling with regret and aspirations to play closer to the middle ground next time. Many more times I make okay decisions, and am left with the residue of general content and life security. I’d say I’m averaging about 85% solid choices.

And all of this is so contrary to how I thought I would be. When I was young, I was an engaged social butterfly, always with a large pool of friends, and making more by the day. Contentment came from creating and destroying, taking risks and being bold. If I wasn’t talking, I was always listening, engaged with the lives of others and interested in their experiences. I was happy to share and be shared with, and I owned the mindset that in order for people to trust me with their secrets, I had to be willing to give up some of my own first. And while that is still a sentiment I readily agree with, I’ve never felt so much hesitation to share more than a one line response with the other people who touch my life.

While a love for privacy is no bad thing, hopefully I can encourage myself to live a little more boldly.

 

Live well, friends

Shawna