My boss keeps telling me that this is my year of personal growth. It takes me by surprise because I don’t ever notice it. I’m with me day to day, and as far as I’m concerned I’m in a fantastic rut that only gets ruttier if it changes at all. In her eyes, I’m adulating better. My time management is even better than before. I’m nicer, apparently. That caught my attention.
“It must be Chelsea.”
I agree that Chelsea is super nice. If any human being was going to take a curmudgeon like me and turn me nice, it would be Chelsea. Except it isn’t. In fact, I kind of hate it when someone attributes what I’m doing to someone else. There was a girl in college who liked to think she was my best friend and also liked to tell people (unsurprisingly, when I was not in earshot) that she was the one who broke me out of my shell.
Freshman year of college was rough. I almost transferred out of Concordia. I decided however, that instead of stewing in my unhappiness that maybe I should give socializing a go. Granted, the level I was at might not be considered actual socializing, but I was the one who decided to be on Student Council. I decided to start making actual friends based off common interests and not convenience. Ironically, I feel I really came into my own and started being happy at college when I STOPPED hanging out with that girl.
(Sorry not sorry, that’s 100% for my best friend Keri.)
But I digress. My boss is right in saying that something has changed about me. In these past few weeks/months, I’ve been actively trying to change, even if I don’t see a difference. It all starts with my Anger Issue.
That sounds like I walk around punching holes in the wall, which makes me giggle. I don’t think of myself as an angry person. In fact, sometimes I worry that I don’t have enough emotion. A couple months ago, I started actually listening to what I was saying. I had to because I kept listening to people at work talk about me. Not in the mean gossipy way, but in a “Marissa will throat punch you,” or “Marissa will beat you up,” sort of way. It got to a point where I heard phrases like that almost once a day, but usually more than that.
I kept thinking, “Where the hell are they getting that idea?” I genuinely worried that they thought I was actually capable of violence—moderately ironic because when faced with confrontation, I’m a doormat. My body completely shuts down and I sort of let what happens happen without fight or saying what I’d like to or should say. So I started listening to myself.
I realized that I have a very violent vocabulary. I don’t know when it happened or if it was a slow progression. My favorite phrases are “I’ll cut you” or “I’ll throat punch you.” I know I used the latter phrase too much when people started saying it to others on my behalf before I’d even decided that I’d wanted to say the phrase. I reacted with anger to things not going right or people failing at their job. I didn’t go into a rage and destroy the office.
But I have this thing where I’d give angry eyes while gritting my teeth and shaking my head like I just couldn’t even fathom what was happening and I was so angry about it. I did this all of the time. The crazy part about it is that while on the outside I looked angered, on the inside I was literally thinking, “I could not give two fucks. Can I go back to my desk now?” Reacting in anger was me being lazy.
I’ve sort of struggled with emotions. I don’t always understand them. A lot of time they are overwhelming and send me into an anxiety spiral. Obviously, I try to avoid that, so I try to avoid them. But I don’t like being perceived as angry either. That’s not me. So, I’ve been working really hard.
Instead of saying I want to harm someone, I take a breath and say, “I’m frustrated that they didn’t do what they should have.” I also say, “I’m upset that I’ll have to take extra time to fix that.” Even better, “That’s disappointing, but it doesn’t really affect what I’m doing so I’m okay.” They sound like I’m reciting lines a therapist has given me, but it’s kind of freeing. Before, I had so many words for being happy. I think I fantasize about being happy, and try to nitpick every possible way to be so. Every negative emotion up until now has mostly been anger. Now, along with mad, I have frustrated, disappointed, hurt, upset, embarrassed, and I’m discovering more.
Some days, I feel like I’m making no change. It’s difficult because things still make me angry. And it’s difficult because I fall back easily into lazy living. Apathy likes to tell me that I shouldn’t work so hard and I should just mindlessly threaten the situation. I already have the stock phrases for that.
However, obviously I’m making some improvement if my boss said something about it. More than that, people have stopped filling in violent phrases for me on my behalf, which is an even better reward. I feel lie real personal growth is happening. Not because of anyone else. Contrary to popular belief, I do actively try to better myself. It’s a slow process, but any change is rooted in my own decisions and not because I’ve absorbed something via diffusion (osmosis is just for water) from another person. People can be my support, but they are not my driving force.