Friday, July 12, 2013

De-Hermitizing: Lessons in Thoughtful Patience + Acceptance

My family has developed a habit of half-jokingly saying that I live in my room, only coming out to eat and use the bathroom. After my realization earlier, I've moved my computer downstairs (because that's the reason I was holed up in my room all the time).

I used to value my privacy and the silence of my room, but that was a trade-off for getting irritable and snapping at my nieces and nephews whenever they raised their voices "too loudly" or were annoying me in the slightest way possible.

As you can probably tell, that didn't go over very well, and after it was pointed out to me what I was doing, I've done my best to think before I lash out, and to remember that first and foremost, my nieces and nephews are wonderful people.

I try to remind myself that I should be working on accepting them as they are personality-wise, rather than trying to cram them into a pre-conceived box (unsuccessfully, I might add) of what I think kids should act like (at least around me when I'm in my bubble).

I should add that my nieces and nephews are all generally great kids, not "problem children" or what-have-you. Of course, they're not saints and are wonderfully human, I'm just pointing out that it's not really through any fault of theirs that I get annoyed. Also, I do enjoy hanging out with them when I'm not in my "zone," and just overall I love them lots; insert string of heart emoticons here.

Patience School
So now I'm in the kids' school-room (decommissioned as such for summer vacation), either working away diligently or snickering at funny pictures on Facebook. They have their own computer in there that they like to play games on and such, so I do have to grow accustomed to them talking, laughing, clicking with the mouse, and the sound effects emitted by their games.

But I've already noticed that I've gotten better at "training" myself to snap at others less, especially since making it a point to be patient and consider, "Is this truly a grating disturbance, or can I continue working/watching music videos on Youtube without letting it get to me?"

Your turn to share:
Do you have anything you're struggling at being patient with? Or do you have any advice on how to practice becoming more patient in other situations, around kids or otherwise?

Monday, July 8, 2013

A More Personal Story: Ripping It Up

Hey, everyone. This blog started out as just a place to share my time volunteering in Beijing in general--my thoughts and experiences while there. I didn't expect that much would come of it; maybe it would just be a nice way to keep folks back home informed of what I was up to.

Then some things happened that shook me up, namely that I started really questioning what value I was bringing to the world, what I would be doing with my life, what I was doing with my life now. Actually, that kind of internal questioning has been going on for a while... the last five months, and then some, as in for the last three years.

Depression and Self-worth
I grew extremely depressed during middle-school, and it's stayed with me even now, when I'm in my early 20's. Although I am doing better now in terms of coping, I still often struggle with it.

Along with my depression came questioning of my own self-worth as a person--to the point where recently, I wondered what good I was if I didn't have an income (which I don't), or was contributing to society in a meaningful way (which I don't feel I am).

Something Must Change
When I realized I felt that I wasn't worth anything good if I wasn't working and financially independent from my parents, I knew something had to change. Because I believe that everyone is worthy as a person, no matter if they're a multi-billionaire or homeless on the streets. We all  have our own stories that have made us who we are and who we will become. But what good is that belief if I can't apply it to myself?

...Even if that Change is Slow in Coming
That's not to say that I've miraculously gained amazing self-confidence and can honestly say I love myself whole-heartedly. Because that would be a lie. After realizing how deep my lack of self-worth truly runs, I feel broken open. It's a revelation for me, because I thought I was doing pretty well. I laugh with my family, I joke with my friends. I've been called witty and a good-humored person. But now I see that it's all been an act--an all-too-successful one, as I managed to fool even myself into thinking that I was okay.

I want to change. I want to become a person who feels that she's worthy of happiness and love, and furthermore who's willing to go out and look for it around her.

I read a lot of blogs about self-development and entrepreneurship, both subjects that fascinate me. But I've realized that I haven't once, in three years of reading them, applied their advice, tips and tricks to my life. What good is all the knowledge in the world if I'm too scared of potential disasters--and even potential success--to apply it?

I want to be Happy
I believe that's not such a selfish end to seek. As a struggling Christian, I want to reach Heaven and see God's face, hear Him tell me, "You did good." As a person, I want to be able to put genuine smiles on other people's faces. And as me, just myself, I want to love and accept myself for who I am, cracks and bruises and all, a work in progress. I want to not hate myself. I want to change the voice in my head that's constantly playing, like a terrible, brainwashing broken record: "You suck. Everyone hates you. What good are you?"

And I don't just want to keep it to myself. I want to be able to contribute to the world in a meaningful way--I want to be remembered for positive contributions, not forgotten immediately and remembered regretfully in passing as, for example, a girl with a lot of potential but no guts or good deeds to back it up.

I'm tired of acting happy and put-together all the time. I'm tired of being afraid of what people will think of me when I say, "I have depression," or "I feel like I've been set-back life-wise today,"--because honestly, if they're not willing to even try to see past my surface faults to the real, live, flesh-and-blood-and-heart-and-soul person that is ME, they're part of the problem I'm facing, not part of the healing process.

This blog is probably going to be less about volunteering and take a turn towards the real me... what I'm feeling, the good and the bad. How I'm coping with it (or not). My hopes, and what I'm doing to work towards making them a reality, even if it's in baby-step increments.

Because I'm tired of lying in the dirt and allowing myself to beat myself down.

I'm scared, quite honestly. I'm scared of hitting the "publish" button for this post. I'm scared that I will fail at becoming someone others can rely on and trust and love.

But I also know that I'm close to breaking. That if I don't say this now, I might never say it at all, and continue living out a pleasing (to others) masquerade.

I'm going to try.

I won't have all the answers right away.

I will have days I want to give up.

I will have days when I feel on top of the world.

And I will be learning about how to help myself grow as a person... and hopefully be able to help others as a result of that learning.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Out and About in Beijing: Thoughts

Photo by Ronnie Macdonald on Flickr, used via Creative Commons license.

I've been thinking a lot lately about my time in Beijing... rather, the time I've spent in my sister's house in Beijing, rather than out in the city proper. That time far exceeds the time spent in the city, and after talking with a good friend of mine, I realized what a great opportunity I've been missing out on. And I have no one to blame but myself and my anxieties.

What if I get lost?

What if I get pickpocketed?

What if I get mugged?

I'm scared about going out into a strange city by myself!

Total Control over Life= Illusion

All of these are legitimate fears, of course, but if I stay alert and prepared (phone with my sister's number, extra cash, etc), I think I will have done all I can about those fears. I can't control every outcome of my life. Do I want to stay huddled up indoors, scared of my own shadow, and not take a chance on an adventure?

I mean, seriously. Girl from a college town in Texas gets to go to China... not once, but twice. Doesn't learn any Chinese the first time, doesn't try to explore the city, either. The second time is a second chance. Will she bomb that chance, too?

Helpful e-book to the rescue!

So I've been reading this e-book Serena sent me the first time I came over to China. It's called The Beijing Newcomer's Guide, written by an expat who's lived over here for about two years (at the time of the writing of the book, that is). And it's incredibly helpful... it has tips on how to navigate the bus system and how to buy groceries, for instance. There are little anecdotes of the writer's experiences here as a newcomer, herself, and most helpful are the basic Chinese phrases she included.

Along with that information and good ol' common sense, I feel a lot more prepared to go out into the city, now. I'd want to take the bus or the subway, especially because it's a busy time for my family and they're fully utilizing the drivers that they hire due to Beijing's driving laws.

Know Where to Go

Now I'll want to research places I might actually want to go to. I remember learning about an English-language bookstore or library somewhere... that's definitely high on my list. I'll also want to check out events that may be going on in the future, as well. I'll keep you guys updated on what I find out!

Your Turn!
Do you have anything you're nervous about? Do you have any tips on how to forge on through that anxiety to do what you really want to do? Share in the comments.