Friendship breakup rambles

I randomly thought about this last night, so I thought I would write about it.

For the most part, I’m not the type of person to have massive fights or end up on bad terms with people. I’ve lost touch with or drifted away from friends, which is normal in life, but not because we have fought or hurt each other. I’ve not spoken to friends for months or even years and then was able to pick right up where we left off, or at least have great conversations and have fun when we do speak or see each other again. We didn’t end up on bad terms and it’s usually not a sudden shift, and it’s always great to hear from each other again. It’s not that I’m not a dramatic person, I’m just not in this area of my life.

But there’s always an exception.

I’m going to keep the details private publicly, even though I know these people will never see this. That might make this kind of frustratingly vague and uninteresting, but I’m writing it anyway.

I was very close friends with someone for years, and virtually overnight, we were no longer friends. We had an exchange that happened over Facebook messaging, of all things, that came as kind of a surprise to me (and in hindsight, it shouldn’t have). It did not end well. I ended up feeling hurt and upset, they ended up feeling hurt and upset, and that was the last time we ever spoke.

We had a mutual friend, also one of my best friends at the time, who kind of glossed over the topic online. But when I spoke to her in person a few months later, she told me I should be the one to reach out to our other friend, even though I wasn’t the one who cut ties. I didn’t think it should have been me. After that day, we spoke normally for a while, but it got to a point where I felt like I was the only one maintaining effort to keep up the friendship or to initiate conversation. We haven’t spoken for a while now, and I can’t help but feel like she chose our other friend’s “side.” I think it wouldn’t be awkward if we bumped into each other randomly, and I hope she feels the same.

Looking back, I’m not going to say I was completely blameless. I think everyone involved–including our mutual friend–could have handled the situation better. I think we could have all been the adults we were and communicated better. It’s fascinating how communication can break down so easily, even between people who you consider your closest friends.

I have so many memories with these people. For the first friend, the one I actually fell out with, I can think of shows and movies we first watched together. I can remember classes we had together. I can remember parties and random hang-outs. I have so many memories from my early twenties tied to this person, to both people, and for a long time, they felt kind of bittersweet. Sometimes they still do.

Even though it’s been years now, I sometimes still think of reaching out. I can’t help it–there’s a part of me that yearns to be liked, that hates being on bad terms with anyone, that wants those memories to be less bittersweet. There’s even a small part of me that wonders if, years later, we could be friends again.

For some strange reason, I actually feel like it would be easier to reach out to the friend I originally fell out with than the mutual friend who ended up drifting away from me. Not logistically–they were notoriously not fond of social media and I suspect that haven’t changed–but emotionally. I almost feel like it would be easier to deal with that situation, where the fact we fell out was clear and where we had such a sudden break from friendship, than to deal with one where I worry I’m imagining things about picking sides and not trying.

Thinking about it now it all feels very dramatic and teenage but the feelings are still real. It still kind of hurts to think about. Friendship is weird. Fights are weird. Time is weird. Your 20’s are weird.

This post is weird.

There’s an imposter among us

First things first, I’m negative for COVID! Yay! As I said in my last post this is what I expected, but still happy to have the confirmation

Now for today’s topic–have you experienced imposter syndrome?

Imposter Syndrome is defined as “is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with impostorism incorrectly attribute their success to luck, or interpret it as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be.”

I have felt like this more and more lately, perhaps as a symptom of the pandemic and of job searching even before the pandemic. Job searching can be a very frustrating and disheartening experience. The more you get turned down, the more you think things like “I only got lucky with the jobs I do have or have had before” or “I’m not as good as this as I thought I was.”

I often have moments of identifying it as imposter syndrome, and then turning around and thinking “but what if I’m actually not competent, and I’m actually not good at this, and acknowledging this as imposter syndrome is misplaced confidence?” In job interviews and sometimes during jobs themselves, I’m often plagued with thoughts that I’m doing everything wrong. Sometimes I hesitate applying to jobs or even to volunteer for things in work situations because I worry in advance I won’t be good enough to do it (there are other reasons for hesitation as well, of course, but I can’t pretend this isn’t one of them.) Even as I write this, I’m pausing and thinking, “but what if I AM not good enough though.”

So what do I do about it?

This is so much easier to do when I experience a similar issue regarding health problems. If I have a day of wondering if I really have a migraine or this is just how everyone feels all the time, all it takes it me waking up the next morning clear headed to think “oh no, THIS is how it feels when you don’t have a migraine.” When my chronic stomach issues act up, I sometimes worry so much that people will think I’m making it up that I start wondering if I AM making it up…and then I’m in pain and it’s a reminder that no, I’m not making this up.

But how do you combat imposter syndrome?

Unable to come up with answers myself, I did what any self respecting person would do in 2021, and googled it. I found a list created by a woman who is an internationally recognized expert on imposter syndrome, and decided to go through it:

Break the silence:” I’m doing that right now.

Separate feelings from fact. There are times you’ll feel stupid. It happens to everyone from time to time. Realize that just because you may feel stupid, doesn’t mean you are:” I feel like this is easier said than done, in a way. I can acknowledge my feelings are irrational, but that doesn’t stop me feeling this way. Especially because I then turn around and think, well what if I AM wrong, or stupid?

Recognize when you should feel fraudulent…Instead of taking your self-doubt as a sign of your ineptness, recognize that it might be a normal response to being on the receiving end of social stereotypes about competence and intelligence:” I think this is common with women especially. There’s a joke I’ve heard about how we should hold ourselves with the confidence of a mediocre white man, and there’s some truth to that. Additionally, I haven’t shared a picture of myself here, but anyone who has seen me will tell you I look young for my age, and I sometimes worry that keeps people from taking me seriously, or I become unsure what people’s expectations for me are.

Accentuate the positive. The good news is being a perfectionist means you care deeply about the quality of your work. The key is to continue to strive for excellence when it matters most, but don’t persevere over routine tasks and forgive yourself when the inevitable mistake happens:” I’ve been trying very hard to work on this. When I write for work, I tell myself it’s a good thing that I take my time, and put work into it and edit over and over until I can say I’m happy with what I put out. And not to beat myself up the times I do make mistakes.

“Develop a healthy response to failure and mistake making:” This is a hard one, but as I have said before, I’m working on it. I just hate dedicating time to things when I feel like I didn’t do them well. This feeling multiplies when I’m applying for jobs, or even deciding what direction I should take work wise, because I don’t want to dedicate so much time and energy to something I may not succeed at, or something I don’t feel passionate about doing. I don’t want to make a mistake in choosing.

“Right the rules. If you’ve been operating under misguided rules like, “I should always know the answer,” or “Never ask for help” start asserting your rights. Recognize that you have just as much right as the next person to be wrong, have an off-day, or ask for assistance:” I have had jobs that basically make me feel guilty for asking for clarification or for help, so this is another I have to work on. I think the hard thing, with lists like this, is this is harder to achieve than it is to say. Should I be writing lists? Should I be convincing myself in the mirror?

Develop a new script. Become consciously aware of the conversation going on in your head when you’re in a situation that triggers your Impostor feelings. This is your internal script:” I might try and write out a chart for doing something like this. Just for me.

Visualize success. Do what professional athletes do. Spend time beforehand picturing yourself making a successful presentation or calmly posing your question in class. It sure beats picturing impending disaster and will help with performance-related stress:” As someone who has danced my whole life, I actually think this is the easiest step. It’s making it happen that’s the hard part!

Reward yourself. Break the cycle of continually seeking °© and then dismissing °© validation outside of yourself by learning to pat yourself on the back:” This is something I have been trying to do, especially with a lack of external validation due to COVID. I have to admit I always feel satisfied when I do get that validation though. The problem is, depending on that validation means that external criticism hits harder.

Fake it ‘til you make it. Now and then we all have to fly by the seat of our pants. Instead of considering “winging it” as proof of your ineptness, learn to do what many high achievers do and view it as a skill. The point of the worn-out phrase, fake it til you make it, still stands: Don’t wait until you feel confident to start putting yourself out there. Courage comes from taking risks. Change your behavior first and allow your confidence to build:” This is absolutely the most difficult part for me. I’m not really a risk taker. I don’t take risks. I’m more likely to take risks physically than I am in any other areas. I’m not very spontaneous, and even planned, calculated risks are very difficult for me. I constantly worry–what if that was the wrong choice? What if I can’t go back? And then: what if all this worrying means I have wasted too much time? And then it goes again.

If you made it this far, thanks. This was a lot of rambling and not a lot of answers or solutions, but sometimes it just feels good to get thoughts in your head down on a page.

I’m working on it.

The history of a woman

March is Women’s History Month. So this is a little piece of the history of a woman.

When she was 32 years old, my grandmother got a hysterectomy without her knowledge or consent.

She had already had three children–my dad and his two siblings. She had been experiencing some issues like pain and leakage, so she went into surgery to fix things up. She was told beforehand she should only have to stay in the hospital to recover for four days. She ended up staying for ten.

In the following months, she realized she wasn’t getting her period, and went to her doctor to check it out. He checked her paperwork, and told her that she had undergone a full hysterectomy. My grandmother was confused as to what that meant–she was an immigrant from Italy, and didn’t speak much English–and when it was explained to her, she was shocked.

During the surgery, they had realized there was too much damage, and so elected to remove the entire uterus. At no point beforehand was my grandmother informed that this was a possibility. At no point during the ten days she was in the hospital recovering was she informed that this had happened. At no point in the time since had she been informed that this had happened. The doctors had decided that since she already had three children, they could not only make the decision for her to perform a full hysterectomy, but not even tell her that it had happened.

For a few months afterwards, my grandmother experienced a depression. While no longer in physical pain, this major surgery had been done without her consent, and that was hard to process. When she told her doctor, he told her to go meet her friends and take a walk and get a coffee. She’d be fine.

When my grandmother and my grandfather went to a lawyer to see if they could press charges, he told them they didn’t have enough money to do so. They were recent immigrants, who didn’t speak much English and had working class jobs. They didn’t have the money, so nothing could be done.

My grandmother is still alive and kicking. She’s relatively healthy for her age. She has her three grown children and four grandchildren. She remained married to my grandfather until his death in 2019. But that doesn’t erase the fact that what was done to her should never had happened.

I’m 29 years old, and I turn 30 in September. I have not given birth to any children, and I do not plan to (I would prefer to adopt or take in children in the future). But if this happened to me without my knowledge or consent, I would still be horrified. And on the flipside, I know that there are people with uteruses who ask their doctor for years to get a hysterectomy, due to either health problems or pain or due to transition, but get denied because they’re young, because they might want kids later, because they might change their mind.

What happened to my grandmother happened in 1971, and it’s easy to say that this was a product of its time, and would never happen now. Or that at least if it happens now, its rare, and would blow up social media if shared. But if it happened to my grandmother, how many women could this have happened to? How many Canadians, how many immigrants, how many women all over the world could tell a similar story, right down to the fact that they could do nothing about it in the end?

March is Women’s History Month. And this is a little piece of the history of a woman.

One Year

A year ago today, me and one of my close friends went to the Royal Ontario Museum to check out some of the new special exhibits. It was a pretty busy day with lots of people, and we bought tickets to both the special exhibits and took our time going through, even with the crowds. After the museum we headed to eat at a place neither of us had been to yet. We shared pizza and dessert, and vowed to check out the build your own cannoli stand next time we came. We chatted about how work was going and future plans and movies coming out. We hugged goodbye after dinner and headed to our respective homes.

Ten days later, a state of emergency was declared in Toronto due to COVID-19.

Since then, I have yet to return to one of my jobs. The other was on and off during 2020, and then mostly off, so I applied to another one. I haven’t seen the friend I went with in person since our museum trip because she moved to another city with her fiance this summer. I sent her a reminder that it had been a year today, and we texted about how much things had changed and wondered about when we will get to see each other in person again.

This is not the conversation I expected us to be having at this time when we were hugging goodbye a year ago. Even if she had still moved, which I knew she had been thinking about, I would have visited already. We would have been talking about events we had attended together, new work achievements, new gossip. Hopefully a year from now, that’s the conversation we will be having.

It’s been weird spending a year in a global pandemic. I know everyone’s experience has been different. I’ve been very lucky in a lot of ways, since I haven’t been sick myself and no one in my immediate family or friend group has been sick or passed away. I haven’t had to worry about paying for rent. I don’t live alone. I haven’t seen a lot of people, but I have seen one or two friends in person, and most of my immediate family.

It’s been weird because it feels like so much has changed, but also nothing has changed at all. I have written before about how I have felt kind of stuck and I know I am not the only one. It’s hard to make plans for After Pandemic when nothing can move forward but ALSO when you don’t know how things will be done differently. It both gives me time to think about what I went to do next with my life, and frustration because I don’t know how to accomplish what I want in this environment or when I can or should start doing things. It’s a very strange feeling.

I want 2021 to be better than 2020. Obviously, some of that is out of my control. I can’t control government rules or when the vaccines get delivered to me. But I just want to say, by the end of the year, by a year from now, that I’m going where I want to be going. That I got to see my more of my friends in person. That it was still a strange year, but a better strange year.

So here’s to one year, and here’s to 2021.

I don’t know what this is

I struggled a bit in writing this. Is it too personal? Is it too depressing? Does anyone even care? Does everyone feel this way and I’m over reacting? Are these just first world problems and I sound whiny and spoiled? But in the end I needed to get it out, so here I am.

We have gone into another lockdown, meaning only leaving the house for essential purposes. This honestly doesn’t change how I’m living my life much. I was working from home, I wasn’t exactly meeting up with friends or going to the gym or doing much of anything. So why does it feel like it does?

I think because by this point I wanted to have it more together. Well I wanted it all to be over, but by fall last year I knew that was a pipe dream. But I wanted to have it more together. I wanted to have a more solid routine and I wanted to be more productive. I wanted to stop feeling sad.

This isn’t me saying I’m sad all the time, I’m not. I have friends and family that make me happy and make me laugh. I have interests and I have music and entertainment. I live in a warm house and I don’t have to worry about rent. But I feel, for lack of a better word, like I’m failing.

I haven’t picked up any new skill. I thought I would find something I wanted to dedicate myself to learning, but the truth is almost everything I wanted to do is something that isn’t possible right now. I desperately miss dance classes and acro classes and the ability to pick up any active things I wanted to do. I don’t have the space to do the kind of dance or exercise I would like to do, and have only certain pockets of time to do what I DO have space to do, and then I get disappointed in myself the times that I don’t take the chance to do it. I know I am privileged to be able to take classes or do any of these things in the first place, but that doesn’t mean I miss it any less.

But it’s not just that. It’s not just me being sad that I can’t go to a concert or travel or take a dance class or do a lot of the things I like to do. I just feel like everything has been at a standstill. Yes, it’s comforting in a way that it’s been that way for most people, but the truth is before COVID I felt like I was at a bit of a crossroads. By the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020, I was struggling with the fact that I felt that even though I enjoyed the jobs I was doing, there was no space for growth. It was a long time coming, but after being very sick at the end of 2019, it finally felt like the time to actually do something about it. I considered a few options. I considered going back to school to get another Masters degree or to get a PhD, but while I love learning, I didn’t have anything I was feeling passionate enough about to commit to doing. None of the programs spoke to me. So I started job searching, which as anyone who has done so knows, is a frustrating process. But I applied and applied and applied. I was even considering applying for jobs outside the city, even outside the country. This is a big deal for me, someone who has never moved to another city for work or school, never even studied abroad like my brother did. Even taking a summer job in NYC or LA or wherever would be a big deal, and I was looking into it. It would be an opportunity for something new.

And then COVID hit.

Like many, I felt completely rocked off centre. What would this mean for me and my future plans? What would I do? How long would this last? I think the last question was the hardest to deal with. How do you make future plans, especially as an anxious person like myself, when you don’t even know when those plans COULD start? As time went on, I just felt more lost, more off centre, more unsure, more like I was running out of time for something. Even as I talked to friends, or as I got a work-from-home job, or as vaccines started arriving in Canada.

Last night, I sent something I wrote for work to a friend, and she said she sent it to her friends, and I burst into tears. And it was then I decided I needed to write this down somewhere. This isn’t all of it, it’s not everything. I don’t know if I’ll share everything. But my name is Sabrina, and sometimes I feel like I’m failing both at something I never expected to happen and at something I did. I know that if someone else said the same thing to me, I would tell them they were doing just fine. But it’s a lot harder to convince yourself.

I can’t wait for the day I can safely travel or go to a concert or go to a dance class. But even when I can do all those things, where do I go from there? And how do I figure that out right now?

Even writing all this out, I feel like I’m just throwing a temper tantrum like I did when I was three. I feel like I’m just in my own way and can’t figure out how to get out of it. I feel like there’s something obvious I am missing that I should be doing but don’t know what that could be. Maybe it will hit me the minute I press “publish,” maybe things will get clearer now that I’ve said out loud (kind of) what I’m feeling.

And maybe not.