It's 5:30 in the morning right now and I can't go back to sleep. Sam woke me up about two hours ago to have me look at a knife cut he gave himself while doing dishes yesterday. He thought it was infected. It wasn't. I made him take Tylenol and put him back to sleep, and he now lies next to me snoring grossly.
I've been tossing and turning for a long while, trying to get back to sleep and, failing that, trying to figure out why I can't. And I realized it's not because it's dangerously boiling under the covers because Sam is his own central heating system; nor is it because I have "I'm a Believer" by the Monkees playing over and over in my head; nor is it because my stomach is acting like I haven't eaten in days.
It's because I'm having a bit of an identity crisis right now (although maybe I'll need to eat breakfast early...and possibly put a hit out on whichever of those musical apes decided to write that obnoxious song). I'm trying to figure out how exactly I portray myself to others, and also to what extent it matters. Not that this is anything new, rather that my life's worry has recently culminated in this obsessive and frustrating concern over how I appear to others.
There have been a few incidents in my life that have taught me that I need to be the best person I can so that when I exit a person's life, they won't have any reason to be really glad of it. But you can't please everyone. About a week and a half ago I found out that my actions in a brief and seemingly unimportant (but apparently very momentous for some others) incident a couple of years ago may have completely altered my career plans, and at the very least, destroyed my confidence in some of the people I admired.
I realize that's a super vague statement. However, the fact that I've hashed out the scenario a trillion times in my mind and several more out loud to people who'll listen makes me rather want to avoid doing it again.
But telling the story isn't really the point of this post. It's more about why I can't figure out to what extent we need to worry about how our actions effect others. Sam is kind of the epitome of not caring what people think of you. He is kind of a duck, and everyone's opinion of all the little things he does-- annoying, bold, whatever-- just roll right off his back like water.
Apparently I'm more like a sponge. I remember everything anyone has every said to me about things I've done that may have bothered people or been insensitive, or whatever.
Like when I was 15 and my Young Women's teacher was having a baby shower and I asked (maybe not in the best tone), "do we have to go?" I was really asking because I had a band thing that day and I was afraid of overlap, but it sounded rude, and I could tell she was offended. Or like the time on a school field trip when I was bored out of my skull and asked the people in the car with me kind of a personal question, unaware that it was kind of a sensitive issue for someone in the car with me.
So maybe the issue here is that I'm often just clueless and stupid. Or maybe my behavior has always been just mild enough that I've never needed to be reprimanded, and I therefore think I can get away with having a bit of an attitude, or acting on any number of the other quirks I have. Unfortunately...people don't know me as well as I think they do, because I'm typically kind of a private person, unless we're very close already, so acting fully myself around some people is apparently a bad idea.
But on top of that, misunderstandings happen. And sometimes people are crazy and totally blow things out of proportion. Just because I have to be told twice doesn't mean I'm going to take criticism personally and get revenge. What??
Ok, I'm starting to bore myself, so I'll be plain. Here's the problem I'm trying to sort out (there are a few parts): how do we trust the people around us to gently point out when we've done something to offend them so we can reverse the damage before it's two years after the fact and the kept grudge has festered and grown and is now keeping you from going to certain graduate schools or participating in certain really awesome work experience opportunities? And when those people are people we admire, how do we know they won't betray us or at least not stand up for us when faced with critical (and potentially crazy or overly angry) people? And most importantly, how can we repair the damage if we were stupid or careless or more focused on making conversation or making people laugh or whatever else?
People almost never tell me what they think of me. And since no one has ever tried to punch me in the face, I assumed people just liked me. Now I'm starting to feel like that assumption isn't true, and that scares me.
Also, I'm apparently going to have to take up a new/weird hobby because I will either not be going to grad school for a year, or not be going at all. Suggestions?