Dear 18 Year-Old Christen,
First of all, good job with the sunscreen. KEEP IT UP. You won’t regret that and all the girls who showed up to prom tan look like handbags now.
I feel like I need to quickly assure you that your life is going to be great. It looks almost completely different than what you’re imagining right now (some of your timelines and expectations are, to be blunt, fucking bonkers) but it’s really the best and you are happier than you thought you would be. You go through some wild stuff to get to this point, but it’s worth it.
I don’t want to give too much away, but please, please listen to your instincts when it comes to…pretty much everything. People are going to tell you you’re doing a lot of things “wrong” and it’s tempting to listen to them. But your path and your life are different from anyone else’s. Don’t settle and don’t talk yourself into doing what everyone thinks would be best. They may seem like they have it all figured out, and although they mean well, they have their own shit to figure out and are putting their neuroses on you. You’re doing just great and every mistake you make leads to this life you’re living right now.
You could stand to drink more water, though. Maybe work on that a little.
38 Year-Old Christen
PS You’re going to wake up this morning with a zit. DUDE I KNOW.
Number of People in the Last Six Days Who Have Asked Me About My Reproductive Plans/Status in the Last Six Days: 4
Of Those People, The Number That Were My Husband: 0
Of Those People, The Number That Were My Husband’s Boss: 1
Number of People Who Wanted To Know What the Damn Problem Is: 3
Of Those People, The Number That Were My Husband’s Boss: 0, Blessedly
Number of People in the Last Six Days Who Have Called Me “Weird” or “Creepy” for Saying I Do Enjoy Children, Despite Not Being a Mother: 1
Number of Times in the Last Six Days I’ve Been Tempted to Bail on Society Because, Seriously, This is Bullshit: Lost Count
In the event that you find yourself helping out at a 10 year old boy’s birthday party:
- Watching a documentary series on the American mafia will absolutely get you in the right frame of mind. I was in a “take no shit” mood the moment I stepped on the scene and those little animals could sense I had zero qualms about smashing any of their faces into a wall if they disrespected me.
- Febreeze will help the smell of FEET that your car will instantly absorb after five minutes of three rain-dampened, stinky little boys chilling in the backseat. Or you can set fire to the car*. Whichever is more convenient.
- Beer. Just… ugh, who even cares? It’s not like they’ve listened to you all night. They wouldn’t notice if you started shooting up.
- Whose idea was it to take these heathens bowling? A nice idea in theory, to be sure: get them out of the house, pizza, a structured activity that will ideally wear them out. On the other hand: we just handed them weapons to fling at each other. Aces.
- Take a minute to look at that big kid. He’s playing and joking around with his friends and looking so grown-up. When did he get so damn funny? Soon he won’t want or need you at his party. Sit back and watch him laugh and be the very best little guy you could have hoped for.
*AFTER the kids have exited the vehicle. I’m not a monster.
We’re still allowed to wish people a happy new year, right? I figure you have a week and then it’s just weird.
I’m not a big “new year, new me!” person but I am relishing this feeling of a fresh start. While wearing real pants was a bit of a shock to the system (Christen + Leggings 4Eva), being back at work is actually comforting. I crushed it today and have been whipping projects into shape. I spent much of last week getting shit together at home although there’s still work to be done. But the general feeling that everything is chaotic and overwhelming has passed. There’s such pressure to hit the ground running with a renewed sense of energy and as much as I want to – and can be – peppy and hyper-efficient, there’s something to be said for taking it easy on myself. Luckily everyone around me is dragging ass right now so I look like the Energizer Bunny by comparison. Small victories!
Speaking of “works in progress,” I am committing to some better self-care in the coming months because I’m useless to everyone around me if I’m a ball of anxiety constantly on the verge of flipping out. It’s not fair to anyone and it’s not a healthy, happy way to live. I’m not naive enough to think I can be happy at all times, but there’s a better ratio than the one I’m currently living. I know that much.
It’s also not entirely fair for me to tell 2015 to fuck off because, while the last quarter or so was a dumpster fire, much of the year was really lovely. Also, we saw The Force Awakens which reinforced my love of Han Solo (he and Captain von Trapp are two of my first crushes which says A LOT about my dating history, which could also be classified as a dumpster fire from 1994 to, oh, 2009) and any year where we get some sweet, sweet Star Wars action is a good one.
I’ve been on a bit of a roll posting-wise so let’s keep this going! And in keeping with the downer theme of the week, here we go:
- In addition to not feeling great physically (although considerably better than earlier this week) and a little fragile psychologically, I’ve noticed I’m slightly more sensitive, too. I cried during a WalMart commercial of all things; Ed thinks my heart might finally be growing three sizes after years of atrophy but I suspect a brain tumor.
- As a semi-pro shopper who relishes gifting lovely things to those around her I am straight-up out of ideas this year for Christmas presents. I mean, things have been purchased. Nice things! But I feel like I’m basically just running errands for people as opposed to delighting them with something fun or whimsical or thoughtful. I don’t like to just buy stuff for the sake of buying stuff or I’d be set, so this is posing a bit of a dilemma. All the usual gift list ideas are either repeats or just not that inspiring. Any help here is appreciated.
- I’m trying to temper my expectations of holiday cheer and fun with our families this year. Every year I turn into Clark Griswold, all high on Christmas spirit (OK, eggnog) and invariably am let down because no one appreciates the effort and can even pretend to have fun. There’s pouting and guilt trips and lots of “I guess that would be OK” and that’s from the people over 60, not the teenagers. I’m also already exhausted by the whirlwind of travel and activity involved in dealing with all four sets separately this year. While I don’t miss living in Chico, I do miss being able to round up at least three quarters of the troops in one convenient location so I could be treated horribly in the comfort of my own home.
- I’m really impressed that the manicure I got last week has lasted so well. Legit Christmas miracle happening over here, kids.
- Being sick meant I laid off the coffee for a few days and now when I try to drink it I don’t care for it. What is going on? I’m really curious to see if my decades-long love affair with coffee is coming to an end.
Alrighty, let’s see if I can gather up the energy to wrap some gifts, maybe try to order a few more gifts, and get myself out of this funk.
A cold medicine-induced post about anxiety. Here we go!
In addition to sneezing my head off and coughing so hard that I vomit, I’m currently in the middle of a little…anxiety spiral? I guess? An “episode” feels a little bit much, but I don’t know what to call this. As you can imagine, this is incredibly convenient during the holidays when you’re expected to be social or juggle multiple commitments or handle crowds. It’s a real chicken-egg situation: I can’t tell if it rears its ugly head because the holidays require precise management of expectations and schedules or if having to deal with four sets of parents and friends short-circuits my brain, but here we are. It sucks. I feel completely useless and to anyone who hasn’t experienced this it just seems like I’m scattered and cranky and lazy. I spend a lot of my time saying, “I forgot” and “I’m sorry” and all of my organizational skills and coping mechanisms are shot to hell. It takes a lot of concentration to make a to do list, which helps settle my mind and calm me down a bit. It also chills out the part of my brain that’s telling me that unloading the dishwasher is such an insurmountable task.
I see people on social media post pictures of folded laundry or list off chores they finished and quip, “I’m adulting!” and I always bristle. First of all, “adult” as a verb is annoying as hell and we need to cool it. Second, for a decent chunk of the population, it IS hard to get three things finished in a day because leaving the house or making a call is a challenge. Maybe not every day all the time, but it’s there. I get that it’s meant to be a light-hearted, self-deprecating thing, but on the days when I’m having trouble calling my mom back because I know I can’t fake being happy and so she’ll worry so then I put off calling her back even longer but then that makes her worry even more. It’s tiring at best and at worst damaging to my relationships.
The hardest part of this is trying to explain it to people without freaking them out or pushing them away. (I’m sure writing a blog post about it is a great way to avoid that!) It’s the ultimate It’s not you, it’s me and it feels so hollow and lame. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by people who don’t give up on me, but at some point it’s going to be tiresome, right? There are people starving in this world and I can’t keep my act together? I have so much to be grateful for – and I am – but it’s hard to break the cycle of negative talk. So I lean on the good people around me a little more and hope that I can repay the favor when I’m doing better.