Reflections on healing trauma, writing, and books by Tokyo-based memoirist
 
The Threads Bound Up In One Anxious Reaction

The Threads Bound Up In One Anxious Reaction

While meditating this morning, I was hit with a huge wave of anxiety. Just before meditation, I’d commented on a friend’s post and that stressed me out. Did I say something confrontational? Controversial? Was it insulting? Nope, nope, nope.

I regretted going online right before meditating, but that gave me the opportunity to sort through some feelings.

First, it takes me a really long time to build enough trust with someone to tell them what I believe, rather than what I think they want to hear.

However, sometimes I feel morally obligated to speak my opinion and sometimes that opinion is in conflict with what I think people want to hear. There’s tension between what I feel I must say for the greater good and whatever the fall-out might be for me personally.

I said that what I’d written on my friend’s post wasn’t controversial, and it wasn’t. I gave an opinion that might improve her work even though it might challenge how she sees it.

It wasn’t anything big, just an opinion, but it triggered something in me. There are a lot of threads bound up in that anxious reaction, and I could spend days picking it apart.

Here’s another:

When I was a freshman in college, I took a philosophy of logic course. I didn’t even know what philosophy was, back then, but I was curious. For the first few weeks, I couldn’t believe it was an actual class. I thought the teacher was teaching us on a 4th-grade level.

I was not offended by this because I was a lazy college freshman. I couldn’t believe my luck. I aced every quiz and test without cracking a book, inwardly laughing at how silly it all was.

Then, I found out that the other people in the class were struggling. Everyone else was diligently studying the materials. Some of them were even failing. That was one of the first clues I got that I was different.

The problem with knowing this about myself is that I also must accept that no one else knows this about me. No one appreciates it or expects it. People underestimate me a lot. Like, a lot.

This wouldn’t be a big deal, except that I also often don’t feel heard, and I feel like if people didn’t underestimate me so much, they’d be more willing to hear me.

I know that isn’t true. In a world where everyone is trying to get attention and no one wants to give it, it really doesn’t matter how smart you are.

All bets are off in this dystopia, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt my feelings a little bit when I’m ignored, and I’m expecting my comment on my friend’s post to either be dismissed or ignored.

In the past, I’ve gone through, “I don’t give a @#$%,” phases, and, “I’m smarter than you, so you should listen to me,” phases, and, “Watch me prove that I’m better than you,” phases.

Now, I’m going through a different phase. I’m still trying to figure it out, but I think it’s more honest. I’m more vulnerable now, too. I let more out, and I let more in.

So, that happened today. Then, I reassured myself for 30 minutes straight that the world wasn’t going to end, and then I felt fine.

I’ve been working on a reader magnet (which goes by a lot of other names). For some reason, in my head, I like to call it a cootie catcher, like that fortune-telling game that people used to make out of folded paper.

If you’ve never played with a cootie catcher, I suggest you go make one immediately.

What does my reader magnet have to do with cootie catching? Absolutely nothing, except that they’re both reminiscent of traps.

A reader magnet is a freebie that you give away in exchange for an email address. I’m a huge fan of these things. I’ve downloaded more free guides than I could ever read, and I’ve gotten a surprising amount of value out of the ones that I have read.

Well, maybe it isn’t surprising. Because of the pressure to compete on the internet these days, people give away better and better information for free all of the time.

Anyway, I’ve been working on this blog post for a long time, so I must move on.

One comment

  1. One never knows where lessons can come from. Something that’s actually had a BIG impact on me and how I handle giving advice is a bit from Craig Ferguson. “Does this need to be said? Does this need to be said by me? Does this need to be said by me NOW?” He was riffing on avoiding hassles with his wife but it resonated with me. I’ve tried to judge more whether something needs saying vs how badly I want (or need) to say it. It’s helped curb a lot of my bossier impulses. It’s a good tool for me because it shifts my thinking away from my eternal need to be RIGHT all the damn time.

    Q: Do you think you being so tiny contributes to people’s underestimation? Also has living Japan changed this at all? Being a small gorgeous Asian woman in Japan isn’t the unicorn experience it is here, yes?

    My life is still in chaos from without. (Send a harsh ugly thought my ex’s way, please.) Here in my wee house we’re all good. Shifting responsibilities and expectations are discussed calmly. Sebastian is going to be 24 in June and it’s absurd for me to have to leave him a chores list. Not a big shocker if there’s gunk on the floor that you should grab the broom or the swiffer.

    If you’ve ever fretted over our friendship, don’t. For one thing I assume all my friends say things from a place of love so I don’t stew as to what they meant by that, I take it in the nicest, kindest way even if the phrasing is awkward and certainly can sound snarky if read that way. Second – I trust you as I trust few others. Hell, just look at this, I can’t whomp up a blog post but I can write you a novel. I trust you with my words and the me behind them. I know you take me as I am and I truly hope I offer that back to you.

    Hugging you through my keyboard. ~LA

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