The Way That I Am

I’ve been asked “why are you like this” in probably every tone that someone can be asked a question in. Through hysterical laughter, in shock, in admonition, with glee, in bewilderment, while holding the confusing gift that I have brought to them unprompted.

There isn’t really an answer. I believe that people are, ultimately, just an accumulation of experiences that interact differently with each strand of their DNA. That’s why people with the same upbringing in the same house can turn out completely differently. This is more of a concept and not an actual ongoing theory – please don’t come at me with science.

Some things about me really have no explanation. Like how I can be steady-handed enough to embroider a maple leaf the size of my thumbnail but also hit myself in the face with my coffee mug hard enough to fear for my front teeth multiple times a week.

I once THREW my phone at the wall while talking to my coworker and neither of us could figure out what happened

Other things probably do have an explanation but I don’t want to get into it because that’s some deep-within-my-psyche business that honestly, who has the time for?

Like how every time my friends have ever tried to subtly set me up with someone by guiding us together, I have immediately:

  • Become fast friends with him
  • Shown absolutely no interest in dating at all
  • Supported and/or actively helped him date someone else
  • Been genuinely confused by the insinuation that there was ever anything between us

Or how if I am personally having a crisis I can go from fine to fetal position like the flip of a switch, but if my friends or family are involved I become a Terrifying Rage Monster that can run for days on end with no sign of slowing.

Or how I can write an entire book but can’t name it, or I stop when there are clearly only a few chapters that are incomplete and it takes me several years to make that final push because once it’s finished, other people will see it.

Some things I do make total sense, like when I screamed like a banshee in a park because two men wouldn’t stop catcalling me

I am less prone to following whims than I used to be. Not because I don’t still have whims, but because sometimes other people don’t cooperate with them and during my brief stint as a person-who-kissed-people-on-the-cheeks far too many people turned their heads at the last second. Also when you’re an adult more of the things you do have real consequences, and you can’t use “I’m fifteen” as an excuse when you’re twenty-five.

When I was a teenager, I somehow became the person that parents (moms specifically, but I also won over a few dads) really loved their children to be around. Because while I was clearly unsupervised and squirrely (one of my favorite words ever used to describe me), I also literally did not get into trouble ever, and it was not because I didn’t get caught. I was (and am) just Extremely Boring.

this is a situation I have actually found myself in on more than one occasion

I am forcefully enthusiastic about things. I once sent a 32-text-long exclamation about how incredible scrunchies are after using one for the first time since I was a child. Whenever I get into a new TV show I will stay up until 3am scrolling through gifs and memes about it online because it is the only way to absorb enough of it to satisfy me. I fall a little bit in love with people every time they are nice to me at all.

In high school, I took a creative writing class (mostly because I kept getting in trouble for writing creatively in other classes), and the first assignment was to write about myself. I excel at this sort of thing because I hate myself more than anyone else on the planet could possibly hate me but I also think I am the absolute greatest. This blog is sort of a testament to that, if you think about it.

Some of my favorite reasons I have been asked “why are you like this?”:

  • I was doing that thing where you hold an absolutely absurd amount of things in one hand while getting out of a vehicle because I needed to evolve in order to accommodate tiny and/or nonexistent pockets.
he said “do you need help?” and I said “no thanks I got it” and he said “why are you like this”
  • Once, while working an overnight with a group of people I had been on a team with for three years – one of whom had recently been VERY vocal about her irritation that she was the only one of us who was ever gassy at work – I dropped into a perfect squat right next to her and let out an absolutely earth-shattering fart with no warning other than saying “hey I have to tell you a secret”
  • I showed someone how to make a tiny origami frog that can jump when you press on it, and upon completion I opened up a small metal box stuffed full of several hundred more of them and dropped it in
  • My friend and I were both asked this when we filled dozens of normal-sized balloons with water, loaded her trampoline with them to the point where it was nearly touching the ground, and then cannonballed into it with our swimsuits on
  • My sister hissed this to me in the middle of the night when we were sharing a bed on a family vacation and I began violently pinwheeling my arms and legs in my sleep. I cannot share beds. It’s not my fault, I am just filled with rage all the time and when I am asleep I am no longer fighting to contain it.

In case you have also been asked “why are you like this”, here are some fun responses! I like to deliver them while smiling with cold dead eyes:

  • Why aren’t you like this?
  • Thank you
  • Debilitating depression and a desperate need for constant validation
  • I was bullied a lot
  • That is a question for someone who knows things
  • If I stop I’ll die immediately

If I had to come up with a singular reason for being The Way That I Am, it would be that I had no plans for being alive as long as I have been. It wasn’t that I thought I was terminally ill or had any reason to believe that I would die, I just simply did not factor life beyond the age of 24 into my plans for growing up. Anything above that seems too old for me to be. How did I get here? I didn’t ask for this. We’ll see how much longer it lasts before my body remembers that there are no plans for it and I simply cease to exist.

How does this explain why I’ve always (more or less) been this way? Easy – when you’re pretty sure you’re just going to be done with the whole “being perceived” thing in what’s ultimately only a few short years, there is no reason to not just do whatever you want. Some people would commit crimes. I am a simple woman and I prefer following whatever half-baked ideas seem the best in the moment (this is dangerous when you have intrusive thoughts. I try to stick to the positive ones).

Since I no longer have as many vaguely-overlapping circles of friends (or, let’s be real, even as many friends at all [being old is so time consuming and I am so tired all the time]), I have had to channel a lot of this energy into other things. Like, instead of going for a walk with a friend at 2:30am, I will instead take up knitting even though I am running out of space to store all of my hobbies.

the answer is no

There is just something so fulfilling about a little unrestrained zestiness. What other way is there to be?


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