Everything I write is opinion.
Everything everyone writes is opinion.
Even facts are facts as I perceive and process them.
I’m looking out of a window of a Starbuck’s café, staring fairly intently at my white Toyota Camry Hybrid while not looking down at the screen or keys. I can do that because I had several semesters of typing instruction in 9th grade. I took the home keys fairly seriously. No, that’s not true. I took the grade assigned to my work in class seriously. To be entirely honest, I needed to be perfect…or as close to perfect as I could get. This is a fact for as long as I can remember. I have, stuck into my high school senior year book as a dysfunctional-nostalgic (call it “dystalgic”) bookmark of sorts, the one report card I saved from my entire life. On that report card, in the grid for third quarter marks, with just the word “Math” immediately to the left, is the only C I’ve ever earned in my life.
That…is the report card I saved.
Not the nearly 4.0 cumulative card for all of high school.
Not the nearly 4.0 cumulative card for all of my undergraduate work.
Not the perfect 4.0 cumulative card for my graduate degree.
Not those, but the singular C I received in 6th grade. For the third quarter. The cumulative math grade for that year was an A, because I made damn sure of it.
I’m not bragging.
I spent so many years chasing perfection.
I allocated not one second to defining “perfection,” not even a single, fleeting thought as to why the number 100 mattered so much.
To this day I find myself massively concerned with what others think of me, with how I “stack up” against the opinions of the various communities in which I’ve been accepted, or at least tolerated.
I seek acceptance. I need validation. Accolade is like a drug, a substance on which I rely, behaviorally and, when the psychology becomes immensely toxic, physically. Indeed, I’ve made myself sick with anxiety, worry, panic, angst, and self-dissatisfaction.
It’s been here for as long as I can remember, yet I cannot remember why it’s there…and even THAT works into my tendency toward self-flagellation because I can’t make myself better fast enough or completely enough. I can’t figure me out. Can’t fix me.
Funny that, because I approach my entire calling as a speech/language therapist with counseling-inspired, individual-centered, relationship-based, culturally-informed values. I’ve shed the medical model, which was trained vehemently into me, and now [try to] approach every human I serve as a perfectly valid and beautiful being. My goal is not to repair but to support individuals in their pursuit of love, happiness, self-acceptance, independence, and success in whichever manners they decide.
But when I look in the mirror, so often I only see a broken human who needs to be fixed. But I can’t fix me, and that makes me further disappointed.
And, as I’ve learned from doctors and other healthcare professionals, it’s dangerous. It might not kill me tomorrow, or ever…but the consistent intensity of the fight-or-flight nervous system is setting me up for a progressively worse quality of life moving forward. Spiritually and emotionally, it ain’t so good either.
So, it’s important, perhaps critical, that I inhabit endeavors that help reduce anxiety while increasing my present focus and ability to experience the world with clarity, calm, understanding, and forgiveness. To put it very simply…I must increase love and decrease that which is not love.
Everything I just presented to you is the truth as I understand it.
However, as the words tumble out of my brain, through my fingers, onto this page, influenced by my current sensory environment…needing to pee while seated in an air conditioned coffee shop with a lovely cup of single origin to my left and Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks in my ears but wanting to get these words out and not break the flow…they are immediately and indelibly rendered as fiction. Based on a true story, for certain…but presented through the lens of my brain.
My immediate reality is your third, perhaps second person experience.
Your immediate reality might align with my prediction of how you’ll process this, but likely not.
Each human brain perceives the world similarly, as we are all human, but not precisely so, since each human brain develops as a unique functional experimental case study. I’d venture to write that each brain, at the micro level, functions quite differently. Like a fingerprint, except with almost infinitely more complexity.
I appreciate that you’ve taken me in, allowed me to reside in your brain for a little while, and shared some of your being with me in return. Consciousness is a tricky thing, as slippery as faith and malleable as belief. But it’s what we have here, so let’s use it to increase love…and decrease that which is not love.
If we’re writing the stories of our individual and collective lives, might as well give them happy endings.