One of the hardest things about growing up for me has been coming to the realization that what I thought I wanted in life was not actually what I needed or even desired.
I don’t think I dive into my past enough to claim that I understand where certain patterns and behaviours come from, but in growing up I’ve developed a curiosity as to why I am the way that I am. I’ve been encouraged to look for similarities in others and to realize that while my experiences may feel normal to me, they might not be the healthiest experiences and it is my responsibility to remove myself from them. Simply put, I’m understanding the importance of Mental Health and I’m beginning to understand the complexity of my relationships with others.
The past two weeks have been particularly eventful for me, especially in the sense that I feel like I’ve taken some major steps into breaking patterns and thought processes I’ve struggled with my entire life. Things that I thought were small, like anxiety whenever a friend doesn’t respond to me after a few days and why I get frustrated so easily, where that comes from and why I need to start managing it now. In actual reality, I feel like I’m identifying the root of some of these problems and how far they stem out.
I could say “if you knew anything about me, you would know that I’m a musician” but in actual reality, it doesn’t really matter if you know that fact about me or not. I’ve been thinking a lot about changing even those perspectives on life.
Recently I had a conversation with a close member of my family where they complained that another family member should have known that they would wash a spoon after using it to eat out of a communal meal because they always kept their apartment spotless; and in hearing this fact, I realized a social behaviour that I shared with this person. I expect that the people close to me should know everything about me when in reality we don’t even know everything about someone even if they live in the same house as you for years.
Now, I’m not saying that it’s petty to feel bad that someone doesn’t know a fact about you, especially if you feel like it’s an important quality about you; but even if the person you’re talking to doesn’t know a fact about your life, it doesn’t mean they don’t care about you and for some reason that can be hard to accept. For me, music has been one of those weird obsessions in my life. I absolutely love music. I’m always reminded about how I started playing music when I was young and how I would sit in the church basement composing music on some shitty music notation program. I was reminded about how blessed I was to be able to pick up instruments very quickly and that my talent was a gift from god and that I have to be grateful for it every day.
But what I remember is the frustration sitting in the church basement, trying to write on a program that was so limited that I had to put it down. I remember trying to learn the piano on a keyboard that didn’t have a pedal, hardly had volume settings and being yelled at by a piano teacher who said I was never going to be able to learn because I had ADHD. Thinking, “No, I don’t have ADHD, I’m just tired of being taught by a prick who doesn’t give a fuck about their students.” You know I was out of those classes as soon as the first round was done.
I remember wanting to try other things but being told that they weren’t as worth it. I was recently reminded how much I loved stationary and always wanted to try out new writing utensils because certain pens just didn’t feel right in my hand. Given, I have huge hands and there’s no way my hand is going to be comfortable after holding one of those slender BIC pens for hours of taking notes. My interest in stationary was quickly shut down with a “this is cheaper” answer, which was also backed up by a “cheaper is better because you have to save for more important things.”
Listen, I understand that mentality. Cheaper can be better because you have to save money for more important things, but sometimes trying something different than the norm or spending something on what you really enjoy makes a big difference.
I remember having a knock-off mechanical pencil break in class and me getting frustrated with pencils always breaking, knowing that it was because they were cheap. But I was again convinced that “cheaper is better because you have to save for more important things.” And again, that was the way things were, not putting two and two together that some things are worth spending in.
The same individual who reminded me that I loved stationary also reminded me that the products I was asking for weren’t that much more expensive. They were still within the $1-2 range but came with fewer pencils or pens. In reality, not a big deal, right?
After a few years of frustrations, a classmate next to me noticed. They asked me if I wanted to borrow one of their mechanical pencils and I thanked them, receiving a husky mechanical pencil that sat adequately in my hand. The deskmate let me borrow the pencil for a few months before I asked to purchase it off them. It was access to a utensil that felt right, but they reluctantly said no because their parents wouldn’t let them sell things at school. Whether that’s an excuse or not doesn’t matter, but it’s funny how things like that are so big with children.
The utensil issue extended for things in my art classes. For example, I had no clue that there were so many different types of watercolours out there. Like, who knew there were watercolour crayons or watercolour pencils? But, I never got the opportunity to explore that side of me because utensils, styles and such weren’t actively encouraged. While the financial cost was a factor as to why they weren’t encouraged there were other comments made, such as “it’s not about what utensil you use, it’s how you use it” and “you should only use expensive art supplies on special occasions, like homework and exams. Again, understandable mentality when I was growing up, but I’m coming to realize that it wasn’t a healthy mentality.
Being financially responsible is an important trait to teach your children, but at the end of the day, it’s equally as important to teach kids that it’s important to spend money on things that are important to them because they matter. It doesn’t matter if it’s coming from a teacher, a parent or a friend, there’s an importance to knowing that if you feel you need something, you should find a way to get it.
I feel like the mentality that I should save money was too ingrained into me and what I failed to comprehend was the fact that what I was asking for, or trying to get (when I was still financially monitored) wasn’t even that expensive. Of course, everything has to do with circumstance and I’m extremely grateful for what I was provided, but I think it’s so important to also realize that things could always have been better. Not regretting the things that have happened or blaming people for everything, but coming to terms that in order to become healthy you must unpack some of the shit from the past.
The idea of “financial responsibility” helped limit my perspective on life. It made me think that certain aspects of me weren’t worth exploring or were a waste of time. Children’s books were a waste of time. Rollerblades are too expensive. Video games should come from Cereal Boxes. Frozen food is cheaper than home-cooked meals. These all added up to, nothing is worth trying at all. Except for music. It seemed to be the one thing that was encouraged, which is so messed up to think about.
Because when I didn’t get into college for music and decided to get a theatre degree, which ended up taking me on the most fucked up journey of my life: I felt my whole life crumble to pieces. I felt like I was being projected on a journey that I didn’t want to take, but because my whole life had been set up that way (in a way) I couldn’t stop running in that direction and when it came to complete halt, luckily by choice, my body didn’t know what to do.
Something that was expressed to me as I was exploring these realizations was that I needed to look at “the arts” as one of the aspects of me, instead of “the main aspect of things.” I could have had so many skills if I had been given access to them. Again, it’s not to put blame on anyone, but its to realize that I can still explore and learn. And I have learned and explored. I learned all about animals and fell in love with my little fur family. I’ve learned how to cook and have a small passion for foods and spices. I’ve been learning about the body and how nutrition works. I’ve been learning about physiology and how to ensure that my body stays strong and healthy. I’ve been learning about Psychology and how to live a much more conscientious life. And most importantly, I’ve discovered the love for having writing utensils and stationery that help me relax and feel at ease.
I’ve come to terms that I stressed myself out for so long chasing one aspect of me that wasn’t the whole me. I love music, it’s important to me, but it’s not all of me. So if you don’t know that I’m a musician, it doesn’t matter because it’s not who I am. And if I couldn’t realize that a huge part of me was physically writing or drawing, there’s no way in hells name I can get mad at you for not noticing something huge about me.