Writing Your Autobiography to Understand Your Inner World

note: I had written this originally for Introvert, Dear, but I don’t believe they plan to publish it. In any case, I felt it was still worthy of being out in the world.

When I declare myself an introvert, people are shocked. “You?!” In their interrobang, I hear but you’re so opinionated/loud/funny/good with customers. What they don’t know is that once I go home from work, I can barely speak, or move, or even think, from all of the overstimulation of the day. I have anxiety. I have depression. I have introversion.

And while I don’t think so much of those things as diseases or “bad,” I do spend many days wishing I was “normal”, or an extrovert. How great would it be if that coworker I’ve been talking to for weeks about books asked me to hang out, and I could say “Yes! I’d love to!” instead of “Yes, I’d love to, but I’m so ‘busy’ this week!” If I didn’t have to cancel established plans with established friends who I love, or didn’t have to be afraid of seeing people I know at the grocery store or the library. Thank god I moved across the country!I think often. Now there are much fewer people to run into!

Introversion is being on low battery no matter how much I charge up. It’s being happy during experiences, but being nervous and having self-esteem attacks before and after. It’s clinging on to my boyfriend so tight, that even I wonder how he can breathe. It’s being afraid to explore the endless possibilities in life that would be open to me if I could only unfurl and uncurl myself a little looser. It’s pushing my own boundaries so hard, I don’t have time or patience for those who ask me to push harder. It’s not speaking up for myself at work or school or in life. It’s taking a toll on my relationships with family. Taking a toll on my health. Taking a toll on me.

Recently i started journaling more heavily. I have been writing or journaling in some form or another since childhood – for twenty years I have been an examiner of the universe through writing. And recently, I have turned the examination lens inward.Who am I? Why am I? How can I change, how can I grow, and how can I stay true to my introverted needs while simultaneously letting the sun shine on my face?

For starters, I must continue to look inward every day. It might seem counterproductive for an introvert to look further inward, but here me out here. One of the questions I asked above was, Why am i? In order to figure out the answer to this question, I went back. Way back to 27 years ago, to be exact. I began journaling not just about the present, but about the past. I have been journaling my autobiography, and I really must insist that you do this too, if you have any inkling that it might work for you.

  1. Write down your date of birth, and then number the page with the ages you have lived through. 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on. Make sure to leave enough space to write a paragraph for each age.
  2. Obviously, the first few years of your life (and maybe others) won’t be available for recollection. That’s okay. Just write down “the facts.” For example, I know I was born blue, with a heart condition, and had to be moved to another hospital for life-saving surgery. My parents were very young. I was their first child. And so on. As you get into ages 5, 6, and beyond, you will find that the very act of writing jogs your memory. This space is just for bullet points, or the bare bones. You will remember even more eventually.
  3. Once you have your outline, go back to age one (though I guess you could start from anywhere, I personally think it best to go in chronological order). Now write your life not in bullet points or half sentences, but in full sentences, maybe paragraphs and paragraphs. Let it all out on the page.
  4. Repeat  this for every age. Take breaks. Split up the ages between days and weeks. Don’t burn yourself out. Also you will probably find yourself remembering new piece to the puzzle at random. This is great. Your brain is unblocking itself and allowing itself to open up, even if it is only to you.
  5. Eventually you will start to see a pattern about what excites you, what scares you, what has happened to you, and what has happened that was in your control. You must examine your own mistakes as well as the mistakes of others. It may not be pretty, but it will change the way you see certain things.
  6. Write about other things too. Just journal every day, no matter what about. It is really, really healthy and good.
  7. Once you are caught up to the age you are now (I still have not caught up and I’ve been doing this for months), make it your mission to keep your journal up to date with new happenings and examinations. You don’t want to have to play catch-up again when you are 100 (if you are blessed or cursed to live that long).

Through journaling this way I have learned so much about myself, my friends, and especially my family. It has encouraged me to think more deeply about people’s actions and words, as well as choose my own more carefully. And I have begun to form a plan to follow after I graduate with my Masters degree in May. A plan to live my best life, introversion be damned. I intend to achieve my dreams, or die trying. But don’t take this the wrong way – I don’t desire or expect to give up the introversion that has made me, me (nor do I think there is or should be a “cure”). I only desire to continue to use introversion to see inside myself and learn what I must do in order to thrive.

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are you a mother fucker?

Music often moves me to tears, as do books, movies, memories, all of it. I am a sentimental bitch. I am (and I recognize this is not something to be entirely proud of) eternally reaching out toward’s Gatsby’s green light, coveting moments that did not exist, except in my own sentimentality. I have always been sensitive, always bearing the burden of emotions both micro and macro. It is something I have come to accept as my cross to bear – what is often perceived as weakness is actually a huge strength called empathy, and the desire to make a change. I truly believe the more we stand up, the less we can get knocked down. Little people can make a big difference, there is strength in numbers, and things can change.

Kesha’s strength in what has had to have been the hardest moments in her own life, moments that seemed like they would never end, moments of despair that no doubt have inspired in her a dark alleyway of thoughts – she has come through, still fighting, only harder. She has come through and turned darkness into the most beautiful light of color, a Rainbow.

Buffy Summers once said, “I may be dead, but I’m still pretty,” after rising back from the grave to  defeat those who called themselves the victors prematurely. Kesha is her own slayer, telling the world it ain’t over… and I am so proud.

the autobiography project

It might seem silly when I tell you to “write your autobiography.” You’re not famous, you don’t feel worthy, you don’t think anyone would care, or just plain simply, you don’t think you need to or even want to for yourself. But you should! One day your memories won’t be so sharp. They’re already starting to fade. As it is, we make up so much of our memories anyway. It’s better to get the ones you remember out now rather than keep them inside until they shape-shift, warp, and disappear.

I keep a diary, but I’m not always “good” at it. It’s not organized. It’s not about my day or even about significant life events. There are redundant entries and lists and notes about lectures or events on reading and writing. Just a place really for me to dump my thoughts. But a few years back, when I had some free time on my hands after college, I decided to write it all out, chronologically, by age/grade, starting with birth.  I want to remember my life, both the agony and the ecstasy.  What started out as a few bullet points per year now has all of my memories racing at me at once. i can barely write down the outline before the next bullet is hitting, and as i write each sentence from the bullet point, things get clearer and clearer, until i am facing the past and moving forward wth my future at the same time. handwriting it is making it more personal, and now it will be in my diary forever. I also now have the opportunity to see patterns, and learn from the past, as well as see the direction I am heading in the future.

I never want anyone to read my diaries. They showcase the good, the bad, and especially the ugly. They are all mine, but they are sacred to me, no matter how messy or muted my life is, I have a place to explore it, and I want to put it to good use. In addition, I freewrite, use journal prompts… etc. I spend hours exploring the internet looking at diaries and bullet journals and art journals and planners, and I will probably never share more than a page or two once every few years of mine. But that’s okay. I like my journal the way she is. Unpredictable, like me.

something i wrote a year ago today…

Being yourself is one of the most courageous ways to live. If you think it’s hard being yourself and there is no way you can do it, think about how much pressure you put on yourself every time you pretend to be something you’re not.

On the TVLand show Younger, Liza is a forty year old woman pretending to be twenty six so she can have her dream job, her dream boyfriend, and a “second chance” at life. Yet even though she now has the job, the man, and the life she dreamed of, she feels like a fraud. Not only does she have to lie every day to the outside world, but now she has friends and a lover she can only be so real with.

It is so hard to feel like a fraud. To feel like you are nothing, you’re ugly, you’re stupid, you’re just pretending to be something you’re not. For so many of us, myself included a lot of the time, looking in the mirror is a chore. Depression, anxiety, and Impostor Syndrome are real things. You don’t feel connected to yourself or the world around you. And even if you remember that the times you’ve been the happiest were the times you let go, accepted yourself, and lived harmoniously, you just can’t shake off the insecurities.

I think the first step is opening your eyes to realizing that everyone can be captured by these feelings and thoughts even if just for a moment. Even the most confident, gorgeous person in the world, someone who literally glows from within, can wake up and feel ugly sometimes. It’s so easy to throw yourself under the bus. It’s like when you see the same friend every day, and maybe their quirks become irksome – you inhabit your own body and mind 24/7 and you can irk yourself. But it’s important to remember:

No one else can ever be you. You are loved. You have something to offer this world. You can do this. You are beautiful, and smart, and kind, and most importantly, you are unique. A fingerprint that cannot be replicated.

Don’t let yourself get too down.

an invitation

INVITATION by Shel Silverstein

If you are a dreamer, come in
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er. a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
If you’re a pretender, come sit by the fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

I am a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer and a pretender. Because I am a writer. I was born a writer, I will die a writer. I am also a person who likes deadlines, and to-do lists, and unambiguity. So I have given myself a deadline for my first essay collection (I have eight possible essay collections, five retellings, eleven original novels, some short fiction, children’s stories, three spec scripts, and many ideas that have not fully formed yet planned…)which I will self-publish on kindle. And I will be attempting to chronicle my journey along the way while I finish my Master’s,  and finish the essay collection, and there will be more posting about the personal on this blog as well. My writerly journey is personal, but I am excited to share it with you. If you would like to tell me what you want to know more about, I will be happy to share with you. Please email kil1thewaitress@hotmail.com with any suggestions, comments, questions, concerns.

 

Things that might come up –

Bookseller musings, Writer musings, reader musings, my coffee recipe, francophilia (both james franco and france), smoker musings, team jess musings, art musings, sexuality, yoga, portland…. and anything you suggest that i truly feel i can write about.

 

 

we are okay – nina lacour

we were miraculous
we were beach creatures
we had treasures in our pockets and each other on our skin

p 113 we are okay

Ever since I read The Disenchantments, I have loved Nina Lacour for her honest and vivid depictions of young girls in love, and in friendship. I love her so much that I cannot pick a favorite Nina book, because they are all unique and beautiful in their own way, even from each other. The first few pages of We Are Okay did not grip me, but once I got into the flow – I am glad I stuck around because We Are Okay is no exception to my previous statements.

I could not put this book down. As the story of Marin and her grandfather, (and Marin and Mabel) unfolded, I was heartbroken and hopeful all at once. The plot centers around Marin and Mabel as they reunite in Marin’s desolate dorm after the heart shattering death of her grandfather.

When Lacour writes about Mabel’s family, she brings them to life. They are not merely characters on a page, especially Ana, who was my favorite character. She is a mother and artist who Nina gives life to through vivid descriptions of art – Ana’s own black canvases with silk waves, tattered butterfly photographs, and Frieda Kahlo’s work described intermittently in high detail, perhaps this was my favorite…

If you have ever wanted to read Nina’s work, or if you have, but not all of it, then pick up a book today, get some chocolate and your favorite beverage, and curl up on the couch in your sweatpants. You’re about to begin an amazing night in.

Core.

The past week has been a blur, a fog, an endless night. But not a lovely starry night. A dark stain on the fabric of humanity. My heart is broken. But the show must go on. I vow to keep fighting, and keep fighting the only way I know how. I will continue to read. I have been reading more and more diversely, and vow to keep going in that direction. I will support writers of color, all genders, and races. I will read more women than men. I will give an ear to marginalized voices. I will write diversely, and educatedly, as well. I never have felt comfortable writing male characters. I will learn how to do that, but I will also hone my skills as a writer who writes about women. I will focus now more than ever on my dreams and goals because when us women individually achieve our goals, in the end we will all be closer to achieving our global goals. I will write even when it feels like no one is reading. I will submit my writing even when it doesn’t feel like the solicitation is for me. I will write in my journal and on my blog and in my virtual classroom. And I will wow the fuck out of myself and others, both longtime fans and those who have never met me. And I will champion you. My friend the filmmaker/yogi/barista. My friend who is looking forward to a career in social work. My friend who is going for her law degree. Women all around the world I don’t know, but who are doing extraordinary and great things.

I have been MIA from this blog because of work and school. But I cannot be MIA from my own life anymore. This blog is important to me because it gives me a voice. I will be posting more book reviews, as this is primarily a book blog. But I will also be posting essays, opinions, my voice. I will be using this as my platform to speak my mind. The middle of my journey towards getting my Masters degree has been rough. I have a lot of pressure on my shoulders from my job, my government, my family, my school, myself. I have been more about pleasing others, but it is time to please myself. So I have been putting school first, because I want to finish and walk away with my head held high and a new degree on my shoulders. I prioritized my job second because it gives me the means to eat food and pay rent, even when I hate the work and don’t have money left over to pay other necessary bills, let alone fun. I try to give enough time to my family and friends, to prove that I am “good,” a “good daughter,” a “good friend,” a “good sister,” a “good daughter-in-law.” But in prioritizing all of these things that make up a facet of myself, I left out my love of writing, and my love of French, and my love of independence.

My path has changed many times, but whenever I get back on track I always have the same thoughts in mind. It is no mistake that the best grade I got in one of my classes this semester was on an essay on Music and Literature informing each other. This is something I love to write about, and will write about here on this blog. It is no mistake that a story that has been floating around in my head but was never good enough to sit down and write is finally coming together, with France as the glue, after I recently vowed to myself to get a Teaching English as a Foreign Language Certificate so that I could teach English in France.

We all have a core, and while many things about us change and grow over time, our core is always our essence, always guiding us. Listen to your core and let it guide you.

Thank you for reading.