Labels and Sexual Orientation

Pansexuality is a sexual orientation characterized by a potential aesthetic attraction, romantic love and/or sexual desire for anybody, including people who do not fit into the gender binary of male/female implied by bisexual attraction.

The more I meet amazing gender non-binary people and understand more about the gender spectrum (I knew almost nothing about non-binary genders a year ago), the more I realize how little gender affects who I like to be around and who I could potentially fall in love with. Until recently I identified as bisexual because that’s what I felt best described my attractions, but now I think pansexual is more accurate. It’s interesting seeing how my understanding of myself has deepened and changed over the years; for most of my life I thought I was straight, then I was very tentatively bi-curious, then last year I came out officially as bi. Now I’ve been out as bi for almost a year, and I’m realizing it’s no longer the best fitting label.

I love finding out new things about myself. But coming to terms with changing my label yet again took me a little while. When my beliefs officially changed a few years ago, so many major labels changed for me in a seemingly short period of time- Christian to atheist, conservative to mostly liberal (in American politics), Pro Life to Pro Choice, Pro-Traditional Marriage to Pro-LGBTQ rights… People were confused and angry and hurt because I wasn’t the same person to them anymore. Labels meant everything to many of them, and they saw me as having changed “sides” in a culture war instead of simply growing and maturing as an adult. And since I hadn’t felt comfortable confiding these emerging changes to most people because I knew they’d react negatively, all they saw was the end result and not the process.

I was accused of being easily changeable and flighty, even though I had put much thought and time into every one of those changes. I’m not actually easily changeable at all; I’m just open to changing things as my knowledge and experience show me better ways to think or act or identify. But I think that negative association with changing labels stuck with me, and the idea of making yet another change made me hesitant to acknowledge it.

Plus, I’ve gone through SO many changes these past few years I was like “Really?! Another one already? Seriously, this self-growth stuff is exhausting…”

But as with all these many other changes, my curiosity and desire to be the best and most authentic version of myself made it impossible for me to ignore my changing mindset for long. So I’m making it official- I’m pan, not bi. And I’m feeling good about it.

But man, now I have to once again update my bio on my blog and on fet and on Facebook and Pinterest and likely several others too… Meh I’ll get to them all eventually. lol

Dealing with failure.

This is a blog I wrote about a week ago when I was dealing with some really hard stuff. I’m feeling much better now, and I’m ready to share it here in hope that it’ll help someone else. For those who aren’t used to my occasional expressive language, I tend to be blunt when I’m expressing my deeper feelings, so if you want to know what goes on in my head you’ll just have to take me as I am. 🙂

 

Failure. Sometimes we’re just not able to complete a task that we started due to circumstances that are unfortunately out of our control, and that’s ok. Failure means we tried, and we can always try again until we get it right. Most people who accomplish great things have far more failures under their belts than successes. If we reach for the stars and fall short, we’ve still reached higher than those who never try at all. I understand the wisdom in all of this, and I know that I’ll always continue trying. However…

Fuck all that.

Failing at something I worked so hard on feels shitty as hell. Even if I know I did my best and can try again, the fact still remains that I wasn’t able to complete a goal that I set for myself. And it hurts.

I’ve never been a quitter. I usually latch on and keep going until there’s no possible way I can move forward any further. But given the insanity of this past year, I’m being forced to acknowledge that my current mental and emotional state means that I can’t have my usual high expectations of myself.

What I’m failing at is school. I already failed Spanish class this week, and sitting in Music Theory today I realized there’s no way I’m going to pass that class either. I may be able to salvage my Critical Thinking class because it’s very easy and my teacher is so chill, but that’s about it.

Normally being in school wouldn’t be a huge deal. It would be stressful at times, but I’m well versed in pushing through stress. This year, though, my goals were way too lofty. I started out the semester trying to manage a full time course load on top of working part time, dealing with untreated ADD (and who knows what else), enduring massive amounts of situational stress, and so on. I was attempting to learn two complicated languages at the same time (Spanish and Music Theory). I also wasn’t taking the time I needed to recharge and care for my mental health.

Because of this, I was unable to absorb a lot of the material in my classes early in the semester, and I’m still having trouble with it. I feel like I’ve been absent for most of my classes even though my attendance has been excellent. I should have mastered basic Music Theory by now, but I feel like I’ve barely learned anything.

My goal in taking classes isn’t to get marks on a paper, although I do value getting good grades. It was to learn new skills and improve on old ones. If I didn’t learn what I needed to this semester, then even if I somehow passed the class I should really retake it so I build the skills I need. What good is a grade if I still can’t read music afterwards?

And yet, the thought of failing not only one class but most of a semester rips my heart out. I value intelligence and knowledge, and feeling like I’m unable to pursue that side of myself the way I want to right now makes me very upset. I know in my head that focusing on building myself back up will result in a far better school year next year, and that I started the semester with very unrealistic goals, but at the moment it’s hard to see anything but failure.

It frustrates me because nothing I’m learning is beyond my comprehension normally- but this year hasn’t exactly been normal.

I hate the thought of giving up on something that I’ve put so much effort into. I feel like I ought to be able to just push a little harder, just focus a bit more, set aside a little more energy. But apparently I’ve already been giving everything I have, and it’s not enough.

But this isn’t the end. One way or another, I’m not giving up. This semester is a setback and it’s going to take a while for me to work through these emotions, but I won’t let it stop me from reaching my goal of getting into the advanced music program next fall. There’s a slower paced music theory class next semester that my teacher recommended. I think it would be a great option, as long as I only take that and violin lessons so I’m not overloaded. I’ll retake Music Theory as many times as I need to, and I’ll set more realistic goals of what I can handle. I’ll be fairer to myself in setting aside time and resources for things that recharge me.

My mental picture of the life I want to create for myself keeps me going. I’m a damn good musician and vocalist, and I know I’m cut out to make music my career. I’ll make it happen… even if it requires taking every fucking class twice to get there.

Quotes: Mental Health and Overcoming Sh*t

I kinda want to frame some of these. I was compiling this list for myself this week while processing stuff related to my ADD and mental health, and thought I’d share them since I know many of you are dealing with similar things or know people who are. What quotes encourage you?

Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.
Jack Ma

Survival can be summed up in three words – never give up. That’s the heart of it really. Just keep trying.
Bear Grylls

There isn’t anybody out there who doesn’t have a mental health issue, whether it’s depression, anxiety, or how to cope with relationships. Having OCD is not an embarrassment anymore – for me. Just know that there is help and your life could be better if you go out and seek the help.
Howie Mandel

The problem with the stigma around mental health is really about the stories that we tell ourselves as a society. What is normal? That’s just a story that we tell ourselves.
Matthew Quick

We take our kids for physical vaccinations, dental exams, eye checkups. When do we think to take our – our son or daughter for a mental health checkup?
Gordon Smith

If mental illness could be seen on a sufferer maybe society wouldn’t say “just get over it.”
Lonely Lotus

When we deny the story, it define us. When we own the story, we can write a brave new ending.
Brene Brown

Never underestimate the pain of a person, because in all honesty, everyone is struggling. Just some people are better at hiding it than others.

Masquerading as a normal person, day after day, is just exhausting.

The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: ‘me too’.
(YES!! This has been so huge for me, knowing that I’m not the only person who deals with this stuff.)

When someone is going through a storm, your silent presence is more powerful than a million empty words.
Thelma Davis

I am the same person I was before you found out I have a mental disorder.

Your illness does not define you. Your strength and courage does.

From the outside looking in, it’s hard to understand. from the inside looking out, it’s hard to explain.

Do not apologize for crying. Without this emotion, we are only robots.
Elizabeth Gilbert

Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. -Albert Camus

Don’t be ashamed of your story, it will inspire others.

No one would ever say that someone with a broken arm or a broken leg is less than a whole person, but people say that or imply that all the time about people with mental illness.
Elyn Saks

I think the stigma attached to mental illness will disappear just like it did for cancer years ago.
Sally Graham

I fight for my health every day in ways most people don’t understand. I’m not lazy. I’m a warrior.

I am not a victim. No matter what I have been through, I’m still here. I have a history of victory.
Steve Maraboli

The mentally ill frighten and embarrass us. And so we marginalize the people who most need our acceptance. What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation.
Glenn Close

“Your perspective on life comes from the cage you were held captive in.”
― Shannon L. Alder

“i think the idea of a ‘mental health day’ is something completely invented by people who have no clue what it’s like to have bad mental health. the idea that your mind can be aired out in twenty-four hours is kind of like saying heart disease can be cured if you eat the right breakfast cereal. mental health days only exist for people who have the luxury of saying ‘i don’t want to deal with things today’ and then can take the whole day off, while the rest of us are stuck fighting the fights we always fight, with no one really caring one way or another, unless we choose to bring a gun to school or ruin the morning announcements with a suicide.”
― David Levithan, Will Grayson, Will Grayson

I really liked this one in particular.

“Mental illness

People assume you aren’t sick
unless they see the sickness on your skin
like scars forming a map of all the ways you’re hurting.

My heart is a prison of Have you tried?s
Have you tried exercising? Have you tried eating better?
Have you tried not being sad, not being sick?
Have you tried being more like me?
Have you tried shutting up?

Yes, I have tried. Yes, I am still trying,
and yes, I am still sick.

Sometimes monsters are invisible, and
sometimes demons attack you from the inside.
Just because you cannot see the claws and the teeth
does not mean they aren’t ripping through me.
Pain does not need to be seen to be felt.

Telling me there is no problem
won’t solve the problem.

This is not how miracles are born.
This is not how sickness works.”
― Emm Roy, The First Step

Learning to Embrace Vulnerability and Self-Care.

Being vulnerable is hard. And asking for help when we’re feeling vulnerable can be even harder.

I’ve always been the one that’s there for everyone else. And sometimes I would give everything out to others, but not get much back in return. Not that we should help others for what they can do for us, but I didn’t know how ‘recharge my battery’ elsewhere. I didn’t know how to ask for help when I needed it; I only knew how to give and many of them were only able to take. And so I often burned myself out trying to solve everyone else’s problems while ignoring my own. I didn’t know how to be vulnerable.

Give until it hurts.

Ignore your own wants and needs to serve everyone else.

Always help others, but your own needs are a burden that no one wants to deal with.

Having needs makes you unlovable. (This one has been so hard for me.)

These thoughts aren’t healthy. Continual self-sacrifice is not the heroic, courageous ideal that I used to think it was. Of course we need to help each other- but if we destroy ourselves in the process, we’re not really bettering the situation because now we’re broken too. It’s like giving all of your food away to others while wasting away from hunger yourself, and then wondering why you’re too weak to hand out bread anymore.

Care for others. It’s important. But care for yourself too. It’s been said that “Your compassion is lacking if it doesn’t include yourself.” (I think Buddha said this?)

It’s still hard for me to show my weaknesses to others, or to ask for my own needs to be met. It still feels selfish, like I’m being a burden. I’m used to being strong, the one everyone can rely on, the one who always has it all together. I don’t know what to do with myself when it’s me on the other end of the tissue box, other than to write lots and lots of journal blogs to spam your feed with as I process stuff. 😛 Part of me would rather suffer in private where no one can see me, so I can pretend that I’m still super girl- ready to save the world single handedly as usual. But that’s not reality, and I’m tired of wearing so many masks to hide the imperfect human being underneath. It’s not weakness to have needs or to be vulnerable.

https://youtu.be/TA6IA7PEmbQ

By the way, I’m doing fine tonight. This isn’t intended to get messages saying “are you ok?” Not that I don’t appreciate them. 🙂 I’m just musing as usual. Or rambling, that likely fits too. 😛 lol. I suppose this is what happens when you cross a talkative extrovert with a deep-thinking introvert who happens to write for a living.