Growing up with an emotionally unstable mother, I developed a strong preference for planning and control from a young age. By eight, I knew I wanted to be a psychologist to help others. By middle school I planned out the one college I wanted to go to to escape my family. Now, as an adult, I am one of the least spontaneous people I know. I plan almost every day out by the hour; I once had a near-breakdown in undergrad when I thought I had lost my planner. A friend who I’m kinda on pause with once characterized me as “regimented” on her blog, a word that Google defines as “very strictly organized or controlled,” which fits me embarrassingly well.

This desire for control and planning emerged the other week when I ranted to my therapist about my typical life conundrums: men, friends, the men who date my friends, etc.

“I know this is really dramatic, because I’m really dramatic,” I told my therapist, “but I wish I was in a different world. I wish I was in a world where the patriarchy was destroyed, heteronormativity was abolished, and also men were dateable and friends didn’t dump everything for the men they dated.”

“That’s how you fight these systems,” my therapist said at one point. “By being you, by living as who you are, unapologetically. Which you do.”

Um, okay, I thought to myself, that’s a cute sentiment or whatever, but the patriarchy is still here right now. Also, men as a collective are mediocre, friendship is undervalued, the wedding industrial complex reigns supreme –

“I guess,” I said, after a long pause. “But it’s like, I’m up against the literal wedding industrial complex, and weddings originated like 300 years ago as a way to make women subservient to men, and now it’s dressed up in rainbows so that queers can be dependent on romantic partners too, and oh my god if I end up dependent on a man like [name of ex-friend redacted] I’d rather cut off my left a-”

The session continued like this, me ranting about my despair at both the state of the world and my life, my therapist encouraging me to see my resilience and perseverance through all my struggles, me internally rolling my eyes and thinking ok yeah so I survived my abusive family, I’ve gotten over every man who’s disappointed me, so what, the world is still a heteronormative dumpster fire and the fire isn’t even a cute color like my hair, it’s a vomit-colored dumpster fire and in those flames I see millions of dollars spent on weddings and zero dollars spent on friendships. I left the session feeling heard by my therapist though still bleak about life at large.

At some point later that day though, I think during a therapy session with one of my therapy clients, I started to feel better, by reflecting more on how things can change even if we cannot control how it happens. I remembered how during my sophomore year of undergrad I went through a devastating friend breakup and felt like I had wasted my whole college career, only to then meet Bri and other iconic friends who furthered my compassion and social justice leanings. I did not plan it to happen that way and yet it worked out, with a little bit of effort from me and a lot of luck and good timing from the universe too.

getting my roots colored 2020 hehe

I got my roots redone early last week and took a during and after pic! As a kid I wanted to color my hair blond or brown but who knew I would grow up, reject white beauty ideals and internalized whiteness and go red instead. My hair is pretty dark naturally so I have to bleach it whenever I get it re-colored, just like I’ve bleached emotionally constipated men out of my life.

I further felt hopeless because of one of the friend breakups I went through in late 2019. When reflecting on this friendship, I caught myself in a negative catastrophizing thought cycle of like, well, if all my friends are eventually going to marry and become dependent on a man, I might as well not have hope about future friendships. But then in an office at my internship in DC, I reread some sections of Let’s Take the Long Way Home, an iconic friendship memoir about Gail Caldwell’s friendship with my favorite writer Caroline Knapp, and I realized that these two best friends met when one of them was in her 30s and the other was in her 40s, both single and sharing a passion for writing and their dogs. So, who knows, while I love the close friends I have right now, maybe another will emerge later on.

And, in an odd twist of fate, for like a week, I had a kind of crush on another guy, the first one since AWLOB. It’s pretty much definitely not gonna work out because of circumstances beyond my control, and yet, I actually felt desire beyond my general and ever-present desire for the destruction of the white supremacist patriarchy for a man. This guy is like the hottest guy ever and he’s funny and sweet and he might be reading this post which is awkward. But the guy is actually irrelevant: what’s relevant is that I thought that AWLOB who lol I literally never even met was the last guy I would ever feel some kinda way about, and yet, I actually felt some kinda way about this new guy. So even though it’s not gonna work out with this new guy romantically and I’m letting myself feel sad about that, maybe someday it’ll work out with another guy, and if not, I’ll just keep being iconic without a man which would honestly be a dream come true too.

To sum up a long blog post: I’m 24. Even though I want to plan and have some control over what will come my way, who the heck even knows. I’m living aligned with my values, I’m honoring my self-worth through cherishing my close friends, and I’m dancing to “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored” everywhere I go, a song which my past self definitely did not anticipate, both the song itself and my love for it. I’m 24 and in this moment I’m okay, or at least somewhat okay, with not knowing what will come next.

How do you cope with not knowing what will come next in life? If you’re someone who’s more spontaneous and not control-oriented, how does that even feel (because I cannot relate at all)? Is my obsession with “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored” the reason I keep developing crushes on guys who I think should break up with their boyfriends because I’m bored (though I’m not actually bored because I occupy myself with activities that align with my values)? General feelings or reactions? Until next post!



Filed under Personal

8 responses to “24

  1. Thomas – I wish you didn’t have to learn these planning skills at such an early age and for the reasons you had to learn them. I have lots of admiration for your strength and resilience. *hugs*

    I’m kinda in the middle. I do have a to do list but there are days when I (inadvertently) ignore them. When I travel, I like to read up on the countries I am going to, the city I’m living in, the transit systems, etc… I think the knowledge allows me to be more spontaneous and not waste my time.

    • Thank you Matt so much for always commending and validating my strength and resilience, it means a lot! That makes sense re: being in the middle in terms of planning. I like that idea that some pre-planning allows you to be more spontaneous, which mixes both that planning and spontaneity side.

  2. Wow. This post hit me hard. In the past week, I’ve had a “fling” with someone, and said fling will not be sustained for reasons out of my control (analogous to post AWLOB boy). I don’t know what will happen next, I’m slightly terrified of the cost of my spontaneity, and yet I am also aware that the people my spontaneity brings into my life — if even for fleeting seconds — change my perspective greatly. In this particular case, the fling introduced me to phenomenal therapists, and so even if I will be hurting for a while, I also know I will be happier and healing also.

    • So appreciate this nuanced perspective Valerie! I hope that no matter what happens with the guy you’re able to honor your own boundaries and your agency in this situation. Glad you’re recognizing that whatever this brings, you can also seek out healing and ways to regain happiness for yourself. I’m sending warmth and solidarity for your journey.

  3. x.w.

    Hi Thomas,
    I really like reading about how you wanted to become a therapist. I also love the fact that you have a planner. I prefer them over digital ones 😀 I thought about the matter of control and my conversations with a friend lately, and then I realized that everyone of us have something they wanna control.
    For example, my friend N this week told me how frustrated she was when seeing the issue of xenophobia. It makes her angry. And she said she probably wouldn’t wanna travel for a long time. For me, the issue is, I was always afraid the person I was dating is going to lie or cheat. I know it is a trauma from my childhood, but i used to think, “if someone ever lie to me, it’s gonna destroy me”. I used to read every article I see about lying, and trying to develop a skill of “telling the lie”. And I failed. Truth is people are bad at detecting lies. And it’s exhausting to be afraid of that . Well, that’s my thing about control.
    I think I’m getting better in recent years as I’m trying to learn more about trust and all kinds of relationships in general.
    Have to say that I can’t help laughing when I see your story about having a new crush. it’s fun! I am a feminist but I allow myself to have a crush at anytime. Liking a person doesn’t mean you will make bad choices. Also listening to the songs you like is good for you too! I watch rom-coms and had a laugh. I know how silly and unreal these are. 😀

    can totally understand her, but I feel like

    • Aw there’s so much here that’s relatable Xin, thank you for sharing it all! Yes, I think a lot of us have different neuroses and things that we have issues trusting or reconciling with, and it’s interesting to think about how that manifests for each of us. I appreciate you sharing your story with coming to terms with how it’s exhausting to always monitor whether someone is lying. I hope you are in the process of making peace with how being cautious can be protective and helpful, and at the same time always being skeptical comes with its downsides too.

      And I’m glad that my new crush makes you laugh! Lol honestly we’ll see if anything comes out of that, I’m doubtful but who knows and who knows what and/or who the future will bring. I’m sending a lot of warmth your way, thank you for being an iconic blog commenter and e-friendd!

  4. I’ve been called inflexible and all sorts of things but it’s OK to be a planner! The world needs us! I mean, I probably have the same reasons for it as you do and I have got a *bit* more spontaneous as I’ve got older. And I’m quite good at taking on changes during long runs and stuff. But the world does divide into planners and non-planners, it seems!

    In music news, I had an ear-worm of “Call me Maybe” in my head for practically all of my long run today. Arghh! I mean, it’s a good song, but.

    • Aw thank you Liz for validating my planning side, I appreciate having a fellow less spontaneous person who occasionally delves into spontaneity! Omg “Call Me Maybe” is quite the oldie but it was a catchy song from what I remember. Also I’m going to talk to this guy who lives in London over the weekend and him being in London reminds me of you, yay for iconic people living in the UK. Grateful for your comment and thoughtfulness as always.

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