People tell me I’m strong. I like it when they do because it implies that they have an appreciation of what I have to deal with in my life. I also don’t like it because it makes me feel like a fraud. Sometimes I don’t feel like being strong. Sometimes I break down and can’t see how my life will ever be what I dreamed it would. I haven’t felt very strong lately. There are a few reasons for this.
I did a Brave Thing and asked out the guy I like thirteen days ago (now that I’m counting or anything) and he hasn’t replied. Not only am I hurt and rejected but I also can’t help but feel a bit stupid. I really thought he liked me and not in that way girls usually trick themselves into looking for ‘signs’ and hidden meanings. We got on really well and he used to invite me out with his friends, tease me, help me, always took an interest. I’m as guilty as anyone for over-analysing men (or ‘manalysing’ if you’d prefer) usually just for a bit of a laugh. I’m not an OTT giggly girl who NEEDS to have a boyfriend in order for her life to have meaning. I’m not even someone who is desperate to get married the older they get (although I know a lot of people like that). If anything I’m hopelessly pragmatic when it comes to seriously considering a relationship. I love flirting but actual relationships I take seriously. And when I weighed up everything I knew about him, I thought I was making a good decision with this guy. He can be quite shy and I thought I’d go for it since I no longer work with him and I won’t be seeing him any more. But I got it wrong. And now, ironically, I realise how much I like him and how I miss hanging out with him.
Best Friend and I were asked to organise a conference to be hosted by our university next year. This conference is held at a different university every year, I’ve been to the last three, Best Friend to the last two. We were advised to have a committee to help us. Our committee met for the first time last week. Aside from Best Friend, the rest are girls in their final year of PhD. Most of them are lovely and very helpful. But one has already made it clear that she doesn’t like me. I don’t know whether it’s because I’m ‘new’ and a first year in a position of authority, though I have the most experience. It could be because I’m on such friendly terms with the staff and have contacts throughout the university. There are few parts of uni where I have not worked at some stage over the last five years so I know a lot of people as our staff member on the committee was quick to point out. It could just be because I am the complete opposite of her. She is rich, I am poor. She is serious, I have a pink Little Miss notebook. She is married with her own house and grounds, I am a single girl who still lives at home. Her attitude throughout our meeting made it clear that she thinks I am not someone worth listening to. It didn’t upset me really, more made me think ‘what have I got myself into?’ I have to work with these people for the next six months. I’m only starting my PhD career, I don’t need enemies already. That night I went out with my Toyboy and watched the latest Will Ferrell movie then had a McDonalds. My mood was considerably improved after this.
Saturday night was a big concert with my choir and orchestra. I turned up to soundchecks raring to go but my good intentions quickly evaporated when I discovered that I was sitting in the far corner of the stage. It was actually a separate stage a good foot lower than the rest, added on the end almost as an afterthought. There were no lights or microphones and my two fellow sopranos and I were surrounded by altos. We couldn’t even hear the rest of the choir and could only occasionally see the conductor. This isn’t a big deal except that this is always what happens at concerts. The last three years my friend and I are always put into the back row at the end as if we’re distant relatives that no one wanted to invite to the family wedding so you seat them as far away as possible from everyone else.
The last week or so I have really struggled with my pain levels. Sometimes it seems to operate in weird cycles, like for a while it’ll constantly wake me up in the middle of the night or just appear at a certain time in the day. At the minute, it seems to crop up just after I’ve eaten. On Friday I had lunch with a friend and barely half an hour after I’d finished my pasta I was bent in double over the table with painful spasms. I was already a bit cheesed off at the concert on Saturday then I discovered that I couldn’t eat any of the tea provided for us. It all contained fish, eggs or cheese. My friend ate an egg and onion sandwich and found a bit of shell in it so quickly decided she wasn’t eating any more. Her boyfriend was called on and arrived soon after with some chicken nuggets for us which we scoffed in a darkened room so we wouldn’t get caught. In our usual pre-concert prayer meeting, I felt the familiar twinge of my ovaries deciding they were going to wreck havoc on my body. I spent the twenty minutes before we went on stage alternatively hunched over and pacing, trying distraction techniques to help relax my muscles. The heat patch I slapped on in the interval did no good and by the time I came off stage I was wrecked.
I completely broke down in the dressing room and the tears started. My friend quickly pulled me into a hug and let me cry onto her shoulder. I don’t often cry in public so when I get teary it freaks people out. I just felt so worthless. I was exhausted and couldn’t keep up appearances any more.
Have you ever kept going even though you want to stop? Fueled by the thought that everyone thinks you’re strong so you mustn’t let them down by showing a sign of weakness. I just want to curl up and watch old episodes of Friends until I feel strong again. Right now, I think I need to let myself feel weak for a little bit.