Of Personal Legends & Love

I know, right? Two posts in two days? That be crazy talk.

Warning: deep thoughts & rambling.

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I had a crazy night last night, and not in the typical college “go wild and blackout” crazy. It was simply emotional, confusing, relieving, and heartbreaking all at the same time. Nothing even happened. I was just thinking, and then all of this came up.

Expectations are rough to overcome. You constantly feel like you’re not good enough and that you have to try harder and harder (infinitely) to please people, whether that be others or yourself. They’re also so limiting, because you’ll only do what’s expected of you, and one day you might look back on your life and realize that you’re not where you wanted to be.

I suppose that’s where I am now–somewhere I don’t want to be. As a senior, I often catch myself reminiscing on the past three years, and they’re great memories that I hold dear. But at the same time, it feels like I’ve boxed myself in within the limits of expectations: I won’t do this, I only do that, these are my friends, I can’t meet new people, etc. As much as I love my friends (omg I love them so much), part of me is saying, “Well, how about other kids on campus?”

It feels like I’ve become comfortable with the people I met freshman year, the people with whom I feel safe. But I haven’t stepped out of that haven because why should I? I’m happy here, people love me, and I know I belong, but outside of that place, who knows if it’ll be the same? Why should I try something new if I’ve already got everything I wanted right here?

The part that scares me the most is that I do want more than what I have. I’m so blessed to have these friends, and I’m ashamed to be unsettled with where I am.

Let me clarify that I’m not trying to be a new person or redefine myself: in contrast, I’m trying to be who I am, and meet new people at the same time. I gave up on the “create new identity” protocol a while ago when I realized it’s kind of impossible.

So that was the first thing I’ve been reflecting on.

The second is the idea of trust. Who do I trust with the deepest problems of my life? For most, it’s a few close friends or family members, and I’m no different… I think. Out of my basketful of issues & secrets, there’s a handful or two that I don’t mind sharing with most people because they’re about the past. There’s another handful of things I’ll tell a select few, and even another (small) handful that maybe one or two people are privy to. But is there more in that basket? I don’t know. Maybe I haven’t self-reflected recently to know.

But take those deep secrets I have about myself, things that I don’t want anyone to know about me because they’re dirty and wrong and weird and shameful. Take those, and who would I trust with them?

The more important thing here, though, is that when someone trusts you, there is love. No matter what they tell you about themselves, they trust you to 1) not tell anyone else (usually) and 2) still care about them. Most of the time, those two things are pretty easy to do.

Okay, Syd, cut to the chase already. Okay, okay, sorry!

When someone tells me something so deep inside of themselves, I find myself sometimes overwhelmed. I’ve had a problem with empathy in the past, where I would take everyone’s problems as my own to the point of feeling (a large fraction of) the same pain/rejection/sadness/guilt/temptation/etc they felt. It was almost natural to share their burden, too, because I could automatically imagine how they felt.

I’ve since learned to control that, though, because in the past it (among other things) drove me into depression. But last night I was put in a situation where I felt so overwhelmed and hurting because a friend was hurting. I hadn’t before realized the pain this friend was experiencing, and while they were confiding in me, I found myself thinking back to all the times I felt the same way, even though it was a different situation altogether.

So right now, I feel so sad. I feel guilty for not recognizing this person’s pain before and being there when they needed it; I feel ashamed that I assumed so much to begin with; I feel inadequate because I don’t know what to do to help; but most of all, I just feel sad, because I love this person dearly and wish they didn’t have to experience the feelings they’re feeling.

I know it’s not my fault, and I know it’s not my “responsibility” to “fix” their problems–which is impossible for anyone to do, by the way. But I wanted to empty my heart and mind of all the swirling emotions.

I know that my friend’s situation will improve, even if they don’t believe so. In the meantime, I know that all I can do is be here to listen and to give hugs, and although I wish I could do more, I have to realize that it’s not my role in this play. All I can do is love, and maybe that’s all we need in the first place.

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