Writing Prompt: In what way are you strong?

I am the type of person who regularly needs to be reminded of my strengths. I need nearly constant praise and I’m not ashamed to ask for it outright. One of the ways that my last therapist got to know me (and other patients) was by asking what my strengths were. I had to look at her list of words to find mine.

Recently, I’ve been filling out a lot of job applications and writing a lot of resumes. The part that I always struggle with is writing down what I’m good at. This feels strange for me, because I’m enthusiastic about finding other people’s strengths and telling them what they are. But for some reason, looking at my own strengths is harder.

Here’s my list from therapy:
Compassionate
Loyal
Enthusiastic
Hard worker
Smart
Resourceful
Passionate
Honest

That’s a pretty decent list, but it took a lot of prompting from her and a lot of hemming and hawing from me to come up with it. I’m really good at thinking of one instance where I wasn’t something and deciding that means I’m not ever that thing. Like, once I lied and told a guy that I didn’t have any more cigarettes so that I wouldn’t have to give him one, so obviously I’m not compassionate OR honest. But I’m also pretty good at looking at my negative thoughts about myself and pretending that one of my friends are saying them. I can look at that thought and say to myself, “If Tori Lynn said that about herself you’d slap her silly and tell her that that makes no sense and then you’d buy her coffee.” Whether that actually helps or not depends mostly on my mood.

The end-goal of this prompt for me was to look at the question “Why do so many people struggle to see their own strengths?” I’m not sure I can answer that, but I know I can talk about why I struggle with it.

When I look at myself, I can see the internal struggle happening every time I have the option to be one thing or another. When I see somebody having a hard time with their groceries, I have the option to help them and slightly inconvenience myself, or I can ignore them and go about my business. I have to think about it. I have to weight the pros and cons and make a decision. Most of the time, I decide to help them. Anybody on the outside would see that and say that “helpful” is one of my strengths. But if I’m looking at it, I know that I had to think about the situation before I made a choice. That doesn’t seem genuinely helpful to me, which, in my mind, translates into “not actually helpful.”

If my friend were to explain that to me, exactly the same way I just did, I’d nope at them. I’d say, “But you chose to be helpful. You made the conscious decision to be helpful. That’s probably a better definition of helpful than someone who does it out of instinct. Because you realized that you had the option of ignoring it and not making extra difficulty for yourself, but chose to do the kind thing instead.”

I can’t seem to make allowances like that for myself, unless I frame it as a hypothetical thing that someone else said. Which, while not ideal, seems to work pretty well as a self-care method.

Maybe that’s the secret to letting yourself off a little easier. Tell yourself that it’s okay, you love yourself anyway, then take yourself out for ice cream or coffee. Treat yourself like your best friend.

❤ Eli

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Writing prompt: Think about a time you were recently in public. Describe what you were doing from the point of view of a stranger observing you.

“He’s just sitting there, with two books, a phone, and a tablet in his lap. What the hell is doing? Why does he need all that stuff? He looks like he should be in school right now. Like. High school. I wonder if he’s skipping. This is kinda public to be hanging out during school hours.

One of the books looks like a planner.

Oh. He’s wearing a uniform. He must work at that fast food place. Maybe he’s older than he looks. Maybe he goes to college, and is doing school work right now. I guess that would explain the planner. It sort of looks like he’s taking notes on his tablet. But it looks like the book is written in, too.

Jeeze. He is really chewing on his nails hard. He looks stressed. He keeps shoving his hair back. I do that when I’m stressed, too. Honestly, he does look pretty tired. Definitely a college student.

I wonder if he’s okay. He keeps cracking his neck and he’s going to town on that cup of coffee.

Oh good. He’s taking a break. He keeps smiling at his phone. That’s nice. Good smile. I hope he stays happy.”

❤ Eli

This Is Not A Happy Post

This isn’t going to be a happy post. There isn’t a nice ending to this story. There isn’t any neat resolution or a cheerful reminder to stay positive. This is me, trying so hard to make my life better, and the universe flipping me off and sauntering away without looking back.

We (my wife and I) recently had an amazing opportunity. One of her dad’s long-time friend wanted someone in her house. She doesn’t live there, but it’s a historical landmark, so she was having a hard time selling it. We originally told her we could just live there for a few months so that someone was there, but then she started talking about how she has been wanting to run an antique shop out of the house. So we told her that we would love to do that. My wife has always wanted to run her own business, a cafe, and we figured it would be easy to add espresso to an antique shop. We’ve been planning for a while now. We came up with figures for how much we’d need to spend to start it, how much we’d need to make to break even. We told her that we would love to buy the house from her, since that was her end goal anyway. She seemed on board for everything we’ve said.

Today we were supposed to meet with her to look at the house and then sit down to talk about what our plan was and how we would go about buying the house through her instead of a bank, because I don’t have that kind of credit yet. We left it up to her when we would meet, since she’s the one that has to drive over. Out of the blue she texted us and said that she didn’t want to meet with us. She didn’t want to rent the house out, and she couldn’t afford to front us until we got the business up and running. Without any context, the dream that we’d been building up for so long got yanked out from under us.

I am trying to be positive about this. We’re not starting over. We have everything that we had before we were planning to start this. What we have sucks, though. We have a car that we were forced into buying at an unreasonable interest rate because we were desperate. We have a shitty, shitty apartment, without a working shower, with bugs and drafts and a stove that only works half the time. We have two maxed out credit cards. We have jobs that we deeply hate going to every day. We have school debt. We have no idea what to do now.

After the idea of a three story house and a business that we could call our own, going back to what we have seems almost impossible. But we’re going to have to do it. And that sucks.

I told you this wouldn’t be a pleasant post.

❤ Eli

Being and Nothingness: The Series

Whatever

This morning I updated to Final Draft 9, i.e., the most recent iteration of the most popular script-writing software out there, and because it’s been a while since I’ve used it, I wrote up a short script to reintroduce myself to its functionality. Here it is.

EXT. A large vast expanse of nothingness
Two dudes sit about looking at the nothingness.
TED
Dude, that’s a whole lot of nothingness there.
BOB
Right? I’m, like, looking at all that nothingness and
I’m, just, JESUS, that’s a lot of nothing.
TED
I mean, I knew there was a lot of nothingness out there.
Like, an infinity of nothingness.
BOB
Yeah, yeah.
TED
But when you look at how MUCH nothingness there is,
it’s kind of, like, whoa.
BOB
I feel ya, dude.
TED
I feel like I’ve merged with the nothingness, you know?
BOB
I totally get it. So much merging.
TED

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Alright.

So this is a largely a way for me to work on my dedication to writing. I’m (hopefully) going to make myself sit down every day and write something. Anything. So these may be scattered and could easily be something that no one is interested in. That’s okay. I’m doing this for myself.

Off we go!

❤ Eli