how English majors see the world.

englishmajor2

Symbols. We see symbols in everything.

For four years (and really, for many years before, since I was an avid reader and was already consciously and subconsciously doing this), I analyzed plot lines, characters, meanings, subtext. I did this in everything I read. I did this in art classes, in play writing classes, and most certainly in the plethora of psychology courses I took. Looking for meaning. Looking for rationale. Looking for archetypes. Identifying and explaining symbols. Breaking everything down. And I did it well, to toot my own horn. And I loved every minute of it, too. I was one of those people anyway, like I mentioned before. Listening to music was always an adventure, for example, when it came to lyrics. What does it all meannnnn? I’d like to thank Led Zeppelin, by the way, for Stairway to Heaven and the Eagles for Hotel California–I spent many a sweet hour researching and looking for the meaning behind those intriguing pieces of music. (I still don’t know.) Anyway, my point in saying all of the above: when you’re already looking at the world that way, it makes it hard to not look at the world that way.  I’ve discussed trying not to Englishmajorpsychoanalyze and overthink things to death before. It’s a constant struggle. It’s a constant struggle to not look for underlying subtext and motives. This becomes even more difficult when it comes to relationships. When it comes to potential romantic relationships, to be specific.

Sometimes a hello is just a hello. Sometimes a touch isn’t more than a touch. Sometimes a look is not meant to communicate anything other than the natural progression in someone’s attention or line of sight. Logically, I know all of these things. But when you have someone in waking thought, and you want to find meaning, and you want substance…all those perfectly natural things become potential somethings. Plus, I’ve read fiction my entire life. I’ve written fiction my entire life. I’ve read the lovely pairings designed by authors. I’ve done the same. I want that for myself. So I recognize now that my search for meaning and depth in seemingly simple things is coming from a place where I want there to be meaning and depth–and those things may not be there at all. A mess.

meme studies degree Inspirational Top 9 ideas about English Major Stereotype Memes onBut This Square Peg, you lovingly say, maybe there is something there. Maybe. But I can’t look for a symbol here. I don’t want to. I just want the real thing. And my nine year-old bratty self wants it now. But that’s another post. (That nine year-old though…she asserts herself during the most inopportune moments.) I’m just working on taking life and people at face value. That becomes more difficult when I have a writer’s heart and an English major’s brain, all of which long for 1) meaning and 2) control. And love. Actual, true, real love. Yes, I just went way, way deep on you.

So: what does it all meannnnn?

Let’s leave that question unanswered for now.

Talk to me in the comments about whatever you like, but specifically, if and how you deal with overthinking and unnecessary analysis.

Advertisements

Lessons.

affection board broken broken hearted
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This post is inspired by a very moving and honest post on In My Sunday Best, where blogger Sade openly discusses her experience with relationship rejection. Read it and reflect; I appreciated her candor and discussing the inspiring lessons she learned about herself. As I read it, it reminded me so much of my own journey. A journey fraught with rejection.

Before I go on, I want to thank my tried-and-true readers for hanging with me in this little corner of the webverse. I’ve always considered This Square Peg to be an online journal. And in a journal, you talk about the highs (loving my natural hair, my writing, my adventures) and the lows (managing my depression, emotions, and the various disappointments of life). Thanks for supporting your Square Peg through it all, with your comments, your follows, your reading.

My first foray into admitting my feelings for someone and the rejection that came after happened in the 8th grade. At the time, I didn’t necessarily feel rejected; although my declaration of “love” was by no means mutual, I still felt that the object of my affection and I became somewhat friends after all of that. Nevertheless, it started the ball rolling. The combination of movie fantasy, being a romantic (more on that later) and an intense desire to be loved/be in a relationship were usually the catalysts. Despite being a shy girl, something came over me during those moments–being bold and expressing how I felt meant more than anything. Throughout my 20s, it happened time and time again. Meeting a guy, finding myself attracted to him, eventually opening up and telling him how I felt. I continued on despite the pain of rejection; somehow, there was a degree of hope that one day, the person I was meant to be with would cross my path. But hope isn’t steel. Eventually, it all started to affect me: what was so wrong with me? Why didn’t they want me in return?

After this happened, I was officially done. I told myself that even if I was attracted to someone, the weariness on my heart and the embarrassment of putting myself out there with no mutual return were simply things I no longer wanted to risk. I was also suffering from what Sade eloquently described as “rejection as reflection.” Their rejection of me had translated into seeing myself with incredibly negative eyes. Unworthy. Unpretty. The rest. By the time my 30s came along, although I became committed to now loving myself and repudiating that negative self-view, there was no way I was ever going to put myself out there again when it came to relationships and matters of the heart.

These days, I continue to remain stalwart in not approaching a guy with my feelings; I’m fine with the menfolk doing some work. However, I also don’t believe in coyness or not being open if I share his feelings or his interest. I don’t believe in stringing people along. But that man hasn’t shown up.

Yet.

Let’s talk about that word, yet.    

A friend recently described me as a romantic. Deep down, I balked at the description. Something about that word completely turned me off; I imagined treacly women who were hopelessly waiting on fairy tales and other unrealistic, rose-colored wants for a relationship. Sure, I believe in love and in falling in love, but I’m also not naive to the uneasy parts of relationships. I lived in a household when things got all too real, at times. Never doubting that my parents loved each other, I was equally exposed to times when things weren’t so pretty and escape, by all parties, seemed ideal. So being described as a romantic wasn’t my favorite thing. But it’s me, folks. I had to analyze why it put me off so much. See the previous sentences. I associated a romantic nature with a weak nature. Weak and unrealistic and living in a total fantasy world. But that’s unfair. A romantic person who believes in love and wants it for herself can also be a realistic person who has her feet squarely planted on the ground. So yeah, I’m a romantic realist. It is what it is. Thanks to that friend who got me thinking and ruminating.

So, to wrap rejection and the yet in a pretty bow: not allowing my history with rejection to douse me with negativity, cynicism, and a belief that love will never come is something I’m trying to balance. I don’t want to give in to mentally throwing away the idea of love because it hasn’t appeared, or base my feelings on things not working out in my past. Like Sade reasoned, none of those guys were meant for me. Looking back, I can make that statement with absolute certainty.

Share any thoughts you have in the comments.

 

 

hair things.

I decided to change up the ‘do again. No surprise there. As I mentioned to a friend who remarked about the merry-go-round of styles we as Black women are happy to explore, hair is one of the few things in this crazy life that I can control. (Although I’ve long believed that my hair, known as She, controls me.) As you know, I visited the lighter side of the hair color spectrum in January. And I’m very happy there. Which is why, two weeks ago, I decided to go bolder, brighter, and much, much blonder.

Popular questions/statements I’ve received since:

Are you having fun yet? 
Do you like it?
Whoa, you’re brave.
Something new for the summer, huh?
Wow, you’re always changing your hair!

My responses:

Um, yes?
I love it.
Sure.
Not just for the summer, no.
Indeed I am.

Here’s to the merry-go-round.

And before I go: leaving you with my favorite song this month. You know how I feel about Emeli Sande (or maybe you didn’t, but the link is yours to see). Here’s her recent single, which I have on repeat. I love it not only for the melody, and her soaring voice, but for the simple message: we’re all extraordinary. Something to keep in mind–for me, for you, for all of us.

Indulge Me, For a Moment.

Sometimes I imagine that he had lived. That he didn’t stop breathing at 26 years of age. We find each other once again. It is like a story, he and I, a story that I both live and write. Here it is.

That autumn evening, they both walk into the local bookstore, neither aware of the other. She naturally gets lost in the Fiction section, trailing her fingers over spines of endless rows of books, pulling a few out here and there to gaze at plot lines in the hopes that one or two will capture her attention. (Many will.) Over in the Poetry section, he skims through collections that remind him of just how much he misses writing poetry; he wishes that real life and a lack of time hadn’t taken away his dedication. Or had he given his time away? He shakes off that unanswered question and continues to peruse.

The soft whir of espresso machines and related aromas in the nearby café eventually pull them both out of their respective stacks and over to the line. They’re both armed with books that require more time and investigation over cups of coffee; her with three novels that each bear a Jane Austen-like feel to them, and him with four intriguing anthologies by the latest Poet Laureate. Soon, she places her order with the young man behind the counter and steps over to the side to wait. He does the same a few minutes later and takes a spot a few feet away from her. While they wait for their drinks, they respectively study the other patrons in the café. It is then, during their mutual analyses, that she happens to gaze in his direction–at the same moment that he glances over at her.

Her eyes widen with instant recognition. A beaming smile across his face face.

“Order ready for Sabrina.”

“Large coffee for Riley.”

If neither had recognized the other, the calls of those two very familiar names would have provided all the information they needed. They approach one another.

“I can’t believe…” she says, her voice trailing off, her eyes fixed on his.

He doesn’t reply, still stunned that she is standing before him. Twenty years had passed them by. Twenty whole years.

He grabs their drinks while she finds a table for them in the corner. He glances at her books on the adjacent table and grins. “Were you in Fiction?” he asks.

She chuckles. “No surprise there. And you were lost in Poetry.”

“Literally and symbolically, of course.”

Silence was never an issue for them. In the past, they always had plenty to discuss; theories to riff about, silly jokes to share. And yet, now, a silence steals into their midst. It is not a passive silence, however; their prolonged stares seem heavy in meaning, the kind of unreadable expressions that will soon require defining.

“It’s nothing like our old spot, is it?” Riley then asks, gesturing around them.

“Nothing at all, save for the books and the harried girl behind the counter making all the drinks.”

He laughs. “Sounds familiar.” He remembers being scheduled with her one afternoon, watching her deftly prepare drink orders without batting an eyelash at the long lines. That day had stayed with him long after he moved on from the store, for reasons that, at the time, he couldn’t explain. “But you were never harried. You were always so cool.”

“I played it cool, my friend.”

“Do you live in town?”

Sabrina nods. “I just moved back. After college, I did some soul-searching and ended up in Phoenix, Arizona. ”

His eyes gleamed. “So you did go. Remember how much you wanted to live there? The whole mythical bird thing?”

“I do. And it was transformative it many ways. Moving away from family, being on my own.”

“So you rose out of the ashes,” he says, smiling warmly at her.

That sudden sensation in her chest. Yes. Her heart had skipped a beat. She breathes through it, deciding not to explain it away in her mind. “I did. What about you? Tell me where you’ve been. When I last saw you, you were headed back to Texas.”

He had indeed moved back to his home state to go back to college. Ultimately, however, that degree in Poetry was replaced with a Business degree and an eventual MBA. He had moved back a year ago and was now a finance executive at a firm in the city.

“The poet became an MBA? I could have never envisioned that.”

“Me, either.” He pauses. “Are you married? Kids?”

Sabrina shakes her head. “No and no. I was engaged for a bit but it didn’t work out. You?” she asks.

“Divorced. We had a good year but she was still in love with her ex, so she decided to go back to him. While we were married, I should add.”

“Riley, I’m so sorry.”

He waved his hand. “Therapy does wonders. I’m in a great place now. Are you still writing?”

“Five books published. Working on number six, the long gestating novel.”

Riley applauds softly. “I’m so proud of you. You stuck with it. I knew you would. When I first met you, I could see it in you, that love for writing. It was amazing. And it helped me, believe it or not. I was so inspired by you.”

“And I had a massive crush on you. I actually thought I was in love with you for a month or so.” She allows the words out without thinking, deliberately leaving them there, in the air.

Riley gazes at her, not completely taken aback. “I had a feeling.”

“Could you blame me? You were a poet, for goodness sake. My writer’s heart was toast.”

They both laugh, still aware of her admission, still aware of those stares in between the silences, still able to allow levity to join all the other elephants in the room.

“I thought about it,” Riley then says. “I thought about you and me.”

Her heart quickens once again. She waits for him to continue.

“But I pushed it away. You were only 19. I was 21 and not living my best life, as you know. I was toxic. So, so bad for all the people around me. It just–”

“It’s OK,” she says, gently squeezing his forearm. “We weren’t ready back then. We both had to do a little phoenix work with ourselves.”

Riley looks down at her hand. Yes, he hears in the back of his mind. It is the answer to a question he’s not yet sure of, but welcomes it all the same. He puts his hand on top of hers, linking his fingers through hers.

She remembers to breathe.

“And now we meet again, in a bookstore, no less,” he replies. “Could you fall in love with me again, for longer than a month this time?”

Yes. They had always been waiting for each other, waiting to cross paths once again. She recognizes that now. Sabrina laughs. “It depends on all the fancy restaurants you take me to. And the poetry you write me.”

“Done and done.”

They walk toward the registers, still hand in hand. He buys her books. She buys his. They depart in the parking lot with a promise to see one another the next day.

She learns, three months after their wedding, that the Poet MBA can also do wonders with plywood: he builds her a home library, complete with all five of her books and room for his first anthology.

the hours.

virginiawoolfHonestly, sometimes the hardest part of my life is the inertia of the day-to-day. The routine. The same ole. When you add to all of that the desire to share my days with another person…everything is compounded. Don’t get me wrong; I’m pretty sure inertia sets in with another person in the next room, too. No rose-colored glasses here. But it’s still a feeling, it’s my feeling, and it’s not easy. But for the purposes of chasing down positivity: there are plenty of people who aren’t here. So opening my eyes to another day, however drowning in the same ole, is an enormous blessing.

I plan on also chasing down some of the things that brighten my days, things I haven’t done in a while because the emotional and physical energy was thoroughly absent. Museum afternoons. Exploring new cities and places. Getting back to me, one step, one day, at a time.

#triggered

I love that Jhené Aiko posted this on her Instagram story. (Courtesy of The Shade Room.)

I love that she was raw, open, and honest about the depth of her feelings.

I love that she sat with her feelings instead of running away from them and resorting to old, toxic habits.

I love that she spoke purely of the fear she felt in that moment.

I love the hashtag. Because it means that things can be going well, life may improve, darkness may give way to light, pain may dissipate–but a trigger is a trigger. And triggers can happen at any time. And they can push you to back to a place that’s all too familiar.

Which is when it’s time to speak on it, as Jhené did. Release it, find the words, and try very hard to say what you need to. Even if those words are covered in tears. Even if you’re sitting in an empty room. The walls can take it.

Torn.

“My sadness doesn’t take away from anyone else’s happiness and my sadness isn’t minimized because someone else has a sadder situation.”

I saw this quote a few minutes ago from Today show anchor Dylan Dreyer as she discussed her ongoing issues with infertility and sadly, a recent miscarriage. Contextually, it was just announced this morning that Dylan’s colleague, Jenna Bush Hager, is pregnant with her third child and that her other colleague, Hoda Kotb, adopted a new baby last week. Looking at the environment she’s in, then, you can imagine how her words struck me. I felt for her. Because those words are the absolute truth. Because those words are my truth.

~My sadness doesn’t take away from anyone else’s happiness~

Having longed for a partner and a love for many years now, I have shared in the utter joy of being present for friends, family, and others who have found their persons and their loves in life. I have smiled, cried tears of joy, cheered, whooped, encouraged, and have experienced every iota of their rejoicing. I have also experienced mind-boggling levels of sadness, loneliness, fear, and discouragement. I have cried tears of pain in my very private moments, supplicated my Heavenly Father for faith, love, and the power to simply go on, and have struggled to not drown in questions of why not me, why my person remained unseen and elusive. And I know I’m not the only one. I’m sure, whatever you’re going through in life, you’ve been there, as well.

~my sadness isn’t minimized because someone else has a sadder situation~

But I have another personal truth, something else that Dylan’s words spoke to, something I need to change: I tend to minimize my emotions when they escalate, believing that my sadness is nothing compared to what some other folks are going through. It’s my way of not drowning; whatevering it all and trying to think of others who have it worse. I even go as far as trivializing how I feel: how can wanting a love compare to the sheer suffering I know some people are going through? (We engage in a variety of things for self-preservation, don’t we?)

Anyway, let’s try to help each other, because my struggles continue, and I’m sure yours do, too.

  1. As Dylan pointed out so well, you can be happy for someone and sad at the same time. It’s the duality of life. To me, we were wired to juggle, not just work and tasks, but our emotions. You can be genuinely thrilled for someone and still feel the pangs of your own personal distress. It’s life.
  2. Don’t dismiss or whatever those difficult emotions. (I’m also speaking to myself here.) The world is large enough for plenty of people to feel what they feel. If someone is having it worse in life, pray for them and pray for yourself, too. You both need the same thing–relief–despite the differences in what you’re individually enduring.
  3. I said it before and I say it to all of us and I say it to myself: please continue to hang on.

2019…so far…

black calendar close up composition
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It’s been rough, mi gente. (One thing that characterizes the year so far is my newfound interest in watching Spanish videos on YouTube. Go figure.) Anyway, I’d love to say that my year has been going well, but…it hasn’t been easy for your Square Peg. I won’t go into too much detail. Just know that loneliness and sadness and painful self-reflection and unfulfilled expectations have been so real. So vividly real. Are you going through it? Life and all of that? I’d love to say that I’m handling it and healing but…it’s a slow-going process. Even writing has been hard. Even writing this brief post is difficult. Because I don’t have a desire to do much except lay on the couch these days.

But despite the slowness of the healing, there is some of it going on. What’s been working for me?

  1. Prayer. I deeply believe in the significant presence of a Creator and a Heavenly Father in my life, and I see and recognize that He’s watching over me.
  2. People. Because He’s been ensuring that my closest friends and family and confidantes continually reach out to me and check up on me. And I’m a private person when it comes to personal pain. The fact that I’m confiding in a few folks about what I’m going through is hardly random to me.
  3. Pause. My desire to permanently be on my couch notwithstanding (I realize that I’m dealing with depression and the loss of interest in doing anything that comes with it), moments of deep rest have been helpful.

Whatever happens, if you’re having a hard go of it: speak up. Say something. And try very hard to hold on. Even if it hurts.

(One more thing. When you pick up on empathy in your life, really being understood, the presence of true compassion: these are the people that should remain confidantes and listening ears. Not everyone has this capability. Not their fault; to me, empathy isn’t a common thing that we all own and can share with others. I’m working on it myself. Anyway, when you see empathy and feel empathy, move in that direction. And own the right to not share your heart and confidences with everyone, and certainly with those that will never truly understand or don’t know how.)

The Watched Pot.

Never boils.

Specifically: A watched pot never boils. Time moves slowly when you’re waiting or potboiling watching for something to happen. I’ve been thinking about those words this week, specifically because my mother said them to me on the phone. During our conversation a few days ago, I hinted at one of the major Worries for a Singleton, which is #1,089,556 on the list: hesitating about making a major life decision because you wonder if something or, rather someone, waits for you around the corner. (And a part of you wants to wait to make that major life decision until you’re 1 of 2.) Her response: “Oh, Adjoa, don’t worry about those things. A watched pot never boils. I don’t want those thoughts to consume you. It’s easier said than done, I know, but don’t overthink it.” I let her words marinate before replying that I wasn’t necessarily obsessing, but merely thinking aloud.

My initial, knee-jerk reaction? 1. Pure irritation. Couldn’t I just express myself without the assumption that I was engaging in overthinking? Couldn’t I just say I was thinking about the future and what will be without being reminded of a slowly boiling pot? My next reaction: 2I’m never not going to think about my future and whether I’ll share it with someone. It’s always going to be a thought. It pays rent, that thought. It shares a room in my brain and it ain’t going away. Next reaction: 3. Grateful for the acknowledgement that it’s all easier said than done. As I get older and those desires to have my own family grow, it’s certainly harder to just be carefree and let it go and don’t think about it and la la la. It just is. Final reaction: 4She’s right, don’t overthink it. And as much as I have a Master’s Degree in Overthinking, my mother was absolutely correct in knowing that I do overthink, I do over-worry, I do over-consume in endless ruminations about life and the future and love and all that. And she, my biggest fan and cheerleader, didn’t want me to drive myself crazy.

Y’all. It’s hard wrapping your brain around needing something and going through life not seeing that thing manifest itself. It’s just hard. No amount of well-meaning advice…

  • Don’t think about it!
  • Are you even ready? It’s really hard!
  • Are you putting it out there?
  • Just move on!

…will remove the fact that in life, when we need something and we’re not seeing it, it’s just difficult to la la la and keep calm and carry on. Overthinking will happen. Mental over-consumption will happen. Emotional merry-go-rounds will occur. But it’s important to extract what you need–the acknowledgement of things being easier said than done, for example, or the reminder that people who love you don’t want you to stress yourself out–and try, very hard, to keep it moving. It doesn’t mean you stop thinking or praying or wondering, but it means you fight (fight hard) to not be consumed.

So the pot is there and I take comfort in knowing that it will boil. Until then, I’ll be peeking in the kitchen every now and again.

Five Top Fives.

Faves, like to hear it, here it go (in no particular order): lizlemon

Top Five Singers/Musicians/Artists I’ve Loved For All Time

  1. Michael Jackson
  2. Whitney Houston
  3. Stevie Wonder
  4. Diana Ross
  5. James Taylor

Top Five Actresses I Love and Adore and Just Love and Adore

  1. Cate Blanchett
  2. Viola Davis
  3. Diane Lane
  4. Tracee Ellis Ross (purely coincidental that my mom her mom is #4 above)
  5. Natalie Portman

Top Five Actors I Stan For Always and Forever 

  1. Brad Pitt
  2. Idris Elba (far too many posts to link him; search away, my love)
  3. Denzel Washington
  4. Tom Cruise
  5. Paul Newman/Robert Redford (they are one entity; don’t come for me)

Top Five of My Favorite Films Of All Time

  1. The Princess Bride
  2. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
  3. The Philadelphia Story
  4. The Sting
  5. Inception (yeah, it’s that good)

Top Five of My Favorite Authors

  1. Alice Walker
  2. Flannery O’ Connor
  3. Harper Lee
  4. Lois Lowry
  5. This Square Peg (look: you gotta love yourself)

 

This was by no means an exhaustive list, so we shall do it again with a brand new list. Happy Wednesday, dear reader.