College, Attachment, and Femininity: Sarah’s Weekly Catch-up

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Thursday, September 4th

I had an idea a while ago to add a new “lifestyle” tab to my blog. I write quite a lot about my opinions, purchases, and commentary on certain subjects, but I very rarely update you guys on the daily happenings of my life. So, that’s what Sarah’s Weekly Catch-up is going to be: something of a weekly diary where I keep you updated on my school life, routines, and general fleeting thoughts. I do love to write detailed, researched, fact-based pieces about social issues and media, but it’s also nice to write something more relaxed, like a weekly letter home. But instead of home, it’s a weekly letter to…the internet?

Anywho, I decided to start writing today because I’m moving back into school on Sunday. I’ve had a mostly great summer, filled with tons of sleep, dog-walking, writing, and even some working out. I was happiest at the beginning of the summer, because I was so sick of school by April and desperately needed a break. Around August is when things started to falter a bit, because I finally got off an anxiety medication I’ve been taking for three years (as the side effects were starting to interfere with my daily life). I knew it would be hard to wean off -and it some ways, it was easier than I thought- but physically, the process destroyed me. When you withdraw from a medication that literally alters your brain chemistry, such as an SSRI, your brain sometimes gets confused and sends confused bolts of tiny electricity through your head as it tries to re-group. This is a real thing called “head jolts”, and it more or less dominated my life for about 3 full weeks. Eventually it did go away as my brain adjusted, but there was a time in that three-week period when I had to crawl around my apartment because my head was absolutely spinning. 

I sadly fell out of working out while all of this was occurring, because I was exhausted and disoriented and simply lost my drive. One of my goals for this school year is to get back into exercising, potentially with yoga and frequent walks. I’d also like to work on improving my diet, because while it is fairly healthy now, I think it could be better.

Another frustrating thing that happened in August refers to some drama I had with my college, but that literally happens every semester. I know that no school is perfect, but I’ve been repeatedly shocked by how unprofessional and nonsensical my particular college is. I’ve taken to printing out copies of the emails they send me and filing them away, so that I can whip them out in situations when receipts are needed. It’s a pretty complex story, but in a nutshell, my school cancelled a MANDATORY class I needed to graduate because they couldn’t find an instructor, and left me scrambling by myself to put the pieces of their shitty error back together. Luckily, I have an amazing academic advisor, and he has more or less helped me sort out this mess. I’m fully anticipating more school chaos to come hurtling my way, because something always goes wrong along the way at this institution.

Anyway, those were the low points of August, but I’m trying to focus more on the high points to be celebrated in my life. I’m genuinely someone who loves learning, so I do look forward to starting new classes every year. Like I said, I am also interested in adding in some new lifestyle changes as well, like exercising again and taking better care of my body. My appearance has been subtly changing as well, and I’m taking on much more of a butch style. I don’t like to say “masculine” because I feel like it implies you’re wearing clothes designed for someone else. Like, I don’t think a woman wearing a suit means she’s wearing clothes designed for men. Maybe a suit to her makes her feel more like a woman, and to me, that’s femininity. I love having short, cropped hair, button-downs, and oversized tailored jackets. It’s not “masucline” to me- it makes me feel womanly. It makes me feel feminine. Same goes for a man who feels confident in a dress- if that makes you feel like a more powerful man, than you ROCK that dress, sir. Clothing, in my opinion, is inherently gender neutral. The beauty of personal style is that you can make it whatever you want. 

Anywho, that was a bit of a tangent, but I wanted to update y’all on the direction of my style. I’m super inspired by 90s butch lesbians, like Ellen DeGeneres and of course, k.d. Lang. It’s such a beautiful expression of female energy, in a societal non-traditional way. I love women who push the boundaries of social acceptance, and that’s the kind of woman I’d like to be. 

As I mentioned before, getting off my medication has kinda rocked my world and set me back physically/emotionally, but I’m working on hitting the reset button and building something better for myself. I know I deserve happiness and success, but it’s a constant battle and we all have to try our best to love ourselves and practice self care. Don’t ever deprive yourself of self-care, because it is a necessity, not a hobby!

Speaking of self care, I’m going to take a bubble bath and watch Modern Family


Monday, September 9th

I don’t usually feel homesick while I’m at college. In fact, I was hardly homesick at all my first year- I think I missed home for a day or two, tops. I’ve never been good with change, though I tend to perk up once I fall into a routine. That’s something people seem to forget about folks with ADHD- having consistency and a solid plan can often be pivotal to our moods. That being said, I’m already feeling much better than I was yesterday. I felt almost as if I was moving in a gray glob of fog, and everything was slow and unfamiliar and strange (even though this is my third year going to college, and my last). 

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All moved in! Same room as last year, too, in case you were wondering why it looked familiar.

I’m also living in the same room as last year, which is nice. It’s large for a standard single, but I didn’t bring much *stuff* with me anyway. I really tried to only pack the things I know I’ll use on a weekly basis- bedding, toiletries, snacks, clothes, and my laptop. Last year I decorated my room to be super cutesy, and brought along things like flower garland and crystals, but this year I kept it simple. The only decor I really brought was my lesbian pride flag, which, ironically, isn’t hung straight. I don’t even have anything to store under my bed, and it feels so good to have a clean, minimal room!

I struggled a bit to fall asleep last night, because I’m used to having a mattress on the floor and feeling close to the ground. I have some new housemates, and they all seem lovely thus far. As an introvert, it shocked me that someone would come to my door, knock, and introduce themselves. I could never!

I’m still feeling a bit sluggish, like it’s taking me twice as long to do things here that would normally be fast at home. Nonetheless, I think I’ll be able to re-adjust quickly. Next on my agenda is to sort out all of that academic tosh my school threw onto my plate last month. Hopefully, my new major and class rank will be registered and complete by the end of the month, and somebody will finally answer my emails. We’ll see!


Wednesday, September 11th

It’s been a turbulent few days, but none of them have been completely good or bad. There is some good news straightaway- my individualized degree is in the process of being finalized, so I no longer have to worry about my graduation date being pushed. The only unexpected change is that I now have to take a micro-economics class, and I’m painfully realistic about the fact that I very well may hate it. I struggle with abstract ideas and numbers, and can only comprehend math up to about a sixth-grade level, according to my neuropsych results. Nonetheless, I’m trying to stay optimistic, and I’m currently working on informing my professors about my learning disabilities.

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This is me meeting my friend’s housemate’s dog, Taps. I was crying REAL TEARS playing with her.

My anxiety has been coming in waves, but I’m generally externally calm. Part of college is figuring out who you have beef with, and there are definitely a few people who have made it clear they’re not happy I’m back. At this point, though, I know who my good friends are, and those are the people I’m sticking with. My primary goal and my purpose for being here is solely to earn my bachelor’s degree, and then put this chapter of my life behind me.

Another noteworthy update has to do with my recent social commentary article, “Should We Be Worried About Julia Zelg?”. I was expecting heightened traffic, for sure, but I didn’t think it was going to appear so high in the search bar and receive so much attention. I’m sure Julia has read it, and Eileen probably has to. I was nervous that my article would be received as hate, but the general consensus seems to be positive. The people who have expressed anger towards my article are apparently unaware of what a “blog” is- a place where one can freely express their thoughts and opinions, and give my two cents on what I find interesting. “Get a life” isn’t an adequate comeback- covering social issues and writing opinion pieces IS both my life and my work.

Anywho, I just wanted to express my surprise that the article garnered so many clicks, and I’m honestly relieved that other people felt the same way I did (for the most part). Part of my work as a writer is to vocalize opinions and feelings that other people may struggle to put together on their own. Obviously a “gossip” piece or a social commentary essay is trivial, but I also love to expand my voice into advocacy, criticism of bigotry, and generally delivering justice with words.

I’m only three days into school, but the classes I am most excited about are Human Services and Communication Research. The latter has actually garnered a number of groans and complaints from my classmates, but hey, I LOVE that shit. Research and writing, again, is what my life’s all about. I’ve also taken a class with this professor before, and know him to be strict but fair. I’m looking forward to writing my twenty-page research paper at the end of the semester.


Thursday, September 12

I’m a shower thinker. I was reflecting today about the root of attachment and how that can contribute to suffering, so I mused on it for a while and decided I ought to write about it to filter out my mind. It’s going to be long-winded and all over the place, but that’s usually how my thoughts go.

There is a distinct difference between love and attachment, but unfortunately, the media and our environment can cause us to get them confused. Television and music loves to romanticize attachment- especially when it comes to convincing young girls they need a man to be happy. That certainly doesn’t help when you’re already suffering from attachment issues, especially with a father figure, or if you’re a lesbian, struggling to figure out your identity.

A lot of women who eventually come out as lesbians have dated men in their earlier life. I’m one of those people- I first said I was straight, then I was bi, and then, I finally fully accepted my homosexuality. Like I said earlier, attachment can very easily be mistaken for love because of the way we are conditioned to feel. When I was growing up, I felt so ashamed and distraught about being a lesbian, I made a consistent effort to shove that part of my identity away. To fill the void I felt where my father should have been, and because I struggled to feel accepted by a male figure, I quickly became attached to the idea of having a boyfriend as soon as I reached relationship age. If I didn’t have a boy to give me attention, I felt like a worthless girl. I especially struggled with feeling jealous of my friends who did have boyfriends, and constantly felt stressed that I would never be good enough. 

I’m not completely blaming my dad or the media, but I do know that with different circumstances, I could have explored my homosexuality much sooner and avoided so much attachment, obsession, and pain. By the time I was in college, I had more or less began to let a little bit of the truth creep in. I allowed myself to open up to women, but still, a part of me felt very attached to men and I was obsessively convinced I needed one to feel complete. 

As my romantic and sexual experiences with women blossomed, I was finally able to distinguish the difference between attachment and love. Love has no competition, no jealousy, and no urge for validation. The best way I can describe this revelation is when you THINK you know something is the best, until you experience something even better that replaces what you previously thought. With exploring my homosexuality, I discovered that this was the real, selfless, authentic love I had been searching for, and what I previously had coined as “love” was a coping mechanism for my attachment issues and compulsory hetersexuality. I’m not saying I didn’t think I was in love when I was fourteen, but in retrospect, I can confidently say that what I actually felt was socially-enforced infatuation. 

I still sometimes struggle with feelings of jealousy, especially when my friends have partners and I do not, but I am working on letting that anger go. It doesn’t matter the sexual orientation- I simply just get jealous that somebody else is loved, and I am not. This does tie in with the attachment issues I am continuously overcoming, but the more I accept these issues, the more I can separate them from love and acknowledge them as a toxic behaviour.

I was reminded of this today. About six months ago, when I was still trying to hold onto that last bit of “I-like-men” security blanket, I was hooking up with a guy I met on tinder. At least, I was trying to hook up. As I became a lesbian, my BODY was literally rejecting him every time we tried to hook up. It was like my vagina just slammed shut every time he tried to get near me, until finally, I had to own up to him that I was pretty certain I was gay. What’s funny is, I never actually found sex with men that appealing. It was more so something, again, I felt I HAD to do in order to reach some form of self-actualization. Straight sex was something I tried to convince myself I could “learn to like”, but eventually, I just allowed myself (and the guy) to know that I found it kind of painful and nauseating.

He knew it was coming, too. I had been expressing to him for a while that I had always leaned more towards girls than guys, and the older I got, the more I leaned. Even though we got together primarily as friends with benefits, we ended up developing a friendship that went on even after our sexual relationship ended. To this day, he’s one of my best friends.

I was bothered today because I saw him for the first time in a few months. He has a new girlfriend, and like I am with all of my friends, I felt instantly defensive and jealous. There was another added element of attachment, because like I said, I had really used him as a security blanket when I was confused about my sexuality. Even though I’ve come to peace with it now, I still felt uncomfortable with the fact that a person I was once attached to had replaced me. It caused me a lot of distress today, because, in a way, it made me feel like a bad lesbian.

But I’m not. And that’s why I’m writing this article- there is a huge difference between love and attachment. I felt attached to him because he made me feel safe, but I never loved him. And that’s why so many lesbians, including myself, struggle SO MUCH to accept out homosexuality. We are constantly papered with the romanticism of attachment, and the social construct that all women need men to feel complete. I feel like it’s something that isn’t talked about nearly enough, and in turn, it contributes to homosexual people feeling like they have “failed.”

If you’re reading this and you’ve felt a similar way before, I just want to say that you’re not a failure. Human psychology, sociology, and sexuality is such a complex, intertwined cluster of subjects. And it’s high-time we start tackling the expectations put on women in a society so focused on attachment, especially for those trying so desperately to just figure everything the fuck out.


Saturday, September 14th

This has been my first real day of doing “nothing” since I arrived at school last Sunday. Because my weekdays are very checklist oriented (“do this, then do this, then do this”), I allow myself to have NO agenda on Saturdays. I thoroughly enjoyed laying in bed for the majority of the day and playing The Sims. Who here is SO EXCITED about the new Realm of Magic game pack? Because I sure am!

I also had an opportunity to really test out the goodies in my Fab Fit Fun box, which came in the mail yesterday. I have a review of the box scheduled to post for September 23rd, which will give me plenty of time to test out the products and form a fair opinion about them. I’m already loving so many things I received, and I’m looking forward to putting together that article.

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Fab Fit Fun article coming soon!

 

Update on PMDD: Like I said, I recently got off Lexapro after being on it for nearly three years. The wonderful thing about SSRIs is that they tend to keep your mood stagnant, and now that I’m not on one, I definitely feel a little chaotic and all over the place. I’m constantly striving to take care of myself and prioritize my health, so I’m actively looking for some new treatment to help me with my returning PMDD symptoms. One thing I might do is get back on Lexapro, and add Wellbutrin to combat the side effects. I would rather try a more natural approach before getting medicated again, so another thing I am considering is CBD oil. Weed has never been my gig, and I’ve never smoked it, but my impression of CBD is that it’s an entirely different thing. I probably will try a multitude of different treatments, and see which one works best for my life and my body. To anyone who is struggling with mental illness or a debilitating disorder, don’t give up! There are people designated to helping you and supporting you on your journey, so never hesitate to reach out to them. I have never regretted for asking for help with my PMDD, and because of that, I know I have these versatile options for managing it. Fellow women with PMDD- what are your stories and self-care methods?

Anyway, tomorrow is going to be a work day. I’m posting this, for one thing, and then I will be chugging through some schoolwork for the rest of the evening. I’ve really enjoyed writing in a diary-style format, and hope to continue sharing my personal experiences of my daily life (though maybe not too many, because I’m pretty sure some faculty members at my college read my blog). Thank you for reading and catching up with me!


Coming up this week:

9/16- What’s in Season in September?

9/18- My Numbers Have Colors: Synesthesia

9/20- Gift Guide: The Perfect BOOK For Everyone on Your List

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