stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can't remember who we are or why we're here. ― Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees
I found this list of 365 thought provoking questions the other day, and thought provoking they truly are, some even unpleasant and uncomfortable. but because I do believe in digging deep, because I enjoy reading questionnaires and relish answering them myself even more [yes, I have some narcissistic tendencies too], and because I think sharing our stories is a fundamental human need and what connects us all well past age, gender, social status, ethnicity and financial or educational background, I thought I share them here over the next few months. some questions I might skip. some I might answer in a different way than intended. some I’ll bitch about. for a full list of all of them check out the link below. if you want to join and bare your soul to the world too, please leave a link in the comment section.
1. when was the last time you tried something new? – I try to do something new every day, even if it’s only a new dish or walking down a different road. in respect to bigger things, that was three days ago when I tried white-water rafting and zip lining.
2. who do you sometimes compare yourself to? - to everyone all the time and no one. comparison is at the root of all evil and leads to fear, anxiety, judgement and insecurities. that said, for me it’s always hardest not to compare myself to people I just met. I’m impressed and want to impress in return. when I realize that I am subconsciously comparing myself, and it happens more often than I care to admit, I try to re-label it as ‘looking for perspectives.’ it’s not about who is better, more successful, more determined, better looking… you name it. all of us are unique.
3. what’s the most sensible thing you’ve ever heard someone say? – it is what it is. I don’t remember who said it, when I heard it for the first time, at what age or in what context. I assume it was a long, long time ago. but it’s still the one thing that changed my way of looking at life the most profoundly, followed by nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so, a Shakespeare quote, which is essentially the same, I know, but at some point in the distant past I had needed the context.
4. what gets you excited about life? – finding the meaning in whatever happens, be it big or small. I’ve embraced uncertainty as much as I can, which doesn’t mean it doesn’t freak me out on a more or less daily basis. expecting the unexpected has become the most interesting part of my day-to-day life. I appreciate random encounters with people, conversations that are so strange that no one would believe they actually happened would you tell them, things happening exactly when you need them and things not happening when you need them, which subsequently forces you to figure out what life or the universe or god, whatever it is you believe in, is trying to teach you. everything happens for a reason but nothing makes any sense. at least not right away. but there is a lesson to be learned from everything.
5. what life lesson did you learn the hard way? – that you have to put yourself first! you alone are responsible for yourself and you are the only person that can make yourself happy. no-one and no-thing can do that for you. you are enough. – for the longest time I had thought that having the right partner, the right job, the right apartment in the right part of town, the right dress size and haircut, the right kind of friends and a sufficient amount of public recognition would make me happy and that I wasn’t enough before I’d reach that elusive, ever-changing, mysterious point far, far in the future. but nearly ten years of struggling with depression took away almost everything of what hadn’t been enough up to that point, which of course in retrospect was quite spectacular and plenty enough for a lifetime, but instead of falling apart completely I learned that I am all that matters. for a while I felt quite selfish for putting myself first. our society values individuality, being proactive and extroverted but at the same time requires at least a superficial decorum of modesty and humility, a contradiction that is constantly pulling us in opposite directions. being quite vocal about putting myself first and not caring about a friend’s problems at work, the homeless person down the road or the imminent demise of our whole species felt all wrong. and of course I still cared. I just didn’t act on it but focused on doing things for myself instead. I stopped judging myself. the world would have to wait for me to save it. and our demise was probably not as imminent as I thought anyways. and of course the second I stopped being incredibly harsh to myself and accepted that what I am now is enough, I stopped being incredibly harsh to others and everything fell into place. as a result, I’ve developed a huge amount of resilience that still surprises me on a day to day basis. I take things for what they are but don’t let them define me any longer. I’m more [or less] then the sum of my thoughts and actions. I sometimes fail, but I’m not a failure. I sometimes act like a bitch, but I’m not a bitch. I sometimes fuck up, but I’m not fucked up. equally, I sometime win, but I’m not a winner.
6. what do you wish you spent more time doing five years ago? – being present instead of living in my head, the past or the future!
7. do you ask enough questions or do you settle for what you know? – if that’s possible, I probably ask too many questions. all the time. over and over again.
8. who do you love and what are you doing about it? – I love my friends and try to be there for them. I wish I would love my mother more than I do but am doing absolutely nothing about it. romantically, I’d love to be in love, but I don’t think there is anything I can do to force it.
9. what’s a belief that you hold with which many people disagree? – I’m quite unpopular for believing that it’s important to face and feel whatever it is that’s right in front of you. no drinking, shopping sprees or random sex to get over whatever it is that has happened. it’s ok to take the edge off every so often, but otherwise you got to deal with life or it comes back to bite you in the ass. usually with a vengeance.
10. what can you do today that you were not capable of a year ago? – 30+ push-ups