I live a life of absolutes. Or at least I would love to.

I love absolutes. I love exactness. I love details. I love when people tell me exactly what to do, but I also love telling people what to do the other half of the time. But most of all, I love choosing exactly when I want to love these things. And that’s the main issue.

Sometimes being this way works out great. It makes me happy and I feel like people enjoy knowing that I’ll do exactly what they tell me. It’s not draining. In fact, it’s draining to me to be the other way. Chasing details, wondering, and the discomfort of just…not knowing everything. A lot of times, I’m expecting other people to know exactly what I want and cater to it.

It doesn’t mean I can’t ask for help. But being this way doesn’t always work out great because I seem to choose very random times to want absolutes. And I expect everyone to just know. That’s wrong for 2 reasons, at the very least. One, I need to state my needs if I have them. Two, I can’t expect people to read my mind and want to care that I have these needs.

I also can’t expect that everyone is like me. On a small level, I understand we all have different personality types. But on a deeper level, I see that I don’t understand it. I don’t fully embrace it or fully admit or accept that this is reality especially if I’m mindlessly…mindless. Maybe that’s a thing I need to work on. I went through a group seminar thing on skills for mental health stuff and our first unit was mindfulness. It was a lot more in depth than I had ever learned and the times I did implement it I felt more…aware of myself. And it felt good to challenge myself.

I love absolutes because it gives me control over everything. And when things feel out of control, I cling even harder to this ideal. Like, ok, if I can’t control anything in my life…why don’t I try to control everything else? When in fact, I need to look at myself. Every time. For example, one thing I feel very little control over is eating/my relationship with food. It’s disordered in the sense that I…can’t fucking figure out what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat, how I feel about myself and how I look…and when I spiral emotionally, I spiral in terms of food. And I don’t starve myself or throw it up, but I go deep into a hole of self-despair and I feel less than because I have an extra layer of fat on my stomach. And then I binge eat and don’t take care of myself, and it’s bad. So when I can’t control what I eat or how I feel about it (or at least, I feel like I can’t, but I know I can, I just talk myself down and discourage myself — maybe to avoid potential failure? Oh my. Story for another time…), I try to control everything else. Including other people.

And that’s just very disrespectful and impossible and rude and not really okay to do. It’s caused friction in my own emotional mind and in my relationships.

Other ways that this affects my relationships with other people is that I notice that everything that happens has to be blamed on someone in my head. It’s either my fault or someone else’s, and most times I try to find faults in both people so I can work on something of my own, and I can also feel like I wasn’t totally wrong. Which isn’t always true, but it’s more often than not the case. But either way, that can be a very shitty thing to do. I also tend to expect that people see things as my fault — as the one who is usually more sensitive and aggressive and emotional (yeah, I’m weird, I’m super sensitive but because of that I’m really aggressive in response), I’m usually the problem. So by expecting that from the get-go, I set myself up for failure and I fulfill exactly what I am trying to avoid.

I know I have a rarer personality type and I know I can be difficult to deal with. I tend to be more aggressive, with darker and sometimes dorkier humor, and I can be pessimistic. I can vibe with some people on this level, but that actually pushes me to try and be the more positive one and I feel like that’s when I hit my groove. And I know you can’t always pick the people you are around, such as with coworkers or family. That is essentially assigned…so I will need to work hard to be around that. And maybe I shouldn’t go on a trip that has literally every component that makes me a grumpy jerk (aka no sleep, eating out every night but being unable to control myself, not being able to work out and it’s been 1.5 months total and that’s insane, being in an unfamiliar foreign country, and spending 24/7 with the same people for more than like a week). I need to know my limits, set them, but also be prepared to be flexible.

I’m honestly not sure how I feel about all of this. These are all things I know about myself, and I have known for awhile. But I guess I’m adding just a few more pieces to the puzzle so I can improve. I know that for my own good I should go to therapy and I will when I get back, I actually may have a special deal worked out for it through work. I haven’t been this stressed in so long, which is funny because I’m on vacation. Well you know what vacation is to me? Eating good things but all in moderation and not feeling stressed about not being able to find food in a completely unfamiliar country or going hungry. Being able to go on a run and workout without feeling like I’m going to get murdered or lost without a phone that has GPS abilities. Being around people who don’t just say “oh, it’s just Jen being hungry and needing food”, but rather actually understand how and why food is important. And having a freaking plan or schedule. But most of all, being around people who can be flexible in the same way I can.

That’s a lot to ask though. That’s a lot of things I can’t control. I surely could eat better and sleep more and request more time alone, but I also want to go sightseeing and there’s no point in doing that alone especially when I know I’d get lost. So I’m a little stuck. But I can work around it. So, anyway, it’s almost the end of May. I haven’t written a lot, but I need to write more. I crawled to the finish line of this school year and I would very much like to do better.



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Jen Xu

Athletic trainer, PhD student, coffee lover. I write about fitness, mental health, being Asian-American, and personal growth.