Another Quick Update

Ugh.

Liam is still sick. I haven’t slept in over a week, and I am miserable. I was finally able to bring him to the clinic today, and found out that he has a double ear infection and a post-nasal drip. Fantastic. Got some antibiotics.

Kyle has been applying to a dozen jobs a day since getting fired, but they are all dead ends, and are going nowhere. He has his second job still, but his department’s hours got cut, and we can’t live off of his 12 hours a week.

Family drama. Kyle’s mom was just diagnosed with clinical depression, which she has been struggling with, and has openly talked to us all about. We all love and support her, and she knows that. After getting on medication, Kyle’s grandmother (yep, same one I’ve written about before) took it upon herself to group message myself, and both of Kyle’s sisters, on Facebook, telling us that we need to “behave”, and lecturing us about this disease. We are all grown adults, who have each struggled with our own demons and darkness, and she really struck a nerve with all of us. But that’s just what she does.

So, yeah. That’s my life at the moment. I’m sorry that I have been absent. I have been having a hard time with… everything. How are you all? Did you have a nice Easter? We don’t really celebrate, but we went to Kyle’s mom’s and Liam had an indoor Easter egg hunt (it was raining). Fun times.

CenRPihWEAABAQL

Jan

Daily Prompt 3/13/2016 | Incomplete

My apartment is currently a disaster. I’ve been sick for three days now, and my tiny toddler is using up every ounce of energy that I have left in me, which isn’t very much at all. I have a long list of things that I desperately need to accomplish, and just haven’t had the time to do.

In response to The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt 3/13/2016 | Incomplete

My apartment is currently a disaster. I’ve been sick for three days now, and my tiny toddler is using up every ounce of energy that I have left in me, which isn’t very much at all. I have a long list of things that I desperately need to accomplish, and just haven’t had the time to do.

Fun fact: Just because you are a stay-at-home parent, and spend the entire day inside the walls of your home, that does not mean that you will have tons of free time to get things done, and clean, and make your home beautiful. Nope. Basically the exact opposite, actually.

I thought I would share with you my list of things I need to get done, and share with you my excuses as to why they remain incomplete to this day.

1. The Dishes
I’ve written about my dishes before, and it hasn’t gotten any better. The dishes used to be Kyle’s one chore, even back when I was working full-time, and he was unemployed, I only tasked him with the chore of doing the dishes, and it was such a fight to get him to do them more often than once a week. For those who don’t know, Kyle is my fully grown, adult husband, and not a teenage boy.
After the baby came, I stopped working, and Kyle started working full-time, and getting him to do anything, especially the dishes, was impossible. At one point, and I am embarrassed to even be telling you this, our dishes had gone undone for 3 months. Every few days, I chipped away at the top layer of dishes, but the ones at the bottom… absolutely disgusting. After a few weeks, I was able to get them done, and they were easier to keep up with after that.
Recently, Liam has been in this needy, clingy stage, and will not let me leave his side to do anything. I can’t pee, I can’t cook, I can’t do the dishes or clean, or get on the computer, or he loses his mind. The only free time I get is when he is sleeping, but my apartment is so small that I can only do quiet activities (like sleeping…), which means no dishes. So, they are stacking up again. Ugh. I’ll pay some one to come do them for me. Please?

2. Toddler Proofing
My house is reasonably baby proof. The outlets are all covered, and dangerous items are high up, and out of the reach of my tiny human. However, my apartment is NOT toddler proof, and I am learning very quickly that my 13 month old son is way smarter than I give him credit for. He has started climbing, and opening, and grabbing, and getting into so much trouble. I have a book shelf in my living room, which contains Liam’s baby books on the bottom two shelves, and a miscellaneous assortment of not-for-baby objects on the top three shelves. Well, my toddler is now tall enough to reach all but the top shelf, and keeps getting into our stuff. Same goes for my desk, and the DVD shelves next to my desk. I am running out of places to stack my crap, so I really need to actually clean up my living room, and organize my stuff, so that it looks presentable, and safe. I was prepared for a baby, NOT for a toddler!

3. My Toilet
Anyone else have a man in their house who always manages to get pee on the outside of the toilet? Or on the floor? I find myself constantly wiping up after the grown man in my life, and it drives me nuts. Honestly, I blame the toilet. Our seat has been broken since we moved in, and the toilet is REALLY small. Kyle and I have lived in several apartments together, and this was never a problem. I find myself having to clean the toilet all the time, and I hate it. I also recently decided that I would invest in bleach tablets or something for my toilet, which means I am now a certified adult, right? I hate cleaning the toilet, man.

4. Liam’s Crib
I’ve been avoiding it for a while, but the time has come to drop Liam’s crib down to the lowest level. My 13 month old is just getting too tall, and has been trying to climb out recently. He can’t climb out yet, but I want to be proactive, just in case he figures it out. Where has the time gone? What happened to my tiny baby? I have this nearly 3 foot tall child now. WHAT? I also have a toddler bed sitting in the closet, waiting to be put together, but that won’t happen for a little while yet. Ahhh!

5. Landlord Crap
I’ve never met my landlord. Instead, I go through a realty company, who then relays messages to him. This is a bullshit, awful system, and nothing gets done. Last spring, I called realtors to tell them that none of our windows have screens on them, and thanks to the spiders, lady beetles, and misc. stinging insects that reside outside of my apartment, we were unable to open our windows at all. We also have no central air (which they lied to us about, another story entirely), and did not have an air conditioner at the time. The woman I talked to said she would send someone out immediately to measure our windows. Yeah, that never happened. Almost a year later, we still don’t have screens, and the weather is warming up, and I have to call them. Again.
Not only do we need screens, but our back door is crooked and bugs literally just waltz into our apartment, along with debris and weather from outside, but we have also had a hole in our ceiling, as a result of the leak in our ceiling that we experienced during our FIRST NIGHT in our apartment. The leak was fixed. The hole was not. Renting is just so fun.

Those are just a few things that I need to be completed, that probably won’t get completed any time in the foreseeable future. Ugh. Adult stuff. Ugh. Stress.

Thanks for reading, friends!

Jan

Mommy/Daddy Birth Interview Assignment

Hello, friends! Recently, my good friend, Lindsey, asked to interview Kyle and I on our pregnancy/birth/baby experiences as part of a school assignment, and I was more than happy to do it! I thought it would be fun to share with you our answers, so you get a chance to hear a bit from the daddy part of our parenting duo. I had so much fun doing this interview, and it made me miss being pregnant! The baby fever is REAL, guys! Here was our interview:

Mother: Janise
1. How did you find out that you going to become a parent?
We weren’t trying to have a baby, per se, but we weren’t preventing it. We both wanted a baby, and after a while, I had my suspicions that it finally happened. I went to the store and bought two of those 88 cent pregnancy tests, the ones with the silly droppers, and sure enough, they came out positive!

2. How did you react when you heard the news?
I was excited. Really excited.

3. What was pregnancy like?
A breeze, honestly. They say something like 2/3 of women experience morning sickness, which can last for months, or the entire pregnancy, but I never had any at all. I never had any symptoms at all until the last few weeks when my feet swelled, which was awful!

4. What was the birth process like?
I wish I had been more informed of my options, and what could go wrong during labor and delivery. Despite a healthy pregnancy, I developed preeclampsia during labor, and had to be put on a Magnesium drip to keep my blood pressure down, but then it dropped really low, which made me incredibly sick. I had an epidural as well, and Pitocin to help my labor, so I didn’t feel anything at all. I was exhausted though, and slept a lot. I labored for about 14 hours, and pushed for an hour and a half. The pushing was the worst. My epidural had started to wear off, and I was starting to feel again. It was weird though, because I didn’t feel pain, just a LOT of pressure. My partner had to leave the room, and after pushing on my back for an hour, they had me switch to the supine position (on all fours), which was awful, and a lot harder. I felt like I didn’t have a lot of control or say in what happened, and when they would tell me to push, I felt like it wasn’t the right time. Yet when I knew it was time to push, they told me not to. It was really stressful, and I felt very alone, despite being in a room full of people.

5. What do you remember the most?
The moment they handed my son to me. I was still on my knees and elbows, and they handed him to me through my legs. I felt completely numb, and overwhelmingly happy, seeing his face for the first time. That made all the pain, the sickness, and the 4-day hospital stay totally worth it!

6. What do you remember about the first month after the baby was born?
Pain. A lot of pain. You hear a lot about the pain of birth, but no one ever talks about what your body goes through afterwards. I bled for six weeks, and because I suffered a 4th degree perineal tear during delivery, I had a hard time doing much of anything. Housework went completely undone, because my partner had to go back to work early, and I was alone all day, every day, with this newborn. It was a little overwhelming.

7. Is it what you expected?
Honestly, some things were easier, and some things were harder. Not to toot my own horn, but I discovered that I was kind of a natural at the whole motherhood thing. I knew exactly what my son wanted based on his crying, and that made things so easy. He was such a good baby, too! Slept great, didn’t have any colic, and ate like a tiny linebacker. The hardest, most disappointing thing for me, personally, was not being able to breastfeed. I had all these hopes that I was going to exclusively breastfeed, but it never happened for us. He just wouldn’t latch, and I found it impossible to pump enough. I still feel guilty about it.

8. At what point did you feel “comfortable” with a new baby and taking care of him/her?
Within weeks, if not earlier. The first few nights were a bit of a shock, and really confusing. I didn’t have any family or friends to help me, or answer questions, so I relied a lot on the internet to get me through it. I read a lot, and it paid off. He was only a few weeks old and I felt like a pro. It relieved a lot of stress and worry.

9. Did having a baby change your outlook on your partner?
Honestly, yeah, a little bit. Getting him to change a diaper, even 13 months later, is a fight. He used to get frustrated so easily when the baby cried, and he didn’t know why. It is frustrating, feeling like you are doing 99% of the work in raising your child, especially when the other parent is actually there, but he helps out when he is able, which I appreciate.

10. Did having a baby change your sex life?
Completely. I feel really bad about it, really, because we had a great sex life before, even when I was 7 or 8 months pregnant. But thanks to my traumatic delivery, it has been difficult. My body took a very long time to heal, and it is still uncomfortable for me to have sex now, but there isn’t much I can do about it.

11. What is your least favorite thing about being a parent?
The judgment. Parenting itself came easily to me, but the judgment that I’ve received from family, friends, and even complete strangers, is disheartening. Every little thing that I post online, someone always has to say something. Everything from not being able to breastfeed, to co-sleeping (which we stopped doing when my son turned 6 months old), to letting him use a pacifier. Someone always thinks you’re doing something wrong. It took me a long time to adjust to that, and to realize that my son is happy, healthy, and crazy far ahead in his development, so they can go find someone else to judge!

12. What is the best thing about being a parent?
Lately, it has been being able to actually PLAY with my son. He is finally walking and running around, and it makes life so much more fun. Before, when he was just a tiny thing, we could only play on one spot, on the floor, which was great… but this is so much better. Seeing him grow and develop, and learn new things, it is so amazing.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Father: Kyle

1. How did you find out that you going to become a parent?
We kind of knew for a while that it was going to happen. She bought a few pregnancy tests, and I was outside the bathroom door, and then we knew she was pregnant.

2. How did you react when you heard the news?
I was a little scared, but I was happy, too.

3. What was pregnancy like?
Not very different really. She didn’t have any cravings, or mood swings, or anything like that. Her stomach just grew.

4. What was the birth process like?
Scary. I wasn’t able to be in the room, I just couldn’t handle it. I was still there, on the other side of the curtain, but it was still scary. I was expecting her to scream, like they always show on shows and in the movies, but she didn’t scream at all.

5. What do you remember the most?
I remember when Janise threw up on me, because she had to take Magnesium, and it made her really sick. She wasn’t even completely awake when it happened. They didn’t let her eat anything, but then they gave her an apple, because she was so weak, but it didn’t stay down. That, and cutting the umbilical cord, which I did do!

6. What do you remember about the first month after the baby was born?
A lot of crying. I got really sick right after he was born, and we found out it was because of my blood pressure, and probably stress. So I remember a lot of crying, and being sick all the time.

7. Is it what you expected?
No, it was actually a lot easier. I thought it was going to be like death, or the end of everything normal, but it has been really easy. He is really good.

8. At what point did you feel “comfortable” with a new baby and taking care of him/her?
Umm, I think after he turned 5 or 6 months old, and he wasn’t so tiny anymore. It was less scary. I was always afraid to do anything when he was really small.

9. Did having a baby change your outlook on your partner?
Not really. It has been really cool to see her as a mom though.

10. Did having a baby change your sex life?
YES. It did! Drastically.

11. What is your least favorite thing about being a parent?
I can’t really think of anything. I didn’t have a life or friends previously, so not much has changed about my social life, except now there are three of us here. She’s made it pretty easy for me. I don’t have to change any of the bad diapers.

12. What is the best thing about being a parent?
Seeing how goofy my son is. He’s just like me. The weird faces he makes, and just how silly and funny he is, it just makes my day. He is a funny kid.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks for reading, friends! Thanks again to Lindsey for choosing to interview us. I hope you enjoyed our answers!

Was your pregnancy/birth experience similar to ours?

Jan (and Kyle!)

The 5 Love Languages Test

Recently, I stumbled across a Good Mythical Morning video on YouTube, which inspired me to create a bit of a writing challenge for myself, revolving around The 5 Love Languages Test. The 5 Love Languages Test was developed by Dr. Gary Chapman, who is an accomplished author, as well as a marriage counselor, and motivational speaker. The test is a series of only 30 questions, which help you determine your love language (or your child’s), and what is most important to you in a relationship. There are 5 different love languages: Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Quality Time, and Receiving Gifts.

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Once you complete the test, these 5 love languages will be listed, in order of importance to you, based on how you answered, and you will be given a complete breakdown on what your results mean. Here were my results:

score

According to the website, my highest scoring language was Acts of Service, with 12/30 points. The website defines Acts of Service as the following:

“Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter. Finding ways to serve speaks volumes to the recipient of these acts.”

Do I agree with my final results?

Nail. On. The. Head!

As a stay-at-home mom, nearly all of my time and energy is spent on my son. Cooking meals, cleaning up spills, changing diapers, teaching, playing, etc. The time that I’m not spending with my son, such as during his naps, are usually spent taking care of myself. Things such as showering, finding something of my own to eat, or even catching a short nap so that I don’t fall asleep in the middle of building a Mega Bloks tower, become priority when my little monster is in his crib. Dishes, vacuuming, folding laundry, scrubbing the toilet, and other household chores, just melt away into the chaos, and my apartment slowly turns into a war torn country. Acts of Service are like tiny Christmases in my life. They don’t happen nearly as often as I would like, however, and that is a problem for me.

My fiance works 55-65 hours a week between his two jobs, and is usually exhausted by the time he gets home. He simply does not have the time, or energy, to help me with the housework, or with our toddler. I hate my apartment being messy, and while I do manage to find the time to keep my living room, and my son’s room, neat and organized, there is so much more that I wish I could get done, but I definitely don’t really have the time or energy either.

Recently, my son had been going through a bit of sleep regression/separation anxiety, and was waking me up every hour to hour and a half. I slept terribly, and so did he. Despite this, he still managed to wake up, bright and early, ready to begin his day. I, on the other hand, could not move. My fiance, who did not have to work until later in the morning, and was still home, got out of bed, changed our son’s diaper, and occupied him for a bit so that I could get a few extra minutes of sleep before making them breakfast. In the 13 months my son has been in this world, my his father has only changed 7 diapers, including that one. He’s verrry squeamish, and even pee diapers make him queasy. For him to realize that I was basically comatose, and to take care of our son so that I could get those few moments to myself, truly meant so much to me. It wasn’t exactly emptying our sink of all the dirty dishes, but it was a huge help. If we weren’t already engaged, I would put a ring on that man so fast if he did my dishes for me…

What about my other scores?

If you had asked me all these same questions pre-baby, my answers would have been completely different. My obsession with keeping my apartment reasonably clean has basically consumed all of me, and at the end of the day, I have no desire for anything else, much to my fiance’s dismay. I’m not surprised that Physical Touch is at the bottom of the list, as it has never been that important to me to begin with, intimate or otherwise. I’ve never been big on affection in public, but lately, we have both just been too exhausted to even cuddle with each other on the couch. Well, about half of the time.

Which brings us to Quality Time, the second highest result. While I may be low on my desire for Physical Touch, I do very much love my fiance, and I value what little time we do get to spend together. We don’t have date nights, or anything like that, but even sitting next to each other, watching Netflix, means a lot to me. I look forward to the one day a week that he gets off, just so that we can go to the store as a family, or go for a walk. That means so much to me.

Words of Affirmation and Receiving Gifts are also low on my list of results, and there is a good reason… I simply don’t like them. Pre-baby, these things would have been tied for the absolute bottom, because both make me quite uncomfortable. Sure, I appreciate hearing, “I love you.” every once in a while, but other than that, I do not take compliments, or gifts well, even from a significant other. Every birthday, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day, I insist that Kyle not get me anything, but he refuses, and I end up with flowers, candy, a cute stuffed animal, or a new piece of jewelry. I don’t mind getting these things from him (as opposed to getting presents from family, which makes me incredibly uncomfortable, but they will not listen to reason) but they aren’t things that I actively desire. Same thing with compliments. It makes me smile when someone tells me I am a good mom, but I definitely don’t like compliments pertaining to my appearance, even from Kyle. I just don’t. Never have.

All in all, I would say that I completely agree with my results, and I understand why I got them. I didn’t necessarily learn anything new about myself, as I’ve always been pretty in-tune with my needs, but I feel like I should sit down with Kyle, show him my results, explain what they mean to me, and have him take the test as well, so that we better understand what we need from the other person. Our relationship is great, but it is not without flaws and challenges, and I feel like this exercise could help us out.

My challenge to you: Take the test, and write a post about your results, and how you felt about them. Were you surprised by your results, or were they expected? Did you learn anything new about yourself? I encourage anyone reading this to take the test, whether you are in a relationship or not. You can even take the test for your child. Who knows, it may help you understand your own needs, or someone else’s, a bit better. Let me know if you do!

Thanks for reading, friends.

Jan

Trichotillomania and Baby Eyelash Envy

Hello, friends. I want to share something with you that I don’t talk much about. It’s not a secret, per se, but just not something I generally talk about. I have trichotillomaniaFor those of you who don’t know what that long, bizarre word means, here is an even longer definition:

Trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh) is a disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body, despite trying to stop.

Hair pulling from the scalp often leaves patchy bald spots, which causes significant distress and can interfere with social or work functioning. People with trichotillomania may go to great lengths to disguise the loss of hair.

For some people, trichotillomania may be mild and generally manageable. For others, the compulsive urge to pull hair is overwhelming. Some treatment options have helped many people reduce their hair pulling or stop entirely.” ~ Mayo Clinic

This affliction is actually fairly common, and there are so many different degrees of severity. I honestly don’t know how long I’ve had trichotillomania, but I remember becoming aware of it around the 8th grade. My symptoms are not nearly as severe as some people that I know (I went to school with a girl who had to wear beanies to hide small bald patches from her pulling her hair out), which I am thankful for, and they pop up randomly, usually when I am stressed, anxious, or upset, but sometimes I do it out of boredom, and don’t even notice it. I pull my facial hair, specifically, my eyebrows and eyelashes. When I was younger, I had long, thick, black eyelashes. If you’ve seen pictures of my son, picture those beautiful eyeballs of his, on my face, with blue irises.

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Look at him! He’s perfect. He got those eyes from his mama.

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Circa 2008 or so.

These days, both my eyelashes and eyebrows are coarse and unappealing. My eyelashes are still long, but there are noticeable (to me) gaps between them, making them look clumpy. It makes wearing mascara difficult, because I then drive myself crazy trying to separate the clumps, and end up with black fingers. I also can’t wear eyeliner well on my upper eyelids because of the thick gaps in my eyelashes, and how thick the skin is at the root. I am actually incredibly embarrassed about these things. I’ve also, on more than one occasion, pulled my eyelashes out so violently, that it caused my eyelid to become swollen and red. Try explaining that to someone who doesn’t understand mental disorders.

Most days, when I’m home alone with the baby, makeup free, I am okay with it. I don’t mind the gaps in my lashes, or the coarseness of my eyebrows… until someone mentions my son’s lashes. My mother and grandmother, specifically, are able to get under my skin about this. It isn’t their fault, as neither of them know about my struggles with trichotillomania, and likely haven’t noticed the difference in my face, as I haven’t seen either of them in years, but it still gets to me. I sometimes find myself feeling jealous of my one-year old son, because he has these beautiful lashes, and I will probably never have that again. Coincidentally, my trichotillomania worsened after my son was born, but has gotten a bit better.

“He has your eyes! You always had such gorgeous lashes!”
“Look at those LASHES! Just like his mommy!”
“You had the prettiest eyelashes when you were younger, too!”

Past tense now, of course.

It can take several weeks to several months for eyelashes to grow back, though there are little tricks to get them to grow faster and thicker. Of course, the rate at which they grow back means nothing if you continue to pull others out in the meantime. It’s a vicious cycle. I’m also a compulsive skin picker (hurray, adult acne!), but that’s a whooole other problem. Just add that to the list of weird things that add to my many reasons that I suffer from such severe self-esteem issues.

Does anyone else suffer from trichotillomania? Were you aware that there was even a term for it? How has it affected your life?

Thanks for reading, friends.

Jan

Daily Prompt 2/15/2016 | Working For Free

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt 2/15/2016 | Money for Nothing

If you’re like most of us, you need to earn money by working for a living. Describe your ultimate job. If you’re in your dream job, tell us all about it — what is it that you love? What fulfills you? If you’re not in your dream job, describe for us what your ultimate job would be.”

My current job title is Super Mom… you may have also heard of the titles Stay-at-Home Mom, or SAHM. Those are the same thing. It’s a pretty demanding job, and includes early mornings, late nights, mandatory overtime, bio-hazardous waste cleanup, and being Chef de Cuisine, mastering the crafts of mac ‘n cheese, broccoli and cheese omelettes, and oatmeal. Did I mention that I perform these various tasks with absolutely no pay? It’s true. My bank account is about as empty as it comes. And I’m okay with that.

I always knew that I wanted to be a mother, and I even knew that I wanted to have my first child when I was 24 years old, which I did. However, I always thought that I would have had my degree, a house, and decent income by 24 years old as well… and that didn’t happen.

I went to school to study Psychology, something that I have been passionate about since elementary school. I planned to work with children and teenagers in a school setting, or even as a social worker for the state, but specifically for lower income families. Maybe even start my own practice, where people pay only what they can afford. Growing up, I had a hard life. Sure, it could have been worse, but it was hard for me. I dealt with divorce, abuse, poverty, and witnessing my mom’s abuse. It took it’s toll on me, and I ended up developing some severe self-esteem issues by the time I was in elementary school, which carried into middle school, where my grades started suffering, and I developed some self-abusive habits, which worsened as I entered high school. In high school, I made some choices that I wish I hadn’t, and let people take advantage of me. I also came very close to losing someone very close to me to suicide, who ended up making it through, but blamed me for it, and turned my friends against me.

The reason I am telling you all of this is because I want to share with you how helpless and alone I felt. My school did not have any qualified counselors that I could speak to, and I wasn’t close enough with any of my teachers to let them into my life. My mom did not have any sort of insurance, and even though she knew about my issues, she couldn’t afford to get me the help that I needed. I suffered in silence, and my relationships with everyone around me crumbled. I first attempted suicide at 15 years old, then again at 16. I survived, but what if I hadn’t?

I don’t know how my life would be different if I had gotten the help that I needed, and still need, but I feel like I would be more comfortable in my own skin, and would know a bit more about why I am the way I am, and feel the way I feel. Being a teenager is hard, and there is a lot more going on than most would lead you to know. It is important to talk about issues, otherwise they can eat you away from the inside. I needed someone to talk to during those years, and I had no one, and it damaged me. Lower income families, and the children within them, are especially susceptible to bullying, self-esteem issues, and abuse, and help for these kids is not always available, or affordable. I want to change that.

I’ve had a lot of setbacks with school, mostly financial, but I still hold onto that dream. I want to make a difference, to help people, and I truly believe that I will someday.

Thank you for reading, friends.

Jan

Daily Prompt 2/4/2016 | Alone In A Crowded Room

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt 2/4/2016 | Naked with Black Socks

“Are you comfortable in front of people, or does the idea of public speaking make you want to hide in the bathroom? Why?”

My brain is complicated when it comes to my anxieties over people, and how I perform under pressure. Public speaking terrifies me. Speaking in a small group terrifies me. Speaking to someone one-on-one in a professional setting terrifies me, for example, if I am at an interview. Don’t even get me started on parties. I am a freaking turtle in her shell at parties. Despite my anxieties, I’m a pretty decent performer under pressure, especially when it comes to school. As long as I have something to focus on that is important to me, I’m usually able to able to conquer my anxieties, and come out on top… there is usually some sort of mini breakdown afterwards, but that is besides the point.

A good example of this is when I was a freshman in college. I was in an Environmental Sciences class, with mostly juniors and seniors, who were looking for easy science credits. I didn’t know anyone in the class, except for my then-boyfriend’s cousin, who really didn’t want anything to do with me. We were told to get into groups of four for group projects, and I just sat in the back, waiting for everyone to group up, so that I could join whoever was left.

The last 3 remaining were a group of girls, who I could tell right away felt that they had better things to do than be in the class. We introduced ourselves, and listened to the professor explain the project. Each group would pick a country out of a bowl, and we would have make a presentation on that country, including details about the economy, climate, religions, landmarks, etc. Each person in the group had to speak on a specific topic pertaining to the country, for 4-5 minutes, making the average group presentation about 16-20 minutes long. We would be presenting over the course of several days.

The entire time he spoke, I was sweating. I had never had to speak for more than 30-60 seconds in front of a group, and even then, it was usually a group of friends, or at least people I had known for a little while. My group seemed very disinterested, and I had a hard time getting their contact info so that we could work on our project together. They were all juniors and seniors, and none of them lived on campus, and when I suggested meeting in the library, they might as well have laughed in my face. Eventually, I convinced them that that was best, as I had no transportation off campus, and the library had a ton of resources for us to use.

In the following weeks, I realized that I was the only one in my group taking the project seriously. I was also the only one showing up to meetings. I would sit in the library, usually alone, unless my boyfriend came down to help me, working on my portion of the project, which was about the environment. Specifically, I was talking about the pollution of the Ganges River, and the endangered Ganges River Dolphin (oh, we got India, in case I didn’t mention that). My boyfriend even helped me sew a beautiful sari, which I spoke briefly about in the introduction of my part. I reached out to the other girls several times, asking them if they needed help, or if they wanted to meet to rehearse our projects, but they blew me off.

Twice, I worked with one of the girls from the group, who was doing her report on Mother Theresa. Each time, she brought her young toddler son, and spent more time playing/chasing him around, than working. I ended up doing a chunk of the research, and writing half of her speech, for her. I was so frustrated, because this was a GROUP project, meaning we all would share a grade, and I was the only one doing anything.

The day of my group’s presentation arrived, and I was surprised that the other girls even showed up. The first one to present spoke about India’s economy, and her bit lasted just over 3 minutes. She had no visuals, or anything else to go along with it. We were the last group of the day to present, and no one was paying attention at all. The second girl spoke very briefly about pollution, as well as the environment, which irritated me, because that was not her topic. It was mine. The other girls even gave me a look as if to say, “Um, did you know about this?” Her bit lasted just a few minutes, and just like the first girl, she had no visuals to go along with her presentation.

Then came the girl doing Mother Theresa. About 5 seconds into her presentation, she turned to the teacher, said that she didn’t feel well, and quickly ran from the room. That got everyone’s attention, and all eyes turned to me. I now had to make up a ridiculous amount of time, thanks to the slack of the first 3 in my group. Luckily, I was pretty prepared. I introduced myself, and spoke about the sari that I wore, my voice trembling slightly. More people started paying attention, interested in the garb. Even though their eyes were on me, I was elsewhere, somewhere inside my head. I needed to do well, because I was not about to fail this after working so hard. I also had a slideshow presentation, which went along with my note cards, and a trifold display board with pictures and facts. I was prepared, and it felt good.

I ended up speaking for a total of 7 minutes. After the first minute or so, I felt completely in control, and everything else faded away. My presentation could have been even longer, but class ended. Afterwards, my group left without a word, and the professor asked to see me for his office hours later in the day. When I went to see him, he told me that he would be grading me separately from my group, as he could see that I was the only one who put in any effort. I nearly cried. I candidly told him how it had been so difficult to get any of them to work with me, and he completely understood.

I received an overall score of 93/100 for my project, and ended the school year with an A- in the class. I never spoke to the other girls again after that class ended. Honestly, that was probably my proudest moment that whole year.

Thank you for reading, friends.

Jan