Underneath my yellow skin

The only thing I have to fear is fear itself

It’s time to admit it–I’m depressed. Not just the low-level depression that I always carry in my back pocket, but full-blow depressed. It’s not as bad as when I was chronically almost-catatonic depressed, but it flirts with that end of the spectrum more often than I care to admit. The one saving grace is that I know it’s outside of me, but that’s not always enough to stave off the demons.

It’s hard because good things are happening for my friends. That’s not the hard part. I am ecstatic for them as I love it when good things happen to people I love, especially when it’s the fruition of their diligence and perseverance. The hard part is looking at my own life and finding it empty in response. Or rather, stagnation. I feel as if I have nothing to show for my life, and that feeling only increases with every passing year. It especially poignant around this time because it’s the start of a new year, but also because two of my friends are experiencing really big changes.

One of them is going to affect me. My taiji teacher is taking over some of her teacher’s classes at her home studio, which means she’s ending one of her classes at the Northeast studio where I study. She’s adding another class in a few weeks at the Northeast studio at a different time, and it’s going to be for a shortened amount of time, but even with that, it would only be twice a week. I used to go three times a week before I got sick, and then I just stopped going to the Friday night class at her home studio. It was two hours long rather than an hour and a half, and I didn’t like that studio for a variety of reasons. In addition, the drive felt twice as long even though it was roughly the same time, and I had to deal with highway traffic jam traffic, which was not my favorite at all.

Here’s the thing. If I go to the Monday class at the home studio, it’s an hour earlier than the class at the Northeast studio had been. That’s not great, but I can deal with it because I’ve shifted my sleeping schedule to be earlier than it used to be by several hours. Although the past few days, it’s been creeping backwards again. Ugh. I try to be in bed by two, which is approximately four hours earlier than I used to go to sleep. The new class starts at 11:30 a.m., which would have been unfathomable two years ago, but is doable now. It lasts an hour and a half, and then there’s an hour-long sword and sabre class which my teacher is also teaching. I could finally learn the rest of the saber form!

Here’s the problem. Or rather, problems. One, two-and-a-half hours is much longer than I can do in one go. Two, I don’t do well with new people. I would know some of the people in the classes, but it’s still not enough to dampen the anxiety–especially as one of them is a woman I have an aspirational crush on*. Another is a woman who has no concept of boundaries and thinks we’re souls sisters. I am not good at erecting and maintaining boundaries, and my impulse is just to deflect and avoid until the end of time. If I have to interact with this woman, I’m going to have to tell her to back off at some point.


In addition, my anxiety ramps up when I have to perform** in front of people I don’t know, and while I can keep it on the inside, it’ll dampen any enjoyment I get out of the experience. I will say, that’s one thing I’ve gotten better with over the years–hiding my anxiety and depression. I’ve always been decent at it, but now, I’m a pro at putting on a convivial face. It’s actually something I rue in my darkest moments as I see it as a flaw. I don’t know how to change it, however, as it’s such an ingrained part of me. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing in groups or casual situations, but I also do it with close friends. It’s very rare when I can completely let down my guard and be vulnerable.

I would guess it’s partly because I got shit on for doing it in romantic relationships because I am absolutely terrible at picking people who are good for me. Instead, I invariably pick the ones who will reinforce all my negative beliefs¬† about myself, which is why I now feel it’s better just to keep it all to myself. In addition, I am much more used to being the listener than the talker (with a few notable exceptions), which is a repetition of my mother and a hazard of having a psychology degree background. It’s also because it’s my role in my family, and one that was foisted on me when I was fairly young.

Back to the new classes. My teacher is also taking over the Tuesday class at her home studio which is an hour from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. That seems more doable to me. It’s a general class, however, and I really want to move forward with my weapons. In addition, the drive will be worse than it would be for the Monday classes. I hate driving. A lot.

Let me confess something from the depths of my black heart. Another reason I hesitate to go to the classes at my teacher’s home studio is because I’m used to being the most advanced student in the class. I know that won’t be true, and I don’t know if I will handle it gracefully. I also don’t like looking like an idiot in front of strangers, and I have a feeling I will. We have a comfortable routine at the Northeast studio, and it’s different at my teacher’s home studio. I have no doubt I can learn the routine, but it’s the discomfort I will feel in the meantime that bothers me.

Plus, I don’t remember the Sabre Form. It’s been a few years since I’ve even touched my sabre, I think, and it’ll bother me greatly to have to fumble my way back to competent again. My teacher taught me two-thirds of the form before I got sick, and we never picked it up again for a variety of reasons. I know that I have to go through feeling like an idiot in order to learn the whole thing, but I’d prefer not to do it in front of other people. I don’t mind (much) if my teacher sees me making mistakes, but not other people.

Here’s the thing. It’s a new year. I’m frustrated with my life. I feel as if I’ve wasted so much of it waiting and watching without actually doing anything.*** I know that nothing is going to change if I don’t change anything. I can hunker down and turtle, but then I’ll get the same results.¬† Then, I’ll be bemoaning my life in another five years, wondering where the time went. It’s the story of my life, and the only way to change it is to actually change it. That means going outside my comfort zone and dealing with the ramifications of such stepping out.

In addition, I can go once and not go again if I don’t like it. This is not a lifetime binding contract. I made myself go to the Women’s Pushing Hands class which my teacher taught at her old home studio, and while it was really hard to make myself go, I was glad I did in the end. It’s the same here. I can go once (tomorrow), and then decide if I want to go again. Oftentimes, the first time is the hardest, so if I force myself to go once, I’ll go again the next week out of habit.

I know it’s going to be physically tough, though. Two hours was bad enough. Two-and-a-half hours might be undoable. My teacher always emphasizes only doing as much as you can, but I know that my pride won’t let me stop when everyone else is chugging along as if it’s no problem. It happened in the Women’s Pushing Hands classes. My legs were killing me by the end of the class, especially for the first few months, but my stubborn pride made me finish every agonizing step. Weirdly, that pain went away fairly quickly, but in general, if I overdo it one day, I’ll be feeling it for days after.

It’s strange. When my teacher first announced this was happening (about a month ago), my immediate response was, “No.” That’s not the strange part as my natural inclination is to say no to new things/changes. The strange part is that in the past few days, I’ve been talking myself into a yes. It’s been slow going, and it’s roughly 80%, but the fact that I’m leaning that way is a miracle in and of itself. I’m hoping this is a new attitude for a new year.




*As opposed to a romantic crush. I do not want to get with her–I want to be her. But not in an SWF kind of way.

**In my daily life. Performing on stage is a whole different kind of anxiety.

***I know it’s not completely true, but it’s how I feel.


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