Puzzle Pieces

While I love to laugh and joke around, I’ve been through a bit of a rough patch lately. I’ve been feeling isolated and introspective. Today I spoke with a dear friend, who confided in me their feeling of hopelessness. They asked me, “how is it that you’re able to continue to love and be open to love with all that you’ve been through?” I get asked this question a lot. People call me“strong” and “brave” frequently. These things are just not true.

Often, I feel weak. Sometimes I hate who I am, the cards I’ve been dealt and I just want to fold. I can empathize with those who have given up. Pain is utterly exhausting. Everyone who’s ever been in love or suffered loss knows just how exhausting it can be. It drains you dry, and for a brief while, you even forget who you are. I’ve resorted to escapism and missed out on opportunities, losing periods of time. I’ve been through just about everything under the sun and survived. This is not an entry about pain however, this is an entry about hope.

My friend said to me, “When I do get into a relationship, I put everything I have into it, and when it ends I feel like I’ve lost a piece of myself. I don’t want to lose any more pieces. I’m a hard enough puzzle as it is”. Suddenly, it clicked. I felt sorrow at the realization that this is how so many people view relationships and love.

I don’t believe you’re losing a piece of yourself, but rather gaining a piece through them. You are bettering yourself and making yourself more beautiful through learning and knowledge. Every person you meet, whether they bring pain or pleasure or both, brings lessons with them. No one has the power to destroy you, except for you. Although, every person you meet has the ability to make you better, even when they seek to destroy the foundation of you. I am not a woman of faith, but I do believe in an altered version of fate. Instead of being “meant to find someone”, I believe we experience different types of people that come into our lives to make us stronger. Every relationship we have, whether it be romantic, a family member, or a friendship forces us to grow into someone who’s just a little more ready for the one that’s going to love every part of you.

A puzzle piece has grooves, edges, and rounded circles. Every piece is completely unique to the entire puzzle. When we are born, I think we’re born as perfect squares. We are completely unmolded and we have no say as to where we will fit into life. Every positive event adds a rounded circle and every negative event adds a groove. I believe the goal is to find where you fit as well as meet those who help to fulfill your life along the way. This, to me, is our journey of self- discovery.

Why do people love to solve puzzles? They spend money on a task that is utterly frustrating and time consuming. They spend hours solving something with no guarantee of completion. Sometimes, we suffer through unpleasant feelings such as boredom and repetition, all for what? The knowledge that in the end, when we finally do solve the puzzle, we followed through on something. You’re a champion in even overcoming the smallest task. You’ve transformed through learning and solving that task so you can be ready for the next one. How you view the world is a choice, and this is mine.

Life is beautifully damaged, just like all of us.

Adventures in Unemployment

I’m in the midst of a quarter-life crisis that just doesn’t seem to end. I’m constantly struggling with the idea of “growing up” and what that means to me in the scope of my life. This especially applies to my recent bout of unemployment.

I’ve been unemployed for just about a month now and I absolutely love it. What’s not to love about sleeping for ten hours straight, snacking all day, and playing video games or watching Netflix until you pass out and do it all over again? Oh yeah, that whole not having money thing. That tends to put a damper on things. I felt fairly accomplished: I had beaten two different video games; written some more of my novel; and read a few books, but it was time to get serious about finding a job. Watching my bank account dwindle down lower and lower, and having to refrain from Amazon shopping binges is not my idea of fun.

After spending a few weeks putting the feelers out, finally, I got called to a few interviews at “respectable” jobs one of which, was at a Urology Clinic for a medical receptionist position. For whatever reason, I had also built up the idea of working at a GameStop for a short period of time. I had worked retail jobs before, but not for many years. The way I thought about it was, “who wouldn’t want to talk about video games all day and watch as nerds got stuttery and awkward around you?”. Then, I received a call from the manager who was a fantastically, flamboyant gay African-American guy for a spur-of-the-moment group interview. I decided “what the hell? why not?” I got into my car and sped down to the local GameStop and found myself swimming in a sea of teenage nerds in professional suit attire. Looking down, I realized I may have shown up slightly under dressed in my jeans and cardigan (But hey, at least my shoes were cute!). The manager, we’ll call him Mark, as well as another manager from another location pulled us down to a quieter couch area in the mall to commence the group interview. It was your typical retail interview, lots of awkward “What *is* good customer service?” and so on and so forth. We also did some role playing exercises, which I absolutely abhor. My nerves fried instantly and I shushed the angry rush of adrenaline that poured over every inch of my body as I stood up and performed their expected song and dance. I nailed it, to my surprise.

It didn’t take long until Mark started discussing my female presence among the male-dominated group. He kept using the term “diverse” and how GameStop loves to strive for “diversity”. It was extremely strange for me, I mean, since when did having a vagina make you diverse? It’s something I’ve grown accustomed to,  however, it just felt weird coming from a homosexual black man with a tone indicating that I knew more about facing adversity than he. I watched as the other applicants in the interview stammered over their questions and fidgeted uncomfortably in their seats. I couldn’t help but admire how good I had become at faking this confidence thing. Finally, the interview ended, everyone stood around hovering and debating on whether it was acceptable to leave yet. I ran back into GameStop to pre-order The Last of Us: Remastered for PS4. As soon as I got back to my car, I realized I had missed a call from the doctor’s office I interviewed for earlier and she left me a message offering me a position at her office.

Now, I was facing a conundrum.

Any normal person would realize that clearly accepting the stable job at the doctor’s office was the right decision. I, however, am immature and thought of all the missed fun I’d be having and was supremely confident that I would get the job for lower management at GameStop.  I consulted with a few close friends regarding the pros and cons of each option. Without fail, every single one suggested I go with the doctor’s office position. They made well-made points detailing several facts such as: I have not worked retail in a long time – I don’t remember how crappy it is; it may hurt my resume; and is not exactly a great career option in general. Overcome with a sense of dread, I knew they were right but, but, I dun wanna…

I reluctantly called back the doctor’s office and accepted the position with the child me screaming in the back of my head, throwing a temper tantrum the entire time. Go figure, GameStop called me not two hours later offering me that position. I hate having to let people down. I  know truthfully, they probably couldn’t care less but I still couldn’t help feeling guilty about it. I guess GameStop will have to find a new vagina to diversify their location.

Now, back to a glorious evening of bad movies on Netflix and a bowl of bacon mac and cheese so large it could feed a small family. Life is good.