Work in Progress

January 29, 2019

(Originally posted on my old personal blog, Adventures with KHill!)

Stop, collaborate, and listen, [Kaitlyn] is back with a brand new [probably TMI blog post about her life for the first time in over a year]… Did you all know that Vanilla Ice just remixed his only greatest hit?

That’s right, folks. It’s 2019 and ya girl is back to write into the abyss about her innermost thoughts and feelings and fears and hopes and dreams. To remind you where we left off in last season’s finale on the extremely boring TV show that my blog would make, it was the end of the most difficult year of my life to date (2017), I was newly resettled in Kentucky, and I was feeling all the grateful feels for the good things the year brought me. Fittingly, the photo accompanying the post was of my dog’s butt.

I am still grateful, perhaps for my dog’s butt most of all, but a lot has changed in these 14ish months I’ve spent back in my hometown. There has been so much comfort found in the familiarity of this city and the closeness of all my people, but also a surprising amount of adjusting to do as I came back a fairly different Kaitlyn after a transformative year and a half away. Outwardly, I look about the same as I have for the last decade. I speak in the same quiet, near-monotone and use as much (often bad) humor as ever. I live in a cozy house in a pleasant part of town and have been working in the bookstore I loved visiting as a kid. In spite of all appearances, most of my time back has felt like a period of re-learning How To Human.

It sounds overdramatic even as I type it. There are many, many people who have experienced way more upheaval and hardship in much less time than I have. In the Who-Has-It-Worse Olympics, I would be the less cool/inspiring/talented Jamaican bobsled team. Fortunately, not everything is a competition (while unfortunately, not everything is the amazing Disney film Cool Runnings), and rumor has it we are allowed to feel feelings without having to justify them. So I think it’s fair to say without much further justification that when I returned to Kentucky at the end of 2017, I was a fragile, anxious, emotional mess.

I’d been unemployed since May, following two consecutive high-anxiety-inducing work experiences. I’d just moved home from a place that — while wonderful in itself — had zero friends and family within a day’s travel distance and where I spent most of my free time on my own. And hardest of all, I was still grappling with this horrible grief from losing someone close under difficult circumstances and not having a clue how to deal. My instinctive and obviously quite healthy response to all of this was to push the bad feelings away and not talk about anything.

“But you love talking about yourself!” shouts Literally Anyone Who Has Kept Up With This Blog.

Touché, critical reader. But have you noticed that it’s been a hot minute since I’ve updated this thing? There are probably several reasons for that, and I welcome someone more psychoanalytic than myself to look into them. But one is definitely because I felt messy and uninspired and like nothing I could say would make for an interesting or even coherent blog post. I kind of still feel that way. Where was I going with this?

Oh yeah. I guess I came back to say that I’ve found — not for the first time — that keeping up appearances can be the most isolating part of feeling bad. It feels like hiding, and whenever I used to play hide and seek as a kid, hiding made me so nervous I would sometimes pee my pants. I’m too old to be nervously peeing my pants. And as such, I’m going to resolve to not do it so much any more — er, hiding, that is. Now, I don’t intend this to mean sobbing in the grocery store aisle when they’re out of my favorite cereal because appearances be damned, but once these floodgates are opened, who am I to try and force them closed? Like that song that played on the radio at least once an hour throughout the early 2000s, my life will now be the story of a girl who cried a river and drowned the whole world. Thank goodness there’s a museum in Kentucky that built a literal life-sized ark!

makes pointed eye contact with the internet as a whole

Anyway, I don’t know if this will necessarily mean blogging more often, but I do find a sense of relief and comfort in letting stuff like this out into the world. Telling my friends and family when I’m feeling feelings is one thing, but putting it on the webs for anyone in my life/the world to see? I imagine this is the rush that streakers get when they run across the field at baseball games without the crushing reality of the law getting in the way later.

Honestly, what is with my analogies today? I don’t know. I’m not sorry.

But while we’re all here and I’m being real, I’ll share some of the high-and-lowlights of the past year in brief. I got a job that stretched me to be more outgoing and personable, forcing me out of my little hermit crab shell for at least the few hours each day that I’m on the clock. I woke up on my first day literally covered stress hives for the first time in my life, but that didn’t mean anything, right?? Ha ha nervous laughter ha! I am leaving soon because it’s time to pursue new opportunities, but wow, am I thankful for having had this place and my coworkers to give me a reason to get up and go out and work hard each day. It’s been uniquely challenging and exhausting and educational and has given me some ridiculous stories and introduced me to some of the best people, and I will always be grateful to this job for showing me that I was capable at a time when I really needed proof of it.

I’ve spent a lot more time with family and appreciated it all the more after living far away. Absence does, in fact, make the heart grow fonder. So on that note checks watch it’s about time to leave them again for a while. Kidding. I love them. But it’s been equal parts sad and comical how hard I’ve had to work at learning to socialize again. Sorry, friends of mine, for being so bad at communicating and making plans and sticking to said plans and really doing anything that doesn’t involve laying in my bed with a book. It was just my books and me and the Pacific Northwest rain for a while there, and I got really used to it. So now I pat myself on the back when I arrange to meet someone who lives five minutes away from me for dinner and we actually follow through. Shoutout to ABC’s Bachelor franchise for giving me a designated day and time each week to see other people for my viewing parties. This is a thing to which I am admitting on the internet, and the internet is forever.

Finally, I’ve found a new therapist who gets me (cue rejoicing from readers who have been horrified by everything I’ve shared up to this point). She is teaching me how to let myself have feelings and reach out to people and believe in myself, all of which has allowed me to make some major personal gains as well. With the things I’ve worked on in therapy, I’ve felt led to pursue chances in life that I hope will bring me more happiness and fulfillment. I’m spending more time and energy focusing on my writing, for example, because I’m just crazy enough to think that I might have a teeny tiny hair of a chance of getting something published sometime. Eek! And if not, I’m young enough to make some pretty stupid career/life moves without devastating consequences. Can I get an amen? No? That’s fair.

She’s also helped me to feel comfortable not having all the answers. Because if it wasn’t clear, I don’t have many. That is, I realize, totally normal at the ripe age of 25, but in this era of seeing everyone else’s highlight reels online and even in person — thinking of many a “hey haven’t seen you in a while, let’s mutually share 2-sentence synopses of how super great everything has been going since college/high school/summer camp!” conversation — it’s easy to forget. I guess if there is any takeaway from this long and rambling glorified diary entry, I’d like it to be that I am a work in progress, and so are you, and so is everyone, and don’t you dare forget it. Don’t trick yourself into thinking, as I am prone to do, that you are the only one around who is totally floundering and lost and not where you think you should be. Don’t think that your struggles are totally unique, but also don’t think that they are frivolous because they’re not as bad as someone else’s. This is me, a total amateur, preaching what I still need to put into practice for myself, but maybe someone out there needed reminding from a fellow clueless soul today.

If there’s another takeaway from this, I’d like it to be that humor is an excellent coping mechanism and great way to show everyone you are totally fine and normal, nothing to see here, move it right along.

Lil' starry-eyed, cautiously-optimistic-but-mostly-just-cautious, clueless ball of anxiety and hope
Lil' starry-eyed, cautiously-optimistic-but-mostly-just-cautious, clueless ball of anxiety and hope

As ever, thank you for reading and caring even the remotest amount about my life and what I have to say. There may be more where this came from, or I may come out of the NyQuil-induced haze I’ve been in whilst under the weather for the past couple of weeks and realize that none of this made any sense and I should take it down immediately before someone calls the authorities. Regardless, thank you.

I luv 2 write n I luv u,

Kaitlyn