What to Do When You Realize You’re Growing Up to Be the Angry Woman on the Train

First and foremost, the reason for my lack of recent posts: I put overwhelming pressure on myself to make the posts some version of “perfect,” ever-knowing that a future employer could stumble across this blog and judge me (appropriately, maybe) on my writing skills and analytical ability. No more– that sort of pressure has totally deterred me from contributing to my own self-growth project, and has meant that the fee I paid for this domain is going to waste!

So from here on out, at least in my own mind, I want to make this blog an exploration for myself, and an exercise in self-reflection. I try to keep a journal, but find writing arduous, so maybe I’ll keep better tabs on my life in digital format.

I’ve also attempted to have each of my posts completely related to eating disorder recovery– insightful, critical, eloquent recovery. Unfortunately, I haven’t been working on recovery, and I’ll admit, I’ve been restricting, bingeing, the usual bit. And because of that, I’ve felt ashamed to write on my recovery blog. Well, I’m widening the focus here, and I’m going to write about whatever I feel like. And I’m going to do my best to ignore the daunting thought in my head, the question that asks, “Who gives a crap what you say about your life?”

So with that overly long introduction, I’ll jump into the topic that I’ve been mulling over for a number of weeks/months now, which is that I’m Growing Up to be an angry, wrinkled, sour woman. Exactly the type of person, in fact, that I always watched as a child and thought to myself, “God, I don’t ever want to be her.” You know who I’m talking about– in the checkout line at the grocery store, she rolls her eyes at the bagger, glares at the magazines, doesn’t smile back at the cashier. She has deep frown lines in her face and she wears years of disappointment on her back. Well, I’m not quite that bad, but I’ve begun to show some symptoms that reveal my progressions towards being The Sour Woman in the Grocery Store. The Sad Woman Sitting in Traffic. The Angry Woman on the Train.

I don’t smile at anyone, even my friends and loved ones, unless I’m drunk or high. And I gave up drinking and drugging two weeks ago, so really, I don’t smile at all. I notice that my natural face is frowning, that I slouch terribly, and that I’m just as bad as the New Yorker pedestrians who rudely bluster past everyone and everything. I don’t smile at the homeless people begging for money, not that I even ever did, but I should, dammit. I don’t look out the window when we cross the bridge on the subway. And I cry, a lot.

It would be nice if I could say that this hasn’t been a pattern, that I’m just depressed, that this will pass and that my “natural” state is a kind, generous, smiling young woman. But the evidence has proven otherwise. I’ve spent the better part of four years now fighting against this state of bitterness and sadness, and despite brief excursions into the world of Sunshine and Happiness, I’ve always ultimately returned here. I look at this pattern and, having studied analytical thinking, I come to the conclusion that there is a Trend. And that that Trend is my personality, solidifying with age.

I don’t like it.

I always dreamt of being a dreamer, hoped to be an optimist, and I have failed myself. In times past, I assumed that I could be happier if I wanted to, and I would, just not right now. I’ll start meditating next week, I’ll drink less coffee and feel more grateful, then I’ll be happier. But I’ve spent too long now being Unhappy, and I fear I’ve let the rope wear thin. I fear I’m now an Unhappy Person.

I see old people sometimes who are deeply bitter. 80-year-olds fighting with their spouses, lying in bed all day, maybe, and yelling at millenials. And suddenly, lately, I’m able to see myself in them in a way that is new to me. I can see my future as it currently stands, and the hopelessness of it troubles me.

I promised in the title of this post that I would provide “What to do’s,” and I won’t fall short on that promise. Only I can’t promise that my advice will be helpful, given that I’ve only ever practiced it on myself, once, and yet here we are. Knowing what you know, take my advice with a grain of salt.

  1. First, practice smiling when you’re alone. Even if you hate yourself for it a little bit. It’ll help counteract the frown lines.
  2. Always carry single bills and have them in your pocket when you ride the subway, and don’t wear mittens so that it’s easy to access them to give to beggars. (Is beggars politically correct?)
  3. Drink more water.
  4. Never yell at your mother.
  5. Pray. To God, to Allah, to Mother Nature, to your ancestors, or yourself. Whatever you can pray to, and don’t say that you’re atheistic and can’t because if we fail to experiment in thought beyond our individual minds, we are bottomless.
  6. Forgive yourself, just a little bit.
  7. Stop listening constantly to NPR and see how good you are at listening to silence.
  8. Tell yourself that you are significant, and believe it.
  9. But remember that you are insignificant, and that your life doesn’t matter above any others’.
  10. And finally, make a list of all the people who you hate the most, and tell yourself that you love them. At first your stomach will turn at the thought, but after a while it might not quease you so much. Hating people, more than almost anything else, is what turns us into Angry Train People.

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