Spring Thaw

I’ve been busy being depressed, watching Netflix, and procrastinating everything in my life. It reminds me a lot of when I was graduating from Macalester, and I’m mad at myself for falling into the same habits. I haven’t written, partially because of all of this, and also because I’m not always sure if I want to continue having a public blog. I started this blog, and have maintained it, because I think other people go through the same things I do, and it could be helpful for them. Yet, I wonder if it will ever hurt my chances at finding a job. Or worse, hurt someone I care about. It is a delicate balance that I am always very mindful of, but sometimes I make the wrong decisions. A friend of mine recently shared her own story though, and it reminded me of the reasons I will continue to share my own.

One example of fear related to a job… I recently went to Utah for an interview. The highlights were endless: the company is a small, fun technology firm; I would be a manager to 10+ high potential recent grads; they allow puppies in the office; culturally, I loved everyone I met. On the other hand though, it is in Utah, which is far from the NYC in which I envision myself living. Both geographically and culturally. I was really concerned about how me having a public life could influence my ability to lead a strong team. Would they have doubts in my leadership abilities because I have publicly stated I’ve dealt with depression? Would I be less effective with my subordinates knowing details of my personal life? I’ve never pretended to be religious, but I would also be nervous that my openness could be frightening to some of the more religious and conservative people that are in the majority in this small town in Utah.

In the 6 weeks since this interview, I’ve come to realize a few things about myself. First off, I’m just a candidly open person, both online and in person. I don’t say anything on the internet that I wouldn’t say in real life, and whenever I do have the opportunity to manage a team, I will carry this strength with me. I believe it makes me both relatable and inspiring, and is something I would value in a manger of my own.

Next, Utah isn’t for me. It is beautiful, absolutely, and I would love to vacation there sometime. Yet, I need to live in a big city. I love being able to walk everywhere and not have to worry about a car. I love being able to run down stairs and across the street to get my Starbucks coffee. I need to have a neighborhood bar when Joe and I can go after work for a drink or two, and not have to worry about driving home. I also feel that there is just more going on in NYC. My Macalester community, Girls in Tech, book clubs, etc., will all be available in New York. Sure, they could be in Utah too, but there would be fewer options and a longer commute to any of them.

Learning these things about me, that I want to be in NYC and that I’m really excited about managing a team (and believe I’ll be really great at it), took a while. I had been applying to a ton of data analytics positions, both because that’s what I know and because it is what I’m good at. Yet, it isn’t what completely excites me. So, today I still don’t have a job, but I know a lot more about what I’m looking for and can be more fierce in tracking that down. For now, I’m pushing down the fears that I’m a fraud and can’t actually positively contribute to a company. I’m happy it is finally spring.

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Purpose

This was written while drinking wine and ignoring The World Series… 

I am currently in a course titled “Leadership Stories: Literature, Ethics, and Authority” and this week we’ve discussed social media at length. Specifically, how the digital age has evolved story telling. A clear theme from the class discussion was one’s ability to curate their life and to manage the way they are perceived. Some shared that they tend to only share positive things; one student referenced an ESPN article she had recently read about a girl who committed suicide even though her Instagram profile reflected something else. This caused me to reflect on the image I put forward of myself both through social media and this blog.

In many ways, I try to share both my highs and lows. The purpose of this blog is to connect with others online. Sure, a majority of my readers are family and friends, but there are also a lot of people who just stumble upon it. I want to show how someone who suffers from depression and who had a difficult childhood can still achieve and take matters into her own hands.

At the same time, not all the stories in my life are my own to tell. Which is sometimes why I sorta drop from the site. I don’t always know how to share my own internal struggles while upholding the privacy of others.

Personally, I’ve said and done literally tons of stupid things and I never try to appear perfect (except when I’m trying to convinced Joe I am perfect, but that is a little different). I can fully imagine a future-world in which I question my decision to be so public about my thoughts and feelings. However, writing and sharing my feelings has allowed me to grow in ways I may never fully understand. Which is why I don’t think it will ever be something I regret.

At the same time, I can be very lucky. I also believe I make my own luck. I hope there are things about me that make people think “wow, I can look up to her AND I can see parts of myself in her” and “oh! maybe I can go to MIT/apply for this job/put myself out there too!” I believe inspiration is most powerful when you are able to see yourself in another’s shoes and that’s pretty much all I want. I want others to know they can.

California Summer

The California-summer depression has started. Cue binge eating and emotional drinking. Last night, I met with a Macalester alum who is a producer in town. While her view of the industry is just that, only her view, it scared me a little bit. Not enough to make me run back home and never look back, but enough to make me think twice. I need to know that this is what I really want. Unfortunately, I don’t know what I want.

The gist of what she said is that she knows that she’ll never even be able to afford to have children or buy a house because producers are paid so poorly unless they are the top 50 in the world. “If you can see yourself doing anything else in the entire world, do that instead.” She equated the profession to being an addict – you only do it because you can’t live without it. Isn’t that depressing?

It’s depressing in itself, but pile that on a woman who is living in LA for the first time with her fiancé on the east coast and a job that is boring and pays so little she can barely afford to pay her rent let alone do the things she wants to do. Hint: that woman is me!

Now all I want to do it sit in my room and watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and drink my Target wine cube wine. Which is what I think I will do.

 

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Why I read Elliot Rodger’s Memoir

Tragic events always hit me hard. Whether it is the movie theater shooting or something as horrific as the Boston Marathon bombing, my mind is consumed by the terrible pain the families of all involved must be feeling [I just published this previously unreleased draft, written right after the Newtown shooting]. I question what brings a person to do such a thing, I ask how their life was so different from my own and others who live non-violent lives. I wonder how it could have been avoided in any way. Are there signs that people missed? The recent story of a boy in southern Minnesota is one such case in which a disaster was thwarted, which means people can see things and speak up. Yet terrible things continue to happen…

Trying to find answers to so many of these questions, I continue to read the articles and follow the updates. This University of California Santa Barbara shooting is like nothing we’ve seen in recent times (aka, my adult life). Not only is there video that gives us a peak into his mind but there is also a memoir of his life that may shed some light on how this tragedy came to be.

I hoped that reading the story would help show how some people end up so damn fucked up. Sadly, it didn’t.

At the beginning, I found many ways that I connected with the younger Elliot. He was never popular in school, he wanted to be liked, etc., and how many other people feel this same way? Having a similar experience in school, how did I turn out differently? At the same time though, he always blamed others for his misfortunes. Even in school when he got in trouble he would blame it on the other kid, thinking it was their doing. In effect, I think he truly believed that everything was happening *to* him, rather than him having an active role in his own life.

At age four, he blamed his inability to swing on physical limitation, and this along with his shortness are things he believed always stifled him. Even at a young age, everything was just handed to him and this caused him to take everything for granted, and actually caused him to believe that these things were needs rather than just desires. His NEED for Pokemon cards was only fair, he NEEDED cool clothes and instantly they were delivered.

Another example of the world being utterly unfair to him, and therefore deserving of retribution, was his inability to become a professional skateboarder. He practiced for an entire year!

While I understand his feelings of loneliness, I truly believe he has no ability to feel empathy. He saw himself as an all-deserving man, tortured by women and anyone else that had things he could not.

Another curious element was that he was extremely revolted by sex. At age fourteen, he caught a glimpse at porn and the fact that humans did this was horrific to him. Even as he aged into his early twenties, the idea of sex was “vile.” But then what drove him to believe that sex was his right and something that women “owed him?” Why was it something he desired more than anything else? He repeatedly claimed that no women would give him a chance, but because he was unable to have any conversation with someone new, let alone a girl, I find it hard to believe anything would escalate to sex on the timeline he desired… by the end of the first day.

As I got to the end of the book, I became completely shocked by his beliefs. “Women are incapable of reason or thinking rationally,” and “women are the main instigators of sex.” He truly felt that women should be abolished, and spoke of having a concentration camp filled with women and from his tower he would watch them all starve to death because if he couldn’t have them, no one could…

From a young age, he sought therapy. He had psychiatrists and counselors that he saw on a regular basis. He had caring parents and friends that knew his true feelings – it is shocking that everything came to this.

In the end, reading this didn’t make me feel any better and it was naive to think it would. Not only am I now more scared to face the world because of a deeper understanding of the kinds of people out there, I don’t see a solution to a problem such as this when therapy and medication didn’t work. Should he have been hospitalized? And to what end?

How did he come to have these beliefs and what could be changed so that they don’t continue on in society? He described very little of his relationship with his mother, other than that they were close. He has a deep hatred for her though, because she wouldn’t marry rich so that he could have everything he desired because money = sex with blondes. I have so many questions about how to tackle this, because at some point we need to accept that what we are doing is not enough.

Self-fulfilling prophecies – how much is too much?

I used to say my life needed to be broken up into three parts. Like any good memoirist, such as Augusten Burroughs or Chelsea Handler, I had to have the epic story of my childhood, the account of my ultimate addiction, and then the book about how my life turned to awesome. I literally gave this tons of thought, down to the point of nearly identifying which addiction to choose (alcohol, sex, cocaine, shopping, anorexia, etc.); all considered as if I had to have more life struggles to make myself anyone.

As I’ve realized over the last year or so though, my life is already hella-awesome. I’m also pretty prone to making goals come true. Which leads me to think I should probably focus on something good rather than a terrible disease millions of people face. I was also young and stupid, coming from a place of such privilege to methodically ruin all I had for what, a good story? It also came from a wealth of depression, which doesn’t justify it but at least provides more context.

This brings me to the recent commitments I’ve made and my inability to fully keep them. I didn’t realize how deeply I would think about my monthly resolutions. I pulled them together based on what I thought would make me a better person. Eat better, drink less, do more towards my goals, and exercise: simple, right? Well, no, which is why I wasn’t doing it already.

Completely eliminating carbs/gluten isn’t really feasible. Well, it is, but I don’t have to and it didn’t make me feel any better so why should I because I love both those things a lot. I also found out earlier this week that I have an allergy to dairy. So, if I can’t have milk or ice cream or yogurt or cheese, I better damn well get my burgers and boneless wings from Buffalo Wild Wings.

And then there is alcohol. How much is too much? Where is that line of totes-normal-drinking versus alcoholism? The problem is, there isn’t one. Have I self-fulfilled the prophecy of becoming an addict? The quizzes I took to try and determine if I do have a problem led me to believe that any and every college student would fit into the problem area. But then, I’m not in college anymore. So like any rational person, I started reading tons of memoirs of people who had drinking problems, trying to figure out if I have similar symptoms or signs. Again though, there isn’t a clear cut answer to any of this. Sometimes I have more than three drinks in a night. Sometimes I drink alone, if you count writing at home with a glass of wine “drinking alone”. Some nights I don’t drink at all and sometimes after a long ass day at work I just want to sit on my balcony with a beer.

There is also the genetic component too. I wouldn’t say my entire family is full of alcoholics, because there are tons that are not. Like my grandma. She drinks maybe a bottle of wine a year. I’ve heard rumors that my grandpa may have been one, but I never got to meet him. Then there is my biological fathers side who I never really knew but based on what I know about him, they probably form a long line of alcoholics. While this doesn’t mean I automatically am one, it means I’m more prone to it and need to be more mindful. Are my considerations of my drinking now then signs of me being actually concerned or reacting too much to stories I read? I’m I trying to gloss over excuses now or truly evaluate if I have a problem?

I went to a networking event on Wednesday where they had free beer. I abstained given my goal of the month and had a fine time. I met some people, enjoyed the content, and went home at a reasonable time. Last night though, I went to another networking event at Macalester, and had two glasses of wine. I’m not sure how this affected my experience. I had fun, met some new people, chatted with those I already knew, and left early. And I enjoyed the wine.

Who knows what March will do to me, reading a book a week. Especially now that my last four Kindle downloads have been drinking-memoirs.

How far we come

When I was looking through old emails for my Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen fan site, I stumbled upon something I wrote in 2003. I was emo at the time to say the least, and suicidal if we prefer a more blunt approach. Here is the un-edited version of my thoughts on a lonely night in January, eleven years ago. It is complete with spelling errors for your amusement (WARNING: you will need the laugh).

I’m so scared right now. i am shaking.  I am grasping for air.  i dont want to die. but sometimes i think i do, and i am scared that if i think i do, i might try, when deep down i really dont want to. what happens when i do try, and then i change my mind? what happens when my mind desides to change, when it is already to late? is 10:58 right now, but what if i dont live till tomarrow? what if my mind desides to over come what i really feel deep down? what if i go down to the kitchen and get the knife? my life could end in an instant.. but yet i know i dont want it too. i think, how could i be so selfish, to want to take my own life? when all day i try to stop other people from making the same mistake. Then i start to think about what happens after. Who crys? who forgets me? Who moves on? Who doesnt?  Whats wrong with being different? we go through life with people teaching us we can be who ever we want, when really we have to be who everyone else wants us to be.

Besides the obvious desire to give my middle-school self some screen time, I’ve posted this for a reason. I’ve posted it because it is important to know and understand where we all come from. Earlier this week I was accepted to Yale with nearly a full scholarship. I wonder what that girl, the one who was so, so sad, would say about who I am today.

I find this thought comforting for a few reasons. First, it reminds me that nothing is forever; everything changes. It means I can’t get too held up in the moment because soon it will be over and I’ll have moved on. Second, it’s okay that sometimes I’m a sad-cat, and even that I used to be an extremely sad-cat. I’m still super strong and can accomplish a lot. Or so Yale thinks ;) Lastly, it means it gets better. Highs and lows evolve. This week I’m stressed out about all the other decisions coming in… but this time next year I’ll be somewhere else… and that somewhere is still a mystery. My “low” today is a hellofa lot better than it was then, for which I am thankful :)

incognito

I have no excuse for why I haven’t written in so long. Unless you count my overpowering desire to come home and sit my ass in front of the TV every night after work. I know I’m the only person that does this, and that makes me feel even more terrible. How do I know I’m the only one, you ask? Because of the hundreds of condos I can see into right now, only two have their TVs playing, that’s how.

But then I just feel like crap for wasting my life away on TV. And then I feel bad and don’t have the drive to do anything else but watch more TV. Joe coerced me to go on a bike ride yesterday, and it was actually a decent amount of fun. I’ve been having a lot of fun lately – I love the new place, I’ve been going to Lynx games and Twins games and been doing fun Girls in Tech stuff. So, why do I feel like an utter failure? Good question.

When I’m not making forward progress, I feel like I am going backwards. I know it isn’t money that is going to make me happy either. I’ve already got my dream condo in downtown Minneapolis – will having the penthouse make me any happier than I am today? Well, I gosh darn hope something does because all I feel like doing is moping. Not mopping – I haven’t cleaned much lately. But moping, yes, like, woe is me.

Don’t get me wrong, I see the irony in this post. See it, and hate it, and need nothing other than to be writing it out and telling the world. Because somehow that makes me feel accountable or something. Like, damn girl, check yo’ self. And still, something is missing and I cannot put my finger on it.

P.S. I was just adding “creeping” to my tags because, let’s face it, me sitting on my balcony and watching others’ watch TV is creepy. But… it had never been used before. How I earth have I not tagged that before?

A memorial day

I’ve been in such a funk these last few days that I just can’t seem to break out of. I’m pretty sure the sun will never shine again in Minnesota, and that’s a pretty depressing place to be.

This past Friday, a girl I went to middle school with lost her daughter. Her beautiful 2 year old went missing while they were camping, and she was discovered in the water after what I can only imagine to be the most unbelievably painful 2 days. I didn’t know her that well when we went to school together. We had a few classes with each other; I always thought she was a very sweet girl. Sometimes, things like this hit me harder than others, and this one, because it feels so close to home, is ripping me apart. The pain I can only imagine that family is going through is just tragic.

On not even remotely the same scale, but still affecting my mood, is that today I just found out that my two most desired things are pretty much incompatible. Stanford housing doesn’t allow for pets of any kind. I’ve looked for apartments/rentals nearby, and nothing seems to accept pets. This means that I can’t even get a puppy right now if I want to have the ability to go to Stanford next year and that really sucks.

I’ve been thinking about a puppy more and more and even put in an application with the place I want to get him from. I had intended to get him before the winter because I know that he will help me be a happier person during the terrible winter months. And even though I haven’t met him yet, I know he would love California so much.

Joe is encouraging me to look into the policies at/near the other universities I am applying. That in itself feels disingenuous – I want Stanford and I know I can get in. I understand applying to other places as safeties… but this feels different.

As I was lying on the couch though, unable to motivate myself to do so much as even turn on the TV, I couldn’t imagine ever leaving this black hole to succeed in Business School. I allow myself to waste an entire weekend when I have work and writing and Girls in Tech things I could be working on – how on earth do I think I could fight my way through school again? This place I’m in is so dark it feels like I’ll never break out and I should probably just stop reaching for my goals now.

After my two hour nap and then direct migration to bed, Joe set up my light box to use in the morning. After the move to our condo, I hadn’t really found a suitable place for it and kept it packed away. I was also hopeful that my depression was just seasonal and now that it is “spring” I should fall out of it. But apparently I haven’t. So, I’m pretty thankful I have Joe to remind me that this place I am now may not be permanent.

Spring can’t come soon enough…

The best part of coming out of a depression funk is being able to identify that I was in one. Like, I was all weird and not motivated and just wanted to sleep all the time and I don’t know why, but I didn’t recognize it. Then yesterday, I was all like “I need to start eating better again and working out more consistently so that I will be happier.” And even just saying to myself “oh, I am depressed… I should shape up” helped. I’m even considering not drinking for the next month, but that is probably me just being an extremist. So, now instead of eating mega stuf Oreos (which are SOOOOO good by the way) I am doing laundry and finishing up my grant proposal that is due tomorrow.

Thoughts in daylight

In an effort to curb my depression, Joe and I have a rule that there is to be no TV watching unless it is dark out. The one exception is if we are at a rooftop bar and baseball is on.

So, when I got home today, I was like “ahh.. I just want to sit down and watch some terrible Gossip Girl. Oh crap. It’s still light out.” Then I began rationalizing that maybe it is just a rule we enact once we are in our new condo. Which is my way of telling the world our offer was accepted and we are buying a condo!

Anyway, it is already 6:30 and it is still light out which seriously makes me a happy camper. I doubled my medication in November when things were starting to get bad… just waking up in the morning was a trial. And it really helped. Except now I’ve gone back to normal because it is getting light out and I’m just so excited for summer.

Anyway, I’m going a little crazy about condo planning stuff, and, if you are like me and totes love pinterest, I invite you to check out my “dream home” board because its got all my most favorite things. Include sinks that don’t aerate  because in reality, who wants that? http://pinterest.com/katekate20/dream-house/