5 Fandom Friday is a weekly prompt challenge hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick. This week's #5FandomFriday topic is 5 Ways I Grew/Changed/Evolved in 2015, and as I wrote this post I realized it was going to get very personal. Instead of how I grew as a geek, I'm writing about how I grew as a person in 2015.
5. I stopped reading books I wasn't excited about.
Reading is my favorite hobby, it's basically my identity, and I like being able to feature book reviews here on the blog - particularly for new releases! However, this year I realized I wasn't looking forward to some of the books that I had downloaded to review for one service I had joined. I realized that I really didn't like the way that particular service was set up - if I didn't review a book in a certain amount of time, they would drop me from their list of bloggers, but there often wasn't a book I was super-excited about on the list of offerings. I finally came to the realization that there are so many amazing books out there I haven't read - award winners, classics, bestsellers, books in series and by authors I already love - and life is simply too short to slog through books that don't spark my inner fire! I left that not-so-great service behind and am mostly getting books from the public library now, with the occasional new release from NetGalley.
4. I realized that I can't be everyone's friend.
After the spring field trip I had a serious falling out with a co-worker who I had tried very hard to befriend even though she had a reputation for being hard to work with. This coworker posted some passive aggressive comments on my personal social media (basically suggesting that I could have done a better job planning the trip) and other co-workers, and eventually administrators, saw them. She was reprimanded and there was just no getting back the friendship - I did not feel like I could trust her. Both in my private and work life, I've learned over the past year or so that if a friendship feels like work, it's probably not working, and that it's okay to let go. I've always been really friendly to everyone I work with, and I still will, but ultimately I've realized that the fewer people I confide in the less likelihood there will be of my feelings getting hurt.
3. I took initiative with my family.
My extended family lost a lot of our closeness when my grandmother passed away about 15 years ago. She was definitely our matriarch - nurturing, vivacious, and tough - and most of my Saturdays growing up were spent at her house with all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and cousins' kids. This year, I took a baby step toward trying to have a better relationship with my cousins, and a few of us had a girls' weekend in Charlottesville and went to the Fleetwood Mac concert. There were a few hiccups, but ultimately it was a great weekend, we really bonded and opened up to each other, and I think my cousins see me as a real person now and not a little kid.
2. I started seeing myself as beautiful again.
It sounds silly to write this, but I find myself smiling when I look in the mirror for the first time in years. I was bullied about my appearance in middle school and my self-esteem has been fairly low ever since - I've been confident about being smart, being a good leader, being a good person, but I've been anxious about my looks. I think I've always had this crazy fear in the back of my mind that Mr. Q or one of my friends would turn to me one day and go, "you know, I never noticed before, but your face is covered in gross acne scars and your hairy arms make me want to vomit!" This summer, I participated in a few style challenges on Instagram. I thought that seeing my picture every day would be annoying to my friends - I seriously believed people hated selfies - but I got lots of nice comments, both on Instagram and in person! As the summer went on, I realized that I was actually feeling better about myself. I've also started getting "real" haircuts and color this year - for years I had been going home to get my haircut, and while those $12 haircuts were easy on my wallet they weren't actually very flattering! Finally, this year I feel like I was able to nail down my personal style with help from capsule wardrobe bloggers, Stitch Fix, and lots of time on Pinterest, and I feel much more comfortable and confident in clothes that actually fit both my body and lifestyle.
1. I admitted that I wasn't as strong as I was pretending to be.
In December, I went through my worst bout of clinical depression in nine years. As I was dealing with the usual funk that settles in around the anniversary of my father's death, the thought, "This has been the most disappointing year of my life" popped into my head, and I wept for pretty much a day straight. My reasons for feeling that way weren't just in my head: first, we intended to purchase a home this year, but the market where we live has not had many options that are in our price range and right for our lifestyle. I was heartbroken because I felt like I'd "lost" opportunities due to the sacrifices we'd made to save "house money" for a house that doesn't exist. On top of that, the boxer puppy I'd been promised by a friend-of-a-friend and was so excited about was sold on Craigslist in a very dishonest way. Even as Mr. Q helped me to count my blessings - we rent a lovely townhome in a convenient location at an affordable rate, skipping theater and restaurant dates helped us get creative, and giving up my dream vacation helped us discover a new favorite American city - the depression wasn't lifting. I was starting to have physical symptoms and had to take a day off work. When I went back the next day, intending to make an appointment with a psychologist during my planning period, my hands were shaking so badly during homeroom and my chest felt so tight that I had to take a second day off. That was it - if I couldn't do my job, I obviously wasn't okay. The depression was real. Mr. Q came home from work to take me to the doctor, and I'm on some new medication. It felt a bit like a step back, since I'd worked so hard years ago to stop taking antidepressants, but here's the thing - my brain doesn't produce serotonin correctly. Taking medication for depression is no different than taking medication if any of my other organs weren't working the way they should be. I've been more honest with my family, friends, and co-workers this go-round about how bad my depression really was and how much the medication is actually helping, and I'm feeling much better.