Confronting Myself

Hi everyone. In case we haven’t met, my name is Jessica, and I just recently started my last month traveling the world with Remote Year. When I signed on for this trip, I thought I would spend the year working, exploring, and meeting a few nice people. Instead, I spent it working, quitting, and finding a new job (yup, I have a new job – a least a temporary summer job – details eventually). I spent it exploring, getting sick of castles and museums, and trying to find joy in simple things. I also spent the year meeting incredible people that have made huge impacts on my life and – simultaneously – coming face-to-face with my flaws, forcing me to confront them.

I know, I know. You all thought I was perfect, right? Sorry to burst that bubble.

I’ve always been really obsessed with learning more about myself and how my brain and emotions work. I read INFJ profiles like this and can’t help but feel like someone finally understands what goes on in the deep parts of my being and is trying to help me understand it. Myers Briggs Typology may not be the most scientific means of learning about your personality, but it has worked well for me and my processing. Even so, the level of hyper-awareness that I have of my flaws is something I didn’t realize would happen on this year abroad.

I didn’t expect all the negative sides of my life to disappear; I’m not that naive. But I didn’t realize those little things that bothered me about myself would make themselves known more often to myself and others. I thought that the adventures and excitement of travel would continue to distract me from myself. And they do. But a lot of my time on this trip is actually spent alone. Or in deep conversations with some of my closest friends. And those settings don’t lend themselves well to distraction.

One of the craziest things about my flaws, and probably many other peoples’ flaws, is that they aren’t actually 100% negative. I mean, yes. They aren’t good. They’re called flaws for a reason. They’re usually painful to think about. And don’t get me started on actually admitting that I have them. I’m a perfectionist at my core – which could possibly be considered a flaw in itself – so I don’t like admitting anytime I don’t measure up to my own expectations. But, like most things in life, my flaws can be bad or good depending on the framing. And if I will never truly be able to get rid of these scars, blemishes, and flaws, I will do my best to use them for good.

Let’s rip that bandaid off and talk about the parts of ourselves that we don’t like. Our weaknesses. Our struggles. Those things that a year of travel was “supposed to” help us ignore, but instead has pushed right back in our faces. And no fun gifs this time even though I really wanted to add them. This is all about confronting things head on!

I am truly nomadic. I have a hard time staying in one place and feeling content and at peace. Here’s the math: I have never lived in one house or apartment for longer than 3.5 years, and my average for living in one space is a year. I am a professional at packing up and moving. It sounds fun and romantic at times, but honestly, it’s rough. I have a hard time maintaining relationships because my default is to keep moving, and the default for a lot of other humans is not to move every couple of years. Luckily, my nomadic ways brought me to Remote Year and introduced me to other non-average people. And we all get to nomad together this year. But this pattern in my life makes it hard for me to create many plans past the end of this program because I don’t have a place to go “home” to. Even now – with a summer plan – I’m still no where closer to staying in one place for any significant amount of time.

I am young. I have always been one of the youngest in my groups of friends. Scientists have yet to come up with an explanation despite all sorts of tests, but that’s how it is ;) I am the oldest child in my family and had a lot of responsibilities at a young age. I moved around a lot and had a lot of mentor/mentee relationships because kids are harder to become friends with. I can also honestly say that my parents are two of my closest friends. This is all fine and well, except when I try to fit in with my older friends and my youth catches up with me. References are made to things I never lived through. We can’t joke about the same childhood TV shows because they were in high school when I was watching them. Ultimately, we are all reminded that I’m not as old as they are and it becomes something I feel like I need to apologize for. But I like my life. I’m okay with being an old soul and a young “grandma.” I wouldn’t trade my knitting needles and nights in with a cup of tea for anything. And I’m proud of the things I’ve done in my few years of adulthood.

I have a hard time sticking up for myself in arguments. I am a person who loves peace. I love when there isn’t fighting; when we all get along and compromise and see the other person’s perspective. That is in my core – to a fault. I am too willing to give up explaining my own thought process because I assume that the people I am talking to just want to fight. I assume it will be too hard to convince them to listen or, if they do listen, to understand. I think the key to this weakness isn’t becoming less of a harmony-lover, but more confident in my ability to “fight well” and trust my beliefs and reasoning.

I have a hard time verbalizing my feelings. As you may know, I can write about my feelings like a champ. But talking about them? I don’t usually understand how I’m feeling until I’ve written for a while. I just don’t know how to process in the moment and then make a cohesive attempt at explaining. I can’t even count the number of times I have been confronted with this weakness over the last eleven months. It’s not fun “in the moment.” But I’m glad that I can write through my feelings to process. It’s slow and probably annoying for the people who are trying to understand me, but my writing and my ability to process through writing have helped me get through a lot of tough stuff. And hopefully – in the case of this blog especially –  helped others.

I cry without warning sometimes. True life. Similar to the last flaw, but not completely. It’s more just that my tear ducts are always prepped and ready to fire. If you happen to be near me when that happens, I sincerely apologize. The tears are usually just as much of a shock to you as they are to me. I mean, most of the time, I’m aware of some type of emotion or situation that leads to me crying, but why at that particular time? With those particular people? What I have found over the last eleven months is that this has caused me to be comfortable with being vulnerable. Because it’s hard to convince people to ignore you when you’re crying by yourself in a public place.

I’m afraid of cars. I know it might sound dumb, but I really am. I hate driving cars, and I feel anxious riding in them. Ubers and taxis make me feel a little better because I can convince myself that they are professionals who drive all day, but that doesn’t ease the anxiety completely. I’ve had some pretty terrible Uber drivers. Literally the only positive I can find in this flaw is that I’m doing my part to reduce environmental waste from auto usage… yay. Any help here, friends? Or is this personal weakness just going to annoy me for the rest of my life?

I have a chronic illness that doctors can’t explain. Know what’s fun? Going to the doctor and having them say, “IDK, try this,” a billion times. I can’t even accurately explain my chronic illness anymore because I’m so confused about what the causes are and what the effects are. I know that I can’t drink caffeine. I know that, once in a while, I get food-poison-like symptoms for about an hour or two, then I’m fine afterwards. I know that it is brought on by stress and anxiety, and it causes stress and anxiety in my life. It’s probably-maybe related to hormones, so I’ve taken extra hormones in the form of birth control since I was in my teens. I’ve tried to avoid certain foods. I’ve tried different medicines. I’ve tried hiding under the covers of my bed, pretending it doesn’t exist. But nothing. This flaw – in my opinion – has literally no positive benefits except making me more cautious of silent illnesses and struggles that others also have.

I have been hurt by a boy, which has made me self-sabotaging and jealous. In college, I went through a romantic rough patch. Since then, I’ve dated some great people, but I still have to constantly deal with the repercussions of that college relationship. Today, when someone says they like me, I tell myself that it’s only because they haven’t gotten to know me enough yet. When a guy I like has a bunch of female friends, I can’t help but wonder if that’s the whole truth. So, I freak myself out, push him away, then get mad at him for leaving. Because it’s easier to do that than to accept that maybe he really would like me. And maybe I am the only girl he wants to be with. This flaw is one of my biggest and most recent. And it’s been hard to face this year. But I’m trying. I would love to be in a trusting, authentic, and respectful relationship someday, where I feel valued and wanted. And a huge part of that comes from me confronting my relationship expectations – and re-learning to see myself as someone who is worth being liked/loved in return.

And those are just the flaws that I’m working through on this year abroad.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m a totally flawed person, I’ve got good qualities too. And, as you can see, I’m working on finding positive sides to my weaknesses. But as this year comes to an end, it would be silly for me to ignore something that has been such a huge part of this experience. My caution to any Remote Year or world travel newbies is to get ready to see yourself in a brand new light – your best and worst sides. And my advice? Don’t run from them. Grab them and look at them and try to use what you learn to make you a better person.

Now it’s your turn. What flaws have you most recently discovered in yourself? Can you find ways to see them in a positive light? Or can you find ways to live with them and learn from them?

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