Saturday, January 7, 2012

Five Things

It was trendy, for a while, to make lists of 25 or 50 or 3,000 things that one felt one should share with one's Facebook friends (and is it just me, or is "one" one of the more pretentious pronouns out there?), which would lead to people "tagging" other folks whose lists they wanted to see, and there would be cascades of lists happening everywhere, itemized tidbits of information raining down on unsuspecting Facebook compadres.

This is my 297th post. This blog has given me a chance to spout all kind of opinions on the interwebs, and I've loved writing it, but there's only so much you can glean from a person based on how much he or she resents Margaret Atwood (in my case? Plenty. Sorry Maggie. If it makes you feel any better, I liked what you had to say about Toronto's libraries this year). I figured, hey, why not do a litter series of stuff for whoever reads this to get to know me better.

1. I've never liked my name. Kaitlyn is a 1980s name, and has always reminded me of other people rather than me. I think my mom had some regrets, too: despite it being spelled with a "y" on my birth certificate, she spelled it Kaitlin for most of my childhood, and told me much later that the reason for the switch was that Kaitlyn had a trendy vibe that the "i" undercut (somehow?). I found out in high school and switched it back, leading to all kinds of mix-ups on attendance forms that I used to my advantage. Either way, the name is silly. My friend Mark and uncle Kevin call me Kate, a short-form that delights me because it makes me feel even less like myself, and my friend Liz calls me Kaiko, which I love.

My brother and sister have classic, albeit very white-person, names, and I like to think that my parents learned that naming their kids after characters in Paul Newman movies isn't a good life decision for anyone.

2. I am totally addicted to Coke Zero, but rarely finish the last couple sips. If Coke made a 330 mL can, that would be perfect. Instead, I just leave tantalizing droplets in all the fifty thousand cans I leave littered through my life and infuriate everyone.

3. I'm 28 years old, and I still sleep with my baby blanket. When I left for university, my parents told me that people would laugh at me if I brought it, but people were awed when they found out my blanket had made the trip to higher education. They all said variations on the same thing: "My parents told me people would laugh, so I left it behind." They usually said it with a wistful, envious look on their faces as they ran their fingers along the sateen binding of my battered and much-loved blanket.

4. I have pretty wicked social anxiety. For years, I dealt with that by drinking until I felt loosey-goosey enough to talk to people, but that's not really a long-term solution, liver-wise. Social anxiety, for me at least, is a constant feeling of being looked at, judged, and found lacking, and the fear of screwing up in front of all those judges. It's based on nothing in reality, but can be really hard to shake - in my case, it's led to panic attacks at work and in uncomfortable social situations. Talking to sales people and receptionists is the worst, along with waiting in lines.

Talking about social anxiety has been something I've only started to do recently. There are a few people with whom I feel truly comfortable, like my immediate family, my close friends, and my boyfriend - almost every other interaction I have is tinged with a bit of panic. It usually goes something along the lines of "What if you fainted right now?" and that little thought becomes a roar so loud, I can't hear anything else. I become convinced I'm too hot, or that I'm dizzy, or that I'm going to faint from hunger if I haven't eaten in more than a couple hours. Let me say again that I know these aren't rational thoughts, but irrational thoughts are pretty tough to dismiss when they're causing a physical stress reaction.

I don't know why these things happen. I know how they happen, and when (work settings are a particularly intense trigger, because hello, work is stressful, and because my last job was such a gong show), but the why is a tricky one. I know I'm not alone - a lot of my family and some of my friends are under the spell of mild to moderate social anxiety, and we've commiserated about the challenges and frustrations of feeling totally tweaked when everyone seems relaxed and, you know, normal.

5. The only kind of pants I really wear are sweats and capris. Jeans? I always feel weird in jeans, and I rarely wear them. My boyfriend is sighs wistfully and saying, "But your ass? In jeans? Damn," but I can barely go ten minutes without hitching them up or scrunching them down. Jeans are not my friend, but linen capris than make me look 63 are totally my jam.

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