Thursday, December 16, 2010

Breaking Out of My Shell

I've opened up a can of worms. It all started when, based on the conversations I'd had with the Summer Fling, I realized that I needed a new online dating profile. I needed to shake up my old profile and make it more fun. This led to the realization that in fact I need to shake up my life and make it more fun. The more I thought about my current profile, the more I've realized that it is actually reflecting my current life. My life has gotten boring. My work is intense and interesting to a point but I don't want my life to be all about my work. I find it stimulating but it doesn't fulfill me. I've always prided myself on keeping my life interesting, of doing fun things with fun people but somehow lately I've lost that spark.

It's time to make a plan for more fun, more adventures, more excitement, more playfulness, more ME. I am more than my work. I need to make sure that is reflected in the things I'm doing, the places I'm going and the people I'm spending time with yet I'm not sure how to make that happen.

I feel like I need to explore some more of what makes me who I am. I've spent a lot of time trying to be what other people expect. I did all the things I was told to do and now I find myself waiting for the rewards I was told I would receive. For some reason, those rewards didn't show up. There's no husband and babies when I expected that I would have them. I've been good but Santa seems to have skipped over my chimney. I've made the lists, I've taken the classes, read the relationship books, worked with coaches and therapists, I've visualized and believed with all my heart that I would have that life but here I am, 35 and still single and childless. I've got a PhD but am not sure I want the career that goes along with it. I'm not so young and not exactly the classic definition of pretty and now somehow I've managed to become did this happen?

I feel like I've flirted with the edges of some worlds that might hold interest for me but I can't quite get into them. I've recently discovered that I'm more of a geek than I knew. I've always been interested in sci-fi/fantasy to a certain degree, I stumbled across the work of Anne McCaffrey and Piers Anthony as a teenager but didn't figure out where to go next with it. I loved stories about dragons and unicorns and psychic powers. I discovered a show called Quantum Leap and loved it but I didn't know anyone else who liked these things. I wanted to fit in, to be liked by the other kids at school and I never found a group who I really fit with. I was also fairly oblivious. There were probably other kids around who liked what I liked but I didn't see them. I was smart and I liked to sing and these things fit with the groups I could find. I had friends but we didn't really have deep connections. I'm friends now with a few of them on Facebook but we don't really stay in touch. No one in my family liked the geeky things either. I was working so hard to avoid the negative judgments of others, the judgments related to my body and my bookishness. I was afraid to be different in any more ways than those. Now as an adult I've explored it a little bit more and I've discovered a bunch of things I really love, the books of Neil Gaiman and Dr. Who being two of them. Yet I don't know how to engage further in that world. I feel stuck. I read all those books and watched all the new Dr. Who episodes but how do I find other people who are interested in these things? I feel like I'm behind, like those who are engaged in that world all started when they were teenagers and now here I am in my mid-thirties, just admitting that I like this stuff. Just looking to connect over these things, just starting to explore these worlds.

Another world I've flirted with is the arty/hippie world. I went to Burning Man twice, met some amazing people, LOVED dressing up and the theme events, enjoyed the art, but was shy about the drugs, not wanting to admit my inexperience and naivete and being too afraid to try things that I didn't really understand. I couldn't fully engage with the open sexuality there. I got scared, backed off and just felt envious of those who were able to open themselves up to it. I feel like I've really repressed my sexuality. I've always been intrigued by a much more open sexual world, more kink, more exploration but again, I've been afraid. Afraid I don't have the right body for it, afraid others will laugh at the fat woman who wants to be a sexual creature. I used to like talking about sex with people. I've always been fascinated by what's out there though I've felt afraid of getting into a situation where I didn't know what I was doing. I've lost a bit of the thrill in my sex life in the last few years because I haven't had a consistent, playful partner. I don't even know how to describe it, but I've been afraid to explore my sexuality, afraid of doing it wrong, afraid that it's too late to explore, afraid I'll offend someone, afraid that I'll end up being a slut full of uncontrollable desires and unmet needs, afraid that I'll ruin my chances of living this life I thought I was on the path to with the good job and the family. The life that isn't happening anyway but somehow this is a threat to it.

Another community (and one that I suspect may overlap with some of the others) are the folks who play online games and go to Renaissance Fairs but with all of these, I can't quite figure out how to gain entry, I feel like I need someone to give me a tour and show me the way, to say "Hey, come with me and try this out." Why can't I just do it myself? I am still afraid.

I've spent so long repressing my true desires and worrying about what others think that I am having trouble digging into that space inside myself. By covering it all up and trying to be who I thought I should be, I think I've lost what makes me interesting. I think I've hidden the things that could have really allowed me to connect with someone. I've pasted on this papier-mâché Kim that has covered up the light of who I really am. I want to let that light out. I want to explore these sides of myself without fear. Without looking ignorant to both those inside and outside the communities, without fear of the consequences. I've lived too much of my life dictated by fear. I have a lot more light to radiate. I have to break free of this shell I've created. The funny thing though is that it's not about being fat. The shell isn't the fat girl hiding the thin girl who has always wanted out. The inner me is still a fat woman. She's just bolder and less afraid and she's much more interesting.

Edited to fix my many spelling errors.


  1. A very introspective post! I know there are groups of folks that share your interests. In your area there may be a Ren Faire Group or a Society for Creative Anachronism, a SciFi group, you just need to find them. There are probably conventions and events that are in constant need of volunteers. I'm not sure what Burning Man is, but I've noticed that pansexual groups are becoming more mainstream, and usually have casual meet & greets for new "explorers". When I was in my 30's, I found such events in an alternative newspaper. (Haha, not sure that would work in today's google world) Good luck in spicing up your life!

  2. hey... are you me?!?! You sound just like me fringing on the edges of the hippy, ren faire, gamer, sci fi world full of fantasies but too scare dot really commit to them and also never IN a group but along its edges. You are SO not alone in that! For me it was more like I dislike being "pegged" as something and I like variety so I move on and never fully commit with a lot of these social based circles.

    though i do hear you being too hard on yourself. :( dislike. We do the things we do for good reason usually even if it isnt apparent at first blush. Think about all the people who got really into each of these things... there is NO way I want to be an x'd out renfaire gypsy deoderant challenged lolol... I mean thats not where my path is my path is unique and so is yours. For me, I have so many interests I just couldnt be hemmed in my one and while that path has been lonley and still is sometimes that is ME. I suspect you may be similar.

    what i am hearing in your post is that you are tired. you work a lot and its challenging. i think you need to take a break or pick up a new hobby to re-engage you.

  3. You're already on Facebook; you might be able to find pages for things you're interested in. Your local SCA group, a nearby Ren Fair, the fan pages for Dr. Who or Anne McCaffrey, etc. Gaming stores might also be good spots to meet people with geeky interests.

    Also, I don't know about too many online games other than WoW, but it has a free trial, so you can mess around with it to see if you're interested.

  4. You know, the only way to get into the groups you want to be with is to seek them out and engage with them.

    Speaking as a hippie/moderately geeky/recovering Scadian who met her husband at Renaissance Faire, it really is the only way.

    Start with the internet. Not only will you find scads of people who still adore Quantum Leap and who read Neil Gaiman avidly, you'll find new interests through these people. Heck, I'm a big Who fan! Not as in a BNF (Big Name Fan), but as in I love the shows to death and back again (classic and new). Just open up the search engine of your choice, type in a topic, and see what comes up.

    It's sort of like when I discovered bobbin lacemaking. I found it through an ad in a magazine for a mail order kit. I decided what the hell and sent off for it on a whim. But once I got the kit and got addicted, it was up to me to go looking for more. I found more books and more references and eventually international organizations. Once I found the obsession, it was up to me to find the community.

    Your fellow freaks and fans are out here waiting for you. Come join us.

  5. Honestly? getting outside your comfort zone is the hardest and best possible thing to do! I know because I have been on both sides of that. I know what it feels like to be intimidated by geeks and their coms, but celebrate your newbie status! You don't have to be all-knowing to be a part of something fun. Like Twistie said, they are out there you just have to dip your toe in the water!
    We'll all be right here, cheering you on! =0)

  6. I can relate so much to this post. Thank you for writing it! I agree with what Twistie said - all you need to do is google your interests and you'll find people talking about it. You can just read, you can join in, you could meet people who happen to live in your area. It's up to you how far you want to go. You can do this with every single interest you listed, and find a group of people on the internet talking about it. For me, that is the easiest way. Read, see if you like the commenters, see if you want to comment, see what else it leads to, maybe face to face meetings and great new friendships, who knows! "Getting out there" is as easy as a search engine, and you don't have to commit to anything. You're just looking, until you decide you want to do something more than look. I'd love to read updates of what you decide to do. I am at a similar turning point in my life, although I haven't yet evaluated what's going on, as you have done so well here, and I wish you much luck.

    -I apologize if this posted more than once - I tried anonymous but I don't think that worked, so am trying an identity.

  7. Also - there's, you could see if there are any groups in your area that interest you, or start one of your own.

  8. It's good that you're thinking of these things and I know it's hard to get started. I want to second especially if you like playing board games. I've found board games meetup to be one of the easiest groups to show up to without knowing anyone.