Letting My Freak Flag Fly? I Can Get Down With That

I'm so not (physically) ready to train again. Mentally, I want a 17-hour week. My body, however? It's lookin' like 7.

I'm not sure if this is because my school schedule is not very permissive, or my body isn't healed, or both - because I feel both equally. Either way, it's El Sucko. I gots noooooooo steam. I feel like I'm on the USS Enterprise every time I wake up at 6am, with Scotty yelling something brogue-y and profound like, "She can't do it, Captain! She doesn't have the power!"

Ok, so that's not profound, but I'm sure the producers of the original Star Trek thought it was.


Last night was class #2, Resiliency and Positive Psychology. The class is more clinical and practical in nature, focusing on the move from a pathology-based practice to a strengths-based approach. I chose the class because I wanted to make a decision on whether to go for a postgrad program in Industrial/Organizational Psych or explore the more clinical side and major in Sports Psych. I figured a class like this was exactly what I needed to tip the scales in favor of either. I honestly didn't expect to learn something the first night of class.

But I did.

While speaking in front of the class, I realized - even more clearly - how completely out of the box I think. My responses to our group questions, for example, where totally different than the majority of the group's. When asked "what is happiness to you?", most of my classmates responded with conceptual definintions of the word "being free from demans," etc. I, however, was specific and functional: "my pets are fed, my house is clean, I don't work with people who piss me off, and I have time to train. That's happiness." When asked why we took the class, everyone else responded with the typical, "looked interesting, my first choice got cancelled." Me? "I'm hoping classes like this will make it clear to me whether to pursue a more research-based I/O grad program or a more clinical Sports program."

Wow, was I the group freak. I've realized this at work - many times, thanks to the passel of tightasses by which I'm surrounded - and it makes me feel utterly alienated. (Especially today. Everyone's going for a free lunch at some local restaurant. I wasn't invited to attend. The office assistant, instead of saying "Oh, Meggan, we're going to the free lunch, will you cover the phones?" asks, "Can you go to lunch a little later? Nikki and I have a luncheon we're attending." Then I get an e-mail later, from someone else who didn't know the story, mentioning the free lunch from Papa Joe's. Also reference the time everyone forgot to have me sign a co-worker's going-away card. Anyway.) But, in class (and, believe me, I had moments both precise and pedantic), something became obvious to me: it is exactly my style of thinking that will make me an excellent clinician or researcher. After all, groundbreaking studies and methods don't come from clinicians or scientists who think like everyone else - they come from people who take common responses and expectations and say, "I see this another way - let's try and PROVE it."

On a week when I felt like a complete freak and a total standout, there could have been nothing more comforting. Many times in the past I have felt, if I could get past the dryness of research methods and APA manuals, that the actual discovery, reporting and counseling side of psychology would appeal to my natural curiosity, uniqueness and penchant for writing far more than any humanities/history/religion focus that would ultimately leave me with teaching as my primay profession. But there was an even clearer moment of validation: to leave class hearing Dr. Shafe say: "There is nothing wrong with you as a person. You don't need to change. It is some of your behaviors and habits that need to change." I've long spouted my own theory that people's makeup, their core personalities, don't change -but that their habits can and DO. It was completely refreshing to hear professional research back up that gut feeling.

Maybe there's nothing wrong with being a freak. I can't tell you how many times a day I've stunted myself, held back, or tried not to respond with my gut, all because I was worried someone wouldn't like me or would take me the wrong way - and because I didn't want to be known as an eccentric. Well, fuck that. I am an eccentric. And it's not my eccentricity that's crippling me, it's my attempt to stifle my eccentricity. People can see that hesitance, that discomfort, that lack of authenticity, and they're responding to it. I can feel it and it's making me feel like a fraud - every single day.

From now on, I'm'a let my Freak Flag fly. (Don't worry, Tea; no Springer episodes will ensue, I promise. But there will be lots more harmless incidents, like caustic humor in letters to insurance companies. No doubt.)

The other big thing I took away from class last night was this. There are generally 3 accepted components of happiness: circumstances, set point(temperament), and intentional actions. Of the 3, circumstances make up only 10% of a person's happiness. (Generally, of course. I think we all knew this, though - it's part of those hokey "life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you deal with is" slogans.) To me, the most pertinent point was that 50% is temperament and 40% is INTENTIONAL ACTION.

INTENTIONAL. Duh. That makes SO MUCH SENSE.

So when my house isn't getting clean, even though I'm dying for a clean house? There's probably a reason I'm PURPOSELY avoiding it. Maybe it makes my dizzy spells worse and makes me more tired and I want to save my energy for other things. Maybe I'm avoiding being alone with myself because I'm afraid of what I'll hear/see/think - otherwise, if I was so worried about the stinking house cleaning, I'd be staying up till 1am until I had the place scrubbed from ceiling to floor. (Well, except for one point: I DO NOT know how to make the burnt/dog smell go away, or I WOULD stay up till 1am doing so.) (Although, on a side note, my dad thinks the house IS clean. Hmmm. Maybe I just have a touch of OCPD and the house really is pretty clean and non-stinky.)

INTENTIONAL. ACTION.

Purposeful. Planned. Not accidental, not karmic. It's not a "signal I'm putting out into the universe." It's ME getting off my ASS with the intent to make something happen . . . happiness.

I can get down with that.

So now I'm thinking . . . maybe I will major in Positive Psychology for my MS, and Sports Psych for my PhD. Along the way, I can become certified as a USAT or USATF Coach. By then, I won't be such a lardass, either.

I can get down with that, too.

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