A Few Random Thoughts I’ve Had Lately

At the start of the pandemic, I downloaded TikTok out of sheer boredom. Somehow, I ended up finding a community of others willing to learn, teach, and grow our understanding of the world around us. It’s been a comfort when I needed it, when I needed somewhere to socialize without having the ability or option of leaving my home. But lately it’s become more of an aggravating annoyance. Every other video is about how to handle a romantic or platonic relationship, the “healing journey”, or what emotional maturity supposedly looks like.

Each of the video topics annoys me for different reasons, but I think it mostly comes down to each and every one of them having a superiority complex overall. “This is the right way to do things in a relationship, this is the wrong way.” “This is the right way to heal, this is the wrong way.” “This is the right way to deal with emotions, this is the wrong way.”

It’s exhausting. Everyone is different. Everyone uses different coping mechanisms to deal with the things they struggle with, some healthy and some less so. But who is to say what is and isn’t healthy for someone else? Can we just let them be and let them decide for themselves what is best? It’s as if our culture loves to say you only hold value and worth if you do things a certain way. I’ve never held the belief that anyone is more or less worthy than another no matter what. Are there certain things that are objectively bad and wrong? Of course. But context matters, too. Everyone has a different belief system, way of thinking and relating to the world around them, unconscious biases, etc. It almost seems as though everyone in western culture has this incessant need to force others to comply with what we believe is best. But who is to say what really is best for another? Even parents get it wrong when it comes to what may be best for their children, teachers sometimes get it wrong when it comes to what may be best for their students, governments can get it wrong when it comes to what may be best for their citizens (especially the most vulnerable among them).

I know in recent weeks a lot of those same TikTok videos, even from mutuals on the platform, are starting to feel triggering of old trauma that I’m still working through. It’s making me need a break from the platform altogether, and I’ve found comfort in listening to audiobooks as I declutter and organize my home. I’ve always enjoyed learning about different philosophies, psychology, ethics, etc. and that’s what the majority of by TBR list is at the moment. It’s interesting to think back and realize every boyfriend I’ve ever had was able to see that interest in philosophy within me. More than one of my exes even suggested listening to podcast and audiobooks, which I’ve only gotten into within the last year or two. I never really agreed with them at the time, but it’s almost clear as day looking at my current habits, the audiobooks I’m listening to now, and the ones I keep adding to my TBR list on Goodreads or my wish list on Audible for those unavailable through the Libby app from my library.

Right now, I’m listening to Who Is Wellness For? by Fariha Róisín. It’s interesting how much I can relate to the story while not having much in common with the author outside of relating to the feelings and emotions being written about it. I’m only about halfway through the book, and have about 20 other audiobooks from the library on the Libby app. The more I listen to the book, and the more I look forward to the other books on my TBR list, the more I find I’m longing for and wanting someone to read along with so that we could discuss the books and topics of the books. I found it’s one of the best ways for me to connect with others. I love talking about different experiences that we are reminded of while reading books like the one I’m currently listening to and ones on my TBR list. I don’t know why exactly, but I find it an enthralling experience that allows me to open my mind to new perspectives and ways of looking at the world. When I find those people, I know love. And I’m frustrated lately because I don’t know where those people, my people, are right now. I hope we find each other soon. It’s like I’ve outgrown those I used to be able to connect with about these things. I know they say growth is lonely because it often includes loss and grief is necessary. But it still sucks. And I still long for those I can connect with, that I can talk about these things with someday soon. I want that so much.

Midnight Thoughts

Thinking about how so many people (most I no longer talk to, some I barely do) honestly think we were ever really friends, yet they probably wouldn’t be able to name any of my siblings, my favorite color, my favorite movie, my favorite song, my favorite songwriter, my favorite artist, my favorite animal, my favorite food (cuisine and/or dish), etc.

And yet they still think they know me and what my beliefs/principles/values are. No. Absolutely not. They only know me when they’re trying to spiritually bypass over what I believe with what they believe. They only know me when its convenient for them to have me available to assist with their needs — physically, mentally and emotionally. But the second I need any of those things in return, where are these people? When I say my disability is making it harder for me to do things like physically travel, where are these people who claimed to care about me as a friend? Nowhere to be found. Or too busy, or someone else takes priority, or whatever other excuse. Get the eff out of here acting like you know and care about me. You don’t.

The worst part is these same people (cowards, honestly) won’t ever apologize for how they’ve ever abandoned and mistreated me — mentally, emotionally, and psychologically with their presupposed assumptions and unintended ableism (and favoritism). I wonder if these people even know what my disabilities actually are. It’s not like they’ve ever bothered to really get to know me…

As much as I dislike the phrase, “If I cut you off, chances are you handed me the scissors,” it does seem applicable in some situations with certain people I’ve known throughout my life.

Also, anyone reading this may want to do some serious self reflection on how they treat (or ignore caring for) people – I may very well be talking about someone you know.

Breathing Underwater, Part Two

Yesterday, I got to make up open water dives 2, 3, and 4 to complete my PADI Open Water Diver certification through Scuba Monkey Dive Center. I met my instructor at 8 am at Troy Springs State Park, and we waited a little bit for another girl who was also supposed to finish some make up dives to finish getting certified but she never showed. I do hope she is okay. It did make the day somewhat easier and quicker for me, though, since it meant that it was just me and my instructor. At about 8:30, we started putting our BCD kits together. It’s been almost a month since I last put together a BCD kit, but I was still able to do it. I would love to own my own BCD kit someday soon as I start diving more frequently. We walked down to the water and began our first dive of the day around 9-9:30 am. We worked a little bit on buoyancy, something I had a lot of trouble with during my first open water dive last month, and then went over to a shallow area to do some required SCUBA skills I still needed to practice doing in open water. I was able to practice finding my regulator if it were to have gotten knocked out of my mouth for whatever reason and we practiced buddy breathing again. This time we practiced the buddy breathing by offering our secondary air supply hose and surfacing. We also worked on my favorite skill (note the sarcasm): mask flooding and clearing. I was okay with clearing the mask after putting a little bit of water in, but flooding it completely was difficult. I had trouble actually getting myself to remove the mask completely to flood it, which is necessary to complete this skill. At this point, we decided to surface and take a break out of the water so I could warm up a bit. We practiced the tired diver tow while we were heading out of the water so we could get that skill out of the way before we finished dive one for the day. My instructor also used the break to adjust the amount of weights I had in my BCD kit from 12 lbs to 8 lbs.

After a thirty minute break, we got back in the water and swam over to our line using our compasses. I can now read and use a compass! When we got to our line we floated for a few minutes since we needed a few other divers to get off our line. Why there were other divers on our line, I don’t know but we were able to do finish the last of the surface skills I needed to do while we waited for them to go away. We borrowed a safety sausage from a fellow diver completing a rescue diver course, and I practiced blowing it up and then refolding it. We also did cramp release, which was simply a stretch to relieve cramps and switching from snorkel to regulator a few times at the surface. We also did the removal and replacing of our BCD kits at the surface. Once we finished these last few surface skills, we were able to use our line again and worked on buoyancy. Once I seemed to have some control over that, we swam back over the shallow area we’d been using to do the underwater skills , reading our compass during the swim, and I finally finished flooding and clearing my mask. Yay!! We decided to take another little break at this point and got something to drink. (Coffee and soda, apparently. Because water is overrated as a drink goes…LOL.)

For our last and final dive of the day, we simply worked on buoyancy control at different depths. I also worked on my kicking, keeping my legs straight with my knees locked. We swam around in a circle a few times, and I got to see a little baby turtle swimming on the bottom at one point. When we got to our lowest depth of 60 ft, my instructor purposely put a little water in my mask to see if I would remain calm in an emergency. I did, and when I wasn’t able to clear my mask completely, I signaled that we needed to ascend and we did, calmly and slowly. This was the point at which we finished our dive, and I recorded the proper information in my divers log book. He also took my picture next a fence that will go on my PADI Open Water Diver card I’ll get to put in my wallet once I receive it in the mail. I cannot wait.

I am so looking forward to future diving encounters, and so thankful my instructor was super patient with me in completing all of the skills. Now who wants to go diving? I know a great place we can rent our equipment from!

And if you haven’t already, check out my upcoming trip to Africa, where I’ll be diving with whale sharks this September – http://bit.ly/1MLWW67