Thursday, May 24, 2012

After the Neon Fades

I’m struggling. I’m not sure what it is, exactly… maybe I’m just in a post-vacation funk and the number of things flying through my inbox needing immediate attention is simply overwhelming me. While that’s probably not helping, but I don’t think that’s it, exactly. I’ve been trying to reflect on BiSC and figure out why I don’t have that same euphoric high that I did last year when I got home. I stayed an extra day this year, maybe it gave me time to unwind a little bit, and wean myself off the city. By the time I was on a plane home, I was ready to be home.

I took over 500 pictures this year (which was actually LESS than last year, if you can believe it). I was going through them last night to fix the red eyes, rotate the ones that needed rotated, maybe strategically crop a few, and, oh hey, adios blemishes. You know. My usual post-event routine. I’m really excited to post them, because I feel like I got some great shots, and I think people will enjoy them. I worry that by taking so long, they’ll get lost in all of the post-BiSC haze, the flurry of recap posts, and the very important business of Internet-stalking all of the new BFFs that everyone made this weekend. I want to post my stuff, as kind of a reminder: Hey, don’t forget me! I want you to like me, too! Time feels like it is of the essence, and I’m trying to distract myself from the weird feelings I’m having by focusing on concrete tasks. Edit the pictures. Post the pictures. Write the posts. Post the posts. Sit back. Remember. Enjoy.

I feel empty and irrelevant, and I can’t figure out why.

I was so, so insecure this year. A large part of it was due to my constant struggle with body image. Last year at this time, I was in the beginning stages of my weight-loss journey, and was feeling optimistic about the way I was starting to look. This year, I’ve gained back almost everything I lost last year, and I’m so aware of it. I see it with every piece of clothing I put on and every time I look in the mirror. I jokingly told myself it was mostly because I was worried about how I was going to look in all of the pictures (because I’m silly and narcissistic and vain), but… I think it runs deeper than that.

The physical insecurities have eaten away at me enough to tap into my emotional insecurities, and I feel kind of the way I did when I was in fourth grade – standing on the outside, looking in. Feeling like people are humoring me and tolerating my presence. Feeling like I maybe don’t really belong here, and I’m forcing my way in. (I actually flat-out ASKED the popular girls at recess one time if I could hang out with them. If I could be part of their group. They let me, at least for that day, and they told me I could be an “alternate” for their “club”, but I’m sure they made fun of me later. At the time, I didn’t care. It was just a little bit of acceptance, and I hungrily took it.)

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve feared failure much less. Maybe I’m less ambitious now, I don’t know. But the thing I fear is Not Being Enough. Not being a good enough friend, not being a good enough employee, not being a good enough sister/daughter/granddaughter/niece/pet owner. Not having a clean enough apartment. Not being thin enough to fit into my clothes. Most of all, not being a good enough girlfriend/partner/other half. These things eat away at me and every time I feel like I’ve let someone down (even if that someone is simply myself), I fall into one of those cloud-covered anxiety-ridden depression holes. Those are not terribly easy to get out of, but they’re not the deepest pits I’ve found myself in. I’m still standing, I guess. So there’s that.

I digress.

I’m reading the recap posts as they’re going up, and the most prominent emotion I’m identifying is… jealousy. I didn’t have an earth-shattering experience this year. I got to spend time with some of my favorite people, but I don’t feel like I connected like I did last year. I was simply… there. The closest I got was a short conversation I had with Stacey on the roof of Chateau on Saturday night, where she made me feel like I was a valuable person who was worth being friends with. I wanted to cry then, and it makes me want to cry now. I’m not sure she knows how much her words meant to me, but they meant a lot.

All these years later, I think I’ve figured it out: I’ve always felt second-rate. Like I didn’t deserve to have the friendships and relationships I have now, because I am a nobody. That’s why I hold them all at arm’s length – if they get too close, they’ll see I’m a fraud. That I’m a nothing, that I’m not worth their time.

I want to say it felt like I was holding back in Vegas,  but I don’t think that’s quite right. I think it’s actually the opposite. I was trying too hard.

I was trying so hard to be cool and funny and interesting and I didn’t really feel like myself most of the weekend. I felt like I had to live up to the “me” that I’ve presented via this blog, not the confused, insecure girl I’ve been lately. I needed to be witty and fun! People will only like me if I’m witty and fun! I was sure of it. So I tried really hard to be witty and fun, and I kept catching myself, and then I just felt like I was being loud and obnoxious and forcing my way in to other people’s fun. Once again, I was intruding, all but shy of coming out and asking if I could be part of the club.

And that’s not how it works here. BiSC is not a club. There are no exclusive groups to try to break into. It’s a family. These are my people, my “tribe” if you will. They are just like me (albeit cooler and more awesome), and they think the same way and they also live through their words and their writing, and they not only do not mock my excessive picture-taking, but welcome it and encourage it. They don’t judge me for finding certain things interesting or wanting to do certain things (Germana even walked with me half a mile down the strip in the blazing afternoon heat to go on an adventure to check out some of the other hotels and see what they were like, plus I was on a mission for the BF to find the hotel he’d worked on at his internship, back when), though I suspect they might physically pick me up and throw me in the damn pool next year if I don’t voluntarily go myself. (Which, given the aforementioned blazing heat, might not be the worst thing ever.) They’re not judgmental people. They are the very best people you could ever hope to find yourself surrounded with, which is why I didn’t think twice about going again this year. It wasn’t even up for debate. I had to go, and I was going to find a way to make it work, even if I was short on cash for a few weeks in January.

So I’m sitting here, and I’m struggling, because what the hell is my problem? Why couldn’t I properly engage with people this weekend? Why am I a fucked up ball of crazy?

But I can’t help but feel like I crashed the party this year. I KNOW, it’s ridiculous. I’m not looking for a chorus of people telling me I’m being ridiculous. I’m just trying to sort out my head and figure out why I feel that way. I had fun. I had a LOT of fun. I enjoyed every single minute I was there and as soon as I left, I was already mentally calculating my budget to go again next year. It was amazing, like always, so I can’t figure out why I have all these odd feelings now.

I’m giving myself another year. I will return to Las Vegas for Bloggers in Sin City 2013 and face these demons head-on. I’ll give myself an honest-to-God shot at recapturing the magic from 2011. I’ll give myself another try to silence the voices in my head. I’ll stop trying so hard and start trying to be myself, whatever that ends up meaning.

If I can’t do that next year, then I think I will be done. I will let someone else have “my” spot in 2014, so that they can experience the magic I felt in 2011. They can sit by the pool in the VIP area, sipping on free drinks and stealing the rays of sunshine from the Nevada sun. They can dance all night in a fancy nightclub. They can have their names written on their arms in Sharpie and bounce excitedly when they finally meet somebody that they already sorta "know." They will eat all of the amazing food and wander down the strip and complain about the fact that their feet hurt all while not really caring because it's totally worth it. I will watch them from Twitter and nod knowingly and approvingly at the way their lives are changing for the better, and I will hold on to my own experiences, because even with the weird funk and the barrage of frustrating emotions that I’m feeling now, I know that my life has been forever changed for the better by the people I’ve met at this magical event.


Germana said...

I'm so happy I got to spend more time with you this year. I would gladly trek across the desert with you AGAIN!
It makes me sad that you felt that way. Of course you matter! It can be overwhelming situation, I felt out of place at some points too. I blame my introversion. I hope you feel better about yourself, you don't have a reason to feel that way! I see an awesome person when I look at you!
I can't wait to tackle-hug you at #BiSC13!

Ashley, the Accidental Olympian said...

Maybe it's like chasing your first high. Maybe it's never as good as it was that first time when it seems like the entire world tingles.

Crap, now I sound like a druggie.

I love you.

That is all.

Tori said...

I wouldn't be surprised if everyone who attended BiSC is feeling like this a little bit now, or during BiSC itself. Remember that as bloggers, as writers, we tend to be more introverted, more observant, more in touch and in tune with emotions and social cues. Sometimes it's helpful, but sometimes it can make us insecure, especially when we feel that we're picking up on behavior that may or may not be there.

Just remember that you are interesting and fabulous and gorgeous and LOVED! ♥

Sara said...

First of all, I *loved* meeting you. I could sense your insecurities and I did get that you were trying to cover them up or ignore them, but the way I interpreted that was as the way you handled them in general. I never picked up on you "trying too hard," for what it's worth. (Although I know from experience that it won't be worth much until you are actually comfortable with yourself!)

Second of all, you will totally rock BiSC's socks off next year. I have no doubt that now, after two very different experiences, you've learned - and will continue to learn - enough about yourself to succeed in every way you want to. Also, third time's a charm, right?

I can't wait to drive through Des Moines and visit you this summer!

Steph A said...

This is how i always feel with crowds. :) Except i usually don't go for it and i just sit quietly. Until i get some drinks. And then i embarrass myself. Oh, to love and fear people so deeply. How did this happen to us?

Anyway, you can't scare me. Even if i don't see you all summer because of BiSC and softball, i'll still be your good friend. ♥

Danielle said...

I hate it when you're sad Kelly. :(

I've said it before and you probably just think I'm being a suckup, but I really wish you could see how awesome you really are. I really do look up to you.

I would look up to you even more if you came and visited me though :)

terra said...

I have to agree that this year wasn't as amazing as last year, or maybe it was just different. It was through the roof amazing, but I was insecure in weird ways too.

I'm glad you were there and I'm glad we were able to spend more time together this year because I just adore you. Seriously. You're one of my favorites and I feel like I've gotten so close to you just through your words, if that makes any sense at all.

Hugs, lady. You're a rock star.

chimes said...

It might be that I'm on my period but it's more likely because I know exactly what you're describing. But I'm tearing up at work (again. you suck at this, btw).

I feel the same way. I'm actually debating going to Blend next year because it won't be the same. There were no cliques, but now there are going to be forged friendships and it might not be as inclusive.

I got to the point where I didn't give a fuck if I fit in and made it my deal to just be an outsider. I floated amongst a few groups throughout school. That's how I dealt.

And I think you just spread yourself too thin. You're not able to meet your own expectations in any of these things because you've committed to too many things. Learn to say no. And say it to the right people (eg. not to yourself, the beef and your closest friends ... to work — unless you're really broke — to softball. to friends that you're not exactly good friends with or wild about in the first place).

Also, no matter what, I'm with Steph. even if I don't see you all summer (which would be a bummer), I'm still going to be here. And I'm cool. At least that's what I've been told. So I guess that means you're popular now by extension.

chimes said...

also, Ashley has a good point. there's something to be said about the first time going anywhere (esp. vegas).

I was sad that I wasn't blown away by CO the same way some of the girls were. Sure, it's nice. I'd like to live there. But not as much as I'd like to live in the Twin Cities. And ... Austin. I had the same feeling when I left Austin that I did when we went to the Twin Cities the first time in college. Sheer. Love.

Jessica Allen-Summers said...

Reading your words here was really strange because it's exactly how I feel. I try so, so hard to appear cool, fun, interesting and entertaining that I end up not being myself at all. Like what is with that?! Sometimes just being yourself with people who you want to impress/like you is the hardest thing of all. It sounds like you had a blast though!! so jealous!!


caryn said...

You don't have to be witty for us to love you. We love you as you are no matter what. I did have an amazing time, and i do plan to go next year, and always seem to be on a high of optimism when i return but something was different for me too this year. maybe it was that we were veterans and the glitz and glamour of our shiny new toy wore off. but i always seem to get the sads and lonelies when i come home. I think it is hard to come back to real life as well. I absolutely loved rooming with you sunday and getting to know you better. I am always always here for you. XOXO

ameena said...

oh lady, i completely agree that this year just didn't feel quite as magical as the year before. I haven't been able to figure out why or in what way - but it definitely felt that way. i think maybe there will never be a way to recreate that magical night we became a band and went to the wax museum and laughed and laughed. and i've started rambling again but i really want you to know that i am so happy you came this year and i'm so happy you are coming next year! and i'm the most happy we got to finally see that vegas sign!