Gifts? For Me?

Recently, I've received anonymous gifts from someone on LiveJournal!

While the thought is much appreciated, I don't really use this site website has its own home, and I keep my account here more for purposes of nostalgia than for any other reason.

If you're the one sending me the virtual gifts, please let me know who you might be, so I can thank you for your thoughtfulness.

Hope you're all having a wonderful 2012, and you can keep up with my not-so-adventurous adventures over at Jaded Elegance. :)
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Jaded Elegance has a new home.....

For those who don't know, I'm never here anymore because I've moved to for all your fun blogging entertainment.

I'd love to find a way to transfer all my old entries from here to the archives over there, and sync up my new posts on there with my account here...but I do not know how. Tech help required.

Bed Rest Is Not For Everyone...

Lately, I've hit that plateau in my life where I'm bored with the "sameness" in life, and ready for an adventure. More specifically, it seems I'm ready to cause trouble, since I find myself engaging in gossip and not keeping my mouth shut when I should be practicing a bit more discretion, and looking for ways to play with fire without any real or lasting consequences.

I'm not sure what causes that restless streak in me; all I know is that it will appear out of nowhere, after a long time of seeming fond of the pieces of security, routine, love, and certainty I can find in my life. After all, my life has not typically been characterised by those things and I do value them. I will go through months where I prefer playing trivia on Saturday night to exploring a new place, staying in and watching a DVD to drinking in a bar with friends. It will be weeks until it occurs to me that I haven't engaged in flirtatious banter with anyone who isn't my significant other, and I've unconsciously gone a week or two without a martini.

Then, BOOM. Something hits me all at once, where I still value the stability of my life, but miss the adventure and uncertainty and drama of how things used to be in my life. Let's face it, to a certain extent, I thrive on the drama and uniqueness of life, no matter how much I claim to want to hide myself away, concern myself only with the simple things, find happiness in quiet moments like a good book or favourite TV show, and need the attention or company of others less.

Since I've been ill and that illness has severely limited my energy over the past few months, it seems fairly natural I'd be attacked by restlessness sooner or later. And, fortunately, tucked quietly away in my little room, there isn't that negative tendency of mine where restlessness becomes recklessness to worry about.

I have everything I could want in my life: a roof over my head, food in my pantry, bills somehow paid each month, a boyfriend who cares about me and is an honest, open person, a steady job, and a group of friends to turn to when I need them. And, yet, I can recall a time when I had none of those things and felt more free.

There has to be a way to reconcile a need for stability with a need for adventure, without turning to excess in either direction, as I've always been so prone to do. After all, I'm a grown up now. That restless quarter-life crisis thing is officially over, and I can stop trying to find myself. I think I've been located. Yet, part of me really wants to go out and end up dancing on a bar covered in feathers and glitter, for no apparent reason.

For years, good friends of mine have been urging me to write an autobiography, which I've dismissed as silly for a number of reasons, the most important being that I'm not that old, and I'm not famous or interesting. There are also a number of contradictions about me, one being that I'm a very open person in some ways, yet intensely private in others. I don't think I'd ever want to be the victim of a writer with a "True Life Story On Lifetime" complex. Yet, about a week ago, an idea took hold in my brain where it might be an interesting idea to recall some of my crazy adventures in life through a voice not my own, fictionalize other scenarios and characters, and end up with an interesting novel or collection of short stories.

It may end up being complete and utter crap. It may end up being trashy and akin to "Sex And The City", which someone's already written. Or, it may end up being insightful and literary in some way. I have no idea. All I know is my goal is to write at least 90,000 words, and fashion it into some form of manuscript...and when I'm done, I can cross "Write a book." off of my bucket list.

However, it seems that writing about adventure makes me more anxious to incorporate more adventure into my relatively dull, weird-mystery-disease, Valium-enhanced life, I mean, seriously? How can a person be restless on daily doses of tranquilizers?

Somehow, I've figured it out, though. Maybe if I just get well enough to tolerate going to trivia in a loud bar with bright lights, I won't be so bored with the little things...and by the time winter hits, I'll be content enough for my hibernation. Next March, I'll emerge healthy, having lost 20 pounds, and ready for 100 degree weather and sunshine again. Maybe I'll even live in a nicer apartment, or have a more lucrative job.

I have about a month to get this restless streak out of my system before hibernation begins, Bring on the adventure! :)
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Technical help?

I'm wondering if there's any way to sync my postings on my personal blog so that they post on here....but not necessarily the other way around, that all my LJ entries cross-post to my personal blog?

Any help from some LJ-savvy users would be appreciated!
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An entry that I couldn't quite delete....

Author's note: I don't really publish here on LJ anymore, since you can find enough of my thoughts over on my blog (JadedElegance.Net) and on my FB feed. However, since this was originally meant as a space for me to publish private thoughts I didn't need all my friends to see, and nobody really remembers I'm over here, it was a perfect home for this blog I composed yesterday.

After composition and posting of this blog, it caused some tension and negativity between myself and the friend discussed in the blog, so much so that I decided to remove the posting out of respect for his viewpoint. However, out of respect for my viewpoint, and because I think the post was both significant and well-written, I'm going to put it up here. After all, perhaps when I'm 80, I'll want to remember this incident. :)

September 28th, 2011

It's been awhile since I've been able to really get out of the house and enjoy myself in the way I used to. No, I'm not referring to my decade as a "no-sleep-until-the-sun-comes-up" party girl, but simply being able to go out with friends and have a good time has been difficult. My "mystery illness" has left me with a social stamina of about 3-4 hours, and of course, if I'm taking my medication, I'm not supposed to drink alcohol or even caffeine. On top of it, since identifying that certain types of lights and noises are "triggers" for aura, panic attack, and migraine (in that order), choices are often limited to dim, dark, and soothing places. (I suppose I now require ambiance for even the most ordinary and platonic of outings, taking my "high-maintenance" meter up a notch.)

Fortunately, I've had a few friends, as well as The Guy I'm Currently Dating, willing to be sensitive about all of these issues and get me out of the house regardless, even if it's easier for me just to hang out in my dimly lit room and Facebook. *laughs* The outings aren't always a success...last weekend, we didn't make it to our destination before severe panic followed by a killer migraine occurred...but it means a lot of me that my friends are willing to try. Especially when I've let them down recently, more than once. (I hate standing people up or breaking engagements at the last minute.)

Oh, wait. I guess that was bad phrasing on my part. I seem to be OK with breaking engagements at the last minute. Plans with friends, however, I stick to! *laughs*

In any case, a relatively new friend in my life is an interesting character I'll dub Random Chicago Guy (RCG), because we met randomly, and he is a guy from Chicago. (I'm not too creative with renaming people, sorry.) We've known each other out and about on the social scene for a year or so, but rarely talked. I'm not sure why, other than the social scene is odd; I'm in a committed relationship, he's not attracted to me, and fate never determined we should have a serious conversation about anything that would indicate we have things in common. So, you know how it is: you run into people, you say hi, but one or both of you is more interested in talking to other people, so you don't get around to becoming friends.

However, Random Chicago Guy has become a good friend to me in recent months, likely because he reached out to me when I started dealing with all my illness-related issues, and being out of "self-centered extravert mode" that shows up at parties sometimes, I actually took the time to open myself up to a new friendship and really get to know someone. And, the more I got to know this guy, the more I realised we have more essential things in common than is probably good for a friendship...along with enough differences to keep it interesting. (and potentially controversial.)

I have a good group of friends, but the ones I can sit with and talk for hours about everything under the sun are limited, and those that most closely qualify are in other cities. So, when Random Chicago Guy decided it was a good idea to drag me out of the house yesterday, even after a terrible day of cab annoyances and doctor-related frustrations and sheer exhaustion, I agreed. We ended up in Decatur Square, an area I love and don't get to see too often, and after that, a lovely bar called Prohibition.

I've wanted to go to Prohibition for quite some time, but the problem is, my friends never have. The reactions have spanned everything from "That sounds so pretentious and stuck-up" to "They smoke CIGARS?" and "Who pays $13 for a drink?". However, my friend loves the place, and I easily see why. It's very New York to me (although, let's face it, the speakeasy bar trend hit NYC half a decade ago), something reinforced by the presence of a very attractive, very personable bartender from NYC...and once worked at the Blue Owl, among a zillion other places. (remember the Blue Owl, certain NYC friends? ;) )

It was a lovely way to spend an evening, and fortunately, nobody was actually smoking cigars, and it was the perfect setting to talk, both to my friend and the attractive (and most likely gay) bartender, over particularly strong and inventive drinks.

Afterwards, we were still in a "Let's go out!" mood, only to find that one of my favourite spots, Cafe Intermezzo, was well as everything else. As a result, we ended up at a dive bar that didn't look terrible from the outside, but had the (mis)fortune to be sandwiched between a well-known strip club and a seedy-looking motel. So, really, I might have guessed what to expect, but I'm up for most things, and you can't be too picky at 2:30 AM. However, we'll just say it was in direct contrast to the first bar, both in atmosphere and the type of people you'd find there.

Things really got interesting when an extremely busty blonde in her late 40's, made up to appear in her late 30's, showed up and sat out next to me. Since she was displaying her double D's like well-earned trophies, both the bartender and my friend immediately noticed her. I suppose my impression wasn't quite as favourable, since big boobs don't distract me from my observations of others; I saw an aging stripper so "up" on coke to be barely coherent, talking in tangents that were often impossible to keep up with. However, none of that made a bit of difference when it came to guys in the bar fighting to get her attention. In fact, at one point, my friend was so enthusiastic to pay attention to her that he quite literally knocked me off my chair (I was sitting between them), and so I offered to relocate.

I'm the first to admit, I'm easily bored in social situations where I don't have anyone to talk to. If nobody is paying attention to me, I wonder why I'm there, when I could be...not there. I can't help it. I'm just wired that way. My friend abandoned conversation in favour of chatting up the large-breasted stripper (which in itself, I can't fault him for...that's the hazard of hanging out with single friends), and there was no one in the bar I personally had any interest in talking to...and vice-versa. So, I was bored to tears. And, the place was rather sad in itself, so it wasn't my best bar experience ever. But when the woman started talking about supporting herself with prostitution, men who mistreated her, and the fact she saw the "assets" she was displaying to the world as all she had to offer, I started to feel seriously annoyed and viewed my friendship with Random Chicago Guy in a whole new light.

I wondered why this exchange bothered me so much. After all, as anyone who knows me well is aware, I don't have any issues with strippers, prostitutes, pornography, or sex workers, as long as they're not active issues/participants in my relationships. (see: politicians.) And, this friend and I aren't attracted to one another in any way that extends beyond friendship---so being ignored while a single friend chats with someone else is hardly a social sin.

I realised what bothered me was watching them interact changed how I viewed this friend. In part, I like him because he's highly sensitive, intuitive, open-minded, and carries himself with a certain amount of class and distinction. I'd never seen him surround himself with people who did not. So, to see him engaged in flirtation with a woman who certainly didn't fit that category, and who openly denegrated herself by saying her body was all she had to offer the seemed wrong for this friend to hear that, and still be captivated by her "assets". I felt disheartened; as if, of all people, this particular guy didn't know better and wasn't immune to that sort of trashy provocativeness from a woman with clear self-esteem issues, what hope is there for every other guy out there? And, one day, should I choose to become more old-fashioned and settle down, am I going to be the intelligent and classy girl sitting at home while my husband or fiance is being approached by that type of woman?

I'd like to think the Guy I Am Currently Dating wouldn't have given her a second look, whether or not he was in a relationship with me...because I think he's that kind of guy. But the truth is, I simply don't know. It's occurred to me that guys don't always employ the necessary standards of looking for class, intellect, good looks, and self-respect when choosing romantic/sexual partners.

I think, more than anything, the situation caused the idealist inside me to experience a small death. Because, as we all know, the world isn't as I see it or as I wish it would is what it is. I'm not sure if it's my friend that caused that blow to idealism...simply because I would have imagined he'd respond differently to that sort of situation...or the woman herself, who was a walking illustration of why people have negative perceptions of strippers, prostitutes, sex workers, etc. I've always been supportive of those aspects of society because, in the best of situations, there is a strange opportunity for female empowerment. (but that's a different blog for a different time.) However, there's also the possibility for female exploitation and self-destruction; drugs, booze, low self-esteem, a string of abusive relationships, and that sad side of things was illustrated to me by this woman. When I tried to open a bit of a dialogue about it, she laughed and said, "Well, I'm not a feminist", as if empowerment and self-respect were not options open to everyone.

So, yes, I suppose she hurt my idealistic and "feminist" side a bit. And it also hurt those things to notice that despite all that, my friend was still paying attention to her, as if through some form of magnetism that made little else matter.

It made me see how and why men make decisions that jeopardize their careers, families, reputations, and so forth. I am aware my friend is not one of those men, nor do I think he would ever be....but the idealistic side of me died a little in being reminded just how easy it is...and why I've had such a difficult time in my life believing in monogamy. Because while my friend is single and unattached, I know full well that three-quarters of the men that approach that woman every day are not. I've been "the other woman", and I've been that woman who feels like her world is falling apart because she finds undisputed proof that the one who claims to love her is jeopardizing that for sex.

Perhaps all of us are wired in that way that makes my idealistic side die a little each time I observe it, and I begin to wonder about the ideals of trust and monogamy, and how most who have those ideals don't live up to them, at least at some point. (Not that poly relationships are necessarily any easier...a whole different set of rules and difficulties and potential ways to be hurt.)

However, I couldn't help watching my friend flirt with a type of person I'd never think would meet his standards of what he's looking for in another person, and yet not care so much, due to sexual attraction. And, I couldn't help but think, "Is that true for everyone?", and if so, can I believe in monogamy without being hurt and disappointed at some point...or hurting or disappointing someone else?

It's easier not to be an idealist, in general. Accepting the world as it is, rather than as you'd like it to be, is a little more simpler, a little less speculative, and means you don't really have to care about situations between other people that have little to do with you.

On the way home, I had a conversation with Random Chicago Guy about this subject, and his slightly different male viewpoint, and I don't think his ideas are wrong, particularly as an open-minded single guy. After all, he is a respectable and intelligent guy that isn't going to see life in the same way as a female nearly 10 years younger. However, I did feel terribly old-fashioned in my processing of the situation, if only because feeling "I would have expected better from you" is something judgmental only your parents should say. :P

I can only hope that the guy in my life would react differently in that same situation, if not out of love and respect for me, than out of idealism and a certain shared way of seeing the world. The thought that perhaps he would not made me terribly sad.

Regardless, I don't think I'll be back to that bar anytime soon!
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Recognizing value....

Writing for a living means I am far less chatty on my blog, which is ironic, seeing as I finally got around to re-claiming my domain and reconnecting with my great love of emotional exhibitionism.

This week, I signed a new client, which is good news. Even better, it's the first client I've encountered who actually wanted to pay me more than I was asking, simply because he thought I should be asking for more.

It's a good rule of life to live by, really. If you go through life undervaluing yourself, and expecting others to undervalue you in the same way, you'll never know what you're capable of. I have a tendency to do this, because I get too comfortable in the familiar, too frightened of losing what's important to me. I hang on to jobs that don't pay as well as they should, relationships that don't work, friendships that bring me more aggravation than happiness, even when I know I deserve better.

I'm not sure if it's really that I undervalue myself; after all, some might tell you I value myself a bit too much. Yet, there is some part of me that is not only unwilling to give up on things that don't quite work, but wants to cling to them, even when it is to my detriment.

And, so, it's eye-opening to me when a perfect stranger appreciates the value of something I do, and asks me why I am not asking for more. I don't have an answer to that, other than to look at myself and my life, and say, "Well, I guess that's definitely something I do."

It *is* something I do. Really, though, it probably shouldn't be.
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Not MIA this time....

I'm not really missing! I've just been posting over at my new home, :) If you're my friend here, consider visiting me over there to catch up with me. :)
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Your Call Has Been Disconnected....

Tonight, I had a conversation with The Guy I Am Currently Dating about “connection”. Not as it pertains to our relationship, exactly, but in general.

For almost as long as I can remember, I’ve always had this relationship with the rest of the world that involves a certain level of me feeling disconnected from everyone else, as if, on some deep-down, personal level, there are very few people who ever really know or understand me. For the most part, it hasn’t stood in the way of my social interactions with the world. I’ve always been an extrovert, the person who feels at home in a majority of surroundings and situations. I’ve always been the person who has a good number of “friends”, most of whom really fall somewhere in the spectrum between “acquaintances” and “people whose company I enjoy frequently, but who know relatively little about me as a person.” However, my need for deep, “connected” relationships has always been something I’ve felt and identified greatly, and I’ve been fairly lucky to establish a handful of truly wonderful, enduring friendships as a result.

In this way, I’ve become a pretty rare breed: the guarded extrovert. And, although I’ve started to let my guard down a bit more as I get older, I’m still much more comfortable being the center of attention at a party, amongst a crowd of people I’ll likely never see again, than I am initiating one-on-one friendships with others. I’ve never been the one to meet someone, say “We should go to Place X together sometime”, and actually follow up on that, with either men or women. I’ve never been the one to actively seek out someone’s friendship, and I’ve been told that, despite being an outgoing and friendly person, there’s something about me that keeps many people from approaching me. It always surprises me, to hear years later that a person I met once had a crush on me, but was afraid to ask me out, or wanted to invite me to a party, but thought I wouldn’t be interested. Someone who has since turned into a friend once described me as “aloof”, which I’m really not, once you get to know me. I suppose there’s just a part of me that’s extremely guarded, and extremely particular about turning “acquaintances” into “friends”.

In any case, I’m sure it’s completely my own fault that I end up feeling thoroughly “disconnected” from the world, and like kindred spirits are hard to find. To be honest, although I’ve met literally hundreds of new people over the past few years through organising and attending Meetups, it seems like ages since I’ve found anyone with whom I truly have shared interests, a sense of commonality, an enjoyable rapport, and whom I’d really want to get to know beyond the occasional drink or running into each other socially. Even amongst those I do count as good friends, most aren’t very much like me at all, and even though we’re friends, probably don’t always relate to me terribly well.

The Guy I Am Currently Dating asked me what I did in the past to overcome this sort of feeling, and whether it’s a relatively new phenomenon. It certainly isn’t new; it’s something that’s plagued me my entire life. The deep need for “connection” is one of the many reasons that led me into my years of polyamoury, as it’s easy to conclude that perhaps the idea of one person you connect with on every level is rather unrealistic….yet, for people like myself, it’s impossible to ignore that need to know there is someone who relates to you, likes you, shares with you, understands you, or perhaps, is much the same as you—even if that person ends up being multiple people. It’s led me to trying to fill that need with meeting a parade of new people, mistaking that need for an interest in hooking up or dancing at clubs every night, seeking connection through intoxicants of all kinds, and even a brief, doomed flirtation with yoga. It’s also led me to things I never thought would be my cup of tea, such as my addiction to internet chat rooms back in the day, or joining a poetry community. It’s led me to experiment with virtually everything there is to experiment with, and, ironically, as I found myself making choices that increased the number of skeletons in my closet, it led me to feel even more guarded, more disconnected. However, it hasn’t been all bad. It’s led to me moving to different cities, having some life-changing friendships and relationships enter (and in some cases leave) my life, and taking chances on new jobs and new hobbies, and even starting a blog. *laughs*

Honestly, I’m not even sure what I’m looking for half the time, I only know that something’s missing…and it usually has to do with the idea of finding my voice, expressing it, and connecting with the world in a way that leaves me feeling understood and validated in some way. It’s possible that this desire has little to do with friendships, or relationships, but is a common feeling amongst artists that haven’t found a creative voice, that simply aren’t *engaging* with the world in the right way.

However, I do think a majority of the world spends a lot of time being largely disconnected, and the more reliant we become on Facebook statuses, Twitter updates, and texts, the more disconnected we become. I feel it on a personal level, every time someone tells me they don’t read my blogs or my e-mails because they were simply too long, or went on about feelings too much. Every time, I feel even more estranged from the rest of the world, and I miss those days when my Inbox was filled with long e-mails from friends, and remember how much I looked forward to that genuine type of connection. I’m as much to blame as anyone else, since I let either those friendships lapse or the habit of such honest communication fall by the wayside, largely because I began to lack the time and emotional energy to keep up. But, on days like today, I genuinely miss being connected with in a way that’s beyond the mundane, the ordinary, and the “safe”. I miss knowing people who wear their emotions on their sleeves, in their words, through their art, and have a genuine need to express who they are rather than hide it, or from it. And, I am somewhat grieved to know that time has turned me into an example of the latter, rather than the former.
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Peeking In From 2011!!

I know, I know, I've been completely MIA from this place for ages.

But, it's because I've been writing 6-8 hours a day for the past few months, which somehow kind-of-sort-of makes me a professional! *laughs* It also means that when my deadlines are met and my Inbox is empty at the end of the day, blogging isn't exactly the first thing I have the energy to do.

However, I've brought Jaded Elegance back from retirement, at a new domain: (someone snagged my .com address years ago, and I'm patiently waiting to get it back!) So, if you enjoy reading my random musings, check over there for more frequent updates!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, and Happy 2011!
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The uselessness of self-doubt.....

Without a doubt, I am one of those people who wants to be able to do everything well---ideally, the first time, and without a lot of effort. While this desire to excel is likely a positive quality, in some respects, the negative side of the coin is that, throughout my life, it's been something that limits and inhibits me.

I'm not by nature a lazy person; while I like to have fun, work on projects I enjoy, socialise, etc., it's amazing how many of my things to do turn into "events", things that can ultimately be judged by their success or failure. However, in my world, failure is always the worst thing that can happen, and can cause me to dismiss ideas, undertakings, areas in which I have some talent, and even people.

A good example of this has to do with my career path. For the majority of my life, there's nothing I've been more passionate about than performing. My life has been filled with singing, dancing, acting, and everything that goes with it---a somewhat brutal and competitive field at times, and not the perfect match for someone who is admittedly insecure, narcissistic, and extraordinarily sensitive. And yet, I not only kept this love of something I was good at in my life, even following harsh criticism or rejection, it's a field I continued to excel in. I knew I wasn't the best at what I did, but I was still better than most, and that was largely good enough for me.

Until, of course, one day, it wasn't. It wasn't once I moved to Atlanta and people I barely knew, who'd never seen me perform, dismissed what I did with "Do you make any money at that?" or "Oh, she's an actress...that must be why she seems so fake in real life.". I had "friends" and ex-boyfriends who laughed at me, told me I wasn't pretty enough or talented enough or likeable enough to ever make a real living doing this thing I loved...and strangely enough, I believed them. I haven't performed in front of anyone for almost five years, save the half-hearted audition here and there, because for the first time in my life, I doubted myself. Self-doubt leads to inhibition, and for an actor, inhibition is death. It was easier for me to say, "Well, maybe this isn't for me, I kind of suck.", even though I really had no basis for that conclusion other than a few hurtful remarks and a feeling of insecurity I used to be able to overcome.

I've always been insecure, but I've not really suffered from self-doubt in my life. In fact, for a great majority of it, I've believed I can do anything I set my mind to, and when I'm in that mindset, it's typically true. The trouble is, if I don't succeed the first time, there's rarely a "try again". It simply gets dismissed and I absorb it as a personality characteristic. I'm not good at cooking because I experimented once, and made something inedible. I'm not good at playing Frisbee or pool or bowling because I tried once, and the results were laughable. I'm not the corporate type because I had a corporate job once, and got fired. I'm not good at relationships because all of mine end in this complex burst of drama that isn't easy to just forget. The list goes on and on, and while some of these may be true, others are self-imposed limitations.

It occurred to me recently that there's many things I don't do, many doors in life I've never opened because I've dismissed them with "Well, I suck at that." Never mind that, many times, that assumption was based on me doing something I'd never done before, and nobody had ever attempted to teach me to do. What I generally dismiss as something I can't do typically means "I tried that once, it wasn't very successful, so I just don't have a natural talent/inclination for that".

While natural talent goes a long way, it's easy for people who have it in one area or another throughout their lives to rely on it a bit too much. It's easy to view natural talent as an excuse not to work, or learn, or put yourself on the line by trying something new, something you aren't brilliant at the first time, or even something you truly might suck at doing. In some ways, that's as much of a limitation and a handicap as not having any natural talents at all.

For one reason or another, I realised recently it's time for me to work on overcoming those limitations, and to not allow my fear of failure or being judged to stand in my way of reaching my full potential. After all, what's the worst thing that can happen? I can realise I've already reached my full potential, and the things I dismiss and don't do because I doubt myself are things I'm really not good at, and I'm just being realistic about my abilities. I can put myself out there and have people laugh at me, which hurts, but I've survived that.

My limitations aren't doing me any good, and nobody out there expects me to be perfect, exceptional, or even good at *anything* except for me. The people in my life aren't going to love me any less if I demonstrate I can't sing, dance, bake a pie, throw a Frisbee, or if other people just don't like me.

Well, at least, Trixie won' long as there's enough money left over every month for doggie treats.
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