Nothing makes me feel less like a competent human than not being able to plunge the toilet.
I make my bed every morning, I pick out my clothes at night, and I charge my devices for the next day while I write. I can use a hammer and a drill, and I can move all my belongings including a bed using just my own body, and these are the things I stack in the shape of how I view myself. Like a model version made of objects and routines.
This is me, an adult.
And then I can’t fix one thing and my whole self-perception flies out the window. No longer an adult, I am now a heaving, belabored ogress with a sweaty upper lip, bent over this stupid fucking toilet, stabbing myself in the palm with the splinters of a thousand desperate plunges, resigning myself to a life of public restrooms for the remainder of this lease*.
At least two of my previous boyfriends did not think I was funny. I know this because I tend to say things like, “I’m hilarious,” and it has been met separately, yet repeatedly, with silence, a pat on the head, an “OK,” and a “Well, you’re clever.”
“Clever? Like conniving?”
“Like you put words together well.”
To be fair, anything is unfunny if you get that meticulous about it.
Someone today gave me a measured compliment, in that she told me how much she liked class but tempered it with how much better it was today than it had been the last time she saw me.
Why would a compliment need to be tamed like that?
And why would I let the clause negate the truth of it?
Just because something doesn’t add to your worth doesn’t mean it detracts from it. The things we stack in the shape of success are not toppled by one object that belongs in a different pile.
I am well used to being told I’m too much. Too weird. I do too many non-yoga movements in class, things that are not what people are used to doing. I’m stubborn and passionate and easily excited about the shape of a rain splotch or cover songs.
I am not used to being told I’m not enough. It really knocks me over.
“You need to have more of a personality,” I was told recently.
The only thing worse than feeling like a nervous monster trapped in a bathroom is hearing your idea of a monster isn’t even real, or interesting, or monster-y. You aren’t funny. You don’t even register.
This also sent me into a frenzy of thinking about what even IS personality? How does one have or not have one? Who are people with personalities and what makes me separate from them? As one can imagine, toiling internally about how to procure dynamism sabotages any shot at increasing personality.
If you get meticulous about it, everything is doomed.
Everything, that is, except plunging a toilet. As it happens, if you just keep doing it, it works.
*This was the second day in my current apartment and I don’t think either of my roommates know this story yet. Also, yesterday.