Sunday, August 30, 2009

Vermont is Not California: Thoughts on Change

There are quite a few reasons I moved to Vermont but one of them was to break myself of the assumptions and mannerisms that had built up in me from being in the same place most of my life. The difference between people here and people in California is not as distinct as the difference between chaparral yucca and striped maple, but the differences are real and I run into them every day. My experiences here have been overwhelmingly positive - but they are also forcing me to change quickly. This is not a bad thing at all, but it can be a bit disconcerting and uncomfortable at times.'

Recently, I told one of my friends that my overly-emotional nature was something I couldn't change and that it was part of who I was. She challenged this and told me that she thought it was silly for me to just decide I couldn't get rid of a characteristic about myself that I didn't like. She told me she is making herself better too, and if she is able to, so am I. I thought about this while sitting in a fen, and I think she is right. There are definitely things I can change about myself that I just don't, because I haven't had to in the past, or because I am too stubborn.

The hard part is figuring out which things about me are the ones that make me special, unique, fun, good, and which things about me are not core to my personality or are detrimental to my enjoyment of life, and can be changed. That's a hard question and one that I don't know the answer to yet. However, I did recently notice one thing. People here as a general rule are much more sincere, open, and honest than they are in Malibu and Santa Barbara. I have acquired the habit of responding in a cynical, sarcastic way to people, and I've done that a few times here when people were actually being real and honest. (how much dislike of Californians is caused just by this?) Even worse, I sometimes overreact and become too emotional when people don't react the way I want. It's a bad habit and one I need to get rid of (and it sounds much worse reading it here than when it was in my head!). Why am I defensive and insecure when I am around such great people?

So, here's my goal for fall semester: to be a little bit less reactive, more soft spoken. To take people at face value rather than assuming they have negative intentions. To be open to new ways of thought and new activities that I would not be open to back in California. Most importantly, to decrease the magnitude of expression of negative or extraneous emotions, while at the same time retaining the excitement, happiness, artistic expression, and love of the neat stuff in the world world that make me special and fun, I think.

Wow, that's a lot. We'll see if it works. I'm excited about my life here and think whether I stay in the Northeast or go back to California in a few years, I'll come out much stronger and more effective and less walled off.

Whew! Next time I'll post pictures, I promise. I have some neat pictures of a mossy forest and a fen.

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