My life is so different than it was a month ago, in so many good ways. You’d think I’d be proud.

Ironically, as much as my office job degraded me and made me feel bad about myself, it seems like my self-confidence has taken a hit since I left. I feel this burning need for people to understand that I work for a living—three articles a day, not including other freelance assignments! (See? How I couldn’t stop myself from saying that?)—and why is that, exactly? Why does it matter? God, but it does. I can’t seem to let it go.

I feel like everything I’ve been doing lately sounds so lame. Look at what a joke I am, I keep saying. Cooking! Cleaning! Homeschooling! Look, I made three scrapbook pages, next I’ll wear a bonnet and french-braid my pubic hair while picking my own gherkins HA HA I AM UNCOMFORTABLE WITH MYSELF.

I’ve had a couple people write me to say they don’t identify with me any more. I get that. Some of you know me by surface only, by words and pictures. I could say, well, I’m the same foul-mouthed insecure motherfucker I always have been, but it doesn’t matter, the subject matter has changed and I know that can be reason to move on. It’s hard, though, when you’re looking at yourself and feeling worried that you’ve become less interesting or less relevant somehow, and someone chimes in and says, well yeah dude, you pretty much have.

And it’s so stupid, because goddamn, I’m so much happier. I am so much happier than I was. I am so glad to have kicked that soul-sucking job to the curb, to be spending more time with my boys, to work for myself, and to try new things like CrossFit and yeah, sitting around glueing little annoying-ass pieces of paper. That should be enough. That should be plenty. I don’t know why I get so hung up on what other people think.

I had this awful, awful gym class last night where for the very first time a coach was totally condescending and basically treated me like an idiot for being a newbie, and I could feel myself starting to cry. Like right there in front of everyone. (Terrible. Oh god.) I barely managed to keep it at bay until I got out to my car where I just sat there in the dark and sobbed in total hysterics for maybe fifteen straight minutes. Not because I thought there was anything wrong with being new and unsure and still learning, but because someone else did.

Or maybe I did think there was something wrong with it, with me, maybe I thought I was a giant loser trying to fit in somewhere I didn’t belong, and some gym guy just confirmed it for me. I don’t know. How do you know, really?

I quit my job and it was the best thing that ever happened to me but I lost some sense of identity I didn’t know I needed so badly. I miss it, like a ratty security blanket that I could drag out in order to square my shoulders, paint a picture of myself that was never really true in the first place.

Comments

236 Responses to “New skin”

  1. JennyM on October 20th, 2010 5:53 am

    I’m sure someone else has said this or some version of it, but dude — you’ve gone through a lot of changes lately. And even though they’re awesome changes, that doesn’t mean they still aren’t traumatic in some respect, that you won’t feel exposed and insecure and raw and uncomfortable at times, even when it’s all Super Happytimes (or you feel like it should be). And then something that ordinarily wouldn’t affect you or that you think shouldn’t affect you, pokes a super-tender spot and you just break down for a bit, you know? I think you’re entitled to a few hysterics along the way.

    I obviously don’t know you, but I’ve been reading you for a long time — I guess technically I don’t really identify with you either in the sense of our lives looking anything alike. But I think I check your site every morning because I identify with you as a person. Who knows whether we’d be anything close to friends in real life (I like to think so, but again, who the hell knows?), but there is definitely a spark in your writing that appeals to me on some level — as a smart, sarcastic, often profane, imperfect but (speaking for myself here, fairly deeply buried) good-hearted woman trying to make her way in a world that seems to want so many different conflicting things of her. So right now, you’re a smart, sarcastic, profane, imperfect, good-hearted mom in Washington exploring the world of homeschooling and scrapbooking, and I’m a smart, sarcastic, profane, imperfect, good-hearted office-working woman exploring what it means to be newly single and on her own in her mid-30s. Those are so completely different paths, but it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy reading about where your path takes you.

    Anyway, I guess I’m trying to be encouraging — you’re trying a lot of new things you never thought you’d consider, and in my recent experience, it’s exhilarating and terrifying and depressing and exciting all at once. If you lose some readers/friends who don’t feel like they can relate anymore, yeah, it’s bittersweet to move on from anything. But often, I think, that person’s inability to relate to you may have more to do with them than it does with you.

    So…er… keep doing what you’re doing. You’re a terrifically expressive writer, and you’ll always have an audience. I firmly believe that. Besides, you rock.

  2. Mel on October 20th, 2010 6:09 am

    I think your new skin is still forming and molding to the new you as you work through developing that person. This is a period of reflection, second guessing and questioning in general. You’ll grow into the new you, finding the things that satisfy all of your needs as you go. Like adult interaction, and recognition for a job well done.

    As far as those folks that say they don’t relate to you anymore, I suggest that they never did relate to YOU. But rather they related to portions of your life. I think those of us that relate to you, feel a kinship to how you relate to people, how you approach life in general and how having a foul mouth makes it all so much more fun!;-)

    And the trainer, well, someone must have pissed in his cheerios that day! It is horrible when a professional acts that way, but that is one lesson I learned a LONG time ago – that when someone is an ass do your best to not take it personally the first time. The second time, tell them where to shove the attitude!

    Enjoy your adventure and don’t worry about anyone but you and yours!!!!!

  3. Becky on October 20th, 2010 6:26 am

    I guess I don’t understand the people who say they don’t relate to you anymore … the only thing they related to was the fact that you worked at job that you didn’t really care for? (And never really thought that was a focus of your blog anyway.)

    I guess on the surface I have absolutely nothing in common with you. I am single, no kids, live in the Midwest, don’t run marathons (or really have any interest in doing so), probably drink a little more than I should, and am in a completely different line of work. But I’ve read you for years and keep coming back for your great writing and the perspective that you bring.

    I guess some people prefer to read blogs that re-affirm or validate their life choices – people who are exactly like them. I guess I’d rather read blogs that open up my eyes to other life choices and make me see there are numerous ways to live life successfully. That’s what I love about you – you’re not afraid to admit when something’s not working for you and you have the courage and balls to change it for the good of you and your family.

  4. christina on October 20th, 2010 6:39 am

    You know what is scary about gyms? The idea that some coach will berate me for being out of shape. Then to hear a coach acting like this to you, someone who has accomplished huge fitness goals and looks like a badass, makes me cringe at how that trainer would treat me. Fucker.

    Your blog is one of about 5 that I read regularly. I don’t have kids, don’t run marathons, and don’t hate my job, but I relate to you through your attitude and sense of humor. I even read your fitness blog sometimes and check out the Stir. Your writing is alive and inspirational, regardless of your living circumstances. Thank you.

  5. Susie on October 20th, 2010 6:41 am

    I’m sure other people have said this, but I don’t have time to read all the other comments: while you might be less relevant to some, you’ll be more relevant to others. I’ve been reading you for quite a while now (since Riley was still a baby) and I keep coming here because I love how refreshingly, brutally honest you are about motherhood. I’ve yet to find anyone else who isn’t afraid to admit that sometimes they think their kid is kind of an asshole, but that doesn’t mean you love them with any less than every single fiber of your being. And just for the record, I’m a mother who works outside the home. I read a lot of blogs, but yours is one of the few I never get behind on. Thank you for being you, whoever that happens to be on any given day.

  6. Susie on October 20th, 2010 6:43 am

    P.S. Others have probably also said this, but I hate all the descriptive language for mothers — stay at home mom, working mom — somehow none of these terms seem to encompass all that it entails, do they? I think it’s because motherhood is beyond description. You just can’t tell someone else how it is — they have to experience it to *really* understand.

  7. kristin on October 20th, 2010 6:45 am

    OMG. I cannot believe someone would WRITE to you to SAY that. What is wrong with people? No. Srsly — I need to know. This blog is about your LIFE and you are living your (awesome, enviable, vibrant, HAPPY) life. Who cares if anyone else finds it relatable?? You just so happen to be a great enough writer that you’re able to share your life with lots of people in an entertaining way. That’s it. You don’t OWE anyone an interesting or identifiable experience!

    Man. I am kind of fired up about this, huh? Well, whatever. Fuck them is all I’m saying. You’re awesome!

  8. kristin on October 20th, 2010 6:58 am

    And not that it matters AT ALL, but for the record, I can relate to you in some ways (we’re both incredibly funny white ladies in our mid-30s with excellent design sensibilities) and totally not in others (I’m a gay, I never want to have my own kids, I’m a vegetarian, I hate exercise with every fiber of my flabby being). It doesn’t matter! I don’t need everything I read to reflect my life back to me. Quite the opposite, in fact, because my life is boring. Anyway, your awesomeness spans all demographics!

  9. dorrie on October 20th, 2010 7:18 am

    Be at peace. These things take time, and the truth always outs.

  10. bessie.viola on October 20th, 2010 7:32 am

    Linda, I’ve been reading you since before Riley was born. I identify with you SO HARD, and even more so now that you’re “home” because you’re sort of living my dream. The things you say about your identity and struggling to find yourself – I feel like you’ve gotten into my head.

    What I’m trying to say is: You inspire the hell out of me. If I ever get to meet you I’ll probably give you a super-ackward hug and then internally berate myself for being such a DORK.

    I get the uncomfortable-in-own-skin feeling. But honestly? You’re rocking it.

  11. Dana on October 20th, 2010 7:41 am

    Man, you’re right on. I quit my full-time job as a political reporter seven years ago (loved being a reporter, hated writing about politics) just before my oldest was born. I’m doing freelance work, collaborating on a book with a partner, taking care of my four children, etc. And I STILL struggle to value what it is I do. It’s a tough one. I wish I could tell you it gets easier to define yourself but I’m not sure it does. No matter how happy you are and how absolutely right the decision you made was.

  12. Tara on October 20th, 2010 8:10 am

    Just wanted to chime in to say that I have loved your blog for years and that hasn’t changed now, even though I work outside the home full-time, only have one kid, am not homeschooling, etc., etc. I am in awe of you for “leading your life, rather than following one around,” as I read somewhere once (I forget where).

    I think it’s natural that you’ll feel a bit at loose ends for a while as you adjust to your new circumstances. Give yourself time to get comfortable.

    As for that coach. . . maybe he needs one of those nut-taps that make the MMA guys pause for several minutes. What a dick.

  13. Frema on October 20th, 2010 8:27 am

    I understand gravitating away from blogs when the writers have changed their value system or if the content of their posts were drastically different. But you your value system hasn’t changed. You have always put your kids, home life, fitness, writing career, etc. first. You are just managing them differently. So for someone to say they don’t relate to how you are living your life is baffling – that essentially one post on scrapbooking could cause them to feel so disconnected from you. I certainly wouldn’t want a friend like that, never mind a blog reader. It’s not like you went from being a die-hard Christian to a practicing Satanist or something!

    And I am in the same camp as those who don’t agree with making a big splash about not reading or following a blogger anymore. Um, okay, then! Have a nice blog-reading life. Unless someone is asking for your feedback, pack up quietly and move on.

    I love how you have the courage to make big life changes to add meaning to your every day, whether it takes months or years to make the change. That is inspiring. THAT is who you are. Keep on keepin’ on.

  14. Lisa M. on October 20th, 2010 8:29 am

    Seriously, that gym guy must be massively unhappy with his sucky life to pick on someone for the crimes of being new and unpracticed. what an asshole.

  15. Tammy on October 20th, 2010 8:38 am

    You haven’t lost your identity, you just lost sight of it. There is a difference. Take yourself out of your shoes for a second and look at who you are from an outsiders perspective. This awesome kinda shy awkward (your words, not mine (before I get flamed..lol))person who powers through life looking for the next adventure. Whether that be working in an office, working from home, running a marathon, moving, raising two rambunctious (sp?) boys…constantly pushing the boundaries of who you are or who you think you should be. Dude??? would you really want to be anyone other than that totally cool person?

    FYI – Courage is being afraid and doing it anyway.

    I doubt that trainer came out of the womb with a barbell in each hand and nikes on his feet so I am damn sure he was a ‘newbie’ once. He needs to remember that and failing that you should maybe remind him with a throat punch.

  16. catherine on October 20th, 2010 8:48 am

    there is nothing more beautiful than someone finding their own path, their own truth.

  17. Kris on October 20th, 2010 8:59 am

    Keep your chin up.

  18. Claudia on October 20th, 2010 9:03 am

    I’ve never been anything but impressed with what you manage to do in the same 24 hours that I have (unless you’ve managed to stretch time in some magical way). I’ve read your blog since the pre-child era and will continue to read you. While I have to work and do not homeschool, I admire your gumption to fling yourself out into the unknown and follow your heart and passion and do what you need to do. Never question that. It may not last forever but enjoy it while it does. We should grow as people, not stagnate.

  19. SeattleSchmitt on October 20th, 2010 9:26 am

    I meant to post a comment yesterday, but see that everyone has done a fine job of stating my thoughts.

    Hang in there.

  20. Jenny on October 20th, 2010 9:52 am

    Some friends are having a party and they want everyone to wear Mardi Gras masks. So I spent two hours yesterday wandering the craft store, trying to decide what I could successfully glue to a mask and not have it look like a remedial kindergarten project. Because of my history of craft disasters, I even picked out a backup prefab mask. And when I was finally ready to check out? I realized that since I wear glasses, the whole mask thing is off the table. Yeah. I need to stay out of Michaels for my own good but will gladly mail you my coupons.

    Linda, seriously, the fact that someone I can actually relate to is homeschooling makes me think I could maybe do it someday if absolutely necessary. I think what you are doing is a bazillion times harder than anything I will do chained to a keyboard in an office. You are, as always, badass.

  21. Amy on October 20th, 2010 3:27 pm

    Sorry I didn’t leave a comment earlier, but I’m just getting to this post and the thank you one you just posted. I just wanted to mention that you are so much more relevant to me now that you ever were (and you were pretty damn relevant to me before). So yeah, from one mom who randomly found herself homeschooling this year and feeling suddenly like a forgotten housewife, it’s great to remember there are other people out there who are like me — irreverent and all. Even in the midst of a life change that takes some transition time to feel fully comfortable in, even if I, too, am happier than ever.

    Keep on, Linda! We all think you rock. (Otherwise I wouldn’t be the 221st commenter on this post.)

  22. Susan on October 20th, 2010 3:54 pm

    Your last paragraph? Um, yeah – did you write that for me? Thanks for putting my thoughts into words – I may borrow them to explain myself to my husband ;)

  23. traintracks on October 20th, 2010 5:54 pm

    so you have your kids at home until they start kindergarten. since when is that called “homeschooling”?

  24. Frannie on October 20th, 2010 6:31 pm

    You know all this stuff about what makes a person successful/happy is subjective. I’m in healthcare and work around people who do close to nothing and make shitloads more than the average person (those are the showboats) and then those who work and challenge themselves and fight complacency and for balance every day. I just think there’s no use comparing yourself, because then you’ll never be happy. If family matters to you, great, if buying the latest SUV/truck with 4 DVD players is your priority, so be it.
    If you lived your life how others wanted to, you’d be those people who are vapidly trying to please and make so much money-and are they truly happy? Never discount yourself.
    If some readers don’t get you anymore, well that’s a personal problem-of theirs, not yours.
    Committing yourself to your children and what you think is right and making your life work so you can do what you want to do–now that is awesome. That is something I actually want to achieve.
    I’m a nurse and going to school and the comments and how I’m nervous sometimes (pregnancy brings out the best in you, doesn’t it?) at times can suck (I’ve been contemplating changing careers) and I deal with depression at times, but you know what? I’m human. I’m also trying to find a place where I feel comfortable working in. If my objective in life was to make $100 K a year, and never settle with a guy because he brushed his teeth wrong, yes, life would be like a chick flick, but I’d never be happy. Yes, I say that whenever I find myself at a party with those dull people who go around asking, “What do you do?”

  25. Kami on October 20th, 2010 8:29 pm

    For what it’s worth I’am a blogwhore- yours is one of my all time favorites. Dunno, I just relate to you. By the way I quit my soul sucking job also…best decision ever. My kids will always remember who was there for them…my boss on the other hand…uhm no.

  26. Meagan on October 20th, 2010 11:13 pm

    For what it’s worth, I find you way more interesting because of all the changes y’all are making. Maybe I relate to you less, but… I recently cleaned out my RSS feeds (including a major mommy-blogger who is doing more branding than content lately) and kept yours because you inspire me to be better. So, rock on.

  27. Karin on October 21st, 2010 11:48 pm

    Its called Transistion. Transition Time. The period getting use to a new situation, new scenario, new you. Its not easy, its suppose to be a bit uncomfortable and push you out of your comfort zone, question things. I quit my job 3 years ago with the birth of my first child, I still question it…also hated it…and seriously spent more than year adjusting to the SAHM gig. And the whole ‘relate to’ bit. I don’t get it. Your funny as hell, your a mom with the same bullshit struggles I deal with. Nuff said. Love reading your blog, and laughing at the pointed way you describe this thing called motherhood. Transistions. And the gym guy, you should ask him if it really makes him feel like a good trainer to put down the newbie.

  28. Rebecca on October 22nd, 2010 2:09 am

    I’ve been reading your blog for ages too (since Diaryland!) and love it – just wanted to say that I find you truly inspiring. After my baby was born I was huge and unhappy. Reading about everything you’ve done helped me to get off the couch and start making some changes – thank you.

  29. heidi in brooklyn on October 22nd, 2010 10:29 am

    I just want to say that I find inspiration from your blog all the time. I kind of feel weird, like I think you are my friend even though we have never met and probably won’t. But we are alot alike and you are a few years in front of me (not in age, but in kid experience) and I read your blog to get ideas about them. I don’t homeschool, but take your ideas about projects and do them with my kids on the weekends – cause I just can’t play trains all freakin’ day you know?!? I’m planning to do “did it float” on the next rainy weekend day.
    To echo other comments above, change is hard – it hurts too, you’re stretching and growing inside your brain just like your muscles do when they are changing. I’ve been reading you 3 years now – when my first kid was born I found you and then went back and read every post. I too, have grown to be such a different person since I had kids and sometimes I have a hard time reconciling Me with Mom. But it’s ok – look, if I didn’t change, that would *truly* be boring. So keep doing what you are doing, I know I’ll be reading!

  30. Kristal on October 22nd, 2010 7:01 pm

    Still reading…and still wanting to. :)

  31. Guenevere on October 30th, 2010 12:52 pm

    I have been reading your blog for years. Although I may not identify some of the things that you blog about all the time, like fashion (back then), it doesn’t mean I love you any less. I love your blog and the reason why I keep coming back is because you are real. You talk about the good, the bad…you’re many things…you’re an inspiration to a lot of us!

  32. Courtney on October 31st, 2010 7:49 am

    I just started reading your blog like, yesterday, and although I don’t really “know you” and I havent gotten to read all of it yet….
    I think your awesome! I only wish I had a “mom friend” like you around. You seem terribly funny and down to earth and those are some great characteristics for a woman to have.
    Be who you are and do whatever you want to do, the rest will fall right into place.
    I’m hooked on your blog, BTW :)

  33. Hier on September 5th, 2012 11:28 am

    Great article about Onlineschoolbooking. Where did you get those news from? Have a good one, Claudia!

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