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Thursday, May 16, 2013

32 Flavours and Then Some

I am going to open up this Thursday Diary entry with this song by Alana Davis.

ARTIST: Alana Davis
SONG: 32 Flavors
ALBUM: Blame It on Me
DATE RELEASED: January 31, 1998

The song is called “32 Flavors” (or Flavours in Canada speak), and it perfectly describes the tone of this piece. Well, at least the NUMBER does, anyway.

May 16, 2013

Today's blog entry is called “32 Candles and Then Some”. And, the reason why I have called it this is because this is the latest installment of the annual edition of the “Candle Chronicles”.

In less than 48 hours from now, I will be turning another year older. Saturday, May 18 marks this blogger's 32nd year of life. And, believe me, there are some days in which I feel every single one of those thirty-two years! Especially since I switched departments a month ago!

And yet, for some reason that I'm not ready to explain yet (mainly because I don't exactly know what it is just yet), I'm actually looking forward to year thirty-two.

Here's the funny part about all of this though. I never was one who used to be optimistic about birthdays. There were some years in which I absolutely dreaded them. And, it had nothing to do with getting older. That part doesn't make me depressed. Much.

Nor was it the fact that on nearly every single one of my birthdays, it has poured rain (in one case, flood advisories were blaring on the radio all night long). Though, I'll admit that having a big black cloud raining over my birthday parade every other year gets real old, really fast.

Well...kind of like me.

Okay, here's the real reason why for the longest time, I was not exactly receptive to birthdays.

It's because as I grew one year older, I kept thinking back to all of the dreams and goals that I had made...dreams and goals that were left unfulfilled.

And, I'm not just talking about requesting a chocolate cake with a vanilla stripe in the middle of it and not getting it, or wanting the latest Nintendo game for my birthday and not receiving it as a gift. Those were petty problems that I stressed out about when I was a wee tyke of ten years old.

I'm talking about the previous entries in the Candle Chronicles over the years. I had come up with a laundry list of things that I really wanted to accomplish over the course of the year, and by the time the next birthday came around, I came to the stark realization that none of them had come true.

It really wasn't until recently that I came to understanding the reason why that was. It was because I had too many goals, and I tried to change my whole life around in the space of a year. My goals were quite unrealistic for the time frame that I tried to cram them all in. There's absolutely no way that I could find a decent place to live, go back to school, get married, and live happily ever after in the space of just a few months. As much as sometimes I wish it were so, my life is not a hundred minute feature film in which every ending is happy and neatly wrapped in a big red bow. Would be nice if it were, but it isn't.

So, for this edition of the Candle Chronicles...I just only have one goal in mind. And, it's a goal that I've kind of been edging into over the course of the last few months, but one that I feel strongly about.

My goal for this, the 32nd year of my life, is to show people that I am more than just the bland, vanilla personality that some feel I possess.

I suppose that's part of the main reason why I opened up this diary entry with that Alana Davis song from 1998 (which apparently is a cover version of an Ani DiFranco single, but I happen to like Alana's version better, but I'm going to stop right now because I have now gone off on a tangent.)

Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yes, the song “32 Flavors”.

I'm going to be completely honest. Until recently, my personality could have been considered quite monotonous. If we could go back in time a few years, and randomly assign ice cream flavours to every single person in the world, it wouldn't have surprised me if I was given the bland flavour of vanilla as a label.

Not that there's anything wrong with vanilla ice cream. It's the base for almost every yummy ice cream creation, after all.

At the same time though, I knew inside myself that I was more than just plain ordinary vanilla. I knew that there were other flavours just waiting to be discovered inside myself. Flavours that I knew would make people take notice of who I am.

I just couldn't figure out how to bring them out in an endless supply of vanilla.

Let's face it. I've talked about how isolated I have felt in my life over the last few years. Heck, there were some instances in which I had borderline panic attacks over the possibility of even interacting with the public. I literally would spend days hiding away indoors because I lost touch with how to talk to them, or even say hello. It's a time in my life that I'm not particularly proud of, and I'm slightly regretful that I missed out on opportunities that could have made all the difference.

Flash forward to 2013, and I've done a lot of progress.

I wouldn't be immersing myself so much in charity drives if I didn't add some flavour to my vanilla personality of the past, now would I? We recently had a team meeting at an eatery in town, and I went there without any nervousness or hesitation whatsoever. I couldn't always say that though. The idea of going out to a restaurant to sit down with friends and chat scared me to death not long ago. And, now I find myself wanting to do it more often!

I also wouldn't be volunteering my time to help out with charity drives if I didn't mix a little bit of chocolate with the vanilla that made up my former self. After all, this photo taken by is proof of that, right? (psst...I'm the one in the baseball cap).  I mean, let's face it. When I had essentially hit rock bottom, there was no way that I was in the right frame of mind to help other people. I couldn't even help MYSELF! But, I've done a lot of soul-searching over the years, and done a lot of thinking about where it all went wrong, and it dawned on me that the reason why I hit rock bottom was because I was lead to believe that nobody gave a damn about me. So, naturally, I didn't care about myself...which as all of you know is a recipe for disaster.

But, I guess after some time feeling sorry for myself, I woke up and realized that things weren't going to get any better unless I did something about it. And, my workplace has been a great champion in allowing me the freedom to be myself.

(Actually, maybe they deserve a medal, as I tread the line between taking advantange of my freedom to be myself and completely abusing that privilege.)

But in all honesty, as much as I often say that I wish I was doing more with my life than being a stocker at a store (and honestly, that particular wish is still very much up there in future goals), I can honestly say that some of the best people I've ever known on this planet have been the ones that I have worked with. I wouldn't have signed up for the Relay for Life had it not been for a really good friend who supported me and cared for me...a friend who did not win his battle with cancer almost one year ago. I wanted to sign up to honour his memory, and hopefully find the courage to meet new friends in that journey.

And, I most certainly would not have gotten up to speak at a seminar promoting the cause of anti-bullying if my “vanilla center” had anything to say about it. It was a big deal earlier in the week to speak to a small group about my experiences. The last time I gave a speech about bullying was in the seventh grade, and I completely choked when I delivered that speech. After that incident, I swore to myself that I would never speak in public again, and well, here we are now. If anything, I kind of wished that there were more people who came down to hear me speak! But, the fact that the ones who were there were absolutely engaged in my speech, and who listened to my every word, and congratulated me after it was over. Well, I'll be the first one to admit that it was worth it! I actually hope that the opportunity does come for me to be able to share my story again, because I really got a high from it.

Not bad for a former vanilla personality, huh?

I guess in closing, I'll say this. A lot of the reason why I took on the bland, vanilla personality was because it was safe. It was one that people couldn't criticize or make fun of...but it also didn't make me very interesting. Like, a dish of plain vanilla is satisfying enough, but still, you feel as though it needs something else to perk you up. At the same time, you don't want to overload it with toppings, garnishes, and ooey gooey fudge, because then you lose the flavour of the vanilla. know, that's a really cool analogy. You don't want to be bland enough so that people bypass you or write you off completely, but you don't want to completely change who you are, or else you lose sight of where you came from. It's a delicate balance that all of us go through, and I can safely say that I'm on my way to maintaining that balance. It has its days where it can be tricky, but that's life.

And, I think that's why I wanted to have 32 Flavors as this blog's background music. For one, I am turning 32 in a couple of days, but for another...with the exception of the “poster girl with no poster” lyric, the song best describes where I am at in my life. And, isn't that a great way to kick off another year of life?


(No, seriously. Here's a list I made up of the 32 flavours that best fit my complex personality. And, yes, not forgetting where I came from, vanilla heads the list!)

NOTE: Thrills gum is that lavendar coloured gum that tastes like soap. Hey, you have to have at least one unique, wacky touch to a human personality, right? 

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