THEBATHTUBPROJECT

exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Tag: Struggle

Jam

 

Date: December 17th, 2017

Name: Jam

Pronouns: They/Them

Age: 25

 

How often do you bathe or shower?

Mostly once a day, but it’s because my acne gets so bad if I don’t. But I tend more towards two days [laughter]. I mostly shower, but I don’t know. When my body feels weird, I take a bath if I feel like I need it. If I feel like I need to chill out. Just to make my brain calm down.

If you were an underwater creature, which one would you be?

A manta ray. They’re beautiful. They look like– I used to dream about them a lot. And I just like how they move. And not very many things are shaped like that. It’s a very unique body design. And I think it’s really funny when they jump out of the ocean and belly flop [laughter] to make those giant booms under the water to attract mates. I think that’s great.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about bugs [laughter]. I’m a teacher and I am passionate about– I was talking to my partner about this yesterday, about how there are two things that I want to get across. If I could narrow it down to two things that I want to get across when I’m teaching kids, it’s that you shouldn’t be afraid of dead things and bugs are amazing. Yeah, that’s what I’m passionate about. I’ve always been fascinated with biodiversity, different kinds of creatures. And I found that the most insane variation in what creatures look like and how they function is in the insect world. And we know so little about it and there’s so much of it. And I don’t know when I realized that.

I mean, I hadn’t always loved bugs. I was diagnosed with OCD in fourth grade. And for a while, it manifested as really intense germophobia for a year. My hands were scaly because I washed them so much. It was really bad. I just had panic attacks if I thought that something I was going to eat was in any way tarnished or something. And that definitely did not help the bug situation. But I don’t know. I think looking at a lot of really close up images of bugs, being able use– there’s a lot of really good bug Flickrs [laughter]. I spend a lot of time on the internet looking at pictures of bugs, really close up pictures of bugs. And I think that a lot more people would like bugs if they were larger because you can’t really see all of what’s going in there because they’re so small and when you look at macro photography you’re like “Wow. That mouth has so many individual moving parts. That bug that looks like it’s all smooth and shiny is actually like a big hairy creature when you look at it up close”. I think that helped me figure out how awesome they were. And I also am passionate about drawing and bugs are my favorite thing to illustrate.

What is something you feel accomplished with?

I feel really accomplished because I moved here. I lived in Washington my entire life until a little over six months ago. A year ago I came to visit my friend in Chicago who lived in this apartment. And I knew I wanted to move away from where I was because I did not want to do Washington anymore [laughter]. A lot of it is that it’s just really homogenous. It’s ecologically beautiful but in terms of belief systems and culture and ethnicity even, it’s just so homogenous. And everyone is scared of that but they’re also scared of anything else. So there’s a lot of tension because people don’t talk about things. And I didn’t think I could move. I didn’t think I could do it because I’d never done it before. I’d never moved across the country. And I wanted to live in the city and I wanted to live in an environment that was more challenging. I guess I had done it before. I lived in the Andes for four months in Peru for a class and I noticed that that really– it was a catalyst in my brain. It evolved me. I felt I was so out of my comfort zone and so in such a completely different situation because I’d never spent very much time outside the country before that it just triggered all these changes in me and most of them were very positive. Or they weren’t even positive or negative. I just became a different person. And I felt like that person was more operable in the world and so I wanted to do that again. And that’s part of why I wanted to move. And I feel really accomplished in moving here because it was really hard. But I feel like I’m making it work.

What is something you still struggle with?

I have a lot of problems around just the way that I think about time. I constantly worry that I’m wasting time or that I am misusing time or that I am stuck. I’ll find myself spending time with someone I love and I’ll just be like, “We’re not doing anything. We’re doing nothing. We’re being unproductive”. And then I’ll go, “Wow. That’s a horrible thing to think about spending time with a loved one. No.” But there are some– I notice that ebbs and flows in different periods of my life and I’m definitely in one of those periods right now where I feel I have to be working on things all the time in order to feel good about myself and in order to feel like I’m not wasting or just eating up time. So that’s the thing that I struggle with is berating myself about that and comparing myself to like, “These people have accomplished this thing. I have accomplished this thing. They are incomparable. I am not doing the things that I should be doing at this point in my life”.  My anxiety has gotten significantly better since I moved here. But yeah, I struggle with not necessarily time management but time over-management [laughter].

What are your thoughts on relationships? Platonic, sexual, familial, and otherwise?

What kind of thoughts? I think they should be constructive. What is that sound [laughter]? Oh well. I think that they should be constructive and positive and build something because I feel like a lot of relationships do not do that. And I see a lot of people in relationships that are not– I don’t want to judge what people’s lives are like because I’m only seeing a little bit of it. But I feel like most people who I interact with who are in relationships that they feel really committed in in terms of you’re my partner relationships. They seem like they feel trapped but they don’t want to acknowledge it. And I feel like any relationship at some point you’re going to feel trapped. But responding to that and talking about it with the other person is really important.

Erin Bliss

 

Date of Interview: November 6th, 2017

Name: Erin Bliss

Age: 28

Pronouns: She/Her and They/Them

Location: Chicago, IL

 

If you were an underwater creature, what  would you be?

I think I would definitely be an octopus. Because octopus are extremely intelligent animals, and they’re able to deduce color and form just by seeing exactly what is there without having to touch or feel anything. It’s really an interesting sense, and they must have such rich lives. It must be very scary too [laughter] because they’re just always hiding. They’ve gotten so good at it. It’s their life. Their main way that they survive and not get eaten by predators is if they can mimic and hid in any sort of seaweed or kelp or coral that they want. It’s crazy.

Does the extra sense appeal to you?

Yeah. Definitely. Being able to adapt that quickly and easily, effortlessly, to whatever comes your way as you’re going along would be– I feel like I work towards that anyway kind of in my life, but just to have it as an inherent skill would be why I would choose to be an octopus. Also, they have big brains, and it’s awesome [laughter]. They must be so smart. We’re trying to talk to aliens, but we don’t try to talk to octopus, which I think we should try harder to do. Dolphins too. Whales. All of them. Yeah. Anyway [laughter].

What are you passionate about?

A lot of things. It’s hard for me to narrow things down sometimes. Like, choosing my favorite things is kind of hard to do because I’m– I really love learning about the universe and absolutely everything, but also just absorbing knowledge generally. Becoming aware of yourself as a person in context of everything else is really important in my life. But then as far as my practice, like what I do in the world, that doesn’t really impact many other people. But I think it’s really– I’m really passionate about making things. Making tangible things in the world is kind of what I really love to do.

How does that manifest itself?

My passion for learning and my passion for making things kind of come together and me getting interested in certain materials and then working with them. Right now wood being the one I’m most interested in. Making things that nobody else has made before that are these beautiful art objects but also functional in a certain way. Making things that are functional or that have some sort of purpose besides just being cute is something that I enjoy. And also not being wasteful, making things that will last for a lifetime instead of a season so that it doesn’t just go in the trash, and your effort’s not wasted.

Does functionality play a role in your life outside of creating things?

Yeah. It kind of plays into my relationships and how I live. Like how I acquire things and what I have in my home. I’m not a really big shopper. I kind of have what I need, and that’s it. And with relationships, I give what I can. I take out of them what I can. But there’s not that much frivolous– well, I try [laughter] to not have that much frivolous stuff. There’s always intentions. There’s always a function to an action or an object.

What are your thoughts on relationships, platonic, sexual, and otherwise?

They’re great. I love people. I think that they’re really important. I don’t think I would be as motivated a person if I didn’t have people in my life that cared about me and believed in me. And those people are also reasons to keep doing what I’m doing and to keep wanting to be better and trying to function in society. I think relationships are important for my mental and physical health, and my motivation to live [laughter]. I might have that outside of relationships, but I don’t know. I’d have to see. It’d be an interesting experiment [laughter].

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?

Well, nothing immediately comes to mind. I think just working on bettering myself. It’s like a big long-form goal/life practice. I think that’s generally what my answer would be. I don’t have one big thing. It’s like a large conglomeration of small things adding up to something.

What is something you still struggle with?

I’m really hard on myself, so I still struggle with recognizing when I should just accept something and move on instead of dwelling on it and saying, “I should’ve done it better,” or, “I wasted time,” or, “I said the wrong thing.” I can get stuck in dwelling in the past.

Are there ways that you fight against it?

Yeah. I think about the universe [laughter]. I think about everything else outside of me, and then I remember that I’m being silly and that I can just go out and live my best life and leave that stuff behind.

Lauren Yarbrough

 

Date of Interview: September 9, 2017

Name: Lauren Yarbrough

Age: 27

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Location: Chicago, IL

 

How often do you bathe or shower?

Usually once a day. Sometimes, in the winter, because I shower in the morning, I will skip it if I feel like I smell nice because it’s cold and I’m already unhappy in the winter [laughter].

If you were a mythical creature, which one would it be?

Oh, my gosh. I meant to think so much more about this question [laughter]. I’m going to go with Loch Ness Monster because it has the word monster in it, which I’m a fan of and, also, I just like the idea of people not being sure if you’re there or not [laughter]. Just on the down low out here, lurking. It’s like the Internet [laughter]. 

What are you passionate about?

Oh, my gosh. I feel like this has changed and evolved a lot in the last year or two because I’ve spent the majority of my adult life doing theater and, specifically, stage managing, and production managing, and making people’s projects happen. And I hit 26 and I was like, “You know what, I need to go to sleep at night, so I’m not going to be in rehearsal anymore.” But I guess now it’s more specifically– theater is one way you can encourage people to be creative. And I think I’m still about that but now it’s more open-ended. I want to find a niche to encourage people to just be loud and unapologetic about their shit. Yeah. So I guess making or holding space is what some people will call it because I’ve experienced not feeling like it’s okay to speak up or as if you have anything important to say. And I still feel that way a little bit of the time but I’m also louder and have fewer fucks available to me as I grow older [laughter]. So I’m just like, “Just say no to those people. Tell them you need more money, tell them that you have something to say and Chad just repeated it in a different tone of voice. Do your weird thing. Yeah, sure, it’s weird. I mean that doesn’t matter. Just do it. Life is short, we’re all going to die, it’s 2017, we’re all very aware of this fact. Just do it. We don’t have enough time to be afraid of shit.” Yeah. And, basically, what I’m saying is I’m turning into my mother [laughter]. Yeah. That’s that.

What did you mean by you are very aware of the amount of space you’re given?

Well, my experience, being a black woman who’s not a particularly small person. For context, I’m like 5’5, 5’6 now and somewhere around 200 pounds. I’ve been approximately this size since the age of 12, and that was one of the first things my grandfather started telling me when was going through puberty was, “Celebrate your height. Don’t slouch,” and me being, “I don’t understand what you’re talking about, this is awful.” And so I’ve been big, I was a fat kid, and I used to have a whole bunch of hair, like three-and-a-half feet, just everywhere. And I’ve been very aware of– and I was a bully on the playground [laughter]. So I’m very aware of, “Oh, I am going to be bigger and stronger than some of the people around me. I have the ability to do a lot of damage if I’m not being careful,” and preemptively thinking about other people’s’ concerns. And I can make myself take up a lot of space or, if I’m in a situation where I’m worried about my personal safety or trying to impress these white people so they will give me my paycheck, I’m also capable of making myself very small. And for a long time, being small is a reaction to not wanting to be the kid that hurts people and everybody doesn’t like you. Being small has been my default. But I mean, right around the time I got into the relationship that I’m currently in, I was like, “Oh, I don’t have to do that. Some people will like me even when they’re a little bit intimidated. Oh, people being intimidated by you sometimes doesn’t mean they don’t want to be your friends. Oh, well, in that case, that’s just what I’m going to do [laughter],” that side. And so I started doing things like accepting compliments and letting people be good enough friends with me that I would give them my no-bullshit answers to things, which, again, is still relatively new. But it’s great. I’m enjoying it [laughter].

What is something you still struggle with?

I mean it’s definitely vulnerability, which is sort of ironic, given the circumstances. But since I was a kid, I’ve been really good and rigorous about kind of hiding what I’m really interested in and what I really think about things and the stuff that I care about a lot, I want that to be a secret. I don’t let anybody know because I grew up expecting to be judged and corrected about things. I wanted to figure things out by myself and so my reaction to that was to just be very, very secretive all the time. And I’m still kind of getting over that now, being like, “Oh, these are friends that I’ve chosen and they already know that I’m kind of weird or kind of a lot, so it can be okay to not like the same things or to be into something that’s kind of odd and be honest about it because people can’t really know you and it gets kind of lonely if you’re not honest.” It’s all very aspirational [laughter]. It’s not a linear journey by any means. There are degrees and bits where I have to be, “By the way, I was kind of lying when I said that I was interested in doing that. I really want to go home and go to sleep.” But, yeah, that’s the one that’s closest and most in my face, in my daily thoughts right now.

What are your thoughts on relationships, platonic, sexual, familial, and otherwise?

So …my thoughts have definitely evolved. I was raised by very private people who were also evangelical Christians. As we’re doing this interview, I’m still kind of like, “Man, they’re going to find this. It’s going to be weird but, you know, we probably need to have that conversation anyway [laughter].” So I guess my expectations for a lot of my life have been, you’re in a  monogamous relationship and maybe you have two or three close friends. And that’s not really what I’m doing with my life right now. I’ve discovered, as I’ve been more real with myself, that, actually, I’m really interested in having different kinds of intimacy with maybe more than just one person. Because intimacy, there’s sexual and there’s emotional, and a lot of other different kinds. I learned about myself this year, that I’m a person who’s very happy with casual touching, whereas my partner is someone who does not like to be touched unless you’re really close. I’m like, “No, actually I don’t feel that way,” and it’s really hard for me to maybe be emotionally vulnerable but other kinds of intimacy are really– I feel more powerful when I have more of that in my life, which is kind of the heady new thing I’m still working out. But, no, relationships are great. Relationships can fuck you up for sure, but not always [laughter].

What is something that you feel very accomplished with?

This feels kind of dumb but in 27 years, I would feel like the thing that I feel the most accomplished about is having a sex life [laughter] because I definitely didn’t expect to have one of those the first, I’m going to say, 18 years of my life, when I was like, “Oh, whatever, that means you have to marry a cis man and have kids and homeschool them probably and just be miserable until you’re dead [laughter].” That wasn’t in the cards. Now, I’m like, “Oh, first of all, none of those things are true and also you can have sex and not be miserable.” Thanks, Obama [laughter]. It’s been nice, you know, being able to divorce those things.

 

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