On owning who you are

whatever you are, be a good oneA startling amount of people tend to play down the qualities that make them unique, often because they are ashamed of what they are. Society has a lot of opinions, and the unfortunate fact of life is that “you can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be someone who hates peaches.” (-Dita von Ceese). You can be an athlete and there will always be a whole subset of the population who resents you or judges you for it. You could love fashion, and you can bet that someone out there is going to think you’re vain. You could be a theoretical physicist, and there are people out there who don’t believe in your science. It can be difficult to come to terms with, but the best way to be unhappy is to try to please everyone. You simply never will, and that’s okay.

A girl who wears a full face of makeup every day and carefully selects her outfits might feel the need to prove she isn’t a “weak” narcissist by overplaying her interest in football. A boy who finds physics fascinating may complain about the class to his friends so as to maintain his “cool” status. An honors student might overstate her knowledge because she feels that not knowing things is a fault in the circles she runs in. A woman who feels she isn’t “domestic enough” might claim to love doing DIY crafts in her free time, when in fact they merely frustrate and annoy her. And why? I very much understand the social pressure to be acceptable (see my post “A broadened perception of self”), but these past several months I’ve been able to transcend this desire. As Malcom Forbes said, “Too many people undervalue what they are, and overvalue what they are not.”

I happen to be very vain, and I really am not concerned with it. I love fashion, I love makeup. It’s like another form of art. It makes me feel good to look nice–on those days when I wake up late and come to school in sweats, I feel self-conscious all day long. Is that a fault of mine? Maybe. Should I work on my self esteem? Some might say so. But the point is that I’m content with my vanity. I’ve come to accept this about myself. A few years ago on the Ellen show, Chris Colfer said, “If you truly own who you are, no one can use it against you.” That statement could not be more true. I am vain. I can also be impatient, emotional, and stubborn. People tell me these things and I tell them, “I know, I’m working on it.” I don’t feel bad for who I am. In fact, I love myself. I think that’s probably one of the best feelings in the world.

So never apologize for yourself or try to downplay the things you feel are socially unacceptable. Since I’m on such a roll with the relevant quotes today, I’ll throw in another one: “You are terrifying and strange and beautiful, something not everyone knows how to love.” -Warsan Shire. I’ll stop writing before I overdo it on the quotes, but I hope some day you come to terms with yourself and learn to be at peace with who you are. I’ve learned from experience that when you do this, you will truly become happy.

 

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On “prince charming”

whatI’m sorry, I’m going to say it. This is why we can’t have nice things.

The irony of the entire original image is unbearable. But first, let’s address the fact that this is the standard thousands and probably millions of guys are being held to. And frankly, it’s stupid. I don’t know if I’m a rare specimen, but I certainly don’t want someone pretending I’m right in an argument when I’m not; there is no room for personal growth in that. Secondly, this whole “the guy should start the conversation” mentality is absurd. Women fought so long and hard for equal rights and now so many of them are degrading us back to timid creatures who are too stubborn and shy to start a conversation with a man unless he starts it first. Third, as important as respect and all that is, you’re not fooling anyone by pretending you don’t like to “make out.” Natural physiological responses to an individual creates sexual impulses, and there’s really no shame in that. I won’t carry on this rant concerning the absurdity of this “perfect guy checklist,” because I want to get to a much more important point.

Spoiler alert: boyfriends like this don’t exist. And if they do, they really shouldn’t. Who wants to date a mindless drone who only lives to serve you? I think the answer to that question for many young girls is “I do!”, and this is what worries me. I think what most young people don’t realize is that relationships need to be two individuals in love, not one like-minded conglomeration. If your lover has no interests besides you, what is there to truly love? I have been in relationships such as these, and they were wholly unsatisfying. You can’t ask for someone’s whole undivided attention, because they need to have their own life, too. Their own friends, their own hobbies, their own ways of thinking and feeling. You can’t agree on everything, you’d be absolutely bored. You can’t expect them to go along with whatever you say.

Which brings me to my next point. You simply can’t expect someone to be perfect. You know, you would imagine that when you’re in love, you can look past the person’s bad qualities and move on. In fact, it’s the exact opposite: you don’t love them in spite of their imperfections, you love them because of them. You love them for the way you hate when they tickle you and how they like the wrong color of grapes, and you love them for their scars. You love them for their kindness and beautiful eyes and all that too, but you come to cherish the things that make them different. Your prince (or princess) charming may not seem so charming at first. In fact, they may seem hopelessly not so.

prince charming

I’m sorry if I’ve squashed your dreams or upset anyone with this post, but I speak out of experience and observation. You can’t sit around and wait for someone to waltz into your life and get down on one knee. You are worth more than that. Which is why I strong suggest that you use your energy chasing your dreams and being open to everyone you meet. If you let life take its course, you will find love. It will not be perfect, it will not be a fairytale, and it will not be prince charming. It will be better.

On time management and finding your true passion

Oh dear, it’s been a while. I’m terribly sorry, everyone. I guess I have a hard time sticking to blog schedules, or perhaps schedules in general. Life has been delightfully hectic, and I’ve had to let some things fall into the background to get through the rest of it.

I’ve always been a bit of a social butterfly… and an activity butterfly… and a project butterfly. Basically, I’ve been jam-packing my schedule since I was eleven. I am always dashing from one activity to the next. I’m always in the middle of a book, a painting, a novel, a homework assignment, a meal, and in the end, I do a whole lot of things half-ass. This year, I decided to take a step back and assess what was wrong about my state of being.

As I looked at my life retrospectively, I realized that I’ve participated in a ton of activities–and I’ve quit almost  all of them. I did ballet, tap, figure skating, soccer, horseback riding, and tennis; I attempted to write no less than three novels and couldn’t seem to get past a 25K word-count; I took guitar lessons, piano lessons, pottery classes; I started an Etsy shop of my very own handmade items, and my sole customer was my dad. But you know what I’ve always known? It’s better to quit than to waste your time.

When I started to fake stomachaches in order to get out of tap class, I knew it was time to quit. When I only practiced guitar because my teacher would know I hadn’t, I realized I was wasting my parents’ money. When I wondered why other people were advancing faster than I was, I figured out that it was because this is what they did with almost all of their free time; they loved it that much. My little brother has been taking piano lessons for a year, and he really wants to learn to play, but he’s constantly frustrated that he isn’t advancing. I told him the only way to be a better pianist is to get off the computer, turn off the TV, and play the piano. Every day. And if it was something he dreaded, something that seemed like a chore, he probably shouldn’t be playing piano at all.

It can be bittersweet, letting go of something like that, especially if it’s been a part of your life for a long time. But if you can’t set aside time to develop a skill, clean the house, read a book, exercise, learn to cook–anything!–you will never be able to do it. You can’t, and shouldn’t, continue to do things half-ass.

These past several weeks, I’ve tried to apply this bit of wisdom to my own life. I’ve set aside time each day to paint, read and run, as well as do homework and do some organizing. As a result, I actually feel less busy, but more productive! By allotting time for all the activities I can never seem to get done, I’ve made it incredibly simple to pursue these passions, and almost impossible to waste time. A lot of the panic that I associated with busyness turned out to be anxiety due to unfinished work and projects. Making time for the important things cleared these feelings of inadequacy and eliminated a lot of stress and disappointment from my life, and it certainly helped my focus on my goals!

I have a running list of TV shows I’ve been told I simply have to watch, but in all honestly, I will probably never watch them. I’d rather be adventuring through the woods or learning to play music. We all have twenty-four hours in a day. How will you use yours?

On the growing apathy of our nation

I don’t want to sound pretentious. I don’t want to sound rude. I don’t want to make unjust assumtions. But the fact stands that America is getting stupider.

I’m not talking about genetics and IQ, persay. I’m talking about a state of mind. We’ve simplified our world so much that you don’t need to know anything to live or even prosper. No one cares about learning because being educated simply isn’t too relevant in our world anymore, and that is absolutely frightening. The ones who do try in school do so only to get good grades to get into a good college to have a good career to have a good life… but where’s the passion in that? The rest sail through school drowning their organs in alcohol, getting D’s and STDs and laughing about how much “swag” they have. There are millions of people running around in their little corner of the world who can’t point out their own country on a map, and they really don’t see this as a problem.

I do. I think this is absolutely terrifying. Doesn’t anyone crave information? Don’t they want to know why things work the way they do, where sayings and laws and photoshop actions come from, how yeast makes bread rise and green tea boosts metabolism? Is there no lingering curiosity? Why is apathy acceptable?

I know how easy it is to fall into the mindless routine. To not ask the questions, to do the bare minimum, to be “practical” and “realistic”. To waste a whole lot of time partying or sitting around on the internet. But I urge you to break the trend. We live in a big, wonderful world full of endless opportunities. There is always more to learn. Yes, school can be tedious, work can be a drag, but if you go the extra mile, it suddenly becomes worth it. Don’t waste another moment accepting life as it is. Don’t sit around being content with monotony. Don’t make resolutions–dive headfirst into life and all it has to offer.

So read a book. Go on an adventure. Keep a journal. Learn a new skill. Make some plans and stick with them. Go through your life bursting with excitement at each wonderful day and all you have to learn. Take risks. Start a movement. Look a little closer. Share your passion and start a chain reaction. Don’t become another apathetic drone. Ask yourself why. Ask other people why. Question everything.

My hopes for each of you can be summed up in a quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald:

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”