“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” — Tony Robbins

As a preface, most of what I say on here is for myself. In articulating how I feel towards a particular subject, I mold my own attitude towards said subject and convince myself of whatever truth I am preaching. What I say is for myself as much as it is for someone else. 

I really despise the fact that I am so connected to the people around me. I don’t want to sound like an old man yelling at a cloud, rather, I am expressing behavior I have observed in myself that I really, really, wish I could change. Somewhere along the way, between when I was first becoming social, to my age now, I convinced myself that I needed to talk to some people in my life to maintain my relationship with them, or the relationship was going to fizzle. Even closer, I feel the need to be constantly connected to my significant other more than any other person. I want to hedge a guess at why:

I am extremely comfortable going for months without talking to or even seeing some of my closest friends. I choose my relationships very specifically, such that I know I can have low-maintenance friendships that are still strong and reliable. There’s very few people I can find like that, I’ve noticed. The problem with a significant other is that, if you don’t talk to them and see them on a regular basis, they become no more than good friends, like the friends I see rarely  but have an amazing time when I do cross paths with them. You don’t want your significant other to be an “old pal” you catch up with once and a while. You want them with you for the long haul.

That being said, there is a definite balance between talking occasionally and talking consistently, constantly, continually, at every moment of every day. I think a couple should talk daily, yes, but I think after the daily point it gets extremely blurry. Especially because it literally takes a second to reach out to someone, and you can do it a thousand times in a row without them responding. That creates this very toxic expectation that I think leads to disappointment and problems.

Think about your grandparents who dated in the 1950s. The only way to communicate with the person you liked outside of face-to-face interaction was over the phone. For someone who texts constantly, it is a very different experience talking to someone on the phone than reading their messages. So even talking on the phone would be a pretty intimate form of communicating in the 50s, but apart from seeing each other, that’s the only way people interacted.

So were relationships weaker, less vibrant, less detailed in the past? No, not at all. My grandparents talking about their younger selves makes me realize their interactions were just as detailed and engaging as the ones I have with my significant other. But how can that be! They weren’t talking to each other all day, even when they weren’t physically near each other like we can do with modern technology. No, but their expectations for spending time talking to one another were very, very different.

It’s been about a year since I was introduced to this low-expectations attitude,  and I have to say, I think it fits my communication theory pretty well. If you were a young lady dating in the 1950s, your highest possible expectation for a boy was that he would call you. It was probably considered a little rude for someone to show up unannounced at your parents house, especially a boy. Having that kind of attitude nowadays would be considered very low, since you can text someone, Snapchat them, send them a Facebook message, email them, call them on FaceTime — a million possibilities! So we have higher expectations; we want people to text us all the time because we think they should be able to while we’re apart.

I am a firm believer of face-to-face interaction as the most effective way to bond with another individual, and that can’t be replaced with any other kind of communication. Not video chatting, not phone calls, not anything. I think relationships would be stronger without the expectation that you have to text all the time, since it becomes more of a way to pass the time instead of actually being close with the other person. I am very close to my former roommate (turned floormate) and my significant other because we lived together for months and months, so I saw them all the time and only texted them to communicate information instead of trying to get to know them or get close to them over the phone.

I guess all I’m trying to tell myself is to put my phone down and stop waiting around for texts and just do stuff. Like write this.

SR

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“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I think a lot about decisions I made (or didn’t make). I think everyone does. I always hear warning about the detriments of “dwelling on the past and “making sure to let go” of your past so it doesn’t “weigh you down.” If those heavily sarcastic quotations are any indication of how I feel about the past, it’s this: every decision I have ever made (that was under my control, of course) has led me to this specific moment. Even staring down my MacBook while I waited for the software update to download at a snail’s pace inspired me to whip out a no. 7 mechanical pencil and do a good old fashioned brain dump.

See, here’s the thing: I fuck up all the time. It would be depressing to count my mistakes on a regular basis, so I don’t. I’m a clumsy and instinctive person, so I often speak and act without thinking first, and when I do take the time to think something through, I end up fumbling anyway. So you could assume I am a person who wishes she could have done some things differently along the way. But that’s exactly wrong. I’m not. Sure, I’ve had the “I wish I did…” and the “I wish this were…” conversations with myself a million times up to this point. In fact, I probably thought about it this morning while I was getting ready for work. When it comes right down to it, I don’t think I would want to do differently. Let me explain…

For the longest time, I went through high school wishing I danced at a younger age so I would be pretty good by the time I was in high school. As a (short-lived) cheerleader, I was surrounded by talented girls who had been dancing and performing for years. For that reason, among a myriad of others, I decided to quit and pursue other interests. If I had taken dance lessons as a little girl, I probably would have stuck with cheer or dance, met a completely different group of friends, who maybe would have encouraged me to apply to different colleges, and I would have ended up somewhere far removed from the career and life I have today. I would have never joined the newspaper or joined ASB without letting go of that wish. If I hadn’t participated in student government in high school, I likely would not have found my affection for leadership, which encouraged me to apply to the university I attend. That means I would have never met many of the wonder I hold close to my heart today.

I think a lot about the people I’ve known, the experiences I’ve had, and the choices I’ve made. I don’t think that’s unhealthy, I think it’s quite the opposite. If I didn’t reflect like I do, I don’t know if I would appreciate everything I love now as much as I do. This is my beautiful life, and every mistake I have ever made has made it so.

So go make a mistake today. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with where it takes you.

“But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human.”

SR

“I don’t mean to sound bitter, cold, or cruel, but I am, so that’s how it comes out.” — Bill Hicks

I came across something today that was obviously intended to be funny and passive aggressive, as most things are. It was an I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter label, edited to say, “I can’t believe you’re still bitter.”

That sounds ridiculous saying it now but let’s see where it takes us.

While I laughed at first, I read this more to myself than anything else. I’m a bitter person, and it’s not something I’m proud of. It’s difficult for me to let things go. And when I do finally let a burden free, I have no idea how I did it. It feels like all of a sudden, I don’t care about it and it’s not important. But when I care, I care in a vicious and bitter way.

For whatever reason, events or situations that were particularly emotional and stressful seem to carry their pertinence loooooong after they should. I often catch myself thinking of people in the way they were when I first met them when our relationships are completely different now. They way they made me feel before is completely different than now, so why do I care so much about before?

I just want to learn how to let things go and I hope I figure it out soon.

SR

 

“My humor always comes from anger, but I have to make sure I just don’t get angry and jump on a soapbox.” — Carl Hiaasen

For all intents and purposes, I see the hypocrisy in what I am about to say. That being said, this is my favorite medium for expressing views, observations, and opinions, and this is where I am going to choose to explain how I feel. Yes I am a hypocrite, but so is everyone else. And that’s okay.

When I started middle school, I noticed an overwhelming amount of teen angst circulating around socially and digitally. I’m not sure if it was because of the time I went to middle school, or if it’s just something that happens to every generation when they hit the awful, awkward 7th-grade stage, but I felt this huge emphasis on angst, loathing, deprecation, and (weirdly) advice. Everyone had something to say about the negative feelings they had. Everyone, including me.

I used to be someone who looooooved to give advice. I relished the idea of pitching my opinions to help out someone in need. I guess that’s one of the ways I got into blogging to begin with — I thought I had something important to say, wanted to say it, and wanted someone to listen. In hindsight, everyone felt this way.

I am irked now when I feel as if someone is pushing advice or opinions on me without prompting. People don’t always want advice. Sometimes I just want to do my own thing and figure out my issue on my own, even if I do it wrong a few times before I get it right. I hated the first time my mom gave me advice on my love life because I never asked for it. She is my mother (and she was right), but telling me her opinions didn’t make me do anything different. If I did follow my mother’s advice, I probably wouldn’t have learned what I did at that time in my life and consequently who knows what kind of trouble I would be in now without those lessons.

What I’m trying to say is, there’s a time and place for a soapbox: when someone comes up to you, box in-hand, plops it in front of your toes, and says, “I need help and I want your opinion now.” If someone did that to me, I’d probably push the box aside and tell them what I think. “Should” is a terrible word, because advice isn’t about telling someone what to do. It’s about telling them how you feel. Even that has its reservations. More on that…now.

As people, it’s natural to stick to our guns. I’ve never met someone who doesn’t like being right, especially when it comes to evaluating the character of other people. People, I am included!, love being “right”about another person. I am elated when the weird, uneasy feeling I have about a person comes to fruition when they do something terrible. It’s fine to think that way about someone, but I don’t think it’s fine to carry a grudge. People change all. the. time. I am not the same person I was yesterday. Albeit, I’m not all that different, but my point is people are dynamic creatures and they’re always changing. Just because someone hurt you in the past doesn’t mean they’re hurting the people they have in their lives now. Symmetrically, just because someone was good to you in the past doesn’t mean they won’t turn around and be bad to you. You can’t expect anything out of anyone — you just can’t.

I realize that sounds incredibly pessimistic, but think about all the friends and significant others you have lost along the way. Don’t be upset with them. Not everyone is made to get along with everyone else. If you’re friends with someone for years, it’s easy to grow apart. It’s easy to pick apart a relationship. Don’t let what I’m saying ruin all future relationships with all people you have from now until the end of time. Don’t. Instead, be open to the idea that people are always changing, and that’s neither good nor bad. It’s just a thing, and it’s happening to you right now.

So stop trying to shove advice about other people down my throat, even though that feels like what I’m doing in this post. I am perfectly capable of evaluating the people I have (and don’t have) in my life. Coming fresh off of a Biblical Studies final exam, I believe firmly in loving thy enemy. How in the name of all that is good and holy am I supposed to love my enemy? Simple. I hope they find what they are looking for, what makes them happy, and that they come to know God, goodness, and everything beautiful so that they may let go of the things that make me consider them my enemy.

SR

“Self-love has very little to do with how you feel about your outer self. It’s about accepting all of yourself.”

foreward

Rarely do I take the time to flesh anything out on WordPress. I just sit, and type, and think, and type, and stare at the wall, and type some more. Everything on here ends up garbled and messy and nonchalant.

So when it comes to important things — those I take seriously, things that I believe warrant my utmost attention — I take a few steps back, pause, and prep myself for a long, slow, calculated dive into the important. Today I want to talk about my body.

the general 

The body is an important concept to everyone. It’s something everyone has, and thus something everyone deals with around the clock. insecurity reaches the best of all us. it makes people self conscious. “At what age did you first experience insecurity?” People will throw out wild, clickbait numbers for shock value, and I’m certain there are children at the age of four who think they’re fat and preteens in middle school begging for plastic surgery, but the truth is the age doesn’t matter.

Volume is the metric that matters. The amount of the population that deals with confidence stemming from body shaming and physical insecurity is overwhelming. There’s someone in a 24 Hour Fitness right now because they’re not satisfied with the way  they look. There’s a girl locked in a Forever 21 fitting room because she’s frustrated the small doesn’t fit but the medium does. There’s people in their forties looking at old photos and wondering when that slim physique and vitality turned into folding skin and fat deposits. There’s even mothers — the people who brought life into this world — spend time looking (or not looking) in the mirror and wondering what it would be like if this were bigger or that were smaller, this were tighter or that were higher.

it’s just something everyone experiences.

When you see hundreds of bodies every day, be it in pictures or on the train or at the mall or on TV, your mind takes stock of what’s going on, of what’s normal. Everyone on the train today was approximately the same height, with variation as you would see in a simple random population. Some taller, some shorter, some wider, some leaner. While there is no such thing as normal when it comes to the human anatomy about outward appearance, by law of numbers, there is an average.

and what do you do? you compare yourself to it. and somewhere along the way “average” becomes “ideal” and it deteriorates into “normal” — so if you’re neither “average” nor “ideal,” you’re not normal.

what’s craziest for me is that “ideal” for body types changes almost as quickly, if not as quick, as “ideal” for fashion or technology or home interior design. in what universe does it make logical sense that “body trends” evolve as fast as “fashion trends?” I could not care less that booties and leggings are “in” for fall because I can buy that stuff, wear it, and decide if I want to keep conform to that trend.

i can’t do the same with my body. no one can. I can’t plump up my lower body when butts and big thighs are in. If I had a large lower body, I wouldn’t be able to shrink down to a thin, “heroine chic” size either. why is it an acceptable thing for “toned arms” to be “in” this summer? these are my limbs — not accessories.

the specific (what I’ve dealt with)

This is the  advice I always received about body image, self-appreciation, and self-acceptance:“fake it.” Because of my age, it was so easy for those around  me to dismiss how I felt, because my body was still “changing.” They thought at some point it would be more or less more of what I wanted.

I’ve always been “the skinny girl.” I was little in elementary school, little in middle school, little in high school, and little now. According to my medical charts, I’ve been physically the same since seventh grade. With age, girls get squishier and curvier. I didn’t. I still get mistaken for a freshman in high school, not a freshman in college. I have to open my mouth to prove how old I am. I think that’s the thing that’s always frustrated me the most.

I’ll touch on boys briefly. Boys are picky (girls are too), but I actually think that’s a pretty good thing. Every boy you meet likes something different about a body. There’s boys who like legs, who like chests, who like shoulders, who like stomachs, who like curves, who like bones, who like butts, who like noses. There’s something for everyone. I never realized that until now; I pulled the umbrella card and assumed everyone liked the same thing — everything I’m not.

I suppose as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized more and more that the problem really isn’t physical me, it’s me inside. It’s an acceptance issue, not an alterations issue. I know this might seem laymen to some, but it’s really hard for me to admit it took this many years for me to figure out that I was the problem.

Self-love is  complicated, nuanced, vague, and different among people. For one self-love is no more than getting up in the morning and feeding oneself. For another, loving oneself requires pampering, reciting mantras, taking breaks and time off to reconnect within.

my unhelpful advice

More than my dissatisfaction with my outsides, I’m unhappy with the insides. Here’s the problem with your insides: you can’t go in the inside, pull everything gut, and rearrange it until you’re happy with it. Being happy with yourself mentally and physically is a lot of waking up before class and sitting with yourself and a lot of staying up late and sitting with yourself. Taking the time to be yourself and being yourself enough of the time that you can see it.

It’s a lot of writing your feelings down because a blank piece of paper or a blank screen is a way better listener than someone who’s never dealt with someone with anxiety or a therapist who spent way too many years in school learning how to talk to you “the right way.”

Talk to yourself more. More important, listen to yourself more.

SR

18 Before 18

I turned 18 a few weeks ago, and I think birthdays are the perfect opportunity to take time and reflect. I realize many of these are just iterations of wisdom already said and said again, but they are still all important to me, and I hope they help you as much as they have helped me.

  1. Friendships can be toxic. Your best friend can make you feel bad about yourself. It can hurt to be friends with some people. You don’t have to keep anyone in your life. Don’t maintain a harmful friendship in the same way you wouldn’t maintain a harmful relationship.
  2. Say yes. Sometimes. Don’t say yes always, and my experience, don’t say yes often. Say it enough. Enough is relative, and “enough” is different for each person. Say yes to things and good things will inevitably happen to you. Say yes even if it scares you, but never lose your ability to assert a firm no. And if you do say “no” to something, say yes to something else.
  3. Take the time to say goodbye. Even if you think it’s certain, you’ll never know when the next time you’ll see someone will be, so say goodbye.
  4. Be early. Being late warrants so much unnecessary stress and pressure. It doesn’t take too much to be early, just a little organization and thinking ahead.
  5. Don’t be afraid to be late. Much of the stress that comes from running late is because you think something bad is going to happen if you are late. Nothing is going to happen if you’re late to class, if you’re late to dinner, if you’re late to an appointment. If you can, just let the other person(s) know you’re running late and everything will be more than okay.
  6. Be friendly as much as you possibly can. It seems a little unnecessary to include this in here, but a smile, a laugh, even just waving to someone you barely know can make a huge difference. Be the friendly person who always says hello instead of the awkward or standoffish one that looks at you and then quickly looks away.
  7. It’s okay to be nice to people you don’t like. I really hate the word “fake” because I hate it when people aren’t genuine about the way they feel, but when you think about it, I’d much rather have someone be nice and polite to me, even if they actually don’t like me. Being courteous as a general rule of thumb just makes everything easier on each other.
  8. You’ll find someone else. Every time one relationship ends, it feels like another one will never, ever see the light of day. It feels that way after two break ups, and after ten. It’s okay. You’ll find someone, and chances are, it’ll be when you let go of the last one.
  9. Have faith. In something, be it a god or a following or a band you really really like. You need to have anything to hold onto to get through tumultuous times.
  10. Take advantage of the temporary. Use fake tattoos. Buy magnetic piercings. Find eyeliner that rinses off easily. Tattoos are forever, so why not take a test run? Piercings hurt, so why not make sure you actually want them? Eyeliner tattoos are terrifying, so take a good long look before you decide that’s what you want. Forever.
  11. Be okay with building. Don’t buy all your decorations at once.  Don’t buy all your school supplies at once. Don’t buy all your food for the week at once. Don’t pick all your friends at once. Collections, sets, groups should all be built. Start small, think big. Take time to create your menageries. It’s extremely rewarding when it all comes together.
  12. Appreciate the small things. It’s the only way. You have to accept that big, amazing  things aren’t going to be happening to you all the time. In the larger scope of things, pretty fantastic stuff is happening to you, but you’re not going to see that during your day-to-day meandering. Accept that small gestures, small happenings, even the tiniest things that make you smile, will make the biggest difference in your mood, your positivity, and your outlook on the life you have.
  13. Print out pictures. Take a lot of them. Take them to the pharmacy, or go online. Get them printed. Hold them. Make albums. Hang them on the wall. Having tangible memories is a key to appreciating the little things and holding on to what’s important to you.
  14. Listen to your music, but be open to what everyone else likes to. If you like what they like — fantastic! If you don’t — also fantastic! The beautiful thing about music as a form of self expression is you can do literally whatever you want with it. Use Soundcloud, use spotify, buy your music. Do whatever you want. Be happy with your music, because music is the best boost to a bad day.
  15. Sometimes people need to be alone. Even away from the people they love. Just alone. And if you want to be with them when they want to be alone, then I’m sorry. Leave them alone. Make sure they leave you alone. If you figure out how to do this without getting upset, tell me how.
  16. Use f.lux to reduce the blue light on your laptop according to your sleep/computer schedule. Especially if you use it late at night. Your eyes and those moments when you’re trying to get situated and settled will feel so much better.
  17.  Have low expectations. Not for yourself — have high goals. Have things you want to achieve, but don’t expect certain things to come out of those achievements. You want to exercise every day? That’s the goal, but don’t start thinking exercise will give you the body you want, the attention you want, or the happiness you want. You will get out of it what you put into it. The same goes for relationships, work, and hobbies. Don’t expect to like or dislike a person when you meet them — figure it out later. Leave everyone and everything on the same playing field. Don’t get images running through your head, don’t get ahead of your plans. Don’t expect to see someone before you’ve made the arrangement. Don’t do it. Don’t let you disappoint yourself. Expect nothing to happen, so that when it does, it’s a surprise. “It seems like a glass half-empty mindset, but it is so glass all-the-way-full.”
  18.  Say thank you. Say thank you as much as you can, whenever you can. Thank you’s often go unnoticed, or are seen as the natural progression of a conversation, but the important thing to keep in mind is that not saying thank you is always noticed. You should feel weird not saying thank you. There’s absolutely no reason not to. Thank you for reading this. Thank you for coming to my writing space. Thank you for being you.
SR

“Perspective is everything when you are experiencing the challenges of life.” — Joni Eareckson Tada

I recently started a new summer project I tracked down after reading through (okay, maybe stalking) a few Tumblr posts, WordPress blogs, and various other sources of inspiration. I know this idea is anything but original — I’m sure there are hundreds more like it apart from the few I found digging around blogging website caverns.

It’s an encyclopedia of sorts, at least that’s what some of these authors called them, and what I decided to call mine. I’m at a stage in my life I really want to remember — I want to be able to have a tangible representation of what I was like at this period, and what better way than a notebook filled with definitions “according to me,” lists of things I’ve learned to do and what not to do, playlists for every conceivable mood swing, and quotes I never, ever want to let go of.

I’ve been delving into this project for only a few days now and I can already pin down a few things I think I’ve learned:

  1. I think about my life in terms of the encyclopedia (e.g. how would I put the way I feel about this person/place/behavior/object into words?), which forces me to actually think deeply about mundane things like ice cream shops and cuffed jeans.
  2. Lists should be more important to me than they are. It’s liberating and therapeutic and it gets the garbage flowing in my brain so I can get to the good stuff. The morsels of wisdom.
  3. There is great pleasure in paying attention to details and little, happy things. A long time ago someone told me a secret path to happiness involves focusing on the little things, and I’m not sure I believed that until now.
  4. I need to value my own observations. Recently my attention has been turned outwards, to other people and the way they see, feel, and perceive things. I was (am) sick of hearing myself think and talk and tried drowning it out with what everyone else had to say. But I can do both. I can both speak and listen and not lose sight of either one.
  5. I drink a lot of water. There’s water droplet stains all over the notebook pages already.

As the encyclopedia grows, hopefully so will this list.

SR