Day Fifteen (Music)

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I love music. When I’m at home I like to blast my favorite songs and either tune out or just put it on in the background. My taste is very eclectic. If I can relate to the lyrics and it can bring an emotion out of me, I will like it. My taste ranges from Pop to Broadway to 90s Boy Bands to Rock to Country to Motown. It’s all over the place. I could spend hours just plugging in and letting the songs lead me into my deepest feelings and allow me to fully experience them. I spend car rides zoning out to music. Music is vitally important to me. As I know it is to a lot of people.

A theory I have had for a long while is that you can tell almost everything about a person based on the music they listen to. It is completely different depending on the person and why they like the music that they like. For example, my sister likes what is popular, a few weird quirky songs, and a lot of songs that have nostalgic significance. My brother likes songs all over the place, especially the really weird out there songs. My mom likes a couple of CDs, mostly just the ones she’s always liked. She’s doesn’t branch out. My dad loves oldies, yet he is always trying to keep up with the new music too. Even if he hardcore judges the songs on the radio. I tend to like really angsty, dramatic, and emotionally raw songs. Usually melodramatic Showtunes.

One of my best friends in college used to argue with me constantly on our differing music tastes. We’re both a little boy crazy and we used to send each other songs that captured our feelings. Her songs were usually along the lines of “fuck these feelings,I’m so angry, you make me feel something, you’re the worst, also you’re really hot”. Mine were more along the lines of “love is what makes life worthwhile, it’s such a poetic and beautiful kind of pain, just being around you makes me happy, save me from this aching sadness”. Her songs were too angry and cynical for me, my songs were too melodramatic and idealistic for her. We eventually decided to stop sending each other songs.

Music is a beautiful thing. It stays the same, regardless of what might change in life. A song stays frozen in a moment in time. Sometimes the lyrics apply to different situations and the personal meaning changes in time. Sometimes a song will always bring you back to one moment, one place, or one person. Music brings people together. I wish I went to more concerts. I’ve only been to one (Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block) and it was a neat experience. And I’d never even heard of New Kids on the Block before that night. Some people’s passion is playing music, other people are passionate about listening to it, and most people enjoy it in one form or another. My life was Orchestra and Theatre in High School. When I feel down, I plug in the showtunes. I can’t imagine my life without music. Some songs have literally changed my life. Music is a beautiful thing and it is a vital component to my life. I’m so grateful for music.

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Day Fourteen (Respect)

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One of the most important lessons that I learned in college was to respect myself and to surround myself with people who respected me as well. It’s a simple message that should be common sense. But it took me years to come to that conclusion. In High School I never really respected myself. I believed that my personality was inherently a flawed one and that my friends were either extremely patient or socially unaware. You had to be a little fucked up yourself in order to put up with the mess that was me. The popular kids thought there was something wrong with me and I believed that they were right. I internalized these misconceptions and created my self-image from it. I was worthless. Annoying. Terrible. Unimportant. A waste of space. My friends only put up with me because they were polite and felt bad. I didn’t respect myself and so I let others disrespect me. I let the meaner kids talk down to me. I let the popular kids exclude me and treat me like I didn’t matter. I let the nicer kids treat me with pity. I let myself get pushed aside, forgotten, and I disappeared into the background.

Things changed in college. I was still the “quiet kid” in the group, but I now had two groups that I was a part of. I put myself out there, forced myself to make small talk, and became friends with kids that I never would have spoken to in High School. Were there awful ego trips and nights where my anxiety paralyzed me? Absolutely. I can remember sitting in fetal position in my car before fencing practices, paralyzed. I can remember staying up late at night reliving social interactions from the day and what I did wrong. I remember being plagued by the fear that people would eventually discover the real me and be disgusted. I can remember pushing people away and icing them out. It only got worse when I got fired from my first job in retail. It was all my worst fears come true. All the negative thoughts I had about myself out in the open and validated. I came back my Sophomore Year insecure and scared. But I still forced myself to still be social, to make new friends, and to pass all my classes. Was I a little mopey, brooding, and aloof? Definitely. But, even so, I was still putting myself out there. By the end of the year, I realized that I was not defined by my failure and I was still a good person worthy of friendship and love. I had bypassed the depression and moved onto anger. Anger at the world for mistreating me, misunderstanding me, and not giving me a chance.

So when I went back to see my High School crowd halfway through college, it was a strange experience. I auditioned for a show that a lot of people I knew were in. But none of my friends. Immediately, people started treating me like the weird mute girl again. Immediately, I started reforming myself to fit their expectations. But something was different. The kids in the show were the same as I remembered them. They treated me the same as they always had. But suddenly that bothered me. Suddenly, being treated like a confusing simple-minded mute pissed me off. And then, when I finally got the chance to break out of the mold by being offered a small role, it was like a phoenix taking flight. I soared, I kicked ass, and I proved myself to everyone. Including myself. I realized then that the people I was in the show with were wrong about me. But, if I surrounded myself with people who believed in me, I could find my true self and like what I saw.

When I came back to college for my Junior Year, I was flying high. I felt amazing, I finally felt comfortable in my own skin, and I was ready to show everybody the new me. This is when an interesting thing happened. Half of my “friends” treated me like crap. They remembered me as the shy insecure scared girl who sat in the corner and they were content to continue treating me as such. But I was not content to stay that way. I lost respect for a lot of people that year and I cut a lot of people out of my life. The other half of my friends went with the flow and were glad to see me come out of my shell. They were friendly, kind, and open-minded. Unsurprisingly, the people who accepted me as I was were the same people who were always there for me when I was struggling and filled with self-loathing. Funny how that works out.

As my senior year rolled in, I began to respect myself more and my whole life improved because of it. I cut out the critics and naysayers permanently. I surrounded myself with friends and people who believed in me and liked me as I am. Some of the people who had ignored me previously started to change their minds and suddenly they were the ones trying to be my friend. A lot of the critics told me how much I had grown and I eventually earned their respect. Not that I cared by that point. Even the theater people started warming up to me, people who I have known since middle school. I changed people’s minds. By changing my perception of myself and surrounding myself with people who brought out the best in me…I changed minds. That’s pretty amazing.

I know it seems trite to say, but respecting yourself is a vital first step to living a better life. How can you expect other people to treat you right if you can’t treat yourself right? Every single person matters. Every single person deserves to be here. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The right people will treat you with respect. Nobody’s opinion is more vital than your own. Let me end off with one of my favorite quotes to remember in times when I’m feeling doubtful. A quote that I heard halfway through junior year that changed my life forever, from a character who is an idol to me. Seriously, this character taught me to respect myself, kick ass, and not let anybody’s judgments deter me. I started watching this show and immediately started noticing how I acted the way people expected me to act and I came to the realization that their opinions and perspectives on who I am in no way defined me. This show was legitimately life-changing and I owe it so much for that. Peggy Carter is queen.

“I know my value. Anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter”-Peggy Carter (Agent Carter)

Day Thirteen (Trust)

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The summer before my freshman year of college, I binge-watched The X-Files. That’s the only thing I did all summer. I watched a handful of episodes a day and it was the only thing that got me through one of the most boring, listless, and miserable summers of my entire life. High School had ended and college had yet to begin. I was trapped in the divide between the past and the future, with nothing happening in the present. It is not a time I like to revisit and it has served as a warning to me not to stay still for too long. A person can lose themselves in the silence.

I hate to use the word “naive”, but it is an accurate summary of my High School self. It does not define who I was then, but it is accurate nonetheless. In High School I was the shy kid, the weird mute girl, and the shrinking violet. Most of my peers didn’t take much notice of me and my friends tended to come from my fellow socially anxious classmates, castmates, and instrumental students. My friends were the outcasts, the loners, and the kids who never really fit in. I never had much time for anyone else and they never bothered with me either. It was a safe way of living. I knew who were my friends, I kept my distance from the kids in my friend group I didn’t like, and I had surface-level friendships (if anything) with everybody else. I’ve used the same strategy in college. Keeping this level of distance has served as a way of protecting myself from getting in too deep and getting hurt. I have a handful of friends who I trust, a good amount friends who I enjoy spending time with, and many friends who I can only take in the tiniest of doses. I am an expert at avoiding drama.

But the game leveled up in college. I went into college a little wary after watching The X-Files. On top of that, the game gets a little harder when you haven’t known everyone since elementary and middle school. When you don’t know their history, their friends, and their upbringing. Everything becomes a lot more confusing. College has often felt like playing an intense game of “don’t step on the mine”. I fell into a crowd that included bronies, furries, players, abusers, and manipulative assholes amongst the men. Lots of pretentious, snooty, calculating, fake girls amongst the women. Some low-key creepy guys and a lot of high-key ones. A lot of mean condescending girls with something to prove. Caught amidst this chaotic nightmare were also a handful or more of some of the most accepting, compassionate, kind, intelligent, humble, interesting, and fun individuals that I have ever met.

The trick to navigating this mess came in trying to sort each individual into the right box. Was this guy a harmless creep, total nightmare, or genuinely nice guy? Was this girl a pretentious bitch, only sometimes a little vexing, or an awesome friend? I made a lot of right calls, but I made a couple wrong ones too. I went into college thinking everyone was harmless, maybe just a little weird and socially awkward. I came out of college a changed person. I can no longer trust as easily as I used to. Just the other day I found out that someone I had sorted into the “little odd, but a good friend nonetheless” category for the past three years is actually a dangerous borderline felon. Sometimes it’s trial and error, I guess.

There is something an old teacher of mine said last semester that has recently become very relevant to me. A kid in my class made the claim that every single relationship in life is transactional. Each party has something they want from the other. Nobody just has a genuine honest relationship for the sake of it. My teacher was appalled by how the kid refused to trust that anyone had good intentions. That he had the belief that “everyone is out for themselves and what they can get”. My teacher argued that that entire theory was too cynical. It is what my teacher said next that has stuck with me. He said, “Personally, I prefer to trust everyone until they prove me wrong. I don’t want to live a life not trusting anyone, not letting anybody in, and not opening myself up to people. Yeah, they could betray your trust. But I’d rather be a trusting person than a cynical closed-off one. Everybody deserves a chance. That’s how you make lasting friendships, develop deep bonds with people, and make genuine connections. You have to trust, no matter how many times you’ve been hurt. If you want people to trust you, you have to offer them the same respect. I strive to be someone who is open-minded, optimistic, and friendly to all”. I’m paraphrasing, but I’m not far off from what he said.

Trusting people is hard. It opens yourself up to the possibility of unimaginable pain and heartbreak. I’m not saying to go follow the creepy guy with the knife into a dark alleyway. Trust your instincts and being cautious in questionable cases is encouraged. But when your instincts give the all clear, when you’ve found somebody you genuinely get along with, and when the only thing holding you back is the anxious “what if” thoughts in the back of your head….give the person a chance. If you want them to trust you, you have to be willing to trust them in return. You never know who you might miss out on due to a fear of the unknown and of lowering those walls.

Day Twelve (Nathan Fillion)

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Let’s take a bit of a break from the self-reflection and brooding for a tribute to one of my favorite actors of all time. Nathan Fillion. Warning: Massive Fangirling Ahead. Content may not be suitable for the sane of mind.

Let me tell a short little story. Today was my family’s last day of vacation. The end of this brief little reprieve from reality. We spent our last day mostly just walking, eating, and enjoying the view. At one point we went down a walking trail right off the shore. A popular walking area with a gorgeous view. On the way back, I was focused on the ground in front of me and lost in my own thoughts. Going through my daily existential crisis. As I do. Suddenly my mother yanked at my arm in an attempt to pull it free from my socket. My sister started whacking my other arm. I figured either there was a bee on top of me or someone on the walkway behind me had a gun. I like to consider myself an optimist. Evidently, while on my own planet, I had missed Nathan Fillion walking right past us. I did get a good creep shot of his back while he was taking photos of the beautiful view though. I didn’t want to bother him or make a scene. I don’t know what I would have said anyway.

Let me back up for a second. I love Nathan Fillion. My brother forced me to watch “Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” in 8th grade and my life has not been my own since that fateful day. I watched all of How I Met Your Mother, memorized the Assassins soundtrack, and watched all the Neil Patrick Harris interviews I could find. I watched the entirety of The Guild and have recently started Supernatural and I love Charlie. I tore through Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse, and Angel. I even watched The Big Bang Theory. My point is, I love every actor, writer, and director of that Webseries. I’ve watched it more times than I am willing to admit.

I am a browncoat. Captain Malcolm Reynolds is my captain and always will be. He’s one of my all-time favorites. It’s hard not to find Captain Hammer amusing too. I’ve wavered back and forth on whether or not to watch Castle for years. Let’s take this as a sign.

Moments like these are pretty exciting. I still can’t comprehend that this actually happened. Once it does sink in, I’m going to be really furious with myself for looking down at my feet instead of watching my surroundings. Still, it’s an exciting thing to be so close to one of your heroes. Fun fact; they’re regular average human beings too. Sometimes they visit the same places you do and take the same photos you take. Sometimes life delivers the craziest random moments. Today I passed Captain Malcolm Reynolds on an afternoon walk. How insane is that?

 

Days Seven-Eleven (Vacation)

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After a few days break I’m back! My wifi was off for the duration of a cruise, so I was unable to update this blog. There are far worse problems to have. Honestly, the lack of Internet was refreshing. It makes me a little crazy not to be able to contact my friends at a moments notice, but it also allows me to live life as it happens. There’s something highly underrated about those quiet inbetween moments where you’re just left alone with your thoughts and feelings. Being so easily connected to everyone and everything takes away from being connected to the present moment.

For a long while now, I have felt this intense need to get away from my current situation. To leave my day-to-day life and not have to deal with my daily struggles for a little while. To escape my humdrum life and get some time away. Is that healthy? Perhaps not. Does that say something negative about my current life? Probably. Doesn’t change the fact.

Getting away can be a much needed distraction and that is just what vacations are for. Turning off the phone, getting far away from the stresses of life, and just relaxing for a little while. Right now I am in another country on the opposite side of my continent. Life in my country is a shitshow and my own personal life is a bit…confused. Like one of those common maze dreams where each door leads to ten more doors. It’s frustrating to say the least.

Vacations are a wonderful thing. Just eating, shopping, sightseeing, and touring. Exploring new places and giving myself some much deserved time off. We all need that sometimes. Real life is right around the corner waiting and it will find me regardless of what I do to avoid it. You often find your destiny on the road you take to avoid it and all that. So I am taking the time to breathe while I have it. Everyone deserves a break every once in awhile.

Day Six (Traveling)

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I absolutely love to travel. Unfortunately, I have not had the privilege of much traveling experience. The farthest I have ever gone outside of America is Canada. Aside from the major French influence, moose and maple leaf items everywhere, and a generally nicer atmosphere…the culture really isn’t all that different. It’s the nicer twin brother.

But I know I love to travel. Whether it be down south, over to the west coast, or to islands. I love meeting people who were raised in another country. I love hearing the different experience, life views, and perspectives. I love seeing the different atmospheres and cultures. Even within my own country.

I dream of visiting Europe, Asia, and Africa. England, Greece, and Russia in particular. I may not know a lot about life, but I know that I long to travel the world. See how the other half lives. Go on an adventure somewhere totally new away from everything I know. Broaden my horizons and gain some awareness of the world around me.

On the wall in my room I have a poster of The Eleventh Doctor. I’m a loud and proud Whovian. Even if I’m a series behind. Anyway, one of the reasons I love this show is because of the promise of possibility. The world is a gigantic place. There is so much to see and so much to do. More than one can ever possibly imagine. Giving up is not an option. The world is such a big and beautiful place. We ought to give a shot exploring it.

Day Five (Flirting)

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Today I was talking to a male friend. Totally platonic friendly chatting. The topic ranging all over the place, but completely harmless surface-level stuff. Then I briefly mentioned the conversation to another friend, who declared that I was flirting. She could not be more off the mark. I don’t know how to flirt, that was not my intention whatsoever, and I’m absolutely certain neither of us were reading into it that way. Even so, her comment made me think. What constitutes as flirting? Why do people flirt? Why am I so against it?

I don’t have any answers. I’m not a flirt at all. I am more of the “stare from a distance and then hide under a table if they happen to glance back” type. If, in an emergency situation, I am forced to interact with a crush? I go on autopilot. I start rambling and acting silly if I’m lucky. Maybe I try really hard to play it cool and come off as only mildly awkward. If not, I stumble over my words, walk into walls, and forget how to function. It’s not a pretty sight either way. But is that my version of flirting?

People flirt as a way of testing the waters. It’s a method to help get to know the other person, develop a banter, and figure out the nature of their feelings. It’s a light and harmless way of catching the other person’s interest. Whether it be lots of touching, smiling and laughing, or teasing the other person. It varies from person to person. There is no set way to flirt and it all relies upon the intention of the interaction. It’s all between the lines.

Which is why I personally refuse to flirt. There is too much reliance on subtext. The few times I have tried to understand subtext in my own life have been a disaster. I create stories that don’t exist. Sometimes really detailed, exciting, and fascinating ones. Only to learn later that the entire thing was a figment of my imagination. If I’m not creating fairytales out of nothing, my anxiety is convincing me that everything is going terribly and I am making a fool of myself and I should quit before I fuck things up more than I already have. In the end, I’ve given up trying to maneuver between the lines. It’s just a bad idea.

So do I unintentionally flirt? Have there been actual stories between the lines that I have completely missed due to my refusal to read the subtext? I don’t know. I don’t care to find out. Unless something becomes text, there is no evidence to support it. We’ll see what happens in the future. Maybe I’ll join the club and up my game. Maybe I already have started and I wasn’t aware. Who knows? But there are many different ways to get to the finish line. As I said, it entirely depends on the two individuals and their personal relationship. What will happen in the future is a mystery. But hey, maybe I’ll pick up some tricks as I go along.

Day Four (Freedom)

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I remember one of the hardest transitions to make from High School to college was the transition from living under a structured schedule to having the freedom to make my own decisions. It took a long time before I was able to get the hang of time management. But there was something liberating about being able to eat what I wanted when I wanted. To call up friends at random to hang out. To decide when I wanted to study and how. To choose what activities I wanted to get involved with and which ones I would rather skip. To sign up for classes at times that were convenient for me and even getting to choose the teacher.

It’s only Day Four, but I can already tell that I am going to have more freedom than I’m used to. Today I worked at my mom’s cousin’s office doing data entry. Then I met up with my mom for lunch. Then I watched a movie with one of my best friends. Then I had dinner. Then I worked on some writing. Then I talked to a couple of friends online. Then I sat down to write this entry. I easily could have chosen not to do any one of these things. I received two e-mails, one from an internship I had applied to and another from the job I started a couple of months ago. I could easily have chosen not to apply to either of these places. My fate is entirely in my own hands.

This idea is staggering. My life is now officially my own. I am no longer obligated to follow one specific authority. Sure, I have to follow the law. Society operates by a certain amount of order. But even the government currently is a mess. A lot of my personal destiny, more than ever before, is in my own hands. I can finally stop just getting by following the guidebook. It’s about time I grab the pen and write my own story.

“I’m through accepting limits
Cuz someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try I’ll never know
Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love, I guess I’ve lost
Well if that’s love
It comes at much too high a cost

I’d sooner buy defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye, I’m defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down!”

(Elphaba, Wicked)

Day Three (Roller Coasters)

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It took me awhile to get into roller coasters. When I was little, just looking at roller coaster’s would frighten me. They were too fast, too windy, and far too unpredictable. I didn’t want my legs dangling, my stomach jumping into my throat, or my body upside down. No siree, no thank you. It wasn’t until I was forced onto The Comet at Hershey Park (Hershey, PA) that my mind was changed. I remember waiting in a line that never seemed to end, feeling the nausea creeping up on me. I remember going up the first hill and wanting nothing more than to get off that death trap right that second. I remember the feeling right before the first drop where you catch your breath. And then I remember one of the most fun, exhilarating, and exciting rides of my life. I was laughing, I was screaming, and I had a blast.

I’ve been on plenty more roller coasters since then. My personal favorites being Space Mountain (Orlando, Florida) and Superman: The Ultimate Flight (Jackson, New Jersey). I love how Space Mountain is almost completely in the dark and how the Superman ride makes it feel like you’re really flying. Now, when I go to amusement parks, I try to go on as many rollercoasters as I can. As long as the drop isn’t too insane. I go for the experience, for the adrenaline high, and for the ride itself. I don’t go just for a quick thrill.

How does any of this have anything to do with my day? Unfortunately I did not spend my day going on roller coasters at an amusement park. I wish. But today I had a conversation with my friend as she went on her first date in a long while. I spent a good portion of the day chatting with a guy I’ve secretly liked for the past two years. I watched a little of ‘Awkward Black Girl’ as she had to choose between two guys. I watched ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary 3’, where she had to make the same decision. My love life is nonexistent. It’s never been existent. But, after today, I feel like it could be. Probably not with the guy I spent the day talking to, but with somebody. One day.

I used to think romance was never in the cards for me. Even now, I absolutely refuse to admit to anyone how I feel if I like them. Yet suddenly I feel like my fantasies and reality don’t have to be separate things. They don’t have to be so far apart. Bridget Jones is a fumbling chaotic character. J is awkward as hell. My friend also struggles with social anxiety. Maybe my “shyness” and “awkwardness” isn’t what’s holding me back. Maybe I’m not as far away as I thought. Maybe romance isn’t an impossible fairytale after all.

So how does this have to do with roller coasters? Roller coasters used to terrify me. The very idea of ever going on one was a foreign concept. Just waiting in line made me want to throw up. Getting on the ride itself took every ounce of courage (or stupidity) in me. But once the ride started…it was worth it. I wanted to go on all the roller coasters. See how each one differed from each other. Enjoy each ride for what it was and I never stopped talking about it when it was over. Life is scary. Life is fast, unpredictable, and intimidating as hell. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the ride.

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear”-Jack Canfield

Day Two (Adulthood)

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Yesterday I was talking to a friend from school. We were talking about graduation and post-graduation plans. This friend is a little younger than me and has a couple of years before he has to face these questions and dilemmas. At one point he made the statement that I was the first friend he knew who had graduated college and joked that I was now officially an adult.

Ever since he made that statement, the idea has yet to unlodge itself from my brain. It keeps echoing around the walls of my mind non-stop. I am an adult now. I have grown up. Today is my first day facing the dreaded “real world”. There is no more hiding behind the grown-ups, no more safety nets, and no more comforting structured environments. The pathway is gone. Now I must forge my own path, write my own story, and live my own life. It’s time to stop checking boxes off some universal timeline. The map is gone. It’s time to start creating the legacy I want to leave behind. As Hamilton would say “I am not throwing away my shot”

But adulthood is scary. The idea that right now is the beginning of the rest of my life is daunting, overwhelming, and downright terrifying. But at the same time it is liberating, freeing, and unbelievably exciting. I can finally stop reading book after book about hero’s going on adventures. I can stop living vicariously through television characters. I can stop burying my head in the sand and merely dreaming of a better tomorrow. The future is completely open to me right now. It’s finally time for me to make a difference. To put my stamp on the world. To have the adventure I have waited 22 years to have. It’s time for me to start living a life that is authentic, bold, and unabashedly me. 

“ Two years ago, I was afraid of wanting anything. I figured wanting would lead to trying, and trying would lead to failure. But now I find I can’t stop wanting. I wanna fly somewhere in first class. I wanna to travel to Europe on a business trip. I wanna get invited to the White House. I wanna learn about the world. I wanna surprise myself. I wanna be important. I wanna be the best person I can be. I wanna define myself instead of having others define me. I wanna win an have people be happy for me. I wanna lose and get over it. I wanna not be afraid of the unknown. I wanna grow up to be generous and big hearted, the way that people have been with me. I want an interesting and surprising life. It’s not that I think I’m gonna get all these things. I just want the possibility of getting them.”-Tyra Collette (Friday Night Lights)

Am I scared for the future? Absolutely. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. But mixed in amongst those feelings of apprehension and nerves is a mix of excitement and exhilaration. The time is now. I may have to face the real world now, but the real world also has to face me. So look out world. You’re not going to know what hit ya.