What is it inside of us that causes us to compare ourselves to everyone else? What part of the brain controls this bizarre impulse to look at others, judge them, and almost in the same instant, judge ourselves in comparison? Could this be some primitive instinct from the days when natural selection played a far greater role than it does today? Thousands of years ago, certain traits were deemed desirable because they showed fitness for an environment and reproduction. This is a nice theory, but I believe it's much more than that. Today we place so much importance on physical appearance; however the standards and ideals of beauty today are different than those fifty years ago. If this compelling force to criticize and compare was primitive, the standards of beauty shouldn't deviate so greatly through different time periods. Clearly, we place impossible standards of beauty upon ourselves. But why?
As someone who has struggled with eating disorders, and has been overly critical of them-self for as long as I can remember, I've always wondered why I do this to myself. Why do I stand in front of the mirror, pinch the skin on my hips, scrutinize every dimple and blemish on my skin, pick, prod, poke, scratch and scrape at the pores on my face. Why do people tell me I'm pretty, and I shrug off the compliment and point out a flaw? Why can I not look at myself, and be proud of my appearance? I try to eat healthy and work out regularly, then when I slip up and indulge on something less than ideal, or skip a few workouts, I instantly belittle myself, feel guilty, feel like I instantly weigh 300 pounds, and think I'm the most disgusting creature on this earth. That is not normal. I know it's not, and yet, I continue to do it. There is a vicious cycle of self-hate going on and I can't seem to pinpoint the beginning or find sight of the end.
Advertisers, modeling agencies, television shows and movies all place a twisted idea of what is beautiful and worthy of admiration in our minds from an early age. Thin, blonde, perfectly white and straight teeth, expensive clothes, and promiscuity seem to be the traits of the 'heroines' portrayed in the media. Men have unfair standards too. They must be buff, with a chiseled jaw line, perfectly coiffed hair, perfect smiles and a 'come fuck me' stare if they want to reach leading man status. Unless of course they're funny, then they can look ugly, but they always end up with the cookie cutter, gorgeous leading lady. However, if a female character is funny, she is cast as the pudgy, ugly, bumbling, or sarcastic side-kick. Why must women be beautiful, but they're not allowed to be funny or smart as well in Hollywood? Who creates these stereotypes and why in the hell are we all sitting back, and not doing anything to change these ridiculous standards?
How can we all sit back, let these images permeate into our psyches, corrupt our opinions of our self worth, and raise generation after generation of people who hate themselves and don't feel beautiful or worthy? It's sick, and I'm personally sick of it. I am tired of starving myself, depriving myself of things I like, looking into every reflective surface I come in contact with so I don't look 'ugly'. It's pointless. I can't be the only person who is sick of this, though. If we want society to change, we have to first make changes within ourselves. That being said, my new goal is to value myself. Every pound, every blemish, every dimple, every crooked tooth. I don't want someone else to tell me what is beautiful or worthy of admiration. I decide what is beautiful from this moment forward. Beauty is not found on the outside, it comes from within. I am a smart girl, who has been doing stupid things to her body for years. I want to be healthy physically and mentally.
If someone doesn't find me beautiful, oh well! That's on them. The only person I need to please is myself. The only person YOU need to please is yourself. No two people see things in exactly the same way, so why should we try to conform to a corrupt standard of a skewed mind? If you love and respect yourself, you're set. Once you do, I'm certain you'll find plenty of people who also love and admire you, for you. When we chose to walk with our heads held high, proud of our imperfections, and standing in glorious opposition to society's standard of what is beautiful, we not only inspire ourselves, we inspire others. Perhaps once more and more people become inspired in this way, there won't be a standard of beauty anymore. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Embrace your beauty's size, and stop worrying about your pant size.
Religion is something that can both bring people together and put a great divide between them. It is something I have never put much thought or value in. I've always straddled the fence between believing in a higher power and straight up atheism. For me, it's hard to believe that the universe formed by chance, just as it difficult for me to believe that God, or this great cosmic deity, created everything. Neither makes sense and both rely on faith of some sort. Faith in the power of the universe to create something out of nothing, or faith in a God or gods. After much debate within myself, and a conflict of the head and heart, I feel like I've drawn a somewhat logical conclusion.
As humans, I think we all want to leave a legacy, and feel like our time on this earth isn't all that we're given. We like to value ourselves so much that we end up needing an afterlife, because we're just so wonderful we can't simply die and be done with things. Most all religions speak of an afterlife of some sort, where our souls go after we die. If you live a moral life based on the practices of your faith, you will be rewarded with many virginal wives, or a mansion and streets of gold. If you live an immoral life, or do not subscribe to a faith, you will end up being punished in Hell or something of the like. Why do humans feel so entitled? Just because you live a moral life, you think you deserve riches and glory after you die?
Personally, I believe that's just selfish. I think the reward of living a moral life comes in the form of knowing you've helped someone who could not help them-self. I agree, life is too short. Instead of putting all your stock in an afterlife, why can't we focus more on enjoying the time we are allotted and live a life of love. Love for our families, love for our friends, love for our fellow man, and love for ourselves. Many religions teach that love for oneself is simply selfish and that we should ultimately only love God. But that seems hypocritical. If there is a God, and God created you, wouldn't it be wrong to not respect and love this vessel provided to you?
Much as George Washington warned against political parties in the early formation of the United States, I believe if there is a God, God is universal. God has no gender, no beginning, no end. God is in every man, woman, plant, animal, cloud, atom, molecule. If this is the case, I feel as though God would not want the people It created to be divided among different denominations and religions. If a closer look is given to some of the main prophets of the world, ultimately their message was the same. Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad all spoke of loving those around you, being kind and generous, not being judgmental, respecting ourselves and others, and about being grateful for the lives that we are given. Whether or not you believe all of the prophets, one or none of them, they all had a similar and wise message.
God does not want human beings to focus on separating themselves from others, I believe God would want people to come together. Stop drawing lines in the sand between your faith and the faith of the person next to you. If we were created in the image of God, are we not all divine, regardless of what faith we subscribe to?
With that being said, here's what I believe: There is a God. This God is not a Christian God, Muslim God, African Goddess, Norse God, etc. This God is a universal God. It is in everything, and is the beginning and end of all things. When we die, we wont go to a specific level of Heaven or Hell; when we die we will return to the Earth and be recycled into the universe. I believe everything in this universe is cyclical. The circle appears in many forms and has many connotations. To me, that is significant. I don't need a mansion when I die or streets paved with gold. I believe there is beauty in becoming one with the Earth, being recycled into a plant, being food for insects and animals so that life may continue once my time has expired. It is the circle of life. Instead of worrying about what others believe in, who they pray to, how many wives they have, their sexuality, their race, or their political affiliations, I am going to chose to love everyone around me. I will strive to live a life free of judgement and hypocrisy. I believe that in living a life of love, giving to those in need, helping those who need a second set of hands, and respecting myself, I will please God. I will be closer to what God intended when mankind was created.
God doesn't have to be a wizened old man, with a white beard, sitting atop a throne surrounded by angelic beings, in a constant battle with evil forces. For me, God can be the universe. God can be nature. God can be me. We are all connected, whether through the sharing of atoms or connections between souls. I think we should stop trying to separate ourselves from others who are not like us, and come together. When we create a unified, loving, and respectful unit of one, we are the closest we will ever come to knowing God.
What is love? Ah, the question that has baffled philosophers and high school students for centuries. Every single time I think I have an answer, life throws me a curveball and makes me question everything I believe. I am aware of the fact that there are different kinds of love, I even wrote a post about it at one point, but recognizing the type of love you’ve found seems trickier than I first suspected. I guess my dilemma is that I’m a restless spirit, and I never know when I’ve actually found a person worth holding on to. There are so many sweet, caring guys out there, but that isn’t all I need to be content with someone. Am I selfish for wanting more than sugary sweet compliments and affection? I mean, a relationship shouldn’t be so easy it’s boring, right? Or am I just nuts?
People search high and low for someone who will give them the time of day, and actually want to keep coming back for more. Once they’ve found it though, am I the only person who gets discontented quickly? I guess I just want and need more out someone in a relationship than a barrage of sickeningly sweet tokens of affection. I want to be challenged, provoked, caught off guard, and swept up in a moment that lasts. I’ve been in plenty of relationships, but I’ve never found someone who holds my attention and makes me want more. There are always butterflies in the beginning of a new courtship, but do the butterflies always have to drown in stomach acid and disappear forever, after time passes? Like I said earlier, maybe I’m just selfish, and this post is making me sound like the most ungrateful, bitchy little psycho ever, but I’m simply curious.
I never expected love to be black and white, but so far all I’ve seen of it is in grayscale. I know I’m young, and have all the time in the world to fall in love, but isn’t the perfect time to get swept up in something when you’re young? I’d rather experience something intense, passionate, and real when I’m young as opposed to when I’m older. I want to have something to look back on that’s beautiful, raw, and untamed. Not something to look forward to that may or may not ever actually happen.
I try to live an optimistic life, but that gets harder and harder when the world you expected to be technicolor is just kind of blah. There has to be someone out there with the same fervor for love and life, someone feeling the same way I am right now. Where are you, though? I believe we may soulmates.
I have desperately wanted to go get some tattoos for a long time now. I am constantly getting asked why I want a tattoo so badly. There are several reasons, honestly. Firstly, I find tattoos beautiful. I’m not talking about the little hipster triangles, tramp stamps, and ‘YOLO’ script I’ve been seeing on so many people from my generation recently. I mean real tattoos, the ones that someone put more than five seconds of thought into. The tattoos that have a story, and personal meaning behind them; size doesn’t matter when it comes to these tattoos. Personally, I want several small tattoos with big meanings.
This life is not permanent. Everything fades. We’re only on this earth for a short period of time. I love the idea of something that is permanent; something that will be with me for as long as there is flesh upon my bones. I want a little marker of where I am in life; a timeline of my story in symbols upon my body. I want to be able to glance down, or look in a mirror and remember what compelled me to get something permanently under my skin. Tattoos are both tangible and intangible. Sure, flesh can be touched and broken, but
the memory and message behind each tattoo is hidden until the wearer wishes to make it known.
As a private person, the idea of having little pieces of me exposed to the world in the form of tattoos feels liberating. I want tattoos that will make people wonder, and attempt to figure out the story behind them. I just want to express myself in a new medium, my skin; something I’ve not always been comfortable in, but I’m growing to love it. Maybe I’ve not been comfortable in my skin because I haven’t made it my own. We don’t buy houses and then leave them in the condition the previous owner did. We renovate things, and make our own havens. I want to renovate my body, hang art on the walls, and be who I choose to be; who I was born to be.
I absolutely hate family gatherings these days. The conversation always has to touch on politics and what is wrong with the world today. On Mother's Day for instance, we had a large family gathering with all the grandparents. My mother cooked, and everyone ate. While everyone was sitting in the kitchen enjoying their meal, my great-grandpa had to start bashing Obama, and going on one of his usual rants about how terrible society is today. I don't know how he can be so oblivious to the fact that he's offending some of the people around him. Not everyone believes just like he does, but does he care? Nope. He then went on to say something about my mother's weight. (A normal occurance as well) I was just so fed up with hearing the absurd things he was saying. He offended me and frankly pissed me off when he hurt my mom's feelings.
I was texting one of my friends to escape the torturous conversation, and he chimes in with "that's what's wrong with young people today!" I bit my tongue, but I looked at my mother, who was sitting across from me and whispered "at least I'm not working a pole or doing drugs." She just looked at me and I knew she was thinking, just don't say anything, he's old and doesn't know any better. That's the thing though. Since when does being old excuse someone for being mean? I don't care what generation a person is from, most all of us have heard the saying "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."
We are all entitled to our opinons, but there is a time and place for those opinons to be known. A family dinner in which the mothers are supposed to be honored and respected should not have to turn into a political debate, and a 'let's put down people' party. I know we are supposed to respect our elders, but why should we respect someone who has no respect for anyone else? I just really don't understand what goes through the heads of some people. The thing is, I never know if I should call my great-grandpa out on his crap, or just keep biting my tongue. It's a tough choice.
So my question for you: Will some people just never learn how to have a little tact? What is the best way to deal with obnoxious family members?
So, in my art appreciation class I recently had an assignment to create a short work that contained and centered around the following phrases:
"What is that?"
"It's a unicorn."
"I've never seen one up close before."
"Get away. Get away."
The following short story is what I decided to create for this assignment. Enjoy!
Two year old Liam sat in his playroom, stacking blocks with his nanny. His mother and father had been away for two days at some far away land called 'the hospital'. While building his latest skyscraper, Liam suddenly heard the front door swing open which was followed by the hushed voices of his parents. Gretchen, his nanny, told him to sit still and continue playing as she hastily left the room. Minutes felt like hours to Liam, so he decided to go investigate what was keeping his beloved Gretchen from assisting him with his latest creation. He picked up one of his wooden swords for protection, and slowly crept out of his playroom.
He slid along the walls of the hallway like a stealthy spy. He came upon the living room door, and spied Gretchen unpacking a suitcase full of his mother’s things and tiny clothes; clothes far too small for him to wear. This perplexed Liam, so he quietly snuck past the living room so Gretchen would not scold him for leaving the playroom. He journeyed further down the hallway, and stopped just outside the door from which his parents’ voices could be heard. He carefully peered into the room, so he would not be seen. Inside, his mother sat in a rocking chair holding a small bundle in one of her arms. In her other hand, she held a small toy. One Liam could not identify. Liam’s mind raced with the different possibilities of what could be in his mother’s arms. His thoughts were halted whenever his father stepped in front of his mother and asked “What is that?” Yeah, what is that? Liam thought to himself. “It’s a unicorn” his mother replied. A unicorn? I’ve never seen one up close before. Thought Liam. He had heard about unicorns in the stories Gretchen read to him, but he never thought one would be in his house, in his mother’s arms. In an attempt to get a closer look at the fantastic creature, Liam ventured slightly into the room.
“Beautiful.”said Liam’s father. What’s so beautiful about it? Thought Liam. He had to get a closer look. Tip-toeing further into the room, Liam was unaware that he was swinging his wooden sword dangerously close to a lamp on the table he had been hiding behind. In one careless move, Liam clipped the lamp, sending it crashing onto the floor with a loud bang. Suddenly the unicorn began crying. “Get away! Get away!” screamed Liam’s father as he tried to get him out of the room. “I’m sorry!” Liam exclaimed repeatedly. Suddenly Gretchen swooped into the room taking Liam into her arms, carrying him away and into the playroom.
When he was tucked away among his familiar toys, Liam began to calm down while still in Gretchen’s arms. “What were you doing in there, Liam? I told you to stay in here and play with your blocks.” All Liam could say over his sniffles was “unicorn.” “Unicorn?” Gretchen asked with a puzzled expression. “What unicorn, Liam?” The young boy pointed down the hallway to the room in which they just left. A confused Gretchen picked Liam up, and slowly ventured back down the hallway. Once outside the room, she put Liam down and told him to wait there. She went inside the room, and told Liam’s parents to take a break and unpack. Soon, both left the room, not even noticing Liam standing outside the door.
Once they left, Gretchen returned and took Liam by the hand, guiding him into the room. “There’s no unicorn in here, Liam. There’s something better” she said. She picked Liam up by the waist, and hoisted him over a strange bed with high sides. Liam peered over the edge. He did in fact see a unicorn, a stuffed one. What was even more fantastical was the small creature lying beside the unicorn. “This is your new baby sister, Liam. That stuffed unicorn is hers, but she’s all yours. You’re going to have to look after her, and be a good big brother now”said Gretchen. “Think you can do that?” Liam stared at this small bundle in bewilderment. Suddenly the baby smiled up at Liam. He instantly felt love for this small creature and loved by it at the same time. A smile formed on his face, he knew that this was going to be greater than any unicorn could ever be.
If there is such a thing as 'organized clutter' my life would be a perfect example of this. I am an extremely unorganized person, and I constantly bounce from one thing to another. I drive my poor sister absolutely mad. She is a very organized, type-A personality. She's determined, tidy, hardworking, and extremely mature for her young age. I'm basically the complete opposite of her. It's quite depressing, but I look up to my younger sister. I aspire to be more like her. Sometimes I feel like she parents me; I am constantly coming to her for advice about my whirlwind of a life. She's the one person that will not judge me for all the screwed up things I do, and say.
I often feel like my life has ADHD or something. I get attatched to people and things quickly, but I lose interest in them just as fast. I'm terrible at making plans, especially long term plans. Even when I make plans, I always leave myself wiggle room, because more likely than not, I'm going to change my mind about something. A lot of my decision making issues stem from my overall fear of commitment. I love having options, but I can never be satisfied with just one choice. It's like with ice cream, why would you order the same flavor every time you go buy ice cream? Sure, chocolate is yummy, but mint-oreo might rock your world. You'll never know until you try. What gets you in trouble is when you try to eat the chocolate ice cream and the mint-oreo in the same sitting. All you're going to get is an upset stomach.
Putting too much ice cream on your plate is dangerous enough for the average person, but with me, it's catastrophic. I'm not good with balancing my time, emotions, or energy. When I attempt to spread myself too thin, I'm not the only person that starts to rip apart. I can tell exactly when I've gone too far with people, it's kind of scary. I've already addressed the clutter aspect of my life, here's the organization: I have a very distinct pattern. Once I've spread myself too thin, I start getting distant. Distant from everyone, and everything. Then I start slacking off in all aspects of my life. Eventually I get hurt and so does someone close to me. It's a terrible pattern, I just don't know how to break the cycle. I feel like a really twisted person, and yet I continue to mangle myself and those attempting to get to close to me.
Maybe there's no resolution for a person like me. Perhaps this cycle is just my life, and it will always be that way. No one and nothing will ever mangage to tether me to them. I feel like a balloon filled with helium that has lost it's string. Like all balloons though, once I get too high and isolate myself from the ground below, I'm going to burst. Fingers crossed that I'm nowhere near that point yet, and that something will manage to keep me in this atmosphere.
I’m kind of worried I’m even crazier than I previously thought. Every time I start opening up to someone, or start getting close, I suddenly shut myself off. I numb my entire body; my heart, my head, my senses, they’re all dead. I know I’m simply afraid of being vulnerable and getting hurt again, but what’s the use? If I won’t even give anyone a chance of making me happy again, I’ll never be happy. I think I got so sick of playing the victim, I decided to become the villain instead. I wanted to be this callous creature with no emotions, a ruthless beast that takes no prisoners. I just can’t be that callous. I know I’ve already hurt several people in my attempt to protect my heart. What good is a secure heart, if you’ve got to break the hearts of those around you? A secure heart isn’t a content one either. It’s lonely. I’m lonely.
I’m just so scared. I’m scared of getting played again, hurt again, getting my name dragged through the mud, getting my hopes up for a future that never comes to fruition. I’m a fragile person to begin with, like a butterfly. The last time I got close to someone, my wings got crumpled and ripped off. I was left in the grass to fend for myself or die. I didn’t die, but I’m grounded. I’m stuck in this static place that I never wanted to end up in. I’m all about evolving, and that’s the one thing I’ve stopped doing. I feel like I’ve smothered the last threads of hope and life within myself. I don’t want to die, but not moving forward is like a slow, painful suicide.
I just don’t know how to get moving again. Is it even possible to grow a second pair of wings? Before I got hurt, I was this vibrant, inspired, free-spirited, innocent creature. Now I am this tarnished shell of the person I was before. I put up a good front most of the time, and occasionally glimpses of the person I was before make their way to the surface. I know we can’t go back in time, I just want to be more like the person I was before. I miss the old me. I was a girl with so much to offer the world, and now I feel like I have nothing. I suppose I succeeded in a sense, in becoming the villain. Isn’t the Hollywood cliché that the villains are the ones hurt much worse than our leading men and women? Their cruel actions are retaliation for a haunted past. I don’t want to make excuses for how I act, but I feel like there are people I’ve hurt that deserve some explanations.
I know that I’m wounded; I just hope there’s a cure for me. I don’t want to die alone.
I feel like I am becoming the queen of putting her foot in her mouth. I don't know when to keep my mouth shut. I not only end up hurting myself, I hurt those close to me. I've not had the best of luck in my past, but instead of moving on from the shit, I apparently like to wallow in it. I am a very distrusting person, and I hate it. I am missing out on potentially great opportunities because I've got the chains of my past dragging me down. I'm starting to feel like Marley's ghost in A Christmas Carol. However my chains weren't formed by my evil deeds in life, they belong to the ghosts of my past. Every terrible thing someone has done to me adds a new link to the already heavy chains. I can almost feel the cold metal cutting into my skin, and weighing down on the bone. I need to be liberated from the misdoings of others.
I don't know how to break free of these bonds though. Little things remind me of my past and my guard instantly goes up. How can I learn to trust people again if I can't escape the painful memories? I feel like a hamster on a wheel, constantly running, but never really getting anywhere. I like to put out this persona of being a very thick skinned person, but apparently I'm very transparent. I wear my fears, emotions, and ambitions on my sleeve. In some ways I guess this is a good thing, no one wants to be around a person made of armor. But then again, who wants all of their fears to be broadcast for the world to see? Not I. Especially when my fears are so plentiful and painful. I don't want to be this broken shell of who I was prior to getting hurt. I have a lot to offer, but no one can see beyond my chains of a polluted past.
My Question for you, How do I move on from my past? Is it even possible to move on, or do I just have to learn how to carry the chains?
I'm kind of feeling like a huge slacker at the moment. I haven't posted in a while. I have been slacking not only on here, but in school as well. I'm either the world's best or worst procrastinator, depending on how you look at it. I have been waiting until the last possible second to do all of my homework, and turn in my assignments. Gahh, I've even been waiting until the last possible second to make plans with friends. Why? I have no idea. One would assume making plans with friends would be high up on the priority list, especially for school slackers like me. I have no idea what is wrong with me. I feel like I'm in a bit of a funk.
I love pretending like I enjoy being Miss Independent all the time, but I think I get lonely quite a lot a bit. I'm starting to wonder if that's the source of this funk I'm in. When I'm in a relationship I tend to pay more attention in school and get my work done early so I can spend time with my significant other. Apparently I need some sort of incentive in order to be productive. I'm not really keen on getting into another relationship any time soon, but I need motivation! I have no idea what that motivation should be or will be though. Writing that and admitting it kind of makes me feel like the biggest loser ever.
Shouldn't I be able to motivate myself? One thing that I've actually been semi able to commit to is working out. I've downloaded a bunch of exercise apps, and I've actually been using them. I know, I'm kind of surprised too. My new found dedication has me a little bit worried though. When I become more focused on my body, my old eating dissorder habits start to creep back in. I feel like relationships not only gave me an incentive to be more focused on school, relationships distracted me from my own insecurities. I don't know if the relationships help because they are usually accompanied by compliments and affection, or the simple fact that the affection confirmed I was good enough as is.
I promise I'm not slipping into some intense world of depression or anything. This revelation just kind of came to me as I began to write. I guess it was like a stream of consciousness type of deal. I have been having plenty of good times along with the bad. I've been spending lots of time with my friends, and I've even been making some new friends. Hopefully these relationships will help me get out of this funk, and I can find a way to motivate myself without needing another boyfriend. Even though I'll probably sound like a broken record, you've got to learn how to love yourself before you can love another person. That is something I am seriously working on each and every single day. Hopefully one of these days I can fully accept my body, and my mind for what they are. I feel like I'm getting closer by the minute.
So my challenge for you: Find a way to motivate yourself, and never stop loving who you are.
Lindsey. Twenty-Five. Currently pursuing a degree in Professional Writing & Film Studies.