Category Archives: Positivity

“Before you judge…

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…make sure you’re perfect.”

I get lost in YouTube and Facebook comments all the time. I don’t know how it happens, but I find myself reading through trails of comments under political posts written by people I’ll likely never meet over issues I don’t even care about. But I read them anyway, sometimes for hours. I think I do it for the same reason I watch Toddlers and Tiaras on occasion: it’s to assure myself that I can be a better person than other people; there’s still hope for me. I refuse to become the spray tanned mother screaming at her daughter for only winning mini-supreme instead of grand supreme. Likewise, I can be a better person than the troll who states an unpopular opinion for the sake of starting fires, or the person who takes the bait and ends up looking just as bad as the troll.

I fell into one of these traps last week as I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. It was the picture of a normal woman in a swimsuit that caught my eye. Everyone gets something different out of those Facebook stories. I saw a story about the effects of domestic violence; I know she was talking more about body image, but secondary themes seem to stick out at me.

Naturally, I had to see what the comments were saying. Most of them were overwhelmingly positive, praising the woman for seeing the beauty in herself and others despite being over the average weight. The first negative comment I saw was from some kid calling the woman out for “justifying obesity,” and of course, underneath his comment was a string of keyboard warriors who had fallen victim to this troll. The first few corrections were harmless. And then everything went to hell in a handbasket.

These noble bystanders found out every single thing about this kid that they possibly could and threw it against him. They criticized his age (I believe they said he was 12). They called the girl he embraced in his profile picture a bunch of nasty words. They questioned his parents’ ability to raise him. They called him dozens of things far more vulgar than “obese.” Finally, one girl who had seemed to be the voice of reason said, “Before you judge, make sure you’re perfect.”

For some reason, that’s bothered me for days now. I wrote it down and told myself it would be the subject of my next blog post. I’ve had days to think about it, and it still hasn’t left my mind. Finally, I decided the best way to confront this problem was to make a list. (I read somewhere that lists are good for blogs, so here I go jumping onto the bandwagon.)

  1. Absolutely no one is perfect, so by this logic, no one has a right to judge. But we do anyway. Why? Judgment is necessary in many, many forms. We have judges and juries and courts for a reason: to judge others’ and deem them guilty or innocent. Are these people? Not by any means. Sometimes guilty people walk free or innocent people go to prison. We’re human beings that struggle with the same human tendencies.
  2. People who judge people for judging are also judging. I think there’s a way to judge correctly and incorrectly. Judging with the intention of correcting is a positive means of helping someone become a better human being. Judging to make oneself feel more superior or “better” doesn’t help humanity. It only boosts your ego. (There’s a cruel irony in this and my watching Toddlers and Tiaras…)
  3. If we showed each other enough respect in every aspect of our lives, then even if our opinions clash, maybe we could start fixing these “troll” problems. Trolls will probably exist as long as the internet exists, so this last point feels like wishful thinking, but in one of my classes today, we read an article about how violence is not a single, isolated event. There’s always a precursor that acts as a catalyst. This sort of intense negativity and verbal violence on either side has some sort of precursor in the life of the troll and more verbal violence will not fix it; it will only spread it.

Now, I don’t want to seem as if I’m defending a twelve year old boy who thinks that “not skinny” is automatically obese. I’m not. What he said and how he acted was extremely bratty, but the way the keyboard warriors handled the situation was equally as bratty if not worse. Never feed the trolls. It always makes them stronger. And while we should always strive for perfection, if we need to be perfect ourselves to see others’ faults–we’re doomed.

My advice readers? Recognize your own flaws first. Constantly work with them. Keep them at the forefront of your mind, especially if you’re judging the flaws of someone else, intending to help them grow.

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Regressing & Progressing

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Last week was a tough week for many reasons. Nothing exceptionally awful happened, but I could tell that I was losing my drive. My grades were a little lower. I interacted with fewer people. I stayed up later putting off work I didn’t want to do. I also skipped out on my weekly blog post and neglected my daily Bible reading. (I’m trying to do a “read the Bible in a year challenge.”) I spent the weekend telling myself, “You’ll get back on track. You can do it. Just push through it.”

But I didn’t push, and I’m glad I didn’t. I spent my weekend locked in my room watching some Law and Order SVU on Netflix and cleaning out my cluttered desk. I did some laundry and gave myself a facial. I ate a pint of cookie dough ice cream. I doodled. And you know what? By time I woke up on Monday, I felt a lot better about everything. I honestly can’t remember what it was that put me in that Mood. (I think everyone has experienced that  Mood at least once.)

For this week’s post, I decided to remind myself of the progress I’m making on the little things in life. I’m worn out from writing, so I decided to ease back into blogging with something simple.

Six Years Ago…

  • I had moved to Arkansas and started school at a high school I absolutely hated.
  • I auditioned for All-State for the first time and made the women’s chorus.
  • I quit piano and started taking voice lessons.
  • I never once went out with any of my friends.
  • I went on my first date ever.
  • I became an active member and then a moderator of a group of gaming/roleplaying/writing forums.
  • I went to Washington D.C. for the first time.

This Year…

  • I’m pushing through my last semester at a college I love (in Arkansas); if everything works out, I’ll graduate with highest honors.
  • This semester alone, I’m singing solos at 3 separate concerts. I’ll also be performing Brahms’s Requiem with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and several other college choirs this weekend.
  • In addition to voice lessons, I’ve started playing my flute again and continue to be an active member in theatre.
  • I may not socialize a lot, but I’m a leader in several different student organizations including my sorority, the English honor society (Sigma Tau Delta), and the student ambassadors.
  • I’ve decided that I’m content being single; and I’m going to wait on the dating until I’m comfortable with myself.
  • The forums I used to moderate revived with many of the old members. Reuniting with internet friends was a huge plus to my year.
  • This past school year I’ve traveled to Japan, Chicago, Houston, and Dallas. I’ll be returning to Washington D.C. this April to present my research paper “I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me: A New Historicist Approach to 1925” at the Alpha Chi National Convention.

When I look at where I’ve been, it’s easier to see how far I’ve come. What about you guys? Do you ever feel as though you’re going nowhere fast?

Meet the Wanderer: Chapter 2

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Discovering Yourself as a Writer

If you missed my first chapter in this series, feel free to check it out HERE. My goal in introducing these chapters is to give my readers a better idea of who I am behind the wall of text. I could be a robot pounding out posts, but I’m actually just an overly caffeinated young adult with too much to say and not enough time to say it.

This month’s topic?

HAPPINESS: What is your own secret for happiness? If you had to sum up your ideas, what one word would you use to describe how to be truly happy.

Believe it or not, I struggle a lot with “being happy.” In the real world, I feel as if I spend my life pretending to be a-okay. I smile because I’ve heard that smiling makes it easier to feel actual happiness. I laugh because I’m nervous or uncomfortable. I joke. I giggle. I act. But none of it feels real at the end of the day. In fact, it’s tiring. Being “happy” all the time drained me, so I gave up and embraced my other feelings.

To be happy, you actually don’t have to be happy all the time. Crazy, right? Once I realized this, I felt a lot better about myself. Having a bad day? Rant about it. Cry about it. Get it out of your system. Suddenly it’s gone. Worried about something? Worry about it. Finish worrying. Move on. Perhaps it isn’t that simple for everyone, but I realized that once I stopped trying to ignore the rest of my feelings, I felt a lot better about myself. My friends and family finally got to see the real me.

But that doesn’t mean one should embrace these feelings all the time. In Japan, I got lost a lot. Sometimes I got lost alone. Sometimes I got lost with a group. Usually, when I got lost with a group, at least one person got REALLY upset. One time, my friend and I spent an hour looking for a cat cafe in Akita City. (We wanted to spend our afternoon petting cats and eating silly little desserts.) My friend got incredibly upset, especially after we had to ask for help. We found the cafe about 45 minutes after it had closed. She apologized over and over and over, but honestly, it was fine. I could get frustrated, but how did getting lost actually hurt us?

As I see it, we saw a lot of the city. We found the cafe so we could go to it next time. We spent the afternoon with each other. Maybe we wasted a little bit of money traveling into the city, but is it really worth spending my afternoon angry over a couple of dollars or yen?

I’ve found myself asking “Is it worth it?” a lot recently. Surprisingly, that mindset has helped me keep my emotions in check, especially during particularly stressful semesters. Since my prompter seems to like one word summaries, I’ll leave my readers with this:

Think. If you’re miserable or frustrated or confused or just struggling to be happy, think things through. You don’t have to do it alone. You could perhaps think out loud with a friend, but don’t dwell on it. I promise you’ll be a lot happier.

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Hobo Sweaters, Little Black Dresses, and Unicorns

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In case you’re confused as to why I’m writing myself little encouraging vignettes, you can check out yesterday’s post HERE.

I have impeccable style. How would I describe my wardrobe? Vintage bohemian crazy hippie cat lady hobo professional chic. I wear fringe, unicorns, patches, flannel, bright lipstick, crooked eyeliner, sparkles, baggy sweaters, high heels, wool socks, mosaic skirts, little black dresses, super flare jeans, and Hello Kitty. Sometimes I roll out of bed in the morning, throw on a pair of yoga pants, and crawl to class. Sometimes I spend thirty minutes trying on clothes and throwing them into my dreaded pile of yet-to-be-done laundry.

I have never been particularly comfortable with my appearance. Even after I reached my “ideal weight,” I worried about my glasses, my makeup, my hair, my sophistication and flirtiness (however that’s supposed to work), etc. The other day a friend told me I was her “fashion icon,” that somehow my unicorn sweater and unicorn high-tops were praiseworthy. You know what? They are.

I’m a fabulous crazy cat lady hippie.

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I Keep My Confidence in a Tiny, Tattered Box

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I never realized how self-destructive I am. It’s never intentional, but I have an excuse for absolutely every compliment someone throws my way. I’m that girl who answers a professor’s question with a half-raised hand and tiny voice even though I know my answer’s right. I’m that girl that says, “I’m so dumb” every time I make even a little mistake, laughing the statement off as if it’s a fact everyone should know by now. They’re little things, but they’ve taken a toll on me. I didn’t realize how much of a problem these mildly destructive statements were until last week when I was asking for interview advice from my adviser. Her number one tip for me specifically?

Don’t self-deprecate.

After 21 years of shoving my confidence into a tiny, tattered box to hide it from the world, I’m supposed to be proud of my positive traits? My interview with my dream job is a week from today. I have less than 7 days to completely change my attitude. Talk about a daunting task…

I spent today beating myself up about the quality of my blog, my schoolwork, and my personal writing. I don’t put enough thought or time into any of it. I never feel as if I have enough thought or time. I was struggling to figure out what to write for my Tuesday blog post when I had a (brilliant) thought. Why not practice positivity? So this week, my blog might not be the high quality stories I want to tell. But I am going to address a problem that has kept me wandering for ages. My goal is to post something positive about myself every day leading up to my interview to get my head in the zone. If I don’t post everyday, then that’s fine. I’m absolutely human. I won’t beat myself up. But if I don’t get into the swing of things now, I may have too much baggage to deal with later.

So here it goes…

I am a hard-worker. I work my butt off almost every day of the week. I am a student ambassador, section leader in my church choir, Supplemental Instruction Leader, and social committee chair for my sorority. I’m an active member of Alpha Chi and Sigma Tau Delta. I act in plays because it’s fun even if it sometimes takes up 18 hours or more of my week. I’ve had only one B in my entire college career. I turn my schoolwork in on time. I plan huge sorority events. I plan Taco Bell escapades. I volunteer my weekends to tour prospective students.  Last semester, I worked three jobs, had 8:00 AM classes every morning, and was never late to anything. I am a very hard-worker.

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