Thursday, May 23, 2019

birds don't sing

Long time no see! These are basically 8 different iterations of the same photo, but I was quite proud of my Easter outfit-- so much so that I just had to share it with the world, even if I'm doing it about a month too late. 

School is out now (thankfully), and I'm feeling even more reflective than usual. Truth be told, this school year has not been my best. Academically, I've flourished, but socially, not so much. I suppose college is a tumultuous time for everyone, but freshman year was particularly unkind to me. 

I've watched my friends from high school find new friends, and job opportunities, and romantic partners at their respective universities, whereas my life felt stagnant, quiet, monotonous, and unchanging. It was hard to hear about the new experiences my friends were having; the pangs of jealousy and the immediate, subsequent wave of guilt got to be too much to handle, and I regrettably fell out of touch with a lot of people. The predictability of my daily routine began to depress me. As a freelancer, I had little excuse to leave my house, so I often didn't. I went days without interacting with the outside world, shut away in my room, crouched over a computer. 

I tried to compensate for my bland personal life by working, and although I am proud of what I have accomplished this year (btw I have a new book out), most of the time, I felt stuck in a rut creatively, and it was hard for me to muster up the strength to create anything, knowing that it wouldn't live up to my impossibly high expectations. I also spent a lot of time sprawled out on my couch watching reruns of How I Met Your Mother. I was consistently dissatisfied with the work I was able to produce.

Lately though, my mindset has changed and I feel more creatively motivated. Truly, it wasn't any sort of external factor that made this year difficult. It was me. Ultimately, cliche as it sounds, I'm only in competition with myself, and I need to internalize that sentiment. There's nothing wrong with taking things slow, and giving yourself time to produce work that you're actually proud of. It's so easy to get caught up in the rat race.

I still think it's important to move on from your past successes and not rest on your laurels too much, but only concerning yourself with producing more work and never taking a step back to look at what you've accomplished is unhealthy. You're not giving yourself an edge, you're being self destructive. It's sometimes hard to strike the balance between pushing yourself and overextending yourself, but I've learned to take a moment and breathe before moving on to the next project.

On June 1st I'll be heading to NYC to work as an academic RA at The School of The New York Times, a program I've talked about on here before. I applied for the job thinking I wouldn't get it. I thought I bombed the over-the-phone interview. Even my family told me it was a long shot, given my age and relative inexperience. Last year when I was in NYC, I swore to myself I would get a summer job there. I'm not sure I believe in manifesting your dreams, and I'm certainly not into the philosophy spouted in The Secret, but I don't view this as just a blessing, just some unbelievable stroke of luck. I'm incredibly grateful to have this opportunity (and to be privileged enough to be able to take it), and though I'm sure luck played a role, it's also something that I have worked for and that I have earned. I'm allowing myself to take some credit, for the first time.

That doesn't change the fact that I'm incredibly nervous to take off in about a week, to navigate the city by myself, and to be in charge of children for the first time. But reminding myself that I am capable, somewhat (maybe) talented, and deserving helps to ease those nerves. This was the year I learned to give myself a break.

Monday, February 18, 2019

the life changing magic of saving all of your stuff

My friend and I were discussing The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Marie Kondo and our mutual dislike of it. Although Marie Kondo as a person seems lovely, and I respect her entrepreneurial prowess, I disagree with her philosophy as a whole. My friend and I were able to come up with logical reasons for our dislike, the inherent classism of the concept of minimalism, the way that tidying up, particularly in the Netflix series, seems like a band-aid delicately placed over the bullet-hole wound of much deeper emotional issues.

While these are valid concerns, at least for me, I think what it really comes down to is that Marie Kondo's advice clashes with my lifestyle. Contrary to what the photos of my bedroom look like, I don't mean that I am an incredibly messy hoarder, or that I'm simple close-minded and unwilling to change my ways and throw out that moth-eaten sweater that I haven't worn in years.

What I mean is that I understand the world-- and myself --through preservation. Not everything I keep sparks joy, but it is representative of a certain aspect of myself, a time in my life, or a person, and having a physical reminder of that is beneficial to me.

That's not to say that my entire identity is hinged on the material objects that I own. But I like the sort of involuntary memory that occurs when I rummage through my room, even though it might be unpleasant sometimes. In many ways, it's my job, as a writer/journalist/curator to document, save, and catalog everything, and the way I live my life reflects that.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

tell me it's not just a sad dream

Many people think that my artistic sensibilities/writing/work are frivolous, which is something that used to annoy me, but now I accept it. Who wants to take themselves so seriously anyway?

I won't pretend to be something I'm not. I've talked a lot on here about how I like pink, and HelloKitty, and dresses, etc. and how none of these things make me dumb, or less of a feminist, or not deserving of respect. 

That said, I could sacrifice my excessively feminine personal style to be seen as more professional (I shouldn't have to anyway, but that's the world we live in, and if I really wanted to be seen as smart and businesslike I would conform to the ideal of what a professional woman should look like). 

But I'm not willing to do that, so clearly being perceived as put-together by others is not a huge priority of mine. Now I think it's funny, the assumptions people make about me. I used to be angered by them, but I think true self-confidence is putting less weight on what other people think.

If anyone bothered to have a conversation with me, they would quickly realize my intellectual prowess, and I'm not interested in the opinion of anyone that won't even have a conversation with me.

Conversely, I've also noticed that, because I don't incorporate too many trends into my own personal style, many cool, stylish people will also criticize my style as not being hip enough or indie enough or what have you.

I had a friend (her style, at least at the time, I would describe as classic alternative kid) who confessed that before she knew me, she and another friend would make fun of my excessively twee style. She said, "But then I realized you were doing what I was doing, just wearing what you wanted and not worrying about it."

Although I am glad my friend had this revelation, I wonder why it took her so long to arrive at the conclusion that most people pretty much wear what they want.

Friday, January 25, 2019

And the moral of the story is...

Recently I've been enjoying some moderate success in terms of journalism and writing; this week I published three articles on V Magazine and will hopefully be writing more for them in the future. Although I am proud of the work I've done, at the same time, I also feel undeserving.

I am lucky to have discovered my passions pretty early on in life, and, for better or worse, I decided to pursue them as soon as I could. I've been talking to editors and pitching publications since I was thirteen. I have more rejection letters than I can count.

At some point, emailing/pitching people became a habit, a mindless action that I did without expecting anything as a result, until I got an email from HelloGiggles saying that they wanted to publish my article. This was at the end of my freshmen year of high school and I was ecstatic. But I was also no longer sure if my work was worthy of recognition, because I had forgotten that when you submit work places, it might get accepted, and I worried that maybe my work was never meant to be published at all. I knew rejection was part of the process, but I had also sort of romanticized the idea of being rejected but persistent and I imagined getting my first writing job years and years later after I had been sufficiently scorned and discarded, so that I could really earn the title of writer.

I had a similar feeling this week. I am still awestruck people want to read my writing, let alone publish it. I have impostor syndrome. I'm terrified that someday someone will realize that they have no reason to listen to me, to hear about what I think. But the only solution to this is to continue working, to try to gain expertise and validity.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

from every branch

I've been thinking about this quote by Sylvia Plath. It seems particularly apt at this point in my life. I can't decide if it's blessing or a curse that my life is undecided. 

Although I am proud of the work I've been creating lately, I can't shake the feeling that I would have had more opportunities if I had made different decisions in the past. Consequently, I have a lot of anxiety about making decisions right now. 

And not necessarily big decisions. I worry that, through the butterfly effect or whatever, what I eat for breakfast will somehow effect the trajectory of my life. It's not that this kind of thinking is invalid, but it's not really the best way to go about day-to-day life. 

I think the severity of this anxiety will subside soon, but that also scares me. I made the decision to not go to a four year university out of high school in part because I wanted to lengthen this small window of time where my future, prospective adult life can be whatever I want it to be.

Just a little over a year from now, when I transfer schools, I'll have to start limiting the number of things my adult life can branch into. I'm fortunate enough to have discovered my passions from a fairly young age, and I am thankful to have this direction, and excited to be heading down a path to hopefully achieve my career goals in the future, but it's hard not to feel like I'm losing something.

But it's a double-edged sword, because I can't help but think that by choosing to continue to live in this netherworld between childhood and adulthood, I have also missed out on opportunities and connections. Being from a small town, I've always felt like I'm at a disadvantage in terms of finding reliable collaborators and freelance work that would look impressive on a resume. It's hard to further the professional opportunities I have had from a distance.

As a result, I tend to want complete creative control over my projects. I've been given the chance to be a part of small publications just starting out, and I always rejected them for fear that better things would come along and I would start to feel overwhelmed. It didn't make sense to me to spend my time and energy on something when the people that started it would flake when it came to doing the actual work and later swoop in and take all the credit. To be honest, I'm not much of a team player.

There is the other facet to this issue, which is that most of the work you do as a young person starting out is unpaid, even if it is for a prestigious company. I find this genuinely disheartening. When I was fourteen, I was paid to write for HelloGiggles, and that was a very pivotal moment for me. I was not given much, but I felt that I had legitimacy as a writer, and it gave me the confidence to pitch other publications and to continue to pursue a career in journalism. Of course, now I'm a firm believer in self publishing and putting stuff out there in whatever way you can, and not necessarily waiting for the creative validity that comes with being published, but I also think you should know your worth and know when you're being exploited. I'm still figuring that out. 

I also know that I'm not always going to be able to be top dog, and I should take any opportunity to hone my skills as a writer or creative or whatever, and that sometimes it's okay to be paid in exposure (depending on the circumstances), as long as you're okay with it and recognize what that means. I'm trying to change my self-isolating, control freak tendencies. I am thankful that the internet can help to elapse the distance between me and various collaborators. I do have a lot of exciting projects coming up. I recently accepted an unpaid position at a small publication, and I'm hoping it's a good experience, that it's a gamble that pays off. I think that by doing more and taking on all that I can handle, my anxiety about missing out on things and making the wrong decision will subside and be replaced with pride in what I am doing and what I have decided. 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Aeba Suki Suki

Hairclip - Sanrio (from Japan)|Jacket - Sanrio (sold out)|Dress - Bonne Chance (sold out)|Tights - Amazon|Shoes - Doc Martens
My Melody is a feminist icon-- she always supports her sisters and spreads positive energy wherever she goes. Recently I've been rewatching Onegai My Melody and I have to say that Melo is absolutely my inspiration for 2019. 

Speaking of which, for most people, the end of the year is a reflective time, and I am no exception. Last year, I did a little year-in-review post, but, although I've done many other New Years posts for this blog, I've decided to resist the urge of doing a formal "here are cool things I did this year" essay -- for fear of glamorizing a year that was not my personal best. And, truth be told, I never really felt a sense of pride when I listed off my accomplishments for the year-- it always makes me feel guilty because it's like, do I really need to publicly stroke my ego that way in order to feel like a year was worthwhile? Does anyone even care? And it wasn't really the big moments that mattered anyway; in retrospect it's all the little things the year was composed of that I remember-- not the projects I completed. And anyway whenever I rattle off what I've done there's always the lingering sentiment that I should have done more

So instead, to commemorate this New Years, I'll talk about what I want to learn in 2019. For one, I'd really like to know when it's appropriate to "cut someone off," whether you have to give your reasons for said cutting off, and when you know something is worth holding onto.

I'm famously bad at letting things go. It's a double edged sword. There's the obvious benefit of having an extensive collection of collage materials as a result of my hoarder tendencies, and the perk of being persistent and courageous. But this trait manifests itself in stubbornness and a general lack of flexibility and being clingy etc too.

I'm not really prepared for how that will affect my relationships, so in general, I keep to myself. That said, unexpected events transpire sometimes. In 2018 I had several romantic entanglements, the aftermath of which I was-- and still am --unsure of how to deal with. If things ended amicably is it still best to distance myself from them on social media, just for my emotional health? How will that be received? Is that considered being melodramatic? Am I a horrible person for wanting to stay in contact with a former *~* lover *~* solely because he could be a good contact to have later on?

What about friendships? How do you even end a friendship? How do you know when you've outgrown a friend? Or when a friend has outgrown you? I find maintaining friendships to be far more complex than romantic relationships, perhaps because friendships are more varied in nature, I guess. I've been told strong friendships can withstand long periods of absence, but are friends really worth keeping if they're not there for you-- or even trying to be there for you?

It's hard to figure out what's self care and what's extreme narcissism. On the flip side, it's hard to figure out what's just being a good person, and what's a result of being manipulated. I always thought that you should stand by people even if they don't always stand by you, but now I'm questioning that. I don't expect 2019 to have all the answers.

But with any luck it should offer some clarity. And there's only so much you can find out about through books... I suppose my New Year's resolution is to stop isolating myself and try to interact with the world more.

But even that opens up a whole new line of inquiry-- interacting with the world more than it's necessary to, particularly in this cultural/political climate, can be detrimental to one's mental health. Even so, New Year's resolutions, at least in my eyes, have always been about forcing yourself to do things you don't necessarily want to do in hopes of becoming a better person (eating healthy, exercising, cleaning more often), and that's why people seldom follow through. But each year, we try again, and so, in 2019, it will continue.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

dry and worthless monument to our love

I'm working on a poetry book at the moment. It's not especially fancy, and I'm not even necessarily proud of the poems. Most of the poems included in the collection were written during a time in my life where I felt like I was living how a young person should live-- rebelling against ambiguous causes with actions that had no direct correlation to the entity (or whatever) I claimed to be reacting against and were much more in service to personal pleasure/hedonism (which I suppose is revolutionary in itself?), going to parties, and, of course, forming short-lived relationships with people I pretended to "know" but really just conceptualized.

At the time that I wrote the poems, they felt very real and visceral and raw. But once that time in my life ended (it was quite brief-- I'll get into that later), they became more distant and diary-like. I hung onto them as a way of preserving something I deemed worth remembering. The first time I shared one of the poems with a friend I couldn't help thinking I'd made a terrible mistake. She was kind and gave me incredibly useful feedback-- but somehow sharing the poem felt like a betrayal of my past self's privacy. It was public now; it was observed now, and, like Schrodinger's cat, the outcome (the purpose/function of the poems) was somehow changed.

It wasn't mine anymore. The poems didn't have a single definite meaning that I assigned to them-- that was now in the eye of the beholder. But my friend's reaction to the poem also made me realize that I did want to publish them-- for what reason I'm still not sure --but now that they felt public anyway, I might as well make them public.

Beret - Amazon|Coat - Modcloth (old)|Dress - Modcloth (old)|Tights - Amazon|Shoes - eBay

I began to look at the poems through an editorial lens, and they lost even more of their original meaning-- and once again it felt sort of wrong. They were no longer raw, now they were aged and needed attention to look presentable. Saying "this works, that doesn't" to something that had been a pure and spontaneous work of emotion is almost disrespectful. But also necessary, I suppose. The few friends I had shared my poetry with related to it in some way. Even if it wasn't the intended purpose of the poems, I think I'm choosing to publish the collection for them.

Putting together the collection has also made me reevaluate that period in my life. I've definitely glamorized it. In retrospect I was able to look at that era and the relationships that I formed as something that I should have done more of. But the past me that wrote those poems was an emotional wreck. Those relationships, that lifestyle (if it could be called that) took a toll. I put up with it because I thought I was supposed to do these things and disregarded the damage it caused to my mental health.

I'm not extroverted. I don't like going to parties, or getting off my face, or even socializing in general (I'm fully aware this makes me sound like a reclusive hermit). I'm not casual-- I don't dress casually, or speak casually, so I'm not sure what made me think that casual relationships were a good idea.

It took me a long time to really accept these aspects of myself, and make decisions based off of them/what's best for me, because these things are in deliberate contrast to the version of youth that was described in books and TV shows and movies (and for good reason-- I wouldn't watch a teen movie about a girl who lies in bed and watches Netflix all day either) and to a lesser extent, by my friends.

There are still times when I think I'm living life wrong and not making use of my maybe-moderately-pleasant-in-a-certain-light looks, my lack of responsibility, my physical health, etc. When my slightly younger peers describe to me their escapades at homecoming dances and football games I'm hit with thoughts like, "I didn't take advantage of high school while I had it and now it's gone and I have no real, typical high school memories! What will I tell the kids I don't plant to have?" I have similar thoughts when my friends tell me about college parties and all the new experiences they're having. I feel this sort of sense of urgency like I have to go out this very instant and experience whatever it is I'm supposed to be experiencing, even though I know my expectations are impossible to meet because of who I am as a person.

I hold out that I could change in the future. Maybe when I encounter the right circumstances, the right group of friends these activities that felt forced and uncomfortable will be natural and organic like they are for the people I'm surrounded by. But I'm not going to get that by conforming to some vague standard about what my life has to be like at this age. I'm happy where I am now, and open to what the future holds.