Hello 2016

I’m on another rewatch of Parks and Recreation, only this time its with my best friend.

We’ve recently hit the midway point of season six, and its made me realize that much like that season, a lot of changes happen in our lives. Many we can’t control, but others we merely have to ride out and figure out what’s next.

I’m at a time in my life where people are getting engaged, married, divorced, or having children, or moving cities, states or entire countries. Its a strange point to be at when you’re two years from your ten year high school reunion.

That’s a scary thought.

But more so, that life changes. And I know this sounds cliche, but it does change and it happens so fast.

Everyone goes about their life trying to figure it out, and I don’t think its easy to determine what happens with all the time spent looking for what your life is about.

On January 1st everyone makes resolutions to start new, and make healthier choices, blah blah blah. Some are successful with their goal, and others are a little short of what they wanted, but they still achieved something. Others, may not know where to start when they look at the end product and get anxious over the many steps it may take to get there.

I’m not writing this post to make grand goals about what I want to do with my life, or what I want to have happen in the next year. Some of those are attainable – like reading more books or eating healthier – and others will require more thought (like keeping a tighter reign on my spending habits).

What I do want to do, is use this post as a reminder of what I should focus on this year based on my multiple binges of Parks and Recreation, and a very thoughtful Tumblr post.

So my goal this year is:
Work as hard as Leslie.
Be as kind as Ann.
Grow as much as April.
Be as honest as Ron.
Have as much fun as Andy.
Be as selfless as Gary.
Love yourself as much as Donna.
Be as optimistic as Chris.
Aim as high as Tom.
Be as devoted as Ben.

Goals are far more achievable when you do them with others. You learn from the people around you. They can inspire you, or be the voice of reason.

Even when they’re fictional.

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Back to the Start

Sometimes I stick my foot in my mouth. It makes my heart push against my ribs and my skin clammy. Then I wish I could hit a button and restart.

Maybe restart that moment, or conversation. Entire interactions could be reset to solve how much anxiety I get.

While we can’t necessarily hit a big red button and reverse everything that happened. But maybe what we can do is take a step back and reflect.

Back to the Start
If only it were that easy.

A few years ago I took a step out of my friend circle. Its a long story full of sighs, but the tl;dr version is that I needed some time to reflect. Moving 3,000 miles away helped in taking that step, but it provided me with some breathing room to deal with my inner turmoil and grow.

In taking that step out of my friend circle, it also meant I was starting fresh. I could figure out who I was, and try on different hats.

I did not stop talking to all of my friends in Seattle. There were a few people that I kept in contact with through correspondence and text message. But there were many friends that remained at arms length with.

Recently, one of those friends got married. It had been some time since I had talked to this person, but I felt the need to say something. So I messaged them one day on Facebook to congratulate them on their marriage. They responded and we got talking.

It was weird at first, as it had been nearly 2 years since the last time we spoke. They’re part of that long story of sighs. At the end of that first conversation, we decided to talk on the phone on Tuesday night. And we did.

Tuesday came, and we spent a considerable amount of time talking about her wedding and marriage, and our history as friends.

We both felt this was a good restart. That after time for each of us to reflect, we were in a much better place to rekindle our friendship.

While we don’t necessarily get a life reset button, time can be the best way to restart. People need time to grow in their own lives, and reflect. Sometimes all you need is some breathing room.

Messages to Ourselves

“I used to think there was just fat and skinny. But apparently there’s lots of things that can be wrong on your body.” – Cady, Mean Girls

At some point in elementary school I determined that I wasn’t beautiful.

And that mindset was reiterated to me through high school.

“Let me see yours,” Miranda said. She gestured to the large envelope I was putting in my backpack that contained my prom photos.

messages-to-ourselves
Oh gosh, me in a dress, with a guy I’m still good friends with.

I stared at her for a moment before I reached in and took out the small, black cardboard framed photo from a few weeks ago. She snatched it up, and examined the two figures grinning up at her.

“Why’re you so short?” Miranda looked up at me. She ignored the dress I wore, or the fact that my date was two feet taller than me. Miranda and everyone else had to point out it was my fault I was vertically challenged.

I shrugged. My height was something my friends had picked on. If it wasn’t that, it was my choice in clothes, or boyish haircuts.

Reading became my escape. It was much easier to face He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, or the murderous trail of Count Olaf, than the friends that picked on my appearance.

I got used to telling myself in the mirror, “You’re not good enough for anyone.”

When I found myself in a relationship in college, my inner monologue didn’t change.

“Why would you date a hobbit like me?” I asked my then girlfriend.

“Why would you say that about yourself?” She looked at me as we sat on her bed doing homework.

“Cause its true. You’re beautiful, and confident. And I’m going to fuck this up,” I said. She set aside her textbook and scooted across the blue comforter to me.

“I happen to like hobbits. And you’re beautiful, too,” she said.

We showered each other with compliments, but I still had a hard time believing the kind words she said to me.

A childhood of negative thoughts had skewed my reflection.

Children are aware of body issues and methods to control body size and appearance by the time they are preschoolers, and many young children start exhibiting socially motivated distortions in their body perceptions.­[1]

At ten years old, I compared myself to the other girls in my class. It started when they took more time in the bathroom to fix their hair and apply another layer of LipSmackers. They cared about impressing the cute boys in class, and I cared about playing kickball at recess.

No one told me I wasn’t beautiful. I told myself.

My own words caused more damage than the casual or joking comments from friends. These micro aggressions taught me to see what was wrong with my body.

I stopped loving who I was.

[1] See “Children, Teens, Media, and Body Image.” Common Sense Media.

Stories to Tell

Pictures are worth a thousand words.

They tell a story that cannot be described. Or maybe words can help describe that story.

I have been given the opportunity to participate as a VIP in the Dear World College Tour coming to my campus. Its an incredible honor to be asked, particularly for a VIP spot. This means that I would have a message I want to share with the world written on my skin, and then get a professional portrait taken. I believe there is also a speech portion too, in which I describe the reasons of my message.

When I was originally asked, I struggled to find a short sentence that could describe me. Its been a week since I was asked, and twelve hours since I accepted, and I still don’t know what to write.

How do you take everything that you were, are, or want to be, and put it into only a few words? At what point are those things narcissistic?

In skimming the website, I can see that I should learn the rules just so I can break them. This is meant to be a self-reflection on stories, on experiences, on everything that life is.

I don’t know what my message for the world is.

It doesn’t feel important enough.

But maybe its because I haven’t let myself think deeply about my message. I haven’t considered my values, what I advocate for, or what drives me.

The photoshoot isn’t until August 31. I have time to mull it over, consult close friends and possibly my mom.

What message would you share with the world?

It’ll Grow Back

In the summer of 2014, I decided I wanted to dye my hair purple. High school and college is probably the prime time for doing this. At least in the early years. Its a chance for exploration and experimentation in self.

“How do you pick a color for your hair?” M said, and glanced up from his work iPhone. He is the associate dean of my university, and came by the office to have lunch with the director of our department.

I glanced up from the Reddit front page. “Oh. I just decide, I guess. Sometimes it depends on my mood for when I’m dying it.”

“You just seem to change your colors so often, and I’ve always wondered how you made that choice,” he said. “I’ve always seen hair as an important part of presenting yourself. And I’m so fascinated that you and some others on campus change your hair so often.”

“I think of my hair as something I can change at a whim. And its something that if I mess it up, I can cut it off and start over,” I said.

“I keep my  hair trimmed because otherwise I look like a Muppet,” M said.

I nodded. “I experiment. And if its bad, I’m fine with it. It’ll grow back.”

Hair ColorsMy hair color has been a great chance to experiment. I’m lucky that I’m a chameleon, so I haven’t experienced any terrible colors yet.

Hair dye is temporary. Its a cheap way to make a change.

Tonks had the right idea being a Metamorphmagus.