companions in fancy dress
So it’s nearly midnight on a Sunday. Tomorrow is Monday, and I’m really not looking forward to going to work. I never do. But I was feeling a bit down and neurotic this weekend (thanks brain!) so I thought I’d try to cheer myself up. I’d never actually sit in front of a mirror and tell myself this stuff since I’d feel too weird, so this is the solution I’ve come up with. Haven’t even decided yet if I’m going to post this publicly… we’ll see.
1. You are made of stardust.
This is ridiculously magical concept. The idea being that all of my atoms that make up my physical self were once at the center of a star that exploded to create new elements that (eventually) reassembled themselves into me. Which I think is insanely cool. I am, quite literally, made of star dust. Yes, stars may be just balls of gas on fire, but there is also something quite alluring, mysterious, and sexy about them. So if I’m made of stardust, I can be these things too.
2. You are awesome.
Someday, somebody (and by this I mean a man because I am a straight female) will realize this fact and fall madly in love with you. He will be lucky enough to have me fall in love with him. I’ve wasted far too much time playing out “what-ifs” in my head with guys who never really liked me and falling in “love” when there really was never anything there. This stops today. Because you are worth more than that. And if you ever question whether or not he wants to be with you as much as you want to be with him, he’s not the one. If you have to ask your friends whether or not they think he wants to be with you, run. Run away. Because The One will make sure you never doubt that he loves you. And you will return his love just as fiercely. Remember that and everything will be fine.
3. You are good at many things.
Perfectionism is rather a life ruiner, and I’ve spent so much time letting it get the best of me. While I do appreciate the fact that I care enough to get things right, I need to work on not letting it take over my life. Just because I am not the best at everything does not mean I am a terrible person. Just because my accomplishments don’t “measure up” to someone else’s doesn’t mean that I can’t be proud of them. Sometimes it’s hard to appreciate and love yourself when all you see is shortcomings. So here are a list of some things I’m personally proud of accomplishing. Such things include speaking three languages fluently, mastering eyeliner application, travelling independently, baking delicious cheesecake swirl brownies, being a loyal friend, finishing university when it seemed impossible, waking up each morning and dragging my butt to work even for a few hours, remembering to tell the important people in my life that I love them, attempting to amend past wrongs, always treating the waitstaff with courtesy, getting a driver’s license when it was terrifying, admitting that sometimes I need help, learning to roll with the punches, and daring to love even when it hurts.
4. You are not perfect. But you are perfect in your human imperfection.
This relates to point number three. I am not perfect. IT’S OKAY. It’s okay. My brain does this weird thing where it doesn’t believe in perfection because it cannot be attained, yet everything must be perfect. Therefore, my standards are never met because it is quite literally impossible to achieve them. I am learning that nothing ever needs to be perfect. In fact, nothing ever can be perfect. The imperfections are what make life interesting. However, this is not an excuse to be lazy and that I shouldn’t strive to improve. There is always room for improvement, just as there is always something to learn or someone new to interact with. I’ve taken up yoga recently, and something the instructor always references is humanity. Specifically, the divinity in our humanity. While everyone’s interpretation of divinity may differ, I take it to mean that each person’s being is a unique manifestation of human perfection. Our qualities, both faults and flaws, make us who we are. And who we are should be celebrated.
5. You are 23.
I am young. I am not a child, but hopefully I still have a long journey ahead of me. Age is just a number sometimes, and there is time to love and be loved. Being 23 years single does not define me as unloveable, ugly, or anything else. It means that I’ve had some bad timing. Maybe it means I wasn’t ready. Maybe it was both. I have never been in love or a relationship, but everybody’s milestones come at different times. Just because I’m not engaged yet doesn’t mean I’m any less of a person. I was 18 and when I first kissed somebody. I was nearly 20 when I lost my virginity. I thought I fell in love at 22. I’ve had my heart broken by someone whom I thought loved me. I’ve passed beautiful, intimate nights with strangers to whom I’ve felt incredibly connected. I’ve felt distant from friends I’ve known for years. As far as the big L goes, maybe you’d say that I was stupid for not having seen the obvious, but I don’t regret any of those experiences because each person I shared an experience with taught me something, and I’ve walked away from those moments a stronger person. Despite not being able to imagine my life 5 years from now, I hope I get to have a lifetime of learning.
6. You are 23.
I’ll admit, there are days when I feel totally hopeless because I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going. Sometimes it’s hard to not feel like that, but I try to reassure myself that I’m not alone. I am not the only 20-something who has ever felt directionless. In fact, in this very moment, there is a 20-something who feels exactly as I do. And to some, this may be exciting, as there is a world of possibilities in their future. To me, it’s stressful. Most days, it feels like this limbo of existence between school and “the-rest-of-my-life” will never end. But I’ve already had the opportunity to do so much more than the average person, including live in foreign countries and graduate college, while never having to worry about where my next meal is coming from. Sometimes it’s hard to remember to be grateful for what we have, but a little perspective is never a bad thing.
7. Kindness trumps being right.
Like I told my students at the end of this year, people won’t care if you were smart and a total asshole. People want to be around other people who make them feel accepted. People who make them feel good. In the end, kindness counts more than being right. This one is especially difficult for me to remember, since all my life I unconsciously identified myself as “The Smart One.” I have this need to be right as a way to prove my worthiness through my intelligence. Occasionally, I will remember that person who was brilliant, but more often, I remember the people who were friendly, inviting, helpful, and kind. This is not an invitation to be a pushover, but just a reminder to remember that sometimes people just need a friendly face to get through the day.
8. Positivity is contagious. Negativity is draining.
I love to complain. I accept that about myself, but it’s also something I’m working on improving. I’m not trying to see the world through rose-coloured lenses, but I am learning to see the silver linings. I’ve noticed recently that being around people who only have negative things to say can really be quite draining emotionally. It can be hard to communicate with them, and I just feel tired after interacting with them. So I’m trying to be more positive and open-minded to make myself feel better and everyone else who interacts with me. I suppose on one level, it could be interpreted as a “please like me” type of thing, but it’s not. Because going through life with only negative opinions gets tiring incredibly fast and I don’t need to be the source of someone’s frustration. At least not constantly.
9. You are beautiful.
I feel this is especially important for females in today’s society - not to disregard the pressure men feel to look/act/think a certain way! - because I feel that it has never been more difficult for females to cultivate a positive image of themselves. But before I get into it, let me start with this:
On an average day, if you asked me, “Are you happy with the way you look?” I would respond, “Yes.”
But some days, I see a squishy stomach where there didn’t used to be one during my dance days. Some days, I see the bump on my nose I wish weren’t there. Some days, I see the size of my boobs and wanted them to be bigger. Some days I dress as if I don’t want the world to see me. But other days, I see the food I’ve enjoyed with friends. I see the where my glasses don’t fall down. I see worries I don’t about my chest when I’m running to catch the bus. Do you know what else I see? I also see my beautiful soft chestnut hair, my straight white smile, and my not-quite-green-not-quite-brown eyes. And this feeling of beauty extends to clothes and makeup. Because most men really have no clue. When I put on an outfit I know makes me look good and I have fun doing my makeup, on those days, well, those days, I might walk around like I own the world. In those moments, I can conquer anything.
But women are not only how they look. It would be wrong of my to imply that. Women are much more than just their bodies. We are unique individuals with personalities, ideas, and dreams. Your personality doesn’t change according to what clothes you wear or if you wear eyeshadow. Your dreams and ambitions, your accomplishments and triumphs are all part of your beauty. I would argue that those things, who you are as a person and how you conduct yourself contribute infinitely more to your beauty than what shirt you decided to wear that day. I challenge you to find one thing to celebrate about yourself. And then another. And another. Hold on to it. Because there is something beautiful about everyone. (Except Delores Umbridge. That woman can rot in hell.)
10. You are unique.
As the great Jenna Marbles once said, you are the leading expert on you. There is no one who is as good at being you as you are. So be you. Even if you don’t know what that means or who that is yet. I know that I personally have changed so much in the past 5 years, and in the past 10 and 15 years, but I’m still me. Sometimes I still don’t know who I am, and that’s okay. I feel as if during the course of my life, it’s almost as I’ve slowly progressed through different incarnations of myself, each one reacting to both internal and external circumstances. Sometimes it feels like I am insignificant and unoriginal, but in these times I like to remember what a wise, old, Time Lord said: “In all of time and space, I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important before.” It’s quite a powerful statement. So maybe you don’t know what you were “meant” to do on earth, but just remember that you are important in some way. You mean something to somebody, and you are unique. I also recall the film “It’s a Wonderful Life” which shows just how lives touch one another and that we are all connected in some way. Maybe you share similar qualities with other people, but you are the only person in the world with your set of experiences, thoughts, and talents. You are unique - literally one-of-a-kind - and don’t forget it.
So in the words of the magical John and Hank Green, DFTBA - Don’t Forget to be Awesome. Seriously. Because you are all of these things and more.