Kintsugi

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting back together broken pottery with gold or platinum lacquer. Every crack in the broken ceramic is repaired with a beautiful, metallic resin. The whole philosophy behind this is that the cracks of the object are not meant to be disguised, or the object to be thrown away. Instead, these markings and imperfections are part of its history.  When coming across this, I found it became deeper to me than the physcial art itself. So I started to apply it to myself.

This got me thinking, aren’t we all like broken ceramics. Obviously a person is more valuable than a bowl, but the idea that hiding our imperfections or cracks in our past is not what we should be doing. Experiences that break us should, in a sense, be celebrated. Downfalls in our lives show us that there is better. They make us work harder, make us humble. Why should we not repair our cracks with gold too? We aren’t disposable once we deem ourselves broken or unworthy. Many people let bumps in their journey, or on their skin, set them back. Don’t do that. Paint them in gold.

You don’t have to share your experiences to the world or physically put your insecurities on display, but for yourself, understand that like the philosophy the Japanese so beautifully believe, it is a part of you. You don’t lose your value or purpose when you get scuffed up.  What I love so dearly about this practice is how realistic it is. It shows that we can never be “as good as new” or “perfect”, but we can reinvent ourselves, pass on stories or advice, we can strive to become stronger. The cracks are unique to the person as well. There can be many bowls that are the same shape, size, color, but the cracks will never be the same. Like a finger print, everyone has a different journey, and things that pushed them off the path at one point. Again, that is a part of our history and it should be acknowledged and admired.

Take from this little philosophy and apply it to your own life. What cracks have you been trying to hide? Why are you hiding them? Know you shouldn’t have to. Remind yourself that you would not be the person you are without the negatives. We forget sometimes how full our lives are. Think about how many interactions and lessons you have every single day. Good bad, indifferent, doesn’t matter. They impact you wether you’ve realized it or not. It is by definition what makes a life, life. If you are unhappy with who you are now, give yourself permission to heal. Allow yourself to move on and conintue with this rich journey. Live with knowing the bad will crack you, but the good will mend you with gold.

O

 

 

 

 

 

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Let 2018 be the year you learn to respect yourself. Not just “love yourself”

Growing up, I used to hear my parents speak often about people in a way I did not yet understand. “I don’t love him, but I respect him”. What does that even mean? Do they not go hand in hand? Don’t they have to be synonymous? No, they do not. Loving yourself has become a rage. Will the progression of social acceptance and openness, many people have grown to become determined to love themselves. However, many a people do not respect themselves.

The difference was never clear to me, as it wasnt really explain. This is the perfect time to explain exactly what this difference is. The beginning of the year, most people have resolutions to better themselves. Get in shape, eat healthier, find love. All of these things can help you love yourself, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will end up respecting yourself. I know many girls for instance, whom love their appearance, their senses of style, their grades, but they do not respect themselves as individuals. Girls who will follow the lead of any man because they just paid them the time of day. They’ll stop talking if they feel inadequate in a conversation. Stupefy themselves to garner attention from those they’ve placed the worth of themselves in the hands of. You can love yourself, but not respect.

Another instance is one many people have dealt with. You look in front of the mirror day after day, finding things you find appealing about yourself and play those attributes up, or see something you don’t like and try to fix it. Accepting the way you look and feeling comfortable with it. Those are all positive things, yet notice how they are all physical. Things we can physically alter, hide, remove. Those are the things we tend to focus on when we strive to love ourselves. However, very few people can step away from the mirror and feel comfortable with themselves on the inside. The goal is to step away and respect your thoughts despite the physical. That is hard to do. I have never had trouble attracting attention from men, and I say this humbly. Yet, they didn’t treat me with the respect, and having worked to respect myself, I shut many people out. It isn’t common, especially for girls of this age to do that. There is such a rush of needing to get attention from others in order to feel whole. Good, bad, momentarily, doesn’t matter. Many smart girls, who are confident in their looks or presence, still do not respect themselves.

Now, love is a feeling. It can be instantaneous, or grow over time, but respect is not that simple. And I’m talking about real, true respect. For instance, you can think you respect your boss, but if you speak poorly about them when they are not around, that is not respect. That is teh respect of authority, not the indivdual. My goal in this (as I sometimes need help with it too) is to help people when they feel doubt, to know that they are enough within themselves to not cave into the negativity of others. People can comment about how good you look, or how bright your smile is all day long, it gets old. When no one is giving you credit for your hard work, or intelligent contributions, find it within yourself to know that it is you who needs to validate your own actions. Do not go searching in a mirror to veil the insecurities with your love for your waistline, or hair. So many people do that, lets stop that. Let us respect our minds, and our feelings.

In order to further display that there is a difference, I have another example. One many could probably relate to. Have you ever been in a situation, or witnessed one, in which something was presented to you and it brought up an instinctual feeling. A feeling of either “this is wrong” or “this could be something fantastic” and you ignored that feeling or did the opposite? That was not respecting your feelings. I see it all the time. When people are asked to do somthing they don’t feel comfortable about, and they passively voice their feelings to just fish for validation, but because they think it would make them look a certain way, they comply.

Trust your ability, trust your gut, trust the fact that there is a whole other side of you beneath your skin. Dont let the plagues of what society says is cool, even what your friends say is cool, sway how you truly feel. Do, of course love yourself, but please, do not rely on the mirror or what other people say towards you to build you up. Respect yourself when you are in a group and when you are alone.  It will never steer you wrong.

I survived Tinder and back

Over the past three days I have managed to flirt my way through the many layers of Tinder, which became increasingly similar to those Dante managed to scathe in the Inferno. Difference is, Dante was never bombarded by eggplant emoji’s and water droplets (romantic, I know).

To start at the beginning of this drama, I need to explain why. I hated the idea of Tinder. I understand the appeal, but I think the reality has become creepy. Yet, I had friends doing it as a joke and I wanted to laugh too. So I went to my local App Store in the settings box of my phone, and downloaded it. At first you log on, post a couple of pictures of yourself, create some goofy bio, set up your location, it’s cute. However, it doesn’t stay that way. Swiping left and right is all fun and games but Tinder plays into one of the greatest flaws within society today. Going off something based on how it looks. The same goes for those who swiped right on me. Granted, I wasn’t the one sending pictures of my lower extremities, but they still don’t know who I am either. When you and someone swipe right on each other, you become a “match”. There’s little hearts and whatever that surround your pictures and you become free to message each other.

I started off getting messages from 22 year olds, 25, 20, a decent age range that I had selected, just to avoid the older men. In my naivety, I didn’t know creepy comes in all ages. The first couple of messages were complimenting how beautiful I was, what was my number, things of that sort. This was what I call the “Surface Layer”. Then I reached another layer, the one of “Double Messages”.  I quickly learned that people’s egos are on the line here apparently, and they don’t hold back. I found if I didn’t reply, I would get hit with mad face emoji’s, or “Damn ok, you don’t wanna talk now”. I swear, the time in between the initial message and the following wasn’t even enough for me to go make myself a cup of coffee (which is exactly what I was trying to do).

Then I reached the level of “I Need To Follow You On Everything”. I had linked my Instagram to try to get more followers, even though I knew it was dumb because I don’t post, so why would I care? But, everyone else did it, so like a sheep in a herd, I followed. Those I was not responding to started going in on my Instagram. Then on my Facebook once they found my name, asking for my Snapchat, my number, where I live, etc. This got creepy. I was getting afraid I was going to start getting Christmas cards. Once I blocked and changed my profile to solely be able to contact me on Tinder, I had made my way to a more personal level. One I was heartbroken by, the “I use pictures of my Dogs in my profile to distract from the fact that I’m a Douchebag”. That’s like tripping an older woman in the street but explaining that you volunteer at a senior center, so its ok. After my interactions with the assh*les on this level, I was ready to call ASPCA, because no dog should be subjected to people like that.

On this level,  which was possibly the lowest, is when the aggressiveness kicked into high gear. The messages were straight up vile. Granted, they were honest, but I was stunned that men actually speak this way to women. I got a message which so delicately read “I hope you have pet insurance, cause I’m about to destroy that p*ssy”. Now, given my friends were doing it as a joke, I figured some of these guys should be too. In my world no one really uses a line like that and expects to actually make a move. So I replied with my little laughing face, “Damn. You didn’t even ask me what my favorite color was”. To which my man Brock’s reply was “don’t care, just want your p*ssy”. And with that, I stopped answering. These men were going into detail about their desires and to be quite frank, many of them were disturbingly violent. Then with such ease, they followed with “so when are you free”. That’s the same question I should be asking them, on the phone, when they end up in some county jail after fulfilling a fantasy. But I digress.

Tinder was not fun, I didn’t even get a laugh out of this. It gave me anxiety in all honesty, having to block and secure my profiles, make sure everything was deleted for real, take down pictures. And I know “I did this to myself”. I understand, however, wrong is wrong. And the way we speak to each other is vile and quite sad. No one, even on a hookup app, should be spoken to that way. Hooking up doesn’t disregard the fact that we still deserve respect. So if I could give you anything from this journey through Douchebags Inferno, it’s don’t be distracted by a nice profile picture, but MOST importantly, remember that some people use pictures of their dogs to do evil. Just saying. It’s a sad, inconceivable truth, but all things are possible apparently when you’re on Tinder.

 

O

Tips for the sober college student

“Its going to get better” is that phrase many of us have heard. From parents, teachers, therapists, and strangers. We’ve all heard it. I’m sick of that damn saying. I heard it in middle school, high school, and I’m still hearing it in college. I don’t have many friends, I’m not in a relationship, I don’t go out much, but I am happy with myself. Many of us have been groomed to equate happiness with how other people make us feel, or perceive us. The worst possible place you could put your happiness is in the control of others. I would know, I’ve been doing it since I’m young, we all do it. That will set you up for disappointment without fail. Yet, it doesn’t have to be that way. I find with being sober in college, I end up getting disappointed quite often. It isn’t on big things like driving accidents, or friends forgetting my name at a party. Its little things like introducing me as the sober girl, getting teased, or getting asked if “something happened” that made me avoid substances at all costs. Being sober in college is apparently such a phenomenon that it has become, in a sense, my identity. It has probably become many peoples identity as well, and there is no reason to feel embarrassed of it.

There are things I’ve learned along the way that continue to help me feel comfortable when placed into certain situations. One thing I’ve learned, and quite possibly the biggest, is to just be straight up honest. If something did happen and you feel comfortable stating that, say it. If you’re afraid to get bloated, say that. Or if you just don’t want it, guess what? Say that! It’s not something that should make or break anyones interactions with you, and if it does, its on them. There are also moments in which people will not invite you places. It will hurt your feelings, but in that hurt recognize that it still isn’t you. You aren’t a stick in the mud, and you don’t have a stick up your ass. You just choose to spend your time differently, and that is ok. Do not forget that. With that being said, do not criticize others as well. They have a choice too, it may be different than mine or yours, but it is still their choice.

All these substances, weed, alcohol, have become a social bridge that people need in order to connect with others. Its a “must” for every party, every get together, every celebration; that gets hard when that isn’t your go-to. My dad would always tell me “just hold a cup, or nurse a beer”, just so people would get off my back. But why the f*ck are they on my back in the first place? What is the big deal? This is a question I ask myself almost every-time I meet someone new and they ask me about it. It isn’t a big deal, it is just different. It isn’t the usual response. When most people say yes, you probably say no. Thats why its “weird”. I never nurse, or make a fake drink anymore. You shouldn’t have to do that in order to feel comfortable. If you want to order a water in a sea of beer and liquor, don’t feel bad. I do it all the time, and the reason is because I don’t feel the need to hide (and because I really just want the damn water). If someone tries to push you into ordering something else, calls you a wuss, or tries to make a spectacle of you, make a joke. One thing I tend to do in an instance like this is turn it on them. Not in a rude or accusatory way, just simply say “wow, have you been focused on me this whole time? Thats so weird. Why do you care so much what I do, focus on yourself”. Or one of my personal favorite lines is “Honey, I don’t need a drink to have a good time”. Saying this with a smile helps get your point across, but also allows you to still have a good time. When you stand your ground and proceed with your original intention, it sends the message that you’re not one who needs to change to fit the mood. You create you’re own. Own that.

There will also be many people who paint you out to be this person who thinks they are better than everyone else. That you’re trying to make people feel bad about their choices. These are the people you meet that are insecure. There are people who are uneasy about their choices and will project that onto you. This may have set them off simply because you made a different choice that they may not have been strong enough to make at a certain time. In moments like these, remain humble, be truthful and state that it is in no way your intention to do so. Remember that people who say things to hurt others are hurt themselves. Not all interactions are this deep, but many people who rely heavily on substances are hurt, or stressed, and that comes out occasionally on sober people like us. Do not take it personally, as you and they know, it isn’t true.

My last piece of advice would be to hold on. Im not going to tell you it will get better for you soon. “It” being the people and social settings you are surrounded by, but what can get better is your relationship with yourself. I encourage you to keep focusing on yourself and building You up in a social climate that is trying to put you in a box. It can get lonely to be sober. I find most days it does. And listen, if one day you want to have a drink, by all means do it. Don’t feel like then you are going against yourself. You are only doing that when you place your happiness, and identity in the hands of others. Its super hard, super confusing, and extremely frustrating. You may lose friends, get your feelings hurt, and will feel lonely at times. In reading this however, remember you truly are not the only one, you’re not weird, or a buzz kill. You’re just different from the norm, and as history has proven itself, that will most likely benefit you in the end.

O