What We Can Learn From Japan’s Deadliest Massacre Since World War II

Culture & Society

It wasn’t until I realized that one of the victims in the Japanese knife attack in Sagamihara could have been a relative of mine that the reality of the attack hit home for me.

I knew she wasn’t in Sagamihara at all, but I was still terrified by the thought that it could have been her. If this person had gone to a different part of Tokyo, he could have killed her.

It was-and still is-a sobering thought.

The Tragedy of A Mass Killing

On July 26, 2016, a former employee of a mental health facility stabbed 19 residents with mental health challenges to death, ranging in age from 19 t0 70. Reports also say that the young man-who is my age, another chilling thought-said that he wanted disabled people to “disappear.” (source)

As a Japanese-American individual who has a passion for mental health, I didn’t know quite how upset I was about it until a few days ago, something that I (sadly) attributed to the sheer number of mass killings that have occurred since the year began.

Yes, of course the countless other mass killings were (and still are) tragedies. No single tragedy is more important than another. But this one affected me more than even the Pulse massacre because of my personal connection to the Japanese culture.

And yet, I saw few reports of the attack from news outlets that weren’t foreign. To be fair, I was so distressed when I first heard about the attack that I decided to put my mental health first. I knew that if I read into the details that I would not be able to function properly. Deliberately blocking out news outlets for the next few days has helped me regain some sense of emotional normalcy.

But even with that emotional normalcy back, the attack disturbs me for more reasons than one.

Japan is a collectivist country, where you are trained from birth to put others’ needs before your own, to not “rock the boat,” shall we say. Going back and forth between Japan and the United States, I learned very quickly that expressing your emotions sans filter in Japan was-and still is-frowned upon.

One is valued for their ability to conform, and frowned upon should they choose to stand out. You are given one (and only one) shot at college entrance exams per year; should you fail, you will be known as a ronin, a word that remains from the age of the samurai, a word that was used to refer to warriors who had no master to serve.

With values that limit individuals’ needs to express themselves authentically, overwhelming pressure to succeed academically, and a major emphasis on appearances, it’s no wonder that Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. In 2014, 25,427 people ended their lives. And that was the lowest the suicide rate has been in over 18 years (source).

Encouraging? Yes. Still disturbing? Yes.

People with disabilities have an even harder time responding to the overwhelming pressure of living in Japanese society. Mental health is not openly discussed; like in many Asian countries, it is still very much a taboo subject. Depression was not recognized in Japan until the late 1990’s (source).

Knowing that this young man previously worked at the Sagamihara center disturbs me even more, especially as someone who regularly works with people who deal with mental health challenges. Perhaps I’m being too generous or naive, but I would hope that individuals who work with poeple who deal with mental health challenges every day would develop a sense of compassion and acceptance for them, especially working with them so closely.

However, this was not the case with this young man, someone who, despite having a supposedly cheerful impression, was someone who wanted “ Japan to be a country where the disabled can be euthanised.” (source)

Just goes to show that you never know what someone you think you know is really thinking.

More Than Prayers

While I appreciate the idea of praying for a country in times of crisis (a social media trend that, as far as I’m aware, did not occur in the instance of this attack), I don’t believe that praying for a country is going to help much. Yes, people who feel powerless to do something when they see these tragedies occur cling to little acts; such things give them comfort. I understand that. But prayer alone is not going to bring about the massive change that clearly needs to occur, not just in Japan, but in this world.

When you ask people how they are, most of us will trot out the answer “I’m fine,” automatically. Very few of us will say, “I’m (insert expletive of choice here) miserable. I lost my job, my anxiety is killing me, my car broke down, and all I want to do is watch cartoons and cry.”

We choose saying that we’re fine for various reasons, and I’m not going to pretend to know all of them, especially because we all come from different backgrounds and circumstances. I’ve found that being honest and vulnerable about your emotions makes you more relatable. By being honest and vulnerable about your story, you give others around you permission to do the same.

I understand that in various cultures it’s difficult to do something so revealing when such actions are frowned upon. But if you lie once about how you feel, you’re going to have to lie again. And continue to lie until you can’t distinguish the truth from your story.

My hope for the world is that we can all-regardless of background and circumstance-learn to be just a little more honest when we interact with others around the world. Real change doesn’t come from prayer. Real change comes as a result of thousands of efforts from thousands of people who challenge the status quo. Real change comes from people listening carefully to those who are different from them and working together, not euthanizing an entire population of individuals just because they are different from the people you surround yourself with.

Real change starts with us.

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Destroying The Lie In My Fire: The Truth Behind My Hiatus

Miscellaneous Musings

download“She is mad, but she is magic. There is no lie in her fire.”

-Charles Bukoski

I recently came across this quote as I was reading, and it hit me: this was why my week-long break from writing has turned into a hiatus that has lasted several months.

My writing has turned into a lie.

I started this space as that blank page. I wrote what I wanted to write when I felt like it. I felt that catharsis that I get when I write longhand. And I was excited; the words felt authentic to me, and I was excited to see how having a public space would improve my writing and help me find a tone that was genuine.

As I started reading more about blogging, I became more and more focused on numbers and social media. I focused less on writing content that was genuine and authentic to me and more on content that people would read. And as a result, my tone has changed, which was the very last thing I wanted it to do.

I look back on my posts and cringe; in my mind, I sound like a self-help guru. Sometimes I don’t believe the things I write; I write them because they fit well for my niche, and it feels wrong, uncomfortable.

I am in the process of trying to find a writing style and tone that feels genuine to me. I don’t want to feel like my blog is just like any other blog. I don’t want to feel like I’m just spitting out things that a self-help guru would say when I don’t really believe them. I don’t want this blog to feel like a self-constricting glass box anymore.

I want to feel like there’s no lie in the fire that I have to offer the world.

And that will take time.

Image Credit: Unsplash

Destroying The Lie In My Fire: The Truth Behind My Hiatus

Uncategorized

download

“She is mad, but she is magic. There is no lie in her fire.”

-Charles Bukoski

I recently came across this quote as I was reading, and it hit me: this was why my week-long break from writing has turned into a hiatus that has lasted several months.

My writing has turned into a lie.

I started this space as that blank page. I wrote what I wanted to write when I felt like it. I felt that catharsis that I get when I write longhand. And I was excited; the words felt authentic to me, and I was excited to see how having a public space would improve my writing and help me find a tone that was genuine.

As I started reading more about blogging, I became more and more focused on numbers and social media. I focused less on writing content that was genuine and authentic to me and more on content that people would read. And as a result, my tone has changed, which was the very last thing I wanted it to do.

I look back on my posts and cringe; in my mind, I sound like a self-help guru. Sometimes I don’t believe the things I write; I write them because they fit well for my niche, and it feels wrong, uncomfortable. Writing had somehow gone from something I enjoyed, my therapy of choice, to a dead weight that I had to pull. I felt like I was slogging through a storm.

I am in the process of trying to find a writing style and tone that feels genuine to me. I don’t want to feel like my blog is just like any other blog. I don’t want to feel like I’m just spitting out things that a self-help guru would say when I don’t really believe them. I don’t want this blog to feel like a self-constricting glass box anymore.

I want to feel like there’s no lie in the fire that I have to offer the world.

Image Credit: Unsplash

And that will take time.

The 4 Life Lessons Of Seasonal Positions

Re-framing Your Thinking

the4lifelessonsofseasonalpositions

“You ought to be thrilled that you got a job in the mail room. And when you get there, here’s what you do: Be really great at sorting mail.”

                                                                                                                                                                              -Randy Pausch

Even if it’s just sorting mail or folding clothes at your local J-Crew, the littlest things can teach you the biggest things.

As the year winds down, It has been crickets around here. A major part of the reason is because balancing my part-time job as a seasonal retail associate along with my personal life and this blog has been a challenge. But this job has been an invaluable learning experience, even after just a few weeks. And that experience alone has made me realize the truth in Randy Pausch’s book when he said the following:

“No job is beneath you.”

Not that I didn’t believe him when I read that particular clause, but I have always found first-hand experience to be the best teacher. And while I don’t see myself working in retail forever, that’s not to say that there isn’t anything valuable to be learned from the experience.

Feeling Bad About Your Mistakes (And Apologizing Repeatedly) Doesn’t Help Others

 

This might be a “no, duh” sort of thing for some of us, but for me, it’s something that I’ve really had to learn.

Growing up going back and forth to Tokyo, I was surrounded by people who constantly apologized for everything, whether it was making a mistake while conducting a transaction with a customer in a bank or accidentally bumping into someone at the train station as they rushed to get to where they needed to be.

This is not to say that you should not apologize for your mistakes, but your energy would be better spent learning what you did wrong, how to correct it, and putting effort toward avoiding that mistake in the future.

Feeling bad about something that’s already happened doesn’t allow you to go back in time and change the circumstances or the mistake itself. Taking the experience and applying it so that you can avoid mistakes in the future shows people that you are flexible, and that you pay attention to detail. And you’ll save your employer and co-workers plenty of headaches.

Sometimes You Just Have to Say No (Or Ask People To Wait)

 

I once read a quote somewhere that said, “A lack of boundaries invites a lack of respect.”

I was raised to be a people pleaser. I learned to fear authority figures, especially those who raised their voices at me. I thought that the easiest way to be of service to people was to never say no when they asked me for things, especially when you’re providing a service or product to a customer. I did things not because I genuinely wanted to, but because I wanted to avoid getting into trouble. And because I wanted to please people so badly, they were able to manipulate me and push me around.

Looking back on my life, this pattern has been prevalent. I am the kind of person who wants to jump into something the minute you ask for it. But I realize that by continuing that pattern, I’m not setting boundaries for myself. Not only that, but I’m not providing good customer service to others.

Asking people to wait is never a bad thing. Sometimes you need to do it. Yes, providing prompt (and quality) customer service is important. But sometimes you need to ask people to wait. You’ll be able to answer questions for thoroughly and avoid feeling like a dog being pulled on a leash.

When you feel like a dog being pulled on a leash, you can’t do your job very well. And when you can’t do your job very well…we all know how that goes. You were hired for a reason. And as an employee, you are expected to do the job (no matter how menial the task is) to the best of your ability, and to the company’s standards.

And if that means asking customers to wait instead of answering their questions while you’re assisting someone else, than so be it.

Some People Will Be Rude, No Matter What You Do (But The Things They Say Have Nothing To Do With You)

 

I’ve said it before, but some people could just be straight up rude. No matter how courteous you are, it doesn’t mean that that courtesy will be reciprocated. And yes, for a sensitive person (like yours truly), it can take a while to shake off.

You have no control over how others treat you. What you do have control over is your reaction. So the next time someone snaps at you, swallow that snippy retort. Yes, easier said than done, coming from a self-proclaimed no-filter kind of girl. But there is a big difference. You are not with your BFFs having a girls night; you are in a professional working environment. And there are rules of etiquette that need to be followed.

Take Your Time

In today’s day and age when we get irritated if the Internet loads in 5 minutes instead of 5 seconds, we’ve become used to multitasking, trying to do everything at once.

But here’s the thing: rushing allows you to make mistakes. And mistakes often create more work for those around you. Taking your time allows you to ensure that you complete each step of the process to the best of your ability. And when you complete each step of the process to the best of your ability, customers can see that.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather wait for something of quality rather than have someone rush through something and have a not-so-stellar final product.

Randy Pausch may never have gotten to play in the NFL, but football taught him valuable life lessons; you may not earn a Grammy or an Olympic medal, but that doesn’t mean that your experience (whether it be a seasonal job, internship, or quest to earn an Academy Award) counts for nothing. There are lessons to be learned wherever you are in life; you just have to be open to them.

Currently I’m Loving…(Vol. 10)

Currently I'm Loving

currentlyi'mloving9

I have been following Crystal’s blog for a while, so I was ecstatic when she announced a linkup, I was so happy! I love these favorites posts too, so it was a win-win situation! My personal (i.e.: work) life is picking up, so things may be slow on my personal blog, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t love you readers or writing these posts any less! I hope that you will stick with my journey as we close out this year and roll through the madness that is the holiday season!

Onward with the favorites!

I Am Now A Swiftie (I’m Pretty Sure)

Yes, I have jumped on “I-love-the-new-Taylor-Swift-album” bandwagon. The song “Blank Space” didn’t stand out to me on the new album as one of my favorites, but the video makes the song. It really does. I love a woman and satire, and Taylor Swift has done it with the Blank Space video.

Who else heard “Starbucks lovers” on the first listen? I know I did.

I will admit: I am not a fan of her earlier albums. To me, it sounded like she was constantly making herself the victim of the experiences she wrote about. My first reaction was, “Grow up,” and while I sometimes feel that, I understand that so many people relate to her lyrics. And connecting with music is key to helping it sell. But to see the way she interacts with fans on social media, particularly Tumblr, she is turning me into a Swiftie. I love how sweet and truly caring she seems to be. (I mean, who gets early Christmas presents for fans or personally drives a toddler-sized Mercedes to an adorable kid rather than ship it?) Most celebrities get more and more distant as they get more and more successful. Taylor seems to do the opposite with her fans. And I’m all for a girl who can be grounded, real, and grateful, despite her success.

Jorge Luis Borges

There was once a time when I spoke Spanish better than I spoke Japanese, much to my relatives’ displeasure. I am now trying to turn back the clocks and get that ability back via Duolingo. I remember staring at a Jorge Luis Borges anthology, trying to figure out how fast and how thoroughly I would have to read as I collected yet another textbook from the professor. At the time, I didn’t appreciate him, but with quotes like the one below, he’s starting to win me over.

“A writer – and, I believe, generally all persons – must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.”

As a writer, this makes me happy beyond words. So. Much. Truth.

Growing up, my work ethic disguised the fact that I had ADD. Many people (read: friends) thought that the idea of my having ADD was an oxymoron; they were operating on the symptoms that were associated with ADHD. Since I wasn’t bouncing off the walls like Tigger, and I worked my butt off for my grades, many thought that I didn’t have it, that I was just going through “a phase.”

We know now that they were wrong. And because of that, I will always be passionate about mental health, particularly when it comes to that of young people and women. This article from Devex sums of pretty much everything that I wanted to say on the topic.

What have YOU been loving this week? Let me know in the comments!

From The Drafts: Volume 1

The Drafts

thedrafts

 

A few of my favorite bloggers have started doing something on their blogs where they share bits and pieces of their drafts on their blogs. It’s an interesting way to see what they think about. I’ve had lists of blog post ideas, drafts that are half-written sitting in my computer. Seeing that, I thought it would be a great series to start on my own little internet space.

 

What A Celebrity Says

We take what a celebrity says so seriously that sometimes it’s laughable. We pick apart everything they do, everything they say. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could survive being picked apart under a microscope. Sometimes things just get blown way out of proportion.

Everyone will get criticism, regardless of whether or not you have a million Twitter followers or not. Which is why the criticism following Emma Watson’s He For She speech bothered me.

She stood up for something, something she believed in. There was an outpouring of support from people, but there were also critics, just like anything in your life. The speech was too narrow, too broad, too something.

I don’t think Emma Watson spent the weeks leading up to her big speech picking apart every clause, trying to phrase everything so that as many people as possible would agree with her. Okay, maybe she did, but I can’t say for sure. I think she was trying to galvanize support and get her point across. Judging by the 1.1 million #HeForShe tweets, she accomplished that, wouldn’t you say?

Sometimes we take what celebrities say like it’s blood on the Rosetta Stone. Rather than being so quick to say, “(Fill-in-the-role-model-celebrity) supports this cause and because they do, I should too,” we should take the time to form our own opinions. The media isn’t always the most reliable source of information.

 

Blogging Burnout

Sometimes blogging is hard. Scheduling tweets, learning to code, taking pictures (or finding images), and you have to think of blog posts? Can we just go back to the days when my biggest worry was what show to watch next on Netflix? Sometimes the last thing I want to do is write.

I’ve always struggled with maintaining the balance between being authentic and maintaining a sense of privacy. I don’t want to spill my guts all over the internet (because I don’t want to turn this into an online diary) but I do want to be authentic. Striking that balance has always been a challenge. And sometimes I just get burned out. Those times when the thing you love the most turns into a chore. Yeah, those. Not a fan.

 

On Being The Odd One Out

I have never been one to follow the crowd. And I have always gotten flack for it. If I get into the musicians that are dominating the Top 40, I will get into the SUPER late. I am usually on the receiving end of the eye roll. You know the “Babe, I already knew that, and the way you’re getting into this just now is so cute,” kind of eye roll. I am the kind of girl who uses things until they can’t be used anymore (hello earphones that only work on one side).

Currently I’m Loving ( Vol. 9)

Currently I'm Loving

currentlyloving9

Yes, that is a bear on a cookie. Cute, no?

Writing has always been my source of therapy, and according to this piece, writing is good for you. There’s always been something liberating about it. A blank page doesn’t judge you. And that’s the best feeling in the world.

I studied the evolution of pop music as a communications major in college. It’s always interesting to see social sciences studies, particularly those involving music. One of my final projects was to do a short paper on the evolution of pop music from the 60s to present day. This article only confirms my hypothesis, although it’s not a difficult conclusion to draw.

I am currently searching for a job, like so many recent college grads. This article has some great tips for getting experience when you have none.

 

As much as I am looking forward to seeing Horns, this little gem made my week.

 

What have you been loving this week? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Halloween!

How To Prevent Your Self-Esteem From Taking You On A Roller Coaster

Culture & Society, Learning To Love Yourself, Re-framing Your Thinking

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(Originally posted on Hello Perfect)

With all the Insta-pics, tweets, and Facebook status updates, we look like we’ve got everything together. But sometimes, despite all appearances, the reality is far from put together.

In a recent article, author Sarah Varney shared the story of Carlos, a formerly overweight man, to illustrate the idea that despite the fact that someone looks healthy on the outside doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t battle past demons.

You can lose the weight. You can put on makeup. You can get surgery. But sometimes the external changes aren’t enough. Sure, having a great body is good for your self-esteem, but if you base your self-esteem solely on the media’s standards of beauty…well, you’ve seen what happens to girls who do that.

If you base your self-esteem on external factors, you’ll find your self-esteem speeding up and down faster than Roadrunner chasing Coyote. The key is to build your self-esteem from the inside out. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend my time building a solid foundation instead of chasing after my self-esteem like a beginner runner trying to run a 5k.

Cut Out Media

 

Yes, you did just read that. Yes, I know Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model are as addicting as Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream. But if you cut media out of your life (notice that I didn’t limit it to stuff you see on screens?), you get a chance to focus on yourself rather than trying to reach what is most likely an unattainable “norm.”

If that sounds impossible, start small. Cut out one reality show one week. Throw away those old issues of Vogue that are gathering dust on your desk. Watch one episode of Game of Thrones instead of holding a marathon and chowing on popcorn in the process. Media can be fun, but too much of it can be so damaging to your self-esteem.

Talk To Someone

 

            Yes, this goes against my entire do-not-rely-on-external-factors argument, but hold on for a second and hear me out. We are humans, not robots. We can’t do everything ourselves. We run out of steam so fast that it’s not even funny. That’s where talking to someone can help.

Now, when I say someone, I don’t mean anyone. I mean someone you trust. Someone doesn’t need to bring you down to make herself feel better. You might not be a chatterbox, but here’s the thing. The longer you keep your lips zipped, the bigger your problems get. Talking to someone can give you some perspective. You might realize that the thing you’re obsessing over, which seems like the worst thing on the planet a few hours ago, is actually the most insignificant detail in the world.

You don’t need to disclose your entire life story. Just tell someone that you’re having issues, and you need a pick-me-up. Sometimes all you need is a little pick-me-up (that is not in the form of tiramisu) to make you feel better and boost your self-esteem.

 

Focus On What You Do Well

 

I’m not going to pull a Louise Hay and go all self-help book on you, but sometimes we actually do need to focus on what you do well. Do you cook a mean spaghetti with meatballs? Take note of that. Are you the resident Miss Organization that everyone turns to because they know that you won’t lose anything you give them for safekeeping? Write that down. Positivity attracts positivity. Focusing on what you have and what you do well instead of what you don’t have brings more positive things into your life.

And who doesn’t want that? The best part about that is the fact that you can pull out your Things I Do Well list and look at it (if lists are your thing). You can keep adding to it. When you actually take a step back and look at it, I have a feeling that you’ll discover that you’re actually pretty darn talented.

Give Yourself Time To Let Steam Off

 

            If you’re feeling overwhelmed with things, excuse yourself. No, I can’t give you a machine where you can press the pause button on life, but you can voluntarily remove yourself from situations that aggravate you. The more you suppress your emotions, the more the steam builds. And the more you suppress your emotions, the more your self-esteem will suffer.

Let off steam in the best way for you. Write in a journal if that’s your thing. Go run a couple miles in the park if that’s your thing. Do whatever it is you need to do to let off steam. The worst thing you can do when you’re trying to boost your self-esteem is to ignore your emotions. You’ll just feel worse about yourself if you do. No one wants that, right?

Currently I’m Loving… (Volume 8)

Currently I'm Loving

currentlyi'mloving8

 

I know, I know, it’s Saturday, but I love doing these posts. I’m also trying to get into the habit of posting twice a week and I’m trying to figure out what works. So pardon me as I experiment with the blog and find what works for me; once I get a consistent schedule down, I won’t be posting on random days anymore. I promise.

 

The cool thing about volunteering to do a company’s social media pages is that you get to find a bunch of cool stuff; the bad news is that sometimes you inevitably read stuff you don’t want to (cough, the trending topics bar on Twitter, cough) So this week, as I was scrolling through my personal feed for cool things to post like this infographic that listed 11 untranslatable words from other cultures, I also saw things that I didn’t want to see, like the whole debate about Renee Zellewegger’s face. Honestly? My emotions on this subject are below (incidentally, another lovely find):

 

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There. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, we can get on to the fun stuff.

 

I love, love, love, LOVE the point that Kiersten made in her recent post on beauty. One of the frustrating things about blogging is that there are times when other bloggers take the words right out of your mouth, and you think, “There goes another post idea” First her post on why she doesn’t want to have kids, and now this? The girl is after my heart. Because she’s right. Beauty is subjective. Just because people have complimented my Pocohontas-like hair all my life doesn’t mean that everyone will dig it. Some people might prefer blondes. Or redheads. You never know.

 

Liv Light has struck again. This girl ALWAYS delivers posts that are on-point. I am in awe. In times of pain, we can find it hard to be grateful for the experience. Alivia lists 5 revelations that have helped her appreciate the pain she went through. Talk about courage and vulnerability, right?

 

It’s always nice when people acknowledge you for your support, and last night I got a tweet that did just that. Remember how I mentioned that I loved Amy Clover from Strong Inside Out way back when? Well…drumroll please…

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And before you ask if I was just sharing her content to get this tweet, the answer is a resounding NO. I share her content because I genuinely support what she’s doing.

 

And need I say more about why this video has been making waves?

 

Lastly, guess what WordPress sent me on Thursday?

 

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I can’t believe it’s been a YEAR! Thank you so much to all of YOU amazing followers who have kept up with my blog! YOU are why I do what I do. So thank you!

You Are Going To Be A Bundle of Contradictions, And That’s Okay

Culture & Society, Learning To Love Yourself, Miscellaneous Musings, Re-framing Your Thinking

You'llBeABundleOfContradictions

“You’re too sensitive.”

“Don’t be so dramatic.”

“Just get over it.”

 

Sound familiar?

 

I think if we all were paid a dollar when someone said those things to us, we’d be filthy rich by now. Kids and adults can be cruel.

Okay. You might not think that those things are cruel, but even the smallest things can destroy your confidence, especially if you’re a hypersensitive person like me. I don’t care if you’re Jennifer Lawrence or your neighbor down the street. Everyone goes through those moments when their confidence is ground in the dirt.

And in those moments, it’s easy to look to the person you idolize. Yes, you know who I’m talking about. Those people whose Twitter accounts you stalk, whose magazine covers you buy the second they hit the newsstands. The ones you want to be.

Sure, they may look like they have everything, but that doesn’t make them immune to pain. Despite their “perfect” image (thank you very much every news outlet ever), the truth is that they’re far from perfect.

 

 

 

See? Case in point.

 

Social media has allowed us to filter our lives so much that it’s very easy to think that we are the only ones in the world who suck at life. We have become so gosh darn obsessed with the number of likes, tweets, and followers that we judge our value based on those superficial numbers.

 

You don’t have to be Taylor Swift, Emma Watson, or Selena Gomez to say something in today’s world that you’ll get flack for. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best singer in the world since sliced bread: Anything you do or say will be picked apart. You can’t please everyone. If you try to please everyone, you’ll end up becoming a doormat. And becoming a doormat is the easiest way to lose your sanity.

 

The only thing you can do is to try to please yourself. Just because you’re a little dramatic doesn’t mean that you have to put duct tape over your mouth every time you come across the person who called you a drama queen.

 

So what if you don’t think that One Direction is the best band to hit the radio waves since The Beatles? You don’t have to bend over backwards to memorize their names and listen to all their albums in one day just because you want to appease your friends who happen to spend their hard-earned money on concert tickets. You don’t have to justify your decisions or tastes to anyone.

 

You’re still young. We will always be students of life. You can believe multiple things. Your tastes will change and grow with you. You can be a drama queen and still be a mellow, relaxed person. You can like the Beatles, Patti Smith, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift & Demi Lovato all at the same time for different reasons, no matter what anyone tells you. You don’t need permission from anyone.

 

Finding what you like and what you believe is a process. Believing in yourself is not an easy, straightforward thing. You will always be a bundle of contradictions, there’s no way around it.

 

I’m going to try my hardest not to pull a Louise Hay on you, not because I have my doubts about the self-help industry, but because when you’re young, it’s really hard to believe that your flaws make you interesting, when all they seem to do is help you dig your own grave. Yes, your favorite celeb can help, but no matter how many times you listen to their songs on repeat, you’re the one who has to believe that your quirks make you who you are. And it can be really hard to turn Negative Nancy’s voice off.

But who else but you thinks the way you think, likes what you like, and does what you do? All of the stuff (good and bad) that you’ve been through has made you who you are. You might not be able to just shake it off (thank you, Taylor Swift for getting that song stuck in my head). You might let things change you, but that doesn’t mean that you’re any weaker than the next person. You can make the choice to use the obstacles and changes you go through as fuel. Or you can let them remain walls.

And we know what happens with walls.

 

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It’s a lot better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you are, anyway. I’ve tried being something I wasn’t; it was by far one of the most painful things I have ever done. It was a lot of lying. A lot of crying. A lot of pulling my hair out. A lot of filtering. A lot of hiding.

It took me more than ten years to realize this, but if you just put yourself out there, and KEEP doing it, the right audience will find you.

When you shed your mask, share your story, and be yourself no matter where you are in life, you encourage others to do the same. People will see their flaws in you and realize that it’s OKAY to be flawed, that you DO NOT have to have everything figured out, that you DO NOT have to hibernate like a bear waiting for spring. You can be a role model for others without going on American Idol or winning an Olympic medal. You can do that by living your life, quirks and all. Yes, you heard me. You may be someone else’s Demi Lovato, Taylor Swift, or Emma Watson. You just might not know it yet.

I’m not saying for you to blast Shake it Off and let criticism roll off you like water; you can do that if that’s your thing, but I think there’s still a lot to be learned from criticism. The important thing is not to let it get to you, because your haters will ultimately make you better. They will help you grow.

Take in what you want to take in, improve what you can, and keep living your best life.

And for those who just don’t give you the time of day?

Shake ‘em off.

Screenshot Credit: YouTube