“I Hate Being a Girl”

The number of times I’ve instinctively muttered those words from my mouth is devastating. It started when I was younger because I wasn’t as strong as the boys, and I was taught by all the kids at school that strength is power, and so the tiny little girl I was felt powerless. Then, when I was finally old enough to learn about the birds and the bees, I hated being a girl because my fellow fourth graders spoke of periods like they were some sort of disease and pregnancy like it was painful and horrid rather than beautiful. When the girls started wearing make-up and doing their hair and going on diets, I said I hated being a girl because I didn’t feel like I was as pretty as them, yet I kept trying to look like the models in the magazines because that’s what “girls are supposed to do.” And even as I got older I hated being a girl because of the pressure and emphasis society puts on sex, yet the scandal society brands a girl with for getting pregnant before marriage, like it’s somehow entirely her fault. I’ve said “I hate being a girl” because I hate having to worry about being skinny, about being pretty, and about being what the “boys like.”
This shatters me. Girls and women are powerful, strong, and beautiful. It is in no way fair at all that men are still seen as superior to women. We are fundamentally the same. Today, I am a college student living in a vibrant area of the city. Despite hating early mornings, I get up early to go to the gym because the only other time I can go is after class, and it gets dark by then. I realized the other day that I instinctively change my daily routine to avoid walking outside in the dark. And do you know why that is? Because I am a girl. And society has told us to stay inside when it’s dark and carry pepper-spray at all times, instead of telling our precious little boys not to rape.
Instead of hating being a girl like I’ve spent so many years of my life doing, this makes me hate society. I love being a girl and I hate how society has labeled girls. It’s time for that to change, and it’s time to change our girl’s “I hate being a girl” into “I hate society, and I’m going to change it.”

Let’s Stop Comparing Ourselves

Have you ever stopped to wonder how many times a day you compare yourself to another person without even realizing it? I don’t have an exact number but I’m fairly certain that over half of my instinctive thoughts regard comparing myself to another. Since when did self-validation come from other peoples’ consent? Since when did doing what I like become second to doing what everyone else likes?
I think this is something I’m going to struggle with for a lot of my life, and I know many other people struggle with it as well. Growing up, this idea of comparison is pounded into our heads like learning to walk or learning to talk. We’re shown pictures of celebrities who tell us how to look, stories with characters who tell us how to act, and people in school that tell us what’s “cool” and what’s “weird.” It’s this early on-set cycle that is so incredibly overwhelming and so engrained into human society that nobody thinks anything of it. I think it’s time for a change.
It’s time to start telling the children that they need to be their own favorite superhero or favorite princess. It’s time to stop comparing how you look in a dress to how the girl next to you looks in hers. You both look your own kind of amazing. It’s time to stop glancing over to the person on the machine next to you at the gym because you want to know if they’re stronger than you or not. It’s time to focus on YOU.
There are times to be selfless and there are times to be selfish. When it comes to feeling good about yourself, that is a time to be selfish. Focus on you rather than comparing yourself to others. Don’t sacrifice your personal interests because somebody else deems them as weird, or because you’re afraid that somebody else will be better than you.
It’s hard to stop comparing yourself to others when this cycle has been a part of your life for so long, but the first step to stopping it is recognizing it. When you recognize that you are comparing yourself to another, whether friend or foe, I want you to tell yourself that what he or she does/wears/says/likes has no power over what you do/wear/say/like. Let’s stop comparing ourselves to others and start setting our own records.

They Call it Geeky, I Call it Coping

Obsessive. Nagging. Nerdy. Geeky. All of the above. According to both friends and foes growing up, those words seemed to define me. They latched onto me and their negative connotations brought me down day after day. Especially in Middle School; man, that place was a hellhole.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always felt to need to have something to obsess over. A movie, a TV show, a book, a song. I would spend afternoons rewatching Harry Potter or nights reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower over and over and over again. And of course, I would talk just about anybody’s ear off about my current obsession. When I was about 14 years old, I began to notice my friends making fun of me for obsessing over my favorite things, and I sunk into a quiet loneliness in which I would keep my favorites to myself. I started to question what was wrong with me: why am I like this? Why am I such a “geek”?
Over time, I’ve come to realize that this obsessiveness is a part of who I am. I find something that I love and I watch it, read it, or listen to it as many times as I see fit. These things make me happy. And during the long gaps of time during which I’ve lost motivation to read or my favorite TV shows are all off air, I do fall into feelings of depression or sadness. So instead of criticizing myself, I embrace it. Currently, I’ve been binge watching Doctor Who because the story keeps me interested and makes me happy, and the characters inspire me. And I’m proud about it! (Seriously. I’ll talk your ear off if you give me the time…)
I suppose what I am trying to say through all of this is that all of us have our little quirks. But as long as those quirks make you happy, nobody has the right to tell you it’s weird. Do you. Do what makes you happy. Watch those “weird” TV shows and listen to that “annoying” music because as long as it’s making you happy, it’s not weird or annoying. It’s awesome. And to anybody who ever criticized me for talking about what makes me happy: I’m doing me. And don’t you dare try to tell me to stop.

On Self-Empowerment

I figured today I would post about something marginally more up-lifting: self-empowerment.
Growing up, self-empowerment was almost a foreign concept to me. I had always told myself that my feelings of empowerment comes from other people – I wouldn’t feel good about my outfit until somebody told me my shirt was cute, I would be convinced my new haircut was ugly until somebody told me it looked nice, and I would think my grades weren’t good enough until my teacher told me I was smart. It was a cycle: a cycle that became extremely harmful and gave other people the upper-hand on my happiness.
The feeling of empowerment that derives from compliments and kindnesses that others do unto you is totally normal and beneficial. However, there comes a point when one can rely too much on others to bring you up, so much that it brings you down.
To be completely honest, it wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I really began to learn how to empower myself. I am still teaching myself. The first step is to recognize that the only person you need approval from is yourself. Okay, and maybe your parents too if you’re under 18, but that’s besides the point. The second step is to recognize that you are the only person in the world that can make you happy. That statement can be kind of frightening, but you have to look at it positively. Yes, other people can make you feel happy, but you yourself are the one that can make you BE happy.
It’s hard, but it feels so incredibly wonderful to free yourself from that dependency on other people. I’m still working on it. It’s a slow process. But freeing yourself from one negative person at a time feels so good.
My task for you is to find one thing that you can wear, do, see, listen to, say, or sing a day that makes you feel empowered. Maybe your favorite song, your favorite dance, an awesome work-out. For me, it’s wearing red. Sometimes it’s my favorite red flannel, other times bright red leggings, other times something small, like a red bracelet or my red-painted nails. Red is such an empowering color for me and when I wear it, I feel bold. So join me in wearing red, or another color that makes you feel empowered. You are bold, and you deserve to feel that way.