Be Ambitious

So as most of you know by now (I’m not sure how any of you wouldn’t know–I’ve only posted about it a gazillion times already on Facebook) I just cut my hair. DRASTICALLY cut my hair. To be specific, I went from probably close to three feet of hair to a pixie cut without rocking a mid-length ‘do in between. And honestly? I FEEL GREAT.

Without contest, this has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in relation to my appearance and I don’t regret it one bit. But then again, I had been thinking about making the change for well over a year, and had begun mentally preparing myself a long time ago. Still, before cutting my hair, there was no way I could fully prepare myself for the person I would be looking at in the mirror afterwards. I had gotten so used to my reflection with long hair, I hadn’t realized that the person I was looking at wasn’t really me.

Now when I see myself in the mirror, it’s not that I’m like, “Ahh, here I am, finally.” This ain’t no Mulan, Who-is-that-girl-I-see moment (That’s going to be stuck in my head forever, thanks self), though I do love this hairstyle and the fact that I can style it with my simpleton hair skills gives me great confidence. No, in fact, this isn’t really about having long hair vs. short hair at all. This is really about change.

So many of us (women in particular, though men do it, too!) get attached to the way we look. We get attached to our clothes, the length of our hair, the certain brands of beauty and cleaning products we use, etc. We get so attached that we grow uncomfortable with change. Our hair, or sense of style, or piece of clothing, or whatever starts to become sentimental; it turns into something that we invest emotion in. We do this because we grow comfortable with the way we look and the certain way things are, and then we find it difficult to change.

We find it difficult to change our looks or our hair once we’ve grown attached to it because we’re uncertain. We don’t know if we will still look good with the change–we aren’t sure that we’ll be comfortable with it. And this sentiment expands beyond our looks. We find routine and become afraid of change. That’s why graduating college and entering the real world is such a point of anxiety; that’s why so many of us feel the pressure to find a stable job and start our lifetime-long careers at 22 years old. That’s why many of us get married, settle down, and start a family before we even hit 30 (which, in coastal culture, aka NYC and LA, is outrageously young).

We’re scared to take a risk, take a chance, make a change (thank you Kelly Clarkson, that’s still one of my favorite songs) because we can’t see the future in that decision. We ignore our “wilder” fantasies because we view them as that: wild, uncontrollable. We crave routine and comfort, but do we really find satisfaction in that?

I loved my long hair; it was a point of pride to have such long locks, and (despite what it might of looked like in pictures) my hair was really healthy. I loved pulling it up into long sideways french braids like I was Katniss Everdeen about to go kick some ass. But when I really thought about it, I was just tired. I was tired of my hair, bored with it, and ready for a change. Braiding it was the only way I knew how to style it. It was heavy, a hassle, and always got in the way. And almost immediately after I cut it, I realized that it really wasn’t me. I’m the type of person who loves to take leaps, who loves to bound into new adventures, even though they might be terrifying. And short hair was a new adventure for me. It’s not that I am inherently a pixie-cut type of person (though I do think I look better in short hair than I did in long hair) but it’s the significant change that really expresses who I am. I like to dance to the beat of my own drum, and I think my hair represents that now.

So I guess my long-winded point is this: be ambitious. Let yourself dream, and go for those dreams. No one ever got any where good without taking some risks. And even if you fail, you’re not really failing, because you’re learning something about yourself and the world around you along the way. You know what I said to myself right before I cut my hair?

It’s just hair. It’ll grow back.

So take a chance on yourself. Get out of your routine and comfort zone and figure out how to do what you love–figure out what it is that you love doing!! You will have so much more confidence in yourself, and ultimately find yourself in a happier place if you do.

-tlc

Use Your Brain

Today I would like to write a short PSA about using your brain.  You see, in today’s world, we don’t function as a society without social media. It’s how we consume and digest information, and–scarily–how we learn to understand issues.

Particularly with presidential campaigns gearing up, I would like to ask–no, implore–you to educate yourselves on the facts before sharing info-graphs, articles, or any other biased source of information. Here’s why:

It’s easy to see something, agree with it, and want to pass it on. But if that information is not accurate, out of context, or in any way twisted to create a misconception, you aren’t doing the world any good by passing it on and getting more people to agree with your POV. In fact, you’re actually slowing down progressive change and actually may be hurting a lot of people in the process. Think of it this way:

When you allow yourself to become part of the problem by spreading stereotypes and social/cultural myths, you prevent parts of society  that you may not understand completely from getting the basic human rights that they are entitled to. Like worrying that child predators will take advantage of using opposite-gender bathrooms if laws are passed to make public restrooms transgender-friendly. John Oliver, who I recommend as a good source for getting yourself educated on all the hot-topic issues (and for a good laugh) does a really good job of explaining why this is ridiculous fear-mongering and actually holds no real substance or statistics to back it up as a real problem.

Truth be told, I am being a teensie weensie little bit of a hypocrite here; I, too, am guilty  of posting a lot of things that have no solid facts to back them up, or researching the source behind the information to make sure that the information is solid, primary source material.

So why did I feel entitled to tell you not to do it? Because I’m not perfect, I know better, and I’m working towards posting only accurate, educational stuff that I can feel good about passing on to others because it’s good information to know, not just information that I personally agree with that I would like others to know about and agree with, too.

Something I get accused of a lot is being “Too Liberal.” I often find that people get defensive because so much of the time their conservative views are on the wrong side of progress, and they worry about morality and whether or not “progress is actually good.” And here’s how I think about it: I’m not liberal or conservative. True, I tend to agree more with the liberal side of any issue, but I want what I think will create the best opportunities and safest living environments for everyone. So really, I just agree with what I either know is right, or think will work best to create what is “right”. If you have to get angry at the facts and discount the truth behind your opinions (i.e. the truth being that your opinions are not grounded in facts but in stereotypes, etc.) or call others names or get angry at them simply for disagreeing with your views–but not being able to back that disagreement up with facts–then you should really consider the validity of your own opinions. Perhaps you’ll discover that your view of the world is a little inaccurate and skewed. Or perhaps you won’t. But at least you’ll know.

So–especially as we jump into this God-forsaken 2016 presidential run–please, PLEASE think before you post. Sparks start fires. And only YOU can prevent false social media fires. (See what I did there?)

Until next time,

-tlc

Everything Is Going To Be Okay

Earlier this morning a friend sent me this graphic about several of my favorite success stories and where they were at 23 years old. Even though others’ failure shouldn’t be a comfort to me, knowing how far all of these people went to change the world (in their own respective ways) is reassuring. So many of us leave college feeling as though we have to have a life plan; as if our time to discover ourselves and build our career is extremely limited, and if we haven’t found ourselves and laid the foundation for our futures by the time we’re 24 or 25 we’ll never find success.

I’m learning very quickly that success isn’t necessarily a number on a paycheck. Success is living a life and lifestyle that makes your happy. Success is putting things out into the world that you are proud of. This doesn’t have to be physical objects, but can be actions, lessons, or the way you treat other people. All of these things have the ability to impact those around you.

So, to keep this post brief, here’s something I’ve learned just from contemplating this graphic:

1) Success means taking risks. If you don’t put yourself out there, if you don’t take a chance on your dreams, you’ll never achieve your goals. As the saying goes, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. I know it’s scary to go out on a limb away from any sort of familial or financial safety net, but if you don’t do it, you’ll never get where you want to go.

2) Failure isn’t the end. If this graphic isn’t the perfect example of that, just go read up on all the statistics about Donald Trump filing for bankruptcy. (Not that Trump is a great example of success by any means, but he’s still stinking rich.) The world keeps turning, even after it feels like it should stop. In your darkest moments, this may be a terrible reality, but time does indeed heal all wounds, and someday you will be grateful that life allows us to reinvent ourselves over, and over, and over again.

3) Change is necessary. All of these people made changes in their lives to get where they are today. You can’t expect to have different results if you try the same things over and over again. Sometimes this is really hard to hear, and even harder to put into practice. Especially as a writer, I understand the pain of spending so much time on one project, only to realize afterwards that I’m not getting the results I want with it. Starting over is difficult. Throwing out things you’re attached to so that you can make room for a fresh perspective is challenging. But nobody ever said life was easy.

So there you have it. Everything I gleaned from a simple internet graphic. Too bad most internet graphics spread stereotypes, not positive reinforcement. But that’s another post entirely.

Yours truly,

tlc

Don’t Judge Me By My Age

This is something that I’m sure a lot of younger 20-somethings can relate to. You’ve reached that point where you are for sure in adulthood, yet your experiences within adulthood are still relatively recent, new, or not yet accomplished (i.e. Getting your first “Big Kid” job, getting married, buying a car/house, having kids, etc.) Or, you’ve experienced those things, but you’re young enough that people assume you haven’t or that just in general, you don’t have enough life experience to deal with things maturely.

I’ve struggled against ageism (if I’m allowed to call it that) for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a household where I was the youngest by nine years, and by the time I turned ten, I was the youngest by 32 years. So naturally, I’ve grown up surrounded by people and frames of mind a decade + my senior. My parents always treated me with the respect that they would give another adult, and frankly, I’m so stubborn that they learned pretty early on that even as a kid, the only way to get through to me was by logical reasoning. So I was raised on a habit of examining myself and others and reasoning my way through interactions logically.

That being said, I find it very frustrating when I my thoughts or actions are discounted because of my age. Do not use my age as a reason why I can or cannot do something. Do not use my age as a reason why something is my fault. I am an adult, I may not have the wisdom that life experience brings, but I have enough insight to deal with concerns, issues, and problems, and I have enough maturity to accept responsibility where accepting responsibility is needed. To me, age is not the biggest factor in maturity. Maturity relies most heavily on perspective. Perspective can be acquired at any age.

One of my worst pet peeves are people who tell me how they acted or what they thought when they “were my age” and then proceed to use that as reasoning or expectation for my own actions and reactions in life. Sure, you have insight about things that happened in your life at a similar time. Sure you went through similar things that I might now be experiencing because of where I am in life in terms of getting a job, establishing a career, dating, etc. But that doesn’t mean we’re the same person or that we’re going to have the same experiences. By all means, share with me your advice or insight, but don’t expect that you know all the answers to my life or that you understand me or my actions completely.

I know this is very teenage-ery sounding, but this issue has weirdly come up a lot lately. I thought I had reached a place in my life where people had enough decency to get to know me, speak with me, realize my maturity before judging me based on my age. This has strangely not been the case. Perhaps those people need to gain some more perspective themselves.

It’s strange to be talking about ageism without referencing older adults and the elderly. But I guess just like every other issue, it can go both ways. And the more and more I interact with people of all walks of life, the more I realize just how seriously important it is to take the time to understand people, to empathize with them, and to really lead your life from a place of love so that you can have the patience to understand and empathize.

Just something to think about.

-tlc

A Sad Truth I’m Slowly Discovering About The World

I think this is something that I’ve noticed as a reigning quality in a lot of people ever since I was old enough to have any sort of insight on people and their characteristics. However, up until very recently, I had always chalked this quality up to growing pains; something that most, if not all, people would someday grow out of. Moving to LA, and finally living outside of the structured confines of school, it’s becoming increasingly hard to ignore the obvious self-absorption that rules people’s lives.

I’m not saying that I, too, am not guilty of this. Many times in a single day I have to stop and check myself. Make sure that I am taking others into consideration. And often there is still oversight because I don’t see things through others’ eyes, so I’m not going to automatically know what bothers them, to what extent it bothers them, or what they’re thinking. But the difference is that I recognize this rampant problem, make a conscious effort to consider my actions, and to understand where others are coming from. And I think this is sadly where most of the world falls short.

We get so wrapped up in our own minds, our own ways of thinking and living that we begin to mistake the “truth” and what is “right” and what is “wrong” as being black and white, something that operates very clearly in our favor and justifies our own motivations, actions, and beliefs. We do not take the time to consider other points of view, or give those points of view validation. Other people simply become that, “Other,” and are wrong, or crazy, or evil. No one suffers as much as we do, gives as much as we do, or considers us. In essence, the world around us becomes a “me” game. How does this effect “me,” why aren’t others thinking about “me,” I’m the only one looking out for “me,” why don’t others agree with “me.”

This is a dangerous spiral that we all fall into at one point or another, and if we don’t take a step back and really examine ourselves, we can become obsessed with the idea that there is malicious intention behind anything that doesn’t go our way. We don’t stop to think about the fact that most people out there don’t want conflict, don’t want to stir the boat anymore than you do. Or, we let the stressors in our lives get to us, and we take those emotions out on others, because we can’t handle the idea of being the problem. Because we are good people, and it’s those others who are bad.

People are always going to look out for #1, that’s just a sad fact of reality. There are too many selfish goals and dreams, too much greed driving most of us away from being selfless. And those who choose to be selfless, who attempt to care for others and make the world a better place, often find that day-to-day life becomes a struggle simply trying to stay alive, make ends meet, or simply find genuine companionship because someone will see an opportunity to create a shortcut for their own selfish purpose by taking advantage of that selfless person. Lately I’ve become exhausted to the point of illness because of people who cannot see past their own reasoning to understand how their words, actions, and requests come across and affect others.

It’s sad that there aren’t more genuine people out there. Those who embrace empathy as a top priority. But the longer I live in LA, the more I realize that truly, what you do in life, what you accomplish, is a drop in the bucket to the way you make others feel and the people you surround yourself with. Let’s all practice being a little more genuine, and getting out of our own frames of mind to better understand others. One of the many reasons I find myself often drawn to people of different walks of life from my own is that I want to understand them and their take on life. I write because I want others to hear those POV as well. I want to know how their background, their history, shades their view of the world and how they interpret others. I believe that the only truly stupid people out there are the ones so stuck in their own belief systems, their own opinions and view points, that they cannot hold any empathy for people who disagree with them. Those are the horrible people who call others names, accuse them of ruining the world, and let hate dictate their thoughts, words, and actions.

Don’t let hate dictate your thoughts, words, and actions. Love others more, and love yourself enough to let go.

-tlc