Thursday, January 30, 2014

Choosing what resonates with you

As an avid Internet user/blog reader/people pleaser, I get fed a lot of information and a lot of opinions on a daily basis. I try to look for the truth is almost everything I hear, which is a terrible habit now that I think about it. Sometimes I'll hear something that makes me feel really uncomfortable or insecure. My head will say, "Well that has to be true. A professional/a more prominent member of the blogosphere/your mother/a famous person said it." And then my gut will say, "No no no, I disagree, I disagree. This doesn't feel right!" And yet I still adopt other people's beliefs as my own until I don't know what I believe anymore.

We all have views, opinions and beliefs about things. It doesn't necessarily mean that anyone is right or wrong. I've been trying to make more of an effort to really decide what resonates with me versus what doesn't. If I don't stay true to my own views, I tend to lose myself. I become a mindless follower of everyone else. I lie to myself. I get terribly confused and terribly frustrated.

So from this day forward, I propose that each of you choose the views, opinions and beliefs that resonate with you. It's okay if your best friend, partner, grandmother, or goldfish disagrees with you. They have their way of life, and you have yours.

Some people may believe that you have to do something big in order to matter. Others may believe that simply being alive and happy is enough, regardless of what you do or don't do.

Some people may believe in saying yes more often. Others may believe in saying no more often.

Some people may believe in playing the field and dating lots of different people. Others may believe in playing for keeps or not playing at all.

Some people may believe in living off of green juice and kale chips. Others may believe in giving yourself permission to indulge in cupcakes and tater tots.

Some people may believe that feeling beautiful means wearing hair extensions and fake eyelashes. Others may believe that feeling beautiful means throwing their hair back in a bun and being okay with their aversion to make-up.

Some people may believe in constantly fixing themselves. Others may believe in accepting themselves just as they are at any given moment.

Some people may believe in following a traditional path in life. Others may believe in marching to the beat of a different drum.

Whatever your beliefs, views or opinions, own them. You don't have to stray from your path just because a seemingly cooler/more experienced person says you should.

Cheers to being yourself...unapologetically.

<3 Madison


Monday, January 20, 2014

Identity crisis

I rather impulsively posted the following status update on Facebook the other day:

"Guys, I'm having an identity crisis.

I've been working through a book of exercises for 20-somethings for the past month, and I just finished reading a section about disentangling who you are from what you do. But I've noticed multiple times that when I take away my title as "writer," I literally have no idea who I am or why I matter to the world.

Does anybody else struggle with this? Do you tie the entire meaning of your existence to what you do?


It's true. Ever since I started writing, I've felt a sense of meaning and purpose in my life. I would think, "This is what I am meant to do. This is what makes me important in the world, even if it makes me just a little bit more important than I used to be."

The book I've been reading has really encouraged me to peel back a lot of layers in my life. It has led to a lot of self-discovery, not all of it very comforting. One of my latest realizations is that I have been tying a large chunk of my identity to my job for a long time. When I'm not working or not working on something I enjoy, I feel worthless. When I describe myself, the things I like about myself, and the things I enjoy doing, most of those things have something to do with my ability to create. While this isn't necessarily a terrible thing (because it's good to do something you can feel good and passionate about), it's detrimental to my self-esteem. If I'm not a writer, I don't really know who I am. It's unsettling.

The book I'm referring to (20 Something, 20 Everything) asked the following questions in an exercise about separating who you are from what you do:

1. Do you think a job can make you feel better about yourself? Will it (or does it) validate you?

2. Do you think you must have a career in order to feel successful?

3. Do you feel embarrassed when someone asks you what you do for a living? Are you ashamed of what you do?

4. Do you think people would think more of you if you had a better job?

5. Do you think your life would be better if you had a job you loved?

6. Do you ever feel worthless because you do not think you are doing something important?

I answered "yes" or "sometimes" to every single question. Ever since I got out of high school, I've been driven by the need to do something. When my writing finally started to take off and I started landing gigs here and there, it validated me as a human. And even though I enjoy what I do (most of the time), I still don't feel established enough. I don't make enough money. I don't have enough notoriety in the world of writers. I haven't succeeded at something big or super note-worthy. I'm always wanting more and feeling embarrassed and less than when I don't live up to expectations. Therefore, I tie my identity and self-worth to how much I do.

And despite knowing that this is an unhealthy mentality, I can't seem to break it. No matter how many times I am reminded that I am worthy simply for existing, I just don't feel important unless I'm doing something productive and meaningful.

Sometimes I can't help but ask myself if I've really grown much at all. I tied my sense of self-worth to what I did (or didn't do) after high school, and I've recently realized that I'm still doing it now. Sure, I found something I'm passionate about that gives me a sense of meaning, but if I'm not doing or succeeding at that something, I still judge myself---just like I did 4 years ago.

Maybe it will take a lot of time and self-awareness to break this awful habit of mine. Maybe it will take going on a vacation and vowing not to touch my laptop while I'm away. Maybe it will take a lot more internal searching and a lot less external searching (like asking complete strangers to validate me and tell me who I am on Facebook).

Who are you when you're not doing anything? Who are you when no one is watching?

<3 Madison     

Friday, January 17, 2014

Miscellaneous thoughts (Part 9)

~ How many times can you struggle with the same exact thing before you're not socially allowed to struggle with it anymore?

~ Wonderful things will happen if you genuinely believe that wonderful things will happen---and that you deserve those things.

~ Rejection is vary rarely about you.

~ Overanalyzation creates problems that never existed in the first place.

~ Love will come to you. It may not come in the way or the time that you hope or expect, but it will come.

~ Are you following the trends or following your heart?

~ I can't seem to stop tying my sense of self-worth to what I do. No matter how many times people say being is more important than doing, I just don't feel like that's the case in modern society. We seem to only be defined and judged by the things we do. I'm confused.

~ The joy of living your own life and doing your own thing is greater than the discomfort of stepping on a few toes along the way.

~ Being a "grown-up" has more to do with your attitude and level of productivity than your external accomplishments.

~ Replace the word "should" with the word "could."

<3 Madison

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A hopeful new year

Happy New Year, friends. Today is my annual day of feeling both hopeful and dreadful about my life and where it's going. It's a day of what ifs and self-doubt. But it's also a day of gratitude and excitement. I've already gone from feeling cranky to happy to melancholy to gratified, and it's only noon.

Despite my mixed feelings, I try to start each new year on a positive note. I try to hold on to feelings of hope and excitement.

Here are my hopes for you (and myself) this year:

I hope you always remember to remind yourself that you're not alone. Whatever you're going through or feeling right now, I absolutely guaranteed you that somebody somewhere is going through or feeling the exact same thing.

I hope you choose love over and over and over again.

I hope you make and achieve goals because you want to and not because you have someone to impress or something to prove.

I hope you pay attention to your priorities and do your best to nurture them, even though life is busy, demanding and complicated at times.

I hope all your dreams come true.

I hope you work hard to keep your head above the water when all you want to do is allow yourself to drown.

I hope you choose kindness over revenge.

I hope you take care of yourself.  

I hope you give yourself a chance.

I hope you realize that trying is success within itself---even if you try and fail.

I hope you learn to differentiate "should" from "want to."

I hope you take each day as it comes and realize that this very moment is the only thing you need to focus on.

<3 Madison