Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Instead of quitting...

To quit or to get so angry at yourself for wanting to quit that you decide to work your ass off instead? That is the question.

Now that I have that cliche Hamlet reference out of the way, I quite literally asked myself that question in the middle of the night recently before finding myself on my laptop. Writing instead of sleeping. Taking notes instead of counting sheep. Reconsidering my entire path in life instead of relaxing and waiting for tomorrow.

I am bursting with ideas and potential that I rarely use. I am getting buried under apathy and a lack of self-confidence. And most of all, I am getting angry. I'm angry at the employers and potential employers who keep blowing me off. I'm angry at the friends, family members and peers who expect the world of me only to be let down time after time after time. I'm angry at the stereotypes and expectations surrounding writers---how if you haven't written a best-selling book or don't have a blog that gets millions of page views, you ain't shit. But underneath it all, I realize that I'm angry at myself. I'm angry at myself for not giving my talent room to breathe, for settling for less than what I'm worth, and for wanting to quit 5 million times per week. And I never do because I never can. 

So instead of quitting, I'm turning my entire life into one big writing assignment. Every situation I go through and every emotion I feel is going to be turned into an article or story. To hell with not having a specific person or publication to send it to. I'm going to re-read "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott. I'm going to get up in the middle of the night when I have a new idea, even when I'm tired or have to get up early the next morning. I'm going to say no whenever I want to say no and yes whenever I want to say yes. I'm going to stop selling my soul for pennies and dollar bills. I'm not going to be afraid of doing a shitty job the first time, and I'm going to realize that "perfect" doesn't exist. I'm going to let my passion and enthusiasm be greater than my level of experience or expertise.

I will always have days where all I want to do is stay on the couch all day. I'm certainly not immune to discouragement, which is a big fat "DUH" if you read this blog regularly. But the fact that I've felt like quitting so many times has ignited a fear in me that one day I really will---and then be subjected to a lifetime of unhappiness and failure because of it. I'm going to get so mad at myself for even wanting to quit that I fight back with every ounce of motivation I still have standing.

And I promise you I will get somewhere.  

<3 Madison

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thoughts on social media (plus a week-long challenge)

Ah, social media. It's been spoken about countless times, so my ramblings might look like blobs of redundant nothingness through your computer (or smartphone) screens. But I still want to share my thoughts about it in my little corner of the Internet over here.

While social media has connected us in many wonderful ways, it has also disconnected us---not just from others, but from ourselves. I feel like I wouldn't even know who I am if it wasn't for this blog and the validation I receive through it. If I write a post and no one comments on it, I feel like an insignificant bore. If I post what I believe to be a witty or inspiring tweet or status update and nobody "likes" or "favorites" it, I become quite certain that everybody hates me. And I know I'm not alone in this.

When we don't get validation in real life, we try to find it on the Internet. When we STILL don't get it, we fall into a soul-sucking black hole. (I tend to exaggerate everything, but that observation sounds about right actually.) People resort to cyber-bullying and creating fake profiles and tricking people into downloading computer viruses and making it their goal in life to get "x" number of followers on *insert social media page here* by *insert date here* so they can have an excuse to celebrate or feel important---even though they have every damn right to celebrate for no reason whatsoever and would still be important if they lived in a box under a bridge. But no. People have to prove their worth by getting noticed on the Internet these days. It's like the world is screaming, "If you don't have a substantial social media following, then screw you."

One thing I pride myself on is not having a personal Facebook. About 98% of the people I know have one, but I know that I would much sooner gouge my eyes out with a fork than subject myself to the validation seeking, popularity contest, land of comparison that is Facebook. But even so, I still find myself falling into some of its traps through my Facebook blog page.

I've even heard that excessive social media use leads to a severe lack of empathy for others. And it's no wonder! Technology is turning us all into self-centered robots. Most people's biggest concerns of the day consist of someone calling them ugly on Instagram or unfollowing them on Twitter.

And I've noticed that I'm more myself on the Internet than in real life. Or maybe I'm actually less of myself. Either way, it sucks. No one should define their identity or self-worth through a blog or social media page. It's like a slow death of the human spirit. I can barely remember who I was before I started using the Internet and creating social media profiles. Can you?  

Here's my challenge: 

1. Do not check stats or pageviews for a week (or a month if you're feeling ballsy) if you have a blog or social media page that allows you to do so. If you want to take it a step further, never check them again (unless you have to for business purposes).  

2. Because Facebook is the worst social networking site in my opinion (sorry Facebook), no Facebook for a week (or a month if you're feeling ballsy). Turn off your notifications. Do not go on Facebook at all, even if you're not officially logged in to YOUR page. NO FACEBOOK PERIOD. (I bet a vast majority of you will fail at this one. I'm not trying to be mean, but I know that Facebook addiction is a real thing.) If you want to take it a step further, delete your Facebook altogether.   

3. Give three people a compliment in real life (or six people if you're feeling ballsy). If you want to take it a step further, tell three (or six) people who would least expect it---a co-worker you've barely spoken two words to, a stranger at the grocery store, or one of those telemarketers that everybody hates.  

4. No cell phones at the dinner table for a week (or a month if you're feeling ballsy). Even if you're not using it, don't let it sit by your dinner plate like a dying tomagotchi. Using it or not using it, taking your cell phone to the dinner table with you is rude. I've done it plenty of times before, but I always feel like an asshole when I do. No more. Put it away and try having an actual conversation with whoever you're eating dinner with. If you want to take it a step further, encourage your dinner mates to put theirs away too.  

If you do the challenge and would like to email me about it, my address is: MadisonSonnier[AT]gmail[DOT]com. Let's do it together starting NOW.

<3 Madison      

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Do you ever randomly start thinking about an ancient flame, friend, or other person who was once a major part of your life, but is currently no part of it at all? I do. Sometimes it's a fleeting thought after hearing their favorite song on the radio or accidentally on purpose getting a glimpse of their profile picture on Facebook. Sometimes it's like someone tipped over the dirty laundry basket titled "old feelings" inside my soul and the contents of that basket begin to fester and contaminate and make me have dreams and thoughts about said person on an alarmingly consecutive basis.

Four years ago (FOUR YEARS), I had a very dramatic and upsetting fall-out with one of my best friends. (Dear people I know in real life who read this blog: Please don't ask me who this person is if you don't already know. That is irrelevant and my business.) Once upon a time, we were thick as thieves. We told each other everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING). We were there for each other unconditionally. She spent time with me because she wanted to, not because she felt obligated to. And she spent time with me without needing other people to be around to break the ice. She was like the sister I never had. I am a better, more open person for having had her in my life. But shit happened as shit often does, and we haven't seen or spoken to each other in four years. After the expected period of grief and anger, I moved on pretty smoothly. Bad feelings diminished. I felt healthier and happier. I rarely gave her a second thought, and whenever I did, feelings of rage and betrayal were no longer attached. I had moved on. I was happy.

So why has she been taking up so much of my mental space lately? Why do I find myself fantasizing about having a conversation with her? Sitting in the front seat of her car again? Having her number in my phone? Being in her wedding someday? It's not so much that I want or expect us to be best friends again. I just all of a sudden feel like she is a piece of unfinished business in my life. Sound familiar?

There is so much taboo surrounding the subject of thinking about or pining away for things from the past. "Move on," people say. "Things change. People come and go. Focus on the present!" While all of that may be true, I am not going to preach it here because it sounds too simplistic and verges on insulting. That's like losing your thumb and hearing someone say, "Welp...You don't really need that sucker anyway. Be grateful for all your other fingers." And no, I don't think this analogy is too far-fetched because I've actually heard people compare break-ups to losing a vital limb or body part. I can't say I've ever gone through a personal loss of that magnitude, but I can understand how someone would feel that way, based on the losses I have suffered and the knowledge of how awful it would be to lose people I currently have a strong emotional attachment to.

Loss and the feelings associated with it demand to be acknowledged, no matter how much time has passed. 

I can't tell if the feelings I'm currently having are because I want to reconcile a friendship that was never meant to end or simply because I need closure---to let her know that I forgive her and don't hate her and that I hope she can say the same about me.

But whatever the case, I think I'm just going to try to let it go. Closure is incredibly elusive, and a lot of people never get it. Not all endings need to be wrapped up in a pretty bow, and I believe you can forgive someone without directly contacting them. I think old feelings pop up to teach us something about ourselves, not the other person.

I believe that the fact that I haven't yet found "my people" is contributing to my desire to reach out to my old people---the people who were only meant to be my people for a little while, teach me a valuable lesson, and then be set free. Maybe that's all this is about. 

After reading this, you might still be tempted to contact people from your past. That's okay. It might even be beneficial. In spite of everything I just wrote, I might still reach out to my old friend if these feelings persist (although that is unlikely). But just brace yourself for the fact that contacting them could reopen old wounds, frustrate and bewilder you all over again, or kick you right back to square one of the healing process.

And if you decide to NOT reach out to them, then just feel your feelings with the comfort of the knowledge that they will pass once again. Shed new tears for old circumstances without shame or embarrassment. Figure out what your soul is trying to tell you by tipping over your dirty laundry baskets. Forgive yourself in addition to forgiving others.

You don't need closure from someone else. You need it from yourself.

<3 Madison