I binge watch MSNBC til my eyes bleed, I scroll the TL for hours just to feel worse, I read comments sections, I argue fights I can’t win. It feels compulsory, like an itch.
What’s going to upset me this morning?
I could simply turn on British Baking Show reruns while I work or better yet go to a coffee shop and get out of my head but I’m always a button push away from a vomit inducing White House lawn press conference because why learn?
But when I’m better than that, less masochistic...
the things that make me feel good again are; baths, walks, thrilling books, my group chats, a phone call with my mom, something homemade and warm like biscuits or roasted chicken or pork, clean sheets, a good meme, a bone-dry rosé, a pretty bra, comfy sweatshirts (borrowed from bf), peppermint tea, a walk through every aisle of Target, writing in notebooks, dogs.
Unplugging is probably the most challenging action for me these days and compounded when the news reaches a new level of unfathomable insanity. Like most of us, I need to be in-the-know and available for my job but its time to unplug for a bit when I compulsively open-close-open apps.
If I'm at the office, I'll tap into Airplane Mode for an hour here and there or turn my off my phone (temptation!). On the weekend, I will do something physical like a bike ride or exercise or read a book so I'm not babysitting my screen. Take my dog for a walk. If I'm feeling dreary, I also LOVE a QVC moment and will watch for a mood boost. It's such a fun guilty pleasure.
My mom has always told me that the best way to learn is by doing, experiencing, and eventually teaching. The few years leading up to my 25th year around the sun have been hard. I won’t sugar coat it, they’ve been among the hardest, realest years of my life. Through these past few years, I’ve blossomed into who I am.
There’s nothing worse than that feeling of dread twist in your guts when you see someone you haven’t spoken to in months, years, decades who you don’t consider a friend or just know at face value. Of course there’s another type of feeling that I’ve gotten when seeing an old friend, a sort of rush of joy and a need to catch up and share tenderness. You can sense the difference between these feelings, and your instincts are usually right. The pressure to humble brag about my accomplishments and the expectation to veil my truths in “I’m doing really well”s when maybe I’m NOT doing really well often leave me feeling gross and inauthentic. I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older that my attachment to social obligations has faded, and I wish that someone had given me permission to feel this way earlier in my life. I’ve wasted a lot of time making small talk with people who exist between the realm of “old friend” and “acquaintance” who maybe don’t have an understanding of all growing I’ve been doing. People freeze you in their memories as who you once were, which can be pretty upsetting if you’ve made efforts to work on yourself a lot. There’s nothing wrong with a quick hello and keeping it moving if you need to.
Since early college, I’ve been getting backlash about my “inappropriate” pictures on Instagram. I’ve been told that I won’t be hired or respected by my employers if my body or sexuality is on too much of a display for the world to see. As a person who’s been a college grad for two years and in the workforce for one, I can tell you that I have never once lost an opportunity because of my instagram. If anything, I’ve used it to my advantage. I’ve worked my way up from retail to customer service to corporate sales in lingerie based on my knowledge of thirst traps in general. There’s something to be said about privilege within this. Because I am white, acceptably thin, and cis, I am not judged as severely as others might be for posting photos like I do. Regardless of this fact, I make a conscious decision every day to choose who I am on the internet--which sometimes is a clear reflection of myself, like a selfie with a funny caption, and sometimes is an alter ego of sexy, juicy thirst trap goodness. Neither of these aspects of myself are better or worse, and neither of these parts of who I am make me less of a hard worker, thoughtful individual, or overall boss bitch. We do not lose professional value by allowing ourselves space to be portrayed in a sexual light. If anything, I applaud anyone who’s sexy on the internet or on the street for their multi-dimensional qualities. So post the thirst trap if you want to. You deserve it.
When I was feeling my lowest in the past few years, I felt that I was a bad activist. I’d beat myself up for being too anxious to call my reps, too depressed to leave the house, too afraid to attend a protest. In reality, I was battling severe depression and loneliness after moving to New York from a small, comfy town filled with all my friends and family. During the early months of the bills FOSTA (Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act) and SESTA (Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act), something shifted in me. I started noticing that the people around me that I interacted with every day were not aware of this legislation that would affect the lives of sex workers all around the country. As someone who was a cam girl in college and still dabble in online sex work today, I felt that it was my duty to do something to support those who’d be severely discriminated against and without resources because of these bills. What I knew I could do was educate myself about these bills, listen to the voices of sex workers, do my own research, and spread information. I drafted texts that could be sent to RESIST bot and sent them to my friends. I reposted call scripts and wrote simplified versions for people who needed them, which eventually lead to me getting up the guts to call New York senators myself. I shared as much information as I could on all of my social media platforms. I talked to strangers about FOSTA and SESTA every day. I even wrote my critical essay for my MFA thesis on how the literary world NEEDS to provide better allyship to sex workers, because we’re aiding in their discrimination with our words. Even those these bills passed in April (thanks, Bernie and Amy Schumer!), I felt like I had done at least something to fight against them. You don’t have to be the most ACTIVE activist if you aren’t feeling 100%, but you can find ways to create your own forms of activism. Mine was doing something I do everyday--just talking.
I’ve learned this the hard way. Since I can remember, I’ve declared things about myself as fact, as absolute. As a child I said that I was going to be a singer, actor, writer, teacher. My aspirations were constantly shifting and changing, and I found myself holding on to these goals so strongly that I’d have a hard time forgiving myself for not making them reality. As an adult, I’ve tried and I’ve failed, I’ve picked things up and put them down again.
Sometimes, I’ve had to let go of a definitive aspect about myself and it’s hard as hell for me to let go in general. When I stopped being a vegetarian after college for mental and physical health reasons, I had an extremely hard time forgiving myself or accepting change. When I lose interest in a creative project or fall off of a good streak with going to the gym, I feel the same way. I beat myself up for inconsistency and I kick myself for not following the declaration of apart of my identity that I made up.
Sometimes defining things clearly is good for us. When people make the choice to become sober or to practice better healthy decisions—like seeing a therapist or finding a new coping mechanism that they chose to incorporate in their life—they’re making positive promises with themselves. There’s room for absolutes if you’re willing to make pacts with yourself, all I’m saying is work towards being able to forgive when you don’t get your heart set on something.
Humans are constantly evolving, constantly growing creatures. A good friend once told me that we shift every 7 years--our bodies change, our minds change, our ways of communicating shift and grow. (Pro-tip: This means if you know someone for over seven years and you’ve lived through change together, that’s a life long friend. I’m lucky enough to be on year 8 with my boyfriend, Noah, and we’ve grown a whole hell of a lot together. Shout out to him for watching me evolve without breaking my process.)
I’ve lived by a mantra for a few years now: Unvoiced expectations lead to disappointment. Not only does this apply to your relationships with others, it applies to your relationship with yourself. Speak things into existence. Manifest your goals and dreams. But don’t beat yourself up in the process. There’s always room for growth and development, babes.
True fact: I found my kindness through the Internet. My typing voice is more me than I think my out loud voice is, and I’m really trying to focus in on what my heart is saying and feeling these days, especially in the current state of our country. A lot of the time I express my anxiety in my daily life through my defensive use of humor or my ability to talk back without too much filtering. It’s been really important to me in the year leading up to 25 that I am more vulnerable, soft, kind, and compassionate--and using social media as a tool has helped me practice this immensely. Because I’m a fan of social media in general, I’m going to suggest that you put effort, compassion, and kindness into your online pen pals. Instead of comparing yourself to others, try using social media as an opportunity to create community, exchange perspective, cheer on, gas up. It’s all around good for you.
And I’ll add one more, because six is my lucky number.
UTIs and dehydration suck, drink water. Germs live on your phone--avoid getting sick, acne, and spreading germs by cleaning your phone with rubbing alcohol a few times a week. Gossip, shit talk, and social media stalking are things that might feel good in the moment, but in reality, don’t you have better things to be doing? Eliminating shit talk that goes nowhere and is generally unproductive has saved a lot of time in my life. Value your time more. Your dreams and goals and aspirations are way more fun to focus on.