Your Scars Are Who You Are, But Not All You Are

Fat cats make me happy.

Fat cats make me happy.

Yesterday while wasting time on Facebook, there was a headline on the “trending” sidebar that said something like, “#DearFatPeople Video Generates Viral Response.” Earlier in the day the “Dear Fat People” video had crossed my Tumblr feed full of comments like, “Hahahahaha! Harsh, but needed to be said!” “Hilarious!” “Right on!” “She’s not wrong though.” I knew watching this video would make me want to punch someone in the nads, so I thought it best to avoid it as long as possible. I managed to hold out until I saw Shawn Halpin’s hilarious response. He hit all the points- hacky jokes, crappy acting, poor content, and lack of empathy- better then I ever could.

But as funny as the response was, I could not get her stupid video out of my head. It left me unsettled. That just pissed me off, because I know that’s what this narcissistic loon wanted. I think it’s because her rant gave a voice and a face to what I assumed that everyone was thinking about me when I was heavier. That I was lazy, dirty, smelly, that I was stupid and demanded special treatment. To be honest, there is a part of me that still assumes that is what people think of me. She starts off by saying, “Fat shaming is not a thing,” but then shames someone who sat next to her on an airplane (which I’m sure was a joy for him, as well). Look, I can only speak to my experiences, but all I know is that when I was 95.4 pounds heavier I didn’t get nearly as many doors held open or people making eye contact with me as I do now. I’ve previously written about the vendor at a Ray LaMontagne concert who wouldn’t show me women’s sized t-shirts. Those are just the things I’m comfortable sharing.

jon hamm sure

The original video creator claims to “love” and be “concerned” for obese people. Later she was bragging about all her new Twitter followers. Then shut her You Tube channel down, falsely claiming You Tube shut it down and was “censoring” her.

In the springtime, my friend and I were crossing the street and this guy was walking towards us smiling. I thought, “What the hell is this guy’s problem?” and glared at him. He did an awkward glance down at his shoes, a hard exhale and dropped his smile as he passed. Literally six hours later I realized that he was smiling at me and I looked at him like he was going to steal my purse! Sorry, random guy crossing Erie, but that’s the screen I’ve come to see things through. The comments that hurt the most usually don’t come from hostile faces. They come disguised behind smiles and a thin veil of trust that throws you off balance.

I do not know one single woman who has no body image issues. I’ve never heard any woman say, ‘YEA!!! Bathing suit shopping!!” But I have heard a lot of, “I don’t wear shorts/skirts/tank tops because my thighs/legs/arms/butt.” So hearing another woman who presumably knows the pressure women are under to be physically perfect and 25 forever use those expectations with the intention of hurting others is exceptionally disappointing. I know men aren’t immune either. A couple of my guy friends won’t let the doctor tell them what they weigh. Not because it’s high, but because they aren’t built like Thor. Society is hardcore fucked up in this area.

The bottom line is that no matter how much I lose and no matter what I look like, things like this will always hit a nerve in me. I’ll always carry the scars of the words and actions that I let hurt me. However, the difference is between me 5 years ago and me now is not so much the number on the scale as it’s a mental shift. Five years ago I would have thought, “Really? This is what people think of me?” and cried. Me now thinks (most of the time), “Really? This is what people think of me? Sucks to be them.” I hope the video creator finds peace or fame or whatever she’s looking for.

And I don’t give a fuck if you think I suck, because I know I’m amazing.- “Amazing’, Hi Fashion

Get Confident, Stupid! or How I Learned I Was Not Alone In The Sea of Suckage

In my circle of friends, I’m totally the weird brother in-law from The Hangover.

My friend, we’ll call her, “Jolene” (because that’s her name) and I spent a truly nightmarish amount of hours together while we were in school. We saw each other more then we saw our families for probably three months. Because of this, people seemed to think of us as a single unit. A woman in the student life office said, “In my mind, you guys are best friends, live in the same house, cook and do everything together!” So…she thought we were married? To each other? Maybe this is why that guy implied I was a lesbian in a job interview.

But the funniest was when our student group advisor wanted to talk to Jolene and I, but got pulled into a meeting. We’ll call him, “Dave” (that’s really his name, I’m bad at this pseudonym thing). Jolene and I had to leave, so I sent him an e-mail that said, “We had to go, but we’ll talk tomorrow.” A little later Dave calls my cell phone. I told him I was on my way home, but what’s up. He said, very seriously, “Is Jolene with you?” I giggled and thought, “Jesus Christ, do people really think we live together?” My inner smart ass became my outer smart ass when I said, “Now, Dave, Jolene and I do not actually live together.” Silence. Um…okay. Clearly Dave was not in a very Beth place that afternoon. I straightened up and put on serious businesswoman face. “No, she’s on her way home, too. Do you want me to tell her something for you?” For the record, he recovered and found me hilarious again the next day.

A visual representation of trying to find myself in the world after school was out.

I thought of this story when one of my friends was lamenting how much longer he had left in school and I gladly offered to change places with him because I loved school and miss it almost every day. He said he couldn’t relate, but asked why did I miss it? Honestly, no one had ever asked me that before and aside from, “it was awesome,” I didn’t know how to answer. Thinking about it for a while, it boiled down to being in a kind of insulated, supportive environment. Even on bad days, I knew there were a bunch of people who had my back and that I could turn to when things got rough. If nothing else they were there say, “Guuuuuurl, I know.” Then they’re just gone. Suddenly it feels like you’re floating alone in this big sea of suckage where no one gives a shit about you.

But then I started thinking, is that really true? I mean, just because I feel like it’s true doesn’t mean it is. I believe a lot of stupid shit, plus feelings are kind of dicks and lie. A LOT. Can I call up those same people, get advice, share victories, or just vent and would I do the same for them? Absolutely. I do it all the time (much to their dismay). They’re the people I want to do everything with and if we could move into a compound and hang out all the time, I totally would (no, I wouldn’t) (yes, I would).

So, just because we aren’t forced to be in a teeny room with each other for an ungodly number of hours every day doesn’t mean that there is less support. Yes, people get busy and have to do their own thing, but I know that I’ve got an awesome support system around me. I’m sorry it took me so long to realize it.

Bigger and Better

confidenceLast time we were together, things were a bit bleak. The day before I had just got word that, despite looking like it was all sewn up, I would “not be advancing in the hiring process” for what looked to be my dream job. I mean, when the hiring manager comes up to you with a gleam in her eye and in a sing-song voice says, “You’ll be hearing from us soon!” you kind of think it’s yours, you know? It was a heart-breaker. If you are thinking that I just moped around the house for a month like grim death minus the hood and sickle, well, you would totally be correct. BUT then things started to turn around.

About a month later, one of my designer friends, who has way too much work, asked me if I could help her out for a little while. Then another friend suggested my name to her bosses as a writer their company’s blog. So I went from no jobs to two jobs. Then just last night I started back to school. Now I’m avoiding all of it by updating my blog (*note to self: google “time management”).

Now that we’re all caught up, what I really wanted to write about was attitude. The place I was at over the summer wasn’t the best fit for me. Then I went right into job searching. It was like this very gradual snowball effect that made this negative loop start playing. You know that negative voice that tells you that you suck at life? Well, it took me a minute (or three months, but who’s counting) to realize that voice is a lie. It’s lying to me, it’s lying to you, it’s just lying. It’s a jerk. Whenever we give into it and give into the fear it creates, we’re cheating ourselves. Because those things that the voice says we could never do or shouldn’t do, are probably the exact things we need to be doing.

Now, I’m not talking about knocking over a liquor store or keying someone’s car in the Starbuck’s parking lot because of her rage inducing bad driving. But those things that you think, “Hey, that would be pretty cool, buuuuut…..” and this list of excuses comes up. Those are the things that you would love to do, but that voice holds you back. Do them. The second we tell that voice to shut up, we get free.

Things are good for now, but I can’t do this forever. I really do want to work in an office with coworkers (I know, I have issues). So back out into the world I go, this time with a little bit of a safety net and a little bit wiser. There will be sing-songy HR ladies again, I’m sure, but, oh well. That’s what happens sometimes, I guess. That voice? When it starts, I’m just going to sing this song to it, because I know I’m amazing.

“Do The Work” or The Wisdom of Freddie Rumsen

Sometimes you hear what you need from the weirdest places. This one ends happy and is short, I promise. There’s even some bad language!

I’ve been walking around feeling incredibly sorry for myself lately. The intern/job search isn’t going as expected (yet) and getting all those, “Thank you for applying, APPLICANT NAME HERE” e-mails starts to wear on you around #10 or so. And someone, whose name sound an awful lot like Teth Trousil, may have made an ass out of herself crying her in favorite teacher’s office not once, but twice in one week.

Anyway, in case you didn’t know, I’m a huge Mad Men fan. When I talk to people about Don, Joan, and Peggy, I’ve been told more then once, “Beth, you know it’s not a documentary, right?” Those people are jerks. So, last night we see our hero, Don Draper, at pretty much the lowest point of his life. Without going into too much detail, he got drunk in the office, a coworker, Freddie Rumsen (a recovering alcoholic) snuck him out and he passed out on his couch. Knowing Don is basically rebelling against the rules put in place by the company to keep him on the straight and narrow or get him fired (google it if you’re interested, I’m trying to keep this short), Freddie says to Don:

“I mean, are you just going to kill yourself? Give them what they want? Or go in your bedroom, get in your uniform, fix your bayonet, and hit the parade? Do the work, Don.” 

If I were wearing pearls I would have clutched them.

It made me think of the book, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (which you must read and by “you” I mean, “everyone in the universe”). I’ve been so focused on the wrong things and letting my setbacks, which aren’t even really setbacks, define me. In the season premiere, Peggy locked her door and dropped to her knees with this cry of anguish and I almost cried, too, because, well, let’s just say I could relate.

But Freddy and Steven Pressfield are right: the only way out is through. You sit down, do the work, and you show them what the fuck they are missing. You show them why you are great. Not were great or could be great, but ARE great. Because no one else is going to believe it, if you don’t believe it first.

I’m kind of scared about what comes now that school is almost over. By “kind of,” I of course mean, “extremely,” because long-time readers know that I’m pretty much scared of everything. But I have to believe that if the universe has gotten me this far, that it wouldn’t abandon me now. Maybe I should think of this as the calm before the storm? Wait…that sounds a little awful. Hm…maybe I should work on my cliches while I have some free time.

Caramel Apples For Peace and Happiness

Aerial Silk Artist 2I like fall (this is going somewhere of substance, I swear). It just doesn’t expect as much from you as spring and summer. Spring’s weather is too unpredictable, like that friend with big plans, but only follows through 10% of the time. You’re about to walk out the door when that  flake Spring calls. “Dude, my brother in-law couldn’t get the tickets.” Then Summer is like that cool friend who is ALWAYS doing something super fun, but it’s exhausting and expensive to hang out with them. Fall doesn’t care if you want to lay on the couch in your pajamas until 3 in the afternoon. “Let’s put on a cozy sweater, eat caramel apples and watch something scary!” says Fall.

What is always weird for me though is how gently shocking the seasons are. When it’s winter and the trees have no leaves and the grass is dead or snow-covered, it’s as if I can’t remember what they looked like when green and full of life.  Obviously, I know what that looks like, but it’s like the other memories paste over the incidental things like seasons. When they get here, it’s like, “Oh, right. Of course that’s how vivid the grass is after a storm.”

That, “Oh right,” feeling was the same one I had while researching this week’s post. I wanted to work in this story (I forgot why) I read years ago in a book called, The Zen of Eating and I wanted to make sure I remembered it correctly. The story was this guy living a in cave and one day he came home to find all these demons. So he was like, “What the hell? This is my cave/house! Get out!” A few left, but most didn’t. He tried everything to get them out- getting physical with them, yelling at them, praying them away. Nothing worked. Finally he said, “Okay, jerks, if you aren’t going to go, I guess we’re just going to have to find a way to live together.” It was then that the demons faded away.

That book changed my life. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I still ate super bad and gained about 3 billion pounds (approximately). But it introduced me to the concept of mindfulness. It was so easy that I thought, “Why the hell not?” As I remember it described in the book, mindfulness is being present in a moment, paying attention to your breathing, hearing the noises and feeling the sensations that surround you for just a moment. That’s it. Try it. I’ll wait….

*filing nails*

You’re instantly calmer and your head is clearer, right? So anyway, as I was doing my hard-hitting research (a Google search) trying to find this story, I realized that I haven’t been practicing mindfulness nor keeping in mind any other Buddhist teachings. I’m not a Buddhist, I don’t pretend to be and I’m not even that smart, but I do know that when I remember to practice mindfulness and keep in mind the 4 Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Path to the best of my ability, that my life goes smoother. I’m not going to recount all of their principles here, because if you are interested, there are about 8 millions (approximately) books and documentaries  out there and even a movie with Keanu Reeves, Chris Isaak and Bridgette Fonda (it was the 90’s, she was in everything, it was in the Constitution).  But here is my uneducated interpretation of a few things.

The first noble truth in Buddhism is that there is suffering. As shitty as that sounds, it kind of nice that someone acknowledges that yep, life is pretty sucky sometimes instead of seeing all these internet posts attempting to convince us that everyone else’s life is ten thousand times more perfect then yours will ever be and making you feel bad about feeling bad. The second is that the suffering is caused by attachments and clinging. I always add “expectations” in there, too. Feelings and situations are constantly changing, but we expect them to stay the same forever or a certain outcome that we rarely get. The way out of the suffering is the 8 fold path. It’s not like the 12 steps of AA or that I will need when Whole Foods stops selling caramel apples in a couple of weeks. Once you know about the 8 fold path, you’re on it and you just follow the guidelines as best you can all at once. You can follow this link if you want more info, but the gist of it is, don’t be a jerk, which is the basic principle of most religions. This life can be hard and we should all try and find something non-destructive that eases our way a little.

Here’s a fun song that has nothing to do with Buddhism, but it sounds kind of Indian/Asian and I like it.

There Is No Switch

lightbulbOccasionally I think the alternate name for this blog could be, “Sometimes I’m an idiot,” because I share a lot of things that are new or revelations to me and imagine people thinking, “Yeah, no shit, dumb ass.” This is one of those weeks. It starts out weight/fitness related, but it it applies to everything in the end.

So the other day I was logging my exercise and reading a fitness/nutrition forum. I can’t even remember exactly what I read, but it was something like, “Of course I want junk food, too, but I want health more.” I could feel the lightbulb over my head. I guess I thought that there were Healthy Eaters and Everyone Else. The Healthy Eaters didn’t even want Doritos or cookies and were content with their sprouts and whatever the hell else they eat and were just born that way. I think I also thought if I forced myself into that Healthy Eater box, that eventually a switch would flip, (this is starting to sound like a particularly odd Twilight Zone episode), I wouldn’t crave junk and healthy eating would be effortless. Honestly, it just never occurred to me that the Healthy Eaters would want junk, too. Oh, I’m sure there are those freaks who are like, “Oh, no! Not me! I would rather have this big bowl of cinnamon flavored air then that big plate of nachos!” But they are the exception.

I don’t think this is solely an issue related to fitness and is true of all goals. We go around thinking a magic switch is going to flip that is going to keep us constantly motivated, give us unwavering commitment, and make us laugh in the face of obstacles. When that doesn’t happen and it’s still a struggle, we figure something is wrong with us and give up. But there is no switch. There is no big moment where we stop wanting to take the easier path. The only difference between those who achieve their goals and those who don’t is that those who achieve have figured this out already. They know the road that leads to the final destination is not flat, perfect pavement, but full of potholes, cracks, u-turns, construction, “bridge out” and “slippery pavement” signs.

It kind of sounds like bad news, but it’s really not. It takes away any invisible barriers we have put up that hinders up from becoming a goal achiever. There’s no difference between us and them. There isn’t really an us and them- it’s everyone. We’ll still crave Doritos, the hardest part of working out will still be putting on our shoes, and it will always be easier stay with the familiar then to venture into the unknown. It doesn’t make us defective or destined for failure. It just makes us human. Keep your eye on the prize, keep moving forward, and realize you’re stronger then almost anything that can come your way.

Coincidentally “I’m Out There!”

owlMy internship search rages on. I keep finding great internships…for other people. Every other listing I think, “Wow! This would be perfect for….” Then there was the one that sounded great for me, I applied and got an error message after I hit submit. I submitted again only to get another error message that I had already applied. Um, okay. At least I know it’s not because they don’t like my work that I won’t get it, but because I’m a tool. So the search goes on.

A few months ago I was talking with one of my teachers and he said, “You have to let people know you. Put yourself out there.”  In a way that was not at all like George Costanza (it was), I replied, “I’ve got a Behance page, a Flickr page, two Tumblrs, a Twitter, and a WordPress blog. I’m out there!”

More calmly then I would have, he said, “No, get out there and meet people who can do things for you.”

“Oh. I don’t think I know those people.” After the last few weeks, I am certain I don’t know those people.

It has me thinking a lot about wanting what we think is best for us versus what the Universe (or God or fate or The Great Spirit or whatever you want to call it) knows is best. Like maybe I am trying to force my own agenda instead of relaxing, relinquishing control and letting whatever is in store for me unfold?  Looking back through the last few years I can see how one thing led to another led to another and so on. If even one step hadn’t happened, the whole thing would have fallen apart. So maybe things are gearing up to happen in their own way instead of the way I have imagined? Or maybe I am just sucky at cover letters, internship searches and read too much into stuff?

Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I live for coincidence. Years ago I was talking to a friend about our birthdays. She said hers was February 15. I said, “Wow. That’s weird. That’s my dad’s birthday. Mine is August 1.” She started laughing and said, “You probably won’t believe me, but that is my dad’s birthday.” Oh my God. I told that story to everyone for like 5 days straight. Anyway, just now as I was writing this post (procrastinating), I saw this:

I’ve started to realize that waiting is an art, that waiting achieves things. Waiting can be very, very powerful. Time is a valuable thing. If you can wait two years, you can sometimes achieve something that you could not achieve today, however hard you worked, however much money you threw up in the air, however many times you banged your head against the wall. . .

Interesting, considering what I was in the middle of writing about. I googled, because it was unattributed and that led me to this post on another blog- coincidentally posted a year ago today.  This sentence stood out to me:

We can trust that all is on schedule. Waiting time is not wasted time. Something is being worked out – in us, in someone else, in the Universe.

So maybe I am sucky at cover letters, internship searches and read too much into stuff, but I’m going to trust that to everything there is a purpose and it will all work out in the end.

Have a great week!

-Beth