Friday, November 8, 2013

All the Right Reasons

Dear Bloggers,

During this week we've discussed about embracing the true you, no matter what anyone says.  But, I would be remiss to not address changing.

It's very easy to be comfortable in a rut; to wake up every day and have the same routine over and over.  Though for some people it feels like it's slowly draining them, like a sleepwalker, the anticipation of change is enough to keep people in an uncomfortable, harmful situation.

Now, I'm not going to lie, changing sucks.  It requires a lot of introspection, a lot reexamining your past and the things that have hurt you.  In our own views, it's very easy to place ourselves as the hero in our own movies.  But by deciding to change, that's when you have to face the realization that maybe you weren't as innocent as you thought you were.  Not only that, but maybe you were actually the villain.  It hurts to have to see and acknowledge your own faults.

But pain comes with growth, and the only way that you can fully develop is to put yourself in the uncomfortable position to change.

It's not that you're bad, but that you can be better.

But with that will come the opinions of others.  Some will want you to change to be greater, and others will criticize you for trying to be better.  Most of the time, people who are trying to discourage you from changing is speaking from their own limitations and their own fears of not wanting to take their own steps forward.  However, it's your life and you're the one who is either empowered or limited by your actions.  So if you decide to change, make sure you do it for all the right reasons.

Stay Encouraged!
Have a great weekend!      

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Don't Believe the Hype

Dear Bloggers,

If there's one thing that stuck with  me when I worked in publicity, it's that every opportunity is a new one to repackage yourself.  When a new product is released, it's released as a clean slate, and it's up to the publicists and marketing people to create the view of how you see this product.  We create the words that stick with you, the momentum that it travels and the hype to get you excited.  The words that are used in advertising will precede the actual product, so before it even comes out, it could be a hit with audiences and they don't even know why.

That's how people are.  It's very clinical to see yourself as a brand, or a product, but you are.  As with any product, the propaganda that precedes you is what creates your hype.  The difference between you and an inanimate product, like a soda, is that you can speak up for yourself.  However, too many times it seems as though not only do we fall victim to the hype, we believe it and then begin to spread it around as truth.  Now, this could be a good thing if people were spreading the positive, but it seems like a lot of times people like to spread the good news of how they are no-good.

I have to be honest, growing up I would find myself doing the same.  If someone asked me about myself, I would launch into he general list about of what I liked to read, watch, and eat.  But after all that was done I would begin to address how I would be when I was angry.

Doing so became habit, but it took me until I reached college to really sit there and see how dysfunctional of a practice it is.  Why would anyone allow their first interactions with someone be something negative?  The worse thing about it, it wouldn't be true.  But I preached this gospel of foolishness about myself, and then attempted to behave in the same manner for years.

WEB DuBois described this as double consciousness.  Somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy to internalize the viewpoints of others and use it to create how we behave, regardless of whether it's true about us or not.

One day, in mid-sentence, I stopped.  I felt like I sounded so foolish.  These behaviors that I'm saying about myself weren't even me.  Deep down, it wasn't natural for me to behave in the way that I was told that I do.  So why was I acting this way?  To placate the person who first made me the poster child of this behavior?

A lot of times, people are fed things about themselves ("You ain't nothing!  You're never going to be nothing!  You're just like your no good mama/daddy.") and people absorb these poisons and then begin to behave in that manner.

These are times that you have to step outside of that and really try to determine if you're going to continue to spread the propaganda, or let people know who you truly are.  Anyone can create a hype about a product, but in the end, it's the product itself that determines if it's going to be a true success.

It's up to you.

Stay Encouraged!!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Helping Hands

Dear Bloggers,

I think that there's a time in every friendship that makes you question the other person or their motives.  Sometimes those feelings are rooted in nothing but pure paranoia.  You have a great friend, but you feel as though you can't be as lucky in life to have someone(s) so amazing, loyal, and encouraging.  So, you begin to read too much into everything that they do and say, looking to syntax, subtext, and any other s-word that you could fit.  Until you come up with the uncomfortable realization that yes, you were that lucky, and maybe you might need to seek help for your overwhelming neurosis.

Other times, you begin to question your friends' motives because they do, indeed, do shady things.  Either a secret was exposed, a lie started, or a rumor carried on, and you're trying to figure out just how culpable this person in your life is, and should they stay on the pedestal that you placed them on before.
I appreciate friends that try to help me and push me to be a better person.  But what I don't appreciate is someone pushing me into a dangerous situation.  Let me explain:

My mother enrolled me into swimming classes, but my fear of drowning was too strong.  For years I continually failed and almost drowned in class multiple times.  But everyone has their strengths, and I knew that swimming wasn't mine.  But, I still loved pools, so I would join in the pool fun at friends' houses... just in the shallow end.

I could never understand, after I would tell friends about my lack of swimming skills, some of them would still insist that I come into the deep end.  Promises of "if you look like you're in danger, we'll save you," wasn't soothing to my soul.  After a while, these friends would pick me up and throw me into the deep end.  As I gasped for air, and panicked to keep my head afloat, all I would hear would be their laughter, until someone else would jump in and get me.

As I would dry off I would hear the same thing:  "If you looked like you were in danger, we would have saved you."  While I wondered:  At what point?  When I was floating upside down?  Right after you laughed at the fear on my face as I struggled to keep me head up?  Why are you even talking to me?!

I'm saying all of that to say this:  change is a choice that only you can make.  A decision that can only come from you, don't ever let anyone try to push you into a situation that you're uncomfortable in because they want to see "what happens."  Because sometimes, these same people who are quick to push you into deeper waters, are usually slow to save you from the overwhelming tide.

Not all hands are helping ones.

Stay Encouraged!!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Moving Away from the Crowd

Dear Bloggers,

One of the unofficial rules that some parents learn is that when your toddler falls to curtail your reaction.  Now, it's hard.  You're child is so important to you and when you see them fall you're normal reaction is to rush over, hug them, kiss them, and tell them that everything is going to be okay.  

Now, I'm not saying that when your child harms him/herself that you should ignore them, and walk over their prostrate body.  But what I'm saying is that before you lie on the floor with them and share in a good emotional cry, you should wait to see how your child reacts to their own fall.

Perception is key here and what could convince a child to just get up and wipe themselves off, or cry about an injury that's not really that severe is the reaction of the parents.  A lot of times when children fall, they might not be completely hurt, and it's nothing for them to jump back up and get back to playing.  However, if a parent is quick to react before finding out the severity of the injury, it tends to make the situation worse.  

So, some parents are taught to wait to see how their children react to a fall or a small bruise before they do, because children tend to react off of their parents' reactions.

As we grow, there are certain traits that we pick up and discard, but one that seems prevalent is that our reactions to situations can be sometimes greatly influenced by the reactions of others.   Now, I'm not talking about those gut reactions of happiness, horror, or distress when we hear extreme news, but the times, like when we were children and we had a minor fall, and looked around dazed to see what everyone else's reactions were so we could know how to properly react.  

In moments of personal inflection, if we sit back and think about the times that we reacted to certain situations, how many times were our opinions influenced by the reactions of others?

A lot of times it's very easy to sit back and just go with popular opinion, because anything else makes you stand out.  It puts you in a vulnerable position of having to explain yourself, or makes you an easy target for criticism for not going with the flow.  

However, life is about experience, and if your experiences are based off of trying to adhere yourself to the perceptions of the masses, that's when you're cheating yourself.  You have a unique voice for a reason.  A different perspective, a view point that might not match what's popular.  But that's what makes life so beautiful. Being able to have one event influence different viewpoints.

So when something happens that doesn't cause you to immediately react.  Allow it to marinate in your mind, and create your own reaction, instead of looking around to figure out how you're supposed to react.  The same as when you're a child.  The moment you begin to step from your parents' shadows is when you're able to become the person that you're supposed to be.  Each day presents you with an opportunity of stepping away from the comforting hold that is popular opinion.  Yeah, it's scary to leave that safe haven, but once you step out on your own that's when you can start becoming the person that you want to be.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Be Who You Want to Be

Dear Bloggers,

Last week I discussed the side-eye inducing behavior that has seemingly become popular.  Last week's posts encompassed people following blindly behind others, people trying desperately hard to get attention in the worse ways, and people using offensive behavior become relevant.  Now there's a lot of things that you can point the finger at as the cause of these problems.  (For some reason, Homer Simpson's voice and his philosophy about alcohol just popped into my mind.  Kinda weird, but let's go with it.)

We can easily point out social media as a culprit.  In a world where most people are interacting with each other behind computer screens, they seem to be on the verge of losing their social decency.  Or maybe it's because in order to make yourself stand out from the millions of people who are commenting, or making videos, you need to do something to bring attention to you; and what's better than being offensive?  Negativity insights such a visceral reaction in others and can stick with a person for a while, ensuring your mark on the masses.

You could also make the association with the ever present reality show monster that attention-whoring can take you from a local legend in your own private circle to being on the tongues of people across viewing audiences (even people outside of it.  I've never watched an episode of Basketball Wives, but Lord help me, people talk about it so much that I now know who most of these people are).

But in this case, I'm gonna point the finger at myself.  Now, I'm not causing people to act out of sorts, or thrive to get attention anyway that they can.  However, I am at fault for being critical of others when they behave in a way that's opposite of how I would.

I'm a big advocate of people living their lives the way that they feel are best for them.  So, if you feel like you need to do the utmost, then do so.  I don't have to enjoy it, but that doesn't mean that I should condemn people for not being how I would like them to be.

Life can become miserable if you're too busy trying to live up to the views of everyone else, so be you.  But I also know that I don't have to engage in the foolishness either.  Both of this signifies a type of freedom that's great for viewer and participant.  Not caring what other people do/think:  the cause and solution to all of life's problems.

This week, let's discuss!

Stay Encouraged!!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Don't Feed the Trolls

Dear Bloggers,

One of my most favorite things to do when visiting my favorite online publications is to read the comment sections, because where else can you get such a wide perspective on one topic?  You're able to see others' reading comprehension skills (or lack thereof).  You can immediately point out the people who only read the title and then go completely nuts in the comment section, not realizing that the title is supposed to be what leads you to read the article, not necessarily what it's about (it's the whole not judging a book by its cover scenario).  Then, you have the insightful people who have something to add to the article, or comment chatter (love those people).  But then, there are the people who purposely write things with the intent of being hateful, hurtful, and provoking.  These people are known as "trolls," and whenever I see their horrendous comments, the quote:  "Don't feed the trolls" always pops into my mind.

I honestly agree with it.  These people who are sitting behind their computers or phones all day having full blown arguments and insulting an entire demographic of people are looking for attention.  Commenting back to them is just giving them what they want, and encourages them to continue.

However, I can't be the only person who sees the pathetic nature of this type of behavior.  It actually makes me a little sad that people are so willing to cause a stir to get attention.  It makes me wonder/worry about their lives.  Are they that so unattached to society that the only way that they can get recognition is by insulting others?

For some people, negative attention is better than no attention, and to me that's worrisome.  When you're a child that's the type of mindset that you have, but when you get older, you learn that recognition is something that should be earned by doing something good; or heck, just being yourself.

But I feel as though (if these trolls are correct) these are grown people behind these screen names, and that makes it even worse.  How can we expect for our next generation to be great, if the one that's raising it is subpar?  It creates such a dynamic of "it's okay to lash out at people for the simple fact that you don't like them."  Children are bullying other children because they're taking after the example of the adults in their lives that are doing the same.  In some cases, encouraging the children to act out of sorts.

The attention that they are seeking are (from me at least) beginning to turn into pity.  Because you essentially have grown children behind these juvenile acts.  They are the personification of a worn pathos that only seem to find their value and reason for being behind a computer screen.  These people feeds off the negative reaction that nourishes their reason for being, but not their souls.

Dear Trolls, I hope you realize one day that there's nourishment in other forms of life, and if you take the chance to venture away from the hate that you like to spew, then maybe you can enjoy it?

Until then, you're no longer getting anymore nourishment from me.  Good luck starving.

Stay Encouraged!!
See you on Monday!