“I saw a child crying; amidst every drop was a shimmer of hope.” Each Thursday, I like to listen to a podcast called, “On Being.” A few weeks ago, I heard featured guest Maria Popova talk about her philosophy of … Continue reading
Artistic, driven and passionate – these three words describe the multi-talented and creative thinker I’ve chosen for today’s feature-of-the-week: Kaylah BIASED. A friend of mine and fellow artist, she truly represents a young person that strives daily to perfect her … Continue reading
Hello, my reader! In reference to an earlier post I wrote titled, “Summer-time Sadness With a Little Less Lana Del Rey,” I’d like to share a bit of how my summer is going.
As you may know, healing can be a slow process – emotional healing doubly so. In my summer “manifesto” I mentioned that this summer would be a time of emotional healing for me – a chance to mend the scars that resulted from my emotionally taxing junior year of college. I stated in my last post that I wasn’t exactly sure what my emotional healing process would look like, whether it would involve me spending time with close friends and family or going to the beach weekly to ease my mind. Proudly, I can say that I’ve discovered something as precious as gold when it comes to allowing myself to heal. And, I must admit that I was closer to defining my emotional healing process than I initially thought. Giving myself the time, the energy and the space to heal (to essentially fulfill the summer “manifesto” described in my last post), involves doing the things I love. As plain and simple as that!
“Do the things you love, Danyealah…”
A sentence that has been running through the course of my thoughts as if it were a tape recorder on loop, “Do the things you love…” One of the things I love is music and, “doing” music has helped me a lot this summer. Because music is something close to my heart, I am gifted with the ability to sing and I grew up playing the flute, I gravitated naturally to the thing I knew would help me cope with my issues. Not only does music have the ability to soothe, it’s therapeutic qualities for me are much deeper. Music gives me a sense of identity, helping me fight on in the journey to not only heal emotionally, but help me figure out who I am as a young adult.
The truth is that music creates community – for the listener and the listened to. When I troll the web, or solicit recommendations from friends, or seek out NPR’s All Songs Considered for new music, I know that I am not the only one searching for a good tune to listen to. “Doing music” involves not only endlessly searching for underground artists or new alternative bands, it involves becoming engaged with the music community. And for me, engaging the music community includes everything from singing in my shower to a Yellowcard album I loved in high-school, to finding the perfect song to match every mood I’ve ever had.
Essentially, rediscovering my love for good music has given me a snippet of my identity back. It is almost as if my inner-self walked up to me and said, “Hi, Danyealah. I am the part of you that loves music. Embrace your identity as a music-junkie.” Now here I am, half-way into the middle of summer accepting that part of myself, allowing myself to heal.
In closing, I’d like to leave you with a song that has soothed me many times this summer. The melody carries me to a place where I can sit in peace and my own thoughts are not my enemy. I hope you enjoy it just as much as I do. 🙂
About a month ago, I posted a status on Facebook saying,
“It takes courage and strength to be different; I guess that makes me both a strong and courageous person.”
The truth is, I have always felt different from people my age – often I feel like an outsider in most social circles where I am expected to “fit-in.” A good example of this traces back only a few weeks ago when I went to see the movie The Amazing Spiderman 2.
Sitting in the movie theatre with three people I know from my architecture classes (and another person who was a sister of one of the three), I couldn’t hold back my repulsion at the “high-schoolish” nature of the movie. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy most action movies and leap at the chance to see any hero from Marvel personified on the big screen, but The Amazing Spiderman 2 just did not do it for me. The petty romance scenes, the mediocre one-liners delivered by a slightly better than average Andrew Garfield – it just wasn’t for me.
On the other hand, the people I went to see the movie with were sucked in at every scene. From the flashes of lightning at the hands of an angry and misunderstood ‘Electro,’ to the sappy “Baby, I’m leaving you for London,” scenes – these guys were hooked! I remember thinking to myself, “What about this movie is supposed to appeal to my generation?” And now as I write, I still don’t know the answer.
My “difference” really struck me when, during one of the pinnacle scenes of the movie as Gwen reluctantly tells Peter she’s decided to go to Oxford, I turned to my right and caught a glimpse of my friend’s sister at the point of tears. Immediately I thought to myself, “You’ve got to be kidding me. Is she really crying?” News to me, my friend’s sister was emotionally moved by the teenage angst and overdone, “Oh my God how will I ever live my life without you because there is a huge plot twist getting in the way of our love,” appeal. Sitting there next to her I felt like a complete jerk – soon after came the slightest feeling of isolation.
“Am I supposed to be emotionally moved by this scene too? *Aleece is only a few years younger than me… Maybe I should be crying too.”
Ironically, I found myself letting out something closer to a chuckle at the cheeky romance of the scene – no tears from my end. And now that I think about it, I believe I was the only one laughing at that part of the movie in the theatre. I couldn’t help myself – the romance was too cliche!
When the movie finally ended, I found myself in an old, familiar place. Walking out of the theatre I asked the people I was with what they thought of the movie, testing them to see whether or not these were people I could get into deep, intellectual dialogue with. Their responses ranged from the usual, “Oh, it was alright,” to “Yea, I thought the action was good,” and “Ah! I loved everything about it.” You can imagine my disappointment. Not only was I disappointed with the fact that, judging from their responses, an intellectual dialogue was out of the question, but I was more upset because I felt out of place. What I wanted to say to my friends was, “Do you guys think critically about anything?” And, not that I thought the people I was with were complete idiots – they are actually smart people individually. It was the fact that they are intelligent people capable of saying much more than, “The mediocre content of The Amazing Spiderman 2 sparked my 20 year-old interests and I cannot be stimulated past what is supposed to appeal to me.”
My frustration with my friends that day represents an isolated situation that embodies my feelings toward most of the people in my generation. My outsider-ness is fueled by a number of experiences, most of them hurtful, with a generation that is all too caught up in the here-and-now and “YOLO” – a license to do anything stupid and harmful to yourself because You Only Live Once. Time after time, I have been that girl at a party with shorts too short, drinking down my insecurities, trying to convince myself that YOLO and the here-and-now moments were the only way to get through the struggles of youth. I have been that girl dragged to a party, guzzling down shot after shot with my friends in an attempt to forget the things that pain me because I thought, “This is what people my age do.”
On the flip-side, I have also been the person that even while drunk, stumbling and trying to move my hips to reggaeton, I knew my life was worth more than the “hype.” That drinking it up, partying it up, comparing hang-over stories with friends – that was not the person I wanted to be. And, the moment that I decided I did not want to merely “get-by” in life, sidelining my problems, living for the next party or the next drink I could get my hands on, the isolation I felt from my peers was stifling. I went from being the party girl, “down for whatever”, to being the “prude” – the person people asked, “Wait, why don’t you drink again?”
For a while during my junior year of college, I felt like I would never be able to escape my loneliness. People that I thought were my friends began to turn on me, brushing me off with an attitude of, “If you’re not drinking with us, taking shots at 2pm on a Tuesday with us, then you’re not a part of us at all.” As soon as I started to see through the “hype” and gained enough courage to essentially be my own person, the isolation came from every angle. My roommates thought I was judging them because I had decided to live differently, they drank in my face, and hardly included me in any of their plans. After a while, I started to realize that my basic interactions with people were colored by my feelings of hurt and loneliness. My longing to be accepted and “part of something” had been squashed.
Fortunately, there is an element of irony in loneliness: it has the potential to breed strength. Learning how to be my own person, okay with only having one drink at a party or not even going to a party at all, has helped me realize that my desire to think critically about my life does not make me prudish, but it fuels my sense of identity as a young adult. And believe me, I would be remiss if I did not mention the few genuine friends that have partnered with me through my changes as a young adult. In the end, I have learned that it indeed takes courage and strength to be “different.” And as cliche as this may sound, the world would not be the way it is today if it were not for the different people who were unafraid to live against the “hype.” That is the community I want to be part of – the community of outsiders willing to be a little lonely for a while, not only for integrity’s sake, but for the sake of helping a generation get it’s head out of the clouds and grounded in the things that will last.
As I close, I want to challenge you as a reader to ask yourself which community you are part of? Are you willing to encourage the outsiders you see in your own sphere of friends? Are you willing to take a step into outsiderness? The process of becoming your own person is never easy, but the process, the journey itself, is indeed worth it.
Life-Lesson #9 Everybody Has a Story A tinge of self-hatred arises when I think about the color of my skin. When I was younger, I was made fun of because of the darkness of my skin-complexion. I remember being nine, … Continue reading