Why Selena Gomez Is My Role Model

Why Selena Gomez Is My Role Model

Being happy is something you create for yourself, not others.
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Someone I recently have closely identified with, and am inspired by how she presents herself and her problems, is Selena Gomez. Most of us have a first memory of her as a Disney Channel star, but she has become so much more than that; she has made such an impact on not only me, but millions of others.

“I have my moments of insecurity and figuring out what’s going on and what I’m supposed to do, but if you don’t push yourself, you’re not growing.”

The college experience is what you make of it. Whatever your desire, intention, or goal is, that is what you make college into. You find yourself by being yourself, and that in itself speaks volumes. For me, college is a wonderful opportunity to establish yourself all while earning an education and making connections that will last you the rest of your life. However, it’s not always fun and games on a daily basis, and the daily stress that arises in me occurs more often than I’d like.

“I think it’s healthy to gain a perspective on who you are deep down, question yourself, and challenge yourself; it’s important to do that.”

One of the seemingly millions of microscopic issues I stress over, is the opinion of others at my new home (my university). Transitioning from high school where after four years I finally felt comfortable with where I was and who I was, suddenly got pushed aside and I’m back at the beginning again. For instance, I don’t drink. I established that long ago in high school, and it was then just an accepted fact about me. While the majority of my friends can care less what my illegal and alcoholic activity is currently, I’m still new on a college campus, and whether I like it or not, I still am considered a “goody-goody”. Some may even classify me as a teetotaler: someone who practices absolute abstinence of alcohol, (my words not theirs), but that’s a title I’ll willingly accept. Yes, I’m a college student, and yes, I like having fun, but for me, that doesn’t have to entail alcohol. In fact, I enjoy my practice of abstinence and like to promote it. Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve found other ways to have fun on campus. College parties are interesting events and appeal to certain types of people. I, however, am not one of those people. I don’t enjoy cramped spaces, loud music, dancing, or drinking. For me, there’s no point and everyone should be okay with that choice. You are responsible for you, and no one else should tell you otherwise or make you feel bad about that.

“Most of the time, people say negative things for a reaction, and I can’t even bear to give them that satisfaction. So there’s something that I gain from feeling like I’m the bigger person, from walking away from a situation.”

My main insecurities don’t come from being non-alcoholic but from other struggles like self-love and positive self-talk. I don’t want to say I’m a Debbie-Downer, but I’ll admit the name suits me occasionally. I think most of it initially came from the nerves of coming to a new city with thousands of new people, but more recently I’ve realized it’s mainly shaped by the people who are closest to me. The people I am in contact with the most are the ones who influence me the most often. (Those people currently are fantastic) However, sometimes there’s that one group of people or person that you’re always around, and feel like you should slowly break off from, but never do. They criticize, jokingly insult you, actively point out flaws, and talk behind your back. And for what? Nothing beneficial, just the seeking the approval of others to get them by because sadly, they think that’s the only way.

“People are going to bring you down because of your drive.”

I’ve found that the reason I’ve felt manipulated by such people is because they dislike my methods of living individually or striving to embrace my individuality. There’s always going to be someone who dislikes how you do something or everything, but I’ve found it no one’s job but your own to not allow that to define you.

“People are so mean. It’s exhausting.”

It’s sad when someone’s goal in life is to blow out your flame, but if anything, it should make you burn a little brighter. Doubt is the best motivation.

“Authenticity is my life.”

I love that Selena states this because it’s a great word for the life I pledge to live. The best way to avoid harmful criticism, remain calm, and be happy, is by being nothing but authentically you. A false facade is more work than it’s worth and the end result holds the worst betrayal. Why hide what you were given? Why deny who you are? It’s hard to succeed living a life that isn’t even your own because you’re too caught up in wishing that it was.

“But I've learned from my actions and for all the things I've done I'm proudest of that. I've learned from my mistakes.”

I’m a person who hates change, but I love seeing change happen within myself. I think it’s healthy to express yourself and discover what your strengths, weaknesses, what makes you tick, and what makes you ticked off. Possibilities are wonderful and endless, and I like to keep that option available as I trudge along in my college career.

“I’m not trying to get validation; nor do I need it anymore.”

Selena’s best quality: her honesty. There’s no denying stars have secrets they wish would remain out of the media’s hands, and Selena struggled with that. However, she decided worrying about what others did and said was only hurting her and restricting her from moving forward and becoming even more successful. It simply wasn’t worth it. When I look at Selena, I see so much more than just a celebrity. I see someone who feels deep emotions and isn’t afraid to show the world that side of her.

“Please just be kind to each other, and love, and inspire people because let's do it, let's do it, let's change the game.”
The most impactful quote I have taken away from her, was the quote above. We’re all in the game of life whether we like it or not. I’m encouraging you to change that game and move yourself forward. Don’t be society’s game piece. Being happy is something you create for yourself, not others.
Cover Image Credit: teenvogue.com

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I Went To "The Bachelor" Auditions

And here's why you won’t be seeing me on TV.
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It’s finally time to admit my guilty pleasure: I have always been a huge fan of The Bachelor.

I can readily admit that I’ve been a part of Bachelor fantasy leagues, watch parties, solo watching — you name it, I’ve gone the whole nine yards. While I will admit that the show can be incredibly trashy at times, something about it makes me want to watch it that much more. So when I found out that The Bachelor was holding auditions in Houston, I had to investigate.

While I never had the intention of actually auditioning, there was no way I would miss an opportunity to spend some time people watching and check out the filming location of one of my favorite TV shows.

The casting location of The Bachelor, The Downtown Aquarium in Houston, was less than two blocks away from my office. I assumed that I would easily be able to spot the audition line, secretly hoping that the endless line of people would beg the question: what fish could draw THAT big of a crowd?

As I trekked around the tanks full of aquatic creatures in my bright pink dress and heels (feeling somewhat silly for being in such nice clothes in an aquarium and being really proud of myself for somewhat looking the part), I realized that these auditions would be a lot harder to find than I thought.

Finally, I followed the scent of hairspray leading me up the elevator to the third floor of the aquarium.

The doors slid open. I found myself at the end of a large line of 20-something-year-old men and women and I could feel all eyes on me, their next competitor. I watched as one woman pulled out her travel sized hair curler, someone practiced answering interview questions with a companion, and a man (who was definitely a little too old to be the next bachelor) trying out his own pick-up lines on some of the women standing next to him.

I walked to the end of the line (trying to maintain my nonchalant attitude — I don’t want to find love on a TV show). As I looked around, I realized that one woman had not taken her eyes off of me. She batted her fake eyelashes and looked at her friend, mumbling something about the *grumble mumble* “girl in the pink dress.”

I felt a wave of insecurity as I looked down at my body, immediately beginning to recognize the minor flaws in my appearance.

The string hanging off my dress, the bruise on my ankle, the smudge of mascara I was sure I had on the left corner of my eye. I could feel myself begin to sweat. These women were all so gorgeous. Everyone’s hair was perfectly in place, their eyeliner was done flawlessly, and most of them looked like they had just walked off the runway. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

I walked over to the couches and sat down. For someone who for the most part spent most of the two hours each Monday night mocking the cast, I was shocked by how much pressure and tension I felt in the room.

A cop, stationed outside the audition room, looked over at me. After a brief explanation that I was just there to watch, he smiled and offered me a tour around the audition space. I watched the lines of beautiful people walk in and out of the space, realizing that each and every one of these contestants to-be was fixated on their own flaws rather than actually worrying about “love.”

Being with all these people, I can see why it’s so easy to get sucked into the fantasy. Reality TV sells because it’s different than real life. And really, what girl wouldn’t like a rose?

Why was I so intimidated by these people? Reality TV is actually the biggest oxymoron. In real life, one person doesn’t get to call all the shots. Every night isn’t going to be in a helicopter looking over the south of France. A real relationship depends on more than the first impression.

The best part of being in a relationship is the reality. The best part about yourself isn’t your high heels. It’s not the perfect dress or the great pick-up lines. It’s being with the person that you can be real with. While I will always be a fan of The Bachelor franchise, this was a nice dose of reality. I think I’ll stick to my cheap sushi dates and getting caught in the rain.

But for anyone who wants to be on The Bachelor, let me just tell you: Your mom was right. There really are a lot of fish in the sea. Or at least at the aquarium.

Cover Image Credit: The Cut

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Taking Time For Yourself Is Nothing To Feel Guilty About, It's Healthy

Your emotional health should be your utmost priority — and you deserve to be in good emotional health.

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Renowned Sōtō Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki once said that: "We do not exist for the sake of something else. We exist for the sake of ourselves." We've often been told the opposite, however. We've been told that our worth is dependent on what we can do for others and that our existence itself is meant for the advancement of society. There is no place within our culture to truly exist with ourselves. The parts of our culture that claim to value self-love and self-care tend to commodify it in the form of relaxation products and personal development products — albeit helpful at times but mostly meant to addict us without true benefit to our inner selves.

As a young student, I talked with an orthopedic surgeon — a very overworked, ambitious woman — who told me to learn how to make it in the long haul, whether in my personal, interpersonal, or career life. You had to learn to enjoy yourself and find inner peace along the way. Because there would come a time, she said, when I would become guilty to take time for myself and forget what it's like to really enjoy life. Unfortunately, I made it to that point — I worked and worked and worked until I finally burned myself out. That's when I had to make certain changes in my life to understand how I got to that point and where I needed to go from there.

In the midst of our grand ambitions, it's easy to either go all in or all out. Either to give your entire self to a certain end or give nothing at all. I've been very much guilty of ending up on both ends of the spectrum — I would either devote all my time to writing/school or hit a roadblock and give it all up for a while. It felt like the value of my life was predicated on success, whatever that meant, in terms of contributing more and more and achieving more and more. It's never, ever enough, however. No matter what you achieve, there will always be a million more things on your to-do list. Whatever you triumph over, there will always be a million more roadblocks in your path.

The answer for me was to learn how to exist with myself, how to exist with other people, how to exist amidst all the dreams I had for the future, but also in the present moment where all my past dreams had come to fruition. Sometimes I would dive too deep into myself, and lose myself in thought, as noted in Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," "Sometimes people use thought to not participate in life." But I learned to participate fully, each moment to moment not necessarily enjoyable, but I find enjoyable moments each day with my friends, dog, boyfriend, and myself alone with a book or a pen.

Oftentimes as a crisis counselor, I am asked the questions: What's the point? Why am I here? What is there to look forward to? It's hard for me to precisely answer that question because, frankly, no one has anyone answer. But here's an answer that I believe in, born of taking time for ourselves: we live to feel the hope for happiness again. We live for the moments of joy, contentment, relaxation, excitement, pleasure, love, happiness, everything. We live to experience and to find each other. We live on because each new moment brings a surprise. There are many, many good moments in the future for all of us, even amongst the bad.

It's impossible to really experience life, however, if we're unable to take time to ourselves. That's one of my greatest fears, actually, that life will pass me by and I won't be able to experience each day as a full and complete miracle. There's something lost when everyone else gains from commodifying all aspects of our lives. Are you going to keep living for everyone else, or will you learn to exist for yourself? Do you owe the world your entire self, or can you take back at least some of yourself right now? Is it selfish to feel happy and not only to suffer?

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