Muted: I Swallowed What I Preached

Muted: I Swallowed What I Preached

Yes, I may have forgotten how to write..
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**30 days later** Well...hello there. Long time no see.

Sorry about that month-long M.I.A, that elongated buffer--for the past four weeks or so, I've been hibernating (both physically and mentally). Not that I ever stopped creating content, but I suddenly found myself at a dominating crossroads; one that made me become more skeptical of the validity and absurdity of my thoughts. The craziness and impulsiveness of my entire identity, even.

Yes, at 18 years of age, I am talking like a thirty-year-old-something corporate worker re-evaluating the purpose of my life; as if I already had two kids, living in a tranquil suburban neighborhood, whose identity has been drastically forced to transition into a mid-life crisis panic.

My existential crisis came a little early--and with a vengeance.

While my peers cherish their last home games, savoring every "firsts" and "lasts" of high school, my mind seems to be elsewhere. I am physically sitting on those bleachers, on those desks, only to drift off to a completely different world of my own...constantly interrupted by a noise--a screech that constantly yearns for nearing adulthood.

And through sophisticated syntax, diction, and (sometimes) downright unnecessary complexity, writing became my only ticket to distinguish myself from ignorance and childishness.

Yes, I continued writing; but at the same time, no, I did stop. I no longer wrote for myself. Every seemingly beautifully-crafted sentence, in actuality, as hollow as the next. I began to write merely for its superficial appeal, rather than exploring its spontaneous wonder.

Shallow, inauthentic, and disturbingly programmed, that smile left my face. That original smile that unconsciously uplifted my cheekbones with every tap of my keyboard, with every attempted pun that I typed.

Writing was now an obligation, as I became completely submissive to my own expectations--of what I should be writing, of what I should sound like, of what would be socially acceptable, of what would be worth reading.

Worth? I questioned the value of my curiosity. Losing touch of my wonder, I feared whatever came next.

After all my crafted pieces and seemingly legitimate advice on individuality, authenticity, and just plain self-discovery, I swallowed all that I preached. I became, funny enough, the criticism of all my suggestions. I was the "if you do this, this will happen to you" examples that are designed to discourage others.

I was everything I said I wasn't. And that mere fact scared me.

Uninspired and purposeless as I felt, I never finished my sentences. The cursor blinked and blinked, awaiting and hanging on my every word.

--

This month-long hiatus, however, forced me to witness a world without a voice. Momentary confusion would permanently confiscate an irreplaceable form of expression.

Muted.

Before I completely loose my grip on my created platform, let me begin to write with minimal perfection, yet also with measured recklessness. Let my crafted words be an explosion of emotions--from tantrums to random bursts of glee.

Let my writing not only reflect my prowess and wit, but as a testimony to my equally evident vulnerabilities.

No, I am not just "writing" again. Fearless as they come, I am creating new indentations, paragraphs, and ideas. This time, I swear, there is no holding back.

Stay tuned *wink*.

May this be the start of something in its purest form. In my purest form.

Cover Image Credit: http://wallpapercave.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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