I Am Tainted By My Perspective

I Am Tainted By My Perspective

Have you ever thought about what your self-portrait might look like as a written piece instead of a visual one?
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Recently I've been contemplating what it means to have "perspective" and how that plays a role in the way in which we take in the world around us. Oscar Wilde phrases the contemplation this way: "Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter."

As of last week, I was given this quote as well as the assignment to "project myself—my interiority or state of mind—onto the observed thing."

Woah. I thought to myself "Okay, so I'm writing a self-portrait instead of drawing one? That's a new one." Here is what I found myself with upon completion of the exercise:

What is perspective, if not a mere projection of ourselves and thoughts onto the world we see around us? Perhaps this is why when reading this prompt I read "interiority" as "inferiority." I can see this written self-portrait of myself going in a variety of ways, just as I can see my future going as well. I see a small but mighty girl with roots in Tennessee who has also been mistaken for a European international student. Her Austrian roots "reflect strongly in her manner and demeanor", she was told recently.

I see a girl who sometimes feels limited or defined by her age and often takes offense to slight mentions of being called "kiddo"" or "little bit" while out in public. Perhaps this is because this girl always struggles with "living in the moment" when her mind is racing a million miles a minute to dream about what the future might hold or who she might become. She's not anxious or unhappy in her present state but she always keeps a small string tethered to the kite that is the idea of the looming future and all of its possibilities.

She is often referred to as "confident" or "unstoppable" when it comes to her work ethic but when the moon comes up and the sun goes down, the stars aren't the only thing that becomes illuminated. Her fears, inferiorities and short-comings begin to light up too as her mess of brown, tousled curls fall around her face, making her look as youthful and naive as she will all day.

Perhaps she feels this too. Everyone has some sort of security blanket and for her, it happens to be her grown-out, Austrian-heritage hair that carelessly sprawls about on the fresh, white pillowcase as she clinches her eyes shut after a mentally taxing day of trying to live both in the present and future.

She envies her hair; the most carefree thing about her. It curls and roams and lives as it wishes without any awareness of what it "should" or "shouldn't" be doing.

She then catches herself with the thought that "envy is a green-eyed monster" as countless adults have told her so many years before.

"Think. Correct. Modify. Act. Repeat." This is the cycle she falls into with each action of every day.

As she eventually drifts off to sleep, after running through her nightly, mental list of "what-if's" and "to-dos" she thinks to herself how liberating it is that for the next few hours, her mind can roam and dream without the policing and censoring she often places on herself throughout the day.

She thinks to herself how liberating it is to recognize the power and control that comes with acknowledging the projections that find their way into her daily perspective.

My hope is that my sharing of this exercise urges you to become aware of your own perspective without shouldering the desire to change your perspective. Simple awareness is the goal.

Cover Image Credit: Sophia Winter

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39 Things Every Girl Should Really Know About Life By 20

38. When vacationing by airplane, try to fit everything into a carry-on.
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1. Dispute ALL tickets... even if you were going 35mph over the speed limit.

ticket

How can it hurt? If anything you can save yourself some money.

2. If you're not 10 minutes early, you're late.

Your boss, your teachers, your co-workers... They all notice. Be the early one.

3. If you find yourself waking up feeling miserable, start the day by making your bed and washing your face.

Coming back to a made bed after a sh*tty day can change the world.

4. It's okay to fall off track once in a while. You'll only be wiser for next time. (Don't push it, though!)

When I say fall off track I don't mean COMPLETELY off... Just make sure you hold onto something that reminds you to keep going. You'll figure it out... Sometimes it takes years and that's okay.

5. Don't fight your family. They ARE always going to love you.

family

I used to fight my family and try to push them away... It was probably the dumbest thing I've ever done looking back. So, even if you say, "I'm never going to like them!" Trust me you will. Unless they're actually toxic a**holes...

6. Mom actually, seriously, literally, insanely knows everything.

It's crazy, I swear my mom is psychic. Or she can see the future. I used to do the opposite of what she said and my life was messier... Now that I found out about her powers I listen and things run smoother. Weird. Love you, Ma.

7. If an elder in your family tries giving you money as a gift or to cover lunch... Reject it first.

They won't stop insisting and they will force you to take the money even if you say no 3,000 times. So why not earn some brownie points and act like you seriously didn't need it. Meanwhile, you know how badly you need it.

8. An e-mail and/or a phone call goes a long way.

Don't pester... But if you're the one who calls to "follow up on a resume," a week or two after you applied, you're the standout!

Also, as a college student, I find e-mailing and staying in touch with professors builds a relationship and engraves your name into their brains. As long as you're good at writing e-mails and a good student, they'll usually instinctively like you more; seeing how much effort you spent on communicating.

9. If you hate school, just suffer through the attendance, and make sure the teacher knows your name.

Even if you actually have no idea what Descartes sixth meditation is about... Just show up, do the work consistently, and build a relationship with the teacher. They won't fail you if they see effort. (Just don't give them a reason to!)

10. It seems like the end of the world sometimes... it's not.

"And this too shall pass."

11. If you hate yourself one day (or even all the time), just pretend you don't.

Did you know our facial expressions can influence our emotions?

12. Line up another miserable part-time job before quitting your current one.

work

Waitressing, customer service, reception... We've all been there and it usually sucks (Unless your parents spoil you too much). So, if you need to get the hell out of there, make sure you have somewhere else to go before you quit. And give 'em a notice in advance, don't be a d*ck.

13. Traveling is the best thing in the world.

travel

I don't need to explain much more. I think we can all agree we want to witness the beautiful parts of this world we've never seen before.

14. If someone doesn't say thank you when you hold the door for them...

...hit them with the classic under-your-breath-but-you-know-they-heard-you type of "you're welcome!"

15. Respect authority, even if you think you're right.

cops

Just FULLY cooperate and it WILL be easier. It's also great to make friends with authority figures. Talk to everyone! Make connections and maybe you'll learn something new.

16. Spend time outside and in public.

After high school, you aren't forced into a classroom five days a week where you will have to socialize. After high school, you can decide to chill in your room and do nothing. But seriously don't make a habit out of it, you will end up feeling like crap when you realize you have no friends.

17. Don't roll your eyes at people.

So rude. Eye-rolling just makes it look like you're admitting you're wrong and you have no defense to whatever made you roll your eyes.

18. Life's a b*tch and then you die... But guess what? Even B*tches have fun!

mean girls

News flash, we are currently all in the process of dying. Stop worrying so much and try to have fun even in the dullest of moments.

19. If you're speaking about something professional, call don't text.

You do realize we still have a call feature on the iPhone, right? Use it.

20. Decorate the Christmas tree with your family amidst your teen angst.

 christmas

It really seems like a horrible excursion to pile into a mini-van, cut down a tree in the freezing cold, and then hang shiny balls while developing a rash on your hand from the prickles... But down the road, you'll regret not doing it.

21. The D.A.R.E. program makes it seem like drugs are just freely handed out.

drugs

That sh*t's expensive. And you don't want to do it, anyway (Minus weed it's harmless, just wait until you're old enough!) .

22. Smile and say hi to as many people a day as you can.

You never know if you just made someone feel a little better or accepted.

23. Make sure the E-brake is OFF.

brake

It will sound like you're dragging a dead body attached to your car and will ruin your brakes. Just double check.

24. Use all your resources even when it seems pointless.

Even if you learn absolutely nothing, you gain connections.

25. What's most important in life?

Connections.

26. Know how to swim.

swim

It is a basic skill everyone should know. You don't need to be Phelps. Just doggy paddle if you're really that bad.

27. If you don't have a firm handshake, learn how to, a**hole.

handshake

If you are a lady shaking a man's hand, strive to have a firmer grip than him. You'll either scare the sh*t out of him, gain serious respect, or get complimented on how great your handshake is! That's my favorite compliment if I'm being honest.

28. Step back and think before you explode.

Seriously dude, don't press send. You probably used the words, "like" and "literally" too much in your text, anyway. Wait 10 minutes and see if it's worth it.

Also, it's better in person.

29. Question everything.

question

Never assume you're safe or well-informed. There could be a murderer in that restaurant... Question anything that you aren't sure of. Hell, even question what you are sure of.

30. Don't trust a headline or statistic until you know it's credible.

What if you're looking at a bar graph from 1968, not 2018? You might think this is obvious, but there are clearly plenty of people who share false information. We've probably done it ourselves before. We should all work on that.

31. Park far from the store.

parkng

Walk, you lazy youthful soul. Unless you require a handicap spot or weather conditions are poor.

32. Take the stairs.

"I have no time to workout!" *takes elevator*

33. Don't text people when you want to tell them how you feel.

It only makes you feel good for like 20 seconds and then you'll probably read it back saying, "What was I thinking?"

34. Have something to be proud of.

Otherwise, you'll get lost. Life is confusing.

35. Listen to old school music, the classics, and artists who inspired what we hear today.

music

We cannot let the real instruments die people. Do you know how fun a jam band show is?

36. If you're inspired, act fast.

Don't let inspiration slip away. Sometimes it's easy to forget that great feeling.

37. If you start, finish.

Finish what you start and do the best you can at it. We all have off days, that doesn't mean you suck if you mess something up a few times.

38. When vacationing by airplane, try to fit everything into a carry-on.

beer

You don't want your favorite bikini stowed in the wrong plane when you go on vacation. Plus you spent all of your money on Corona's and can't buy a new one.

39. Change your oil.

Love your car and it will try to love you back.

Good Luck!

Cover Image Credit: Emily Fahey

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5 Things I Wish My Younger Self Knew To Do (And Not Do) In College

Be prepared to make mistakes.
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There are times in everyone's life where they think to themselves I wish I knew what I knew now when I was younger. Now that I have graduated college I've looked back on my experience and would like to share a top five list of dos and don'ts of what to do in college.

1. Request international roommates

Some people like their space and that is ok. However, other people like to be social and meet new people with different perspectives. I was fortunate enough to have international roommates during my years at USF. The experience taught me a lot about the world around me and also a lot about myself as well. For anyone moving into an apartment or dorm, ask the people in charge of roommate matching to match you up with international roommates you won't be disappointed.

2. When moving into an apartment, less is more

It's all fun and games until you are knee deep in a pile of clothes. I learned this the hard way when my already small apartment began to shrink as I filled it with clothes, plastic drawers, posters, a mini fridge and various other things. I also bought all of my cleaning supplies and toiletries in bulk. While this saved money it also meant less space.

My recommendation is, treat moving into an apartment or dorm-like living on a tropical island and bring only the essentials with you. Two weeks worth of clothes a pair of swim trunks and maybe two pairs of jammies. In addition to this, you should also have at least two formal outfits to wear for interviews and formal events (until senior year I only had one).

3. Learn to depend on yourself more

This is perhaps the hardest lesson one can learn in college and adult life. When I lived in Miami I had friends that lived relatively close by. As a result, I could call anyone on the phone on any given weekend and they'd be able to hang out with me. Once I moved to Tampa I became depressed as I had few friends up there and when I would call people on my old contacts list they would text me that they were working or sometimes fail to respond at all. I grew more and more depressed until one day I looked myself in the mirror and thought, 'ok, at this point you have two options.

You can feel sorry for yourself and continue to depend on others to make you happy, or you can try and find happiness within yourself.

Eventually, I found that inner happiness through meditation. As far as awkwardness is concerned when meeting and making new friends, my advice is that it's always awkward. But just because situations are awkward doesn't necessarily mean they aren't beneficial. A famous basketball player said you miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

4. Don't Be afraid to ask for help when you need it

Being self-sufficient is great but don't be too prideful to ask for help when you are struggling. Had I done that, I probably wouldn't have had to retake as many classes as I did. Remeber, part of being a student is having the opportunity to be able to talk with multiple people to find out what the best options and strategies are to ensure your success. Not just academically, but in the real world. The sooner and more often you take advantage of it the easier it will be.

5. Be prepared to make mistakes

So many people approach college with the notion that they aren't allowed to fail. This notion is sadly a bunch of BS. While certain factors make failing inconvenient such as, having to stay in school for an extra semester or the possibility of losing financial aid, the fact is, things happen. You could study and fail because you didn't understand the material as well as you thought, or you could not study and fail because you refused to review any information. In any event, failure is not the end of the world. I bought a poster at the USF poster sale, "The Dalai Lama's Instructions for life.

One of the instructions reads, "When you lose, don't lose the lesson." If there is any good that comes out of failure it's that it serves as a reminder of what it is we are really fighting for. Once you paint a clear picture of that in your mind, you can formulate strategies on how to achieve your goal with fall involve the 3rd and fourth items on the list.

Cover Image Credit: Ryan Hackland

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