The Crepe Of Life Is In Your Hands | Forgiveness

Alexa, play “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera and then “Unstoppable” by Kat Deluna.

Recovering from a rough Tuesday night and day. I was journaling while picking apart a Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin from Starbucks. I realize that I bite into the bread every day. I’m not talking about carbs, I talking about life.

Every day you and I are winning in this game of life, as the world was designed for all of us to win (and sometimes lose). I remember this one line from Emily In Paris: “I can’t share a crepe, I need the whole crepe.” Although Emily Cooper (Lily Collins) was referring to a relationship with Gabriel (Lucas Bravo), needing the whole crepe applies to every day life.

The crepe is in our hands every day. It may take us a while to get to the center of that creamy, strawberry or Nutella filling. It’s similar to eating a cream cheese muffin or even a cheese danish! Sometimes you are left with crumbs that you can only throw out or that you can wipe off from your clothing, and in some cases, crumbs that stay on the ground. All of the times, you have to bite into the bread/cake that is less exciting and not as tasty as that filling you’re striving for. It’s a matter of fact that you have to bite through the blandness to get what you want. The journey can be sweet and savory, if you think positively. Even if it is bland and a process, it comes with achieving what you want.

Something that I’ve always found strange, since I was in fourth grade, is that people will judge you for simply eating. I remember in tenth grade I got weird looks from an eighth grader while eating a pizza. (What???) Eating is something that not everyone has a healthy relationship with. However, we need food to survive and to get specific nutrients in our bodies. We build these sustainable diets to get the life we want — or even the “glow-up” that we want. It’s similar to that of life because people will judge you for simply doing you and what benefits your future.

In recent events, and after a therapy session today, my therapist and I came to the conclusion that I was probably made to “sit still look pretty.” Who would’ve known, based on my past, that I’d wind up successful? There were points where I could’ve kicked myself for “missing out.” But did I really? No.

It’s simple: I forgive myself. I forgive my past. I forgive the boys who would make fun of my lunches in fifth grade. I forgive those who questioned my adoration for Miley Cyrus. I forgive those who questioned my love for theatre. I forgive those who made fun of my perm in sixth grade (I’ll even admit that wasn’t my best look). I forgive those who made fun of my learning disability out of sheer ignorance. I forgive those who treated/treat me differently because I was/am different. In fact, thank you for doing those things because I wouldn’t have had the courage and the thickest of skins to go on and do what I do. Thank you, universe, for giving me the spirit guides who told me to go on. I continue to tell my story for the rest of my life. I may not be immortal, but every story is.

If you don’t forgive, how do you expect to move on and do what you do now? What you’re passionate about? Never forget the good things that came out of those bad experiences. They may seem bad then, and I’m there’s a middle schooler somewhere reading this. Truth is, reader, whomever you may be: those who mind don’t matter, those who matter don’t mind. You’re not here to just sit still, look pretty, and have your lips zipped. Live your truth, and don’t let society change that.

The crepe, danish, cupcake, and/or muffin is in your hands.

xoxoxo,

April

The Truth About Self-Esteem

It was Wednesday morning and I don’t know if it was the Opalite around my neck but my self-worth kicked in. Though I can’t describe exactly what happened, I knew that I had to stand up for myself and to be treated better. (Disclaimer: this was not a boyfriend situation — he and I are very much still together and things are going great!)

But riddle me this: when did self-respect translate into being rude? When did doing this for the sake of building your own future make you selfish? Why do people get mad when you are just trying to make yourself happy? Don’t people want you to be happy?

Oddly enough, I had a therapy session that same morning. I had to say to him (my therapist) that I instantly felt regret standing up for myself, but why was that? He told me that when you haven’t stood up for yourself in a long time, that feeling of regret tends to occur. It seems sad that it happens. However, I think it’s growth.

The last time I remember this happening, I was called a “petulant child” by a professor and accused of disrespect, which only made me cry harder after sticking up for myself to another professor. I wish I could say to her now that self-respect does not equal disrespect for another individual. Respect is earned, not given freely. And just because you’re an older adult, that doesn’t mean that you have ultimate authority. #SorryNotSorry

With self-worth comes self-esteem. Psychologist, Melanie Fennell concluded the following:

• Throughout your life you form negative beliefs about yourself as a result of the way you have been treated. Psychologists call this your ‘bottom line’ or ‘core belief ’. Your core belief is how you feel about yourself deep down, for example “I’m worthless” or “I’m no good”.


• Confronting core beliefs feels unpleasant, so we all develop rules for living that protect us from our core beliefs. These rules guide how you live your life, and as long as your rules don’t get broken, your core belief stays dormant. People with low self-esteem often have rules that are demanding and rigid, such as “I must always please other people”, or “As long as I don’t get criticized then I’m OK”.


• It can feel very anxiety provoking when it seems like one of your rules might be broken. If one of your rules is “I’m OK as long as everyone is happy”, it might be anxiety provoking if people around you are not happy – you might feel that you have failed.


• When there is a danger that rules might be broken, you might make anxious predictions about what might happen and fear the worst (e.g. “I’ll be rejected if I can’t do everything that is expected of me”), or you might speak to yourself in a critical way, or avoid tricky situations and use strategies to cope.

There’s no doubt that I, and everyone else have had these experiences. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve striven to be perfect to the point of sickness. When I was being bullied severely, I felt like I had to “bow down” to some higher power of what was right versus wrong. I can’t help but wonder now, was that society? Or just simply the place I grew up? I swear, that town had 10 Commandments of being ostensibly cool.

I remember the first day of eighth grade, I had health class at the end of the day and my teacher said to the class, “if you don’t have self-esteem by now, you’re on your own!” Comically enough, I didn’t have any self-esteem. I could have been in a room full of people and still be lonely AF (no pun intended — those are my initials).

I remember crying to my mom, and I choke up as I write this, that whenever I tried to talk, I got laughed and snickered at. When I tried to stand up for myself, I was called mean. Another truth about self-esteem is that is affects every aspect of your life.

My therapist said I had this sort of glow after I stood up for myself. I’ve been constantly worried about telling people what I wanted to do and what I was going to do with my life, but I shouldn’t let that terrify me because what I do is ultimately my choice. You’re the author of your own life. Write your own story without people telling you that what you’re writing is wrong.

EMPOWER NOT TOWER: Stop judging and observe.

I remember when I first got a Facebook account, I put Britney Spears’ “Circus” lyrics in my bio: “There’s only two types of people in the world, the ones that entertain and ones that observe.” At the time I put that as my bio at the time not because I was a “budding performer,” but I was constantly feeling “watched.” No, I was not paranoid. However, the unwonted attention actually fed my ego. I wrote it off as jealousy.

I was talking to my manicurist today, and she was telling me how her sweet daughter (though I haven’t met her, she seems like a true gift from God) was bullied for being both smart and athletic. This young woman earned MVP in Lacrosse, Soccer, and Basketball. Impressive right? The parents of other kids were so green with envy to the point where one parent called her a “stupid bitch” on the sidelines. My initial reaction was not just “that’s horrible!” but I did mention how in my old town in Massachusetts, the parents talked more smack about the kids than the kids actually did. And I’m NOT the first person to say that, which is the funny part. But nonetheless, what right does someone have to say such a thing about someone else’s kid?

This made me wonder: why do we live in a world where we constantly judge/are being judged. Why can’t we just simply observe?

Seriously. Let people go on about their daily business. It’s easy to be so quick to judge, but it’s a habit that you can break with ease. I learned how to do it within an hour after watching this video by Isabel Palacios. Like I said in my last post, you are entitled to your opinion without being an a-hole. There’s a huge difference.

Observe because you don’t know what that person is going through internally. Don’t judge because you’re only hurting that person’s self-image and self-love. Don’t say that’s “their problem.” You may feel entitled to judge, but that judgment is fueled by your own insecurities.

Empower Not Tower: It’s Okay To Fall Sometimes, As Long As You Can Pick Yourself Back Up Again

Remember when we were little kids and we fell down and had to endure the searing pain of scraping knees? When we were kids, we thought that we were invincible and indestructible, no matter what. So, we got up, shed a tear or two (especially if we were bleeding after falling on gravel — the worst!)

I was contemplating what to write for the past six hours since I haven’t written a blog post in well over three weeks. I saw this post on Instagram which prompted an idea:

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Do you think, when we were kiddos, that we would let a scrape define us? We may have scars that exist to this day, but hey, my appendectomy scars have faded at this point in time. But that’s just my own personal example. The fact of the matter is, we don’t know how resilient we are. The idea that originally sparked for a possible blog post today were examples of how far I’ve come despite what has hurt me, physically or emotionally. Being bullied for six years attempted to hold me down on the ground so many times that I need at least ten more sets of hands to count. Being shy and ostensibly different made me an easy target, for sure. The number of times I jokingly wrote “April Federico rocks!” on whiteboards only to have people tell me that I “don’t” was not only annoying but a tad hurtful. This is what I like to call Exhibit A. 1) I did what everyone else was doing, only to be ridiculed (that’s peer pressure, for ya) 2) I actually cared about what people thought of me. I did not have any self-confidence or self-esteem. I’ve had people try to knock me down while walking in hallways, locker doors closed on my nose without an apology, and people pointing and laughing at me when I was eating a pizza at Rock ‘N’ Bowl. At that point, I thought “seriously? They’re trying to ruin this for me too?” In fact, I thought some idiot would pull down my shorts that day so I wore a belt… on shorts that didn’t even have the loops for one. It seemed as though everything I did was subject to ridicule and mockery. Yup, that was middle school and the first half of high school.

The only person I really want to bitch-slap at this point is my middle school self for thinking she had to change because she was hurt by so many people. But at some point, I do want to sit in the parking lots of that middle school like YouTuber Katy Bellotte did in her video. For me, it would’ve been a whopping eight years later. Funny thing is, this is something I just thought of. I WILL do it someday and say, “I’ve fallen, been pushed, all these things, but I really didn’t need to change to give anyone the satisfaction.” Need a reminder of what mutilation I morphed into? Read Personas.

I also saw this one post by Katy Bellotte on her Instagram and she so eloquently said:

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Just some more food for thought. We are the heroes and heroines of our own story that pick themselves up again after we have fallen. Even if we feel defeated, we’re the ones who decide what to do with ourselves after the fact.

 

Fight For Your Dreams, Fight The Patriarchy, And Support One Another In The Process

Every Academy Award show, year after year, there are speeches that may as well go down in history, especially this past award show. I would have liked to compile a “top ten best dressed: Oscars 2019,” but there is more that needs to be said.

Can we all just be in awe of the fact that Lady Gaga is halfway towards being an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony winner)!? That’s right, for those who missed it, Lady Gaga won an Oscar for “Best Original Song.” Everyone around me questioned Lady Gaga when I was growing up, but I’ve always liked her for being different. I read magazines that reported, “oh, she just likes the attention.” No. She embodies theater and performance. Don’t get me wrong, we’re supposed to question everything in life, and no one can exactly stop anyone for having opinions. But one thing is true is that opinions should be backed up by fact and not plain prejudice and self-importance.

Moreover, this part of her acceptance speech struck a chord of truth in me:

“If you have a dream, fight for it. It’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down or get beaten up. It’s about how many times you stand, are brave and keep on going.”

Oftentimes, I find myself questioning (there’s that word again!) my future based on what people say to me. Granted, especially if you’re in the arts, you’re going to have critics. I have/had many critics, no matter what the situation. But I’ve kept on going. I auditioned for dance theatre last month, and auditioned for two dances for the dance club and didn’t get into either one of them. But it was no belittlement of my talent because I know that I put in the effort and I tried. They even took the time to acknowledge how much effort I put in. I hated that people tried to talk me down from being “too passionate” when dancing. In fact, having passion while dancing is a good thing.

I then saw this Facebook post, post-victory and it was a picture of Gaga with a quote from her above it that read:

“I had a boyfriend who told me I’d never succeed, never be nominated for a grammy, never have a hit and hoped I’d fail. I said to him ‘someday, someday when we’re not together anymore, you won’t be able to order a cup of coffee at the fucking deli without hearing or seeing me.”

Did I mention some idiot she went to college with made a Facebook group titled, “Stefani Germanotta, you will never be famous?”

I know both those feelings all too well — to have people close to me not supporting me and, instead, hoping that I’d fail or do less. And I do recall being added to a random-ass Facebook group as a joke by people I didn’t even know in eighth grade. Who knows? There were probably Facebook groups or group chats solely made to diss me. Again, I don’t know, and I never will.

And my point? What you say will come back to unapologetically bite you. But I’m not here to give you karmic facts.

Also, today also happens to be International Women’s Day — one of my favorite days of the year! No, really, it is. I’m also very excited to announce that I will be returning to RWU next year as VICE PRESIDENT, for the second year in a row, of the Women’s Collective for Violence Prevention and Victim Empowerment!!! I remember, at my previous college, I tried to start a women’s empowerment group, and to this day, I feel like I failed my interested peers because of the illnesses that overcame my life that semester. When I first announced it to my (then) class group on Facebook, it was mocked. I was often labeled a “third-wave feminist,” but that was just one source of ridicule on my ever-growing feminism. But look at me now! I could go completely off-topic if I wanted to, but I shall not.

But my point is? Instead of tearing each other down, support one another and build each other up. Many people have tweeted this, so much that it should just be a rule of thumb, at this point. Envy and hatred are never in style, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a fashion blogger (see what I did there?) It’s true, no matter what gender you are. Don’t write-off someone’s vision as “stupid” or something that should be “held off,” but a possibility. Who knows? That vision could be a good idea to others.

 

Getting Real About Fitting In. SPOILER: Standing Out Is So Much Better

In sixth grade, I searched for books in my mom’s shelf to read because I was bored with the typical adolescent genre that everyone my age was reading. I came across a book titled Fit In: Stand Out, only to find out it was all about marketing. It wasn’t until I finished typing that sentence that this ostensible “fitting in” and “standing out” is all about how you market yourself. This Monday without any classes whatsoever has me watching Hairspray (Nicki Blonsky and Zac Efron version), and Tracy Turnblad earns her spot on the Corny Collins Show by absolutely working it at… I don’t even know if it’s a dance or a soiree, tbh. Either way, she was both Link Larkin (Zac Efron) and Corny Collins’ “lady’s choice” and earns a spot on the show.

I was having a sort of “soliloquy/monologue” after not getting into a dance, and after watching the Grammy’s. I was recalling Lady Gaga’s initial speech (the one where she was alongside former First Lady Michelle Obama, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Alicia Keys, and J-Lo). She said, “they said I was weird. That my look, my choices, my sound, that wouldn’t work, but music told me not to listen to them.”

There was no doubt that I was called weird in those dark days of middle school. How do I know that? Because I heard most of it, like “b*tch, I can hear you, even when you’re supposedly ‘talking behind my back.’ TRY HARDER!!!” And booooy did people show how much they didn’t “approve” of me, too. I began to realize that I was letting people market me, but that’s because I wasn’t quite sure how to market myself. I tried to market myself as the girl who loved to sing and do theatre, only to be judged more. Fashion played a big role in my life, too, as a means of self-expression. Even today, I dress up even when I don’t have to, and if I don’t, I simply don’t feel like myself. 

You’re probably thinking, this girl is cynical AF. No. I am reflecting on and sharing my experience with you all so this makes sense.

To paraphrase what Lady Gaga said at the Grammy’s, art, no matter if it is sculpture, filmmaking, poetry, blogging, etc. taught me not to listen to the opinions of those who only aspire to be lemmings — afraid to be different. 

So, what I’m essentially saying is that standing out can be a great, beautiful, and courageous thing.

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“A lion doesn’t concern itself with the opinion of sheep.”

― George R.R. Martin

 

 

 

 

Empower Not Tower

“A bully tries to tower, but really has no power.” –  Aly & AJ

Have you ever been told you’re “too much?” “Overly emotional?” Or even worse, “not good enough?” For me: yes, yes, and yes.

Bullying has, unfortunately, become an unnecessary epidemic plaguing our society. But is society the bully? I know, I’m getting a little too deep and poetic here, but this is the thing: IT’S WHO I AM.

I saw a tweet posted by one of my fellow Instagramming Fashionistas. It read:

When someone you trust tells you ‘who you are,’ you tend to believe what they say. It’s important to understand you know yourself better than anyone else does, and what someone else says about you doesn’t define who you are — no matter how important that person is to your life. – @OfficialBrit.

Simply “brushing it off,” is something that I don’t think anyone can do easily — especially not me! Having spent the majority of my school years being bullied by adults, people my age, and even people younger than me, I eventually learned to “brush off the hate” and live my own life without worrying about what people thought of me, even though there was a point in my life I tried so hard to be ‘perfect.’ In fact, whenever I have one of my “episodes,” I repeat to myself, “I try so hard to be the perfect daughter, friend, girlfriend [that is, when I am in a relationship] and no one appreciates my efforts!” But in reality, that’s my anxiety kicking into full swing.

But what you have to realize that, and yes, this is another quote from HelloKaty:

“Nothing hurts unless you let it!”

I’m literally pulling quotes out of my butt, and I’m not apologizing for it!

That’s another problem: we always have to feel like we’re “sorry” for who we are when really, you just have to OWN. IT. We even apologize for the little things that we do that people might think are annoying, even when they’re not considered “annoying.” This reminds me of an old, but still relevant Selena Gomez song.

On that note, and this goes for guys, too: if you choose to make fun of someone for not doing/having something, take a step back because you’re no better than them. Empower, not tower. 

Did I ever welcome you all to my new series, by the way?

If I don’t do/have something it’s either that I choose not to, or simply because I don’t have control over it!

Moral of the story, when someone tries to tear you down, or if they’re just jealous, know this: don’t let that person’s harsh/passive-aggressive words or actions affect you. I know that’s easier said than done, but in the end, the haters lose and you’re the winner in your own life. But we’re not children, anymore. No one is keeping “tallies.” I once did an art project titled “Life is a game, but in order to play it, you need to find yourself first.” It’s basically about staying true to yourself throughout this “game” we call life. And I use that term very loosely, and so should you, even if you are a competitive person.