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.