EMPOWER NOT TOWER: “Go big or go home?” Is it really worth sucking on bone marrow?

It was a Tuesday morning and I woke up an hour later than intended. I wanted to get up early, put on some makeup, and put on a cute dress to take over the createHER Collective Instagram story for the day. That didn’t happen exactly as planned, but I handled it better than what my expectations were the previous day.

I ended the night signing off to watch “Grey’s Anatomy,” but also signed off with a whole lot of new perspectives on empowerment and the phrase, “go big or go home.”

The first time I ever heard that phrase was on my very first day of high school when one of my teachers talked about the time she broke her vegetarianism to eat a huge burger — bone marrow and all.

But should we really go by this phrase? The answer is no, and I’ll tell you why.

I remember going by this phrase when applying to undergraduate schools — didn’t work out! I followed this phrase when I started submitting my poetry and artwork to the top literary magazines in the country — didn’t work out! That’s when I started looking at smaller publications that I never even heard of until I joined Twitter again. Those definitely worked out (and helped me build a killer CV to use for grad school apps if I do say so myself.)

When looking at graduate schools too, for my MFA, I had that same superficial outlook that I had when I was a junior/senior in high school. I wanted to apply to (and googled) “Best MFA schools in the U.S.” But coming from a “small-but-bigger-than-SAC” school like RWU, who knows if I even stand a chance? What I learned, especially from being in the [insert 2 Ivy League schools here] applicant Facebook groups, just because they are ostensibly the “best,” “top-tier,” and “among the elite,” that doesn’t mean they’re the right fit for you.

My point in bringing up undergraduate and graduate institutions is that it’s not worth gnawing on your thumb right to the bone marrow to prove yourself — to anyone or anything. I was reminded of a poem I wrote:

Perfection is a weakness of mine

To be honest, when I was in high school, I strived for perfection and I’ll be honest it gave me a little OCD!

I’m trying to gnaw on this idea of being perfect;

I chew it down right to that savory bone marrow

until there’s nothing left to even suck on anymore—

at this point all I’m doing is sucking on that

circular piece of bone. The bone is in my right thumb

and I’ve sucked on it so much to feel like I’ve lost

all feeling.

 

Perfection is like sucking on a piece of bone marrow—

you cleanse it of all the meat and the cells that go with it,

until there’s nothing anymore. It becomes addictive,

like a fidget toy. People tell you you’re doing great by

cleaning it and getting all the necessary juice to make you

feel manly, accomplished, whatever. Then you become

addicted to being perfect and receiving that praise.

Even when you feel like you’re unappreciated, just know that you’re doing a great job and people really do appreciate what you do and how hard you work. If they don’t, it’s their loss!

Moral of the story: PERFECTION IS UNATTAINABLE!

 

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.

 

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.