Pretty Privilege Check.

The old saying goes “beauty is only skin deep;” however, one could argue that the importance of beauty is deeply rooted in our culture, a social currency much like gold within a superficial society that judges harshly and often. Our perception of what is beautiful influences not only what we are attracted to, but how we are treated, and more importantly, how we treat others. While there are body positivity movements shaking the foundation of our Barbie doll culture, we cannot ignore that within a society with impossible standards of perfection, to be pretty is to be privileged.

Beauty isn’t everything, but it sure fucking helps. I pride myself on my intelligence and unparalleled sense of humor, but when I walk out of the house looking homeless, I am treated noticeably different. And no, I am not treated differently because I feel differently; I am treated differently because my skin is blotchy and I’m not wearing eyebrows, so I appear continually apathetic. I am treated like a second class citizen, because whether or not we want to admit it, how we look initially matters, unfortunately. I am in no way worth less because I’m not wearing makeup, but I’m almost certainly going to hear “Are you sick?” more often than usual. Contrary to Beyoncé’s beliefs, girls do not run the world—pretty girls do.

I want to clarify: Privilege does not imply that everyone else is sentenced to a mediocre life of hardship. It only means that some may find that life has a few less barriers. We all have ways in which we are privileged and ways that we are oppressed, for lack of a better term. Some face oppression due to their socioeconomic status, some due to their race or immigration status, some due to their sexual orientation, and some because their aesthetics differ from what society deems beautiful.

Truth be told, looks are not everything. There are many incredible humans that have achieved more than most could hope for, like people that have graduated from Harvard or hiked the Pacific Crest Trail after age 30, but let us not pretend that graduating Harvard while looking like Gal Gadot doesn’t come with a few added perks.

While, as both a feminist and a human being, I agree that our society’s emphasis on looks is shallow, I do not feel that I have the right to discredit another women’s experience. I agree that we should love ourselves as we are, but I also acknowledge that societal pressure is a bitch. We have all struggled with insecurities at some point, and they were never cured by someone saying, “You’re a beautiful person, who cares what other people think?” The answer: almost everyone. We are social beings, and to pretend we are not impacted by outside feedback is ridiculous. I believe that women should feel free to change what they dislike without criticism from privileged women that look like they could be on the cover of Vogue.

No one struggling with weight wants to hear a skinny woman tell them to “just love yourself.”

No aging women feeling insecure about her skin or body wants to hear from a twenty-something-year-old about the importance of aging gracefully.

No women struggling with her changing body after pregnancy wants to hear “You’ll bounce back, just cut your carbs!” from a person with abs, a tight ass, and boobs that aren’t lactating through their lululemon sports bra.

If you are privileged enough to love your body the way it is, then congratulations! You have beat the unreasonable beauty standards set in motion by the patriarchy and Sephora — you have won. But understand that others are not made for the cover of Sports Illustrated and have the right to do what they wish to feel okay about themselves without scrutiny.

I personally am not a huge fan of breast implants. Having large breasts myself, I never understood the need or purpose of breast augmentation, and if one of my partners ever suggested it, I promptly pointed them toward a woman without cleavage. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty proud of these D cups, and for that reason, I get to shut up when it comes to another woman’s decision to change her body. I do not know what it is like to wake up every day, look into the mirror, and dislike what I see, so I do not get to judge.

If a woman wants to wear makeup to cover her acne scars or get Botox to slow down the effects of raising screaming children and working 40+ hours a week or get a tummy tuck after having said screaming children, it’s not our place to demonize them. We protest when men in positions of power tell us what to do with our bodies, but then some of our own gather after yoga class to make ugly, holier than thou remarks about the woman that got liposuction for her 40th birthday. As feminists, we are here to support each other, not burn each other at the stake.

Should we as human beings be reduced to simply how we appear? Of course not. Is the media to blame for setting such an unreasonably high bar of perfection? Almost certainly. Does focusing on appearance create issues, such as depression, low self-esteem, and eating disorders? Undoubtedly. But we would be foolish to pretend that beauty does not matter and insensitive to discount the experiences of individuals struggling with what beauty means to them.

They say that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” so shouldn’t each one of us be given the freedom to decide how we wish to appear? Changing hair color, wearing makeup, dieting — none of which mean that we hate ourselves, only that we all love ourselves differently. And so before we sit on our thrones of self-love and tell others to just accept themselves as they are, we must recognize our privilege and understand that each one of us has the right to feel okay in our own skin.

For those that wake up flawless, completely natural, and smelling of lavender, we salute you, but some of us need some concealer and mascara to feel sassy and we should not have to apologize to the self-righteous powers that be. Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline, and maybe it’s none of our damn business what another woman does to feel beautiful. Before shoving our unsolicited self-confidence down the throats of other women, we should first check our privilege.

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One More Time.

I know it doesn’t look like it right now, but you can get through this. You can dig yourself out of this hole. One more time. 

I know it doesn’t look like it right now, but you will be able to walk with a smile on your face every morning again without thinking about the pain you’re enduring or the weight you’re lifting or the burdens you’re carrying.

I know it doesn’t look like it right now, but God is listening, somehow, somewhere, he sees what you’re going through and he is not going to leave you in this mess alone. He won’t leave you unattended. He will not let your prayers go unanswered when He’s your only hope.

I know it doesn’t look like it right now, but someone out there is making their way to you to make your life a little bit easier or carry some of your burdens with you. Someone out there wants to be by your side, so you don’t have to face it all alone. Someone out there wants to make up for all the things that you were deprived of and all the people you lost. Someone out there wants to make you happy.

I know it doesn’t look like it right now, but whatever is hurting you will soon just be a bad memory. Whatever you think you can’t get over, whatever you think you can’t replace, and whatever you think you can’t handle won’t be a constant in your life. Maybe it’s been the same cycle or the same pattern, maybe it isn’t getting any better, but it’s all about to end soon.

I know it doesn’t look like it right now, but the things that aren’t making sense to you are about to form a certain picture that you can see clearly when the time is right. The dots are about to connect so you can solve the riddle. The closure is coming to you. The lesson is being learned. You’re on your way to better and bigger things.

I know it doesn’t look like it right now, but you can still fight. One more time. You’re so close. Don’t give up now. It’s always the last key in the chain that opens the door and it’s always the hardest few seconds in the race that makes you a winner. It’s right before the happy ending that everything goes wrong so you can try to make it right. So you can safely say the worst is over and it can only get better from here. I know you’ve said and done it all before. But I need you to say it and do it all over again. You’re almost there. So believe and prevail. One last time. 

Because the truth is, we will all get our share of the good and bad days. We will have our breakthroughs and our breakdowns. We will all get our twenty seconds of fame and glory, and we will get our twenty seconds of misery and disappointment. We will all get our share of joy and sorrow but the trick is not to let our sorrow linger or let our joy delude us. The trick is to bounce back quicker than we fall and look forward to a brighter future instead of dwelling on a darker past. The trick is to keep believing that you’re stronger than your pain and you will surely overcome it.

Turn Yesterdays Into Today.

A lot of us are stuck living in our past, even if we don’t realize it. We are letting our mistakes and our past stories define who we are today. We are allowing our past fears and stories to keep us stuck in one place. We are carrying the heaviness of our old regrets with us every single day and reliving the pain over and over again. And we are allowing ourselves to be defined by who we used to be, rather than by who we are now.

I think the main reason we cling to yesterday is because the past is familiar—it’s what we know and what we are used to. It’s comforting, even if it’s heavy. The unfamiliar is daunting and scary. And we don’t know how to face it without carrying our yesterdays into today. We fear losing our old, comforting memories. We don’t want to move forward. Or we don’t know how to move forward because we feel so much regret and remorse over our previous mistakes. But by living in the past, we are stunting our growth and holding ourselves back. We are preventing ourselves from becoming who we are actually supposed to be. We are preventing ourselves from writing new and better stories. We are all changing with every single sunset. We are all becoming more. And we have the ability to not just become more, but to become better. We have the ability to create miracles. We have the ability to make waves. We have the ability to move and be moved. But to do so, we have to stop letting ourselves be defined by our yesterdays. We have to have the courage to learn who we are becoming and, in time, to become.

I think it’s safe to say we all learn from our experiences and grow through what we’ve been through. But there’s a difference between clinging to our past and using our past to help us grow and move forward. We are not obligated to be a certain way, act a certain way, or take on any sort of identity just because we were a certain way in the past. Ultimately, our past should not stop us from being who we want to be now. It’s actually kind of cool to realize that we are constantly evolving and that we can ultimately be whoever we want to be. But I also think that we are afraid of the present. We are afraid of who we are and who we are becoming, especially if it strays from who we used to be. We get so used to being a certain way that we are afraid to look at the world from a different perspective. And because we don’t always love change, we try to stay the same as to not cause ripples in the water. We let our yesterdays determine our identities, rather than doing the work and deciding who we want to be today. And by staying the same, we are restricting ourselves to small boxes, rather than allowing ourselves to see the world as big and expansive.

Out of comfort, we cling to our old identity because we are afraid of what would happen if we changed. And we think we need to be the same way we’ve always been because that’s how other people expect us to be. In an attempt to not let them down, we try not to change. But in doing so, we are putting the satisfaction of others above the satisfaction of ourselves. And this is a big red flag. Holding ourselves back for the benefit of others prevents us from thriving. Trying to please everyone else in the way we always have is just another way of letting our past dictate our present. It’s just another way of keeping ourselves small, rather than allowing ourselves to grow.

And sometimes, we cling to our yesterdays by living in a constant stage of regret. We worry so much about our past that we don’t have the energy or stamina to adjust to our present. We worry about the mistakes we made and the decisions that we are not so proud of and we let them define us. And ultimately, we fall into the belief that we are the sum of our mistakes. We are the sum of our failures. But this kind of thinking is heartbreaking, and it’s not true.

See, really, we are the sum of all of the progress we have made. All of the times we decided to move forward against all odds. We are the sum of all of our little victories, not of our regrets. We don’t have to live in a constant stage of guilt or regret. We don’t have to keep reliving our mistakes or letting them define us. And we don’t have to hold ourselves hostage to who we once were. Instead, we should put our energy into focusing on who we want to be or what we want to contribute to this world. We should focus on how we want to live now, in the present. We should focus on what kind of souls we want to surround ourselves with. We have all of the power to write our stories. The key is to use our past as a stepping stone to become who we want to be, rather than falling victim to it. The past is the starting point, not the entire story. As the great William Shakespeare once said, “The past is prologue.”

Maybe you can’t rewrite your story. But you can write a new story. You can start wherever you are and go in whichever direction you choose. You have the power to create whatever kind of life you want moving forward. You have a blank slate in front of you. You can do whatever you want with it, not in spite of, but because of your past story. You can be whoever you want to be now. You can reinvent yourself every single day.

And some days you may miss your past. You may miss how life used to be and how you used to be. It’s okay to pause for a minute and appreciate how good life was. But living in memories takes away from the now. Even if today doesn’t feel as good as yesterday, use your past experiences to create today’s experiences. What is it that you miss? How can you recreate that feeling in a better way in the present ?

And sometimes, to move forward, you may need to burn bridges to the past. Sometimes you will have to learn and acknowledge that what is ahead of you is going to be better than what is behind you. So focus on what brings you joy in the present. Put all of your energy into what fills up your cup now, even if it is different than what used to make you feel whole.

So please stop letting your past hold you back. Stop attaching too much of your identity to yesterday’s regrets or yesterday’s mistakes. Stop letting your yesterdays take up too much of today. Try to put your past behind you and realize that each day is a new day, and you get to decide what this new day will look like. No amount of guilt is going to change what happened yesterday. No amount of regret or remorse is going to solve yesterday’s problems. So apologize to whoever you need to apologize to (and this person may be yourself) and then tell yourself that it is okay to move forward. Know that you are safe to move forward. You deserve to have the opportunity to move on. You deserve to have a blank, clean slate ahead of you. You deserve a second chance.

You don’t have to be whoever they think you are. You don’t have to be who you used to be. Yesterday belongs in the past. Today is the present. So make the most of it. Be the person you want to be and live the life you so desperately want to live.

Finding My Passion Thru Anxiety.

Welcome to the story of a girl who struggled with anxiety for 34 years. Also, welcome to the story of a girl who’s happy to be alive, has found her passion in life, and feels loved by the people surrounding her.

Years ago, I went through a traumatic and violent event that planted the seed for my anxiety to grow and flourish. I was 14 years old and naive when it happened. As a child, you never expect bad things to happen to you, for the world is merry and bright. With this came the loss of my childhood innocence at such an early age. My perception of the world changed much faster than it should for a child. My world went from white to black in a matter of seconds as I made direct eye contact with my rapist.

Years passed and the tree of anxiety continued to ground itself firmly inside my mind; its roots grew thick and strong. There were many contributing factors that watered this tree. To name a few: insecurities, paranoia, social anxiety, peer pressure and trauma. But if there’s one thing I have learned on this beautiful journey called life, it’s that we are all affected by them at one point or another.

For a long period of time, I was confined to the walls of my anxiety, feeling safe in this big, black hole that kept getting deeper and colder as time passed. I hated the situation I was in. I felt like I was stuck inside a well, but at the same time, I was incredibly comfortable and collected as I pushed myself away from the world I saw as cruel.

Crazy how the mind contradicts itself, right?

At this point, my anxiety had completely taken over. My mind was never silent and I always thought thrice before doing anything, even if it was as simple as choosing a pair of jeans to wear with a plain white tee.

Years passed and I continued to work on my myself and feeling okay again.

How?

By finding love and comfort in dance, music and writing. I realized then that my true passion lay with words and the incredible adventures they can create.

Growing up in a small-minded, judgmental society, I was criticized for liking things that were different. These included my tastes in books, music, and movies—basically anything that made me happy. But after realizing I genuinely did not give a damn about other people’s opinions, I kind of saw the light at the end of the longest tunnel ever.

Slowly but surely, I began to ignore what people said to my face and especially behind my back. So I spent more time in my room and less time in the social scene. Inside my own little mind palace, I started to discover many things I never knew I loved so much. I began to travel the world as I flipped through the pages and learned about the many opportunities that were at my fingertips. I got lost inside my own little realm of reality that no one could modify in the slightest or take away from me.

When I was 13, I said to myself, “I’m going to be a writer when I grow up.” Forty years later, I finally gathered enough courage to begin sharing my words with the world.

Was I completely terrified about publishing my writings and opening up my own Instagram page? Absolutely.

Did I shake each time before I hit the “post” button? You bet.

And well, here I am now, writing about how the darkest part of my life got me to where I am today—possibly the most content I have ever been with life thus far.

In this world, we are all far too important to be unhappy or displeased. Life is alarmingly short and sometimes ends in the most unexpected way. Today, I invite you to discover what is it that makes you happy. It can be as simple as lying barefoot on the grass whilst analyzing the clouds or it can be as complex as skydiving or starting a new business. In a world full of lies, anger, distrust, hatred, and violence, it is what makes us truly happy that keeps us from falling into a well of despair, because believe me, it is so easy to be influenced by what is happening out there.

You are special, different, and offer something new to this world, something no one else can bring to the table. Remember, you are one in 7 billion, so make it count. Today, do something that makes you happy regardless of what other people think. Whether you are struggling with a personal problem or just feel like browsing through this article, remember that we are a ticking clock. We never know when time will stop, so focus less on what brings you down and more on what makes you feel more alive, happy, and human.

Forty years later, here I am, telling you that there is a way out of everything.

For many years I kept searching for the answer to one question“What is the key to happiness?” Throughout this journey, I’ve answered it myself. The true key to happiness is finding your passion and running with it, so don’t ever let anyone take that from you, no matter how big or small your ambitions may be.

This Is What Anxiety Is Telling You…

I am my most anxious when I am alone. I don’t know if I become filled with so much anxiety in my solitude because I am not being productive, and lack of progression drives me crazy, or maybe it’s just because I am forcing myself to sit with absolutely everything.

It wasn’t until I eliminated every single possible distraction that I could finally hear what my anxiety was saying to me. As soon as there was no noise caused by distractions (sex, relationships, alcohol, the gym, etc), I found myself in my own silence.

Anxiety for me feels like intense emotion, emotion quite literally means: energy in motion. When I feel anxious and I feel an abundance of feeling with no place to go, that was the moment that I need to decide where it would go.

When you are alone and you feel anxiety, decide where you’re going to put that energy. Decide that you’re going to put it into yourself. Think of the anxiety that you feel in your solitude as a reminder of your commitment to yourself. Use that energy and expand, decide what you want for yourself, do something that will help you progress farther into the evolution of yourself. Take a step further in your education, apply for the opportunities you’ve always dreamed of, and start to believe that you are worthy of it all.

Use the energy in motion inside of you to push yourself farther. Do not allow your anxiety to bundle up inside of you and trick you into putting your energy into the wrong things. Do not let it make you worry, fear, and waste your time on things that aren’t for you and your benefit. Your anxiety is not meant to sit, it’s meant to move. Your anxiety is meant to move through you, for you.

When you feel anxiety when you are alone, let it inspire your solitude, create something with it, use the momentum and the intense energy to bring you to a place of peace. The anxiety that you feel when you are alone is reminding you that you need more of you, let it inspire you. Let it move you.

My Letter To God.

Dear God,

These past few months have been so difficult. You knew that I hit rock bottom. I barely survived as those raging storms seem so endless, sometimes I don’t even know whether it’s still going on. I know I shouldn’t complain like this, but I know that you are The Most Merciful and I know that you hear me.

Today, God, I’m tired.

I’m tired of faking my smile and pretending that I’m fine all the time. I’m tired of holding back my tears each day so no one will tell me to stop being weak. I’m tired of hiding all my insecurities and telling everyone that I’m strong enough to handle everything by myself. I’m tired of struggling on this battlefield which I don’t know how to win. I’m tired of facing those rejections and disappointments. I’m tired of having a heart which always needs mending.

So, God, please help me to go through this.

God, I’m scared of what will happen to me in the future. Will I survive this storm? Will I be content with what I have? Will I still be able to help other people? Will I ever be happy?

You’ve shown me how the real world works. You’ve shown me that this world is cruel. You’ve shown me how humans can be so greedy and ungrateful for your blessings. You’ve shown me how so many people are glorifying money and power, and you’ve shown me they will do anything to get it.

You’ve shown me how the majority of society forgets that this life is too short to be lived as someone who is materialistic. You’ve shown me people who make artificial things their ultimate goal and I don’t want to be one of them. God, please make me one of the people whose ultimate goal is to be closer to you each day.

You know me better than I do. You know my deepest secrets, you hear my whispers, and you listen to my prayers, even if I can’t say them out loud. You know the brokenness of my heart, the scars left by people, and the disappointments left by expectations.

You know what’s best for me and you have planned my life. I believe that you are the best of planners and if you ask me to wait, then it only means that there is more in store for me. Although sometimes it feels unbearable, I know that you will never abandon me, even on the days I have abandoned you.

So, when the time comes, I hope you’ll finally make me understand why you put me in hard situations. I hope you’ll make me find peace with what you decreed for me. I hope you’ll make me realize that those storms are one of the signs that you love me and you only want the best for me.

I hope you’ll always be near me whenever I have one of those days where I couldn’t carry on and my heart is so torn with anxiety. I hope you give me patience and an infinite belief that eventually, you’ll give me everything in the most mysterious, yet beautiful way ever.

God, whatever you give to me in this world, I hope that you’ll always bless me with beautiful patience.

May I always believe in You, for indeed, in Your remembrance do hearts find true rest and tranquility.

One Day…

One day she won’t be a choice you get to make. Because when all she has done is choose you and you haven’t been able to do the same, she’ll get tired of trying for your time and attention.

One day she just won’t have it in her to keep trying to prove she deserves a place in your life, when you’ve always had a place in her heart.

Because while you were picking and choosing if you wanted her in your life, she never had to wonder or think twice about what she thinks and feels.

One day she’ll stop worrying so much about every little thing she said and every move she made. She used to think that’s what would make you walk away. But now she’s the one leaving.

She knows now it’s more of a loss to you than it will ever be, if you don’t value her the same.

One day she’ll get tired of wearing her heart on her sleeve and loving you the same in the way she wished you loved her even half as much, and it will be then she learns to love herself with that same magnitude.

One day she’ll stop missing you when you’re standing right there, because you aren’t being what she needs in a person. Sometimes you are, then other times you completely shift. And she’s left completely perplexed about it.

In her mind, she wonders how can you be so sure of someone who doubts you or doubts how they feel about you?

And when she finally does walk away, she’ll miss you. She’ll want to reach out to you. She’ll want to know how you’re doing. But at the same time, she won’t. Because everything about you hurts her. Everything about you reminds her of how you never chose her entirely. Everything about you reminds her of the person she never stopped trying for, but couldn’t convince to feel the same no matter what she said or did.

The truth is, she finally stopped choosing you in hopes that maybe you’d prove you’d choose her after all this time.

Because that’s all she’s ever wanted.