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Kill Your Idols

Various forms of “kill your idols” exist. “Burn your idols,” or “kill your darlings.” They each mean something slightly different (“kill/murder your darlings” is more about writing; cousin idioms, if you will). I’m here to talk about killing our idols, and pedestals, and distances.

For the record, please do not go out and actually kill anyone. Metaphors, people.

“Kill your darlings” goes hand-in-hand with impostor syndrome, except rather than focusing on your perceived short-comings, we’re examining the perceived perfections of those we look up to. Think of the people you look up to, and the traits and qualities you admire in them. If you’re one for making lists, you can do that, too, although I imagine it is going to be a long list, waxing poetic about their virtues and talents.

That list makes that person (or those people) seem larger than life, right? So high above you. If you lifted your hand and stood on your tip-toes, you still can’t reach them. The pedestal they’re standing on is made of all the things you love and admire about them, and it puts so much distance between you. The sun rises and sets around them, they can do no wrong, every word they say is gospel, and no one else can compare.

I am so guilty of this. “I’ll never write as beautifully and poetic as ___ so why should I even try?” “___ is so kind and thoughtful and generous. I’m not worthy of their friendship.” “Why would anyone look twice at me when ___ is there?” “I finally got validation from ___. Now I actually believe I might have [random quality] despite what everyone else has told me.” “My favorite [author/artist/whatever] was further along into their career when they were my age; I’m such a failure and so far behind them.” “No one can hold a candle to ___ so we might as well not even try.”

These thoughts are toxic and problematic. Don’t siphon off your own positive self-image just to feed into your projected image of someone else. It’s exhausting. I should know, I do it all the time. I drain myself of any good things I may think about myself, and fuel it into my thoughts of others: “yeah, I’m cute, but ___ is cuter,” or “I’m proud of this thing I wrote, but ___ could do it way better,” or “I’m a good listener, but ___ is so much more caring and compassionate,” or “I’m funny, but ___ is way more entertaining and memorable.”

Stop it, self. Stop doing that. It is so unhealthy. The pedestal helps no one.

Not you, and certainly not your idol(s). How does it make them feel, knowing the expectations you have of them? To feel like they need to live up to those expectations and perceptions? What if they fail? Why do their admirable qualities mean that you aren’t worthy of them?

And the people around you? How do they feel about the way you put this person/people above all others? Why aren’t they worth the same consideration and appreciation? Are you singling out this person at the expense of acknowledging and showing gratitude for the other people in your life? Are their contributions not as important?

So you have this person, and in your mind they are out of reach. You know what you admire about them. But this person? These people? The heroes you look up to and try to emulate? They’re people, too. With flaws, believe it or not. Think about those flaws. Make a second list, and with each flaw you realize, drive it into that pedestal, use it to chip away at the raised platform. Bring that person closer to your level.

It’s okay if you don’t bring them all the way down to where you’re standing; you admire them for a reason. The goal is not to hate them and to change your mind about looking up to them. The goal is to kill the unattainable image you have of them. This perfect image only fuels your impostor syndrome, and puts more pressure on the person you’re projecting onto. Encourage them, believe in them, support them, and be there for them, but don’t erase their humanity. Don’t deify them; but if you do, remember that even gods have flaws and make mistakes.

So take that image of the people you think are out of your reach, then punch it in the face. Stab it. “What? I would never want to hurt them!” Trust me, you aren’t hurting them. That perfect, flawless, carved-from-marble image isn’t them. You’re doing both of you a favor by gutting that image and then reshaping it.

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Hard to love?

I saw a graphic on Facebook. The text on it says:

People who have been single for too long are the hardest to love, because they have become so used to being single, independent, and self-sufficient that it takes something extraordinary to convince them that they need you in their life.

(Credit: Lessons Taught by Life)

I have a lot of problems with that. The word-choices are very condescending, and the message implies that a person can be single for “too long,” and that being single, independent, and self-sufficient are flaws. These long-term single people need convincing to enter a relationship?

Anyway, let’s break this down, and then I’m going to ramble about some things.

What is “too long?” I’ve known people who dislike being single, so to them a few weeks or a few months is too long for them. They enjoy being in romantic relationships and are happy to date. Excellent! Go for it! For others, they were single for a few years and started looking actively for someone. Whose definition of “too long” are we using, and why is your perception of someone else’s relationship status important to begin with?

“…they have become so used to being single, independent, and self-sufficient….” You know that when people are in a romantic relationship they don’t magically stop being independent and self-sufficient, right? If I date someone, I am still going to be entirely capable of grocery shopping and running errands on my own, or doing laundry, or making peanut butter sandwiches. I would expect my partner to still be an autonomous human being.

“…it takes something extraordinary to convince them that they need you in their life.” Convince me? I presume that if we’ve reached a point where dating or commitment were possibilities that you’re already in my life. I won’t need convincing. What are you trying to convince me of? That this is ~*it*~, that we can ~*go the distance*~, that we’re ~*the real deal*~? That we’re going to be the sort of couple who grows old together and sticks it out through the rough patches and doesn’t give up on each other and that ~*this is True Love*~.

Okay, sure. I’ll be honest. I’ve been single my whole life, which is uncommon for people my age.  I never thought about it that way, but I guess I am waiting for something extraordinary. Over time, I got used to waiting, and as the song goes, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” What have I been waiting for? I’ve been waiting: to fall in love; to be noticed; to have the courage to tell someone I noticed them; to be in a place where I wouldn’t burden a partner with my financial mess; to be attractive enough; to deserve to be loved; to actually have something of value to bring to the table; to be someone’s “wow.” Some of these things are valid, and some are toxic thoughts I have about myself.

Waiting isn’t the only reason, though. I’m afraid. Afraid that if I went for it that it would end. I’ve seen friends and family date and break up, marry and divorce. Maybe the risk is worth it, and maybe we can never really promise anything when it comes to love. I’m afraid of intimacy and of being vulnerable, so I’m slow to let people in.

My timing is terrible. I tend to develop interest in someone right before they become unavailable. They have a tendency to start dating someone else, or move, or they’re more interested in my friend. These things happen shortly after I get feelings. Maybe it’s my brain trying to make my heart play it safe; there is less risk wanting someone who is out of reach.

Maybe I’m cursed.

Maybe one day I’ll trip, stumble, or fall in love. Maybe I’ll find myself walking along, and realize miles later that I’m already there. Maybe I’ll wander into it accidentally, wondering how I got there to begin with.

Maybe I already missed it five turns ago, or several miles back. Maybe it’s too late to backtrack or turn around and get take that exit after all. Maybe somewhere along the way I got lost and I’m just on a detour right now and I’ll eventually find my way back on the path to that person.

Maybe they’re already around and neither of us have realized it yet. Maybe it’s someone I chatted to once while we waited in line for something. Maybe we already missed our window of opportunity.

Maybe it’s not meant for me.

Sure, it would be great to have someone to hold me, and kiss my forehead, and play with my hair when I’m having a tough time. I could have really used that this morning when I got some frustrating news. But I’m used to being single, and independent, and self-sufficient, so instead I coped alone and asked myself, “Okay, where do I go from here?”

Does all that make me “hard to love?” Is that even a thing?

I’m single because I want to be, and because it just hasn’t happened yet, and maybe it never will. That’s okay. It’s not some flaw. You don’t have to tell me “Oh, don’t say that!” and feel like you need to reassure me that it will. It’s not a priority for me right now. If it happens, great. If not, great. I’m still a complete person either way, with goals and dreams. The notion that I have been single for “too long” is harmful and implies that people have an obligation to pair up.

Maybe it would be easier if I just marry a friend for the tax breaks.

 

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A list of things which make me happy

  • Hugs
  • Chocolate
  • Chocolate with peanut butter
  • Peanut butter
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Lasagna
  • Pizza
  • I really like food
  • Cats purring
  • Also when cats do that headbutt thing into your hand because they want you to pet them
  • When the scent of the detergent lingers on recently-cleaned bedding and you can still smell it a few days later
  • Petrichor
  • Especially the sort of hugs when you don’t let go after just a couple seconds, but hold on longer and really hold the person (also, because SCIENCE) (but really, touch is my love language, and growing up I was all over my friends all the time, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve had a hard time forming those same sort of connections and I can tell it’s messed with me)
  • Lilies
  • Random acts of kindness
  • MYSTERY acts of kindness, which are anonymous and wonderful
  • Books
  • Daisies
  • Watching people write by hand
  • Getting whiffs of people’s perfume, or cologne, or shampoo
  • Good hair days
  • Watching and listening to someone talk about something they’re passionate and excited about
  • Watching people open presents
  • Vanilla
  • Cuddling
  • When people play with my hair
  • Playing with other people’s hair
  • Ice cream
  • Flirting (although I am probably bad at it, but odds are that I’m probably flirting with you in my own way)
  • Stories that make me feel things
  • Thunder storms
  • Happy endings
  • Getting letters in the mail
  • Pretending I despise puns (10% of me is okay with them) (mostly it’s that I know they’re terrible jokes but I actually find them amusing, and even more funny when people try to annoy me with them because I’m not as irritated as I act) (shhhh)
  • When something I’ve done actually makes a difference
  • Learning new things
  • Seeing people reach their goals
  • When people hold the door open for each other
  • Soft things (blankets, sweaters, jackets) (if you’ve ever been shopping with me, you might’ve lost me for a bit because I stopped to touch all the soft blankets)
  • Comfortable silences
  • Bursting into song
  • Finding an awesome bra
  • Flattering dresses
  • Checking out someone else when they’re wearing flattering jeans
  • Also when they do that thing where they’re wearing a long-sleeved button-up over a T-shirt and roll the sleeves up to their elbows, unf
  • When people are sweet to children
  • When people are sweet in general
  • Cats grooming each other, or other animals
  • Pajamas
  • Over-sized hoodies
  • Cute animals
  • Collaborative story-telling
  • Smashing the patriarchy

Please share your list of happy things, too!

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Wish list

Unlike goals, these are wishes I have, in no particular order.

  • Kiss someone I’m in love with on New Year’s Eve. It’s my favorite holiday, and the part of me that get romantic whims wants to fall in love, and be loved in return, and kiss that person at midnight.
  • SOLAR ROADWAYS
  • Also, a home powered by green energy
  • Humans to take better care of each other and the planet
  • Enjoy a picnic or cookout without fear of bees. I do not enjoy eating outside because they inevitably fly around and it ruins everything for me. Bees are great for nature; they are not great around me.
  • To live in a house that looks like it came straight out of a fairy tale
  • Similarly, to have a TINY HOUSE
  • Work from home
  • Have a really excellent Zombie Survival plan which means, like, I’ll need to take some self defense, and get in shape because I’m not surviving the zombie apocalypse with this body (well, not with that attitude)
  • Write things that people care about
  • To have the sort of home where people can show up whenever they want, for no reason, unannounced, and where they feel right at home, too. Growing up I had friends whose homes felt like that, and I want to have that, too.
  • Fight the patriarchy
  • A garden, and conversely, to be good at gardening
  • To jump back to the first point, I want to spend New Year’s Eve in NYC at least once.
  • Visit Rome and see all the ancient places.
  • To take care of all of you, because you are all the best part of my life, so I JUST WANT TO WRAP YOU UP AND TAKE CARE OF YOU, AND FIGHT ALL THE BAD THINGS IN THE WORLD THAT COME AFTER YOU AND SMASH THOSE THINGS, OKAY??
  • Maybe the power to control bees, because then I could tell them to come around when I’m not there and stuff, so then I could have a garden and eat outside and actually just EXIST outside and bees won’t bother me, but I can send them off to hang out with flowers and stuff. THAT WOULD BE GREAT.

This start off as a list of wishes, and that lasted for about 0.2 seconds. I’m not sure what this turned into, but there you go. A List of Things.

Happy May 4th, all. Star Wars steals my thunder every year.

What are some things you wish for?

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Am I a writer?

To me, if you write, then you’re a writer. You don’t have to be published, or have ever shown your words to another person.

Okay, so I’m a writer. That answers my question.

However, I’ve been going through a bit of an identity crisis the last few months, and asking myself a lot of hard, stressful questions.

Recently, I’ve been wondering if I’m just using the wrong medium. Maybe I’m not built for prose. Maybe I’m one of those people who is passionate about something I’m not good at, and good at things I’m not passionate about.

I don’t have a problem thinking up stories, or characters, but when I sit to write I start to doubt myself. I think about all the “rules.” The impostor syndrome sets in. As I write, I already know what someone would tell me about the sentence I’ve just written: I should include more sensory details; that sentence is too long; stop using weak words; don’t use adverbs.

I’m not an expert, but I know myself. I know my style favors long, rambling sentences. Sometimes my description is too bare. I think my writing is too simple. I wish my words were more beautiful, more poetic.

I could overcome some of that. After all, one rule I whole-heartedly agree with is to write first, edit later. You can’t fix something that isn’t there. I know this, and yet the need for perfection still gets in my way.

I also wonder if maybe I’m just not made for writing. Maybe I’m good at coming up with ideas, but should just pass along those ideas to better writers. I actually enjoy reading other people’s work and giving them feedback, fixing grammatical errors, etc..

The biggest thing, though, is harder to get over. I have the most fun with writing when it’s collaborative. By this, I don’t mean that I’m working on my own thing and someone else is joining me and working on their own thing; I mean, we are working on the same story together. I have all these worlds and characters in my head, but working on them alone isn’t nearly as much for for me as having a writing partner. That energizes and motivates me so much more than writing by myself. Writing alone does not excite me the way collaboration does.

I love writing characters. I feel bogged down by description, and think that a lot of pretension exists in the writing world regarding what we should and shouldn’t do with our writing styles. I look forward to writing when I know I’m bouncing off of someone else.

Maybe I need to find my medium. Something like script writing, or writing for audio dramas.

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People are the worst, and the best

Sometimes people really are the worst, and you realize that humans suck, and that they scare you. I think that on a frequent enough basis, on top of all the global shit going on.

I was on my way home from running some errands after work. Boring stuff, like updating our home internet plan (hell yeah, faster internet for $5 less a month), and running to the store for bread and peanut butter. My windows were down, because it was in the 60s and comfortable.

I was minding my own business.

A mere few feet ahead of me, I’d say three feet or so, sparks started jumping off of the road in front of me, accompanied with loud pops. Someone had tossed lit fire crackers into traffic, right in front of me, with my windows down.

My brain goes on auto-pilot during moments like this. I was very calm when I pressed the button to roll my windows up, while inwardly panicking that it would be too slow, that one would get tossed into my car as I drove by, but I was fine. I glanced in my rear-view mirror to see if the person behind me was reacting, but he didn’t appear to have noticed. Luckily the light two blocks down was red and I could get a moment to breathe even while my hands shook.

When I got into downtown, I rolled my windows down half-way, assuming I was safer there. I put Hamilton on, because it makes me happy, and I wanted to sing about Eliza swooning over Alex to boost my spirits.

Sometimes people are great.

Again, I was minding my own business. If you’ve been around me while music is playing, you know I sing along. But when I’m by myself? I have no shame. At another red light, someone pulled up beside me. I didn’t think I was singing loud enough for anyone to hear, even without my shame. The young woman was in the passenger seat of the other car. She looked out her window and said something to me. I paused my music and rolled my window down the rest of the way.

“Sorry, I didn’t hear you!”

“You have a lovely singing voice!” she said.

I got a little flustered and shy, so I thanked her and asked if she’d heard of Hamilton. She said no, so I explained that it’s a hip-hop musical about the Revolutionary War, and that it would change her life.

“I’ll look it up! Thank you for changing my life!” she said.

The light turned green.

They turned left. I went straight, thinking about her kind words, and how these moments happened only minutes apart.

Thank you, sweet girl, wherever you are.