I Couldn’t Give Two F**ks.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is worth reading. I have learned many things so far, one, to choose what you will care about. You control your happiness.

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While I generally limit the amount of cursing and vulgarity on my blog, the use of the F word in this posting is purposeful. I am reading “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k” by Mark Manson and I am really enjoying it. I will admit it did take me about a chapter to adjust to his use of the F-word and other vulgarity, (because there is a bit), but I am trying to appreciate this in terms of his message. I choose to write about this today because where I am today, at this point in my life, it really is speaking to me.

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So, let’s paint the picture, I am sitting in Panera Bread working on my freelance assignment, stressing over my interview later today with a company that didn’t pick me the first time, happy I finally got a job, (a part-time retail), but knowing it isn’t enough to live on and has no benefits, worrying about finances, bombarded by emails from every retailer I shop at about sales, new fall styles, markdowns, and everything else, and just wanting to give into consumerism and go crazy but understanding that doing that will leave me in a worse financial situation and more stressed out! Oh it’s a cruel world we live in! So, as all of this (and more) is weighing me down, I am also trying to remember what I read from Manson last night.

To this point in the text, I have been faced to think about how I am always wishing I had something that I don’t have. for instance, more money, more work, more clothes, a certain car, a different dwelling somewhere nicer, etc. All of these wants and wishes subconsciously tell us that we are not good enough, we have not achieved enough, and that we are failing. We train our brains to think this way, we come to believe this and we are unhappy, overworked, stressed out, and we suffer, EVERY SINGLE DAY. Manson implores us to turn that on its head and only “give a f**k” about certain things. We are constantly bombarded with these trigger things and generally we simply react, but he says we decide whether or not to let it bother us. He talks about how when we are having a bad day, we go to social media and we see all these pictures from people who have f’ing perfect/amazing lives and we are pushed even further into our bad mood because we are convinced that we are having a worse off day than we actually are. Instead of just having a bad day and looking forward to tomorrow, we look at other people’s lives today and are convinced that we can never have a life like that and therefore, all of our days are bad days in comparison.

Damn, I don’t know about you, but that is a depressing concept to me. Lately I have been trying to remind myself how blessed I am despite all of the crap I am dealing with. In reality, I am not in danger of starving or being homeless. Worse case, I can break my lease and move back home or to my grandparent’s house. But I don’t have to do that because my parents are able to help and provide what I can’t come up with right now. I had the ability to go to an amazing university despite FAFSA not covering much. I have a car to get around, I can walk, talk and see. My family loves me and isn’t abusive. They are generally supportive. I have a great number of friends through Junior League, I am able to attend Junior League Southwest Conference next month, and I am in good health. There are many more things to be thankful for that I could list, but I think you get the point. So why do I still worry about what I don’t have?

Manson says that not giving a f**k, as he encourages us to do, is not actually being indifferent about everything, it is about being indifferent to the things that don’t matter. Those new fall arrivals at LOFT that I am not buying, they don’t matter. The new markdowns at Kendra Scott, those won’t help me be happy with myself. These are difficult concepts for me because shopping and buying makes me happy. But when you can’t do that, but you do anyways, remorse hits you hard. It’s a self-depreciating cycle.

My goal for today is to just give a f**k about what actually matters. I give a f**k about my freelance assignment, my interview this evening, and my safety on the road. Otherwise, I will ignore the emails that aren’t from a specific person, commercials that want me to buy something, and other’s actions that are infuriating, (like the a-hole who will inevitably cut me off sometime today :D). I encourage you to do something similar. Even if all you can do is choose two things today to ignore, to not give a f**k about. Life can be an amazing experience, so let’s focus on our own lives and figure out how we can be content so we can spread that contented feeling!

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Ah, the elusive confidence

You can create your own confidence. It does not have to scary or elusive. You have the tools, you are your best you and you can have the faith in yourself!

Confidence, what is it? Where does it come from? Who is to say whether I really have it, or I don’t really have it? It is an internal concept that people can see from the outside. Or they think they can. I had a conversation with a friend today and it made me think about confidence. I want to share these thoughts so they may help you.

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I was bullied throughout school. In elementary school it was because I was more physically mature than the other girls my age. In middle school, I am not sure why, but this girl decided she did not like me and she did everything she could to be cruel, including trying to have me jumped. She went to my high school as well and I feel like she was constantly trying to show she could do whatever I could. So, in middle school, I decided if people weren’t going to like me for no reason, I was going to give them many reasons to not like me. In high school, I began umpiring and I spent my money (pretty good money too) on clothes. I wore new stuff all the time. I drove, I snuck off campus for lunch, and I did my best at the sports I played. I was in ASB and I was an IB student. I tried to look like I had it all together and not a care in the world. I wanted to appear “Confident as F**k” (as the saying goes), so they might back off. I thought if they didn’t have the satisfaction of seeing me upset they would just go away. Obviously, that is never the case. Bullies are bullies because they dislike themselves, not you. But I didn’t know that.

Through doing all of this, I actually pushed nice people away and ended up with almost no friends and a really rough high school experience. And I ended up with a shopping addiction to cope with all that junk in my mind that I masked with this “super confident” facade. This was so bad that I couldn’t even tell people I would be going to a community college after high school. I was too ashamed that I couldn’t get into a 4-year university, (due to a bad counsellor and a lack of fine-arts units), and even worse, that I might not be ready for a four-year university.

So, last night I had an in-home jewelry party. While I was setting up, I kept telling myself that I need to social, I can’t be shy, I need to talk and mingle, I can’t be shy about my jewelry, the brand, why I love it, second guess the pricing, etc. My friend said he didn’t understand my lack of confidence because time and time again I have proven that I thrive in these social environments, that I am capable of selling in a conversational form and that I know my product, the brand and the reason why it is worth it. And he is right, the party was a tremendous success and the ladies were super excited to place orders. Once I started socializing, the rest just happened naturally. And I knew this would be the case, so why was I nervous? Did I really lack the confidence?

Confidence is defined as “the state of feeling certain about the truth of something.” By this definition, I suppose I wasn’t truly confident in the possible outcome of the party. I knew there were many different factors at play and that many different outcomes were possible. All I could do is be me, be knowledgeable and be friendly! But I did not feel truly certain. I think there are many things that we face on a daily basis that we are not truly confident about. We can have complete faith in ourselves, but lack it in others and that will affect our confidence in a situation depending on others.

In high school, I seemed like I had this confidence in myself, but I was constantly doubting myself because I was bullied. It is really hard to believe you are beautiful and awesome and smart and successful when people are telling you that you aren’t. But, ultimately, that confidence does have to come from inside of you. If I had portrayed an uncertain persona yesterday, been shy and not knowledgeable and helpful, I doubt the evening would have been a success. It was a success because I was these things. I started the night faking it but it quickly became the truth as the others believed that I was confident. And I was quickly able to truly feel that confidence as well.

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I encourage you to think about things you know about yourself to be true. What about you gives you faith in yourself? That is your source of confidence. It doesn’t hurt to surround yourself with things that lead you to feel confident either. I wore a necklace yesterday that I got a couple of compliments on before the party while I was going through my day. That helped me feel great. A great blouse, feeling 5lbs. lighter, a great hair day, or a new pair of power pumps can help us feel great about ourselves. When we feel great about ourselves, we walk straighter, we smile more, and people believe we are confident. In turn, we feel confident. This feeling isn’t built overnight, but it is inspired daily. So, what do you feel confident about? What faith do you have in yourself? Channel that, wear your favorite dress, and go kick some butt!

 

PSA – Blue Whale Game

I have been quite on my blog for awhile, I know. I have been trying to make sense of something I have read about online. Through research and soul searching, I think I have come to some conclusions and so, I want to talk about suicide in youth and the Blue Whale Game in this post.

If you haven’t yet heard about Blue Whale, it is a game started in Russia that takes kids through 50 days of escalating tasks leading to them committing suicide. The players are found through social media sites and are encouraged to join specific chat rooms where they post pictures of their tasks as proof and are encouraged to continue by other chat room members.  Pictures are often captioned with “I am a Whale” and other phrases relating to the Whale game. Why the game is called Blue Whale is not clear, some believe it may be alluding to the way whales beach themselves in order to die, or to attach to the negative phrasing of calling yourself a whale.

Just this week, one of the curators of the game was convicted on two counts of attempting to coerce two teens into suicide. Although he was originally arrested for 15 counts. It is possible that the reason why these curators are hard to find and capture is because they are utilizing the dark web to move between social media and redtube sites where they can have the victims upload their videos in ananominity. I don’t fully understand the way this works, but from my research, the darkweb allows you to hide your IP addresses, locations and identity. Unfortunately, the justice systems across the globe generally need some sort of proof/evidence, if you cannot prove its their IP or identity, how can you prove it was them? This means that these curators are still out there drawing teens in with their sick game.

Suicide is a very serious issue. Unfortunately, in order to decide that something is an issue, something drastic must happen. A couple deaths across the United States hasn’t yet been deemed drastic. It isn’t an emergency yet and there are still many who do not know about this issue. But I want to make sure that people do know about this. The game is ingenious in its design. The tasks serve direct and indirect purposes. A common task is to have the victim wake up early, about 4:20am for several mornings or to stay up all night watching horror movies. These type of tasks may seem better and easier for the victim than the tasks that require them to cut themselves, scratch their arms until they bleed and other self-mutilating tasks, but the purpose of the tasks is to make the victim tired, leaving them mentally unable to process the following information and make them feel alone, exhausted, strung-out and more vulnerable.

The tasks are both self-mutilating and serve to make the victim feel alone by telling them to tell their best friend that they hate them, asking them to ostracize themselves from their social groups. This makes the victim again, more vulnerable and prone to the kind of mindset that leads to the final task, suicide. The victims feel as if they cannot stop because they are told the curator knows who they are, where they live, and will hurt them and their family if they try and leave the game. It is a real game causing real deaths and it needs to be known, it needs to be stopped.

So, please, if you have children, know somebody with children, or just care about the people of this world, share this please. Suicide is the number two cause of death among teens. We do not need these kinds of sick games pulling these kids into feeling like suicide is their only option.

Please take a look at this sources:

Blue Whale Challenge: List of All 50 Tasks [UPDATED]

https://www.rt.com/news/396846-blue-whale-teenager-suicide-jailed/

 

Acceptance: Because I CAN Accept Myself.

After devastation hit Monday night, I felt rejected. I questioned why and it hit me today… I need to accept myself first. Strength comes from knowledge of self and I believe that means acceptance of self.

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Acceptance, such a simple word. It is comprised of the root ‘accept’ and the suffix ‘ance’ which denotes a quality or state or an instance of, in this case, accept. So, acceptance. We all desire this, even those of us who do everything in our power to be different, we want, need people to accept us as we are. We may be different, normal, stupid, smart, slutty. funny, fat, skinny, average, muscular, straight, gay, bisexual, or just plain undecided on all fronts.

Monday I got word from a potential employer that they were not going to pursue my application further. This came on the back on about four other rejection emails earlier in the day. I was crushed. I really wanted this position. It was everything I have seen myself doing, where I wanted to live, what I wanted to do, and I saw it opening doors into a future career after my Masters, if I pursued that route. And then they said no, I felt defeated, deflated and dejected. Now, I understand my job hunting woes are not singular to myself, many people are struggling finding a career, but I have always had such success. I have never been out of a job long. I got an interview and then I would get the job. In short, I felt I have always been accepted.

I received the email on my way to a Yankees/Angels game Monday night. I sat there, in the back seat of the car and felt my heart shatter. Now, the employer didn’t know that their email would have that affect, they didn’t know how invested I had been in my research, my planning, and my desire to make it work. I didn’t tell them and they didn’t ask. because those things aren’t ever communicated in the interview process. So, there I sat. I read the email and my heart broke. Tears welled up in my eyes and my shaking hands dropped my phone into my lap, I was devastated. I sat through that care ride wondering, “why?” Why didn’t they accept me?

There is that word again, accept. And when I wasn’t accepted by this employer I really wanted to have accept me, I began to reject myself. I began questioning myself. Was the issue me? Was I really not a “good fit” for the position, or did I simply lack the skill? Maybe I was just not the right look or personality or have the right motives, or the right ideas, reading the right books… gawsh the list could go on! I was questioning everything.

But then something happened. It wasn’t conscious, but the tears stopped and I shrugged my shoulders. I realized something, finally, that if I couldn’t accept myself, how could I expect someone else to accept me? If I keep talking the talk and not walking that same talk, how could I expect to get anywhere? Always being able to pick up a job led me to believe that I was being accepted, but I haven’t truly been accepted. I have played parts, in retail, in school, in sports. I was playing a role. Now, the struggle comes from the ability to pick the way the next several years of my life will go. Now, I get to pick a full-time job, something that requires skills, or maybe something that allows me to move where I want to be… I don’t know. Fear constantly looms on the horizon as I wonder whether I will be accepted by others. But maybe, maybe I don’t need to have everyone accept me. My acceptantance is enough.

Acceptance, insistence of accept, to be accepted. This blog is me accepting myself. And I have only just now realized that. I am honest here. I talk about things I actually want to talk about. It is great to have readers, and I hope what I have to say somehow touches you and helps you, but this is for me. I am accepting myself. Because I don’t need an employer to choose me to know that I am worth choosing. Because I am friggin’ awesome and really, it’s their loss. Not mine. And I can accept that.

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Emotional Intelligence

Travis Bradbury, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 discusses the importance of EQ and how to improve upon it. Studies show that those with higher EQ’s are more successful than those who score lower.

Emotional Intelligence is something I have heard about and knew enough about to seek out a test to see how I stacked up. I did this a little while ago simply because I like tests and I like to know what my “number” is in relation to others. Call it a method of self-measurement. Luckily, I score high in both IQ and EQ, so knowing my numbers means I get to stick a metaphorical feather in my cap and feel good about myself. I know, sounds terrible, but don’t lie, you do it too.

Anyways, at the TEDxUCIrvine conference I went to this past weekend, a gentleman I follow on LinkedIn was one of the speakers. Travis Bradbury quoted Luc de Clapiers, Marquis de Vauvenargues in the beginning of his talk, “Emotions have taught mankind to reason.” He used this quote to frame his talk, so let’s analyze it.

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Emotions, well, we all know what those are. Our feelings, but are they filtered by reason? Emotions are in the base of the brain. They travel from the base of the brain and move up through the limbic system. Basically, (I am not an expert here, just relaying info as I heard it), emotions hit our brain unfettered by reason or experience. Our brain gets the raw emotion, that is then transferred to the front of our brain where reason clouds the raw emotion and creates a filtered and hopefully, appropriate response to the stimulus that caused the emotion. And all of this is subconscious.We do not play an active role in this.

Next let’s look at the word taught, simple past tense in this form. It means to impart knowledge or skill. Interesting when linked with the word emotion which definitely seems to be out of our control if our brain is processing and filtering our emotions subconsciously.

Next we have reason. Reasoning is thinking about something with the experience and knowledge to lead us to make assumptions and determinations. Again, interesting how something so far outside of our conscious control can teach us to reason. It would me more apt to say that reason is taught through the accumulation of knowledge and critical thinking.

After looking at the keywords in the quote, the meaning behind it becomes complicated. This ability to reason stems from the experiences we have throughout our lives nd the knowledge we accumulate. We can therefore benefit from emotions because they exercise our brain’s ability to apply the knowledgeand experience in order to filter the emotion adequately so our response is acceptable by societal standards. But how does this develop? And how does this relate to EQ scores?

Bradbury talked about how our EQ can be improved by managing aspects of our life such as stress, sleep hygiene, and our caffeine intake. Sleep is the most important factor, as we know, because it gives our body and brain time to reenergize and clean all the gunk out that builds up throughout the day. The more tired we are, the less likely we are to filter our emotions fully and we tend to have emotional outbursts. But there is also stress levels that affect us. Again, when we are at our wits end with stress, we tend to have emotional outbursts.

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So it makes sense that EQ is our response to emotional stimulus from people and our surroundings. The most intelligent person in the world may not be able to accurately read the emotion of their coworkers and might therefore, seem out of touch with people’s emotions and ostracize themselves. If we can understand other people’s emotions, we become more caring and compassionate human beings and are often moved to positions of leadership because we can manage people. All of this requires an openness to others and a desire to understand our fellow humans. Without this, we cannot hope to be able to understand and relate to others.

Read more about Emotional Intelligence by picking up on of Travis Bradbury’s books. More information can be found on his LinkedIn.

What a Novel Idea

Change can open your eyes to the time you have wasted being unhappy. But, if you realize it, you can change it and follow your heart.

I have always dreamed of writing a novel. And making the decision to be serious about this blog and follow my love of writing to where it can lead me is apart of that. That being said, I have been dreaming of a story and have seen it all play out in my mind and today I took the first step. I began putting it on paper.

I busted out several pages and am going to continue to build this book. I am also working on my blogging skills and knowledge. I am very excited for this journey and I hope you all will continue to follow and join me as I continue to build myself.

And I also want to say, it took me leaving a job I disliked to realize that I was a heart shaped person fueled by love and curiosity trying to fit myself into a square space. However, I wasn’t willing to minimize my abilities and my desire to learn and be successful in order to fit into the square they wanted me to be.  And you shouldn’t either. I am happy to be dedicating myself to my blog, and now my book, while I look for a position that allows me to use my creativity and my love of words. You should also not be afraid to follow your heart and do what you love to do. It is never too late to change direction and try something different.

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The Retail Race

Let me be clear – I am a shopaholic. Confessions of a Shopaholic? Yes, that brilliant idea visited me in my sleep before it jumped the pond and landed in Sophie Kinsella’s brain to be developed into the Shopaholic franchise. (I will discuss this more when I review Big Magic… once I finish reading it) And to fuel this addiction, I spent many a year in specialty women’s retail (fancy name for LOFT & Chico’s) … mostly for the discounts.

But, because I have spent many years in retail, I understand the game they play with us. I understand the trickle down effect fashion has on the retail industry. Point in case, Fashion Week shows us the newest and hottest trends about a year in advance. By the time our local stores get on the trends, it is almost a year later. What’s worse, their marketing campaigns serve to make women feel as if they need a brand new wardrobe every season! I don’t know about you, but I sure cannot afford that (although I shop as if I can).

I follow A LOT of fashion bloggers on Instagram because I admire their style and their fearless fashion sense. But I also believe that many of them are sporting sponsored duds. I cannot believe anyone purchases new clothing that much and then just wears it to take pictures. I mean, why buy something if you don’t intend to wear it numerous times? Why spend the time to find items you truly love?

But as I write that, I am reminded that I spent a great deal of money in high school and my early years of college purchasing items because I loved them in the moment but then never actually wore them, or wore them only once. I understand and again – I don’t do this anymore. Instead, I have developed a returning issue. Meaning, I return probably 10% of what I purchase on a regular basis. Usually 15-45 days after I purchased it. Hey! I really liked it! I just realized I don’t a) have the proper additional items to pull of the look b) hadn’t eaten any food when I purchased it and now, after eating breakfast, it looks terrible on me or c) it no longer speaks to me.

This is the part that probably truly betrays the depth of my addiction to shopping and clothing… the items speak to me! They say to me “Buy me,” “I will make you happy,” or “I will emphasise all those squats you have been doing.” And I fall into it every time! However, I have found a compromise for myself. I only buy items I love, I don’t rush out and wear them right away, and I utilize the Cluise app, (no this isn’t sponsored, I actually really use the app). Basically the app is a digital closet. It can assemble outfits for you based on weather and event, but I rarely use this feature. Instead, I take pics of everything I purchase, (and am slowly adding everything I currently own), and add them to my digital closet. Then I construct outfits with what I have. Honestly, I don’t generally stick to these outfits, (because I am not an outfit girl, I am a separates girl), but it really helps me see what I have and how the new pieces with incorporate into my current wardrobe. Bonus: I can “see” my closet when I am in a store debating whether or not to buy that super trendy piece. And that is my coping secret.

I have also made an effort to limit my shopping at places like Forever 21, Hollister Co. and Tilly’s. I have realized that I purchase the items at seemingly cheaper prices, just to find the items don’t last and really don’t look good after you wear them once. Of course, it is quick fashion and is meant to only satisfy the season’s trends. And that is great for many women. However, I have found that I can find better fitting and higher quality pieces on sale for the same or less than the items sold by stores such as Forever 21. Such retailers? Madewell – they don’t always have a sale, but they do sometimes. And when they do, (such as an additional percentage off sale items), I shop heavy. I also use my student ID because they offer 15% off for teachers and students all the time, on everything, (don’t quote me, they may exclude third party merchandise). So, top was $68, marked down to $50, additional 50% off that AND THEN an additional 15%? That top is now about $21… And the top at Forever 21? $28.80? No return and may self destruct after first wear? No thank you!

Being a more full-figured woman, (a healthy 12/14, L/XL), fit and quality really matters to me. But I am also basically skating by financially so I really don’t have the room to purchase things at full price. So I try and do my due diligence and follow sales. For instance, Ann Taylor LOFT, (whom I worked for in the past), allows for price adjusting. When I began building my professional wardrobe, I did purchase some items at full or near full price. (Caveat, if you do shop there regularly, you really should have the credit card. Rewards system is fan-freaking-tastic!) So, I watched for when the items went on 40%. Sure enough, they did.I went and price adjusted. (My sister and her boyfriend went with me and had a cow… It was a process) In the end, I ended picking up double what I purchased initially AND I walked out with $1.25 in my pocket! I had a $300 budget and I ended up with nearly 1k in merchandise at ticket value. I should say, I used Cash Cards as well, and that helped quite a bit. But moral of the story, if you do your due diligence, you can really win and make out like a bandit.

Anyways, the point of all this. I think retailers put too much pressure on women to buy new things and to buy them immediately. Obviously, they have sales goals every single day that compound into month, quarterly and annual goals – I get that. But so do we. We have school, new tires, kid’s baseball fees, whatever it may be that we need to prepare for as well. And, I will admit that seeing women with their brand new Chanel, Louis Vuittons and Hermes bags on Instagram sometimes makes me feel inadequate. But, that is okay! I am so thrilled that those bloggers have reached that level of success. But I have reached my own level of success and you have to! So be proud of it and rock your new and old wardrobe staples and show the world that you are feeling good in your duds! And please, be smart about your shopping. The retailers give you the tools, you just need to use them!

In case you are curious, or follow my Instagram, I frequent Ann Taylor LOFT, Madewell, Free People (generally sale online), Banana Republic (by far the best credit rewards system I have seen) and JJill.