Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Expectations

This year, I got a new haircut. Half of my head is now shaved bald. I also wear almost exclusively black, eyeliner every day, and admittedly excessively tall heels. I've been called intimidating once or twice. Between the black nail polish and the newfound confidence, I find that people look at me differently than they used to. Especially coming back to San Diego, there's a big difference in what people expect of me. In Portland, I'm pretty much the norm. Of course, some people still stare a little bit or give me a once over, but nothing extreme. Here, it's a whole other story.
When I go into stores, employees follow me around because they're afraid I might steal something. The first time I realized this was happening, I got really upset. I've never stolen anything in my life, I've been a goody two shoes for most of my life. Just because I started cutting up my t shirts, suddenly I was a delinquent? At first I thought that this nice lady just wanted to see if I needed any help. But then I told her I was just looking, and she didn't move. She kept her eyes on me the entire time I was in the store, making sure to move around so that my hands were always in her line of sight. I understand that they don't want people to steal, and that kids do steal from stores, but it hurt to be stereotyped because of the way that I like to dress.
When I was getting food recently, the cashier looked frightened of me, and it felt like those movies where I had to joke, "don't worry, I don't bite." Why is that a trope? Why do we expect people with piercings and tattoos to be untrustworthy?
All my life people have trusted me. I was the one that parents wanted their kid to hang out with, because I was straight laced and did well in school. People could go to events because I was going, and their parents figured that I would do well in charge. I was in charge of a lot of things, and they all went well. People knew that I could handle it.
My eyeshadow changed from gold to black and my dresses turned to skinny jeans and tank tops. Now all of a sudden that trust that I was used to is going away. We shouldn't judge anyone because of what they choose to wear. Sure, your clothing can say a lot about you, but it doesn't have to. Sometimes people wear things simply because that's what they think looks good, and that shouldn't reflect negatively on them.
It makes me think of other expectations we have in this society. Why do we think people look sketchy, or good, or gay, or dumb, or nerdy, and why do we act differently around these people before even getting to know them?
I know we can't just blindly trust everyone, because it's naive to think that the world doesn't have untrustworthy people in it. But we can stop putting expectations on people because of the way that they look. We can be nice without letting our guard down completely.
Perhaps I just have to deal with being intimidating, and get over it. But it's really discouraging when you have to prove people's expectations wrong, especially when they have no reason to expect anything bad from you.

"High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation."-Charles Kettering

Expect more of people, not less. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Understanding Pretty

I had a friend say to me recently "You think you're pretty, but you don't understand that you are." That thought really hit me. My whole life, parents have told me that I was beautiful. Of course I didn't believe them, because people my own age never thought so. When I was kissed for the first time, I was in high school. By then it had been a very long time since I'd thought I was pretty. For years after that first kiss I believed that I was average looking, and that I was lucky that certain people were attracted to me. Then I went through some serious self evaluation, and I realized that I could never be happy if I didn't love myself. So I went through a lot of work to believe a lot of positive things about myself.
Still, my physical appearance is the thing that I have the hardest time with. Believing that I am attractive has been and still is one of the biggest barriers that I face on my journey to true self love. I'm pretty. I get that now. I struggle with trying not to be conceited and also trying to be proud of how I look. But I can look at pictures of myself and look in the mirror and think "I'm attractive." I tell myself this over and over again, because I think a part of me just wants it to be true, and saying it enough will make it so. I work on looking good, to a certain extent, and I know that I don't look as good as a lot of other people do. I'm okay with that.
I don't understand that I'm pretty. I don't inherently believe that I am a desirable and attractive person. The evidence in my life just doesn't show that to me. But I do think that I'm pretty, I think that there are reasons why certain people may be attracted to me, and I can get certain things in life that pretty people can get.
The distinction my friend made may seem small, but it hit me like a truck. I had to sit there for a moment, not saying anything, and really digest that. Is it easy for people to see? That I don't understand my own attractiveness? I've seen it in books, people that don't get the extent of how attractive they are. I just never thought that I was one of those people.
Does this change how I see myself? Not really. I don't know if I'll ever understand that I'm pretty, I may have missed that opportunity in my life. It just makes me think about how I'm perceived. Do people see me as more attractive than I see myself? Does that change anything?
In some ways, I think it's sad. Because I see people that don't understand their own attractiveness. They battle with self esteem, just like I do, but they shouldn't, at least not in the physical looks department.
I'd like to say that I don't place a lot of importance on my looks. But I'm a nineteen year old girl, and I was brought up in a society where that mattered. I've always had really attractive friends, I still do, and so in comparing myself to them I never thought of myself as attractive. Now that I'm starting to, things feel different. Am I attractive? I don't know. I don't understand the few people that are attracted to me. But at least now I do think I'm pretty. If I think it hard enough, perhaps one day I'll believe it.

"Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it." -Confucius

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Best Friend

I read something once on the internet. "Someone important to you deserves to be important to someone else too." That's pretty good internet advice, as that usually goes. It was in an article about things that Toy Story teaches us. I'm still learning this, though. I watch other people make the same mistakes as me and I try so hard not to do it, but it's natural. I have to keep reminding myself of this though.
A lot of people naturally want to be loved the most. They want to know someone best, be the person that they always turn to, know all the secrets, be the most important to them. People want to be THE best friend. I watch it happen all the time. People answer questions for each other, they do this weird competition thing with knowledge about their friends, and they try to be the one that hangs out with someone the most. You can't claim people friend wise in this society. When you're dating, everyone knows you have that position and anybody decent will respect that. When you're friends, there's no reason someone can't also be that person's friend. There's no reason that person can't become even better friends with them. So we get jealous. People like to be loved, this is nothing new.
But in my own life, I'm trying not to do this. It's not a competition. Every friendship is different, and there isn't one list ranking of friends for each person. I have a hard time with this. Naturally, I want everyone to like me the most. I want everyone to pick me, to think I'm worthy of their friendship. But it's unreasonable. I can't expect everyone to pick me first, because I can't pick all of them first. On that note, not everyone I pick first will pick me back. That's okay. As long as you don't put all your faith into friends that aren't actually there for you, you should be fine.
I have a best friend. One friend above all the others. Not everybody has this, but I do. I've even had people say to me "I know I'm not Austin, but..." and then they proceed to tell me why they should be able to care about me. It's a little ridiculous, because of course they can still care, and I can still care about them. But they have a point. I'm never going to love any of them more than I love him, which is a hard thing for some people to accept. We know abstractly that most people we interact with love someone else more than they love us. With me, I just hold that out for the world to see. It makes it different.
I also tend to get jealous of him. When other people are really close with him, I worry, because I can't be around him and they can, and it's really not fair at all that I don't ever get to see my best friend. But he's important to me, and he deserves to be important to them, too. As long as they love him.
Anyway, I have to remind myself of this with most of my friends. Yes, we're really close, and no, that does not mean they aren't close to people that I don't know.
We've got to spread the wealth of friendship. Once I started to see each individual friendship for what it was, instead of trying to make them all the same, I saw that my friendships are beautiful. Sure, maybe I don't see them every day, but I do love every moment we spend together. Maybe it's not the friendship I expected, but you can't plan your life out like that. I love my friends, and they deserve as much love as they can get. So I'm happy that the people I know know other people. If I love someone, how could I keep them all to myself? I've got to let the world experience the wonderful people I call friends. Not that it's my decision. But I should be happy about other people loving them, not jealous or threatened or upset.

“No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” 
― Alice Walker

I don't want to deny anyone's right to grow by being a jealous friend. I just want to be your friend, and let each of us love each other and others as we will.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Fine Lines of Love

It's recently come to my attention that I don't really understand the difference between romance and platonic love, friendship and flirting. I've had some idea of this for most of my life, but now it's all sort of coming together.
When I was younger, I just figured that I didn't know how to flirt. I also assumed that no one ever flirted with me, but it occurred to me later that it's possible I was just oblivious.
Another aspect came into play when I realized that i was bisexual. Growing up, our society told me that what I felt for boys was romantic and what I felt for girls was friendship. Of course I didn't feel romantically for all boys, but you get the idea. There was this distinction between genders, but that didn't stop me from having crushes on girls, I just didn't label them that way. This left me not really understanding my own emotions and my own responses to people.
I like to think that I'm a reasonably perceptive person. I pride myself in being able to understand people, and I spend a lot of time trying to understand their motivations and loves and fears. It helps me to know the person better, for one, and it also helps me write better characters. But one thing I've never understood is flirting. A lot of that came from self hatred. For a long time I believed that no one would ever want to flirt with me. Now, having more confidence (and also being informed by some of my friends), I've realized that perhaps people have been flirting with me throughout the years, I just haven't seen it.
When you meet someone that you like, you can pursue a friendship with them or try to start something romantically, to put it into simple options. I'm starting to see that my problem is that I don't pick between the two. Because I never realized the distinction, I tend to send signals for both. People I meet will sometimes be confused on whether I want to date them or be their friend. Because the thing is, I don't see a very big difference between those two kinds of love.
I've had many a best friend throughout my life that people have thought I was dating. People see us and think that our love must be romantic. This is partly due to heteronormative thinking and assuming that different gendered people can't be just friends, but it also tends to be due to the fact that I'm so close with them. People assume that if I spend significant amounts of time one on one with someone, then it must be romantic. But with all of these friends I've had, it's purely platonic.
The thing is though, I think of the difference between my romantic relationships and my close friendships. There doesn't tend to be a lot different between the two other than what I label them.
So what does this mean? What does it matter? Why do I care? Love is so much more complicated than I ever imagined it to be. People always told me that, that love would be complicated, but this isn't the way I thought it would be. I thought that meant that any relationship was going to be hard, and sometimes you have to pick between different kinds of love, and things like that. I was prepared for that. What I wasn't prepared for was not knowing. I don't actually know what makes my friendships different than romance. I don't know how to differentiate the kinds of love that I have. I can say that I haven't fallen in love in a long time, and I don't think I'm really a relationship person, at least not at this point in my life. I have loved before. I love so many people in my life right now, but not in a romantic way. What's different about how I love them and how I classify romance? Nothing I can pinpoint. There are fine lines. Perhaps it doesn't matter if I cross over these lines every now and again. Perhaps love doesn't have to be as rigid as I logically want it to be. And most importantly, perhaps romantic love is not the endgame. Maybe finding 'the one' isn't nearly as important as our society makes it out to be.
They say that everyone has someone out there who will love them just the way they are. I think it's most often assumed that this will be a romantic partner. I don't think it has to be. I don't think it matters. I used to be a big fan of labeling things, of putting things into compartments and knowing everything that I was feeling. Now, I don't think I want labels, not on love. I don't think we have to define every relationship. Me, I'd rather just let love be love, and ignore all the fine lines between all of it.

Many people have tried to define or explain love. This quote seems the most apt description to me, because it's vague and simple and encompasses all of it.
“We love the things we love for what they are.” 
― Robert Frost

P.S.Thanks for reading. All of my posts are just rambles, things that are on my mind that I wanted to write out to think through. So thanks for sticking with me through it.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

A New Me

Recently I was looking through some pictures and videos of me from last year. As a senior in high school, my life was completely different. I spent most of my time in the theater, and when I wasn't there I was at Dominos or doing improv. I worked hard, went to a party maybe once a month (if at all), and saved most of my money. My three best friends were girls, and to be honest, I didn't hang out with really anyone else. I had a lot of people I cared about, but those three were the only people I saw outside of school. I was in charge of almost everything I was involved in, and I was also riddled with anxiety.
Now, I'm very different. I spend a lot of time in theater, but in college it's been almost exclusively stage management. I stopped doing improv entirely. I shaved off half my hair, rarely go a day without eyeliner, and wear skinny jeans pretty much always. I do a lot of writing, and I started smoking. My nails are painted black, I don't care if people know what kind of music I listen to, and I do a lot academically because I actually care about the classes I'm taking. Most of them, anyway. The majority of my friends are guys, and I try to spend time with lots of people. Also, I don't have a job.
Things have changed a lot. That's normal, I'm in college now and people change when they go to college. I'm not surprised. I expected this. What I didn't expect was missing the person I used to be.
It's probably a romanticized version of myself that I miss. I was sad and had a lot of problems with my anxiety. I don't want to go back to that, especially considering how much progress I've made. But there were good times. I was as full of self hatred as any teenage girl could be, but now that I've learned to love myself, I see that I wasn't so bad back then either. I loved my friends, I loved all the things I did, and I led a whole life that I can never go back to. It only lives in my memory. This is something everyone has to go through, something people go through every day.
I've never had this before. My family moved to San Diego when I was three years old. I have maybe two memories from before we moved. And then we stayed there from preschool all the way through high school graduation. I'd never lived anywhere else before I came to Portland for college. That was also the first time I ever changed myself. I stayed pretty much the same from age 3 to 18. It was a simple, safe life. There was no need to change. But then I realized I wanted to be different, and I've become so much more comfortable with who I am. I feel like I know who I am now.
So there's my entire life behind me, and I have to say goodbye to that girl. She was me for so long, and I've never been faced with saying goodbye to a version of myself like this. I'm leaving her behind. Because I'm not her anymore and I never will be again.
I'm so happy with who I am now. But I have to figure out how to be happy with who I was, and still be able to say goodbye. I can't hold onto every part of my life, because I'm going to have to say goodbye plenty of times after this, but this is the first big one.
Here we go. Goodbye to the old me and the life she led. Hello to the person I've become, and the person I'm still becoming.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Feeling Scared

Warning: this post discusses potentially triggering content about rape culture
It's common knowledge that all women have experiences being afraid of men. When you ask a group of girls about it, every single one of them has a story about feeling threatened, uncomfortable, or afraid for their safety and possibly their life. This isn't acceptable, yet we let it happen all the time.
I have a lot of guy friends, and I love being able to hang out with them and not worry that they might hurt me or take advantage of me. The only problem with this is that sometimes I start to feel too safe. I'm not on guard, and then it really shocks me when certain things happen. No one attacked me, no one directly threatened me, but comments were made. People don't understand how scary simple comments can be. Asking someone if I lock my door at night, continually talking about how you think I'm attractive, mentioning what you would do to me if you could; all of these things could seem harmless, but we don't have the luxury of assuming harmlessness. I've been taught my whole life how to avoid things like kidnapping and attacks. I've been on guard since I was a little girl because it's easier to teach us how to run than to tell people that no means no, and lack of a no doesn't mean yes. We're starting to get there, but people treat it like a joke. People look at feminists and say that they take things too seriously. Some people will read this and think that those comments were nothing, that I'm overreacting.
I don't want to be upset about this. I don't want to think that my friends might take advantage of me and do things to me that I didn't expressly consent to. But in this world, with these people, that's something I can't afford to do. Because if something does happen, when these things happen, society will tell me that it's my fault. They will ask me what I was wearing, they'll argue that I didn't say no enough times, they'll say I acted like I was interested and that I encouraged their behavior. People get so angry at women for being defensive and then tear us down if we weren't defensive enough.
Watch your comments, watch your actions, be aware of how all of that might effect someone else. Because I want to feel safe around my friends, I want to believe that nothing bad is going to happen to me. The moment I start to hear things like what I heard, I can't feel completely safe anymore.
I know that words aren't actions, and that I can't base my opinion on people just off of some stupid comments they made one night. But as much as I try, I can't be the same around that person ever again. I feel like I can't let my guard down, I feel like I have to make sure I don't do anything to make people think that it's my fault, that I brought this on.
In today's world, we're made to feel scared. We need to stop telling people to not get attacked, to not feel uncomfortable, to never go anywhere alone but go in groups of three because two is still unsafe. We need to tell people not to attack, not to make others feel uncomfortable, and to be good to each other. People act like there are these scary kidnapers and rapists and attackers that are separate from us. They're not like us, they're animals. But the truth is they're people, just like everybody else on the surface, and most of the time you don't realize anything's wrong until it's too late.

Don't tell people not to be scared. Start telling people how to not be scary.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Coming Out

Today is national bisexuality awareness day, also called Celebrate Bisexuality Day, Bisexual Pride Day, Bi Visibility Day, and other things. The point is, September 23rd is the day for bi people and our celebration and awareness. Coincidentally, it's also the day I came out, one year ago. It was the first time I actually said it out loud to another person. I was at my friend's birthday party, and I made some sort of joke about being into girls, and one of my friends asked, "Mackenzie, are you bi?" and I knew. I knew that the answer was yes, and I told them without thinking twice about it. They were all very supportive of me coming out, it was really nice. The thing is, though, that coming out never ends. Next I told my parents, but it wasn't a big ordeal. It just happened. I mentioned it. Once I figured out that I was bi, once I finally realized that this was a real thing and I accepted that I wasn't straight, I couldn't hide it. It made me really respect people who haven't been able to come out, for whatever reason, because it's hard. The terminology you use, the jokes you make, the comments you add, all of it can point to your sexuality, if someone is listening. Anyone that hides that has a tremendous strength, one they should never have to have.
And people always get that questioning look in their eye, wondering how I could have mentioned an ex boyfriend and an attraction to girls. I feel the need to explain my sexuality to people. That's what I mean by coming out never ends. You have to tell everyone you meet. Of course, you aren't required to tell anyone, but in this heteronormative society, people will expect you to be straight until you tell them otherwise. I lived in a very accepting community, but even with open minded people, I experienced a lot of ignorance. A lot of people told me that it was probably just a phase, that it wasn't valid because I'd never done anything with a girl.
Coming out can be really hard. I constantly worried that people would judge me, that people wouldn't want to date me, that they would make assumptions about me.
So today, I think about the past year. I think about everything that's happened in my life, and I think about how different it's been. I've known myself more in the past year than I ever have before. Of course, a lot of other things contributed to that, but I think being honest with myself and others about my sexuality has made a huge difference.
Since I got to Lewis and Clark, I've noticed a difference. People don't have that questioning look in their eyes. When I say that I'm bi, no one bats an eye and nobody looks surprised or says "I totally called that," or "are you sure?". It's really nice. There's a large gay population here, so it's going to be more accepted. It should be that way everywhere. There should be no more 'coming out'.
My mom recently told someone that I was in Portland, and they asked if I was a lesbian, and from what I understand, they were disgusted by that thought, because Portland is just crawling with us gays. It seems ridiculous that people think that way, but that's the reality. People are biased and rude and it does hurt. Living outside of that, I see how easy it is to be accepting.
Today also makes me think about bi erasure, and all of the problems that are encountered with that, but that's it's own blog post.


"I had a feeling something was wrong with me. I guess I was a mystery even to myself." Benjamin Saenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe


No one should ever feel like something is wrong with them, especially not because of their sexuality. Today, we promote awareness for bisexuals. I hope I see a day when we no longer need that. I long for a day when "coming out" is not something anyone ever has to do.