Thoughts About Self Care and Competition

A friend recently asked me “how often do you write?” To which I responded, “not enough.”

We’d been talking about how everyone everyone has been a little obsessed with Lady Gaga at some point. He mentioned that he liked how she’s unobjectively herself. I mentioned that I really appreciate that she’s learned how to be herself without having to be forceful about it (I wasn’t a fan of her during her meat dress faze, to say the least). You can be yourself without throwing yourself into a random party outfit generator each morning. You can be quirky and not have your outfit scream to the world that this is who you are. There is courage in doing that, yes, but there’s also courage in being firm in who you are without having to prove it to the world. And I think that’s where Gaga is now.

Getting back to the point: I was analyzing the evolution of her lyrics with my friend as we drove to dinner. Not to be cocky, but I could overanalyze anything. One could call it my hubris. But tonight, it worked out in my favor. My friend started asking me about my writing. Now, I love to talk about loving to write and all the plans I have for novels that aren’t going to go anywhere and how I used to perform slam poetry blah blah blah, but this conversation, for whatever reason, made me realize that I wasn’t doing what I loved as often as I thought I was. 

I created a motto for myself this school year: Do more of what makes you happy. By not making the time to write, am I not following my motto? By making the time to write but not writing what I am really passionate about, is that also breaking my motto? Sadly, I think so. It’s not that I am intentionally depriving myself of some mental need to obtain joy via the written word (*insert sarcastic eye roll here*), it’s that I am missing out on extra joy because I subconsciously internalize my want to produce literature. I don’t make time for writing, other than my blog, because I feel like there are so many better, more productive things to be doing. I could be studying for tests, or reading for bookclub, or calling my parents. I could do my laundry, cook real food for dinner, or vacuum. It feels like there are a thousand more important things in my life right now. But more important to whom?

That’s the catch right there.

I care how people perceive me. I overanalyze it to the point of lunacy. There’s this little voice in my head telling me that if someone caught me spending an hour a day writing for pleasure I would be stripped deserving the titles I have. If I spent an hour a day relaxing by planning out my next novel instead of preparing for Homecoming or reading over my UGA tour notes or creating guides for my next-to-impossible biology exams someone is bound to say that I don’t work hard enough for what I have.

I know I’m not the only one that looks at the things that make me happy and push them to the side because there are “more important” things to do. Part of this, from what I can tell, stems from how competitive my graduating class is. I remembering being in high school where people would brag about not sleeping for days, or using Adderall to stay awake long enough to do weeks worth of homework in a single stretch. I didn’t want to participate in things like that, so I did what I could to keep my grades up and still be a functioning human being. I got into college and that same thing kept going on and on and on. I’m even friends with people that still post on social media each time they’re up in the library past 2 am studying for a test. It’s a competition to prove that you’re the best student because you work the hardest, and it’s not healthy.

We, the collegiate millinials, have an unhealthy competitive edge (that’s probably going to lead us to early graves if I’m being honest). We care too much, and because we care we work to impress others (whether others actually care or not) rather than to fulfill ourselves. I am not asking everyone to become self involved workaholics. I am simply stating that doing self-fulfilling tasks with the fervor you put into your studies and extracurriculars would be a nice change of pace. So, instead of glorifying not sleeping or studying until you nearly collapse, let’s glorify doing things for not other reason than that they make us happy.

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Slam Poems I’d Recommend to Anyone

I competed in poetry slams in high school. I went to club every Thursday and wrote new pieces. I went to slams almost every Tuesday. I became very, very attached to this style of writing. I reconnected this summer with a friend I competed with and she sent me her list of favorite poems. A few really stood out to me, and here they are!

 

Scarecrow by the Brave New Voices Washington D.C. Team This is the first slam poem I ever listened to. I don’t even remember why I was listening to it or how I found it. But I do remember watching this performance and thinking “I want to perform like that.”

OCD by Neil Hilborn This poem is a great explanation of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. We even watched it in one of my psychology classes. It also shows how people without OCD view people with OCD. My favorite line? “I can’t breathe because he only kisses her once, he doesn’t care if it’s perfect.”

Elephant Engine High Dive Revival by Buddy Wakefield My junior year English teacher used to play this poem for us on bad days. Part of me is reminded of David Sedaris, part of me is left confused, and the rest of me gets it without having to completely understand.

Cat Poem by the Brave New Voices Los Angeles Team I’ve watched these girls perform both online and in person. They’re just as hilarious in person as on stage. I also love how they use this poem to make fun of slam poetry. They’re great!

We Boys by the Homeword Asheville NC Brave New Voices Team I never went to Brave New Voices with Homeword, but these are the people I competed against in high school. This poem was written my junior year when feminism was becoming a larger part of pop culture. To boil it all down, these are the reasons boys need gender equality too. (Also, just FYI, this is very explicit).

Do you have a favorite slam poem?

A Playlist for the Week

Hey guys, me here. Sorry for not being the most talkative person this week. It’s recruitment week at my university and I’ve been rushing around trying to do half a million things at once! But Bid Day is tomorrow and I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am to meet the new members!!!! Hopefully I’ll be able to make a post all about Bid Day and how awesome my sorority members are later this week, but for now I’m running on about four hours of sleep and no caffeine.

Without further to do, here’s my playlist for this week! All the songs are from older movies about high school, the quintessential time period for “growing up.” I’d like to challenge that notion. I did most of my growing up in college. Particularly the first two months of freshman year. In high school you can joke around and figure out what you think you want to do with yourself in the long run, but in college you actually put your foot in the door and start becoming the person you want to be in the long run.

Back to School 2016 Playlist