What Having Haters Taught Me About Feeling Beautiful

#WorkForHappy

I could never fathom how someone would go out of their way to be nasty to another human being. What sort of satisfaction does it serve? Is it a rush, perhaps? An outlet?

When I wrote “What Having a Big Nose Taught Me About Feeling Beautiful”, I knew I was putting myself out there a little bit. For most of my life I figured that as long as I don’t publicly acknowledge that I have a “unique” nose, other people wouldn’t either.

I was right. Once I acknowledged it, other people couldn’t help themselves in having a say either.

Having exposed this insecurity and my relationship with it, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I got messages and comments telling me that my confidence (such as it were) had inspired them to take some steps towards accepting themselves as well. I got messages saying that the uniqueness of my nose was beautiful and nothing to be ashamed about. Hell, someone even told me that my post had made them see their gender dysphoria in a new light, looking for their inner self rather than what they looked like to affirm their new gender identity. It was inspiring for me, and made that insecurity pretty much shrink to nothing. 

Then some teenager on my Instagram called my nose ugly in Swedish and, what’s more, tagged a friend to affirm it. 

I’ll say that, for the record, I wasn’t at all effected by the ensuing comments that included multiple barf emojis from these adolescents hailing from across the world. Standing in Canada, far away Sweden was non-existent in my breadth of understanding. What’s more, my ever-lasting compassion, a quality that even I acknowledge is quite a landmark in my personality, extended even to these poor girls.

The picture in question, which I honestly am kind of proud of – like I said in the caption – “This is an incredibly personal post for me

What’s funny is that whenever you see anyone on the internet acknowledge negativity, there is always a mention of how one should feel sorry for haters and trolls on the internet. I didn’t think much of it until I had a brush with this negativity myself. I felt bad for them –  actually, first I thought it was funny, then I felt sympathy. I had tagged the photo showing off my nose #bignose and #rhinoplasty, which I have no doubt is what landed these girls on my page in the first place. Self-esteem is hard to come by these days, even for these girls who are, admittedly, quite pretty themselves. They were most likely looking for someone that they could call uglier than themselves. Commenting on my picture that I have an ugly nose probably made them feel better about themselves, because they could proudly say that they don’t have my ugly nose, so there’s that. They might feel crippling despair when they look in the mirror, but in their heads, they are making me feel even worse than them. That is a comfort. I’m not assuming they knew what they were doing. That kind of mean-spirited insecurity is very subconscious.

If they were to read this right now, they would probably comment that that’s not at all what it is – “you just have an ugly nose” they would say. They’re right, perhaps I do have an ugly nose. But at least I don’t feel a need to put others down, for whatever reason.

In the end, who is more beautiful? The person who spreads negativity and puts down others for the parts they cannot change, or the person who tries to spread positivity and minds their own business? 

Someone who has true self-love will not feel the need to point out flaws in other people. I don’t want anyone to feel that way, because I know what it feels like to feel worthless… but at least I didn’t cope by putting other people down too. That I can proudly say. 

In the end, they deleted their comments. It was a losing battle, after all. While I didn’t engage with them, people who cared for me did. It’s not something I wanted, but I got messages from people I’ve never met before telling me that I am beautiful. I never doubted that I am beautiful –  if anything, I feel more beautiful, not just because of the whole “rising above the bullshit” stuff, but also literally just out of spite. I don’t have a unique nose after all. I have a big ugly one. But hell, it’s my nose. Only I can put my nose down, not some silly broken teenager on the internet – my insecurity belongs to me. I will fiercely protect it. 

I’m no online personality, but in a strange twist of events having one or two haters definitely elevated my self confidence. Who’d have thought?

Definitely not those girls. 

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New Year, New Chance

#WorkForHappy

Resolutions are not just for the new year. I know that because my resolutions started in the middle of fall 2017. Rather than fireworks, I started this fresh new chapter of my life in the aftermath of a breakdown that had repeated itself countless times before. I can’t say a breakdown isn’t comparable to fireworks in inventing a new me with a bang though, except this one involved less pretty colors and much more nasal congestion afterwards.

Artwork by Elliana Esquivel

I resolved to be a better person. It’s a huge ask, but I think I’m on track. Whatever ailments of the mental kind that dogged me constantly before became a minimal concern. I weaned off medication eventually, invigorated with a new outlook on life – I would work hard and develop my mental immunity. Sure, I still catch the occasional bout of anxiety or feel the virus of depression seep back into my veins every now and then, especially when I overwork or feel overwhelmed, but it’s just that: a cold. A sick day. I am back on my feet in no time and feel better than ever. At the end of the day, I am much stronger and cognizant of my mental health.

I count myself lucky. I want to tell you something I wish someone told me when I was in that dark place. Continue reading “New Year, New Chance”

The Best Revenge

The mouth of the deep dark cave I kept returning to with the hope of finding remnants of an old treasure is gone. Shining, glittering, and swallowed up by the sea. The tide was rising for ages, engulfing me inch by inch. It was rising so much I tilted my head up for air, hoping for a miracle written in the stars above me. How long can a drowning victim survive standing on the tips of their toes? According to the time stamp of my phone, exactly 24 days. But guess what? it only took 24 hours for me to climb out and watch paradise disappear underneath the cool mirror surface, as the sun moved out from behind the moon and everything burst into color. All that was left was my rippling reflection. And that’s how I knew I’m all that’s worth saving.

Every temptation, every reminder, every trace of this is gone. Words, Smile, Name. Everything:

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The Words were knock offs anyway – if I want authenticity, I’ll buy it for myself. The Words I speak now are authentic, high-end, genuine, real.

The Smile was too soft anyway – I am hard and smooth as a stone, my smile comes easy but my disdain comes easier. The Smile I wear now is worn, carved into my stone face with the intricacy that was lacking here.

The Names you tickled out of me were too impersonal anyway – when I am called, I expect the vowels of my name to be laced with personality, with a story, with an unusual tilt in the end that always ends in a pretty little package of a question.

The cover is blown, shut, banished; it is gone. I’ve deleted the unoccupied, M-shaped space in my life already – actions speak louder than words, love. I’m doing myself the favor, the favor of getting over this wasted paradise, of letting go of your Capital Letters, of being my Best. I’m doing it before you can even snap your head in my direction long enough to declare death upon the gasping poor thing on the ground between us. We all know it’s dead, idiot. Sometimes denial just makes it harder to declare.

Every desire that I could count off on my fingers is gone now. One day I will be the best version of myself. I will be successful. Surrounded. I will have a foundation of love, first for myself, and second for those who love me back. I’m gonna lead a life unstolen from anyone else, and any hesitation I experience until then just tells me I still have work to do. But when all that work has paid off and I am healthy and happy and hella fuckin’ loaded? Then honey…

Oh, dear.

I won’t even remember your name.

Two hundred and forty three bucks

Here it is. I owe you about that much. Yes, owe. For dinner. And the dress. And the abundance of flowers.

No, take it. Seriously, I’m not fucking around. Just take it. Take it.

Listen to me. Understand something cause it’s very important. No, don’t purse your lips ’cause you hate these conversations and find my feelings, my passion to be awkward, to be Too Much.

Listen. I don’t want your money. I don’t want the fancy dinners. I don’t want cars or penthouse apartments, I don’t want a pretty thing for my birthday. I don’t want any of that, honey, I want you.

I want you.

‘Cause I’ll tell you what. One text message. Just saying… I miss you. I’m thinking of you. That’s it, no initiation for conversation, no elaboration, just a simple “hey, I like you, I haven’t forgotten you, I miss you.”

That is worth a million dinners to me, because I want you, baby. I want you.

And honestly? That is such a miniscule amount of effort. Beyond that? I can only wish.

I can get myself pretty things. I work hard, I’m ambitious, I’m independent, and I love doing that. I love doing my thing, living my life, building my career. I NEED that.

And I know you get it cause you’re like that too. And I love that about you. I love that you work hard, you’re ambitious, you’re independent, and you love doing that. I admire you for it. I understand you for it.

But something is wrong when I think, “I’d be so incredibly happy if you just sent me a birthday message.” A birthday message. Even if it’s just “happy bday :)”.

How fucked is that?

Take the money and understand me as you do. I don’t want your bucks. I don’t want you to spoil me because it’s been ages since we’ve talked so you gotta compensate somehow, no. 

I want you.

Just you.

For the Artists

Straitjackets are, and always were, a popular trend throughout the history of the artist community.

It has gone as far for people to say that my mental illness would be perfect for the biographies that will one day tell the story of my own artistic career. I’ve been told that my fight against my own will to die will make my biography a best seller.

I’ve been told that to really be able to make it in the world of artistry, I have to wear tragedy like the crown of a proud tsarina sitting before an audience of buzzing flies.

Such accusations remind me that minds are like gardens – Luscious, colorful, varied, and dimensional. Flowers represent our knowledge, and they say knowledge is the most fearsome weapon of all – but what if a war is waged here? What if the garden is cannibalistic?

I already know the answer.

I jump backwards off a cliff and find myself falling like a magnificent meteor. I end up a burnt up heap in Southern France, 1880’s. A lonely Dutch man traipses the country side at dusk, his exotic chalky paints and pig tail brushes thrown in a beaten canvas bag. I can smell his perspiration mixed with the metallic taste of blood that hangs in the air. It oozes out of the shriveled mass on the side of his head, his ear: a gruesome mess.Image result for van gogh

I want him to realize that the world he sees in yellow splotches and starry nights is aching for him to stick around a little longer. I want him to not succumb to the whims of his bipolar mania, or to the wretched bullet that will soon rip through his hollow stomach.

But he continues on his way, ambling into the sunrise towards a little yellow house, humming snatches of an old tune.

I find myself floating once again, as I bubble up into the atmosphere and am blown to London, England, to a neat little apartment tucked away between townhouses lined like dominoes. It is midday, 1950s, when I spy a woman lurking behind paisley curtains. Her orange blush is harsh on her pale face, her gaping teeth peek between her lips like pearls in an oyster. Beside her are a million million notebooks. Her words swirl about the small room, chattering with the same particles of depression that plague the vulnerable garden of her mind as well.

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I want her to realize that like Lazarus, she cannot rise again from the ashes. I want her to stop toxic air from committing genocide to her blood cells. I want to tell her how her children will mourn.

But she continues to watch them play peekaboo with hazy eyes, as she fidgets with small memorabilia painted yellow and black like glittering bees.

Once again, I am consumed kicking and screaming into a black hole, which delivers me to the edges of the universe. I swim through liquid helium, my skin rupturing, my nerves coiling around my organs until I choke. My spine cracks, but I swim on. I reach out the corpses drifting about around me, their faces expressionless,  their fingers unmoving, their minds: lost.

IMG_20170618_185931_833I am reminded of when I myself had walked into my pantry and taken a handful of sleeping pills, hoping to escape as well to that very green void on the other side of the universe. I look to my fellow artists, to the sunken faces of my predecessors, the very men and women who bled yellow like I did.

I want to remember that I am an artist, not the chemical imbalance in my brain or the skewed events of my timeline – I am defined not by the ailments of my mind, but the potential of my mind; not the pills that I pop like candy but the ability to actually accomplish something when I do.

I don’t fight for a best-selling biography. I fight for them.

For the artists, the soldiers of creativity, and the ability to say that I survived.

I survived.

Here It Is

I feel ache-y, and just a tad stupid. As a fairly passionate person with a little too much inside her – too many words, too much devotion – I get carried away with how good and bad I am at handling just about anything. I don’t mean to be self-contradictory, but there it is? I guess?

Image result for head melt gifWhen I pour – like cement out of a porcelain cream cup – it’s hard to put a lid on it. I’m an either/or person, an all-or-nothing. I don’t understand going halfway, I fear mediocrity (mediocrity burns and sits at the bottom of my stomach like vodka – not very tasteful, to say the least). I reach out and I reach out and I reach out and my hand is still grasping out of a hole in the wall. I wouldn’t take it either, to be sure. Just so I’m clear. But it doesn’t stop me, in the heat of the moment. When the moment is raving and hot as the driest desert on a far off planet, my head kind of melts and I just become a scrambling mess of hands, stemming like a devil’s trap from a knot of brass, grasping for an answer. Very Dr Who, but there it is… I guess?

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And sure, we’ll never be royals, but listen, it’s not about majesty. I’m no majestic thing, I’m really just an object of passion. That passion gets the better of me sometimes. Brass boils hot and separates into all its parts, all its alchemic elements to inspect under a telescope (telescope because even though I bare my parts for everyone I seem to be irrevocably far away – far from reason, see?) just to have shoulders shrugged at me and saying “I don’t know mate, nothing much to fix but your head, but that seems to have melted.” I’m not given many other words to my ensuing question except another cursory shrug and a “maybe Walmart”, but there it is. I guess?

Who am I to decide it really. I know I dove into ice, I know I am a dove a little too trifled for greater society. I can’t help myself if I feel like something might pay off in something better than mediocrity, because I’m too much of a romantic and way to ambitious. I’m too artistic, I try to make masterpieces out of everything, everything, everything. My expectations breathe and sweat like I do. My self-contradiction plays jump rope on my back and the shrugs flap and follow me about everywhere. I know, I know. I know.

But there it is, I guess.

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2017-02-21

If I were to contemplate the whole of the universe at once, I would probably go mad with the very universality of it. The matter is, everyone considers their surroundings at one point in their lives, from their infancy stretching to the urn they are so graciously put in. I think a good metaphor for this phenomenon would be the barre at ballet class. Music tunes, strings plucked, muscles relaxed. Plié, plié, plié. And even though this is a pretty standard procedure, humans, professional and the whole alike, have an amazing capacity of completely fucking it up. And the funny thing here is, any mistake can be made to be graceful if you can pull it off right. Anything is a dance if you call it so. And the universe is just like that.

Us as humans like to apply a sort of rigidity to everything, a structure if you will. But doing so, you are taking away from the complexity, the messiness, the chaos which makes the thing so inherently beautiful. Ballet was made to satisfy this structure, but even this structure falls apart occasionally, if not most of the time. And we make it look good. Sometimes it makes us bloom with new ideas, when a faltering misstep is perceived to be this avant-vogue move towards something even more structured, less imperfect. Imperfection defines perfection, and vice versa.

via x

Universality has no structure, no application. Universality is not a generalized thing. Universality is a chaotic creature – it aches to break out of those rigid lines and falter as it will. And it does. It does so when we’re not looking. And the aftermath, the debris left over, that’s what we find and call discovery. And I think that’s our pitfall. We call this debris progress, but what’s the point if we learn a lesson from something that’s already come to pass? Because in doing so, we’re not learning how it came to pass at all in the first place. It’s too complex for our silly, rigid little minds. We need to be like nebulae, and implode. We need to destroy ourselves to reinvent ourselves and become something even more beautiful again.

Chaos is our friend. The universe is not our pet, but it’s not our master either. The universe shares a familial bond with us. We are of the universe, after all. And thus, the universe and the chaos that makes it up is a part of us too. That creature abides in between our ribcage, and it beats, beats, beats, trying to count us into the ring, to perform an avant-vogue ballet piece. Beat, beat, beat. Plié, plié, plié.

So do it. Beat, beat, beat the cycle, break the rules, and dance to the beat with majesto.