I’ve been working on content for my zine, slowly but surely. I should mention that I was hit by a drunk driver and that delayed some projects I was working on, including this one. I’m recovering from a concussion and it left me feeling foggy and my short-term memory has had a few issues. It’s coming back now and even though I haven’t recovered some of what I wanted to write about, I am jumping in with both feet to get issue #1 completed in time for the Portland Zine Symposium next month.
I think my accident (or collision, as my girlfriend prefers to call it) has reinforced what I wanted to discuss. Life is too short to live in fear and you never know when your time will be up. I have a piece I’ve written about growing up in our society as an overweight person. It’s personal and from a female perspective, but I think it is a subject that rings true for anyone who has been made to feel like they do not fit into a “normal”, socially acceptable mold. I don’t and even though I hated myself for many years over it, I am so glad to not be just another follower – trying to keep up with everyone else.
Being “normal” is a myth. It doesn’t exist. There are people out there who will try with every ounce of their being to convince you that normal is good and just and what you should strive to be. “Fit in, don’t stand out! Conform and we will accept you as one of us! Don’t be one of ‘them’, they’re disgusting. We are beautiful, popular, wanted, loved, acceptable.” That is a lie. Everyone has something that makes them different, unique and beautiful, whether it’s on the outside or inside. Even if people choose to ignore it, cover it up or bury it down deep inside because they want to fit in, it’s there. If you take the time to step back and observe people you will see everyone wants to be liked, everyone wants to feel loved. We all try to work around the things that we think others might not like about us, so we can be accepted. I have spent most of my life trying to be what I thought would make me socially acceptable. I see that now. And to be honest, the more I look, the more I do not want to have anything to do with that lie and the people who perpetuate it. It took me stepping back and realizing that I only have one life to live and that I actually like myself as I am to find people who genuinely like me for me.
I now have friends and a partner who love and respect me because I am true to myself. I’m not saying it’s easy to let go of the conditioning laid on us by popular culture, media and our everyday surroundings. I’m certainly not saying I’m awesome or telling anyone else what to do with their life. I’m just telling you what I did to find happiness. It’s not easy and I fight with myself a lot. I have to take jobs I don’t want to do sometimes in order to pay my bills. I have modest needs, but they need to be met in order for me to eat, pay bills, etc. It is a balancing act.
I am working every day to break the cycle of fearing what others might think of me in order to accept and love who I am and try to figure out what I’m all about. I believe discovering who you are, both the good and the bad, is crucial to overcoming fear and finding happiness. An exercise you should try – if you had to describe your self using single words, what would they be? Open yourself up and let it flow. I’ll go first.
Words that describe me (some of these have been used by others, not myself)- artist, friend, partner, queer, vegetarian, multi-tasker, sarcastic, intelligent, loving, compassionate, flawed, fat, funny, diabetic, self-conscious, confident, butch, sexual, sweet, passionate, cuddly, daughter, sister, writer, musician, animal lover, activist, tattooed, poor, patient, damaged, empathetic, lonely, optimistic, realist, big-hearted, sensitive, environmentalist, submissive, hopeful, imperfect, failure, resilient, procrastinator, perfectionist, lazy, weak, beautiful, warm, monogamous, human, female.
I want to see your list. Tell me who you are. Be honest, have fun and most importantly, be you.