authenticity

Sometimes I really don’t think I’m cut out for this.

I’m not competitive. I’m not one to “push my way to the top” if it means harming other people. I’m not one to “fake it until I make it.”

I guess I don’t really struggle with being myself. Instead, I am always myself. I can’t avoid it. I can’t pretend not to be.

I’m always awkward and sarcastic. I’m always affected by the world in ways I can’t avoid. I can’t pretend to be put together. I wear my hair frizzy and messy no matter where I’m going. I don’t have a firm handshake and if you asked me to describe myself, I would rattle off the honest details. I wouldn’t say, “yeah, well, my one big flaw is that I’m a perfectionist.” That is not a flaw. That is a way to frame your perceived good characteristics as bad characteristics and make it seem like the only thing wrong with you is that you’re perfect.

There is nothing wrong with you or with me, but we are imperfect and I’m okay with that. I’m okay with admitting that. I’m okay with making first impressions that aren’t tailored and perfected in front of a mirror. I’m okay with babbling sometimes and sometimes forgetting to talk because I’m too busy listening. I’m okay with being emotional yet sarcastic and snarky and cynical. I’m okay with expecting more from people than I sometimes should. I’m okay with helping people again and again, even though I know if they had the opportunity to step ahead of me, they would take it. I’m okay with over-analyzing situations and being possessive of my dreams. I’m okay with frizzy hair and chipped nail polish. (I woke up like this, #flawless).

And I realize as I write this, I am okay with falling a step behind if it means being authentic. I would rather push through a few extra obstacles than “fake it until I make it.” I would rather go about my work honestly than betray myself and others.

I’m okay with admitting that I am cut out for this, even though I don’t fit within the traditional standards of who you think I should be. Even though I can’t pretend to be that person.

am cut out for this. Me. Not a perfected clone with a tailored resume of jobs held without passion. Me. Not someone who can walk in heels or always find the right words to say. Me. Not someone who says all of the “right” answers. Just me. 

And that’s good enough. That’s better than anything I could ever pretend to be.

You are cut out for this. The real you. You, you, you. Not some made-up version of who you think you should be.

what stopped me before

This is something I often forget, a misplaced memory that I usually don’t let resurface. I remembered today when I was thinking about how I went from not doing much to doing everything that I could. The memory slapped me in the face.

I had this moment of extreme doubt during my sophomore year of high school. Well, that was when it really hit me. It started in 8th grade when a boy from my school commented on something I had written online, calling me a terrible writer.

Eventually, I think I forgot about that. Flash forward to sophomore year: the same boy told me that I should never join the school newspaper because I was awful and they wouldn’t want me on staff. I tried to play it off as “no big deal,” telling everyone that he was just a jerk. But in reality, I didn’t join the paper that year. I didn’t join the paper the following year, either. I didn’t join the paper until my senior year, after he stopped going to my school. 

I could come up with a million other reasons why I didn’t join the paper sooner, but that’s the reason. That’s the truth. I let the words of someone else who didn’t even really know me stop me. I let him get in the way of my dreams. I let him stop me from doing what I really wanted to do. Because I believed him. I believed him when he said you’re not good enough.

And I realize that it’s bound to happen again. I’m bound to hear someone tell me that my words fall flat, that my sentences fall short of what they should be, that I really, really just suck at doing what I love. 

But that’s something that I’m choosing not to believe in anymore.

The Kooks sing “don’t believe in things that don’t believe in you.”

In many ways, I’m an optimist. I believe in listening to everyone. I believe in believing in everyone. I believe in believing to my fullest capacity, with all of the strength and courage and hope I can muster up.

But I shouldn’t use that strength to believe in my own doubts that have been reinforced by someone else. I shouldn’t use it to believe in someone else’s words over the ones that come from within me. I shouldn’t use it to believe in something that can only destroy me. 

Just believe. But I realize now that I don’t have to believe people when they tell me I’m useless. I don’t have to believe people when they tell me I’m going nowhere. I don’t have to believe people when all they really want to do is stop me from believing in myself. 

Believe in yourself.

Yes, I think that’s something that I can finally, finally believe in.

 

Dream big,

Paige 

 

The Liebster Award

Admittedly, I had no idea what the Liebster Award was until I was nominated by the amazing and talented Laura (thank you, Laura)! Luckily, I was able to find out more about the Liebster award from Laura’s blog after my Google search showed numerous varied results. When someone nominates you for the Liebster award, you write 11 facts about yourself, answer 11 questions written by the person who nominated you, nominate people, and ask them 11 questions. I’m actually pretty terrible at answering questions about myself, but I’ll try. 

liebster-award

11 Facts:

1. I love to dance even though I am absolutely terrible at it. I go to zumba classes even though I am easily the worst dancer in every class. Hey, you’ve got to learn to “dance like no one’s watching,” right?

2. Live music is one of my favorite things. I can go to just about any show and be inspired by it. Musicians pour so much passion into their performances and it’s just incredible. 

3. Good Will Hunting is my favorite movie. 

4.  In middle school, I dyed a portion of my hair hot pink and wore neon pants pretty much every day. 

5. I love analyzing poetry. 

6. I’m a vegetarian.

7. I love fiction and nonfiction equally. Sometimes, I love to tell my own stories and other people’s stories. Other times, I just really enjoy making things up.

8. I love magazines and I am not ashamed. Of course, that’s not to say that I love all magazines.

9. Sweaters are my favorite clothing item. I try to wear them during every season, but that doesn’t always work out well. 

10. I pretty much check my email every 10 minutes. 

11. I am basically an expert at cleaning art supplies and mixing paint. (new skills for my resume?)

11 Answers:

1. Why did you start your blog?

I originally started my blog based on the idea that everyone has a voice, regardless of how he or she expresses it. I use my blog to express my voice, hoping that it inspires other people to think about how they share their stories. 

2. You are going out for brunch with your favorite celebrity – what do you wear?

Probably a black dress because that’s what I wear 85% of the time. 

3. What is your favorite thing to read on other blogs?

I love reading about people’s feelings and experiences. 

4. What is your biggest pet peeve and on the contrary, what is the best quality you think a person can/should posses?

My biggest pet peeve is when people criticize something but make no attempt to improve it or do it differently. For example, when people criticize free events that they could’ve helped plan but didn’t. I think sense of humor and honesty are super important. 

5. Do you like anything that most other people dislike? If so, what?

Yes. Public transportation, pop punk music, young adult books, and small towns. I even like the school bus; there are so many stories there! I’m a big fan of Blink-182 because sometimes pop punk just makes sense and expresses complicated feelings so simply, kind of like young adult books do. I love small towns even though I love big cities too. 

6. Who is the most influential person in your life?

My parents, but I’m inspired by everyone in some way. 

7. What is your favorite twitter account?

The Poets House twitter page 

8. What color nail polish do you have on, if any?

Maroon

9. What singular word would you use to describe yourself?

Passionate

10. What is your go-to food for a snack?

Does coffee count? 

11. Where do you see your blog in 5 years?

I honestly have no idea. I hope to see it become a place where people can interact and share their stories somehow. 

11 Questions:

1. What do you hope to learn more about within the next year?

2. What’s your favorite way to express yourself?

3. What songs inspire you the most?

4. What’s your favorite newspaper or magazine and why?

5. Why do you think blogging is important?

6. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

7. How do you make time for blogging?

8. Have you ever felt brave while writing? How and why?

9. What inspires you?

10. Do you use social media to promote your blog? Why or why not?

11. How has your blog changed since you started it?

Nominees:

1. Alex- The College Lifestylist

2. Chloe- Part of Chloe’s World

3. Felicia- Thoughtful Minds United

4. Hannah- Fragmented Youth

5. Peggy- Nuances & Nostalgia  

6. Kim- Mainely Fashion

 

Dream big,

Paige  

 

 

Don’t read the comments.

I’ve heard “don’t read the comments” so many times. But I’ve never had to take the advice because, well, I don’t usually get a lot of comments on my work. That’s the beautiful thing about writing things that no one reads: your words just belong to you, safely and securely. 

I thought I had gotten past that perception. Recently, I decided to stop locking my words away from other people. And for about a year, I was able to without any pain. But then I wrote a post for a blog. And it was published somewhere else. And people linked to it on social media. And suddenly way more people read my work than I’m used to. At first, it was absolutely exhilarating. No, my article wasn’t exactly becoming super popular, but people were reading it. People were responding to it in a positive way. It made me so happy, I couldn’t even put my feelings to words. For most of this summer, I’ve been doubting myself. I haven’t really vocalized those doubts to anyone, but I’ve felt them. I think change does that to people; change fills people with doubt. I kept wondering “what do I even want from my life? What do I even want to do with my writing? What if I was wrong about everything? What if I have no idea?”

When I saw that my article had inspired people, even on a small scale, my doubt washed away. I remembered the importance of stories and the importance of truth. I remembered why I love words and why I could never abandon storytelling.

That all happened yesterday and I felt wonderful.

But this morning, when I went online, there were more comments. “Don’t read the comments” didn’t even cross my mind. My article wasn’t even controversial. I’m seventeen. I’m a little incoming freshman. I realize now that none of this matters. I realize now that if people feel like tearing someone to pieces, none of that matters. 

I wanted to respond to the negative comment in a sassy way, telling the person that he probably didn’t even read my article and whatever else. But I wasn’t feeling sassy then. I was actually crying. And I’m not the kind of person who can easily say something didn’t affect me at all when it did affect me. 

I’m going to be honest. I didn’t sit there and think about ways to insult this person. I didn’t sit there and think about how this person is a loser who has nothing better to do than insult someone’s article on a publication that he apparently doesn’t even like anyways. 

I sat there and cried. I sat there and tried to think of a way to respond, but nothing felt authentic. If I were to tell the truth to him, I would have to say 

You hurt me. For a brief minute, you absolutely destroyed me. You made me feel so worthless, so awful, so stupid for having faith in the human population. Is that what you wanted? Does that make you happy? 

But I didn’t say that. I didn’t say anything. And suddenly, just when I found the courage to raise my voice, I felt silenced again.

It astonishes me. It completely baffles me. I could never wrap my head around why someone would insult someone for no reason, especially on the internet, especially to a stranger. I can’t help but think of all the people who have to deal with this so often. The people who feel the constant agony of logging onto social media but do it anyways. The people who are affected by this so deeply. Because, honestly, everyone says “don’t read the comments,” but how many people actually listen?

Because we’re all human. We all have stupid faith in the human population sometimes. We all want to inspire people. We all want to be inspired. We all want to believe in people. Sometimes we all are just waiting to hear “you’re not awful, you’re not worthless, you’re not alone.”

Forgive me for thinking that believing in people isn’t stupid. Forgive me for writing a story about what I felt. Forgive me for being honest and broken and vulnerable and human.

I realize now that I’m not sorry. 

Do you read the comments? How do you deal with negative comments on your work? 

 

P.S. You’re not worthless.

 

Dream big,

Paige 

Pa(i)ges of the Past

Tomorrow I’ll be revisiting the past, acquainting myself with a woman who I haven’t spoken to in years. It’s weird how the past repeats itself, even when everything has changed. Which is why it only seems fitting that I bring some magazines along with me.

The woman who I’m visiting tomorrow was the person who helped me discover my love for magazines. She bought me some while I was visiting because she didn’t want me to get bored, and I loved everything about them. I loved looking at the various outfit possibilities, splattered across the page like an infinite closet that made my nine year old heart swoon. I loved reading my horoscope, only hoping that I really would meet a cute guy at the beach and make a new best friend on the first day of school. I loved finding the reality that existed within the celebrities’ lives, making me forever believe that big dreams were possible. That they are possible.

For years to come, I’d buy all of the teen magazines I could possibly get. I would read them cover to cover, not just once, but possibly hundreds of times. The idea that things went out of style never settled well with me. I’d look at magazines that were years old, still taking equal amounts of inspiration from them. They were such a major part of my life that memories were locked within the pages; I could define time periods based on the publication dates of Girls’ Life and Seventeen. In fact, I can still page through those magazines and feel exactly how I felt during those times.

Despite this love for magazines, and my passion for writing, it had never occurred to me that I could become a journalist until I job shadowed at a local newspaper. I had always associated journalism with being overly dramatic and sensationalized. I had completely forgotten about all the stories that existed within the pages of a magazine, not just within the words, but within my fading memory that gets a little bit clearer every time I pick up the May 2008 issue of Twist. Without those magazines, maybe my big dreams wouldn’t exist. Maybe I’d try to settle for a “normal job”. For some people, magazines cause confidence issues. But they made me the dreamer I am now. And to think that maybe I wouldn’t be the same girl if I hadn’t been handed a copy of J-14 is a little bit strange, but also incredible.

Now that I’ve grown older, the same magazines don’t appeal to me. And yet still, I flip through the pages and enter a world full of moments and memories where my dreams aren’t that far away, but my past still resides. I’m moving forward. But I don’t plan on completely letting go of all the things and people and places that guided me here. All the pages of the magazines that made me start to write my own.

Dream Big,

Paige

Dear blog, it just isn’t the same, but I still love you.

A couple of weeks ago, I read through my old journals. Maybe that sounds like a waste of time, or maybe it sounds super boring, but neither of the two are true. Reading through my old journal entries was absolutely incredible. Within the pages of my own writing, I saw the evolution of my own character. And the most amazing part about it is how I didn’t realize it at the time.

When I was in elementary school, writing stories about best friends and illustrating each of their wardrobes, I didn’t realize that I’d still see an importance in the same thing years later. Sure, I don’t draw outfits for characters now, but I still believe that outfits can say a lot. That more than words can be used to say things.

When I was in middle school, I didn’t realize that my poems and thoughts were asking questions. I had been attempting to answer questions. Attempting to make sense of the world. Yet really, I wondered why people chose to pursue things they weren’t passionate about and why people became wrapped up in things they didn’t truly believe in.

And now, as I write as a high school student, I don’t realize that I’m answering the questions I posed in middle school. Through the exploration of my own writing, I developed opinions. I formed thoughts and values and beliefs and ideas. I hadn’t realized how my writing progressed. How I began as a little girl who loved style and humor and friendship. How I changed into a skeptic who questioned the world around her. How I continue to make sense of it through this wonderful journey of writing.

If you asked me why I write, I could give you many answers.

I write to inspire the world.
I write to have a voice.
I write because it’s natural. Because whenever I feel any sort of emotion, it only feels right to pick up a pen.

But I also write to learn. I write to explore and discover and remember and travel. And even if this blog gains followers, I’ll forever be loyal to my journals. 

Because a journal is something I carry with me through these journeys. A journal has ink smudges and loopy handwriting and creases in the pages and scribbles over words. A journal, just like a blog, is an art form. But they both tell very different stories, even if the words are exactly the same.

 

I’m not one of those people who hates the internet.  Actually, reading through my journals gave me a new hope for this blog.  Maybe if I read this years from now, I’ll understand something that I never knew before.  I’ll enter a new world.  I’ll see a computer screen full of beautiful nostalgia.  Years from now, this blog could speak entirely different words to me.  And that is something I find truly incredible.

Keep writing,

Paige ♥

Letters to you.

Whenever I start something new, I become so focused on it. I’m passionate about it to the point where it’s practically all I think about. And with a combination of this blog, a new story I started writing, and a new hobby I picked up, it’s pretty clear to me that I should probably be spending more time on my homework. But when I have something to write, I write. At this very moment, I have a ton of other things I should be doing aside from blogging. It’s been so long since I’ve blogged, though, and I had this desire to write that just wouldn’t go away.

Do you ever have this fearless, anxious feeling when it seems as if you’re about to do something totally crazy yet totally worth it? When you’re at the edge of taking a huge leap of faith, and your heart is full of so much hope that you can hardly sit still? When you’re just so jittery and scared and excited and happy and a little unsure?

On Friday, I wrote love letters to strangers. I got this idea from moreloveletters.com. More Love Letters is such an incredible organization. I started writing love letters because I love to write, and I love to inspire people. I love to spread hope. But also, I started writing love letters because I really, really love getting mail. Nowadays, everyone knows that letters are hard to come by. With texts and emails and blogs, papers and envelopes get forgotten. Letter writing is significant to me because it’s an art form beyond the words on the pages. It’s an art form beyond the sentences and paragraphs. I believe that there is art within the way people dot their “i”s. I believe there is art within the loops and slants of handwriting, within the smudges of ink and the creases of pages. So I gathered up some paper, colorful pens, envelopes, and a sheet of sparkly heart stickers, and made my way to a coffeeshop with one of my best friends.

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(a letter written by my friend Kelsey)

To me, the most interesting thing about writing love letters to strangers is the fact that they’re not actually strangers. Not really. Everyone is unique, different, and original. And yet everyone is also a lot alike. Someone out there is feeling the same way as you are. And the fact that we can use letters to spread these messages is truly amazing. You won’t know who finds the letter. The person who finds the letter won’t know who wrote it. Somehow, that makes it even better. It makes it even better knowing that someone who doesn’t even know you understands you and believes in you.

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(a letter written by me)

With each letter I wrote, I stepped closer to the edge of a mountain. I’m about to leap. I have this idea that’s completely all or nothing. On Taylor Swift’s Speak Now album, she said, “I don’t think you should wait, I think you should speak now.” To me, this refers to so much more than literal speaking. To me, “speaking” means taking chances. Speaking means chasing a dream that perhaps seems a little bit crazy. Speaking means throwing your ideas out into the world, not knowing what kind of response you’ll get. Speaking means doing rather than dreaming, creating rather than imagining. Speaking means taking that leap of faith, stepping from the edge of the mountain and diving in, not knowing whether you’ll fall or soar.

Speaking means doing everything you always dream about doing, but always hesitate to do. Don’t wait. Don’t ponder any longer if it’s something you truly believe in. The clock is ticking, and the world can’t wait to hear your words. ♥

Dream big,

Paige