Class of 2002 – 10 Years Later

Yesterday was the ten-year anniversary of my graduation from high school (thank you Nicole for pointing this out….I didn’t actually remember the date myself and I am far too lazy to get into my storage stuff and find my graduation announcements to confirm the date). Ten years ago I donned my cap and gown and accepted my high school diploma, ready to take the first step into adulthood. 

Well, to be exact, ten years ago this morning I arrived home from Grad Night at Disneyland and settled into my nice soft bed just in time to be roused by a phone call from my brother, who’d locked the keys in his car in the parking lot of Albertson’s. Ah yes, I do remember that. But anyway….
                                              
                                             A silly photo of my siblings and I, Graduation 2002
By graduation day, I was ready to be done with high school and looking forward to a summer of working followed by my first semester at college. Although I was a bit sentimental, for the most part I was ready to move on.
A part of me looks back ten years and is a bit sad that life will never again be as simple as it was back then. But, well, that’s life. You make choices, you choose a path and hopefully head down it with confidence. The only thing that stays the same is that everything changes. I have a lot of fond memories, and more than a few lousy ones, that have formed over the years between seventeen and twenty-seven. I regret a few things, but not too many, because even the stuff that sucked made me who I am today, and I’m happy with my life now.And anyway, it’s easy to romanticize the past, but the truth is that I wasn’t overly thrilled about being a teenager and longed for the freedom of adulthood. Now I have the freedom, and despite the stress and responsibilities that come with it, I have to say that I like it. 
One of my favorite shows in high school was MTV’s “Daria”. I wasn’t the social outcast that she is, but I didn’t really belong to any one group of friends and sort of just hung out with a mix of kids I’d known since elementary school and people I met through the years. In her speech at her high school graduation, Daria says,So let me just say that, in my experience, high school sucks. If I had to do it all over again, I’d have started advanced placement classes in preschool so I could go from eighth grade straight to college. ”  I wouldn’t go as far as to say that high school sucked (although parts of it really did), but let’s be honest – it wasn’t the best time in my life, either.
So this wasn’t the typical sentimental, what-I’ve-learned-since-high-school blog, but oh well. Who wants to read that fluff anyway?

To Thine Own Self be Kind

What would you do it someone called your sister fat, or your mother ugly? How mad would you get if someone ranted about how stupid your girlfriend was? Would you tell them to stop being so hateful, that their rude insults were disgusting?Would you maybe even threaten to take them outside and kick their rude douchebag ass? Even though you may never hear it, odds are, at least one woman you know is called these names on a pretty regular basis.

And the person doing the name-calling? Is herself.

I wrote a post recently about skewed self-perception, which sparked discussion among my friends and I and got me thinking about how I see myself and present myself. It also got me paying attention to how often my friends and I insult ourselves. It amazes me that I hear women earnestly insulting themselves, but any praise they give themselves is sarcastic.

Why do we do this? If someone insulted my mom, my sister, or my best friend, I’d chew their ass and make them regret even thinking something negative about such a wonderful person. Yet if they say something about themselves, like “Oh, I’m so fat”, “Oh, my *insert body part here* is so big”, I try and tell them it’s not true, but I don’t take offense the way I would if someone else was saying it about them. And, completely honestly, I have called myself names in the past that are far worse than anything I would ever call someone else.

                                                 This can’t be ok.

It makes me sad that we are so hard on ourselves. We live in a society where singing your own praises makes your arrogant, but it’s perfectly acceptable to call yourself names. Why is that? What’s wrong with saying, “I’m super smart, and I absolutely RULE at Google searches!”. We all have things that make us awesome, and I really think it’s important to know what I like about myself and to focus on those things.

Something needs to change. I think we need to create a society for ourselves in which it’s super unacceptable to say mean things about ourselves, where it’s just as appalling as saying something rude about someone else. If I say, “Wow, I’m looking rather like a cow today,” I want the person next to me to get mad and chew me out and say, “What the hell is wrong with you? How could you say something so awful about such an amazing person?? Shame on you!!”. 

I’m not saying bust out the rose-colored glasses and convince yourself that you can do no wrong. I have faults, I have flaws. Some of them I’m okay with and some of them I am working on. But there’s a difference between knowing you’ve got a quirk and owning it and being just plain mean to yourself. I know that my singing is enough to make paint peel off walls and that drawing straight lines is just not in my genetic make-up. But I rule at way more things than I suck at. The older I get, the better I know who I am and what I want and the prouder I am of me.

I think that’s a step in the right direction.

Mirror Image

“I still see myself as a size six,” my size-zero Zumba instructor, Nancy,  says. A few of us are chatting after class, while trying to convince a particularly fit girl that she’s got muscle tone. In Zumba, we call it ‘dent patrol’ – when we check ourselves out in the mirror to see the nicely cut lines of muscle that we’re forming when we sweat and push ourselves through workouts. In spite of our enthusiastic comments, Fit Girl insists she’s not toned, but chubby. That’s when Nancy tells us that in spite of the fact that she’s lost fat and gained tons of muscle, she still thinks of herself how she used to be.

I know amazing-looking women who absolutely do not see how they really look. It’s like some people see themselves in a skewed manner, like their brains morph what they see in the mirror into some stretched-out, blown-up version of what’s really there. Funhouse Mirror Syndrome?

Whenever someone tells me that I’m thin, I try not to say something terrible about myself, but I don’t see what they see at all. I’ve gotten to a point where I genuinely enjoy exercise, and friends have told me that despite no change on the scale, they see huge change in me.

So why can’t I see it?

We’ve all watched talk shows where the guests, pretty thin girls, sit in the chairs and weep because they see themselves as fat and ugly. I’ve seen exercises where women are asked to sketch their life-size silhouettes on paper, then stand against said paper while someone traces their outlines. The outlines are much smaller than the self-drawn sketches. Not to mention, time and time again, my prettier, thinner friends have stuck their butts into mirrors, declared, “I’m so huge!” and made faces at themselves.

Part of it is that our brains apparently have a hard time adjusting to what we are now, versus what we once were. I’ve known people who had gastric bypass and lost tons of weight, but still couldn’t wrap their heads around their new figures. Losing weight may change your body, but it doesn’t necessarily change how you picture yourself…and the faster weight is lost, the more skewed perception is.

So, ok, not having a realistic view of myself may not mean I’m messed up in the head, but it IS frustrating. What my Zumba instructor told us last night is that the best way to conquer this issue, or at least keep it in check, is to be as healthy as possible. This means eating healthy, doing good things for both mental and physical health (yay dancing at Zumba!) and trying to create a positive overall feeling of self. Yes, outward appearance is important to us, but we’re more likely to favor our outsides if we feel like we’re living life in a good, healthy way.

So here’s to living healthy and feeling good inside and out.And hopefully, this will help ease the Funhouse Mirror symptoms.

Inked

It is now June (I swear, despite the cold, dreary, wet weather, it really is in fact June). After a somewhat quiet few weeks in May after returning from vacation, my schedule is picking up significantly for June, with lots of fun plans and things to do.
I kicked off the month last Friday night with my friend Kristy, when we decided to get tattoos. I’ve never gotten a tattoo, and for years I thought I’d never find anything I liked enough to have permanently inked on my body. That changed about a year ago, when I stumbled upon an image of a cat and fell in love with it. It’s simple, elegant, and very ME, as people like to point out when they affectionately tease me about my pet-dominated household.  Although I love dogs, cats are my thing, as evidenced by the sweet babies I was foster parent to and the ones I’ve rescued. So after much internal debate and thought, I finally decided to go ahead with the tattoo.
Here’s the inspiration:
I wasn’t sure at all how to go about finding a tattoo artist or going about the process of showing the design I wanted and having it applied. Enter my good friend Kristy, who has had tattoo experiences good and bad, and knew exactly where to go and what to do. She took me to Lance at Electra Tattoo in Marysville, who had done work for her and several of our friends in the past.
Lance was cool and super-nice to us. Kristy sat across from me and held my hands while Lance applied my cat design to my right shoulder. At first, I was very, very nervous, but after getting a feel for the needle and knowing what to expect, I wasn’t fazed by the feeling. It hurt, but not a lot, and once the needle was off my skin it didn’t hurt at all.
The entire process took less than thirty minutes, and I was shocked when Lance declared he was finished and handed me a mirror so I could check it out. I love my little cat tattoo!
A lot of people have told me that they find tattoos very addictive and that they want lots more once they’ve had their first one. So far I’m content with what I’ve got. It took me several years to choose one design I liked enough to have for the rest of my life, and I don’t know what, if anything, else I would choose to get.
The one I have looks pretty awesome though.
(Don’t let the picture frighten, it was taken directly after Lance finished and the redness faded away very quickly)