Your First Nugget of Every Day Wisdom from Yours Truly

Wow…I keep forgetting I own a blog.
And first off, can I express how incredulous I am about spelling the word groovy as groovey. English major, right? Unfortunately, this login also serves as my username for Snap, Instagram, Twitter–ya know, all those other accounts you check as soon as you wake up. Uh-oh spaghetti-Os.

Anyways, a couple of days ago, I was scanning through the 32+ tabs on my Android’s Internet–sites on healthy foods, baby German Shepherds, curing warts on the bottom of your feet (oops, wasn’t supposed to mention that)–some I’ve had up since before Christmas, like the one for poor, unemployed post grads detailing how to create cheap gifts for family members (my Grateful Dead wine bag succeeded only in making it into the trash). But I stumbled upon a general New Years article squashed between Google images of Seth Rollins and journalism internships and immediately understood why I hadn’t clicked on that small x.

So here are 9 nuggets of advice people could relate to and take heed of for their everyday lives, coupled with examples from my own experiences. Hope you get inspired 😎

‘If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.’-Audre Lorde

1) Stop comparing yourself. Can I say that again–or, in this case, type it? Stop comparing yourself. Stop. Staaahp. It’s bad for the complexion.

I’ve been a victim of this habit for as long as I can remember. Considering I don’t know what I had for breakfast this morning, that’s not saying much but…

Growing up with four siblings, one being a twin, it was typical for me to cope with issues against those who I viewed as competition, whether vying for attention from mommy and daddy or hoping to mark higher than Jim-Bob on last week’s spelling test after writing groovy as groovey. I know people with brothers and sisters can relate, such as putting up with your mom’s neighbor’s dog’s friend’s aunt twice removed, bombarding you with remarks like, “Heard your brother scored more points in the basketball game last night, although you did okay. Just need to work on that aim–and everything else–or maybe just quit all together so I can praise only the good player.” Granted, these kind of comments stem from the awkward silence going on, as you sit there picking your nails until one bleeds and try to remember who the fuck this woman is, and it’s clear she doesn’t know what to talk about just as much as you don’t know how to respond.

Or another example–enduring Thanksgiving dinners, during which the “I’m thankful for”s are replaced by the generic 21 questions towards each family member’s highlight reel, and your one come-to-mind moment was watching The Sopranos (or, in my case, DBZ) for the 8th time, but you don’t want to admit that, so you give a customary laugh that’s really a grunt and look for the Merlot, or something harder, and meanwhile your aunt rattles off a checklist about your brother, and how he’s having trouble deciding whether to attend Yale or Harvard, and his captaincy of both the football and chess teams, and how he just eliminated world hunger, at which point you down that glass of wine.

Comparing doesn’t help. I’ll always remember my last day of my teaching Internship in SC. Students were presenting their graphic novels their groups had composed to their parents, and one doting couple blabbered on and on about how their son had done all the work and talking between his partner and him, while the other boy’s mother bowed her head in sadness.

No no no, uh oh, N-O, no. Many times comparing results in damaging outcomes. A subtle, subconscious shift in behavior, evolving like a living, breathing solitary organism, so to become dependent on this addictive thrive, of reaching someone else’s expectations, a restless compulsion which adapts into a lifestyle, so you feel limited, trapped, clawing at the ceiling, push up against it while being pulled by infinite hands in all directions, a piece of clay, unfinished art, molded by artists’ wavering, evolving desires, an undeveloped photograph, a canvas of muted colors depicting another’s limitations…yada yada yada, cue the art comparisons that sound poetic and shit. Moral of the story: if you can’t meet another’s definition of best…well, you might end up with a stunted sense of identity and self-worth.

E.G.: I was in a B&N cafe the other day, coloring in the whites of my marble comp–I mean working diligently on my next piece. My appearance, well, ya know, I got that red lip classic thing that you…jk, casual outfit, nothing too spectacular, and then clink clink, I observed a woman delicately dolled up in Oscar material clothes–I mean, I was expecting someone to roll out the red carpet as people gaped amid a symphony of crickets at those startlingly plum pumps, elegant sundress, and perfectly curled hair in the sameness of a Victoria’s Secret Model. In a B&N cafe. We all stared like we were playing Simon Says. And just like that–suddenly the tooth paste marks I had failed to wash out on my over-large sweater were glaringly obvious, the ragged coils on the bottom of my flairs extended like toilet paper on my feet, and my beaded necklace weighed on my chest with all the cheapness of a $2 purchase from Claire’s. It was worse when she sat next to me and glanced at my chipped nail polish.

Moral of that story: Don’t compare yourself…again. It’s bad for the complexion…and just bad. It causes us to either feel superior or inferior, no Goldilocks in between. We participate in a dangerous game of tug of war, this constant, exhausting pull of back and forth between idealized spectrums of top of the mountain and rock bottom, where our own insecurities are reflected in whether or not we’re  taking on another’s values, until, when our expectations rise and thus our romanticized ideals rise…we fall on our asses in disappointment.

There is no perfection. Just progress. Appreciate who you are, and seek to improve what you deem your flaws. Don’t limit yourself, don’t build up boundaries you become too afraid to climb over in fear of only knowing another’s “best.” Be your “best.”

Nugget #1…something we’ve all dealt with but need reminding, and it leads to Nugget #2 which is…ahh, I’ll post it along with Nugget #3 tomorrow. I’m gonna have a glass of wine 🙂 P.S: I don’t have warts.


C. Ostergren


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