Category Archives: Random Musings

Why So Serious?

Yesterday, I wrote a post talking about my promise to talk my book blog, Erlebnisse, more seriously. Thanks to some exciting connections with publishers like Orbit and Titan, plus a slow increase of traffic on my blog, I wanted to get more involved over there, publishing more content and keeping my reviews flowing regularly. I made that decision perhaps a week ago, maybe two, even though I “announced” those intentions yesterday. It’s one I’m going to stick to. I’m really excited about it and I’m excited to push myself and that blog in the coming months and see how it goes!

But it’s also got me pretty stressed out.

Already.

I mentioned briefly that I made a review calendar for the ARCs I’ve received, especially after receiving so many from Orbit this past weekend. I didn’t want them to all get lost in the shuffle. After I made that calendar, I realized that one book was published today, with two books being published next Tuesday and then another on the 22nd (before we get into the June releases). Ideally, my intention is to always publish my review of an ARC on the day it’s published, because that’s when everyone is talking about the book the most and it should help the author get the most traffic.

I don’t think I’m going to make any of those publication dates for this first round of my most recent ARCs.

One of them–the book published today–is simply unfortunate timing, as I got the book in the mail on Friday and I almost never have time to read on the weekends, so the earliest I could have started it was Sunday night. But I am already in the middle of another book I got from the library that’s due in a couple days and I can’t renew it because of holds. So I knew I was going to miss this one.

With the two being published next Tuesday, I think I can make one of those, if I read one after finishing my  current book this week. The other, I’m definitely going to miss. By a lot, I fear. It’s the second book in a trilogy of which I haven’t read the first book. But not only that, it’s only recommended that you read the author’s other trilogy, so you avoid spoilers by reading this series, even if it isn’t a direct sequel trilogy. I haven’t actually ever read any of this author’s work, but I’ve always meant to. By receiving this ARC, I thought it was a great opportunity to kick my butt in gear and finally read an author I’ve always been curious to read. And I will, writing reviews for each of those books, including the ARC copy.

It just might not be the most timely.

Which irritates me, because that’s something I’d really like to do: be timely on my ARC reviews, posting them as close to the publication date as possible. Yet I’m getting so stressed about it already–especially as I look at my stack of books at the library, all of which that I want to read, too, with due dates that are all approaching–that I’m forcing myself to take a step back and one, breathe. Two, just because I’m becoming a more serious book blogger doesn’t mean I want to turn one of my greatest pleasures–reading–into work. Don’t get me wrong: writing reviews takes work and staying on top of ARCs so I don’t go five months before I read that book and post the review is important. But at the same time, I read because it helps me escape and because I love to read. If that means that I don’t post an ARC review in line with my timeline standards because I chose to read the latest regency romance? That’s okay. Or because a book I’ve been waiting months for finally came in at the library? Also okay. Or because I found a new series that I absolutely love and just binge-read?

That’s okay.

It’s just about balance. Sure, ARCs that I receive for free are usually going to come first, but I’m not always going to be able to hit every deadline I make for myself (as evident above). Especially since I’m now working with two publishers, instead of one, so now I have more books to juggle. I’m still new at this, so of course it’s going to be a little wobbly, at the beginning. But I never want to lose the joy of reading because I’m so stressed out about deadlines and posting schedules. I’m going to try and stay on top of things, of course, but I’m also giving myself permission to just relax and enjoy this experience, too.

Cheers.

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It’s Time To Get Serious

You may or may not be aware of this, but I also write book reviews over at Erlebnisse. I started it roughly a year ago (you can read the intro post here) and it’s still a baby blog. Doesn’t get a ton of traffic, has gone through a couple different edits and trials as I figured out exactly what I wanted to do, with the design and the content; you know, things that usually happen within a year of starting a blog.

But recently, I decided to take it a little bit more seriously.

I love reading. It’s one of the truest escape I have and one of my oldest hobbies. I didn’t start getting into book reviews until recently and I’m pretty quirky about them. I usually only read other reviews if it’s a book I’ve already read, instead of using them to judge whether or not I want to read a book (I find I let reviews actually influence my opinion a little too much, so I like to use them as a way to compare or cement opinions rather than help shape them, as they are usually used). I didn’t start writing them until I finished The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks and I had such a traumatic experience with that ending, I had to write a review, if only to get those emotions off my chest.

I found that I really enjoyed it and decided to dedicate a blog to doing just that.

I always cross-post my reviews to my Goodreads, as well as my personal Twitter account, where I’ll tag the author, if the review is positive. Because of that, sometimes, I’ve gotten retweets from authors or mentions, thanking me for the review (which is always such a great feeling). Sometimes, because of that, stats will skyrocket for a day or two, before going back to my usual zero to three views per day. Though I honestly wouldn’t mind a little heavier traffic, I just enjoy talking about these books that I love and if I get to make a writer’s day in the process or help bring attention to a book that a reader might otherwise not known about, then my job here is done.

Over the course of the past year, a couple of really cool things happen because of my book review blog, two of them which is pretty recent:

  1. I started reading and reviewing books from Jabberwocky Literary Agency, because I was looking to query them and I wanted to be familiar with the work they represented. While I never queried their agency (yet), I did connect with author G.S. Denning, went to WorldCon (thanks to Denning’s invitation) and met agents Lisa Rodgers and Sam Morgan, who both sent me books afterwards from Jabberwocky to review (almost all of which I’ve loved).
  2. Titan Books put out a call for more reviewers and I filled out the form, which got me in contact with Publicist Polly Grice and now, I’m regularly getting contacted about receiving ARCS from them.
  3. Because I thought the connection with Titan was so cool, I reached out to Orbit, one of my other favorite publishers, and asked if there was a list I could join. After talking with Associate Publicity Director Ellen Wright and Marketing and Publicity Associate Paula Crespo, I got added to their list and just received five (!!) books to review over May and June.

The fact that any of this has happened as floored me, first of all. Not to mention how many authors (and idols) I’ve gotten to have conversations with. Working with Titan for a couple of months now, I’ve found some really fantastic books (including Time Shards by Dana Fredsti and David Fitzgerald) I otherwise would never have found. The fact that either of these major publishing houses would be willing to send me books to review for free is both incredible and humbling.

But it also means I need to get to work.

It’s time to take book blogging a bit more seriously, because I want those publishers–or anyone who sends me their book to review–to know how much I appreciate that opportunity. So I revamped Erlebnisse’s look once again and this time, I love it (including a contact page and a new “Tages, Memes and Feature” page I’m pretty proud of). I made a folder in my email for any book review related communications and made a review calendar on my phone of when I’d like to have reviews posted by for each ARC that I get. I am going to start doing “Month in Review” posts, including trying to take some cute pictures** of the books I’ve received, as well as continuing to try and get more involved in the book review community, including reading other reviews and following other blogs, participating in tags/memes/events and just generally trying to post more.

Don’t get my wrong: my reviews will still be quirky, they will still review the experience of reading a book and be filled with potentially too-personal stories, vulgar emotional vomits and desperation for the sequel. Me taking this more seriously doesn’t mean that the nature of my content is going to change at all. I simply want to increase the consistency and the dedication to Erlebnisse, which, at times, hasn’t always been there.

I’d love it if you checked out Erlebnisse and joined me on that journey, especially if you have any opinions, tips or tricks; whether about the layout/design, different features you think I should try out or just general advice on how to be an awesome book review blogger!

Thanks, as always, for joining me on my adventures, friends. May your reading be uninterrupted and your time allowing for just one more chapter.

Cheers.

**I do have to give a shout out to my boyfriend, who, as I was squeeing about my latest book mail and about all the books I’m so excited to read–and then proceeded to tell him about my plan detailed above–he immediately offered to help build me a little book backdrop, after we move, so I could take some really cute and artsy photos of the books I review, to help make this new vision a reality.

That meant more to me than he can ever realize.


Would You Like To Reschedule?

House hunting.

You’d think that it wouldn’t be such a difficult thing to do, especially when you’re “only” renting and not even selling your soul to buy a house and gain a mortgage. I mean, sure, it isn’t an easy process, especially when you’re trying to coordinate moving in with your boyfriend and balancing schedules, showings, budgets, wishlists as you make a list of what places you want (and then cross most of them off so you narrow it down to what you can afford). But I never imagined that it could be so difficult, especially when you do everything on your end to make things run smoothly.

Let me tell you how Saturday went.

We had set up four showings for the day. Three of them were set up three weeks in advance, thanks to conflicting schedules and the need to do the viewing on a Saturday. So I called the Wednesday before, to confirm none of the places had been bought already and make sure I had the right location of where to meet at first. During that phone call, I found out that two of the places had indeed already been sold. They had two similar properties we could look at instead, during the same time slot. As I was writing the details down, they said, “Wow, I’m really glad you called. Otherwise, that would have been really awkward.”

Um, shouldn’t you, as the leasing office, have called me, to let me know those changes? Especially when the links I saved to the properties hadn’t been updated to reflect the sold status?

Should’ve been Red Flag One. But I was still excited to see these places, so I didn’t really think too much of it.

Friday rolls around and I get a call that one of the leasing agents can no longer make it to the showing, so we’re down to two houses, instead of three. Alright, fine, we can make that work.

(I bet you can feel where this is going. I feel so ignorant, to have had no idea at the time.)

Saturday. We are literally on our way to the first house when we get a phone call from them, again, and the receptionist tells me, twice, that she is “freaking out over here,” as they can’t get ahold of the leasing agent who was meant to show us the other two properties, so they are going to have to cancel.

“Would you like to reschedule?”

I decline.

We still have another house–and honestly, my favorite option–later in the afternoon, with a different leasing office. So we spent our sudden few open hours going grocery shopping and running a few errands, before we head to the house. We make it and it’s adorable and I’m already making plans of how we can customize this or how we’re going to become friends with the neighbors with the bloodhounds, when 3pm hits–the time of our showing. 3:05pm. 3:10pm. I double check the email with our showing confirmation, verifying the time and the date. Yep, all good on my end. Finally, I call the agent and ask if his 2:30pm showing ran late and let him know we’re at the house. He tells me he thought it was at 3:30pm and then asks for the address.

Turns out, he didn’t have us on his calendar at all.

He must of “forgotten to write us down.”

“Would you like to reschedule?”

Yeah, that’s going to be a no.

At this point, I’m frustrated to the point of near tears, as my boyfriend starts driving away from the house while I’m still on the phone, having picked up on the fact that we totally aren’t looking at that house–and not just that house, but any of the four we’d planned on, after two different companies weren’t able to get their shit together.

And you want to know the most ridiculous part? My immediate reaction: guilt. I felt guilty for not vetting the companies better and realizing they were inept to, I dunno, actually do their jobs. I felt guilty for not confirming with the second leasing agent like I had the first, because I just assumed we were good to go. I felt guilty for wasting my boyfriend’s afternoon and missing International Tabletop Day, which he was really excited to celebrate, until he realized it was on the same day we were going house hunting.

After the guilt, I then grew anxious and worried. In my mind, we were going to love one of those places and then put in an application to rent it by the end of the day. We would have started our moving in together process officially, with a place in mind. Instead, all the remaining houses on my list were scratched off, with two different leasing companies no longer an option, and we’re nearing closer and closer to my boyfriend’s busiest time of the year at work. We really wanted to have something secured by the end of May. What if we don’t find anything else? What if we can’t afford anything else? What if we hate where we live? What if no one else can remember when our appointments are?

Neither of those reactions were necessary.

With the guilt, that’s pretty obvious. I did everything I could in my power to make things go smoothly. Those on the other end just didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. I can’t control that. Plus, I learned something good. If a company can’t manage their calendar or their agents well enough to manage one afternoon of showings, do I really want to trust them with my rent money; with utility problems, when things break?

Yeah, probably not.

With the worry, I’ve always been a worrisome soul, so I’m not surprised. But I also just gotta have a little faith. I’m definitely of the mindset that, once I know something is going to happen or something needs to be done, I just want to do it/get it done. Once we decided to move in together, I immediately wanted to find a place, get it secured, pack, move and then get settled in. That’s just how I work. Just because this progress hasn’t been that quick, cut and dry, doesn’t mean we aren’t going to find something we can afford, love and turn into our very own. It doesn’t mean that the failures of one day are doomed to repeat the next time we try.

I just need to remember that.

Especially as, for house hunting, we’re back to square one.

*goes back to browsing through Zillow ads*

Cheers.

PS: So, if you live in Lawrence, the lease management locations discussion above are Gage Management and Location Properties, respectively.

I wouldn’t recommend either one.


Run With It

Something really neat happened yesterday.

On this new training routine that I’ve created, I run on Tuesdays and Thursdays, walking on Wednesdays while I do a weekly phone call date with the best friend, while I do strength training on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. This Tuesday, I ran, but I wasn’t really feeling it. I felt slow and not as great, afterwards–though I still felt happier than if I hadn’t ran at all.

Looking at my tracker app, I ran the first mile in 13:47 and the second mile in 14:41. Considering I’m just getting back into running, after almost five months of not running regularly thanks to winter*, I’m not surprised that I’m back to averaging around fourteen minutes, which is what I started at, when I first began running regularly.

Having an impressive or even fast mile pace has never really been my main goal: completion always has been. But I had a conversation with a friend the other day about running. She’s looking for a running partner and, unfortunately, didn’t find that with me, as I’m definitely a workout-by-myself kind of person (especially when it comes to running). I’m better as an accountability buddy, when it comes to working out. But we started talking about paces and realized that we might not be the best running partners anyway, as I average 14-15 minutes per mile, whereas she sits at an impressive 10. Still, we talked about it and she gave me a couple ideas of how to increase my pace, if that was a goal I wanted to do.

dean winchester running GIF

So, Thursday rolls around. I’m not really in the mood to workout, let alone run, but I need to–especially since I didn’t go on a walk the day before. I head out to my trail after sleeping in a little too late, only to get a text from my boyfriend, finding out that he’s taken a half-day and will be home at noon, which means I get to see him before I go to work, which never happens.

But I still gotta go on my run, first.

So, I already want to get home as quickly as I can, but it’s nearing 10:45am and I am just hitting the trail. And I think about the conversation I had with my friend and although I didn’t want to use her sprint/jog method, I did wonder if I could actively think about my pace and try to increase it, if only so I could get home and shower before my boyfriend got back.

I finished my run in 27 minutes. My first mile? 12:49. My second? 12:53.

I won’t lie: I was seriously ecstatic about that. I shaved over a minute of my mile time simply because I chose to push myself–and then also sprinted the last 100 meters, which almost killed me. It was a little rough, afterwards, but the fact that I was able to do that and how fantastic I felt afterwards makes me wonder if I shouldn’t stop listening to podcasts while I run and instead, listen to my screamo playlist like I did today and actively try to push myself.

Who knows, maybe after running consistently again, perhaps I can make that 10 minute mile, too.

Cheers.

*Which, um, seriously? Almost five months of consistently poor weather for running conditions? Damn, that’s a bit much, Kansas, don’t you think?


So Guess What, Brain?

This mini…dare I call it a rant? I think it’s more like word vomit. Yeah, let’s go with word vomit. Anyway, this word vomit is brought to you most likely by a combination of period hormones, the general nature of an overthinking soul and the need to release emotions through writing it out.

Ta-da.

So, feel free to just brush off everything that follows because it’s a result of all of that above, or feel free to continue reading and then offering your own two cents in the comments below. You do you, I’m not here to tell you how to live your life.

Except, don’t compare yourself to other people.

Because honestly, it really doesn’t help anybody.

So, I overthink. That’s as plain and obvious as gravity or the sun shining (the latter being a little more questionable, thanks to our unrelenting winter, but you get what I mean). Recently, it seems like I’ve been overthinking everything that happens to me or everything that pops into my brain. By stopping to try and think for a second, instead of just doing what overthinking does, where I have a thought and then let my emotions run away with it as truth, I’ve come to realize that a lot of my overthinking–and the negative outcomes that I create as a result–is thanks to my comparing my current experiences with similar ones I’ve observed others go through, instead of looking at what I have and appreciating it for what it is.

psych GIF

Let’s show some examples.

I love my boyfriend. Seriously, he is positively fantastic and I adore him and I am so, so, so incredibly happy to be with him and consider myself beyond lucky. Our relationship, however, has always been pretty private, on his end, especially on social media. Me, I enjoy posting pictures of us together and writing gushy birthday posts like I did for him last weekend. Him, not so much. When I do, it doesn’t bother him at all (I’ve asked), but he isn’t one to really do that that often. So when I wrote a gushy birthday post for him, he didn’t “like” it or say anything about it on social media. Did he thank me 100 times for making his birthday awesome and going above and beyond with the cheesiness levels in person? Absolutely.

Yet did I still get a little bit bummed that he didn’t say anything on that post? Or that he doesn’t really post cute, cheesy things of us together?

Sure, yeah, I did.

But why?

It took me a while to figure it out. It’s simply because that’s what I’ve always seen only couples do. When I reached the age where dating started to become a thing was also the time when social media really started to pick up, so I’ve always been used to my friends having very public relationships on social media. So that’s what I’ve always expected to have, while I dreamed of being in a relationship for so long. Now, I finally found a man willing to put up with me and he just happens to be the type where he uses social media to share recipes and DnD memes and that’s about it.

Guess what, brain?

That’s okay. Stop trying to convince me otherwise and get upset when his way of showing affection is slightly different–and more private–than yours. If he doesn’t comment or like something you shared? That doesn’t have to mean he doesn’t like you–so stop telling yourself that, you dolt.

kenneth branagh film GIF

Let’s take another example.

Because I’m a writer, I absolutely love to read the acknowledgements sections in the books that I read, because I understand how much work it takes for an author to write a book and I like to read who they thanked in helping them through that process–because after it’s written, it becomes a very big team effort. Plus, I just like reading them and then dreaming about writing my own, one day.

When I read them, the expected culprits are usually there: parents, siblings, close friends, partners, dogs (because let’s be real, dogs are an amazing support system). And I read about how vital the support from those people was for the authors over the book I’m currently reading and sometimes I feel…jealous.

Because when I start comparing, my experience doesn’t feel the same.

I’ve written quite a few books, now, and I have a great support system. My family, close friends and my boyfriend all believe in me fully and don’t hesitate to tell me that. Their support is…everything. Yet my best friend has read a novel I’ve written. My Mom, two. No one else has read any of them, not even when I actually sent them out to them and invited them to read them and tell me what they think. I have my beta readers who have read more, of course, but sometimes I look at how little those close to me have actually read and I begin overthinking why they haven’t.

It’s because my books suck and they lose interest. They believe in me, but they don’t actually care about the books I’m writing. I’ve somehow failed in ways that these other authors haven’t…

Yeah, I know.

Ridiculous.

For one, everyone’s experience is different. Two, I have no idea, when an author thanks someone for their support, what that support looks like. It could be reading every draft they’ve written of every book they’ve written. It could be texting them and asking how writing is going. Or it could be cooking meals so they have extra time to write or telling them they believe in them, even if they haven’t read a single word they’ve written. Just because my support looks different doesn’t make it less. Just because I read about someone else’s Mom reading their novel in one sitting doesn’t mean my novel is suddenly worse because mine doesn’t.

Guess what, brain?

Support comes in all different forms and just because mine is different than what I read about and see (and don’t fully understand) doesn’t make it any less important, meaningful or real. So let’s back up on the self-pity and novel-deprecation, okay?

You see what I mean?

dule hill burton guster GIF

Through comparison, it’s so easy to take something good: like my healthy, loving relationship with my boyfriend or the amazing belief, faith and support I get from those close to me with my writing; and suddenly become insecure or question how those relationships and that support works, simply because it doesn’t match up 100% to those similar to it I’ve witness or seen and believe to be good, as an outsider. Obviously, that’s a silly thing to do, because I do have a wonderful boyfriend who treats me right, loves me and is fantastic…even if he doesn’t use social media to shout out those truths or he doesn’t always text me back. I do have a great support system with my writing from my parents, sibling, close friends and boyfriend…even if they haven’t read the books I’ve written.

It’s time to stop comparing what I have to what others have and instead, remember and look at what I have and been thankful and cherish that. Because honestly? I’m really damn lucky and I’m tired of my brain trying to convince me otherwise.

Cheers.


Enjoy The Process

If you follow along on my Resolution Sunday Blog Series, this year undertaking the theme called “Quest for Discovery,” you’ll know that I hinted at writing a post over the idea of wanting to maximize my time and enjoy the process during my Week 16 update.

This is that post.

You see, I have a lot of goals and a lot of dreams that I really want to accomplish. Two of my main ones include becoming a published author and shaping my body into the shape I’ve always dreamed I could reach. On top of that, a few hobbies that I have, I’m pretty involved in, like running three blogs and reading books (plus reviewing them). There is something in common about all of those things.

They all require work to achieve.

Want to be a published author? Well, you need to write books in order to do that. And writing books requires sitting down and putting in the work, writing word after word after word. Dream bodies are great, but you’d better be prepared to complete the workouts, control your eating and figure out a routine that not only works for you, but also creates the results you want. You can’t post on your blogs if you don’t write the posts and reviews don’t write themselves, either.

I know that. I totally accept it and I’m willing to do the work, in every single case. If I had to choose between giving up one of those dreams/goals/hobbies instead of doing the work (which, essentially, is what that comes down to), obviously, I’m going to choose to do the work. It’s what I have been doing and I have no plans on stopping now.

Yet I don’t always enjoy it.

Sure, that’s bound to happen. I mean, I’m not going to sit down every day in the mood to write, blog or read. I’m not going to enjoy every single workout I do. I’m not always going to want to do any of these things. Sometimes, I have to force myself to do it, to overcome laziness or anxiety or doubt. Sure, sometimes I need a break and I take that needed break, but most of the time, I need to be willing to put in the work, because it takes work to stay as consistent as I do and balance all of these things, on top of other commitments and aspects in my life I haven’t mentioned in this post.

But I want to enjoy it more, on a consistent basis, too.

It’s not that I’m miserable, all of the time, either. I don’t want to paint the wrong picture. But it does happen when I sit down to write and I have no desire to. Workouts, this happens a lot, where my brain is like, You don’t really want to do that, do you?, and tries to talk me out of it. There is a plethora of reasons I try to tell myself or that come up. Sometimes they’re valid, sometimes they’re not.

I think, however, that I could do a better job framing my thoughts around these activities and the work required to make my dreams come true, so that I do enjoy it more, instead of falling into the trap of an over-thinking brain or actually making it feel like work (which I think carries a societal taint that you’re not meant to enjoy it), instead of feeling things like pride in making progress and a sense of accomplishment. Mainly, I just need to remind myself that not only am I doing exactly that–making progress on my dreams, keeping up with my blog and my book reviews–but also remember how lucky I am to have the time available to do that. Because at the moment, I have a pretty good balance, as far as managing my time so I can complete all of these things daily. It isn’t always like that and it isn’t always going to be like that.

It also wouldn’t hurt to maximize on that time, either.

Despite being pretty productive pretty consistently, I know I’m still wasting too much time on social media. I scroll through Twitter a lot, especially after my dinner break, when work is at its slowest point. I could be doing a lot more and I want to try and lessen that time I spent wasting away and instead spend that time being productive, whether that’s writing a new post ahead of time, reading an extra chapter or hell, watching a TV show, seems so much better than just scrolling through social media for hours, instead of just checking it and then logging back off.**

The other thing I wonder is: what exactly do I want to replace my time spent pursuing these pursuits with? When I think about it, I can’t imagine what I would do if I didn’t blog, read, write and workout; how I would fill all of that time and still be happy. Sure, I’d probably watch more movies and TV shows and game a lot more, but even with doing everything, I still have a couple hours a day to actually game or watch a movie, if I want to. So it’s not even like I’m sacrificing those other hobbies that I love that don’t require any work to continue doing the hobbies that I also love that do take work. I need to remember that, if I wasn’t involved in and chasing after all of these things, I would probably be very, very bored.

So I’m going to be more conscious about my attitude when it comes to these endeavors, especially with writing and working out, specifically, as those are the two activities my brain fights me against the most, even if it isn’t all the time; the former, out of fear and doubt over my ability to write worthy books, and the latter because I just get lazy sometimes and it’s not a small amount of work to take control of your health and shape your body into something awesome that you’re proud of.

But in both cases, the work is worth it.

Now I just gotta remember that.

Cheers.

**In that vein, I find myself also feeling guilty rather easily when I make plans to accomplish X thing during Y time, but then something else comes up. Namely, in this example, I plan on working on X project at work and then my coworkers ask how my day was and instead of enjoying the conversation with them and the chance to catch up, I feel guilty for spending time socializing. That needs to change, too. Not that I want to spend so much time socializing on a consistent basis that I never get my work done, but rather, I want to enjoy the opportunity to socialize when it comes up instead of beating myself up every time that it does (because it isn’t often).


Choosing Pictures Over Snapshots

It really annoys me when people try and put a label on me, regardless of what that label is based off of, whether it’s physical appearance, interest, belief, personality, whathaveyou.

Sure, I use labels to describe myself in a pinch, when I don’t have time to unpack all the different facets that make up my personality: nerd, dreamer, gamer, etc. But even then, there is so much more to a person than the label we try to place on them, the label we place on ourselves or the stereotype created for us based off of one aspect of our identity.

Let’s take me, for example.

I’m a nerd. A huge one. But what does that really mean? I love Lord of the Rings. I enjoy the genres of both fantasy and science fiction, in books, cinema and games. I play DnD on the weekends, I write books, I play video games, I have T-shirts that make references only those from that random would understand and I plan to learn Elvish before I become fluent in Spanish. I can read a 600 page book in one sitting, if the world will stop bothering me long enough to let me. I have my library card number memorized, but not my debit card.

Sure, you could sum all that up into the label of “nerd,” but the type of nerd that I am, isn’t the same type as someone else who might use the same label. I’m a nerd, yet I’ve only seen two of the Star Wars films. I only got into DnD within the last year (and even then, I don’t follow Critical Role). There are plenty of books, films and games that I haven’t gotten into, which you could claim takes a hit into my nerd status.

And even though that’s just a huge part of my personality and my life, that’s still just one part.

I’m also a writer. Not published, even though someone else could be on the NYT Bestseller List and still use that same title. I’m an athlete, in the sense that I work out regularly, follow my own training routine and care about what I eat, yet I don’t actually compete. So perhaps I should use the label of active, rather than athlete? Does that paint a clearer picture? I’m a believer, in the sense that I worship God. But my version of God is very different than many who I know and on the average day, I’m ashamed to be associated with Christians, because I seriously can’t fathom how you can worship God but hate a Muslim or believe that someone is damned because they love a woman and was born with a vagina. I hate a sleeve yet I don’t do drugs, I prefer to listen to my screamo music loud in my car yet I am a passive driver. I struggle with anxiety and depression and overthinking yet smile more than anyone else you meet. I am obsessed with dogs but have adopted my boyfriend’s cats like they are my own. I’m a hopeless romantic that refuses to be anything else.

What label would you use to encompass all of that?

Here’s the worst part of it, though.

Even though it drives me up the wall when people try to put a label on me and are then shocked when suddenly, that label doesn’t cover all of me or I don’t fit into the mold they believe that label encompassed, guess what?

I do this to strangers all of the time. 

And I hate that I do this.

I work at a college library. I see all sorts of people, all of the time, and in my head, I silently pass judgement and assumptions on them, based on what I think they believe/prescribe to/experience, influenced by both what society has trained me to believe and what my own sampling of experiences has tainted. A sorority woman can’t possible be a nerd. There’s no way they can be professional, wearing those shorts. They’re never going to pass that test, they are laughing so loud when they should be studying. They cheer for that team? Automatically judges them.

On and on and on.

It’s never with malicious intent. Half the time, it’s completely unconscious or almost…instinctual, though that doesn’t feel like the right word. Instantaneous, maybe? I think it’s something everyone probably does, whether they mean to or not; and prolly always will do, at least to some extent.

But that doesn’t make it okay and that doesn’t mean we can’t try to improve. I certainly want to try and lessen how much I do this, both with people I don’t know and those I do. I’m trying to be more aware of when I do it and remind myself that, even though I have that opinion for X reasons, doesn’t mean that opinion is true, accurate or completely encompassing of that person’s character and personality. They deserve the chance for me to get to know them, the real them, every facet and let my opinions of that be based off that: the entire picture, not just a quick snapshot.

Because there is just too many parts that makes each of us uniquely whole to try and box that in neatly.

Cheers.