Tag Archives: Societal Judgement

The World Ahead…

Friends! Today* is my birthday!

Birthdays are crazy things, especially as you get older. I turned 24. My age is only reflected in the amount of bills I owe and the amount of “real world job experience” I have on my resume, as physically, some people still mistake me for a high school student (why? just why?), emotionally, I have the spirit of a Grandma while most of my interest and hobbies will always remain in the realm of a teenage gamer. But, the reality of it is it, I was born in 1992, 24 years ago. And it has me all contemplating.

Naturally, another year older, I looked back at the year I lived as a 23 year old. It was definitely a crazy, emotional and eventful year for me: graduated from college; went to grad school; move out of state; dropped out of grad school; moved back home; wrote four books; read hundreds more; became a more dedicated gamer; got my first post-college job; got my first apartment and the bills that follow it; became a bit more introverted and a little bit more of a loner as an adult. So many life changes, so many adventures, so many challenges, so many regrets, so many memories, so much happiness and heartbreak and stress and relief.

Of course, now that my birthday’s over, I’m thinking about what the future year might bring and I am utterly clueless. How many jobs will I end up working? Will I advance in my career or stay stagnant? How many books will I write? Will I query at all? Will I become represented? Will I renew my lease or have a change of scenery? Will I fall in love? Will my dreams come true? Will I cry myself to sleep? Will I…?

The list is endless.

I do know this, though: I want to be better to myself. I want to be more genuine in reflecting who I really am. I want to be fearless.

My life, like anyone’s, has been built upon ups and downs and has been shaped by so many aspects. Along the way, it has taken a really, really long time to discover myself and who I truly believe I am. The past few years, especially, I have discovered leaps and bounds about myself; about what I want in life; about who I want to be. And it’s taken me a long time to realize that I shouldn’t hide that woman from the world, nor should I apologize to the world about who exactly that woman is.

Because, truthfully, I love her.
Yet, just as truthfully, I have spent so much of my life hating her.
Hating myself.

A year from now, if I live to be 100, I’ll have lived a quarter of my life. A quarter of my life, gone and lived and in the past, like a blink. I refuse to spent the rest of it degrading and damaging myself simply because I refuse to fit into a mold society wants to me to fit, thus supposedly deeming myself lesser, unworthy, not good enough, because of that deviation.

No bloody longer.

My name is Nicole. I’m 24 years old. I’m a writer by birth, a storyteller by trade. I am weird, odd, quirky. I claim the title nerd with honor and pride. I am a walking juxtaposition in so many regards. And as early as middle school, I have hated myself, mostly influenced by my physical appearance, but also because I didn’t think the person I was, the person I have grown into and become, was worthy of anything; even though deep down, I knew that I loved myself. I wanted to love myself. But how could I, when society constantly spoke otherwise; when I allowed myself to be ruled by numbers on a scale or on clothes; when depression reared and loneliness overruled?

This is my life and I am so tired of being ruled by fear, being boxed in by societal expectations and categories that I don’t fit, of hating myself when all I want to do is love. My body is curvy and my face is plain. My opinions are stubborn and my views spoken. My hobbies are passions that are expressed with enthusiasm. My soul is old and my beliefs traditional. I love fully and intensely. My skin is inked. My conversations are in-depth. My standards and expectations are high.

All of these aspects of myself, I have hated, feared or questioned because of how the world responds: with distaste, with dissatisfaction, with disapproval. There are plenty more that didn’t make it into that list. Yet they are also all aspects that, if I am so totally and utterly honest, I actually love about myself. Deep, deep down, I knew this. Yet I never gave myself permission to fully accept and embrace this self-love; to express myself without apology or explanation for who I am to my core and ooze confidence powered by love.

Dammit, I am 24 years old. I think it is high time I allowed myself to love myself.

I have no idea what my 24th year will bring; what my future holds, how my life will change or twist or contort or challenge me or reward me or break me or mold me. But I do know this: I am sick and tired of hating myself when I am worthy of love. Not only love from my friends–which is felt–or my family–which is cherished–or from a soulmate–which is craved–but from myself.

Which is deserved and desperately overdue.

Cheers.

* So I posted this technically on the 4th, even though my birthday was on the 3rd. And regardless of when I posted it, you could be reading this at any point, so the statement is pretty much null and void no matter which way you look at it. So sue me.

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The Disillusionment of Image

Image.

I’m talking about image in the sense of the way that society views you; the way that you present yourself to society; the pressures you feel to give into making yourself look a certain way because you know that society will judge you and the “image” that you create. I think everyone struggles with this, in some fashion, especially when we’re young and dealing with the pressures of school.

My 14-year-old brother is currently going through this. He’s part of the “cool kids,” as far as I’m aware–something I never made it into, but something I wanted so badly when I was age–and he’s dealing with the pressures that fall into that role. He’s been asking for clothes from Hollister, when a year ago, he didn’t care what he wore. He always does his hair in the morning and constantly berates himself that he doesn’t look good enough. There are days when he’ll talk to me for hours and days when he’ll barely look at me, because I’m an older sister and it isn’t cool to be close to your family.

At first, I took it personal. Here’s a kid that means the world to me and he won’t tell me how his day was because cool kids don’t talk to their siblings? But then I remembered what that experience was like when I was kid and how I used to do the same thing to my parents and now I don’t take it personal. Now I just try to be supportive, because I know what he’s dealing with and it sucks. And I can’t wait until he reaches the point where he doesn’t care about his image and instead can focus on being the person that he wants to be, not a person that can strives to fit in through clothes and trends.

I have been thankful that I have “moved past” this stage of my life, that I “no longer” care about presenting a certain image, but instead care more about representing who I am to the core of my being. Except that I haven’t moved on, not completely. I still care and I hate that that’s the case.

Two pertinent examples from the past month:

The first happened at WorldCon, sort of unexpectedly, sort of not. I had a really amazing chance to meet with some dream agents and with some authors that I have so much respect for, I can’t put it into words (except I can: buy their books and support them. You won’t regret it).* I knew this meet-up was potentially happening before it happened. I was also aware that it would prolly happen at a bar instead of the actual Con. And I knew about the culture that typical follows writers, which was confirmed when a met a few of them, as they asked, “So, how are you enjoying BarCon?”

Before I went, my parents told me, “If they offer to buy you a drink, accept it and then just nurse it while you hang out.” You see, I’m straight-edge. No drinking. No drugs. None of that shit. Other people can do it and almost everyone I know does. Obviously, that’s totally fine and not my call. It’s their life. I respect their choices. Personally, I don’t enjoy it and don’t want to, so I don’t.

So when I got this advice, I had mixed feelings about it. The ultra-stubborn part of me rejected it outright. Why should I change myself because the culture surrounding this Con revolves around drinking and that’s not part of my lifestyle? Why should I pretend to be someone I’m not, just to win their approval and avoid the awkward conversation that I knew would happen otherwise. Because that awkward conversation or response was inevitable, just like it is when people find out I don’t drink coffee or am waiting to have sex until after marriage. People don’t understand those choices because they aren’t part of the normal, they don’t fit the image that I should fit into. Oh, you’re a fantasy and science fiction writer who is working on a sleeve? Yeah, definitely a drinker. Part of me, unfortunately, wanted to avoid that conversation and the judgement that would follow. These were people I wanted to impress, that I hoped to make a connection with so that, hopefully, when I query them later this year, they remember me and they liked me enough–and my writing–to want to work with me.

At the Con, the decision was made and my stubbornness won over. Yes, I wanted to impress these people. Yes, I was nervous and flustered and overwhelmed. Yes, this was the moment, more than anything, where I felt like I was back in high school and desperately wanted someone to like me and to “fit in”. But most importantly, I wanted to be myself. I’m not ashamed that I’m straight-edge. Hell, I choose to be that, every day. So we met up. The offer for a drink inevitably was given. My polite decline answered and I passed the offer onto my sister, who accepted happily and was giddy than an agent bought her a drink. The questions and surprise ensued, the jokes were made, the label of “lame” was given, and then we moved on and talked about writing.

Did I wish I wasn’t labeled as lame, as I was in high school? Of course. Did I regret standing my ground and staying true to who I am? Hell no. I’m not ashamed of it and if my life choice taints my expected image as a writer, then so be it. (Plus, in retrospect, that agent will probably remember me more than other writers they met, because how often do you actually meet a straight-edge fantasy writer? Yeah, not often. So it’s really a win-win, even if I’m lame because of it.)

In that instance, I almost gave into the image that was expected of me, instead of the image I wanted for myself. I’m so glad I didn’t. This next instance, I almost gave in again, but thankfully, I was able to stay strong against the pressure of caring what other people think.

I moved out into my own apartment a little over a week ago. Super excited about it and the apartment is AWESOME. I’m in love with it, I’m in love with my independence, I’m really digging the routine I’m slowly building (my writing productivity has skyrocketed) and I’m generally loving it. Yet at the same time, depression and loneliness are knocking at my door hourly (but that’s a post for another day). As such, I thought about going back home for an afternoon to see my family and the wonderful pup I left behind that weekend. I missed them and wanted to see them.

But then that nefarious concern over image popped up again, in the back of my head, whispering ridiculous thoughts: It’s only been a week. It’s too early to go back and visit. You did leave some clothes there. That could be your excuse. Or it’s Labor Day weekend. People will buy that. You need to be independent, not so dependent on your family. What would people think? 

I hope you’re rolling your eyes like I am now. All these thoughts, all these apprehensions, were inspired by how others view me. All of them stemmed from concerns of how others would view me if I went home to visit my family. Like, seriously? This was bringing me back to when I was super concerned how people would view my close relationship with my parents. They are some of my best friends, people. Yet I used to try to hide this. That day I moved in freshmen year to my dorm and my parents were with me and then my roommate was there, alone? I was embarrassed. My Mom came up sophomore or junior year to visit and got me some groceries. She asked if I needed help carrying them up. I said no because I didn’t know how my residents would respond.

I am so ashamed of this embarrassment, even though it is totally natural when you’re young. Except I thought I got past that stage. I thought I had realized how ridiculous that is. So what if people think it is weird that I love my parents and truly enjoy spending time with them? So what if I hang out with them? So what if it has only been a week and I decide to go home for no other reason aside from the fact that I want to?

So what if you judge me for it.

I thought I had moved past being concerned with how my image is perceived and accepted by members of society. I thought I had grown enough to realize that it doesn’t actually matter and what matters more is the image I want to create for myself; creating the best possible version of myself and loving and being proud of that image, regardless of how others respond. These two instances remind me that I was disillusioned. There is no “moving past” dealing with image. I think I will always fight the battle regarding image and fearing how people view me and wanting to tailor my actions or beliefs based on that reception. I can only hope that I continue to stay true to myself and who I want to be, like I was able to do here. Because I happen to like that person.

Cheers.

PS: I did go home on Monday when I got the day off and it was fantastic. Definitely the highlight of my week.

* Also, that link referring to buying the authors’ books that linked to an entire client list from an agency instead of a specific author or group of authors? Yeah, that wasn’t a mistake. That agency seriously knows great books and I hope to read through all of their authors (making my way, ever-slowly).


Measuring Worth, Recreating Mindsets and Dealing with Desire

Y’all ready for a personal post?

Brilliant.

I’m sure I’ve shared snippets of this in previous blog posts, so feel free to peruse and search to your hearts content if you want to know more (also, apologies for beating a dead horse) but recently, I’ve been struggling with body image and how that translates regarding self-love, worth, desirability, etc. I say recently because it has been heavy in the forefront of my mind, but that does not mean this is a recent battle I’ve just started fighting. I’ve been fighting it since I was kid. When I was in middle school and started noticing other girls were wearing jeans and dresses and skirts, their faces enhanced with make-up, I started to compare myself, a tomboy unintentionally-raised who didn’t wear jeans until the end of high school–same with wearing my hair down–and still doesn’t wear make-up to this day, at all. Around 7th and 8th grade is when I started to notice the choices I was making that made me different, regarding my appearance. It wasn’t long after that I started to notice my large, soccer-sculpted thighs or the first shadows of the muffin top; started noticing the lonely nights and the lack the dates; the pressures and bodily expectations of young girls and women (and young boys and men, let’s be honest) in society.

Very quickly, I realized that I didn’t fit into those expectations. And so began a dark spiral down into the depths of depression and self-loathing, simply because I wasn’t thin or skinny or, in the terms that society has labeled, pretty. I don’t know when I started to measure my own self-worth in terms of my jeans size or how accurately I fit into the mold required to be a beautiful woman, but it reached a point where I didn’t think myself worthy of anything because I was curvy, I was fat, I didn’t prescribe to make-up, didn’t wear heels.

And that was 50 pounds ago.

This battle with depression has had its ups and downs. Since dropping out of grad school and moving back home, entering into the job-world post-college, I’ve mentally tried to switch my beliefs that a person’s worth is not associated with their body image or body size. Because that is what I have always ascribed to, myself. Never with anyone else–I may notice a person’s size or lack-there-of, but I’ve never thought of a person’s worth based on that observation. Only my own. Very hypocritical and harsh, I know. So I’m trying to mentally switch my brain to a much healthier–and much truer–mindset: a person is so much more than their body and should not be defined by their curves, their edges, their narrowness, their chubbiness, their style.

And I’m finding that transition in mindset to be very difficult, because of how aware I am of everything around me.

//:

Obviously, the standards upon which beauty is measured by our society is, in the most blunt sense, very fucked up. For both men and women, the standards and expectations are not only unhealthy and unrealistic, but they are also inescapable. The billboards, the commercials, the magazines, the social media debates, portrayals in art, literature and film, the fad-diets, the pressure, the undertones, the overtones; inescapable. Everywhere. It is impossible to ignore and impossible not to be aware of where you fit in this spectrum, particularly in the summer time. Bathing suits and shorts: the horrors that have plagued a lot of my summers, as I purposefully avoid invitations to pools and only buy capris, temperature be damned.

Despite pretending not to be bothered by my touching thighs, back fat or muffin top, these things are always on my mind. When I walk past my mirror in the bathroom, I purposefully try to not look. When I put on clothes, I come up with outfits that do the best job of covering up skin, even in the summer months where they don’t make sense. Walking past someone on the street, I wonder how they perceive me and that carefully-constructed outfit. How do they judge me? Where do they find me wanting? Because I am obviously wanting. And then, of course, there are the evenings, where I am alone and the sun goes down, and all I can think about is the fact that I am alone, and wonder if I didn’t eat that extra helping of mashed potatoes or would have walked for another ten minutes, if my body would have changed enough for a man to find me desirable.

Even on the days where I love the way I look or it isn’t on the forefront of my mind, the reminders–everywhere and ever-constant–don’t stay ignored for long. From the whispers of society to the natural urge to compare myself to the people surrounding me (and always find myself wanting), it is truly difficult to switch my mind to not worrying about my body and how it is perceived; the only aspect of myself I hate. Because how do you ignore all the reminders? How do you ignore the constant complaints of those around you, claiming they are “so fat” and “need to lose weight” and “wish they were skinny,” when in your eye, they already are? How do you not jump to the conclusion, listening to them, that if they think they are fat and grotesque and they are smaller and prettier than you, what must they think of you? How do you get yourself to accept and love your body as is when you are constantly bombarded with other people not loving theirs; when you are constantly bombarded with standards you should be meeting, with reminders of why you aren’t?

 :

Of course, I take it one step-further. Not only do I devalue myself because of my size, but I also have a very intense desire to be loved. Not loved by family and friends. I have this aplenty and am grateful for it every day. Loved by a man. Desired by him, cherished by him, chosen by him. This desire is spawned from multiple things: my natural belief that love, in all forms, is the most powerful force in the world. My age is definitely a factor: being 23, a prime age amongst my friends to be moving forward in their relationships, with marriages and proposals. My relationship history, being that I’ve never had that relationship, that first kiss, that first date, those nerves meeting/introducing the parents and friends, the double dates. And, just like the body image standard, seeing people in love all over, in films, reading books, on the street, amongst my friends.

These are the two things I think about constantly, that empower my depression: my body size and my eternally-single state. And how the two must correlate. And thus, spawns the slowly growing fear that eternal is the perfect descriptor to attach to my single status; the growing fear that no matter how my body looks, no one will love me the way I desperately crave to be loved. I’m meant to be alone forever.

Okay.

There are so many things wrong with my mindset, I’m not even sure where to begin. And this post is already long enough as it is. But, ever onward…

One: Your Worth Isn’t Defined By Your Body Size

I know this. I know this. Yet it is a hard mindset to switch into believing constantly, when I have believed the opposite for too long. And it is so hard to find a positive present concerning body image, regardless of the size of the people I surround myself with. Everyone is so focused on finding fault. Then, of course, I always think of my non-existent romantic life. Sure, I haven’t been romantically involved in anyone, but that does not mean my body size is the direct cause of that. Perhaps it was a missed moment. Perhaps I simply haven’t met him yet. Perhaps I’m unwilling to date anyone who isn’t willing to love as completely as I plan to love them. Perhaps my standards are too high (newsflash: they aren’t). But even if I never find him, my worth isn’t devalued because of my singleness. My worth isn’t devalued because of my curves or my rolls. I have friends who support me and friends who love me. Family, too. Coworkers, sure. Random people I have connected with on the internet, you bet. Some of those people know my size. Others, don’t. Yet I really, really love myself. I love the woman I have become and the steps I need to take to continue working on who I want to be.

So why do I let my body size get in the way of loving myself completely, especially when if I take how others perceive me out of the equation, I actually don’t mind my body. Would I like it to be bit slimmer and a bit tighter? Yep. But if I don’t think about how others respond–or how I believe they are responding, rather–or how I am “supposed to” look, I’m actually quite content with my body. I can go on walks with my dog. I can play a pick-up game of soccer and feel like I’m going to die afterwards, but still have fun. I like my eyes and my collarbones and the way my biceps flex sometimes. I like my tattoos and my hair when I put effort into it (and the new messy up-do I’ve adopted). I could be perfectly content with my body if I could just stop worrying about how others perceive me or stop convincing myself that everyone who sees me believes me to be ugly or unattractive.

Two: Everything is Subjective 

Nothing is truer than that statement right there and nothing do I need to remember more. I recently realized that truth in regards to writing and it helped me deal so much with the rejection process. How did it take me so long to realize this in regards to everything else in life, especially body image and size and the perception related to that? My bathroom mirror never changes. Yet on the days when I accidentally see myself in the mirror, some of those days, I actually think, “Damn, girl,” and pause to admire my curves or the way my stomach is shaped or the length of the legs. My mirror hasn’t changed. My body either. It’s just my perception in that current moment. Or I’ve gotten into the lazy habit of putting my hair up into a bun-type situation where my curls fall down the side of my head, looking like a mix between a waterfall and Medusa unleashed. And half of the time, I love the way it looks. Some outfits, I absolutely adore.

But as soon as I think about what others might think, my response immediately switches from praise and approval to reprimand and calculation, nit-picking everywhere fault can be found.

Of course, some people are going to think I’m unattractive. But not everyone. It’s just like how I think the most attractive men on the planet are Kit Harington, Sam Claffin and Olan Rogers. Half of my friends don’t understand my celebrity crushes and pit up their own contenders. That is just difference of opinion and difference in taste. That disagreement doesn’t mean that one person is right and the other is wrong. Likewise, just because I believe someone might perceive me as ugly doesn’t mean that they will and, if they do, that doesn’t mean they are right. It is their opinion, their subjective opinion.

Another example is how you can be a size 16 in one store but a size 12 in another; an XL at Target but an XXXL at a designer store. For so long, I refused to wear XL clothing because I hated being associated with that size. I wanted to be smaller, so I wore smaller clothing. Which, in turn, looked worse on me and didn’t fit right, as opposed to XL sizes, which fit properly, looked better and actually made me feel confident. Instead, I was being ruled by letters and numbers prescribed by society as a labeling system. That’s all they bloody are. Letters and numbers to help you know which clothes will fit better. Not a value-measuring-system.

A friend also brought up a great point: Aphrodite, the goddess of love and passion and beauty, reflected the ideals of her time period of what a beautiful woman looked like. And it is not at all what we ascribe to now. Her pictures and statues from that time period are complete with rolls, with curves, with fat.

Before, a beautiful woman was a woman with weight–because that meant she could afford to eat–and who was pale–because that meant she didn’t have to work outside to earn her living. Today, we have transitioned to starving ourselves, harming ourselves and transfiguring ourselves to reach an impossible standard. Go back a couple 100 years and I would have had the beauty of the goddess. Today, I don’t even met the bare minimum.

How’s that for subjectivity?

Three: It’s Okay to Crave Romantic Love

I have been struggling with accepting this for a long time, now. Like I said, I crave a relationship. I crave to find a man to love me and accept me. I crave to find a man I love and accept. Yes, I obviously crave the physical benefits being in a committed relationship includes. Who doesn’t want someone’s hand to hold when they are walking along the road or someone to kiss when they say goodbye or someone to snuggle with before they go to sleep? But I want the emotional connection just as much, if not more. I want that person who I can confide in, who I can depend on, who I can count on, who can challenge me and appreciate me in ways that no one human has been able to; the way only a boyfriend or husband can.

Yet I’ve always felt guilty praying for this man to appear in my life. I’ve always felt guilty for wanting a relationship so badly. People always tell you to appreciate your singleness. You need to be independent and not depend on anyone else, especially a romantic partner. You need to love yourself first–only then can you love someone wholly. And maybe there is some merit in those ideas. But I believe that I can be an independent human and still have someone else to depend on. I can be a broken soul who struggles to love herself and yet still love him all the more for it, totally and utterly. And I believe, though I struggle with it, that it is okay to desire romantic love, a romantic connection with every core of your being.

Lord of the Rings:

This post is by far the longest I’ve written. I applaud you for reading this far. It is filled with ramblings, with musing, with struggles and personal outpourings of doubts and fear. It is very vulnerable and uncomfortable and heavy. I don’t have any neat way to wrap it up or any conclusion as to what needs to happen next; as to where I go from here. I think this will be struggle I deal with no matter what body size I have, how many people I’ve loved or what societal trends arise. But writing about it helps. Talking about it helps. Who knows, perhaps it might help you if you struggle with the same things or make you wonder who in your life does. Perhaps this post opens up a dialogue, opens eyes or serves a reminder of things people already know, a reflection of what you’ve already experienced. I dunno. If you need to talk about issues related to this, I’m here. I’m ready and I’m listening.

Life is hard, friends. But life is so, so good. Love each other and by God, accept and respect one another. Make one another feel comfortable in our own skin. Listen and be heard. And while we’re at it, how about we start destroying the body standards we are supposed to subscribe to, huh?

Cheers.


Inked

I got a tattoo today.

My fourth one, actually. So yes, to all the people who questioned if I was going to be addicted or if this whole “getting tattoos” was going to be a “legit thing” after I got my first one when I was 18, it is a real thing. It is the art form in which I have chosen to express myself, from my truest believes to my most sincere passions. Some may not realize that I have entire sleeve planned out (well, quarter-sleeve, but knowing me, it’ll make it the whole way). I admit, that wasn’t always the case. My first tattoo was on my right shoulder; my second, wrapped around my left ankle; my third, inside my right foot. Each tattoo was planned, thought out and I waited at least a year between each one. I always wanted to be sure of what I wanted to do and place it somewhere that I could cover up easy; still wanted to be marketable and get a good job and all that jazz.

Moving out on my own has taught me a lot, but it has also solidified quite a bit for me. And one of those things was my passion for tattoos. I truly believe they are an art form. They are conversation starters. They are silent messages of intrigue. They are untold stories awaiting for an audience. Each of mine has a ten-minute explanation behind them. From the significance of that particular tattoo to why it is styled to a certain way to the specific colors I chose, all of them have a detailed story that no one in their right mind would stand there and listen to as I rambled on. But each one is important to me. And all of my future ones are going to be just as important.

Some of the reasons I was hesitant to get my most recent one (still merely hours old) was due to societal expectations/judgement that have stuck with me since I got my first one four years ago. I’m a woman who majored in Creative Writing and English. My job options after I graduate are already slim. Why make it slimmer by getting tatted up and alienating myself from jobs? Other interesting arguments I’ve heard: Tattoos make you butch, unclean. You really want to spoil a wedding dress with a sleeve? Wait, let’s not get ahead of ourselves — you do realize a lot of guys won’t date you now because you have obvious tattoos? (On that last point, I’m doing a great job not finding a guy without the tattoos factoring in, so might as well be happy with my own skin. Plus, my dog will love me no matter how much body art I have, so I still win).

Yeah, I’ve heard a lot of different arguments against tattoos. Some of my responses: 1. On the job front, I used to be really nervous about being a woman and planning a sleeve, and how I would be perceived in the job market world. But I slowly realized that I wouldn’t want to work for a boss who was so judgemental that (s)he wouldn’t hire me simply because of my tattoos. All my tattoos are classy and don’t offend the general public. And not to toot my own horn, but I’m a damn hard worker. If I’m working for you, I’m putting 100% into it and I make sure the job is done right. If I don’t know, I learn how. If I mess up, I fess up and fix it. Good qualities to have in a worker, I think. Having body art doesn’t change that. 2. On the appearance front, my tattoos are one of the only things I actually like about my body. They aren’t trashy to me. They are beautiful. They are my soul exposed to the world. The most honest version of me is portrayed through my ink. How can that not be beautiful?

Body modifications are a personal choice. All of mine are choices I could never regret. And I’m very happy to see that society is slowly coming to be more accepting towards tattoos and piercings. And I’m even more thankful that I come from a family and have friends that accept this choice that I have made. But I’m even happier that I’ve stopped letting the few parts of society that made me fearful to be myself to continue controlling me. This “first” tattoo in the grander vision of my sleeve was a symbol of that: of self-acceptance and societal rejection.

You’re probably wondering what that tattoo even is. To be honest, that was what the entire point of this blog was going to be, describing my new tattoo and the meaning behind it. But somehow it turned into a social commentary on societal acceptance of tattoos…my bad on that front. On my left bicep, I got a quill, in black. Underneath the quill is a quote — a lyric, actually, from my favorite band, Memphis May Fire’s song, “Miles Away.”

“God give me the strength to do what You created me to do.”

When I first heard this song a couple of years ago, it really stuck with me. Throughout high school and my undergrad, I struggled with my faith, something that was so foundational to me when I was younger. And I’ve slowly grown closer to God and my personal relationship with Him. I’m not at the level I once was, but I am working on it. I will always work on it. And I truly believe that God blessed me with…not a talent, necessarily, but with a insane desire, to write. When I write, I am happier than any other time. Working on my books is an amazing feeling, a euphoria that is only experienced when working on them. I recognize the power of words and I am so happy that I occasionally can figure out how to bend and twist those words to my will. But not even my will; not really. It’s His. I wouldn’t write so often if He didn’t want me to. I wouldn’t turn to writing as a form of release, as my medication, as my joy, without Him instilling those emotions within me. I wouldn’t go after this “Starving Artist” degree and constantly fight to be an author if I didn’t believe that was part of His plan for me. So when I heard that line from Memphis May Fire’s song — “God give me the strength to do what You created me to do” — it has stuck with me ever since. That simple prayer for guidance and support from the One who put this fire within me in the first place…it was one of the most powerful things I have come across. And I wanted to always be reminded of that prayer and couldn’t think of a better “center piece” for my sleeve than that.

Today, I finally had the courage to make it a reality. I’m stoked to share this story with you and continue to expose my passions and my beliefs on this blog. Thanks for taking the time to read — I admit it — a rather odd blog. It definitely wasn’t planned to come out like it did, but that’s writing for you. Until next time, I hope you have an awesome weekend and that your arm isn’t nearly as swollen and sore as mine is. 😉

Cheers,

Nicole