The Need To Be Liked

I talked about the freedom of being phone-less recently, and since I’ve replaced my sad cracked-screen with a much more expensive but narrowly different model, I’ve been trying to limit my use of it. I could do better (damn you, Hogwarts Mystery!), and admittedly it hurts to drop a few hundred dollars on something just to be like “NO, DON’T TOUCH THAT!” but when I am using it, I’m really starting to pay attention to how it affects not just my production, but my mood, specifically my self worth. And it’s…a lot.

I like to think I’m less easily swayed by what I see on social media than the average whoever, not because I’m superior–of course I feel jealousy like any other human, and when I see an ad for pizza I WANT PIZZA–but because 1) I’m actively thinking about how these things are making me feel, and 2) I’ve put in effort to work past that jealousy stage so that mostly when I see someone who is successful, attractive, and happy, I’m inspired. I’m interested in how people that I follow got their ass to look that way, produced such riveting content, managed to smile after heartbreak. It helps that I try to follow people who are very open about their flaws, but I don’t have that sort of control over everything I’m exposed to, and sometimes I’m left feeling, well, let’s say contemplative.

The path to success is shrouded in mystery, especially when your horse is a creative endeavor and your satchel is stuffed with naught but pencils and a thesaurus. Practice, work hard, risk failure, fail harder. These are some of the trials of our hero’s journey, and don’t get me wrong, they make a great journey, but then you bump into the already popular knight brandishing his shiny teeth and stylish but hollow swordplay, and you wonder: WHAT THE FUCK? His troupe consists of a grizzled, retired mercenary who’s universally loved but misogynistic as hell and frankly devoid of any actual personal development, and a sidekick that’s just like always there, and loud, and why is he always there? But sometimes the righteous and pious and good make it to the top, and you’re so happy for them, so pleased, but it’s still so terribly confusing. Success isn’t wholly unfair, so you wonder if there’s a formula, a way to make it all worth it. I’ve only come to the conclusion that luck is playing a role, and that’s not really just to make myself feel better about failure–I just don’t have any other explanation.

I don’t want this post to come off as whiny. I do think the effort is worth it even if you never go anywhere with your work and you die alone, penniless, rotting away from the plague. It’s, you know, the journey or whatever. Plus there’s always the possibility of being posthumously discovered and your words, your art, your music, reaching someone who cares and gets joy out of it all (presumably you’re producing something in order to bring joy to others). I’m just trying to figure out the how (you can’t bring joy to people without reaching them), and trying to govern my own ego along said journey.

the journey

I don’t buy the saying “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Yes, if you’re doing what you love it’s exponentially less stressful and difficult and soul-crushing than doing something you hate, or something you tolerate, or even something you like, but no one’s creative passion isn’t actual work. If you’ve ever encountered something good, you’re experiencing the result of somebody’s labor and at least one broken mug, a handful of abandonments, and infinite swearing sessions.

It’d just be nice to know it’s all probably leading somewhere.

I see this mirrored in this one weird trick that I’ve been noticing a lot on both Twitter and Instagram. People will follow you, like a handful of your posts, then unfollow you a couple days later. I’m assuming this is done through a bot and they’re doing this to all the users posting under a specific tag and probably get enough people following back and sticking around to be worth it; it’s just so insanely shallow. These are not real views, not real fans, and when I’m trying to promote my actual work I just find it frustrating. Maybe I should be thankful? That’s a handful of likes I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise that might push my post up higher in some reverse-Robin Hood algorithm where the popular get more popular (which is its own bullshit ranty blog post), but it’s not genuine. It doesn’t let me really gauge if I’m reaching anyone, and worst of all these users clutter up the tags we might use to actually reach real readers.

And then I realize I’m guilty of this too when I use tags. Maybe not to the gross extent I’m seeing out there, but if others are playing the game that hard, don’t I need to at least engage to be seen at all? In the end, tags are words, and I love words, and I’m a little pissed at how this makes them lose their meaning.

But in the end it comes down to this, the contemplative self-worth part: maybe I’m just not that good.

That thought it scary and intrusive, but legitimate. I don’t have much else to say beyond that except that I’m actually glad I’m having the thought (not that I haven’t always had this thought, it just takes on a different shade in the world of social media). I think it’s helpful, kind of like seeing a fitspo model’s perfect ass on my Instagram feed. Yeah, I feel bad about my ass, but I might be able to have that ass if I work at it.

Might.

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Also I Hate The Word “Fleek”

Some people have really strong feelings about things that they really shouldn’t. Like, some people HATE pumpkin spice as if pumpkin spice personally hurt them. Like pumpkin spice broke up with them via text message. Like pumpkin spice punched their mom in the face. Like pumpkin spice used the key they gave it “for emergencies only” while they were on vacation and had a gang bang with strawberry acai and white chocolate mocha in their marital bed. But the truth is, pumpkin spice never did anything to anybody, and while the kind of hate pumpkin spice (or any “basic bitch” bullshit) gets is way too complicated for this blog post, it’s a great example of something that doesn’t deserve the treatment it gets, and I need you to know this post is self aware. I’m about to say something, and you’re going to think I’m a huge hypocrite, but bear with me, I’ll explain.

I. Hate. Eyebrows.

I hate those thick fucking, fake-ass, perfectly square, stamped-on-looking, woolly bear bitches the most–if you’ve been on the internet, you know the ones: Instagram brows. Now, like I said, this post is self aware. I should NOT hate eyebrows, and even more so I shouldn’t hate painstakingly cultivated ones. Eyebrows didn’t kill my father. They didn’t kick my cat. Eyebrows didn’t vote for Donald Trump. Eyebrows are honestly one of the least possibly offensive things. And yet…

Eyebrows, or rather, what they have become, offend me to my very core, and it’s mostly for this simple fact: the same people who made fun of a naturally thick-browed, ten year old me are the ones instagramming and praising these mile-high, drawn-on abominations.

Eyebrowminations.

Here’s the thing: I don’t give a shit what people do with their own bodies. Yes, I would encourage you to be healthy, but if you choose to fill yourself with crap then so be it. If you choose to tattoo a portrait of Dolly Parton on your left temple then by god, you do you–you could honestly have chosen much worse. Pierce your butthole closed for all I care. What I hate about the current brow trend is not really that it exists, but that it’s so insincere.

And not in the way that most fashion is insincere. Sure, people follow trends because they’re cool, but I’d reckon there are more than a handful of people who actually like how certain trends look, or at least grow to like them. My mom fondly looks back at her Farrah Fawcett feathered hair and would most definitely still have it if she hadn’t succumbed to peer pressure a mere four years ago. But the thing with this eyebrow debacle (debrowcle) is that no one really likes thick brows, they just like painting really wide, tapered, arching lines on their foreheads.

Yes, I am salty. Salty AF, some might say, because this girl has gone through hell and back to minimize her own brows at the behest of society. I have shaved, waxed, plucked, and threaded these little furry assholes into shape for years because I am weak and care way too much what people think of me. And you’re telling me I just could have waited it out til 2015? No, I couldn’t have, because what I got going on, which are actual, real life, thick brows, are not at all what’s being touted all over Youtube as a “natural brow look.”

I blew up at one of my best friends back when I was 20 or so. She had these gorgeous, delicate, wonderfully shaped brows that were so effortless. At least, that’s how I saw them; I am sure she, like most people, has a very different view of her own body. Regardless, if I could have replaced my own brows with replicas of hers, I would have done so in an instant and never touched them again. She texted me one day, very excited, to say she’d had her brows waxed. I should have been excited for her, supportive, asked questions about the process, anything but what I did which was basically berate her. If her brows weren’t good enough, then mine would never be. Besides a whole boatload of other shit I was going through at the time that no doubt contributed to my fuckery, I was too filled with self loathing to support my friend, and told her that her decision was dumb. Eyebrows made me selfish, and that’s one of the worst things you can be.

And this was before the big box brow trend even started!

So yes, I’m salty about the whole thing and I’ve grown to just loathe eyebrows. I hate the effort that has to be put into them, I hate that that effort is so incredibly painful, and I hate how shitty they make me feel about myself.

But I shouldn’t hate eyebrows. They serve a purpose. I was going to make this a Thing I Don’t Fucking Understand, but I actually do understand them. I get the totally fucked up desire to want to be pretty and doing the dumbest possible things to get that way, but I’m never going to stop hating eyebrows. Maybe someday I’ll shave them off completely. That might even be a trend on the horizon. And I’ll probably be salty about that.

But for now all I can saw is this, all of this nonsense, is browdiculous!