grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Dear Teenage Self,

I’m not quite sure how to begin. There’s so much I want to tell you; so much has changed. Most of it for the better.

First, I know being a teenager is hard. It seems like people are always trying to under-rate the problems of being a teenager. But I remember: being a teenager is insanely difficult. Just know that things will get better, if you give them time.

I know you think you’re ugly. I know those bullying girls in middle school make you feel like you’re ugly. And I remember what you look like in middle school: long frizzy hair, braces, snobbish little gold-rimmed cat’s-eye glasses, tomboyish clothes. I remember that you cried the first time you heard “I’m Not That Girl” from Wicked. You pretended you were smarter and more arrogant than everybody else to hide the truth -- that you never felt like you fit in, that you doubted you’d ever find a boyfriend or fall in love.

Well, guess what? All those bullying girls in middle school? They’ll lose interest in you in high school. Your braces will come off. One day you’ll just decide to cut off all your hair, and it will feel incredibly liberating. You’ll get some new square plastic black-framed glasses. You’ll learn to make your tomboyish look work for you, with band T shirts and checkered open sweaters and long wool coats and skintight jeans.

And guess what else? Guys will call you pretty. So will girls. You’ll be asked out on dates. You’ll make new friends. College will free you from the confines of teenage hierarchy -- yes, you have to wait till college, and it will frustrate you because it seems like everyone else has it all figured out in high school. (They don’t. Trust me.) In fact, you’ll go to prom stag with a bunch of your girlfriends instead of with some immature teenage boy, and you’ll have the time of your life. You’ll rent a white limo and put on a lavender ball gown, and you’ll giggle and silly dance on top of a ship overlooking the sea sparkling in the night. And then, eventually, a year or two later in college, you’ll have the courage to ask somebody out and romance will happen for you.

But you’ll also learn not to let your beauty define you. I know you can’t even conceive of this right now, but you’ll get into a relationship, realize this guy’s not right for you, and you’ll have the courage to tell him “no.” He will validate this idea of the beauty you never thought you had, but he will not be the right person for you, and you will realize that it is okay. It is okay for him not to be the right person for you. You don’t owe anyone anything just because they called you pretty.

And it is okay not to have a boyfriend. Especially in high school. Ya got time, girl! Go easy on yourself!

Also know this: you still haven’t completely fallen in love. I think you’re probably one of those people who falls in love really intensely, but only once or twice a lifetime. And you’ve realized that’s okay too. You’ve kissed boys, held hands with them, even made out with them, but you have never given your virginity away to a guy who hasn’t earned it. And your inexperience? That doesn’t bother you as much as it used to. In fact, you’re a little proud of it. You go slow, and that’s okay -- your relationship experiences will be more rewarding that way. It’s okay to wait until the time is right.

You will try to force it. There will be a point in college when you try to force relationships that aren’t there, out of some misguided idea that you’re supposed to. And guess what? You’ll get over that, too. It’s a phase. You’ll grow out of it.

Don’t get me wrong. You’re not always the paragon of self confidence or anything. You still have your self conscious moments, but you’ve learned that those are okay. Progress can be imperfect and still be progress.

I know you have a lot of celebrity and book crushes right now. You’ll grow out of those, too. Don’t get me wrong, admiring sexy guys is awesome and so are idle daydreams, but the intense crushes on people you’ve never met? I’ve found those usually fade as you get older as well.

I also remember that those bullying girls used to call you a freak. Behind your back, which is worse. Even now, you still haven’t forgotten that girl who cheerfully told you, “I know everyone says you’re a freak, but I think you’re really nice! Oh, wait. You did know people call you a freak, right?”

You hadn’t.

Yeah. Ow.

That one still hurts a little.

But overall, you’ve come far. Time heals most wounds, and all those times you were socially humiliated in middle school? Those times don’t seem so important anymore. You can look back now and see those bullies for exactly who they really were: immature airheads. You can remember the memory, and be exasperated by it, and not feel pain.

And you know what? You ARE a freak. And you should be damn proud of that! The freaks are the best! They’re the originals, the daring ones, the ones who will change the whole fuckin’ world! Dare to be different! Live it up! Don’t let those assholes weigh you down!

And don’t give up on your childhood dreams. Remember when you wanted to be a novelist, a poet, a musician, an actress, but everyone told you that would be too hard and so you gave up? Don’t give up! You’ll get to a place where you’ll feel brave enough to start dreaming those things again.

You’ll also get better at talking in front of people. You don’t just babble incoherently and shake like a leaf in a high wind when you get up in front of people anymore. You’ve learned to deal with crowds, parties, and yes, school presentations -- at least to a certain extent. They can even be kind of fun!

Don’t start drinking. Stick to your principles and instincts and don’t get caught up in that addictive cycle. It may separate you from your peers now, but you’ll be so grateful for it later. For the ability to have an occasional beer or glass of wine without feeling the need to get drunk.

Yes, you WILL find jobs. You'll volunteer at the local library for a year in your senior of high school, edit someone's book for publication for a fee, and you'll have a really cool virtual internship doing business writing for an environmental company. (Your major right now is Creative Writing, with a minor in Marketing -- this may surprise you because I know you were thinking Psychology. But really, budding young writer, is it such a surprise?)

Also, you know that girl you’re best friends with? The daring, original one who loves goth stuff and who you walk home with every afternoon so she can show you her anime collection? The one you really admire and envy for her sheer comfort in being different? The one who takes you to the cool rock concerts? The one you wear bandanas with because you want so badly to be her? Yeah, you’re not really friends with her anymore. Not because you had a big falling-out or anything, but just because you both went off to different colleges and she turned out not to be the kind of friend who wanted to keep in contact with people she didn’t see every day -- even though you DID turn out to be that kind of friend.

I’m not going to lie to you and say that won’t hurt. It will. It’ll hurt like hell. It’ll feel like a betrayal. But eventually, you’ll come to the realization of this: that girl you admired and envied? You ARE that girl now. You’re comfortable being yourself, and being different.

And maybe you’re not different in the same way she is. Maybe you don’t wear dark eye makeup and dye your hair twenty different colors. But that doesn’t make you any less special and unique. Guess what? She’ll admit to you one day that SHE always really admired YOU -- for your dedication to your creative endeavors, especially to your writing, a dedication and creativity she’s found she can’t quite match.

Another compliment you’ll get, from a completely different girl, at the end of high school? That you’re “mysterious” but “passionate about your music.” And here was you always thinking people don’t talk to you because you’re a dorky loser. They may actually have been intimidated by you!

Speaking of that girl you’re friends with, you actually did want to go to the same college she did. She got in. You didn’t. And guess what? She was fucking miserable there. You cried when you didn’t get in, and she didn’t even like the goddamn place. So you moved far away, to a college in a different state right in the downtown area of a big city. You explored different kinds of cuisine. You tried online dating. You got interested in politics. You became addicted to coffee. You found out that snotty private school kids can be cold, bitchy, judgmental, and mean.

What I’m saying is -- first, you’ll get into college. Don’t worry about that. But second, the college you first went to? That wasn’t even your final destination. You ended up transferring to a totally different college, a public one in a small, rural town, and meeting some absolutely incredible people there. You’ll move out on your own, share an apartment with your college-age sister. The two of you will become incredibly close. You will successfully become independent.

Somewhere in between the first college and the second, you’ll be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. That’s right, all your online research proved you right. And I know that right now you’re trying to convince other people that how you’re feeling is an illness, and they’re grownups so they’re trying to tell you it’s really just because you’re not doing THAT and THIS and THAT OTHER THING.

So I just wanted to validate you. You were right. And finally getting that diagnosis and starting on the path to recovery? It’ll feel like a huge relief.

That brings me to my central point. I know you’re feeling suicidal. I know your parents are angry with you because you withdraw and hide in your computer so much, but you’re just trying to get good grades in class (you feel a lot of pressure there) and ignore the feelings welling up inside you. And I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you -- it’ll get worse before it gets better. There are times when you’ll sob and scream. There are times when you’ll just want to fucking die. There are times when you’ll feel broken. You will lose people. You will be bullied and abused. You will act fucking insane. Horrible things will happen to you.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret: It. Gets. Better.

You will go see a psychiatrist and a therapist. You will find a medication regimen that works for you, and learn self management techniques to keep bad thoughts from controlling your life. You will also start being healthy -- going out walking regularly, eating more frequently and healthier, sleeping more (but not too much), and you’ll travel and find tons of new hobbies! (You’ll even feel brave enough to take night classes in swing dancing downtown above a really sketchy bar.) These might all sound cheesy in isolation, but put them together and you’ve got a great recovery strategy.

Recovering from depression and suicidal thoughts is the most incredible feeling on the planet. All of a sudden, you’re grateful for everything -- you’re so much wiser, and you take a whole new lease on life. Life is an incredible journey, and you’ll want every part of it.

And the realization will come to you, over and over and over again: That you made it. You survived. You’re a survivor. And that realization never stops coming. It’s the gift that never stops giving. You will feel that triumph again, and again, and again. Every time you learn something, every time something good happens to you or you get reflective, you will feel that triumph again.

Like today.

So congratulations, kid. You’ve hit your twenties. You made it.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Yesterday, Dad handed my sister something. "These have been in the safe for a couple of months," he said. "Should we get rid of them?" My sister looked at it, stared... and then slow disbelief came over her face.

"These are tickets to an Imagine Dragons concert," she said softly.

We looked wildly around at our parents. They were smiling. Surprise! We were going to an Imagine Dragons concert that very night! Me and my sister started freaking out.

When we got to the arena, tons of semi trucks and tour buses were parked outside. This was going to be a big to-do -- the amount of equipment they must have brought is amazing. There were long lines to get into the arena, and local radio stations had set up tents outside the doors.

I bought an Imagine Dragons tote bag as a souvenir, and a hot dog and some water at the concession stand. The water was so I could take my meds, according to my alarm, at nine o'clock. I was not allowed to keep the cap for the water bottle, as a rather strange request from the band.

We sat down, and at 7:30, all suddenly went dark. The screaming immediately began. And then Halsey came out on stage, with flashing lights accompanying all of her singing. She wasn't bad. She had lots of positive messages accompanying her singing -- something about a generation born of diversity that isn't afraid of change, and something else about how no one owns you but yourself.

When Halsey was finished, the lights came back on as equipment was moved around on the stage. I had the time to ponder just how many different kinds of people were out to see Imagine Dragons. I spied kids, preteens, teenagers, young adults, and older adults, all coming together.

Then Metric came out. Metric positively made me deaf. Another girl was the lead singer, which I thought was interesting. More positive messages about staying true to yourself, and more flashing lights.

There was another, longer pause, and then at 9:30 Imagine Dragons came out. And they. Were fucking. INCREDIBLE. Mom and I every so often looked over and grinned incredulously at each other throughout the absolutely insane performance. They pulled out all the stops: They made their silhouettes appear behind a screen before the screen fell to reveal them, just as Linkin Park had at Projekt Revolution. There were lights, smoke machines, lasers, and leaf colored confetti that fell from the ceiling when they were singing about fall leaves.

One moment was kind of funny. The lead singer was introducing the bass player, who was dressed all in white. "He was his high school class president, just in case you were wondering," he joked. "He also took a chemistry scholarship and used it to go to music school. And now look at him. What a disappointment."

People waved their cell phones around, stood, sang along to the music, clapped, screamed, waved, and danced around. I was up on my feet for most of their set, dancing and screaming and waving my arms around. The lead singer was a great showman -- he was all over the place, jumping around, getting the audience involved. He teared up a few times when people kept cheering in the middle of his song -- he said the band had come a long way in four short years, and he made sure to thank everybody for coming out tonight. He also said he'd struggled for years with depression, which I thought was interesting.

All in all, it was an incredible night. I'm so glad we went. We didn't get back home till midnight.

Fun Times

Jul. 12th, 2015 03:47 pm
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
So far, my most important blog posts have all been fairly depressing. So this time, I'm going to reflect on fun memories and things I enjoy doing.

I've indulged in many hobbies throughout my lifetime. Musically, I've taken guitar and swing dancing lessons, and sung in several choirs. (My vocal range is closest to the range of Hayley from Paramore and Florence from Florence + The Machine. I've sung both soprano and alto.) I've also engaged in a multitude of sports: yoga, pilates, ballet, tap dance, horseback riding, ice skating, swimming, rollerblading, and karate. I like to hop from activity to activity, getting a little bit of everything. Even now that I'm not involved in any sports, I enjoy taking invigorating walks.

In high school, I spent a year in NJROTC. That's right, I once considered a career in the military. I found the other members of my squad to be far too focused on winning competitions and far less focused on comradeship, so that didn't last long.

(My commanding officer was my favorite. Once, during our mile runs, I threw up and passed out. He backed away from me quickly, commanded me to throw up far away from him, and then didn't help me back to the classroom -- he waited until I'd woken back up and could walk myself. Another time, a mock torture interrogation was given. The interrogator kept asking the commanding officer to stand up. Said commanding officer hid in the back, because he considered his life much more important than ours'.)

I spent one summer taking acting classes, and indulged in plenty of creative writing classes even before college. I took a photography class once. I was for a while as a kid involved in a Christian youth group. In middle school, I was in the honors society.

I've been to several concerts.

My first concert was a Hilary Duff concert, all the way back when I was a little girl. (I loved the Disney show Lizzie McGuire, and admired Hilary Duff for being a strong, human, three-dimensional girl without feeling the need to act like a bitch all the time. She was sweet and wholesome, but not weak or docile. Or at least, that's how she always came across to me. I really respected that. I admire Taylor Swift for the same reason.)

My aunt took me. Everyone else was just standing still in the dark, listening to the music. (They were mostly adults, there on the behest of their young daughters.) I couldn't understand that at all! How could people stay still when they listened to music? I was dancing and jumping around like crazy, having the time of my life!

My next concert was a rock festival in high school. I had a best friend in high school; she was very into dyed hair, goth fashion, morbid humor, and rock music. She invited me and we went to see the very first iteration of the Projekt Revolution festival. I got to see My Chemical Romance, Linkin Park, and Mindless Self Indulgence all in one day.

Certain memories stick out. At the Mindless Self Indulgence show, which was on the small stage during the heat of the day, Jimmy jumped up on top of one of the speakers while singing. It began swaying precariously and some roadie had to run out in a panic and hold it in place. Jimmy had tall, huge hair I could see from all the way at the back of the audience, and he wore a long, shiny coat that had "As Seen On TV" on the back of it. Lyndsey was wearing noticeable, skintight hot pink pants, and she had girl thighs, which meant she was a girl playing at a rock concert, and that was SO COOL.

After MSI, we bought Projekt Revolution T shirts and bags, and made our way to the big stage where all the major bands were playing that night. I still remember how hilariously people were dressed -- dark clothes and eye makeup. It was all so cliche. (People who dress to fit a certain style make me giggle inside. They look funny.)

That night, we sat away from the main part of the show, on a grassy hill above the stadium. We lay back in the grass and could see the stars as the music played. On one side of us was a group of teens smoking pot -- a security guard kept coming up to them and scolding them; countless times, they would move to go away, and then when she left they just sat right back down and started smoking pot again. On our other side was a couple making out on a blanket.

At one point, we looked around and they'd disappeared. My friend and I stared at each other. "Oh my God -- they exploded from lack of oxygen!" We both started laughing hysterically.

Taking Back Sunday was godawful, but for the most part the shows on the big stage were really good. My Chemical Romance stood out as the best of the night, a bunch of black-garbed skeletons jumping around on the faraway stage. At one point, a girl threw a pair of underwear at Gerard on the stage. He picked it up to show the audience. "Huh huh -- cool," he said, thus proving himself to be every man playing at a rock concert ever.

Linkin Park were probably the best showmen. They started out behind a screen, the flashing lights turning them into ghostly silhouettes -- the screen slowly raised to reveal them standing there. They played videos full of nature footage on the stage behind them as they did their set. They thanked their fans for sticking with them, because they'd just changed their entire sound recently.

("BOO!" my friend called as they spoke. She hated their new sound.)

All in all, it was a pretty incredible day.

I also saw MSI separately once at the House of Blues. I stood on the ground floor in the back, shadowed, away from the crowds, wearing a long black coat, watching underage teens grab bottles of beer from off to the side and no one stop them. (One pair of teens had come from hours away just to hear MSI in concert.)

One man dressed like Jimmy was so high, he kept stumbling to the back of the audience and passing out. Then he'd just get right back up and throw himself into the fold to dance again. A thirty-year-old man once asked my high school aged friend to dance. (She said no -- over and over again as he kept asking, pretending not to hear her.)

MSI's predecessors were funny -- "I'm gonna throw up all over this keyboard and it's gonna be really fuckin' funny," said one musician with long white hair, grinning as he chugged water.

Jimmy was particularly outrageous that night. He took a soiled pair of underwear thrown at him onstage, and tied it around his head like a bandana. He also invited a girl in a Tigger costume to come up on stage and dance with him. ("This is going all over YouTube! I'm really gonna get a job at Kinko's -- yeah, like a fuckin' tigger!" Jimmy shouted gleefully.) At the end, he led everyone in a mock prayer for all the drunk and high people not to get pulled over tonight.

I've also been to San Diego Comic Con twice. Both times were with my sister and an aunt and uncle, though for one of the cons I met my friends there and went off to spend most of the day with them. Comic Con is incredibly crowded -- I once was physically carried away by a mob -- and has incredibly long lines -- one line once had so many twists and turns it made me nauseous; we got to the front only to be turned away because the auditorium was already at full capacity. But the excitement in the air is so palpable, the convention center so vast, that it's pretty hard not to enjoy yourself, decked out as you are with your bags and badges.

Some images stand out:

A necklace made out of clock parts. A bunch of fairy art. Countless little comic booklets. Shelves full of manga volumes. A massive LEGO statue.

I met Chandra Free there, and also Jhonen Vasquez. Jhonen signed things for a friend and for my sister. He rarely looked up from his signing, so he never actually physically saw me, and frankly he seemed pretty bored (though no one seemed to notice that but me). One teenage girl with blue pigtails asked him to sign her sandwich. He seemed rather bewildered and amused. He tried to sign the sandwich, but ended up dotting his name because it was surprisingly hard to write on wheat bread.

So don't get me wrong. I have had fun, too. An incredible amount of it, actually.

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Hopeless Dreamer

March 2016

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