More Newfound Post-Study Abroad Personality Changes Made Evident Via College

An acquaintance recently told me that I looked really good. I think it’s thanks to my increase in confidence and apathy for trivial matters.

Trivial matters (n, plural):

  • How I look when I’m walking across a room with strangers in it
  • Always being polite and bubbly and accommodating. (However, I am usually friendly and polite, just not at an anxiety-provoking level like before.)
  • How I look when I eat lunch alone or walk places by myself.
  • How/if I’m judged if I buy “embarrassing” items like pads or tampons or prunes (freaking love them) or things of that sort.
    • Writing about said items on a public domain. We all buy them anyway- why hide it?

I harbor absolutely zero envy or admiration for a few people I used to think were super cool. Priorities and world view have shifted.

And finally:

I’ve also noticed that since returning to Facebook for the school year, my posts haven’t garnered as much validation by my peers as they used to. That doesn’t make me question my sense or humor or self: instead, I think that I’m diverging from what was perhaps more typical Wes humor. Or just exposing my current sense of self more publicly. That’s very good with me.

Update 10/8/15: Today, I had many backs-and-forths with a highly regarded evolution professor and I was not intimidated. I WAS NOT INTIMIDATED! And I was able to make mistakes in front of her and talk, while the grad student next to me was timid! What a huge change! I used to be very nervous around profs, but not anymore!!!

The Media: How to Deal?

As with innumerable topics right now, I’m seriously confused about how to embrace the media.

It’s true that the media is a shapeless, massive conglomeration of sources, voices, biases, and subjects. So, I really shouldn’t generalize it. So, let me start small.

Here are some of the major media sources that affect me daily:

-Newspaper

-Televised news or programs

-Magazines

-Advertising

-Radio

-Social Media

This morning, I settled into a recent publication of The Intelligent Optimist. Thank goodness that I have access to these sources- without them, I’d shrivel into a little raisin of hopelessness! Anyway, about six articles in, I felt my body relax into the equivalent of a literary hug. These days, I feel like I’m constantly fighting external sources, like the media, that threaten my mental wellbeing. Anyone ever quit social media for some mental respite? What about install an ad blocker on your computer so you could avoid constantly advertisements? Fast-forwarding commercials on your TiVo, changing the radio station when the ads come on, tearing out two-sided advertisements in magazines before you venture to read it? (The last one may just be me.) It truly feels like I’m waging a war against these sneaky poisons. Once you’ve seen the documentaries that highlight the correlations between the power of airbrushed models and stick-thin adolescents or recognize that lawyer’s jingle twenty years after you heard the commercials, it’s hard (at least, for me) to cede control. Those years of work I’ve put in to protect myself are priceless.

By the way, want to reduce the ceaseless self-comparison that Facebook promotes but still enjoy the site? Try this demetricator!

Ok, so, where were we…

My aunt is a valiant proponent of prison reform and has thus endured oceans of mental turmoil over her years of progress. She can deeply appreciate books with content whose difficulty is just as rewarding in measure. Lately, all I’ve wanted to read are lighter, more neutral books about the genome or Dublin or Miss Brodie and her gang. Does this mean that it’s 1) not the right time in my life to attempt to conquer more stressful books, 2) I should just get a thicker skin and read them, or 3) possibly never read them if I maintain this level of stress throughout my life? There are some forms of art I hope to never fully “appreciate”, such as horror movies. I deem the value of those to be less than a highly regarded Toni Morrison novel (yes, I’m judging.) How strong is the “should” in terms of me reading those difficult books? Says whom?

How important is it that I expose myself, day after day, to the atrocities I hear on the news? I understand that it’s important to be aware of current events. However, it seems like, because they get so much of a reaction, media outlets doggedly communicate the grisliest news stories about killings, crimes, and negative anythings. Are there any news sources out there that are truly neutral and report for the sake of informing the world and not for personal gain?

My dad wisely exhorts me to read multiple, varied media outlets for my news. This also extends to reading magazines about life in the west, anarchy, Waldorf philosophy, and photography, among others, to gain a better view of what’s out there beyond my sphere.

How responsible am I to learn about what’s going on thousands of miles away from my little house, concerning people I’ll never meet? I know this sounds exceedingly close-minded and naive. However, stay with me: if those news stories act as punches being blown to my mental stability, day after day, what’s the proper course of action?

It’s amazing when one small story can bring a massive community together. Even better when it begets real change.

If my career has an activism aspect to it, is that enough? What’s enough?