Freshly Painted Walls

Inhale the scent of freshly painted walls.

Exhale the tears.

Words and thoughts are stopped up inside, as though she has forgotten how to be. What is actually wrong? What causes this breathless sobbing, this hatred of self, this feeling that every ill is deserved?

The answer evades her, and the answer-less question pulls her under.

And quitting. It sounds nice.

More than nice. It’s something she years for, aches for. Quitting–she would take it in the form of death, or even just an accident. Like falling down the stairs or getting hit by a car. But the children?

She could never do that to them.

Therefore, suffering alone is her only option. The only option in which she gets what she deserves.

So continue crying in the bathroom, weak one–against the freshly painted wall. But be quiet, for the children might hear.

The Good, the Bad, and the Dirty of Electronic Communication

In our modern day and age, we live, thrive, and survive on electronic devices. As most adults of my generation or older, however, we know what life is like without electronic communication because we were raised in a time before they were commonplace. For some of us who fall under that category, there is the belief that we don’t need them because “back in my day, we got by just fine without them.”

But is that belief, or statement, true? Can we really get by just fine today without electronic communication?

No matter how supportive you are of electronic communication, you can admit that there are negative sides to it. For instance, personal family relationships can be strained. We all know about the family sitting at the dinner table in silence, the only sound being that of beeping or clicking phone screens or electronic devices. While I believe this can be harmful to personal and family relationships, I also believe that putting the blame on the devices themselves is counterproductive and naïve. Let’s put the blame back where it lies: with the people who don’t have enough discipline to put them down, or make their children put them down, during personal, critical moments. Set rules for yourself and your family.

We all know of the additional argument that electronic devices distract people, especially while driving, and cause harm. Someone walks into a pole while walking and texting. Someone crashes while driving and texting. We hear about this happening, so we know it’s an issue. But again, don’t blame the device. Blame the person.

One reason people see electronics as a problem is that people become dependent on them. Again, not the device’s fault. Let me shout it once more, for those in the back: IT IS NOT THE ELECTRONIC DEVICE’S FAULT.

Then there is the issue that people aren’t living in the here and now, because they’re always trapped in their devices. I have an opinion on this. My boyfriend and I went to Kauai, Hawaii last spring. It is breathtakingly gorgeous there, as you’d expect. One line of advice I got from someone before I went was to “unplug.” To be there, live in the moment, soak it up.

Well, for me, part of living it is documenting it. I have a horrible memory, especially since getting my chronic illnesses five years ago, and if we had not taken as many pictures as we did, there is no way I would have remembered every inch of that island we toured. We documented it, every last moment, so that we could go back later and relive it.

Another way electronic devices can be beneficial is the communication it allows us to have with people all across the world. Technology isn’t evil, contrary to the belief of some people I have known. Nor is social media. If it weren’t for social media, I never would have met other writers, I never would have met others with chronic illness, and I would never have landed my first publishing contract. I would have remained solitary. I would have continued thinking I was alone in this world, as a writer and a sufferer of chronic illness. My internet people—my support system—are the only way I made it through some very trying times a few years back.

Don’t ignore your family and friends in your immediate life. But it’s okay to spread your wings and meet other people from across the world—people like you, going through the same things as you.

On that note, I would also argue that social media and electronic communication is great for keeping in touch with those family and friends in your immediate life, too. For someone like me—an introvert who is deathly afraid of talking on the phone—social media and texting has been the best thing for keeping family relationships alive. Especially when you live states away from those people.

And speaking of being deathly afraid of the phone, I have to praise the convenience of texting. I mean it when I say afraid. My social anxiety is at maximum levels when having to speak on the phone with someone. Put me in front of a crowded room and make me give a lecture, but don’t make me talk on the phone (and that says a lot for me, given that I’d rather eat bees than give a lecture). I get shaky, I get palpitations. I sweat. I can’t focus. I’m telling you: texting was the best invention. So next time you decide to dog someone for preferring to text over call, or you think it’s too impersonal, remember that there are people with serious anxiety disorders that prevent them from calmly being able to tackle the same everyday things you can do.

By now you probably know what my conclusion is on this subject. I think it’s impossible to be in this world we live now days without relying on electronic devices. It’s the modern time we’re living in. I’m not saying I think everyone should give in and buy that tablet or iPhone. I’m just saying to stop griping about the people who do use them. If you want to be a part of this world we live in, and you want to succeed, electronic devices are necessary.

Be responsible, of course. That goes without saying. You have control over how often you use the device, when you use it, and how dependent you become on it. Enjoy what technology has given us. Connect with people. But be smart.

Stop Selfie Shaming

Yes, I’m writing a blog post about selfies. This is more of a rant than anything else, but it’s something I feel I had to say. Selfies have such a negative rap, and I want to change that. Why? Because—and repeat after me—selfies are harmless.

I know! I couldn’t believe it either. But it’s true. Guess what? It’s okay to show the world your beautiful face!

Someone I follow on social media posted a selfie the other day and prefaced it with, “I don’t normally post selfies because I’m not self-absorbed, but…” and I wanted to scream. Not only is that an unhealthy way of thinking, but that is so insulting to the people who do post selfies on a regular basis. You’re calling them out, calling them self-absorbed, when—reality check—most people who post selfies are actually quite opposite of self-absorbed.

Again, I know. I couldn’t believe that either. And I have a deeper opinion on why and who has this unhealthy way of thinking, but I’m not going to get into that.

I know, for myself, I have always struggled with self-image. Always, from the time I was a child, I never felt my physical appearance was good enough, for one reason or another. Long story short, later in life, I discovered that I have what is called Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). I have always loathed my physical appearance, from my ears down to my feet.

And what did I loathe worse than my physical appearance? Pictures of me taken by other people. I always loved being the one behind the camera, the one taking all the pictures. So, usually, that was my job. Which meant that I was rarely in the pictures. I was okay with that, but what I was not okay with was looking back through old photos and seeing the ones I was in, and wanting to set everything on fire, including myself.

Let me tell you, I am not a photogenic person. No matter what, every person who has ever taken a picture of me has always managed to get a bad angle, a bad smile, catch me in the middle of an awkward expression, etc.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized I could take a picture of myself, and I could control the angle. I can still have pictures of myself, to document different stages of my life, without wanting to set everything on fire.

It was quite a liberating experience. I imagine it is for many people, not just those who suffer from BDD or similar issues, but for your average, run-of-the-mill person.

I take selfies because I don’t think there is anything wrong with finally showing the world who I am. I take selfies because I want to feel empowered. I take selfies because pictures of me with bad angles make me want to—you guessed it—set everything on fire. And I don’t like feeling that way.

Who says we need to keep our faces behind the camera? Who says we need to hate ourselves? I’ll tell you who: the people who think selfies are self-absorbed, gratuitous, and wrong. How about instead of looking down on people who post selfies, accept that that person is probably really struggling with their self-image and it took a lot for them to show the world. Or maybe that person isn’t struggling with their self-image at all. Maybe they just want to show the world who they are.

Guess what? THAT. IS. OKAY.

Time to drop the archaic way of thinking and accept that we, as human beings, are all unique and beautiful individuals, and some of us want to show that to the world. I, for one, love selfies. Keep posting them, people. Keep showing the world who you are and stop being ashamed of it.