pretty is not important

Last night, the summer solstice combined with the second Sagittarius full moon of 2016, creating a sort of cocktail mixture of intensity and vibrancy and urges to dwell among the untrodden ways, all William Wordsworth-style. This full moon also happened to be what we call a "blue moon." Full moons illuminate that hidden stuff hanging out right beneath the surface of your consciousness, expanding mental capacities and liberating your senses. Blue moons drag you out of your comfort zone and make you look at things you may not want to see. 

In other words, last night was an existential crisis waiting to happen. Maybe you became acutely aware of your own mortality and experienced a sudden desire to re-read Hamlet. No? Just me?

This season, I've been thinking a lot about what makes people who they are. Because oftentimes, I feel all over the place. One day I'm wearing all black, high heels, smeared eyeliner and feel ready reject male advances while I lean against a pole smoking a cigarette, smirking and saying things like "in your dreams, babe." The next day I'm tearing up watching the sunset, taking walks through fields and putting flowers in my pocket. 

My friend Zack recently said to me, "your online persona is my favorite." And while that definitely thrilled me, it also sort of took me aback; I know he only said that because he thinks it's all an act, a front, and that who I ~really~ am is that aforementioned sentimental, cloudy-eyed girl. Maybe I am, but there's a reason my online presence gives off a certain vibe; social media gives me control over how I'm perceived, and what I've chosen is the bitch wearing all black. 

What I'm wondering, I guess, is who is more real: the person you can't seem to escape, or the person you actively try to become? 

There seems to be a general census that if you're trying to be a certain way, you're putting on a mask. A mask is inherently disingenuous. But I think that line of thinking generally stems from adolescence and trying to fit in, i.e. trying to be "cool" or acting a certain way so that people will like you. 

When I draft a tweet or edit a photo for Instagram, that's not how I feel. I don't feel like a seventh grader hiding my Panic! At The Disco playlist on the school bus, opting instead to play "Pon de Replay" by Rihanna loud enough so that I know the popular girl will hear me (...a fictional story, obviously). Rather, I feel like I'm taking conscious steps to reflect to the outer world how I want to be, and, thus, how I want people to see me. 

Like I said, I've been thinking about this a lot recently, especially because I'm about to begin a brand new job in July. This summer will be completely different than any other I've had; since I was 16 I've worked with kids, namely at the sleep-away camp I attended as a camper for five years. Camp creates an environment that rejects judgement and fosters acceptance. As counselors, we actively encourage carefree attitudes in our kids; they come to camp to feel weightless, to be free from the grips of social media, to wear ridiculous clothes to dinner and laugh about it instead of shying away from being different. 

Now I'm entering what some may call "the real world." And I am very aware that I will be judged—my performance hopefully more so than my looks, but especially as an intern (read: bottom of the food chain), my goal is to impress. 

As a general rule, I've always tried to set goals for myself that revolved around inner fulfillment, not physical appearance. In March of last year, I wrote in my journal: "nothing is permanent, nothing stays. Pretty is not important." October, 2014: "reevaluate your own values and beliefs. Stay organized. Refrain from comparing yourself to others. It is not your job to be likable. It is not your job to be visually pleasing to anyone." 

I stand by those sentiments. And sure, sometimes I get upset about not having a boy to cuddle with and people not texting me back, and then I remember that this is just a little flesh suit and it's just a temporary vessel in the vast and unknowable chasm of space and time. I remember that being attractive is nothing compared to being kind. I remember that looks are overrated, that I would rather be confident, powerful, ambitious and strong.

My talents and ambitions have nothing to do with what shapes and textures of cloth I  drape on top of my limbs, or what colors I smear on the lids that protect my eyeballs, or how long my hair is. But I also know that people search for confidence in all kinds of places. I know that emotional responses are as valuable as intellectual responses. I know that relationships are finite, moments are finite, people are finite, but our desires to love, to see and be seen are infinite; that they surpass our own deaths and our own fears. I know that sometimes, decorating your body however you choose can be its own kind of weapon, its own kind of revolution; its own kind of confidence.

Someone told me once that in landing an interview, having the right attitude is half the battle. Recently, I've found more and more that I feel more self-assured when I am feeling cuter than anyone who has ever hurt me. Putting serious thought into my "aesthetic," into the vibes I give off, has given me something fun and harmless to look forward to in the morning, which helpfully overpowers the existential dread I feel when I think about working in a cubicle from 9-5 every day for the rest of my life.

I'm looking forward to using this Summer of Newness to stay present in my goals, to continue unlearning how to unlove my body, to practice my worthiness of being seen and to buy as many Kylie Jenner lip kits as possible. 

My continually-expanding Summer 2016 Vision Board: