While I Was Away…

Holy cow it’s been nine whole days since I’ve made a post! To all of my amazing readers, I apologize! I haven’t been just sitting around twiddling my thumbs and watching Say Yes To The Dress though.  Here are all of the things I’ve been up to that have prevented me from blogging.

1. Playing gigs with my band

2. Practicing with my band and learning Christmas songs

3. Writing a paper

4. Writing a paper about how I wrote the previous paper

5. Writing the midterm assignment paper

6. Studying for the midterm

7. Taking the midterm

8. Modeling in a local fashion show

9. Ugly crying with joy over my new PS4

10. Hitting that busy point where essentials such as eating and sleeping are something you need to “make time for”.

So yeah, that’s what I’ve been up to lately! I’m grateful that God has put these things in my life to keep me busy, but at the same time, finding a balance between OH MY GOSH SO STRESSFUL SO MUCH ANXIETY GET AWAY FROM ME EVERY SECOND OF MY TIME IS PRECIOUS AND IF I FAIL THIS MIDTERM I WILL END UP AS A HOBO and “Oh no, I don’t need to get that done right now.  I can definitely watch 10 more episodes of Parks and Recreation in the mean time.  Wait, midterm, what midterm?” is tricky.  Hearing God’s voice in the din of our hectic lives can be even harder.  But I don’t think God is limited to speaking to us in absolute silence, although that is one of the best ways for us to listen to Him.  He’s everywhere.  He places events, opportunities, and people in our lives and speaks through them.  And maybe being silent doesn’t mean retreating to a cabin in the middle of nowhere (although that certainly sounds appealing sometimes).  Can we be silent anywhere? I don’t mean not saying a word at all, to anyone.  I mean can our hearts be silent? Can our minds? I know my mind is like the Energizer Bunny with ADD.  The average person thinks 50,000 thoughts per day, but mine certainly feels like millions and millions are going crazy in my head.  Oh, and that doesn’t mean that they’re intelligent thoughts or anything.  Most of them are crazy stories or characters I make up or hypothetical situations with a .1% chance of happening where I have to make a huge decision that will decide the fate of the universe.  A lot of it is just junk stuff though, i.e. worry.  And that’s a bigger waste of brain cells than reality TV.  One of the keys that I’ve learned to being interiorly silent is getting rid of worry.  Think of stressful thoughts and anxiety as some doofus with a megaphone that won’t shut up.  He insults you, doubts you, makes you feel bad about yourself, and just annoys you until you can’t take it anymore.  And every time you listen to him, the megaphone gets bigger and bigger.

He’s like this @$&^!*$* from Duck Hunt.  Grr.

So how do we shut this guy up? It’s simple: we have to shut up.  Because guess what? PLOT TWIST.  That laughing dog is your own subconscious! *gasp* And every time the dog – you – tells you something negative and you buy it, you’re cutting yourself off from hearing what God has to say to you.  Why? Because God only wants to tell us positive things.  Not like, “Hey, Julia, I’m letting you off the hook with that paper! Go do whatever you want to!” but “Hey, Julia, I know what you’re dealing with now and it’s all going to be ok because I love you and I will never leave you to handle it alone.”

That sounds like a pretty awesome message to me, but unfortunately, we let our crazy lives and all the worries that go with them get in the way of hearing it.  So, what I’ve learned and what I’m telling you here is to think happy! And trust me, I’m not this type of person at all, although I’d like to be:

It’s more like having a realistic yet positive outlook on life.  And yes, despite the awful, horrible crap that we all go through, despite the atrocious things humanity does to one another, despite that weight on your shoulders right now, and despite the fact that Degrassi is *still* on, we all have a reason to be positive.  A guy that maybe you’ve never even met or talked to died for you, specifically.  He didn’t die for the human race.  He died for you.  And He died for your mom, specifically.  For your brother, specifically.  For your friend.  Because He loves each of us personally and intimately.  And here’s more good news: you can trust Him with everything.  You can trust that when He says that He’s there for you, He will be there.  Basically, you are never, ever, ever alone.  So finally, being truly silent isn’t equivalent to becoming a mime.  Being truly silent is having a heart that blocks out the noise of negativity we try to tell ourselves and is constantly in union with God.  It’s almost like an unending phone conversation with God without the awkward silence on either end when you run out of things to talk about.  Sometimes it’s just knowing that He’s on the other line.  In our crazy, busy, noisy world, the silence of God is what gets us through with joy and peace.

– Julia

100 Things That I’ve Learned

One of my grandfather’s favorite things to tell me was that you learn something new every day.  I believe in that, but have found that life only teaches us when we pay attention.  I’m only seventeen years old, but lately I’ve been trying to listen to life’s lessons.   Here are 100 things that I’ve learned so far.

1. Let yourself learn something new every day

2. God isn’t in the thunder and the lightning, but in the whispers of our hearts

3. Push yourself to do better

4. Don’t be too hard on yourself 

5. God, family, food 

6. Nobody likes to listen to the dream you had last night.  Nobody.  

7. Popcorn tastes incredible on hot dogs

8. Don’t let your mind wander if you can’t bring it back 

9. Your mom can be your best friend

10. So can your dad

11. Everything in moderation

12. Listen to new music

13. Make sure that who you are is who you want to be

14. Nobody else can do what you were meant to do

15. You are never, ever alone

16. Appreciate nature

17. Think 

18. Write it out

19. Read the classics.  

20. Read the new stuff. 

21. Just read a lot, in general 

22. The Rain Song by Led Zeppelin is the best song to cry to

23. Take a risk.  Take a chance.  Make a change.  

24. Give social media a break

25. Call your grandma

26. Learn the family stories 

27. Popularity is ridiculously overrated 

28. You don’t need a million “best” friends

29. Money isn’t everything, but it’s important

30. You can’t make big decisions by yourself.  Pray a lot 

31. Be well-rounded

32. Be generous

33. Be grateful always

34. But don’t be a jerk

35. Always check to see if you have something between your teeth after meals

36. Be kind to your waiter

37. Do NOT order Italian food at a non-Italian restaurant

38. Don’t do things halfway

39. Let your walls down

40. Being vulnerable is not the worst thing in the world

41. Apologize, even if the other person doesn’t

42. Don’t freak out if you feel like your teen years aren’t the “best of your life.”  The best is yet to come

43. It’s never as good as it seems, it’s never as bad as it seems 

44. Please, cut down on the selfies 

45. Be respectful and polite to everyone

46. But don’t be a doormat.  That’s bad 

47. There is only one you.  Therefore, you are unique.  Let it show

48. Keep your promises

49. It’s okay to be sad

50. “Lighten up, Francis” 

51. Laugh at yourself

52. Don’t laugh at other people.  Laugh near other people. (Just kidding)  

53. Get out of your comfort zone

54. Just breathe

55. Don’t set your expectations way up in space.  That’s a good way to get disappointed 

56. Keep your standards high, though

57. Don’t forget your sense of humor

58. Put an end to procrastination (insert obligatory procrastination joke here) 

59. Develop your personal style

60. THIS DOES NOT MEAN ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING GOES 

61. It’s OK to be a nerd

62. It’s OK to be a jock

63. It’s OK to be a prep 

64. It’s great to be yourself

65. You have a talent.  Find it

66. Introverts are not better than extroverts.  Extroverts are not better than introverts

67. If you love something, show it

68. Don’t base your life expectations on TV 

69. Be eclectic.  You can like The Civil Wars and Avenged Sevenfold at the same time

70. Don’t live in the past

71. Don’t live in the future

72. You don’t have to agree with everything

73. Avoid cliches.  (anyone else tired of the bacon thing?) 

74. Don’t be ignorant, but please, if you like a celebrity DON’T READ THEIR WIKIPEDIA BIO 

75. Be a good listener

76. RELAX

77. Believe in Santa Claus

78. Give your mom a hug when you wake up

79. Let suffering make you a better person

80. Little kids can teach you important lessons

81. BUTTERFLIES ARE TERRIFYING CLOSE UP – http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20121119015627/spongebob/images/thumb/7/79/Wormy_Butterfly_Close.jpg/640px-Wormy_Butterfly_Close.jpg

82. Write down your inside jokes so you don’t forget them

83. Give things and people a chance, for crying out loud

84. Don’t live just to be “in a relationship”

85. Video games are art (try The Last of Us, Journey, or Kingdom Hearts if you don’t believe me) 

86. Be humble

87. You are loved

88. Ask questions and find answers 

89. Just care

90. Be proud of yourself

91. Get excited

92. Face your fears

93. Silence is golden.  Unnecessary chattering is that old penny you saw in the gutter with gum stuck to it 

94. Separate opinion from fact 

95. Let yourself laugh

96. Let yourself cry

97. Punch apathy right in the kisser

98. Just say no to uggs

99. Your life is meaningful

100. Make it worth remembering 

– Julia

Quotes That Make Me Want To Rip My Hair Out

The Daily Suck

Call me a cynic, but there are some “inspirational” quotes out there that are just overused, stupid, or give downright terrible advice on how to live.  The following are some the worst of the worst, a mix of the ones we’ve all seen and ones that I’ve just found in that magical land called the internet.  Let the eye-rolling commence! 

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*Face palm* This one is numero uno on the list because it does a fantastic job of summarizing what’s wrong with the world: never taking responsibility for our actions.  Guess what? Regret is what lets you know when you’ve made a bad choice.  Ignoring that little voice that goes off in our heads when we know something is wrong is to deny a fundamental part of our selves.  Regret helps me to learn from all of my mistakes, and just because you accept regret doesn’t mean you have to live with it.  Just acknowledge that what you did was wrong, fix it, and move on.  But no regrets? Ok.  Let me go rob a bank.  When I’m sitting in jail I’ll try to remember this one.

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Ugh.  I suppose this one at it’s core isn’t essentially bad, but once again we’ve twisted it into something bad.  It’s ok when you’re like 8 and everything that makes you happy is innocent, but once you’re older? There’s a lot of things in this world that make you feel happy at the moment, but are actually terrible for you in the long run.  But, yeah, you just go ahead and do whatever makes you feel good! The National Institution of BS has said that this is the best way for you to actually find true happiness.

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There are simply no words here.  Just…why? For the love of common sense just why? Does being young really give you the right to do whatever you want? Does being any age give you the right to do whatever you want? Just imagine me freaking out Planet-Of-The-Apes-Charlton-Heston style, only replace the Statue Liberty with good judgement.  And you maniacs just blew it up.

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I hate this one not because I love to hold grudges, but because I have self-respect.  Forgiving is not forgetting.  Like at all.  Forgive people? Yes, absolutely.  I am an advocate for forgiveness 100%.  But forgetting? Not so much.  It’s just not fair to yourself if someone hurts you and you just act like it never happened.  I’m not saying that you have to relive the pain that this person caused you every second of every day, but this way you won’t let anyone take advantage of you.  Let’s say that you invite a friend to a movie and they blow you off.  It sucks, but they apologize, you forgive them, and then everything is good again.  But what if it happens a second time? Or a third or fourth? Eventually, the only person you can blame is yourself because you’re just “forgiving and forgetting” and letting yourself get hurt in the process.  And that’s not cool.

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Ok, now I am not an emotionless, evil, Nazi who’s just saying to “get over it”.  I’m not.  But is this for real? For your own sake, you would actually snatch the person you love out of eternal happiness and bring them back to earth? Trust me, I understand what it’s like to miss somebody, but this is just selfishness.  The person you love is indescribably happy where they are.  Would you really want to take that away from them? If you love someone, you only want them to be happy, even if that means they’re not with you.  And personally, if I was in heaven, I wouldn’t be too happy about coming back to a world where MTV exists.  

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This is one those quotes that I’m just so sick of.  I got it at first, but after seeing it for the billionth time, I was done.  You know what? Say what you freaking mean.  If someone close to you asks you how you’re doing, at least give them the respect to tell the truth.  And if you have a problem, stop being a coward and hiding behind “fine”.  It takes guts to say how you really feel, but it’s so much better than bottling it up.  Also, am I the only one who’s noticed that when girls say this, they say it in the most obvious “I’m not actually fine, tell me I’m pretty” way? So what’s even the point of lying?

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Lastly, we have yet another YOLO-type deal.  Sure, if you obey all the rules, you may miss the fun of breaking and entering (fun?), but you’ll also miss that criminal record.  Fun stuff right there.  Basically, rules of all kinds are there to protect us, and yeah, maybe you’ll miss out on whatever your idiot friends say is fun, but your thirty-year-old self will thank you later.  And as far as moral rules go, the same applies.  Don’t do something against your values because it looks fun.  The dark side will offer you cookies, but trust me, those little chocolate chips are actually raisins.  

– Julia

Keeping Your Head When You’re In Love With Love

The Daily Suck

Even though I suck at being a teenage girl, there is one thing that I share with my peers and that thing is being in love with love.  Yes, I’ll admit it.  The girl who loves video games and tries her best to be an individual is still a seventeen-year-old teenager who’s a huge sucker for romance.  Although I don’t enjoy the Nicholas Sparks or Twilight-esque kinds of stuff, I will go nuts for a really well-done love story.  I kind of get really super annoyed when that part of me flares up, as I know it will only lead to sad songs on repeat and dramatically staring off into the distance while hoping that my one true love will just fall from the sky.

The logical side of my brain tells me to stop being such a girl, but my emotions just keep dreaming of my happily ever after and it really gets on my nerves.  Why? Because I know better than that.

All of us women know how this goes.  See an attractive male or a romance that’s just so perfectly romantic on TV or in a movie? That’s it.  Nobody could ever possibly be as incredible, as handsome, as witty, as irresistible as said character or as perfect as said romance and you will never EVER find happiness again.

There’s bad news and good news to this problem.

The bad news is that you’ll have your sad period where all of your emotions wage bitter war against your peace of mind.  The good news is that they’re only emotions, and by nature they will go away.  That’s not to say that your longing for love and acceptance will never go away; only that the feeling itself does not have to dictate your entire existence.

Let me lay down some groundwork for this post.  Firstly, every human being at some point or other has felt that ache for a meaningful relationship, myself included.  It’s like, when we see a love story that we really like, a light flashes in our hearts saying “That’s it! That’s what will make me happy!”.  This is partly true.  God has created us to be loved and to love in return and if you’re being called to marriage, than the fulfillment of that vocation will give you more earthly joy than you imagine.  Ready to get your mind blown? Listen up.  Love itself is not the feeling that you get when you look at someone.  When you say “I love you”, you are not telling that person “You make me feel good”.  Love is a choice.  In a world that has absolutely no understanding of that previous sentence, I’ll say it again.  Love is a choice.  Love means the total-giving of the self to another, so when you say “I love you” to somebody, you’re really saying “I would sacrifice myself for your sake”.  Pretty heavy, right? Unfortunately in our day, love is either said too carelessly or not even part of the equation at all.

Now just because we know the true meaning of love doesn’t mean that going about it is any easier.  If anything, learning the true, self-sacrificial meaning of love makes us want it even more because it’s so beautiful and romantic.  And it totally is.  Loving God and loving another person — whether as a boyfriend or girlfriend, parent, sibling, friend, whatever — is the single greatest thing that we as people can do.  It’s what we’re meant for.  And sometimes, it really sucks being in singlesville.  This next thing is one of the hardest lessons to learn for me personally, but it’s absolutely essential if you ever want to find happiness with your true love.  You cannot love another person utterly and completely until you love yourself.  This is extremely hard to do, especially on bad days, but I promise that it’s for the best. You absolutely cannot stake your happiness on finding that “special someone” because some days those happy feelings won’t be there or your boyfriend/girlfriend will make you mad and then you’re stuck because you never had that internal happiness of loving yourself in the first place.  I’m not saying it’s easy.  I struggle to be content with just myself, and it’s easy to fall in that trap of despairing of the existence of your future beloved, especially in our teen years.  Add the pressure of the media that says you just HAVE to be “in a relationship” and it makes for a pretty daunting task.  But you will thank yourself for deciding to truly love yourself in the long run.  Not to be melodramatic, but your entire future could literally count on this choice.  If you do not respect yourself as a person, you can never give that same respect to another.  In turn, they cannot give it to you.

So believe it or not, God puts these longings in our hearts for a reason.  We’re being called to love another person in marriage, which is an absolutely beautiful thing.  The tricky thing is keeping those horrendous things called emotions in check.  Not to say that you shouldn’t let yourself feel them, (which I’ve talked about: http://isuckatbeingateenagegirl.com/2013/08/26/i-hate-feelings-but-its-ok-to-feel/) but you can’t let them rule your head.  I get it.  I love love, romance, all that cheesy stuff, and that’s fine.  I want it so much, and I bet you have too at some point in your life.  And if you remember to be patient and love yourself, that person will come into your life one day.  But don’t let that dream ruin the life you have now.  Enjoy being single! Enjoy all the other people in your life that love you and, please, just love being yourself.  Get rid of all those expectations (and I don’t mean standards) and just take it day-by-day.  This is so hard to do as a teenager, and a lot of the time, I think we don’t have this romance that we desire because we’re just not ready.  So get ready! Work on becoming the person that makes you happy, and will eventually make someone else happy too.  Believe me, if it’s meant to happen, it will happen, as long as you listen to what God wants for you.  If your life is an amazing story, then you don’t want to rush into the next chapters.  Be in love with Chapter 1.  And once that person enters your life, you’ll be ready to be loved and love them in return.  Love is awesome.  And it’s worth waiting for.

– Julia

Labor Day Dream Jobs

The Daily Suck

First of all I’d like to apologize for no post yesterday! My entire day was completely filled with different events and I just didn’t have the time to write anything.  I’ll try my best to not let it happen again!

Anyway, onto today’s post: Labor Day Dream Jobs.

Happy Labor Day everyone! I’m extending a personal thank you to any working person reading this blog today. You are wonderful & should be proud of what you do! And special thanks to my Dad for working as hard as he does for as long as he has to get where he is today: I am so proud of him & all that he does to support our family!

Now even though I’m seventeen, I’ve never had a job.  I guess you could call me a professional musician, but I’ve never actually worked at a McDonald’s, Hollister, or the like.  In honor of Labor Day, I’ve put together a list of my dream jobs that range in both fields and likelihood (I took superhero off the list a while ago…like last week or something). 

1. Rock Star

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As you know, I’m the guitarist and singer in my band, Spinning Jenny, so my first obvious dream job is making it big and becoming a rock star! I love music & it would be incredible to write songs and perform for thousands or even millions of people all over the world.  Hopefully the band and I are on the right track to making this one a reality, but for now it’s still a dream I’m striving toward!
Pros: being able to make and play music for a living and sharing my songs with the entire world.  Plus the whole fame and fortune thing.
Cons: being away from home on tour and pre-show jitters! I hate being nervous and I always am before we play! It’s a minor thing compared to the rock star life though. 

2. Astronaut

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Who as a kid didn’t want to be an astronaut, right? Those men and women are amazing to me.  Space really is the final frontier and besides boldy going where no man has gone before (two Star Trek references in one sentence? Bam!), astronauts are incredibly intelligent and brave.  I’ve been in love with the idea and adventure of space travel ever since I was little and astronauts are the daring explorers of that vast unknown. 
Pros: I’d be a hero, get to float around in zero gravity (awesome!), and be up in space, a beauty that I can’t even imagine.
Cons: I am TERRIBLE at math, which I heard that astronauts use (go figure).  Also, space is beautiful, but those visits are long and the loneliness would be tough.

3. Archaeologist/Paleontologist

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When I was little, I had an animal obsession.  I collected all the zoo books, watched all the nature documentaries, and even got this monthly animal card collection in the mail.  I was especially into dinosaurs though, and still am to this day, but I also love learning about history and ancient cultures.  Conclusion: becoming an archaelogist or paleontologist is a no-brainer for this list.  Most of the work is just digging and digging and digging, but there’s always the promise of an incredible discovery that could be a major contribution to history and science, all while landing you in the history books.  Sounds good to me!
Pros: traveling the world and exploring ruins, discovering the mysteries of the dinosaurs and ancient cultures, and most importantly: wearing awesome hats like Indiana Jones and Dr. Allan Grant.
Cons: lots of careful and tedious digging, along with the fact that you don’t uncover anything earth-shattering most of the time.  But this old gum wrapper counts as a aritfact, right? Right?

4. Video game journalist/developer

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I LOVE video games.  Love to play them, read about them, write about them, well, you get the point.  And that’s why working in the gaming industry either as a reporter or actually on a development team is one of my dream jobs.  Nearly nothing makes me happier than being creative, and by being involved in the creation of a video game, I can do what I Iove and make great games at the same time.  Gaming journalism would be just as cool, and getting to cover huge events like E3 and meeting all the big names in the video game industry would be incredible.  It’s like getting paid to be a nerd!
Pros: getting to go to E3, Gamescom, and all the other big gaming events, plus helping to make awesome games!
Cons: meeting game development and journalism deadlines.  Ugh.  Also: having to work on the same game for years until it’s done…they take forever to make!

5. Author

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I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I am passionate about writing, so getting recognized and doing it for a living would be a dream! I’m not particular about what I write, whether it’s poetry, short stories, or even a novel, and would love getting any of those things published! Writing is my escape: I don’t worry about anything else when I’m doing it and I get to think up brand new worlds and people to explore.  Writing is how I express myself the best!
Pros: inspiring other people, getting to be creative, and potentially getting my novel turned into a multi-billion dollar movie franchise (hey, it can happen). 
Cons: I don’t need to remind myself of the whole “struggling writer” dynamic.  Most of the time writing doesn’t pay the bills, and dying penniless in a refrigerator box somewhere doesn’t sound like fun. On the bright side, there’s a certain romanticism to the hobo life & I’ve heard that hobos themselves are very non-judgemental. 

So on that note, those are my dream jobs! Are they a little far-fetched? Maybe, but Labor Day is about celebrating the people who work, and I’m willing to do just that to get where I want to go.  The real problem is: how do I decide between all these? Decisions, decisions.  Have a happy Labor Day!

– Julia

I Hate Hating On Haters

The Daily Suck

Haters? Those people are the worst! Why can’t they just smile and agree with every little decision that I make, all while proclaiming how awesome/right/gorgeous I am? I can do whatever I want, when I want! Haters…screw those guys!

Yeah, actually, no. 

Anybody else catching the irony here? By calling out your “haters,” like so, you are being a hater.  Not letting what other people think or say bother you is good (with some exceptions), but saying stuff like that in retaliation is not only rude and immature: it’s puts you on the same level as your so-called haters.  And that’s not the only thing. 

It’s important to know that people will always abuse the system and this is no different.  Instead of going with the healthy mindset of doing what you think is right (no matter if people try to bring you down) and listening to constructive criticism, we’ve gone with “I can do whatever I want and no hater can tell me that it’s wrong!” This is a problem.  We allow ourselves to do and say whatever we want or “feel like” by using name-calling and bashing as an excuse to ignore people who say anything we don’t want to hear.  Now I’m not saying that there aren’t some real jerks out there who say mean things for the sake of being mean, but somehow I’m thinking that most people who call out the haters just want to be praised ceaselessly for their skill with posing and Instagram filters. 

Let’s lay down some simple facts.

1. People who have different opinions than yours are not haters. 
I really can’t overstate this one enough.  As long as they are respectful of you and kind (and respect does NOT mean tolerance or agreement), people who have different opinions than yours are not haters.  Across issues large and small, this always holds true. 

2. Calling out your haters doesn’t make whatever you’re doing right; it only makes you sound obnoxious.
Like I said before, you don’t have to think what people are saying is right, but you don’t have to resort to name-calling and flat-out hostility.  And can anyone count as a hater now? How about your parents? Are they haters for correcting you and trying to lead you down the right path whether you can see it or not? Playing the hater card never justifies your actions, no matter if they’re good or bad.

3. And finally, sometimes listening to all those haters can be good for you.
Again, I’m not telling you to let what other people think and say dictate your entire life, but sometimes there’s some constructive criticism there that can only benefit you.  Nobody has it all figured out! We all need some guidance and criticism to help us learn and become the best people we can be. 

So maybe you’ll think twice the next time you want to dish out the h-word.  Love yourself and who you are, but love yourself enought to listen to others who can make you a better person or teach you an important lesson.  We teenagers may have it now, but there won’t always be people there to coddle you and tell you everything you want to hear.  And once you get to that point, calling out your haters isn’t going to be too effective. 

I Hate Feelings, But It’s Ok To Feel

The Daily Suck

*Note: if you are a robot, android, Vulcan, or similarly emotionless being, please ignore this post.  Thank you.*

*Other note: I am only a little bit crazy, I promise*

This probably happened to me earlier in life than most people, but at one point when I was younger I realized that I had *dun dun dun* FEELINGS about things.  Stuff like the books I read (shout-out to my always and forever first book love, the Deltora Quest series by Emily Rodda), the games I played (although Kingdom Hearts is known to have said effect on people), the music I listened to, and the movies I watched.  I had no idea what was wrong with me, only that certain things would set off a bunch of confusing emotions inside that only made me more sad and frustrated the more I tried to figure them out.  Like the chick from Mean Girls, I had a lot of feelings.  And I was really freaking confused up until the past few years.

Part of my understanding (or close enough) came from realizing that I was not like the other girls I knew.  I do indeed suck at being a teenage girl, but in deeper ways than my stances on selfies and general interests.  The other part came from realizing that I was a creative person.  I thought too deeply, cared too much, felt too strongly to be anything else.  When I was exposed to great (or what I thought was great) works of art and writing, something inside of me – the artistic side – reacted more strongly than the internet’s reaction to Ben Affleck’s casting as Batman.  I couldn’t understand how my friends could just see a great movie and move on with their lives, when my mind was working on overdrive thinking about and feeling about it.  I think you can understand how this puzzled me for a long time and separated me even more from my peers.  I was too young to know myself entirely and I didn’t know what to do.

I struggled with this for a while until one day I clumsily tried to explain something that I didn’t understand to my parents.  They are amazing people and after listening to me, told me that, yes, I had strong feelings towards certain things, but what was wrong with that? They told me that’s what great books, and movies, and music do.  They make you feel.  Then, last year during my studies in poetry class, my teacher told the class a quote that I’ll always remember by someone I can’t remember.  “Great art is supposed to break your heart.”  I sat there in class mulling over what he just told us as he moved on with the lesson.

And I knew that my heart had been broken many times and I knew that I loved that feeling, and I knew that it was ok.  

Most importantly, I guess, I knew that I wanted to break other people’s hearts as well.

These realizations changed a lot of things for me. Now I accept who I am and why I feel the way that I do about certain things, whatever they are.  Looking at the ocean and John Williams music and endings will always make me sad but the starry sky makes me hopeful, people’s old trinkets make me smile, and there’s almost nothing better than an empty notebook waiting to be filled.  I know this all sounds strange but maybe people like me are supposed to find the hidden layers behind every-day things, discovering their beauty in sadness or joy, and let them leave their mark on us.  We can never leave our marks on the world if we have none on ourselves.  So let yourself feel, really and truly, deeply and powerfully.  Look for the beauty in your life and absorb it.  It’s ok to cry: let yourself be moved.  Transform all that you feel and think and do into wings and fly.  And lastly, let your heart be broken.  To me, the ones with cracks look the most beautiful anyway.

– Julia

To Dare Is To Do: On Taking Risks, Putting Yourself Out There, And Buzzing Off Your Hair

The Daily Suck

When I woke up this morning I had no intention of doing anything to my hair.  I didn’t even plan on getting out of my pajamas.  But when my mother scheduled a simple trim with highlights I got this crazy impulse to do something different.  And this is what I ended up with:

And I really, really, love it!!!

Now this haircut is a pretty big change.  If I ever want to grow it out, I’ll have to wait four to six years to get it back to how it was and sure, it was a little nerve-wracking but my excitement outweighed my fear.  It was risk and risks are scary, but it made me realize that taking those risks often lead to the best rewards.

Think back on the most memorable, thrilling moments of your life.  Chances are, you’ll think of a time when you stepped outside of your comfort zone and did something you didn’t think you could do.  It doesn’t matter if it was something small, like changing up your hair like I did, or something big, like facing one of your fears.  Sometimes you do those things and they work out.  Sometimes they don’t: that’s why it’s a risk.  Regardless though, those experiences are the things that you tell stories about later.  Those are the things that shape you as a person and allow you to learn about yourself and what you can do.  After all, how many of the days that you stayed at home and watched Netflix for 12 hours stick out to you? I remember the time I went on the Dueling Dragons roller coaster (rollers coasters are my biggest fear!) much more clearly, even though I was terrified.  

If there isn’t any fear factor involved, however, what’s so special about that? I feel that we as human beings are meant to be brave.  You are meant to be brave! And you are capable of so much if you just do it.  Step out of your comfort zone once and a while.  I’m not saying to live life unthinkingly, always looking for the next high, or even putting yourself in danger but I am not a believer in boring.  You are alive! You have a life! Make it one worth living.  In my experience, I’ve found that curiosity and a little healthy daring can give you so much happiness.  And not the kind that goes away after a while.  The kind that makes you smile whenever you remember what caused it.  So get off of this blog.  Get out there and go do something worth doing.  Help people.  Help yourself.  Sometimes buzzing off your hair is the only the first step.

– Julia

 

The Spinning Jenny Story

The Daily Suck

Out of many contributing factors, there’s one thing in my life that’s an important part of making me unusual.  I do not play sports.  I do not cheer, and I do not work at the nearest fast-food restaurant.

No, I don’t see dead people.  I’m in a rock band called Spinning Jenny and this is our story.

Two years ago this month, my younger sisters and I were OBSESSED with the video game, Rock Band.  I always took the guitar, Talia played the drums, and Angelina played the bass and sang.  Our summer had been spent becoming rock legends in front of our tv, playing everything from Weezer to The Rolling Stones to Metallica, and our dad (who is a huge rock n roll fan) was thrilled as our musical tastes expanded.  Dad had already taught me how to play guitar and once he bought Talia a real drum kit, she picked up how to play very well within like a week and the same with Angelina and the bass.  So we started learning songs together for fun, playing them for family and friends at parties.  We never had any intention of becoming a serious band.  But then one day we got a phone call that set in motion a chain of dominoes that haven’t stopped falling since.

The previous sentence is going to sound awfully dramatic when I tell you that the phone call was from our grandmother but bear with me here.

She told us that we were going to have a family reunion in a month.  Turns out my uncle’s band, who’s been playing around the area for over 30 years, and my cousin were going to play a few songs there.  “The girls know how to play instruments,” she said.  “You should play at the reunion too!”  Now initially, Dad said no.  Like, no, no way.  But defying the will of my Meemaw is something that no human being has yet, or likely ever will accomplish, and soon enough my Dad was conceding defeat and we got practicing for the reunion.

Us when we first started out!

That day was sort of a blur.  We have a large family, and everyone was there, even my Aunt and Uncle who lived in California.  I remember being really nervous.  Really nervous and really sweaty (it was an incredibly hot day that only gave me normal sweat on top of nervous sweat) and — well, let’s just say it wasn’t pretty).  But when it was finally time to start, I just…did it.  It was really, really fun and for three young girls who had pretty much just started playing music (I was 14 at the time, Talia was 11, and Angelina was 9) we sounded good.  Good enough, apparently, for my uncle to ask us to open up for him the next weekend.  What? He couldn’t be serious.  But he was.  So we learned some new songs, played the show, and booked another gig.  They haven’t stopped coming yet!

We officially christened the band Spinning Jenny, taken from the Industrial Revolution-era invention of the same name.  We had learned about it in school a long time ago when our mom mentioned it would be a good name for a band and I guess we never forgot.  But let’s jump ahead a little bit: we steadily played shows, got a lot better, and were doing pretty well in our local area.  Then we got a huge show in May of this year.

Casey James, the third runner-up of American Idol season 9 was coming to OUR area and, incredibly, we were asked to open up for him! It was an amazing experience and, besides being an incredible musician, he was super nice!

Here we are with Casey! His hair is fab, btw.

But things were still going up from there.

For a long time now, Paramore has been one of my favorite bands ever.  I know every single song and I’d been listening to their brand new cd on repeat.  One day, they announced that they were have a cover contest for their brand-new hit, “Still Into You”.  I was like, “awesome, we should totally do enter this” but then life punched me in the face AND I FORGOT ABOUT IT UNTIL THE DAY BEFORE THE ENTRY PERIOD WAS UP.  Oh yeah.  Thankfully, we had learned the song recently so we scrambled upstairs to our practice room, hastily recorded a video, and sent it in.  Then for nearly two months; nothing.

None of us were really thinking about it anymore.  Well, not until I jumped up from the dinner table, shrieking at my phone.  Why? WE MADE IT INTO THE TOP SIX.  And then, a week later we were all screaming, jumping, laughing, crying because Paramore had just announced the winner: Spinning Jenny.  *DEAD*

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjT0JfXQkp0 <– here’s the link to our winning video!

The recognition and exposure for the band had been phenomenal for us.  Our facebook likes, twitter followers, and YouTube subscribers were exploding and my favorite band knew who we were! We just received one of our prizes, lead singer Hayley Williams’ bike from the “Still Into You” music video, yesterday!

It’s even more glorious in person.

I didn’t think anything could top winning this contest.  But there’s still one more thing!

It’s a pretty safe bet to say that everyone knows the hit song “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry.  If you don’t, go listen to it right now.  I’ll wait.

Okay?

So the singer of Wild Cherry and writer of “Play That Funky Music,” Rob Parissi, comes from the very small town of Mingo Junction, Ohio: the same place that I call home.  This July, for our Community Days, Mr. Parissi was coming back home for a special show, and my uncle’s band was going to play with him.  Guess who got asked to sing back-up? I didn’t really believe that we were going to sing with the man who wrote Rolling Stone’s #73 greatest song of all time until he walked into my uncle’s garage for our first rehearsal.

There we are! He’s incredibly nice and down to earth for someone who’s performed at the Grammy’s, had his song inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame, and met the likes of George Harrison.

The day we performed with him was the experience of a lifetime.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVOgcavLiuY <– Check it out right there! It was a truly amazing day for us and for our hometown of Mingo and I don’t think the adrenaline rush from that show could ever be matched.

So that’s our story so far! Being in this band has taught me so much and added to my life immeasurably.  We’ve recorded two original songs and are planning to go into the studio and finish an entire album in the near future.  We’re even planning to make a music video! This band, to me, is so much more than a band, or even an extracurricular activity.  This is something that I do with my family and it’s brought us closer than ever before.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Spinning Jenny and I hope you join me.  You can check out all the Spinning Jenny social media links below and thanks for reading!

https://twitter.com/Spinning_Jenny4

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Spinning-Jenny/259461950745351

http://www.youtube.com/user/SpinningJenny4

http://www.reverbnation.com/spinningjenny19?profile_view_source=header_icon_nav

Here we are now!

Why Your Social Media “Fails” Are Actually Triumphs

The Daily Suck

We’re constantly exposed to it.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram; there’s never been another point in human history where we have been more connected to each other, and girls who are very good at being teenage girls tend to blow up our social media feeds the most…leaving the ones who are not (*cough, cough*) in the virtual dust.  Sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? I mean, what could be a worse injustice than 3 likes and one measly comment on your witty, well-thought out status update while so-and-so’s OOTD gets a staggering 86 Instagram hearts?

Here’s a secret: you’re better off and I’ll tell you why.

First of all, sucking at being a teenage girl involves a lack of selfies and dramatically vague status updates and tweets.  We’ve all seen the puzzling inspirational quotes that somehow go hand in hand with taking a picture of yourself in the bathroom and the “so done with everything” sad tweets.  Now I’m not saying that those things are technically bad, but they can lead to some very unhealthy ways of thinking and conducting relationships.

#1: The Selfie

Excessive selfie taking (or EST, as I like to call it) assumes either of these two conclusions, whether you intend it to or not: A.) I am completely vain and self-absorbed, and I expect others to tell me how gorgeous/hot/perfect I am, or B.) My self-esteem and self image are incredibly low and I need validation from others in order to feel beautiful and “accepted.” Neither of those roads sound too appealing, do they? While taking the occasional selfie is harmless, posting selfie after selfie after selfie after selfie until your followers know your face better than their own is not a good habit and also not a great way to figure out who really likes you for you.  And really, how is that record-breaking number of likes or hearts going to affect anything for you? Like, at all? The answer is that they’re only superficial and affect you on a superficial level, which, needless to say, equals BAD.  So, as for me, I’m happy that I suck at selfies and you should be too!

#2: The Vague Statuses and Tweets

My internal voice tends to read vague status updates and tweets in a cheesy teen girl voice accompanied by a melancholy string section and an Oscar-worthy sigh to top it all off.  If you’re anything like me, you may feel the same.  It’s not that you’re not compassionate to a degree, but simply because you can’t sympathize when it’s the millionth time and all you’re getting is “I give up” or “never felt worse in my life :(“!  Frequently posted statuses and tweets in that form all really mean the same thing: PAY ATTENTION TO ME.  Some girls (and guys!) may have a real problem going on and that’s perfectly fine, but how is tweeting about some unspecified issue going to solve anything? (Hint: it isn’t.) Regardless if someone takes the bait, they’ve still publicly put their drama online and that’s not where it belongs.  Let me put it this way: if you’re planning on posting a vague tweet or status, ask yourself a question: would I be comfortable sharing this with all the details? If you can’t be brutally honest and put it along the lines of “HEY GUYS I FAILED MY TEST, STAINED MY SHIRT, AND GOT IN A FIGHT WITH MY MOM AND NOW I’M SAD”, don’t post it at all.  So, please, give yourself a gold star for avoiding the drama, because it can definitely be tempting sometimes.  However, if you suck at being a teenage girl, you’ll see why those kind of people can turn into The Teen Who Cried Wolf and eventually lose people’s interest.

So — have I convinced you why the above, considered to be social triumphs that lead to popularity and so-called “happiness”, are actually bad for you and your peace of mind? Give YOURSELF those daily “you’re beautiful” reminders instead of constantly craving them from your peers.  Next time you have a problem, show that you’re mature enough to handle it by talking in private to a friend or adult instead of whining on the internet.  Every time your posts don’t get the attention they deserve, just remember that you are going against the current, and that’s ok.  More than ok, actually.  It’s awesome and you should be proud of yourself! It takes guts to post things that make people think a little.

No one likes to do that anymore, right?

I know that most of this post sounds a little controversial, maybe even counter-cultural.  That’s the way it’s supposed toBe proud of your social media “fails”.  Be comfortable in your own skin and your own mind without feeling the need for online validation.  It’s an amazing breath of fresh air, and all part of absolutely sucking at being a teenage girl.

– Julia