Saturday, January 11, 2014

Changing goals, and quality not quantity

During NaNoWriMo, a lot of us focus on quantity first and first most and not quality, although for some of us, the first can also lead to the second. But sadly, that is not the case with me.

Right now I'm trying to write the second draft of a 91,023 word novel. The first draft was just...*shudders*. Bleh. It had its moments, but overall lots of it was trashed. I tried outlining this before I rewrote it again, but I failed utterly. But now, I'm still floundering about with it.

My goal this month was 60k new words for this draft, but I decided to change it to 25k. For me, focusing on quantity doesn't seem to bring out quality (y'all know this. Some of y'all have read my drafts.), so I need to take things a bit slower and focus on taking things chapter by chapter. Focusing more on progression of plot and making sure everything flows smoothly.

So, yeah, it's hard for a demon-speed fingered NaNoWriMo writer to take things so slowly, but I'm hoping this will have better results in the long run.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Confessions on how I felt about my looks

(It's almost midnight so this may not be the most coherent thing I've written.)

When I was 12 years old, I started struggling with acne. I know I didn't properly treat it right back then, but I was going through some personal issues that triggered an awful gastrointestinal problem that I suffered with for a couple of years. That, I believe, was why I struggled with acne for so long.

I didn't think too much of it back then. I knew that puberty hormones would make me look like that. But back then I wasn't so obsessed with body-image and beauty. I just didn't think about it. Yet as I got older I started to notice it more and I tried treating it. Miserable failure at that.

Let me expand a bit on one of the personal issues I was going through. When I was 12 or so, I met a girl at this youth group I'd just started attending (my best friend went there and it was really the only time I got to see her, and I had fun for the most part hanging out with the others). She was nice, at first, but I quickly came to learn that she disliked my best friend. Ok, perhaps dislike is an understatement. She bullied (online and off) my best friend (and my best friend's sister). Perhaps I didn't fully understand the situation at the time, but one thing led to another and the girl became very manipulative and started to bully me. Worst part? Her mother went along with the whole thing, supporting her daughter. I mean, of course you're going to be on your kid's side because hey, this is your kid. But I'm sure the mother knew what was happening and what her daughter had said to me.

Being bullied was a difficult experience for me. I had never done anything to hurt this girl. I had done my best to be friends with her, but it just wasn't working out. I received over 50 (probably over 100 or 200, but I know it was 50 at least) nasty and harassing text messages of her. And she'd call constantly.

It was a hard experience, but in the end I think it ended up strengthening my friendship with my two best friends.

Back to the self esteem. I've been taking dance since I was little. And by the time I was 13, I was still loving it. But I wasn't quite into wearing makeup (except for performances) back then, per se, and every time I went to class I'd always see these girls my age and a bit older wearing eyeliner. Then I'd look in the mirror and notice how freakishly pale and strange my eyes were and the circles under my eyes. I didn't feel pretty, and I felt uncomfortable around these other girls. One day I actually wore eyeliner to class (even though my mom didn't fully support the idea because, hey, I was 13), and finally I was relaxing. I looked pretty.

By the time I turned 15, I didn't worry about wearing eyeliner. Couldn't find the pencil and a sharpener anyways. But I'd go to class and see myself in the mirror and see how red the acne would get during practice, and I still didn't feel pretty. When we'd get the rare chance to sit down, sometimes I turn around and look at myself in the mirror and I couldn't stand it. Bleh, that's how I felt about it.

And even in these past few months I've been looking in the mirror and really disliking the way I look. I just stand there and go "You know, I would be pretty if it weren't for this darn acne". And y'all have seen some of my selfies. Sometimes the camera takes a good-enough picture that it actually shows the acne and minor scarring. For the longest time I wished, really really wished, that I didn't have acne, because I didn't feel pretty. I wanted to feel pretty, but every time I looked in the mirror and saw the acne, I didn't feel that way at all.

Last month, as most of you know, I had a Christmas dance recital, which means heavy stage makeup. And I thought I looked smashing in that. Really, really good-looking. Why? Because the acne didn't show. But after the performances were over and I had the makeup off, the feeling of being pretty just left me. Here's the pale face with the circles under her eyes and the slightly inflamed acne and the weird eyes which don't pop at all because I'm not wearing eyeliner.

This is going to sound pretty shallow (and it is, God forgive me), but every time I'd posted a selfie to Twitter and it'd get a favorite, my heart would skip a beat or something along those lines. Why? Because I felt like this was an acknowledge that I was indeed pretty, even though I didn't always feel that necessarily feel that way. Someone thought I was beautiful, apparently, and to me that was all that mattered at the time.

But as the acne cleared up a bit (along with other things happening which I won't speak of here, but they're most definitely positive things), I found myself looking in the mirror and smiling when I saw my face. Because I finally felt pretty. No longer did I feel bleh. I found myself noticing how pretty my eyes are, and finally, I came to accept that despite my flaws, I am pretty.

And this is where you girls come in. I know so many of us go up to the mirror and instantly began criticizing every little thing. And I want us to stop. Yes, we all have our flaws inside and out, but beauty isn't perfection. Beauty is you being you with every single imperfection and scar and pimple. And beauty isn't just on the outside. Beauty's on the inside too.

So I guess what I wanted to say in this post that accepting you for who you are is hard. But I want myself to continue to embrace my flaws for what they are, without thinking that they diminish my beauty or self-worth. And that your self-worth isn't dependent on your beauty. Each and every one of you is worth something.