When I Grow Up, I Don’t Want to Be Like Taylor Swift

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I’ve always been a little bit weird. Not the cute, quirky, endearing weird, but the kind of weird that makes people eye you warily as they slowly back away.

I used to give rocks to people as presents when I was a little kid.

Plain, gravel rocks.

Not polished, pretty ones.

Just gray rocks.

I thought it was cool. I had no idea it was weird until someone said, “Why would I want this rock? It’s not even pretty,” and then threw it. I watched it sail through the air and bounce off into the grass and I realized that giving rocks to people was, in fact, weird. I stopped doing so.

As I grew older, I learned to possess and maintain a sense of self-confidence that allowed me to ignore what other people thought of me. It’s worked pretty well; I graduated with my BA in English with a concentration in professional writing in April. I recently got accepted to University of Michigan for grad school. I’m working hard, paying my bills, and saving for the future. Usually, I’m too busy pursuing my goals to worry about the fact that society believes I should be out clubbing with my girlfriends and trying to find a boyfriend and returning home wasted to my own apartment. I actually forget that the way I choose to live my life isn’t normal. I talk about my Saturday night spent reading a book or watching cartoons with my little sister. And people stare at me and I’m just like:

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(Except minus the glass of wine. I don’t drink. *insert horrified look here*)

Sometimes, though, someone comes along and shatters my view of my life.

“What do you mean you don’t want to come to the bar with me tonight?”

“We’ll find you a boyfriend. Don’t worry.”

“Still living with the ‘rents, huh?”

“Doesn’t it bother you that you _________?” (Fill in the blank with any of the aspects of my life that go against society’s expectations….so, pretty much all of them.)

And I feel the need to defend myself and my choices.

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….which usually has the opposite effect that I wanted it to. It’s a mess.

So it leads to me thinking, which leads to me writing, which occasionally leads to me blogging about it.

When I picked up my little brother and sister from skating with their friends the other day, “Let it Go” from Frozen was playing when I walked in. I knew my sister would be happy about that and would most likely sing it all the way home. As we got in the car, however, my sister said to me, “They played that Taylor Swift song.”

“Which one?” I asked.

“‘Trouble.’ Does she only sing about her ex-boyfriends?”

“Basically,” I answered, glad that she chooses to listen to artists like Beckah Shae rather than Tswift.

“I was cracking up the whole time,” my little brother interjected from the back seat. “She sounds like a hurt goat when she sings, ‘OHHHHH!'”

“It’s dumb,” my sister said. “She should write stuff that can influence the girls who listen to her all day.”

“She should,” I agreed. “A friend of mine rewrote one of her songs once when I said that same thing.”

“Can we hear it?”

So I handed over my phone and they pulled up the YouTube video right then and there.

When I turned 22, everyone sang lyrics from that Taylor Swift song at me. Catchy tune aside, I couldn’t relate to any of it. My little brother so kindly pointed out to me, “I don’t think you’ve ever dressed up like a hipster and made fun of your exes.”

When I complained about Taylor Swift’s childish view of life at the time, my wonderful friend (who recently started a blog on here; follow her on Monsters of Mine) promised me that she would rewrite the song for me as a birthday present. I present: “22: A Song Taylor Swift Would Write if She Had Normal Priorities.”

By the way: the rock story I told you about? My uncle passed away recently. I was at my aunt’s house last week when I heard my Grandma question, “What’s this?” and picked up a (particularly) big, gray rock from the bookcase.

My aunt gave a teary smile and said, “I found that in his closet. Katie must have given it to him; it was in a little box marked ‘My Katie rock, 1995.’ He kept it all these 20 years because it was a present from his niece.”

Yeah.

Take that, person who made me feel like an idiot when I was five years old.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of society’s lies. It’s tempting to change ourselves so that we’re socially acceptable. It’s hard to remember that the way we are is enough.

But we are.

Besides, I don’t know about you, (haha, see what I did there?) but I like the above version of Tswift’s song much better.

Keep living your life the way you are, guys, even if (and maybe even especially if!) it goes against society’s norms. #WOGO: We Only Get One. (It’s my version of YOLO.)

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Keeping a Sensitive Heart in a Cruel World

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Two events in particular have really been laying heavily on my mind lately:

Steve Utash in his hospital bed.

April 15, the one year anniversary of the Boston bombing.

Over the weekend, I watched Brian Williams and his report on the first 108 hours and had an instant flashback to last year. The bombing at the Boston Marathon is on the same level as September 11 for me; I remember exactly where I was, who I was with, and what I was doing when I first heard about it. I was busy prepping for finals wrapping up my junior year of college. I had just gotten out of class when a friend said to me, “Did you hear Boston is on complete lockdown?” We googled the news report and stared at each other in disbelief for a moment, especially thinking of the innocent officer shot in his car at Massachusetts Institute of Technology as we sat in our college’s cafe. Watching the report on Friday, I ached for the victims and their families just as much this year as I did 363 days ago.

In an event that happened right in our backyard, Steve Utash was nearly beaten to death after attempting to do the right thing. He hit a young boy who ran out into the street suddenly; when he got out of his pick up truck to check on the boy and see if he was okay, he was beaten senselessly by a mob of men. Miraculously, he has come out of his coma and is able to answer yes or no questions, but he still has a long road of recovery ahead of him. The story reminded me so much of what my own Dad would have done if he had been in the same situation, and my heart hurt not only for him, but also for his children.

It’s senseless.

It’s angering.

It’s disheartening.

Sometimes, it’s hard to have a sensitive heart.

In a world that likes to crush any spark of kindness and even just plain human decency, it’s tempting to join in. Fight fire with fire. Soothe our hurt souls with violence and anger. Throw our own sense of compassion and decency away. It’s hard to get hurt ourselves if we surround our vulnerable hearts with barbed wire and lock away every ounce of our compassion.

But then, in the midst of all the pain and hatred, some brave soul encourages us to keep trying.

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Someone reminds us that evil doesn’t get the last word.

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Someone does the right thing, even when it costs dearly.

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In a world of overwhelming strife and darkness, the strongest weapon we have is love.

Mother Theresa sums it up best:

“People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered:

Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives:

Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies:

Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people will try to cheat you:

Be honest anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight:

Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous of you:

Be happy anyway.

The good you do today will often be forgotten by tomorrow:

Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough.

Give your best anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God.

It was never between you and them anyway.”

~Mother Theresa