Miracles

It all happened four days ago.

Ever since I heard about my cousin getting in to UC Berkeley, back when I was in the 9th grade, I began to look into school. But I knew I fell into absolute, true love when I walked on its campus back in the summer of 10th grade. On my first step in, it felt like home. I bought a sweatshirt that read Berkeley and brought back home several brochures. Before IB started, the wall in front of my desk already held several banners and posters of several universities, from the ivy leagues to the UCs. But the dark blue and gold stood smack in the middle – UC Berkeley was my dream.

Every time someone asked me what my reach school or dream school was, I’d say the same. I’d tell them that I didn’t think I stood a chance, but I was going to work for it. Every time I sported the sweatshirt, I’d smile with dreamy pride, hoping I’d be able to truly rep it one day. As IB progressed through first semester of 11th grade, I didn’t think my grades didn’t seemed to fit into its upper quartile, and I felt as though I was distant from ever reaching my dream.

So I worked.

I worked and worked and worked, learnt from every single mistake and never gave up. I fell into traps of wanting to over-achieve past my potential or what people thought of me, and I personally think I’ve done well. Yet, when college applications began, the insecurity hit once again and I thought I wasn’t going to get in anywhere.

Keeping away modesty for a second, and being absolutely honest, I was shown wrong with nine acceptances to the point of Berkeley. I was happy at every step from the first admission to UNC. I thought it was home, and the process repeated for every university that followed.

So when UCB decisions were out on Friday morning, I was rather calm. I told myself to take the predicted rejection in a good way, and if it weren’t for UCB, I could still be a something else. Every time I refreshed the portal, I’d close my eyes and pray however, even though the decision wasn’t out at the presupposed time. On the way to school with my Dad, I told him I was going to be okay if I were to be rejected from UCB and I even began to imagine the rejection letter. When decisions were released, I sat in a corner of a room at school and heard the bad news from different sides of the grade coming in. My portal was still not open by me. Do I open it? Do I not? I kept thinking out loud to my Psychology friends. At one point, without telling anybody, I closed my eyes and logged into the portal.

Congratulations and Welcome to UC Berkeley, were the first few words that caught my eye.

Huh? Hold up.

My hands began to shake and my eyes began to tear up. I skimmed the first paragraph once and let out squeakingly, “Guys, I got into UC Berkeley”. The words that I never thought were to ever be a dream come true, were said.

I teared up more and cried happy tears infront of my teacher and my friends, who hugged me and congratulated me for the next few minutes, hours and days up today. But at that moment, the only thing that kept flashing was me walking on the campus of UCB two years ago, crying to my Dad at the end of the orientation that I didn’t think I could ever get in.

But I did it.

As much as that grain or inch or pot of luck stood by me, I worked so hard for this.

And not to mention, my best friend, Mounika got in a few minutes later. And what were the chances or odds of both of us getting into my dream school ever in this universe? Miracles, karma and god’s plan. We’ve been good people, we’ve had our plate of fortune and maybe this was our reward that we’re honored to reap now.

To every good person out there who’re probably worried about their college admissions or disappointed that they’re not in a college they think they deserve, don’t make that decision just yet. We were lucky to have our moment now, but you’ll have it later – trust me on this. Keep working and keep shining. Don’t let a rejection take your heart. Because it isn’t what the label gives you, it’s what you do with the label.

And while UCB has been my dream, I’m still looking out at UCLA for a while to make sure I make the right choices with the rigor and courses offered. Either way, I’m going to make sure I stay the grounded person I was in high school and carry herself out to the real world – because that is what matters. And for people who feel like they haven’t got what they deserved, it’s probably understandably really hard to believe any of this – but it’s true, weigh it out in the long run.

We’re all going to be okay, with our little own set of miracles.

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Models, Kardashians and Feminism

I don’t know the name of a single Victoria’s Secret model.

I don’t follow the Kardashians anywhere or know who’s the daughter of who.

I don’t believe Nicki Minaj is the first example of a feminist.

Maybe it’s the way I’ve been brought up, or maybe it’s just me. But I have very strong beliefs about a few things – the modeling industry, pop culture and my opinion about the psychology behind the girls in our society today. But before I start, I’m going to have to give you a back-drop about this post.

So, until the end of sophomore year, I was a very carefree girl; someone who rocked a high ponytail and laughed all day long, never felt offended too easily and was as strong as her exterior with absolute no make-up. I’d look into the mirror and feel happy that I was putting on some weight; I believed my mom, my dad and random aunties completely when they told me I looked healthier and happier. My best friend was smarter than me by 5 notches, and I will admit I’ve felt jealous every now and then, but I know I was always confident about myself.

Then hit junior year. I started off just the same, but when I look at myself today, I’m so different. I feel like my eyes aren’t ‘presentable’ if I don’t have my eyeliner on. I feel like my hair isn’t set right if I don’t put that dab of serum. I feel like my acne, which has actually been getting so much better over the past 1.5 years, is the focal center when someone looks at me. I feel ugly in my own skin. My mom and dad keep telling me I’m look weak and like a patient or skeleton. The weighing machine shows me that I’ve lost several pounds over the last year. But I don’t listen to any of them, I still see that ugly reflection who has so much more to do to be ‘beautiful’, just like them. I’ve talked about this so many times, but I’m more insecure – not just about how I do in a specific dimension, but more about how I look and my self-confidence.

So that’s a little about my transformation over high school. And while apparently easy to notice when I put it in writing, it’s really not in reality. Because I’m still the same happy person, it’s not easy to catch. But I’ve been thinking about it lately, and I think I found out why. Maybe it could just be the factor of growing up and caring more about how you look superficially. But I’m going to go ahead and give the influencing credit to my environment.

When I joined IB in junior year, I remember me as the same person in sophomore. Even when I look back at pictures today, hell, they were ugly to my standards today. But when I think about the memories? I think they’re stronger than my rather ‘perfectly angled’ selfies today. And through the last two years, I have to confess that there’ve been so many conversations that I’ve felt like an outsider in. So many times where I’d fake excitement, or so many times where I’d feel the necessity to go back and find out who we were talking about. And through the uncomfortable times, I think I’ve been influenced too.

For instance, I was the kind to never rant about body types or the hourglass figure. Who I transformed into, became another product of the modern fashion industry who labels clothes and people in the same way – sizes. I don’t judge, no, that’s not the point – point is, I had begun to care.

I’ve lost respect for the modeling industry. I don’t blame the models, they’re doing their job and they’re doing what they’re passionate about. I blame the agencies behind them, and I’m fearful of the influence of these so-called models. Because the influence already hit. Bulimia and Anorexia are new world diseases. The influence can clearly be seen from the change in portrayal of curvy women to skinny women by Disney Channel and Hollywood as a whole. And the influence can most definitely be seen in my exposure to their superficial world over time.

And sometimes, I get asked, “Why do you not like Victoria’s Secret specifically?” To which, my answer right now is, I dislike the concept of ripping clothes off a woman’s body and framing them as models, exposing their skinny bodies with flat stomachs and toned legs with that ‘perfect’ thigh gap, be it an international company or a local one. Now, why do I stress on Victoria’s Secret? I don’t really actually, they’re just in my opinion, the most strongest influence out of these all. And moreover, the fact that these models aren’t just called “models” for our society, they’re called “angels”. And I really don’t want to even begin about how much that bothers me.

And now, coming down the pop culture.

See, everyone who knows me knows that I’m a strong feminist. Someone who believes a girl should wear what they want, act the way they want and be who they really are. However, even if you do blame this on the way I was brought up, I believe that a girl should behave a way depending on where they are and their situation. And I’ve told you, based on who I identify myself with, what would you expect me to say now? That’s right, I think a boy should do the same. There’s a place and reason for everything.

Now, boiling down to the point. Celebrities are put on the spotlight where the whole world is their audience. Now, I’m not going to begin to refer to celebrities who’re known to just do their thing and yet, receive bunch of hate – Miley Cyrus for example. Her life story and people’s opinions about her are just a whole other debate. But back to this, I’m going to first take the example of the Kardashians.

Why are the Kardashians so famous today? I just want an answer that’ll convince me. Sex tape leading to millions of dollars. Admittedly, it could just be classified an accidental product that fed into the porn industry, and you could assume or vision Kim to just be a famous porn star who tracked into other fields. But, leaving aside that for a second, to me, it’s more just about a leaked sex tape placed them on top of the world. And while it doesn’t bother me personally, it bothers me what message this sends down to the society. Why does Kim K have 27.2 million followers on Instagram? And what about her two little sisters – Kylie and Kendall, I think? What did they do to be considered idols and perfect beings? Breast implants and cosmetic surgery? See, I get that you get fame from being in a reality show and that its inevitable. But the amount of fame that is spiraling and their growth that seems to dominate all over the Internet is ridiculous. I just don’t seem to understand why it’s not so clearly evident to people though.

Oh, and Nicki Minaj. From the few interviews I’ve seen of her, she basically tells her audience you need a “butt” and curves to be desirable. Saving my rant for a just a bit, but to transfer the same thoughts in the form of a video, I’d say watch this video.

But to rebut myself, I do not know much about them and this probably isn’t my place to say, but this is what I have to gain at first glance.

Besides, if we really want to pick apart women who’ve stood up for the girls, why not frame these people as the real “idols” for our girls in our society, more often instead?

And now, moving on to my last segment – the girls of today. I’m going to be generalizing here a bit, warning you pre-hand. But, I think us girls in general, we’re so impacted by what we see, what we scroll down on Tumblr and what we see our ‘idols’ or ‘models’ do. I think this influence is so clearly noted in how girls today need to dance in a certain way, act in a certain way, talk to guys in a certain way and look in a certain way. And to cater this influence, I think girls change the way they act or in superficial things, like what they wear – looking desirable through revealing stuff.

If you may have noticed while reading or even if not, here it is right now: I’ve made several references to clothing and otherwise. How do I call myself a feminist? Good question. Like I said, I think it’s not appropriate to wear a bikini to the Vizag beach even though its a beach. I think it’s not appropriate to wear a sleeveless shirt into a mosque even though you think you’re all covered up. I think it’s not appropriate to walk into a temple in shorts. So, extending the same, like my Dad keeps telling me, it’s not wrong to show cleavage, no. It’s not wrong to wear crop tops, no. It’s not wrong to dress the way you want, no. But the age and the relevance to the location and the time matter. But if someone else was brought up differently or has a different value system, well and good, all respected.

And hey, thinking about all of this for a while now, I think my transformation is cycling back to reversal. Insecurity is still on top, but my definition of beauty, need to put on eyeliner or need to stalk models on Instagram or need to talk about that girl’s body on Tumblr has changed. I’ve begun to just smile and nod at conversations that I’m not comfortable in or that I don’t believe in. Because see, I’m not going to argue. Why? Because two things: 1. All of this stuff I’ve been talking about is natural phenomena. It’s expected to happen; that’s why the industry exists. 2. I’m a girl too at the end of the day. I’m going to end up looking at Facebook profiles, skimming through pictures and going all “Dang, she’s so beautiful.” But I’m trying to be good to myself. And I want to be in constant denial or away from such influence, until I can be that confident self again who’s not sensitive to every remark. That’s all, so please no hate.

I don’t know if I’ve made sense to anyone but myself. I don’t think I’ve said half of what I’ve wanted to say, in all honesty. But it’s late in the night and my head’s hurting trying to arrange things into appropriate ideas for it to make sense. In times like this, I’d rather debate it out than write it out. So if you know me, or if you’d want to ask something, feel free to do so anytime; I’m up to talk.

Beautiful When You Say So

Rolling along the same theme, here’s today’s continued take about standards and society.

“These pictures aren’t pictures of me – they’re constructions” – Cameron Russell, model by profession.

This talk was piece perfect. A beneficiary of the main social perspective herself, she stands up with so much bravery that she shuns the industry she’s part of and tells the world that she doesn’t tell little girls to be models like her. I was streaming through the comments and there was a lot of negativity, but I believe the point she was trying to make across was not that “Looks aren’t everything, AND the world sees past that”. No, that’s not her point. I perceived her point to be more of, “Looks aren’t everything, BUT the world is going to be that way.” I think her point about models being insecure themselves only implicitly details the sad truth about society’s necessity to constantly compare and point out flaws.

“You’re a goddamn treasure whether you believe it or not. And maybe that’s what everyone should start looking for.” – Savannah Brown, Slam Poet

Savannah Brown talks about exactly what I was talking about in my previous blog post. Insecurities everywhere, because of the people around us. “The only place we’ll ever really feel safe is curled up inside our skin which we’ve been forced to hate by a society which shuns our awful confidence and feed us our own flaws and sometimes when I need to meet the me that loves me, I can’t find her,” is part of her line in her monologue in this video. It’s beautiful, it’s so powerful, and it reiterates how I’m trying to convince myself that I’m damn right beautiful, just like every girl in her own way.

It’s not just a world where girls are pressured by society to be ‘skinny’ enough, no. It’s a world where you’re never perfect. When you’re really ‘skinny’ enough, people are going to ask you why you look like the wind can carry you away, or how you need to start eating.

I’ve thought about it so many times and me and my friend were actually talking about it today – about Meghan Trainor’s song All About That Bass. Honestly, I thought the song gave so much confidence for many girls to be able to respect their curvy bodies and to feel beautiful. But what about the part of the girl population who’re skinny? Not only does it explicitly refer to them as ‘skinny bitches’, but it also makes so many implicit remarks to her definition of beauty that’s being stressed on to be that of curvy. The song contains lyrics that suggest you need have any type of curves or the fact that “boys like a little more booty to hold at night” – can we just pause to think about the effect on girls who’re rather skinny? Because it doesn’t just stop with this song, no. I think the trend of the past few years has been focusing on the gluteus maximus. So, all the girls who were now “perfect” in terms of looking beautiful in society’s eyes are now magically not anymore. Because they’re skinny, but they don’t have the butt, do they?

Aisha Oxley, in this video, so beautifully talks about how she was skinny shammed.

So skinny or curvy or toned legs or not, when are we really going to be beautiful? What these three girls have taught me what I already know is that we’re going to be beautiful when we think so ourselves and we don’t need no Jack to convince us otherwise.

Mix Tapes

A fact no one knows about me: I love mix tapes.

Whenever I listen to a song on YouTube or Soundcloud, I listen to the suggested playlist of a mix as well. I think it’s because of two things:

a) I’m a girl who loves themes: be it, a layout theme for my Instagram space or Tumblr page, or a color coordination theme for labeling my notes or themes I dream about for decorating my room. Same concept with mix tapes. I love listening to thematic mixes that align with my mood or the situation.

b) I don’t browse through several artists or albums. Don’t get me wrong, I love music; I really do. But I don’t spend a lot of time looking for the top new 100 songs or artists (YouTube artists are an exception, however). Yet, mix tapes allow me to discover this new world in steps. I hear music I like, and expose myself to a new artist or song or pick out of a new album and lose myself.

And despite my some limited 500 songs on iTunes, unknown fact about me again: I love making mix tapes too. Maybe one day, with more song exposure, I might be able to reveal a few myself.

What It Is To Be Perfect

“Perfection is not about control, it’s about letting go” – Thomas Leroy from Black Swan. 

I’m the kind who’s constantly trying to reach for more; any achievement isn’t really an achievement if there’s more that could be done, more that could be coming. I’m the type who wants to be able to reach farther than the last step on the ladder – whether I’m there yet or not.

But when I was watching this movie earlier this weekend, this quote hit me. It hit me, because Nina was like me too – “I just want to be perfect” was what she’d say throughout. And that constant fear of perfection was why she was not a perfectionist.

And in same regard, how beautiful is this quote? While literally referring to Nina losing herself in ballet, it metaphorically refers to one not fearing the destination, and living in the journey as it sways. It defines the art of perfection to one of a state of psychological feeling of content and not that of balance.

I’m not a perfectionist, no.

But it’s my sole goal. What is receiving a sunna cum laude, or getting into your top choice at university or performing in front of thousands of people, if you’re not going to be perfect?

No, I’m not talking about the label of perfection that’s defined by most.

But the label that you give yourself.

Intuition, Reason or Promises

How can it be wrong when it feels so right?

When in times you question the same, it’s evident that the lines between intuition, reason and promises have scrambled up.

Is it really so wrong when the rock bottom of your crystal heart tells you that you’re doing the right thing?

But is it right in the first place when maybe the doors of reason and planning have been closed for a while?

Or is it right if promises have been broken or lies have been made?

 

Again, it’s all perspective, it’s all timing. I could have an argument for both the fair and dark sides for each of the questions posed.

Flipping the coin on Question 1, heads could be picking option A instead of option B on the test and tails could be doing drugs.

Picking a card at a Fortune Teller’s table for Question 2, one could mean blocking the long-term path for a while because the short-term gains are high enough to lead you on to a more successful road, while another card could mean you’re blocking the idea of college itself and are infested by teenage hormones.

Trying your luck for Question 3, breaking promises may lead you to falling in love for the good, or falling in love for the bad.

To my distaste of not being able to classify things into clear boxes, you can’t universally state that intuition, reason or promises are one above another at all times.

 

Speaking along the same lines, however, I’ve been thinking – thinking a lot about how these three words play roles in my story. Keeping aside the raw events of my life and moving on to a more deeper analysis, I’m thinking out loud here. Is it important to be rational and use reason to understand that sometimes, things may not work out in the long run due to distinct incompatibilities? Is it important to keep certain promises, but in your doing so, your want for more is only increasing by the second?

The three little worlds of their own are not what fate holds, but what dictates what you hold in your own fate.

All Other Things Negative

Call me rather short-sighted, but I constantly used to wonder why depression transpired in teenagers who were privileged to be a part of a healthy and happy family, and financially and socially well off. Although a Psychology student who understands that there exist biological correlates to a syndrome such as depression, I was never fully able to be convinced. I thought that depression could only be truly justified for the people who outwardly seemed to be disposed to it, but not for people who were surrounded by happiness.

I was clearly wrong.

Insecurity is my strongest weakness; it’s most definitely what makes my rather, comparatively stronger life crimple down. I can’t ever seem to tell myself that I’m enough, and I need to be better – be it in terms of my acads or otherwise in deeper or of more superfluous aspects.

See, this is where the analogy to depression falls in. I may not be someone who seems to be pre-disposed to feeling insecure about herself in everyway. In fact, to an outsider, I don’t really have too much of a reason to feel this way. And even speaking on an inter-personal level, I come across as someone who’s cheerful and bubbly on the outside, where rather rude remarks may not hit me hard; trust me, they stab me.

Some people say some kinds of depression are rather chronic; when you’ve got it once, there’s higher chances of relapsing even after getting better. I’m still 17, so I wouldn’t know; but I really do not know what I can do to make my insecurity vanish. I’m constantly surrounded by bubbles that convince me that I’m never going to be as smart, as successful, as beautiful or as talented.

But in a way, this insecurity leads to my constant rush to attaining perfection. Good or bad, that’s for the other to decide. All I believe is that perfect or not, what’s important is feeling like you did enough.

Insecurity only pushes you back into the vicious cycle.

Coming back to how I started this, I realized it’s important to place importance every other waking moment that we all have our stories. Just like you can’t judge the movie based on its poster, two things come in play: one, you can’t break down the psyche of a person based on what you think you completely know, true or false and two, we all have different abilities of inner strength.