Creativity Reflection 1: I know it, I’m no poet

For my creativity class we had to choose something to do everyday as a transformative project over the semester. It could be something as simple as turning lights off only with your feet to give you that different perspective, or it could be pushing yourself out of your comfort zone by dancing to a full song each day. I decided to write a haiku everyday to see how that transformed my creativity and thinking.

When I was a youngster, there was a point that I aspired to be a poet and/or an author and illustrator.  I would write ridiculous fictional stories for my elementary school’s publishing center to bind up as “books.” I even wrote some poetry for the enriched writing program’s little anthology. Once I left 5th grade, I started feeling silly about writing that way. I had learned about my voice as a writer and I had started to hone that sassy, informative side (which has pushed me through writing, pitching and editing magazine content at Mizzou), but I would try to write poems or song leaders and just feel ridiculous. I feel like I have lost that wispy writing voice because of my fact-driven major. I kind of want it back .

I don’t want all of these haikus to feel like I am trying to hard or to feel like I am forcing myself to be deep. I just want to let go and allow myself to fill the syllable count for the stanzas with whatever works. Hell, it could be about pizza and I am sure one of them will be. But, the point is that I don’t want to feel bad for being silly or writing in that way. And at least the haiku form gives this planner-obsessed, Type-A gal a little bit of structure so I don’t feel like I am really drowning. I’ll keep track of them in these posts as I go on, so be on the lookout for some stanzas of something.

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Creativity Class Response 1: Blind leading the blind

I hate being in the dark. Not like being just in a dark space, but I hate not being able to see or not knowing what is going on. Blindfolds have become my enemy through prom invitations, organization reveals and  team-building exercises. As a self-proclaimed control freak, losing a major part of control via sight is scarier than any creepy-crawlies.

But, my Creative class pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me temporary blind last week. I had to just trust the beeping noise that my partner was making to help lead me around a room with 20 other people. I probably was the most annoying partner because I kept squealing with each tiny shuffle and change of light that I could sense through my closed eyelids. But, I did it. I let my partner lead me around and I let go of control.

I also hate going slow. I am nagged by my friends for walking too fast. I tend to be a speedy talker. I like to get things done in the most efficient way possible, which usually saves time. Once again, last week my creativity classed pushed me out of my norm and made me slow-motion race. Any sort of competition can grab my attention because I am one of those annoying people that pretends they don’t LOVE winning but I really do. But, winning this race meant that you would have to be the one in the back of the pack, the one that was moving their body in the slowest and most exaggerated manner. Even when we were fans, we had to clap and cheer in slow-motion. Frankly, it was way more challenging for me than I thought it would be.

But, it all boiled down to letting go. Creativity means you let go of your norms, whether they are for efficiency or ability. You have to allow yourself to look ridiculous and make mistakes. You can’t be creative without looking outside of what you already perceive as the “best” way. Sure, it isn’t always easy and you might hate it at first (because I know I did briefly hate how I felt during these activities), but it will open you up to growth and the ability to better your own thinking and ideas. So, slow down and close your eyes and you might be surprised in where you go and see.

Creativity Reading 1: Fly Between

Nearly everyone knows the myth of Icarus. That Greek goof created some wings with wax and was warned to not fly too close to the sun. His ambition got the best of him and his high heights made his wings melt so that he fell to his death. Parents use Icarus as an idiom to warn their children of getting too ahead of themselves and Bastille even sings about it in one of his catchy pop songs.

But, people always forget one part of the mythical story. Seth Godin brings that part back into view in his book. We forget that Icarus was also warned to not fly too low so that the water doesn’t get in his wings and drags him down. This missing piece of the story many of us know well slams into our brains that we shouldn’t stand up, but we should stay down and stay safe. But safe isn’t always right. Safe can be restrictive. Safe can keep you from your true potential.

Safe also doesn’t allow for your creativity to flow. My creativity class through discussion of this text and other things has taught me (and the rest of my classmates) that you can’t keep your comfort zone so firmly in your safety zone if you want to grow. You have to allow yourself to mess up and make mistakes in order to figure out creative ideas. Monotony and compliance breed a plateau of ideas and whatever works with the systems in place. The education system has taught us to stay low to the water, almost too safe so that we drown in the the standards of right and wrong, instead of questioning and prodding for new ideas. But, breaking out of that rut is when change can happen. I am already thankful for this class being the wind in my wings that help lift me away from the fake safety of the see so I can see more than just the same reflection in the waves.

Womansplaining

The first week of 2016 has come to a close and I have come out of my temporary sickness and following laziness to crack more into my Passion Planner. For those of you that aren’t a part of the #PashFam and haven’t heard me singing its praises since August, the Passion Planner is the Holy Grail of all planners and is centered around goal setting and reflection. To start the planner you are instructed to create goal wish lists for different time periods and then use the most impactful goal from each of those areas to start mapping out your goals. Once of my goals I made (written humorously, meaning seriously) was for a #FuckboyFree2016.

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Make it trending, homies. None of us need that.

Pardon my language, but this word and behavior by humans has become all too common, especially in my 2015. When I was reflecting on 2015 to create some goals to better my life in 2016, I realized I spent a strange amount of 2015 dealing with, crying about and living in the limbo of interactions with f*ckboys. Such a weird realization for me, especially since I spent 2015 trying to grow in my education and advocacy for women’s issues, feelings and experiences. Yet, when it came to my own womanhood and relationships, I wasn’t being as mindful.

There was a moment during the dog days of summer and the scattered freshness of the new school year that I was stopped by words that rang too true to my female existence. Janine, a friend from junior high, posted a haunting poem as her Facebook status that goes as follows:

when your little girl
asks you if she’s pretty
your heart will drop like a wineglass
on the hardwood floor
part of you will want to say
of course you are, don’t ever question it
and the other part
the part that is clawing at
you
will want to grab her by her shoulders
look straight into the wells of
her eyes until they echo back to you
and say
you do not have to be if you don’t want to
it is not your job
both will feel right
one will feel better
she will only understand the first
when she wants to cut her hair off
or wear her brother’s clothes
you will feel the words in your
mouth like marbles
you do not have to be pretty if you don’t want to
it is not your job

-Caitlyn Siehl

As I felt the goosebumps crawl over my arms, I recognized my own internal battle with “pretty,” a battle known to many girls and woman. The in and out of each passing day included me putting on clothes and makeup for myself and my love of fashion, yet I would feel full and validated with compliments, likes and comments on my beauty. Sometimes social media comments on my appearance concretely makes me feel weird, such as @party_boy47’s infamous comment on my booty during the football season.

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I mean, I have come to know that I have what could be typified as a “good ass,” especially when I am out dancing. An ongoing joke I have with my friends is how I can’t go to the bar Roxy’s without some guy dancing on me and asking for my number. I always play it off with a smirk and a giggle, but question the part of me that feels the warmth of pride when it happens. I have never been one to consider myself sexy or hot, or really even pretty. I have been content with being the cute, funny one or stylish, usually based on my hair. With my girls I can join in the battlecry of our collective sexiness and hotness that empowers us, but it never really felt the same as the kind that guys drool over. When I am called out by males as hot, I usually scoff and run away before my ears and cheeks turn red because I turn into a 12-year-old.

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Or I just tweet about it because I am a disgusting millennial. And, of course, the replying tweets tried to call me out for “humble bragging,” because I must be sharing this for validation and virtual appreciation, right? But actually, I was more dumbfounded and taken aback. I mean, it’s flattering to be called hot and it makes me feel good, but there is only so much substance to comments like that. That giddy feeling eventually disappears into just questioning why someone felt the need to yell that at you.

This is where f*ckboys come in. Urban Dictionary has tons of definitions for this word that took 2015 by storm, but a common theme through definitions is that a f*ckboy is a human that plays the game the right way by schmoozing other humans so they will hook up with them. They know that saying those aforementioned words can help in their game. F*ckboys have mastered leading people on and ghosting (from absolutely everything) as much as they have mastered doing the shit they will complain to you about. They are charismatic, usually attractive and magnetic even when you don’t think you have any sort of metal to bring you close to them. F*ckboys have a plan, and they aren’t too worried about what could get in the way of that plan, such as your feelings.

My darling friend and roommate, Alison, texted me an article about the phenomena of the “softboy,” a sort of subculture of the f*ckboy. They softboy carries all the calling cards of the f*ckboy, except they are frustratingly more complicated and complex. He isn’t in it for just one night; he’s in for the long game. The game you won’t win. The softboy puts off all the right signs. He is usually seemingly inclusive, says shit about feelings that you relate to and can drop some knowledge on things you like. But, what gets you the most with softboys, especially when they fuck you over, is this:

He is emotionally intelligent but does nothing with this knowledge. He is artistic. He is aware. He is still a dick.

This was the type of weapon I had been up against. It may be the weapon you have faced as well. “No, no… but he is so smart. He’d never do something that dumb,” you’ll convince your friends before you’ve hit the ground from the dumb cloud that you have been floating on, just inches above reality. You, me, we all we knew better. But that’s how they get you.

But not anymore. My lovely lady friends and I have had our fair share of f*ckboys, softboys and all the in-betweens that aren’t just genuine humans. I will say that I use f*ckboy as a more gender neutral term because that sort of behavior is definitely not restrained to one gender, but in this case I did fall back on my power woms. We cried, bitched, wallowed and planned “Bad Blood”-girl gang revenges, but time’s up. It’s a new year and we can’t be wasting time hating on these f*ckboys, ourselves or each other. 2016 is leaving f*ckboys behind and letting #GirlLove take over. My awesome friend Crystal graduated in December and shared her love for all the ladies that helped her along the way by posting this video:

Sure, it’s basis is around girl-on-girl hate and ending bullying, but it reminded me of all the ladies that let me cry about stupid shit and the kind notes they left me to remind me of my worth, the worth that is more than my beauty to some guy. That is some good juju to spread and a good reminder to us all.

So, since it is in my planner, it is real. This year will be free of f*ckboys and the confusion they bring. Instead, it will be full of friendships and relationships with others and myself that make us all stronger. Because ain’t nobody got time for anything else.

P.S. I made a Spotify playlist of 16 songs to jumpstart #FuckboyFree2016. Some of the songs are perfect for getting your cry out. Some let you jam in your awesomeness. And some may be something you would like to tell those loser f*ckboys.

P.P.S. This SNL clip is probably my favorite of all time because it includes Drake and is just hilarious. Some people will get why I included this clip, but even if you don’t it will brighten any mood that f*ckboys tried to bring down.