You owe it to yourself to be better.
It’s so easy, as a lady-type, to give into the whimsy and free spiritedness that Anthropologie and Free People tell me I should be. Grow out your hair and wear crotchet pants!
Use that one filter that makes your pictures look orangey! Constantly undermine your connection to others with your desperate need to prove that you are an individual by writing nonsense that literally just describes facets of any person, like you won a bet to create the worst type of fortune cookie fortune or astrology reading ever because you’ve decided to shortchange your creative and intellectual capabilities hoping to become the type of woman you know you’re not and will never be because no one is that woman but we are all afraid of becoming her antithesis! [inhales deeply] For example, shit like this:
There is power, in a way, in the whimsical, misunderstood goddess image fed to women. At least, that’s what the image is trying to sell. You want to be your own hero, pave your own path, own cultural and religious iconography from anywhere not considered “the West” because somewhere deep down, you know you are “the West” and those beheaded Buddhas and chakra stones set you apart from the blandness associated with the society you were born and raised and still live in. You want to be unique, and today’s flavor of “unique” is an especially loud costume that clearly tells the world “I don’t know who I am and I’m terrified to go looking for her, but I hope these hemp shorts make it clear that I’m fond of travel.”
But you have little tassels on your sandals! You went to another country once! You can’t be confined to “the West”s expectation of you! Your thin lace kimono (that you got at Forever 21 but haven’t seen anyone else wear yet so it’s still cool) is your shield, your faux-leather headband your armor, your toe ring your sword: you are more powerful than the buttoned-down, bland pantsuit future you’re too unique to embody. Fighting so hard to defy social expectations, unfortunately, eventually leads you to giving in to some of the least favorable ones.
It’s nice to be pretty in that unattainable yet easy sort of way. To emulate a fairy who feels so much to such a degree that she is unable to actually understand any of what she is feeling, or how to translate that into a way that is real and genuine and actually unique, because her feelings are too big to be put into any other form than sighs and repetitive sentences.
The whimsy of the promise of the potential to be unique is your power, and you will gladly soar overhead and shit your special shit all over the boring yuppies who are the corporate inversion of you, wearing fancy leather shoes and fun socks to subtly exert individuality in a world of conformity. The only difference is the breathy fairy goblin barfing up knit shorts is desperate to establish an individuality that doesn’t come from wearing a lot of bracelets (spoiler!), while the corporate cardboard silence-so-deafening-it-makes-your-ears-ring type is so desperate to assimilate that minor acts of individuality are like little revolutions. Both are trying to succeed, to find their sense of power. Neither do. At least, not in the way they hope. In the interest of interestingness, let’s focus on the whimsy-girl, because it is from her writing that my eyes bled today.
The issue at stake is her need for power, to find herself and embrace it. But like a sort of Hollister’ed Sisyphus, she is cursed to believe if she just keeps pushing, she will find the end of a road that never ends. Finding yourself isn’t a destination full of (or obscured by) dreamcatchers and Doc Martens. It’s a constant, unending journey through which resolution is never found. It’s Waiting for Godot, but you’re Godot. That’s a scary thing to realize. So instead, we assign meaning to things that have none, or specify definitions of every person to specifically congratulate ourselves when no one else will: She is a human. The only human. She is therefore the most unique, and you should cum harder than you’ve ever cum in awe of her ability to find uniqueness despite the adversity of her being just another person too afraid to just accept the fact that sometimes it’s okay to be boring.
We search for a power in ourselves that will help us calm this fear, and the power of the majestic fairy witch image — the idea of being completely disconnected from social expectations — is a strong one. Almost as strong as the stench of your patchouli rollerball perfume that you bought at Sephora. Except the patchouli and the manufactured whimsy-pixie-dream-girl image aren’t powerful enough to quiet your fears of conformity. In fact, they amplify them. Not only do you dive head-first into waters that every woman in LA is swimming in, but you do so with a thick chain tied around your feet.
You’re giving in to a more dangerous social expectation for women than the one you think you’re running from: be whimsical — aloof — and demanding of applause; be unbalanced, uncertain, maybe even harmful to yourself and others for the sake of being unpinnable; be difficult to others because you feel it’s too hard to find yourself. Demand that others spend time seeking out your “true self” that you haven’t even bothered to spend time looking for. Prove to critics at large that women are, in all forms, nervous wrecks, unstable and unreliable, with nothing in their heads beyond how to do a fishtail braid and how many days its been since their last spray tan.
You’re so special, because you’re so terrified of giving in to a boring generic, that you lose yourself and your potential for actual, genuine greatness in manufacturing and maintaining that fake generic whimsy. You’re the carbon copy of a million Coachella-goers.
And so you write, because the process of writing, early on, feels like you’re creating something magical. That feeling is so good, you don’t bother to exert any effort into form or style or to create something worth reading or to even ask yourself if your future involves writing (but of course it does, because it’s artsy, even though you really have a knack with statistics and keep feeling a weird urge to work in finance). Or you paint, or sketch, or whatever artsy thing it is, because you think being caught in the process, being able to put artsy whimsical credits to your name, will validate your need to be a wisp of throat-catching smoke. You have to be “intrigued by the exotic and undiscovered,” just like every average joe, because being intrigued by the common and the known is somehow not special enough to you, despite the connectedness that comes from being the person to first make someone else notice how the moon — always there, common as shit — sort of looks like John Lennon.
You sacrifice deeply examining anything serious for the sake of having wide eyes about like, a waterfall in Nicaragua. You sacrifice the opportunity to develop an actual, genuine voice talking about new things or old things in a new way, for the sake of whispering the same bullshit that’s been said, through a veil you got at Burning Man.
If you want to write — genuinely, actually want to write, not just sit in a coffee shop and clack on your keyboard — shed yourself of this bullshit haze. You owe it to yourself to think critically, to think ugly, to criticize yourself and call yourself ugly, to throw up all the nastiest parts of you and your thoughts and observations and to see what catches in your throat the most.
This inane, soft bullshit discredits your goal to actually be a writer. You can’t create anything worthwhile if you’re stuffing yourself with chamomile tea and forcing all of your humanity into a tiny box in your chest so the rest of you can be filled with soft pretty things. You can’t write anything worthwhile that way. You have to be visceral. Feel venom and rage pulsing through you that makes you want to stop typing and just scream, about nothing in particular. Drive yourself chaotically, poisonously insane as you type. Feel rage tense up your jaw and tighten your hands into claws. Aggressively force all the bile of your humanity out onto the page, then gradually wipe it off — but let the stench of it stick around.
Authenticity is not a beautifully lit room with gossamer curtains flowing in the breeze. It’s the bird shit that flies into the room when the windows are opened and lands on the curtains, getting rubbed all over the walls by that gentle breeze. It’s the discovery of the bird shit weeks later, the shock and misplaced sense of betrayal, and the eventual task of cleaning up this bizarre attack. It’s the painful tingling of your foot (that you don’t mention) after you’ve tripped on something and laughed it off, not the quirkiness of the trip. It’s the chunks of half-digested salsa in your vomit after you partied too hard the night before, not the tanned, smiling selfies taken and posted before the party started. Be visceral, you cotton candy hack.