Bulletproof Skin.

I've been bingeing on a lot of Luke Cage lately and if there's one thing right now that I wish I could have, it's his bulletproof skin. 

Never mind the fact that he's wicked strong and bullets bounce off of him like ping pong balls. What I want is to have his skin, metaphorically speaking.

See, I've been called a lot of things lately. 

Most of them pertain to my personality, my taste in music, my punny sense of humor, the meticulous method in which I keep my bar area clean, my dating life, my adoration of cats, my height, my style, and everything in between. 

Basically, all of the little things that make me different, the little things I grew up appreciating, embracing, and believing made me unique and one of a kind, I now find to be the causes of ridicule and scrutiny. 

A mixture of jealousy, misunderstanding, and ignorance, these comments have, over time, been chipping away at my self-esteem. 

Where once I was confident, assured, and looking onward to the future with optimism and grace, I now find myself struggling with comments that hurt me deep down, comments that didn’t used to affect me, but now hide behind brave smiles.

Like a scab, each and every remark that's fired my way with ill intention and teasing aim picks and picks at my sensitivity, going deeper and deeper below the skin. And every time the scab is picked, the skin becomes more sensitive, hurting just a little bit more. 

I have been made fun of because of my love of Hamilton. Told it's "dumb to listen to" and that "history should be kept in the classroom and music shouldn't require attention", I have been left feeling nerdy about my taste in music. 

Every day, I get a derogatory comment on my height. Whether my height is used in a sexual situation, told it's intimidating, or made fun of because "I might never get a boyfriend, but hey, at least you're pretty!", what I once thought was my unique identifier now makes me want to crawl under my covers and hide. 

My extensive knowledge of witty and punny comments now just makes people roll their eyes and tell me to go away. I guess having a sense of humor isn't attractive for a girl. 

My relationship status? Perpetually single and only occasionally dating whatever disappointing heartbreaker walks into my life. I'm made to wonder if something's wrong with me, but no one ever believes my defense that I haven't met someone who moves me. It's not my fault I’m single.

The soft spot in my heart for cats? "Weird. Strange. Crazy cat lady. No wonder you don’t have a boyfriend." Enough said. 

My style? I have been compared to in the last month: a witch, Mickey Mouse, a Frenchie, someone who puts in too much effort for the morning, and looking “interesting”, among many others.

I don't know where in my life my skin began to break down and I allowed myself to let these negativities pass through and effect me. But I know that I've pinpointed the problem and that it must stop.

The scab has now turned into a full on flesh wound and I fear bursting into tears at any given time when a snide or teasing comment is directed my way about who I am and what makes me different. 

I may not be Luke Cage with bulletproof skin and superhero muscle powers, but I can stand up for myself and say enough is enough. 

I am the key to my own happiness and I shouldn't let that key reside in someone else's pocket. I alone can fix it and it requires strength from the inside as well as the bravery to confront my attackers. 

Misery loves company, and I know that a lot of the teasing, bullying, and harrassment has to do with envy, which is essentially unexpressed admiration.

Instead of letting these individuals bring me down to their level, I have to remain true to who I am and all of the unique qualities about me, for being brave in the face of adversity will hopefully teach them a lesson in being confident in who you are, despite ridicule and insult thrown your way.

Just because I smile and shuffle the comment away with a shy laugh doesn't mean it's not picking at my self-esteem. People should know better than to make fun of what they don't understand (like, have you ever even listen to the soundtrack of Hamilton? Guarantee you'll like it), and they should learn to think before they speak. The mantra, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it" always passes through my mind whenever a potentially rude comments becomes afloat in my head.

Those little quirks and perks everyone makes fun of me for having are what set me apart from everyone else and I'll be damned if I let them take that away from me. 

Bring on the bullets and the nasty comments. Like Luke Cage, I’m going to defend my own version of Harlem (me), and I’m going to stand up for myself and let them know that what they’re saying isn’t going to fly with me anymore.

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Weak Ties.

I cried upon touchdown and I cried upon departure.

My trip to Alaska was far too short but it was also just the right amount of time.

Aside from bringing some of that California sunshine with me, when I landed in Kenai, Alaskan mountain ranges displaying an unreal backdrop behind me, it felt like my life in California was a far and distant dream.

I soaked in every moment to the fullest, appreciating the beauty and opportunity to be able to come back home and visit like this, to step away and gain some wise perspective on my life, and yet when the time came for me to leave again, I found my strength wavering and my tears beginning to burst.

I wasn’t brave! I cried like a fool and my heart felt like the two pound sinker on it’s way down to the bottom of Prince William Sound, lost in the current of the sea.

I hugged my cat as her fur became wet with my tears, looking around at my room imprinted with scraps and memories of who I was, who I longed to be again, and tried to remain cool and tear free around my mom and dad.

I asked my mom through heaving tears why it was so hard to leave, why I wasn’t a brave adult like the rest of them and once again, Mom replied with the simplicity and wiseness I needed:

It’s hard to leave a place where you’re loved.

And that explained everything.

Home isn’t just “home” for me, it’s this special place that I haven’t entirely appreciated until I learned the value and importance of blooming where I was planted.

For so long, I was so focused on getting out there and pursuing my magazine in a big city without really taking the time to research opportunity where I was.

See, on my last day in Alaska, I was in 602 talking to our new chef for Addie Camp, Maya Wilson, who got started on a food blog and currently has a published cookbook. I was telling her about my unsuccesses in the Bay area with my magazine and having trouble finding the time to get it off the ground when she told me:

Oh, well I have people here you could talk to. I’ve got a publisher, I started my career on a blog. I could help.

So I’m telling my mom this in one of the booths and this woman behind her excuses herself for interrupting, but she heard the word “magazine”, perked up and had to introduce herself.

As a veteran in the publishing industry, this woman used to work for Hearst Publishing in New York City and was a wealth of knowledge. I only had a moment to chat, but we exchanged information and she was obviously excited to share her experience in any way she could, and help me on with my passion.

And this happened in a matter of minutes. In Alaska. Inside of 602, a coffee shop in a train car.

I got farther along in my pursuance of my magazine in five minutes here in small town Soldotna, AK than in six months in California.

It’s been here all along, in a place I simply took for granted.

In a section of an awesome new book I’m currently reading (of which you’ll hear more of as time goes on), it talked about the value of “weak ties.”

Weak ties are those relationships that aren’t part of your close cluster of comfortable and familiar friends, but are individuals who offer fresh perspectives, opportunities, information, and can turn into important connections.

I have a ton of strong ties, but I’ve never really been good at utilizing or seeing the possibility of having relationships with people I don’t know.

Well here’s a perfect example of two weak ties I made in a place I had checked off as being not ambitious enough, or too in my comfort zone for things to flourish.

I’m certainly not saying moving to California was a mistake, because if there’s anything I’ve learned since moving here, it’s been about myself. I stepped out of my comfort zone, I figured out that I can’t think my way through life but have to act upon my thoughts and do something, and I’ve learned a lot because of that.

There’s a reason my heart weeps when I leave Alaska, and it’s not because I’m Sensitive Sally. Alaska is a place that has the potential and the resources to help me become who I’m meant to be.

When I’ll be back? Time will tell.

But in the meantime, I’ll utilize the time whilst in California to continue to stretch myself out of my comfort zone even more, take advantage of the things not offered in Alaska, and I’ll look at each and every relationship I have with people, strong tie or weak tie, as possibilities to open doors I might otherwise keep shut.

 

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