If You Always Do What You Always Did…

My mom will be pleased to read that some of the things she has said to—or in some cases drilled into—me have stuck with me into adulthood. This she has said both to me and to her own mother on countless occasions: “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.” 

A quick google search found that quote attributed to author Tony Robbins, along with Albert Einstein and Henry Ford. I’m not sure where my mom first heard it (and no, I didn’t bother to ask), but it clearly stuck with her as she passed it on to me. I would be inclined to believe it came from an innovator like Einstein or Ford because it expresses the idea that if you keep doing the same thing, you’re going to keep seeing the same result. 

Sure there are more details involved, but you can imagine Henry Ford standing in the factory saying, “Ah murderation (or some other old-timey exclamation)! If we keep building one car at a time, we’ll just keep making one car at a time and it will take lifetimes to see all of America driving automobiles!” or something to that effect. And thus, the assembly line was born. 

My mom has so far not heeded this advice when I’ve come to her in shambles because I haven’t been able to revolutionize an industry. But she does present it when I come to her and say, “I have x problem and it’s not getting fixed because y.” The y is usually some person with routine patterns that need to change or some job that needs to change or some habit I’ve created that I need to change. In essence, she cuts right to the point. No nonsense, no frills. If you can change it, you have to—if you want the result to be different.

Why in the world could I possibly be writing this when we’ve just had two mass shootings in 24 hours? I can’t possibly put two and two together.

But it’s bigger than that. I know we are not the same country we were when Columbine happened. Or Virginia Tech. Or Sandy Hook. Things have changed, albeit on a microscopic level, but things have changed and I won’t pretend people aren’t doing anything to change the routine of gun-related tragedies. But we have to understand that on a macro scale, the effort to end gun violence has remained mostly the same. You don’t need to be a policy expert to see that. Why? Because we’re getting the same result. Either we’re not changing the right things or maybe we just aren’t changing anything.

Take it outside of gun violence, and I keep begging the question: why are we as a country doing the same thing year after year, election after election and expecting different results?

When I was in my last semester of college, I had a painting professor give us a prompt to think about and eventually paint about. He gave us with no context this quote: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” I didn’t google it at the time—I’m not sure if we were explicitly prohibited or if I was just lazy—but I now know where it comes from and that alone will give a lot of folks all the context they need. But the class discussion illuminated for me the meaning that whoever is in charge is not going to be taken down by the same means that they were put in power. The actual reference is a book by civil rights activist, Audre Lorde.

If defeating Trumpism™—or however you choose to define the chaos everyone is seeing in this country—is the goal, then the strategy we tried to use to beat it in 2016 is obviously not going to work. Yet here we are trying it again. Maybe if we just vote harder this time…

I don’t mean to sound so pessimistic about the future and the work that some leaders are doing to combat hatred as well as the other issues like climate change, healthcare, and immigration. But I find it truly mind-blowing that we have really just gotten so comfortable with the idea that the America where people aren’t in constant anger if not fear and sadness will reappear (or, for many many people, appear for the very first time) if we just keep doing the same routines. 

I will put it in writing: I would love to see a revolution in this country. As a historian, yes I think it was something of a remarkable bureaucratic feat to create this nation at the time of its foundation. To be able to fight against the strongest military in the world and with no legal right and a noose on the line to say “We want this freedom and we’re not going to stop until we get it,” is really bold. 

There is no difference between what the founders did 243 years ago and what a group of determined individuals who band together, go against the grain, and refuse to quit can do today. We take the American Revolution for granted because we think that should have been the only one. 

Yes, that common phrase people say Jefferson said about every generation needing a revolution, is mostly fake. But he did say, “What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?” He’s actually talking about Shay’s Rebellion—a relatively small uprising over, go figure, taxes—which turned out to be a major catalyst for the writing of a small document known today as the Constitution.

I’m going to try not to go down a historical rabbit hole here, but this example kind of nuances the thesis of “always doing what you always did.” The rebellion mirrored the Revolution in that these farmers felt they were being taxed unfairly, and they took physical action to get a say. The major change here was that they were farmers and not wealthy men leading the charge, and they were thus swiftly defeated. So to that end, it proves the point that doing the same thing won’t work. But they did see a changed result in that their protest made the people in charge realize the Articles of Confederation weren’t going to work.

From this example, we understand that a revolution in the traditional sense that Americans understand it probably won’t work. But we need to understand that the revolutions that work focus on the technical definition of a revolution: a dramatic and wide-reaching change in the way something works or is organized or in people’s ideas about it. 

There is no revolution so long as we’re using the same systems that built whatever it is that needs to be changed. There will be no real revolution until we change the entire way we think about how our government works.

What Have We Learned

2018 has quite literally felt like one of the longest years of my life. I’ve probably said that in some form every year for the last 3 years at least, but this one was particularly chaotic and thus felt like an eternity. But what have we learned? It’s been such a transitional year for me that it feels like I’ve lived three separate lives this year. And through it all, I’ve picked up a number of life lessons I thought I’d share.

I started the year as a senior in college interning at a fashion magazine. I was more broke than I had ever been in my life, but enjoying my final semester of college. Then I spent the summer interning at The Daily Beast, which was kind of like big-girl-job purgatory. Not because it was a bad experience, but because I had entered into adulthood in terms of working a 9-5 job and being out of school, but it wasn’t permanent, and I still went in every day with what felt like a sign on my back that said “intern.” And not because I was treated as such there, more just because I knew the whole time it was temporary and I spent a lot of time applying to other jobs and worried about what would happen when the internship was over. And now here I am finishing out the year as a full-time employee at LendingTree, enjoying the full benefits of paid time off, health insurance (granted, I’ve yet to actually utilize either of these literal benefits), and a level of job security I did not know before.

One taught me love, one taught me patience, and one taught me pain…I type that in jest, but that lyric really could be used to describe the different roles I went through this year. My glitzy fashion internship was more or less a bust. I threw so much money at the MTA just trying to make it a worthwhile experience, and at the end of the day, it wasn’t. I don’t regret doing it—I did learn what it’s like to work at a fashion magazine (yawn), and that some celebrities who will not be named give excruciatingly boring interviews. I can’t say for certain that the gig at ELLE allowed me to pursue my next endeavor, but I have to acknowledge that it didn’t detract me from my trajectory. I went into my next stint at The Daily Beast with the feeling that I had a minuscule amount of journalism experience.

My time at The Daily Beast did a few things for me. It made me love the news a little bit more and hate the news a little bit more. Part of that was just the timing, I mean I don’t know if there’s a news cycle that anyone really wants, but the one I worked with this summer was absolutely not it. It tapped into levels of empathy I didn’t know I had while exposing me to a vast list of things I do not understand. It challenged me to learn more while drawing on my education. In terms of hard job skills, I picked up a couple at The Beast, but I learned a lot more about myself that I’ll get into in a moment.

And here I am now just over a month into my new job at LendingTree. I won’t say more than I can about what the experience has been, but it has been positive. The corporate world is insane and I’m not sure I love that aspect of it, but my office is homely and my team has been incredibly welcoming. I have the satisfaction of knowing I’m where I’m meant to be right now.

So what have we learned?

Probably the biggest lesson I’ve taken out of this year is knowing when to be selfish, and doing it. I spent way too much time this year in my professional and personal life waiting for someone else to make a decision for me, or tell me what I want, when I absolutely could have and should have taken the reins. I always thought I was a selfish person until it was important for my well-being that I be selfish. It was hard (because I’m obviously super selfless). But I had to take a good look in the mirror (and get yelled at by my mom) to say, “Kamaron, you should be doing better.” Which brings me to my next lesson.

Patience is not just virtue, it is the virtue. Each of the jobs I had along with just being a person this year was a constant reminder to have patience. But with that, I also had to give myself a kick sometimes and say I’m not going to sit around waiting for this or that. I did and you do at some point need to say “Here’s what I can do to change this,” and then do it. There will always be factors you can’t change, but the ones you should change aren’t going to change themselves. Sorry to get preachy, but that was experience I really went through in my job search. Patience kept me a little bit sane when I sent out dozens of job applications that would get no response. Patience kept me from committing a crime when I would hear back from a job 5 months later letting me know I’d been rejected. But I also changed my resume or my search approach probably ten times throughout my process. I refused to give up half because I literally couldn’t, and half because I knew something good would come out of it.

One lesson The Daily Beast did reinforce for me was to have the confidence to speak up. I consider myself an outgoing person, but I am deathly shy especially when I know I’m in no position of authority. My defaults to thinking no one wants to hear my ideas because I’m just the intern or I’m just the assistant, or I’m just Kamaron…and I do regret the amount of time I spent at The Daily Beast not sharing my thoughts. It really just took my supervisor saying, “You should speak up more,” for me to be like “Oh they want my input.” Realistically I should have had the confidence all along to know they hired me for a reason and that I was a voice they wanted at the table, but it took a push for me to actually speak up. By the end of my time, my supervisor was applauding my ideas because some of them were actually good.

The final major lesson I’m taking away from 2018 is the greatest of all that I have now just ruined by tying it to a played-out cliché. Yeah it’s love. Wow, did Kamaron grow a heart in 2018? Kind of! I didn’t need to learn how to love, but I did start paying extra close attention to the way I show my love. Through all of the ups and downs of the year, I clung so tightly to the people in my life who make it all worth it. I went through a period in the year where I felt like I was being a really bad friend because I knew I didn’t show love the way my friends did for me. In some ways, I literally couldn’t—like when some of my friends show me love by paying for me to come out with them when I can’t afford to. But there were plenty of other ways other friends would show me love that I didn’t reciprocate for no reason.

I had friends on campus who without fail whenever I saw them, would offer to be there for me if I needed help with anything. Friends who consistently complimented my outfits or pictures online and in person. Little things that would make me smile or make my whole day, but I wasn’t doing for them—with no excuse. So I decided I needed to make an effort to show the people I love that I love them in whatever ways I could, just because I could. The real lesson here was realizing, these people weren’t doing these things for me because they had to, or for any ulterior motive. They just wanted to let me know that they love me and care about me, and I learned it is so special and important to let people know you love them in this way. Just in your every day interactions. It sounds kind of stupid now that I’ve written it down and I do feel like the Grinch character here who had to learn basic human affection, but progress is progress!

That was my 2018. I lived, I learned, I loved. Came, saw, and conquered. The what’s next question is big and open-ended for me right now, but that’s a good thing.

Happy Holidays, and a very Happy New Year

xoxo,

Kam

Semantics

Words kind of run my life as a writer. So I think about them all the time—how they work together, how they change with context, how they define all these aspects of our lives—semantics, essentially. Words carry weight, that’s undeniable. But too often we get caught up in the semantics that we start to miss the point. We can’t see the forest for the trees—we think if we call something by another name, it changes the meaning entirely, and that cannot be true.

Politically, socially, and practically I’ve lately been paying more and more attention to the way we use and manipulate words to get what we want or to get a point across. We add weight to words to make issues seem larger than they are—often to a fault. We decorate sentences with flowery language to hide something in the tangles. We act one way and speak a different way because words are disputable when actions are not. Think about the word “literally.” In an epic scene from one of my favorite shows, The Newsroom, Jane Fonda brings to light the fact that the dictionary has added a definition to the word “literally” which states that the word can mean “figuratively.” She blames the fact that people continually misused the word “literally” so much that the dictionary made the definition cater to those who used the word correctly, so now when someone says “literally” we don’t necessarily know if they mean actually or figuratively. How wild is that?

I don’t think I have a point here. Semantics is the point. Words do have meaning, but maybe keep an eye on the actions that follow the words. Don’t miss the forest for all the trees.

Noise

I have this weird form of claustrophobia where it only affects my well being in super specific conditions. The fear that makes my heart race and breath irregular appears whenever either the use of my feet or my ears is compromised. The feet is just one of those comfort things I think is somewhat normal. I can’t sleep with my feet under the covers or in socks, and footie pajamas give me angina. I just like to know when the boogeyman reaches out from under the bed I’ll be able to kick back and maybe poke his eyes out with my toes.

The hearing issue is different, though. It is affected in even more specific situations, but also in the metaphoric sense. For example, I can be driving by myself and blasting music with no problem. But if I’m in a car with other people and music is blasting and someone tries to have a conversation, it feels like the walls are closing in. Or if I’m in a group and we’re trying to decide something and everyone is shouting ideas in a competition to see who can be the loudest, a part of my soul starts screaming. I just have this real sense of panic whenever there’s too much noise I can’t control.

I bet you thought this was going to be a political rant. Surprise, it’s not, and you’re welcome. I know we’re all tired of hearing about it. I am going to speak to that, though. I am excruciatingly tired of it. All I wanted was for the election to be over so we could carry on our everyday lives, but something unprecedented has happened, and everything has changed and no one really knows where to go. Or so it feels. It feels this way, at least to me, because there’s so much noise. It’s not even two-sided anymore. Everyone wants everyone to do something differently and we’re all just screaming at each other trying to be the loudest. We can’t even claim we’re the most correct because who knows what correct even looks like. I just want it all to be quiet again.

And even that, I’m told is wrong. I know it’s wrong in the sense that we should not continue to be complacent with the systematic issues like racism and sexism, but I can’t help but wish we could be complacent because at least it was the devil we knew. It’s funny because we know that with Hillary the world was not going to get better overnight. It may not have even improved much in four years. We know under Obama things got better but surely a black president did not do much for racism, and a woman president would likely do the same amount to fix sexism. But at least we knew they were trying. Trump isn’t even officially president yet and it seems someone picked up America and started shaking it like a snow globe. I want the snow to settle so we can see what’s going to happen. I know he’s the bad guy. I loathe that man, but it’s so loud in this country right now that I don’t even know what’s going to happen.

 

The Mean Reds

In his masterpiece, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote wrote, “You know the days when you get the mean reds?…The blues are because you’re getting fat, and maybe it’s been raining too long. You’re just sad, that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid, and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?” I have that feeling.

It’s 12:30 on a Sunday night and I was thinking about that book, that quote, and the Holly Golightly character. She is admired as the essence of class in her little black dress, but anyone who’s actually seen the movie or read the book knows she’d be institutionalized if she was a real person in the 60’s. She’s nuts.

I hate this character trope. She’s the manic pixie dream girl we all hate to love, but what happens when we become her? You think things aren’t going your way because you’re just too flighty and too tied down to the mundane musings of everyday life. You get the mean reds.

I’m suffocating. I love everything that I’m doing. I love my classes, my school, my activities, but when I let everything settle and I look at what’s in front of me, I get short of breath and wonder if I’m doing anything at all. My stomach is in knots thinking about the future but doesn’t untangle if I think about the right now.

It sucks because I know that I’m not depressed. I feel blessed that I don’t have the type of chemical imbalances that make people feel this way all the time, but what do I do when I feel this way? When I’m not “bad” enough to be medicated, but I’m not “good” enough to not feel like this today? I want to slap Holly Golightly because she’s being ridiculous and making everyone else miserable, but then I realize I’m doing the same thing. I’m watching myself do it, but I can’t slap myself and tell me to stop.

But I’ll get over it. It’s just the mean reds.

xoxo,

Kam

My Body Story

Before continuing, I want to say that by writing this I am not trying to inspire anyone. I am not trying to convince you to love your body even though you should. I am not making a plea to society to accept me the way I am. I am writing how I feel about the bones, the muscles, and the fat that I have been blessed with for over 20 years. This is my body story.

There’s this half-serious joke in my head where I attribute the shape of my body to a summer I call “the summer of bagels.” In my memory, there was a summer where my mom worked every day and left me and my older sister Kassidy home alone with a dozen bagels a week for the whole summer. We have talked about this and recognized that there is basically no way this could have happened because I have two other siblings and at the time a dad who should have all been home during these days. But in my memory, it was me and Kassidy every day until my mom came home from work around 3:30. We would get up, make bagels with butter, Kraft singles, and garlic salt; take all the cushions off the couches, build a fort, and watch the Lion King. Every day.

I bring up this summer, because in my head this must have been the summer I got fat. That’s what makes sense. Bagels make you fat, and it was after that summer that I started to see myself as such. It was around second or third grade, and I started to realize that the other girls I was friends with didn’t have to pull their pants up to cover their belly buttons. I started to think about dieting. I started thinking “next summer I’m going to run every day and be thin.” I’ve had that thought every summer since then, and have never gone through with it.

First it was the juniors section. I started wearing “juniors” clothes in 4th grade, which I thought was really cool because I felt like a teenager even though I was only 10. I didn’t fully realize that it kind of meant I was bigger than most girls my age, but I didn’t care then because the Juniors section was way cooler than the “Girls” section. But 4th grade brought the challenge of a new school with a lot more kids. In my town, there are 4 elementary schools that are Kindergarten to 3rd Grade, then everyone goes to the Intermediate School for 4th-6th Grade then Middle and High School. In 4th grade I realized I was no longer a big fish in a small pond. I was a fat fish in a skinny pond. On the first day of school a popular boy told me to “go back to the zoo,” and I realized I had become an outsider overnight.

By 6th grade, I had befriended all these popular kids, and become somewhat popular myself. The only thing I was missing was the clothes the popular kids were wearing: Hollister, Abercrombie, Aeropostale. One reason was my family was just kind of against spending so much money on such cheap clothes, but the other reason was the clothes weren’t made for girls my size. One time at the mall, Kassidy and I wandered into a Hollister and before the cologne could hit our lungs, my dad pulled us out by our necks saying We don’t shop here.”

Middle school wasn’t hard for me. I thrived in middle school. I tell everyone I know that I was really popular in middle school as if that’s something to be proud of. No one ever called me fat, and if they did it was because I had called them something much worse.

High school was where things got really tricky. I had a really hard time adjusting to private school. And I gained weight to show for it. Softball season came and I tried on my uniform and sobbed. The pants didn’t fit. I had to buy my own pants and felt like I was sticking out like a sore thumb.

At the end of a season of warming the bench, my coach broke the news to me. She needed me to lose some weight this summer.

I had and still do have a lot of respect for her. And I accepted what she told me as correct. I needed to lose weight in order to get better at softball. She handed a workout plan to follow that summer. My sister was also getting married at the end of the summer and as the biggest bridesmaid, I wanted to fit into my dress a little better, so I started the plan. I stopped the plan maybe a week into it. But I started dancing instead. Not “real” dancing, but playing Just Dance on the Wii in my basement. It’s a killer workout. I played religiously. At the final fitting for my sister’s wedding, I had gone down a size, and the seamstress congratulated me.

I returned to school with a newfound confidence. Not because I had lost a ton of weight (I didn’t, really) or changed my size ever so slightly. Sophomore year was the year I started to love myself. I started to learn not what clothes looked good on me, but what clothes I liked to wear (and that looked good on me, but that’s not the point). It was around this time that body positivity started to be this radical new trend. Seventeen Magazine started their Body Peace Treaty, teaming with celebrities to make a pact to love their bodies no matter what they looked like. I can’t say that that is what I needed. I didn’t need Demi Lovato saying “I love my body so should you,” for me to love myself. Or maybe I did.

From there, I only got better. I grew into my body and just started to figure it all out. The end of high school and beginning of college continued to teach me about this vessel I inhibit. College softball taught me about the incredible feats I can put my body through, and my body will still thank me. A love of fashion and growth of the plus size industry has taught me that style literally does come in every size. I still get frustrated sometimes because mainstream retailers are still hesitant to diversify their sizes, but I find ones that aren’t afraid of big girls, and I give them my money instead.

This turned into a longer story than I intended, so I’m a little sorry for that mainly because I haven’t said what I’ve wanted to say yet and I’m still figuring it out. I just want people to know that I don’t need sympathy or special attention. I’m not afraid to be fat. Fat has this awful connotation that too many people in this society seems to be afraid of, but I’m not. I used to pray every night that God would let me wake up a size 3, and every morning I would rage against him, but not anymore. Some days I pray I can wear shorts without fear of chafing, but you know, it’s a part of life.

I was told kind of my whole life that I have to fit a certain mold or do things a certain way because of my size. When skinny jeans first got popular, my whole family mocked me for even thinking I could find a pair in my size. But I haven’t worn anything else since my freshman year of high school.

What I hate is when I make a comment about my body like having fat thighs and people rush to my defense. I appreciate the thought, but I don’t need it. Contrary to popular belief, “fat” is an adjective not a death sentence. I hate when skinny girls complain about being fat becuase it makes me think, “If you think that’s what fat looks like and it’s so ugly to you, what do you think of me?” Not that I need everyone to think that I’m so beautiful, but when it’s your friends, it makes you wonder.

I’ve been thinking about this post for such a long time, and I’m kicking myself for not writing it sooner because now I’m afraid I haven’t done it justice. I’m just so tired of people trying to stand up for other fat people. I think there is a lot of fat shame in society like there is a lot of racism and homophobia and other prejudice that we can’t seem to eradicate. I don’t have to defend myself to anyone, but I am going to love myself unconditionally and unapologetically.

I’m healthy. I’m very active—not that those things matter to anyone except me. What I really want to say is I don’t think I needed all the outside inspiration and I don’t think I can inspire anyone to love their bodies the way I do mine—they have to figure it out on their own. I know people look at me and wish they had this confidence and I want to tell them: you do. You just have to find it inside of yourself. Mine was here all along I just had to tune out a lot of negativity. I hope you’ll do the same.

I’ll end with a few lines from my favorite poem, “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

xoxo,

Kam

Age of Nonsense

Since I was a child, I have never felt like I’ve been the right age. Part of that may be attributed to the fact that I have three older siblings, but I’ve also just always felt a bit like a misfit in my age bracket.

When I turned 14 I was eager to get my first job. In New Jersey, you can’t legally work before then, so I had previously stuck to babysitting. Everywhere I tried to apply seemed to tell me the same thing: they only hire at 16. When I was 16 I went around again with two more years of babysitting under my belt, some volunteer work, and everyone told me the same thing: they only hire at 18. Then I turned 18 and everywhere I wanted to work wanted me to have 1-2 years of experience.

Now I’m at the ripe age of 20. I’ve had a few jobs at school and when I’ve been home in the summers. I have a resume I am constantly updating and distributing. Yet I still have this nagging feeling that I’m not where I’m supposed to be. Nay, I know I’m not where I want to be.

I spent the first half of my life wondering when I was going to be old enough and now here I am wondering if I’ve earned my admittance into the twenty-something club. Maybe I’m a victim of my own generation. We have this obsession with infantilizing ourselves by calling everyday tasks “adulting” and accepting defeat as these millennial babies that no one wants near their workplace. I know I’m not a part of that. I’ve been doing my own laundry since before I could remember. I am confident that if I had a full-time job I could support and take care of myself.

The problem is I’m in the weird limbo that is college and I can’t figure out exactly what that means for me on this societal timeline. I’m supposed to have job prospects. But I’m also supposed to still be learning. I’m supposed to be getting my life together, but it’s also apparently cool to be letting it fall apart.

I’ve written before about how I don’t really believe in this concept of “wasting time,” yet here I am feeling like I’ve wasted so many years. People younger than me have incredible internships and are starting their careers and I feel like I missed my window of opportunity. Is it possible that in the blink of an eye I went from waiting to be old enough to wishing I had more time?

 

Rules of The Dance Floor and Life

It’s summer, which for a lot of people means weddings, barbecues, and other parties of the like. In the summer I work at an event hall, and that means I see a lot of these events and a lot of dance floors and P!nk once said, “If God is a DJ, life is a dance floor.” I have compiled a list of my own rules for the dance floor accompanied by what they mean in the metaphor of life.

  1. Do not be the person texting on the dance floor. I see this all the time with people who are near my age. You’re dancing and having a great time, but then your friend who is somewhere else texts you about her boyfriend troubles or your own boyfriend is texting you making sure you’re not stepping out on him or hatever it may be. 90% of the time, it can wait. You look dumb trying to dance and have fun while staring into a screen. In life, need I say much more? Yes, technology is great. We all love our iPhones and Snapchat and everything. But take a minute and look up sometimes. You don’t need to keep everyone updated on every second of your life. Enjoy the moment in which you are present with those who are around you in real life.
  2. No one cares about your diet on the dance floor. Stop thinking about how many times you went up to the buffet. Stop wondering how long you have to Dougie before you burn off that piece of cake. Have fun. On an everyday basis, no one wants to know about how restrictive your diet is. If it makes you happy, and you enjoy what you are or aren’t eating, do it. But if you go to dinner with me, I’m getting a burger regardless of whether or not you’re just having a salad.
  3. It is [almost] always acceptable to be the first person on the dance floor. So in reality, if it’s a wedding and the dance floor is not open yet because they’re waiting to announce the bride and groom, do not be the first person on the dance floor. However, if the DJ says the dance floor is open and everyone is just looking around, be the first person. Everyone will silently thank you. Similarly, if you’re the only one willing to start something new, you should probably do it. There is a word derived from an indigenous language of Tierra Del Fuego known as Mamihlapinatapai, which refers to “a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other would initiate something that they both desire but which neither wants to begin.” We don’t have a word for this sensation in the English language, but we all know exactly what that is. Pro tip: be the initiator.
  4. If a dance circle opens up, take a turn in the center. I know not everybody loves being the center of attention as much as I do, but I think it’s always a good idea to take a step outside of your comfort zone, even if only for a minute. Take the spotlight sometimes. Even if you’re really bad at dancing. If you’re having fun, no one cares that you don’t have the best rhythm.
  5. Even if you hate the song, if everyone’s dancing, and you are otherwise having a good time, dance with them. You all know how much I hate Taylor Swift. But if I’m at a party, and Shake it Off comes on, you can bet I’m getting down to this sick beat™. It’s not worth my time to stand in the corner refusing to dance solely because I can’t stand the singer. Obviously in life, if you hate doing something or you are uncomfortable doing it, don’t do it. But if it’s something so minuscule as dancing to a Top 40 song, you might as well sing along.
  6. Learn the words to Bohemian Rhapsody. If you’ve been living under a rock for the last 40 years and still don’t know the words, or the gist of the words, do it now. Period. It’s basically the National Anthem. Just do it.
  7. Being single on the dance floor is usually more fun anyways. I have danced many a dance floor without a date. It’s fine. Don’t pout about it. Own it. When Single Ladies inevitably comes on, own that. Every living human being born not as a conjoined twin has had to be alone for some event in their life, and they have survived. You will survive if you make the most of it. It is okay to embrace singularity. On the dance floor and in life. It is okay to be alone. You’re never even really alone, there are 7.1 billion people in the world. Some alone time does us some good sometimes, anyway.
  8. Have a go-to song. On the dance floor, for karaoke, for the worst days of your life, have a go-to song. Learn a dance routine, learn the lyrics and the harmonies, make it your own. Get it tattooed on your body forever, if that’s what you’re into. Impress your friends with a flawlessly memorized Nicki verse, or some perfectly nailed choreography. This goes great for when you put #4 in practice. In life, you should figure out how to make yourself happy. Find your ultimate happy place that grounds you and brings you back into yourself for when the inevitably crappy things happen throughout your life. Find the thing that’s going to help you say “I’m okay. I’ll get through this.”
  9. Dance like nobody and everybody is watching at the same time. There is a psychological phenomenon called the imaginary audience when humans tend to believe that everyone around them is noticing them. Like when you’re having a bad hair day and you think surely everyone will notice. Truth is, no one really notices, and if they notice, they don’t care. So when you’re dancing and you don’t actually know how to dance, dance anyway. But don’t be afraid to show off if you are a really great dancer. Use the dance floor as a stage every now and then.
  10. What happens on the dance floor stays on the dance floor. Have fun. Life is short. Embarrass yourself, laugh about it, move on. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

 

xoxo,

Kam

Why is That Girl Crying About the Black Eyed Peas?

Spoiler alert: I’m the girl.

We all have that one song that whenever we hear it, wherever we are, we are sent into an emotional trance be it ecstasy or dejection.

For me, one of those songs is “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. I am not kidding. And the trance I go into is not necessarily happy. Every time that song plays I fight back tears. I was working my catering job last night for a Bar Mitzvah. The DJ played that song, and I had to tell myself, “Kamaron you are NOT about to cry in front of these 13-year-old kids.”

I sound crazy at this point, I realize that, but I’m so serious and I’m not totally proud of it. The Peas literally sing the days of the week in this song. It’s not exactly a lyrical masterpiece. Yet what it evokes in me would suggest something like that notion.

I remember when the hit song came out. It was huge, and 7 years later remains iconic. The song marked the unofficial (and shortlived) comeback of the Black Eyed Peas. It was regarded as the most successful song of the 21st century until it was surpassed by Pharrell’s “Happy” in 2014.

For me it means a lot more than the records and its cultural significance, though. It brings me back to middle school and the year following the untimely death of my father. I was getting ready to transition to high school and leave all my friends behind when I transferred into a private school. It was this moment of uncertainty for my life, but then will. i. am proclaimed, “I gotta feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night.”

That obscure but simple message is the tale as old as “Don’t worry, be happy.” BEP assures us, we don’t really know what the future or even the night holds, but they’ve got a feeling it’s going to be good, so we should enjoy it.

Maybe it’s just a catchy pop song. Maybe it’s just one of those fun songs we’ll keep playing at weddings and basketball games until we’re dead. Maybe I’m reading way too far into it, but maybe who cares? I’ve gotta feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night.

I’m Different, Yeah, I’m Different

Peter Griffin, of Family Guy fame, once sang a song that speaks to me on many levels:

What makes you so special/The fact that you are special/But if everybody’s special/that kinda waters it down/So some of you ain’t special/I can tell you who is special/like you and you ain’t special/ and you are, and you’re not.

We’re all pretty much raised to think that we’re something special, and have the ability to change the world. Every parent thinks their kid is the greatest thing. Even if you have siblings, your parent likely brags like “My kid is THE best!” And you ask them which one and your parent is like “All of them . They’re all the BEST.”

I have this weird complex in my head that I always felt like I was actually super special. Like I will be a celebrity or something because my brain can’t function as an average person. This is a real thing that goes through my head.

But I’m in college now, and I’ve met all these people that are incredible human beings. I sit in my writing classes and think How am I supposed to compete in the industry with these people? I sometimes wonder about people who went to my school like JJ Abrams. Did his professors and peers know he was going to be a huge Hollywood director? I don’t even really want that kind of fame I just want to be better than a lot of people.

But then I think about the average people. The ones who kind of just keep their head down, work hard, and live out the American Dream. By that I mean, they graduate, they get a job, settle down, find a spouse, have kids, then work until they die. That’s an “average life,” right? It’s not a bad thing. Some of us look at that and think it looks miserably boring, but like that’s what most people do and that is what life looks like.

That freaks me out a little bit, though. I don’t want to be average. I have to be special.

There’s nothing wrong with being average, though. We need average people, or else nothing would get done in the world. We all have our talents and gifts. I just like to think that my talents and gifts are going to put me on the map. Like Peter Griffin said, “If everybody’s special, that kinda waters it down.”

I’m the worst. 🙂

xoxo,

Kam