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Fear Factor

Everyone is afraid of something, whether they will admit to it or not. Spiders, snakes, heights, clowns. I’ll be the first to admit that I am afraid of a lot of things. Like, a LOT. Including those four things I listed above, I’ve got a lot of strange, irrational fears as well. Yeah, those ones that you can’t make any sense of or figure out where they came from, but you’re still freaked out by them anyway.

Perhaps the weirdest one I’m afraid of is calling people. I’m not afraid of answering the phone or talking on the phone to people, but I get so freaked out when I have to actually dial someone’s number. My heart races while I fumble through dialling the number, and if I manage to properly dial the number, that few seconds of dialtone waiting for the other person to pick up is so nerve-wracking. I can’t tell you what the hell caused this one or even why it bothers me so much, but I will go to great lengths to avoid having to calling anyone.

I’m also afraid of most barnyard birds, like chickens and geese and occasionally ducks. And swans. And pigeons. And crows. But mostly the barnyard poultry birds. This one I actually have a reason for, since I’ve been chased about by both geese and chickens before. They’re mean. They peck at your ankles, the dirty buzzards.

Then there’s the weird fact that I am not afraid of the dark or of enclosed spaces individually, but when combined together they are the thing of nightmares. There are few things in the world that I hate more than being stuck in dark, enclosed spaces.

Except maybe the dentist. God I hate the dentist.

I’ve somewhat tempered down my fear of spiders. I can handle spiders until they reach about the size of a nickel, and then I want nothing to do with them. That’s the point when I jump up on furniture and scream for mom to come save me.

And I never, under any circumstances, want anything to do with snakes. Ever. At all.

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I Hate Black Friday

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I f***ing hate Black Friday.

*breath* Okay now that that’s out of the way, I can talk about this a bit more rationally. Hopefully. I can’t promise that I won’t turn into a giant squid of anger by the end of this though, so be forewarned. It could happen. It most likely will happen. I can almost guarantee it.

So just a quick summary in case you’ve been living under a rock or you’re one of my lovely international readers who don’t have any idea what the hell I’m talking about. Black Friday is an American “holiday” the day after Thanksgiving when all of the stores have massive discounts so people stand in lines all night and then trample each other to death to do a bit of Christmas shopping.

I wish I was exaggerating, but I’m not, and that’s the problem.

I’ve always disliked the idea of Black Friday. As a kid it was simply the confusion of why people would stand around all night in the cold just to get a few cheap toys, but as I’ve gotten older it’s become more than that.

To break it down simply: The very day after we are all so thankful for the things we have, we beat each other to death trying to get more.

Does that seem like hypocrisy to anyone else, or is it just me?

And the biggest problem, sadly, isn’t just the blatant hypocrisy. It’s the fact that I’ve been using terms like ‘trample’ and ‘beat’ and I’m not just being overly-dramatic. People genuinely do fight to the death over these Christmas gifts. When the doors open, there are shoppers and store workers who get trampled by a crush of eager bargain hunters. It has become something of an accepted norm. People just shrug and say, “It happens.”

That’s disgusting.

It’s disgusting that we can keep condoning something that causes people to turn into stampeding wildebeest, crushing everything and everyone in their path. It’s disgusting that we can turn a blind eye when a woman pepper sprays a crowd that included children just to get her hands on an Xbox. It’s disgusting that there are people shooting each other over parking spaces. And it’s absolutely revolting that people don’t stop to help, that when emergency services show up the shoppers continue to fight for their presents and impede these people trying to save lives.

Did you know that one Black Friday rush back in 2008, in one Wal-Mart in Long Island, that not only was one worker trampled to death and several more injured when customers broke down the doors early to get in, but they also jostled one eight-month pregnant woman so badly that they caused a miscarriage?

How do we continue to allow these things to happen? Are we that greedy that we feel the few dollars saved on a present are worth people’s lives? Has human kind really sunk so low?

I am feeling particularly anti-Black Friday this year because of a new thing that’s becoming widespread and common. A majority of stores are opening, not at midnight on Friday morning like usual, but on Thursday evening. That’s right, they are actually opening up Thanksgiving night.

While we’re supposed to be home, visiting with family, indulging in turkey and wine, and enjoying all the wonderful things we have been given, there will be millions of Americans this year out fighting in the cold to save a few bucks on toys and clothes. Not only that, but this means that stores will be staying open, forcing millions of employees to work among these deadly crowds while they should be home with their families.

So much for the spirit of the season, huh?

Onceuponatime

Self-Confidence and Writing

For all that I like to preach the importance of self-confidence, it’s really one of those situations where I’m good at the talk but not quite so good at the walk. Self-confidence is one of those things I’ve struggled with my entire life and while it’s gotten much better – thank you anti-depressants – it’s still not quite all the way there. I’m awkward and insecure, I have things about myself that I hate, and I care what people think of me.

I just hide it better than some.

My insecurities don’t come so much in my physical appearance. I’ve reached a level of extreme self-awareness there. I know that I’m overweight, that my eyes are two different sizes, that I have the boobs of three women combined. It’s not exactly confidence, but it’s at least acceptance and I think that’s a pretty good start.

No, the parts that I’m most self-conscious about are the things inside. The parts of me that really make me me. Some things I don’t care if people judge me for, like my epic nerdiness or my eternal love affair with the Harry Potter books. I’m quirky and fun and flirty and giggly, and all of that is great. Some people don’t agree, some people judge me for those things, and you know what? I really don’t care, because those are my favourite parts of myself.

In the end, I suppose there’s really just the one thing that I’m truly afraid of having judged, and it’s the biggest part of who I am. My writing. When I write, I’m pouring my soul into my fiction. It’s an extension of my self, or who I am at my deepest core. So having people point and laugh and hate it is essentially like having them hate me. Hate my truest self.

And that is a f***ing terrifying prospect.

It’s not that I don’t think I’m a good writer. I do, and I know that technically I’m pretty good, and I even feel like a good writer sometimes. I think there are just times where I have a hard time believing it.

I’ve been publishing things online for years, from corny fanfiction to epic fanfictions (there’s a difference, people, trust me) to my own original fiction. I’ve even been published in literary journals, and been contacted by a publishing house – unfortunately for a novel I haven’t finished yet, but still… There’s all the evidence to support that this is genuinely something I could do for a living.

Yet deep down there’s part of me that still remembers those scathing reviews I used to get when I first started publishing my fiction online. I posted a copy of my second completed novel on fictionpress.com, and after a couple all-together useless “nice, post more” reviews, I opened my inbox one day to find It. The king of all flames.

A review written by a “professional flamer” that was nearly as long as the chapter he’d reviewed. He tore through every aspect of the first chapter, from word choice to setting to the very premise of the novel as a whole. He shredded my choice of gender for the horse, for the fact that two characters names started with the same letter. He then went on to tell me that I had wasted a year of my life in writing it and that I should give up and never write another word again because I was terrible.

I was only sixteen years old.

For a solid week after, I cried myself to sleep and didn’t write another word. I thought that perhaps he was right. Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this. Maybe I was being stupid by thinking I could write for a living.

And then one morning I woke up and decided to prove him wrong. I saved the review – I still have it to this day – and every time I feel discouraged I read it and remind myself that there will always be people like that in the world. There will always be people who are seeking to tear others down and tell them they can’t. But if we use that as motivation, if we fight to be better and show them that we can be stronger, than I think that’s where the confidence comes from.

It comes from continually trying to be the person worthy of such confidence.

So every day I sit down with pen in hand – even in this tech era, sometimes it’s nice to write long-hand – and I strive to show him that I can do this. That I can be better.

And in showing him, I show myself.

On days like that, I do believe.

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I Believe In…

There are a lot of reasons to be cynical in this world. Bad things happen all the time and good people get hurt. All of those fairy tales we hear as a child promise us that good will always win, but in the end it doesn’t always work out that way. We lose. We fail. The bad guys win and we can’t make sense of the whole world could possibly be so unfair. We start to lose faith in the good things of the world.

I’m as cynical as they come but here are ten things that I believe in unequivocally.

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1. Love – It may not be the fantastic, happily ever after sort that we see in all of the stories but it’s out there. It’s real and powerful and if we’re patient and look for long enough then we can all find it. It starts with loving yourself and grows to include others.

2. Knowledge & Curiosity – There is nothing more powerful in improving a person than gaining knowledge. Never stop asking questions, never worry that your questions will make you look stupid, and never stop learning new things.

e8e78-rainbowgif3. Miracles – Sometimes things just happen. There is no rationalising it. It might have been a coincidence. But sometimes good things don’t need to be “made sense of,” they’re simply wonderful things. Don’t question it, just embrace the magic.

4. The Power of Self – Nothing in the world is more powerful than you. Encourage it, embrace it, and use it. It makes everything attainable with a little nerve and persistence. There is no more important relationship than the one you make with yourself.

21424-equalgif5. Equality – It doesn’t matter who you are: man, woman, gay, straight, religious, atheist, white, brown, purple. In the end, beneath everything, we are all the same. We can all accomplish the same things if we’re just given the chance to try. There is no winning argument for discrimination.

6. The Soul – Science can explain so many  things about a person, from appearance to certain personality traits, but there’s always that one piece that can’t be explained. The Why. Why do they do the things they do? That is the soul, and we all have an unique one.

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7. Creativity – That drive to build new things, to dip into the mind and indulge in pure creation. To write, to paint, to dance, to make. Creativity is what inspires us to delve into new worlds. It’s what’s brought around every great innovation  and should never be dissuaded.

8. Beauty – Whether it’s in art or in nature or even just in simple everyday things, beauty is all around us. It’s in the things that make your heart swell and cause a feeling of peace and adoration and divinity. It makes us better.

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9. Empathy – This one’s pretty common sense, really. Wouldn’t the whole world be a better place if we just empathise with each other more? Tried to understand and not be so quick to judge? I think so.

10. Respect – The ability to appreciate others for the good things they’ve done and the greatness that they have inside of them. It’s not putting people down, it’s lifting them up. It’s called respecting one another, and it’s a thing, people. Use it.

What do you  believe in?

Status

Eureka!

There’s nothing more exciting than the thrill of discovering a new site! I’ve been blogging on another site for the last month (and an ill fated few months a while back when I first attempted to blog…) but through a work connection I’ve discovered this site and I must say I am impressed. It’s so much more advanced!

So excited to start publishing on here!