“And you Still Listen to the Same Shit you did Back then…High School Never Ends” ~ Bowling for Soup

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So, I’m a Pinterest fanatic and can literally waste an hour looking up just one bead pattern that leads to another that leads to another and so on.  Anyhoot, I get a lot of self-help stuff show up on my feed and I was thinking about all of these this morning.  It’s like I scan them and will just ‘believe’ the info, but actually, so much of what they advise isn’t necessarily good.  For some reason, I went ahead and saved the above from LifeHackers because I did think it had a lot of merit.  Then, I read it again.  And again.  And I have to say, I think some of it is bullshit.  (P.S.  I was trying to find a good title about advice…but I love this song and it ties into education which ties into advice, so…).

Anyways, physical appearance is 1%?  Sure it would be ideal if hard work was rewarded more, however, studies make it strikingly clear that ‘pretty’ people are much more likely to get call backs on interviews and are hired, earn raises, get promotions, appear as being more trustworthy, and are perceived as just being ‘better’ at the job.  I remember showing a video to my classes years ago and it was an undercover deal where the producers prettied up an attractive woman, and then un-prettied an average woman with blotches, darker circles under her eyes, etc.  Anyhoot, they both went to a job interview with a hidden camera:  each resume had the exact same years of schooling and exact same type of work experience.  The guy hiring told the un-pretty gal that he wasn’t sure if the position was still open and it paid $10 an hour.  THEN, the purty girl walked in:  he offered her the job on the spot, told her she was the most qualified candidate he’d seen, and told her the starting wage was $15.  As much as I hate to say it, grasshoppers, looks actually matter a hell of a lot in our society.

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I see so many pretty quote pics that say this:  Time heals all wounds.  I disagree.  Time helps with wounds, but they scar.  They leave a mark.  My grandparents died in the early 80’s and I can honestly say I think about them everyday.  At times, I can recall happy memories that bring me to tears.  BUT there’s nothing wrong with that.  I want that ‘scar’ because that’s how people live on…in our hearts and our memories.

Following the rules?  Yeah, it’s nice to be a rebel.  It’s nice to go outside of the little boxes society puts us in based on gender, age, race, social class, etc.  Of course we want to break out of them and march to the beat of our own drummer.  However, there are consequences.  Kids that do this?  Often bullied for being different.  Adults who do this?  Are often marginalized and don’t do well at work:  they need to go along to get along…the ‘corporate culture’ and ‘group think’ thing.

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Hubby’s hero!

Think about this:  Hubby 3 was an Outlaw biker club member and he and his buddies talked about how good it felt to be different from other guys.  Hello!  Y’all have the same long hair, same bandana, same vest, same patches, same t-shirts, same jeans (yummy), same chaps (yummier), same boots, and same type of bike (only Harleys, baby!).  So, they aren’t different.  They are the same in their different box.  See?  Even rebels rebel in a restricted way.

And for fuck sakes, listen to your parents, relatives and friends!  There are a LOT of mistakes I wouldn’t have made if I had listened to my ma.  “But Kristi, those taught you lessons.”  Maybe so, but the pain wasn’t worth the lesson.  Look at it this way:  I know touching a red hot stove hurts so I tell my son to not touch.  If he DOESN’T listen, guess what?  We’re in for an ER visit.  Look, we see things out of our own perspective.  Period.  We all need different perspectives in life.  My son has been in love a few times before, and I haven’t always been crazy about the gal he was with.  I would tell him (very nicely, and I always treat his women well) that there were some things I saw he might want to be aware of.  He would shrug me off;  he would still be in the honeymoon stage when everything is adorable.  Then, reality hit and the adorable became the nerve wracking.  Just sayin’.

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Never work for money?  All righty!  My passion is art of which I’m below mediocre at best (my real passion is teaching, but I’m making a point here, folks).  So, if I do art all day, and sell 1 piece a week, it will take me a month to buy a bag of groceries at ALDI.  Work for money, try to do something you like, and make sure you cultivate your passions at home.  Look peeps, you need money to survive.  Period.

Complaining?  Of course it wastes time, but it’s also a very human thing to do.  Actually, complaining can help rid you of stress.  I used to complain to my hubbies (not at the same time for piss sakes) about stuff on the job or family (not you ma…hush up, T), and it got it ‘out’ and lessened how much it bothered me.  And, you can’t always fix what you complain about.  Right?  I complain about the rain, and guess what?  It’s still coming down.

So my sweet grasshoppers, if I’m going to bitch about common advice, do I have any of my own?  Uh, yeah, of course I do.  Hello!  I teach and am a mother…I have a shit-load of advice.

First, be kind.  Kindness gets you so so far.  I know people I’ve taught with who treat the cleaning, maintenance or cafeteria people as less than.  Nope.  I’m very nice to them (to actually everyone) and guess what?  My office is always clean, my stuff always fixed, and my meal always has extra fries.  Need I say more?  (And these are the coated fries that are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside…mmmmmmmm).

Second, be accepting of the differences in people.  Celebrate them.  Listen to other opinions and take in what they’re saying.  Understand people have different perspectives that are built from their own life experiences.  Learn from these differences.  Be accepting of all humans since we all have equal value:  race, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc.  It doesn’t matter ‘what’ you are…it matters that you are, and this applies to everyone.

Third, be non-judgmental.  Hey, I’ve done some shitty things in my life that I could be judged harshly for.  And so have you.  But, there’s no way of knowing the back-story.  The reasons.  The ‘whys’.  ‘Nuff said.

Fourth, be loving.  Smile at people, and who gives a crap if they smile back.  Give hugs to people who desperately need them…listen to people who badly need to be heard.  Give more of yourself than you take.  Say I love you.  Say I’ll miss you.  Say you’re important to me.  You have no idea what these little, loving gestures can do for someone.  Let me tell you:

Years ago, I taught part-time at our local university while teaching full-time at my college.  There was a young gal in one of my classes who was extremely quiet and I could tell she was having a rough time.  Everyday after class, I’d seek her out and walk with her across campus to her dorm and my car.  I’d do most of the chatting (shocker there, huh?) but she would talk some too.  On our last walk together of the semester, she handed me a letter when we got to where we would part.  I read it when I got home and in it, she told me how she had been so depressed since moving to campus and she had contemplated suicide numerous times with a plan in place.  She said that me talking to her helped her so much, like she had finally been ‘seen’, deemed important, and she felt like she really did have something valuable to say.  Grasshoppers, I had no idea that was all going on with her, and also had no idea how much our walks meant to her.  I was gobsmacked, and that was the day I realized you truly have no idea how big of an impact a loving gesture can have for someone.  And actually, for you too.

Lastly, be true to you.  Be as genuine as you can.  Look grasshoppers, it took me 50 fucking years to get rid of the stifling masks I wore all my life so people would think I was always happy, always ‘perfect’.  The masks are what forced me to always say YES and then conform to whatever someone wanted me to be.  Life is too short to live it falsely.  To be fake.  ‘Coming out’ as mentally ill freed me in so many ways.  It’s lifted off those masks and I can breathe.  It took me 50 years to breathe.  I know it might be hard to show yourself…be yourself.  And I get that.  I really do.  But please, don’t do what I did.  I finally started living as myself just 3 years ago.  How I wish I could have done that so much earlier in my life.

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Look, you can take this advice or you can tell me to shove it (it might hurt my feelings, but c’est la vie), but always be mindful of not just following the pretty quotes and sayings that we’re bombarded with willy-nilly.  Just because there’s a picture of a sunset behind the quote written in beautiful calligraphy doesn’t mean it’s valid.  Or right for everyone.  Or right for you.  Be picky about what you listen too.  Actually, be picky about everything that pertains to you.  You know why?  Cause, my sweet peeps, you deserve it.

Kristi xoxo

Author: Kristi

Just a bipolar Professor working to end the stigma of mental illness.

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