Finding the ‘Middle Ground’

Personal Posts

So here is the process I usually go through during this melangé of stress, procrastination and nerves that is called ‘exams':

  1. Make a to-do list to calm myself down
  2. Start freaking out about the amount of stuff to do
  3. Procrastinate in order to avoid my problems
  4. Realise that there is 8 hours left until the exam and experience something that resembles a panic attack
  5. Start studying frantically
  6. Try to calm myself down by convincing myself that it will be ok
  7. Repeat steps 1 – 6

The problem I always seem to have is finding this ‘middle ground’ that everyone seems to talk about. My emotions range from placid, sloth-like laziness or hyper-active panic. When I ask my friends for help, they give the simple response ‘you just need to find the middle ground’.

‘Find the middle ground’. It’s become the simple but superficial thing to say people that don’t seem to have their balance or whatever other spiritual stuff it is that people achieve in those pilates classes. Because although it might sound simple, finding the ‘middle ground’ is something that is in fact really taxing and time-consuming.

Because finding that emotional balance is not just about managing yourself like you would manage your schedule or your work-life. It’s not about finding a balance between a number of tangible concepts in a contained area – like managing different activities at school or managing your employees at work. It’s not external. Finding an emotional balance happens in that relationship between yourself and the things that happen to you – an emotional reconciliation of sorts.

This will probably sound bad amidst this cultural movement of ‘BE YOURSELF’ and ‘YOU ARE UNIQUE, FLAUNT IT’ – but sometimes you need to be able to change yourself in order for this stuff to work. To balance those emotional scales you need to able to control and inhibit parts of your ‘unique personality’ in order to get stuff done. I’m not saying that everyone needs to stop being individuals and expressing themselves creatively – but if I keep allowing my heightened mood swings stop me from doing things, a little personality change is in order.

It’s certainly something that I am trying to work towards, it’s something I really admire in others. That’s exactly why we can’t keep treating it like it’s some sort of arbitrary concept that is a solution for everything.

Anyway, wish me luck on this quest for the ‘middle ground’ – hopefully I’ll find it soon.

Soo.

‘Nice’

Personal Posts

*n.b. this is going to be very ranty/stream-of-consciousness type post as I feebly try to word how I’m feeling – reader discretion is advised*

So about an hour ago, I had an absolutely riveting conversation with a 12 year old. We were talking about music and when she asked me who some of my favourite musicians were, Kanye West (obviously) made his way onto my list of answers.

“But I heard that he’s, like, really not nice!”

But, since when did we start valuing people based on their ‘niceness’? Why do we base so much of our judgment of a person based on how ‘nice’ they are?

I understand that being kind is an important value of one’s self but I consider kindness and niceness to be two very different things. For me, I think of someone as kind when I can see that they have some sort of morality (whether it be society’s morality or their own) and they act on it – doing what they believe to be best for all parties in that situation. That, to me is real kindness. Kindness is doing something that is good for the majority regardless of yourself – it’s a subtle respect to the society around you. I guess, to some extent, I value this so highly because its a personification of selflessness – a quality I admire in others because I lack it in many aspects.

But niceness, is very different. Being nice is simply an outward expression of kindness. It’s quite literally the superficial way of expressing ‘kindness’ – which is a much more inherent and deeply embedded quality.

Although I cannot say that I know for sure that Kanye West is a ‘kind’ person and I’m sure many would say he is definitely not a ‘nice’ person I have a large amount of respect for him as an artist. Because, here’s the thing: we appreciate niceness because when people are nice to us it feels good.

In my logic, that is how I have come to understand what ‘niceness’ is. Although I’m not saying that I dislike people just because they are ‘nice’, I’m saying that I no longer believe that ‘niceness’ is a measure on the value of someone’s kindness, or personality for that matter.

This may sound a bit harsh, but quite honestly, will a ‘nice’ person be there for you when you need them? Will a ‘nice’ person be willing to call you out on your stuff when you’re doing something really stupid? Will a ‘nice’ person be loyal to you, disagree with you, reconcile with you?

Again, I’m not saying that being nice is a bad quality to have – I’m just saying that it’s a superfluous quality, it is not a requirement of being a ‘good person’ (what the hell does that phrase even mean? I’ll save that for a later post). Someone holding the door open for me and complimenting me might make me feel good but that doesn’t make for the basis of one’s entire judgment.

But, like I said before, I’d value some disagreement – let me know your thoughts on this if you’d like to share.

Soo.

(Sad) Update

Personal Posts, Writing 101 2014

Due to the oncoming avalanche of events (mock exams, tkd competitions, SATS) I don’t think I’ll be able to regularly complete all the tasks of Writing 101. As a compromise, I will try to complete them whenever I can and try to update my personal posts more regularly. (To be completely honest, this is more of a note to myself, I doubt this will be of much importance to you, dearest reader :) )

Update: Writing 101

Writing 101 2014

Recently, I went back and read a few of the most recent posts I’ve published over the last week. I came to realise that I didn’t really like very much about them and want to spend some time revising them, so I have privated all the ‘Writing 101′ posts from the last week for the time being. Hopefully they will resurface at some stage when I feel like they are worth reading :) In the mean time, I’ll be continuing with the upcoming assignments from the Daily Post.

Soo.

Assignment 3: Celebrate Music!

Writing 101 2014

With my somewhat eclectic and indiscriminate music tastes – I’ve attempted to narrow this post down to the three songs that are ‘significant’ to me. In some cases, I was really just impressed by the song itself and in others the weight of the song came from what it meant for the artist or myself. Either way, the songs listed below are extremely important to myself, treat them with care :)

Melancholia (Album: The Duke Plays Ellington) – Duke Ellington
Although Ellington is renowned for his work in jazz compositions and typically associated with jazz orchestra pieces – this song, and the entire album in fact, show that he probably could have made a career for himself as just a pianist. Melancholia quite literally sounds like its name – it’s sweet, sad and slow. The emotional weight of the song really comes from the tone – it’s somehow sad and very content at the same time, you really come to understand what the composer was writing when he did so, even through these lonely and often singular notes. For me, this song really just embodies the complexity of human emotion – we’re not so simplistic that we only feel one way or another, like so much music nowadays might imply. It means so much to me, truly because I admire it and Ellington’s characteristics as a composer, and maybe even as a person.

Wish You Were Here (Album: Wish You Were Here) – Pink Floyd
Although it was initially met with mixed reviews, WYWH later became one of Pink Floyd’s most renowned songs – for evident reasons. In some ways, I interpret this song similarly to Melancholia - conceptually, they’re both heavily focused on the complexities of the human condition. The songwriter and lead singer, Roger Waters, has often talked about how the lyrics are based around the dichotomy of his own character. And that’s exactly it – the lyrics are minimal but carry all the weight of the world. Everything in the song is so minimal, so meticulously performed – but so extremely raw and emotional. It’s about losing someone, about the desire to get something that you once had back. Even though I doubt I’ve ever experienced something so extreme as this, WYWH makes the listener understand. That’s where its significance lies.

Runaway (Album: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy) – Kanye West
This selection may seem a bit strange in comparison to the other two songs noted here – but this song was very important to me, in a very different way, but impactful regardless. It’s a fairly widespread fact that West is one of those ‘controversial’ celebrities. This song really demonstrates the fact that although West might be a flawed person, that doesn’t mean he can’t make a damn good piece of art. Written as an apology of sorts to Taylor Swift, Runaway is really also an apology from West as to all the mistakes he’s made in the past. The songwriting is superb, witty and extremely intelligent in an almost hyper-self-aware manner. Aside from its many artistic merits, it’s heartbreakingly truthful and honest – something that we see rarely in such an industry. Remorseful, regretful and cathartic – West’s debated genius shows itself in these nine minutes of pure brilliance. And c’mon, how many people can write the line ‘Let’s have a toast for the douchebags’ and still make it work?

Title: Stars. Assignment 2: Room With A View

Writing 101 2014

I could feel the weight of each one as they slowly fell from my chin. The tears wet my bare knees, exposed by the fraying hemline of my skirt. They trickled slowly down over my knees, a frustrating race between equally slow opponents. The finish line was marked by the surface of the cushiony red carpet on top which I was kneeling. Unfortunately the carpet only covered a quarter of the small room, further out it abruptly became threadbare and grey. Maybe some previous owner gave up halfway through the re-carpeting in the hopes of some future owner finishing the job. Apparently he was only superseded by people of equal laziness. The dull emotionless grey carried up the walls in the form of the scratched paint – interrupted only by a cheaply framed abstract painting of a red square and an equally scratched door in the far wall. Locked from the outside, of course. At that thought, I didn’t feel any particular emotion but my chest began to heave, possibly at the terrifyingly overwhelming apathy. My knees were soon coated in a small blanket of salty water. The bed next to me, adorned with wrinkled navy sheets, seemed to be much more comfortable place to continue my emotionless catharsis. I crawled up the side, the undersides of my knees revealing the angry pink teeth marks of the carpet. I clutched the weathered bedside stand for support and the rickety lamp on top, sans the lampshade, rattled in protest. Something else inside rattled as well. I wasn’t aware of my hand moving to the handle, the drawer seemed to open of its own accord. Removing the two items inside and finishing my monumental climb to the top of the bed, I sat for a few seconds. The silence was only broken by the regular gasping sobs emanating from my throat, reflecting infinitely off the dull walls. Unscrewing the tops of the bottles in my hand, I spilled the contents onto the sheets. White stars spill out onto the dark, wrinkled sky – perfect, circular, small, whole. My own stars. The plastic orange vessels lay discarded, now empty, on the grey floor. The night sky looked perfect for a few seconds more. Then, I began to gather the stars in my hands.

mid-life crisis (at the ripe old age of 16)

Personal Posts, Writing 101 2014

So, the titular problem here: I’m in a bit of a crisis. Although I’m only 16 and nowhere near middle-aged, this dilemma seems to, in all aspects, have all the characteristics of a ‘mid-life crisis’. The issue is – I’m not quite sure if I want do what I want to do. Sounds weird, right? The problem is that I’ve had my ‘heart’ set on studying mechanical engineering at university, but lately I’ve begun to doubt my decision.

Before I continue with this story, small disclaimer: do not start characterising me as the classic nerdy teen who wants to become one of the following: doctor, lawyer, engineer. I genuinely think made this decision because of my interest in physics, which is what makes this crisis all the more ‘crisis-y’.

So, I had an appointment with the school careers counsellor the other day and it went something along the lines of this. I walked in, we said hi, I sat down, she asked me what I wanted to do and I answered ‘mechanical engineering at one of these three universities’. Pretty much as soon as those words left my mouth and became the public knowledge of god knows who was in the area, the regret sank in. I have no idea why I would regret saying that – my career choice had never really been a secret, I like physics, I’d spent a very long time coming to this decision – so what the hell was wrong? *breathes after very long sentence*

After a slightly panicked careers appointment (myself being the panicked component whilst the counsellor very calmly told me about the undergraduate programmes at Sydney University) and a very long conversation in physics class – I came to a conclusion. I regret not having explored any other options. I regret that I never considered getting an English degree, even though that may be a one way road to unemployment. I regret that I never considered something that made me really passionate and angry rather than just ‘happy’.

You, reading this, will be saying to yourself ‘What’s the big deal? You’re still in high school, there’s plenty of time to make changes’. It’s not that I have made up my made and I’ve got another plan – I’ve just ended at this place of indecisive frustration and anxiety. I have these overwhelming regrets of not having made other inquiries but I don’t have the urge to jump at the chance of studying journalism. The only thing I know for sure is that engineering is something that seems like a relatively happy prospect for myself and I’m a hell of a lot more sure about this than anything else.

Well, if you’ve made it to this point, I commend your tenacity – making it through the angsty musings of a teenage girl is no small feat. Seeing as you made it this far, feel free to impart any words of wisdom in the comments.

Soo.

Turnovers

About, Personal Posts

Basic Info
Name: Soo
Age: 16

I guess the reason that I’m here is because I’ve always been one for fresh starts – but I’ve never been great at finishing what I’ve started. Being a veteran of many-an-abandoned-blog, I figured it was about time that I started anew. At this point in my routine, I usually begin to speculate how long it will take for the deadening drought of updates to arrive – but I’d like this to be different.

But this isn’t going to be me trying to start over, just to do exactly what I did before. I’m picking up where I left off. Hence, the title (no, I was not talking about the pastries – although I can predict that food discussion will be a major part of this blog).

In the past, I’ve always started any type of personal blog for the same reason – to document my experiences. This can probably be related back to some kind of deeply embedded need to romanticise the past – I expect that my subconscious has noted the future benefits of this blog to that end. And although it might not be entirely exciting, witty or intelligent for the lonely and rare internet wanderers who come across this – I’m hoping for some personal satisfaction. Not to mention, I’m getting some writing practice out of this (added bonus!).

So, here’s to this: to the last few steps of high school, to “maturing and becoming an adult” (whatever the hell that means), to (hopefully) not saying anything rash/stupid/offensive/overly personal on the internet and to whatever else that can come out of this.

Soo.