The Yellow Pages

Life's questions completely unexplained


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Happiness is Only Real When Shared

Theme: Happiness

I’m a self-proclaimed introvert. It may be that it makes me statistically more unique or that Gandhi was one, but for some reason being an introvert intrigues me. Introverts get to sit in their room listening to Bon Iver and contemplating life for hours at a time without judgment. They’re not shy, their not anti-social—they just like to be alone.

I came into college convinced of my introversion. I dreaded having a roommate (s/o to G. Holly Hendee), feared sharing a bathroom, and was terrified that I would never find time to be alone.

Last month, when sick in bed with some kind of un-diagnosable college disease, I watch the film interpretation of John Krakuer’s Into The Wild. The story is about a college grad who escapes reality in the Alsakan wilderness searching for ‘something greater’. In the months before his trek into the wild, he changes the lives of people along his journey. He is so preoccupied with the idea of escape, of being alone, of being happy—he is blind to the happiness he has created around him. In his wake he leaves trails of joy and loss as the people that love him watch his back disappear on the horizon. Yet in his mind there is one thought—Alaska.

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Over a year after his escape, he finds himself alone in the Alaskan wilderness. He’s finally where he dreamed of being. His beard grows full and his stomach grows empty and the happiness he sought eludes him.

Time passes and days pile up. His life remains ‘Alaska’ as the lives of those who love him continue on. He attempts to leave, but is stopped by the same wilderness that was his Ithaca, his final destination. Alone, sick, tired, and empty he realizes that happiness is not Alaska, but the people who watch him go there.

 Happiness is only real when shared.

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 College has questioned my introversion. I love Bon Iver and I love contemplating life, but I also love being around other people. I’ve learned that joy seems magnified when shared with someone else. I’m not taking away the beauty of being alone, but I no longer find it as complete.

Last week, a friend and I stayed up for hours talking about what makes us who we are. Though we’ve known each other for a while, I felt like it was the first time we’d met. We concluded that both of us aren’t really ‘people people’ but ‘human people’. Meaning that normal conversation confuses us, awkwardness is expected, and flirting is one of those things that never made sense. But we want to know you. We will un- abashingly ask you the questions the give us a key to your soul and will ask you to do the same. We love being alone, but find our greatest joy when sharing it with other people.

I love being alone. I am happy being alone. But as my life becomes intertwined with the stories of the people around me, as I share their hopes and dreams and fears—I can’t help but feel that happiness is only real when shared.

Unanswerable Question: Can one be truly happy when completely alone?

 

 


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Warm Smiles, Friendly Waves

Very insightful post by my favorite sister!

I'm Ready.

My friends are extremely important to me. They are there for me. They listen to me. Most of my friendships have evolved over long periods of time. It often takes me some time to open up to people and really let them see my true self. As time goes on, our conversations seem to get deeper and deeper until I feel like I can trust them with anything.

Over this spring break, however, I came to understand that friendships can occur without conversation. People can open up easily if they are willing to let others in.

Traveling to Sri Lanka, I worried about not knowing a single word of the language. I didn’t even know how to greet someone with a simple hello. I feared I would not make any lasting connections with the kids that I would soon meet. There was no reason to worry. It became apparent very…

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Call Me Crazy

(Excerpt from my first blog at Brown HerCampus.com called “Call Me Crazy”)

Girls are bizarre. We make absolutely no sense. One moment we’re dancing in front of the mirror to some nameless Taylor Swift song and the next we’re face down on the floor contemplating the meaning of life. Girls are strange, unpredictable, volatile—but not crazy.

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The best way to disarm a girl is to call her crazy. Call her fat, call her ugly, call her a bitch and she will bounce back. Call her crazy and she will hit that brick wall. Hard. Guys call girls crazy, girls call girls crazy. Call a girl crazy and she’s forced to reevaluate her state of mind, question her actions, and defend the person she thinks herself to be. There are many things you could call a girl to hurt her, but crazy trumps them all. It makes everything she feels invalid, everything she says wrong, and everything she does certifiable. 

To make things even worse, the word hysteria actually comes from the Greek word for uterus. Literally, hysteria means uterus. What if the…. (continue reading)


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Eff you, February

Theme: Staying Positive

February is the rebel month. When the other months split the days of the year, February decided to be different and have 28 days instead of the typical 30 or 31. And I’m so happy it did. The reason February is the shortest month is because no one likes February.

I apologize to February babies and lovers of Punxsutawney Phil, but February has yet to prove itself as a month worthy of staying on the calendar. By the time February comes around, keeping Christmas lights up becomes embarrassing, slipping becomes expected, and the world becomes sad.

ga880208I get that I am straying from my “chronically optimistic”, “overly-friendly”, and “Yellow” view on life that is ‘The Yellow Pages’, but Providence weather is taking its toll on me. Walking to class through 3 feet of snow, nursing multiple bruises from slipping gracefully descending upon on the ice, and watching my smile muscles atrophy from lack of use—has given me a bit of the February blues.

February starts out irritating, becomes boring, and ends up depressing. But beyond its less than cheering ambiance, Febuary really isn’t that bad. During what other month is it okay to blame your bad mood on the weather? Or eat multiple boxes of Girl Scout cookies in one sitting? And during what other time of the year is it okay to write a blog titled “Eff you, February” and not be labeled as a constantly complaining currmudegon? Or even use the word curmudgeon? (February 16th is National Curmudgeon Day who knew?)

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The worst thing about February is that it challenges people to stay positive. It makes laughing after your slip a necessity, dancing in the rain (or sleet) a must, and learning to smile when maybe there isn’t much to smile about—the greatest task of all. The cold makes me jump for joy when the thermometer hits forty, the snow makes me love the sun, and the slowly passing days make me grateful for the shortest month.

I stand by my self-diagnosis of chronic optimism. It’s hard for me to stay down for very long and not even a February in Providence can change that. Instead of sporting a constantly negative mood for an entire month (28 days), I allow February to be a month of opposites. The freezing cold slush only makes the sun shine brighter. The dark, grey days make the sky even bluer. February forces me to find joy in the small nuances of the day, to stay positive even when the temperature isn’t.

I stand by my conviction that no one like February, but that doesn’t mean its not here for a reason. February gives us 28 days to test just how much we value our own happiness. It stretches our smiles and challenges our optimism. And though I won’t be sad to see the 28th come an go, I still fall short of saying eff you to February.

j

Unanswerable Question: What lessons come out of enduring winter?


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The Selfie Dilemma

Theme: Vulnerability

Oxford English Dictionary’s world of the year for 2013 was “Selfie“. For those who don’t know what a Selfie is—(this is for you, Grandma, I know you’re reading this)—apparantly it’s a “casual self-portrait, usually taken at arms length with a digital camera or smart-phone”.

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Selfie is said to be the word of my generation: the Millenials—associated with entitlement and narcissism. Y’all know we can’t go 3 seconds without tweeting, snapchating, or posting everything we think online (guilty). We are self-centered and disconnected. And we love to take Selfies.

I’ve never been one to be comfortable in a Selfie. I like to think of myself as an awkward person. I mean, I don’t like to think it, I just think it. So when a friend shoves a backwards iPhone in my face, I try mustering up my best expression that screams: “self-confident right here!”.

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None of the above are my best pictures (though my dog looks flawless). To be honest, it’s embarrassing to even make them public. But to me, this is the exact reason the selfie exists. Wikipedia may ‘argue’ that selfies are used to create a self image that differs from reality, but perhaps they do the exact opposite. They portray us stuck in a moment of spontaneity, absurdity, and vulnerability. Unedited, unposed, unplanned—the selfie gives the world, or the recipients of your snapchats, a view into just how human you really are.

My relationship with selfies has transformed. It started with a reluctant entrance into the world of Snapchat. At first, I’d spend twenty minutes crafting the perfect, awkward facial expression and then send it only to close friends for a max 3 seconds, fearing nothing more than the screen-shot. But soon I began sending longer snaps, snapping to more people, and not caring as much about how I looked in the picture. As time went on, I gained more and more ‘Selfie-confidence‘. (sorry that was really bad I just had to).

Because my goal is always to be as philosophic as possible, I’m going to propose a theory: The more comfortable you are taking Selfie’s, the more comfortable you are with yourself. I know that I am far more self-confident that I was a year ago and as ridiculous and superficial as it sounds, my relationship with Selfies mirrors this. I’ve gone from uncomfortable 3 second Snapchats to gems such as this:

Me doodling taking notes in Neuro1:
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I am sure there are those who think differently. Those who will read this post, see all these pictures I took of myself and scoff at the self-centered college kid that I am. Maybe their right, maybe I’m wrong. But If you feel self confident when taking close-ups of your face then all power to you.

There is a fine line between ‘putting yourself out there’ and ‘looking for attention’. I mean, this blog is pretty much a large, ever-changing Selfie—a show of either vulnerability or narcissism, depending how you see it. This dichotomy is the same one that creates this Selfie Dilemma, the same one that makes us self-conscious and scared of what the world may think when we show it our face. I’ve gone from trying my best to show myself as I want the world to see me and frankly, not giving a damn.

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– j

Unanswerable Question: Are Selfies shows of vulnerability or narcissism?

(Me teaching my Grandma about Selfies)

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“Tell Me, What is it you Plan to Do?”

Theme: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

A few months ago someone asked me what I plan to do with my life. Trying to be mysterious, I told him that I plan to “live”. It could’ve been my need to be philosophic and ambiguous, but I was pretty convinced this was my answer.

A few weeks later the same person asked me this question again. This time I gave him an hour’s worth of my dreams, passions, inspirations, and plans for my vast and unknown future. When I ran out of breath and words, he asked me: “Why didn’t you just say this at first?”.
tumblr_mzb94rt6c41siyi21o1_500Though I was taken aback, he made a very good point: why didn’t I just say this at first? Did I use the ambiguous answer of “live” to avoid talking about the future? Was I scared of making plans? Of having those plans fail?

What am I scared of?

Last night, I had a bit of a “beginning of the semester crisis”. I realized that the classes I was taking and the major I was pursuing, weren’t really what I wanted. I ended the night lying flat on the table in the middle of the lounge while my friends watched “the Parent Trap” and I felt trapped.

As college students, it’s easy to feel like we stand on the edge of a cliff with the sole task of finding our way down. One misstep and we will tumble over the edge, leaving any hope of success among the falling rocks. We lean over the edge, wishing we could glimpse the bottom or that someone would lend us a parachute.

tumblr_mz51ga3VdC1rzqyago1_500I recently came across the last line of the Mary Oliver poem, “The Summer Day”:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

This line resonates not because of the question it asks but the statement it makes: My one wild and precious life.

Yes, we do stand on the cliff’s edge, but it’s not the fear of falling that keeps us there—it’s our vicious will to live. We get one, and only one, life and it is our choice how wild and precious we make it. The classes we take, the majors we choose, the jobs we get, the people we meet, the decisions we make all become part that parachute we previously asked for.

We will remain on that cliff’s edge with our dreams, passions, inspirations, and plans strapped to our back until we decide to take that step forward into our vast and unknown future. There is no need to feel like somehow we aren’t living ‘right’ or we are doing something ‘wrong’ if we stay on the edge. And though it’s cheesy, psuedo-philosophic, and completely ambiguous—if you asked me what it is I plan to do with my life, I will still always answer live.

j

Unanswerable question: what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

tumblr_mztmdktZRC1s9sn4ao1_500-2(^Searched ‘hipster gifs’ and this is what I get)


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Snowy Days and Changing Ways

Theme: Dealing with situations outside our control

The night before the first day of classes, everyone waited anxiously for the university’s decision to cancel or not. Some hoped for another day of freedom while other, nerdier, people like my self—prayed for classes to be held. Regardless of what they wished for, last Tuesday night more than one Brown student was staring at the sky, hoping to control the Snow.

Years ago, the second I heard the  words “Snow” and “Philly” slip from the TV screen in a Midwestern accent, under the pillow went a spoon, inside-out and backwards went my Pj’s, and into a “Snow Dance” went me.

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Snow days used to be a dream come true. That thrill of hearing school was cancelled fueled childhood fantasies. Mornings were for snow angels, afternoons for snowmen, and evenings for that final cup of hot chocolate. Bedtime came with exhaustion and dreams and hopes of the snow never melting.

Yet it always did.

At some point the snow days turned back into school days and the White Wonderland morphed into black slush that got on your shoes as the School Bus drove by. At this point, the Snow Dance became an outdated one-hit-wonder and I would wish for Spring.

Whether my fingers were crossed for the snow to fall or melt, I was putting all my energy into something in which I had no control. I mean, I’m sure I thought those spoons under my pillow and my backwards pajamas intensified the chance of a NorEaster hitting Philly, but efforts were surely wasted.

A much cuter me (left) on my first Snow Day223276_1056660943932_3667_n

Snow does not fall nor melt on command. No crossed fingers or kitchen utensils under pillows will ever change that. I’ve learned that there are some, more like many, things in life that we have absolutely. No. Control. Over.

That’s pretty scary.

But also kinda cool.

Perhaps we are in the driver’s seat, perhaps we control the steering wheel. We may control our speed and direction, but we are powerless towards if traffic hits or cows cross the road. We can decide to yell at the radio or honk at the heifers—but we have no control beyond our own state of mind.

For me this idea is freeing. I’m handing off some of the pressure and allowing the universe a share in writing the story of my life. I now give it permission to give me road-blocks, traffic, detours, and dead ends so I can learn to breathe behind the steering wheel.

I have no control over whether the snow falls or melts. I have no control over many things in life. I am learning everyday that this is not what makes life difficult, but what makes it fun.

Snowy days reflect our changing ways. This give us the opportunity to notice how we deal with the unknown. When the TV screen announced Snow in Midwestern accent we have the choice to either deepen our worry lines—or go make a Snowman.

– j

Unanswerable Question: What would life be like if we gave up control?

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