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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Overcoming my ‘Rapunzel Complex’

Theme: Attachment

Right about now, my hair is getting a bit too long. It’s currently straddling the line between “kinda cool” and “pretty weird” and is dangerously close to the latter. I’ve been making excuses about getting it cut for a while now: ‘there are no Supercuts near school’ (lie), ‘it hasn’t reached my belly-button yet’ (half-lie), and ‘it’s winter and it keeps me warm’ (truth, but what?).

I have some strange attachment to my long hair: a self-diagnosed ‘Rapunzel Complex’.

Visual Symptoms:

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We can all admit it’s getting a bit ridiculous. So why don’t I get it cut? Because I’m attached. Like I mentioned before, I’ve formed an attachment to my long hair and am unwilling to face change. I’m comfortable with the way things currently are and am closed to what possibilities lie behind some shampoo and scissors.

The last time my Rapunzel Complex flared up was the summer before high school. I hid behind closed lipped smiles and a curly mane of hair in order to mask my fear of growing up. Yet after my soccer coach withheld my spot on the team until I got a hair cut (s/o to Danielle) and my braces came off, I let go of always having to be comfortable. 

Pre-high school model shots:

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To me attachment is the fear of letting go. It’s holding on so tightly your knuckles are blue and energy is waned. I find myself attached to things, ideas, places, and people when I  fear losing them. There seems to be a delicate balance between loving the moment  and wishing it would never end. I become attached to what I think will make me happy only to have it transform into what causes me the most pain (e.g. loving long hair, but hurting when its caught in the car door).

There’s peace in letting go. In accepting the impermanence of life. In letting your hands slip off the monkey bars, knowing that hitting the wood-chips will hurt less than holding on forever. In moving on. In cutting your hair. Buddhists speak of attachment as the greatest source of suffering, yet the origin of joy. My goal is to ‘carpe’ the ‘diem’ without crying when the sun sets.

And so, I am not about to claim my Rapunzel Complex is part of the past. But I am learning to cherish what I love about life without wishing for its immortality.

My first step is to go get my hair cut. A whole. Two. Inches.

– j

Unanswerable question: Where is the balance between ‘seizing the day’ and letting it go?

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The Yellow Pages

Many who know me, some who don’t, and a choice few college admissions officers—know that my favorite color is Yellow. With help from my Yellow rain-boots, prom dress, bed sheets, TOMS, backpack, and the random streak in my hair, I came to realize that not only is it my favorite color, but Yellow is who I am.

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This conclusion struck me when considering how to approach a prompt on a college application. The question was “Who Am I?” and my answer was “How the Hell do I Know?”. This original answer wasn’t getting me any closer to that coveted ‘Congratulations!’ so I reluctantly considered a revision. After whining to my mom, planking on the floor, and declaring I wasn’t going to college, the answer came to me: Who am I?—I am Yellow.

I realize “being Yellow” doesn’t make much sense. I am not very blond, I don’t have cat eyes, and I’m pretty partial to brushing my teeth—so none of me is very Yellow. However, answering the impossible question “Who Am I?” with an ambiguous, and admittedly ridiculous, answer gives me the opportunity to change while always remaining me. I began my experiment in being Yellow in my senior year Euro Lit class. I posed my theory before blank stares and encouraging smiles and allowed it to become what it was. Over the next several months, I found comfort in my metaphorically Yellow shoes. Pretty soon I found myself squished somewhere between Orange and Green and was pretty happy to be there.

For me, being Yellow means having a chronically optimistic view on life. It means fully engaging in whatever moment I am in. It means being completely annoying in my over-enthusiasm. Being open-minded. Being stubborn. Being (somewhat) overwhelmingly friendly. It means lying flat on Rock Bottom knowing the only way out is up. It means waking up every morning excited for the day to come. Being Yellow means being me.

My goal here is to pose Life’s unanswerable questions and completely ‘un-answer’ them. I will ‘un-answer’ them in my most optimistic, over-enthusiastic, pseudo-philosophic, and ‘Yellow’ way possible. I figure since I’m always thinking about life I might as well write about it. These are my thoughts on what it means to be ‘Yellow’—these are The Yellow Pages. 

– j