Stress Relief: How to unwind, care for yourself, and learning to say no.

I am by definition, an unhealthy overachiever. What I mean by this is that I have almost always had a hard time saying no to anyone. I delve a bit more into this in my first post  http://livinglikeaudrey.com/2013/04/14/10/ but I didn’t really get into how I’ve started to pull away from those habits. While most of it happened while I was unawares, I do try to force myself to take time and heal myself, emotionally and mentally, when things are getting too tough beyond my homes doors. Even if it’s my own home environment overwhelming me (neighbors, leaky faucets, etc) I seek out new ways to feel better or old comforts. I’ve stopped overeating when I’m emotional, instead I look for other alternatives. I realized I was overeating, when back in Miami, FL, I was having a nightmarish day full of angry students, constantly demanding professors, and a very cramped bus ride home prompted me to stop at the local Publix and buy 2 little trays of sushi, gyoza, a bottle of plum wine, a bag of some “healthy” chips, and before I knew it I had 5 very full bags worth of stuff. While some of it was for my parents, most of it really was for me. Later as I lay it out in my room to devour as I watched anime or a Korean drama, I came to the harsh reality that I was eating to satisfy a void, a dislike of my current situation. Then I thought back to how often I’d done that in the course of that year. How many pizzas? How many subs? How often did I order Chinese? Needless to say that just made me feel worse and as ashamed as I am to admit it, I devoured everything that was there in front of me. What came after taught me a harsh lesson though. Your body can’t contain the amount of food it takes to fill up various emotional voids. Why? Think of an emotional void as a black hole in space. There is very little way to know what is beyond that black hole or how deep it goes. (In theory, back down astronerdies). Point being, if I didn’t know the root cause of my emotional void, getting it fixed was not going to happen with a large pizza covered in artichokes and bacon. A peanut butter burger wasn’t going to resolve it either. I realized I was not listening to myself. I was avoiding confronting my needs because I felt unqualified to take care of myself emotionally. Yet, if I don’t, who will? That can’t fall on anyone elses shoulders and it can’t be stuffed down with food. Food, drugs, alcohol, they seem like they’re working but they’re just helping us avoid the real problem. Many would say looking in the mirror is hard. Bullshit, just open your eyes. It’s easy enough. It’s the looking into your core and daring to ask “what do you need?” that’s hard.

I needed to resolve myself with my reality and my identity. I needed to confront the people who cast roles on me and told me who I was, what I needed to be, and how to do it; and let them know that I wasn’t some toy or play for them to mess about with. This was incredibly hard. I was lucky enough that my mom was open enough to listen when I express my personal needs. If I said “I don’t want to be a ballerina.” she listened. If I said “I can’t eat like this anymore. I want to try soy milk, and healthier stuff.” she went out of her way to help. My godmother is a totally different story. In fact, I don’t think she even listened when I told her I wanted her to stop telling me that I need to be her size. Let’s face it, with my frame, once I genuinely get healthy and make a better structured lifestyle, I may be at best 145lbs. Why? Because that’s really how my body is built. Every doctor I’ve been to has said so. Her expectation that I will ever be her 80lb frame, is way off and really cruel. There were tons of other occasions where telling people how I felt and what I needed either worked or didn’t. That’s okay because I did my part and was true to myself. The end result isn’t something I can afford to fret over, because it’s out of my control, but I can at least be honest with myself and my needs.

This brings me to the healthier alternatives I’ve encountered for when those moments of honesty have nothing to do with people but with myself. Sometimes I deny myself a lot. I figure there are more important things that need to be done and I contemplate putting them ahead of everything else that I want to do. Sometimes this results in them getting done and other times it just results in my stressing out and being overwhelmed without accomplishing anything. The latter is usually a sign that I’ve overexerted myself and haven’t relaxed in a long while.

When that happens I start reaching for my go to hobbies. Some are hard to accomplish in the small town I live in, but in a perfect world these are my favorite things to do. It should be noted that a lot of times, bloggers write from a personal perspective and don’t include what may seem obvious to everyone else. In this case, I’d say to consider this list more of a general suggestion list, and you should totally build on it to suit your needs. Just remember to keep it fun, keep it simple, and do the healthy thing for yourself.

1.Anime

My atypical solution, for those times when leaving the house may prove problematic (like at 1am and insomnia is kicking my tush) anime and k-dramas relieve a lot of my stress. In fact, when my mothers brother died, it was a huge shock that left me really numb and wracked with all sorts of anger and thoughts. It was not a peaceful death and that can haunt a person. Many questions are left behind and it’s almost soul crushing.

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  I was lucky enough to find the anime Noein at that exact moment when I needed it most. Without giving away any spoilers, I will say what I took away from it. I marathoned the anime. I spent an entire 3 days in my bedroom eating cottage cheese and strawberry preserves (I have interesting snack tastes and I make no apologies.), only leaving to take care of human needs, and I watched the anime straight through. When it was over, it was roughly 7 or 8am, and my mom was sitting in the living room by the window staring out into space. I sat next to her and said, “Mom, if it’s true that there are alternate universes out there, I’m okay with my uncle dying in this one. Because it means that just maybe in another universe he didn’t make the same mistakes. Maybe in another universe he’s with my aunt and his son, and they are healthy and happy. If there’s even a small possibility of that, then I’m okay with this if it has to be true.”.  A lot of people view anime as something really shallow and stupid, but some animes have the ability to heal a person, teach life lessons, and make us think on a much broader scale.

2. Skype/Friends

When I need something more than anime, like a human voice, feedback, and interaction, I turn to Skype where I get to harass my awesome friends of almost 10 years.

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These people are absolutely amazing. They’re scattered all over the place and while we don’t always log on at the same time, usually someones there to talk with. I know that many people fear the internet friendship thing. It’s natural to be concerned about developing friendships online. Some people ARE genuinely creepy and some are even downright evil. That doesn’t mean everyone should be written off though. It just means tread carefully. These people have been in my life for many many years and they know pretty much everything there is to know about me, down to the marrow of my bone, so to speak. It took a while to get there for all of us though. It’s not like we logged on, and immediately handed over our addresses, phone numbers, and our list of deadly allergies. In fact for many of us it took well over a year or two before we even acknowledged our last names. When we finally were comfortable enough to trade greeting cards, letters, and sometimes gifts, we were already deep into our friendships. In fact, I can say I can trust these people with my life, because it’s actually come into question before. I have an ex who wasn’t a very nice one. It ended badly and at the time my life was already a bit difficult. I ended up trying to kill myself. If it weren’t for my friend Chris (whom I affectionately call Psyduck) and for an awesome chickie named Ni, I wouldn’t be here. I’d either be dead or stuck in some psych ward. Let’s make something clear though, the killing myself thing was not over a guy. It was over a plethora of problems I wasn’t tackling properly. Plenty of people have had dumb exes and don’t try to kill themselves.  I was a broken person at the time and that just gave me a shallow reason to look for a way out. Needless to say, sometimes having a group of friends who can help you through anything, isn’t such a bad thing to seek out. Normally, I’m very much a loner. I actually have agoraphobia, in some of the worst of ways. I still needed friends. I still do, always will. Most people do, even if they are terrible at admitting it.

3. Video Games

        Lately, I’ve been having a lot of fun playing on Tera and playing Plants vs. Zombies!  I’m enjoying Tera a lot because due to it’s free to play status, the friends I mentioned before, can also play. My husband Chris (not Psyduck) and I both bought the game before it went free to play so we have access to all character tabs. The combat style is so much fun. Dodging is a big deal and unlike most other games, you can’t just WALK through someone you’re fighting. You have to use realistic skills when it comes to corporeal movements. There are still magical abilities like blinking from one spot to another and shooting creatures with spells, but the aspect of bodies is very firm when you’re in a fight. I enjoy that.

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Plants VS Zombies is my go to one-person fun game. It’s a strategy game but it doesn’t feel complicated or as though it’s hard work. I do love challenges, and this one has several, but they are well paced. It’s a lighthearted way for me to just tune out and just relax. In fact it’s so simple and the picture really should explain it well, that going into it any further would be silly of me. You have plants, you kill zombies. It feels good!

4. Practice a new language

I do find it incredibly interesting when someone speaks a different language than I do. I become enamored with the way things are said, so one of my favorite things to do for myself is learning a new language. To date, I’ve learned bits and pieces of various languages like Japanese and Korean. In high school I studied French and enjoyed every second of it.

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A lot of the time when I hear a friend mentioning that they want to learn a new language, it’s been an evolution of sorts. First they enjoyed video games from that culture, or anime, or a drama. Other times it was because of an affection they had for someone of that culture. In any of these occasions it was obvious that the language was meant to be a bridge to connect one being to another, one entity to another. As someone who loves History and civilization studies, I’m always intrigued by anyone who wants to build these connections. As a stress reliever, it’s fantastic, because learning a language is a paced study. While you can always take a course or something, if you really want to learn a language you just need some books and an audio of what you’re studying. In other words it’s within your own control. Stress comes from things being outside of our control, and by diving into a language and learning it at your own pace, you’re taking back at least some of that control. We can’t control what happens outside of ourselves but we can control how we react to it. Throw yourself into something positive and life will take you somewhere great.

5. Take up a journal

I breathe easier when I’ve written my thoughts down on paper and a major contributor to stress is simply over-thinking. If you write it down, once you know it’s committed to something more permanent it becomes less burdening.

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Whether you’re a guy, girl, guyish girl, or girly guy, there are journals for every type of personality and if you can’t find one that satisfies you, there’s also the option of making your own. Most people think of journals as a venting device, and yeah that’s great, but there’s so much more to a journal than that. It can hold your ideas, your funny anecdotes, and when you’re feeling down or lost, looking back on it can rev you right back up and make you want to try again. I used to do the venting, whiny journal thing. Hey, I was 14 and it was the end of the world as with most 14 year olds. It was over time that I started to add in more quirky and positive things to these journals and use them more as a symbol for hope and goals than despair and gloom. I am confident in my belief that that helped me overcome a lot of troubles as well as a lot of my immaturity.

6. Hiking

Are you thinking that hiking isn’t elegant or nerdy? I can see why anyone would jump to that conclusion but it couldn’t be any further from the truth. Firstly, there is nothing more elegant in a person than knowing how to be at peace with their surroundings, and there is nothing cooler than a nerd who understands nature and it’s influence on all of our lives.

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Think of all the perks, too! Hiking means you get a fun workout. Instead of being stuck in a gloomy stinky gym, or one with tons of fluorescents that accentuate every drop of sweat, grime, and unappealing lumps of flesh, you get a fun outdoor adventure, sunshine, rain, whatever, and you see things you can’t see within four walls. Hiking also means that if you get out to a solitary area and you’re in a terrible mood, you can SCREAM YOUR HEART OUT and nature won’t treat you like a jerk for doing so. The final perk is the best one. Once you’ve given it you’re all, and are so tired that you can’t feel anything and you DO feel everything all at the same time, your mind clears, and is not thinking of all the things that stressed you out in the first place. In other words Stress – 0, You – 1000. You win the game.

7. Prepare some tea and spoil yourself for the day or night

We all have those days where any of the effort we would have made to cheer ourselves just seems like way too much. Those are the days when a nice big mug full of tea is the best solution. Like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory says: The societal norm when someone is upset is to provide them with a warm beverage. A warm beverage soothes them.

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It’s true, too.

That’s why if you have the opportunity to take the day or evening and make it all about you, go for it. Stay in your pajamas, make some tea, grab some tea cookies, a few magazines, books, or movies, and just relax. Turn off your phone, don’t check emails, heck, if you can bear it, don’t check ANY social media at all. Keep it drama free, stress free, and let life happen.

8. Go comic book hunting, antiquing, or to a museum.

Sometimes a quiet outing where you find and discover new things helps us re-evaluate where we are heading and what we really want. Something as simple as grabbing a bunch of comics for a rainy day says a lot. It says you want that rainy day to come, and are open to relaxing, as well as having your own space for a little while.  Heading to an antique shop can reacquaint us with the life we envision for ourselves and can help motivate us again. Everyone has something from the past that they cherish. A fragment of a person who we so admired, that we sought to be just like them. Seeing things that remind us of these moments and people can help gear us back onto the right path, and sometimes come to terms with whether that path is no longer for us.

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Inspiring yourself to move forward is never a crime. It’s a weight lifted off of our shoulders when we can confirm our biggest worries or genuinely cast them aside. Be quirky, check out a comic book museum, or a quiet little antique shop outside of town. Try new things.

9.  Cooking

If you’re at your worst and feel like you can’t do anything right, one of the best things you can try is cooking a meal. Not an overly complicated recipe, but stuff that comforts you and that you can share. Preparing a simple meal for family and friends can start to relax you if you look forward to the end result and don’t overthink the process. Turn on some music and let yourself get inspired. Make a nice strawberry salad, some baked potatoes, steaks, and try your hand at sauteing some baby carrots in a ginger garlic butter sauce. These are just suggestions but they’re pretty healthy and easy to make. More than that, they make you feel good. ginger is known to lift the spirits, garlic is good for a persons heart, strawberries incite happy feelings (unless you’re allergic, in which case, go for mandarin slices), potato starches actually soothe people, and steak is awesome if you’re a meat lover. If you don’t eat meat, Portobello mushrooms work fantastically.

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The point is to make a meal that makes you happy. Not one that will stuff you to the brim and make you feel worse about yourself, but rather one you feel happy about sharing with people you love.

10. Have an impromptu Tabletop Game night

Invite your friends, or your family, hang out at home and order in and just enjoy one anothers company while playing a game and letting the days frustrations melt away. If you’re so caught up in the game that you forget all about the stress of the day, you will sleep better and probably wake up in a better mood. That can be key in changing anything that’s frustrating you. When we handle a stressful situation at work, school, or in every day life under a really bad mood, we pretty much just make it a lot worse. If we give ourselves a breather, though, and enter the situation in a better mood and with some perspective, things can improve a lot.

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All you have to do is give yourself permission to have some silliness in your life and a lot of the anxiety that’s built up could go away. Sometimes it’s just that we take ourselves too seriously, but tabletop games allow us to put down those walls and simply have fun.

At the end of the day, your stress won’t go away because someone else changes. They can change a million times over and still not be whatever you want them to be. If you allow yourself the opportunity to enjoy your life, without feeling like you have to rescue everyone, or without procrastinating all the time and then feeling guilty about it, you spare yourself a lot of agony. Work hard, play hard, but playing hard doesn’t have to mean playing stupid. Getting drunk until you can’t be disciplined enough to control your reactions, or getting stoned until you don’t feel anything anymore, is not going to improve your life. There are a million other options out there for improvement and it’s up to you whether you want them to be the awesome options or the mediocre ones.

Personally, I opt for the more awesome variety. Mediocre options tend to be filled with the same exact kind of people who help induce a lot of stress. Just some food for thought.

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Embrace the interesting and allow yourself to be an interesting, fun person.

On a final note, don’t let anyone bully you into doing stuff you don’t want to do. If you’re doing any of the stuff mentioned here, it makes it a lot easier to find a reason to say no without feeling like you’re lying or being a jerk. Let’s face it. So many people out there hate doing their own work. If you’re doing yours, why should you have to do theirs? Isn’t it so much easier to say no, if you can say, “Sorry, that doesn’t work for me. I have plans.”? Even if you don’t have plans, the minute you feel like you’re starting to get used, come up with one and do it. You’re not a doormat. You’re an interesting and fun person, in your own way. Keep that in mind the next time someone asks you to take care of their work.

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Combining your personality with the elegance of someone you admire.

Claudette Colbert

Claudette Colbert

It’s hard, isn’t it, to combine your quirky and unique personality with elegance and grace? With certain role models, and the way the media portrays them, it is. The media portrays them as infallible, perfect, pristine. In many cases, if these role models died many years before we were aware of their existence, it’s hard to differentiate the truth from the facade. We see Audrey Hepburn as the quintessential it girl who was all grace, charm, and adorability. In a strange way, we almost liken her to the innocence of a child. That’s almost unfair to who she once was. After all, she was a grown woman when she became famous. She WAS elegant and graceful. She was charming. She was all of these things and more but we also need to see her for who she probably was in reality too. She was married. She had children. In other words she had sex. There was probably quite a bit of sensuality to her, too. She had a temper. She was spontaneous. Same goes for Claudette Colbert who was probably one of the more uproarious women in her industry at the time. She didn’t bite her tongue, she could drink and could smoke with the best of them, and she could stomp her foot and have her way any time she damned well pleased. In other words, she was a black sheep covered in soot in a time full of diamonds, but damn could that black sheep shine. Claudette radiated confidence, strength, determination. She could dress up in the finest of clothing and still carry this aura about her that said she could shoot you down in an instant if you gave her a gun and were then dumb enough to make her angry. She was definitely a tomboy nerd.

That brings me to the major part of this post. Nerds anywhere can tell you that there’s a variety of nerd classes. Like in a video game full of different races, classes, and sub classes, there is ALWAYS another layer to the nerd kingdom. I’ve had time to figure out that I don’t classify as just a nerd, and I’m not just some girl with a princess complex. In any case, I’m too complex for that. I totally did that on purpose by the way. I’m both. I love pretty things, elegance, and I love Batman, Gumby, Comic Books, X-Men, action movies, and video games.

I’m a nerd but I am (or at least try/want to be) an elegant nerd. I’ve got a Vargas Pinup girl dressed in pink on a postcard right next to one of Janine Basil’s postcards that features a pretty girl wearing one her of “Kapow” headbands. I make steampunk jewelry because I love quirky things and I collect plushies because they’re adorable.

Don’t take my word for it though. Look at the many examples around us of how nerdy meets elegance. Actresses like Kat Dennings, Zooey Deschanel, Pauley Perrette, and Felicia Day. Consider the cosplayers who don’t fall into the sloppy, slutty, or even crude categories. Factor in the history and the very definition of “nerd”. Why can’t a nerd be someone who is passionate about elegance too?

Take Pauley Perrette as an example. Here she is in her typical Abby (from NCIS) garb. Keep in mind that she actually dresses like this on a regular basis in real life as well.

ImageShe’s definitely goth rock, punky, nerdy, and absolutely awesome in every way you can think of. In fact, Abby is love, and if you don’t know that, I feel sad for you but that’s okay because you’re awesome anyway. Pauley is love too. I guess she has to be since they’re the same person.

Point is, she’s still elegant. She doesn’t look sloppy even when she is wearing all black, and combat boots. Her clothes are clean, she smiles, and she encourages the people around her. She has confidence in herself but doesn’t put others down. These are all amazing things that any elegant person should have. Oh, and that whole expectation that being goth means you always have to fit into the “goth” mold? Bull. I happen to also be a goth. I just don’t need to advertise it in some form of rebellion against society. I’m cool with who I am inside and while sometimes I waver and falter on who I am on the outside, and worry about how I’m perceived, I know without a doubt what I really enjoy in life and who I am. That brings me to another image of Pauley. This time dressed for an event in Hollywoodlandia. Yeah, I make names up too, and I like it that way.

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She sparkles, she shines, she’s Pauley. She just isn’t in the same clothes people usually expect her in. Does that mean she’s lost her identity just because she changed clothes? I’m guessing not, since she’s still smiling and excited in the picture. I’m also guessing not because while she has adapted her wardrobe for a more appropriate ensemble for this event, she keeps a few key pieces that retain their rocker essence. The cuff, the smokey makeup, the jet black hair, even the front zipper (a usually no-no thing at gala events), all radiate this feeling of unique amongst a sea of similar dresses and styles.

It’s not a matter of how much you spend, or how true to your roots or style you are. It’s a matter of being as true to yourself as you can possibly be. If you like something cute, go for it. If you like something dark and broody, go for it too. Eventually you’ll figure out exactly how much of each you want to pour into any outfit. Especially since there are ALWAYS days when you’ll want to be a bit more sparkly than dark and vice versa. All you have to keep in mind that the keys to elegance are a smile, a kind heart, a tiny bit of effort to keep things clean and well kept, and these words each morning when you look in the mirror.

“I can’t control what happens around me today, but I can always control how I react to it. No one can take that away from me.”

Since we’re on the topic of roles and personality, what about cosplays? If you browse the net, it’s easy to assume that most female cosplay features women who look sloppy, tacky, or almost obscene from just how much flesh seems to pour out at all the wrong spots in their outfit. That’s not always the case though. There are tons of awesome cosplays which don’t turn a girl into a horrifying colorblast or into a stripper on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Nope. There are elegant cosplays out there and they feature some fantastic characters. This one is featuring the lead couple from Paradise Kiss. Keep in mind that very rarely do human beings ACTUALLY LOOK like any of the characters in an anime. It’s almost unheard of. That doesn’t mean that just because you don’t look like them, you get a free pass to slap together anything that’s sloppy or tacky. It’s not about the character. It’s about how you perceive yourself too. If you throw on whatever and look sloppy, then what does that say about how YOU feel? Even if it weren’t that you felt bad about yourself, the lack of effort makes it seem so, and you just won’t have as much fun. Make the effort because the experience will be that much more enhanced for you. The memory will be one of the best and not just “good”. These guys made an amazing effort and pulled off the attire really well. It’s not perfect, and it doesn’t have to be, but it’s clean and well executed.

If you’re thinking that this must have cost them a fortune, then it could be that you’re right. It could be that you’re not. Either way, money doesn’t have to be the main factor in your cosplay. Quality is. If you don’t have a huge budget to blow on a pre-made costume and lack the skill to make one yourself, consider great characters who don’t have as elaborate an outfit but still make an impression, like Nelliel Tu Odelschwanck from Bleach. Now, I’m not a Bleach fan (I know, I know. Sorry. Not really sorry though.) but I do think this is one of the best ways to pull off this character on a slight budget. 

I couldn’t find this girls name anywhere, but if anyone knows who she is, feel free to let me know so I may credit her for the image. I’d also like to tell her she’s makes a fantastic Nelliel. So as you can see, it doesn’t take a fortune, and it doesn’t take you being Asian to pull these off. It takes intention, delivery, and the effort between the two.

Now, not all nerdy people appear nerdy. Not all are into the goth scene or into cosplay. Some may not even care about action figures or comics (okay, most do, but not all). Otaku is a term considered derogatory in Japan, to describe someone so incredibly obsessed with a particular subject or subculture, that they renege all efforts of living a normal life. Amongst anime fans, it’s sometimes a badge of pride. In North America, however, the term nerd was viewed very similarly until more recent times, and in very subtle ways we began to notice that even people who didn’t appear nerdy, could have a nerdy aesthetic to them.

Kat Dennings and Zooey Deschanel can usually fit this category. They both are kind of tomboyish and from what the media would have us know about them, apparently they both like comics and things like that. They don’t seem like they belong in the nerd category though, and that’s okay. Even nerdy people and quirky people have the right to be pretty. It’s obnoxious to think otherwise. That would be like saying that someone who is considered unattractive has to be completely excluded from the entertainment industry because it’s for “pretty people”. Hello, calling Steve Buscemi! Many find him unattractive but, personally, I think he’s the cats meow because of his confidence, his effort, his courage to stand on stage or in front of a camera to take a hit. That marks a gentleman, and being a gentleman is an elegance in and of itself.

As far as I’m concerned these two ladies are nerds and are gorgeous. If you think dressing like them is impossible, then think again. With companies like Modcloth and with thrift shops, it’s very possible to pull off their retro looks that they seem to have effortlessly. Here’s a secret: It’s not effortless. They have a team of people who help them get ready for photoshoots and big events. I bet you already knew that though. You can achieve their styles with a twist of your own and still be as elegant.

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If you’re a full on nerd who loves quirk and uniqueness, but do want to incorporate more elegance into your daily wear, these aren’t a bad way to start. Your accessories can amp up the quirk, simply by adding an element of the unexpected.

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These are all really quirky and adorable pieces that would go well with some of the more recent fun clothing that the actresses mentioned above are wearing. I could see Claudette Colbert wearing the northern lights ring from shanalogic (second to last image), since it has that quirky ethereal vibe to it. Some of these pieces suit Pauley Perrettes style while others suit Kat Dennings or Zooey Deschanel, and some ore just quirky and fun that can appeal to a variety of outfits while being simple enough to not detract from an outfits elegance. It’s all in how you work them into your wardrobe, and more importantly, how you work them into your confidence. As a human being you have value. As a person you have rights. As an individual, there are many things that can define you and there should be no shame in the way you carry yourself. As long as you harm no one and don’t knock yourself down, then embrace yourself and your quirks. Tattoos are neat. Just be smart about them. Quirky earrings are fun, just wear them however you want. Mix and match even. Who is to say that what you’ve chosen isn’t “the right way to wear this or that”? Just carry yourself with grace, confidence, and remember that no one can tear you down unless you let them, and you’ll be fine. Treat others with kindness and be genuine about it. If you don’t like someone, then just don’t harm them. No need to pretend to be besties. Just be honest without being cruel. Wish them well, move on, and live your life. These things exude grace. The rest of your actions are just an accessory to your inner person, but they do add to who you are. Same as an accessory adds to an outfit.

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 When I consider the most defining elegant nerdy girl, I see Felicia Day. She’s kind, hard working, quirky, and doesn’t try too hard. Her awkwardness is even graceful in a way.

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 There are probably tons of women like this, and just as many men who are nerdy gentlemen. We all probably have completely different ideas of what fits into the nerd category and just as many different ideas for gentlemanliness or elegance. These are just my own, and while the focus is on womens attire on the surface, the message that I feel is most important is the effort to be kind. Not just to others but to yourself as well. Give yourself the best chance for happiness. Give yourself the best chances for success. Your OWN idea of success, too, not someone elses. Define yourself, for your own sake and not for the sake of others.

As for the curvier girls, like myself, keep in mind that your curves are a part of you. Don’t shun them. Don’t let anyone define you by them either. Kat Dennings, Christina Hendricks, and Octavia Spencer are all curvy girls who are also topheavy. That has not changed their kindness or their ability to function in society. It has not diminished their worth as people or artists. In our case, the nerdy case, we may not fit the ideal image that most guys have from watching movies or playing video games where the girls are completely different than us, but we have worth. We are real. We exist beyond a screen and that gives us value. Don’t ever doubt that. If you also wonder about clothing, don’t doubt that it’s out there. If these women can find it then so can we.

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It all begins with effort, and once the initial effort is made, a lot of it becomes effortless.

Elegance = Effort + (Kindness)2 x Confidence

In other words, elegance is effort and kindness towards others and ourselves multiplied by confidence. It becomes easier to be kind the more you do it. It becomes addictive. Effort becomes easy once you get the ball rolling, and you gain confidence as you do these things. With that confidence you gain energy to do it even more, and just like that you’ve begun a very healthy cycle in your life.

Don’t Throw Yourself Away.

                                                                                                                             Audrey Hepburn Quote 1

No one likes to be thrown away, forgotten, or considered less than valuable. It’s this simple fact that makes me wonder time and time again why people choose to behave in unfriendly or even cruel ways when chances are a lot of the time they are aching to be attached to something, to be remembered in some way. It’s probably safe to say that there are exceptions to this rule but fact is, not a single person in this world WANTS to disappear without having contributed in some way to the world around them. Some choose to do it negatively but many strive to somehow stamp the environment they are in with their mark and make a lasting impression. Some strive to make a difference for the better.

I know what it’s like to be the forgotten one, the unwanted, the black sheep. I’ve had ups and downs in life. I’ve been abused, ditched by my birth father, felt as an outcast in the majority of my family. On my mothers side, primarily because the abuse stemmed at the hands of a man married to one of her relatives, she cut herself off completely from that side of the family. Due to that experience, the part of the family that remained just didn’t feel like my own for many many years. It didn’t help that I never saw them, and that as a young girl, if I wanted to see them, we always had to go to them. I can’t recall a time when they made the effort to visit us instead. I don’t think they consciously excluded us. I think it’s just that they had so much more want in them, to see what the rest of the world had to offer, to improve their own lives, that a cousin, aunt, whatever, just didn’t factor as majorly into their traveling plans as I was naive enough to hope for. On my birth fathers side I was buried in guilt, ambiguity, and so much confusion. My father is far from a saint. In fact, I wouldn’t put much past him. My cousins (his siblings children) are amazing though. When my mother and I were forced to make the conscious decision that my father being in my life would be too unhealthy and unsafe for me, I sadly had to forfeit my cousins too. It was like having a huge part of me ripped away and it never fully healed. I do communicate with them now, but the act of ripping myself away meant that I missed out on so much of their lives that I really feel irrelevant now. I haven’t spoken to one of my aunts in over 15 years. An aunt who was once like a mother to me. I’ve reached out but I guess maybe I just missed out on too much and her circumstances right now would make it close to impossible for us to bridge the gap that occurred over the last decade and a half. All I can really say about that is that I genuinely do miss her.

The point to all of this is that, while everyone else had some strong root and connection to one another, I remained the forgotten. At least, that’s how it felt. I have my mom, who has many flaws but is a really supportive mom for the most part, and my stepdad, who has always been more of a father to me than my own father. I have two grandmothers who have made every effort to help me overcome anything in life and who struggle to do the same in their own lives every day. Even then… I felt that particular loss of having once belonged and suddenly feeling like a ghost. Of never being in on the inside jokes. I also felt like I couldn’t breathe without losing yet one more person. I began attempting suicide at a really young age. I once asked my therapist why I wasn’t succeeding and we ended up discussing several of the things that triggered it. She basically said something like, “Maybe you’re just the only one who was strong enough to survive it.” and that my failures at suicide weren’t really failures, they were an obvious sign that I wasn’t meant to die yet because I was too strong to go out like that. I struggle to believe that, constantly. Half the time I walk around feeling like I have invisible weights tied to my wrists and that my arms will fall off, my head feels cluttered, and I fight to breathe through all of the thoughts in there.

I’m not sure when the attempts fully stopped. I just remember feeling like I didn’t need to try anymore. There are times when I have panics and in an instant make a bad decision. That probably won’t ever change, because unlike people who can take medication to stabilize certain aspects of their depression or anxiety, mine isn’t chemical. Mine is so far gone into this realm of confusion, that I don’t know where it started. This isn’t a disregard towards meds, at all. Fact is, I’ve tried them. At 16 I was on Zoloft, then it was Lexapro, then another, and another. Eventually, I made the decision alone to never take another pill like that again. I walked around like a zombie most of the time, with tears in my eyes that just wouldn’t fall. I didn’t stop BEING sad, angry, or deadly towards myself. No, instead it squelched every symptom that could tell anyone I was in trouble. That’s when I knew that it wasn’t for me. Had it been for me, there would have been some form of progress or alleviation in the 10 years I took them. So it isn’t a disregard on the field that helps people with their depression, it’s an actual fact that it just wasn’t for someone like me. My issues stem from the events that led to who and where I am now. In order for those issues to be resolved, they have to be worked through in therapy, and that’s okay.

It was in therapy that I realized I had done the worst thing a person can do. I had forgotten myself. While I worried about how everyone else had forgotten me, about how I was no longer of value to them, I left myself behind. While I struggled with the ache of BELONGING to my own family, I threw myself away. I did not LOVE myself. I did not treasure myself. I, instead, became an overachieving workaholic. I had to succeed at something, anything, everything. If my family didn’t want me (as I felt then), then I’d make myself invaluable to someone or something else. The problem with that, though, is that you lose sight of the big picture. You forget that corporations generally view their employees like ants. It’s a sad reality, but let’s face it, most people at the head of a corporation can’t view each and every single employee as an individual because then they’d never get anything done. That’s why there is managerial staff and even they can’t really view you as an individual because they have to be the face of the company and are forced to cater to many people at once. In other words, even there, I was stranded and alone. I made friends but a great deal of the time it felt like I was outside looking in.

Curiously enough, they weren’t doing the isolating. I was. I was again, forgetting myself, not treasuring myself. So what happened? I was tired all the time, I felt inadequate so when they invited me out, I didn’t go.  I ended up spending a lot of time alone. I got to build up memories with a lot of wonderful people, but I held myself back by suspecting the worst in everyone and by expecting myself to fail. I did this all of the time. Sometimes, I accidentally still do. Greta Garbo Quote 1

That’s why I look up to women like Audrey Hepburn, Claudette Colbert, Grace Kelly, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Greta Garbo. Hepburn had secretly danced for groups of people to collect money for the Dutch resistance during World War II. Claudette Colbert lived as she saw fit and rebelled against the low expectations set for her simply because she was a female in an industry that treated females like a commodity. Grace Kelly exuded grace, even under pressure. Greta Garbo struggled through poverty in Sweden, and eventually made it to a completely foreign land to become a world renown film star. They did not allow their pasts to dictate who they would be in the future. They didn’t allow it to crush them and make them lose their sense of self. That’s why Audrey Hepburn was right in saying “Never throw out anyone.”. She may or may not have meant it solely as a statement about others, but I choose to view it as a personal statement as well. Don’t throw yourself away.

The minute you’ve thrown yourself away, you’ve given everyone else a free ticket to disregard you, or to treat you however they like. There is nothing wrong with being strong, assured, or weak, and confused. Those things are all understandable. The vital key in any of those things is being true to yourself, loving yourself enough to realize that even throughout the vicious and ugly moments that can occur in life, there is one person fully capable of ever understanding you, loving you completely, and encouraging you all the way. That person is yourself and the only person who can make that person change their mind is you.

Eleanor Roosevelt Quote 1