Thursday, January 23, 2014

Above the Sway

Amidst an incessant quest for likes, retweets, favorites, and hypes, it's easy to imagine a modern world in which we all take ourselves and each other a bit too seriously.  But is it easy to justify this lifestyle?

I'm as guilty of this practice as anyone.  If Facebook and Twitter have taught us anything, it's that there's at least one person out there who will find your most recent paper cut a cute and charming anecdote rather than a frivolous and pitiful demonstration of delicacy, a label to which my grandparents would most likely cling.

While most of us don't go so far as to document every hair on our chinny chin chins, we do often treat something as minuscule as last night's ravioli as if it's a masterpiece worthy of universal reverence.  Now, this is not to say such amusement is completely unwarranted or reprehensible in the least.  The problem in my mind lies in society's blind acceptance of an unnecessary reality.

How, you might ask, can I critique the web so harshly when the mere existence of my *blog* would be impossible without the very platform on which all social media rests?  Well, I'm not going to argue that the internet doesn't possess a host of unprecedented networking and sharing opportunities.  What I will maintain is that humanity has fallen, if subconsciously and/or half-heartedly, into a trap of inundation rather than of flotation.  What I mean by this is, we should not feel as though we have to post duck faces or blatant expressions of inadequacy every day in order to feel beautiful and wanted.  On the contrary, we should open up social media as we would a mailbox--something of occasional pleasure or benefit--rather than as we would a refrigerator--something that feeds our survival.

If you truly enjoy creating tiny microcosm upon microcosm of your life on the web, then by all means, do so.  The materials are right there at your disposal.  But please, realize that moderation and disassociation are entirely in your power if you so choose.

Even a rock can sink, but only the most buoyant of mind can float.

Rise above,
Amanda :)

Collar: Ann Taylor (out of stock; similar style ON SALE here).  Top: ON SALE at Banana Republic.  Pants: ON SALE at Banana Republic.  Shoes: H&M (old).

All photos by Eric Pan.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tell Me About Myself

We're all bent on getting our own answers in a world fraught with questions and the remedies others impose on us.  To be certain, we are hungry for answers both about our own psychology and about the individual thoughts and ideas that underly it.  

At the same time, while most of our questions certainly trace back to our own brains alone, we tend to seek solutions primarily from other sources, such as family, friends, journals, or daytime TV.  One long-trusted window into our inner workings is the beloved Personality Test.

Perhaps a product of an underlying feeling that personal intuitions about ourselves must be false or that a better psychological expert exists, our desire to grab at others' explanations of our unique behavior appears somewhat fishy.

This is not to say that partaking of external psychological help or insight of any kind is fruitless.  On the contrary, my personality reading of ISFJ (Introvert, Sensing, Feeling, Judging) was pretty nearly right on, especially considering there were 16 available options.

It's true, I am "very supportive," "loyal and hardworking," "imaginative and observant."  And I can let my perhaps excessive altruism and tendency to overload myself get the best of me sometimes.  But what isn't true is that I define myself solely by these and like characteristics. 

I would never describe myself as a "sentinel," constantly keeping watch on the sidelines of the doers and winners in life.  While I may be more cautious and hesitant in forming my words and entering a new environment relative to others, I am most definitely a go-getter in my own right, most notably at times when I approach a friend who needs a hand or take the initiative in the oft-terrifying internship search. :)  Particularly devoid of any sort of standard measure for comparison as to "how comfortable you are at the center of attention" or "how flexible you are," this and most other tests of inner soul are inherently flawed.

As much as I enjoy quantifying and structuring abstractions to the best of my ability, personality is not a stable measure, but a dynamic phenomenon that we can never fully measure at all.

So next time anyone tells you, "You'll never make it as a lawyer because you're too sensitive" or "You'll never understand my feelings because you're too analytical," go ahead and tell them the only label you're espousing is that of an open mind, a forgiving heart, and venturing spirit.  It's survival of the fittest, baby, so while you're over there counting your problems, I'll be here deleting mine.

Stay humble and warm out there, everyone!
Amanda :)

Fur pullover: ON SALE at Banana Republic.  Pants: Currently 40% off with Code ENJOY at Ann Taylor. :) Bag: Michael Kors (old).  Shoes: H&M (old).

All photos by Eric Pan.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Strike Accord

My tendency to wholly submerge myself in another's captivating story while momentarily brushing aside all other musings is both a blessing and a bane in my life.

A couple days ago I redefined choking up (no, not in the baseball sense--I see all you sports fanatics religiously following this fashion blog ;) ) in none other than the magic and momentum that is the new Disney classic, "Saving Mr. Banks."  I know; I sound like a pretty decent sap right now, but there is much more to the tale of the whimsical Mary Poppins than meets the eye.  The true story as told by P.L. Travers herself revolves around the father--indeed, the very archetype of the man who hopelessly advocates for impossible dreams among his posterity while tragically losing himself in the realities of the working world.

Without giving away any pivotal plot twists, I will say that film's depiction of the thin barrier we all straddle between lofty hope and looming truth really hit home with me.  I realized just how little import my social status and seemingly grand material possessions bore.  Seriously, what is our generation doing obsessing over "likes" when the aforementioned author of Mary Poppins (Mrs. Travers) obsessed merely over her family's emotional wellbeing?

While many sociologists argue that such shifts in priorities are a product of an inevitably fast new culture, I contend that the immediacy- and excitement-driven patterns of our youth should not preclude adherence to the lessons our parents and our nursery rhymes taught us--namely, that "slow and steady wins the race."  Sure, I support mild YOLO and light experimentation in the short lives we lead, but what does a bucket list mean to that man making a living with nothing but a street corner and a cardboard sign?  How can a dive off a cliff (with or without a bungee cord) connect you with your fellow man?

Yes, acceptance of peaceful solitude is a virtue we should all strive to possess, but what's the point of silent reflection if all it does is keep you right where you are, in a guarded bedroom by yourself.  I am aware that not everyone dreams of international solidarity on the same daily basis that I do, but I do know that few would prefer to spend retirement in the back shack than in the caddy shack...

Although we have every right to relish in our individuality, you wouldn't be reading this post via social media if you weren't somehow moved by the lifestyles of others, right?  As much as I personally like to pride myself on my own achievements, I would not have reached any of these goals without the influences of my parents, my teachers, my friends, my enemies, and various passersby.  Furthermore, I would not even know these doings were "achievements" without a knowledge of human efforts, good and bad, for comparison.  In the words of a sassy diner poster I once read, "You're unique, just like everybody else."

You know why it feels better to give than receive?  Because we've already been given the gift of life and freedom, and nothing can possibly top that.

So give something to someone today--a ticket to the movies is always a great start. :)

Thank you, and Happy New Year!
Amanda :)

Coat: Paperdolls Boutique (St. Louis).  Top: J. Crew.  Necklace: J. Crew.  Skirt: J. Crew (old).  Boots: Stuart Weitzman (black suede).

All photos courtesy of Eric Pan.
Hair styling courtesy of Bonnie Trunfio Boze.