Author’s note: When I wrote these pieces, I did not do the self-education that I needed to about some very problematic social justice issues in a pervasive culture of self-care. In the pieces I’ve written, I was not aware of how problematic and dangerous that white, privileged ideologies can be; and ally-ship includes taking responsibility for my role in the perpetuation of oppression, disentangling the toxicity of oppressive notions (especially in regards to healing), and bringing awareness to other white people to call out emotionally- and spiritually-bypassing culture
I wrote these articles with highly individualistic language, and cannot remove them according to Elephant Journal policy—but I hope that whoever decides to read them that has suffered from any marginalization or systemic oppression knows that I am committed to shifting rhetoric within my communities and am now involved in social organizing groups working towards a more rehabilitative and transformative culture.
I remember being 13 and sneaking makeup into my uniform pockets before school, praying I’d get to the bathroom early enough that no one would see how many coats of mascara I’d put on.
Then, I’d wait until the very end of the day and hide behind the bleachers to make sure no one would see me once I’d come out of bathroom with all of it scrubbed off.
My mom hadn’t “okay-ed” makeup quite yet, but that would soon change.
Fast forward to five years later—I’m 18 and leaving my house to go to a friend’s birthday party, but am stopped by my mom halfway out the door, “You look so beautiful! You sure you don’t want to put on a little mascara before you go?” And, quite symbolically, the answer to that question felt like yes, but also felt like no. One foot in, one foot out.
And now, as a twentysomething, I rarely leave the house with a bra and without mascara (it’s for healthier reasons these days—braless with a full lash effect makes me feel like a sexy and empowered b*dass, I seriously invite you to try it some time).
These experiences have actually inspired some deep pondering.
How can we unlearn or de-identify with the unspoken rules we were taught by the same people who taught us red from green? How can we coexist with many different humans, without allowing the rules they’ve followed to become the rules we follow, too? How can we honor what it means to be unique individuals while collaborating within the societal systems we live in? How can we work within systems like college, marriage, and business, without allowing them to define us?
How can we express multi-dimensionality in a three-dimensional world?
I invite you to join me in cancelling some of the subscriptions we didn’t know we signed up for. Here, you can download a new type of self-acceptance for a potential life upgrade.
From trying to out-feminine our masculine
From explaining ourselves to cynical people
From a 1 a.m. curfew
From being bitter just because our coworkers, roommates, and family are
From ignoring hunger pangs so our hip bones stick out
From drinking until we’re sick to fill a void
From ignoring strangers because we’ve had a bad day
From high school reunions
From working a job we hate to pay for the nights to make up for it
From pretending some of us haven’t had life-changing revelations from eating poisonous mushrooms
From hiding that we may have eaten poisonous mushrooms
From acting like orgasms aren’t as essential as food
From impressing our parents’ friends
From impressing our parents
From silencing the guttural sounds we make when we feel hot water or eat delicious food
From deifying God
From counting calories and logging food
From tiny black dresses we’ll never be able to breathe in
From hair straighteners
From being so eco-conscious that we become judgmental
From being politically correct
From making softness and ambition mutually exclusive
From pretending that we still want to get together with friends we’ve outgrown
From taking food to-go because we’re alone
From getting married by 25 and having babies by 27
From designer labels
From moving back to the same city we were born in after exploring other places
From travel being a vacation
From small talk
From using our minds as anything other than a tool
From walking on eggshells on a ground that holds 7.4 billion people.
Our minds are programmed for auto-renewal on these subscriptions.
So, for the real cancellation, make a list of your own un-subscriptions. Put it next to your bed, on your altar, or somewhere you can see it. This reminder can be a daily practice for deeper connection with your unique authenticity and expression.
Soon to come—a list of the subscriptions that I have up for auto-renewal.
Let’s break these unspoken rules and walk in our truth, unapologetically, for however many decades we have left.