How a Single Meme Caused My Existential Crisis…

The most recent meme going around the internet is to describe yourself in 3 Fictional Characters.

Initially, I thought it would be a fun exercise and saw it to be a good way to revisit those characters that I’ve grown to love so much.

By no means did I think this task would be easy, but I didn’t think it would actually be this hard. I’d like to think that I know myself fairly well. But as it turns out, that may not be the case.

When a flood of characters first came to mind, my immediate thought was, “Wow, this is easy! I know myself so well!”

I have never been so wrong.

When I actually thought about it, I realized that many of those initial characters were nothing like me. Instead, they were who I wanted to be.

Take Tina Belcher for example: She’s a smart, strong, sensual woman. She knows who she is, what she wants, and she’s not afraid to go after it. She’s not ashamed to tell other people how she feels, even if it could some else uncomfortable. Those are all things that I admire and love about her. But, unfortunately, I am not her.

Take Rory Gilmore as another example: She’s smart, dedicated, and reads more books than anyone else. Those are all things that I believe to be true about myself. And yet, at times, I find myself at odds with Rory. There have even been several occasions in which I’ve found myself hating her. But that begs the real question: If I see myself in her, does that mean I also hate myself? That’s something I still don’t have a definitive answer to. And maybe I never will.

But until then, take Felicity Porter as a last example. Felicity is so outspoken and unapologetic about who she is that it almost makes me sick. She always speaks her mind and she always goes after what she wants. I’d love more than anything to say that I’m like her. But having insanely curly hair that doesn’t know how to handle humidity is where our comparisons begin and end. I am, unfortunately, also not Felicity.

So, if I’m not a Tina or a Rory or a Felicity, then who am I?

I know one immediate answer to that.

I am Liz Lemon. I am Liz Lemon in all her night cheese glory. In all her desire for a guy at a bar to buy her mozzarella sticks instead of a drink. I’d rather sit on the couch and watch tv by myself in my pajamas than go out and party. I’d rather eat things that are terrible for me instead of torturing myself by eating a salad. You’d find me flipping a table simply because someone stole my mac and cheese.

The first one wasn’t hard. In fact, it was blindingly obvious.

The second one wasn’t too hard either.

I am Liz Lemon and I am also Chandler Bing.

I am sarcastic and pride myself on my ability to lighten the mood with a joke. I’m unlucky in love and have a hard time always knowing what I want. And like Chandler, my humor is my defense.

But if I already know these things about myself, why is it so hard to come up with another character who I believe to be like me?

I thought about this for a very long time. And I mean, a long time. So long, in fact, that I started feeling a crisis coming on. Maybe I don’t really know myself as well as I had hoped.

When I finally did come up with a third character, I was hesitant (and still am) to place this person in comparison to myself. Am I actually like this person or do I just wish I were?

The person I ended up choosing was Peter Petrelli from Heroes. Peter is a good person. He’s kind and wants to help others. He is one of those people who truly cares. Now, you may be wondering why I would be hesitant to put such an inherently good person on my level.

But that’s just it. Peter is inherently good. But am I a good person? I could have just as easily gone the route of self-deprecation and put a bag of trash as my third character and it would have described me fairly well. But instead, I chose a person who wants to change the world.

I suppose this is where my crisis truly came into play. And I guess, even as I’m writing this, it’s still playing out.

I’d like to think of myself as a good person. I want to be a good person. I want to make a change in the world and I want to be happy. Maybe I just have to keep reminding myself that those are things that I can choose to be.

New York, I Love You

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “We Built This City.”

I’d been enchanted by the idea of New York long before I moved here. In fact, I never thought I would actually live here. On my own. In any city other than Madison, WI. I never thought I would be this far away from my family and friends. I never thought I would have a “back home” because I never thought I would leave home.

But I’ve found that after moving here, I’m in love with having two homes. With building new families and friends alike. This city is one for the ages. One that I plan on spending my life with. And although I had never had this idea in my head when I was younger, I’m happy to be on the path that I am.

New York has given me things I never thought would be possible. I have much more access then I ever did back home. I can go to the theater, movie premieres, raved about restaurants and spot celebrities alike. I can find my way around without having to rely on others. I can do what I want, when I want.

This city has given me an independence and a confidence that I didn’t have before. I know that I belong here. Walking past beautiful parks and sky scrnew-york-cityaping buildings. Past cute little coffee shops and to die for bakeries.

And although there is plenty that I’m not fond of about this city, I find it easy to let those things fall to the way side. I find it’s much easier to just enjoy the beautiful day when it comes around.

Amy Zhang is “Falling into Place”

UnknownAs a survivor of a  Middle School, where each day brought a new fresh hell, and a High School that wasn’t completely horrible, I’ve found that I am no plebeian to bullying. I saw it everywhere, especially in Middle School. I wasn’t one of the “popular” kids but I didn’t need to be. Nor did I strive to be. I had my own solid group of friends that helped me to become who I am. They were the types of people that I could count on and for most part, to this day, I still do. Over the years, however, I’ve come to realize that the types of bullies in my life were the ones who I called friends. Thankfully those people are no longer in my life and I am thankful that I was not a victim to the heinous acts that I’ve heard so much about in books, movies, television and in everyday life.

In all of these cases, when I heard about bullying, it was always about who that person bullied. It wasn’t about how mean or disrespectful the bully was, but what could that person have done to that bully to be treated that way. I’ve seen bullies portrayed as these powerful beings who like to tear others down in order feel influential. We’re shown how being bullied can change how a person looks at the world. How being bullied can give you a false impression of yourself and in some cases, can cause you to take drastic measures. The bullied are portrayed as victims. Victims of circumstance. But what we’re not always shown is how bullying can affect the bully.

In Falling into Place, Liz Emerson is a bully. She bullies those who are victims of circumstance. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They are the people who wore the “wrong” clothes, who acted the “wrong” way, talked to the “wrong” people and had the “wrong” interests. But the truth is, the only “wrong” they actually committed was that they happened to be in Liz Emerson’s way. But Liz Emerson is not just a bully. She is also a victim. A victim of choice.

Unknown-1In Falling into Place Liz Emerson feels as though she has no choice in what she does. She tears other people down to simple watch them fall. She doesn’t bully others to lift her own self esteem. She doesn’t bully others to make herself seem cooler to her peers. She doesn’t bully others because she gets some kind of satisfaction out of it. She does it because she feels like she has to. She has forgotten that she can make her own choices and that she can choose the way her life plays out. This is the reason why she is a bully. This is also one of the reasons why she wants to die. To Liz Emerson, this is the one choice that she can make absolutely. She felt as if she had no power over her actions towards others, but she can choose which actions to impose on herself. She can choose to end her own life.

I met Amy Zhang about a month and a half ago at Books of Wonder, here in New York. She spoke about how she was bullied when she was in school and how that experience influenced and changed her. She spoke about the damage that Liz Emerson invokes upon others and how that damage came right back to bite her. Like Newton’s 3rd law states, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction,” but this law affected Liz Emerson in a way that you might not immediately expect.

images Falling into Place sheds light on the fact that you can never truly know what another person is going through. It’s book that focuses on action and reaction. The different forces at work. The reasons why we are the way we are. Falling into Place is thought provoking, as well as, heart breaking and I would highly recommend it.

Time After Time

Traditions: we’ve all got ‘em. They might be family dinners on special occasions, or having a particular kind of cake on your birthday (Jeanne Cake, natch), or popcorn at the movies, or meeting your friend for a 5k run in the park, rain or shine, every Sunday morning. What are your favorite traditions, large and small? What is it about your traditions that keep them going strong for you?

One of the traditions that my family take part in, is also probably my favorite. Every summer my family throws a huge barbeque for all of our family and friends. We spend the day eating, drinking, enjoying each others company, and trying to not melt from the heat that July is known to bring to the Midwest. What I enjoy most about this is getting the chance to see people you don’t always get to see. Sometimes once a year is the only time you get to spend with them and it’s always a treat to see them again, even if it’s only for a few hours. I also thoroughly enjoying getting to see both my mom’s side of the family and my dad’s side of the family at the same event. That doesn’t usually happen very often.

This tradition is a lot of work and it’s a good thing that it only takes place once a year. But this tradition is also a lot of fun. It’s something I always look forward to during the summer and I can’t wait for the party to start this year.


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