Caroline Nash: So Curlyhead Problems has been on a bit of a hiatus, mostly because I have been up in arms about Reese Witherspoon’s mugshot. How did she make it look like a cute instagram photo?! I don’t get it!
Katie Marshall: And I have been busy getting synthetic buttermilk dumped on my face. Seriously.
CN: However, despite everything, there’s something that’s been going on lately. Many of my other friends are in this boat, too. We are at this point in the midst of our twenties: college is distant enough behind us (though, for a lot of us, the Student Loans aren’t. Side note: If I’m still paying student loans, can I still get Campus Cash for Pizza Hut? I think it’s only fair), we are adjusting to the new worlds we have created for ourselves. Changes are being thrust into our lives whether we want them or not. Hunting for new jobs when secure jobs suddenly go down the drain. Countless friends getting engaged and seemingly have their shit together while you are most likely in bed drinking red wine, eating cheese, and getting overly involved with the fictional relationship with Olivia and President Fitzgerald Grant on ‘Scandal’ (I’m sorry, just how did my mental fantasies get on ABC?! Shonda, you’ve done it again.)
You are feeling overwhelmed in your battle to take over Corporate America or struggling to find the balance in work vs. happiness so you don’t turn to waste like the squiggly worms that Ursula takes her power from in ‘the Little Mermaid’. Without making this sound like an out and out ThoughtCatalog article, change is a constant and how do we deal with it? You are striving for something more, carving a niche for yourself, when all you want is to be to surrounded by the comforts of the friends you’ve had for years. Why make new friends when you have memories and history with a group of people you can go to as you please? Why can’t a world exist where everyone you love is within tin can on a string calling distance?
Though Taylor and I aren’t necessarily on the same side of the fence right now, I keep going back to her song ‘Change’, specifically the chorus where she says, “Because these things will change. Can you feel it now? These walls that they put up to hold us back will fall down. This is a revolution. The time will come for us to finally win.”
It’s like T is saying the struggle is temporary and necessary for us to grow and evolve creatively, as humans, emotionally, and beyond that and then some. But it’s such a difficult thing to see beyond, to see the finish line, or to even seek the change. Change is straight up terrifying. I mean look what happened to Felicity after she cut her hair in Season 2! It changed everything as we know it.
KM: And as Tupac and I are pretty much always on the same side of the fence, I will forever go back to his song “Changes.” The line, “Misplaced hate makes disgrace to races – we under. I wonder what it takes to make this one better place…let’s erase the wasted” has remained one of my favorites since 9th grade. I know that because of my suburban upbringing I have a limited scope of how big this song’s perspective really is, but it made wonder, and still does, what does it take to make the world a better place? And how can I even begin to work on that when I’m going through so many changes myself?
Not to go all “not a girl, not yet a woman” on you, but changes are happening to us every day, especially for 20-somethings, especially for women, especially for everyone. And if you’re in this weird middle place like us, where the changes aren’t huge yet, they’re more subtle, then you know what I’m talking about. There’s just something about this time of year.
Although Spring is the younger, flouncier sister to cool, leather jacket wearing Autumn, it is also a time of change in its own right. It’s a discreet change, though. The pastel to Autumn’s burnt orange. The temperature rises unassumingly, like a student timidly raising a hand in class. Daylight stays out a little later each night, lackadaisically pushing her curfew back a few more minutes each night. The changes I’m seeing in myself feel like this – quieter, and happening regardless of whether or not I acknowledge them. Before, my changes were huge and abrupt: college, a new relationship, getting a job. Lately my development has been more subtle, small flowers blooming on the side of the road of my life and I have found that just as with flowers, the only time I ever really see myself changing is when I make the effort to turn my head and notice it. My hair’s gotten longer, my apartment is different, and I now know when to get my oil changed. Two years ago I would have skipped dinner to hang out with someone. Now if I’m tired, I’m going to stay in, and I’m not going to feel guilty about it. I may Instagram my glass of wine with Sex & The City playing the background to generate at least a small ping of social activity, numb as social media connections may be, but I won’t feel lame when I go to brunch the next morning and everyone talks about the bar and I say “I just had a really nice quiet night in. It was great.”
When I first started working I would say “Well, I just started here about (x) months ago…” I tried to pull that recently, and said “Well, I just started here 2 years ago” and realized how much heavier 2 years felt than a couple of months. Small changes are happening here, time is passing, but it’s only when I reflect to see the significance. Otherwise, life keeps going and little things progress in a slow evolution that feels less like growing up and more like growing into myself.
CN: Sometimes the negativity we face in the world starts with ourselves. I’m the first to admit how bad I can be about this with myself. I call myself an idiot at least 12 times a day, am constantly mad at my body, my hair, and comparing the state of my career to others. This is where the source of it and where we must nip it in the bud. I’ve started telling myself in the mirror at least once a day, “Hey, you’re awesome.” Or “Hey, you’re looking good today.” Or “Hey, you’re headed in the right direction, remember that.”
It sounds trivial, but it has started to make a difference. When I see myself in the right light and treat myself accordingly, I can make the positive change I want in the world with my humor, writing, and performing, but even more so lately, as a friend, because at the end of the day that’s what so many people are looking for. It’s a lesson we’re not taught forthright in school, but it’s a lesson we all need to take toward each other. We need each other, it’s a fact. Maybe I won’t achieve what I’ve striven to do in life, but at least I have tried, with varying levels of success and failure, to be a better friend. And that feels right.
KM: My past self and my old ways aren’t all gone, proving that personal evolution means carrying some of our past with us to our next stop. I’m still a shopaholic. I found myself perusing Target yesterday for no real reason other than to get something. The small change that proves I’m changing is that I looked down at my arms and saw two dresses and a coffee grinder (what?) and instead of just getting them all, I picked one I actually liked, dumped the grinder, and spent less than I would have a year ago. We learn as go, baby steps as they may be.
The other part that hasn’t left yet is this deep longing to make the world a better place. Maybe it’s our generation, maybe it’s my Mom’s doing, maybe it’s my destiny, but everything about me wants to leave the world a better place than I found it. This feels big and small, selfish and selfless, since to think that anything I will do will impact the world is but a notch away from arrogance – who am I but a middle-sized curly headed girl in the face of the world? I am one of literally billions and yet I can’t help but want to make something better in a big way. Do some good. It doesn’t just feel important, it feels necessary.
Look, we’re going to need to talk about Boston. And Texas. And the world, really. For every one step humanity takes forward in loving each other, someone somewhere drags us back two. We are humans and as such, we will sometimes love each other, sometimes support each other, and sometimes some of us will hurt each other.
CN: This past week in particular has resonated with us all more than normal, from the bombings at the Boston Marathon, to the explosion of the fertilizer plant in West, Texas, to the countless shootings we hear about on a daily basis, and then some. It makes you wonder if the change you seek to embark upon in the world matters at all. It makes the discontent in the change you feel in your life feel small and insignificant in comparison. What does it matter when there are so many others in their daily lives facing much bigger struggles like disease, fighting to meet Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, dealing with this loss of loved ones. What does it matter? Why do we matter as one person amongst 6 billion people and growing?
Because we do. Without you here, someone may lose an ear that they rely on when they need to vent to, or your pet loses the one person who loves him unconditionally, or your parents, who would go to the moon and back for you, wouldn’t have any reason for that roundtrip ticket. There is a purpose to our singular existence. Sure, one person can try to bring down a city or country, but to combat that we see hundreds, thousands, even millions of people fighting back and standing strong in that, in the end love always wins. As cheesy as that sounds, it’s true. It’s hard to see that sometimes when we’re in the thick of the storm, but it does arise and we will come above. That’s why it can be hard to fight and see why change is important, why we as a collective should focus on change, because how are supposed to grow in our beliefs, relationships, and aspirations if we don’t?
Acknowledging that we are struggling and in the point of transition can only make us better people in the long run. That’s why at this point in the middle road of our twenties it feels so daunting and terrifying, because we do not know exactly what lies next. What is the next step to reaching our dreams? Are we really ready to share the rest of our lives with another person? What is next? These things can’t happen if we don’t actively embrace and pursue the change or we may end up alone with a pack of 16 dogs re-watching the Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley videos while listening to Reba and drinking Franzia (which to be fair, that doesn’t sound too bad), there is so much more to our lives and world that exist beyond our door and we have to be ready for it.
KM: I’ve realized something small and yet radical recently. I want to change things – well, I’ve always known that, but what’s different is that now I actually going for it, rather than before where I knew I wanted to “change the world” but left it there as an intangible bumper sticker on the VW Bus that is my soul. The bummer here is that action requires some things that I’m not so happy about: time and patience. Persistence, too, sure, but I’ve got that in spades. The problem here is that change takes time. And in the day of the almighty Internet and after 2 decades of having the world at my fingertips, ain’t nobody got time for waiting.
Former Patriots player Joe Andruzzi carrying an injured survivor to safety post Boston Marathon. (Source: Buzzfeed)
There are things like equal rights for all genders and races that are so big I’m not sure how to impact them and things so small like wanting to spend less at Target that I’m not sure why I even should focus on impacting them and then there are things like dreams where I see myself impacting all of these things and more that make me think I can do it, big or small, the change can happen, and it will. But it’s a choice, every time. It’s an action. Even though it’s advertised as this force like an ocean wave or poison gas settling over a town, unstoppable and huge, change is simply an action verb. It’s a check mark in one box or another. Yes I will change. No I will not change.
Small changes can feel like big steps though, which is important to remember. Last year, after the Newtown, Connecticut massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, I started participating in Ann Curry’s 26 Acts, in which every person does one act of kindness in remembrance of each victim in the school shooting. I changed it to 27 acts, to include Adam Lanza’s mother. I later discussed it with my boyfriend’s father, whose immediate reaction was, “27? Not 28?” I’ve since modified it.
This is a weird journey to take for so many reasons. It’s nerve-wracking at times, because I feel much more comfortable looking straight ahead in the Starbucks line than turning around to ask what the person behind me is ordering so I can buy it for them. Most of my acts have been quiet or sans direct interaction – messages on Facebook, donating online, buying someone’s food behind me at a drive-through. I’m a Random Act of Kindness Bandit. I want to get in, do the good, and get out. Other weirdness comes from how I try to share it with others. I’m posting pictures of each Act on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, anywhere I can, partially to keep me accountable, but also because the bigger social media gets, the more hate I see pumping out of it and I’ve just got to do something, however small, to combat that. How many subtweets do you see in angry letter format? “Dear girl in front of me at Chic-Fil-A, exactly how many sandwiches are you ordering? #waitingsucks #h8u #fatty” And how often do you see people posting a picture with a caption like, “Wow, this person did something incredible for me.” Or even, “Hey, this person needed me, so I stepped up as a fellow human and helped them.” We’ll openly mock each other or re-send embarrassing moments of others, but when it comes to sharing our good deeds, suddenly we’re coy? We’re shy? We’re ashamed? I’m not trying to put myself on a pedestal; I’m not trying to show off. I’m trying to change the world. And I’ve learned that one of the best way to spread the love these days is by sending messages into the Internet world in hopes that they are shared with others.
I wish everyone would post a picture each time they let someone into their lane (safely, though, be careful when driving) or when they hugged a stranger because they looked like they needed it or actually said “Yes” when a homeless person asked them if they had any change. I want my newsfeed full of good acts, good things, the kind of things that give me chills because it takes my whole body to digest the idea that a small act of kindness can be courageous and huge and can change the world.
If it’s optimism vs nihilism, I’m going to choose optimism again and again, every time, because I will be damned if this miracle of life is to be wasted thinking that nothing is worth anything.
CN: Sometimes it’s hard to just pick yourself up off of the ground or to even admit openly that yes, life is difficult, because it’s hard to let others see that you’re struggling when it feels like everyone else around you has the secret passcode to success in life. To be frank, it sucks. All you want to do is listen to ‘Stay’ by Rihanna over and over again and try not to cry in the middle of Spin class. It’s a weird balance to feel that everything you are feeling is on your sleeve, yet you can’t openly admit that yes, you feel alone, that yes, right now life is shit and couponing makes you feel like you are a little bit in control of your life. Now I’m just rambling on like one of Carrie’s voiceovers in ’Sex and the City’ but I swear there is a point to all of this and I think it’s that if we are open to each other in how we feel about this change issue, maybe it won’t feel so terrible. Because we are ALL going through something like having a baby spitting up all over your sweater when you just want to get paid to do what you went to college for. (Not a metaphor.)
It’s important to remember that there is a reason you are struggling and even more important to remember that you have to change to move forward and remember that there is still happiness in the present, despite how bleak it may seem at times. Even if it is just the cute Trader Joe’s check out guy that is paid to flirt with you. I found a Johanna de Silentio quote on Tumblr that has resonated with me today especially: “Relax. You will become an adult. You will figure out your career. You will find someone who loves you. You have a whole lifetime; time takes time. The only way to fail at life is to abstain.” I think this is so important to remember because, like we said change, is terrifying and sometimes we can’t handle the rate that it’s coming at us, but the circle of life is here to ultimately protect us in the end, and everything we seek will come in time.