When you’re feelin’ blue what do you do? [See what I did there?]

Some days I’m just not sure how to separate my thoughts out into coherent sentences and ideas. They all jumble together and like a single noodle in a bowl of spaghetti I unsuccessfully try to pull out the thoughts I have worth exploring. With that said, I will attempt to muddle together this post I have been thinking about so that I can share it with you. Lately, I have been thinking about depression and how deeply debilitating it can be. I understand what it feels like to want to spend all day in bed and to feel directionless or without purpose. Those are some tough feelings to cope with, let alone face and work through. 

Those who suffer from depression usually experience a myriad of symptoms including*:

  • Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
  • Sleeping too much or too little, middle of the night or early morning waking
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
  • Loss of pleasure and interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Restlessness, irritability
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment (such as chronic pain or digestive disorders)
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

My apologies for the minor “school lesson” I’m posting here. What I’m getting to is this: depression is so debilitating because ultimately what it comes down to is feeling like your life is worthless. I mean, look at those symptoms! The picture those symptoms paint is one of despair and hopelessness. A part of me completely and totally understands depression. Not only have I been depressed myself, I often intuitively feel for other people and wow is there a lot of sadness in the world. If I really sit down to consider how deeply horrifying people can be, how poorly we can (and do) treat one another, and the pains we suffer during even the average day to day it’s no wonder 19 million Americans have depression.  

More than half of depressed people never seek treatment because they either think they can treat themselves, believe themselves to be weak, or deny that they have a serious problem. But that’s the thing about depression: it’s this vicious cycle that’s surprisingly difficult to get out of. How do you begin to make good decisions if you’re too sad to make decisions? How do you become motivated to pursue something if you aren’t sleeping enough and feel empty inside?

And here we have another one of the major problems with America: we don’t like to collaborate with one another. We focus so much on individuality and independence that we can’t even ask for help anymore without feeling like a failure. Asking for help is courageous and people are smarter, more thoughtful, and exceptionally more creative when they work together than when they work alone. It’s the same for handling life’s most difficult days, and there are a lot of difficult days. Happiness is fleeting, but you know what’s not? A support system or those crazy friends and family who may drive you crazy sometimes, but love you more than you’ll ever know. The point my friends, is to turn to your loved ones. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and honest and openly sad because it’s much much better than trying to keep it all to yourself. Our hurts were never meant to be terminated on ourselves or we’d all inwardly implode. 

 

*Thanks Mental Health America for the info. 

 

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An Open Letter to John Green

Dear John (my posts seem to keep having weird Taylor Swift references),

I know you don’t know me, but I read a lot of young adult fiction. I love your books – they rank very near the top of my list of favorites (just under Harry Potter, I’m sure you’ll understand). I’m currently a film student at The University of Texas, but I’ll be moving back to Southern California in about a month for my last semester in L.A. and I just accepted an internship offer for NBC Universal Pictures. It’s all very exciting! I’m a long time Nerdfighter. I also write this blog. What is the purpose of my blog? It’s taken me approximately 2 years to figure it out because while I love to write, for a long time I thought I wasn’t capable of writing well. I realized I want to show young women that they don’t have to be afraid of their own creativity. They don’t have to be afraid to be all that they’re capable of being. I don’t really know how to do that yet, but I want to start. I see so much brokenness all over the world – online, outside, in actual people’s faces. I want this blog to be an inspiration to others. Too often I find that we each feel alone in the world because of the way we feel. We think we are the only ones who have ever felt a certain way, but we’re not.

I love the work you and Hank do. Your VlogBrother Videos are insightful, funny, and educational. I never want to stop learning. As someone about to graduate college, I appreciate that you both are always teaching and learning for yourselves. Thank you for doing so much to help make the world suck less. I think you both have a lot of courage. I’d like to collaborate with you in some capacity at some point in the future. I just wanted to throw that out there – maybe you’ll never even see this. It’s incredibly likely, but I believe weird things can and do happen everyday. I had to at least try to reach out because you have been such an inspiration to me. If you need any help with any projects please let me know. I really would love to help. I’m also full of good ideas. Thank you for all the work you do! Enjoy traveling to promote the TFIOS movie! I can’t wait to see it!

Warmly,

Natalie
{www.natalierose.org}
{natalie.rose@utexas.edu}

P.S. To everyone who frequently reads my blog, thank you! I know this is a different kind of post, but I had to try. If not, just to tell John Green how much he has inspired me. I’m sure you’ll all understand. Go read his books! They’re great.

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Rejection

Recently, I wrote about being fearless and it came to my attention that one of the main reasons for being fearful is the dreaded thought of being rejected. According to the most helpful dictionary.com, rejection is defined as, “a noun meaning the dismissing or refusal of a proposal, idea, etc.”

The dictionary, while factual, doesn’t do that fabulous of a job of defining rejection. It leaves so much of the most important aspects in one word: “etc.” Because, while we don’t enjoy it when our ideas are rejected, what we fear most is that we will be rejected. Deep down, we all long to be involved in one another’s lives, to feel loved and understood all while maintaining our own individuality and uniqueness that makes us special.

When I was about twelve I went to South Coast Repertory in Orange County to take acting classes, and it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had. I remember I had to pretend to be an egg during one of the classes, and I giggled a lot (to be clear eggs don’t giggle, but I do). I left that class and got into the car with my Mom, but my teacher Patrick had followed me out. The three of us were chatting about the class and then he said something really wise that I have never forgotten. “As an actor, you have to audition 100 times in order to get 1 call back., but it doesn’t necessarily mean the other 99 don’t like you. It means you weren’t right for the part.” As we drove off I remember thinking, “that’s a lot of no’s…”

While I auditioned for a lot of different productions when I was young, and can now openly say I was robbed of many life-changing roles* the two I remember most are from my Sophomore year of high school. I auditioned for the Comedy Sportz team and the musical How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. I remember standing on the stage at Comedy Sportz auditions and thinking, “wait, everyone here is really funny. Like really  funny. I’m funny, but I’m not that funny,”** and feeling incredibly insecure. I finished the audition though and supported the improvisors around me. Afterward, when I didn’t make it I was reminded of Patrick’s words that it was not right for me. I tend to agree with him because I did make UT’s improv troupe a few years later and while I really enjoyed my time, the people and the laughs, I always felt a little unsure.

I stood in the hallway outside of the How To Succeed auditions and felt my stomache do flips before my turn. Now, when I hold my own auditions for short films I recall that feeling very clearly. Those two experiences were unique because, as I was a new student that year, I wasn’t seen as an actress or a singer or a comedian. I was a behind the scenes person who loved lighting and was eager to learn about it. I was wrestling with the fact that I was loved and accepted by all (well, most of) the behind the scene faces and worried I wouldn’t fit in with the actors.

I had somehow managed to break into the inner circle and I feared messing that up because I really loved those people. Sophomore year was one of my favorite years because I found this room where everyone was weird and funny and accepted me even though I was also a cheerleader (they didn’t believe me for two months). The two scenarios that ran around in my head in that hallway were:

1. I would get a part and I would fit in with the actors, and the techies would make fun of me like all the other actors (we totally made fun of actors). I wouldn’t really feel apart of that group anymore.

2. I wouldn’t get a part, and then the techies would make fun for me for having wished to act. It would be awkward to do tech for this show because I had wanted to be in it.

Knowing the realities of high school theatre, that’s what I thought would happen. And you know what? The first scenario was pretty spot on. I did continue to work on tech while also acting in the ensemble, but I remember feeling neither apart of or left out of either group – more trapped in a limbo. Whenever I was teased I like to think it was out of love, but if I felt it wasn’t I had no problem telling those close to me to shove off.

I liked being in that show, and I learned that I really did love lighting better. When you (and I) make choices they always lead to narrower choices for the future, and that experience helped me to focus my own path. I realized that my post about being Fearless, while good intentioned, doesn’t really show the downside to being fearful, which is that while you get to stay safe in your “rejectionless” world…you miss new experiences and the fun/anxiety/different kind of fear that comes with them.

Here’s the kicker: Even if you do everything you possibly can to not be rejected, you’re still going to be rejected. If you send in your resume to a job, and you’re afraid to call and follow up for fear of rejection, it doesn’t matter because if they don’t call you after looking at your resume, they still rejected you. Even if you never send in a resume, never audition for the play, never apply to be in that major… you’re still rejected because you never even gave yourself the chance to be accepted. Now look, I haven’t lost my sanity because I understand that if you never dreamed of or intended to audition for the play in the first place then it’s not fair for me to say you’ve been rejected. Here’s what I’m saying:  If you really thought about auditioning and in your head you thought to yourself, “That would be a wonderful experience and I have always felt drawn to be on stage in the bright lights” but then seconds after thought, “But I’m not good enough, I won’t be picked,” do you know what just happened?

You rejected yourself.

And your rejection of self will only lead to others rejecting you. If you stop rejecting yourself it won’t matter so much when others reject you. Because they will. It’s just a fact of life that not everyone will like you, but it is important that you like you and that you give yourself the opportunities you want. Sure, other people may have to physically give them to you, but half of it is making them think you’re the best person for it. If you think you are, they are much more likely to. If they don’t think you are, well that’s okay. They did you a service by helping you narrow your options. Rejection starts inward and spreads outward – think about that.

 

 

*Oh Peggy Graham, you made so many mistakes. Seriously, what were you thinking?

**I am situationally funny, but it’s really my sister who is hilarious. I have my moments. Part of me wishes I were super funny, which is one of the reasons I love Amy Poehler so much.

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Who Cares?

I’m finding that one of the hardest parts of growing up is noticing the motivations of those around you. I see it as both a blessing and a curse to have so much intuition about such things, but sometimes I find myself thinking ignorance is bliss and wishing I could partake in some of that bliss. I know there are some readers here who will empathize with me.

It’s a little bit heartbreaking that I’ve been holding back little pieces of my days that were particularly something (i.e. funny, interesting, exciting) because I’ve stopped myself in order to wonder whether or not the person would actually care to know. Of course, there are some people who do truly care and some of those people may not be obvious – a few will surprise you, and that is a great gift.

Where did this train of thought come from? I was talking to a friend about a month ago and I was finding out really wonderful news about this person and I was so excited for them! I wanted to know all the details! I wanted to have the full picture so I could celebrate with this person whom I call a close friend. When I asked them why they hadn’t shared with me they told me they thought I wouldn’t care. That was the end of the conversation, and at the time it hadn’t bothered me.

As you can tell, I’ve really let this hang around my mind. I’ve asked myself, “Do I come across as the kind of person who would not care about the lives of my friends? Of my family?” I’m not perfect by any means, but no, I don’t think I come across that way. At the very least, I certainly hope I don’t.

I think there’s a lot of factors at play here. There are types of people who have a hard time opening up. There are even types of people who genuinely don’t care about you or if they do, it’s for the wrong reasons. They don’t have their friend’s interest at heart because in the back of their mind they are thinking negatively about them or they are jealous – there are endless possibilities.

On a personal level, I have a tendency to be really hard on myself. I’ve realized that while yes, it is important to have a filter that your thoughts go through before spewing out of your mouth, it’s not necessarily important to wonder whether or not the person will care about what you have to say. Or rather, it doesn’t matter whether or not you think they will care.

There’s danger in that kind of thinking. It reminds me of times in my life I have had conversations with other people in my head and have assumed they will react in a certain way. I have then gone to the person and started the conversation and been wildly thrown by how the conversation has taken a turn I did not see coming! How silly of me, I know.

The truth is, ultimately the other person will decide whether they care about you and support you or not, and you will know. How will you know? They will take an interest, an honest interest, in your life. In you. In your dreams. They will love you. You cannot make that decision for them, and you shouldn’t want to. And though it hurt me that someone would think I do not care about their life even though I do, it doesn’t have to because that choice -that thought – was not mine even though it rightfully belongs to me.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m no longer going to worry about whether or not someone will care about what I have to say because either they will or they won’t. The choice is theirs.

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Fearless (no not the Taylor Swift song)

Last night I had dinner with one of my closest friends. It always amazes me that in spite of being in different places in our lives, we manage to understand one another and get to the root of our hearts. It’s a special friendship and one that I cherish very much.

Something struck a cord with me as we sat and ate breakfast for dinner at IHOP and drank two pots of coffee (no wonder I am still awake). My friend told me that she admires how “fearless” I am, and as I nodded and accepted the praise I struggled with some inward turmoil.

While I’ve written about this before, I am deeply saddened by how fearful young women are today. I’ve seen so many smart, talented women worry that they are “too much.” Too sensitive, too emotional, too smart for guys to like them – I wish I could show each of them how wrong they are about themselves because there is nothing to be found in being fearful. Did you catch that? There is nothing to be found in being fearful. And often it seems that what they fear is the power they have within themselves to live up to all that they can be. If other people are intimidated by fearlessness, that should in no way lead you to believe you should belittle yourself for them. It does no good.

The irony is I know that nothing comes of fear because I am fearful sometimes – sometimes a lot. Usually the higher the stakes the more fearful I am. I’ve just done a pretty decent job at being able to trick myself into believing I’m not afraid or employing the age old adage, “fake it till you make it,” which is one of my personal favorites.

I love that there’s currently this push to see more female leads in television and film because girls need to see bravery. We’ve seen enough of the shrinking female leads – it’s time to see the strength and the beauty that comes with being a little more fearless and a little less afraid.

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Looking, Looking, Looking

It occurred to me this week in that moment between awake and sleeping that we are all constantly looking for something. My stream of consciousness went something like this, “In the future we look for hope, in the past we look for answers, in the present we look for happiness, in class I look for knowledge, in God I look for comfort, in my friends I look for laughter, in my family for support…” It dawned on me that even when what we look for changes, we are indeed still looking for something. For a reason unknown to me at the time, I felt deeply saddened by this revelation, and it was at that point that sleep won out.

Yesterday, I was on a roll with watching “VlogBrother” Videos. If you don’t know who the “VlogBrothers” are, let me enlighten you. John Green wrote The Fault in Our Stars (a soon to be major motion picture starring Divergent’s Shailene Woodley), Looking For Alaska, Paper Towns (also in the works to become a major motion picture) , Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and An Abundance of Katherines. I’ve read the first three, and love them more than words can describe. I will read them again. They are brilliantly written young adult novels. Hank Green is John Green’s brother and together they make up the “VlogBrothers.” They make videos for young adults and early twenty somethings about everything under the sun. I watched one yesterday titled, “What’s up with North Korea?” followed by, “Is College Worth It?” These two men are very intelligent – I love that they make fun videos that also have so much wonderful wisdom and life advice packed into just four minutes.

John Green mentioned a link to a 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address and he said, “If you’re graduating college soon forget this video and go read that speech,” and so I did. It’s a long speech so I’m going to pull out a few quotes that stuck out to me. I realize it’s not the shortest set of quotes, but I promise it’s worth it.

“So let’s talk about the single most pervasive cliché in the commencement speech genre, which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about quote teaching you how to think. If you’re like me as a student, you’ve never liked hearing this, and you tend to feel a bit insulted by the claim that you needed anybody to teach you how to think, since the fact that you even got admitted to a college this good seems like proof that you already know how to think…”

“The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. I have learned this the hard way, as I predict you graduates will, too…”

“Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realist, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness because it’s so socially repulsive. But it’s pretty much the same for all of us…”

“As I’m sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now). Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience…”

“The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to [grocery] shop…”

“It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime. And it commences: now.”

Unfortunately, these quotes don’t totally capture the brilliance of the speech, but I think they do the trick. The speaker talks about how difficult adult life can be – the monotony of daily routine and how easy it is to become a slave to the routine. How easy it is to look at everything with so much frustration and irritation and anger. How easy it is to only think about the moment we are experiencing that revolves around us. How easy it is to never change our way of thinking and to lose awareness in our own minds.

This speech reminded me of my moment just before sleep, and it revealed that maybe there are people out there who stop looking. They just live day in and day out and go along doing whatever it is they’ve always done without giving it a second thought. I think I felt saddened by the thought that I’m always searching for something because it seems like such an exhausting way to live. In fact, it is exhausting always trying to figure out the way the world works, how people think, why they think the way they do. In actuality it is the best way to live however exhausting it may be. Better to always be looking than to give up and settle in the knowledge that you’ve always had.

Click Here to watch The Fault In Our Stars Trailer!

Click Here to read the 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address

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Intern Life

I should start by saying that not all internships are created equally. There are “hands off” and “hands on” internships. The “hands off” interns fit the stereotype that most people picture in their heads when they think of the word “intern.” They make copies all day, learn how to make (hopefully) really good coffee or tea*, and they run errands. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with standing back and observing for a season of life, and paying dues is an important part of maturing in any field. It helps you to appreciate your own creativity and spurs you on to thinking about how you would handle the problems your superior may be facing if you were in their shoes.

That being said, working on Into The Who Knows! is not “hands off.” In the past six weeks our internship team has helped plan a SXSW party, brainstorm and decide on marketing campaigns, do important research, and run the social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) for our film. We’ve been an integral part of the promotion process – our ideas and creativity matter now and we are assigned real work that is useful for the development of Who Knows.

When I stop and think about how my work can actually make an impact, it’s thrilling. Watching Felix come to life on Instagram has been exhilarating because our team thought of that campaign in our very first brainstorming session. I’m in an atmosphere where I am being encouraged to be innovative and I am trusted to work not only in a team, but also independently. Annie and Micah are setting Erin, Kian, and me up for success in the film industry by giving us the opportunity to grow.

Moreover, since the three of us are present months before production, we have time to fuel the excitement surrounding Thomas and Felix. We also have time to feel like a team because we meet and check in with one another every week. We are very collaborative, which makes our ideas stronger because our final product is the melding of all of our imaginations. Personally, I love that it’s okay if I say a bad idea out loud because more often than not it will spur another idea and another, and then somehow we get back on the right track. I always leave our meetings excited about the work I have for the following week and knowing that I have gained insight that I wouldn’t have been given in class.

I can speak for all of us when I say that we believe in Into The Who Knows! That is the most important thing I can say – our belief spurs us to be the team I described above and to work hard on promotion and marketing. We believe deeply in Thomas and Felix, and we want more than anything for others to believe in them too.  I hope you follow along with us as our journey Into The Who Knows continues. 

*All the producers I’ve worked for drink tea.

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