Why Style and Substance?

I’m not really sure how to blog. The articles I read on blogging (an attempt to familiarize myself with it) say I should pick a theme and stick with it. Me picking one theme and sticking with it is unlikely. I don’t think in themes. I don’t think in ideas that are isolated from each other. I think in ideas that connect… idea networks.

So instead of blogging about one aspect of life, I will just blog about my life in general. Life as a student, life as someone who is mentally disordered and striving for health, life as a musician, life as a philosopher, life as a writer, life as a feminist, life as a Christian, and life as a lover of music, food, movies, books, fashion and lingerie. Basically, it’ll be one half fashion blog, one half everything else blog.

“So, why Style and Substance?” you might wonder.

Short answer: I am both style and substance. Many people are.

Long answer: According to dictionary.com (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/frivolous?s=t), “frivolous” means 1) characterized by a lack of seriousness or sense 2) self-indulgently carefree; unconcerned about or lacking any serious purpose 3) (of a person) given to trifling or undue levity 4) of little or no weight, worth, or importance; not worthy of serious notice.

In the somewhat conservative Christian community (and likely the secular community as well) I grew up in, and am still very much involved in, fashion is the epitome of frivolous. I mean, you’re expected to look presentable and people will compliment you when you “look nice”, but you’re not supposed to actually care. Looking good is supposed to be effortless, not premeditated. If you actually put your time and effort into your looks, you’re being shallow and selfish because you’re neglecting your spirit and your mind and other people while you’re focusing on how you look. Or something.

In other words, if you have style, it’s because you don’t have substance. The two simply cannot coexist in one being. (Fallacy of the false dilemma, anyone?)

 

So, I am a person who does care about improving myself on the inside. I’m passionate about learning and about people. I major in psychology and minor in philosophy, which is fairly academic. I’m determined to get a Master’s and to be the first in my family to get a PhD and make them so proud. I love to read when I have the time, and I write music (usually when I don’t have the time. Exam crunch is great for inspiration). Maybe one day I’ll do research. Maybe one day I’ll have my own practice. Maybe I’ll finish the sheet music of my masterpiece and have it performed on the stage of the Orpheum theatre in Vancouver.

But I care about fashion. I am an intensely creative being and fashion is one form of expressing that. I care about how I look, and how I think I look influences how I feel. If I don’t feel I’m looking my best, I wind up not doing my best work. It distracts me. For some time, I felt that (still do, sometimes) this was a deficiency on my part. Shouldn’t I be able to just ignore how I look entirely and just focus on my work or school? What’s wrong with me? Why do I even care?

Writing this, I’m just realizing that I’ve actually internalized a lot more guilt and shame than I thought I did. Huh, and I thought I’d made it through relatively unscathed.

Anyway, these messages that I got from the overall community, messages that were never actually spoken about me or in front of me but still got through to me nonetheless through books and other literature and media, resulted in a conflict for me. I got the impression that an interest in fashion and being intellectual were mutually exclusive and I could not be both. (For the record, it wasn’t friends and family who put this idea into my head. It’s the wider culture that did that.)

However, a couple years ago, I stumbled across the bra blogging community. For the first time, I saw people who reconciled these two seemingly unreconcilable traits. They were interested in fashion and lingerie, but drew it into the intellectual realm. They talked about feminism and modesty doctrine and rape culture and current events and even philosophy and politics and economics and religion. They expanded my mind farther than any book ever has and helped me become a better person.

And that’s one reason why I decided to blog: because I want to be able to dialogue with these amazing people. I want to join the conversation. I want to have a voice, to give back to a community that has helped me develop as a person.

The other reason for blogging is therapeutic: personal expression of things I generally don’t get to acknowledge or talk about in day-to-day life and a way for me to organize my thoughts into a coherent filing system as opposed to them being a chaotic mess (welcome to life with GAD). The counsellor(s) I’ve been speaking to think blogging could be a good way to release pent-up energy of which I have an abundance. I seem to be a bit repressed.

Anyway, back to the bit on organization. I find that for me, I need things organized outside of me before they are organized inside of me. I must organize my surroundings in a way that makes sense to me. So, as I work the kinks out of this whole running a blog thing, you might see some changes in the organization of the blog as I figure out ways to make it make more sense to me.

Now, a bit more on upcoming blog posts. I’ll posts a few more introductory posts just to set the foundation for the blog, then maybe start with some fashion and lingerie posts, then some stuff on self-care and I’ll later continue to branch out as I see fit. Not that much in my life ever goes according to plan, but we’ll see what happens.

EDIT (April 23, 2017): So, the blog went through a name change. Instead of Style and Substance, it will now be called the Intersection of Everything. Why? Because Style and Substance didn’t feel right. It’s good for a fashion blog, but I’m not exclusively a fashion blogger. My posts so far are turning out to be on different subjects.

Where did this new name come from? Well, I was talking to my counsellor about how I’ve got all these plans and ideas for the future but it’s kind of overwhelming and I have no clue what’s up next for me because there’s all these different options and I can only pick one, and I said “I’m at the intersection of everything.” Counsellor thought it was an interesting turn of phrase and then Bingo! I have a fitting title for the blog. And bonus! No one else has the name yet!

Greetings, 2017! Please Don’t Destroy Me

This isn’t what I originally planned on my first blog post being, but I felt like I ought to start this off from a place of honesty about me and my life or else I wouldn’t be true to what I want this blog to become.

This past year has been one of toil, turmoil, and conflict and I am kind of a mess. In summary, this is what the past year has looked like for me:

I have went from living as an only child to having my three siblings back in my life, plus four nieces and nephews who were previously unaware of my existence, after six years of estrangement. Long story, but let it suffice to say it had everything to do with The Divorce From Hell and reconciling with these people has been excruciating.

I went from being unemployed and having basically no job experience to joining the work force part-time. Having my own income is great, as is the work environment, but though my work schedule is stable, it’s difficult for me to adapt to arranging all my activities around my work schedule. The time of day when I would normally be doing schoolwork, the time of day that I am the most awake, is now when I work. And I’m not sure how to fit in all that I need to do. And it requires People Skills and People Energy. I don’t have an abundance of those.

I went from being (quote unquote) “fine” to leaving school on a medical leave and getting diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) with Depressive Symptoms. Of course, I was anxious to begin with so when it comes to being diagnosed with GAD, my feelings were “Took you long enough”, if I’m being really honest.

I went from a full-time university student to a university dropout on a medical leave to now returning to school with a reduced course load as a student with a registered disability. Let’s hope I make it through the semester this time ’round.

I went from having unwavering confidence in my intelligence to worrying that I’m somehow getting stupider.

I went from being single, which I’ve always been, to being in a long-term romantic relationship, to breaking up, to getting back together again. It’s different from what they show you in books and movies.

I’ve survived another year of life below the poverty line.

I’m twenty-two now, which was the age at which I’d planned to finish my BA but instead I’m now only halfway through that degree. Thanks, GAD.

I went from not exercising at all to exercising regularly.

My bestest friend moved away. And after almost nineteen years of friendship, my best friend and I had our very first fight. It was quickly resolved, but still.

I’ve watched my friends and siblings grow up, get boyfriends, get engaged, get married, have babies, get new jobs, switch majors, graduate post-secondary, move homes, and it’s funny and strange seeing them go through all these life changes, seemingly in the blink of an eye, and all of a sudden, it’s their second wedding anniversary, or their seventh.

I’ve grappled with my beliefs on every level, and have come up with more questions than answers.

I’ve struggled with guilt and shame, which seem to have replaced the righteous rage I used to have whenever I saw injustice in the world.

I’m really having trouble integrating all these new experiences into a coherent, whole “me”.

And now, after many months of what I consider to be signs telling me to use my voice, I’m going from being voiceless to starting my own blog. After months of contemplating it and putting it off and of trying it then quitting, I’m finally doing it. Even though it kind of scares me.

I’m a bit nervous about starting a blog. I recently realized that I am very much a writer, but it’s different than some of my other passions. Example: my music. That is a passion of mine. I am a musician. I am a composer. I am comfortable writing music and associating my name with it. But with writing, I don’t feel comfortable associating my real name with it. I feel vulnerable and unprotected. My words are a much more secret part of me and I tend to guard them very carefully.

I worried that this might wind up becoming a project I obsess over and ugh, I already have a lot going on in my life, but blog or no blog, it’ll be a hell of a year, I can feel it, so might as well scratch something off my bucket list while I’m at it, seeing as my music is not going anywhere and my degree is not going anywhere for a long while.

I’m also worried that blogging will let my perfectionism and people-pleasing demons out to play and wreak havoc on me. But I’m hoping that I will grow stronger through this and that I will become the person I’m meant to be and be able to do some good in the world in some way.

I’m in a bizarre limbo state of mind. I’m weary of change, yet I crave more of it. I’m exhausted yet restless. I alternate between being almost ready to face the coming year and being petrified of whether or not I can handle what will come next. I’m trying to conquer my fear. I’m sick of it dictating what I do or do not do with my life. If I want to accomplish anything of worth, I must get rid of this fear.

But despite all this fear, I’m still going through with this. Why? Because I’ve tried being truly honest with people about difficult subjects this past year and it’s actually been rather rewarding and others seem to find my openness inspiring so I’m hoping to replicate that here. I’m hoping that by seeing my confronting my fear, you will one day have the strength and courage to conquer yours.

So… Welcome.