Allison Coyle

The well established conformists path is the easy one, it has been traveled many times and its rewards are mediocre at best.

Tag: inspiration

Pageantry of Vanity

If you haven’t yet seen this video, I implore you to do so before you read any further.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRl8EIhrQjQ

Most, if not all, of us go through phases in which we rid ourselves of social media. For some, it’s not simply a phase but a conscious, permanent decision to change the way we interact with others.

I deleted my Facebook account last June after my heart was broken by a guy I was convinced I was destined to marry. I have over 500 “friends” on Facebook, yet I felt completely alone. In my sorry state, I wrote several notes about my situation, hoping to receive feedback from others who could relate. Yet I received none. Thankfully, I was interning with a great group of people at the time who pulled me out of my funk and brought color back to my life. This incident caused me to reevaluate the true purpose and necessity of social media in my own life. I was no longer “networking” or “keeping up” with old friends and acquaintances. I was airing my dirty laundry for virtual strangers to read. And I wasn’t alone in doing so.

Have you ever stopped and really taken note of how people utilize their social media pages? Some people genuinely do keep up with friends and share interesting articles and videos with said friends. My grandma is a great example of that, as is my friend Tiffany, who uses Facebook to create event invites and share info with her friends studying midwifery. I am not a great example of this, unfortunately. While I love discussing politics, music, and movies, I realized not too long after I created a Facebook page that social media is not the best medium for doing so. It’s much easier to debate and argue with others when you’re not forced to speak with them face to face. This has created unnecessary rifts in a few friendships, none of which, thankfully, have been permanent. So while I think discussing politics is a good and healthy practice, I now recognize that Facebook is a terrible venue for doing so.

I’m sure most people have examples of discussions gone awry due to miscommunication over social media. I can’t count the number of couples I’ve seen fight over one of them clicking “like” on someone else’s selfie or getting caught posting pictures of themselves with someone other than their significant other. It’s ridiculously juvenile, and this kind of behavior has permeated our culture just within the last decade. When was the last time you hung out with a friend without them taking a picture of their food or updating their status in the midst of a discussion? I got into an argument a few years ago with a friend who refused to put his phone away during dinner because he wanted to be in constant contact with his boyfriend.

Aside from the bad manners technology has wrought, there is a greater underlying problem in our culture. How often do you compare yourself to your friends on Facebook or Twitter? Their lives seem more exciting, right? They’re at a bonfire or at a party with loads of people on a Friday night, and you’re sitting at home, Netflix binging with pizza. They post pictures of their escapades with their new friends, and you feel guilty for only having three close friends. So, the next time you go out, you make sure to post a status or maybe even a picture of how much “fun” you’re having, because that’s what you do, right? You’re supposed to document everything you do on social media, right? I mean, doesn’t everybody? This creates a toxic cycle in which everyone feels the need to outdo one another in a false reality. We live our lives incorrectly assuming that those around us are happier, prettier, and more successful than us, based on pictures and statuses that they put up. Of course, we don’t know what their lives are really like outside of this social media bubble. We don’t know what they look like when they wake up, whether or not they feel self-conscious when they look in the mirror, how many close, reliable friends they have, or even how happy they are. The same people you envy may very well envy you.

I ended up reactivating my Facebook page last September, 3 ½ months after I had deleted it, for what reason, I can’t remember. I do remember reactivating it with the intent of doing so temporarily. I will be deleting my Facebook page at midnight tonight, with the intent of doing so permanently. I feel like a hypocrite for engaging in behavior that I condemn, and now feels like the right time to bow out.

I hope that you will weigh the pros and cons of social media in your own life and decide whether or not you’re using it as a means of communication or as a tool for narcissism.

Kindred Spirits

smoking

As a budding writer (otherwise known as an intern), I feel the need to stretch my legs and relax my mind when time allows. Seemingly obligatory in this line of work, and perhaps it’s an affectation, but I’m convinced that smoking helps clear one’s mind and get you prepared for the task at hand. Some may think it a tool of procrastination; I think otherwise.

As I walked around the block today, I couldn’t help but notice the other smokers around me. At one point in the past, I may have sheltered the smoke from a passerby, primarily out of embarrassment that I had stooped to such a societal low as to smoke (in public, none the less). Yet today, I found myself smoking proudly, as I tipped my nonexistent hat to my fellow smokers as they passed. People have preconceived notions of smokers…that they’re destined to develop lung cancer and either die or, possibly worse, depending who you ask, wind up with one of those scary voice boxes. Non-smokers don’t seem to understand that it is possible to smoke socially without becoming addicted.

This is all beside the point. I realized today, perhaps for the first time, that we’re a fascinating group, us smokers. I find something romantic in the idea of lighting up a cigarette as you sit down to write. Each inhalation provides inspiration. The dwindling cigarette challenges you to either finish your thought or fire up the next cigarette to carry you through the battlefield of ideas. It’s a race of sorts, you see…finishing your cigarette in unison with your writing. Something tells me this entry would be significantly more profound had I a cigarette in hand.

Celebrate your youth, my fellow degenerates. Bask in your mistakes. With each drag, drink in the inspiration of Hemingway, Eliot, Cummings, Steinbeck, and Serling.

It may be a short life, but damn if it won’t be well-lived.

Greatness

I want to put a ding in the universe.

 

 While the aforementioned statement is not my own, I can certainly relate to the sentiment. When I was little, I assumed that everyone had illusions of grandeur. I assumed that everyone aspired to greatness, that everyone wanted to “put a ding in the universe.” It wasn’t until quite recently that I realized how few actually do.

 While I’ve complained for years that I feel out of place amongst my peers, my first conscious encounter with complacency occurred about a month ago. It wasn’t an isolated conversation that caught my attention; it was the sheer volume of people I seemed to be running into who shared a collectively disappointing view. The majority of people in their early to mid 20s (those in D.C., anyway) seem to aspire to graduate college and find a 9 to 5 job. They aspire to pay their bills. Nothing more. I spoke with my dad about a week ago about this disheartening realization, and he didn’t understand what I meant when I asked, “When you were my age, did you feel rushed to make an impact? Did you ever feel like you were running out of time? That you needed to find your niche in life before it was too late?” I was met with a blank stare. My own 52 year-old dad doesn’t understand what the hell I’m talking about. How am I to expect my 20 year-old peers to relate?

 This brings me to my final observation. When you were in school, whether it be primary school or high school, did teachers approach you with a certain level of concern? Did they tell your parents that you acted strangely (in my case, quiet and seemingly sad)? Did they scold you for not getting along/playing with the other children? Were you punished for being disrespectful because you felt the need to ask questions like, “Why are we doing this? What is the end game in learning this?” Did they advise your parents to address whatever “problems” you seemed to be facing so that you could relate to the other children “normally?” In your day to day life, have you noticed patterns deemed “abnormal” by your peers or society at large? Do you become easily distracted or obsessed (passionate) with your hobbies/interests? 

 While I’ve long made a concerted effort to question societal norms, I’m beginning to take my questions a step further. Who is to say that these “disorders” or “abnormalities” are a bad thing? Is it so horrible to be passionate about life, about wanting to do something big? Or are we being subdued and tied down by those weaker in mind and spirit? Is my inability to moderate my addictive personality a weakness or is it a sign of bigger things to come? While others approach their interests in a calculated, methodical way, I feel the need to take things a step (or ten) further. Case in point: when I like someone, I LIKE someone. While most people become gradually interested in a person, I fangirl and feel the need to immediately tell them how smart and witty and brilliant they are…which typically freaks them out.

 But while my addictive personality has caused a few setbacks in my life, it has also acted as a catalyst. I wouldn’t have landed these internships or met the amazing people that I have without having a passionate distrust of the college education system. I wouldn’t have hounded so many organizations for internships had I just gone to college with my peers. I wouldn’t be sitting in Newt Gingrich’s office, pondering my existence if not for my “disorders.”

 Thanks to my weaknesses, I will put a ding in the universe.