The End of the World

Contrary to popular belief, and much to my own personal astonishment, the world did not end today.  Shocking, I know, but at 6:00 I was quite contently making a fool of myself in dance class, awkwardly shrugging my shoulders up to my enormous ears when I should have been sensually shimmying to the music.  I am no Tila Tequila.
However, all this hype made me think about the end of the world, about what would actually happen if I knew for sure the world was ending in a matter of days, minutes even.  What would I do?  Who would I call?  Where would I go?  And most importantly, what would I eat?
This is the worldwide web, so I’m going to stray from specifics, as I’m pretty sure Tyra/future employers/my rabbi keep up with my blog regularly.
Before May 21st’s projected end of the world, my world completely fell apart.
One after another, all the things that kept me stable and happy started slipping away from me, and I felt like I lost all sense of control.
It started slowly at first, school stress, family fights, friendship drama, relationship challenges, all the regular issues a college student endures, nothing to get too bummed about.
And suddenly everything built up. Maintaining my Dean’s List status meant sacrificing valuable time I could be maintaining relationships with old friends.  Having a wonderful relationship meant lying to my family.  Lying to my family equated to constant paranoia over what my friends knew and said and repeated.  Paranoia about my friends’ activity led to unnecessary insecurity about my relationship.  Ridiculous insecurities led to me being unpleasant, upset and angry and sad and frustrated for no understandable reason, taking it out on the people I loved most. There was so much to be afraid of and I just wanted to believe I was fearless.
I denied my own unhappiness because it made no sense to me.  I had it all: a fantastic life in New York City, amazing friends, love.  I was brighter, prettier, and all around more talented than most people, so what is there to be miserable about?
I remembered being happy, fantasizing about the times I felt light and free and on top of the world, a mere three or six months ago, and I had faith that this too shall pass, and I wouldn’t feel so heavy and bogged down and glum. I excused my behavior for so many reasons: bad weather, lack of sleep, PMS.
I distanced myself from the girl who would silently cry herself to sleep, unsure why the tears came in the first place.
I blamed those nearest and dearest to me for not making me happy enough, for not doing enough for me, for not understanding anything I was going through. But how could they when I couldn’t even acknowledge my own struggles? I was strong and independent and didn't need help from anyone, especially when nothing was wrong. I didn't want to be a burden.
I knew I was loved by so many people, but I had stopped loving myself.  I couldn’t turn to anyone, I couldn’t ask for help. I didn’t need any help- why would I?
And then the world came to an end.
And I was still alive.
I had been living and breathing for so long, walking and talking and thinking and feeling, but I wasn’t living.  My world had been slipping away from me for so long, and I thought I was ready to let it go.
My friends and family were there to pick up the pieces of the world I had crushed and forced into the ground.  They were there with tight hugs and kind words and luminous smiles and delicious treats.  They told me they had always been there, that I could always tell them what I was feeling, what disturbed me, what I needed to feel good.
They had no idea I was so unhappy, or unhappy at all for that matter.  I’m all giggles and smiles and fun all the time. I have an ideal life.  What went wrong?
Everything.  Everything was wrong for so long, and kept getting worse and worse and worse.
And then it started to get better.
Faster than everything went downhill, I defied the laws of physics as everything started looking brighter and happier and more hopeful.
Life is great!Bad things happen.  So do great, amazing things.  You have to have some bad in order to appreciate all the good.  You have to endure stress and loss and disappointment in order to fully appreciate all the truly wonderful things life has to offer.  What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

I’m happy.  I really am.  It really took me falling apart to begin to work on myself and become the best me possible.  And I know I’m still getting there, problems don't just disappear overnight, but for the first time in far too long I feel so good.  I’ve been able to express things I’ve never been able to express, to see the world for the beautiful place it truly is, and to love myself for who I really am. I've reconnected with old friends, opened up to family members who became distant over the years, and suddenly I feel like everything is falling into place. I haven't bit my nails in a month, truly record-breaking, and I have no desire to. I’ve been having so much fun, feeling so real and alive and ready to take on the world. And it’s truly amazing.
The false ending of the world taught me how much I have to appreciate and how truly fortunate I am for all that I have.  There’s so much to live for, so many beautifully unpredictable things to look forward to, so many mistakes to make and learn from and perhaps go back and fix.
I can only hope that the Mayans are wrong about 2012, just like they were with the Conquistadors and anesthesia, because there are so many incredible things just waiting to happen and I want to experience them all!
Giraffes, for one, are incredible.

Smiling with My Eyes

While I used to be the type of person who read Perez Hilton religiously, talked about the celebrities on the cover of US Weekly as if they were my BFFS, and dream about stardom, these days have since passed. I’ve shifted my daily distractions to TFLN and FML and MLIA—you know, real life things—and aspire to become world famous for my incredible writing talent rather than my dramatic skills.

However, when presented with the occasion to meet the one and only Tyra Banks, I was not one to pass up this once-in a lifetime opportunity (until I win ANTM cycle 17, that is).

Tyra, for as long as I can remember, has been my favorite celebrity. Perhaps it’s her stunning beauty, her quirky phrases and outbursts, her mission to make all women feel gorgeous and perfect. Regardless, Tyra is quite beloved and dear to me. She’s been on locker posters, T-shirts, been there to chat with me after-school when all I wanted to do was stuff my face with pasta, taught me how to work the runway, smile with my eyes, and rock my natural hair without a weave. Maybe I don’t actually need a weave, but seriously, Tyra is my girl!

I probably shrieked for an hour when I learned I had the opportunity to breathe the same air as her. While Tyra may provide us with episodes like “10 women, 5 vaginas” and “Marijuana Moms,” I still wholeheartedly enjoy her hour-long afternoon talk show. After doing my makeup as well as she taught me, picking out a cute outfit, and downing a coffee, I felt ready for my day in her studio. I couldn’t contain my excitement as I cheered and clapped and screamed for my role model long before she even stepped on stage. I volunteered myself for all the diversions until filming began; I finally was called upon to stand onstage and answer Tyra trivia, and won a free t-shirt. My favorite t-shirt.

Tyra finally pranced down her runway, tall and glamorous and flawless, and I was unsure what to think. I don’t really remember thinking. I remember staring and shrieking more and doubting that Tyra Banks stood twenty feet away from me. The taping went by quickly, although the producers continuously paused to push Tyra’s curls around with a strange stick, I went home with more than enough Valentine’s day gifts from my lady and a never-ending smile on my face.

It seemed that everyone I saw that day needed to know that I saw Tyra, shared her space, seen the legend in person. Shockingly enough, people listened, or maybe they were just hoping for some of the two pounds of Godiva chocolate she gave me...

So here’s the thing: it may seem stupid to have a celebrity icon, to look up to someone you don’t know, aspire to be her, meet her, befriend her, there’s a specialness about this impossibility that makes our lives more interesting. While I never actually believed I would meet Tyra (I swear she waved at me after the taping!), seeing her in person reaffirmed my belief in the distant. Tyra, the first African American model for Sports Illustrated and Victoria’s Secret; the star of Lindsay Lohan’s television movie debut, Lifesize; a face in Michael Jackson’s iconic “Black or White” video has always been this distant superstar, a force so powerful and far away, she barely seemed real. And now, I’ve seen her. I believe in the things she’s done and the things I’m capable to do. Tyra encourages me to release my silly side, imitate the “Single Ladies” dance on national TV (is now a good time to drop that Beyoncé was on the show), feel beautiful and perfect and just be who I am.

And while my celebrity life may be far in my past, my hours spent with Tyra will keep me smiling with my eyes for a long, long time….