Confidence is knowing who you are and not changing it a bit because of someone’s version of your reality is not their reality.
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Confidence is knowing who you are and not changing it a bit because of someone’s version of your reality is not their reality.

-Shannon L. Alder

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You should date a girl who reads.Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.Buy her another cup of coffee.Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.She has to give it a shot somehow.Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.Or better yet, date a girl who writes.

-Rosemarie Urquico

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There’s all this pressure in our society to be beautiful, to be strong, to be sexy. So we spend our time and money on trying to become these things. We put on the high heels, the suits, the makeup, the mask. Then, we feel more awkward than confident, so we drink away our anxieties. That doesn’t make us look any sexier – it just makes us stop caring about how we look.Everyone is beautiful. Everyone is sexy. Everyone is strong. It’s lunacy. We’re all running around trying to become something that we already are.You know what’s really sexy? A person who’s 100% comfortable with themselves. And you know what’s really funny? It is just as time consuming and difficult to learn to accept yourself as it is to pretend to be someone else. The only difference is – with self acceptance, one day, it’s not hard anymore. One day, you feel like your sexiest, strongest self just rolling out of bed in the morning.You’re either going to spend the little time you have in your life on trying to know yourself or trying to hide yourself. The choice is yours. You can’t do both.And you know what’s really amazing about choosing self-love? You’ll be setting an example for all the people around you and all the kids of the coming generation. You’ll be part of a revolution to take back the precious moments of our lives out of the hands of shame-inducing advertisers and back into the hands and hearts of real people like you, like me, like all of us.I know you’ve dreamt about changing the world. So this is your chance. Learn to love yourself, accept yourself, and unleash your strongest, sexiest self. It’s in there. You just have to believe it.

-Vironika Tugaleva

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Dear Future Me, I hope that today you are the person you always set out to be. I hope you accomplished everything that they said you could never do. How many lives do you change in a day? Do you speak out for what is right, or sit there regretting your silence? I hope you are what I’m not. I hope you speak out with such a voice that everyone around you can hear it even when you aren’t speaking. I want you to have power in the way you speak- giving light into someone’s world filled with darkness. I hope you live as if you are the only one capable of making a difference, and embracing that ability in the best way possible. You don’t need to have your name written in the text of a history book, but you need to live to make your words give life to the ones who thought they didn’t deserve one.When you read this letter, I hope you are somewhere where all of you previous goals can be made accomplishments. I hope you still remember your past, and pass on your story to those who need to hear it most- to show them that they are not alone. I hope you achieved that brighter, happier life you used to daydream about when you were younger. I hope all of your dreams became your reality, and I hope that eventually your nightmares dissolved into the depths of your past- never haunting you again. I hope that you one day took off the mask that hid the truth. That you broke down the barriers you built, and learned to trust someone- really trust them- somewhere along your journey. I hope that you look in the mirror with a small, true smile and be proud of what you see. I hope that you learned to break through the surface of the water drowning you- anxiety. I hope that you now see the world from a whole new perspective, and learned to enjoy the sun more than the rain.. Most of all, I hope you learned to speak. To speak in such a voice that must be heard; a voice that embroiders your words onto a heart that needed them most. I hope you are happy, and teach ones who are like the old you to be happy as well. I hope that today you are the person you always set out to be.Sincerely,Your Past

-wnq writers

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A good movie can take you out of your dull funk and the hopelessness that so often goes with slipping into a theatre; a good movie can make you feel alive again, in contact, not just lost in another city. Good movies make you care, make you believe in possibilities again. If somewhere in the Hollywood-entertainment world someone has managed to break through with something that speaks to you, then it isn’t all corruption. The movie doesn’t have to be great; it can be stupid and empty and you can still have the joy of a good performance, or the joy in just a good line. An actor’s scowl, a small subversive gesture, a dirty remark that someone tosses off with a mock-innocent face, and the world makes a little bit of sense. Sitting there alone or painfully alone because those with you do not react as you do, you know there must be others perhaps in this very theatre or in this city, surely in other theatres in other cities, now, in the past or future, who react as you do. And because movies are the most total and encompassing art form we have, these reactions can seem the most personal and, maybe the most important, imaginable. The romance of movies is not just in those stories and those people on the screen but in the adolescent dream of meeting others who feel as you do about what you’ve seen. You do meet them, of course, and you know each other at once because you talk less about good movies than about what you love in bad movies.

-Pauline Kael

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You don’t know anyone at the party, so you don’t want to go. You don’t like cottage cheese, so you haven’t eaten it in years. This is your choice, of course, but don’t kid yourself: it’s also the flinch. Your personality is not set in stone. You may think a morning coffee is the most enjoyable thing in the world, but it’s really just a habit. Thirty days without it, and you would be fine. You think you have a soul mate, but in fact you could have had any number of spouses. You would have evolved differently, but been just as happy.You can change what you want about yourself at any time. You see yourself as someone who can’t write or play an instrument, who gives in to temptation or makes bad decisions, but that’s really not you. It’s not ingrained. It’s not your personality. Your personality is something else, something deeper than just preferences, and these details on the surface, you can change anytime you like.If it is useful to do so, you must abandon your identity and start again. Sometimes, it’s the only way.Set fire to your old self. It’s not needed here. It’s too busy shopping, gossiping about others, and watching days go by and asking why you haven’t gotten as far as you’d like. This old self will die and be forgotten by all but family, and replaced by someone who makes a difference.Your new self is not like that. Your new self is the Great Chicago Fire—overwhelming, overpowering, and destroying everything that isn’t necessary.

-Julien Smith

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The ones who are not soul-mated – the ones who have settled – are even more dismissive of my singleness: It’s not that hard to find someone to marry, they say. No relationship is perfect, they say – they, who make do with dutiful sex and gassy bedtime rituals, who settle for TV as conversation, who believe that husbandly capitulation – yes, honey, okay, honey – is the same as concord. He’s doing what you tell him to do because he doesn’t care enough to argue, I think. Your petty demands simply make him feel superior, or resentful, and someday he will fuck his pretty, young coworker who asks nothing of him, and you will actually be shocked. Give me a man with a little fight in him, a man who calls me on my bullshit. (But who also kind of likes my bullshit.) And yet: Don’t land me in one of those relationships where we’re always pecking at each other, disguising insults as jokes, rolling our eyes and ‘playfully’ scrapping in front of our friends, hoping to lure them to our side of an argument they could not care less about. Those awful if only relationships: This marriage would be great if only… and you sense the if only list is a lot longer than either of them realizes.So I know I am right not to settle, but it doesn’t make me feel better as my friends pair off and I stay home on Friday night with a bottle of wine and make myself an extravagant meal and tell myself, This is perfect, as if I’m the one dating me. As I go to endless rounds of parties and bar nights, perfumed and sprayed and hopeful, rotating myself around the room like some dubious dessert. I go on dates with men who are nice and good-looking and smart – perfect-on-paper men who make me feel like I’m in a foreign land, trying to explain myself, trying to make myself known. Because isn’t that the point of every relationship: to be known by someone else, to be understood? He gets me. She gets me. Isn’t that the simple magic phrase?So you suffer through the night with the perfect-on-paper man – the stutter of jokes misunderstood, the witty remarks lobbed and missed. Or maybe he understands that you’ve made a witty remark but, unsure of what to do with it, he holds it in his hand like some bit of conversational phlegm he will wipe away later. You spend another hour trying to find each other, to recognise each other, and you drink a little too much and try a little too hard. And you go home to a cold bed and think, That was fine. And your life is a long line of fine.

-Gillian Flynn

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Did you know one in three woman wind up in a mentally or physically abusive relationship?But the funny part is, it doesn't start off that way. It starts of wonderful, as close to everything you imagined something solid should be. Then little by little, the relationship changes, and you wonder if you're going crazy. You literally start to question your own sanity. One minute, the person you're in love with is kind and caring, and the next they're flipping out. The first few times you write it off, assuming they're having a bad day, but then it becomes a regular pattern of behavior. The person on the receiving end isn't oblivious to it but starts blaming themselves.Did you know mental abuse can make a victim feel depression, anxiety, helplessness, nonexistent self-worth, and despair? But that doesn't matter because your feelings don't count, and you don't realize they never will. Sometimes the abuser makes you think they count. Then you're back to thinking that you're the one who belongs in an institution, not them. But on the norm, your needs or feelings, if you actually have the fucking courage to express them-and most women don't-are ignored, ridiculed, minimized, and dismissed. You're told you're too demanding, or there's something wrong with you. Basically, you're denied the right to feel... anything.Sometimes you distance yourself from friends or loved ones. Sometimes you're not even allowed to have friends. Thought you've given this person your heart and soul, their behavior becomes so erratic, it's as if you feel like you're walking on landmines. But you continue to love them because they weren't like this when you're met, so it only seems obvious it's your fault. Then-there's the hysterical part and just how twisted this whole thing becomes-you start making excuses for their inexcusable behaviors in an effort to convince yourself it's normal. In an actual, damn convince yourself you're the one who;s made them become the monster they've turned into. A couple of ladies from an organization fighting against domestic abuse told me I allowed this to happen because 'I'm a product of my environment'. I mean really, how cliched is that? Did I ever tell you about my parents? Did I ever tell you how after my father left us, my mother continued pursuing assholes?Well, she did. She went through them like the world was going to end the next day. I get that being a single parent was hard for her. I do. But she definitely had a thing for picking up the local drunk at the nearest bar in order to help pay the next month's rent. They'd help for a while before they bounced out like my father did, but that never came without a price. She let them smack her around a bit if dinner wasn't cooked by the time they walked in the door, or if the house wasn't cleaned by the time they kicked off their filthy boots. They all looked different, but they came from a mold. Each and every single one of them was cut from the same piece of abusive wax,So, those women told me witnessing my mother's weakness drove my own, and her watching my grandfather beat my grandmother was what drove hers. They told me I was raised thinking it was okay for a man to do that to a woman. I was raised thinking self-worth was gained by catering to a man's needs at whatever cost. Ever if it meant degrading myself time and time again. But the apple can fall far from the tree. Fifty percent of children who grow up seeing that will never walk in their parents' footsteps, whether it's a boy watching his father beat his mother a young girl watching her mother get hit. But this apple landed on the tree's stump. This apple took the same path as her mother.

-Gail McHugh

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People always, always talk about confidence, it’s supposed to be such an attractive thing. I wonder why though, why is it supposed to be such an attractive thing? When confidence hides so many other things that are so much more beautiful! When you think of being confident, you think of tucking away all those other things that you consider to be nuisances; but those nuisances make up whom you are! And those nuisances are beautiful. They are beautiful and they are you and they’re always going to be there, even when you try to cover them up! So what happens when they all come out one day? Are you going to feel like less of a person? Are the people who are supposed to love you, going to see you as less of a person? I say that it’s not about going out into the world and putting on a certain face— it’s just about going out into the world. I’ve gone out into the world! And I don’t put on that face! Or any other face, as a matter of fact! I don’t want to hide the way I play with my hair to feel more secure or the way I laugh at all the wrong times. I don’t want to hide those things because those things are a part of me. And I can still go out into the world— and all alone, too! I know so, because I’ve actually done it! So more important than confidence— is serenity and acceptance. The serenity comes from having a deep acceptance of all those little things about you that add up like the trillions of molecules and atoms you are made up of! And that’s just beautiful. Being beautiful is something rooted and strong; being confident is just a matter of putting on something that isn’t even a real part of you. Falling in love with the molecules that make up your essence is so much more attractive. And maybe that’s what confidence really means— the acceptance and belief in every single atom that you are.

-C. JoyBell

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