Insufferable Sufferers

What would happen if you decided to love yourself? Like, really love yourself? What if you woke up in the morning and, instead of being frustrated that it’s all starting over again, you were determined to face the day and enjoy being you? That you woke up with a song on your lips, a little pep in your step, and love in your heart? Not many of us can truly say that we whole-heartedly embrace who we are, that we’ve forgiven ourselves for our shortcomings and transgressions, because we relive them with every new day. We claim that we’ve moved on from the job we lost, the relationship that failed, the poor decisions we made, yet, we punish ourselves daily. If we’re enjoying ourselves, we immediately churn up a memory of how we screwed something up in a similar setting. If we find someone who loves us for who we are today, we consistently give them reasons why we’re NOT lovable, in the hopes that they’ll prove us right by leaving. These aren’t the actions of someone who loves themselves, at least not fully. These are the actions of someone who’s still hooked on life “survival” methods that we should have outgrown – concrete walls around our hearts in an effort to protect ourselves against any more pain. In reality, we’re just rejecting potential love from ourselves, and from each other. This, my friends, is the martyr complex.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we’re all intent on being the victim, because a lot of times, no one knows when you feel you’re the victim. Sometimes you even go out of your way to prove that you’re “okay”, as to not alert someone of your victim status. If you were raised in an unhealthy environment that consisted of physical, mental, or sexual abuse, this is something that could be psychologically engrained within you, and without proper treatment, it could be almost impossible to defeat. If you’re not healed, you’re virtually incapable of loving yourself or others. Oh, but you will try. You’ll seek out other broken people, because you see yourself in them. And because you can’t fix yourself, you’ll do your best to try to fix them. You become overly accommodating, painfully generous. The great side benefit is that while you’re focused on fixing them, you can bury all of your issues (presumably) and push off working on yourself. As we know though, that’s not 100% accurate. The more likely case is that you’ll just project your issues on to them, adding on to the baggage they’re already dragging around. Hurt people, hurt people, right?

You don’t have to be dealing with extreme trauma to have this intense need to suffer. It could be a past relationship that left you with some scars, scars that scab over, but never heal. This lack of healing ultimately causes a lack of self-love, and in turn, a lack of happiness. And with every new relationship, job, or personal endeavor, the scab will follow you. Maybe you’re not the sort of person who feels therapy would help – that’s okay. But what about self-care? What can you do to stop the cycle, to begin the process that will allow you to become the best version of yourself? It’s okay to forgive yourself, but you have to truly feel that you are worth forgiving. Go on a retreat. Talk to someone. Meditate. Pray. Get to know who you are, and start to be kind to yourself. You are worth loving, even by you.

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In Transition

There are moments in your life in which you’ll feel lost, unfocused, unmotivated, unambitious. It will seem like everything you want and dream of is always just out of reach. You will be filled with indescribable pain – pain that doesn’t radiate from a clear point, but is felt intensely just the same. Your appetite will begin to fail you, and every sunny day will have a permanent cloud floating within it, directly above your head. And in those moments, there will be nothing easier than for you to feel as if you have failed, and in effect, allow yourself to stop living. Not necessarily physically, but spiritually, emotionally, mentally.

Laundry

Every single disappointment that is felt – every failed career move, every failed relationship, every failed diet and health endeavor – every supposed failure will begin to take its toll on your soul. The heaviness will feel immovable, and you will feel immobile and stuck. Almost as if your feet are covered in cement blocks, and you’ve been thrown into a vat of quicksand. When you’re in quicksand, you’re told to refrain from fighting, because you’ll make it worse, and that’s true. But some fights don’t require physical strength. It seems counterintuitive, but in those moments, your focus should turn inward, and you should seek wisdom to help calm you. These are the moments that are most crucial, because those moments are called transition. 

Which Door

So many of us hate the thought and feeling of transition. It is uncomfortable, because it is stretching us, pushing us towards a life that is unfamiliar to the one we currently have. We want desperately to hold on to what we have now, even if it is not serving us well, because the thought of the unknown is far worse. As humans, we are creatures of habit, because habitual behaviors enable us to multitask and get through our everyday life rather seamlessly. Our habits are a gift and a curse, and they can pin us down into situations and experiences that should be changed. We settle for less than what we deserve and what we want, because we put in our minds that something is better than nothing, and something familiar is better than something new. If we continue to hold on to that mindset, we will never experience growth, and lack of growth is akin to death. Would you rather be dead inside than to try, just a little bit?

Strength

Our cycles of growth are cyclical, and we are given the opportunity to evolve every few months or so. If I want to keep it one hundred, I would even argue that those opportunities are provided to us every day, the moment we open our eyes. When you’re going through those transitional growth periods, your biggest tool is to be present, to pay attention to what is occurring within as well as around you. It is when we’re at our lowest points that our biggest seasons of change are revving up. I’m personally experiencing my own growth cycle, and damn, it doesn’t feel good at all. And I’ll be honest; I don’t want it – I don’t want to deal with this battle. But I know that I need it. Some of us walk into the storm, but others hunker down deep in the basement of their minds. If you’re feeling paralyzed, be introspective and figure out why it may be happening. Cut down on the distractions and begin the process of internal de-cluttering, but most importantly, don’t be complacent. There is something so much greater for you, but you have to be willing to go through the changes to get there.

(All photos courtesy of gratisography.com

 

 

 

The Happiness Factor

The other day, I had the most amazing discussion with an older woman, in her early 80s, named Joyce M. I met her at an alteration shop, and she watched as I tried on my bridesmaid dress, waiting to be pinned. She told me how beautiful it was, and we chatted about her wedding, and the colors she made her bridesmaids wear. I joked and told her that I already knew what colors I’d have for mine, and that I couldn’t wait to get married again (this is actually true, even though I currently don’t have a boyfriend nor actual prospects). After I was all changed and ready to go, we stepped outside, and continued to converse by our cars in the sweltering July sun. I told her that, although marriage would be great, I was currently focusing on myself, and how to become more like myself everyday. She indicated that my focus was coincidental, as she had attended a family reunion the previous weekend, and her nephew had given a presentation on the pursuit of happiness.

Pancakes

He discussed a study, the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which is considered the longest study ever (75 years and counting). The study follows 724 adult men throughout their life, examining their experiences and quality of life, but the crux of the study essentially investigates what happiness is and was for each of those men. What was coincidental on my end is that just a couple of hours prior, I had a great discussion with a friend on this very topic, about what happiness is and what it looked like for us. Many times, people comment on the way you live your life, and interject their feelings of disapproval, because they aren’t in your specific situation. They find it mind-boggling that your version of happiness isn’t reflective of THEIR version of happiness. The thing is…your happiness is your responsibility, and no one else’s. You aren’t responsible for their happiness, their relationships, their careers – that is something they ultimately have control over. What we make of our lives is a direct result of our own decisions, and in those decisions, practicing mindfulness and self-guidance.

Kitty Mail Slot

The discussion was so timely, because although I consider myself fairly content, I’m not sure if I’ve yet attained that goal of ultimate happiness. It was as if the Universe was speaking to me, and causing me to be mindful of my present, instead of focusing too heavily on my past or future. Joyce mentioned that her nephew presented a book during his presentation, by Dr. Seuss, entitled, “Oh The Places You’ll Go!”. How many of us have not even bothered to glance at that book, because it appears to be a children’s book? But oh, it’s definitely not, and it’s filled with a variety of advice on how life’s ups and downs will halt us, spin us around, even bring us to extreme moments of despair, but we have to keep moving. We can’t let past failures cloud our futures and our pursuits.I’m learning to be open to new situations and people, and to be careful to not close myself off because I think I already know better. Sometimes we have to start giving new and different experiences a chance, because we won’t know unless we actually try.

Droopy Flowers.jpg

I would often talk about finding love, and wanting to be in love, but at the first sign of viable interest, I would close my heart’s windows and shut the blinds. After a failed marriage, there was nothing in me that could even consider trusting another human again. If once upon a time I had a love so deep and intense, but one we both could ultimately dispose of so callously, what hope was there for something equal or better? There were days and nights that I could do nothing but cry in emotional and spiritual pain, unable to verbalize the exact cause of my hurt. As a result, I made sure that my walls were reinforced with iron and industrial grade concrete, and every once in a while I would make sure there was a steel gate to slide across that wall too!

Fire Hydrant.jpg

In the past couple of years of self-reflection and self-actualization, I’ve learned that while it’s quite alright to be cautious, sometimes you have to make space in that wall for a door too. I realized I was only going to receive the joy I longed for, the spiritual and mental peace I craved, if I took the risk of being open to change. Of course, the catch-22 is that no one else can determine what those risks will entail, because they can’t define what my happiness looks like. I’ve had to make the conscious decision to search for and create my own contentment. It has been difficult, because it has taken a lot of effort, and extreme soul-searching, but it is possible. I’m now living by the words of the famous Seuss, every day I wake up: “Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!”

 

 

 

It’s Better to Heal…Than to Hurt

It’s very easy to run away from and avoid the reality of our lives. It’s even easier to harbor hatred and feigned indifference, than it is to examine ourselves and determine the role we’ve played in the demise of something that was once deemed important and beautiful. Hatred is not a clear-cut emotion, but is typically a mask for something deeper, usually deep-seated pain and hurt. When people hate, it is because they are too emotionally immature to deal with the heartache they’re experiencing, the hurt they believe is caused by another person or situation. In actuality, no one can make you feel anything you don’t want to feel. Your emotions are your responsibility, and you ultimately have the control over how they are expressed. But how do we wade through our insecurities and elevate ourselves in a way that causes anger and hatred to be fleeting emotions, that aren’t allowed to take up residence in our souls?

Pinata Murderer

Practice self-love. This sounds so simple, yet so many people don’t know how to accomplish this. I sometimes blame it on our modern society and the new cultural expectations we seem to have. We are so dependent on the acceptance and love of others that when we don’t have it, we feel empty inside. We constantly seek the approval, the love…the admiration of others, and when it’s not reciprocated, we tumble down the rabbit hole of despair. You, and only you, have the power to create and manifest your own happiness. How much you love yourself should not be contingent upon how much someone loves you.

Self Love

Do NOT mirror emotions. This is a difficult one for me, personally, because I am an empath by nature – meaning I sense and feel the emotions of those around me quite easily. If I walk into a room and there are people being jovial and lighthearted, my first inclination is to do the same. On the flip side, if I’m sitting next to you, and you are angry, chances are, I will find myself slowly getting angry as well. My soul tends to be a little emotional sponge that wants to share in the experiences of others, even when those experiences are detrimental to my well-being and alter my mood. You have to be extremely cognizant of this in yourself, which I am still learning to be. It takes a LOT of extra work, but if I’m being attacked with negativity, I actively remind myself that I have control over my feelings and cannot allow infiltration by the hurt party. Count to ten if you have to, but do NOT match their emotional level. Your spirit will thank you.

Twin Horses

Be aware of your feelings. Pain can be a confusing place. Someone says or does something we perceive to be cruel, and the first thought an emotionally immature person has is to “get back” at them. Did you know that the more supposed revenge you seek, the more negative energy you bring on yourself, and the more horrible you feel (Unless of course, you are a completely narcissistic person who is incapable of taking responsibility for your actions and their resulting consequences)? There’s supposedly a very thin line between love and hate, but that’s because the line is a fallacy. Hatred does not exist without love, period. It is just the level that reveals itself when you are unable to cope with the pain that occurred within that love. Instead of dealing with the underlying feeling that is making you lash out, you instead blame any and everything in your life on the person you thought caused it, and you try to hurt them to match what YOU feel inside. Meanwhile, because they’ve matured and actively practice the art of self-love, they’re just deflecting all of your attacks with grace while continuously praying for your peace. Stop attacking and become aware of what you’re really feeling. If necessary, see a therapist.

Bloody Radishes

I realize that a lot of this may seem simpler than it is, because the level of passion behind the emotion you’re feeling may seem larger than life. Unfortunately, the truth is, you can’t run from your feelings, no matter how far you try to escape. Continuing to try to cause hurt to others, instead of focusing on your own healing, tends to hurt you more in the long run. Or, in some cases, you end up causing residual hurt to those around you, and those closes to your targets – and then they begin to build resentment within their hearts. Stop trying to actively breed a home of negativity – if you continue, you may wake up one day and find there’s no one left to lash out to.

 

Unveiling the Unavailable

I feel as if I haven’t written about relationships in a while, and the inspiration hit when I was having a discussion with a friend on the way home from work today. We were dissecting something I’d read that examined being attracted to and attracting unavailable people (both physically and emotionally), and ultimately, forging faux-lationships with them. Either the person approaches them, expecting them to be receptive to their advances, or, they find themselves drawn to those who are either in relationships, married, or just not ready for committment. This topic can be a little heavy, because people feel judged if they’re currently in them, or have been in them. I truly believe that, for the majority of people, they don’t go out actively seeking unavailable people. If anything, they like to believe that they are doing quite the opposite – avoiding them, ignoring them, or rejecting them. Every once in a while though, one of them finds you and somehow senses your internal unavailability as well, and BAM!, you’re sucked in. Against your better judgement, you engage in behaviors and activities that make you question your moral compass, all the while asking yourself how you allowed yourself to end up in such a situation. Understand that you are not a bad person, and there are a few reasons why this is happening to you (before you read them though, end that toxic relationship!).The convo caused me to do a little bit of further research (cough-cough Google) to find out why this “phenomena” keeps occurring.

Advice

People meet you at your level of broken-ness. This point was brought up in an article I read on Huffington Post, Why Do I Keep Attracting Unavailable People. It discussed how a fear of committment within two different people can somehow draw them to each other, because they recognize attributes, almost subconsciously, in each other. I’ll bring it back to something even more simple: misery indeed loves company. For some strange reason, we tend to believe that others in our dismal situation will somehow give us space to improve on ourselves. In reality, that broken energy is just being pushed back and forth between the two people. Instead of addressing their wounds, they’re feeding off of each other, and as a result, never completely heal themselves.

Pretty Girl

Having someone who’s unavailable gives you space to be unavailable as well. We all probably know of someone who has been/is a side dude or chick, and seems to be comfortable in that space. Sure, they complain about always being alone at night, and not being able to parade their love out in public, but for the most part, they’re happy with the situation they’re in. They claim that it’s easy, that it doesn’t require much from them, that it’s better than a full-fledged relationship. But guess what? It’s NOT. Not easy, and surely not better. If anything, it feeds the painful parts of you with more pain, and keeps you immobile. You get stuck putting enormous amounts of energy and life into something that shouldn’t even have come alive. Sure, you’re busy, and it seems like a quick fix, but we all make time for the things we deem important. When you find an available person that you’re really feeling, best believe you will do everything in your power to make room for them in your life.

Burning Bottle

You have daddy/mommy issues. Okay, hear me out on this one. I’m not suggesting that you need to go see a psychiatrist asap or anything. Many of us, especially if you grew up where I grew up, didn’t have the healthiest of home lives to mimic or learn from. Some of us had absentee parents, and whether we want to admit it or not, that dynamic has shaped our relationships. We’re afraid of getting deeper, of truly entrusting our love with someone else, so being in the faux-lationship is the best possible option. It allows us to relieve ourselves of having to be vulnerable and potentially being hurt, but you know what else it does? It also prevents us from being open to receiving the love we truly crave. Holding on to that which isn’t ours serves as a repellant to what we should be embracing, what we deserve. Yes, it’s great that you can live in a fantasy world that doesn’t require you to struggle in the deep end from time to time, but for how long? At what point do you decide that the shallow end just doesn’t fill your soul?

Sometimes You Have to Lose, to Win

It’s been such a long time since I’ve written anything…since I’ve felt any inspiration to write. Oftentimes, real life and all of its issues come at you like a tsunami, crashing through everything you love and care about, until it feels as if you can’t swim and won’t ever make your way to the surface. All of the world’s problems because a cacophony of minutiae, and your tunnel vision can only focus on all of the things that aren’t going well in your tiny life, how you feel, and how it seems as if you’ll never survive. If you’re a writer, or someone who likes to create, instead of your craft becoming an outlet for all of the pain, it feels as if it’s stuck on the other side of a double-paned painted-shut window, unable to come inside. You see it fighting to come out from the cold, you know you need to let it in so you can let it all out, but you feel almost frozen in your pain, and nothing will allow you to chip away the paint and open that window. So, your best option? You pray and hope for some sort of breakthrough, that something will burst through the glass and let you release. And finally, finally, you get that epiphany that you’ve been waiting for, and the thoughts you’ve been holding on to burst through that dam of despair and onto pen and paper (or in this case, keyboard and screen!).

Rollercoaster

Ok, I know I made that seem extremely dramatic, but when you are stuck in a moment of pain, doesn’t it feel dramatic to you? Doesn’t it feel that no one could ever understand the shattering of your soul, because they all seem happy and unbothered? I’ll be transparent with you all for a moment – that’s how I was beginning to feel. And for the past month or so (or, if I’m really real, the past couple of years), it felt like no one had ever gone through the things I was going through, and that there was no way in hell that they could ever convince me things would get better. I’d like to chalk some of that feeling up to our social media addiction. We all do an excellent job of creating a highlight reel of our lives. We catch ourselves in the best light, at the right angle, in the perfect moment. No one ever gets to see us fall, or see our ugly days, or the mornings when the only viable option in our lives is to put the blanket back over our heads and call out of life for a day. The modern obsession with perfection has become stifling, at best. We want everyone to think we’ve all got it together, even when we’re falling apart.

Gum

I visited a friend’s church on Mother’s Day weekend…one of those mega churches with the overflow seating deal. Now, I have a deep belief in God, in Spirit, in a higher power, but I’ve never been very religious. I personally think religion can be very unforgiving and unrealistic. However, the message that day hit very close to home for me. One thought in particular woke me up out of my funk, and helped push me all the way back into real life. I’m paraphrasing, but essentially, the message was, “Some of life’s greatest invitations appear as if they are life’s greatest interruptions. Instead of feeling frustrated when your situation is interrupted, feel anticipation for the way God will change your life”. If you’re not into religion, think of it as chance, or the Universe, or what have you. In any case, it was in that instance that my frame of thought was flipped. It’s so simple to go the “woe is me” route when your life is upended, but what if you started thinking of your challenges as opportunities? What if you took that negative event and learned the lesson, and used it to make you stronger?

Lost Cat

Oftentimes, we engage in behavior or situations that we think are the best things for us, but are slowly killing our spirit. It may be a job that gives us status, and we work hard, but it leaves us feeling empty and exhausted. It can be a relationship that feeds us financially, but leaves our minds and our souls wanting for more. Sometimes, we just can’t let go of things, because we’ve had them for years and years, and the devil that you know is better than the devil that you don’t. But guess what? I don’t want any “devils” or negative energy up in my space, blocking what I could truly be accomplishing in life. If we waste time watering dead plants, or dying plants with shallow roots, we’ll end up thirsty from giving away our best water supply. Losing whatever it is that you felt you needed can seem like the end of the world, but start focusing on all of what you’ve gained in the process – experience, wisdom, knowledge, freedom in a part of your life that was once inhibited. The next time you go through a loss in your life, don’t believe it’s the end. Realize it’s just the beginning of becoming an even greater version of yourself.

Be Phenomenal

A week ago, I was honored to provide an inspirational post for an awesome event in CT, “The Phenomenal Women Panel”. It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted on the site, but I wanted it share this one with you all. Enjoy! 

Earlier today, my third grader was telling her brother and me a story about a little girl in her class. Apparently, this little girl had been biting her style (my girl won the classroom fashionista award last year – she is ABOUT THAT LIFE). As a result, my daughter was none too pleased. “One day I’ll wear something, like my animal print Converse All-Stars, and the next day, she’ll be wearing the same thing!” Jokingly, I said the little girl was triflin for trying to steal baby girl’s style. But then, I had to pause and think about that interaction.

In jest or not, we tend to teach our young ladies, at a very early age, that other girls should be considered first and foremost, their competition. Friends, sure, but ones you still have to hold at arms’ length, whoyou always have to side-eye and watch on the low. Because of course, other women, at the end of the day, are always out to steal your style, steal your man, steal your job, etc., etc. And while I’m all for friendly competition (although my friends, male and female, may not consider my idea of competition friendly, but whatever) this mentality is a nasty, negative habit many women are guilty of perpetuating.

We like to get on our social media soap boxes and speak of feminism, sisterhood, and women empowerment, but so few of us actually practice it. It sounds good when we say it, but to actually be about it? That’s a different story. That isn’t to say we aren’t capable of it; on the contrary. We women are so many things – loving, nurturing, intelligent, strong, motivating, encouraging – but we’ve allowed the narcissism of our society stifle that aspect of us, and in turn, our comraderie amongst each other.

What if, instead of hating on the chick that walks in the club with an outfit we ourselves wouldn’t be caught dead in, we compliment her shoes, so she doesn’t feel that sting of collective judgment? Or when we’re at work, instead of withholding information that could help others because we want to make ourselves appear irreplaceable, we share our knowledge and exchange ideas. I’ve found that getting along with other women in my peer groups has helped me a lot more than it has ever hurt me. When we begin to watch our words and actions, and commit to only spreading positivity between each other, we build tighter bonds and even boost our own spirits. As phenomenal women, our primary focus should be to uplift and encourage each other, not to dissuade and destroy. Be phenomenal.

 

Fallin’ For Yo…Me

It’s okay to be alone with yourself.

That’s what I’ve been telling myself for the past five days. It’s human nature to want to be around people, connect with other souls (no matter how much you may tell yourself that you’d rather be alone). We crave conversation, shared experiences, love, companionship, all those good things. But what happens when you put so much into your interpersonal relationships, and not enough into your intra-personal relationship? You know, the one with yourself?

Lonely

I am so absolutely 100% guilty of having a hard time being alone. I grew up in a family with five siblings, got married at 19, and started a family at 20. I have a good deal of friends, so there’s always someone to reach out to. But I’m starting to see that constantly seeking other people to fill that void that makes you unable to cope with the silence, to enjoy just being alone, just being you.

Silence

Having other people around 24/7 to ease the chatter of my mind has made me insanely lazy when there’s a reprieve that forces me to make attempt to listen (And the barrage of social media notifications and mindless surfing doesn’t help either). In the process, I’ve found that I’m starting to lose sight of who I am, what I’m most passionate about. How does that oft-quoted meme go? “If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything”. I’ve been finding that I have been susceptible to the latter. One week, I’m trying on one personality, the next, a “better” one. But what happened to MY personality?

PersonalityI have spent the last few days being alone (minus the daily kid interaction/interruption, but that doesn’t count). And let me tell you. It SUCKS. I hate it. Absolutely hate it. There’s no constant stimuli, no one to entertain my random thoughts, to cater to my whims. I’m dependent on myself to engage myself. It is awful, because it is a wonderful breeding ground for paranoia, negativity, self-pity, over analyzation (made up word). I start to think that I’m not missed, that no one cares. I start to chip away at the confident exterior I wear as a badge, and I become a little insecure. It can be pretty self-deprecating and pathetic, to say the least.

Insecurity

So, after a very emotional weekend and a LOT of thinking, I’ve decided to focus on the important stuff for the next couple of weeks – the important stuff being me. I have to like, date myself, as corny as that sounds. I want to remember what makes me so special, so unique. I want to draw myself in and get lost in myself and fully appreciate myself, and (PG-ingly) love the hell out of myself. I’ve come to the realization that the silence isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and that the loneliness is actually just a synonym for meditation. I’m going to allow myself to be more spiritual and in tune with who I really am. I’m going to finally take advantage of this time to understand who I am…to fall back in love with ME.

Self Love

Reflections

Peace

Today, I’ve taken the time to reflect on what has occurred in my life over the past 365 days (and I urge you all to take a few moments between the partying to do the same). This past year has put me through many tests, of my resiliency, my loyalty, and my heart. I’ve learned so much about myself and what I am capable of (physically, emotionally, and mentally), as well as some VERY hard lessons in patience and faith. I’ve never been one to make resolutions (this could have something to do with my resistance to commitment, I suppose); I’ve just always resolved to be a better me. And that is a daily goal for me, not just a yearly one, or one I recite every December 31st.

In retrospect, there are so many things I could have done and handled differently, but you can’t really get back up if you’ve never fallen. As a result, I’m always thankful for the falls that come complete with cuts and bruises, and the scars to prove they actually happened. 2013 has been so much about change for me, and I’ve squashed a lot of fear and stepped out in faith in order to grow. I close this chapter with the hopes of a brighter and even more exciting one in 2014, and I pray for blessings and strength for myself AND the ones I love. Challenge yourself this year, but always strive to make every year your best year ever. Have a wonderful and safe New Year everyone!

Me!

Multi-Racial Misfit

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