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March 23, 2016

MARY’S MUSINGS | Be You, Be Happy

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Being happy isn’t something that others can do for you; it’s something that you need to find for yourself.  Sometimes, or maybe too often, happiness is a battle.  People have always described me as a bubbly and positive person.  I excel at helping others and trying to put a smile on their faces to brighten their days.  I’m that person that smiles at strangers on the street.  But sometimes I wear a happy mask to cover my true feelings.  I’ve gotten better at removing that mask and being true to myself.  When you layer and layer to cover your problems, it only gets worse, as I have experienced. Now, when I am feeling especially low, I turn to my books and music, I listen and sing. I can’t reach for those scissors anymore. Most of my friends in college don’t realize how musical my family is or how it defined me in high school because I don’t advertise that. When you have been verbally assaulted by a person in authority, your self-esteem and self-confidence dwindles.

In high school, music was my life. I was in choir, band, jazz band, select choir and musicals. I was a music nerd, following my four siblings and parents. But when a teacher continuously made me question my skill, made me feel unworthy and destroyed my already fragile self-confidence when performing, that passion dwindled. You start to second-guess yourself when the solos don’t go to you, when you’re called an over-achiever, when your 98 on a level 5 NYSSMA solo, which is difficult to achieve and pretty awesome, is overlooked while others are praised in front of you. Why wasn’t I good enough?  I don’t sing very often in front of other people, because I became uncomfortable as I recalled the unabating  criticism from that teacher. I left that high school negativity to supposedly start fresh in college, but even that start was tainted by my assault. It really does take a toll.

I may not often perform solo or with a group anymore, but I sing for me.  It’s my sanctuary, my happiness, despite words from others who try to take that away from me.  When I’m feeling emotional, cue Jessie J, Rachel Platten, Kelly Clarkson and Christina Aguilera. Beyonce always makes me feel empowered and Ariana Grande just makes me want to dance.

If you haven’t heard Rachel Platten’s Fight Song, you need to listen to it now.  When I first listened to  it, I had tears in my eyes because I heard my journey reflected in her words. The lyrics she sang held her own story, but for me, they illustrated my struggle to return to myself, to be me again, to stand up and say, “This is my fight song.” One of my new favorite songs is Who You Are by Jessie J.  Just listen, and hear her message. Music universally inspires,  even if we all relate differently to songs we listen to. Words have the power to bring someone up and to tear them down. Choose your words wisely because they have an impact.

I have learned to embrace my imperfections and boost my confidence by surrounding myself with positive, inspirational women who challenge me to be better everyday. I won’t lie and tell you that it’s easy, that you won’t have low days, but know that you aren’t alone. We all go through difficult periods, some more than others, but choosing how you react is what matters at the end. Let your pet be your therapist, talk to someone, do something that makes you smile, watch something that makes you laugh and surround yourself with people who make you happy because you deserve to be. Be you, be happy and when you can’t be, devote some  time to yourself.

Mary is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. On campus she is involved with the Every1 Campaign and is in a sorority.  She loves reading, watching The Office and Friends and geeking out about Disney and The Lord of the Rings. Olaf the snowman is her spirit animal. Mary’s Musings appears on alternate Wednesdays this semester. You can reach Mary at meb367@cornell.edu.  

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