28 December 2014

Normal is bullshit

"You look stupid doing that, you know?"
"That makes you look stupid."
"You don't want to look stupid do you?"

Over the last few years I've had all of those things said to me.  Because, you know insulting someone to get them to conform to your expectations is the best way to make people feel good about themselves right?  And I get it, I do, sometimes people said these things with the best of intentions.  They were trying to help me fit in.  To be "normal."  And for a long time that was something that I wanted.

Growing up I was the quiet, shy kid, which meant that people didn't know what to do with me other than I didn't fit in.  I was with the art crowd in college, although I was still a bit on the outside because I was an art education major so for a time I wasn't a "real artist," but I at least had people to trust and be with.  Then I started dealing with depression and anxiety, and well...I'll just say that apparently some in that community feel that there should be a "normal" way of dealing with both of those things. And god help me when I was diagnosed as being on the Asperger's spectrum, I was told that I needed to work harder to fit back in and do my best to be normal.

And there were times I went with it.  Because I mean lets be honest here, we all want to fit in most of the time.  To be comfortable in our own skins.  To belong.  To be "normal."

But over the last several months I've realized that the entire idea of being "normal" is complete and utter and absolute bullshit.  Normal doesn't exist, at least not the way we keep trying to assign it on a societal level.  Every person has their own level of what they consider normal.  Of where our moods should be, of how we should feel, of how we should look, etc.  But this should never be considered a measuring point for anyone else.  Ever.

Its time that we stop shoving people in boxes and telling them that can only be "normal" if they conform and fit in that box.  It's time that we stop talking about what "normal" is and encourage people to be comfortable in their own skins.  To find their own level of where they feel right by their standards, not society.

27 December 2014

On heroes, fear, and helping

When times seem to be dark and full of fear and hate, I remember quotes from two people that I admire. One is well known, the other, less so, but both cut from the same cloth.

Mister Rogers once said "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world." - See more at: http://www.fredrogers.org/parents/special-challenges/tragic-events.php#sthash.dzJMpjsa.dpuf

Anton Schmid, born in Vienna, and drafted into the German army in World War II.  He used his position to help Jews escape, supplied information to the Jewish Resistance, and helped in whatever way he could.  During an attempt to help others escape, Schmid was captured and sentenced to die.  He wrote one last letter home to his wife and child and said: "I only acted as a human being and desired doing harm to no one." “Everybody must die some day,” he wrote. “One can die as an executioner or as a helper. I want to die as a helper.  (Read more about Anton here, here, here, here, and here.

May we all live our lives to be better helpers.

25 December 2014

Holiday Wishes


In this time of celebration
In this time of remembrance
In this time of joy
In this time of sadness

May you find treasures near
May the memories be strong cherished ones
May you find hope even when all seems lost
May you find joy even when the sadness is overwhelming

May you find peace, even in the darkness
May you find love, even amongst the hate

My hopes and wishes for you all for this upcoming year

May we all be able to see things from anther person's perspective and to understand them a little bit better, even if for you just a brief while.

Know that when all is dark and hope seems lost, remember that in this world, in this place, in this moment, someone, somewhere gives a shit about you.

And may a light always shine your way.

Whatever you may celebrate, whatever you may believe, and wherever you may be in this journey called life...merry holidays.

23 December 2014

Why I speak

xkcd:  http://xkcd.com/137/
This is one of my favorite xkcd strips of all time.  I mean, its something that we've all been through.  We write something on Twitter or Tumblr or our blog and someone comes along and says shouldn't you be worried?  Shouldn't you be worried that someone in the future will see it and you won't get the job that you want, or the girl or boy or alien that you wanna date or whatever.  And they're being helpful, at least as much as they can be.  And I get I do.  I mean writing that you eat narglesnarps for breakfast and dance with piña colada's on your head might just come back to bit you in the ass when you run for president.  God knows you don't want to be known for eating narglesnarps.  

But here's the thing that we all keep forgetting.  Every single person that has ever lived on the face of this planet has done or said something like this.  Every. Single. Fucking. Person. Ever.  They've said it in front of friends, teachers, enemies, whatever and life went on.  They lived their life, found dreams and goals and whatever.  

"But Andy we have computers now!  Stuff lives forever and ever!  How are you going to explain to your grandkids that you ate narglesnarps and danced with piña colada's on your head?"  And it's true, we do have computers now.  Stuff lives on long after we'd rather it not.  But you know what?  It's part of life.  And we handle things the same way they did before.  We ask questions.  We stop assuming that we know what someone means by 140 characters they type.  We let them apologize.  Or let them explain and blow our minds.  Part of life has always been doing things we might regret later.  Its how we learn.  Its also how we change the status quo and make the world better and more awesome.  

Its time for a change.  Stop telling people that they might regret what they write or what they say.  Stop reading into tweets like "I hate Monday" and assume that means they hate their job (yes I was really told this.  Apparently Garfield is not a good role model.)  You know what, just stop assuming all together.  Stop being embarrassed or trying to make feel people embarrassed that they stand up to businesses and corporations and whatever and say "hey you fucked up, you fix it."  Things happen because people speak up.  Not because they hide in the dark.  

Its past time to speak up.  Its past time to stand up. Make mistakes. Write stupid shit. Write sane shit. Change the world. 

05 December 2014

Death, living, and art

CC by me, Andy Shuping
If you've made it past the post title yay! Good for you.  Throwing the word Death in a title is never an easy thing, but this has been rolling around in my head for a while now and I'm getting it out with words.  Comic to come at some point on it.

Back in college I remember going to an overnight church retreat with friends that I probably only saw about three times a year, so we always had interesting conversations on everything and anything.  One of my friends at the time was premed, strong willed, opinionated, and didn't take shit.  I don't even remember what we were talking about, but when another dude found out she was premed he started an earnest conversation about wanting to know what the next big diseases were going to be so that he could prepare for them.  What was the next plague, the next cancer, and so on and so forth.  He didn't want to die and he wanted to know what he could do to keep living.  I don't recall if either of us actually said this to him, or if it was just something we were both thinking, but I think we said to him something along the lines of "Why spend your time worrying about what might come or might happen?  Live! You could die from something random, why worry about something that might never happen?  Live!" I don't think he ever got why we thought it was weird to worry about what might come.

Given everything that's happened in the last few months in the world, I've been thinking about that conversation again.  And in the context of my own life.  In part because the last couple of years I let other things get in way of me living life.  I listened to well meaning people that tried to shove me down a path they thought was best for me, thought it wasn't the right one for me. Of not standing up to people in my life and calling them what they are and speaking up for myself.  Of letting a former boss tell me that I needed to think about what I said, how I wrote, how I did things, etc. in life and how it reflected on her and my library.  Because that's what matters right?  Screw having an opinion of your own, toe the line and think my way.  Good times right?  I got caught in my own trap of worrying about things that were beyond my control and of not living.  And forgetting how to create.

And when things seemed at their worst, things that I'm still not prepared to talk about publicly yet, a new path presented itself.  And I left that world.  I cut ties with some things rather forcefully, the former boss for example.  Others, for better or for worse, friends and people that I miss, decided to cut ties on their own, believing what they choose without asking questions.  And while it hurt and while there were pains the last few months of being in an environment of creating, of making, of not having to justify why I do something for other than artistic/creative reasons, and not having to worry about how my art will reflect back on someone else, has been frightening, scary as hell, awesome, and amazing all at the same time.  Its freeing to be able to pursue my dreams and my passions again.  And to begin to feel like myself again.  

And in this season of remembrance, thanks, and wishes, I am grateful for those that have stood with me across worlds, of those that have entered my world and who challenge me, of those that never left, of those that have but may come back, and those that are yet to come.  

And so this is my wish to all this holiday season.  Life is too damn short.  Use those things saved for "special" occasions.  Tell people that you care.  Don't be silent.  Keep fighting.  Keep making.  Keep being yourself.