On Growing Up.

Surprise – growing up is hard to do.

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16 is a wonderfully terrible age.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been waiting to be 16. It’s not even an exaggeration, because 16 is such an ubiquitous age in our culture. Obviously, you can drive for the first time, a huge deal in itself, but I never thought of that when I was younger. Mostly, it was all the “firsts” that quirky teenage protagonists in movies and on TV (Gilmore Girls, 16 Candles, Easy A, a bevy of Disney Channel made-for-TV movies, and even the Princess Diaries) were experiencing when they were 16 – from Tiffany charm bracelets, to kisses, to new best friends, to crushes-turned-boyfriends, all things I longed to have. To me, 16 seemed like the beginning of the rest of my life, the time when my life would stop being ordinary, and start becoming fabulous.

However, so far, that prediction is looking very un-fabulously false. Nothing earth-shattering or major has happened in my two months of being 16. There was no giant sweet 16 party, no three-layer cake, and no orgasm-inducing presents. I can’t drive yet, because I procrastinated taking my drive test. There is no bad-yet-sensitive Jess Mariano or adorkable-nerd Michael Moscovitz suddenly apparating into my life, Harry Potter-style.

The one major thing that has unfortunately happened is, for the first time, I’m becoming aware of the the mounting pressure of The Future. It might seem like a silly thing to be worrying about after a mere 6,000 or so days on Earth, but when you turn 16, you become acutely aware that the things you do – the grades you earn, the friends you spend time with, the memories you with – have become more than just a passing blur in the autobiographical film Sofia Coppola will eventually (hopefully) make of your vaguely imagined yet fabulous, incredible life. They become painfully important.

Before 16, you are still a kid. The things you do can be chalked up to being young, or not having enough agency to determine otherwise. You have SO MANY excuses. But after 16, the rug is pulled out from under you. You can make your own life choices now, and now there’s no “I was a stupid middle schooler” excuse to use. For the first time, you can start making changes and choices in your own life, which could potentially set it on infinite different courses, and despite common sense telling you otherwise, you feel the immense pressure that this, this right here very moment, is your only chance to get it right – with your college major, with your future partner, even with your forever memorialized (lucky us) social media profile.

The moral of the story is that it’s freaking hard being 16. So many things in my life that I don’t want to change are changing – higher stress, higher expectations, general anxiety about the future – and the things that should be changing, according to the CW’s teen dramas, are resolutely remaining the same.

So, what’s going to be my plan for navigating this? I don’t know. I think for now, I’m just going to be myself, and let my future, whatever marvelous and terrible plans it has in store for me, follow. It worked for everyone else, right?

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GUESS WHO’S BACK, BACK AGAIN

Jenna’s back, tell a friend!

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Dear lovely, lovely reader,

I’ve traveled a long, long distance since 2016, and I’m so happy to be home!

I started blogging in 2013, when I read a book called The Clique. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a fluffy series of paperbacks about a clique of middle school girls who are, in sharp contrast to the plucky heroines of the world, shockingly materialistic and mean. They loved lip gloss, Seven for All Mankind jeans, and put-downs, and everyone (include me) loved them. Looking hungrily online for more of Massie, Alicia, Dylan, Kristen, and Kuh-laire, I found the wonderful world of blah-gging.

I eventually moved on from writing about The Clique to writing about their interests. My focus shifted to a little project some of y’all will remember as “Black Hat Belle”, which was shaped around a pseudo-fictional fashionable socialite, who, very predictably, was not accurately portrayed by a thirteen year old. Black Hat Belle mostly gave (terrible) makeup recommendations, posted about designer brands she definitely couldn’t afford, and lied about her age.

When I graduated middle school, I decided I needed a reset. I chose the name “Swallowed in Serendipity”, partly because it was alliterative, but also because it was very, very true for what blogging had become to me. Serendipity is basically a happy coincidence, and it was certainly a very happy coincidence that a series of books about snobby preteen girls from upstate New York had brought me to a medium where, for the first time, I could write whatever I wanted, and people would see it, reply, and maybe actually – a la *gasp* – like it! In a world where middle school girls are not exactly viewed as the most capable or intelligent, it shrouded me in anonymity and gave me a platform for my voice to be heard (even if it was just ice-cold takes about feminism and reviews of drugstore makeup).

For a while, I was very “swallowed” in the blogging world. I posted almost weekly, worked laboriously on headers and backgrounds, and even made feeble attempts to market myself (unfortunately, fourteen year old me was no Kris Jenner). But as I started high school, and was confronted by the wide world of Friends, Boys, and School, because it Really Really Matters Now and Oh Shit, Your Future is Right In Front of You, my blogging fell off.

It’s been a very long road since then. In no particular order: I discovered lattes, learned how to do eyeliner, got my first boyfriend, dumped my first boyfriend, grew apart then closer to then apart from friends, experienced Failure (with a gosh darn capital F!) for the first time, changed my favorite color from peach to baby pink, watched a sunset on the balcony of a sorority house in Berkeley, California (pictured above), pulled all-nighters to do procrastinated projects, watered down my political views to please the cutthroat world of high school, and kind of lost who I am.

Here’s what I still know about me, the work in progress – blogging is one of the few things I really, really truly loved to do, and it deserves another shot. Also, I bought a $50 domain name and everything, so I have to stick to it now, So, reader, if you’re still here two years later and after this long diatribe, let’s do the damn thing!

MUCHO AMOR,

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P.S. – I also learned Spanish!

 

Visual Diary | Summer 2016

A visual diary of how I spent SUMMER 2016.

Some pictures are featured on my Instagram.

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“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days – three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.”
– John Keats.

Ice cream at a shop called Molly Moon’s on the last day of school. Hours before my friends left me crying in the bathroom at a party. It’s okay now, though. 6/22/16.

Taking a picture of my family and friends on Mt. Baker, holding two cameras. 6/26/16.

Hiking on a mountain near Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. On vacation for the 4th of July. 7/2/16.

An awesome art piece in Gould Hall at the University of Washington. Went to see it with a friend at a summer camp. 7/6/16.

Cannon Beach, Oregon makes me feel all moody and emo inside, but it’s beautiful all the same. 7/22/16.

The beach is too bright, the sand is too white, and the sky is too beautiful. Also, the water is f*cking freezing. 7/24/16.

August is filled with melancholic reminiscing on summer, and dreading school with my whole body and soul. This accidental picture was taken while playing Pokemon Go with a friend. 8/17/16.

Overall, it’s been pretty uneventful, even in context of what usually happens to me during the summer.

But hasn’t it been pretty?

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20 Questions About Body Standards.

Why aren’t we allowed to love ourselves?

Why can’t we love our lumps and our edges? Why do we have to hate the rolling hills of our soft, rounded bellies or the angled, crisp peaks of our ‘scarily thin’ elbows? My body, your body, her body, his body, their bodies – they’re all bags of bone soup inside a thin, stretchy skin. Who cares if there’s more? More to love. Who cares if there’s less? Less to cherish.

  Who says that black, coily hair is ‘uglier’ then straight blonde hair? Who says dark, espresso colored skin is ‘uglier’ than peachy colored skin? Who says that small eyes and flat noses are ‘uglier’ than pointy noses and doe eyes? Our bodies are rhapsodies of color and texture and size, each equally, awesomely stunning, in its own way. Each body is a work of art, a delicate act, with each gorgeous part of you working together to make the miracle of life. How can you compare Picasso and Monet? Van Gogh and O’Keeffe? How can you simplify a masterpiece into a rating out of ten? How can you put art into a 2×2 box and say, “okay, this is what’s beautiful, and everything outside it is not”?

Why can’t we show off our self love? Why can’t you talk about how beautiful you think you are, what you like about yourself? Why is positivity about your body taboo and virtually off limits to talk about? Why do you have to post selfies with the caption “I am a trashcan” or “I look so ugly”, or risk being called stuck up or full of yourself? We’re taught that even when we find something to love, something that we think is unique and pretty and awesome, that we’re not allowed to show it off. We’re not allowed to have confidence about our bodies.

In the movie Mean Girls, there’s a scene where queen bees Regina, Gretchen, and Karen stand in front of a mirror and list off all the things that they hate about themselves, and expect the ‘fish out of water character’, Cady, to join in. They’re shocked and astonished to hear that she doesn’t keep a mental list of things that are bad about her physical appearance. God, she’s so weird, right? What did she do before them? Think she’s really pretty? Like her body?

“No, no, no! You should always love yourself!” we scream, over and over again. In makeup adverts, magazines, commericals, on social media. Only, we add, “but you have to be a perfect size 2 and tan and blonde and blue eyed and muscular but not too muscular and dressed the right way”. In order to qualify to have self confidence, you have to fit a certain mold. If you don’t, honey, get a box of bleach and a treadmill, and then when you’ve fixed the problems, maybe you can love your body too. But only once everyone else thinks it’s right.

Screw you. It’s my body, and I’ll love it if I want to.

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This is STUPID: August.

What’s going on this month (what’s STUPID – stuff, tunes, up, poopy, incredible, don’t)

STUFF

Recently, to keep up with the ~*trendy*~ kids, I’ve bought uber expensive Birkenstocks and a black velvet choker. Stretchy ones are finally over, girls! On the makeup side, I’ve been loving the Milk Eye Vinyls (they give you a a very high fashion, 2004 Britney’s lip gloss but for the eyes, super chic look) and my apparently discontinued Anastasia Beverly Hills Gleam Glow Kit.

TUNES

I’m afraid I don’t have anything for you this month but a whole lot of BEYONCE!!! Ugh, you’re probably saying in your head. Well, you’re going to read this and like it, suckers! First up, the song that made everyone go, oh sh*t, Jay-Z is dead meat – Hold Up. And also the song that I referred to as Surfboard before this month, Drunk in Love. You can’t forget the godly feminist anthem Flawless too! (There’s another version with NICKI MINAJ which makes me want to puke happiness.) Of course, I can’t forget about my OG Beyonce love. Count-f!cking-down. You’re welcome.

UP

LOL you really thought I would have something goin’ on? It’s August, girls. All I’ve been doing this month is nurturing my building anxiety about HIGH SCHOOL. *screams into the void* Also, if you’re curious, I made up with my friends…Yeah.

POOPY

Is there even a single doubt about what I’m going to put here? SCHOOL. Can’t yell it louder. Also, my blog looking like a moving train wreck. Also, the fact that my friends refuse to respond to my texts. Also, 90+ temperatures. Yeah, if you think this is long now, wait till you read this section in September.

INCREDIBLE

There is so muuuch that is great this month. I’m not even being sarcastic. First of all – the Olympics, anyone? There’s nothing better than watching the world’s most athletically gifted people on the couch with a bag of Fritos. Also, there’s nothing that makes you feel as incompetent. This year was the first Olympics for me where an Olympian was younger than me. I’ll be looking forward to Tokyo 2020, when I’ll be older than most of the gymnasts on the US team. Great. Also, SIMONE BILES!!! KATIE LEDECKY!!!! MICHAEL PHELPS!!!!! USAIN BOLT!!!!!! Secondly, Pokemon Go is pretty awesome, even if the rarest Pokemon in my area is like a 112 cp Weedle. It’s forced my lazy a$$ to get up off the couch and actually walk. Additionally, I’m not going to get all political on everyone, but the downfall of a certain presidential candidate makes me feel all happy inside. Also, there’s no school right now, which is pretty fine, where I’m concerned. Yeah, pretty great month.

DON’T

…literally individually rip each one of your hairs out at the thought of school.

I love you guys. Wish me luck.

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