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Advice with the Arts Editor: Lessons I’ve learned this summer

A+pair+walks+by+a+Barbie+poster+in+the+movie+theater+hallway.+Illustration+by+Bianca+Oppedisano+%2F+Mass+Media+Staff.
A pair walks by a “Barbie” poster in the movie theater hallway. Illustration by Bianca Oppedisano / Mass Media Staff.

The summer of 2023 will be memorable to me for a couple reasons. I started this summer, in May, seeing Taylor Swift on her record-breaking, “The Eras Tour.” That was the peak of my entire summer and probably my entire year. 

The day of the show, I picked up my work best friend from the closest Commuter Rail station to my hometown and brought her to my childhood home. We danced to Taylor Swift in my bathroom while getting ready for the show with my childhood best friend. My high school best friend arrived at my house, then we departed for the show. 

My worlds collided in the most beautiful of ways. The only thing these people had in common was me and our love for Taylor Swift, and that was just enough to bring us all together. It was the perfect day, not just because Swift played my two favorite songs as surprise songs that night, but because the women in my life who knew me at all different stages enjoyed the moment together. 

I have never appreciated the women in my life as much as I have grown to this summer. After Taylor Swift, “Barbie” hit theaters and I just appreciated them even more. I first went to see it with my boyfriend and we both loved it, despite the awful weather on the trip back. It amazed me in so many ways, but what really got me was the ending. 

In one of the final scenes, Barbie talks with her creator about going into the real world and her creator shows her the real world through a montage of beautiful moments belonging to women. The scene stuck with me and so many others who watched the movie. 

I saw the movie for a second time with my family. While my brother might not have liked it as much as I did, we both agreed that we had never seen our mom so happy seeing a movie. She doesn’t watch many movies or TV shows, so it’s rare to see her enjoying one as much as she did with this one. It made us really happy to watch her enjoying the movie and laughing with the other women in the theater–specifically in the scene mentioning “The Godfather” because it’s our dad’s favorite movie.

This isn’t the only time I related to my mom this summer. Actually, the other time was when my therapist mentioned something during one of our meetings. My therapist has been seeing me since I was twelve years old and because of that, she met with my parents quite a few times when I was younger to help them with raising me. 

During a recent meeting, I was explaining my latest anxieties and my therapist said that it reminded her of how my mom felt while she was raising me. I won’t go into more detail, but it made me feel connected to her and kind of sad. It brought me to a new level of understanding and appreciation for my mom and everything she does for me.

Whether you are a woman or not, please appreciate the women in your life. Connect to them and recognize the daily struggles they are facing just by existing as a woman in this modern world. If you are a woman, find strength in your female relationships. They will provide you so much reassurance and connection as you navigate life.

This summer, I’ve also been taking a bit of a break from work. Of course I needed to pay my bills, so I couldn’t take too much time off, but I worked every other week due to the intense burnout I was experiencing from the many hours I’ve put in. The break was well worth it and definitely necessary. I recognized that I put too much of my energy into this job so I could make more money, but that was extensively damaging to my wellbeing. 

While my shifts at work had lessened, I still experienced some problems, and I had to learn to stand up for myself. I dealt with situations that made me extremely uncomfortable to the point that I needed to say something. 

In my position, I manage other employees on the shift and I had one coworker who would just ignore everything I said. He wasn’t taking me seriously and I was so sick of it. After disrespecting me for the fourth or fifth time, I was angry. I had to step outside and call my boyfriend to calm down. Eventually, I went back inside and told him point-blank that he needed to listen to me because I was in charge and I didn’t care if he didn’t like my decisions, he still had to do what I said.

I was honestly shaking when I said this because I absolutely hate confrontation. After this comment though, he started listening to me, and I’m pretty sure he was a little scared because he couldn’t look me in the eye.

Later that night I reflected on the situation and I realized the only reason I said something was because of a TikTok I saw earlier that day. It called out people pleasers for being manipulators. When I heard it, it shocked me because I didn’t think that’s what I was doing, but it was true. I was controlling people’s emotions with my words and getting them to feel how I wanted them to feel. 

I was horrified at my behavior because I thought I was making everyone comfortable. In reality, I was just ignoring my own feelings for the feelings of others and in turn, resenting them for it. It didn’t make any sense. No one is benefitting from this situation and everyone is getting frustrated. So instead of biting my tongue and getting more and more frustrated, I spoke up.

If you’ve read my previous articles, you’ll know that I struggle with people pleasing and I am desperately trying to break this habit. This idea was just another reason to stop, and since then, I’ve done it even less.

Another situation that tested my people-pleasing skills was coincidentally with the same coworker. He came into the store after stepping outside and complained about the homeless man sitting on a bench outside. The man wasn’t doing anything particularly bothersome, but my coworker just didn’t like him being there. I ignored it at first because while it was annoying, I thought he was just going to drop it. Well, he didn’t.

About an hour later, the man came inside the store. I confirmed with my coworker that it was the same man because I wanted to give him some food. We don’t have anything of real nutritional value, but I gave him a cookie sundae and sent him on his way. He tried to pay and offered to come back later, but I wouldn’t let him so he left. 

I left the shop to go on my break and while I was gone, he came again. When my coworker was telling me this, I asked him if he gave the man the food for free or for payment. He responded, “Of course I let him take it. I didn’t want him to kill me.”

This comment was just mean, so I said, “He was just hungry. He wouldn’t hurt you.”

To which he responded, “That’s because I gave him what he wanted.”

Demonizing homeless people because of their circumstances is just hateful. There is no other word for it. As a way to repay the man for dealing with my awful coworker, I gave him a brownie after my shift. He thanked me and again apologized for his lack of payment earlier. I told him it was no problem and then he gave me a statue of a lighthouse because he said I reminded him of his mother, who was a mermaid. 

While this man might not have been in the stablest of conditions, he was still very kind and did not deserve to be treated how my coworker treated him. As someone with no guts, I usually wouldn’t have said anything to my coworker or to the man outside, but I did both and ended up with a cool lighthouse statue which is currently sitting on my desk.

This summer brought many experiences which helped me find deeper meaning in my life. I have strengthened my relationship with the world around me and the people in it. I’ve built more willpower. These changes might not be major, but they’ve improved my perspective and helped me find myself a little bit more.

About the Contributor
Rena Weafer, Arts Editor