Sunday, February 8, 2015

Life Lessons from Elle Woods

Funny story. The other day, my mother informed me that I was so obsessed with Legally Blonde that I wrote my high school admissions essay to Ursuline Academy describing the ways in which Elle Woods inspired me in life. Awesome, right?

You'd think I'd remember something like this, but I can honestly say that I have no recollection of this essay and I was completely mortified to hear that I had done that (though I did get into Ursuline, so... yay me!).

But it got me thinking... reminiscing, really, about the ways that Elle had inspired my 13 year old self, and it suddenly struck me that she was the first female character to have such an empowering effect on me. Of course, there were other female characters I loved and admired at the time, but Elle Woods made me want to go to law school, for crying out loud. I had this whole idealized plan on how to get into Harvard and become a lawyer. I wanted to be just like Elle!

As it turns out, I didn't go to Harvard (didn't even apply), nor did I become a lawyer, but I carried what I learned from Elle with me.

Instead of leading the glamorous life of a Harvard Law student, I decided to be a writer. And can I tell you a secret? Writing is hard. Let's just state it as what it plainly is - it's hard. It's hard to write a first draft, it's hard to spend hours and hours creating something that could ultimately fail with no pay-off whatsoever, it's hard to share a part of your soul with people who could easily rip it to shreds. It's hard to face rejection.

I faced rejection just one week ago when the results for a writing contest I had entered were posted. And I wasn't on the winner list. And it hurts, because I love my story and I'm proud of it and I wanted desperately to be able to share it with people... and I just didn't cut it. It's hard not to take that personally, and I did. I cried and cried and wept and couldn't see how I could rewrite that story and have it published a different way (as I had originally planned in the chance that I didn't win).

But then I remember Elle.

Even as fabulous as she obviously was, she faced rejection too.

It's something all writers face at some point. An inevitable, horrible thing that can easily tear us down.

But let's remember how Elle was rejected, AND THEN HOW SHE PROVED EVERYONE WRONG!

Elle Rule #1
Get it out of your head.

or manuscripts, in this case

One thing I've learned from suffering with depression is that dwelling on the stressor makes it worse and worse and worse. You need to get it out. And I don't mean just let go of it, because depression wouldn't be a serious problem if it was that easy. I mean you need to do something physical to get it out of your head.

Exercise, as Elle points out, is a great way to do this. Run out your anger and pain with physical exertion. Or just talking about it. Talk to someone about your rejection. Rejection loves to feast on the mind, your thoughts make it stronger, so just get it out of your head. Get it out into the open air where it can shrivel up and die.

Elle Rule #2
Convince yourself that everything will be okay and lie lie lie until your confidence is real.
To be clear, never call the rejector, who ever they may be, a frigid bitch, because they usually have their reasons for doing so (in the publishing world).

The point is, you need to be able to lift your chin, look rejection in the face, and say "joke is on you!" even when your belief is shaken. J.K. Rowling was rejected multiple times before she became the worldwide phenomenon that she is.

Elle Rule #3
Never be ashamed of what you love and value, because that's the only road to success.
Your passions are yours, and that's something no one can take away from you. That's something uniquely your own that you can bring to the table, something that drives you. In writing and in life. If your main inspiration or well of knowledge is Cosmo, then never stop reading Cosmo!

My original source of inspiration came from movies/TV like Disney and Pokemon and Legally Blonde! And I understood when my parents gave the typical "TV will rot your mind" speech, but I was the only person in my freshman English class to know that the Spanish Main was in the Caribbean, all because I had every word of Pirates of the Caribbean memorized!

Inspiration is precious. If you love Twilight and someone tries to make you feel ashamed of that, then screw them! I found tons of personal inspiration from Twilight and I am not ashamed to say that! I re-watch Digimon Adventures 1 and 2 every year because it is one of my main inspirations in all of my writing, and damn if I don't fangirl screech every single time I think about the new Digimon Adventure 3. I read YA lit like there is no tomorrow no matter how some critics think it's lesser literature.

And lastly, most importantly,
Elle Rule #4
Even when you're faced with that feeling that "you're just not good enough," never stop believing that you can do better, work harder, learn more. Otherwise, there's no real point. It doesn't matter how much you love something, how much you want it, if you don't believe that YOU CAN, then... *shrug*

Because the truth is we can always do better, we can always work harder, we can always improve on what we thought was our best, but you have to have faith for when the road gets bumpy because there will ALWAYS be bumps.


Thank you, Elle Woods, for being a strong woman and showing me that there is always hope, with the proper amount of determination.

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