Glee Episode #6: Vitamin D

Word of the Day: Competition. It happens when two parties want the same thing, and sharing is not an option. One trophy. One job. One man. Sometimes competition is real, and sometimes it is only perceived.

Will: Competition. Every one of these people or elements was a champion in their own right. But they use competing with each other to make themselves even better.
Kurt: I don’t understand how lightning is in competition with an above-ground swimming pool.
Those who have a good understanding of competition are the ones who become better. They realize that the focus is on becoming better than they were before. Those who are overcome by competition only focus on being better than others. As for the lightning, I’m pretty sure it always trumps swimming pool. Every other time, the pool’s just lucky.

“A mashup is when you take two songs and mash them together to make an even richer explosion of musical expression.” – Will
A mashup is a good metaphor for the positive spirit of competition. Two songs come together but do not destroy the other in order to emerge as the dominant sound. Rather, what results is something beautiful and each song is better than before. For some good mashups, check out Norwegian Recycling on YouTube.

“Every time I try to destroy that clutch of scab-eating mouth breathers, it only comes back stronger like some sexually ambiguous horror movie villain.” – Sue
Sue is one of those people who doesn’t understand the spirit of healthy competition. She finds success by destroying others rather than bettering herself. Glee on the other hand, come back stronger because Sue’s attacks don’t expose weaknesses but rather give them opportunities for improvement.

“Don’t bend or break, baby, don’t back down.” – Bon Jovi
Persistance wins competitions. I knew Bon Jovi was wise.

Rachel: I know everyone expects us to be enemies and be in competition, but I don’t hate you.
Quinn: Why not? I’ve been awful to you.
Rachel: That was before you knew what it felt like to be me. An outsider.
Competition isn’t always real. I think that’s when it can be the most damaging, because you are unnecessarily focused on an imaginary prize. You take others down, even if they are not standing in your way. I’ve found myself in competition with others, though they were unaware of it. I lost a friendship because I saw my friend as an enemy instead. It wasn’t until I realized we were on the same side that we became friends again. (Truth is, there was an unexpected third party. My friend and I rekindled our relationship when we realized we both lost, and we understood what it was like to be the other person.)

“I know you have this thing about being clean. Now I can’t promise to pick up my underwear or squeegee the shower door, but I can promise to keep you life clean of sadness and loneliness and any other dark clouds that might float into it.” – Ken
This doesn’t have anything to do with the theme of competition, but I gotta say, who can compete with this speech?! Ken is probably one of the more sensible adults on the show, as much as I may hate to admit that. And though I’m a female, I think I am most similar to Ken out of all the characters.

“You might think there’s some kind of competition going on between you and I, but that’s like saying a nail is competing with a hammer.” – Terri
I’ve been on the receiving end of this statement before, though at the time, I was also the one saying the words. During my imaginary competition, I always saw myself as the nail and my friend as the hammer. I wanted to win so badly but kept telling myself that I never had a chance. Sure, the nail could put up a good fight, but there was no way the nail could beat the hammer. I realize now that I was my own hammer and could never win against my negative thinking.

I guess I get caught up in the competitive hysteria too. My goals are too selfish. It’s time for me to stop competing against everyone and start competing alongside them.
It’s like a mashup. Instead of trying to destroy others, how can you work with them to create something even better?

Glee Episode #3: Acafellas

Words of the day: Guts and confidence. Some people lack one or the other, and the lucky ones are blessed with both. At times, a boost in confidence gives you the guts to do what you never thought you could. At other times, it takes guts to show just how confident you can be.

“Being a man is all about one thing: guts.” – Will’s dad
Perhaps guts really is what separates the boys from the men. When I say “guts”, I don’t mean jumping off a bridge, even if you might break some bones (or worse). A boy will do whatever people say without fear of consequences, but that is not “guts.” That’s idiocy. “Guts,” according to the dictionary, is having courage when it really matters. A man will act in spite of what others may say or the personal consequences he faces, because he wants to follow his heart or do something that matters. Of course, “guts” is not gender exclusive; for girls, though, I’d venture to say the bridge is probably more metaphorical.

“They say it takes more certainty than talent to be a star. I mean, look at John Stamos.” – Emma
Don’t knock John Stamos (Uncle Jesse forever!), but Emma has a point. Talentless celebrities like Paris Hilton or Heidi Montag (or any other reality TV star transitioning into acting or music) demonstrate how it doesn’t take talent these days to be famous. But if they’re certain in themselves enough to get out there, I guess there’s no stopping them. Talent will get them further than the limited success that these “stars” experience.

“He knows who he is, and that’s great. And there really is nothing sexier in a man than confidence.” – Emma
It’s true. Guys who are comfortable in their own skin seem more attractive, even if they are not the most physically appealing. It’s like how a salesperson is more effective if they are confident in their product – why would anyone else want to buy it if the salesperson doesn’t even believe in it?

“Two weeks ago, I would have agreed that four grown men rehearsing a capella hip-hop in my living room was embarrassing. But busting out some white hot new jack swing – I’ll tell you, I’ve never felt more confident.” – Will

“Seeing me feel so good about myself made my wife more attracted to me in every way.” – Will

“Of course he doesn’t want anything to do with us after you kicked him in the nads… He just doesn’t have the confidence to coach us anymore. Guys are really sensitive when it comes to this kind of stuff.” – Finn
I tend to forget that guys can be sensitive. Being sensitive isn’t a stereotypically “manly” quality, but I suppose if there’s anything for a guy to be sensitive about, it would be his manliness. Many guys try to put up a facade of strength, and any suggestion of weakness would be enough to strip away their confidence.

“Is this one of those chick things where you’re pissed about one thing but you’re just pretending like you’re pissed about something else?” – Finn
While this has nothing to do with confidence, I just wanted to point out the insight Finn has, despite his dumb jock image. Not everyone realizes that girls do this, but maybe he has seen Quinn or his mom do this enough that he has caught on to our ways.

“I have enough confidence to say out loud that what happened between us in the auditorium was real. You have feelings for me and you just don’t have the guts to admit it.” – Rachel
The bullying that Rachel faces at school would be enough to kill the confidence of any high school student, but this girl is so sure of herself (sometimes bordering on unknowingly arrogant) that she can maintain her confidence in the face of social hierarchy. Finn is not comfortable enough in his own skin to defy high school social conventions by facing the truth. I have yet to be as confident as Rachel. Only within the past couple years have I been able to talk to and make friends with the “popular” kids – and it’s usually because they are so confident in themselves they don’t realize the social divide when they start talking to me.

“Am I hurting your feelings? Did I say something wrong? Because I thought you wanted somebody who respected you enough to tell you the truth. But maybe you don’t have the confidence to hear it. Maybe you need somebody who’s going to lie to you and tell you things like, ‘You’ve got what it takes.'” – Dakota Stanley, champion choreographer
In a way, Dakota is right. I would rather have someone respect me enough to tell me the truth instead of feeding me lies. And it does take a bit of confidence in yourself not to take remarks too personally. When someone critiques my art work, I have to remember that they are not necessarily criticizing me. The lines become blurry with the art form of dance, where the artist is the art. However, there’s a difference between constructive criticism and insult. If I only heard insults, which are damaging to the individual, I would never develop enough confidence to handle the criticism.

“It’s never too late to grow a pair and go after your dreams.” – Will’s dad
What dreams do you want to go after? Mine may have something to do with the pair of pointe shoes sitting underneath my bed.

Mercedes: You shouldn’t be ashamed of who you are, Kurt… The whole point of the club is about expressing what’s really inside you, remember?
Kurt: I can’t. I’m just not that confident, I guess.
Expressing what’s inside of you takes a lot of guts, because you risk the rejection of your true self. It’s just fascinating (and not uncommon) how someone like Kurt, who seems so confident on the outside, can be so insecure on the inside.

“When you really believe in yourself, you don’t have to bring other people down.” – Quinn
Whether or not she would like to admit it, Sue Sylvester doubts her ability to outdo the glee club and tries to take them down in order to secure her superiority. It’s like what we’ve always learned – bullies are just insecure and need to put everyone down in order to feel better about themselves. Those who believe in themselves see no need for comparison, no need to be superior. Kurt, held captive by social hierarchy, copes with his insecurity by telling himself he is superior to everyone else, when in reality (according to Finn) everyone is a loser.

*Last week’s post was rather lengthy, so from here on out I plan on only including meaningful quotes or ones that relate to the episode theme (word of the day).

Seeking the Gray

When I take personality tests, I sit stumped. Everything I know about myself suddenly becomes gray, and I realize I would prefer to be black and white. As much as I would hate to be put into a box in any other situation, I answer each question wishing I could just fit neatly into one category or the other. I remember taking one particular test and getting the same results for all four possible outcomes. Others weighed heavily in one category or another while I floated smack dab in the middle of the spectrum. I wondered in frustration if I had answered the questions wrong somehow. Why am I so… undefinable? Do I have this multi-faceted personality because I become whatever people want me to be? Or am I really just the type who is a bit of everything and dwells in that fuzzy middle ground? The gray area.

All of this is to say, I don’t know how I feel about change. When personality tests ask questions about change, I really don’t know how to answer. I handle change well and like the way it breaks up boredom and monotony – but I am also a big fan of routine and organization. I am not afraid to get a drastic haircut (every two years over Christmas break at Hair Cuttery). I can purge piles of unworn clothes from my wardrobe (before arranging what’s left by color and order of most recent use, and placing my socks in the second drawer as always).

I am excited about possibly starting a new job and moving into a place of my own in a few weeks. At the same time, my parents’ casual comments about selling the house and moving to Florida in a few years leave me slightly unnerved. (Don’t get me wrong. My parents’ move to Florida will be a great thing, but having it as a common topic of conversation catches me off guard at times.) There is some kind of comfort in the constant – the two years between haircuts, the sock drawer, my parent’s house. It is the safety net that allows me to leap after change into the unknown. A world without constant contains nothing but change and feels dangerous. A world without change feels boring and monotonous. I need the constant in order to embrace change, and I need change to appreciate the constant. I need both, because I dwell in the gray.

Only a teenage girl…

… could draw attention to insecurities I have tried to hide for years.

When I was about 10 years old, my ballet teacher noticed that my legs were structured a bit differently than everyone else. In the middle of barre work, she called the entire class over to ogle. I left that studio within a few years. At my new studio, I worked extra hard on my turnout, just so I could appear “normal” next to all the perfect ballerinas. Teenage insecurity does not disappear easily, even with age. Only in recent years have I become comfortable wearing dresses or shorts in the summer. To this day, I try to stand with my feet turned out so my leg structure is not so pronounced (and I realize that people will now be looking at how I stand).

Sometimes teenagers lack a filter and say whatever comes to their minds, but even if it is unintentional, teenage girls have a knack for finding where you are weak.