I’ve been reading Brené Brown and working on being authentic and brave lately. It’s rough, but I think it’s an important step in owning who we are as Kickass Outcasts.
That’s great, Nonir, but what’s it got to do with me?
Well, it’s got me thinking about how much society pressures us to conform and how deeply most of us have internalized that message.
I’m out here running this site and business focused on putting myself out there as authentically as possible, right? I still worry about what people are going to think and how I stand out.
My subconscious decided to remind me of this the other night, when I had a dream about a cis woman telling me I needed to shave my legs (which I haven’t done in years, btw) in order to fit in. I woke up baffled and hurt--because I realized it was myself telling me to shave, even though I know the people important to me don’t actually care.
This message that I have to fit the perfect image of an AFAB person--hairless, meek, demure--has dug so deep into my brain that it pops up when I move toward doing anything authentic (okay, so shaving my legs may be a metaphor for something bigger, but the point remains).
Even when I think I’m ready to stand on my own and face the world as my Kickass Outcast self, this burning need to keep my head down and fit in refuses to let go.
I know I’m not alone in this. Talking to friends and hanging on the ‘net, I see almost everyone struggle with this. We’ve been conditioned from childhood to avoid making waves, to follow instructions, to tie our self-esteem to how well we can fit in. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to shake off.
But I do believe we can do it. I believe that, with the right support and encouragement and community, we can all learn to truly let ourselves shine. It might take a lifetime, and we’re never going to be perfect at it, but it’s worth the effort.
I’m taking my baby steps forward and continuing to refuse to shave my legs. Because screw you conformity.
What teeny tiny steps can you take to work toward being yourself instead of squishing yourself into a box?
The thing about the fact that we’re all always growing, is that it’s really an incredible opportunity every day to figure out how to be more and more of the person that you want to be.
I don’t know about you, but I needed to hear this. It was tucked away at the end of an interview I stumbled across, but it was one of those phrases that just reached in and punched my heart in the face.
There’s this weird idea that once we hit a certain age, we’re supposed to be done growing and changing--that we’re supposed to know exactly who we are and be content with that.
In my experience, that’s utter bullshit.
Everyone is constantly evolving and recognizing new facets of ourselves. There are people who don’t realize or understand their sexuality or gender until well into their 50s or 60s or beyond. There are people who pick up new hobbies, interests, and passions the older they get. There are people who find their calling years after they’re out of school with a useless degree. [Side-eyes my useless degree]
We’re not some fully-realized human once we become adults. We’re still messy, learning, growing, and changing. And that’s good.
Becoming the person you want to be.
For a long, long time I didn’t know who I wanted to be. I had a list of labels and jobs I wanted, but that isn’t who I wanted to be at the core. Due to my various traumas and being an outcast in my own right, I just felt lost.
But one of the changes I was slowly going through was figuring out who that person is: confident, kind, funny, giving, creative. I’m still not where I’d like to be, but every day I can make the decision to work toward it, little by little.
Every day is a new adventure and a new chance to understand and realize your own inner truth (yeah, okay, that sounds super New Age-y, sorry). So who do you want to be, and what steps are you taking toward them?
You may have noticed my tagline is “art and spiritual services for the outcast.” Which sounds great, right? But also there’s a little wtf up in there. So let’s talk about outcasts and why I’m doing this whole Wandering Jotun thing in the first place.
First off, what do I mean by “outcast,” anyway?
“Outcast” came from trying to figure out a good term to encompass marginalized people and communities that didn’t sound so...clinical. I ran through a lot of different terms, but settled on “outcast” because:
So, wtf is this?
Wandering Jotun Crafts is my attempt to make the world a better place. It’s a little selfish in that I want to use my creative side to support myself financially--but my ultimate goal is to make art that represents, supports, and uplifts my fellow Outcasts.
This is my attempt at cultivating and encouraging community and support between marginalized people, and to remind you that you’re not alone. Because, when it comes down to it, we have to have each others’ backs. Especially in a world that’s increasingly fixated on trying to ensure conformity.
Take a breath and join me, fellow Outcast. We’re gonna make our corner of the world pretty again.
It's been forever since I've talked about spiritual stuff, so let's go. [Insert motor revving sounds here]
As you may or may not know, I'm a pop culture pagan. I work with spirits from pop media, which comes with an interesting side effect: I know when their birthdays are. This isn't a particularly common thing (at least in my experience) with ancient or 'mythological' spirits. But a lot of pop culture entities were created with specific birthdays, likes and dislikes, and all the other fun stuff that goes into creating a character.
So let's talk spirit birthdays and other celebrations.
Just like physical people, spirits have different reactions to their birthdays. Some of them love celebrating, some want it to just pass unnoticed. Before throwing a party for a spirit, make sure they're comfortable and want it.
Now the fun bit: some ideas on how to celebrate birthdays or other celebrations with the spirits in your life.
Keep in mind these are just ideas and things I've done personally. Make sure whatever you do is fun and works for both you and the spirit(s) you're celebrating with!
That's all there is to it! Anything can be a birthday or celebration gift or activity if you do it with intention and keep the spirit in mind. So go celebrate!
Next weekend is Myths and Legends Con (MALCon to those in the area). This is, technically, my first time attending and I'll be vending in the Author's Nook with my co-author Olivia of Leafing Out Gardening. I'll also be on six panels throughout the weekend, mostly covering queer topics in fiction.
So I've been thinking about being queer in nerdy convention spaces.
I'll be the first to admit that, while there's a lot of overlap between nerds and the queer community, there's still some major issues in geekdom when it comes to queer-phobia. There are folks who sneer as crossplaying (cosplaying a character of a different gender), assume gender regardless of costume, look down on queer-themed merch, make comments about queer couples, and more. It can be very subtle, but it still hurts.
I've personally gotten stink eye at a couple of cons when folks saw my queer pagan prints. I've been misgendered immediately after introducing myself with my pronouns (they/them, in case you missed it) on a panel. I've had people put down books the minute they realized it had queer content. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Obviously, I'm out in convention spaces. But I'm still scared af.
I always hesitate when I introduce myself on a panel, even though most of the panels I'm on are about queer-specific topics. I always wonder if someone's going to come up to me afterward and debate my identity or the information I've shared. I unconsciously stick to my friends and stay in specific places just to make sure I'm safe.
But you know what? It's worth it.
By being out and proud at conventions, I've helped other people realize it's okay to be themselves.
Most of the time after a panel, I'll have at least one or two people come find me to talk about how much it meant that I shared my experiences. There's been at least one time when someone told me I'd introduced them to a term that perfectly described them. A couple times, folks have come up and wanted hugs because my experiences echoed theirs so deeply.
And that's important to me.
That's the entire premise behind this business: helping people realize it's okay to be themselves.
So, even though it's scary and convention spaces need a lot of work, I'm going to keep showing up and being as authentic as I can. I don't know how much of a difference I can make as one person. But I hope that, eventually, we can change the convention scene to be more welcoming and accepting to people who aren't cis-het white folks.
I'm not going to lie: I'm exhausted. And I don't mean physically. Emotionally and mentally, I'm drained.
There is so much awful happening in the world right now, and it's impossible to get away from it. It's on the internet, the news, commercials, in conversations--everywhere. Hell, I think about it when I walk outside and am confronted with a hotter summer than I ever remember.
It's like I'm drowning in bad news and hatred.
But I am here to remind you to breathe and give yourself the space and time you need.
It's time to "put on your own oxygen mask before helping others." If you're on medications, make sure you take them. Talk to a therapist (if you don't have one, find one, even if you're neurotypical). Log off the internet for a while. Set boundaries about when and where certain things can be discussed. If you're into meditation, make sure you do that. Spend time with loved ones and snuggle your pets.
Do whatever you have to do to get through. We're in this together. I promise.
Me? I'm going to take a nap and get back to working on some radical art like the Aces High, Jokers Wild series.
P.s. If you're in the Denver Metro area, come down to Enchanted Realms in Colorado Springs
tomorrow (Sat. July 27) from noon to three for a book signing. And be sure to drop by MALCon's author's nook to say hello the weekend of August 9th.
I've been thinking about creating some sort of manifesto for this endeavor for a long time now. I started it months ago and let it stew. I knew I wanted to do something for the kickass outcasts--the people who embrace their true selves and uplift one another and fight for change, no matter how small. But I wasn't sure how to create a banner for us. A rallying cry. Something to look to when we're feeling beaten down and low.
Something clicked today and it finally came together. I don't know if this will resonate with you or not, but it's the core of what I'm hoping to accomplish here at Wandering Jotun: this community of outcasts and weirdos, all lifting each other up and creating the change we need.
So, I present to you, The Kickass Outcast Manifesto (image, with accessible text beneath).
I was talking to my therapist about love and the conditions people in my life have placed on it. Most of them don't feel like conditions. It's not an overt "I only love you if..." statement. Most of the time, it comes in the form of a "I don't support/agree with/understand X, but love you anyway." It becomes a love in spite of not because of.
As I was listing off some of the moments I've noticed recently, my therapist suggested that, perhaps, I was also placing conditions on loving myself.
[Insert brain explosion here]
There are certain things we've all heard that become internalized extremely quickly:
I never quite realized how easy it is to take those statements and let them become stipulations on your own self-love. I'm no psychologist, but I wouldn't at all be surprised if a lot of (at least my) self-loathing and guilt and frustration comes from buying into these, and not letting ourselves feel good until we've accomplished them.
That's the thing: there's literally no way to reach these impossible standards.
Telling ourselves we can't be happy or love ourselves unless we're perfect or thin or working 60 hours a week, or whatever--that's not healthy. And it's just as painful as someone else setting conditions on when and how they love you. Maybe even more so, since it's such a subtle, internal process that we often don't notice it. I certainly didn't.
I kept telling myself I had to wait to put effort into this endeavor because I didn't feel queer enough, or deep enough into the popular sides of pop culture. I kept letting myself push off the happiness this work brings me because I didn't feel I could do it perfectly enough.
I wish I could say just recognizing the limitations we place on our own self-love would make them go away. It won't.
But realizing the conditions we set on loving ourselves is a huge first step toward actually allowing ourselves to be happy in a world that prefers us miserable.
So jump in with me: what conditions have you set on your own love? What social pressures are holding you back from doing things that make you happy? Tell me in the comments and we can sob together.
Been a while since I've blogged, due to a lovely soup of exhaustion, busyness, and anxiety. I'm not going to apologize for that, but I am going to take a look at some of it. Because reasons.
I have two major projects in the works for this business right now:
I'm super excited about both of them (and I'm planning on making them both digital, so no one has to pay exorbitant shipping), but every time I open the files to work on them I get hit with huge waves of anxiety and imposter syndrome. Who am I to instruct people on how to create healthy, fulfilling relationships with non-corporeal beings? I can barely keep my own life together, why do I think I'm qualified to design something to help others be more organized?
The short, honest answer is that it's my anxiety that doesn't think I am.
I have over a decade of working with non-corporeal entities under my belt. I've read other peoples' accounts and had lengthy discussions with other spirit workers. I've searched for resources that aren't culturally appropriative or homo/transphobic and don't just gloss over the issues inherent in dealing with spirits (and found none, btw).
I've struggled with anxiety and depression and the overwhelm that comes with trying to look at life in chunks of big goals. I still don't really like looking at life "five years from now" or whatever because I don't know where I'll be. I need something small and easy, not huge and terrifying--and I know I can't be the only one.
Logically, I know I'm "qualified" to create these things, and that they'll likely benefit other people. It's just hard to remember.
Pretty much, imposter syndrome is a bitch and the only way to kick its butt is to keep moving forward.
Even though it's terrifying. Even though anxiety and the world at large is telling us that our work isn't important or we're not good enough. Even though it's so incredibly hard to believe in ourselves.
Imposter syndrome and anxiety lie. Big time.
P.S. If you have anything in particular you'd like to see in either of these offerings, please drop me a line! They're both in development and I want to make sure I'm giving you things that will actually be interesting and useful.
One of the things I constantly struggle with in my everyday life is productivity. We (especially here in the U.S.) live in a society that idolizes working ourselves to death and being productive every single second of the day. I for one just can't do that--but it piques my anxiety not to at least try.
It's this super-vicious circle, and I'm not ashamed to say I've talked to my therapist about it a lot. She told me something last week that really hit home (admittedly, she saw it in a meme, but that's because she's awesome):
Sloths have survived thousands of years--by doing absolutely nothing.
And this morning, while scrolling through Twitter for my day job, I came across this article, which has a fabulous headline: To avoid extinction it's about 'survival of the laziest,' study suggests.
It seemed like pretty convenient timing, you know? One of those "hey, pay attention!" moments that may or may not be a poke from something in the universe. But the meaning is clear.
It's okay to fucking rest.
It's okay to take a damn break.
You don't need to feel guilty about taking care of yourself.
It's a hard lesson to learn, especially when everything around us is pressuring us to do more, create more, work more, just so we can survive. But what good is survival without taking the time to recover, rest, and actually enjoy our time here?
I know it's easier said than done, especially if you're an outcast like me, or you're struggling to put food on the table every day. But I think it's important to be able to take even just a five-minute break now and then to take a deep breath and remind yourself that you're awesome regardless of what you produce (or don't).
Our humanity, our worth, is not tied to our productivity. It's tied simply to our existence. You're amazing just by being here.
P.s. Don't forget to sign up to the Wandering Jotun Crafts newsletter. It's just getting started, and you'll get some great freebies to boot.
Nonir is a queer pagan nerd and writes about various things in those realms.