Let’s Talk About: Fluttershy

I’ve gotten caught up with nearly all of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. I watched the movie in theaters, but I stopped mid-season 7 and I doubt I’ll finish. However, I won’t rant about that. I’d need to make an entirely new post.

Fluttershy is the embodiment of kindness. Or she’s supposed to be, according to the show. And while she does live up to much of the time, I think there’s another element of personality she seems to fit better.

Foolish kindness.

Let me say right now I do like Fluttershy and, up to a certain point, she was my second-favorite character (the first was Twilight; was, as Starlight has now become my personal preference over Twilight). However, I have an issue with what the writers deem to be “kindness”, and there are times when it seems “kindness” is confused with “naïveté”.

The worst example I can think of the top of my head is an episode where she’s chosen to reform a godly chaotic creature precisely because she embodies kindness. Unfortunately, “carpet” would be more accurate. Her way of reforming him is to allow him to abuse her kindness (and I say allow because she’s fully aware of what she’s doing), to get angry with her friends when they attempt to protect her, and allow said creature to endanger one of her friends’ homes (and means of survival; said friend runs a farm), her friends themselves, and by extension, the entire country. In other words, her way of reforming him is to allow him to unleash whatever chaos he wants with zero consequences, in the hopes he’ll change if she tolerates it long enough.

First of all, taken out of context – actually, even in context – this is ultimately an episode about a woman enduring a man’s abuse in the hopes she can change him. Thank you, MLP writers, for giving little girls that lesson. I’m sure the real world abusers weren’t already doing a good job. That troublesome fact aside, this episode emphasizes better than any other what the issue is with Fluttershy supposedly embodying kindness. “Kindness” should not equate to letting someone walk all over you, and while there have been episodes about Fluttershy learning to stand up for herself, they tend to be forgotten, likely to work for episodes like the one I just described. In fact, a common complaint of the show is the lesson fails to stick (though it seems it eventually does by the latest season), something the writers created an episode to say they were tired of hearing (again, a rant for another day). It’s not unkind to refuse to be a walking carpet. It is, however, very unkind to endanger your friends’ lives and refuse to see what your negligence is creating. The only reason she’s successful in reforming the creature is because she eventually snaps at him when he finally makes it clear he was using her all along. In other words, she does something unkind to reform him. Ironically, she called her friends out moments before she snapped on apparently thinking she was a “silly, gullible fool”. Let’s just say when she asked that question, I said yes to the television. If you need someone to spell out they are abusing your kindness when they’ve already done every conceivable action that would make it obvious to anyone with working brain cells and minimal perception, yes, you’re a fool.

The other example I put high on the list is one that involves the aforementioned friend’s farm (yes, out of “kindness”, Fluttershy endangered her friend’s way of living twice). Her friend’s farm was invaded by pests and the friend, understandably, wants to get rid of them. Despite that she only wants to move the bats away from her farm rather than outright kill them, Fluttershy acts as if she does want to kill and insists she should instead give the pests part of her farm as a sanctuary.

First off, anyone who is a real animal expert (annoying fact: Fluttershy admitted she knew nothing about the creatures; meanwhile, her farmer friend did) could probably write a list of reasons as long as their own body about why that’s not a good idea. The episode itself fails any kind of logic in animal expertise. Instead, any logic whatsoever takes a backseat to “kindness” because it’s disregarding a threat to your friend’s home, livelihood, and family’s means of survival is very kind. Keep in mind the pests essentially trespassed onto her friend’s farm, but Fluttershy is supposed to be right because “they’re just hungry”. Never that moving them, like her friend wanted, would solve that issue. The implication here is innocuous reasons excuse bad actions. Fluttershy is “right” because she’s the kind one, despite she knows zero about the pests and farming in general, and if the show didn’t need to have a “kindness always wins” moral for its target audience (no matter how wrong it really is its context), her friend’s sound reasoning and logic would’ve rightfully won out the argument.

Many people excuse flaws in shows like MLP because “it’s a kids’ show”. The problem is that’s why it deserves criticism. Name me a parent, especially a parent of a daughter, who wants their child to learn the lesson that putting up with mistreatment is “kind”? That you can change even the worst people by letting them walk all over you? That it’s good to push away your friends who are rightfully concerned for you? What parent would willing teach their child taking in random creatures is a good idea? That all creatures are okay to keep around? That “kindness” means ignoring all logic and potential consequences, even if you haven’t a clue what you’re talking about? If I had a child, especially a daughter, who liked MLP, I would filter out the episodes like crazy. Kids are not dumb and, contrary to popular belief, capable of seeing problems in media, whether or not they have the words to express them. And eventually, those kids will grow old enough to talk about them.

As I said, however, Fluttershy’s repetitive lessons about being more assertive do seem to have finally stuck as of late, so hopefully, the writers will be more careful with her “kindness”, and consistent in differentiating being kind and being a doormat. After all, “this is a kids’ show”, so let’s have some more careful evaluation of what we teach and aim at kids.

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Never Try New Things

Really, that’s the lesson I take from this whole experience.

I talked about this in one of my previous posts, but to summarize: I took a full-time position as a sales floor associate, failed miserably, did not improve in the slightest, and as I learned yesterday, I will be returning to part-time hours on the 11th of February.

Although, one of my bosses stated it as not being able to handle the responsibility rather than failing. I fail to see what difference exists there. I’m pretty sure incapability of handling a responsibility ultimately amounts to failing that responsibility.

No, it does not feel good to know the only thing I’m good is what’s the easiest job there is at my workplace. This is like praising someone for being able to pass kindergarten while everyone else passes twelfth grade. I’m good at ringing, talking, and being punctual. Yay. I’m good at what a five-year-old can do.

One of the reasons I relate so much to Princess Luna. She knows what it’s like to be second-best. And in my case, not even that.

In the end, the whole experience turned out to be worthless. I ended up doing nothing except making a fool of myself (apparently, certain co-workers enjoy talking about me behind my back) and this is one of the times I strongly resent being an introvert. Were I an extroverted person, I wouldn’t have distaste for being a cashier and could possess the energy needed to avoid having the soul sucked out of me by dealing with several people for several hours straight.

The bright side, if it can be called that, is I am being permitted to remain on the floor and simply act as a back-up cashier, but it doesn’t change I really shouldn’t have tried something different to begin with. I wasted everyone’s time, including my own, and proved I can’t handle anything beyond standing in one place and operating a price gun. I did not expect to succeed anyway, but I also didn’t expect to not even show a hint of improvement and fall utterly flat on my face. I’m used to being slow. I’m not used to never getting pass the starting line.

Ironically, another boss of mine, despite also agreeing I was horrendous at my soon-to-be-revoked position, believes if the opportunity arises, I should try again. Up until recently, this particular boss and I did not get along at all, so to come from his mouth, that’s hugely shocking. It’s not a suggestion I plan to take to heart, however. I am never asking for anything again. Everyone else can take the bigger jobs. I’ll stay at the bottom, the only place I can’t fail. Truthfully, I don’t think it’ll be long before I’m bested at even that, assuming I haven’t been already and I’m failing to be aware of it.

Too bad she can’t help with co-workers.

Treat Others… And Yourself

A long conversation with my boyfriend this early morning gave me huge insight into something.

I enjoy writing, particularly fan fiction and my opinions (gee, what gave the latter away?), but it dawned on me less than half a day ago I’ve been writing fan fiction for twelve years – nearly half of my life!

I never put thought into it or considered it a hobby or noticed it becoming one. I don’t recall what sparked it. All I remember is I started shortly after I watched “The Little Mermaid” when it came out on DVD in 2006, when I was 12 years old. It was the first Disney movie I ever watched, and what introduced me to Disney to begin with. I don’t remember that being any sort of inspiration, but it’s closest I can think of as a reason I may have started writing.

There were other hobbies I tried to develop later on, but I failed at them, despite genuinely liking them. As it turns out, it’s not always a bad thing to be selfish.

When I wrote, it was always for myself. Even if I made it public, and I do enjoy sharing, I was still writing for my own sake. I did it when I was bored or had some random idea pop into my mind. Most of the stories I write are kept private. As a pre-teen, I kept it secret partially out of embarrassment because they weren’t good (not to suggest my more recent stories are), but being a reserved person even back then, I didn’t care for anyone to know anyway.

But when I start drawing or playing some games or learning languages, it was for other people from the start. Drawing was sparked by my then huge love of Winx Club and jealousy of others’ amazing art, and the goal was becoming skilled enough to create fan art to share with the fandom. After finding the Sims community, I played the game more and more to create stories to share with the community. I first began learning another language in second grade, but when I got older and tried to study on my own, it was for the sake of being able to communicate with other people, not because I wanted to study. And I should mention I hated writing too… when I was forced to do it.

None of those reasons are necessarily bad, especially not the last one. But the pattern there is I became miserable with those hobbies because I was doing them for other people’s sake, not my own. Yes, I truly liked them, but they reached a point of solely being done to share with other people for their enjoyment. I stopped caring about my own. Realizing that, it’s no wonder they eventually died when I tired of trying. Yet, I never tired of writing stories, nor can I remember ever feeling burned out. I once wrote eight pages in a day. In the huge world of literature, that may be amateurish at best, but for me, it was a big deal because I wasn’t trying to.

This is not restricted to hobbies either. I did poorly in a number of things, particularly school, because they were for the sake of pleasing someone else. For a while, I succeeded in school over, but after a certain age, being a people-pleaser became too exhausting to keep up and I stopped trying so hard just to hear some praise that meant nothing to me because I didn’t want to do it in the first place, nor was I getting anything valuable out of it. Yet, I’ve discovered I am good at finding friendships, as I’ve made friends even when trying to avoid it, and I am good at holding my own relationship. But I am good at those things because although they involve other people, they are still for me. My friendships and my relationship make me happy, which is why I’m rarely hesitant to and very much enjoy doing things for my friends and my boyfriend. And the reason I hold them so highly is because they care for me. What I got out of friendship is love (platonic and romantic) and happiness I didn’t find elsewhere (please forgive the cavity-inducing sweetness). And I clearly have no problem sharing my friendships with the world!

Of course, there’s such a thing as priorities and some things have to be done, no matter how dreadful they are. This is not about that. What I’m referring to are things that are optional (yes, that now includes school). The truth is I have missed those hobbies. I miss when I did draw in my sketchbook, drawing either from imagination and tips I read, or trying to recreate a specific picture. I miss when I played video games because they relieved my boredom and I was interested in continuing the game’s story, not trying to create a story from the game to upload (though I have been slowly getting back into this one). I always hated studying, but I did like to try reading books in other languages after some weeks of classwork in my language classes, and much of the time, I could. I didn’t care I couldn’t understand what it was actually about (because I couldn’t translate quickly). I just enjoyed I could read it. I once got fun out of reading an Italian dictionary when I was still taking Italian class in tenth class, and I used to play around with DuoLingo, an app for learning languages, for the fun of the games. There may be other hobbies I’ve dropped as well, but I don’t recall them.

All along, the burn out wasn’t from doing too much, but from trying to give so much. During most of my childhood, I heard how “giving to others is a gift in itself” and “it’s better to give than to receive”. Maybe there’s such a thing as too much giving. As I said, I rarely am hesitant to give to those I care most about because I also enjoy sharing. It’s much simpler than I’m making it sound. It makes more sense to go through so much effort for someone you really love instead of dozens or hundreds of strangers you’ll never meet.

My boyfriend asked me if there’s any way to reignite those former hobbies. After realizing what I did, I think there may be. If I choose to try picking one or more of them up again, I have to remember who they’re intended for: me. They’re for myself and my pleasure. If I make them public, it’s because I want to have another place for them, not because I’m after attention and recognition. I realize those can be good motivational tools for some people, but I’m clearly not one of them. For me, hobbies are much more fun when it’s my enjoyment I have at heart. Thinking only of myself is selfish, but this is not exactly hunger I’m talking about. I’m talking about pastimes. I’m positive no one’s getting hurt.

However, I don’t think I’ll ever overcome the shock of taking twelve years to discover this. I now fear for what else I may be oblivious to. Can I trade this “identity crisis” thing for some more sketchbooks?

A Lesson Unlearned

What else is new?

If you were watching the news earlier today, and maybe following Twitter, you know about the blizzard that raged about today. And despite one experience to my name, it seems I’ve still yet to learn my lesson about traveling during horrid weather.

However, once again, I have no regrets.

I got my hours mixed up and came in for a morning shift instead of the evening shift I was scheduled for. In my defense, they tend to edit the schedule often after putting it out, so it’s possible it was changed after I copied the original and I never caught the revised one. Since I came in, my boss decided to switch the shifts anyway instead of send me back home immediately. I am glad she did, not only because this particular boss is one of my favorites of the management team, but also because if she hadn’t, I would’ve missed out on getting paid today since the store closed early.

It may seem odd to care about getting paid when I have previously said some things matter more to me than money. However, the difference is this wouldn’t have been voluntary. I wouldn’t have had a choice in missing out on getting paid.

In addition to that, I also had the chance to not only get away from my home for a few hours, but to spend a blissful morning on the same shift as a manager I very much like. If every work day was as peaceful as today was, I’d have never been so desperate to get away from being a cashier. I can’t regret peace and time spent with someone I love working beside.

I confess I also have a certain sense of pride. I’m uncertain in which particular posts, but I don’t doubt I’ve made my stubborn nature known over the years I’ve run this blog. Truthfully, I was going to consider calling out, though I was waiting on a phone call the store was closed since I assumed I had a morning shift. However, some words from a certain relative once again quietly sparked my temper.

“My job didn’t call.”

“You’re supposed to call them and tell them you can’t make it!”

This makes me understand the stereotype of getting a woman to do something by telling her to do the opposite. Jokes aside, one of my pet peeves is indeed being told I cannot do something I want to do, and it’s in my nature to prove that person wrong. In this case, I could make it to work and I was going to. Now, of course, this was dependent on public transport being available, but fortunately, the bus system doesn’t shut down so easily, so I didn’t need to be concerned about that. I must confess I do have a certain pride about this, though it’s more for the example he set than my own stubbornness. I work in another city and took a bus to and from work in a blizzard. Yet, he works in the same city and drives a car, but won’t go to work. What he will do, however, is walk in said blizzard to go buy more alcohol.

Perhaps I’m arrogant or narcissistic for it, but I can’t exactly take seriously someone who considers the ability to get drunk for the day of utmost importance while he will trash talk my commitment to my job. And I say this after toning down my strict outlook on alcohol (though not enough to try it myself or want to be around drunk people).

I want to say this will be the last time I travel to work in a blizzard, but if it keeps proving to be worth it, I’m not sure I can say that with honesty.

An Underwhelming Experience

First of all:

Last night, I finally had the chance to see something I’ve want to for much of my life. And I can sincerely say I wish I was still yearning.

My boyfriend offered to take me to see the ball drop in Times Square. He knows I’ve always wanted to see it, and he had never seen it in person either. Yes, I knew it’d be freezing, but I wanted to see it just once in my life. We dressed in mulitple layers (though I foolishly wore a single pair of socks) and waited for three hours to see… a tiny ball slowly slide down a pole and a repetitive pattern of fireworks.

We will never do that again.

I was unaware until the ball dropped, people had to stand around, crowded together and with no provided entertainment. “Bored” is not accurate enough to describe how I felt while waiting. To be completely honest, it still felt like watching television. There were only a handful of fireworks before, I guess as a sort of tease, and all the confetti was on far opposite side of us. Definitely could’ve stayed home for that.

I suppose I could say I’m happy for the experience because I now know what it is, but it was hilariously bad and I regret going. For 2018’s New Year’s Eve, we will definitely stay indoors, snuggled together in bed and watching live footage on YouTube.