Don’t Feel Guilty for your Hobbies

Work trips might be fun, but they completely throw you off your game when you get back. The one and only time I’ve missed a blog post was because of my work trip to Seattle. I almost did the same thing today after getting back from Virginia. Work trips, man.

Thankfully, I basically wrote my post on the flight between Seattle and Pullman. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the term guilty pleasure and why it bothers me so much. For those of you who don’t know, according to Wikipedia a guilty pleasure is “something, such as a movie, television program, or piece of music, that one enjoys despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard.”

Can you see why this phrase bothers me? No? Okay, let me explain. 

Generally, we use the phrase guilty pleasure in situations where we’re talking about our hobbies, but don’t want to be judged for them. An example of one of my many guilty pleasures would be Taylor Swift’s album 1989. Those songs are just too darn catchy.

But, wait. Daniel, you’re probably thinking “Emily, that’s not a guilty pleasure! I like her songs, too! I would never judge you for that!” However, there are a lot of people who would judge me for it. She’s too girly, too mainstream, too poppy.

And that is exactly why I hate the term guilty pleasure. Basically, it’s a label we use to police ourselves based on what other people think. When we use the term guilty pleasure, we’re saying “I know you’ll judge me for this, so I’m going to invalidate my own likes and dislikes so I can stay your friend because you’re a judgmental jerk.”

I have been trying to remove the term guilty pleasure from my vocabulary. At the risk of sounding dramatic, as I find my way in this world I’ve realized I need to start being honest with myself and be more comfortable with who I am. Yes, my friend might judge me for listening to Ke$ha while I run, but that doesn’t mean I should make myself feel bad for it. As long as I’m not hurting anyone or doing something out right illegal, no one should care what I listen to when I’m exercising or watching while laying in bed on a Friday night. I’m still a cool person and my pleasures are a part of that. I need to stop being a judgmental jerk to myself.

I’ve also been trying to be less of a judgmental jerk to other people. My biggest sin in that regard is beer. I am so bad about judging people I see in the beer cooler, buying Bud Light or Coors. Does it affect me? Nope. Should I care? Absolutely not. They obviously like Bud Light and their taste in beer doesn’t dictate their entire personality. This person could be very awesome and I’m automatically throwing up a wall by being so judgmental.

You do you, stranger in the beer cooler. I’ll do me and try to ignore the people who are judging me for my choice of beer. My beer can be way too expensive, way too strong, and way too hipster, but it’s what I like. I’m not going to preface my love of fancy beer with, “Well, this stout is my guilty pleasure…” so I’m not going to make anyone else do that either.

Well, there’s my rant. I love painting my nails, trying new lipsticks, watching Roseanne reruns, watching B-flick horror films, and listening to auto-tuned pop songs, and I don’t feel at all guilty.

Sorry for my late post. At least this time I avoided a punishment.



Everyone Should be a Zombie

I am terrible at stepping outside my comfort zone.

As I said in my previous post, I’m not a very impulsive person. I absolutely hate leaving my comfort zone and trying new things. I need at least a month to consider even the smallest decisions and more often than not I spend that month considering it and then never making a decision anyway. Change is scary. Putting myself out there even more so.

But you know what, life doesn’t work that way. In order to get anywhere you have to take risks and change is necessary, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. At the risk of sounding like a motivational poster on a guidance counselor’s wall, life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

As I said, since I graduated college I’ve gotten better at taking risks. I’m still incredibly over cautious, but I try to listen to the little voice in the back of my head that tells me to do silly things like run 5ks, get tattoos, and ask for better projects at work. It was that little voice that told me I should volunteer at a local haunted house as a zombie this past Halloween and, you know what, it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time.

Let me set the scene for you a bit. Not only am I an over cautious person who hates putting herself out there, I also hate being the center of attention. I hate having everyone stare at me, which coincidentally was the reason I cried at my wedding. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband with all my heart and it was an emotional experience getting married to him, but walking down the aisle took every ounce of willpower I had, which just demonstrates how much I actually love him. Anyway, because of this I’ve never considered acting. Get on stage in front of a crowd of strangers and pretend to be someone else for an undetermined amount of time? Welcome to my personal hell.

I guess I didn’t make the connection that being a zombie at a haunted house would require acting in front of strangers when my coworker first asked me if I wanted to help out, otherwise I probably would’ve said no. It also helped that two of my friends volunteered for the same night, which meant I would have backup. So against all the odds I said yes.

The actual anxiety of pretending to be a zombie in front of strangers didn’t actually hit until we were in the car on the way to the haunted house. We had to drive about fifteen minutes north of town and the whole time I was having doubts. This is going to be awkward. I’m going to be a terrible zombie. Will there be an easy way to get out of this if I’m absolutely miserable?

When we arrived to do make-up my doubts were fading. Well, it’s too late to turn back now, I thought to myself. Let’s give this a try. Our job as zombies wasn’t too complicated. Walk around outside the haunted houses and scare the people waiting in line. No talking, no touching people, stay in character. Easy peasy.


Got lots of compliments on my hat.

When I finally got out onto the street everything changed. My doubts were completely gone, all I was thinking about was who I could scare next. I instantly fell into character, which I had decided was a college student killed while out camping with friends. She was slow, shambling, silent, and didn’t quite understand she was dead. She wandered into crowds and followed people around, desperate to connect with people.

I walked up behind people and waited for them to turn around and scream. I stared at people, not blinking, until they got uncomfortable and tried to get away from me. I followed people who shied away from me, reaching out to them with gray, bloody hands.

It was so much fun. I was in full make-up and in a setting where people wanted to be scared. It wasn’t awkward, it wasn’t scary, it was just fun and something I would do again in a heartbeat. I am so glad I listened to the little impulsive voice in my head and volunteered and I would recommend that everyone volunteer for a haunted house at least once.

Being a zombie just confirmed for me that life does start outside your comfort zone. It also taught me that stepping outside your comfort zone doesn’t necessarily mean going to the extreme. Waiting until I had the opportunity to cover my face in make-up and scare people in a completely different town to try acting doesn’t mean I’m a coward or that it “didn’t count,”  it just meant that I had found the first step outside my comfort zone.  Also, when you play a character it’s not your responsibility to make everyone happy. It’s your job to stay in character. It’s the audience’s job to respond and set the mood. If the person acted scared, I would play along. If they didn’t respond or were jerks about it, I walked away. No harm done.

So I guess what I mean when I say everyone should be a zombie at a haunted house is that everyone should be a little impulsive and try playing a character. You could take it further and actually try out for a play or you could play it safe and just goof around with friends.

All I know is that for one night I got to be someone else and it was liberating, exhilarating, hilarious, and just plain fun.

Give it a try.