Fictional Characters I Look Up To

The other day I saw a quote from George R R Martin that said “You should grieve if a fictional character is killed. You should care.” As an avid reader and a writer, I couldn’t agree with it more. It made me start to think about what makes you connect with a character. Sometimes it is seeing a small part of you, but I think that more often than not we love characters because they possess a quality that we wish we had. Or at least that we wish we possessed more of. So today I decided I’d talk about some fictional characters that I love and look up to. I’d love to hear about your top 5 in the comments below!

Winnie the Pooh

In my opinion, Winnie the Pooh is one of the best characters that has ever been created. I loved him as a kid and I still love him now when I’m about to graduate college. My brother who is 25 loves him. My parents love him. But why is that? For me, every time I see a quote from him I immediately feel warm inside. Pooh’s like the embodiment of a hug. However, the two qualities that Pooh possesses that I look up to are his loyalty and his positivity. He sticks by the people that he loves through thick and thin. The newest movie where he goes to find Christopher Robin as an adult showcases this brilliantly. He senses that he is needed and he is there. It all comes from a place of genuine love and the desire for other people’s happiness. That’s an admirable quality. As my senior year continues to fly by, I’m forced to think about what comes after. Not all of my friends will stay here. In the past, I haven’t kept up with friendships as well as I could have. Winnie the Pooh makes me want to remember to make a conscious effort to maintain these friendships in a way that still feels meaningful. In a way, all of the characters in these stories model what friendship should look like. Both the things that you should do, but also how other friends should act toward you. Loyalty should go both ways and Winnie the Pooh is an excellent example of what that should look like. Pooh is also a beacon of positivity. I tend to lean on the more pessimistic side. Sometimes Eeyore reminds me a lot of myself. However, Pooh is always looking on the bright side. One of my favorite Pooh quotes is “You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” He is always trying to build people up. He always wants people to see the best in themselves and the world. Every time I see a Winnie the Pooh movie, I leave wanting to live my life through a rose-colored lens. I admire his ability to feel a spectrum of emotions (like sadness when he runs out of honey), but still end the day feeling positive. I’m forever grateful that Winnie the Pooh was created and that I can always look to Pooh for models of friendship and positivity.

Matilda

I have read the book once, but I have seen the movie approximately one million times. I used to watch it every time I went to my Aunt Marla’s house and I never skip it if I scroll past it when channel surfing. It is one of my favorite movies of all time. If you have watched the movie and have not tried to tip over a glass with your mind, you are lying. But her powers are not the main thing that I look up to. I’ve always admired her intelligence and determination. Even though she didn’t have the greatest home life, she was able to dive into books and find other mentorships with people like the librarian and Ms. Honey in order to encourage her learning. She loved school. She actually pleaded to go to school. Sometimes I take for granted the fact that I get to go to college and get a quality education. I complain a lot, but if I take a step back and look at the big picture, I am incredibly lucky. She is a character who makes me look at the world that way. Also, I connect very strongly with her love of books. I bet she has fictional characters that she looks up to as well. I also admire her determination. She was not going to stop without making Ms. Trunchbull pay for the horrible things that she did. Even when others tried to stop her, she believed in herself and pushed forward. In the end, her belief in her goals and her follow-through allowed for everyone to have a much better life. When I watch this movie and think about this character it makes me want to dive into a book and accomplish my goals: both equally important for a happy life for me.

Phineas and Ferb

I haven’t watched this show in a long time. Probably not since I was in middle school, but these characters always made me want to try and do the impossible. These two characters are some of the most inventive and creative characters that I have come across. Their ability to start with an idea in their backyard and transform it into something spectacular was inspiring. They didn’t see anything as too big or too hard. They just did it. I love to write. But for a while now I have been having some sort of a creative block. It may be from stress or from my own anxieties. I’m not totally sure, but for whatever reason, no ideas are flowing. If an idea does come, it’s one that I don’t see ending up well. But characters like Phineas and Ferb wouldn’t just stop. They’d write those bad ideas out if there was even a .00000001 chance it would end up well. They wouldn’t just say “oh well” when writer’s block strikes, they would find a way or build some machine to solve that problem. Too often, I sit by and let things happen around me or ideas pass by without grabbing them because it seems impossible. But characters like these don’t see anything as impossible. They are definitely two characters who possess qualities I’m sometimes lacking.

Nancy Drew

I love this character with all of my heart. I read every Nancy Drew book when I was in elementary school, have played some of the computer games, and have seen the movie. I love the concept of a girl solving crimes with her own wit and strength. She possesses a fearlessness that I wish I had. As you know by now, I struggle with anxiety. I struggle in situations that are much less dire than the places Nancy ends up. She is always willing to jump into the unknown in order to help herself and others, but the unknown is what I fear most. It is what I struggle with coming to terms with on a day to day basis. I wish I had her fearlessness when it comes to diving in even if you aren’t certain it will turn out okay in the end. We aren’t God, so we have no idea what tomorrow brings. Or even what the next hour brings. However, that doesn’t mean that we should just sit in our comfortable bubble and never venture into anything that is uncertain. That is actually impossible. Not everything in life is a sure thing. Sometimes you have to take a deep breath and take a leap of faith. Nancy Drew did that in every book. Sometimes she got out of a sticky situation and learned valuable information that helped her crack the case, but other times she got hit by a bad guy and ended up in a worse position than she started. But she would always take the next case, no matter how difficult the previous one had been. She never let fear hold her back and that is something that I am actively trying to work on. Even just typing this paragraph makes me want to grab a copy and spend some time marveling at Nancy’s ability to walk into the fire. If you never read these books (which is insane to me that this might be the case), you need to. The books are fun but the character and character development that happens over the series is some of my favorite work by an author.

Pippi Longstocking

Last, but certainly not least, is Pippi Longstocking. Based on the mixed reaction I got the year I dressed up as her for Halloween, I would say she is a slightly less popular character than the ones listed above. Not as many people seem to have read these books. For me, she is a character that I have looked up to since the first chapter I read in elementary school. For those of you who don’t know, Pippi Longstocking is a little girl who lives on her own with her monkey and her horse. She has a unique look and a unique set of skills that lead her on a myriad of adventures including being in the circus and making burglars leave her house. The thing I have always admired about this character is her ability to be totally and completely herself without caring what anyone else thinks about her. I can be self-conscious sometimes even when I don’t want to be. I’m a little bit of a people pleaser and I don’t like to rock the boat. Pippi is not afraid of rocking the boat or being seen as different than everyone else. Her individuality is what makes her such a dynamic character. Owning who you are and being unafraid to show it to the world is something that I would love to do 100% of the time. Part of owning who you are is realizing you have flaws, which Pippi does. It is what makes her such a well written and well-rounded character. She will forever stand out in my mind as the most confident character I have come across.

All of these characters stand out for their own reasons. I love all of them for giving me examples of how to live my life better and to its fullest. I look forward to coming across many more influential characters in the future as I continue to devour books and movies. I want to know what characters you look up to! I think knowing someone’s top five can tell you a lot about them. Let me know in the comments below!

Rachel (:

What To Do Around Your Anxious Friends

My roommate suggested that I write this post and I thought it was a great idea. For people that don’t have anxiety or struggle with their mental health, it’s hard to know exactly how it feels or how to act when someone else is struggling. Is it better to leave them alone? Should I ask if they’re okay? Is there a way I can help them? All of those questions are valid and I think it’s important to open up a dialogue with the people around you to try and give some answers.

One very important note to make here is that everyone is different. Anxiety doesn’t affect everyone the same way and so the way you go about interacting with people who are struggling can look very different. It is always important to ask the person you are trying to support what specifically helps them. Don’t take my suggestions in this post as absolute truth. Use it as a guide that can be molded to fit the person you have a relationship with.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when talking to someone struggling with anxiety is that they aren’t choosing to have this issue. Therefore, they cannot choose not to worry. There have been various times in my life where I would be describing something I was feeling particularly anxious about and the response I got was something like “Just don’t worry about it. It’s not that big of a deal.” While in the grand scheme of things that statement might be true, to the person feeling anxious, it is a big deal. Undermining their feelings makes them feel self conscious. Instead of telling them to just not worry about something, try talking to them about why this thing is worrying them and then give suggestions on ways to deal with that worry. Say something like, “I understand that this upsets you and I know it feels like a big deal right now, but if you look at it from this angle it isn’t as bad as you think.” Give them an alternative mindset without disregarding their feelings. Make them feel heard and then lay out a logical way to look at and attack the problem. We know what we are thinking is illogical, but we struggle with making ourselves believe the logical solution. Hearing someone else lay out that solution can be helpful.

If you know that a friend or partner has anxiety and you know the things they get most anxious about, be proactive. For example, if they have social anxiety and you decide to go to a party, be receptive to their needs. This doesn’t mean baby them. Treat them normally, but check in with them and ask if they are having fun. Don’t leave them to fend for themselves at a party. That is a worst nightmare scenario for people with social anxiety. Hang out with them and if they decide they want to leave, don’t get angry at them. That will only make them feel worse. Be respectful and listen to what they need in the moment.

Let them talk. Sometimes when someone is feeling anxious about something, they just want to get it off of their chest. They don’t always want advice. They just need someone to listen. All you need to do is sit there and give your support.

Ask questions. It’s perfectly normal to not understand what having anxiety is like if you don’t struggle with it. The only way to better understand your friend’s feelings is to ask them to describe it. I am always happy to answer questions because it shows me the person cares enough to ask. When you are able to understand anxiety better, it will help you be less annoyed when your friend can’t do something because their anxiety is too much.

Finally, be patient. We are aware that we sometimes make normal things more difficult. That is just the way our brains work. Going to a party is different for us, than it is for you. Riding in a car is different for me than it is for you. Normal things are just a little more difficult for us. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to be included. It’s important that you treat us normally, while having in the back of your mind that you may need to be patient in certain situations. Be respectful and be kind. That’s all we can ask for.

A lot of these things are broad ideas that I think are helpful to think about when interacting with the people in your life who struggle with anxiety. However, as I mentioned earlier, it is important to start a dialogue and to determine what is most helpful for them. Just talking to them and wanting to understand will go a long way.

Start talking in the comments below about other tips you have. I am by no means an expert, so more opinions are always welcome! Thanks for supporting this site!

Rachel (:

Finding Supportive People

Today is my parents’ anniversary. They have been married for 30 years, which is a massive accomplishment. It’s a real blessing to have parents who show you what love should look like. I am grateful that they have always been united and supportive parents for my brother and I. Especially growing up in an environment that had constant changes, they made sure that everything felt stable within our family. I’m lucky to call them my parents. Happy Anniversary! (I know they’re reading.)

My parents (:

My parents have always been a great support system for me, but there are other people who I have found support from as well. It’s important to find people that you not only get along with, but that you can be vulnerable with. I hate vulnerability. I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I will say it again because it is extremely true. I’m not good at voicing my thoughts or feelings. Writing is where I usually get all of that out. However, writing is solitary and doesn’t allow for outside thoughts and opinions that may help your brain see a situation you are going through differently. Finding people to surround yourself with who love and support you, but also aren’t afraid to tell you when you are overthinking or making a mistake is so important. I’m lucky, because I have a handful of people who I can rely on in that way.

My brother and I (:

First and foremost, I have my family. My mom, my dad, and my brother Nate. As I stated in the beginning, my parents have always been incredibly supportive of me. They always made sure to let me know that as long as I was doing my best at whatever I was doing, they were happy. They didn’t put added pressure on me to be number one or get the top scores, which made me want to do it for myself. They made sure to say “I love you” every day. Even though I bottle up my emotions most of the time, they were always there for me when they all spilled out. My mom stayed home with us so we could have some stability while we moved all around. They came to every event they could come to and cheered on the sidelines. They are great parents. I don’t know where I would be without them. I get a lot of my best qualities from them. My brother is great, too. He probably knows the most about me. I feel like it’s not always the case that a brother and sister are so close when they are a few years apart, but I’ve really appreciated having him by my side growing up. In a lot of ways, he is the only person who understands what it was like moving every two or three years. For a little while in each place, we were each other’s only friend. He is always there to make me laugh when I’m having a bad day. We have a Snapchat streak coming up on 850 days that we don’t plan to stop anytime soon. He is a great big brother and I’m lucky to have him as someone I can talk to whenever I need to.

Friends (:

My friends that I’ve made in the last few years are also a great support system to have. The friends I’ve made in college are some of the best people I’ve ever known. They are extremely kind and always there to listen when I’m struggling with something. Whether it’s something small like school stress, or big like grief, they are there for me. I don’t cry in front of people, really ever. It’s that vulnerability issue again. So the moment where I did cry in front my friends was a big deal for me. I realized that I am comfortable being fully myself with them. They know about my struggle with anxiety and understand it (a couple of them struggle with it too). There is no judgement among us. We genuinely enjoy spending time together. That could be watching a rom-com for the tenth time on our couch or driving for an hour at night with no destination, listening to music. They are there for the everyday moments and the big life moments and I’m so happy I have them in my life.

There are various other people who also give me support in different ways. I’m grateful for my therapist who listens to all of my anxious thoughts and provides a new perspective. I appreciate all of my coworkers for making work a place that I actually look forward to. There are professors who are genuinely there when I’m stressed about an assignment. I’ve found people who support me and who I support. When you are struggling, the people around you are so important. Talking about your feelings can help. Part of the reason I created this website was because I wanted to foster a community where people felt safe expressing their emotions and struggles. We are all dealing with something. No one has a perfect life. There are always people out there going through something similar. As this community grows, I hope that you are able to find people to talk to. I’m here to listen as well. Trust me. I know how scary it is to let people in, but finding a support system is one of the most important things you can do for your mental health.

Thanks for reading and feel free to share your stories in the comments below. I appreciate all the support I’ve gotten from y’all.

Rachel (: