I knew of Maddi long before I knew her.
She had been in a few of my classes earlier in my University career, but it typical Emerald-fashion, I didn’t begin talking to her and hanging out with her until fourth year. Big mistake, because she’s awesome.
Maddi is one of those people who walks into a room and you immediately think “oh shit, that woman has her life together.” It’s what I thought when I first had a class with her, and it’s what I thought on the first day of every class we’ve had since. Even this year, when I had my Mad Men class and Contemporary Rhetoric class with her, the first day of Mad Men, that was my thought. Then two hours later in Rhetoric, again I thought “She’s in this class too? I really need to up my game!”
Maddi is my real life grown-up friend. She graduated last semester (so grown-up) and works at an insurance company (serious adult), and she even has her shit together enough to have applied and gotten an early acceptance to a Master’s program (*round of applause* teach me your ways). As she’s out of school for the semester, she needs to find a way to fill her time; naturally she began writing essays for fun. She’s currently working on an essay that shows how “coming out in a heteronormative culture perpetuates the queer apologetic such that bisexualtiy becomes an invisible minority and trans identities are often exploited.” Dope right? I want to read it too.
Yes, Maddi is a real adult. Yes, I was super intimidated by her from the start. No, she doesn’t have it as together as I innocently believed. Whether she knows this or not, Maddi indirectly influenced my decision to start this blog. I knew I was a hot mess, but when I actually became good friends with Maddi, I realized that other people who seem to be doing so much better than me, face the same struggles everyday. She was the first person on my list of people to interview, because not only is she a hot mess, but she is damn inspiring as well.
Maddi is funny, intelligent, supportive beyond belief. She is organized when I’m running around like a chicken with its head chopped off (cliche, but true). She is open about her struggles with mental health and body issues. She is here for you. She is the first person to like 99% of my social media posts. Despite not actually seeing her in a few months, she knows exactly when to send me a message and ask how I’m doing. She has shown me what a strong support system can do for one person, and she has voiced on numerous occasions how much her’s means to her.
Maddi is the ultimate badass, and to be honest I still kinda idolize her. I mean she can tell me as many times as she wants that she’s not perfect, but I have a hard time believing it.
Red Hot: So, as always, to start, how do you define a hot mess and would you consider yourself to be one?
Maddi: Let’s go with dysfunctionally appealing. By this, I mean someone who embraces dysfunction with badass swagger. If my constant procrastination and generally weird (yet awesome) personality is a factor in this, then I hope I can consider myself a hot mess.
And by appealing, I think that it’s important to note that I don’t mean that you are dysfunctional to be attractive or whatever. You don’t care if your life of disorder is appealing–which inevitably makes it so.
RH: Badass swagger is now my new favourite way to define a hot mess! I think you offer a really refreshing approach to look at hot messery through personality, rather than strictly appearance, which I think is usually the first thing that comes to mind. If I may, I think you definitely fit into the hot mess category. For the first year that I knew of you, but didn’t truly know you, I was so intimidated by you because you just seemed like such a badass who had all her shit figured out. Even now, you’re my one friend who seems to be a real grown up, and I have to ask, how do you do it? Or how do you trick us all into believing you’re an actual adult?
M: Thank you! I’m flattered, and also I can’t help but giggle. It honestly wasn’t until this past year that I feel I finally got myself together. I still wouldn’t say I’m a fully functioning adult by any means. I think the most important thing in figuring it out is learning to prioritize yourself. You can’t hope to help anyone else if you aren’t helping yourself. And honestly, I will say this until everyone’s ears bleed: Prioritize mental health. I had a mental break down in third year after working three jobs, staying in school full time, and prioritizing things that I shouldn’t have. While it was one of my more terrifying experiences, I am so grateful that it happened when it did. I was able to acknowledge and accept my anxiety and depression, and really address my body image issues as well. To keep it short, I would say that I have not figured it out. I’m a work in progress. Which is exactly what all of us are right now, and hopefully will continue to be. We have this preconditioned notion that we’re supposed to ‘already be’, rather than embracing the fact that life is about pushing forward, in a constant state of figuring it all out.
RH: Prioritizing yourself is incredibly important. It’s something that I am still learning how to do. I’ve noticed that you’ve been posting on instagram a lot recently about body image and mental health. I love that you’re being open about it. Do you think social media is making it easier for us to open up these discussions? As a second part to the question, do you think of yourself as an advocate for mental health and body positivity?
M: Yes and no. I think that social media allows us to open up but I think it also offers an avenue for bullying and more so a place where you can feel super alone among millions of people. That’s the con to technology. We are soaking up false connections rather than embracing actual support systems. I love social media for its ability to connect, but I think it’s equally important to make actual connections. I think that I am an advocate for mental health and body positivity. I think that there is a lot more that needs to be said and a lot more that needs to accepted but we’re on the right track. I want to live in a world where the priority is happiness over appearance.
RH: You make some really great points. I think I, and others, are often so quick to point out how great social media is in connecting people because we don’t want to look at the very real consequence that we don’t know how to connect anymore.
M: Yes, definitely. The thing is that when you spend your life looking at a screen and look up to realize that no one is around, it can be a really lonely, jarring experience. It’s important to create a support system away from the awesomeness that is social media, and actually experience the world and the people around you.
RH: I could honestly interview you all day, and you’re already giving such great responses, but I know that we both have chaotic lives to get back to so I’ll keep it short. My last question is, do you have any advice/words of inspiration for anyone else who may be going through a rough time or feeling like a bit of a mess at the moment?
M: My words of advice are understand your limits and forgive yourself for being human. People constantly say crap like there is no reset button or live like there’s no tomorrow, and that’s well and good. But the truth is we get to make a million different choices in life and there will more than likely be a tomorrow so take care, and appreciate the fact that it’s okay to take a breather. And more importantly, it’s always okay to be a badass, fabulous, damn hot mess!
RH: Thank you so much – I think those words of advice are perfect to end on!