Sarah Dyer‘s Action Girl isn’t a superhero in the traditional sense. She has her own comic book, sure, but her super power is the ability to help people take charge of their own lives. Dyer has a personal agenda, and she’s pleased to share it with the world.
Here is an abridged version of Action Girl’s Guide to Living (follow the link for Dyer’s extended version):
- Action is everything! It doesn’t matter what you say or think; it’s what you do that matters. Be less of a consumer and more of a creator. Write. Sew. Cook dinner. Put on a play. Publish a magazine. Make a web site. Don’t just buy stuff: make it!
- Support others’ actions. Support what other people do; spend your time and money on things done for something other than profit. This doesn’t mean you can’t buy the new U2 album — but try to buy things from that cool local band, too.
- Have a code of ethics. It doesn’t matter what your code of ethics is — everyone’s is different — what’s important is to have a set of rules you follow. You’ll change your mind as you get older — what works for you now might not work in ten years — but you should know what it is you stand for now.
- Don’t be a hypocrite. Once you’ve developed a code of ethics, live by it. Consider your actions and how they relate to your standards. Don’t make compromises. For example, if you believe that it’s wrong to eat meat because it exploits animals, then don’t wear leather, and don’t use products tested on animals. Be consistent.
- Be positive. Life is short. Don’t waste time complaining. If you can do something about a problem, do it. Otherwise, get on with life and forget it. Route your negative energy in a positive direction. If you hate something, fine, but don’t make it your career.
- Be open-minded. Read books and magazines and newspapers and web sites. (And not just the ones you already agree with or like.) Listen to other people’s opinions. You don’t have to welcome every new idea with open arms; just be willing to change and grow.
- Forget the “scene”. Discard the idea that a thing has to be underground to be legitimate. Or that something popular is necessarily bad. Good work is good work, no matter the forum, no matter how broad its appeal.
- Most things suck. Become more discriminating. Pursue quality. Don’t waste your time with the mundane. You’ll have more time to do something fun!
- Be adventurous. Try new things. Eat new food. Learn a new skill. Travel. Watch foreign films. Change your hairstyle. You might not enjoy everything you try, but then you might find something you really love.
- Live life. Never stop buying toys. Write letters to complain about things you don’t like. Make your own clothes. Do stupid tourist things with your friends. Learn to cook more than just spaghettios. Don’t hurt other people. Start a collection. Make your own Christmas cards. Don’t be so serious. Learn to do more things and feel more competent. Don’t be afraid of technology. Don’t worry about what other people think. Have fun!
Dyer has distilled these rules into a succinct “Action Girl Manifesto”:
ACTION IS EVERYTHING! Our society, even when it’s trying to be “alternative” usually just promotes a consumerist mentality. Buying things isn’t evil, but if that’s all you do, your life is pretty pointless. Be an ACTION GIRL! (Or boy!) It’s great to read / listen to / watch other people’s creative output, but it’s even cooler to do it yourself. Don’t think you could play in a band? Try anyway! Or maybe think about putting on shows or starting a label. Don’t have time/energy to do a website yourself? Contribute to someone else’s website. Not everyone is suited to doing projects on their own, but everyone has something to contribute. So do something with all that positive energy!
It’s a great philosophy, one I endorse. Here are a couple of personal additions:
- Ask for it. You’ll never get it if you don’t ask. And you might be surprised at what you can get just by asking.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Who cares if your shirt isn’t ironed? If you forgot to mail the phone bill? If you can’t remember someone’s name? Take it easy. It’s not that important.
What’s the gist of all these rules? Do something! Don’t just sit there — get up and live!