A Letter to Myself (To My College Self)

college-1

Impromptu college photo shoots were the best.

Dear college me,

Remember high school freshman orientation when your principal said, “These are the best four years of your life”? He was clearly wrong. The best four years of your life are your college years.

I speak from a place far, far away—I come from the future. Great Scott!

part high quality future great back

Go figure, I just had to throw in a Back to the Future reference.). But since future me has been in the “real world” for a few years now, I can say from experience that so far, the college years were some of the best years of my life.

Sure, I know right now you’re probably reading this while procrastinating on a paper you should be writing for Honors, or Spanish, or Creative Nonfiction…or maybe all three. Right now you’re probably panicking about how busy you are, how there never seems like there’s enough time in the day to get all these papers done. You wish that the coffee shop on campus was open 24 hours (and just an FYI: you will miss those delicious coffees more than you can even imagine).

I’m probably being a bad influence right now, but keep procrastinating for a little longer and let me school you with some knowledge. Just kidding. But I do want to fill you in on what I wish I would have known during college:

1. It’s okay to stress out. What you’re doing right now? It’s normal. You’re a college student. You are an Honors student. You’re double-majoring. You’re writing for the college newspaper. You have a lot on your mind, and that’s perfectly okay. Taking steps to reduce stress, as long as it’s healthy, is always a good idea. It’ll be a few years before you heed my advice, but let me just tell you now: Yoga does wonders. Honestly. You’ll thank me later.

2. Enjoy the adventures. Throughout your college years, you will have opportunities to travel to new places around the country, and for the first time, you’ll finally set foot outside the United States, traveling to Greece.

college-2

Ending college with a bang at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

Trust me: Right now, that will be the opportunity of a lifetime, and it will forever be one of the most beautiful places you’ve ever seen. Take it all in, take tons of photos, breathe, close your eyes, and appreciate the beauty of the world around you. You’ll remember these moments for years to come.

3. Life post-college is just as confusing/stressful/complicated/weird as college life is. No, even in your mid-20s, you still won’t have life “figured out.” Will we ever have it figured out? Who knows. But what I do know is that life will take you to places you never thought you’d end up (like New Jersey and New York City).

college-3

Sunset at the most beautiful beach in Ocean City, New Jersey.

college-4

Walking along the Brooklyn Bridge to catch the New York City Marathon.

Your life will probably always be unpredictable, but isn’t that what makes life thrilling?

4. As a millennial, you and millions of other college grads around the country will deal with paying back student loans. 20-somethings everywhere are in the same boat as you are, so you don’t need to feel alone. Even though the idea of student debt is daunting, places like Earnest exist to help students refinance your loans. They also help students understand finances better, which is obviously important for all of us. Adulting outside of college is tricky, but finding the right resources to help you will only help you out in the long run, so no worries.

5. There is no timeline for chasing after your dreams. You may compare yourself to others around you, and in case you were wondering, you’ll compare yourself even more once you’re out of college, unfortunately. Social media plays into it because we only post what we want others to see. You’ll see people living lives that you’re slightly jealous of. You’ll wonder what you’re doing wrong. The answer: Nothing. You’re walking along the path that’s right for you. You’re taking steps towards where you want to be physically, mentally, and emotionally. Just know that comparing yourself to others is natural, but the path you are on is uniquely yours.

6. You are capable. I know you, and I know that voice of insecurity. Even if you don’t believe me right now, just know that you are capable of success, in whichever way that may be. You are capable of finding peace. You are capable of finding day-to-day happiness. You are capable of finding security—security in your identity, in your present life, in your future. Just know that right now where I am in life, I am on that journey towards achieving all of those things. Yes, there will be dark times that you may feel you won’t emotionally survive. But somehow, you will. The journey only continues, and you will walk on.

7. It’s okay to love yourself. Your college years will be the most inspiring years of your life (at least they have been so far), so please take advantage of these years. Relish in those moments of confidence, inspiration, and self love. Loving yourself isn’t vain—loving yourself is crucial to living with yourself. After some rocky years post-college, I know that. I live that. So I just want you to love yourself and be proud of it.

I’m sure right now it’s nearly midnight, so you should probably get back to the papers you’re procrastinating on. I know you might be a little bundle of nerves, but honestly, I think that’s just a part of the college experience. To be honest, I’m slightly jealous of you. Life outside of college is another world entirely, and even though I don’t miss the stress of college, I miss the atmosphere. So breathe it in, write in one of those fancy journals until your hand cramps up, drink too much coffee, and always say yes to movie nights with your friends down the hall. You’ll never, ever regret it. Just know that I love you. I always have, and I always will.

Love,

Future Me

college-5

All we can do sometimes is laugh our way through life.

Dear Democrats

Dear Democratic partisans everywhere,

I’m gonna need you to take a seat. And to be quiet. For at least five minutes. Because America’s future depends on it. Yes, all you “rah-rah, stronger together, go go Hillary” Democrats who are enraged at the wrong people, sit down. Chill. I need to tell you something that may change your life, and I hope you’ll hear me out.

You are destroying the Democrats chances of winning ANY future elections.

Shhh, remember I asked for five minutes of silence? Please, hold your questions until the end.

shut up louis ck shh be quiet shhh

giphy.com

Blaming third party voters is destroying the Democratic Party.

Telling third party voters that they’re “exercising straight white privilege” (real quote…I’m not kidding) is destroying the Democratic Party.

Blaming Bernie supporters is destroying the Democratic Party.

Screaming about how anyone who voted for Trump is a racist, sexist, xenophobic, misogynistic asshole is destroying the Democratic Party.

Seriously. I’m not kidding, and I’m not exaggerating.

Think about it. Let’s go back in time, shall we? Remember the primaries? You may have even supported Bernie back then (bless your heart). Maybe you supported Hillary from the start (that I have some issues with, but we’ll let that go for now).

Do you remember the CNN and MSNBC propaganda against Bernie? The hundreds of articles attacking Bernie from the New York Times, Washington Post, Think Progress, and Slate (and dozens more)? Even if you weren’t a Bernie supporter, come on, you knew the whole “pie in the sky, he’s crazy, he’s an evil old socialist” arguments were just a load of crap. Deep down, even if you let their lies wash over you back then, you know they were just that: lies.

Let’s go to the town hall with Rachel Maddow in April. Hillary is leading in the primaries, and it’s becoming evident that she may win the nomination. But the primaries aren’t over yet. Maddow asks Hillary what she’ll do to win over Bernie supporters during a general election. What was Hillary’s answer? “But I have more votes than him.” And a bunch of gloating.

giphy.com

She was visibly disgusted at the idea of earning the votes of Americans. (Side note: Watching this clip post-election is just amazing given the results).

How many Bernie supporters did she win over with that answer? My guess would be -3,000, roughly. As a Bernie supporter myself, that was the first time I knew, “I cannot vote for her. She literally just told me she will do NOTHING to win my vote.”

Now let’s recall the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia at the end of July. If you were watching CNN or any other mainstream outlet or reading a mainstream publication, you may not have heard much about the convention shenanigans.

“No TPP” chants were drowned out with “Hillary, Hillary” chants. Why didn’t the DNC want people chanting against the TPP? Could it be that their nominee had lobbied in favor of the TPP 45 times?

Videos surfaced of Bernie delegates’ seats at the convention being stolen from them. White noise machines were placed directly in the areas where Bernie delegates were seated. The media was pretending there was “unity” at the convention while Bernie supporters were protesting against Hillary Clinton. Bernie delegates were kicked out for having pro-Hillary signs, and other Bernie delegates’ signs were covered up with pro-Hillary signs. Bernie supporters constantly booed the mere mention of Hillary’s name (to be drowned out by “Hillary, Hillary” chants, as directed to do so by the DNC). So much for unity, right?

You may brush that off. “No big deal. Those supporters were just upset their candidate lost. Understandable.” Sure, that argument makes sense, and is pretty accurate. But if you don’t think the tension at the convention was a sign of things to come, then you just weren’t paying attention.

Throughout the general election, Hillary snubbed the progressive base. Her message was, “Look at the other guy! Don’t vote for him! Trump bad!” rather than explaining what she would do to help progressives (because she wasn’t going to do anything for progressives). She spent most of her time pointing at Trump and his faults rather than discussing what she would do in office. Why? Because she wouldn’t bring anything progressive to the White House.

Another sign she snubbed her base? Who was Hillary’s pick for Vice President? I’m sure you forgot already, because he’s that forgettable, but it was Tim Kaine. Since you forgot, obviously her pick was a mistake. Kaine was in favor of the TPP. Like Hillary, he was in the pocket of Wall Street donors. Also like Hillary, he was a dangerously conservative “Democrat.” When Hillary had the option of choosing someone progressive such as Elizabeth Warren, Hillary’s response was, “Nahhhhh, I’m cool. I don’t need a progressive VP. Come on over here, Tim!”

Part of a politician’s job is to win votes. Why do they campaign all over the state or the country, depending on what office they’re running for? They campaign to put their message out into the world in the hopes that people will hear it and support the message. Politicians campaign to win votes, and that’s the key idea here.

It’s not every day Americans’ job to vote. Voting is a right, not a job. It’s not American citizens’ job to support a candidate at all. Americans decide whether or not to support a particular politician based on what they hear and see. It’s not the citizen’s fault if they decide not to support the candidate. It’s the fault of the politician for not convincing the voter to support him/her.

I’m baffled when I hear people saying, “Anyone who didn’t vote has no right to complain,” and then five minutes later blame voter suppression laws pushed by Republicans as one of the main reasons Hillary lost. Don’t blame people who didn’t vote when many DID try to vote and were turned away by the very same voter suppression laws that you’re complaining about.

So after all of my ranting, do I think there is someone to blame for Hillary’s loss? Yes. And who do I blame? I blame…drum roll, please…Hillary Clinton! Shocker.

Think about it. We’ve had problems with people blaming the wrong factors for the Al Gore loss, but let’s look at the John Kerry loss to George W. Bush in 2004.

Did you blame third party voters or people who didn’t vote at all for Kerry’s loss? No. You most likely blamed John Kerry for not being a strong enough candidate.

The Al Gore loss was Gore’s fault. Yes, there were many factors that played into it, but the one to blame in an election loss, when it really comes down to it, is the candidate.

A myth has floated around for years that Ralph Nadar’s third party run cost Gore the election, and that myth has resurfaced this time around because history has repeated itself. Like in 2000, the Electoral College loser has won the popular vote. Yes, that sucks. But that’s not the point. Both in 2000 and in this election, more Democrats voted for the Republican candidate than voted third party. That’s a fact. 9% of Democrats voted for Donald Trump, and a whopping 11% of Democrats voted for George W. Bush in 2000. Even though more voters cast their ballots for third party candidates this election, Stein and Johnson, combined, received a little over roughly 4% of the vote.

So why aren’t Democratic loyalists yelling about Democrats who voted for the other guy? Because that doesn’t boost their egos. They need to find someone to blame, and it’s easier for them to blame those who voted for a more progressive candidate. It fits their narrative that third parties are evil and that Democrats are saints, no matter who the candidate is.

Even though I fully blame Hillary Clinton for losing, I do have someone else to blame for enabling her.

I blame the DNC.

I could go on and on about the faults of the DNC (but that’s for another blog post, because I could rant forever about that, obviously). But to be clear: It is a fact that the DNC and Hillary camp colluded with the media to attack Bernie and report propaganda, cheated by receiving debate questions early, and suppressed the vote during the primaries by fighting for closed primaries, fighting to keep independents out of the voting process, limiting the debate schedule, limiting polling places, and involving themselves in the primary voting schedule. If you think that the DNC is against voter suppression, you’re mistaken: They are only against it when it doesn’t benefit them. But when it does, they fight to suppress the vote just as much as Republicans do.

I blame the DNC for ignoring the thousands and thousands of people (many of them millennials) who showed up to Bernie rallies all over the country. The DNC attacked Bernie with inaccurate arguments like saying his ideas were “unrealistic.” The DNC concocted the idea of “Bernie Bros,” similar to Hillary’s failed attempt at fabricating “Obama Boys.” Who are “Bernie Bros” or “Obama Boys”? They are, according to pro-Hillary writers and team members, sexists who support Bernie or Obama over Hillary simply because they’re sexist.

To be clear: The reason people supported Bernie or Obama over Hillary was because they didn’t believe Hillary was a good candidate. Plain and simple. Were there the occasional Democratic voters who were sexist against her? Probably. But were there thousands, maybe millions of them? Hell no. Hell. To. The No. The millions of people who voted for Bernie over Hillary didn’t support Hillary because of her RECORD, not because of her gender.

Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq War, an illegal war against a country that didn’t attack us, which has killed thousands of people and will cost trillions of dollars.

Hillary Clinton voted for the Patriot Act. She voted to virtually erase the Fourth Amendment.

Hillary Clinton has been flip flopping on the issue of gay marriage for decades.

Hillary Clinton has promoted fracking all over the world. During a debate in March, when asked if she supports fracking, Hillary gave a convoluted, obnoxiously rehearsed, nonsensical (and, frankly, bullshit) answer which basically concluded to say that, yes, she would continue to support fracking so that she wouldn’t upset her donors. Bernie, on the other hand, famously said, “My answer is a lot shorter. No, I do not support fracking.” Short, simple, and without bullshit.

Hillary Clinton claimed she wanted a $12 national minimum wage before flipping to support Bernie’s $15 proposal.

Hillary Clinton has spoken quite negatively about universal health care and universal college (and progressive ideas in general).

And, probably most famously, Hillary has lobbied 45 times in favor of the TPP. Even though Donald Trump said it, it’s actually true that Hillary used to call it “the gold standard.” Because of Bernie, Hillary became more careful about her TPP-talk, but don’t kid yourself: She’s still in favor of the TPP.

Given all of these facts, calling anyone who supports Bernie over Hillary a sexist is, at this point, a complete joke. Note: sadly, while trying to find an article to cite about this fact, most of what I found were sloppy, pathetic articles about “Bernie Bros” and how sexist it was for Bernie to even run against a woman, courtesy of everyone from the Washington Post to Vox).

After this election, as progressives and Democrats, we are all hurting. We are all angry. We are all scared. We are vulnerable. And while dealing with these emotions, we all want to blame someone.

But if we blame the wrong factors, we will hurt the Democratic Party.

Blaming those who Hillary snubbed for not voting for her is missing the point. Hillary and the DNC spit in the faces of millions of progressives. What did they expect to happen? Why would millions of disenfranchised voters show up in droves to vote for someone who essentially said, “I will not fight for you, I will not support you, and I will simply expect you to bow down and vote for me”? The most Hillary did was concede to Bernie (not without kicking and screaming the entire way) on a couple of issues, like the $15 minimum wage and language to fight more strongly against climate change, for the Democratic platform.

Blaming American citizens who voted for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson or sitting out the election is not only an inaccurate argument: It’s also a waste of time, and it’s only hurting the party.

Why, you ask? Because you’re helping Trump in winning a second term.

Think about it: Do you think shaming millions of people who didn’t vote for Hillary will win them over into voting for a Democrat in 2020? Do you think writing whiny Facebook statuses saying “Third party voters have no right to complain!!!! #StrongerTogether #ImStillWithHer #ImWithHer #Hillary2020” is going to win over ANYONE who didn’t vote for Hillary?

No. You know what you’re doing? You’re doing the same shit Hillary did. You’re alienating progressives. You’re spitting in their faces. You’re ignoring the fact that Hillary lost the Electoral College to the most disliked candidate in election history. You’re ignoring the fact that before the election, Hillary Clinton was the No. 2 most disliked candidate in election history.

With the two most disliked presidential candidates being pinned up against each other, what did you expect to happen? You expected Hillary to win in a blowout? When she was down in the polls a week before the election? If you truly believed she would win in a landslide, then not only were you not paying attention to the election, but I’d venture to say you were asleep for about a year and a half. Yes, most of us assumed she would win, but no one who was paying attention thought it would, by any means, be a landslide.

If you continue to shame third party voters or people who didn’t vote, then you are just asking for Trump’s second term. Now is the time for the Democratic Party to become more progressive. Now is the time for voices like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Nina Turner, Tulsi Gabbard, and Keith Ellison (who was laughed at for saying that Trump should be taken seriously) to be the majority of the party, the voices that are the loudest. If the party continues to prop up corrupt, establishment candidates, then they are handing Trump a second term on a silver platter.

Now is the time to be joining together and learning from mistakes. We must work together to pick up the pieces. The Democratic Party is in shambles, but there is hope. And the hope is with the progressive voices.

All I ask is for everyone who wants someone to blame for this election disaster to stop blaming those who aren’t at fault. Stop blaming people who you need to be reaching out to in order to win future elections. Yes, we know who to blame. It’s those at the DNC for their cheating, corruption, and embarrassing miscalculations. But don’t forget: In the end, Hillary Clinton lost because of Hillary Clinton.

The Democratic Party needs to be the party of unity again. The party of progression. The party of the people. The every day American citizens. I’ve believed in this party my entire life. And I still believe in it. The party seems to have lost its way, but I believe it can be the party of the progressives once again.

Sincerely yours,

A progressive

A Lazy Girl’s Guide to Blogging

Whoops, I was taking selfies instead of blogging.

Whoops, I was taking selfies instead of blogging.

In my first three years of blogging, I have gone through epic blogging lulls of laziness. I have abandoned my poor blog for far too long, too many times. Sometimes I’m busy. Sometimes I’m brainstorming. Sometimes I’m just lazy. Let’s be real.

As a lazy girl (who has come up with plenty of excuses), I would like to present a guide to blogging for all the lazy girls out there:

1. Brainstorm tons of ideas, but don’t write them down. It’s like a game. The “Will I remember that brilliant idea in half an hour?” game. Guess what? You will lose basically 99.999% of the time. But it’s fun to test your memory skills.

Aw man, I forgot all my brilliant blog ideas! Oh well. Let's take another selfie.

Aw man, I forgot all my brilliant blog ideas! Oh well. Let’s take another selfie.

2. Watch YouTube videos for inspiration. Too many videos. Wait, it’s midnight? Aw man, I should go to bed. I’ll blog tomorrow.

Source: viralcrawler.com

Source: viralcrawler.com

By the way, here are some of my favorite blog channels to watch instead of blogging:

The Young Turks

Secular Talk

Jenna Marbles (classic, of course)

3. Why not tweet at one of your favorite YouTubers? Spent too much time crafting a witty tweet. Become too happy when said YouTuber favorites said tweet, and follows you on Twitter.

Can I just say I was pretty stoked when this happened?

Can I just say I was pretty stoked when this happened?

4. Thinking about writing a blog post? Why not take a walk instead? It will not only help with brainstorming, but you will also forget all your ideas along your walk, and you’ll forget your plans to blog anyway.

No makeup? No problem!

No makeup? No problem!

5. Make yourself busy. Friends, work, school, and other activities are obviously time-consuming. Blogging is just something else to do. Don’t worry, you’ll get back to it. Eventually.

Source: pinterest.com Basically my logic.

Source: pinterest.com
Basically my logic.

6. Spread the word that you’re making a comeback. Tweet it, Instagram it, Facebook it, tell your friends.

Source: youtube.com

Source: youtube.com

7. Now you have to stick to your word. No more procrastinating.

Source: elitefitnessmentoring.com

Source: elitefitnessmentoring.com

8. Drink coffee. Lots of coffee. Don’t like coffee? Yes you do. No, you do. You like coffee.

Source: dreamatico.com Coffee makes my life just a little brighter.

Source: dreamatico.com
Coffee makes my life just a little brighter.

9. Write like you’ve never written before. You’ve got this. When in doubt, include more pictures. People like pictures.

Source: blogs.montclair.edu

Source: blogs.montclair.edu

10. Refer back to this list the next time you’re going through the cycle of laziness. You’re not alone. Trust me.

In the meantime, hit up a baseball game or two.

In the meantime, hit up a baseball game or two.

Someday (Letter Three)

Someday, this will be a memory. Someday you'll be okay.

Someday, this will be just a memory. Someday, you’ll be okay.

This is my third letter to myself. I know, I write letters to myself a lot. But writing in itself is cathartic, and this letter-writing technique has proven to be just what I needed.

Letter One

Letter Two

———————————————————————————————————

Dear Me,

Maybe one day I’ll stop writing you letters.  Right now, I haven’t yet said enough. It’s crucial to communicate with you.

Today is one of those beautiful “good” days. Your thoughts are clear, and you feel in control.

I cannot, however, explain why your negative thoughts surrounded you a couple of days ago. They swarmed like bees, stinging you again and again. They made their way into your mouth, down your throat, and suffocated you. You collapsed, succumbing to these thoughts instead of controlling them. That day, your negativity controlled you.

At this point in time, I still cannot pinpoint what causes these turbulent meltdowns. Thankfully, they are rare. The clear days seem to outweigh the ones clouded with questions, judgments, and labels.

That most recent dark day was darker than usual. The negative thoughts surrounded and stung so quickly, it made more sense to stay still, hoping they’d just move on. Swatting them away would only make them more aggressive. But on this particular day, they were relentless. You had no defense to guard yourself from the attack.

No matter how painful those thoughts stung, and no matter how unexpected it was, one thing is certain:

You made it. You made it to a day in which you feel in control. Do you know what that means?

It means that someday, you’ll be in control. Someday, your realistic thoughts will outweigh the negatives. Someday, these thoughts that drive you to a meltdown will no longer matter. They won’t sting. They will roll away to the back of your mind, and slowly fade.

For now, you are stronger than I ever thought you would be. You have been fighting against those negative thoughts with all of your being. Instead of surrendering to the questions, obsessions, the insecurities, you are challenging them all. This is a strength you didn’t possess four years ago.

This strength takes work. Every day. You work every day to treat yourself with respect. To be realistic. You know that the dark days don’t happen often anymore, but they aren’t over for good.

That’s okay. I mean it.

Acceptance is the most difficult part of moving on. I don’t mean acceptance of the situation. That may never happen. It’s my belief that while you can acknowledge what happened to your relationship (an arson set fire to it), you may never “accept” it. Maybe you will. That remains to be seen.

What I mean by acceptance is your acceptance of your mistakes and emotions. I want you to accept your occasional meltdowns. The bad days. The missteps. They happen. I want you to accept that just like perfection doesn’t exist anywhere in the world, you aren’t perfect, either. Expecting perfection from yourself is setting yourself up for disappointment.

I also ask that you strive to be patient. You are coping in a healthy way this time around, but please don’t beat yourself up on the dark days. Accept them as a part of the process, and know that these days will become significantly fewer in time.

Trust me, it’s okay.

I want you to accept yourself because someday, you will be okay.

Someday, none of those negative thoughts will even be thoughts anymore.

Someday, you won’t have meltdowns over this. They will be memories that shaped you.

Someday, you will be apathetic about this time period of your life. You will no longer hate him, or her, or yourself. You will understand that this was just a part of your life, but you won’t be angry forever about this.

Someday, you won’t blame yourself. For now, please, even on your darkest days, STOP.

No matter how confused you are, no matter what dark corners of your mind those negative thoughts drive you to, just know that it never was your fault. You couldn’t have done anything to prevent it, you aren’t the one who caused him to hurt you, and you did not deserve it. Please, no more “Why me” or “What’s wrong with me” or “What did I do.”

“Why me?” It could have happened to anyone. Honestly, it’s just a shitty reality in life.

“What’s wrong with me?” Nothing. At least, speaking in the terms of this situation, nothing. Do you have flaws? Yes. Does everyone have flaws? Yes. Did your flaws drive him to sleep with someone else behind your back? No. Hell-to-the-no.

“What did I do?” Nothing. In terms of what I know you mean, you did nothing to deserve someone to lie to you and betray the relationship you thought you had.

Every thought you have should help you, not hurt you. Obsessing hurts, anger hurts, insecurity hurts, negative self-talk hurts. While I know that it feels impossible on the dark days, but you have to just stamp out these behaviors. There’s no other way around it. I will not allow you to accept these behaviors, because they cause you pain.

Ask yourself, “Is this helping or hurting me?” If it’s an obsession, angry or negative thought, or an insecurity, it will automatically be hurting you. In these times, it’s crucial to pull away and distract your mind.

Just know that I love you, I’m proud of you, and you are amazing for your strength right now. You have progressed so much, and you are coping with this better than I ever could have imagined.

You’ll be okay someday.

Love,

Me

Who cares about beauty? (Advertisers make girls feel ugly)

Source: lisapetrilli.com Are girls vain just because they feel pretty?

Source: lisapetrilli.com
Are girls vain just because they feel pretty?

I wrote a post a while ago about beauty and why I think society’s obsession with women achieving unrealistic standards of beauty is dangerous. This topic is fascinating to me, and I’ve realized that I could write more posts about the topic of beauty. It’s complex, subjective, and broad. Since I can’t write just one blog post on the topic of beauty, I’ve decided to break the topic into a series of blog posts.

I’ve created a new category on my blog, called Who Cares About Beauty. I’ll be covering topics that I’m interested in at the moment. The topic for this post was inspired by blogger Grace Curly and her post Pretty.

For this post, I wanted to focus on the problem with beauty in advertising.

Grace Curly’s post got me thinking: “Why are women told to be pretty by advertisers who make us feel ugly?”

First of all, let’s find a working definition for the rest of this post. According to dictionary.com‘s first definition, pretty means:

“Pleasing or attractive to the eye, as by delicacy or gracefulness.”

Throughout this post, I’m referring to this definition of pretty. I’m also mainly referring to America’s definitions of beauty, because beauty is subjective according to country we are studying.

After reading Grace Curly’s post, I realized that in our society, pretty girls hear mixed messages. Women in general are told by the media that we should be striving to be pretty, but advertisements widely highlight women’s “flaws” in hopes that women will buy their products to fix these “flaws.”

Source: galleryhip.com Problem with this ad: Perfection is unachievable. It sets us up for failure.

Source: galleryhip.com
Problem with this ad: Perfection is unachievable. It sets us up for failure.

However, what happens when a woman truly feels that she’s pretty?

Source: pinterest.com Women are called "vain" if they seem confident in their looks.

Source: pinterest.com
Women are called “vain” if they seem confident in their looks.

Mean Girls is the perfect example that highlights women verbalizing their insecurities and shaming girls who display confidence and contentment in their looks. I’ve noticed that even in real life, it’s become the norm for girls to tear themselves down, and girls do this in daily conversations with one another:

Source: buzzfeed.com Oh you know, just girl bonding time.

Source: buzzfeed.com
Oh you know, just girl bonding time.

In my opinion, discussing my insecurities in depth with friends is a waste of time. Sure, it’s healthy to admit to others that we’re not perfect (no one is), but what’s the point of complaining about what we dislike in ourselves? It solves nothing. We can’t change most of our features unless we go to drastic measures like plastic surgery, so why bother complaining?

Where did this vocal self-hatred in women even come from?

My belief? Advertising.

Think about it: Advertisers want to sell products. Companies want consumers to feel like they “lack” something because this will tell the consumers to go out and buy the product to “give” them something they don’t have. All companies use this technique.

With clothing, makeup, and other advertisements with women as the target audience, this technique is taken to a dangerous level. Women are told that they “lack” pretty hair, and so they need this shampoo:

Source: pixshark.com

Source: pixshark.com

Or that they need to buy all sorts of makeup to hide their “flaws”:

Source: nola.com

Source: nola.com

With advertisers everywhere telling women that they are not good enough and that they need their products in order to improve their looks, they are setting them up to feel insecure.

Keeping that in mind, it makes sense that women are labeled “vain” if they feel pretty. But is that fair?

Source: mrmen.wikia.com

Source: mrmen.wikia.com

First of all, what is the definition of “vain”? According to dictionary.com‘s definition, the term means:

“Excessively proud of or concerned about one’s own appearance, qualities, achievements, etc.; conceited.”

While having an obsession with one’s appearance is unhealthy, and it’s frustrating to deal with a person who’s conceited, I believe that pretty girls are labeled “vain” not because they are actually showing signs of vanity, but simply because they are pretty.

Advertisers try to keep women feeling insecure because that is the way they are able to gain consumers. If all women were completely secure with themselves, they may not need the advertisers’ products to the excess that they buy them now.

Today, advertisers seem to have picked up on the fact that their tactics are often unhealthy and cause negative thoughts for some consumers. Some companies, like Dove, for example, have begun to use more positive messages in their ads.

Source: chippersengl.wordpress.com

Source: chippersengl.wordpress.com

Advertisers are finally starting to come around to the idea that women cannot all look the same. But more companies need to begin promoting more positive messages like this. Women are still widely being told by society that they are not “enough,” and so women are still made to believe that if they feel pretty, they are “vain.”

Source: southlemon.com

Source: southlemon.com

I believe that not only do advertisers have to continue to promote healthy self-esteem in women, but women also have to start becoming allies. Not just with each other, but with ourselves. Tearing ourselves down with negativity does nothing but make us feel worse. Why not celebrate what we love about ourselves? I believe that does a lot more good for ourselves, and for other women in the world.

We are enough. You are enough. Who cares what advertisers say? You should feel pretty without being ashamed of it. We are all pretty, and we shouldn’t listen to those who tell us otherwise.

Why do we let our dreams bother us?

Source: barbwire.com

Source: barbwire.com

My friend The Modern Philosopher recently wrote about an unpleasant dream he had involving his ex-wife, who he doesn’t normally think about in his waking life. This post got me thinking about the dreams I’ve been having recently.

Why do we let our dreams bother us?

Over the past couple of weeks, no matter how positive my thoughts are during the day, and no matter how distracted I am from my breakup with my cheating ex, he still makes an appearance in my dreams.

I don’t know about you guys, but when I wake from a dream involving someone I am trying to pretend never existed, it can start my day off on the wrong foot. Waking up and falling asleep are the times when I have to work the hardest to control and challenge my negative thoughts. Having dreams that cause negative thoughts don’t help me.

While some psychologists believe that dreams are only random neuron firings and don’t actually hold any true meaning, I disagree. If our dreams are random images that our brain puts together, I don’t believe that this theory explains recurring dreams, nightmares, or having dreams about our exes. I have always believed that my dreams mean something.

Source: themarkeworld.com

Source: themarkeworld.com

Keeping this in mind, my dreams can have an impact on my thoughts when I wake up in the morning. I am learning how to breathe after all, and waking up from dreams of my ex makes it harder for me to think realistically. The dreams send my brain on a whirlwind of blurry, negative thoughts that only make me angry over situations out of my control.

Here are the dreams that have recently been causing me the most stress:

1. My ex emailed me to say that he had been secretly sleeping with two other girls, not just one. In the dream, I knew who the second girl was (I’m not sure of her identity in real life), and she lived in my town. I went to find her and asked her, “Are you sleeping with Bobby?” She said she was, and I gave her the heads up that he was also sleeping with another girl (the real Other Woman, Lacy). The girl told me she was done with him, and we both agreed that he was a jerk.

Even though this dream felt like I was seeking revenge for what he did, and I was gaining allies in the dream, I still woke up feeling angry and depressed.

2. My ex and I emailed each other civilly, giving updates on our lives. We were becoming “friends.”

I woke up and realized that the dream was unrealistic. I’ve never been able to be friends with my exes, and I feel the same way with my most recent breakup. I believe that I could only be friends with an ex if we parted on relatively “good” terms, with a minimal amount of bitterness or hurt feelings.

3. I learned intimate details about my ex and Lacy. I searched through social media and they were open about their relationship. Bobby and Lacy seemed like a happy couple.

This dream is fuzzy, but there may have been instances in the dream in which I reached out to Lacy and she gave me details about her new relationship with Bobby. All I know is that the dream involved answers to many of the burning questions that eat at me in my waking life.

Dreams are not real.

Source: dreamanity.com

Source: dreamanity.com

So why do they bother me so much?

My theory is that my dreams are the thoughts I suppress during the day. While I know that the details of Bobby’s relationship with Lacy don’t matter because we are broken up and our relationship was no longer healthy, the thoughts of her still bother me. I’m currently trying to challenge these thoughts and make them more realistic ones, but these dreams make the task more difficult.

My dreams are situations that scare me. They are what happens when my anxious mind runs away with me. These dreams are the result of losing control of my negative thoughts. When I’m awake, I have an easier time controlling my negative thoughts. I’m aware of them, at least. When I’m sleeping, the imaginary situations play over and over. My worst fears are real life in my dreams.

Since I’m still learning how to breathe, I’ve realized that the times it’s most crucial is when I wake up from disturbing dreams. I just need to learn how to start off my day with realistic thoughts instead of obsessing over dreams that trigger negativity.

I’m focusing my energy on challenging every negative thought I have and turning it into a realistic one. I’m hopeful that as I practice this, my dreams will also become less negative.

Honestly, I forgot how painful dreams can be during the breakup process. Dreams are my hopes, wishes, and repressed thoughts from my waking life. Seeing exes in my dreams recalls all the thoughts I’ve been trying to forget.

While time doesn’t erase memories, it can dull the pain. Over time, dreams change as my thoughts change. Someday, my dreams will no longer be about him, or at least not quite as often. The process may be slow, but I’m proud of the progress I have made. I have come so far from the dark hole I was in a couple months ago, when the events were fresh. Now, I’m looking at the situation with a more realistic perspective.

Dreams 4

Source: iama.be

As long as I keep moving away from my past and into a healthier future, I am going to focus on not letting my dreams drag me further down. I’m going to keep working to build myself up, because I know I deserve it.

Too much information: Is blogging our lives “over-sharing”?

Source: huffingtonpost.com

Source: huffingtonpost.com

My blog started off, in its earliest stages, as a place to post my poetry. As it continued to evolve, I tried new techniques. I wrote about current events, music, and movies. However, I left most of my true emotions out. My blog was positive, void of my personal feelings, thoughts, and experiences. I wrote what I thought people wanted to read.

Somewhere along the way, my blog became a safe place. A place for me to vent, to be honest, and to receive feedback from people who not only understood where I was coming from, but appreciated and related to what I wrote.

I felt less alone, and proud of my writing. Proud of my honesty. Proud that my blog was more bold than when I published that first post. My posts are real because I’m going through what I blog about currently. When I feel something, I blog it. I write it in the way I want. My blog has now become more personal than it’s ever been.

But is that bad? Are there topics that should be “off-limits”? Where do we draw the line?

Is my blog full of sunshine, rainbows, and roses? Not all the time. Is that bad? I don’t think so.

Am I satisfied with my writing when I publish my blog posts? Absolutely. I wouldn’t post them if I wasn’t.

I have read other bloggers who’ve written posts about past relationships, and I commend them for being honest and venting their true feelings. It’s my belief that writing is therapy. WordPress is a community, and I have gained so much happiness from voicing my thoughts to the blogging community and receiving support in return.

Is there such a thing as over-sharing? Probably. To me, I believe that over-sharing is when someone divulges too much information in an unnecessary way. But for me, if the information is shared in more artistic or creative ways, it’s not necessarily over-sharing.

I believe that blogging is a place to write about personal matters creatively. We can tell our stories, sharing as many details as we want, and gain feedback from others.

I’ve read beautifully-written blog posts, and many of them stand out in my mind because they were honest. Personal. These bloggers told their stories without holding back. Without fear. They were not ashamed of what they went through, and it made the writing that much easier to relate to.

Is that over-sharing? In my opinion, no.

Blogging has become one of my forms of therapy. I have gotten positive feedback from my more personal posts, and it gave me the confidence to be honest. To write about things on my mind. To express problems in our society. To write about topics that aren’t sunshine, rainbows, and roses. Breakups, for example.

Should these topics be off-limits? Should I feel free to write about breakups, counseling, politics, and feminism? Or are these topics “too much information”?

I believe that as writers, we should be free to express ourselves in a way that’s comfortable for us. If I feel comfortable sharing details of a breakup and actively want to blog about it, I should feel free to do so.

For me, sharing some details of my experiences has helped me to cope with those situations. If I felt that I was “over-sharing,” I wouldn’t have published those posts. Why should I be ashamed with what happened to me? I don’t think I should be. I’m writing posts because I feel inspired to write. That’s it. As a writer, it’s as simple as that. I don’t believe in stifling my creativity, censoring it, or “toning it down.” That defeats the purpose of blogging; at least for me, it would.

I believe that every blogger is different. We all have our comfort zones, our go-to blogging topics, our life stories. If we censored our writing, sticking to limited, approved topics that are “safe” from judgement, wouldn’t have stifle our growth as writers? Where is the fun in only writing within the confines of what’s safe, and probably boring?

WordPress is a diverse world. There are bloggers for just about every topic. If we all censored ourselves, we wouldn’t have the diversity that we do. As long as we’re comfortable with what we’re blogging, that’s what matters. I don’t write for other people, and I never have. I write for myself first, and if others read it, then that gives me more feedback and inspiration for blog posts I write in the future.

But I’m the only person I’m writing for.

Source: nikki-blevins.blogspot.com

Source: nikki-blevins.blogspot.com

Learning to breathe: Harder than I thought

After a few weeks of learning how to breathe, I’ve realized it’s harder than I thought it would be.

When I started going to counseling, I was on a roll. Journaling, deep breathing and visualizations, yoga, daily positives, and other relaxing activities worked for me.

attackattackoh.com

attackattackoh.com

I learned about the thought process, how to recognize thought distortions (negative thoughts), and I’m currently in the process of challenging those negative thoughts. This involves debating with myself either on paper or in my head to help turn those thoughts into more realistic ones.

Since I started counseling, I am aware that situations themselves don’t cause my negative feelings; it’s the thoughts I have in reaction to those situations. However, a situation recently arose that gave me negative thoughts. I forgot how to breathe.

What situation caused my negative thoughts? My ex (*Bobby, the one who inspired many a blog post, and some of the back-story can be found here) sent me an email on Sunday. Here is what he wrote:

“Hi Becky,

Sorry I did not respond to your email last month. I know I’ve hurt you and I am so sorry. I haven’t been a very good person for a while and I deserve what I got.

Anyway I hope you are doing okay, thinking of you,

-Bobby”

Yes, I had sent him an email. On Valentine’s Day to be exact.

Source: imgflip.com

Source: imgflip.com

Why, you ask? I had gone on a double date that night. With the breakup (and anger) still fresh in my mind, and since it was before counseling (where I learned how to cope), I was overwhelmed.

The date was fun, don’t get me wrong. But that First Date after a breakup when I know I’m going on a date too soon always leaves me looking like this (after the date of course):

Source: becuo.com

Source: becuo.com

Going on a Valentine’s Day date, while fun, wasn’t the best decision for my emotional state at the time. If I had already been learning to breathe, I could have maybe had more will power to stop myself. But I couldn’t. I was irrationally angry. I sent an email to Bobby:

“I wish you had told me you didn’t love me.”

That was all I wrote. I’m not quite sure what I meant by it. It’s a possibility I meant that I wish he’d been honest, because in my mind, cheating does not equal love.

After my poor decision to email Bobby, he sent no reply. I was okay with that (honestly). I began counseling shortly after, and I dived right into the process of coping and relieving my anxiety. My negative thoughts no longer tormented me as often.

Until Bobby’s email on Sunday. When I read it, I was shaking. I couldn’t believe he had the nerve to write back as if he was so emotionally removed from the situation. As if he was being the bigger person and “checking in” to see that I was okay.

I didn’t reply. I found ways to distract my thinking, and for a while, it worked.

quickmeme.com

quickmeme.com

However, that was short-lived. Oops.

On Wednesday, after a night out with friends, my negative thoughts got the best of me. I forgot how to breathe. I forgot how to push the thoughts aside. I sent Bobby a reply.

Source: goodreads.com

Source: goodreads.com

Sure, it would have been preferable to continue ignoring his email. But since I decided to reply, I could at least be civil, right?

Source: memeaddicts.com

Source: memeaddicts.com

My reply was, to put it lightly, harsh and to-the-point:

“I don’t know how you sleep at night. Guess there’s always that one person who has no morals and he doesn’t care about anything but his dick.

Good thing I avoided wasting one more second on a diseased pig.”

Source: galleryhip.com

Source: galleryhip.com

Not my proudest moment in life.

What have I learned from all of this, besides not to send angry emails?

I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that it’s okay to be angry. However, I’ve finally (FINALLY, I think) realized that acting on my thoughts and feelings will not help me. So far, acting on my negative thoughts and emotions has only hurt me more. When I sent Bobby that email, it did nothing to relieve my anger. It only made me angrier, irrationally so.

Learning to breathe is a slow process. Making relaxation and realistic thoughts a habit takes time. Sometimes I’ve grown impatient, hoping that I could snap my fingers and be “over it.” But that’s not how breakups work. It takes work to cope with the process in a healthy way. I’ve had some bumps along the way. I’ve made poor decisions because I reverted back to my ways of acting on my negative thoughts. In the future, I have to learn to take a step back. I have to breathe.

*Name has been changed 

Tell me what you’re running from

Source: momentumrunningco.com

Source: momentumrunningco.com

When I wrote this post called The deer and the hunter, I had a completely different idea in mind at first. I started off writing about running. Somehow it ran in a different direction (see what I did there?). Here is where my idea started.

——————————————————————————————————————

Sometimes when I’m running, I feel like I’m in a chase scene out of a movie. I’m escaping something behind me, and I’m too anxious to look over my shoulder.

Lately, Ellie Goulding, Florence Welch, and my new favorite artist, Charlotte OC, have all asked me what I’m running from.

I finally realized that I haven’t stopped running. I’m not safe yet. Danger still lurks behind. I’m racing as far as I can.

But what am (or who) am I running from?

First, the whats:

I’m running, first and foremost, from my anxiety. For months, I was a mess. Day to day was a battle. I was a prisoner of war and I’ve escaped.

I’m running from my new-found insecurities that stemmed from a boyfriend wanting someone else.

I’m running from my questions. The “what have I dones” and “who is she” and “why did this happen to me” and “how could you.”

I’m running from my body. Sometimes I want to run right out of my flesh and find a body I’m satisfied with. How many miles would that take?

I’m running from my devils. The thought disorders that gnaw at my brain. Thoughts that aren’t based on reality, but in my times of weakness, they become my reality.

Now, the whos:

I’m running from him. Not the him I met three years ago. Not the him who told me what I craved at the time. Not the him that I loved (even though I hate admitting it now).

I’m running from the him who looked me in the eyes and lied. The him who falsely proclaimed his love for selfish gain. The him who already found someone else. The him who became another mistake. Another regret. Another battle. Another “you’ll find someone better” or “we didn’t like him anyway” or “it’s karma that she gave him chlamydia.” Despite the truth in all those statements, it hasn’t stopped me from running.

I’m running from her. A girl I do not know, never will know, yet dangerously obsessed over before I ran further. A girl who may or may not have known who I was. A girl who I judged and labeled. A girl who he wanted more than me. A girl who he wanted despite the disease she infected him with. It was clear that she had something he couldn’t escape, because he didn’t let his STD stop him from running to her when he needed a fix.

Most of all, I’m running from myself. I’m running from the realization that none of it matters. I’m running to shield myself from the question, “But why do these thoughts upset me?” I’m running because I’m not okay yet, and I’m impatient. I’m counting down to the day that I think of me, and no one else. I’m running to pretend I’m not wounded anymore. The bandages are still wrapped around my arms, but I haven’t taken them off yet. I don’t know if the bleeding’s stopped.

Once I do remove those bandages, once the bleeding has stopped, the scars will be there. I’ll carry them with me for the rest of my life, like everything else that has shaped who I currently am as I run on the concrete. I don’t think much of the scars I’ve accumulated over the course of my 25 years. They’re a part of me. I can do nothing to erase them. I’m not airbrushed or tanned, and I don’t cover them up anymore. I’m learning that it’s okay I’m not perfect, and that I never have been.

These new wounds will be the same someday. They’ll be obvious when the scars are healing. Everyone will be able to see them. Yet I don’t want to cover them up. I don’t want to hide anymore. I know that there are other girls who’ve been through this, and it’s an insult to myself to pretend I haven’t been wounded. It’s a disservice to myself to strive for perfection because it doesn’t exist.

The wounds will join the rest of my scars as memories that have proven I’m not weak. If I were weak, I would have hidden. I wouldn’t have accumulated more scars because I would have been too weak to put myself in the battlegrounds again. But I ran back in every time. The hope meekly overcame the doubts, the aching wounds, the tears, the black hole of negativity.

I have learned recently that I have control. I’m not weak. I can control the “what have I dones” and the “why did this happen” and the “I’m not good enough.” None of those thoughts have any realistic basis, and I’m gaining control of it now. For the first time in my life, I’m in control.

For now, I’m still running. But I’m in control of how long. I can stop when I want to. I will remove the bandages when I feel that the wounds have scarred and it’s safe. I’m safe running by myself.

Lily Allen: Humor Done Right

True Life: I’m obsessed with Lily Allen.

Seriously, she is so cool. Lily Allen’s music is ironic, witty, and hilarious. In conclusion, to me she’s a talented satirical songwriter.

I’m so obsessed with Lily Allen that her song “Hard Out Here” inspired my post 15 Reasons why it’s hard out here for a b*tch.

In my last post, I critiqued Thought Catalog author Nicole Mullen’s article “Can We Please Stop Pretending Like We Don’t All Have Racist Songs We Sing In Private?” for its racist themes. After some discussion of the piece, I realized that the author had tagged her article as “humor.”

Source: memegenerator.net

Source: memegenerator.net

That was news to me. See, the key with humor is that it has to be funny. When I read Mullen’s article, I believe she left out the funny. Maybe she tagged it in the category by mistake?

I would advise Mullen in the future to pay attention to someone like Lily Allen and take note. Satire is not easy, which is why I rarely write it. I’d rather accidentally be funny than try it and fail miserably.

Satire is written with absurdity. That’s why a satirical news website like The Onion is so successful.

Lilly Allen’s “Hard Out Here” works because it’s outrageous and in-your-face with its vulgarity. The song discusses the dangerous ways women are still viewed in society today. While the themes are deep and serious, her humor drives the point home that “it’s hard out here for a bitch.”

Allen’s vulgarity works because it’s ironic. She uses derogatory language to illustrate the negative ways in which women are often discussed in the media.

Her lyrics addressing the unhealthy and narrow expectations women face are humorous in the fact that they’re truthful despite the absurdity:

“If you’re not a size six, then you’re not good looking
Well, you better be rich, or be real good at cooking
You should probably lose some weight ’cause we can’t see your bones
You should probably fix your face or you’ll end up on your own.”

While sexism isn’t funny (it’s actually a bunch of BS, to be honest), Allen approached the topic with satire, and that allows for a different perspective and a new way for society to have dialogue about feminism and its importance today.

Could Mullen have taken a similar approach and possibly written a funny article? Maybe. But her attempt was lackluster in my opinion. I had no idea she was attempting satire. I simply thought it was some nut who truly believed that free speech is for racist rants.

I don’t think that we should limit ourselves with the topics we write about. Anyone can write something controversial if he or she wants to. Writing is a world in which we can explore and dig deep. It’s a way of understanding the world we live in.

However, when tackling hot button issues and current events that touch a nerve with people, a writer should show tact and have the right intentions before publishing a piece. Mullen seemed to fail in this regard. I believe that her attempt at a satirical piece was insensitive because her intentions were not clear. While she may have been attempting to make light of the racist chant scandal with the fraternity members in Oklahoma, it appeared to me as a racist intent. If I didn’t know she was writing satire, then I’m sure there were others who didn’t know, either.

This is the main problem I have with the articles Thought Catalog has been publishing as of late. It seems to have become a free-for-all and that the work is a bit sloppy. The articles published are not only questionable in quality, but also worrisome with their intent. While I used to see Thought Catalog as a website that had more upbeat articles, now it’s become a mash-up of unpredictable content with no consistency.

So, to Nicole Mullen, if you ever discover this post:

Source: memecrunch.com

Source: memecrunch.com