Why do I anthropomorphize my problems?

In one of my recent blog posts, I wrote about my demons. A couple comments acknowledged that I, like now, am preferring the word “demon” rather than speaking what is currently unnamed. And continuing to do so.

Why anthropomorphize my problems?

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I have my reasons.

  1. These blog posts are my selfish way of venting creatively while also keeping details, for the most part, a mystery.
  1. Labeling my problems “demons” keeps my problems vague enough that I believe readers with various experiences could (hopefully/potentially) relate, since I’m not specifying what my problems are.
  1. While a comment mentioned that the word “demons” was not always used to connote negative entities, in my blog post and according to our most current usages of the word, “demons” are negative entities usually out to destroy anything good in the world, and are the mystical, Biblical depiction of evil. For me and the problems I have, this depiction couldn’t be more fitting. Thus, I ran with it (and from the demons). See, there I go again.

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So those are my main reasons for why I chose to anthropomorphize my problems as “demons,” because it was a conscious decision I thought through before even writing the post. However, one comment addressed a point that I can’t argue with:

“Hmmm… I have to say that I don’t think anthropomorphising your problems is going to help. They’re not demons (demons are just mythical creatures) they’re bad things that happened.”

And to that I say, you’re exactly right.

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Does calling my problems “demons” help? No.

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Could it potentially make the problem worse? Oh, most definitely.

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And that’s the whole point.

In my blog post, I describe that I’m running from my problems (“demons”). Since I’m calling them “demons” and not by their name, and I’m running from them, at this point I haven’t faced them yet. Am I helping myself by continuing to not face my demons and continue to refer to them as “demons”? Not at all. Which is part of my problem.

If anyone can relate to having a problem needing to be addressed and worked through, many of us may encounter a feeling of denial or refusal in wanting to address the problem. Addressing there is a problem is sometimes just as difficult as living with the problem. Addressing the problem means you have to fight to fix the problem. Change is never easy, especially if your problem involves habits or negative thought patterns you’ve been engaged with for months, years, or decades. As they say, “Old habits die hard,” and if that phrase wasn’t written for me, then…no, it was written for me, actually. Google it.

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I don’t think referring to my problems as “demons” does me any good in the end, that is, essentially, the point. I haven’t yet conquered my problems (“demons”), so I’m not at the stage to speak their names.

I’m running, and hopefully I’ll stop dead in my tracks soon, turn around, and face these demons. And for now, I’m still calling them “demons.”

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Demi Lovato: Why her story is important

Photo credit: YouTube.com

Pop singer Demi Lovato’s documentary Simply Complicated was released on YouTube on October 17th. While she’s been open about her drug and alcohol addictions and eating disorder in the past, this doc provides a more detailed timeline of Demi’s journey from addiction to recovery to relapse and back to recovery once more.

Photo credit: Directlyrics.com

This documentary is unapologetic, raw, and in-your-face. It has some eerie similarities to director Asif Kapadia’s brilliant 2016 Best Documentary Feature, Amy, which documents the life and tragic death of British singer Amy Winehouse.

Ironically, in Simply Complicated, Demi references Winehouse as someone she idolized growing up. In a journey back to Demi’s house, she shows a poster she’d made as a child that she kept in her closet, plastered with photos of celebrities she wanted to look like. There, among the models and skinny celebrities, was Winehouse, most likely in the depths of drug and alcohol addiction and bulimia, which she was mocked for in the media until the day she died.

Photo credit: Pinterest.com

The difference with this doc? Well, to put it bluntly, the addiction sufferer survived. In Simply Complicated, Demi acknowledges that while she is clean from drugs and alcohol, she does still struggle with eating disorder behaviors, and that it will be something she most likely will struggle with for the rest of her life. However, even though she may have her setbacks, this documentary has a completely different outcome and tone than Amy did, mainly because Demi is speaking from a place of recovery while Winehouse is no longer here to tell her story because her addictions killed her.

Demi has not only been vocal for years about her struggles with addiction, mental illness, and recovery. She also has stated her awareness of the life-and-death nature of these addictions. But her story has not ended the way Amy’s did. Demi has come away from her addictions through recovery and publicly advocating for mental illness treatment, awareness, and erasing the stigma behind it.

Photo credit: Vulture.com

Whether you’re a fan of her music or not, whether you even know who Demi is or not, her story matters. This documentary matters. Why?

It matters because Demi is sharing her struggles with mental illness in a world where mental illness is still stigmatized.

It matters because roughly half of those struggling with mental illness are not currently receiving treatment

It matters because while eating disorders (specifically anorexia) are the most lethal of all psychiatric illnesses, there is a severe lack of funding allocated to research.

It matters because celebrities are viewed as being “immune” to mental illness and shamed for suffering, seeking treatment, or dying by suicide. 

Example of mental illness stigma perpetuated on Facebook.

If you look at any article or social media post with news of a celebrity dying by suicide or opening up about his/her mental illness struggles, you will find a heaping pile of comments perpetuating myths surrounding basic psychology. Some classic myths or statements of victim-blaming represented in comment threads include:

“You’re rich, so you have nothing to be depressed about!”

“You’re rich, so you can afford treatment!”

Victim-blaming in action.

“You’re doing this for attention because no one cares about you anymore!”

“There are poor people in the world who have REAL problems!”

A meme attempting to crack jokes about mental illness and perpetuate the stigma. Classy. Photo credit: Instagram.com.

“So selfish to leave your family all alone!”

Victim blaming seems quite popular on social media.

Or, the ever popular favorite:

“Mental illness doesn’t even EXIST. Just smile and get over it!”

Someone attempting to “spread the message of veganism” by stating that mental illness doesn’t exist and shaming sufferers. Makes perfect sense. Photo credit: Instagram.com.

Demi is viewed by many as a hero. Why? Because she speaks out in a world that either misunderstands, demonizes, or attempts to silence those suffering from mental illness. She speaks out without editing herself. She speaks not only of her addictions and recovery, but also of her slipups. By doing so, especially with the release of this documentary, Demi is not only helping raise awareness for those who need to be educated on mental illness; she’s also giving a realistic and honest representation of what addiction, recovery, and relapse look like, while still showing why she continues to work towards recovery.

This documentary is a brave move, and one Demi should be commended for. For years she has been vocal, blunt, and unapologetically honest about her struggles, and this is the type of voice necessary for raising awareness and slowly erasing mental illness stigma. Those uneducated need to not only be educated; people suffering from mental illness also need to be prepared for recovery, relapses, and understand that recovery is something necessary for survival.

Erasing the stigma surrounding mental illness is a slow, long process. Documentaries like Amy and Simply Complicated have been bold moves towards erasing that stigma. Demi’s leadership in advocating for mental illness awareness is so necessary, and hopefully in the coming years, she will inspire more voices to speak out.

Watch the documentary on YouTube.

 

How long can we run from our demons before they catch us?

I’m at the point in my life where it’s nearing time for an exorcism.

Think this angel will chase away my demons?

I have some demons haunting me, and I’m experiencing one of those breakthrough, “How did I let this happen?” moments.

My demons control my entire life. It’s taken me years to realize it.

The first time I realized I was ruled by my demons was when I thought to myself, “I don’t blog anymore.” My creativity, hobbies, and interests disappeared.

It got to the point where I’d longingly look back on myself as who I “used” to be. I “used” to listen to that music, I “used” to write poetry, I “used” to watch movies, I “used” to blog. Every one of the aspects that made me “me” became past tense.

Out of desperation, I started to run.

I’ve been running from my demons longer than I care to admit. But over time, my demons have multiplied, feeding off one another, gaining strength, and, in the process, weakening me.

The first demons I encountered were sinister, and I hid them from everyone around me, but I was still capable of acknowledging them within myself. In public, I was all smiles, laughs, and “everything is always fine.” In private, I allowed myself to acknowledge the demons, interact with them, speak with them.

Now, I don’t even allow myself to notice my demons in private. I’ve come up with the brilliant method of repress, repress, repress, ignore, ignore, ignore. But my demons don’t appreciate this. They still make their appearances.

Once in a while I see them staring me in the face when I look in the mirror. Just when I thought I’d forgotten all about them I say, “Oh, there you are.” My demons refuse to be ignored.

Over the years, my demons have morphed into beasts, and I’ve developed the habit of running from them. But not without attempts at an exorcism.

Before they multiplied and started feeding on my flesh, I tried. I followed every step of the How-To-Get-Rid-Of-Demons handbook: Counseling, meetings with other various healthcare professionals, ridding myself of toxic/triggering people from my life, journaling, challenging negative thoughts, yoga, time outside, socializing, medications, changing my environment. But my demons refused to let go. They were around every corner, laughing, taunting.

So I ran. Against the advice from professionals and others around me, I ran. I ran from my demons. But my demons followed me to New Jersey.

I found distractions though. Trips to Manhattan, the Shore, and other adventures distracted me from my demons floating around me. However, in hindsight, I realize that no matter how distracted I may have been, my demons were always there.

They were with me when I first set foot in New Brunswick.

Church in New Brunswick.

They were with me on my walks around the neighborhood.

Building on the Rutgers University campus.

They were with me on the train to Midtown.

At the train station to attend the Women’s March in Manhattan.

 

They were with me on my strolls through Central Park.

Central Park in autumn.

They were with me in Ocean City while I watched the sunset at the beach.

Ocean City at sunset.

They were with me on a rainy day in Hoboken.

Wandering through Hoboken.

They were with me when I and thousands of others marched down Fifth Ave for the Women’s March.

Participating in the Women’s March in Manhattan.

They were with me when I looked out at the NYC skyline on a chilly April night thinking, “God I love this city.”

View of the Empire State Building from the 230 Fifth rooftop bar. Photo credit: Rikki Helvey.

They were with me when I made the decision to return to Wisconsin, the place I thought I’d forever “escaped.”

But now I realize that it wasn’t Wisconsin I was running from. I was running from my demons. And the demons hadn’t stayed in Wisconsin. They came with me to New Jersey, and followed me back to Wisconsin.

I realize now that no matter where I run, my demons will follow.

I’m approaching that pivotal moment where I realize I have two options: run or exorcise my demons. There are no other options.

If I don’t perform an exorcism, what happens?

My demons will continue to lurk. There is no escaping them. Maybe I’ll run to New York, or Chicago, but my demons will follow me.

The thing about demons is that you can’t run from them forever.

No matter what kind of demon you have, whether it’s dealing with a breakup, trauma from past sexual/physical/emotional abuse, drug or alcohol addiction, depression, bipolar, anxiety, an eating disorder, a combination of all of the above or something else, you can’t outrun any of your demons.

How long can we run from our demons? The answer is that it depends on the person. Some may not be able to run for more than a few days. Some will run for months, years, or even decades.

But the most sinister thing about our demons is that we all face the same answer to the question “What happens when our demons catch us?”

They kill us.

To be both blunt and honest with myself and anyone else currently haunted by a demon, our demons are chasing us in order to kill us. While running, we may be just out of their grasp, but once they catch us, it’s all over.

Demons quite literally are creatures from the depths of Hell. Once they start chasing us, they attempt to destroy us in every way possible. Psychologically, physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, socially. Demons feed off of us and aren’t fully satisfied until we’re dead. That is their main goal.

For now, I’m still running. I even ran away from this blog post for a while before finishing it. Hopefully, sooner rather than later, I’ll perform an exorcism. Most likely it won’t rid me of my demons forever. They may be scared away for a few months, or maybe even a few years. But they’ll try to return, I’m sure.

Sometimes I wonder if I (and others still running from their demons) have a death wish. And maybe we do. But sometimes we see the light and realize we still have the strength to chase our demons away.

Every day is a battle, and I have to keep reminding myself of that. We all have to make the decision to run or fight. Some days are easier than others. But each day is a new opportunity to battle against our demons. When one day we have a death wish, the next day we may feel like we want to exorcise our demons from our lives.

I’ll keep that in mind while I run.

 

 

 

Autumn’s got me daydreaming

Here in Wisconsin, autumn is in full-force. The temperatures have dipped, the sun shines a bit dimmer and sinks earlier than we’re used to, and most mornings call for a cozy sweatshirt and cup of pumpkin or mint-flavored coffee (or any other autumn-inspired beverage).

A hot caramel macchiato on a cold Wisconsin autumn day.

As a lover of summer and all that it brings, autumn in Wisconsin usually has me daydreaming for a bit more sunshine, more 80-degree days, and maybe a new adventure altogether. While drinking coffee with hazelnut coffee creamer (because I’m the type of girl who loves creamer more than the actual coffee), my mind usually wanders to my next adventure.

Usually with daydreams, it’s go big or go home. Why would our brains limit us when the possibilities are endless in our dreams? The thrill behind daydreams is to dream up the “what ifs.”

What if you had an extra $10,000 to spend on your dream trip? Places like Earnest make fulfilling your dreams possible with low-interest personal loans to assist you in making those dreams a reality.

For me, I’ve been dreaming of taking a trip back to the East Coast. After my move from New Jersey back to Wisconsin, I’ve already felt the itch to return to New York. As a millennial who embraces technology, there are so many options that make traveling more affordable and easier than it’s ever been.

Autumn is ideal for a trip to NYC. Southwest offers cheap flights, so I’d hop on a plane from the Milwaukee to LaGuardia airport.

One of the coolest recent technological advancements is Airbnb, an app on your phone where you can browse and book stays in rooms, apartments, or houses for your trips. Communication with the host of your accommodation is done through the app, and prices can often be more affordable than you’d find for traditional hotels. Airbnb can be a great option not only if you’re looking to save money, but also if you’re looking for a more unique travel experience.

My Airbnb would be close to one of my favorite places in Manhattan: Central Park. I love the blend of city and nature, the ponds throughout the park, and it’s perfect for people-watching.

Central Park in panorama.

After a walk through Central Park, it’s only natural that I’d need some pizza to satisfy my hunger. Luckily New York is a place where I have many options for a slice at $1 a pop (or $3 if I wanted to splurge). Then I’d venture down to the perfect place for me: a dessert shop called Becky Bites NYC. Of course, why wouldn’t I go there? Founder of the shop, Becky Rosenthal, has created a heavenly place with cream-cheese inspired treats that are just too good to pass up.
My sweet tooth satisfied, and with my extra travel money still burning holes in my pockets, shopping seems like an obvious way to spend part of my day in the city. The largest department store in the world, Macy’s Herald Square, seems like a wise choice. But I wouldn’t be shopping just for the sake of shopping: I’d be on the hunt for the perfect dress for a night out in Manhattan.

After finding the winning dress, my day in the city wouldn’t be complete without some spectacular views. So I’d head over to 230 Fifth, a heated rooftop bar with a view that’ll blow you away. I’d make sure to make it to the rooftop early enough to see the sunset over the beautiful city. 

The view from the 230 Fifth rooftop bar. Photo credit: Rikki Helvey.

Running around Manhattan all day gives you an appetite, so I’m sure while I’m soaking in the view, I’d have to enjoy one of the options from the bar’s food menu. As a vegetarian, sometimes my options at restaurants can be limited, and sometimes limited to only items from the appetizer menu. But at 230 Fifth, the vegetarian ravioli or Asian vegetarian noodles would be perfect entrees for me (mainly because I’m forever obsessed with pasta).

Nighttime calls for something I haven’t done in NYC since I was 13: seeing a Broadway show. With shows like Anastasia, Wicked, and Hamilton onstage currently, you can’t go wrong. There’s just something magical about Broadway.

My night complete, I’d return to my Airbnb to sleep off the event-filled day I’d had, and definitely sleep in. My second day would involve plenty of museums, which is always one of my favorite things to do whenever I travel. The Museum of Natural History is one of my favorites, so I’d start there, but I’d want to venture out and explore museums I haven’t seen yet, like the Met and the Guggenheim.

American Museum of Natural History.

Of course throughout the day I’d indulge in some mandatory NYC bagels, and probably more pizza. In a city like New York, your food options are basically endless. Foods like bagels and pizza are not only delicious–they’re also convenient for when you’re on the go, which is a given if you’re in New York. After all the running around, I’d go back to my Airbnb earlier and relax for the night.

On my last full day in NYC, I’d take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, another one of my favorite New York sights.

The view from the Brooklyn Bridge.

I’d make sure to bring a good book and find a bench in Brooklyn Bridge Park, which offers beautiful views of the Lower Manhattan skyline.

View of Lower Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The next day I’d fly back to Wisconsin, promising that I’ll return to New York as soon as I could (which would be feasible with the leftover money from the extra $10,000 to go towards the trip). No matter how many times I visit New York, I’m already planning what I’ll see next time I’m there. For now, I’ll keep dreaming.

If you had $10,000 to put towards your dream trip, where would you go?

 

A Letter to Myself (To My College Self)

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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.

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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).

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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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.

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.

In honor of International Women’s Day (Why I’m a feminist)

Source: patheos.com

Source: patheos.com

Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day. I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, and I decided that today would be the perfect time.

In 2015, we live in a generation of opposing viewpoints. Feminists speaking out on one end, and politicians or anti-feminists trying to take our society backwards on the other.

In America, we live in a society with many opportunities that women in other countries do not have. However, even we do not have full equality. This is a disappointment as a female American citizen living in the 21st century.

I believe that I should not have any reasons to be a feminist other than I believe in equality. But in this society, we are expected to have reasons for being a feminist. As if we should justify, qualify our opinions.

I am a feminist because I am. It’s as simple as that. But I am a feminist not for myself. I’m a feminist for women who don’t have a voice.

We need feminism because society has created fear of the word. We need feminism because feminism is viewed as a debatable issue rather than an obvious right. We need feminism because when celebrities announce they are feminists, it’s called “coming out,” as if they’ve been hiding a dark secret.

We need feminism because there are anti-feminists. There are people who minimize women’s issues as “feminist bitching.”

Voicing the belief in equal rights doesn’t make us bitches. It makes us human beings.

While I do not belive I need to divulge any reasons as to why I identify as a feminist, I do feel it necessary to express my need for feminism.

I need feminism because without it, my country may never have given women the right to vote.

I need feminism because I earn less than men.

I need feminism because advertisers tell me every day what I should look like.

I need feminism because advertisers give me different rules every day.

I need feminism because rape against women is debated by mostly male politicians.

I need feminism because women are told how to avoid being a victim of rape, while men are told how to pick up hoes.

I need feminism because women on the red carpet are asked, “What are you wearing?” before asking about the fucking movie.

I need feminism because Meghan Trainor shames women who are skinny, degrading them to “stick figure silicone Barbie dolls” (and gives poor excuses for doing so).

I need feminism because about 24 million women and men suffer from eating disorders in America. I’m willing to bet that society’s fucked up beauty standards and obsession with our bodies has something to do with that.

I need feminism when colleges allow rapists to return to school, which is horrifying and traumatic for the victims.

I need feminism because my ex-boyfriend told me I was weak.

I need feminism because women don’t need rules.

I need feminism because I don’t need marriage. If I want it, I can choose it.

I need feminism because I want control over my own body.

I need feminism because it is my choice whether or not to have kids–not society’s.

I need feminism because women are advised to travel in pairs or groups for our own safety.

I need feminism because women are told we can do anything we want–as long as we get married, have the right amount of kids (no one knows the exact number, but it’s constantly changing), and work the right amount (this is constantly changing too).

I need feminism because women’s choices are not viewed as CHOICES. They are viewed as right or wrong, and open for debate.

I need feminism because I am told I’m pretty more than I am told I’m smart.

I need feminism because some people believe rape victims were “asking for it.”

I need feminism because when I was a teenager, I read a Christian book that blamed rape victims. Their hypothesis: if women wear sexy clothes, men cannot help themselves.

I need feminism because control over women’s bodies and “blurring” the lines between rough sex and sexual assault are not only glorified, but books and music about this topic sells billions of dollars (Robin Thicke or 50 Shades, anyone?)

I need feminism because when a male celebrity’s naked photos are leaked, the situation is “funny.” When the same situation happens to a female celebrity, some call her a “whore,” and blame her for taking the photos in the first place.

I need feminism because some men use their drunkenness as an excuse to verbally or sexually harass me in bars.

I need feminism because a drunk man once offered me money to kiss him. While I had a boyfriend. After I had already rejected his flirtations (true story).

I need feminism because if I reject a guy for a date after he comes off too aggressive, his friend calls me a “bitch” and a “cunt” on Facebook (also true story).

I need feminism because there are many names used to shame women: slut, whore, cunt, bitch, skank, sleaze, easy, loose, open-for-business.

I need feminism because men are applauded for the types of behaviors that give women the names listed above.

I need feminism because I believe in body autonomy. My body is mine, no matter what our government, society, or some religions would like me to believe.

I need feminism because little girls are still learning that their looks matter. But there are young girls standing up to voice how much more important their education is than being pretty.

I need feminism because we should be celebrating women and voicing our hopes for equality every day of the year.

I need feminism because there are movements created with the purpose to tear down the progress feminists have made in this country. Movements that are blatantly sexist against women and have a disturbing number of followers.

I need feminism because Elliot Rodger is, to my horror, viewed by some “Red Pill” anti-women activists as a “hero.” Rodger wrote a disturbing manifesto before going on a shooting rampage, killing six people and wounding 14 others.

I need feminism because with the internet, it’s easier for men to harrass me online.

I need feminism because I’m not a bitch for having a voice.

We live in country  where we value “freedom,” yet it doesn’t exist for everyone. Feminism has evolved and been beneficial for women’s rights, but we’re not done. In my lifetime, I hope to see even more changes towards equality. The fight isn’t over. We can’t be afraid to stand up, speak out, and fight back against the ones dragging us down.

People who don’t get it

As writers, we often come across people who don’t “get it.” I’ve written poems to the people who don’t understand art.

Writing is an art that isn’t black and white (thankfully). We can interpret a piece in a million different ways. We can use our life experiences to relate to someone’s work.

However, if we’re the author and someone is misunderstanding our work and blaming us, how should we feel?

Is the problem us, them, or neither party?

Recently I wrote a post about “fire safety,” but it was a metaphor. Do I need to say what the metaphor is?

My assumption is that readers can figure it out.

Right?

That’s my hope, after all.

My hopes were dashed today when I received some rude tweets from someone who clearly didn’t “get it.”

Here’s how it went down:

Her: Did you really sit in your house while it was on fire?

Me: Hahaha, no, it’s a metaphor.

Her: Oh good cause I thought you were really a dumbass.

Source: imgarcade.com She did.

Source: imgarcade.com
She did.

Me: Yeah no. It’s quite clearly not about a real fire. It’s an obvious metaphor…

Her: Well it’s clearly not if I had to ask.

Me: Nah, it’s pretty clear. Maybe you just didn’t get the metaphor?

Her: I guess it’s just not that good.

Source: hellogiggles.com

Source: hellogiggles.com

Me: Well then you don’t have to read it. #thanks #ByeFelicia 🙂

For real, that actually went down.

If I had to give some advice to people out there wondering how to critique a writer’s work, here are some helpful tips:

Rule #1: Don’t call the author a dumbass. I know it’s shocking, but calling anyone a dumbass may come off as rude.

Rule #2: Don’t continue to insult the author. You may come off as hostile.

Rule #3: If you don’t understand the author’s intentions, remember that you didn’t have to read or even reach out.

Rule #4: Be prepared for the author to be offended. The author may not even feel inclined to be overly kind to you. Who would be cheerful after someone just called her a dumbass?

My conclusions from this little Twitter exchange?

Source: memegenerator.net

Source: memegenerator.net

No matter how long you’ve been writing, no matter how educated in the writing field you are, you will have haters. It’s just life. And like T-Swizzle, it’s better to just shake it off (or write a snarky post about it). Whichever works for you. Using whatever inspiration you can find to motivate your writing is something that will help your writing evolve. So maybe we need haters?