I don’t get personal on my blog anymore: Why?

Makeup free is the way to be (or at least it’s me 90% of the time).

I have been blogging on and off for six years now. Wow, just saying that blows my mind. Over the years, my blog has evolved with where I am in life. My blog doesn’t follow a theme. I never had an audience in mind when I started my blog. In fact, according to my first blog post ever, my blog was meant to be a place to house my poetry. Obviously that hasn’t quite been the focus of this blog, but I’m thankful to my past self for starting this blog in the first place.

There have been many twists and turns in my life over the past six years, and so, therefore, this blog has seen many twists and turns as well. Ups and downs, ever-changing and evolving interests and opinions, and questions I have asked myself.

As I grew more comfortable with blogging, it became somewhat of a more creative journal. I knew people would be reading my posts, but, to put it bluntly, sometimes I spilled my guts. While going through a painful breakup, I blogged about it. A lot. In fact, at one point I coined my blog “the breakup blog.” Funny? Yes. True? Eh, maybe at that time, also yes. But do I regret divulging so many personal details about my relationship and its demise? No. I don’t.

Why? Because at the time, I believe that was what I needed. I was an emotional wreck. I needed an outlet (a healthy one). And my blog was there. People who resonated with my words were there. Blogging my breakup at the time felt like another form of therapy (which also benefitted me greatly). At times I heard criticism that maybe I was sharing “too much.” And as a perfectionist, criticism sucks. But I realized that I blog for myself, and no one else. I was sharing with whoever stumbled across my blog what I felt comfortable sharing. Anyone who thought I was sharing “too much” didn’t have to be reading my words in the first place.

As time passed, I blogged less and less. I gave myself excuses. “I’m too busy,” “I’m too tired,” “I don’t know what to blog about.” I do believe those excuses were just that: excuses. I know why I wasn’t blogging. But I haven’t explicitly shared why.

When I made my return to my blog, I felt that therapeutic sense of release, as if I’d finally gone back to therapy after months of procrastinating to make an appointment. Now that I’m back, I have the chance to spill my guts once more. To divulge years’ worth of stories of my life and its ups and downs. To use my blog as therapy again.

But since I’ve returned, I’ve felt myself holding back. I write in coded language and cute, flowery phrases in order to disguise my true problems. I’m writing about my life without actually writing about my life. I write in vague sentences, writing without divulging too much information. I’m blogging without getting personal.

Why?

I believe I don’t get personal anymore because I feel ashamed of many of the things I desperately want to blog about. Getting personal would mean admitting things about myself I take blame for. It would mean owning up to things I’m still grappling with, things I still cannot accept, things I would feel judged for. Years ago, I didn’t feel this way when I blogged about my break up. Back then, I was able to separate myself from it. I understood that the breakup and the situation was not a reflection of myself as a person. I understood that it was simply something that happened to me, and wasn’t something for which I should be ashamed.

Now, I no longer have that mentality. I connect many of the situations I have found myself in to be a reflection of who I am. I judge myself for the downturns I’ve had throughout the last couple of years, and so I therefore assume I’ll be judged by others as well. I hold back. I’ve become guarded on my own blog, my own safe space to write whatever I want. I pay more attention to what others will think rather than how the blog has been here for me through so many other downturns in my life.

I don’t feel any sort of obligation to share everything about myself on my blog. However, my blog used to have an authenticity that only came from being unapologetically myself. Now, I feel like I’m putting up a wall. I’m sharing veiled details hidden behind clichés and analogies, pretending to use them for only creative purposes while in reality using them to write about my life without really writing anything at all.

Want me to get real? Real talk: I’m missing the Jersey shore right about now.

Over time I hope to be able to get real on my blog again. I want to take down that wall and be unapologetically myself, however that may be. Who knows what I’ll be sharing. I’ll still be blogging for myself. And I want to be myself, for myself.

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Thinking too much

On a snowy day in Wisconsin, coffee is always a good decision I don’t have to think too much about. 

In my last blog post, I wrote about my epiphany that I’m holding myself back. I get in my own way. I self sabotage situations because I’m afraid of failure and the unknown. Now that I know this about myself, the next question I ask myself is: “How do I stop?”

So far, I don’t have a concrete answer. But what I do know is that sometimes I think too much. When I think too much, when I analyze situations too deeply, when I question myself and situations too much, I am more likely to self sabotage. When I think too much, self doubt creeps in.

I need to stop thinking too much. When I don’t question and just do, the possibilities are endless. Obviously sometimes we have to weigh the pros and make sure we’re not making dangerous decisions. But when I pause for too long, when I analyze the possible outcomes of a decision too much, I choose to stay frozen. I sabotage my own future.

I’ve noticed this with hobbies of mine. Blogging is a positive outlet. When I just blog and put my words out into the world, I see the benefits. It’s therapeutic. People read my words and can relate. I connect with other writers, read other people’s words and their words resonate with me as well. Yet when I think too much, I don’t blog. I abandon it, I question it, I feel self doubt about what I’m doing or why.

I started a YouTube channel. When I just film, edit, and upload, I feel a sense of satisfaction. The process of filming, editing, and uploading is fun (unless I have technological issues). However, when my analytical thoughts sneak up on me, I hold back. I procrastinate on filming or uploading videos, questioning why I’m even making videos in the first place. “It’s fun” should suffice. Yet when I think too much, I hold back.

While we do have to think things through to an extent to make sure we’re making healthy and safe decisions, sometimes thinking too much is more dangerous than just jumping into situations. When we think too much, we may miss out on opportunities. Connections with new people, cool jobs, new cities, hobbies that grow into careers.

Change is scary. Unknowns are scary because, duh, what if we fail? But failing doesn’t have to be negative. Sometimes failures can lead us to more self awareness. For me it has, even when I don’t realize it right away. In hindsight though, I can see my progress over time. I can see that through my failures, I’ve evolved as a person. But failures come from taking risks. We have to take those risks in the first place in order to fail (or succeed).

I think I have to stop thinking so much. Thinking too much is exhausting, and sometimes we have to just jump into the unknown, no matter how scary, not knowing the end result, because the end result could wind up being better than we expect it to be.

When perfectionism causes self sabotage: Getting in my way

What happens if I let go?

I’ve been self sabotaging for years. I realized this fact only recently.

I used to wonder why situations didn’t seem to “work out” or “fall into place.” Why was I constantly dissatisfied?

The answer: Me.

For years, I have been in my own way. I’ve found ways to sabotage those “what ifs” so that they never came to fruition. I’ve stood, unmoving, at the start of pathways, refusing to walk forward.

I’ve made choices knowing full well they were the wrong ones, going against the advice of therapists, family members, friends, and the healthy voice in my head.

Why? Why have I subconsciously chosen to remain stagnant in life? Why have I self sabotaged for so many years?

Because I’m a perfectionist. Because I’m terrified of change. Terrified of the unknown. Terrified of failing at unknown endeavors. If I don’t know if I can perfectly achieve something (even though the idea of “perfect” is relative, and, arguably, nonexistent), I choose not to attempt it. Sounds like a bad idea, right? It is.

But it’s safe. Sabotaging opportunities keeps me in a familiar place. Not taking risks saves me from those unknowns, from those potential failures. For years, I’ve subconsciously decided that it’s better to remain stagnant and not fail rather than take a risk and fail.

For the first time, I’m wondering if I still believe this.

I find myself daydreaming of other possibilities. Of those terrifying “what ifs.” Of not failing, but actually achieving opportunities and potential life paths.

For the first time, I’m wondering what could happen if I get out of my own way. What would happen if I let go of my perfectionism? What if I stopped self sabotaging? What if I let go of what’s keeping me protected from potential failures?

Letting go is scary. Stepping forward into unknown waters is a step I have hesitated to take. But to evolve as a person, isn’t it necessary?

Maybe it’s time I let go. Maybe it’s time I let go from the self sabotage that’s keeping me paralyzed, frozen in place. Maybe I should accept failing. Accept that unknowns aren’t always something to be feared. Unknowns can lead to positive experiences and possibilities. But I have to walk forward to find out.

Realizing that I self sabotage as a means of avoiding failure is a step forward in itself. Awareness is progress. But not only should I be aware of it: The trick now is to stop doing it.

For me, self sabotage has been a means of keeping me safe. While it’s a destructive technique of doing so, psychologically is does the job. It keeps me comfortable. Comfortable from those unknowns and potential failures. But as they say, sometimes you have to be uncomfortable with being uncomfortable until you’re comfortable.

I wonder if it’s time I start getting uncomfortable.

Losing the Dating Game: Revisited

Nearly three years ago I wrote a blog post about how I was losing the dating game. Update: Not much has changed.

I’m here, a few years older, and not much wiser. With another breakup under my belt, another existential “Who am I?” crisis at hand, sometimes I wonder when history will stop repeating itself.

I’m older, just as cynical (or, as I’d like to describe it, “realistic”), and still as lost as I was the last time I was losing this game. Back then I proudly took myself out of the game, ready to sit on the bench as long as I felt necessary.

This time around, I’m on the fence. I know I’m injured, I’m not a valuable team player, and the coach should really pull me from the starting lineup. But there’s still a part of me that wants to play.

So what does one do when she’s on the fence about sitting on the bench during the dating game?

She goes on Tinder, of course.

My main goal in entering the world of Tinder was to troll people. Mature, I know. Believe me, in the beginning it was hysterical.

Am I the only one who thinks “Please be fun” is a slightly obnoxious opening line?

Clearly GIFs are the name of the game for me on Tinder. The more annoying, the better for trolling.

I’m basically the definition of “mature.”

Guess that pickup line was a fail based solely on my GIF reaction.

But after a while, they started legitimately asking me on dates.

To which my reaction was:

disgusted marilyn monroe GIF

Via: giphy.com

I never intended to date anyone who had the misfortune of stumbling across me and my barrage of unnecessary GIFs on Tinder. I honestly didn’t even realize that I’d encounter that situation. I thought none of them would take my immaturity seriously and that my tactic of trolling would be too obvious.

When I started receiving invitations for drinks (that always seems to be the popular go-to Tinder date), I realized the joke was over. I’d have to decide if I really wanted to date (not just people I met on Tinder but in real life as well) or run for the hills.

I chose to run for the hills.

go go go running GIF

Via: giphy.com

I realized that I wasn’t throwing myself into the dating game for the right reasons. I was hoping to compete against my last relationship, my former teammate and current opponent. I wanted to win, but I learned that I’m losing. My opponent, from what social media has shown me, is winning the game. His new girlfriend is treated to trips to D.C., NBA games, theatre shows, brewery tours, while I am finding the least awkward way to reject strangers on Tinder.

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

While losing the dating game sucks, I’ve learned that I also shouldn’t throw myself into the game for the wrong reasons. If I have to sit on the bench while watching my opponent win, so be it. I have to heal from my injuries so that I can be a valuable player once again. Who knows how long that will take. Maybe my opponent will be 50 points ahead. But I should be playing for the right reasons, and winning for myself.

Me when I hopefully someday make a comeback to the dating game. Via: giphy.com

So for now, three years after I was losing the dating game, I’m still losing. Even though I want to play, I’m going to take myself out of the game and sit on the bench. Maybe that’s what I need. I’ll be back.

Via: giphy.com

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?

Via giphy.com

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.

Via giphy.com

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.

Via giphy.com

Does calling my problems “demons” help? No.

Via giphy.com

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

Via giphy.com

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.

Via giphy.com

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.”

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.

 

 

 

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.

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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.

I am a woman, and today I am scared

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As I reflect on this historic and shocking election result, I look at this photo and remember more peaceful times in my life. Even though I’m still afraid, this photo is comforting. 

This blog post is a complete stream of consciousness. Today, like millions of people all over the world, I woke up from what I hoped was a nightmare. But it’s our reality now: Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States, and in nearly a landslide at that.

I woke to dark clouds and rain in New Jersey. It fits with my emotions today. Today, I have reflected. I have cried. I have searched within myself for my thoughts on this election and the results. I have numerous emotions today. Among them are devastation, fury, and disbelief. But the one I am having the most difficulty with is fear. And that is the purpose of this blog post.

I am afraid for, to put it broadly, the world. Yes, I’m terrified for the environment. For Muslim-American families having conversations about not wearing a hijab in public because they are afraid for their safety. I’m terrified for African-Americans who not only are disproportionately targeted by the police, but may deal with nationwide disastrous and racist “stop-and-frisk” policies under a Trump presidency. I’m terrified for the LGBTQ community because our Vice President, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, signed the “religious freedom” bill in his state, which allowed for businesses to discriminate against groups they don’t like, specifically anyone identifying as LGBTQ. And even though I am heartbroken beyond explanation for all of these groups, most of all, for personal reasons, I am terrified most of all for women. And I am now terrified as a woman for the first time in my life.

I am terrified for many reasons. Yes, it’s partly because Donald Trump said he would punish women for having abortions. Yes, it’s because he has threatened to appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices who would not only be pro-life, but who would overturn Roe v. Wade, which gave women the right to choose to have an abortion. And yes, I’m also horrified that Vice President Mike Pence has pushed for legislation that would force women to pay for funerals of not only aborted fetuses, but for miscarriages. But even though these are reasons to be scared as a woman, it’s beyond this. I’m terrified because of the words Donald Trump has said, and memories throughout my life he has brought to the surface. For the first time, I am reflecting on several memories I have never dwelled on before.

Donald Trump, our elected President, has been accused of sexual assault by more than a dozen individuals. The numerous allegations range from unwanted kisses and touching to rape of not only women, but of girls, minors. The now infamous Access Hollywood tape is a moment in time. Donald Trump said that not only does he grab women “by the pussy,” but he also said, “I don’t even wait.” What doesn’t he wait for? Consent. Donald Trump said, on tape, that he sexually assaults women. The women who came forward after the tape’s release verified his own admission.

As if there couldn’t be more damning evidence of Trump’s treatment of women, he has been documented verbally demeaning women. In my opinion, the most egregious example is his treatment of Miss Universe pageant winner Alicia Machado. Trump publically shamed her for her appearance, calling her “Miss Piggy,” “an eating machine,” and brought press to film her exercising after he put her on a weight loss plan. Machado suffered from anorexia and bulimia for five years due to this harassment.

With each story released of Trump’s treatment of women, I started to look within. Of course I was disgusted and angry. But for some reason, Trump’s blatant sexism made me think back to memories I’d almost forgotten. I want to express that I am not, in any way, equating my experiences to any of these women, or to anyone else’s personal story. But I have read other women’s stories, and I remembered events I’d almost forgotten occurred throughout my life.

I remember in fourth grade, when a boy in my class was standing behind me and stroked my hair. I turned around, obviously a bit creeped out. He just smiled at me.

I remember in eighth grade being called “ugly” by a boy I had a crush on.

I remember freshman year of college receiving Facebook messages from multiple strangers telling me they had seen me around campus and wanted to hang out with me because I was cute.

In the spring of my freshman year, I had a date to watch a movie with a guy in his fraternity’s apartment. I asked a mutual friend, who was in that fraternity, where the apartment building was. My date found out I had done this and shamed me for asking someone else where the building was. He hinted that he didn’t want me to tell people where I would be that night. He told me that if people knew where I was going, they would start rumors about me and would spread lies about what I was doing. Nothing happened when I watched the movie with him. But after that, he messaged me on Facebook with unwanted and pushy sexual advances. I never hung out with him again.

On Halloween weekend my first year out of college, I went to a bar with a friend. Two guys approached us, and we all started talking for a while. One of the guys seemed interested in me and was friendly. I went to use the bathroom, and immediately after I returned, when I wasn’t looking at him, he grabbed my butt completely out of nowhere. I had met him less than an hour ago. I looked over at him and he smiled at me.

Later that same year, I went out dancing with a group of friends. A male acquaintance was dancing with me, and he started trying to feel me up and move his hands between my legs. I stopped him and he became more pushy. He told me that he knew I “wanted it,” and said that I needed to have sex with him. I kept telling him he was mistaken and that I wouldn’t. The last thing he said before I grabbed my close friend and ran off was, “At least let’s go out to my car and I can lick your pussy.”

About a year later, I was in a relationship. My boyfriend wasn’t in town, and I went out with a female friend. A man came up and sat down next to me at the bar. At first he was harmless. But not much later, he told me I should come home with him. I said, “I have a boyfriend.” He asked, “Well where is your boyfriend?” I told him he was out of town and he immediately responded, “He doesn’t have to know.” I refused his request, but that didn’t stop him. He then asked for a kiss. I refused, but that apparently wasn’t good enough. He turned it into a game. He said he would pay me to kiss him. I kept refusing, but he didn’t stop. He jumped off his bar stool and ran to find his friends to ask for money. He came back, and offered me five dollars, ten dollars, fifty dollars, and continued to raise the amount of money he’d give me to kiss him. No matter how many times I said no, he didn’t stop. His friends were nearby and amused by the situation, but didn’t do much to intervene. His friends apologized after he finally gave up, saying that he was just very drunk.

About two years ago, on yet another Halloween night, I was out watching a band with a friend. Out of nowhere, an elderly man (I would venture to say he was at least 70 years old) came up behind me, wrapped his arms around me, put his face and body against mine and said, “You are so gorgeous.” I wriggled out of his grasp and ran off with my friend.

My most recent memory is from only about two weeks ago, and it still rattles me. My mom, two sisters, and I traveled into the New York Penn Station on the train. When we arrived, it was insanely crowded, and I felt someone bash into me from behind, and it felt deliberate. While discussing where we needed to go, the man who bashed into me came up from behind me and said, “Where are you trying to go?” Taken aback (he was visibly drunk and/or high), I gave him a look (I have an expressive face, and this time it got me in trouble), turned away, and kept walking. Apparently this set him off. He went on to follow my family and me, circling around yelling at me. “Ugly bitch. Fucking ugly bitch. You fucking ugly bitch. You ugly bitch. Ugly bitch.” He spit every word at me slowly and with hateful venom I’ve never experienced before from a stranger.  I tried to ignore him as my family and I kept walking. He followed us up a flight of stairs, inches away from my face saying, “Ugly bitch, you ugly bitch.” I felt and saw him out of the corner of my eye as he made a swipe at my ponytail. When we reached the top of the stairs and kept walking he circled over to my mom, saying, “You raised this coward?” The last thing he said to me before my family and I found our exit out of the train station and raced away was “Faggot.” After we were away from him one of my sisters said he had been trying to trip me while I was walking up the flight of stairs.

Why am I telling any of these stories? Why am I remembering them now? It’s because our newly elected President of the United States reminds me of these men. None of these men waited for consent, and Donald Trump has admitted that he doesn’t, either. Throughout his entire life as a celebrity, he has spewed hatred towards women. He and his supporters have called his admissions of sexually assaulting women “locker room talk,” which means that, according to them, not only are his words acceptable in private conversations, but they believe these are words you’ll hear ordinary men all over the country saying. After the election results and reflecting on my own experiences, I have to just hope this isn’t true.

I could discuss why I think Hillary Clinton lost and who I blame, but that’s for another post. Today I am reflecting on my fear. My fear of being a woman in this country. Donald Trump has set an example that not only can you get away with sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape, without consequences, but you can become President of the United States despite the country being fully aware of it. And win in a landslide. Last night, we elected a President who has most likely sexually assaulted multiple women, and may have raped both women and girls. We have elected someone who does not respect half of this country based solely on their gender. Not only does he not respect them, but he has violated them, and these human beings have been psychologically damaged because of his actions. Donald Trump’s supporters have vocalized their dismissal of these allegations, and some have said that even if the allegations are true, that doesn’t change their minds about Trump. Not only is our newly elected leader a possible rapist, but millions of his supporters don’t seem to care. And that terrifies me. What also terrifies me? At least one of the men in this story is a Trump supporter, and one has since had a child.

I don’t have any solutions right now. I don’t know what to do to stop this country from moving forward.  I’m just as lost as the rest of you. All I know is that I am a woman, and for the first time in my recollection, I am afraid to be a woman. I am afraid for our country. I am afraid for our world. But right now, today, I am afraid for our women.

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Our country is in a dark place. All I can do today is look at photos of more hopeful times, when I was at peace.

 

Announcement: New Feminism Blog With Modern Day Artemis!

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Hooray for feminists!

Good news, everyone! (Did you all read that in Professor Farnsworth’s voice from Futurama? I hope so!)

For a while, fellow blogger, Modern Day Artemis (check out her blog!) and I have been discussing the creation of a new blog we wanted to start. We both have an interest in feminism, and decided to dedicate a blog on Tumblr to the topic of feminism.

Our blog is entitled “Why I Am A Feminist,” and our mission is to have a platform for feminists everywhere, all over the world, to share their stories and express their reasons for why they are feminists.

As it grows, we hope to hear voices from many different countries, all coming together with a common mission: to spread the word about the importance of feminism in our lives. From America to South Africa, feminism is important for equality not just for women, but for everyone.

If you’re a feminist, check out our blog, and tell your friends. If you’re not a feminist, still check out our blog and tell your friends. You know you want to. I believe that education is crucial in gaining awareness of things we do not understand, so I hope that our blog will help those who don’t understand feminism to gain a bit of insight.

I wrote a blog post dedicated to why I need feminism a few months back, and I believe that I need feminism in my life. I believe that the more voices we have speaking out, the better. Speak out for what you believe in, and as voices join together, the world will hear us.