Thursday, December 25, 2014

From darkness to the light...

Thanks to a beautiful gift I received for Christmas, I can complete my yearly holiday tradition of moving from old journal to new. While filling in the first page, I figured out that I had created my own small solstice ritual without even having realized it.

The whole point of this season, (no matter what tradition you follow) is banishing the darkness and embracing the light: be it in the form of lighting lamps from oil that wasn't meant to last, welcoming a Messiah as the light of the world, or celebrating another turn in the wheel of the year.

From here the days get longer.

The light lingers.

What has that got to do with writing?

For me, writing in a journal is cathartic. I can say and feel whatever it is that I want with no filter. I can freely express whatever thought pops into my head, no matter how cruel or inappropriate. It usually keeps these thoughts from spilling out of my mouth. (Usually.)

The downside, is that the pages I fill often bear witness to the crappy person I can sometimes be - the poor choices I make, the way I hurt people. It is a chronicle of my lowest moments and times I feel utterly lost.

Pages upon pages of my handwriting have been dedicated to these moments, both good and bad, to the point that each journal I fill is heavy with more than just ink. Every fear, every tear and every scar is etched there, to the point that carrying it around is like carrying around the entire year in my bag.

I have spent many a day burdening myself with carrying around the last year, condensed into the pages of the journal I filled.

The whole point of the winter solstice, of Christmas, is to disperse the darkness and embrace the light - to rid yourself of things that burden and no longer serve. Every year, I rid myself of the thoughts of the past year and give myself a blank canvas to fill again. This is just the first Christmas that I have recognized it for what it was.

Most people would think to start anew with the first of the new year. I don't think that's necessarily wrong. If making a resolution and starting fresh with the new year is your thing and it works for you, then by all means, go for it.

For me, starting with a new journal and a fresh outlook is like embracing the light and ridding myself of the negative thoughts I carried in the last year. This is a chance to think new thoughts and write new words on new pages - to break the cycle and not carry thoughts and habits through to the new year and the time of year when the sun rules the sky.

Christmas has become a season that is just as much about family, friends and spreading love as it has become a time of reflection. Winter time (and Christmas especially) is a pivotal moment when we can look back at where we have been and look forward to where we can go. It's almost like standing in the center of the seesaw. You can either step back and live with the habits and thoughts that have troubled you, or leave them behind in the darkness and step into the light.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The one thing that all women should do throughout their lives


Yes, I meant to yell at you.

Just stop it. Stop wasting your time with lists that tell you "22 things that all 22 year olds should be doing" or "the 25 things every 25-year-old woman should own" and all that other horseshit.

Yeah, I said it. All of those "articles" (which is a term I use very loosely) are just telling you anecdotes and presenting them as facts. In reality - the only things you need to worry about doing by the time you're 22 is being 22, whatever that means for you. I say this so many times in a week it's almost ridiculous, but anecdotal evidence does not a fact make. 

Now, that doesn't mean I would condone you not having a job and not contributing to society in some sort of way - because I personally think that you can't get away with that kind of crap after the age of 17. Even if you're in school and studying your butt off and volunteering in your spare time, do your thing. If you're 22 with a GED and working, do your thing. If you're 22 and working two part-time jobs, do your thing.

The key here is doing your thing.

I'm 26 and just starting to figure out how to do that and not feel like shit about it. I'm a college graduate. I went to a great high school and got a great education. I live in an apartment with two roommates, pay all my own bills, all that "fun" adult stuff that I have to do. I work two part-time jobs to do it, which totally sucks sometimes, but I'm doing my thing, and not anyone else's.

The important thing is that all those listicles don't teach you anything. Nine times out of ten, they just make you feel like garbage for not having it all figured out, or not having it all together. The person who wrote that list? That person probably doesn't have it all figured out and is just as confused as you are.

There's nothing wrong with being confused. There's nothing wrong with taking the time to figure it out. There's nothing wrong with not having it all together. There is something wrong with doing nothing, though. There is also something wrong with making yourself feel badly because it seems like everyone else you know has it all figured out. (That last bit I'm still working on myself.)

So instead of reading one of those stupid lists and making yourself feel badly, take those 10 minutes and do something constructive with it. Text a friend, call your mom, take your dog for a walk, read some of that book that's been sitting on your bedside table for months that you just haven't bothered with (which are all things I need to be better at, also), but don't waste your time and your precious energy on reading something from some schmuck who really has no place judging you (or anyone else) and then feeling badly about yourself afterward.

All 22 year olds are not the same. No list is going to cover all the bases of what you could be doing with your time, especially a list only 22 points long. No list is going to take everyone's different life into account - those lists are written from a very narrow point of view. there are no study groups, no demographics. It's one person looking at what that particular age should look like through a very narrow lens, then touting it as fact.

So get out there. Do your thing. Make your own list of what you should be doing. No one else can write that list but you.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

If you aren't learning, you're doing it wrong.

I'm 26. Depending on who you are, you might consider me mid-20s. You also might consider me late-20s. Either way, I'm closer to my late 20s than I am my early 20s, that's for sure. Not that I'm lamenting that fact.

Actually, I'm kind of enjoying it. Here's why.

It might be hard to believe, but you don't actually stop being fun when you're in your mid-to-late 20s. You just start having fun in different ways. There's nothing wrong with that.

In my early 20s, fun was going out drinking, partying and making friends with people I met in the bar bathroom.

In my late 20s, fun is happy hour then going out to dinner, dinner parties with my friends.

Maybe it's because I can't handle a hangover like I used to (might as well admit that fact now) or it's just exhausting to party like that. (Also a fact.)

As I have aged, my tastes change. We all know this. The thing we aren't told growing up is that our time becomes something we want to spend in fulfilling ways.

Personally, I spend a lot less time drinking cheap beer just for the sake of drinking it. I spend a lot less time in crappy bars with bad music. I spend more money on quality ingredients than I do on a crap-ton of bad food.

Time, more than anything else, is a huge investment. It has becoming increasingly important to me how and with whom I spend my time. I have been dedicating more time to my health - going to martial arts 3 times a week (when I can and am not working) and trying to eat better.

There are just some things that you should outgrow: binge drinking is one of those things. I don't mean you should stop because it's "not cute" or unattractive, but it's detrimental to your health, people.

Outgrowing the person you were in your early 20s is like outgrowing playing with Barbies. It's just something that happens.

I'm sure that you've seen listicle after listicle from websites that tell you "13 things you start doing in your late 20s" or "22 things that you should be doing at 22". Here's what I have to say to those listicles: STFU.

What you do at 22 and what you do at 26, 28, 32, and so on is YOU. Your choices are yours. There are no rules to follow. There are no directions to read.

I have chosen to spend my time and money outside of work focused on my relationship, my friends and my health. These are things that matter to me, and should have always mattered to me as much as they do now.

But when I was in my early 20s, I spent a good chunk of my time screwing my life up in several ways. I picked up the pieces. Now I'm just putting them back together.

Not that there is anything wrong with doing that. Your 20s is a great time to mess everything up. You don't have a ton to lose, really. So if you're going to make mistakes, make them now. The price you pay for them now is a lot smaller than later, I believe.

In your 20s, there is time to rebuild yourself and who you are. The building and establishment and learning of self is one of the most rewarding things that you can spend your time doing.

Knowing who you are is by far the most important thing in the world - more important than money, fame, your job, everything - because it is the one thing that your life will always revert back to. When you're in a morally compromising situation, knowing who you are will help you make the right decision. When your life gets hard and you aren't sure what to do, knowing yourself is how you make things work. When you have a fight with your significant other, knowing yourself is where you start to make things better.

I spent a lot of my late teens and early 20s not being sure of myself. I let other people's opinions dictate who I was to be and what I could do. Now I have learned who I am and how to be that person. Sure, I still screw things up occasionally, but that's life.

Your only real job is to live it. If you aren't learning from it, you're doing it wrong.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Education ain't all about the benjamins.

Recently, I have been considering going to Graduate school to pursue a Master's Degree in (most likely) English.

I posted something about this on my Facebook page. It got a decent amount of response from friends and family, both in favor of my returning to school and those who said it wasn't worth it.

Let me outline a few things about this. I had/have a college fund that my grandparents set up for me when I was very young. I do not have any student loan debt from my undergraduate years. I do know how lucky I am to have this.

A graduate degree would do just about zip for my job. It isn't something that is necessary in an industry that is pretty much a learn-as-you-go type of thing.

I have money left in my college fund.

So all that aside, I can't say I was too surprised at the number of resounding "no" responses I got from people about going back to school. A lot of it had to do with about their being a return on the investment, if it was worth the money, if I would make more money afterward, etc etc. You get the picture.

Most who responded with "yes" didn't give much of a response other than "DO IT!" No other reason, no other explanation.

I fully accept the fact that getting my Master's Degree isn't going to do anything for me financially at this point. In fact, it would make my life harder, because I would undoubtedly have to quit one of my jobs in order to make the time in my schedule to go to school full-time.

In truth, going back to school has nothing to do with my job(s). It has nothing to do with making more money (right now anyway). Going back to school has everything to do with what I think would make me a better writer. What would get me more opportunities and what would open more doors for me in the future.

I believe that learning is important - if it's learning how to cook something, learning to change your oil, or learning how to write well - all of it is important.

I'm not saying that school is the only place that learning happens. It isn't. What I am saying that money spent on an education is never wasted. If money comes of it, great. If not, that's okay too. It's a bummer, but it happens, especially today.

The undergraduate degree has become the new high school diploma. A lot of people have one and if you don't, you feel like people look at you differently than they would otherwise. A Bachelor's Degree is becoming so generic that articles are now coming out that there's no point in furthering education past high school.

The problem isn't that a ton of people have B.A./B.S. degrees. The problem is how we view education. We see education as a stepping stone to make money, a time in our lives when we prepare for our careers.

I think that we should be viewing education as a chance to grow, expand our minds and be around people who think differently that we do and are different than we are. University has turned into a place where we take required classes to fill our required major, instead of taking classes that we are interested in and pursuing tracts that we like.

Universities today (American ones, at least) don't offer us the chance to meander, try things and test things to find out what we REALLY love to learn about, instead we must declare a major after two years and we must follow a specific set of classes, just like everyone else.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Kim Kardashian needs to go away.

Honestly, I don't care what kind of hateful comments I get for this blog post. (Assuming I actually get any.)

We're going to talk about Kim Kardashian's ass.

No, I'm not going to post a picture of it, or link to it or anything. Google that shit yourselves.

What we're really going to talk about is our collective reactions to her post, and why they are all equally shitty.

We insulted her intelligence

Just because Kim K. has spent a good chunk of her time in the spot light exposing herself, we think she's an idiot. (The fact that she isn't a brainiac notwithstanding.) That's a problem.

We think that any woman who exposes her body to the public to be stupid, because "why can't she do anything I think is acceptable?" People do any number of things for any number of reasons.

Maybe women strip because they like it. Maybe they do it because the job market sucks major balls and their kids need to eat. Maybe because shaking their asses on a stage makes a whole hell of a lot more money than doing that 9-5 thing that they went to school for.

Either way, Kim K. knows EXACTLY what she's doing by posing nude for Paper and trying to "break the internet" - she's keeping her name in our mouths, because like it or not, she is part of the "there is no such thing as bad press" machine.

We think she's promiscuous

For some insane reason, we tell women that sex sells, that being sexy is something that they should be. We tell them all these things, then when they fall into this role that we create for them, we hate them for it.

We break them down for it. We hurl insults at them and call them whores. We think they are attention-seeking and slutty.

And here's the part where we talk about the shitty consequences of treating people this way.

Human bodies, particularly women's bodies (but men are victims as well) become commodities. A woman's body becomes property of all of us, something to be bought and sold, traded and degraded and judged.

Which is a big fat load of crap.

WE (meaning society) teach these women than their bodies belong to everyone and everyone has a right to look at them, touch them, own them. We teach them that their bodies are something to flaunt, something to show off. So when they do it, when they follow the rules that society lays out for them, we hurt them for it.

So Kim K. is doing exactly what society wanted her to do in the first place. All people talk about is her body. Okay, people mostly talk about her ass. Women want an ass like that, and men want their women to have asses like that (yes, I'm being general here and not speaking for everyone, I know).

Kim takes those facts and runs with them, showing us the one ahem....asset...that she has that we constantly talk about - and we turn around and crucify her for it.

Sure, it would be nice to see Kim use her celebrity (which may or may not be earned) for something worthwhile. We'd like her to be a good person, or create something, or DO something with the celebrity that she was gifted.

And why, you might ask, does she need to go away? 

Because while she's laughing her ass all the way to the bank, she's also become part of the machine that perpetuates the shit-tastic treatment of human bodies (see my body image post). In fact, she has 100% embraced being part of that machine that teaches young girls that doing anything to look good is something you should do and teaches other's that a girl's body belongs just as much to everyone else as it does to her. Or even more so.

Kim K. needs to go away because her celebrity does NOTHING but set us back as a society and teach people that your body is NOT your own. It becomes a collective belonging. Kim K. perpetuates rape culture. Kim K. perpetuates eating disorders.

People like Kim K. need to just go away, and take their asses with them.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dumb is NEVER cute. Stop it.

Thanks to a friend, (shoutout to Rebecca!) we have a topic that will probably just turn into a giant rant for me, but whatever, you guys signed up for this.

Ladies. (I say ladies because we are the ones who usually feel the need to dumb down our intelligence for the sake of other people.)


Never. Never ever.

Why do some of us feel that it is necessary to play dumb to attract other people we want to date?

Why do some of us feel the need to "dumb ourselves down" around other women?

Because dumb is easy. 

It's easy to get along with, it's easy to deal with, it's easy to be around.

People don't have to put any work into dating you, grabbing your attention or being your life. That's a problem. People should have to put effort into their relationships, either intimate ones or friendships.

If you feel like you need to pretend to be dumb in order to attract that person you're interested in, then chances are that person is not for you.

You shouldn't be ashamed of your intelligence. If you're smart, then be smart! The people around you who care about you will appreciate that you're being honest with who you are.

Men don't do this. (And I don't mean men as in "men do this and boys do that" I mean men as in those who are male, either born that way or identify that way.)

And we shouldn't either. It's insulting to yourself and everyone around you when you do it.

The reason why the people in this video act stupid and ditzy when asked to do things "like a girl" is because we perpetuate it. We allow ourselves to be viewed that way. WE allow ourselves to act that way.

Maybe it's a self esteem thing. Maybe some people have been told so many times for so long that they are really dumb. That they are stupid and worthless.

So they act stupid because they think that's who they are. THAT'S BULLSHIT TOO.

It's not who you are.

Acting dumb isn't cute. It's not attractive, nor is it funny. It's hurtful. It's a setback. It makes people think you're simple and don't deserve the respect that they would give someone who doesn't act like that. Instead you just get the pat on the head like a child would.

Either way, continuing to do it doesn't help anyone view us as the strong, smart, badass women that we are. Which sucks.

Acting stupid to get people's attention means you're selling yourself short. Your mind isn't something to be bartered, or something you can trade off in order make someone like you.

If you're afraid that people will feel intimidated by your brain, then screw 'em. You didn't need them anyway.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Body image (usually) sucks.

This post is really for every human being operating in our society. Not just men, not just women, not just those who fall between or completely outside the gender spectrum, but it is for everyone.

At some point in our lives, we ALL have a problem with body image. Like I mentioned in a previous post, we are constantly bombarded with what our bodies are supposed to look like, what "pretty" means, what "sexy" means, what we should do with our hair, what we should do with our faces, our clothes, and everything about ourselves that falls outside of these standards.

We are constantly told that we need to fix ourselves. 

Frankly, that's bullshit.

I would consider myself pretty. I'm usually a size 8-12 in pants (depending on where I'm attempting to shop), a large shirt. My body type is "curvy" I suppose. I weigh anywhere in the range of 150-160 pounds, and no, I'm not ashamed of that.

As far as the modeling/fashion/film industry, I'm a plus-sized woman. I would be considered fat. I would be told that I needed to drop weight to be in whatever I was auditioning for. (If you haven't heard about the huge backlash at Calvin Klein lately, here's some info for you.)

Yes, that is also bullshit. 

I have never had an eating disorder. So while I recognize that they exist and are a huge problem that goes with body image, they aren't something that I can appropriately speak about, and people who suffer from such a thing I can't speak for. 

(If you would like to speak about/for yourself and you suffer from an eating disorder, feel free to send me an email.)

The health and fitness industry isn't any better at pushing a positive body image for people. Instead, that industry wants you to buy supplements and meal replacements and diet pills. 

Anyone can have negative body image. Yes, even that really buff guy or really fit woman you have seen at the grocery store or at the gym. They too can suffer from a negative body image.

We can all at least be united in the fact that having a negative body image feels shitty. 

Can we stop for a second and talk about "fit memes"?

I get it. Some people use these things as motivation. That's fine, you do you, boo. 

The problem I have with shit like this is that it perpetuates just as much negative body image as anything else, but it's masked as positive motivation. That's manipulation, friends.

Plus, a lot of them teach really unhealthy habits.

Look. I'm not a fitness professional. I don't have a degree in kinesiology or nutrition, but I do have common sense. I listen to my body. All this "pushing through the pain" shit is garbage. If you're hurt, you're hurt. YOU know the difference between your mind telling you that you can't do something and being hurt.

Also, I don't care who you are. There is always going to be some food on this Earth that tastes better than "skinny" feels. Cause I can tell you right now, that some barbecue and a beer are ALWAYS better than "skinny", whatever that even means.

I guess if I weigh a few pounds more than I would if I cut out all the things I like to eat and drink, I'm okay with that.

I know this is hard, but all of us need to learn to accept ourselves for who we are. If you can accept yourself and say "hey, I'm beautiful/attractive/sexy/whatever, but I would like to lose some weight/get in shape/be able to run 5 miles/be able to lift weights/whatever" then I don't see anything wrong with that.

So, learn to love you. That's what really matters here. Forget what the modeling industry tells you. They just want you to buy their clothes. The big fitness companies have their best interests in mind, not yours.

You want to lose weight? Talk to a trainer. You want to eat better? Talk to a nutritionist. That's OKAY.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Why that breakup might have been the best thing ever.

Breakups suck. We can all collectively agree on that fact, yes?

Here's the part when people might start disagreeing with me.

Maybe that one breakup (yeah, you know the one) was really the best thing that happened to you. I know! Madness! Just hear me out though.

I know that the last guy I dated, I thought the world of, and I truly believe that I loved him. Which I mean, may or may not have been true. That isn't the point. We didn't work out.

And no, this isn't an opportunity to drag his name through the mud or anything. In fact, this isn't really about that guy.

He broke up with me, for reasons that I didn't understand and weren't really explained to me at the time. Which was awful. I was a hot mess, for a long time.

On the upside, that breakup helped be learn how to rebuild myself. That breakup helped me define myself in ways that didn't involve someone else.

I fully admit it. in my whole dating experience, up until this relationship I am in now, I was a "relationship chameleon". ( Fans of The League, please see the episode when Andre is called the same.)

I completely intertwine my life with my significant other, from the getgo. I make decisions based on him, instead of myself. I start doing the things he likes to do, instead of what I like to do. I start hanging out with his friends instead of my own. It's so stupid.

I never realized that was a problem until I got dumped for it.

I didn't start learning how to be myself until I was 25. I'm still working on figuring out who exactly I am, which is okay.

What wasn't okay is that I allowed myself to disappear in someone else and his life. I did it with the idea in my head that I wanted to be part of his life, but really I was just trying to make his life my life, in some weird way.

Either way, it wasn't healthy.

I built our relationship in such a way that I didn't know who I was without it. (Which I clearly didn't learn after I was married - yeah it takes me a couple times to learn some lessons.)

The person I was when I dated this guy was someone I would be so annoyed by otherwise: simpering, clingy.

I never had been that person before - the stereotypical "crazy" girlfriend. It was something I tried so hard to avoid that I ended up becoming it. Self-fulfilling prophesy, mayhaps?

After the fallout from that breakup and the mess that came afterwards, I learned a lot about myself. I didn't learn so much about who I wanted to be, but I did learn who I didn't want to be, which to me, was just as important.

The list of who I wanted to be was too long. The list of what I didn't want to be was much shorter and easier to determine at the time.

I'm sure that myself and that guy could never be friends. That's okay. I have no issue with that. I think it for the best, in all reality. There's no coming back from the way I acted, and no coming back from the way he left.

"It is what it is," as they say.

But I guess, looking back on it, I would probably have to thank that guy for what happened. If he hadn't had broken up with me, and I hadn't been so broken hearted over it, I wouldn't be where I am now, which is much stronger, much happier, and a more genuine version of myself than I have been in a long time.

I might still be trying to figure out who I am, but I know a lot of what I'm not. And the girl I was when I dated him is one of those things.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


I can't even imagine how many people are going to read this, roll their eyes, shake their heads and tell me I'm nuts.

A quarter life crisis is a real thing. I'm 26 and up to my eyeballs in it right now. (Cue the eyerolls.)

I feel like I have been in it for the last two years, with no real end in sight.

I have bouts of "EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!" moments, and a lot more of "omg what am I doing why is this happening I'm screwing everything up" moments.

I changed my major in college FOUR times. Yeah. Four. I started out as an English major, but then decided that I didn't want to teach and because I was dumb didn't think I could do anything else with an English degree (yes to all my high school English teachers, especially Mrs. S, I'm hanging my head in shame). So I changed my major to Psych.

I hated it.

This is the part of my life when I dropped out of college, got married and moved around the country. (Yes, that's for another post later.)

I went back to school as a Legal Studies major.


Decided that I really did want to write for a living, but that "being a writer" wasn't a real way to actually make money unless I was Stephen King or something. Which I am not, sorry to say.

Started the journalism major thing, which I liked and stuck with.

This is the part of my life when I got divorced, drove across the country back to my hometown by myself, moved into my own place, and graduated college.

So while all my friends are finishing graduate school, medical school, getting in promotions, getting solid careers and seeming like they have all their shit together, I'm rocking the fresh-out-of-college life with two part-time jobs because the job I went to college for isn't panning out like I hoped.

I like my jobs. I do. I like being able to work in a newsroom and be part of the news experience, but it's not what I was expecting/what my degree readied me for. (Mayhaps doing an online program for journalism wasn't such a great plan after all.)


Anyway, when I was living in California, a friend of mine went through the quarter life crisis. I watched it happen and I thought she was just being dramatic. (My baaaad.) I was in denial that it would happen to me because I wasn't like her.

Good Lord was I wrong.

Now I obviously know better.

As I'm sitting in my bedroom in my apartment that I share with two roommates (hiiiiiii) while they are off at work at their full-time jobs, I'm writing this blog post while texting with my boyfriend, while he's at his really fabulous full-time job, I am left wondering where the fuck I went wrong on my shit to get me here. (Hi regret feelings about being married and all that garbage, welcome back.)

Hindsight is always 20/20, isn't it?

I'm back to writing a blog, throwing myself into martial arts as much as I can when I'm not working. Which are the same things I was doing in college before I started questioning what I was doing because everyone else told me that what I was doing didn't make sense. When I was getting my degree just to have it, working toward my black belt because I wanted to teach martial arts, and I wanted to write in my spare time. And people told me I was nuts for wanting to do that.

I changed everything because I thought that's what I was supposed to do. In the end, that didn't work out so well, both personal life wise and career wise.

Right now, the personal life part is working out pretty well. So part of me is saying that if things hadn't gone the way they did, I wouldn't be here now.

However, when times get hard, I wonder what is wrong with me that I'm not in the same place as my peers, why I'm feeling like I'm spinning my wheels a lot of the time. I wonder why I never know what the hell I want to do with my life, down to the specifics.

When I was a kid, it was always "I want to be a writer."

When did that stop? When did I stop dreaming big like that? Why did I give up on that?

Some of us in our quarter life crises are trying to get back into dreaming big and doing what we can to make them real. But that fear of failure always creeps into the back of our minds. Why?

Failing is part of the American dream. Or at least, it used to be. That was part of the whole experience: taking a risk and it worked or it didn't. Now the pressure to succeed is a leaded blanket on our shoulders. Taking a chance and failing is a stigma.

It's such a throat gripping fear that if we don't succeed in a BIG and public way, we feel like all of our achievements up to this point aren't good enough. I do this all the time. I am a college graduate (like everyone else), I have a brown belt in martial arts (which took me forever to get because I was stupid and made terrible decisions) - see how we attack ourselves?

So what is the right decision? Keep on trucking, doing what we must until the big break comes, or take a chance on something else? When does taking a chance and it not working out start becoming a pattern to break?

The quarter life crisis is a real thing, kids. I'm just hoping it's a phase and doesn't just turn into a life crisis.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Life doesn't always work like it should.

Yeah, I know. Really general and cliche kind of title, but go with me here.

Remember that time we talked about having an Alpha personality? Okay, well sometimes part of that includes being a crazy and borderline psychotic perfectionist about EVERY. LITTLE. THING.

Let me tell you something.

Sometimes, that shit is annoying.

Speaking as someone who does the whole perfectionist thing a lot of the time, not only is it annoying and exhausting for you, it's frustrating for the people around you too.

Not everything in life is going to be perfect (unless you get incredibly lucky) and that's okay. It doesn't have to be. What will make life so much easier though, is letting go of the things that you can't make perfect - which sometimes is a LOT of things.

Small example: picking out a "just because" card for my boyfriend.

What used to happen: I would go to Wegmans (i.e. the grocery shopping mecca) and stand in the greeting card aisle for what seemed like ages, looking for the "just because" section. (Is it just me or is the greeting card aisle getting more and more specific? Birthday cards are now "birthday for him" or "birthday for her" and those have sub-categories for sisters and moms and wives and daughters and grandmothers and female dogwalkers) THERE IS NO JUST BECAUSE SECTION. So I went looking for the cards that are blank inside, looking for the perfect picture that would represent him/us/our relationship/stage in our lives/whatever the fuck because oh my god it has to be perfect or he's going to hate it. (False.)

What happens now: Go to Wegmans, pick up random card with funny picture/cute puppy/useable message and write something heartfelt inside. It could even be a get well soon card or something that doesn't make any sense at all, but the gesture is there and that's what matters.

See how much easier that was?

Yeah, I know, buying someone who already loves you a card and just picking one out and doing it because you're thinking about him/her isn't that difficult of a thing to just let be imperfect, but damnit, it's a step.

It's amazing how much less stressful picking out a card was after I just let it happen and let the GESTURE do the talking instead of the OBJECT. (Granted this doesn't work for every single person, because my boyfriend is a pretty awesome individual who appreciates my efforts even when I screw something up.)

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make here is that the outcome of whatever you're doing isn't always the most important thing. Sometimes, the efforts put in and the lesson learned along the way are far more important. You know, it's about the journey, not the destination, and all that jazz.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Why is loving yourself so hard?!

Seriously though, why is loving yourself such a hard thing to do? Why is accepting ourselves so difficult?

Maybe it's because we spend so much of our lives being bombarded with images and information telling us that we need to improve somehow - our hair, our skin, our bodies - there is always something out there reminding us how we can improve physically.

The media/society are always telling us the right way to look and dress, how thin we need to be, how curvy we need to be, how tall. These things constantly being shoved in our faces remind us regularly that we are not good the way we are.

This is just as much a reality for men as it is for women.

We are always told what is good for us and what is bad for us, instead of us being able to figure it out for ourselves.

We are told that we need to go to college to be smart, then when we finish college, we're told that we have to have a great job.

Eventually we are caught in the cycle of always being reminded that what we are doing and where we are in our lives isn't good enough.

Why? Why can't we take five whole minutes out of the "rat race" and remind ourselves that we are lovely, we are good and we are enough?

I'm not saying that we can't recognize that we need improvement in some areas. For me, I'm working to recognize and accept the woman that I am. For someone else, it might be working on not being as shy, whatever.

I was raised by my dad (with plenty of help from my grandparents), so I grew up in a man's household: football and NASCAR and Hamburger Helper for dinner. I picked up a lot of "male" traits.

I like cars and video games and sometimes fart jokes make me laugh. There aren't many topics that I consider taboo to talk about, and I curse more than most Marines I know.

None of this is something problematic. It's part of who I am.

The problem comes when I let these parts of me completely take over, to the point that I act completely different when I'm around a bunch of guys as I do when I'm around my female friends. It's become such a habit that I don't realize I do it.

I had a hard time accepting the fact that I'm a woman and do "female" things: doing my nails and my hair (sometimes, let's be honest here).

I think I never gave myself a chance to accept and appreciate the parts of me that are womanly. (And I don't mean my physical attributes.) I always felt like emotions were a "girl" thing, and if I were going to be one of the guys, I couldn't have them. Which is wrong.

I grew up learning that being a boy was better than being a girl. Boys were easier than girls. Which is really no fault of my dad's, he was just doing what he thought was best. I don't fault him for that.

So because of what I learned, I didn't appreciate who I was fully. I never really learned to love myself completely, and be my entire, true and genuine self.

Yes. I do things like a girl. Because I am a girl. I throw like a girl, I walk like a girl, I hit like a girl. I have feelings like a girl. I lift like a girl. I run like a girl. I cry like a girl.

For once, I'm starting to feel like there isn't anything wrong with that.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The problem with being a feminist.

Have you ever been told that you have an "alpha" personality?

Yeah, me too.

Two words that are usually associated with an alpha personality are dominant and aggressive. Sometimes these can be considered good things, sometimes bad things.

In my case, I feel like 90% of the time it's not good when people refer to me as aggressive or dominant.

I tout my opinion as facts (this restaurant is better than another, instead of "I like this place better than that one."), I often dismiss opponents in opinion as irrelevant.

How does this have anything to do with being a feminist, you ask? Well, let me tell you.

Feminism has a pretty bad rap. When you are woman who has strong opinions about equality between men and women, some people automatically assume that you're a man hating, "fem-nazi" who wants women to have better treatment than men, or who believe that ALL men are at fault for the inequality between the sexes.

Let me explain something to you.

I adore men. I date one. I was raised by one. (Of course, I don't adore men who are assholes, but I also don't adore women who are assholes.)

Men and women are different. There's no denying that. But just because that we are different doesn't mean that women shouldn't have the same chances as men.

That also means that men who fall outside the typical spectrum of masculinity because of their body types, the things they like, what they wear, etc, doesn't mean that they should be punished for that . I have a big problem with words that are associated with femininity/women (pussy, sissy, girly) are considered insults. 

Being a woman isn't something to use as an insult against someone. 

Feminism doesn't mean that women have more rights than men. It means that women have the SAME rights as men, and men do not lose the rights that they already have. 

(Feminism: the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.)

Anyone who thinks that there are things that men should be barred from simply because they are men, or blame men as a whole for the fact that women are not equals, is not really a feminist, as far as I'm concerned.

Men and women must be allies in equality. That's the only real way to get anything done and to make real changes in our society.

Men and women both need equality, I believe. Women need it so that we can have the same opportunities as our male counterparts, to be paid the same for the same work. Men need it so that it isn't considered taboo or wrong or unmanly to express emotion, to wear makeup if they want to, to be into fashion if they want to be.

We all must stand for each other. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sometimes being "one of the guys" is terrible.

I admit it.

I was one of "those" women. The type who always has a bunch of male friends and doesn't see anything wrong with that. The type who says that she has problems "getting along with" or understanding other women. Let me tell you something about women like me.

It's not you. It's us.

Sorry, sisters who hang out with the guys and always say it's because there is no drama. I'm blowing up your spot.

The reality is, (at least for me) the harsh terrain of high school social hierarchy left a really foul taste in my mouth and I never wanted to deal with it again.

Little did I realize that I dug my own hole for the longest time. That "I don't give a fuck" image that I was presenting to the world was a problem. It made me standoffish. (Ever heard that line: "when I first met you I thought you were a huge bitch". Yeah. Can't always blame it on the RBF.)

People thought I was a bitch because I WAS one. Or I didn't bother correcting them at all.

I had friends. Sure they were dudes and would never really get what being a girl/woman was all about, but hey, I had friends.

What I didn't understand then, that I truly understand now, is that I was at fault for perpetuating stereotypes against my own sex. "Bitches be crazy" or some nonsense that guys would say, I would agree with, because I thought I was just being one of the guys.

News flash younger me: you aren't one of the guys, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Sure. I have trained in Muay Thai for the last 8 years or so (off and on). I like video games. I like cars. I like a lot of "guy" things. I'm not really into makeup. I shop when I need stuff, not for fun. I paint my nails occasionally but it's not that big of a deal. I'm not huge into stereotypical "girl" things.

That isn't a valid excuse to say that I can't relate to other women. It's a cop out. It's laziness.

I used to make the same excuse. I didn't value my fellow women for who they were. I reduced them to their femininity. I turned them into flat characters instead of the brilliant, strong, multifaceted, complex human beings that they are. I was not a voice for women, or men who fall outside the typical male stereotype. I was a straight up asshole.

I'm not saying that you can't have guy friends. I still have many of the same guy friends that I had back then. We hang out. We also talk about their relationships, their careers, and their lives.

For a long time, I was giving my male friends better treatment than those women who I could have been friends with. I was treating my male friends like complex human beings, but was not extending that same courtesy to the women around me.

That's not okay.

I'm 26 now. I've learned much and have much to learn. I have female friends. I ask them about their lives, their jobs, their boyfriends/husbands/girlfriends/wives, their living situations, their troubles. The women around me have morphed from flat, 2-D characters, to complex emotional and wonderful human beings.

I'm sure that in my young and stupid days, I ruined some good chances of having a few good female friends. (All the regrets.)

But I think that without that time, and without the learning curve, I wouldn't appreciate my female friends like I do now.

Being one of the guys doesn't mean that you can't have female friends. It also doesn't mean that you can't be feminine.

Being a woman doesn't mean that you can't be tough. It doesn't mean that you can't be strong. It doesn't mean that you can't do the "manly" things, like drink beer and watch football.

Being a human means liking what you like, doing what you do, and finding people along the way that appreciate you for who you are.

Let's get this party started!

I'm Amanda. I'm 26.

That's me.

I'll be straight with you right off the bat. There will be opinions here. Lots of opinions and crap I will tout as advice. You don't always have to follow it.

I'm also foul-mouthed, emotional, and expressive, so I have no problem shooting off at the mouth and letting the chips fall where they may from time to time.

I'm also honest, somewhat amusing, and open to debate, talk, and sharing thoughts.

Welcome! We're all in for a wild ride.