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.)

DUMB IS NEVER CUTE.

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

Denial.

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.

BORING.

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.)

LOOK AT ME QUESTIONING MY DECISION MAKING AGAIN.

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.