A Few Thoughts, vol. 2

In October, I took a page out of Kelly’s book and decided to start a (apparently rare, since I haven’t written another post in months) series of posts for those thoughts that I can’t quite flesh out into a full-length post, but still want to talk about. Lately my notebook’s been filling up with these ideas again, and while I’d like to hopefully flesh out one or two of these ideas, I’d like to get them out there as much as I can now.

thoughts vol 2
Unsplash

Freedom of Speech

The Constitution is not your catch-all excuse to be a jackass. You don’t get to cry “freedom of speech” every time someone calls you out on your racist/sexist/homophobic/otherwise offensive and demeaning jokes, particularly when those “jokes” are contributing to a culture which continually puts down and both mentally and physically harms the people they are offensive towards. I can guarantee you that when the Constitution was written, that was not the intention.

I understand that a joke is oftentimes just a joke and that right now, this is probably a particularly controversial topic given recent events in France. However, making incredibly racist statements like “I got arrested for punching someone on New Years Eve. My instincts just kick in when I hear an Arab counting back from 10″ (this was an actual meme posted by one of my Facebook friends over the weekend) does not serve to prove your freedom or assert your right to free speech. What it does is prove is that whether or not you want to admit it, you’re incredibly bigoted and that you have no real understanding of either the Constitution or of relatively current events.

Friends

While watching Friends yesterday, I noticed that the guys’ Etch-a-Sketch changes throughout certain scenes. For example, in a scene I was watching yesterday, it flipped back and forth from “Get out” to “Poop” three times in one scene. Oooo the things you notice when you’re binge-watching Friends on Netflix.

That, and that Ross’s son would be about 20 years old right now. Just sayin’.

Cassandra C.

On Thursday, a Connecticut court ruled that a 17-year-old girl could be taken into state custody (despite having a good mother who had done absolutely nothing wrong), sedated, and tied to a hospital bed so as to receive cancer treatment she did not want.

Many people in support of the court’s decision to forcefully treat Cassandra are saying that she’s only 17 and therefore, a child in the eyes of the law. I’ll look over the fact that at 17, if Cassandra had committed a violent crime she’d be tried as an adult and that also at 17, she’s expected to be deciding what she wants to do for the rest of her life. If the overwhelming opinion is that she is an incompetent child unable to make her own medical decisions (which, later this year, you’ll all decide that she is magically capable of making on the day of her 18th birthday), then that would leave the decision up to her mother who also rejected chemotherapy, in accordance with her daughter’s wishes. Just because you do not agree with someone’s medical decisions does not mean you get to reject those decisions and replace them with your own.

Cassandra’s body is Cassandra’s body. Not her doctors’. Not Child Protective Services’. Not the state’s. Hers and hers alone which in America should be more than enough to mean that she gets to determine her own medical treatment. Even if the doctors are right that without this treatment, Cassandra will die in two years, that’s her decision to make.

Forcing treatment on someone who doesn’t want it is assault and a ridiculous violation of basic human rights, and I just cannot fathom why we need to be having this discussion in America. Why the doctors were ever able to call CPS and have Cassandra taken away from the only family she has. And why ultimately, the court sided with those doctors.

Crying Wolf

Obviously, I’m an outspoken feminist. It’s something I write about consistently on this blog, and regularly debate or discuss on social media and with people in my life. However, I recognize that there are limits to the things you will hear me say or do for that cause.

One thing that I see done constantly which I believe is hurting the case is feminists who speak out – loudly and with refusal to hear any opposing opinion – about “sexist” problems that frankly, just don’t exist (see: autocorrect is not out to propagate a misogynistic culture). While I understand the basic purpose of pointing out misogyny and sexism in everyday life (and absolutely agree with it!), finding sexism everywhere – even where it isn’t – only serves to make people stop listening (and is probably making you pretty miserable).

I am all for discussing any and all feminist issues – big or small – because they are all problems within our society which contribute to a much larger problem of continuing to hold men up over women. However, there has to be a line somewhere that people stop crossing just to discuss issues. Just to hold something up and call it sexism. The more you cry out about non-issues, the more people will decide that feminism must not be very serious because all of the issues you’re bringing up don’t exist. And that is a serious problem. 

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

I’m (slowly) working on reading this book, and while I’m really enjoying learning more about myself and that I’m certainly not the only introvert in the world (it can sometimes feel that way), I’m also becoming a little discouraged.

Susan Cain does a fantastic job of discussing the amazing achievements of introverts throughout American history, and of the contributions we make to society, but none of that can mask the fact that, despite all of that, introverts are not only undervalued but avoided in mainstream society. In fact, Cain discusses a relatively long history of introverts being “bad” because they don’t want to spend every waking moment in the company of others, being deemed antisocial and therefore unhirable. We teach children that to not want to socialize is to be unsuccessful, and that position carries into our post-graduate lives when we start applying and interviewing for jobs in offices.

While I truly am enjoying Cain’s book (slowly, because it is filled with research and can be a little difficult to get through in a regular reading sort of way) and the things I’m learning from it, and I recognize that she can’t change the reality of the situation, the book is a little more disappointing than I’d been hoping for. In short, I’m still struggling with my identity as an introvert more than I’d been hoping I would after reading this book.

15 Things I’ve Learned in 23 Years

Well, it’s official – I’m 23-years-old.  I spent a while trying to come up with an interesting post for today, and basically I couldn’t come up with anything that hasn’t been done to death.  So here I am, with 15 lessons I’ve learned in 23 years (because 23 sounds like as good an age as any to be ridiculously cliche, so I might as well milk the opportunity), and a few I’m still working on learning.

life lessons

1. Not everyone’s going to like you, and that has to be okay.

2. It’s okay to not be the “best” at anything.  As long as there’s something you love, that you work hard at, that’s enough. Actually…I think I’m still working on learning this one.

3. Reality TV is crap, and none of it is a true representation of “reality.”  The sooner you realize that, the sooner you’re going to stop worrying about the absolutely insane way that members of the Big Brother house treat each other.

4. The only way to know something is important to you is if you stand up for it.  If you’re not willing to defend your beliefs, how can you say that they’re really important to you?

5.  It’s okay to want to be alone sometimes.

6.  There are certain people that you don’t want in your life because they’re frankly kind of awful.  As much as it sucks right now, it’s SO much easier to just cut them out.

7.  Sometimes, your cat really is your best friend (or is that just me?)

8. Move your laundry into the dryer AS SOON as it’s finished washing.  Okay…maybe that’s another thing I’m still working on.

9. You don’t have to be “doing what you love” for a living, as long as you’re making time to do what you love at some point.

10.  Sometimes, like when he’s biting you for NO REASON AT ALL, your cat is not at all your best friend.  Or is that just me, too?

11.  Online dating is a thing, and at some point you’re probably going to do it.

12.  It’s okay to have no idea where you want to be 10 years from now – I don’t think anyone knows for sure.

13.  If you make a promise, stick to it.  Don’t back out of plans with one person because someone else showed up with better plans.

14.  Read! Not just because it’s a fun way to spend your time, but because it teaches you about the world around you and about other people.  Read articles online, read the news, read books, read poems… Read whatever you can get your hands on because every sentence is another piece of your culture.

15.  Know who you are, and know what you’re worth.  Don’t let someone tell you that your standards are too high or that you expect too much – there’s someone out there who’s going to meet those expectations.

A Few Thoughts, vol. 1

Today, I’m taking a book out of Kelly’s book and writing a sort of summary of the blog posts I’d like to write, but can’t seem to put into words. These are post ideas I’ve had floating around my notebooks, Evernote, and WordPress drafts for months, but I can’t seem to write them out fully.

a few thoughts

Is College Worth It

It wasn’t until recently that I ever questioned the worth of my college education, or whether I’d change it if I could.  I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t know I’d be going to college one day, even though I’d be the first in my family.  All the money I knew I’d owe one day seemed somehow not quite real, and of course the things I’d learn would be worth it.  The importance of having a college degree seemed undeniable to be honest, so questioning its worth never even occurred to me.

That was, until last month when I received my first loan statement and realized that my monthly loan payments are more than I pay in rent each month (and I honestly wish that were an exaggeration.)  Staring down these last few weeks before I have to make that first payment, I’ve questioned more and more whether getting a college degree was worth it, and I know I’m not the only one.  Last month, Philadelphia Magazine thought it was a big enough question to warrant an entire issue dedicated to it, and more and more students are electing to go right from high-school graduation to working full-time.

I know that the four years I spent as a college student made me an entirely different person, and that the education I gained is worth more than words can say; to the point where, if I were to run into my 14-year-old self today I might hardly recognize her or the opinions she holds, and that’s something I wouldn’t give up for the world. But looking down the barrel of nearly $100,000 in debt, I wonder if I wouldn’t have experienced the same changes or become the same person without a university to guide me there.

But for all this doubt, it’s also undeniable that a college diploma garners you something. That 90 percent of my co-workers have college degrees, and even people with a diploma are having trouble finding a job today. Without a degree, even if I were the same person, where would I be? Would the lack of debt make it worth it?

What Do Rap Lyrics Even Mean?

But honestly though, I can’t remember very many rap songs where I thought “now that is a great message” or even, if not a great message, at least that there was one there (well, other than the not-so-subliminal message that being gay is the crime of the century, drugs are the best thing you could do with your life, and women exist solely for your sexual pleasure).  Over the last couple months, I’ve spent a few nights in the university’s art studio with my roommate, listening to the rap that a classmate of hers plays loudly and incessantly for hours at a time.

And do you know what I realized?  I could not tell you the “meaning” behind a single one of the songs that student played; and I think that’s my problem with rap.  I’ve always believed that music reflects us as human beings, and that there has never been a single moment in history that music did not permeate.  I believe that music is our way of thinking, of sharing, and of learning and that all good music has something to it, some meaning to be felt or new idea to be thought through.

I don’t know that I’d enjoy the style even if were a different topic being sung about, but my biggest problem is that there’s no point to rap; that is, unless your idea of a “point” is to encourage high-school guys to treat women like shit. Am I missing something, or is there really not a theme to any rap music?

On Confidence

Okay, let’s be honest: every single person in the world suffers with a lack of confidence in themselves. I can guarantee you that even President Obama and Beyonce have moments where they’re unsure, think they’re not good enough, or imagine that everyone they know can’t stand them.

Somehow though, for women a lack of confidence is an expectation and at the same time, something we are constantly telling little girls is “unattractive.”  We plaster the media with unachievable goals in the form of photoshopped models and insane success stories about that one 14-year-old in back-woods Ohio who started her own business without any sort of an education to help her along. We tell girls and women all the ridiculous pedestals they’re supposed to step up onto and, when they’re unsure of their ability to reach our expectations for them, we tell them that their lack of confidence in themselves is unattractive.  On the same token though, a woman who is confident in her abilities and her appearance is full of herself.

While a lack of confidence is something everyone in the world suffers from, boys and men are not expected to suffer from it.  A 24-year-old man who brags about his accomplishments is confident and enviable where a woman bragging of the same accomplishments is full of herself and vain.

Thoughts from the Art Studio: The Deep Questions

In the months since my college graduation, I’ve spent more time in the art studio than in the last four years combined.  My roommate is an art student taking five studio classes, which means that if I’m ever going to see her, it’s going to be while surrounded by paintings, charcoal-drawn portraits, and ceramics.

I don’t really mind it – I’ve always wished I were better at the arts, and something about being surrounded by it all is inspiring. About watching a blank canvas turned into a still-life painting, or a lump of clay turned into a teapot; it makes me want to create, even if it’s not the same type of creation.

So, as I write this from a rap-filled art studio (a fact about which I wish I were kidding), I’m confronted with certain questions.  I guess you could say I’m inspired to ask the deeper questions about life.

the deep questions

What do rap lyrics even mean?

As in, other than undertones of sex, drugs, homophobia, and sexism.  When you sit in an otherwise quiet studio listening to Childish Gambino “sing” about “coke up his asscrack,” you’re forced to wonder how that would even happen in a real-life situation.  And why that would make any woman want to have sex with him.  And what “.38 revolve like the sun round the earth,” even means; you do realize it’s actually the opposite, right Jay-Z?

Is a lie really a lie if you mean it at the time?

Okay, this wasn’t my question.  It’s Scroobius Pip’s question, if I’m being honest.  But he raises a good point, and now I’m curious.  I think I’ll have to get back to you with my thoughts on this one…

Actually, Scroobius makes a lot of good points.  He seems to be the answer to my question of whether there’s a single rapper out there whose lyrics make any sense.  But you’ll have to excuse me for being ignorant about it until tonight, because until an hour ago, I didn’t know British Rap was even a thing.

Are our passions genetic?

As I’m sitting here watching my roommate do what she’s wanted to do for as long as I’ve known her, I’m realizing that we’ve both somehow ended up doing exactly what our mothers were doing at our age.   Is that genetic, something we were always going to end up doing? Or just coincidence?  In the end, do we really have any choice as to who we become, or are we all just basically going to become a combination of both of our parents – part shy and curious from my father, part stubborn and determined from my mother.

I’d like to believe that while we are a combination, we’re also from ourselves, something new that doesn’t come entirely from either side.  What about you?  What do you think?

On Making My First Bucket List




For the last several months, I’ve started out with a list of goals at the beginning of the month; a set of things I hope to accomplish within those set four weeks.  Since I’ve started this, I’ve noticed how much more I am able to get done, the things that I never would have even approached if I hadn’t written it down on May, June, July, August 1st.

One thing I have noticed though, is that most of these goals are short-term: read five books, write seven articles, yoga every day for a month, etc.  What I haven’t accomplished yet is a list of long-term goals – things I hope to have accomplished in the next five, 10, or even 20 years.  I think this is because most of the time, as much as I love and have grown from goal-setting, Bucket List has a sort of childish ring to it.  Or maybe, to me at least, it just feels like a list of things I’ll never actually get around to, a set of make-believe goals I’ll forget about as the years pass.

But more and more recently, I’m realizing how important it is to have a list like this, if for no other reason than to be able to look back in a few years and realize how much I’ve done that I wanted to.  So starting today, right here and right now, I’m starting my first bucket list: a compilation of the realistic dreams that right now, are just beyond my fingertips, or maybe even further beyond.  The things that I want more than anything, and that I know I can do one day.


Travel

// Go to London
// See Vatican City
// Take a road trip across America
// Ride an elephant in South Africa
// Fill my passport
// Go on vacation to another country by myself


Career

// Publish a book of essays/short stories
// Reach a point with my blog where I am making more than I am spending on it
// Pay off my student loans
// Work somewhere where I have my own office
// Open an Etsy shop and sell my work
// Teach someone something important


Life

// Live alone for at least a year
// Live in a state other than Pennsylvania
    // NYC
    // San Francisco
// Be someone’s Maid of Honor
// Learn a second language
// Start horse-back riding again

Right now, my list is short – just a few things in each category.  And I don’t plan to set a timetable for this, because I believe that some of these things may take years, maybe even most of my life.  But that doesn’t make them any less worth accomplishing.

Finding Honesty in Blogging

We’ve all heard it before – blogging brings out the best in us.  These blogs we spend time reading each day are written through rose-tinted glasses, and that’s absolutely on purpose.  Nobody wants to tell a world full of people they don’t know the nitty gritty not-so-great details of their lives, and I know I’m definitely guilty of that.


Like I’m sure most of you, I’m not entirely comfortable with a tell-all – something I’m so good at in life, where I tell my friends everything (whether or not they really want to hear it) and am almost entirely incapable of keeping secrets about my own life.

Maybe it’s that for me, this place isn’t a diary…at least not the traditional hide-under-your-bed-with-a-lock-on-it kind of diary.  For me, this place is one where I come to share, not my life, but my writing, my inspiration, my attempts at what I hope is art.

I want to be honest, to tell you all the truth, but only part of it.  It’s not that I’m perfect, or that I want to pretend I am.  Nothing about my life could be construed as “perfect.”  I’ve struggled with anxiety, doubt, failure.  But that’s not what I come here for.

Maybe it’s just that, for me at least, this blog is a place to build a community of people with ideals, with beliefs, with independence and moral value running through them.  To me, the details of my every-day-life don’t necessarily factor in, and most days, they don’t have to.

I don’t want you to think that I’ve got everything figured out (because I absolutely don’t), or that this is the image I want to project.  I just want different things to come from this blog than the details of my life.  I don’t want to lie here (and I don’t), but maybe telling the absolute every-single-detail truth doesn’t need to happen to ensure I’m not lying.

And if I’m being honest – which I truly want to be – I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  So what about you – what’s the most important thing to you in blogging?

A Few Thoughts

One of the hardest things in blogging, at least for me, isn’t coming up with post ideas; I’ve got hundreds of those, actually.  For me, the trouble comes in putting those thoughts into words cohesive enough to be understood.  Most days, I’m able to make it work – in the few short hours before I have to put on a blazer and make my way into the office, procrastination pays off and I find myself writing something I’m proud of.  Today though that doesn’t seem to be happening, so instead I’ve got some disjointed and incomplete thoughts I’ve been wanting to share.

// I’ve seen a few articles floating around the Internet about this Facebook group.  When I first read some of the posts on this page, I thought it was a parody – “I don’t need feminism because the men in my life respect me.”  Like alright…I’m not sure I understand what point you’re trying to make.

I realized though that these women just don’t know what feminists actually stand for and are trying to accomplish.  Somehow, they got caught up in the idea of “man-hating, bra-burning” feminists, and never took the time to figure out what the movement was really about.  They found the Tea Party, but not the Republicans.

I don’t think I could put it better than my roommate, who said “I just don’t understand how you get a whole group together to fight against something, without any of you ever thinking to look into what that thing actually is.”

And if you ask me, a lot of them seem as though they have some pretty feminist beliefs, if they only knew what it was.

// While we’re on the subject, Kelly and I are planning a feminist-themed link-up that we’re super excited about! The F-Word Link-Up is going to be a monthly feminist link-up for all those bloggers out there searching for other feminist writers. On the first Thursday of each month, we’ll be sharing our posts along with an optional prompt, starting on August 7th with the prompt “when did you realize you were a feminist.”

// I’ve been posing a lot of blogging-themed questions on Twitter lately, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

- What made you start blogging, and is that the same reason you still do?
– What are your opinions on making money from your blog
– How do you come up with blog post ideas?
– How many hours a week would you say you spend on blogging and related activities?

// Even now that I’ve graduated, I’m always getting the question “you know there’s not really any money in that, right?” when people learn that I majored in Communications and Journalism. As though somehow I spent four years learning about the publishing and newspaper industries without ever hearing that they’re not doing too great right now.
I’d like to write a more in-depth post about this when I have the time/energy, but suffice to say: I don’t want to wake up in 50 years and wonder what I spent all this time doing with my life. Let’s all just admit now that we’re going to be working well into our 80s, and I don’t want to spend 60 plus years of my life doing something I hate.  I want to come home from work feeling like what I do matters, and not dreading that I have to get up at 7am to go back again tomorrow.  If that means making $40,000 instead of $100,000 a year, then I guess I’ll take it because to me, happiness is worth more.  And math, medicine, or computer technology (among other things) never would have done that for me.  Not for all the money in the world.
// Have you heard of reader’s ADD? Because I think I have it. I’m halfway through about six different books right now, and I can’t seem to settle on one long enough to finish reading it. Is this something anyone else deals with?

Thoughts You Will Have on the Morning of Your New Job

here

//  What if they think I’m overdressed? Is a blazer too much? Maybe I should just wear a nice shirt….

//  What if I don’t know what I’m doing?  Maybe I’ll screw everything up and they’ll hate me.

//  Shit shit shit shit, I’m going to mess up so bad!

//  No.  I’m going to be fine.  They hired me for a reason, and I’m going to do good, and everything’s going to be great!

//  Does this outfit look too matronly?

//  Should I bring lunch?  Or are we going to get food somewhere?  Or will I even have time to eat…

//  What if they think I’m an idiot?
// You’re not an idiot, Kiersten.  Calm the eff down.
//  Wait…hair up or down?  Does down look unprofessional?  
//  What if I screw up so bad they tell me they made a mistake and not to come back?

Finding Happiness in the Monotony of Contentment

Sometimes, I think it’s important to give yourself a little reminder of all the things you have to be happy about, like good friends and delicious tea.  Between the fear and monotony of job hunting, the exhaustion of a waitressing job five to seven days a week at two different restaurants, bills piling up, and broken window latches, it’s easy to lose sight of happiness and settle for just content on most days.

here

With all the things pulling us down, it’s so so difficult to lift ourselves up and put a smile on our face each day.  But I’m a firm believer that it’s impossible to make it through this life without a little bit of happiness, and a whole lot of hope.

Let’s face it – things could be a hell of a lot simpler.  For the most part, we do a lot of this to ourselves with 9-5 jobs, bills, and a one-track mind on the next step.  So much of the time, we forget to pay attention to the here and now, to the beautiful moment we’re in and the success we had today. I certainly know I’m guilty of this.  Hell – within five minutes of grasping my diploma in my hand, the smile was wiped off my face and replaced by the utter terror of “what the hell do I do now?” And I could see that same exact fear on the faces of my now former-classmates sitting all around me. And just in case I didn’t reach that terror on my own, I get asked “so what are you doing now” by well-meaning people almost daily.

Don’t get me wrong – the future is important.  I know that I have to figure out what comes next, and the people asking me about it are only trying to help the best way they know how.  But as a society, we have a one-track mind on monetary and job-related success.  Those are great things!  But they aren’t the only things.  And I think I’ve come to the conclusion that if I did have to pick one thing, it’d be happiness.

I may be the last person who should be saying this given my sordid history with happiness (a story for another day…should I ever get the courage to tell it), but “just content” is no way to live, and starting today I want to make sure that I never (or…usually don’t) forget that.

Starting today, I want to trade “content” for “happy.”

Finding a Solution

here

By now, everyone’s heard about the most recent college shooting in California.  My heart hurts too much thinking about it to recount the details, but I promised myself that I would try to talk about it on here.

Since 2006, there have been 74 mass shootings in America, each one both more and less shocking than the last.  It has become an epidemic in our country that no other developed country experiences to the same degree, and yet each year we experience more than the previous.  Already there have been three this year, and in 2013 there were a total of 11 mass shootings (USA Today).

And yet, we haven’t made any real changes to try to prevent it from happening so often.  Instead, we fight back and forth about whether gun control is necessary.  For the record – I fully believe it is.  I don’t think there’s any way left of denying that, particularly because this shooter did not have any serious mental illnesses which could have caused him to bring a gun into a sorority house and kill seven women.  He had been diagnosed with high-functioning Aspergers Syndrome, a disease which is in no way responsible for his actions.

While mental healthcare obviously needs to be reformed in America, that alone will not prevent this from happening again and again.  This man killed seven women simply because he felt that their not sleeping with him was an “unforgivable crime.”  He had been taught by society and the media that men of a certain age are entitled to a girlfriend, to sex – a “lesson” we’ve certainly all heard.  He had a Youtube channel which he posted videos on about these beliefs, the final one being a confession, and yet still he managed to get into the Alpha Phi house with a gun on Friday.

I am not suggesting that our culture alone is responsible.  Certainly I have met men who feel they are in some way entitled to a relationship, but none of them have considered murder an acceptable solution to being single.  And I’m not suggesting that gun control or mental healthcare alone would fully solve the problem.  But they are all a start, and the far smaller number of mass shootings in other first-world countries proves that there is a solution.

There is a way to ensure that these numbers don’t keep rising.  We simply need to work for it, to stop suggesting that the men and women lost aren’t important enough to warrant change.