STOP SHAMING.

I have been very bothered recently by a video that’s been going around of sorority women at a baseball game.

The women are not really paying attention to the game. They are looking at their phones, taking selfies, and posing for pictures with each other. And the announcers are making fun of them. “Oh, does this one look better than the other 300 that I’ve taken?” an announcer mocks. They also finish announcing a play, pan to the girls and say “And nobody noticed!” They also make comments about how they should take away their phones and not give them back until the end of the game.

The number of people that have shared this mocking the women makes me infuriated. And I’ll tell you why. I’m assuming that people think this video is a representation of a. That these girls don’t care about sports. b. They are selfish, too into themselves and their beauty and c. They should not be there if they are not paying attention to the game. and d. They are a billboard for “this generation” and it is “horrible.”

What I don’t understand is that obviously there was not much going on important in the game, otherwise THE CAMERA WOULD BE ON THE GAME AND NOT THE GIRLS. So why are people so angry? If there’s a lull in the action, why wouldn’t they check their phones?

And hey, have you ever gone to a concert and taken a selfie with your friends during the concert? Have you ever gone to an event and had a few adult beverages and now can’t remember exactly what happened? Have you ever answered your phone while you’ve been out with friends? Have you ever taken a picture of yourself IN GENERAL? Then technically you’re doing the same exact thing that the women were doing, and you should not be shaming them for that. And you know what? The women were paying customers. That means they get to do WHATEVER THEY WANT during the game. If they choose not to pay attention, so be it. Maybe they wanted to experience the atmosphere and not necessarily watch the game. But they should be able to do that. Because they PAID to.

I guess what bothers me most is this video and the comments that people are making perpetuates stereotypes. “Girls don’t understand sports. Girls love taking selfies. Girls shouldn’t be able to go to a game and not pay attention. Sorority girls are dumb. This generation cares about nothing other than themselves.”

The College Panhellenic Association at Arizona State University, where the womresponseen were from, had a beautiful response to the comments going around.

In case you can’t read the photo, it states, “…(We do) not condone the sexist and misogynistic comments made towards the women in the Panhellenic community…We support the women of Alpha Chi Omega who have been subjected to inappropriate an inexcusable media attention. We believe the comments are undermining women’s confidence, projecting negative stereotypes intended to demean and diminish the worth of our fellow sorority women and ASU students, and continue to promote a sexist environment within professional sports.” It then goes on to list the many accomplishments of the women in the sorority and the great things that they have done. The final paragraph states, “We cannot sit silent nor idle as our fellow women are treated in such a chauvinistic way. We want to take this opportunity to educate all those who have participated in these negative comments on the importance of respecting women and how their words have a greater impact on breaking the glass ceiling of women’s rights.”

I found this response on Facebook posted under the video of the women, and thought it was perfect. Apparently other people did not though, and went so far as to question why you “can’t call a girl a girl these days.”

FIRST of all, they are not “girls”, they are women. SECOND of all, things that perpetuate stereotypes like these or even jokes made about women that are “not harmful” are actually indeed harmful. These ideas contribute to an environment where people think it is okay to think these things about women and continue to escalate the cycle of privilege and oppression. So to some people, I’m sure I’m “overreacting.” But I’m tired of hearing that women are vain. I’m tired of hearing they can’t be into “manly things” such as sports. I am tired of hearing that this generation is doomed because we are glued to technology. Because you know what? It’s not just this generation that’s glued into technology; Everyone contributes to a society where technology is so valued as it is today.

I am grateful that I work with college students, because although I do have to deal with negative situations, I also deal with extremely positive ones. I have watched students help each other. I have watched students fight for their rights and the rights of others. I have watched a group of women in a sorority put on events that are philanthropic in nature and contribute positively to society. I have watched a group of young black men hold an event to talk about stereotypes and share their voice in order to break the cycle of oppression. I witness sisterhood. I witness brotherhood. I witness random acts of kindness. And I get to see these things every day. So I may be privileged in that regard, because I don’t think this generation is doomed. It may be, though, if people continue to spread things that demean others and continue to hold them back. But I won’t sit idly by and watch it happen, because I know we can do better.

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Embracing the Single Life.

*snaps*

I’ve got a confession to make-I’ve never ever ever been comfortable with being single.

I’ve been single for my entire life, but I have always hated it. (Well, hate’s a strong word I guess…regardless). I’ve always wanted to be in a relationship, wanted someone to share this life with. I’ve been so impatient, believing that someone’s going to come around the corner one day and then I’ll be able to say Oh, there you are.  Here’s the thing: I’m afraid of being alone for the rest of my life. Not many people have really shown an interest in being with me, and that has contributed to my fear. I can honestly say it is the thing that worries me the most…because I’ve done the single thing for my entire life and I’ve never been satisfied by it. To face an entire lifetime of it FREAKS ME OUT. I know that there’s more. I know that I have so much love to give. I just don’t know why no one wants it.

This fear started very young. Every single place I’ve ever gone, I think “Oh, maybe I’ll meet someone there.” It doesn’t matter where it was-the mall, the grocery store, even church camp-I found myself fantasizing that I would meet someone and I’d live happily ever after. What a crock. Not the fact that that happens, but the fact that I literally would fantasize about it every. single. time.

Name the dating site, and I’ve tried it. I’ve gotten NOTHING. NADA. Well, I actually shouldn’t say “nothing”. I got one date with someone who I was not very attracted to, but wanted to give a shot because hey, he was willing and he seemed nice. The most recent try has frustrated me to no end. I feel like most of the people I come into contact want one thing and one thing only…and that’s not something that I am going to give them right away. I want romance. I want to be wooed, for God’s sake. Are there no men who want that as well?!

Do I have too high of standards? No, I don’t think so. I think the man that I want and need in my life is out there…just not anywhere around me apparently. I used to be afraid that no one would want me because of the way that I look, and sometimes I still think it turns some guys away, but I think that everyone has their “thing” that they’re not attracted to, and I can’t fault people for that. I can fault them for not being open-minded enough, but anyway.  Am I too independent? I mean, here’s the thing: when I show interest in someone, it’s not because I need them, it’s because I WANT them. I haven’t necessarily said that aloud to anyone, but do I give off the vibe of not needing anyone? Is that turning people away? I’m not sure.

So why does this all matter? I mean, I know that I can be happy being single. I am the happiest I’ve ever been right now. I’ve done so much growing over the past three years. I’m more confident, more sure of myself, and I’ve done things I never thought I could do. I’ve been able to travel a lot, and discovered I love it. Living by myself has been a really great experience, and I’ve learned to depend on me. I freaking packed up and moved my life to Virginia for two years, for goodness sake. I would have never been able to do that had I been in a relationship-or it would have made my relationship ten times harder if I had been. Actually, it was one of the reasons why I decided to go to Virginia: besides family and friends I had nothing holding me back, so why not take the opportunity?

Even though I’m so grateful for everything I have in my life right now, and I know that I am so incredibly lucky to be where I am, something still feels like it’s missing. I don’t feel right, and I don’t feel whole. I’m not satisfied. I don’t want to believe it’s a relationship. I don’t want to think that I need a relationship in my life to feel complete. I know that in order for any relationship to work I need to be complete and whole first. But something feels just off-kilter for me right now. I want to fill the hole…I just don’t know what will fill it.

Therefore, I have decided to stop disliking my single-ness and just embrace it. I don’t think I’ve ever really done that before-as much as I want to believe I have, I know it’s not true. I’ve constantly looked for a relationship, or I’ve thought about being in a relationship, or planned for what I want my future relationship to look like, or thought about why I’m not in a relationship yet. I will say that I have adjusted to being single-moving to a new place with no one else I knew around me forced me to get used to doing things alone. I’m now comfortable shopping, eating in restaurants, and even taking mini-vacations by myself-and I know not many people can say that.  But I don’t think I ever fully enjoyed it-I always wished I didn’t have to be or wondered what other people thought about me while doing those things.  I just need to become more comfortable with my single-ness and truly enjoy it, and not worry about being single. I tell people all the time-“You’re still so young! You’ll find someone!” But I have never told that to myself-partially because I never believed I would. But I know that someone is out there who will be everything that I want…yet perhaps I’m not quite ready for it yet. It could have to do with this discomfort I’m feeling. I may think I’m ready for a relationship, but maybe I still have more work to do. Maybe that’s what Life is trying to tell me. So you know what, Life? I’m going to listen.

I’m making a commitment to not focus on relationships or dating, and just focus on me and myself. I will probably still feel lonely sometimes. I will probably still wish that I had someone next to me. But I’m not going to hone in on those feelings. I’m going to feel them and let them pass-because I have a different focus right now. And who knows-a lot of people say love happens when you’re not looking. Well, I won’t be looking-but it’s not the reason why I’m not looking. I need to figure out what will satisfy me, and become my own person without wondering who I’d be in a relationship. And maybe in embracing my singleness I’ll find I’m truly and finally ready to enter into a relationship-but at the end of all this if I’m not, I also need to know that I’ll be okay.

One word: Confidence

I want to feel brave enough to do anything I put my mind to!

Recently I came upon the “One Word” Movement. I was reading through some old documents and saw that the building I’m currently running had decided to do this as a staff. Essentially people who choose to do this will pick one word that they want to live up to for the entire year…kind of like a New Year’s resolution, only more manageable. I found this a profound idea, and from the documents I was reading it seemed like the students and staff really took to it. Not only that, but they said it helped them set goals and they actually saw a real improvement in themselves.
Then, yesterday, I read this article that essentially stated the same thing, with a twist-a man decided to change his password to something he wanted to accomplish-forgiving his ex-wife. He found it very healing, very cathartic, and over time he began to set goals for himself by changing his password. It was a reminder every day to do the things he wanted to do-and he found these one word phrases to be very powerful in his life. To anyone who says words can’t hurt or do nothing, I beg to differ. But anywho…
I’ve decided to join the movement. What better time than my first professional job than to come up with a “New Year’s Resolution” of sorts? And so, for me, my word is going to be one of the things I find to be the hardest: confidence.
It’s hard to say when my struggle with self-acceptance began, but I think it started when I was young. I’d always been chubby, and my family has always been very body-conscious. I’ve struggled with that my whole life. Then to top that off, my brother and I are 14 months apart, with me being the elder. He did well in school while I struggled. He was athletic while I was more creative and musically inclined. Even though it was unintentional (or at least I hope it was), there was definitely some competition and rivalry between us. I think it’s these factors that made me self-conscious. I just wanted to be accepted and loved by everyone…and I still do. It was a hard thing for me to realize that no matter how nice I am, no matter how well I sing, no matter how I look, no matter how much I try to make other people happy, not everyone is going to like me. However, that didn’t stop me from trying. It got to this really unhealthy point where I realized I was only doing things because other people told me to, not because I truly enjoyed them. That’s when I started doing things for me.
It has been a rocky road. I almost didn’t go to grad school. I had trouble finding an assistantship, and then when I did I was lonely. But I grew. I grew so much that I was honored as the Graduate Assistant of the Year. Then the job search struggles happened. I learned to just be myself and that it wasn’t always about me, it was about fit. That was hard, wondering if I fit somewhere that I really liked. But eventually I’ve found my new job, and like my last post mentioned, I’m unbelievably happy. But I still struggle with confidence, and wondering if other people like me.
The thing is, I know that they loved me here and that’s why they hired me. They believed I would fit in with the other people and that I would make a great addition to the team. I am going to try my best and my hardest to make sure that I am a great addition, but I also need to believe that I already am. I have what it takes. I’ve got skills. I’m competent. I can do this. As for other people liking me…well, if they don’t, at least they respect me. Again, not everyone is going to like you. People naturally bond with other people. But I’m here to do a job, and as long as I have my colleague’s trust and respect, that’s all I need.
So my word for this year is “confidence”. Every time I feel unworthy, I’m going to think this word. Every time I question a decision, I’ll remember to trust myself and my abilities. Every time I feel like I’m feeling vulnerable, I’m going to remember to be confident. And in the end, I hope I really will feel confidence in myself without having to try. I want it to come naturally. I believe in the power of one word, and I welcome the changes this word will bring.

Learning how to “Be OK”

I just want to be ok, be ok, be ok...

The lyrics of Ingrid Michaelson poured through my ears as I sat in my apartment, alone yet again on another Saturday night. My friends back at home were all going out to the bars and having fun together, and I was stuck 600 miles away at my new position. I was trying to not feel jealous, because I missed them all terribly, and I did not have anyone to go out with myself. I felt alone and ignored. I was miserable…and if I truly admitted it to myself, I was homesick.

When I moved to my graduate institution, I naively thought that I would not have a long or difficult adjustment period. I thought I would settle in and be busy right away. I wouldn’t have time to miss anyone or anything! I’d make friends right away! My staff would instantly love me! The truth of the matter is…none of that was true.

Change is a constant thing, and I had been going through a lot of it lately. I thought that I would be able to navigate ANY change with grace and ease. Would I miss my friends? Sure, but I’d get over it! I don’t talk to my parents every day anyway. What’s the harm in moving a ten-hour drive distance? Well…it was way more difficult than I thought, partially because I thought I was adept at making changes. But here’s the thing that I learned: no matter how many changes you face, each one has their own challenges and outcomes, and they’re all different. Just because I adjusted well to one change does not mean I’m going to adjust well to all of them. And that was a hard thing for me to understand.

As my graduate experience comes to a close, I know now the key to adjusting to change is to anticipate it. Welcome it. Embrace it. “Be ok” with it. I wish now that I had been more proactive in getting to know those around me. I could have reached out more to my fellow colleagues. I could have gone out into the community and found new and different things to do. I could have jumped into new friendships and relationships with both feet. But instead, I wallowed. I grieved. I felt sorry for myself. And yes, to a degree I should have let myself feel those emotions…but also thought about where they were coming from. These emotions blindsided me, because I somehow thought I wouldn’t feel them, and I think they were magnified because of that. I simply didn’t think I would be feeling those emotions and, therefore, let them take over. I foolishly thought the move was not going to affect me…when it turned out to be the hardest thing I have ever done to date.

Now that I am job searching and preparing to move back home, I know now to anticipate different emotions. I’m going to be excited. I’m going to be happy. But I might also be sad. I may miss the people that I’ve made connections with. I may have another transition period. But…that’s okay. It’s completely normal. I need to know that it may happen and I need to let myself acknowledge it and feel it. I can’t just think that I’ll be fine right away. It may take some time…but eventually, I know that I will adjust and “be ok.”