Blog

Finals Week

This picture most accurately describes how I feel about finals week. Fake smile from stress, hyped up on coffee, hair back in a ponytail because I don’t have time to brush it. Eyes (and bags under them) that just want this whole scenario to be over so they can close and go to sleep.  Good luck to all you college students struggling through finals. We got this. Maybe. img_7252

Being Present

-This blog post is in response to “The Sacrament of the Present Moment” by Richard Rohr. –

I am very bad at living in the moment. Of breaking free of “the dualistic pattern” of thinking, as Rohr puts it. I overanalyze. I daydream. I think and can’t turn thoughts off. It can distract me from school work, from writing this very blog post. It can take enjoyment out of watching a show when I get caught up in thinking about the technicalities, or how I’m going to find the time to write the newspaper article covering it when I have two tests in the next week. It hypes up my anxiety and is probably a part of my ADHD. I used to be on medication for it. I’ve considered going back recently, yet I seem to be doing okay.

I was always doing okay, at least on the outside. I made straight A’s throughout school (except for that one B in math in the fourth grade). I wasn’t struggling to concentrate, I didn’t feel the need to run around the room. There was no reason for anyone to suspect ADHD in the star student of middle school.

Looking back on it, I can see signs. I was a hyper theater kid who loved attention and running around performing crazy skits at the Renaissance festival. I danced, played soccer, performed, was in Girl Scouts. I liked to be busy and thrived that way.

In the fourth grade, we read a book about tornadoes. I loved reading, that wasn’t the issue for me. The problem was that I couldn’t stop focusing on storms. On tornadoes. On whether or not one would be coming to kill me and my family. There was mild rain and I hid in our basement bathroom. I HYPER focused on it. I don’t know how old fourth graders are, but at whatever age that was, I wound up on a therapists couch. I listened to a CD they gave me to help me sleep every night. I was on meds. Once  I got better, we all conveniently forgot the episode happened.

In seventh grade, it came back. Small issues began to get to me. I became depressed. I hyper focused on things I couldn’t change. I cried. A lot. Again, I wound up on a therapists couch. Different therapist, better therapist. In about one session, he told my mother to read a book about ADHD and to see if it matched me. It did, but I got better with therapy and we decided against getting meds and an official diagnosis.

In ninth grade, it got bad again. I went to a fancy doctor in Charlotte and was officially diagnosed. I was prescribed meds. They helped me a lot but made me extremely nauseas. After about two years, I was sick of feeling sick and stopped taking it. I’ve been doing fine and well without it for now. My mom ran into my old therapist in the grocery store and told him about what all I’ve been up to. Still, living in the moment is a real issue for me. It has been for a long time.

I realize this is more of a tangent, hardly related to the article. But this is what I thought of while reading it. The religious part of the article doesn’t really connect with me. It’s more the emphasis on the living in the moment and on viewing people/things/moments complexly.

 

 

Indecisive

This blog post is in response to the above TED Talk.

I am a notoriously indecisive person. I hate change. I hate hard decisions. This is such a big part of me that by the time I was in fourth grade, my mom had bought me the book Who Moved My Cheese? in an attempt to make me like change. It didn’t work.

I agonize over every choice. Which classes to take. What activities and groups should I be apart of. Whether or not I should spend two dollars on coffee. I wish I wasn’t like this, but so be it. I recently faced the biggest decision of my life to date, where I wanted to go to college. Luckily, the Levine scholarship came along and made it easier for me. I’m truly blessed.

However, even now I stress over the choice of my college major. Should I go totally berserk and pursue a theater degree? Stick with my plan of communications and political science? To be quite honest, I try not to think about it. I don’t want to make the wrong choice.

According to Chang though, there might not be one. In her view, no option would be worse or better than the other. They simply reflect different values. It’s up to me to decide where I want to align myself and where I want to stand.

This doesn’t exactly relieve any of the stress of making a decision. Now it isn’t only about options, it is about who you are fundamentally as a person. That is a big concept. Still, I can understand her view of decision making as important and as a great opportunity. It doesn’t make it any easier, but it can help me appreciate the process.

I’m Not Giving Up and Neither Should You

This week has been rough. I’ll be frank, I did not support Donald Trump. I was deeply thrown off by his election. My sister sent me scared texts at two in the morning, my friends were in my room crying. One of them was so terrified of being teased in school they almost skipped. I’ve felt exhausted, sad, and broken.

Now, I watch SNL every weekend. I love the show. Still, I didn’t know if I would possibly be in the mood to hear jokes about Donald Trump after everything that happened.

Then they opened with this.

Silence. A piano. Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton, singing Hallelujah. I sat in awe. Certain lines brought tears to my eyes. “Love is not a victory march.” “I did my best, it wasn’t much.” The way her voice cracks on “and even though it all went wrong.”  The very end when McKinnon/Clinton looks in the camera with tears in her eyes and says, “I’m not giving up and neither should you.” I felt it, deep in my heart and in my soul. It was beautiful. It was perfect. And somehow, it gave me hope.

I know there is work to be done. We must continue to work towards equality. We must speak up for what we believe in. No President has shattered our country before, and I will fight and stand up to make sure one doesn’t now.

 

Finding Solace on Social Media

Every day, I thank God for twitter.

No, I’m not making a joke. No, don’t stop reading. Hear me out for a second here.

First of all, I am a lover of words. Reading them. Writing them. We use them everyday, yet I believe they have powers we may not always understand. Words can tear people apart, they can divide us into groups and factions. They can cause hate. Anger. They can strike fear in the hearts of others, bring tears to their eyes.

But words can also heal. They can teach us about one another. They can pull us into another person’s world and give us a different perspective. Words may not be able to embrace us, but we can seek and find comfort in them. Words can inspire and motivate us. They can change the world.

On twitter, I am surrounded by words. Maybe I don’t agree with all of them, but they are there. It gives me an opportunity to express myself, to try and find the words for what I am feeling and to describe my situation. If I can’t come up with them myself, maybe I can find someone else who has.

This brings me to my second reason. People. Connection. Twitter, along with other social media, can allow us to find people both alike and different from ourselves. It can build and connect communities. It can allow conversion and learning.

Of course, all of this is on my mind after the election of Donald Trump. At a time when so many of my friends are scared and hurting, at a time when I find it so hard to find joy, I’ve been able to find comfort and community on twitter. Thousands of people mourning and trying to support one another. People struggling and conversing, attempting to learn and understand other’s points of views. It was similar after other big events. Celebration as Hamilton won eleven Tonys. Collective mourning after the Pulse nightclub shooting. Anxiety as Keith Lamont Scott was shot less than a mile from my college dorm. When the world becomes too much, I retreat for a second into social media. I surround myself with words, both mine and others. It gives me hope. It lets me know that I am not alone.

“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.” -Marcus Zusak, The Book Thief 

 

I Hate the Millennial Stereotype

This blog post is in response to “Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators” by Megan McArdle. It can be found here : http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/02/why-writers-are-the-worst-procrastinators/283773/ .

God, I thought this article was going to be interesting. I really had high hopes for it. I thought it would be a neat look at why I’m so terrible at getting ahead on my work. It would finally present the key to why I procrastinate all the time.

It did, if only for a little while. In McArdle’s view, writers breezed through English class. To them, it was always easy. Now that they are on their own, they are scared of failure. McArdle also ties in information about fixed and growth mindset, something I’ve actually studied in prior English classes.

But then this article takes a turn towards MY LEAST FAVORITE SUBJECT. Millennial stereotyping. How original. McArdle’s article becomes one of millions making the same argument. Millennials are all used to feedback, they are entitled, they are “trophy kids”, etc. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this, I’d have as much money as the average college education costs nowadays. Which is a lot, by the way.

Look, I’m not saying studying millennials isn’t worth it. I’m not even saying that all those stereotypes are wrong. I’m just sick and tired of hearing people make millennials out to be this enigma of entitlement. It completely ignores, others, and discredits an entire generation. And because of this, I am unable to look and focus on what the article may have been trying to get across in the first place.

Can Money Buy You Happiness?

This blog post is in response to the TED talk “How To Buy Happiness” by Michael Norton. It can be found here : https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_norton_how_to_buy_happiness?language=en.

A couple of days ago, my friends and I sat around and debated this exact subject. Does having more money necessarily make you more happy?

Certainly, there is a baseline need that must be fulfilled first. This can be provided by money. Having enough money to keep one clothed, fed, in a safe home, etc. directly correlates with one’s happiness. It is not until one has these things that the debate can even become relevant. In fact, since the assumption money cannot buy happiness comes from this place of little need, it is an assumption based in privilege.

Once the baseline is met, that’s when we can really start looking at whether or not money can buy happiness. This is all relative. Having enough money to live where one wants or do the job one wants will make you happy. Donating money to charity, according to this video, is proven to make one happier. Spending money on experiences for oneself like traveling or going to a concert can also make you happier (http://www.wsj.com/articles/can-money-buy-happiness-heres-what-science-has-to-say-1415569538). Of course, there is the fleeting sense of pleasure from treating oneself to a new sweater or a tub of ice cream. However, science finds these to be less likely to bring one lasting happiness.

Spending money on charities is, according to studies, the best way to get happiness from money. However, you can also donate your time and skills to charity for the same effect. Studies also found that the amount of money donated doesn’t matter all that much. It can be $5 or $1000, it brings the same reward of pleasure. We all don’t need to be rich to contribute to the world around us.

So can money buy you happiness? Up to a certain point and then only when spent in certain ways. Meet the baseline first. Then go treat others. Donate to a charity. Buy a present for a friend or take them out somewhere and have an experience together. If you want, you can even use the money to invest in yourself by expanding your worldview through travel.

I’ll end this the same way Michael Norton does, with an ad for a charity that seems abrupt and slightly awkward. Project For Awesome is coming up this December 8-9. During P4A, thousands of people on Youtube upload videos promoting their favorite charities. Voting on charities occurs while money is raised online and then the top voted charities receive grants. Last year’s grand total donated was $1,546,384! If you have the money, consider contributing to Project for Awesome or one of the charities featured in a P4A video this December. Science says it’ll make you happier. Let me know if it works.

“thanx so much for uhelp ican going to graduate to now”

This blog post is in response to the article “The Shadow Scholar”, found here http://www.chronicle.com/article/The-Shadow-Scholar/125329/ .

Absolutely everything about this article makes me uncomfortable. Maybe it’s the anonymous writer narrating. Maybe it’s the idea that so many people are graduating while being unable to write and do their own work. Maybe it’s the fact that I can’t blame the author.

He exists as a product of our times. An excellent writer and quite possibly even a genius, he’s taken classes and written graduate thesis’ he will never get credit for. He is, essentially, getting paid to go to school. He may also be super human, as I am seriously concerned with the fact he can write 75 pages in 48 hours. I can almost respect that.

The most chilling sensation comes from realizing that those who use his services go on to graduate college. They get jobs. They are doctors and teachers and business people. That’s terrifying. A person who pays someone to write their lesson plans for class will go on to teach the children of America. How can these people be effective at their jobs?

Somewhere there is an optimist in me that tries to reason with this. If these people are ineffective and bad at their jobs, then they will be fired. They will not find success. Yet, I fear this is wrong. The type one the author discusses, the lazy rich kid, will be successful in some sense of the word. He already has connections, he might already have a place to go work. While types 2 and 3 might not make it, he most definitely will.

 

How to Give Yourself an Existential Crisis in One Easy Step

Step One: Watch this video.

That’s it.

Seriously though, college students have enough to worry about. What should my major be? Did I turn in that essay on time? Do I really want a job in that field?

Now Ms. Jay presents us with the uncomfortable fact that even though we may think we have time to decide our future, we don’t. She believes that our twenties are a fundamental time in our development. It’s when we need to start our careers and start focusing on having good relationships and families.

Quite honestly, that terrifies me. I’m still not even sure if my college major is the right one or not. I planned on using my twenties to look around and test out jobs before deciding on a career. However, I am definitely extremely work and career focused, it is my priority. What concerns me more is her second point.

That is, I definitely do not plan on using my twenties to look for a husband. Maybe I’m a stereotypical child of divorce, but relationships scare me to death. I’m pretty sure I’m just going to wind up dating someone for years and years without ever getting married. Also, I don’t want kids. Never have.

Still, realizing that my next upcoming years will likely have a huge influence on the rest of my life is scary. It makes everything seem ultra important. It is not stress I need right now, quite honestly. However, I also feel like this advice is simply meant to motivate, not to scare us. It’s simply supposed to remind us not to waste our time or think that it will never run out. It’s something I’ll try to keep in mind as I head into these fundamental and exciting years of my life.

 

Going on A Walk

I’d like to think that I’ve done enough walking for a lifetime. That those 89 miles this summer are all I’ll ever need to walk. However, I know I’m wrong. The points brought up in the article “Why Walking Helps Us Think” by Ferris Jabr echo my own experience in college.

I cannot study in my room. It’s too easy for me to get distracted and I wind up sleeping or watching Netflix. If I do manage to get work done, after a couple hours I need a break. What do I do on that break? I go outside, get out of my room. I walk to the dining hall or head outside.

I’ve found that I study much better outside. Just yesterday, I took a walk to the botanical garden to do homework. I felt more fresh and stimulated. It was quiet, but the sounds of birds and streams echoed in the background. I loved it. Other times, I’ve studied outside on benches or set up my hammock in the trees.

I am supposed to be scared of walking alone at night. I’m a female on a college campus. Statistically, I should be terrified. The thing is, I’m not. I love walking around the campus at night on the way back from class. It’s beautiful. I have time to myself to think and not be doing homework.

In all fairness, maybe some people do work better if they just sit down and get things done. I know I’ve had days where I needed to do that. But if I’m presented with the option of going outside and taking a walk before doing my work, I’ll gladly choose that over the library any day. God, I don’t know what I’m going to do when winter comes.