Nobody Puts Mental Health in a Corner: A Personal Reaction to the Current Status of The American Healthcare Act

With nowhere to go, they have no choice but to stay in the hallway. Nurses run up and down the halls around them. Gurneys carry other patients where they need to go for wounds that need to be covered, and for treatment they need. But not them. They’re patiently waiting for someone to have time to deal with them. They’re waiting until the insurance company gives the green light. They’re waiting until the hospital has an open bed. But not them, yet. Tears run down her cheek, as his mind and emotions spin beyond control. Neither want to be there, but they stay all night, waiting. They have no other choice. They wait until the sun that inevitably penetrates through the hospital windows, missing their faces in the dark, windowless hallway. It was all for naught–the hospital sends them away. The insurance company won’t cover the costs and they can’t pay out-of-pocket.

“But what do I do” the mother thinks.

Meet my mother and my baby brother at just 9 years old one fall evening. As you have probably inferred, my brother is mentally ill. I won’t say he struggles with mental illness, because it’s his reality, and I won’t go ahead and put words into his mouth. But I know that I struggle and I know that my family wishes it wasn’t a reality we faced.

We all live in this reality. I’m reminded of it every day. Every time I hear a mentally ill person ranting on the subway and see the passengers roll their eyes and get visibly frustrated, or ignore it, I think of my brother. My chest sinks every time I walk by a homeless person who exhibits signs of mental illness, because that could be my brother. It’s honestly not that hard to imagine. I’m grateful he has my family to prevent that from happening.

By the time I was 11 years old, I knew needed hospitalizations would be cut too short, if they happened at all. I knew my brother wouldn’t come back better. He’d just be stabilized enough to open a bed for someone else. Sometimes he came back worse. I conditioned myself to treat his time away as a vacation, but the vacations grew more and more infrequent and I accepted the fact that no one could help. I accepted the fact that it wasn’t enough for people to turn around and listen.

As I got older, and more aware of changing policies and resources, hope slowly began to rise up to the surface of my heart, like dawn breaking on those hospital walls. But morning came last night, hitting me with the realization that we were only standing in front of the room with the windows. With the American Health Care Act passing, we’ve been pushed back into the hallway where there are no windows, no tools or resources, and certainly no rays of sunshine to warm our worn faces. The rooms are better prioritized for others. My brother, and everyone like him, will be sent away again.

Healthcare faces crisis, but keeps getting being pushed away. Like so many times before, I face a myriad of emotions. It makes me feel hopeless. As his older sister, I feel I should protect him. I feel like it’s all of our civic responsibility to protect and fight for him. It makes me mad. It also makes me feel grateful that I’m not mentally disabled. That makes me feel guilty. Really guilty. I could have easily been the sibling who got the mental illness. My brother is a person who deserves any service needed to deal with his mental illness. Legislation should not be an added barrier to the daily fight. It affects him, it affects me, and it affects our community. Health care is a human right. My last remark about this topic is that nobody puts baby in the corner.

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Three Lists to Keep On Your Desk

Our desks are a reflection of us: who we are, what we do, and how we work. Beyond our own personal flare, our desk can reflect what we want. It is well-known that to-do lists are a useful tool for any successful professional to improve time management and productivity. But any list-enthusiast will tell you they have the potential for so much more. Here are three lists you should keep, and update, on your desk at all times.

  1. Future Projects List

There are always great ideas being shared in meetings. However, due to any plethora of reasons such as timing or work load, they are put to the wayside and eventually forgotten. Instead of derailing your team’s creativity and growth, put the ideas to paper on a “rainy day” list. Commit them to memory so they can be used in the future. These ideas can be organizational (ex: a master document of all quotes to use, organized by topic), housekeeping (ex: audit all printed collateral), or functional (ex: new widgets/functions you’d like to add or update to your website). This list not only shows that your active listening skills, but also validates your coworkers’ ideas (be sure to give credit where credit is due), showing that you are someone who won’t let good ideas go to waste.

 

  1. Projects/Skills List

I’ve talked about the benefits of regularly updating your resume previously, and the “Projects/Skills” list is your tool to do so. The not only is there for self-assurance, but also does the work for you when you need to update your resume, prepare for your annual review, want to request for a promotion, or need to give an unexpected status of your learning and progress. At the close of each project, take a look at your “Projects/Skills” list to see if you can add anything, as well as the project(s) you have to prove it.

 

  1. Things to Work On List

If you don’t have things you want to work on, you’re kidding yourself. Personal and career development never ends as there is always room for improvement, and sometimes that means breaking bad habits. Personally, I have personal development reminders such as “slow down.” I love being productive, but while good intentioned, sometimes speed kills. Having “slow down” on my list of things to work on staring at me in the face, reminds myself to ask “can this email wait until I know more,” “did I explain this properly,” or “did I double (triple)-check my facts?”

I also have career development items on there, ex: “analytics.” Data is pivotal in Marketing, and I find that I always have so many questions after meetings with our analytics team. Since this is a clear indicator that I have more to learn, I added “analytics” to my list. It’s a reminder of the skills I haven’t yet harnessed, so the next time I see an opportunity to learn more, I know to take advantage of it, or rather create it.

Naturally, these lists are interwoven. By having my “Things to Work On” list, I’m better able to recognize projects I’ve worked on that have contributed to skills I’ve already targeted, and subsequently move them to the “Projects/Skills” list. There is a lot to be said about the power of the written word—it helps better imprint information to memory, and acts as a visual cue to bring that memory back to the forefront. The list itself can take any form: frame it, color code it, write it on a white board or post-it. Whatever you do, list it out.

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Happy in your job? Start your job search: 4 Ways Mock Job Searching Will Help You

Like those who look to tombstones for historical insights into the past, job descriptions hold a lot of intelligence. Consider it research. Analyzing job descriptions is another way for you to better hone your skills, remain current in your field and see what unique talents you can introduce to your team. You may even be happier.

Here are four ways and  job descriptions is a helpful tool.

  1. Live With Vision

My boss is wonderfully supportive, and asked me what else I want to learn in my new position. My mind drew a blank, but it was the reminder I needed. I met all of the goals I made for myself and because of that, am blissfully happy. However, I had a hard time imagining what else I can learn. Do not allow yourself to get here. Live with vision. Have a next step, and when you don’t, start your job search.

During my grueling 9-month job search, I looked for opportunities, made judgments on what I wanted, and acted if it felt right. I needed to do all of these same things within my job, so I went back to the start. It was like a mock interview. I looked for what kind of titles are out there and what level they’re considered to be, what sounded enjoyable and challenging given my new perspective and once I found something I liked, I looked into the company’s professional profiles. Looking at the what current position holders did before landing that job helped me gain a clearer idea for what could logically be the next step.

  1. Meet (or create) your 10-year goal

Continuing down this road, I toured the many twists and turns my career can take. I found myself looking at jobs that would be 2, 3, 5 positions down the line. The further I explored the more skills I found I don’t have and I want. I found executive level positions that sounded exciting to me. Finally, I found the executive-level position I want. Cue my 10-year goal. Now that I’ve narrowed that down, it’s easier to focus on what skills I want to build and at what pace, using the job description as my guide. It’s also easier to be mentored, because I know where I need guidance.

  1. What you don’t know, well now you know

Naturally, during the job searching, I found many titles I never heard of and job requirements I have never been exposed to (what exactly is a “Talent developent manager/keeper of the magic”?). This was the point. Sometimes, the unfamiliarity was due to creative (sometimes weird) job titles created in an attempt to attract to millennials, but many times, it showed emerging areas that I should know about.

If you’re seeing a lot of open positions around SEO, or web design in your field-maybe you should learn a little bit about that. It’s a real time report on what’s in demand. Jobs are created around the demand. Seeing these trends and demand for new talent can be really helpful for you not only to learn what you need to know, but also to stay current in your field. If you lose sight of what’s current, you become irrelevant. Even as a high-level executive, seeing what jobs are emerging can help identify how you should build your team or if you’re falling behind. Should you consider hiring an SEO manager too?

  1. Resume boosting phrases

There are a million ways to describe what you do. How you describe yourself can get your resume noticed or lost in the shuffle. Sifting through the many descriptors, I saw some great ways to describe what I already do and ways to describe what I’ve been learning. It was a great prompt to update my resume with better keywords and new skills.

It is always best practice to update your resume anytime you learn a new skill; periodically checking job descriptions may be the prompt you need to narrate it.

Now, go and master the art of reading a job description. It is a seriously underrated talent. But before we part ways, here are some parting tips on your mock job search:

Don’t do it at work. You don’t want everyone to think you’re unhappy or about to jump ship. Also, it’s unprofessional.

Don’t tell your coworkers. It’s not necessary.

Don’t look too much. Everything works in moderation, if you do too much you may start to become jaded, or want to act before you’re ready.

Stay happy my friends.

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Why I Care More about Funeral Rituals than My Wedding

My Masters thesis was all about the influences of Marketing on creating consumer behavior by creating or recreating traditions and rituals. Particularly, I applied theories to the world of Pinterest as one of these influential agents, and used its creation/popularizing of wedding rituals such as “The First Look” as one of my examples. Given this information, you would think that I care a great deal about who-goes-where and who-does-what at my future wedding. Calling all future bride-zillas! However, I don’t (you can thank my event managing, as explained in my last post for the adverse effect). What I do care very dearly about is how my funeral is orchestrated.

The Boston Globe did an interesting article recently about the changing funeral industry in “5 non-traditional things to do with your body after you die.” Reading this article, I wasn’t surprised that non-traditional rituals in a funeral are increasing trending. I was, however, surprised at how rapidly they are normalizing. My Great-Aunty Mary was the first wake/funeral I attended where there was no casket. Her cremation made a huge impact on my experience and acceptance with her death. Without that morbid elephant-in-the-room, I was able to walk around the room and fully enjoy the plethora of photographs my family and friends shared. I didn’t feel guilty laughing about a memorable time in her life. It was a really positive experience, and let’s face it, like a wedding, the event itself isn’t about you, it’s about the guests’ experience. Funerals aren’t for those who passed; they’re for the living.

After Aunty Mary’s wake, I realized that I wanted to control of what happened at my funeral. The rituals I want are influenced by my personal experiences, modern technology, and of course the media. Queue a hodge-podge of P.S. I Love You and Gerry’s funeral (aka party), and the technology mentioned in this Boston Globe article. In P.S. I Love You (the movie, I cannot account for the book as I didn’t read it), Gerry’s friends and family surround themselves around his urn, take shots of liquor, and laugh as they share their stories and sentiments. That spirit is my #FuneralGoals (too soon?).

My family can have a Catholic funeral mass if that’d help them heal. My friends and family can do whatever they feel necessary for sharing pictures (good luck guys, there’s a lot), but I better have an open-bar reception (same goes for my wedding). I will not be in a casket, and I for sure as hell will not be wearing a suit of mushrooms, as mentioned in the article. I would be open to being made into a diamond (can I make that a colored one?), but am really fascinated by this idea of being made into compost.

I love the symbolism. I love the idea of my loved ones ritualistically planting a tree in my biodegradable burial seed pod (well that sounded naughty…), allowing me to live my spiritual days growing as a wise, life-giving tree. Life goes on, and even as I’m long gone, I want to contribute to the world. I imagine myself as Grandmother Willow in Disney’s Pocahontas, sending my positive spiritual energy into the world generation-by-generation (still being the sassy, wise person I am today). This visual brings me peace.

I care more about this ritual than I do of any thousand I can choose for my imaginary wedding. If the DJ plays the wrong song for first dance, I won’t be mad. I could care less about cutting a cake at my wedding-I’ve eaten hundreds of cakes in my life. The rituals aren’t a driving factor to me like they are in a funeral to me. If my funeral wishes aren’t met, I’ll be haunting my family until the end of time (just kidding).

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How Managing Events Helps My Career

I regularly manage events on the weekends. You name it, I’ve managed it: memorial dinners, fundraising events, and weddings galore. However, I don’t want to be an Event Manager. I can’t fathom the thought of being an Event Manager 10, 15, 20 years down the line. But it gives me a lot of benefits. Managing events gives me a wonderful opportunity to focus on developing skills I want in my non-event career.

  1. Know your sh*t

Naturally, I’m a very curious person. So I love to know as much as I can, especially if I’m going to be an “expert” or go-to person. However, whether you’re giving students a tour at a college campus, or presenting an idea to an executive committee, there’s always room for some old-fashioned bull-sh*tting. I pride myself on being able to think quickly and pull something out to sound smarter and more prepared than I am. We’ve all done it. There isn’t this kind of flexibility in events. As I’ve experienced, you can’t assume that your passed hors d’oeuvres are nut-free, or gluten-free (trust me, I’ve been there when someone inaccurately told me something was gluten-free-it’s not pretty). When working an event, you need to know the ingredients, the name of the fancy food (why is it always in French or Spanish?!), and mostly importantly, where the restrooms are. You need to be prepared for everything and anything. When you don’t know, you need to know exactly who to go to for quick and accurate answers.

Events have made preparedness second-nature to me, and are helping me to prove myself in my career. There’s not a single meeting that I enter without a pen, extra paper, and research of the entire turn of events that have happened before our topic of the day. I come prepared with backup resources. Knowing my sh*t has made a positive impact in my career, it’s rewarding to get feedback on my readiness and to be seen as a key player in a meeting. Nothing gets past me.

  1. Act quick

As mentioned, you need to act quickly in Events. This attribute can be learned anywhere, but is so clear when working an Event. When working a wedding, you don’t have 20 minutes to fix the reception lighting or to find the photographer because the ceremony is starting, you had until yesterday. Further, you need to act quick and quietly. You don’t want the bride to find out that the photographer is lost or 120 heads watching you as you fiddle with the projector and up lighting. You need to be resourceful; you need to get it done with the least amount of people knowing.

This has translated to my career as well-if an issue arises, I act without hesitation. In the best situation, the issue is fixed before my Director is even aware of it and is a great impression when they’re filled in afterwards. Who wouldn’t love hearing about an issue after it’s already been resolved? It shows that they can trust their team.

  1. Manage your time

The most unique lesson I’ve learned from events is the importance of a strong timeline. This isn’t news-you’ve heard about how time management is a key skill to be successful. From events, I’ve seen how time management affects your experience. At an event, when deadlines are missed, a terrible domino effect happens: you miss the prime lighting of the sunset at an evening outdoor ceremony, your cocktail reception is shortened (or lengthened), dinner is delayed, which leaves guests “hangry”. When guests are hangry, they usually complain to the coordinator, who in return gets angry that he’s paying you for non-exceptional service, and rightfully so. I’d be angry if I hear that friends, family or benefactors are going hungry.

In the off chance that the timeline delays go unnoticed, guests aren’t able to enjoy their program to the fullest extent. This is what upsets me the most. We organize events with the goal to enjoy ourselves (among other goals). In a wedding, if dinner is delayed, so is dancing. When dancing is delayed, so is the fun atmosphere, because it takes longer for people join the dance floor and the dancing is cut short. The party ends too early and guests don’t want to leave-someone always loses in this situation. Either you have disappointed guests, or you have a cranky staff wanting to go home at the designated time frame.

I’ve learned to combat these issues by communicating realistic expectations and putting priorities into perspective. As the manager for the venue, I’ll coordinate with the catering company to see how we can still meet the later deadlines. If need be, I’ll talk to the contact to understand what is the most important outcome of this event; if it’s the experience, I’ll ask them what they want to cut from the timeline in order to allow plenty of time for dancing. If it’s fundraising, I won’t worry about dancing.

I do the same in my career. The importance of a timeline is ingrained in me. At work, I’m better at meeting, communicating and creating deadlines for projects. Everyone is more organized because of it.

While I don’t want to work in events forever, it’s great experience while I’m young and able. And I’m good at it. It’s tiring to work 6-7 days a week during event season, however it offers so many benefits for my career that I’ll hold on as long as I can. Besides, I love having some extra spending money.

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Review of “Why millennials may not produce many more Mark Zuckerbergs”

Many companies are desperately trying to understand the mentality and culture of their new millennial employees, as we swoop into corporate offices, changing the work environment and culture as they know it. I get it, we’re trying to figure out a lot of this ourselves. Let us know if you find anything!

Recently, The Washington Post made its own attempt, reporting about a survey done by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics. My father (a Gen X Vice President in the financial world) wanted my perspective as a millennial. This article, like most of these millenial-centric articles, I believe is misleading. Many of the findings that these articles find about our preferences and attractions are mostly due to age, which is further exacerbated by the pressures of being a highly educated generation. I predict that many of these findings will change as we age.

No millennial really admires entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg because they’re old news (and may I point out that Zuckerberg didn’t even graduate, so no sympathy there when he has no idea about the loans the majority of us have). The entrepreneurs the survey selected are not doing anything new, they’re well-established, and don’t really inspire someone who’s just starting out. It would’ve been better for the surveyors to choose an up-and-coming entrepreneur, like the founder of uncommon goods, or something unique. Mark Zuckerberg is out of our league and barely a millennial, as he was born in 1984.

For the rest of the article, I’ll talk about the real millennials: us 20-somethings living in over-priced apartments with cheaper rent than our monthly loan payments, accepting a job that is well below our skill set level. Considering our age and loan debt, I think it’s natural to desire a good paying job; we feel entitled to a “good” job because of the 4+ years we tolled away at our studies, racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

But besides this obviously observation, the importance on leisure time this survey found is probably the most indicative finding of the millennial age, reflecting the importance we put on work/life balance. Many industries are trying to adapt to this new mentality, such as hotels, to better market to this fun generation. The importance on work-life is due to many reasons that are unique to our generation. For one, most of our parents (no offense Dad) were single parents, divorced parents, or were so consumed with financially supporting their family, that didn’t spend quality time with their family. As justified as their reasonings, as much as we admire their work ethic (and learned much from it), it affected us.

Millennials are pushing back when we want to settle down not just because of our loans, but because of our marital and familial observations (take a look at Bentley’s NowUKnow article). For those who want a family one day, we want to establish a career so that when we do settle down, we won’t miss all of the monumental moments in our childs’ lives because we’re stuck in the office. Through a child’s eyes, we know that how we spend our leisure time can be just as successful as work. Work is just work, and can be lost at any time, like during economic crash, as we’ve experience. Family is just as important as financial stability, and we don’t want to be the absentee parents we had.

Additionally, leisure is important to us, because let’s be serious, we’re still a bunch of big kids. Adolescence is extended per a lot of external factors (including education and the delay in our financial independence). For more on extended adolescence, otherwise known as emerging adulthood, look here: Emerging Adulthood and Early Adulthood, Extended Adolescence-And What it Means, or How Extended Adolescence is Changing the United States.

In regards to the type of jobs we look for, take a look at what we like in a company from one millennial perspective: Why Millenials Keep Dumping You: An Open Letter to Management. I think it is telling that a little more than half of my generation wants to work in a place that means something (in other words, benefits society). Maybe this is because of the high number of national disasters we’ve seen throughout our lifetime.

Despite this desire, not many of us want to work at a non-profit, which directly benefits society and seems like the obvious career choice. This interesting finding shows our intellectual flexibility. To a millennial, benefiting society doesn’t necessarily mean working for a non-profit. We can have it all: benefit society and make money. Non-profits don’t pay as much, and as big as our dreams may be, we are hit with reality of sh*t ton of loans (remembering that we also need to support our leisure time, which comes with its own costs). With this said, the survey itself didn’t show a big significance to this answer so all of this reasoning could be bull. Every answer was about 30%. The supposed half must have been that half of those who said yes, which is a skewed answer. My note of this is even more indicative of the education and awareness we have of the inaccuracies in media reporting.

Another survey error I noticed is that in the real survey provided, the 10th question talked about success in terms of a high-paying job. Millenials don’t see success only in a salary, as mentioned before with families, we also see it in our relations with people, our ability to grow, and use of skills. Thus, it’s not surprising that there wasn’t a clear “winner” for this answer either; it isn’t a well-rounded question. It lacks the depth of understanding that sometimes success can’t be measured.

Taking a further look into the survey itself, the question “how do you want to build your career” was asked. To me, a millennial, this question sounds like the beginning stages of a career, not their goals for a career in general as the article made it sound (see below).

“And among those aiming for company work, over half say they prefer joining an established company (54 percent) over a younger company (16 percent) or starting their own business (29 percent).”

Like myself, it makes more sense for millennials to start at an established business so we can again build credibility and pay off loans. Once we’re established, we can then go off into the daring things we really want to do, which might be creating a start-up.

It’s not that these things aren’t important to us, it’s just that we don’t have the luxury at this age. Sometimes, we need to learn first-hand how a big corporation does thing in order to know how we DON’T want to do things, or how we would want to modify things. And if that experience bellies-up, then we have connections with the big guy so we don’t have to go too long without a job. Job security is everything to our age group, not necessarily because our generation (but again, this need is exasperated by our generation’s education/loan situation).

So while many companies are trying to understand the millenial generation, think first back to when you were our age (or maybe a little younger with our extended adolescence) and what things were important to you then. More importantly, get to know us as individuals, because articles can’t tell you everything.

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Why It’s Not Better To Be the Girl No One Can Have

Before you read further, if you loved the article written by Ashlyn Howard Why It’s Better To Be The Girl No One Can Have, then read no further. However, if you’re still intrigued, I hope I can convince you of my point of view.

First of all, I commend Howard for her theme of self-respect. I am a fellow single woman in her twenties trying to stay afloat with rent, student loans, and finding my place in the world. A coming of age story is an evergreen topic, an especially popular topic on the internet, as we #twentysomethings often document our lives on social media. Our documentation is heavily revolved around how to grow personally, aka “find ourselves.” While the core of Howard’s argument is honorable, I will discuss why Howard promoted sexism in the way she argued her message.

  • “All too often, girls in their twenties are misrepresented by the decisions they make, driven by emotion and passion. Sure, it’s your time to experiment and (if you’re single) exercise your right to be free and do whatever the hell you want” (Howard, 2015).

Representing woman as a creature who is only driven by emotions, blinded by passion, is undeniably sexist. Woman are fighting against this idea every single day, and here you are supporting this cultural notion of woman being weak. Women are just as reasonable as men, with an empathy that our culture does not allow men to openly express. I will not delve into this issue much further, as I implore you to read more into gender difference in boys and girls. Here is just one article that explores the issue.

Howard, please do not imply that our emotions are our downfall, because in many ways they are our weapon and our strength. Emotions allow us to have closer connections with those around us, to create a culture that supports others, and to make a killer sales pitch by connecting both heart and head. There is nothing wrong with being a passionate human being, because it allows us to live life to the fullest and to be more open to the world around us. Passion is what drives a person further in their career, and further in love with someone. Passion has little to do with the lack of control over their decisions-that’s a lack of reason in conjunction with emotion. However, maybe it’s something else entirely because why not? Why not take a chance on a “chill” night that might turn into a fruitful relationship, why not take a chance and learn something, why not chill?

Additionally, I find that it’s a common theme that #twentysomethings articles only speak to those who are “single.” Not only did your article not mention those are homosexual, as it’s not just women dealing with this at the hands of men, but they also eliminate anyone in a relationship. This elimination is unfair as anyone who is in a relationship can still, as you say, “…experiment…exercise your right to be free, and do whatever the hell [they] want.” A title doesn’t change this. It’s a sexist statement that supports a cultural view that women follow or are dependent on men. That men have all the power. Howard, I’m sure you did not mean to promote this view, but you must be careful with your words. In a world where advertisements that promote date rape can be approved and executed, a la Bloomingdale’s Holiday 2015 ad, we must be careful of how we represent ourselves. Feminism is as important today as it was in 1919, it just has more hidden complexities, just like racism.

  • “Handing that power over to men (okay, boys) in their twenties is dangerous. Essentially, you’ll end up being treated like sh*t by guys who want nothing more than your body. There is nothing attractive about a guy who doesn’t respect you. Knowing this allows you to take a stand against it. We may never be able to change most young guys’ mindsets, but there is a way to carry yourself that will attract the right boys to you” (Howard, 2015).

As I started to say, sex does not give men power over us, and by having sex with men, we are not being treated like shit. Sex is not only about the man’s satisfaction-maybe the female is using the man! Maybe they’re using each other, which is OK because at least they’re on the same page. Your viewpoint disregards the fact that women are sexually mature human beings. You are saying that by having sex with a man, we have no power. Men have all the power in the situation, and we are merely a body, a vessel of sex for men to achieve orgasm. If you believe this to be true, then it would have to be true universally, in or out of a relationship, with a man or a woman. You assume that women have no way to maintain respect for ourselves or to earn the respect of others by participating in the act of sex, because our respect is dependent on our sexual partner. If this is true, then me and everyone I know is screwed.

Furthermore, I do not respect the way in which you represent men here. You are assuming that all men use women for their bodies, and that all men we have sex with outside of a relationship will undoubtedly treat us like shit. You also support the idea that men only have one thing on their mind; that their sexually implusive mindset is something that cannot be changed-it’s in their programming. Howard, shame on you, as these statements support rape culture in America. Have you ignored all of the arguments over school dress codes, or again, the backlash over Bloomingdale’s Holiday ad? There are plenty of men who respect women who are sexually confident, mature, and unashamed of who they are and what they want. Men are just as complicated are we are, and they also struggle with their own self-respect, but let’s get back to us women. I find more respect in the woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to get it, than I do the woman who prides herself in being someone who has a low number of sexual partners because no one can have her. Respect cannot be measured, but felt.

  • “That being said, attracting a boy should be the last thing on your mind. Carry yourself with dignity. Treat your mind and body with respect. Do the things you love without paying any mind to the immaturity of the male species around you. Say no next time he asks you to hang out at midnight. Wear clothes that YOU like, not clothes you think guys would like. Find an interest or passion in something constructive. Stop texting your ex back” (Howard, 2015).

This paragraph is unorganized, as none of the thoughts here are not well-developed, and quite frankly are speaking about many different aspects. No, men are not all immature, and again, if a woman wants to hang out at midnight, then why say no? If a man doesn’t respect you for that, then that’s his issue, not yours. If you learned something from that disrespectful asshole, then it’s worth it (disclaimer: this absolutely does not pertain to assault as there is assumption of choice and consent in this argument). From this experience, you can more easily identify the next “fuck boy” that comes around (excuse my French). And YES, I agree that attraction should not be priority in our lives, but I also wouldn’t say that it should be the last thing on our mind. Attraction is a part of being a living creature, and our sexuality isn’t only about respect-it’s just a small component in finding ourselves.

Now, I want to explore the subject of “finding ourselves” in a broader sense, not just our in terms of our sexuality. Our journey to respect comes from making mistakes as Howard has mentioned making herself (as anyone on this planet has done). These mistakes may be done in connection with our sexuality, or it cannot be. Finding ourselves is most certainly helped by finding our interests and passions as Howard mentioned, as well as in the way we want to showcase that to the world-which was irrelevantly pointed to in the aforementioned paragraph when referencing clothing (again, refer to the date rape culture article provided above).

Interests and passions are a part of what make us unique and who we are. Carrying ourselves with dignity comes from exploration of these interests and confidence of its experience.I believe it’s very important to reiterate here that women’s interests, passions, and self-respect are not dependent on a man, and that our carriage is not dependent on the clothing we wear. If it were, we’d have a lot bigger issues at hand. Moreover, respect isn’t a cut and dry subject. It’s created by many, many immeasurable experiences. We should never completely determine our respect on any one person or group of people-whether you’re attracted to men or women, or find yourself in a bullying situation. But I can’t deny that these opinions do matter to us and have a strong ability to affect our perceptions negatively.

Good or bad, outside opinions give us validation and allow us to question what we know. External factors are why many woman have a hard time finding their confidence and self-respect. But the answer isn’t not sleeping with people, it’s in exploration. Thus, it is important to constantly test our boundaries, question what we know, and growing from whatever answer we find. This is especially when we are in our twenties, which is why articles revolving around #twentysomethings are so popular. This constant evaluation based on new experiences and exposure is vitally important for anyone-male or female-to know what they are comfortable and not comfortable with, to communicate what they will and will not tolerate, and to know what they want and don’t want in any relationship-interpersonal or intrapersonal. For some, sex may be a part of this exploration. Beyond sex, this rule of thumb extends to every aspect of our lives. Social relationships are what help us to grow emotionally, spiritually, and sexually. Attraction is healthy, which is why I cannot support the idea that relationships should be the last thing on our mind, but I do agree that relationships shouldn’t be a top priority.

Coming back to Howard’s paragraph above, the last sentence is a curve ball that I must briefly mention: since when have we been talking about an ex? Exes are an entirely different story, the reason it’s bad to text an ex is because the situation is going to emotionally hurt you. That relationship ended for a reason, and by clinging on, you’re not allowing yourself the breath to grow and heal. Yes, maybe the relationship will work out again in the future, but you need time to dissemble the fantasies you’ve made of the relationship, and to explore the reasons in which you can grow. This time will help you for your next relationship, with or without your ex. However, love isn’t a science, and if the emotional scar is still worth the risk to you, then good luck, but I pray that you listen to your friends’ advice.

Now, back to the pertinent issues here. The other theme I don’t find healthy in this article is to not be available. How are you going to find love by not being available? Yes, anyone who wants to be with you should prove that they are worth your time, and your heart. However, you cannot test what this looks like without testing your emotional maturity. The great thing about dating is that you have to know yourself in order to tell someone else who you are, you must be vulnerable and available to new opportunities. No one gets anywhere by being an unapproachable bitch (again, excuse my French). By playing the hard-to-get game, you have a big chance of loosing out on the opportunity to be with someone who isn’t interested in playing games and is 100% honest with you.

In the words of Gigi from He’s Just Not That Into You,

I may dissect each little thing and put myself out there so much but at least that means that I still care. Oh! You’ve think you won because women are expendable to you. You may not get hurt or make an ass of yourself that way but you don’t fall in love that way either. You have not won. You’re alone. I may do a lot of stupid shit but I’m still a lot closer to love than you are. –Gigi

The wants, needs, and desires we may find as a result of the “chill” hang out at 2 am you’re shaming, may just be part of a personal learning curve a woman needs in achieving the self-respect and love she deserves. If a woman likes to “chill” with someone she’s attracted to at 2 am-then who cares! If you’re not comfortable with that, then I’m so proud of you for knowing your boundaries. However, don’t impose your personal preferences on another woman. Having sex with someone doesn’t mean that you’re handing power over to a man. In fact, the emotionally available woman is probably closer to finding what she needs than the girl who isn’t taking risks and challenging herself (not just sexually!). We must be constantly open to new experiences in order to be aware of what we are comfortable with and to attain better judgment-even if it’s having a one-night stand. Do not be the girl who no one can have. Be the girl who has the courage to say no, the courage to be 110% herself, and to have passion. Be the girl anyone can have, if so lucky for you to have choosen them.

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Guilt

The anniversary to my singledom is quickly approaching. I can’t believe it’s been a year already. I also can’t believe it’s only been a year.

I have mentioned before that I was in a long term relationship, but didn’t delve too much into it. Well, here goes my current situation: I feel guilty.

The past year has been amazing. I’ve grown so much more than I thought I could in every way a woman can: sexually, culturally, confidently, maturely, intellectually. My friendships have become stronger, and so have my views on the world. Taking the time to do things that make me happy, with no regard for how others will react (within reason), has been completely refreshing. Everyone should commit to a year of doing everything they’ve wanted to do or pushed off doing!

In the past year, I got the tattoo I wanted for over three years (that my ex-boyfriend discouraged), went to a dermatologist and the dentist (for the first time since high school), donated my hair (for the sixth time in my life), started a blog, and I painted my bedroom the color I regretted not choosing in the first place. 

I’ve started dating guys and I’ve learned a lot about myself (that I’m not as nerdy and awkward as I once saw myself). I’ve participated in so many date activities I wanted to do with my ex-boyfriend, but he was never willing to do with me. I’ve eaten at a French restaurant, went on a sunset cruise, gone to a play, and done craft cocktail technique classes.

I no longer feel lonely and neglected in my relationship, and feel filled with adventure and childlike curiosity. I love the woman I’ve become because it’s the most complete I’ve ever felt. I’m happy.

With all of this considered, I still feel guilty. Why? It’s (of course) complicated.

I feel guilty to be happy with another man.

Before a year ago, I never imagined that I’d be with anyone but my first and only boyfriend. I pictured what our children would look like. I planned several themes for our wedding. I even went as far to see what year our anniversary would fall on a Saturday for our ideal wedding date. Scratch that off your calendars friends: runaway bride on the loose!

While I don’t want to be with my ex-boyfriend, I feel guilty to be dating others in a way that almost feels like betrayal. This is a perfect example of how your heart and mind don’t connect. I know I’m not betraying anyone. I have no obligation or loyalty to my ex-boyfriend, nor do I feel any loyalty or obligation per say.

I wish I didn’t have this feeling because I am being treated as I’ve always wanted to be treated. I’m being treated like I deserve, and I’m estatic. I don’t want to feel guilty about being with someone who is better suited for me, even as we’re not committed.

I feel guilty because I’m happy.

I have no idea where my ex-boyfriend is in his love life. Nor do I wish to know because it’s none of my business. However, I can’t help but to feel guilty that I’m happy with someone else and maybe he isn’t. I don’t know how he’s done in the dating world, because it was a rough start for me as well. But I have assimilated well, and I hope he has too.

Again, with that thought, I also knew this would happen. In my opinion, the problems in my past relationship were not stemming from me. I was ready and deserving of a wonderful relationship. He, for whatever reason, could not/would not/or just simply wasn’t going to be that for me. In addition, I knew that my decision to breakup with my ex-boyfriend was final, and it was the right one. I didn’t doubt it. With these realities, I knew that I would find happiness with another man within the year (without looking or rushing), and I voiced this belief to my close friends early on. Yet, I feel guilty about being happier with another man than him.

I feel guilty because I said I would always love him.

But I don’t, and I won’t ever again. It’s a strange and harsh reality I didn’t know I’d face even a year ago. I always thought that a small part of me would always be in love with him. But that’s just what people say when they have ‘t truly moved on. I will, however, always care for him and wish the best for him. I just won’t care for him because I love him.

I feel guilty because it’s how I felt a year ago.

With the anniversary of my breakup, I have naturally been doing a lot of reflecting. This nostalgia is stirring a lot of feelings I had a year ago.

A year ago, I felt guilty for breaking someone’s heart on top of my own. I mourned the relationship, and I mourned what should’ve been of this relationship. But even moreso, I mourned the fantasy I held onto so dearly that I was with my soulmate and the one I was going to marry. My one and only I told myself. I mourned the idea that I was somehow lucky to find this person so early in my life without going through the tribulations of the dating world to find him. Who meets their true love at 17 anyway?

I remember all the pain I had to get through to be where I am. I remember all the times I drank too much wine, cried myself to sleep, had to be carried from the bar and screamed to be left alone, or cried because I felt guilty kissing a random guy at the bar.

I am struggling to not let these nostalgic feelings hinder on my current day. I feel them bringing down my energy. They’re entering my thoughts and projecting itself into my dreams. I’m so proud of where I am now and I know that I don’t deserve to feel this way.

Thus, I want to turn this around into a joyous occassion. Before you go thinking about my classless taste, I must elaborate.

I want to celebrate the hardwork and care I’ve put towards myself. I want to celebrate my tenacity and gumption to do what I believe is right. I want to celebrate my bravery to do what is scary and take the unknown head-on. I want to do this in a way that signifies all the positive things that have happened to me this past year. Since I’ve commited myself to doing things that I’ve always wanted to do and/or pushed aside for far too long, I want to do just this once again to honor the new me.

I don’t want a superficial spectacle to glorify my trivial relationship status, nor do I want my celebration to be sexual in any way (doing a beauty treatment or buying lingerie or doing on a romantic date or something). I want it to reflect my physical, spiritual, and emotional changes.

I’ve started brainstorming what this thing should be that I’ve wanted to do or have pushed off. After some thought, I will either splurge on an item I’ve wanted for a long time, or get a nose piercing, which, like my tattoo, I’ve wanted for years.

I’m not 100% decided, and am open to knew suggestions and/or inspiration. Please stay tuned!

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Defining Moment

Of all TV shows, I was inspired by Bar Rescue. As John Taffer challenges the now proud owner of Jack’s Fire Department, he tells him “…this is your defining moment…” Will Jimmy step up to be the man, husband, and boss he should be, or will he hide behind his vices and fail?

We all have our defining moments-a single moment that defines who we are. A moment that reflects how we think, how we act, and what others should expect of us. It can be a thought, behavior, action, non-action, or statement.

For example, I remember experiencing a moment that I thought perfectly defined a past roommate of mine. Her defining moment to me was while watching Mean Girls. In the transformative moment when Cady is giving her Spring Fling Queen acceptance speech, she tells Emma Gerber “…that hair do must have taken hours and you look really pretty.” In this moment, my roommate comments “wow, why would she tell her that?”

To which, her boyfriend asks, “what do you mean?”

In an honesty that appauled me, she says “why would she tell her she looks pretty? That’s so fake. She’s clearly not pretty, So why would she say that? I would never tell someone she’s pretty when she’s not.”

I remember thinking that this perfectly portrayed how she treated and acted towards others: at face value. Her judgement didn’t consider others feelings or hidden depths. She only cared about the superficial version of the truth.

She couldn’t see the beauty in hard work and effort, because she only saw beauty in terms of physical attributes deemed attractive by social constructs. She didn’t hold back her negativity, nor did she care to.

In my romantic life, my ex boyfriend defined his role in our relationship when he could not emotionally support me in my time of need. When I need a word of encouragement to get me through a tough day, he was merely concerned with a selfish and material need of his own. The effort and care was clear to be one-sided.

With these observations, I’ve been wrapping my brain around what my defining moment might have been, if I’ve had one. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve probably had many defining moments-moments that have defined me at different ages, points of my life, and relationships, whether romantic or not.

I’m sure that not all of my defining moments have been positive, but I hope they continue to improve upon each other as I grow and age. I also hope that when my next defining moment comes, and I’m challeneged to fight or flight, I’ll fight.

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The Aversion to LIKEtoKNOW.it

What a tease.

I, like many Pinterest/Instagram fans, have joined Liketoknow.it. And why wouldn’t I? It seems as though all the bloggers use liketoknow.it. I love that At the click of a heart-shaped button, I can find out exactly what my favorite bloggers are wearing, how much it costs, and exactly where I can get it.

Exhibit A: Rachel Parcell, the blogger behind Pink Peonies recently posted this on Instagram:

 Pink Peonies 

Adorable! So cute. Where can I get it? I need it. Awesome, there’s a liketoknow.it link…

Now this is where my problem begins with liketoknow.it and fashion bloggers. You find this amazing rose-printed dress [insert any other amazing item here]. It’s unique, trendy, and will go perfectly with your black moto jacket. You didn’t know it existed 20 seconds ago but now you must have it. It’s perfect that this blogger is making it so accessible to you.

Excitedly, you “like” the post and anxiously await your liketoknow.it email. Finally, you think, signing up for another stupid free account has been worth it.

A fee minutes later, and YAY! You’ve got mail. Open it up and you see the layout below:

  
You click on the email link you want (come on rose dress).

Boom. Dream over.

Like a thousand tiny knives (literally), the price stabs your little fashionistic dream to the core.

$4,995.00.

Are you serious? Why are you advertising this to me?

 Net-A-Porter 

After the initial shock wears away, sarcastic anger lurks in. Thank God there’s free 3-day shipping. It’d be outrageous to spend $12 in shipping.

I wonder: is my order delivered by three gorgeously sculpted shirtless men? And is it out of line to request that they also hand feed me pizza?

I know it’s Dolce and Gabbana, but seriously, this gorgeous piece of clothing better be sewn with gold string wound from Rumpelstiltskin himself to cost that much. Why do you taunt me so liketoknow.it and Rachel Parcell?!

I thought the point of following bloggers was so that you could be inspired by other real girls, living real lives, wearing real clothes. As much as I fantasized being a well-followed fashion blogger ( LOL), who gets flown around the world by Revolve Clothing, talking at exclusive invitation-only convention, I’m not interest in following another mini-celebrity in designer clothes. We all know you didn’t but that. We know that it was most likely sent to you for free by amazing designers like Dolce and Gabbana because you’re popular, and it’s great advertising for fashion moguls.

But come on, spare me the Valentino shoes and Ellie Saab gown inspiration for my birthday party. At least on liketoknow.it. If I could afford a dress like that, I wouldn’t need a link to find out where to buy this rose printed dress. I probably would have been invited to the runway show. Or, in a fantasy workd, invited to Dolce and Gabbana’s house for a private showing just like the Khardashians.

Liketoknow.it, you’re just as cruel as the bad boy whom we fall in love with even though we know he’ll leave. And bloggers like Rachel Parcell, I love you, and I’ll continue to follow you. However, you’re like that girl who miraculously tames the bad boy and has a perfect life. It’s not real life, stop telling me it is.

Guess I’ll wait until the knockoff comes out at Forever21. See you in 2017 rose printed dress.

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