You Are a Feminist

You Are a Feminist

In college, I’m surrounded by many bright young women. Many of these bright young women believe they themselves are not feminists. I’m not going to quote the statistics about the wage gap that you may not believe exists or cite The Feminine Mystique. Those things are there but you already know about them and you’ve already decided what you think about them. I just want to talk about our experiences. There are moments in your young life that you became wholly aware that you are female. Being a woman was not something I consciously thought much about before college. In high school, I identified myself as cheerleader, clarinetist, NHS member, cross country runner, class officer, sportsmanship committee member, academic team participant, homecoming attendant, any number of arbitrary high school things that I loved. I did these things and laughed and ran and created and lived in the privilege that gender was never really something I had to think about on a daily basis. But in college, I was repeatedly told I couldn’t walk home alone in the dark. I was told I could get into all the bars easier. I was told to never accept a drink from a stranger. I was told there wasn’t a women’s bathroom on the entire first floor of the engineering building. I was told a lot of things based on a trait I didn’t pick out. And so were you.

You were told to smile sweetheart. You were told that he liked your hair, but don’t worry he’s not hitting on you in the line at the gas station. You were whistled at from passing cars. You were nervously clutching your pepper spray walking back to your dorm at midnight. You laughed at misogynistic jokes that weren’t funny because you were trying to play cool. I did too.

You are a feminist every time you are angry when someone grabs your lower back to push you aside at a bar without asking. You are a feminist every time you comfort your crying friend who did not say yes. You are a feminist every time you succeed on your own, for yourself, by yourself. You are a feminist every time you question these rules and these structures or every time you are scared, purely because you are female.

You may not realize it. You are not crazy or man hating or bra burning and you probably shave your legs. But if you believe you are more than what is between your legs, you’re feminist. If you believe women should not be working for free past October 26th, you’re a feminist. If you think that your voice matters just as much as the person beside you, you’re a feminist. I hate to have to be the one that breaks it to you but odds are despite that Odyssey article you shared on Facebook or the fact that you’ve never heard of Roxane Gay– you are a feminist. Revel in it.

 

art by @artsyalexx

How To: Blog

How To: Blog

So lately, I’ve gotten a few questions from other people interested in starting their own little thing on the internet. I’m not an expert in anything, ever but these are a few of the things I’ve learned in my three years of writing down stuff and putting it online for fun:

Why?

So figuring out the why is crucial when beginning any new endeavor. A valid why allows you to create authentic and meaningful content. For me, I do this whole thing for myself more than anything else. It’s fun to me, it’s a hobby I truly enjoy and it’s what I do when I don’t want to do anything else. It’s also a place for me to keep track of my life so I can look back and remember what the heck was happening when I was twenty. It’s a grasp at permanence in a very impermanent world and a chance to put all the things I think down on a white background. There’s at least 7 billion different reasons to do this. Figure out your own because defining the why sets a template for your vision.

How?

I use WordPress as the content management system for my blog. There are lots of different options available like SquareSpace, Winx, etc. but I’ve found WordPress to be intuitive, inexpensive, flexible and simplistic enough to get what I want done without a lot of coding knowledge. WordPress allows you to customize your domain and site design for minimal fees and it’s also easy to learn for beginners. There are plenty of tutorials on Youtube about WordPress to teach you about things like tagging, best practices for online sharing and site design tips. I’ve basically learned how to be alive from Youtube tutorials so I 10/10 recommend.

Who?

We live in a day and age where internet safety and responsibility has been pounded into our heads since middle school. The same rules that apply for social media obviously apply here too. Create content that you would want your grandma or future employer to see. Because they probably will. Your digital brand can make or break you and this is an opportunity to create your own narrative. Sharing online is a fine balance between authenticity and personal privacy and it’s also different for everyone. Share responsibly kids.

When?

Consistency is important. I know a lot of people who start these things and then get bored and don’t post for months or years. Like anything, you get better the more you practice. Posting schedules work well for some people, not so well for others. There’s a feature on WordPress (and most other platforms) that allows you to pre-schedule a post for a set time and date. This is useful during crazy times like finals or holidays but also not completely necessary. How often you post is up to you but I recommend maintaining a certain level of consistency for yourself, as well as everyone else.

What?

Write what you write. This is the most wonderful part of being alive in the 21st century aside from probably modern medicine, increased personal hygiene and Netflix. There has never been less of a barrier to entry in the world of publishing. This is a platform to speak truths or jokes or make stuff up. Share your lens and translate it to pixels on a webpage. People might love it or hate it or think you’re wasting a lot of time. Welcome to being alive. Create your own stuff, take inspiration from others and do your own thing.


This is a very brief overview on a very beautiful and intricate thing. My best advice is to just go for it, even if you have no idea what you’re doing. Especially, if you have no idea what you’re doing. Get brave. It’s definitely an intimidating thing, sharing your thoughts publicly for critique, putting words in different orders to be read by who knows who. But it changes you. There are marketable skills to gain, fascinating people to meet and a whole world of 1s and 0s for the taking.

 

 

 

Full

Full

Veganism has taken the nation by storm. It’s a commonly googled term, a cultural trend embraced by well-dressed bloggers and your favorite celebrity probably swears by it. There are cookbooks, tv shows and bumper stickers dedicated to a lifestyle without animal byproducts. For over a million people in the US, this is a dietary choice that allows them to live better, feel better, do less harm to the planet and protect animals.

But I have seen this trend of plant based eating and stringent routine sometimes go from healthy to dangerous and I think we need to talk about why.

Eating disorders are also taking the nation by storm. Eating disorders are a mental illness categorized by an unhealthy relationship with food. While most of us could stand to eat a few more vegetables and a few less Oreos, people who suffer from eating disorders live lives impaired and made difficult by the simple act of eating food. According to dosomething.org, more than 24 million Americans struggled with an eating disorder in 2017.

The thing about veganism is that it is intended to be a healthy lifestyle choice. However, for individuals predispositioned for disordered eating, veganism can be a vice or alternative form of extreme restrictive dieting. It can slow heart rates, deprive muscles; it can quite literally kill.

I am definitely not claiming that all vegans have an eating disorder or that all diets are harmful– not even close. Don’t mess that up! But any dietary restriction can go too far. For those among us who suffer from body dysmorphia and disordered diet tendencies, these trends can go from healthy to dangerous really fast. The temptation of restriction, calorie counts and control can take hold. And they do not let go.

I think we need to start redefining what health looks like as a society. Health isn’t eating only carrots; health is a consistent and constant heart rate. Health isn’t drinking all of your meals; health is having enough energy to get through the day. Health isn’t necessarily being able to see your ribcage; it’s being out of the hospital and into the world.

We need to be mindful that eating a salad for lunch is not simply a task to check off a to-do list for everyone. We need to be aware that a restrictive diet is not an option for some people and shift our language to involve that. We need to understand that shaming is triggering. We need to know that some well-meaning advice or that crazy fact you learned on Food Inc. is not always helpful. We need to stop turning a blind eye to self-harm in the name of health because I don’t think it is a coincidence that we live in a country facing both extreme obesity AND an influx in eating disorders. Our crippling fear of obesity is beginning to become just as dangerous as the threat.

Someone very close to me has been fighting this battle for years. I’ve watched up close and seen how something as essential as food can destroy us from the inside out. These diseases are often not taken seriously and only 10% of people battling eating disorders ever receive treatment (dosomething.org). It’s scary; we need to be scared. We need to look for the signs and support eating what makes you feel good and stop eating dairy if we want to and use better language for looking good and prioritize health over appearance and eat chocolate if we feel the need and do things for the right reasons and reach out when something feels wrong.

To be Full.

 

Cool Resources: 

@nourishandeat

recoveryspark.com

Coffee

Coffee

At the beginning of this school year, I was tired. I was interning at a nonprofit trying to better the world in some small way but was seeing little to no results. I wasn’t necessarily expecting to save the planet via a temporary internship at a local nonprofit organization but I was surrounded by people there who truly wanted nothing more than to do that; tirelessly, constantly, incessantly. And all the while, the world felt like it was falling apart. A summer of immigration bans and failed climate agreements and terrorist attacks and mass shootings and political turmoil piled up around me.

The problem with wanting to fix things is that sometimes you kinda can’t. It’s out of scope, unrealistic, untimely or too late. And that feels like failure and that turns into exhaustion. So by the end of the summer I had given up, I was just tired of caring so much about everything.

The thing about passion is that it’s fire; a burning that gives you energy and makes your eyes light up and your Leslie Knope come out. But the thing about passion is that it’s fire; it can burn out if you don’t give it any fuel.

I was burnt out. Passion had given way to apathy.

I was trying to figure out how to shift my career plan before it was too late, to something easier, something I wouldn’t have to care so much about, something that wouldn’t take so much soul or burn so much of my fire.

You’ve probably heard the old adage like,

“An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:

‘A fight is going on inside me,’ he said to the boy.

‘It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil–he is anger, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment and ego.’

He continued, ‘The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you–and inside every other person, too.’

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf will win?’

The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.”

Cut to a night when I was begrudgingly watching the Disney movie Tomorrowland with my family at home; half paying attention, half online shopping. This little parable was enough to pull my consciousness from the FreePeople website. I had heard the analogy many times, from many sources, all citing various old men who said this– probably none of them very accurate. But I’d never thought about it in a societal context before.

The whole movie is about saving the world from the futuristic apocalypse– of course. It was about finding the “dreamers”, the people who hadn’t given up on fixing the world yet. And by finding these dreamers who still believed they could do it, they inevitably saved the world in classic Disney fashion. They started feeding the right wolf.

This kind of hope is hard to maintain. There are some days that I wholeheartedly believe that I am somehow contributing in a small way to fix a small problem and that piece by piece, the world will be made better. But there are also days that I feed the other wolf. The wolf that has given up, complains about society on social media, points fingers, finds the bad in everything and tries to stay out of the whole mess, while doing nothing to fix it– therefore contributing to the monster. It is my scariest demon, this apathy. Wars aren’t won by passion, they are lost by indifference.

But over the course of this semester I have given myself a chance at more fuel– fuel so passion can burn. Take it in, soak it up, turn the sunlight into life. Fuel is the small successes. The things that work. It won’t be everything. They might not even be truly significant in the grand scheme of things. Little victories and sparks and proof that what we’re doing, it really does work. Slowly, surely, sometimes backwards, but there are golden days when it works.

This is what scares me most: that we might grow into our indifference like grey hair and wrinkled skin. That we will give up before we get anywhere. I almost did and some days I still almost do. That’s the real danger. Not icebergs melting and mutual assured destruction (okay, actually those are really, really scary and I’m terrified but I’m just trying to make a point). The real danger is that we leave the fixing to someone else. That we accept the bad things about this planet and look at our phones instead. That we bury our heads in memes and macchiatos and reality TV. That we become too damn exhausted to try anymore.

Keep drinking coffee.

This Brave New Year

This Brave New Year

i am ready for 2018 / not because 2017 was bad / but because 2018 sounds brave / a bracelet on my wrist says fearless / not because i am / but because i want to be /

This year I read the book The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte. I was gifted this book by a mentor/boss/friend and it came into my life at the perfect time. I was spinning out, existential crisis mode threat level midnight as a junior in college panicking about the next decade of my life as one typically does on a Monday mid-morning. The basic premise of the book (because you should read it yourself here’s the amazon link go ahead kid) is that we are taught our entire lives to set our goals and resolutions based on outcomes. We picture the end result and we work towards that thing. If you’re in college, think the dreaded S.M.A.R.T. goal. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely, Vomit. RT if you never want to hear the words SMART goal ever again in your young life.

But Danielle challenges you to do this whole goal thing different. Instead of picturing the  final outcome (which is typically overwhelming and daunting and I usually panic and quit before I can even begin said thought process), it is better to think of how you want to FEEL at then end of the process. The reason that we do anything, literally anything, okay, is because of how we think it will make us feel. Since the beginning of time, this is how human behavior has worked. Eat a cupcake, sleep until noon, work out every single day, major in geology, learn Chinese, skip yoga, have a kid, pay for the person behind you at Mcdonalds, spend too much money on coffee, whatever. We are chasing some kind of feeling. We act in a certain way because of the feeling we will receive, whether that be a sense of accomplishment, energy, independence, pride, health or to be entertained, enlightened, inspired, empowered. All of this is an attempt at this end goal of happiness. With me? Danielle argues that if we set goal and resolutions based on how we want to feel rather than what we want to achieve simply because we think it will make us feel this way, we will be more successful in this endeavor as well as actually enjoy the process.

So think words. Write down words that are right for you, right now in this nanosecond in time. Picture that person you want to be, people you admire, moments when you felt like Beyonce and Ruth Bader Ginsberg mixed into one.

See ya never SMART goals!!!

I am absolutely done defining a life by arbitrary resolutions that I was forced to write down as a part of a group exercise and then share out in front of strangers. Work towards your own words instead. For me this year, they are brave, creative and whole. Defined on my own terms for me by me. You can have 3 words or 67 words if that’s your vibe. To keep in the back of your mind or tattoo on your forehead. This is 2018 people, opportunities are endless, go crazy.

To 2017, may she get the brief history book summary she deserves.

To 2018, cheers to a brave new year.

H*ppy

H*ppy

I’m sitting at a coffee shop. Staring at a blank computer screen watching the cursor flash like it’s daring me to say what I want to say. Off, on, off, on. Happy. Happy is a big word for a small word. It’s a word on birthday cards and advertisements for dating apps and paper bags that hold Big Macs. It’s a marketing scheme as much as an emotion that you feel when you see a fluffy dog. It’s a word that I’m not sure describes what I’m talking about as much as I wish it did because the meaning has been lost to millions of national holidays and Fridays. It’s been turned beige by overuse and under-feeling. Some people have forgotten the meaning entirely. The holidays are here so you are going to hear it a lot. It is red and green and sparkly and covered in receipts. So I by no means challenge you to use it less. I challenge you to rebel by understanding it. Taking it in, re-deciding what the heck it means. Maybe feeling it more. Or notice that you’re feeling it more. It’s a tough thing, that happy thing. It looks like honey and feels far away. And sometimes when we say it we use it as a synonym for not-sad. I don’t think you should be not-sad. I think you should be happy. Fully, truly, consumingly. Not all the time, not everywhere, because this is life and there’s a lot of dog shit that comes with a lot of cute dogs. And you’re inevitably going to step in it at some point. But I hope, there are seconds, or minutes or hours when you can look down or up or in or out and say that word and it feels more than lukewarm and sounds like much more than an adjective.