Living For Loving (Yourself)

It’s safe to say everyone out there at one point or another often lacks confidence. It can be the teenager who lacks self image due to bullies in the high school hallways. It can be the result of a diet of magazines and feeling like one is not enough. Or, finally, it could be the result of being in a relationship where your partner (or even someone who is supposedly your friend) would continually work to cut you down. And, while the relationship is long over, the effects of it still remain ingrained in us for God knows how long.

If I’m being real here, I can especially relate to the last one. I had experience with former friends and partners that just continually cut me down. For example, I have an ex that sometimes during a relationship tried to cause me to feel completely and utterly stupid. He would constantly dismiss my love for teen romance novels and say that my writing needed work (I mean I’m not perfect and can take criticism, but I do think it’s offensive for your partner to say that it’s a chore — and really he said that — to read your articles that you work so hard on).

And, that’s only one major example. I’ve had friends insult themselves in front of me, which in turn, helped me question my own self image and myself in general.

Needless to say, that caused me to feel subconscious about myself.  While the relationship is long over and I’m even in a new one, the effects still remain. Every now and then, I question whether or not I’m good enough or pretty enough.

But, I am working on it.

However, I’m going to be honest here. I am absolutely certain that I am not the only one who has or does feel this way. And, there’s a number of reasons why someone would be feeling that way.

With that being said, I do have a message for all of those who do. Repeat this mantra to yourself as much as needed, because I think that this something that everyone needs to hear.

And that mantra is:

You are wonderful. You are beautiful. You are intelligent, and you are an awesome human being. Why? Because you are you. It doesn’t matter what size you wear, or if you’re the top of the class. You are worthy and deserving of love, and wonderful things. And, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

With the rise of social media — in our culture in general — we often lose sight of ourselves. This, meaning that we don’t see ourselves too clearly. I mean, we see thousands of stimuli daily, and it’s bound to create some insecurities about our lives. I am guilty of this. But, we don’t need to be.

Therefore, I am going to work on seeing myself as the wonderful being I am. But, sometimes, I need some help. So, here’s how I’m working to see myself clearly — even when I feel awful upon myself. Hopefully this inspires you to get going as well!

  1. Keep a journal and write in it regularly. You can do a few different prompts with this. One thing that I like to do when I’m feeling down about myself is write a list why I am awesome. Another thing is to write down your feelings. Chances are, the more you do, the better you’ll feel.
  2. Do something that makes you feel good. For me, that’s putting on some lipstick or remembering to wear makeup. Others, however, can have a different approach. For instance, some can wear an outfit that helps you radiate confidence. Whatever it may be, it’s okay to pamper yourself and remind yourself that you are awesome.
  3. Look up positive quotes on Pinterest/Google. After all, it means a lot to see it on your phone. And, you can even download them onto your phone and use it as a wallpaper. The more you see it, the more it resonates.
Advertisements

The Power of No

No is a two letter word, but it is one that has a mighty impact. No means stop. No means I don’t want to. But, most importantly, no means no.

One of the take home messages of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)  is exactly that. According to a PDF on their website entitled Everyday Consent, it reminds you that consent isn’t just for sex, but rather “consent is about always choosing to respect personal and emotional boundaries.” It goes onto say that “by practicing consent in everyday situations, you show that you value the choices of others.”

The PDF points out several ways that you can practice consent, which can consist of more than you think.

For example, that the PDF points out is that you can practice consent by asking them if it’s okay to touch them. This is more than sexually naturally. This can be as simple as asking if it’s okay to give them a hug or put your arm around you. The PDF says that it’s important to “ask sincerely so others understand it’s okay to say no.”

According to the PDF, this is especially important if the person is a sexual assault victim, because “any unexpected touch can be scary and traumatic.” However, it also points out that others may want their personal space.

Furthermore, you can even ask that person permission when it comes to sharing photos and posting. Just a simple is it okay if I post this? can go a long way. Social media is a crucial part of 21st century life. Some people might not want their personal life (such as who they are dating) broadcasted over the Internet waves.

However, handling that no can be challenging. The PDF says that it’s okay to feel disappointed when someone says no, but it’s important to accept the answer and move on. Adding onto that, 99 percent of the time, it doesn’t have to do with you. People are different — and therefore, they are comfortable with different things.

At the end of the day, sexual assault boils down to one thing — that no. And, hearing that from your partner can certainly be a hard pill to swallow. But, hearing the no and being in a relationship where your partner can feel comfortable enough to say it makes all of the difference.

With that being said, whenever you’re ready to have sex, there’s one final message I want to say — have consensual sex. This, according to the PDF, it must be “freely given,” and that person “must understand what they are agreeing to, and they can change their mind at any time.”

Furthermore, there’s two additional points I want to make clear from the PDF — consent needs to be clear and enthusiastic, and that the “absence of “no” or silence does not mean “yes,”” and that “past consent does not mean current or future consent.” 

Therefore, you should listen for that no — whether it may be verbal or body language. It might be louder than you think.

At The End Of The Day

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many people

tuned into your Facebook live video, how many likes

your selfie had or how many Twitter followers you have.

 

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many manicures

you have, how much makeup you’re wearing, or if you had

your hair done. Since you take them off every night,

you are left with the reflection in the mirror — sometimes

you might not like who you are seeing when you look back.

 

At the end of the day, what does matter is the amount of

love you radiate, the quality of people who you’re with,

and the legacy of that you wish to leave behind.

 

At the end of the day, what matters are the moments that you

forget to take selfies, the little sips of a delicious cup of coffee

in the morning, and finishing a good book.

 

Those are the moments that matter at the end of the day.

The Take Home Message for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

top_main_banner
Via

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month(SAMM), which is a month designated to help raise awareness and educate about rape and sexual assault awareness.

This month’s campaign theme is “embrace your voice.” According to the Embrace Your Voice Sheet on the SAAM website, this focuses on “how you talk about sexual violence,” because “the things you say every day send a message about your beliefs and values.”

According to SAAM’s page on Wikipedia, some of the goals of this year’s campaign include:stand up to victim blaming, shut down rape jokes, correct harmful misconceptions, promote everyday consent, and practice healthy communications with children. The NSVRC website contains valuable resources to do exactly that.

The truth of the matter is, we need these resources more than ever before. Sexual assault is something that needs to be brought to everyone’s attention — whether you are a man or a woman. It’s become more discussed — especially with the #MeToo movement, and the stands made at Hollywood award shows, but it does bring forth the attention that there’s a major sexual assault problem here.

Now, what is sexual assault? According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), some forms of sexual assault include: attempted rape, fondling or unwanted sexual touching, forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body, or penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape. Furthermore, there’s something else I wish to point out — force is not always physical. RAINN says “perpetrators may use emotional coercion, psychological force, or manipulation to coerce a victim into non-consensual sex. Some perpetrators will use threats to force a victim to comply, such as threatening to hurt the victim or their family or other intimidation tactics.”

And, it’s a lot more common than you think: according to the statistics page on RAINN, nearly one in six women are victims of sexual assault. But, what is even more startling is that RAINN reports that every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. This totals 321,500 victims of sexual assault with victims that are 12 years older.

Something needs to be done about this.

It starts with trying to nipping the problem in the bud. It starts with consent. It starts with education. It starts living with the fact that no in fact means no.

The impact of sexual assault is something that can never be expressed in words. Once the assault happens, you become silent and lose your voice. It becomes difficult, nearly impossible, to regain it back.

Therefore, we must do all that we can to make sure this stops here.

So, what can we do?

For starters, we can learn how to say no and say it with force and power — and ensure that our partner respects that power two little word.

Furthermore, we also can change how we perceive rape victims, because they did nothing to deserve this. They didn’t ask to be raped — no matter what they are wearing or even if they are leading you on. Everyone has the power to say no. You need to listen to it.

Finally, we also need to learn to believe them — and do something about it. Many victims of sexual assault and rape often don’t report it simply because they don’t think that it’s a problem or worth reporting. This needs to stop. We need to prevent that from happening again.

Throughout this month, I’ll be posting about sexual assault issues on my blog and personal Facebook page. I encourage you to stay tuned, and share, to help create awareness and conversation, because those are the first steps in making this problem so yesterday.

Furthermore, if you can, I encourage you to take part in this as well. NSVRC has an awesome social media campaign that I encourage you to take part of, if you can.

Why Everyone Should Read Lauren Graham’s New Book

I am a huge fan of Lauren Graham. I’ve watched Gilmore Girls over a thousand times, and am gradually getting through Parenthood (I am terrible at watching television shows).

But, what I also love about Lauren Graham is her books. When it comes to celebrities writing books, there are some of them that just aren’t that great. But, that isn’t the case when it comes to Graham. Up to date, she’s written three: Someday, Someday, Maybe, Talking as Fast as I Can: from Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between), and the newest, In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It.

29792562_10216062910593939_8529219286916479298_n

Hands down, I will say this: Graham is a talented writer. Her memoir was entertaining, but her fiction was enchanting. She really captured the voice of a character who is struggling to make it as an actor in New York in the ’90s, which made the book irresistible. Maybe, I’ll credit it to her having a Bachelor of Arts in English, but she’s a pretty good writer.

Her third book, In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It is different then the her others in simply it’s not a story. It’s a speech.

Basically, the novel is a transcript of the commencement speech from her high school, Langley High in 2017. Additionally, it also has the forward explaining why she’s publishing it.

In real life, I’ve found progress lives in small and seemingly uneventful accomplishments: the homework you’ve finished, the journal you remembered to write in, the same run you took on the same path yesterday. These things might not always seem like much, but over time, they add up to something bigger. They become the foundation of your life, building blocks on the way to all those milestone moments. — Lauren Graham, In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It

The novel contains both the transcript and drawings. It’s fairly short — a little over 40 pages — and is something that readers can easily devour in one sitting. But, while it’s a short little book, the impact is far greater than it’s size. It’s one of those books that’s inspiration, and deserves a rightful place in any young adult’s book collection — whether they are navigating high school, graduating high school and starting college, graduating college, or even a young adult trying to figure out their rightful place in this world.

Why?

It gives you wisdom in every little delicious word. While Graham tells stories of her journey to success, she gives a few nuggets to inspiration to readers. These include: be confident, don’t worry so much, and give it your all to get to your dream, even if you’re not there yet.

In the meantime, perform every job as if you’re being well paid, as someone who probably wasn’t paying me told me. Which is to say: why not treat yourself now as the success you dream of becoming? Respect yourself and your work as you would if you were being paid to be the boss, and I’ll bet you’ll climb the latter faster — My favorite passage of Lauren Graham’s In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It

As 23 (soon to be 24) year old millennial reading this, I found that this book was the perfect mixture of encouragement and entertainment. Sure, I bought the book because it was by Lauren Graham and my mom gave me a Barnes and Noble giftcard. But, it doesn’t change my opinion.

It’s hard being a millennial and navigating through the world. It’s even harder when you lack the confidence in yourself. Therefore, sometimes you need a reminder. This book is that reminder that you can do anything. When you put this book down, I guarantee that you’ll feel empowered enough to say yes, I can do this.

Love yourself, and what you’re doing, even if you’re not yet at the place you hope to land. Let the joy be the thing that drive you, and I bet you’ll get there faster. Give yourself permission to make mistakes. Those mistakes are as valuable as the triumphs. — Lauren Graham, In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It

With that being said, that book is that reminder when something doesn’t go as planned, that your day will in fact come. It might not be as fast as someone else, but the key thing is not to give up. That’s something many need to hear — whether you’re a new college graduate trying to find a job or moving into that dorm that first time.

Furthermore, the cover is positive too. Whenever I look at it, it just reminds me of flowers and birds. Which reminds me of springtime — something that makes me happy.

In conclusion, don’t worry about it. You already have The Most. And you’re already one of the The Best.  — Lauren Graham, In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It

In conclusion, if you’re looking for a great graduate gift — or just need some inspiration for yourself — then this book might be your little guidebook. Or, at the very least, an entertaining read.

Lent’s Over — Time to Buy Books!

As many of you know, I gave up buying books for Lent. As a self-proclaimed bibliophile, you can say that this was a little hard. But, when one has a problem where they buy two or three books at a time, it’s safe to say that I can buy them faster than I can read them. With that being said, I’ve accumulated quite a bit of books — over 20 to be exact.

Now that Lent is over, I can now rejoice and walk into a bookstore again. Or, go to the Barnes and Noble website and order more than I’ll ever need.

barnes and noble
Books I Ordered

I can hear the hallelujah chorus in the background. In fact, the first thing I did Easter Sunday, other than drink a cup of French Vanilla coffee, was go on the bookstore website and buy three books. Thankfully, my mom gave me a gift card for Easter, which was amazing.

As you all know, this isn’t the first time I’ve given up books for Lent. I gave buying books last year, and it was a much different experience.

One of the major differences?

Well, this year, I read about half of the amount then I did the previous year. Last year, I read 11 books. This year, I read five: Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham, And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseni, Stealing Snow by Danielle Page, and Jodi Picoult’s Keeping Faith, and Perfect Match. Currently, I’m reading Fifteen Minutes by Karen KIngsbury.

The main reason is because I don’t have as much time to read as I did last year. I was unemployed, which meant other than furiously applying for jobs, I had a lot of time on my hands. Furthermore, I also spent a bit more time doing social activities than I previously had, which meant less time for reading.

In addition, this year was the first time that I actually didn’t go and buy books and allow myself a cheat day. Last year, I did it a couple of times, which maybe had defeated the purpose. This year, I stuck to it strictly. Which wasn’t too bad, considering I had a million and one things going on.

With that being said, my new goal for the month of April is to make sure that I try to make more time for reading. Probably that would mean more time on the weekend, but hey one could try!

Why Are We Thinking So Much?

One of the things that I can win an Olympic gold medal for, if it ever were to become a sport in the games, would be overthinking. Sometimes, it’s amazing how easy I can fall into the rabbit hole of thoughts. However, what’s even more unremarkable, is how difficult it is to slip out of that thought tornado.

Recently, I’ve begun to think about “overthinking.” Why do we do this to ourselves? And, most importantly, why can’t we just turn off our brains for just one hour and live life without thinking about it?

I don’t have that answer. And, it’s certainly not that easy. With that being said, I do have a theory of where it could stem from.

Sometimes, in life we have bad experiences — a relationship that went wrong, or a job that you weren’t right for.

With that being said, while we may grow from those experiences, they still stay with us in some way,  shape or form. We want to prevent that from happening again. Therefore, we question every little thing that we do, in the hopes that we can prevent that experience from occurring again.

Furthermore, I think overthinking comes from a self doubt that exists within us. That could come from pretty much everywhere — a comment from a girl in high school telling you that you look fat in your bathing suit during gym class, a boyfriend telling you that you’re not good enough or a boss questioning whether or not you actually learned something when you were in college. Or, it can come from a healthy diet of social media and People magazine.

Whatever the case may be, once that seed is planted, it becomes very difficult to rip it out. But, it can be done.

So, I’ve developed a little list to help me whenever I begin to overthink things. I’ve tried a few of them, and they do help. Therefore, I hope that it helps you as well:

  • Remind myself that it’s okay to make a mistake, and just because you’ve made a mistake doesn’t mean that you’re not good enough. There is no perfect human being in this planet (not even Blake Lively), therefore you’re allowed to make mistakes.
  • Be honest. Text a friend/boyfriend or talk to your dog, and say “I’m overthinking, because of this.” Chances are, they will reassure you that everything’s okay. Or, your dog will ask you for a belly rub.
  • Go do something else. Watch a movie, read a book, go for a run, or scroll on Instagram. Whatever it takes to make you forget about what you’re thinking, do it.
  • Remember that nothing is as bad as you think it is. Remember when you were dreading going back to school for whatever reason — you got a bad haircut or you weren’t prepared for a test — and it didn’t end up as being as bad as you think. The same applies to this. Chances are, you didn’t screw everything up. Just repeat that over and over again.
  • Last but certainly not least, treat yourself to something that makes you feel good. That way, you’ll start to feel good — and forget the bad.