Category: What to Think About

Who are you with?

 

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It takes a lot to get me to quit procrastinating… That explains why I haven’t blogged in over a year. So what was it that finally kicked my butt back into gear? Any guesses?

If you said the disgusting, misogynistic, xenophobic racist Donald Trump, give yourself a star! I’ve been thinking about what future, 70 year old Lauren will tell her grandkids about the year 2016, and I don’t want it to be that I stayed quiet while people I cared about voted for a man who will surely have a place in our history books in the chapter on narcissistic sociopaths with a penchant for sexual violence.

There are so many reasons not to vote for Donald Trump, that I can’t begin to list them all. But, I’ll make an attempt. If you weren’t swayed by his xenophobic attitude towards Muslims and Mexicans, or his racist history of denying apartments to black applicants and railroading the innocent Central Park Five, I’m disappointed. If you didn’t budge after you heard the way he talks to and about women, I’m disappointed. If you weren’t convinced by his confession that he has sexually assaulted women, and the many reports that he, in fact, has, I’m disgusted. And even if you ignored everything he said up until the point he advocated grabbing women by the genitals because you realized that you have women in your life that you love, or that you’re a woman yourself, and finally disavowed him, I’m still pretty upset with you. And, as an important aside – has the man articulated any practical policy plans? A country is not a business, despite what that shady businessman would like you to think.

Here’s the thing… so many people are framing this election as a “lesser of two evils” situation. Both candidates are terrible, they say. So they’ll either choose the less terrible one, or throw a vote away on a third party candidate. I’m not sure if this attitude is ignorance, sexism, or an unwillingness to change party affiliation, but it’s simply untrue. Hillary Clinton is an imperfect person, but she is well-qualified to be our president. She’s spent the majority of her life as public servant, which I’m inclined to believe she did in the interest of the public good. There are many other lucrative paths a woman with her education and intelligence could have chosen, let’s not pretend she’s selfish for spending a lifetime in the public sector. Because she has spent her life in the public eye, we are aware of the mistakes she has made. We are also well aware of the good she has done, as a lifelong advocate for women, children, and families. Hillary knows how our political system works, and she has the connections and know-how to enact real political change. Let’s not pretend that a candidate with no political experience could get anything done in the House or Senate.

Although Hillary’s campaign has purposely avoided focusing on this point, I can’t neglect to mention that having a female president will improve the lives of women and girls for generations to come, until men and women truly are equal. Even if you refuse to recognize sexism in your own country, you know that women are not treated equally around the world. If the most powerful nation in the world elects a woman as our leader, what kind of message will that send to countries who treat women as second-class citizens, or worse?

I spent some time at the start of of the school year teaching my students about empathy. We communicate through screens so often, now, that I worry empathy is going out of style. People who are still willing to vote for Trump after everything he has said and done may need a refresher course: empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s position and recognize their experience as their truth, even if you don’t agree with it. Instead of saying, “Racism doesn’t exist in America,” or “Men and women are already equal,” or “Undocumented immigrants are cheating the system,” how about trying an empathetic response? Do you experience racism directed at you? I’m a white woman in America, so I don’t, but I understand that some people in our country do. We need a president who recognizes that racism is alive and well in America, and that we need to work together to end it. That’s enough to secure my vote for Hillary. Do you experience sexism in any aspect of your life? I’m a woman in America, so I do. And I recognize that some women have had experiences much worse than mine. We need a president who understands the danger that sexist rhetoric creates for women. That’s enough to secure my vote for Hillary. Am I an undocumented immigrant? No, but my grandfather came to America from Ireland through Ellis Island. He moved here for the opportunity this country provides, and I’d like to think that those who come to this country illegally, risking their life and freedom and leaving their families behind, do so for the same reason as my grandfather. We need a president who recognizes the humanity in all humans. That’s enough to secure my vote for Hillary.

Your responsibility as an American citizen is to vote. Vote for the candidate who will do the most good for the most people – Hillary Clinton. If you don’t like her, I don’t care. Put on your big kid pants, scrounge up whatever empathy you can muster, and drag your butt to the polls on November 8th. Or, if you’re still voting for Trump, November 28th.

(Image of Hillary Clinton via Flickr.)

My weirdest quirk…

Have you ever read an article about a weird personality trait or quirky way of thinking that you thought only you experienced?  You have a woah moment of relief that you’ve found at least one other kindred soul, then another feeling sets in: normality.  It’s so healthy to recognize that everyone has weird problems.

My weirdest problem (at the moment) is this.  (Don’t skip the link or you’ll think I’m even crazier than I actually am.)  Misophonia is when certain sounds drive you nuts.  Common irritants (aka the ones that annoy me the most) are chewing, slurping, loud typing, gum snapping, and loud breathing.  Odd, right?  It definitely doesn’t make me sound like the most fun person at the party.

It’s one of those things that I never knew bothered anyone else until I stumbled upon a magazine or blog article years ago and breathed a huge sigh of relief.  I found a soul-sister in Kelly Ripa when I spotted this cover on a tabloid stand a couple of years ago:

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Whenever I get a little too worked up about a noise that’s bothersome to me (which usually only happens when I’m already stressing about something else) I take a moment to remind myself that I’m not the only one with problems.  Sometimes stepping out of myself is the best thing I can do in a stressful situation.  I have to recognize that I am the one with the quirky problem, not the innocent person chomping an apple or typing heavy-handedly on their laptop that I’m glaring at.  Another solution has been noise-cancelling headphones… the only problem being that I’m kind of nosy and don’t like to miss out on any conversations that I might be able to insert myself into.

Although it can be fun to play the “world-revolves-around-me” game when you encounter a problem, sometimes the best thing you can do is search for others who have had similar experiences.

What’s your weirdest quirk?  Can you top mine?

 

A little trick…

Do you ever have trouble motivating yourself to do something intimidating?  Whether it’s a big life change or a small, yet looming, decision, I have a little tip.  This sounds weird, but something I remind myself when I need a little boost in the right direction is that no matter important something seems to me, it’s ultimately pretty insignificant in the scheme of things.

This infographic and this video illustrate exactly what I’m talking about:

Recognizing the place we occupy in space and time is super overwhelming at first, but you can use it to your advantage.  Why not apply for your dream job?  Why wouldn’t you submit that application?  What’s stopping you from talking to that attractive stranger?  What does it matter if you fail or embarrass yourself?  Something that can seem huge to you in the moment seems so minute when you step back.  (Bonus tip: this perspective also works for bad days.)

I’ve been using this trick more and more as I make plans for my future and decide what my best path is.  After all, what does it matter if I go in the wrong direction?  A mistep is nothing in the long-run of your life.

Do you have any tricks that you use to movitate yourself?  I’d love to hear them.

 

What have you been up to?

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It’s been a while since I last posted, and things are looking different around here.  The leaves are changing, so it’s the 1% of the year when it’s actually pleasant to live in New England, I’ve painted my room so I feel like a productive adult, and I’ve settled into life as a non-college student.  What does that make me?  A real person?

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve missed me and I’m happy to fill you in on what I’ve been up to lately.  Besides job-searching (which is hard!) and substitute teaching (which is fun!) here’s what’s happening in the Life of La: (more…)

Why men are so important to feminism…

A longer return post is coming soon, but take twenty minutes out of your evening to watch this TED Talk.  Show it to the men (and women) in your life – the fight against sexism and misogyny is not a battle between the sexes, but rather one that men and women should take on together.

It’s interesting to think of this in relation to the #YesAllWomen movement, which you can learn about here and here. (In short, it argues that while it’s true that “Not All Men” are violent or demeaning towards women, “Yes All Women” have had to deal with at least one encounter with such a man.)

There’s a lot going on in terms of feminism and gender relations at the moment!  Thoughts?

Can you believe it’s already May?

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So I’ve taken a long hiatus from blogging, in part because of finals at school and in part because of this, but I’m back!  I’d love to share a few things from around the web that have captured my interest in the past couple of weeks.

My brother showed my mom and I this awesome TED Talk by Joshua Foer (this guy‘s brother) about memory.  Foer explains the right way to memorize, and it actually seems pretty fun!  Definitely worth twenty minutes of your time.

Lots of interesting material to think about here for any True Detective fans still befuddled by the entire series. (Start at the bottom for the beginning of a six part article.)

Ever been hit on and pulled the “I have a boyfriend” excuse to get someone to go away?  You’ll think twice after you read this, a really fascinating feminist perspective on how we define ourselves. (Thanks to my lovely friend Molly for sending me this!)

On a similar note, have you heard of gaslighting?  If you’ve ever been called “crazy” for saying something that someone else didn’t agree with, then it’s happened to you.  It’s a great concept to be aware of the next time you have a disagreement.

One of my favorite blogs, Humans of New York, did a piece for Vogue covering the Met Gala.

As always I’d love to hear any thoughts you have to share!  Enjoy the sunshine!

What’s your favorite piece of advice?

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I’m great at giving advice, but I’m not so good at receiving it.  (That’s really just a more tactful way of saying that I’m good at being critical of others but I whine and complain when others criticize me.)  As I near the end of my senior year, I’ve become less and less welcoming towards advice, as my adult life looms and my plans remain uncertain.  I’d love to share a piece of advice that I actually did appreciate with the hope that anyone feeling a bit anxious about where they’re headed in life can take it to heart the way that I did.

This fall, Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Díaz visited my college and spoke about the craft of being a writer.  I spent half of his talk loudly laughing at his dry wit and the other half wildly scribbling down anything he said that sounded useful to me as a writer (this was a difficult task as he was a fountain of knowledge).

One point in specific stuck in my mind, though, and I’ve been coming back to it as I near graduation and face a daily deluge of questions about my future plans. (more…)

What do you do to center yourself?

Maybe “centering yourself” is a little too new-agey for what I’m talking about, but I think its crucial to have some calming practices to turn to when life gets stressful.  I wish I could say that I’m someone who goes for a run (I can’t make it down the block) or does yoga (I hate to sweat) or even meditates (my attention span seems to shorten every year), but I’m not.  I’m more likely to vent to a friend or flip on a tear-jerker when I need an emotional release.  I’d apologize for sounding like a walking (or crying) stereotype, but I’m being honest, and I’m willing to bet that a lot of my readers can relate.  I’m of the opinion that nothing good comes of stifling one’s emotions, which can make living with me a bit overwhelming at times.

So, I’m happy to share with my roommates, my family, my friends, my readers, and the internet at large, a wonderful suggestion from (more…)

What happens when you fail?

Your twenties are about more than party dresses and vino, although it'd be nice if they weren't.
Your twenties are about more than party dresses and vino, although it’d be nice if they weren’t.

If you’re like me, you probably imagined that your twenties would be filled with success and adventure.  Now, I’m only a little more than two and a half years into my twenties, but even at the ripe age of twenty-one I know that my idealization is far from true (as idealizations often are).  Of course it’s an exciting and happy time in a person’s life, but something I think few people consider is that while your twenties are a decade of change and excitement (think new relationships, challenging careers, disposable incomes, and other major life changes) they are also inevitably a decade with more failure than you’re probably used to.  Ironically, or unsurprisingly, depending on how you see it, most of these failures relate to these major life changes like relationships, careers, and the responsibility that comes with one’s own income.

If your childhood and teenage years are a time to grow up, your twenties are the time to figure out who you are.  In my own case, I’ve learned a lot about who I am from instances where I experienced failure or rejection. (more…)