A Message to the Boys who thought they were Men

To you. You who made fun of me, but told me it was really because you liked me. To those who were family friends and grabbed on me because you thought I was going to be quiet. Why did you act surprised when I fought back? Did you not feel the infant sparks of this fire?

To you, you didn’t catch me.

To my high school “friends”. You cornered me at parties, made game plans involving my name, and tried to set me up with your friends so you could watch. Often gave me that “friendly” squeeze around the waist. To you who would speak about me as if I couldn’t understand your innuendos in front of me. I knew. To that boy, you, the one who held my heart for some time. You isolated me from the friends you said were “a bad influence”. Isolated me from myself. To you who touched me without permission, in public, in private. Then ran away like a sacred cat, leaving me to gather myself. You cut me. You all cut deeper into me each let down. Yet none of you severed the chord. That chord of fibers, embedded within them, my fight.

I say to all of you, you didn’t guilt me.

To the boys who whistle at me on the street. In jeans, leggings, shorts, dresses, nothing stops you. When you think you’re in power, just know it is I who is in control. Remember, you called to me, I never whistled at you. To those of you who follow me home and try to grab on my body, or take photos of me on the train. I see you. I know about you, and I know how pathetic you are. You add those photos to that private collection your wife doesn’t know about. You’re not slick, I see the exit of pride in your eyes when I call you out. I will always stare into the lens of that phone of yours. Go ahead, take the picture, and look at it. See me, seeing you. Forever know that I know what kind of human you are.

To you, you didn’t intimidate me.

College. To my college boys. The ones who thought a photo of my midriff was an indication that I’m open for business. Do not get your majors in criminal justice, for you jump to conclusions without further investigation. To you who would make fun of me because I won’t come out on Thirsty Thursdays with you. Calling me a prude and a tease because you couldn’t get me to follow you. Pushing me, to try to get me to give in, or get worn down. Please. Thinking a follow on Instagram is asking me out, or an invitation for explicit photos. Telling me I’m a waste because you couldn’t use me, or my name, to get you higher on that undiscussed ranking system of yours.

I write to you, you didn’t break me.

You will realize one day. In that moment when you take your loved one for a checkup, desperate for answers, and it is me in the white coat. When you walk into that high-rise office, resumé in hand, and it is my name on that desk. C.E.O. I hope you feel caught, guilty, intimidated, and slightly broken. Not because I actively set out to hurt you, but because you know what you did. I hope it helps you.

For now I will not yell, I will not protest sign in hand, or talk about you. I will never be that “woman, hear me roar”. I will rise in silence. I will keep working and striving to succeed. I am already above the “glass ceiling”, as I wasn’t raised to believe one exists. I will run circles around you like a shadow, and when you look up and see my name, my face, me, drawn in the sky,  you will ask “How did that happen? How did She happen?”. It happened because I do not deal with boys like you. I would never give in to your attempts at persuading me with the fact that you are a “rich man”. I will be the rich man.

I will stand in front of that mirror, admiring the halo of my triumphs. You should know you will not cross the pathways of my thoughts. While you were waiting for the elevator to take you up, I sprinted up the stairs. I will have done it by myself, like I always have. In that glorious moment, I will break that silence. I will validate my power out loud and say:

My God, what Woman am I.

O

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Kids

Once I was the center of the universe. Like many of the youth I believed that everything revolved around me. That the heliocentric model was incorrect, because what was the sun in comparison to me and my needs?

 Younger people tend to have such a frosted perception, not only of themselves but of the atmosphere around them. Kids believe that the world is their stage and everyone else just contributes to the performance. As children we didn’t have to plan ahead. Not by a year, not by a month, not even by a day. We lived minute to minute only acknowledging the existence of ourselves. It was so nice living in a world that only was what you wanted it to be. You didn’t have to acknowledge world crisis, or issues amongst humanity. You didn’t see evil or pain, because as far as we were concerned, things like that didn’t exist. If you were happy, the rest of the world had to be happy right?  I wish it was as simple as my underdeveloped mind perceived, but as the inevitable task of letting go of your child-self is up to be completed, the concept of stepping out of your comfort zone develops a whole new meaning.

 

Now I am a part of it, the universe. I am a part of history, the present, and the future. We all are. We are part of a system. Not the one that we call society, or the one that people tend to feel oppressed by. I’m talking about the system that everyone is involved in, whether they like it or not.  I am talking about a species. We biologically, evolutionarily, and capability wise, are all the same. I am in someway connected to all of you, and you to others, but we forget that. There are so many layers that are placed in between people, separating them. Color, religion, political affiliation, gender, even technology. We have adapted to see sensitivity as a weakness, and in turn have suppressed the ability to sympathize. No one can dispute certain facts, not even myself. We think that reading an article on Facebook makes us aware of what’s going on, or sharing a post to your timeline can help relieve someone’s ailments. Punching in your credit card number to purchase an item which donates a fraction of the profit has somehow become humanitarian. We have reached the point that when listening to a tragedy on the news, the death toll determines the severity. We breathe a sigh of relief when it is found out only one person has passed. “Thank god it was only one” is something that I have heard often. That was still a life. Someone connected to a family, friends, someone who worked and played a role in the system. One of the biggest falls in this human civilization, has been the rise of desensitization.

 

Everyone can agree that after helping someone it has not only benefited them, but is has also benefited you. Why do we ignore that? Human connection is so powerful, and it can help change the separation in our culture. It can remind us that we should embrace the fact that we are all the same, yet celebrate the things that make us different. We live in fear of feeling sad, or guilty that someone is suffering somewhere else. So we just don’t acknowledge it. Like we did as children, acting as if it does not exist. As we grow up we can no longer be our selfish, child-selves. As we go out into the world we start to affect others, and we have an unspoken responsibility to create a positive impact. If something you see or read causes you to have an emotional reaction, listen to it. If you choose to ignore that feeling due to the common fear, change will not occur. We need to help each other, we all occupy this same space, and everyone has value. We can no longer fear the unknown under the assumption that if we cage it, it can’t hurt us. You will never be able to cage the unknown, it will cage you. Engulfing you into its opaque walls, sucking the ability to experience from your lungs. We were not designed to grow up and remain as selfish children, thus, we should not act like so. In order to progress as a society we need to feel the pain so we can recognize when it’s gone. Get out there, help someone, feel not only for yourself, but for others. Let us regain our humanity.

 

O

I don’t want to die, just not exist

Without the research into the statistics, or diagnosing the youth of the general population, I can safely say I have witnessed such an increase in depression. So many resonate with constant feelings of sadness, or not even realizing they are sad because they’re constantly numbing themselves with whatever they can. Not just drinking and smoking, but with risky behavior. Adrenaline rushes help distract from the empty pit slowly being filled with these anxious, dark feelings. I write about this because I feel it too. More recently stronger than I ever have. When I was a senior in high school, I was internally a mess. I had anxiety that no one could have imagined and a pretty intense eating disorder. This was sparked by an emotionally abusive relationship I was in, and the fact that I felt so poorly about myself that I didn’t think I could make it through college. I went to therapy, dumped the boy, and yet I still wasnt happy. I wasnt eating, and when I was, I was secretly bingeing. I felt like no one liked me even though I logically knew that wasn’t the case. I was getting attention from guys and when I explained I didn’t hook up or send naked pictures, I guess word traveled. I then wasn’t the first pick anymore. It started to turn me further into myself.

Over the summer of my freshman year in college, I decided that I couldn’t take it anymore and I started eating again, whatever I wanted. I will always be a health conscious person, but now if I want a damn piece of cake, I have it. This helped me regain some of my lost high school confidence and I felt more mentally strong. Yet, even in my now sophomore year, I have moments where I don’t want to be here. Where I feel so alone and without purpose that I dig myself into thoughts so heavy, I feel like I’m sinking. I stay up at night thinking about irrational fears in which people, who I know at the forefront like me, really don’t. Or about how I’m never going to find someone who values the fact that I do, in fact, have a brain. There are even moments I cry uncontrollably because I’m in such distress. The worst part is, I do it alone. I am so embarrassed about expressing my true feelings because I have fabricated this girl who has it all together. A challenging job for my age, a hard major, good grades, even works out. Those around me explain that sometimes I’m “intimidating” and that I’m this “savage” because I can read into people. The truth is, I can sense people’s hurt and insecurities because I too feel that way. We spot what we know, and what I know is sadness.

Within the past few months I have had a couple of days in which I think closely about not existing, not being here in this life, even just for a moment. When I wait on the train platform, I feel the breeze and see the lights approaching. I then I close my eyes and think about how easy it would be to just jump. But by the time that half-second thought is over, the doors have already opened to board, and I have to continue with my day. I am scared to die, but frequently I don’t want to exist. I say this because I feel misunderstood and frustrated. I don’t know what I could do better. It’s not like I could get sober, work harder in school, or go get a job, because I already have these things. So why the hell do I feel so horrible and unmotivated?

A problem I think many people have is the fact that we are glued to our phones. Glued to looking at people’s profiles and getting discouraged at the fact that they seem to be having a better time in life than you or me. Remember though, would you post about your bad grades, a picture of those jeans that no longer fit, or your puffy eyes after crying about a breakup? No. We post what we think makes us look the best, but its hard to remember that. Social media feels so real to us, yet it’s such a mirage. I used to think about working out solely for being able to look good for Instagram.  That is a sick thought, but it is so commonly the driving purpose for many desicions made.

We are influenced by every interaction in our lives, and not just human to human, our lives on our phones impact us too. I’ve been thinking deeply on it, and I’ve realized that it makes me sad. I’m living my life through the pictures of others, or in my imagination depicting what I want in my future. I’m wishing time away because I don’t like my now. We need to enjoy our now. Indulge in these current moments as best as we can or else we will always be fantasizing about the future instead of building it. Its hard, its lonely at times, and it takes strength to fight depression and anxiety. It’s a scary place to be, because like me, most are very good at hiding it. I dont want to hide anymore. These emotions take up space in my head and in my body. They consume your thoughts and  goals then turn them into seemingly impossible tasks. Self love is a term tossed around by everyone these days, but no one explains how damn hard it is. How hard it is for everyday people, who dont have a modeling career or a huge successful business, to learn to love ourselves when those claiming they’ve reached this self-love Nirvana are commonly not every day folk.

This comes back to my point about being so engulfed in the lives of others, especially online. Turn of your phone, go for a walk, write, sing, pet your dogs, tell your mom or dad that you love them. Do something that centers around your life and not others online. Do for other people. Volunteer if you can, even just give a stranger a compliment. This could help someone who may be having a dark time like you feel a little hopeful, and it could fill something in you as well.

In my heart I know I don’t want to die, I really dont. I want to exist because I value my abilities. I will continue to sweat to love myself, to cry to love myself, and to laugh to want to be in my own skin. I never want to allow my mind or body to leap off that train platform, and I dont want yours too either.

O

Tips for the sober college student

“Its going to get better” is that phrase many of us have heard. From parents, teachers, therapists, and strangers. We’ve all heard it. I’m sick of that damn saying. I heard it in middle school, high school, and I’m still hearing it in college. I don’t have many friends, I’m not in a relationship, I don’t go out much, but I am happy with myself. Many of us have been groomed to equate happiness with how other people make us feel, or perceive us. The worst possible place you could put your happiness is in the control of others. I would know, I’ve been doing it since I’m young, we all do it. That will set you up for disappointment without fail. Yet, it doesn’t have to be that way. I find with being sober in college, I end up getting disappointed quite often. It isn’t on big things like driving accidents, or friends forgetting my name at a party. Its little things like introducing me as the sober girl, getting teased, or getting asked if “something happened” that made me avoid substances at all costs. Being sober in college is apparently such a phenomenon that it has become, in a sense, my identity. It has probably become many peoples identity as well, and there is no reason to feel embarrassed of it.

There are things I’ve learned along the way that continue to help me feel comfortable when placed into certain situations. One thing I’ve learned, and quite possibly the biggest, is to just be straight up honest. If something did happen and you feel comfortable stating that, say it. If you’re afraid to get bloated, say that. Or if you just don’t want it, guess what? Say that! It’s not something that should make or break anyones interactions with you, and if it does, its on them. There are also moments in which people will not invite you places. It will hurt your feelings, but in that hurt recognize that it still isn’t you. You aren’t a stick in the mud, and you don’t have a stick up your ass. You just choose to spend your time differently, and that is ok. Do not forget that. With that being said, do not criticize others as well. They have a choice too, it may be different than mine or yours, but it is still their choice.

All these substances, weed, alcohol, have become a social bridge that people need in order to connect with others. Its a “must” for every party, every get together, every celebration; that gets hard when that isn’t your go-to. My dad would always tell me “just hold a cup, or nurse a beer”, just so people would get off my back. But why the f*ck are they on my back in the first place? What is the big deal? This is a question I ask myself almost every-time I meet someone new and they ask me about it. It isn’t a big deal, it is just different. It isn’t the usual response. When most people say yes, you probably say no. Thats why its “weird”. I never nurse, or make a fake drink anymore. You shouldn’t have to do that in order to feel comfortable. If you want to order a water in a sea of beer and liquor, don’t feel bad. I do it all the time, and the reason is because I don’t feel the need to hide (and because I really just want the damn water). If someone tries to push you into ordering something else, calls you a wuss, or tries to make a spectacle of you, make a joke. One thing I tend to do in an instance like this is turn it on them. Not in a rude or accusatory way, just simply say “wow, have you been focused on me this whole time? Thats so weird. Why do you care so much what I do, focus on yourself”. Or one of my personal favorite lines is “Honey, I don’t need a drink to have a good time”. Saying this with a smile helps get your point across, but also allows you to still have a good time. When you stand your ground and proceed with your original intention, it sends the message that you’re not one who needs to change to fit the mood. You create you’re own. Own that.

There will also be many people who paint you out to be this person who thinks they are better than everyone else. That you’re trying to make people feel bad about their choices. These are the people you meet that are insecure. There are people who are uneasy about their choices and will project that onto you. This may have set them off simply because you made a different choice that they may not have been strong enough to make at a certain time. In moments like these, remain humble, be truthful and state that it is in no way your intention to do so. Remember that people who say things to hurt others are hurt themselves. Not all interactions are this deep, but many people who rely heavily on substances are hurt, or stressed, and that comes out occasionally on sober people like us. Do not take it personally, as you and they know, it isn’t true.

My last piece of advice would be to hold on. Im not going to tell you it will get better for you soon. “It” being the people and social settings you are surrounded by, but what can get better is your relationship with yourself. I encourage you to keep focusing on yourself and building You up in a social climate that is trying to put you in a box. It can get lonely to be sober. I find most days it does. And listen, if one day you want to have a drink, by all means do it. Don’t feel like then you are going against yourself. You are only doing that when you place your happiness, and identity in the hands of others. Its super hard, super confusing, and extremely frustrating. You may lose friends, get your feelings hurt, and will feel lonely at times. In reading this however, remember you truly are not the only one, you’re not weird, or a buzz kill. You’re just different from the norm, and as history has proven itself, that will most likely benefit you in the end.

O