What’s happening in Ferguson right now (Spoiler Alert: I’m MAD)

My heart breaks and my head fumes. There are so many terrible and terrifying things happening.

I have a some facts, links, and opinions to share and a lot of grief that I, and millions of others, are feeling.

First of all, my heart goes out to friends and family of Mike Brown and to the rightfully sad and angered citizens of the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, and all others affected.

To those in the community, I cannot fully understand your pain, but I, with you, believe there should be justice and want to do my best to help.

The best way I know how to help is to write and to share. I want everyone to know what is happening in OUR country. To OUR citizens.

It is our silent compliance or our strong and protesting voices that will determine the future.

I aim to supply you with some resources to gain information and perspective.

Yes, I have my opinions on the events and I am not afraid to share them, but what is more important to me is that people can look at the facts and evidence and decide for themselves.

So, I will tell you how I feel in this post (towards the end), but please know that my main goal here is for you (and anyone you share this with) to better grasp what’s going on in Missouri right now.

There is death where there need not have been, rights being straight up violated, both peaceful and violent protesting occurring, and a lot of rubber bullets and tear gas from the now-Public Enemy #1, St. Louis Police Department, or STLPD. 

Trust me, I know, it is hard to get good, accurate information. I know that people distrust news media and I will admit, as a journalism student, that different outlets have given you many reasons to do so… but I encourage you to persist in seeking information about these events.

quote-true-ignorance-is-not-the-absence-of-knowledge-but-the-refusal-to-acquire-it-karl-popper-260020

This article is one of the most easy-to-follow and informative (yes, it’s biased, I’m letting you know) I have found and I think it highlights a lot of the police brutality and has good videos and pictures to help you truly SEE what’s going on:

http://jezebel.com/ferguson-disgrace-police-fire-on-unarmed-crowds-attac-1621352164

Jezebel has a lot of really, really good and different topic-focused articles in relation to what’s happening in Ferguson right now and they are constantly updating and publishing. 

Next, the ever-expanding Twitter feed linked to the hashtag #Ferguson:

https://twitter.com/hashtag/ferguson

The continuously updated and extremely helpful live Reddit feed, which is providing links to informative tweets and press releases and quotes from state and national officials:

http://www.reddit.com/live/tdrph3y49ftn/

This is a video of the live stream from yesterday:
http://new.livestream.com/accounts/9035483/events/3271930

Even outside of Brown’s death and the unprovoked attacks on the protesting crowds, there are disturbing and shocking things happening.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/13/journalists-attacked-police-ferguson_n_5677098.html

I am EXTREMELY upset that news crews trying to cover the protests and riots have been told to and forced to leave by police, tear gassed, and arrested for reasons like “trespassing at a McDonalds.” 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-ferguson-washington-post-reporter-wesley-lowery-gives-account-of-his-arrest/2014/08/13/0fe25c0e-2359-11e4-86ca-6f03cbd15c1a_story.html?hpid=z2

These journalists are DOING THEIR JOB and trying to help those of us in other cities and states and countries find out what’s going on. It is their job and their right to report on these events and get the FACTS to the PEOPLE.

I understand that if they fail to comply with orders to disperse from an area or leave an establishment they can be arrested. But it is no secret that the STLPD are pushing the boundaries here and clearly aiming more towards clearing the area of journalists who can showcase their unlawful actions.

Rights are being completely disregarded. Freedom of speech? Freedom of press? Has anybody heard of these???

This entire ‘shutting the media out’ thing is literally making me think of the Hunger Games when the districts start to rebel and President Snow gets the broadcasts shut off so that the other districts don’t see the reality of what’s happening. 

He blocks the citizens from watching protests and riots. Covers up the anger and disorder. Allows excessive force. Tries to stop videos and other coverage from leaking. Punishes protestors. Hides the truth.

Isn’t that exactly what we’re seeing here?

There’s the “No Fly Zone” above the Ferguson area, which is claimed to ensure a “safe environment for law enforcement activities.” Still, reporter Lucy McCalmont reminds us that really “law enforcement seeks to restrict access by news media with helicopters.”

There’s Antonio French, who has been constantly live-tweeting the events, and filmmaker, Ryan Frank… both recently arrested

It’s absolutely terrifying.

And I’ve been reminded, there’s so much more to it than just what I’ve listed and gone into here. There are bigger issues that are embedded in our society that play a part.

This is an article pointing out the blatant racism and other institutionalized problems that black men and women are still facing today (the author chose “black” instead of “African American” and I am doing so here to respect her terminology):

http://jezebel.com/this-is-why-were-mad-about-the-shooting-of-mike-brown-1619522935/all

Again, there are hundreds of articles, pictures, posts, videos, tweets, etc. available at your fingertips if you’re reading this. You’re either on your phone or computer. You literally have access to whatever information has been put out there.

The resources and links I’ve given in this post are just some of the ones that helped me grasp what’s going on and are now helping me stay up-to-date. 

I’ll leave you with this… I encourage everyone to stay in the loop, seek other news outlets beyond traditional media, and not be afraid to speak up against what seems wrong and unlawful to you.

You have a voice. Use it.

1408

Advertisements

“In Defense of Social Media and In Hopes of Vulnerable Reality”

Yesterday I was scrolling through my Facebook timeline, nothing out of the ordinary.

And I came across a link that a friend had shared, accompanied by their caption declaring that the attached video was scarily accurate in how it depicted “everything that is wrong with our generation”… which, again, is really nothing out of the ordinary.

I see these posts all. the. time.

Honestly, I don’t think I can go a week without seeing some new, over-exaggerated and overdramatic video that is supposed to convince me that the technology I use everyday is nothing but detrimental to my life.

People have tried to claim so many things about my generation and the things we do that are supposedly destroying our lives.

We are “addicted to social media”, “isolated”, “self-absorbed”, “unable to communicate in person”, “living all of our lives online,” etc.

It really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that I disagree with the above statements (in most cases.)

Social media and the Internet and advanced technology, like most things, cannot be shoved into one box and labeled as “BAD.”

And I say this as someone who is fully aware of and not afraid to admit her heavy online/social media use and presence. I mean, come on, it was #1 on my list of “11 Things I Will Not Apologize For.”

You see, I refuse to listen to these people/videos/articles saying things like “Snapchat is just for teens to send nude pictures to each other,” when in reality it’s literally 96% ugly selfies (a statistic I have just made up right now.)

I refuse to believe that texting has turned me into some sort of humanoid that is unable to have a face-to-face conversation.

I refuse to believe that posting selfies automatically means that you’re insecure. If you really think selfies are always cries for help, then I worry for you. Actually, I think a good rule of thumb is to simply not trust anyone who has anything negative to say about selfies, ever.

Now, before I continue, allow me to clarify a couple things:

     1) I do believe that some issues exist within the ways we consistently rely on technology         and how we present ourselves to the Internet, AKA: the world

     2) But I define “we” as everyone who regularly engages in social media, not just people          in my generation (here’s lookin’ at you too, digital immigrants!)

I am a digital native, more popularly known as a “millennial.”

This means that I grew up in a time where technology was rapidly advancing and thus, I have been able to understand it naturally, adapt to it more quickly, and I am more likely to engage in social media or buy an iPad or whatever.

For comparison, digital immigrants are those people out there who are more likely to print out their emails, say things like “Are you on The Twitter?” and sign their name at the bottom of a Facebook comment (we KNOW you posted it, it says your name RIGHT. THERE.)

A relevant “Baby Blues” comic strip

Us millennials are known as the generation of instagrammers, snapchatters, tweeters, tinderers (is that even a thing? well it is now) and, of course, hashtaggers. According to The Society Pages, a millennial is defined as anyone born after 1980.

Personally, I believe that growing up right in the heart of Silicon Valley, a couple streets down from Apple Headquarters, has made me what I like to call a “super millennial.”

I have been strongly influenced by the community I grew up in. One that was and still is thriving in a world of modern technology and innovation.

As a result, I love social media. I loved it from the second I had access to it.

Unfortunately, that access was delayed because in 6th grade I was not allowed to have a MySpace account, which made middle school even more of a hell than it already was.

But at my 8th Grade Graduation dinner at TGI Fridays, my parents taped a picture of my face to the top of a book… their special (and weird) way of telling me that I was now allowed to create a Facebook and connect with my friends in a medium other than AOL Instant Messenger! There was a God.

I’m honestly thankful they restricted me from it until then because I never had to deal with “Top 8” drama and there are less pictures of me in my awkward years on the Internet (but some are too good to resist sharing.)

Since that fateful day I have made an Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, two Twitters, and I have started this blog.

I have posted statuses about making my high school dance team and getting into various colleges, uploaded pictures from birthday parties, tweeted about my family vacations, instagrammed my favorite outfits, and shared a lot of my best moments with family, friends, and even strangers (my Instagram is public.)

This is where we get to the idea that I’ve been leading up to. It’s what sparked something in me after watching the video that I mentioned at the very beginning of this blog post.

We tend to share those all these happy moments, but what’s so wrong with that?

Before watching the video that my friend shared, my answer was “nothing”… and after watching it my answer is still “nothing.”

The video below has a point that it’s trying to make. I get why they wanted to share this message and where there is validity in it, but instead of leaving me feeling educated with a nugget of shocking, insightful wisdom, I was frustrated by its exaggerated, unnecessary pessimism.

Please, feel free to watch:

 

Whether you agree with what I’ve previously said or not, it’s easy to see where I am coming from.

This probably isn’t the first time you’ve seen a video like this, either.

If you remember the “Look Up” video that was widely shared a few months back, that’s another example of a video that subtly demonizes my beloved iPhone.

However, that video was really well done, I must admit. The storyline, videography, and editing, I liked it a lot. Especially when he says that we “share our best bits, but leave out the emotion.”

I appreciated the overall message they tried to convey, but a lot of the spoken word piece was melodramatic and made too broad of claims.

Ex: “We’re a generation of idiots. Smart phones and dumb people.”

Really? Smartphone users are dumb? Clever line, man. But…. really?

Nene gets it

Still, it was better than the first one because at least it knew how to make its point in a believable way. “Look Up” never got to a point where I rolled my eyes at the excessive negativity and vast assumptions in relation to human nature.

And yes, I know, I know. They exaggerate in order to make their points. But if these points are supposedly that prevalent and clear, why do it to that (annoying) extent?

I think what it comes down to is that I have a really big issue with the idea that social media is completely evil and falsely portrays our lives.

As if the world was this endless pit of lies and depression and poorly filtered photos of our feet in a bathtub with #ilovemylife as the caption, even though our dog died and we’re eating our fifth bowl of Top Ramen in two days.

Believe it or not, sometimes people are honest on the Internet (sorry, Dateline and Catfish, but it’s true.)

Newsflash to anyone who thinks the “What’s On Your Mind” video is our reality!

Sometimes if someone had a shitty week or month or couple of months or year, they choose not to cover it up and are open about it online and they DON’T lose all of their Facebook friends!

Shocking, I know.

Bad days (or years) happen and that’s totally okay. It’s also okay for the individual to choose whether or not they want to share that via social media.

If something not-so-awesome happens in your life and you wish to talk about it online, you literally have a right to do so and, I think, shouldn’t have to feel nervous or judged when doing so.

Online social norms aren’t always there because they are for the best, sometimes they’re kind of f****d up.

If you’re experiencing pain and you cope with that best by not sharing it, by all means do not feel pressure to post about it.

If you’re like the guy in the video and try make the problems in your life better by posting skewed and overly excited statuses, you can do that. I do not recommend it, but it’s your life, not mine.

I would encourage you to share because, in my personal opinion, it’s healthier, but it’s not my job to tell you when and how to share your feelings.

It can be scary.

I get scared every time I share my latest blog post on Facebook. Because sometimes I say controversial things or I share something more vulnerable and I make myself an easy target.

But I truly believe that people ARE capable of being honest about pain online, they do it everyday, and when they do their peers don’t shun them.

In the video we see the guy’s life get worse and worse as he goes through a breakup and loses his job, but continues to make it all sound great online. In the final bit he posts an honest complaint that his life sucks and it shows his Facebook friend clicking the “Hide All Posts From Timeline” button.

Here is my response to anyone who genuinely thinks this is an accurate portrayal of our generation: Are. You. Serious?

So, now I’m lying every single time I post a status saying I had a great day at work or enjoying some time at the beach? Oh, and we all try to block out posts from anybody who dares to show a shred of realness?

That’s ridiculous.

Let me be happy and post about it and not have to feel paranoid that people will think I’m lying.

And if I’m upset about a class I’m taking or had a rough day or lost a loved one, let me be sad and post about it.

And finally, if I don’t want to post anything, I won’t.

Freedom of speech, y’all. First amendment, come on. We know this.

*there are exceptions to the first amendment, but I’m not getting into all that here because what matters is that you understand the basic point I’m making

At the end of the day, the choice is ours and no matter who tries to convince you of correlations between social media and being selfish/isolating yourself from your peers/needing social affirmation for confidence/etc., you still get to make that decision.

Again, the reality is, some of these studies and articles have truth to them. I’m really not one to completely deny well-done research and science, but I still question things.

I don’t doubt that how we present ourselves online is influenced by how we want others to view us. Vulnerability is scary. But I cannot blindly agree with every study I hear about and every video I watch and accept it as truth.

Because I’m not that naive bunny character from “Arthur.”

#denial

So, if you don’t want to be like the guy in the “What’s On Your Mind?” video, then don’t be. If you want to “look up” more, then do it. I encourage that.

But don’t tell me that our generation is “always this” or “always that” and expect me to agree with you. Because I will not be put in a box.

I go on Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and Twitter daily, but I also have a life.

I have great relationships with my mom, dad, brother, boyfriend, sorority sisters, high school friends, college friends, classmates, co-workers, etc. I talk on the phone, I talk in person, I maintain eye contact and conversations, I have two jobs and work hard, I can focus and do well in school, I go out with friends, I go outdoors and adventure and explore. I can live without my phone. We all can.

Being active online and engaging in social media does not make me or anyone else a robot.

We feel.

And I am actively pushing myself to not be afraid of being open about those feelings online. People will disagree with what I have to say sometimes and that’s perfectly fine. I appreciate and pursue discussions where all sides have a chance to share, where respect is maintained, and where everyone truly tries to understand the different opinions.

These discussions are so important for growth and, for lack of a better phrase, keeping it real.

Real people experience a wide and wavering spectrum of emotions that are subject to change at any moment. We all feel happy, sad, angry, sensitive, loved, jealous, excited, confused, curious, and inspired and thousands of other ways.

And nobody can tell me that I’m not allowed to share these feelings.

Sometimes I’m feeling lost and questioning who I am and I express that on Facebook—maybe because it’s how I’m choosing to vent/cope or maybe it’s because I want to spark a conversation and exchange ideas.

Sometimes I want to Instagram a selfie, not because I’m searching for validation of my appearance, but because I feel like I look good that day and want to take a damn picture.

Real people feel.

And we have the power to disregard anything that shames us or guilts us into believing that there is something wrong with being open about our feelings or our insecurities or our confidence.

So, here’s to trying to keep it real.

And not being afraid of giving it a shot.

“Only For Now” 2.23.14

Today,

I am sick to my stomach with anger,

fuming at the inconsistency of human values.

You see, sometimes I’m scrolling through Facebook or eating dinner or trying to fall asleep, and I remember.

We live in a world where people are raped. Every day.

Where people are stolen from. Not just their money or the expensive jewelry in their dresser,

but their identity.

Or their own children.

Girls and boys and women and men starve themselves.

They look in the mirror and hate themselves.

Our skin is inked with blood that the sharp edges of our thoughts forced to kiss the oxygen in the air.

It makes my head hurt.

I believe in so much good. I believe in acceptance and forgiveness and, most of all, love.

I believe humans are intrinsically good.

I believe in God.

But I don’t always understand why He lets my family members get cancer. Or why He lets my friends suffer through depression or develop schizophrenia or experience a sexual assault.

Why do wives get beaten?

Why is a marriage between two men or two women valid in one state and not in another?

Why are there hit-and-runs and serial killers and why is there no law mandating paid leave for mothers of newborns?

God, for a world that offers so much sunshine, why are there some days where I can only see dark, gray clouds?

Days where I want, so badly, to love the world,

but I can’t.

Sarah Kay, a spoken word poet that used to pay visits to my high school, wrote a poem to her future daughter and said,

“No matter how wide you stretch your fingers, your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you want to heal.”

There are days where I fear this is true.

There are days where I know it is.

I exist in a time where I am scared. I exist in a time where I’m scared that there will be no parking on my street, as I drive home from the library after midnight, because I don’t want to have to park around the corner and walk down a street alone at night.

But there are nights where I have to.

I have to put my ‘big girl pants’ on and hold my keys tight in my left hand, ready to jab, and my phone in my right, ready to dial 911 should anyone mistake me for a weak, unprepared college girl.

And I walk in the middle of the street. Because Emilie Autumn taught me that the odds are actually in my favor,

“In the States, someone is killed in a car accident on average every 12.5 minutes, while someone is raped on average every 2.5 minutes.” 

So, to the middle of the street I go and I exhale with relief when I am inside with the door locked shut.

The door to my thoughts, however, is not as easily closed once it is opened.

Most days I see the sun when it beams down on my skin.

I smile on my walk to class, I sing to myself, and I feel confident for the world we live in and where we can take it in the many years to come.

The other days come swiftly, without warning, and intercept all optimism and productivity.

I fight them with all I have.

They tell me, “There are terrible diseases that have no cure.”

I tell them, “No cure yet.”

They tell me, “That friend is gone, you will never see them again.”

I tell them, “They are waiting for me somewhere else.”

They tell me, “The world is full of pain.”

I tell them, “Only for now.” 

Courtesy: Pintrest

11 Things I Won’t Apologize For

So, in the past month I’ve seen these articles: Sorry, We’re Not Sorry: The 20 Things Women Should No Longer Have To Apologize For and 18 Things Men Shouldn’t Apologize For.

And I would definitely say that I enjoyed each one for its boldness, accuracy, and perspective.

These articles got me thinking… I took notice of how both authors were able to cover things that most women and men can relate to and/or have experienced criticism for and I appreciated the overall relevance of the articles… but it sparked something else inside me, too.

There is one thing that I feel individuals, both male and female, are judged for on a daily basis.

Being themselves.

For the way they speak and who they choose to speak to, the way they dress, where they come from, what they believe in, the interests and dreams they have, the way they laugh, the music they listen to, whether they go out on the weekend or stay in, the list goes on and on…

I used to think that, in college, judgement and mean people would cease to exist. I don’t know why. Or maybe I do. Because everyone always tells you that and they act like that’s how it will be.

And every time some drama brews or someone is rude to you between 9th and 12th grade you think, “Damn I can’t wait to graduate and go to _________ college where everyone will just be nice and chill and accepting, I won’t have to deal with this anymore, blah blah blah.”

Don’t get me wrong, college is fantastic and there are far more people who fit the “nice, chill, and accepting” description than in high school, simply because we are getting older and maturing, but it’s not the utopia I had expected since age 15. It’s not just college that allows for all this to exist, it’s just life.

Whether you’re 12, 20, or 50 there is always going to be someone or something that challenges you. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, but this is just the reality. It could be a fellow student or a coworker or whoever; you’re just not going to mesh with everyone.

So, why change who you are? Because no matter what, you cannot please everyone.

I am still in the process of accepting this. I have struggled with it since middle school (AKA: hell), but I know deep down that I do not have to like everyone and not everyone has to like me.

I’ve realized that that’s fine because I like me. I truly like who I am, what I stand for, and what I am working towards in my life. 

So without further adieu, here are 11 things that I, Mallory St.George, simply will not apologize for:

1) My social media presence. I am fully aware that I tweet a lot. I also Instagram, use Snapchat, and post on Facebook a lot, too. I’m a millennial. I’m a member of Generation Y. I grew up in Silicon Valley. I am majoring in Journalism for gosh sakes, which in this day and age is undoubtedly intertwined with online media. So, big surprise, I love it. I love condensing a message into 140 characters, I can look at a photo and know what filter you used (even if you double-filtered), I even use hashtags in my lecture notes. Okay… maybe that last one is kind of weird, but #whatever.

Image

2) My inner child. I turned 20 last week and I legitimately asked for a plush Disney Pocahontas doll for my collection of Disney Princess dolls. I love juice boxes and I enjoy watching Hannah Montana, Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and That’s So Raven episodes on YouTube. For my birthday my mom also gave me this pink, plastic water bottle for kids from the Target $1 section with a little princess on it and the phrase, “Learning How To Dance” on it. It was a joke gift……. and I love it. I have it next to me right now.

3) My alone time. I don’t just enjoy and crave time to myself, I need it. If I don’t have at least 30 minutes of time to myself on a daily basis I will feel overwhelmed and grumpy. My mom is the same way and so is my brother. If I choose to take my dinner into a separate room, it’s nothing personal. I just need a break from being around people in general. I have gotten sushi, gone to the movies, and even to a concert alone. Yes, by choice. It’s awesome. It’s not for everyone, but it’s definitely for me.

4) What I choose to and not to eat. Whether it be Brie cheese, Taco Bell, a pizza bagel, or a $12.00 sandwich, I am really not sorry for my love of food. Do I care how many calories are in my Crunchwrap Supreme (no tomatoes)? Nope. Because it’s not like I sit around all day doing nothing. I am an active person and as a result of that my body is just the way I like it. So when I refuse cake, it’s not because I’m worried about “getting fat”, it’s because I legitimately do not like the way it tastes. Same goes for cupcakes and Hot Cheetos. I just don’t like the taste, so sue me.

Image

Enjoying my birthday with some 2am Taco Bell

5) My values. I am Christian, but I do not consider myself a largely religious person. I believe in God and I pray in both good times and bad times, I believe in Heaven, and I agree with a lot of what the religion teaches. There are, however, certain things that more extremist Christians believe that I simply cannot agree with. Does this mean I’m not a “true Christian”? I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s what He is going to judge me for. I believe that it’s more important to be a good person because that’s how I was raised. I wasn’t raised in any religion. And to me that’s what Christianity is about: acceptance, forgiveness, and love.

6) My red lipstick. I discovered the power of red lipstick in high school and now I know I will never ever give it up. I don’t wear it every day, but even if I did, who cares? Having Fruit Punch-colored lips that pack a punch is just another way to boost my mood. I don’t wear it for anyone else, I wear it for me. I once had a fellow student who worked at KCPR, Cal Poly’s radio station, with me notice it. He told me that I didn’t need to wear lipstick for the radio because “no one is even going to see what I look like”. Oh, I’m sorry, were you under the impression that that’s the only reason I want to wear it? Try again.

Image

Red lips and friends like Becca Robinson make me happy, as seen above

7) My weirdness. I honestly think everyone has a weird side, but I feel like I am often told by my friends that I am extra weird. Well you know what? My dad always said, “Weird is good. Strange is bad.” So as long as I manage not to cross that border, fine, call me “weird” because I totally am. I am fully aware of my sense of humor, awkward tendencies, and odd quirks. But I will continue to snort when I laugh (mostly because I can’t help that) and pour my milk before my cereal.

Image

8) Speaking my mind. Now this something I used to do a lot. Up until about my senior year of high school I would never hesitate to voice my opinion, but there are things that have happened in the past two years in many realms of my life (from team sports to relationships to professional situations to friendships) that have made me more silent. And anyone who knows me knows that “silent” is usually not the word to describe me. I have elected to no longer let this be the case. I am going to do my best to tell my peers when it is inappropriate to use “gay” and “retarded”, I am going to be as feminist as I please, I am going to stand up for myself, and I am not going to let peer pressure or group mentality scare me from speaking up.

9) My body. I used to hate my thighs… that was until I realized there is no reason to be ashamed of muscle that has resulted out of 10 years of soccer, 3 of track, and 6 of dance. The same goes for my feet. They’re ugly and there is simply no denying that, in fact it’s almost laughable how callused and wrecked they are from dance, but I literally just don’t care. I love my feet and my thighs and my uneven eyelids that make me look like a sad puppy. I love every part of my body that was ever ridiculed. I love my freckles and moles and big cheeks and knees and every part of my body from my skin to my bones. There is nothing that will ever devalue it. There is nothing that will ever devalue anyone’s body.

10) My outgoingness. Is that even a word? I don’t care. My blog, my rules. I have been outgoing in every sense of the word since I was a toddler. Just remember, just because someone does not shy away from attention does not mean that they are always seeking it. I have also always loved making friends and have found it comes naturally because I genuinely believe that the majority of people lead interesting and dynamic lives. You can never meet enough people and never make enough friends. Every individual can contribute new perspectives and indirectly or directly teach you something valuable. I will forever be the girl raising her hand in class without a second thought. Okay, I will forever be the girl doing MOST things without a second thought. I rarely get embarrassed. #YOLO 

11) My “issues” because EVERYONE has them.

You know that quote:

Image

(the original person who said this quote has been disputed for quite some time… from Plato to Ian McLaren, so I am not even going to attempt to cite it)

and it’s 100% true. You, reader, are either fighting a battle at this very moment or have fought one or 1,000 in the past, and we will both fight many more throughout the rest of our lives. It is rare to escape these battles unscathed… whether they be with ourselves, our family, friends, or the world around us. We all have triggers and fears and a plethora of other “problems” both big and small as a result of our past. There is nothing wrong with that. You need not be ashamed of these parts of you that have resulted from what you have been through.

I am not going to apologize for my OCD or anxiety because they are parts of me. You do not need to apologize for your depression or eating disorder or parents’ divorce. Your so-called “issues” are beautiful because they make you YOU and they are going to help you grow as a person. We’re going to grow into even more beautiful people when we work through these things. It’s so easy to forget this when you’re sinking in your struggles like an ant in quicksand, I do it often. But at the end of the day I know God will not give me anything that I can’t handle. I am proud to have “issues” because we all do and that makes me human. #yayimnotanalien

So… *takes a deep breath* those are 11 of the things that I will simply not apologize for. You may be wondering (or you may not be, but I’m going to keep rolling with this anyways), what I will apologize for.

I will apologize if I hurt your feelings. I will apologize if I have done wrong. I will apologize if I have incorrectly assumed. I will apologize if I was not honest. I will apologize if I flaked. I will apologize if I have been MIA or unreliable. I will apologize if I made a rude comment. I will apologize if I do not follow through. I will apologize if I forget something important. I will apologize if I don’t do my best. I will apologize if I am ungrateful.

TL; DR

I will apologize for a lot, but being me is not one of the things that list.

Mild Rage-Induced Thoughts on Rape

Trigger Warning: Rape/Sexual Assault

It’s not an opinion, not this time.

You’re wrong.

If you think that rape is the fault of anything or anyone but the rapist themselves then please, please take a look at yourself.

Or the way you were raised. Or the way you (and countless others) were influenced by the society the world has given us to grow up in. And if you can’t take some time to examine that extremely disturbing mindset then please, please keep your distance.

I simply cannot interact with people who truly believe that and still feel safe as a young woman. I have no problem keeping the channel of communication open, but I have no desire to physically be anywhere near you.

I’ve had lots of thoughts about sexual assault and rape that I’ve wanted to voice, but never felt comfortable approaching the topic. It’s a sensitive one for so many people and there’s so much encompassed within it and so much that surrounds it.

But I just saw this on my Tumblr feed:

Image

ImageImage

ImageImage

Image

After seeing these comments my mind was racing. Where do I even begin?

The sexism? The slut-shaming? The clear sense of sexual entitlement? The typos? (I mean, “weman”, really?)

Even now, rereading them makes me want to pull my hair out. So, I’m just going to put this out there from the start… rape is defined as:

“any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person”

NOT:

“an act of forced sexual intercourse as a result of a female’s clothing choices”

OR

“an act of forced sexual intercourse resulting from a woman drinking too much”

Any woman should be allowed to wear what they want, when they want. Drink what they want and however much they want. Flirt with who they want and say “no” when they want.

Sure, there will be more scantily clad outfits on some nights. There will also be nights where they’ve had one drink too many. It happens to everyone.

But that is their choice and they should be able to make the choices they want to without worrying that it will make them more vulnerable to sexual assault.

Because sexual assault doesn’t just happen to “skanky” college girls who go out partying on Friday nights. It happens to children and young girls and older women. When they’re fully dressed and fully sober. With a family friend or relative or other trusted peer. 

And it happens to men.

According to the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network, or RAINN, 1 in 33 American men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.

For American women, the statistic is 1 in 6.

To top that off,

Image

This. Is. Not. Okay.

I am fuming as I write this. It’s not okay! And I usually make a point not to use exclamation points in my writing (my professors discourage it), but I don’t think a simple period suffices. Not in this case.

Those numbers are real.

Rape is real.

But I strongly believe that the more that we simply discuss the facts, tell the stories, and accept the reality that rape exists… the more change we can make.

It won’t be Rape-Proof Underwear that stops rape. It will be victims and non-victims (like myself) and other activists, both men and women, teens and adults SPEAKING OUT.

Whether it be speeches, Facebook statuses, legislation, tweets, news articles, classroom curriculum, or eye-catching messages, kind of like this UCSD Confession from last month:

Image

Communication makes a difference. And we would be silly not to utilize social media in spreading awareness.

So, here I am. Trying to do just that. My blog is a platform for my thoughts, ideas, opinions, wishes, criticisms, creative writing, and all sorts of other things.

I have a general idea of how many people Carbonation currently reaches and that’s more than good enough for me.

Ideas spread when they’re worth spreading. And those comments that I read set me off to the point where I couldn’t wait to voice my feelings on the subject any longer. This is the first time I’ve written about sexual assault and rape, but I doubt it will be the last.

Before I publish this post and force myself to study for my finals, I just need to say a few last things.

To all victims, it is NOT your fault. You did nothing wrong. You are not at all to blame. You were taken advantage of and that is not okay. Seek whatever you need to seek to be at peace. Whether it be your rapist’s court-assigned punishment or a restraining order or speaking out about your experience. Seek peace.

You do not deserve what happened to you.

You cannot change what happened, and I am so, so sorry about that, but there are things you can do.

You can persevere and make a better future for yourself and for others. And you can join other victims and activists. You can change the statistics.

You have not had your power taken from you.

And you never will.

5 Things I Wish I Knew Last Year

If I had a quarter for every time someone assumed my freshman year of college was a breeze, I wouldn’t have to scrounge through my purse for 10 minutes every time I try to park in downtown SLO.

Parking meters suck.

And leaving the place you called home for 17 years can suck, too.

It’s where your parents are, where your pets are, your big bed, and everything that makes you feel comfortable, supported, loved, and at peace. The suddenly all of those things are miles away.

I honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into when I clicked “Accept”. Don’t get me wrong, I love Cal Poly, but my first year of college wasn’t all straight A’s, frat parties, and beach trips.

In fact, it was more like my first C since 7th grade and an Incomplete, pity parties, and post-mono trips to the Health Center.

When I look back on last year I feel a mix of emotions. A lot of not-that-chill things happened, but I also made a lot of great decisions and learned more in those 10 months than I ever could have expected.

Still, there are some things that I wish I had learned in advance or at least accepted more quickly:

1) The first time your identity is challenged in college you’re probably going to have a bit of a mental breakdown. When “who you are” starts changing in high school, well, you have your parents, siblings, and friends to either bring you back or help you push through it and grow. In college, almost everyone around you is practically a stranger. They don’t know the old you, they’ve only scratched the surface of the current you. They wouldn’t understand the difference. So you feel isolated and confused—two of the worst things to feel and a deadly combination. But this is what college is all about. You’re here for an education, sure, but also a transformation into adulthood. Don’t be afraid to question yourself and what you want out of life. Your first year is an extremely formative one and your identity might not be as solidified as you thought.

Image

This photo, taken by Sam Smith a couple years back, captures the confusion I felt mostly throughout Winter Quarter of my freshman year. Funny thing is, I was still in high school when we did this “gloomy weather” inspired shoot.

(I promise I don’t actually do my hair and makeup like that in real life)

2) The “Freshman 15” isn’t true for everyone. Some people gain weight, some lose weight (what is this sorcery?), and some stay the same. Personally, I gained the Freshman 5 or 6 lbs. But no matter what happens for you, don’t let it get to you. A few extra pounds won’t make you any different whether they are lost or gained. It really is on the inside that counts, and I mean that, as cheesy as it sounds. So as long as you are HEALTHY and HAPPY… stop stressing! If it bothers you that much, try to seek out the healthier options at campus dining (it’s hard, but NOT impossible) or exercise more. And remember, it’s not just you struggling with this.

3) You’re not going to like everyone in your dorm. I know, I know… for the first quarter it’s like, “Oh my gosh, I love all my roommates and floormates! Best tower/hall/dorm ever! *insert tower/hall/dorm name here* for life!!!!” I was literally that girl. My instagram was eyeroll-worthy (more than usual haha). But towards the end of Fall Quarter, I realized it was unrealistic to expect all 60 or so people in my tower to mesh. It took awhile for me to realize that I didn’t have to like everyone and not everyone had to like me. A dorm is literally taking polar opposites of all kinds and stuffing them into a building. Early birds and night owls, SoCal kids and NorCal kids, loners and social butterflies, etc. Sometimes unlikely friendships blossom and sometimes you’re going to want to smack people in the face.

Image

Thanks, Urban Dictionary!

Typical "first week in the dorms" picture... some of these people turned out to be my close friends, some of them didn't, and some of the people in this picture didn't even live in my dorm. #awkward

Typical “first week in the dorms” picture… some of these people turned out to be my close friends, some of them didn’t, and some of the people in this picture didn’t even live in my dorm. #awkward

4) Homesickness is a thing. In the months prior to when I left the Bay Area for San Luis Obispo I had managed to convince myself that my hometown was the worst place on the planet. I hated the food, the people, the smells, the buildings, all of it. I had this idea in my head that SLO was this “utopia” of sorts, and although it is actually its own little paradise, it’s not perfect. No town is! Still, I wanted out of my hometown and I was 110% sure that I wouldn’t miss a thing. About a month or so into the school year, I missed everything about Silicon Valley. The diversity, my high school’s Homecoming traditions, the tourists taking pictures in front of Apple HQ, etc. I started calling my parents everyday and crying everyday. Eventually I visited home more frequently and got more used to being in a new place, but I think if I had just initially been more realistic about the fact that first year students are supposed to get homesick, it wouldn’t have been as bad. Don’t be naïve.

5) You’re still smart, I promise. Yes, you took Honors and AP classes throughout high school while simultaneously participating in clubs, sports, and ASB… so I know the Quarter System doesn’t seem the least bit daunting. You KNOW busy. You LIVE busy. Well, guess what? You don’t know busy like this. Welcome! To midterms anywhere from Week 2 to Week 8. Finals? Anywhere from Week 6 to the actual university-scheduled “finals week”. When all of this starts piling up and overwhelming you it’s natural to feel stressed and incapable. Your grades might suffer, but don’t worry about it too much. Straight A’s are not all that make you, although you might have thought they did in high school. (I know I did) Even if your GPA drops like a bowling ball from a bell tower, do. not. freak out. It happens to everyone. You’ll fix it and get it together next time or the time after that or the time after that. College is hard.

That’s why it’s college.