“Unthinkable”

The dictionary defines the word “unthinkable” as follows: UNTHINKABLE, adj. (of a situation or event) too unlikely or undesirable to be considered a possibility.

An act of “Unthinkable” and unspeakable evil – this is often how right-wing politicians phrase their empty apologies every time school children are slaughtered in mass shooting events. But if I am being honest, throughout my brief lifetime there is only one school shooting, the effects of which I remember vividly, and believe deserves that particular term.

On April 16, 2007, the unthinkable happened, on April 16, 2007, a single gunman used a semi-automatic weapon to gun down 32 people and injured 17 more at Virginia Tech.

Back then, school shootings were nowhere near as commonplace as they are now. Back then, that act of violence lead me and my fellow students who attended a elementary charter school in PA to have a very serious assembly, but unlike the kids today – I don’t have memories of active shooter drills before I reached high school. And why? Because in 2007 and even 2010 school shootings were relatively unthinkable, but today and in some schools, it’s all kids can think about.

Our kids are speaking, but the ones with the power to change things won’t listen

Yesterday I saw a tiktok where a teacher was asked by an elementatry school student “are you scared, like my mommy” and the teacher answered honestly saying, “yes, I am scared, but I am scared because I care about you and want to keep you safe.” and do you know what the child [THE CHILD] said as a response, “it’s ok, that’s why we do the drills, so that when [YES, THE KID SAID WHEN] it happens, we will be ready and we will be ok.” — So if our idea of protecting children starts and ends at drills (drills that some of these gunmen have been trained with) (or arming teachers???) and doesn’t include us allowing them to be a part of the conversation that they are already having with eachother and in their heads, then we are failing them. If we prioritize paraphrased rights over young human lives, we are failing our kids. If we continue to allow semi-automatic weapons to be so readily available to a general public who is not fit to use that kind of weapon, then we are failing our kids and we are failing ourselves.

“But my second amendment…”

19 elementary school children – dead. 2 teachers who tried to protect those children – dead. One 18-year-old gunman – dead. The death toll of the recent (mass) school shooting totals 22 (not including the shooter’s grandmother). And every single one of those lives lost – they were not victims of an “unthinkable act” but an entirely preventable one.

I can see the headline now “the founders continue to fail the American public 400 years after their deaths” – obviously accountability isn’t America’s strong suit.

Now in the event that someone excessively pro gun comes accross this post LET ME MAKE ONE THING ABUNDANTLY CLEAR – I personally do not like or agree with guns in any context and I personally don’t think guns should be a household item. BUT I also firmly believe that in certain households where children are taught gun safety and firearm respect, those are not households I hold issues with – with one exception – I personally don’t believe that any household needs access to a semi automatic weapon and this is quite simply because, in my mind, semi-automatic weapons are weapons of war; and while I don’t agree with that level of violence in any context, I do understand that for every tool there is a time and place, and I can understand that tool within the concept of that specific (and only that specific) time and place. IN OTHER WORDS, I don’t like it, I don’t agree with it, but I understand a context where it does make sense.

People love the idea of freedom but most don’t understand the cost

You see – When the founding fathers wrote the original documents by which our country governs itself today, they had muskets. To them, all of the happenings today were “unthinkable” because never in their wildest dreams could they have imagined half the things that have happened. BUT flash forward to today where – in 2022 alone – (mind you we are only 6 months in), there have been an estimated 214 mass shootings (IN THE UNITED STATES). And because google defines a mass shooting as an event that takes a minimum of three to four lives in a short period of time the bare minimum toll of those combined events is equal six hundred and forty two (642) lives lost — but according to insider news the death toll due to gun violence in 2022 ALONE currently sits at Seventeen thousand, three hundred lives lost (17,300 – dead) — that’s a little higher than the definitions minimum isnt it?

But in a couple of weeks, the dust of this will settle, Texas reps will stop their press conferences and their empty apologies and we will have some quiet time to reflect until the next shooting happens… This is the cost of freedom in America. This is the cost of maintaining the value of the second ammendment. This is the debt that we pay and in my personal opinion, it is disgusting, the cost is far too high, and it is the furthest thing from “unthinkable” that I can think of.

Look, at the end of the day, I don’t think we should take anyone’s right to bear arms away, but I think we should consider re-establishing what arms they have access to and how easily they are granted access to them. And the reason this article focuses on school shootings rather than the dozens of other mass shootings is because our government has shown time and time again that they won’t change no matter who falls prey to these attacks, but discussions where children are involved are much more likely to garner support. And don’t get me started on how angry it makes me that that even needs to be said or the fact that the absurd levels of inequality in this country span accross all kinds of labels and personal identifiers.

but I digress… where was I, oh yes – “at the end of the day, I don’t think we should take anyone’s right to bear arms away, but I think we should consider re-establishing what arms they have access to and how easily they are granted access to them.” —

If you want a pistol or a riffle or even a bayonet to defend yourself – I am all for it, after all that is what the founding fathers intended, but with what is happening and what continues to happen things can not and truly should not stay as they are. And to be clear, that’s not a political opinion. The stance I take isn’t because I am a democrat, it isn’t because I am a woman and because my rights have been threatened recently, it isn’t because I am anything – it’s simply because I am a person and because if I am lucky enough to have kids one day, the last thing I want is to be scared to send them to school.

In this life or any other – the last thing anyone wants is to live in a state of fear, but for our country, for the minorities in it, that’s all we and they know.

So stop claiming that very preventable acts are “unthinkable,” stop apologizing to and praying for the families who continue to lose everything without bearing responsibility for what is happening to them, stop allowing this damn country to be like the freaking wild west, and stop allowing any old person above the age of 18 to buy a semi-automattic weapon — because by now, and when it comes to gun violence in america, too many of our kids (and citizens) have not only thought of it, but they’ve lived it – and that should be enough insentive for real change to be made.

An open letter to the class of 2022

To the class of 2022, by now most of you have graduated from your respective institutions. You have done it. You have finally earned your degree. (Or at least they’ve given you the paper for it) And hopefully, you have earned the chance to pursue your career-centered dreams.

Years of sweat and blood and tears have finally led you to this moment and as glorious as it is, it’s slightly tainted by the moment where your institution, the place that has been your home for the past (+ or -) 4 years, said (in not so many words) – “congratulations, you did it – now go home.” (As closing time plays “closing time,you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here”)

Suddenly your mind races, “Home? What home? This is my home. This is my friends and my favorite/least favorite food and the place my stupid ex broke my heart before my friends (who are really more like family) put me back together again. Go home? What does that even mean?”

Maybe it hit you this weekend or maybe it’ll hit later but the moment you received your diploma everything changed. And it did, because… I guess… because it has to? See when I graduated with my bachelors degree 4 years ago, before I started this blog or even really knew who I was, I was terrified. I mean that’s quite literally the reason I continued my education and my track career – because I wasn’t ready to leave my home. And the while all the analogies about birds and nests rushed to mind more than they had the first time I left “home” I knew that this was different. This was different, because this home, felt like so much more than any other.

Now I realize this post is bittersweet because while I feel like you will identify with it, it isn’t necessarily what you want to hear right now. You don’t want to hear “everything changes” even if you know it will. You don’t want to accept that your people won’t be a couple of doors or even a couple blocks away, but possibly a couple of states or more. You don’t want to accept that this chapter is truly over, but as third eye blind once said – “every new beggining comes from some other begginings end” and if you don’t know that song then please follow the dotted line to hand your diploma back in.

Look, at the end of the day, I know this next phase will be different and it will be hard. Whether you are moving home for a bit or moving somewhere new – bills suck, work can be tedious, and last night’s drinks rapidly become all the more unforgiving when they are served by a new bartender who makes their drinks differently than you are used to. But this time will soon become the best time of your life – as will every phase to follow it. (Insert Miley Cyrus “The Climb” Lyrics) And that is the way it should be – because while the last four years were the best of your life, don’t forget that they are merely the best of your life SO FAR and that the best is still yet to come.

All jokes aside though, as a sister of a brother in the class of 2022, I cannot be more thrilled at the lives I see unfolding. I could not be more proud of the voice this generation is cultivating, and I could not be more excited to see what you all do next. The world around us is changing – and it needs to continue changing — so I for one, am excited to see what you all bring next.

Anyway!

Cheers! To the Class of 2022 – may your voice be loud and your hangovers quiet and here’s to the next best years of your life.

25 things that will never make sense

Lately, I have been struggling to make sense of the world around me. Granted, this isn’t anything new, but what is new is that some of these things hae knocked me off balance and made it so that I can’t organize my thoughts enough to talk about them clearly.

See, as an educated person I often struggle with knowing the “why”, and “how” of things, understanding how they may make sense to others but also grappling with the moral issue of how these things in an “advanced and civilized society” have ever been allowed to happen continuously. And like I said, some of these things have been really messing with my head lately so because I don’t have the full ability to make sense of them – I’m doing this list instead of a full form post this week. Hopefully this will start some conversations in your own life and hopefully once I get my wits about me I can come back and write on these topics with a cooler head.

[Some of these things will have explanations some won’t and I certainly won’t be covering them all today but feel free to add to the list in the comments. And be sure to have these conversations with the people around you because they’re incredibly important.]

  1. The fact that Webkinz ever went out of style
  2. Starbucks prices (I don’t care how artisinal the caremel whatchamacallit crunch is)
  3. Bounce Houses especially the watter feature ones
  4. Kids born after the 2000’s – specifically kids born after the 2000’s that don’t have a healthy fear of their parents because this generation doesn’t have the same healthy fear of their parents that me and mine did and I don’t know if I am jealous or proud or…
  5. Living in the past – we’ve all done it. But it has never been as dangeroius as it is now and in the context of the conversations we are having today.
  6. Alcohol: Back in the times of the ancient egyptians beer was used as payment to workers because it provided some sort of nutrition. As someone in their 20’s I feel like alcohol is so much a part of our social lives but it also is killing us all slowly. Not saying I’m going to or need to stop indulging – but this is weird to me.
  7. Minimum wage – it took me 26 years, 10+ of which I was in one or more workplace, to realize that my skills and my time were far more valuable than what I was being paid and how I was being treated. (in some cases)
  8. Sexual harassment in the workplace this one is only speaking to my experience in the service industry. I don’t think I have ever worked in a service industry related job where I haven’t been subject to some sort of sexual harasment type lines being crossed and 9/10 times I didn’t say anything because I didn’t think I could or because I knew it wouldn’t make a diference.
  9. Anyone who disrepects anyone in the service industry or in retail – or anyone who disrespects anyone who in general is just trying to help you.
  10. Weaponizing children in times of war. The number of contradictions this world has when we claim to want to protect our youth and our future but then subject them to even a small percent of what we do is dumbfounding.
  11. Relying on the declarations of individuals who have been dead for 400 years. or even valuing old dead white men and what they said 400 years ago more than we value women today or of any time.
  12. Overturning Roe (it’s 2022 and we are still talking about a decision made 50 years ago)
  13. Disrespecting others in the name of God or Jesus or the Bible – when that litterally contradicts the very foundation of the teachings of that religion
  14. The assumption that any VIABLE HUMAN BEING could have less value than (a.) another human being. or. (b.) a clump of cells – in other words if you think a 12 year old incest and r*** victim should carry the product of that assult to term because that “baby” didn’t be asked to be created that way then you need to go way back to health class because you have zero fundamental understanding of anything relating to the creation of human life, viability, or basic human rights.
  15. Anyone who isn’t a feminist or who doesn’t believe in equal rights or believes that equality implies that one person getting more than they currently have will give you less. Life isn’t a pizza party, if anything it is a race and some people got to start at the gun and others weren’t able to cross the starting line until the first group hit mile 1 – letting them run with you won’t make the trail smaller, it won’t cause you to trip – it will only give them a fighting chance in hell of keeping up.
  16. Racism
  17. Homophobia
  18. Mysogony – internalized or externalized
  19. Transphobia
  20. Bi-phobia
  21. Disagreeing and in turn hating someone for who they are and the very things they can not change. (10-14 aren’t political items, they aren’t a topic of discussion, they aren’t things to disagree about or to quote scripture against. If someone subscribes to these they are ignorant. Point blank period.)
  22. Religious Philosophies being warped to opress others
  23. People who whole heartedly believe that the Insurection was just, police brutality isn’t a thing, that Donald Trump didn’t lose the election, and that we shouldn’t be supporting Black Lives Matter because “all lives matter”
  24. Slavery, both in the context of the 1800’s and the present day where young women are sent into sex slavery and children are trafficed in the most hanus of ways. It makes me sick how anyone could ever justify OWNING PEOPLE but it’s happened in the past and somehow it continues to happen with different storylines.
  25. Life, the Universe and Everything – if there is one thing that I will never for the life of me understand – it’s everything. I will never have a full working knowlege of how things have come to be or what is going to happen next or if a plannet will live or die. I am not a god. OBVIOUSLY. But I will also never live under the delusion that I am meant to know it all. All I can do is my best to understand others and give people and myself grace and do everything I can to survive this big floating rock for as long as I am given to live on it. I think as an adult I am meant to be confused and conflicted and fluid and learning. I am not meant to know it all at once but I can do my best to understand those around me and try to make the world a better place for those who come after me.

To Summarize

As a working list with little to no context, I understand how this may not fit the usual subject matter of the awkward and adulting brand. But in truth I think a big part of growing up is understanding that the world around us does not subscribe to the same morals as we do. That the things that other people do and believe don’t always make sense – and while in some cases that can be ok – lately, and in a lot of cases it really isn’t. There are going to be people that claim to have “opinions” on things like race and gender and identity and while I have never been someone who will blatantly say “no, you’re wrong” I am sorry but this world has taught me that there are some people that really need to check themselves and be told that they are. We can’t afford to compromise or be polite anymore when it comes to certain issues.

As a country, we are at a crossroads. Not in the sense that some people agree with others and others do not but in the truest sense that the choices we make now and the things we stand for now have the potential to define us and our country for the next 50 years. And I think the reason this has me so speechless is that we, the people, are fighting for a future that might be set off track by the ignorant few – and that, above everything else on this list is something I will never truly understand.

5 Parenting Tips you Won’t Find in the Books – With Love, your 17-year-old son.

[Dear parents: As you read this, try to look at these tips with an open mind. I’m not writing just to help teens, but to hopefully help you develop a better and easier relationship with your own teen/young adult.]

The struggle

I’m sure every parent has been through it, that lovely phase of teenage years into adulthood. Sure, being a teen is fun, but as a 17-year-old kid who has had more “real world” experience than most, parenting a kid like me can be a bit…challenging. So today, let me help you – help you because just as I’ve come to realize that a few things that I’ve been taught and that I’ve rolled my eyes at are true, today I want to give you, the parents, some tips from the kid you’re trying to parent that might make your eyes roll into the right direction.

My “teen” experience and yours – they aren’t the same.

Tip 1: Don’t parent your kid based on your experiences as a teenager. One of the things that teens hate to hear from their parents is: “I was your age once too”. And sure, it’s true, you were, but did you live through the same things I do? Were you a teenager in the last 5 years? Did you have threats of school shootings and bullies that could get to you 24 hrs a day? Did you have the expectations of looking like or being with an Instagram model? No? So, with all the current events going on and the technological and social situations, our shared experiences basically start and stop in two places: puberty, and growing pains (general figuring out life stuff).

In other words – just because you COULD HAVE made SOME of the same decisions as your kid (substances and following trends), that doesn’t mean you know everything about them and their experiences now.

Right now, your kids are just growing and figuring life out, just like you had to, just like your parents had to – and you turned out great so trust that we will too.

Insider tip: The number 1 thing that teens need isn’t a false understanding of the struggles we go through – it’s the reassurance of love. So, as long as we know you love us to death, we will make you proud. Just do us both a favor and let us figure out our potential and trust that we’ll ask you or someone else for help if we need it.

**That doesn’t go to say, however, if you see your kid making bad decisions constantly, it’s an obvious sign to ask them what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Help your kids on things that potentially put themselves and others in danger, but for small issues, trust that you’ve taught them to figure it out.

Crime and Punishment (in two parts)

Tip 2: Punishment is NOT the solution for addiction. This is a HUGE one. Like many kids in my generation – I got into vaping during my sophomore year, and I obviously kept it a secret from my mom. But the way she handled it when she inevitably caught me – is something I will always be grateful for.

Don’t get me wrong, the first time my mom caught me with a vape she punished me – but soon after that she realized that wasn’t going to help – so she tried something that did.

The last time my mom caught me with a vape was the last time I used one. Why? Because instead of punishing me she opened up to me and we had a conversation about it. She said that I wasn’t in trouble and that she wanted to help me stop. And just from her saying that – that was all the help I needed. Seeing my mom in tears telling me she wasn’t going to yell or punish me, and that she wanted to help me stop it, motivated me enough to quit vaping for good. It took a week to get myself off of it but after that, I was done and I’m never going back. And since then, I’ve even trusted my mom enough that when she asked if I’ve ever smoked weed, I answered honestly, and when she explained to me that it’s obviously not good and asked me if I ever plan on doing it again – I confidently and truthfully said no, I’m not.

The takeaway: Doing things like this with your child builds a huge amount of trust and can help in other aspects too. Teens realizing that their parents want to help them instead of “hurt” them (punishing them) will automatically understand and trust their parents more.

Tip 3: Punishments are necessary but try to think about what (and when) certain punishments work for your teen. For me, when I get punished it’s the same thing: I get my electronics taken away. This might not seem like a big deal for some, but keep in mind (tip #1) that most parents today didn’t grow up with these things, and that for kids in today’s world, they make a big impact on our life. SO, while we may not NEED these things to live, we do need them to sustain our way of life and stay connected.

[And to anyone reading this thinking, “yeah – that’s the point, that’s why it’s called a punishment,” and I hear you. But just like punishing your kid struggling with addiction might not work – using the same punishment every time we have any minor or major slip up also doesn’t work. Not to mention, when a parent gets mad, they can call their friend or talk to their spouse but without that technology, we don’t have the support to work through our drama and do better next time.]

And after a while of getting the same punishments, it just becomes routine to us. We learn how to deal with it and work around it instead of evolving and thinking about the reason we are being punished. So instead, mix it up – try taking away something that they haven’t realized is important to them. That way, when the time comes that they need it, they won’t have it and they’ll think to themselves: “Wow. If I didn’t do this, I wouldn’t be in this situation”

Sticks and Stones Definitely Break Bones – But Words they REALLY Hurt Me

Tip 4: If you and your child are in an argument, and there is something you want to say in the heat of the moment that could make it worse, don’t say it. I’ll keep this one short because it explains itself – In certain situations, saying something heated and in the moment can really upset and hurt your kid and if they are in a spiral they’ll spiral even more out of control. We know you’re human, but this is just something to keep in mind. 

Last one, and every mom’s favorite/the most important

Tip 5: Teens may act out and make terrible decisions, and you may fight with them more often than not, but deep down inside, they always love you more than anything. I was a terrible teenager for a few years. I had just started my teenage years when my dad died, and I can admit that I lashed out at my mom and never listened to her. But whenever we got into an argument, I always wanted to apologize immediately after, and most of the time, I felt like garbage and I tried to change.

When it comes to mothers and sons, the worst sight is your mother crying. And just because your kid acts out or is mad at you I can promise you that you aren’t doing that parenting thing wrong, and your kid knows you love them and you do the things you do because you love them.

At the end of the day parenting always has room for improvement, and no one does it perfectly. That’s the wonder of it all. But as a teen who wants to do better and knows how teens learn best hopefully, you got some things out of this, and you really go and use these tips in your parenting journey.

The Sins of the Father

A while back, there were certain religious institutions that would accept monetary payments in exchange for forgiveness. This “forgiveness” whether it be partial or otherwise would then grant deceased relatives access to heaven that they otherwise may not have gotten. Sounds great right? Assuming your family could afford it… and for a while people paid these “indulgences,” probably thinking and believing that they were buying gods love and a family memebers freedom from suffering. But in reality what the money really did was give religious institutions access to the kinds of funds that would support their varrious projects and “expansions.”

But why, on a Friday, am I talking about church and forgiveness? Well, to be frank, I’m not… what I am talking about is the debt we pay for the ones that leave us behind and while it certainly isn’t always monetary, it can still be quite costly.

Inheritance

Something that’s been on my mind quite a bit lately is the concept of inheritance and how we inherit the sins and in some cases, the atrocities, that were inflicted on our parents and their parents and so on. See a few years back a friend of mine posted this really profound thought that I probably brought up before but I’m going to say it again –

She said “We all just want to give our children a life they don’t have to heal from.” – read that again – “We all just want to give our children a life they don’t have to heal from.”

And though she is completely right and although no parent sets out to damage their child, some kids today are constantly paying for sins that they didn’t commit and that they might not even be able to understand for another two or three decades. Why? Because they, and we, are paying for the sins of our mother’s mothers and our father’s fathers and so on – and if you stick with me for a bit I can explain exactly why and how we are doing that.

Spacial Awareness and Mental Health

Now before I get too deep into this, I’ll preface this with – not everyone has aggressive amounts of trauma or any real trauma at all, but some have and as humans, it’s our job to respect people where they are at on their journey and listen to them and their stories to the best of our abilities. We don’t have to agree with them or their beliefs, but telling them they are wrong or lying for the sake of making ourselves feel better is no longer an option. That said, let’s get into it.

A decade or two ago, the mental health resources were obviously not what they are today. The stigma surrounding mental health and even asking for help was often portrayed as weakness and while, in a lot of ways, men are still made to feel inferior for asking for and getting the help they need – young men are in a way better place now than their fathers and grandfathers were 30-60 years ago. So, keeping this in mind – our parents and their parents, in some cases, are pretty darn screwed up. BUT ITS NOT THEIR FAULT. (With one very important exception…)

The exception: If you, as a parent, relative, friend, etc. can properly identify your own trauma and the trauma you are inflicting on others and you are not doing EVERYTHING in your power ie. therapy or medication or kickboxing (whatever works for you) to work through that and not be hurtful to the people you love – you CANNOT blame anyone but yourself for the fallout of your actions and you can’t blame those around you because they don’t spend every minute of everyday trying to avoid your invisible trip wires.

Look, believe it or not, I’m not here to place blame or condemn anyone or point the finger this way and that and I’m also not trying to be the trauma police. I’m not here to name names in order to validate my own trauma – that would be twisted – but I am saying this because I know I am not the only one who has been snapped at or has snapped at the people around me because someone did something to me or I did something to them as a result of an entirely disconnected situation. So, in order to understand why older people are triggered and why they react to things we do and why we and our kids feel like we are stepping on invisible trip wires – we need to accept that the people raising us have some stuff they haven’t dealt with – and a major reason for that is because they were conditioned to believe it is normal by their parents. (gaslighting is generationally screwy)

Forgiveness isn’t for them

I forget who said this recently, but I heard this quote that ran along the lines of “forgiveness isn’t for them, it’s for you.” – read that again – “forgiveness isn’t for them, it’s for you.” which brings us back to the church and to “indulgences” because when we pay for the sins of those before us, we don’t nessesarily do it for them. We do it for ourselves, to make ourselves feel better, while claiming we are doing it for them – and if you think that’s selfish… well in some cases you gotta allow yourself to put you first.

When we forgive others – we do it knowing that we can let go of our half of the burden and the weight of carrying that hurt and that anger in us. When we forgive others we give ourselves permission to move on.

So I guess in other words, we learn to bear it so they don’t have to – then we allow ourselves to let it go because we don’t have to. And none of this discounts how hard this can be but maybe on a certain level it allows us to come to terms with the idea that everyone that we love and that every person around us is human.

They are imperfect.

AND

Everyone around us is fighting their own battles and sometimes we, in our proximity to them, are met with friendly fire. And that sucks – but at the end of the day, we choose what and how these things actually affect us – and hopefully twenty years from now we will have built better tools to carry those things with us. But for now – let’s just work on doing better and being better because just because I went through it, doesn’t mean they have to.

a now spoken rule of 4

this is the story of 4 and all its multiples

When we look at the most formative and transformative periods in our life and more specifically our young adult lives, I have found that most things follow a connective rule of 4’s. And although experience is measured with a minimum of 2 and bad/good things occur in patterns containing 3, and 5 is the best number of years to earn you above an entry-level position. 4, like most even numbers seems to be the rule when it comes to things like balance, and education, and frankly, all the walls of all the boxes we allow ourselves to be put in.

And since patterns are mostly in our heads – and since this one is most definitely mine – let me open the door and invite you in for a bit…

My unspoken rule of 4

4, the number of years it takes to survive high school (barely).

4, the number of years in college (traditionally).

4, the number of wheels on your first car (hopefully).

4 the number of people in what was once considered an atomic family. 2 parents, 2 kids, and the promise of a picket fence. But for all the things that require 4 – why then is it that we more often think of 3 as the magic number? Which brings us to 3 –

3, the number of “adult” jobs I had after college before I found lucky number 4.

3, the number of medications I tried just to manage the depression that those years and those jobs cost me,

3 the number of members in my family since April of 2010 (excluding of course those with 4 legs).

and 3 the number of 4 year periods since my family became a party of 3.

Which brings us to 12. The number of days until the same number in years since my father lost his fight with cancer. (and no I didn’t think of that when I started writing this today.)

Loss is (you guessed it) a 4 letter word

Most often, when we talk about loss, it’s hard to keep our own selves out of it. “I – lost my dad,” “I – lost someone I loved” “I,” “I,” “I,”and after a while all the I’s make it less about the life they lived and more about the life that them being gone “took” from you. So it comes with a sense of entitlement more than what it actually is – grief and loss and a massive change in perception of what life and family should look like.

See perspective is a funny thing because if you take “I” out and replace it with someone else’s pronouns the narrative shifts and you get “He never got to walk me down the isle” “He wasn’t at my graduation” “He didn’t teach me how to drive” but the problem with that is that it wasn’t something he could do or controll. It wasn’t something he could be there for – and while that in itself is another loss – it places blame that, in most cases, that person doesn’t deserve. It sucks, yes – but at least in my case, it’s not his fault and its not my fault and it isn’t about him and it’s not about me. IT JUST IS.

Because in the grand scheme of things – things don’t happen to us, they just happen. and it’s really easy to make it about us and put ourselves at the center of it but that doesn’t mean that’s how it works. There’s no one keeping score, there’s no tit for tat, things just happen and you can spend all the time you want hating it and blaming others but at the end of the day – some things are just out of our controll.

Professionals will say 7

If you ask a professional they will tell you that there are 7 stages of grief. (and I have definitely felt all of them) That you can feel more than one at once or intermittently feel them etc etc etc. But if you google it the first thing you’ll get is a 7 bullet list with a whole bunch of synonyms crammed in. Which is fairly accurate because grief puts you and your emotions all over the damn place BUT since neither number is a multiple of 4, the reason I bring it up is that on a certain level and as the above heading (Loss…) suggests, most days I feel like I’ve done the work to accept things – and that doesn’t mean I 100% have or haven’t but that after 12 years I can confidently say that while it doesn’t hurt less it does hurt different. (Which is sometimes a good thing)

Maybe its not a rule but a suggestion

Ok so maybe the whole “rule of 4” thing was bs. Maybe I was just feeling poetic and feeling like patterns could heal me a bit because frankly, I have been feeling it a lot lately. And maybe in 2 years I will look back on this and pull something crazier out of my hat like “remember when I said ‘rule of 4? well 14 has a 4 in it!” and maybe then we can laugh. Or maybe we can just laugh now.

You know, because it’s kind of funny, every year on here or on instagram or on something I continue to tell some version of this story. It’s always true, it’s always from the heart and its always durring this month. And I used to think that I wrote it just to help some kid going through what I did and I used to think to myself that if it helped even one person that would be enough – but as much as I do still love the idea of helping others, I will never understand their loss or their story as I do my own. So maybe I was never writing for some random kid, and as predictable as it would be to say that I was writing it for me, to make my own sense of it, I can’t say that’s entirely true either. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wasn’t writing for some kid and I wasn’t writing to this version of me. But maybe I was writing to the kid I was then – the one that needed the most healing to get to where I am today; and maybe that’s progress because now, instead of being the sad, poor little girl that lost her dad at 14 – maybe I’m just me at 26, looking back with a smile and telling her that I will always fight for her (and her ludacris rule of 4)

So in honor of her victory and mine – I give you the now spoken rule of 4

4, the number of years in high school when I thought about giving up but didn’t

4, the number of years that I had with my 3 best friends making memories and learning how to heal.

4, the number of years since I graduated undergrad with my family by my side and my dad on my shoulder.

All leading to 12 –

12 days to 12 years without him.12, years I’ve grown and stumbled and somehow figured a bunch of things out about me and the world and my family.12, the number of years until I was able to realize that I didn’t have to walk away from that part of me to be happy – I just had to set a better pace to walk with it.

Great Expectations

Hello, and Happy Friday Friends! So I know in the past I have talked about the pitfalls of media and how my generation developed a certain propensity toward toxic masculinity in our teens thanks to some rather alluring vampires. And while I still stand by those sentiments – I think there is much to be said about the concept of expectations and love and how it evolves in great and terrible ways as we grow.

“Turn me on like a lightswitch” – Charlie Puth

As a newly minted 26-year-old woman who has spent far too much time putting together her own puzzle pieces in the past few years, there are few things that surprise me when it comes to self-discovery. But something I never expected when I was growing up was how high my expectations for other people were and more so, how much they would continue to grow.

For example, as a teenager I wanted a gentleman (preferably a protective vampire with old and proper values), someone who respected me and my ability to make my own choices, but also took charge because I secretly wanted someone to want to take care of me [in a respectful way]. Then, in my early twenties, that trope took a deeper twist because despite my expectations for respect instilled by the men in my family and in my life, I often found that a nice face and arms could forgive quite a few sins. Which, as you can imagine got me in a bit of trouble from time to time.

Now, luckily, this is most certainly no longer the case. But unluckily, now I find myself wanting someone who reads and can hold a conversation and is passionate and respectful and outspoken and the list could go on or I could just tell you that I am in love with Anthony Bridgerton (a fictional character, from the show Bridgerton.)

Whoever writes my life story has a flair for playing games with my heart

For any of us who gained an addiction to tiktok in the past year or two, a lot of us have developed this aptitude for complaining about the writers in charge of the plot we all have been living. Variations of this sentiment include, pretending to be a deity and pouring water into a bowl saying what characteristics (that we have) the given pour represents – usually this tackles queerness or anxiety or depression but my favorite thought is the one that portrays the idea that in each of our lives we exist under a writers room that determines where our story will go next.

And, of course, all of this rambling is just leading to the fact where I tell you that my writers room has lead me to fall for another person/character/actor that I will never meet and that even if I did and even if I managed to intrigue them – blah blah blah – In short, it’s no surprise that I’d be perfectly infatuated by a stunning gay man playing a straight viscount who perfectly portrays an enemies-to-lovers storyline rather than being interested in someone or anyone for that matter I could actually manage to date. Which leads us to — the people I could actually manage to date?

Fact: Sex Sells – but jeans and oversized hoodies shouldn’t be trifled with

While I can’t speak on behalf of anyone but myself – I can admit that throughout my twenties I have experienced a shift in how I interact with potential love matches and (let’s say) the characteristics they portray.

[I’m going to preface this anecdote with the background knowledge that when I walked into one of my favorite liquor stores yesterday I was wearing maroon supra high-tops, straight leg jeans, and an oversized hoodie and I had just gotten done with a physical at the doctors. Nothing I was wearing matched, I had no makeup on and I was in no condition to be interacting with any humans let alone plausibly attractive men]

For example, yesterday while at the liquor store I was followed around by the clerk who I was told didn’t like a certain brand of beer because it openly supported black lives matter and that brews shouldn’t have a hand in politics, among other things that the “democratic media… (ergo – strike one).

Now in the past, I will admit, that my “gossip girl” and “sex and the city” based education sought out to teach me no more than those penguins in madagascar did (“smile and wave boys, smile and wave”) and part of this is because my impression of myself and how I physically approached relationships gave me the impression that I had fewer options that I would have liked to believe I had. [newsflash, I was playing myself]. And no this story doesn’t end with me saying that I started a fight in the liquor store, I am much too classy for that. (and they’re the only place I know that carries the selection of beers I like…)

So why am I telling you this?

A few reasons. 1. I learned the terrifying fact that apparently, I am attractive to republicans [shudders in democrat] — which is not only problematic but must defy all kinds of laws of physics considering I carry a damn “alphabet mafia” card in my wallet. 2. I needed to write the story down because its 2022 and when you tell someone you can carry your own beers to your car 7 times, they really should have listened by 3. and 3. (to put it plainly) The interaction only solidified my ideas of wanting to be courted like the ladies in Bridgerton [which does not mean I want to live anywhere near the time period of corsets and non-existent women’s rights, but that if “Shondaland” was a town – I’d relocate in about 2 seconds flat] rather than mansplained Sour Beers in an isle that is no thicker than 2ft.

All is fair in love and … tinder?

Look, I have told you all before that I was giving up dating sites – and I am not going back on my promises – in fact, I have had a couple really awesome interactions with people in the past month in real life and real-time (IRL as the kids say) but that doesn’t curb my desire for something more.

Because frankly, all I have learned from apps like Tinder is that maybe my high expectations need to be pushed up a few more notches…I mean come on, what does a girl have to do for an enemies-to-lovers plotline like Anthony Bridgerton and Kate Sharma!?

Truth is, I think the problem with expectations like mine (and constantly wanting everything and anything I cannot have) is that I can sit at my desk and create this a le carte interpretation of what I want my love life to look like, and sure it may be portrayed on a tv show where a bunch of talented writers get to toy with our emotions, but life doesn’t work like that.

I can’t sit here and pick and choose the perfect partner and manifest them into existence any more than I could have willed myself into marrying a Salvatore at 17. And that’s not because I can’t imagine what a good life with someone would look like, but because I haven’t yet experienced what I could possibly have in terms of a life with someone else

So while I can’t sit here and contend with fantasy – I can try to live and work toward a reality that meets me halfway – because in the past month I have met the kind of people who valued my mind first and called me beautiful and RESPECTED my boundaries (which shouldn’t have been as exciting as it was.

Expect the Unexpected

I guess the takeaway from all this is that I am not going to give up on my expectations but I will continue to expect more from people than I have been given in the past. And I am also going to do a better job at meeting my expectations where they realistically live and not allowing some off-topic attitudes to sway them.

So, in other words, I won’t strive for Brigerton’s and settle for vampires, but I might aim for a Bridgeton and maybe meet someone (not a raging republican at a liquor store) living a more simple and properly respectable life. Because maybe I can learn to expect the unexpected, rather than constantly expecting the unrealistic fantasies I constantly see on screen.

Preach Don’t Practice

Have you ever noticed that the most vocal pro-american, pro-freedom people are also the first to decide how to limit the rights of others? That these “Americans” are the first to decide who is allowed into their mostly all boys club – and that the people they let in, rarely reflect the world as it truly stands.

Have you ever noticed that as one of the largest and most formidable world powers we don’t actually lead anyone toward progress or rank well in matters concerning education or welfare?

Have you ever noticed that people are much quicker to preach, than they are to practice? And if you have noticed these things, do they ever bother you?

Does it both… Yes

It’s no secret that the world has been a mess lately. Covid got demoted to an Endemic, but still affects millions, Putin started a war over in the Ukraine because he was bitter and bored, and the United States of America continues to stand divided when it comes to our most basic promise of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness for ALL american citizens. And while the first two issues get me heated, the third has been really boiling my blood.

Don’t say Gay…

In the past couple weeks multiple states have been criticized for the creation of bills that target children… and yes you heard me right… children.

So to start I am going to give you a bit of an aside to tie a couple things I mentioned above–

In the Ukraine right now there is obviously a war going on with the Russians, but one of the first things that societies do in war time is protect the women and children. They do this, I assume, because their children are more vulnerable, but they are also their future. Their children are the ones to carry on with their beliefs and practices and legacies. So in war we protect them the most.

Similarly, when we look at crime, in the United States and in the world, one of the most dangerous criminals to be incarserated as is a pedofile – because even amongst murderers and thieves, crimes against children are inexcusable and if the court won’t find justice, the criminals will.

As terrible as it is to say, in our world, there are an infinite number of ways to damage or hurt or break someone. In fact, for centuries men have been finding new ways to perfect the art of hurting one another. So much so that some of the only things we, as human beings can agree upon is that certain methods of harm and certain methods of killing are to inexcusable to use, even in war time. But for all the laws forbidding crimes against humanity and all the rules preventing chemical warfare, psychological harm and domestic violence are still issues that continue to run rampant everyday, and for what? When will we stop classifying people as worthy or unworthy of being treated with decency? That’s the question we should be asking.

Anyway… Bills, Bills, Bills

In the past month or so, multiple states have been creating bills that target LGBT children. In one iteration of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill there was even a clause where florida teachers were to inform a students parents that their child was gay within 6 weeks of finding out that they were. Other bills in multiple states forbid trans youth from getting healthcare or playing organized sports, and almost all of the bills in question focus on limiting what students learn in the classroom when it comes to race, gender, and sexuality.

Similarly, these bills will force educators to create a full school year of lesson plans by June so that PARENTS can weigh in and determine what their kids will actually learn, and if these parents don’t agree with the lessons or are made uncomfortable and the teacher still chooses to educate on these topics, then the teacher can be fined a crippling amount.

Excuse my french – but this is bull shi*

Let’s get one thing straight

LGBT concerns aside — Teaching is not a group project, even if education is.

Let me explain.

When it comes to our education as a whole – there are hundreds if not thousands of people that get a hand in what we learn. Friends and family teach us love and how to pursue our passions, they teach us about what is socially acceptable and that maybe you shouldn’t pick your nose…? Bosses teach us best practices at work and relatives teach us about our histories both shared and personal. But when it comes to the classroom – teachers are the only ones in the room who have been trained to educate us on specific things and themes.

Sooo….

Teaching is not a group project. But I am not surprised that it is the one place that people (who have zero experience in the field) think that they can reach in and do the job. Because you definitely wouldn’t try to represent yourself in court, and you certainly wouldn’t want to perform heart surgery on grandma – and in most cases you wouldn’t jump onto the field if your favorite quarterback was having a rough day – but you have no problem telling a teacher what they can and can’t or should and shouldn’t teach.

Practice more Preach Less

Look, at the end of the day I really didn’t even scratch the surface with this topic. But it’s not my job to teach you as much as it is to start the conversation and practice the kind of acceptance I preach. And while I used some pretty strong examples to try and get some thoughts across I hope in this ending I can pull it together well. So here we go.

In a world where so much has been going wrong, in a decade where so many lives have been lost already, and a modern age where we still exist amongst so much hate, the last thing we should be doing is isolating children from their identities and giving teachers one more reason to pack up and pick a new profession. So, if you got anything from what I am saying today it is that we need to stop fighting the wrong kinds of wars. And protecting our kids from the wrong things. We need to stop fighting over territory and the belief that only one type of people deserves respect and we need to accept that our history is an equal a part of our story just as we know our future is – and the more we waste time ignoring where we’ve been and limiting growth and holding ourselves back with false promises the more we are going to prevent our future from rising to what we know it and they can be.

No Buts

I know it’s ok, but…

I know it’s ok, but I’m not where I thought I’d be by now.

Its psychological you know

When it comes to expectations, we approach them from what we already know and what we see and experience around us. So, we can’t actually picture what our life will look like – yet society and pinterest tricks us into planning it all out and pretending that the best we can do is white weddings and trips to the hamptons with our two and a half beautiful babies. Big houses, and little league and – clearly I grew up very lucky because I know how much privilege comes with those dreams.

And it’s funny because these expectations, they aren’t unlike how we view happiness because subconsciously we all have a level of happiness that we can rise to, before we believe it’s “too good to be true.” So we expect what we already know to happen again, just as it has, and when it doesn’t, it jars us. We grow up expecting what we think we deserve, but at any age we are still learning what we deserve based on our own developing definition of worth so — in short, we can’t fathom what the future looks like, but we honest to goodness believe we can. And then we get disappointed when it doesn’t happen.

Back then I had it all figured out

Or at least… I thought I had it all figured out. Typical youth dilemma, I know.

Anyway…

Lately I’ve been excessively retrospective, telling my friends that “I had a better idea of what 26 would look like when I was 16, than I do now.” Which is somewhat a lie, because back then I didn’t think I’d make it this far but also true in that – when I skipped to this part of my story, being an adult and having freedom etc. it did look a lot less complicated. But back then, so did life.

A decade ago, in 2012, my future looked a lot less complicated and a lot more straight-forward. And despite what you may assume, it wasn’t because I was young. It’s because the world we know now, was just getting started.

[Insert HUH?]

Let me explain…

In 2012, I was 16 years old, just over 3x the age of the first iPhone, which was made in 2007. And this was also the year, most of us thought the world was ending, not because we had real proof, but because at least 4 movies came out saying that it was going to based on a calendar that was thousands of years old. In 2012, the music industry was much harder to get into. Like a lot harder, and it wasn’t because the talent wasn’t there but because the technology needed to make an EP was much less accessible than it is now. In 2012, I was still watching the Disney channel… and all the shows were still irrefutably iconic and High School Musical wasn’t a remake it was still a story being told for the first time. In 2012 I was binging the vampire diaries, and writing the first draft of my novel. I was grieving, and living with it, and praying to a godless sky that I could find answers that I knew wouldn’t come. In 2012 I had no possible idea of what my 20’s would look like beyond fiction and fantasy – but in that way, I suppose a part of me then, knew more than I do now. Because that’s exactly what the concept of our twenties is before we actually get there… it’s fiction, and fantasy, and excessively hormonal teen dramas with all the sex and none of the quarter life crisis that we all inevitably go through.

So yeah, a decade ago I had a more clear picture of what 26 would look like, but 5 days out from my 26th birthday – I have no recollection of what I could have been thinking at 16.

I know it’s ok… but – no buts

I know it’s ok, but yeah, I’m definitely NOT where I thought I’d be by now… and that’s hands down the best gift I could have given myself this year because when I say “I’m not where I thought I’d be” it’s not a feeling of inadequacy, and, surprisingly, it’s not even a feeling that I’ve fallen short of my own expectations, because frankly those would have been with me, buried 6 ft in the ground or scattered across the lake that my dad and his siblings grew up on. Truth is, if I had ended up where I honestly thought I’d be now, at 16… well let’s just say I’m really glad I didn’t. And this life, it’s not a fantasy, and it’s not a show on HBO and I don’t have a super sexy vampire boyfriend [or girlfriend] – but I am figuring it all out, day by day, and on my own time.

So yeah… when I say, “I know it’s ok… that I’m not where I thought I’d be,” I mean it. Not because I never wanted to be somewhere else, not because I never wanted someone else’s life, not because I wish I had become the princess of Genovia living in a castle with Sandra O answering the queens calls [although, that would be pretty damn cool]. I say, “it’s ok” because I’m here. Because I made it. Because I kept picking points on the path to run to and telling myself, “Rachel, if you make it there, you can stop. If you make it there, it’s not giving up… but also, keep going.” And honestly, the more I think about it, I love that I am not where I thought I’d be in my imagination ten years ago, because when things get hard now, and when someone tells me it’ll be ok… I believe them. And the rest? Well, that’s all just part of the ride.

“The Greatest in the World”

“Last name greatest, first name ever…” but when it comes to living in this country, we rarely, if ever, used to ask – but at what cost?

Unpopular opinion: the United States isn’t the greatest country in the world, nor do we, as citizens have the most freedoms of all the countries in the world. So unless you go by the United States definition of “Great,” we aren’t the “Greatest” we’re just the most powerful, and the most likely to defend our ego and our position as the most powerful, at any cost. That said, why am I coming at my country’s throat today? Easy, because this week another state, South Dakota, has passed a bill banning transgender athletes from participating in school sports. But I’m not upset for the reason most people would assume.

“Let the kids play”

So when it comes to the transgender athletes in sports I have no stake in the game. As a cis gender female myself, I obviously cannot speak on behalf of the trans experience… but neither can cis male legislature! And yet they continue to do so. And personally, I think that’s wrong.

Look, as someone who grew up playing sports, someone who lost a incredibly large part of her identity when she walked away and aged out of sports, and someone who genuinely believes and supports the ideals only taught and learned in organized sports – I can completely understand why lawmakers and coaches and athletes want to continue to compete on a level playing field. But the problem they are addressing isn’t genetic advantage, the problem isn’t what genitalia the participant has. It’s bigotry. And it’s transphobia and they are simply hiding behind false platitudes and the fact that trans people aren’t a represented and they aren’t a part of the conversation.

So Rachel, are you saying you think men should be able to play women’s sports? No. But I’d also argue that most male lax players (for example) wouldn’t want to play women’s lax because it’s a much slower and very different game.

But trans women are… They’re women. So they aren’t men playing women’s sports, they’re women playing women’s sports.

But don’t they have different bone structure that would give them a clear advantage? Maybe? I mean there are women in different countries born with different builds that give them a clear, genetic, advantage – so the issue wouldn’t be bone structure or body type it would be estrogen/testosterone levels, and sports test for that when athletes reach a certain level. I mean there are even cases where women who had too much testosterone were not allowed to compete because of it. Truth is, there are exceptions to every rule. So if your best argument is the age old – men are stronger, faster, etc. than women… then I’d just suggest you open a book, because even if the fastest woman in the world is slower than the fastest man, odds are she is still stronger and faster than quite a few men.

Ok… but what about women who want to play mens sports? If that sport isn’t accessible to them, yes. That’s what title 9 is for. But if you meant to ask, can trans men play mens sports? Yes, let the men who train and qualify for that level of play, play the mens league sports.

So this is just some feminist bs? Not at all. It’s debunking the idea that men and women are trying to cross boundaries when it comes to playing sports, because all this legislation says is that they don’t accept trans men and women are men and women and thus it’s not about sports it’s about transphobia. And at the end of the day it’s not about what we as cis people believe or don’t believe. It’s about respect – and not just for our fellow man. But for the game as well.

Show your work

I am going to say this once and I’m going to say this loud. If you don’t understand someone’s experience, and you haven’t made every attempt to within the bounds of your existence to walk a mile in their shoes — You have no right whatsoever to make decisions on their behalf.

There’s no grand plot to indoctrinate your kids to the queer or trans “agenda” there’s no law that says – if we give them more, we get less. Or if “they” compete, we will lose. And from my perspective, people don’t transition so they can get a leg up, they don’t transition to be olympians – they do it to finally and for the first time in their lives have the world see them in a way they have always seen themselves. And I’m sorry if anyone disagrees with that — but frankly, it’s not about YOU.

RESPECT – the basics

If you don’t have a uterus, you can’t understand the cost of carrying or birthing a child let alone the decision whether or not to terminate.

If you are not trans and have never spoken to someone who is, how can you begin to understand what decisions they might want to make, let lone now incredibly difficult that journey toward becoming their true selves actually was.

Are you religious? Don’t apply your theological interpretations to someone who follows a different faith. And if you don’t believe in God – don’t invalidate someone who does.

Are you straight? Then why do you spend so much time thinking about how wrong it is that someone might be gay, and why assume that their love for another person is different than yours? Or that your faith will condemn them, when they may believe in something entirely different. Stop looking at love from a purely sexual lens because news flash. There’s more to relationships than who and how frequently you sleep with someone. And stop pushing your beliefs at someone who has developed their own.

Understanding nuances

Look, I know that this is a polarizing topic. I know that my opinions are probably unpopular ones. But I’m not being unreasonable by wishing for a world that allows people to freely represent themselves as a genuine part of the conversation.

I’d love to believe that everyone could live and coexist with one another, I’d love to believe that this country wasn’t built on the blood of immigrants and the bones of natives AS WELL AS the backs of people who fought for our freedoms in various capacities. I’d love to believe that we could all simply respect each other and that people could believe in all people being created equal. But I know that’s not true. So I can’t be surprised that this is happening. And why be mad when it’s not happening to me? Well that much is simple. It’s not about me – it’s about keeping those whom it does concern out of the conversation because frankly, no one should decide who gets to be heard and who gets silenced. And if the United States was actually the greatest country in the world. Maybe we’d do a better job at acting like it.

Knowing, Not Knowing, and things to Unlearn

Before we get started here’s your fair warming that this piece might be part one of a saga. Self awareness is hard so, should you choose to stay, bare with me.

Subconsciously, we’re all geniuses. Consciously…. Not so much

Alright I want you to think about your kidney, think about where it is in your body. Think about what it does and all the crap it has to deal with. Now, most of us have no conscious clue of where our kidneys are – but in order for our body to work, our brain has to subconsciously know where each vein and muscle and piece of tissue is. In other words our brain knows, because our brain has to keep everything working, but if our brain knows, why don’t we? If our brain knows, and we don’t, then what else are we lying to ourselves about? How much do we know, not know, and need to unlearn?

Sight, truth, and knowing

Now, think about your nose. How much of it can you see if you really try and think? Not much. But that’s a trick. Supposedly, we can see all of it, but our brain blocks it out and tricks us, because we can’t handle it. And so this got me thinking. How much of me, the way I think, the way I act, the way I scrape my teeth with my fork when I bite into food, how much of this is instinct? How much is conscious choice? And how much of who we are, is simply attributed to our “factory settings?”

Nature vs. Nurture

Now, I know what you’re thinking. That factory settings are the same as what we’re programmed with and how things change over time. And to a mild extent you’re night. But when I talk about factory settings I’m more looking at life through the scope of conscious decision making and how most of us gaslight the hell out of ourselves to negotiate what is true and what we can’t handle if that truth was true.

So as an example – is straight the base line natural setting of sexuality? Or is straightness the factory setting that we adhere to even though sexuality about is meant to be about what feels good and society is just to blame because it determined that keeping people in boxes is more digestible. In other words, there’s nature, there’s nurture, then theirs society. And while not all of us choose to 100% get in boxes and conform – some of us have to work to understand and even unlearn the factory settings that were molded into believing.

Learning and leaning away from “Factory settings”

The idea that we exist similar to that of an IPhone IOS update might strike you as odd, but taken in the context of internalized misogyny and internalized homophobia, in insecurities and the seemingly continental United States ideal that all of Africa is huts and hungry people (which it’s absolutely not) – it isn’t insane to assume that many of us have been programmed via nature and nurture alike to condemn ideals and hold tight to others. It’s no surprise that after being gaslit in our most formidable years that we continue to believe the voices that hurt and condemned us. But it is surprising how few of us dive in and do the work needed to reset and reboot ourselves because, frankly, It’s not insane to, at a certain point, question… am I doing this for me, or am I doing this to get by. Do I actually like x,y, or z or was I trained to respond to these things in these ways. And while the obvious examples are the big ideals in prejudice, like race and sexuality it’s also as simple as asking the kid in class who misbehaves, “what did you do this time” rather than, “why? Why did you do this?” It’s as simple as changing the narrative from – I endured this, so you can survive it too – to – I survived this so you wouldn’t have to… and luckily I think some aspects of our world are starting to warm to that idea, but we are definitely still very far off from making it common practice.

My point? Assumptions are dangerous. Bias is dangerous. Prejudice is and can be deadly. But there’s nothing more dangerous than settling into assumptions you’ve made about yourself because yes we all create a narrative of who we are, but we also allow others to flip the script and write it for us too and the fact of the matter is, they don’t know us like we do… then again sometimes we also allow ourselves to revert to “factory settings” and in the end, that doesn’t really benefit anyone either.

The reboot

So, like I said earlier – sometimes I wish my brain had a check engine light. One that could tell me when I need servicing, when I’m out of gas, when I need an oil change or my tires rotated. (None of this is sexual innuendo so.. mind and gutter need to detach.)

Look sometimes I wish I had someone or something in my brain that could check me and tell me how much of my personality has been updated or upgraded and what is still just adhering to the factory settings. And yes I could go to therapy… but realistically and as a millennial, that’s more expensive then avo toast and frankly it’s not immediately gratifying enough.

Sometimes I just want to see my nose

Look, most of us have heard the forest through the trees argument. And all of us, knowingly or not have fallen into habits of believing what’s easy over what is right and believing what makes us fit in over what could make us truly happy. (And if you don’t believe me just find any tiktok lesbian because a lot of women figured a lot of things out in the past year and most of them aren’t in their early years.) being able to identify what you know, what you don’t know and what you need to unlearn ISNT EASY – and it’s also not concise or succinct, so I apologize.

I guess what I’m trying to say, in my own just Rachel way, is that I’m in this process of working with my settings. I’m trying to be more intentional with my actions in relationships and in friendships and in the work I do here and at the place who pays my bills. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m trying to do the work and trust me it sucks, but it’s also really great to feel like I’m developing the kind of relationship where I can actually trust myself.

So I guess to wrap it up, for now, I’ll just say that my advice is to ask more questions. Especially when you don’t think you’ll like the answer. Because it’s about time you make conscious decisions in terms of what you want for yourself and not just what others want for you. I guess it ties in to that stuff I said about changing you to please them.

And honestly, at the end of the day, it’s just about working on what you want and resetting your expectations – because sometimes it’s not worth lying to yourself – and it’s never worth it to gaslight yourself just because it’s something you were conditioned to do.

New – Years

I’ve never really loved the concept of birthdays. Not in terms of the celebrating or the cake (I do love cake) but in the practice of hyping one day up to be more transformative than the last. The way we celebrate birthdays – past the age of themed parties and the party favor era, tends to perpetuate this idea that we should feel different or feel more like a certain age. But the problem with that is our pre conceived notion of what that age “should” feel like, when we have no basis for understanding it because we haven’t felt it before. So I don’t know about you but, more often than not, I don’t “feel” different or like I’m a certain age. And I mean, sure, the hangovers started hitting harder after 22 but it wasn’t an over night sensation or anything, it just gradually became more and more unbearable until I decided to adapt. And for me, the concept of New Years strikes the same way. See it’s not the celebration I take issue with, but the idea that January first brings new habits or allows us to remake ourselves. But realistically, all this does is just tee us up to fail – because unlike the date, discipline doesn’t just change in a day.

Look I’m not trying to be a pessimist. I just think we should do things differently. I think we should build change when it’s called for, not when it’s popular or convenient. I think we should celebrate days as they come and not place pressure on a select few to be more transformative than the rest. And this doesn’t just go for personal habits or changes. Throughout our society we put so much faith on particular days. On big moments of change, but in doing so we avoid giving credit to the people and things and thoughts and moments that actually got us there. Think about the biggest changes in your life. A marriage, a loss, a revelation. These things rarely happen suddenly. Getting a job, writing a book, even making a sandwitch – the steps that go into making these things a reality, arguably start long before you put two slices of bread from the loaf or place pen to paper.

Change just simply doesn’t happen overnight. So why do we continue to put stake in these things and these quick fixes? (Rhetorically speaking)

All this said, this year I’m approaching change differently. And more specifically I’m approaching days differently. Over the past couple years I found ways to resolve my goals as they come – no longer waiting for tomorrow or Monday or a new year. And I intend to continue that trend. But I also want to start enjoying smaller moments. I want to be braver and smarter when it comes to speaking my mind, I want to respect myself and my relationships where they stand. I want to be honest with myself when it comes to what I can handle and what needs more work/patience. And despite how this may come off this isn’t a New Years resolution. It’s just a resolution to do better and be better than yesterday. And the way I see it, that’s all I could ask for.

Let’s be honest, no one has a single clue what they are doing. We’re all just Awkward n Adulting.

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