Monday, June 23, 2014

5 Typical 'Inspirational' Lists That Can Go Shove It

If you have had any exposure to the internet within the past year and a half, you may have noticed a bit of a cultural trend - these 'inspirational' lists that explain to us how to live our lives to the fullest. These 'advice' columns are full of great suggestions - get married in your twenties, don't get married in your twenties, travel as much as you possibly can, etc. It's all really annoying if you ask me - I'm probably just going to live my life the way I want, anyway.

With our lives under a constant social media microscope, it's easy to get caught up in these suggestive lists and develop FOMO (fear of missing out, duh.) Should I be traveling more? Is being single and hooking up with people more fun than being in a five year relationship? Wait, how am I going to complete this list of things to do in my twenties when I'm broke from my glorified party days (aka college)?

I decided to take it upon myself to find 5 lists that I believe to be complete bullshit. Most of these articles have a stock picture of beautiful girls laughing in the sunset - do not let this pull you in. Don't worry, I'll explain why.

(Side note: Did anyone else realize that these lists are mainly geared towards 20-somethings? Does life completely end at age 30?)

Why This Sucks: 

  • Um, the very first reason is that it is almost certain you will get cheated on. Really? Are people more prone to getting cheated on in their twenties rather than their teens or their thirties? Is that the best reason to stay single? 
  • Then we move on to #2, which is the obligatory, feel-good "You're Young - Go Out There & Explore The World!" At first glance this sounds cool; I could totally go out and explore the world. I instantly see myself riding on elephants in Africa and climbing the Great Wall of China. Then I stop and remember the logistics - I'm poor. Now I feel sad. I'm so young and I should be exploring the world! That's what would make my life mean something! No. Just, no. Put meaning into your life by doing what you can and what makes you happy. Traveling around the world doesn't make one life more valuable than another. 
  • Wait, here comes three: "Money Doesn't Come Easy So Save It." Now this I can get behind. Hold on, though, two seconds ago I was daydreaming about elephants in Africa. Surely I can save money AND travel the world, right? 
  • Here is my all-time favorite: "Girls Can Be Too Dramatic and Will Just Waste More Of Your Energy."Wow. Just, wow. I cannot formulate the right words to articulate what I am thinking right now, so I am going to just leave this one for you to judge on your own. 
Bottom line: How about you enter a relationship if you want to and you stay single if you don't want to? Not sure about you, but this list did not persuade me to do anything other than think about the moron who wrote it (sorry, not sorry). 

Why This Sucks: 

  • "It Could Make You Happier." Well, if getting married is not going to make you happier, why would you do it? Also, is there evidence to support that getting married when you are young will make you happier than getting married when you are older? 
  • You'll make more money (at least if you're a man). Hate to break it to the person who put in the research needed to make this statement, but it's a well-known fact that on average men make more money than women. Thank you, Huffington Post, for taking that hideous glass ceiling and putting it to good use in your dumb article. 
  • You'll have more sex and you'll drink less alcohol. Oh, in that case, someone order me a husband pronto! I've needed to curb my out-of-control drinking habits for a decade now - how silly of me not to look at the easy solution of just getting married. As for the sex thing, eh - get it in writing. 
Bottom line: If you are considering getting married, please tell me it has nothing to do with trying to drink less alcohol and make more money. Please. Otherwise, I have completely lost faith in humanity once and for all. 

Why This Sucks:

  • Happy people surround themselves with other happy people. So, that depressed person you know? You should probably take them out to a lake and drown them. It's either that or risk losing your own happiness, right? Oh wait, the article touches on this: "If you’re struggling with a bout of sadness, depression, worry, or anger, spend more time with your happiest friends or family members." Man, if only all the therapists and mental health specialists knew this tiny secret written by a genius on the interwebz!
  • Happy people show signs of happiness. Wait, what? You mean to tell me that happy people don't show signs of sadness? Weird...
  • Happy people see challenges as opportunities. In other words, next time your car breaks down on the side of the highway and you need to get to work, take it as an opportunity to explore the art form of picking wild flowers on the side of the road. No money to have it towed? Use this opportunity to see if prostitution really is the answer to the world's problems. 
Bottom line: Find your own inspiration and your own happiness. While I do admit that some lists do have good suggestions and exploring ways to get out of the slump you are in is a good idea, no one is perfect. These lists will make you feel like you should be. 

Why This Sucks:
  • I actually do not even need to give specific reasons - the list basically makes it apparent that "truly happy people" don't care about much of anything. Which sounds good in theory, but is a bit unrealistic. It's fun to say "Zero F*ck's Given" but it's another thing to completely live by it.

Why This Sucks:
  • This list includes completely original ideas such as go for a picnic, spend time with your real life friends and have a BBQ. Wow. I never thought to have a BBQ in the summertime. Sounds fun, though, thanks Lifehack.
  • Plank yourself 3 times a day. Really? I must plank every single day, three times a day? Someone please tell me what will happen if I decide to run, bike or swim instead - I'd like to know beforehand so I don't mess my life up too much. 
  • Do some housework. Well, I generally like to keep my living quarters a bit tidy around the fall and winter months, too, but I see how this is also important in the summer as well. 
Bottom line: There really is none - just a question: do people get paid to write this stuff? If so, I'm in. I know I am fully capable of doing a great job of listing 25 mundane things people must do to make their summer complete. 

Here are my final words of wisdom: Stop reading dumb lists and live your life how you see fit. That's the real secret to happiness. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My 15-Year-Old Self Kicked My Ass Last Night

While attempting to pack last night for my big upcoming move, I came across my old journals. For those of you who do not know, I can proudly say I've kept a journal since I've been in 4th grade.

This is great for a variety of reasons:

  1. Gaining access to the complete mind of a 4th grader is just top notch entertainment.
  2. I can cringe at how immature I've been and pat myself on the back for how mature I am right now - er, think I am. 
  3. I can look back at so many situations and see them clearly - which has helped me so many times as far as keeping the past where it belongs. 

Anyway, reading old journals is my favorite form of procrastination. It really is. Last night I happened across my high school journal and at first I was reluctant to pick that one to read. High school was bad enough the first time, right? Also, did I really want to read about my struggles to fit in and all the dumb crushes I had?

However, what I quickly discovered was the complete opposite. Aside from the occasional hormonal everyone-hates-me-I'm-so-emo entries, I was a pretty confident girl. In fact, I was so confident during this time in my life that I pretty much jumped out of my journal and slapped 24-year-old me in the face. It seems the 15-year-old version of myself was much less scared and anxious and a lot more "eff you, this is the way I am, accept it or leave it."

I am a writer. If there is one thing I can say I am good at and I like, it's writing. One entry I came across last night was about my passion for writing and just how much I loved it. The pure honesty and enthusiasm is something that I'm not sure I've had in a long time. I can't even write a blog post without second guessing myself.

It seems that it's easier to be less passionate now because than it doesn't hurt so much if people don't respond appropriately. Let's be honest here, no one is patting writers on the back for much. Unless you have a bestseller out there, society seems to think writing is pretty useless being that it does not make you money at all.

Before money was a factor - and judging by my writing from high school, it was a happier time - I was so proud of myself. I wrote about how lucky I was to have that talent and how I wouldn't trade it for the world. I can't count the amount of times I said in college that I would trade my writing for a brain that understands engineering. I wonder what 15-year-old me would think about that. 

The other aspect I wrote about was the standard high school drama. However, back then I seemed to take on the world with a shield up and a sword in my hand. If someone treated me badly I would plain out say, "Oh well, they treated me badly and I'm not going to stand for it." I was adament about my no-drinking, no-drugs policy back then as well, which is good because I was 15 years old. However, I wrote many times about how my friends were getting involved with such things and how that simply just wasn't acceptable to me. To break it down, I did what I wanted, what I felt was right, and if someone disagreed I simply just did not care.

In fact, I was pretty comfortable with saying, "Those people are no good for me and I really don't care what anyone thinks, I'm not going to surround myself with it just to be cool and liked."

Damn girl, step down.

After reading such confident, no-nonsense writing from my former self, I obviously starting thinking. When did that change? Was it after my first heartbreak? Was it when I got bullied a little bit and I let it get to me?

All I know is that sometime in the last 10 years, that confidence got a little lost.

When people told me I would never find a job with my degree I believed them. When they told me that I was in the complete wrong major, I believed them. I believed them when they told me that math is where the money is and money is most important. I still believe them. I believed them when they told me I was too emotional, cared too much, too enthusiastic, too hyper... this list goes on and on.

I can't pinpoint the exact moment I broke down and started believing the bullshit that society feeds us every day, I just know it happened. I picture 15-year-old me, fully clad in my Hot Topic gear and headphones permanently attached to my ears, and she's glaring at me with eyes that say, "Get a hold of yourself, Mon."

I think she's right.