Merry consumerism to you!

christianity, Everyday, Rant

Yesterday I went to the post office to buy stamps with a coworker of mine and we ended up having a conversation with a young guy in line ahead of us about the craziness that is the holiday season in America. He pointed out the amazing difference between celebrating what we are thankful for on a Thursday, then fighting over televisions and cheap toys on a Friday. And then shopping all day online on a Monday. Then maybe giving back on Giving Tuesday if you have spare change. That’s crazy, people!

Now, I’m not gonna lie. I definitely took advantage of the awesome deals I found at my favorite online retailers. But getting a deal is not the point. Getting a new TV is not the point. Those things are not inherently bad. It’s the attitude with which we procure those items that leads to a very dark road full of angry mobs and unmet expectations. It’s the fact that we often feel entitled to 40% off and free shipping. The fact that instead of spending time with family and friends on Thanksgiving, we line up at stores so we don’t miss out on products we can always buy later. The idea that we can actually get disappointed if we don’t get our favorite pie at Thanksgiving or the Christmas gifts we wanted or the right color or the right size, when we shouldn’t expect to get anything at all. Because frankly, we don’t deserve any.

For those who celebrate the religious holiday of Christmas like I do, they know that it is a time to remember Jesus’s birth and the fact that when He entered the world he paved the way for us to have a personal relationship with God by giving Himself up for us and dying on a cross for our sins. So no, we don’t deserve any gifts. That’s a pretty big gift right there.

For those who don’t celebrate the religious holiday of Christmas, that’s understandable. To be honest, the secular holiday has far surpassed the religious one and (let’s be real here) most scholars agree that Jesus was probably not born on December 25. So I get the love of all things Christmas without the Christ. There’s no War on Christmas, no hard feelings on my behalf that you don’t recognize the immense importance of the holiday (although, I would highly recommend you reading the full biblical account). But I also believe God’s gift applies to you as well. We don’t deserve anything, so we should be thankful and grateful for what we are given and take joy in giving to others.

Now to conclude this rather messy rant…I’m not asking for people to stop buying things. Honestly, it’s great for the economy. I’m not asking people to stop giving gifts to each other, because it’s often a great way to show someone you care. All I’m asking is for us to stop and think about our attitudes this holiday season. To really think about our expectations, our perceptions, and our preparation for a season full of temptations and indulgence and opportunities for selfishness. To find joy this season in the gifts we’ve already been given. And that is how you have a Merry Christmas.

This poem is carb-free.

Everyday, Poetry

No carbs. No sugar. No bread. No cheese.
Hold the salad dressing, please.
No cake. No fruit. Sugar-free gum,
I can’t eat that, it’s after one.
No thank you, I brought my own,
I only eat what I’ve homegrown.
Want to split dessert with me?
I only drink unsweetened tea.
Jenny, Watchers, Thirty Whole.
Another diet, one more goal.
Stripping out the extra snacks,
Only hundred calorie packs.
Skipping yet another meal,
It doesn’t matter how I feel.
Missing out on lunch with friends,
Dieting that never ends.
Counting inches one by one,
Never happy, never done.
Avoiding aisles at the store,
Pacing ‘cross kitchen the floor.
Always checking on the scale,
Feeling hungry, looking frail.
Breathing out and sucking in.
Barely living, but I’m thin.


Some of you know that I had an eating disorder in college. Others know that I still struggle with an unhealthy relationship with food today. Now you know both. Everyday I have to remind myself that I am not what I eat, what I weigh, or what I wear. I have to choose every day to see myself as Christ sees me: as a “beautifully and wonderfully made” child of God. But the struggle is real, y’all. And that is why my heart aches for my fellow humans who are bound by food, enslaved by society’s warped beauty standards, and battling against poor self image. So many women and men make their appearance the biggest priority in their lives, when in reality, our bodies will inevitably fail us. That’s a fact. I hope this post serves as a reminder that food is not everything, weight is just a number, diets shouldn’t control you, and your life is worth far more than food restrictions. And you are, too.

An Introvert’s Perspective (In Graphs)

Everyday

I spent most of my life thinking I was an extrovert. Perhaps it because of the years I spent doing theater or tagging around with my very extroverted twin sister, but I was thoroughly convinced I was one of the most extroverted people around. Boy, was I wrong. It wasn’t until college that I made the discovery that I was introverted. This realization led to a miniature identity crisis during which I had to battle my own negative perceptions of introverts, embrace my introverted ways, and learn how to live in a life I had built with extroverted bricks.

So what makes an introvert an introvert? Introverts aren’t all that much different from extroverts. We just get our energy in different ways. Extroverts are fueled by spending time with other people. Introverts are fueled by spending time alone.

photo (1)Some things to remember about introverts is that they like to talk (Introvert Myth #1: Busted), but they prefer talking with small groups rather than in large groups. We won’t typically offer up information about ourselves, but that’s not because we’re antisocial (Introvert Myth #2: Busted), we just need to be asked. We also like to do crazy, awesome, borderline dangerous things (Introvert Myth #3: Busted), but might need a day (or two) to recharge afterward.

One of the things that made me realize I was, in fact, introverted, was when I thought about what I liked to do for fun (things that didn’t drain me of energy).

image

But my life tends to require a lot of extraversion. So I implement a trick I call “faking extraversion.” I simply act like I’m extroverted and go about my activities as such. This comes pretty easy for me since I’m naturally outgoing (Introvert Myth #4: Busted). It works so well that I actually have to convince most people I’m an introvert.

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But this can only go on for so long. Like most introverts, I have a limited reserve of social energy (“fake extraversion”) and I run out of it eventually. If I don’t ration it off properly or give myself time to recharge, I crash. And I crash hard.

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At this point I have to become a temporary hermit and will spend anywhere from a few hours to a whole weekend “recharging.” I call my temporary sanctuary (or recharge station) my “hidey-hole,” and it can be an assortment of set-ups as depicted by the formula below:

imageExample:

Tea + Blanket + A Good Book + My Apartment = Perfect Hidey-Hole
Hoodie + Socks + Movie + Dark Movie Theater = Perfect Hidey-Hole
Hot Meal + Sofa + Board Game + Boyfriend’s Apartment = Perfect Hidey-Hole

There’s a lot of stuff going around the interwebs about how amazing introverts are and how people should treat introverts better, on and on ad nauseam. And although I agree that our society’s standards should change to be more understanding of the benefits of introversion, I don’t think that introverts are any better than extroverts. We have different strengths and weaknesses, different preferences and different pet peeve’s. Some of the best teams come from mixing extroverts and an introverts – like my sister and I. Ultimately, introverts are just people who need time to observe, reflect, and introspect. And I’m proud to call myself one of them.

 

 

 

 

Walk The Talk

Rant

If you haven’t guessed yet, I’m a words person. Words are more powerful than people realize. I mean, we’re the only mammals with language abilities—that’s amazing, people! But over the past year I’ve realized something that has altered my opinion of words: words mean absolutely nothing if not backed up by actions. Yes, this is a simple concept. But people seem to have forgotten that it’s necessary to support what you say with complimentary actions. You can’t just say you’re a writer if you never pick up a pen. And you can’t say you’re an athlete if you don’t go on the field. I’m sick of hearing people say that they’re pro-whatever, when they don’t actively support it. Or that they subscribe to a certain belief system, but you couldn’t tell from their lifestyle.

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Our society is full of wannabes and empty-statements. 140-character long identities that don’t last more than a second. We spend so much time cultivating our Pinterest boards and building our Facebook persona and tweeting our Buzzfeed quiz results, but we fail to live our lives in a way that really means something. We live in a world where it is more accepted to boast your personality type than your personal beliefs.

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It’s time that we as a society find our voice, and not one that is an echo of someone else’s. I don’t care if we agree on everything or can’t agree on anything. But I will respect you if your life reflects what you claim in your sociopolitical Facebook posts. If you think everyone deserves love, then show everyone love. If you think we need better care for the poor, then start sharing your own finances. If you think that health care is an issue, then start caring about the health of the people down the street. Don’t just stand up for what you believe in. Do something about it.

photo 1

It has been said that actions speak louder than words. But they do more than that. They don’t just change the black and white to color; they bring them to life in high-definition. Actions substantiate words; they give them power.

So stop saying things that you aren’t willing to live. Your words are more than just audible reflections of your thoughts. They should be reflections of what you do now and promises of what you will do in the future.

On Ambulances & Things

Everyday

My favorite tradition in society is the expectation that cars pull over when a screaming ambulance drives by. Most people don’t stop and think about how amazing that small act is. But it is amazing. It’s as if we as humans are saying:

Hey, we know someone out there needs help and we are going to help in any way we can.

So we pull over on the side of the road or we stay stopped even though the light is green or we slow down just a little so the ambulance can get by. And in that moment we are all part of something bigger than us. Something more meaningful than our trip to the grocery store or our weekly commute. For a short time our individual lives intersect in order to help a complete stranger – we are connected to one another in a way that can never be replicated again. And that’s something truly special.

Notes From My iPhone

Everyday

Below is the text from a note I recently wrote on my iPhone. It reads exactly as I wrote it. I have not edited anything:

Why do we feel uncomfortable being alone? In a movie theater. At a concert. At church. I like being alone. I’m an introvert. And yet, I find myself at this very moment at a concert by myself and I feel so awkward like everyone is staring at me because I’m here by my lonesome. I feel so awkward that I’m writing this as an excuse to look like I have something very important to do. I’m a very important person, you know. I have tons of people who know me. They wanted to come so badly but something came up last minute…

There’s nothing wrong with being alone. It’s just that we are raised in a society that points at the person by themselves and screams “look! The freak! The social recluse! They must have poor social skills or BO.”

It’s ok to be alone. We need to let people know that more often. We as people need to be alone more often. And I need to get off my cellphone and be okay with it.

Social Fasting

Advertising

The first project for my Social Media Marketing course was to go without any form of social media for 24 hours. I groaned when I read the assignment, thinking about everything I’d miss out on by not checking my Facebook or Twitter. Thoughout the day we were supposed to keep a log  describing if and when we were faced with the temptation to use social media and how we reacted. Our professor said that it was okay if we cheated, but we had to log why we did and what we felt. Of course, being the professor-pleaser that I am, I vowed to go cold-turkey – that lasted about 3 mintues.

I began at 10 am by sending out warnings to my Facebook friends and Twitter followers that I was going on a 24-hour hiatus – as if the world would stop without me. Immediately, I found the need to access facebook on my iPhone to locate the phone number of a person I was supposed to be meeting to work on a project. It blew my mind that it took only that long to realize how much I depended on social media for day-to-day activities. Then, I felt compelled to tweet about my inability to locate my partner’s contact info and the insecurity I felt waiting outside the cafeteria alone (I overcame that desire). During the day, I faced similar situations: the desire to tweet about the fact I was fasting, the guilt of leaving my words with friends opponents hanging, the frustration of hardly being to check my phone without an alert from Mashable popping up.

I’m ashamed to say that the first half of my day was consumed with thoughts of the social interactions I was missing by giving up social media. At one point my sister even shoved her phone in my face saying “did you see this tweet?” and I had to remind her that no, I had not.

Then something happened. I got bored. Normally when I get bored I’ll surf the internet and check my various social media outlets. But that day I decided to hunker down and finish reading that book I’d been meaning to. And that’s when I discovered the value of this fast – I wasn’t distracted. There wasn’t the pesky thought in the back of my brain urging me to constantly connect or the need to check to see if anyone had reached out to me, waiting for messages and notifications and distant interactions, because, well, I couldn’t. It was just me and my book. I was alone. I finally realized the simply truth about the impact of social media on my generation: we are never alone.

Although I have gone back to using all my social media outlets, I have definitely gained an understanding of how social media alone has and will continue to change our world. It makes a small world even smaller and yet distances us from eachother in a way that no other medium has. We can connect with anyone, anywhere, at anytime, all from the safety of seclusion. We may be surrounded by connections, but we have disconnected ourselves from what really matters.

Social media shouldn’t constitute the entirety of our social experiences. It should act as a tool to engage, not the only means of doing so.