20 things I will do

I had a teacher last year who forced us to write 20 things we will do in our lifetime. Looking back, it was one of the best assignments I had ever completed. It was a list that made you really think about what you aspire to be and what you truly want out of the life you were given. I still have the sheet of paper that I wrote my list on – it hangs above my desk so I can read it each and every day. It is my inspiration to keep going; because of that, I decided to share my list with you. Here it is:

1. Ride an elephant

2. Eat a meal that I don’t think I would usually try, such as escargot.

3. Swim with sea turtles (COMPLETED!)

4. Study abroad

5. Be able to say “I made it – I’m accomplished.”

6. Change someone’s perspective

7. Have a son and name him Luke

8. Have a daughter and teach her what it is like to always love

9. Get a tattoo

10. Visit every continent, including Antarctica

11. Write a short story

12. Learn how to dance

13. Win an award

14. Fall in love with a man and have a ridiculously happy wedding

15. Have a chalkboard wall in my house and cover it with quotes that I love

16. Give my time to those less fortunate than I

17. Have a conversation with someone who is homeless; make them laugh

18. Go on a spontaneous trip with someone I love

19. Make enough money to take my Dad on a trip with me

20. Find a way to prove to him that I love him, and make him proud of me.

21. Adopt a dog from the humane society (multiple dogs are okay too)

22. Buy my mom and stepdad a very expensive bottle of wine, then sit down and drink the entire thing with them

I know I had a couple more than 20, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have a lot of goals! I encourage you all to write your own lists, and if you do, send me the link! I would love to read them. This truly is one of the best ways to really reflect and get to know yourself a little bit better.
  

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Wait, should I be scared of frat boys?

I am a young girl moving to a big city. This poses a lot of concern, most (but not all) of which lies with my parents. To comfort themselves and give me advice, these are the comments I usually hear about my future move:

“Don’t walk alone at night – ever.”

“Find a guy to take you to and from any night classes.”

“Don’t let a random guy pour you a drink.”

“Always be on the lookout, you never know what is going to happen.”

Comments like these have instilled a fear in me; a fear of what, I do not exactly know. The only thing that is for sure is that I am terrified to walk down an alleyway or past a man when I am alone.

I have heard so many stories about the “rape culture” at universities. The frat boy that uses and abuses the naive freshman, or the older guy at the bar that slips a little something into your drink as he brings it over to you. If you choose to report it, no consequences are put in place, and if you don’t, the abuse continues. That is absolutely terrifying to me. In fact, if I hadn’t had prior experience with tailgates and parties, I don’t know if I would even take the risk.

So why are girls my age so scared of boys? Is it because they are all out to hurt us at some time or another? Or is it possible that the fear comes from years of being told that we are going to be hurt by them? For example, when I was little, my mom never wanted me to go to the deep end of the pool. It was her biggest fear that I was going to drown. So as I got older, I began to associate the deep end of the pool with negative consequences – and then I started associating water in general with those same consequences. Now, I am terrified to be in lakes or oceans where my feet cannot touch the ground and I will cry out with fear if you dunk me in the pool. I think that this is sort of the same concept. We are told at a young age that specific, bad men are going to look to hurt us, but as we get older, we begin to believe that all men are like that, which of course is completely false.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are boys at universities and in the workplace who truly believe sexual harassment and rape is okay. I know that they are sick people that do not deserve to see the light of day. I pray that as I continue my journey into college, I do not have to meet any of those kind of people. However I also believe that we should be careful how we word things to young girls. I do not believe it is fair to tell them that men are looking to hurt them. I do not believe it is fair for me to have to be fearful walking back from class. I do not believe that it is fair to categorize males as those who create terror and females as victims. It could easily be the other way around.

You see, this is what feminism is all about. Just as I should not be scared to run an errand alone, a boy should not have to be a victim of skepticism. There should be no questions like, “Do you think he drugged her? I don’t know, he doesn’t seem like that kind of guy…” Men and women both deserve equal respect. No gender should be scared of what the other thinks of them, because that is exactly what keeps the gender lines so strong.

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Prompt: What is in the sky?

Have you ever wondered what is contained in the stars above you? It was said in a legend long ago that each star was an ancestor; another said that each one was a king or a queen or a leader of some sorts. To move into contemporary legends, some say that the stars are other life forms living among us… watching us. If you asked a practical person, such as a scientist, what stars are, they would explain to you that they are simply just collections of gas in space.

I feel as though the question “what is in the sky?” is more complex than it looks. If you take the time to think about it, you will come to realize that many things are up above us. The first things you will think of will be the most visible, such as birds and clouds, or the moon and the stars; however there are also conceptual items that seem to be in the mass of the unknown, such as prayers, sorrows, wishes, and even a higher power who controls the world in which we live.

For those of you that believe in a God, you know that when prayers are said, they are always sent up – never down – because up is where the heavens lie, and down is where despair awaits. You also know that your God is far above the clouds, invisible to the human eye, way beyond where our galaxy dares to reach. To ask for a blessing, you beg the planets and the stars to align in a fashion that brings you what you wish for. Everything that you ask for is sent to a place in the sky with hopes that something miraculous will be sent back down to you.

As for sorrows, people often use the phrase “letting go”. Whether letting go is acted out in a physical manner, such as writing down your burdens on a Chinese lantern and watching it float on into the sky, or figuratively, such as taking a deep breath and allowing your troubles be exhaled to a place beyond your reach, you are pushing something away from you in an upwards manner. As people, we feel the need to have balance in our lives, and it is believed that the sky brings that feeling of relief to us.

If I can bring you back to the image of stars for a moment – have you noticed that the number of stars visible is different in every part of the world? In America, you see quite a few, yet in the populated areas of China you see next to none, and then in Canada it seems as though the sky is lit up with glowing freckles because of the millions on millions of stars that you can see. If one of the legends is correct, that the stars truly are our ancestors whom have gone before us, then does that mean that one area has more than another?

I don’t want to seem as though I am full of ignorance. I know that pollution and gasses and such affect the visibility of the sky above us, but just think with me for a minute; pretend those facts don’t exist. Perhaps the places with the most stars are where our ancestors feel the most at home. I believe that I would much rather look out at the mountains for eternity instead of a busy city.

So if you were to ask me what I believe is in the sky, I would tell you so much more than the stars and the moon and the planets and the birds. I would tell you that everything I have ever dreamed, every prayer I have ever said, every wish I have ever made at 11:11 and every burden I have ever pushed away from me. Part of me is up in the sky above me, as is part of every other organism here on this earth, and maybe after we finish our time here, we will be reconnected with our lost pieces up above.