The disconnect between adults and kids

One of my biggest fears is that one day far in the future, my kids will be crying themselves to sleep at night and I will have no idea. It just seems to be such a common feeling these days – kids grow up thinking that they have no real support and that no one really understands what they are going through. We act as if there has to be some huge disconnect between adults and kids and I think that this divide is proving itself to be extremely emotionally draining.

In my generation, people are becoming much more open with who they really are. The LGBTQ community is growing each and every day as people come out, finally deciding to be true to themselves. Kids are getting into serious relationships at younger ages; it’s as if we have this instinctual urge to grow up quicker and experience real love earlier. We can’t help it though, that’s just how we are.

Adults, specifically parents, are in a very special place. They have the ability to build up a child’s self esteem or completely tear it down. They have the choice to emotionally support their child, which sadly, some parents refuse to do. Which is partly what has created this gap between kids and parents. There are certain choices that parents don’t have the right to decide – such as if your child is gay, or transgender, or if they want to date someone of a different race or a different religion or financial class or if they just want to date someone in general. No parent has the right to choose who their child falls in love with.

By the age of 18, we have a pretty good idea of what we like and what we don’t like. We know which foods make us sick and we know which school subjects we like the most. We also sort of know what career path we would like to take and what sort of people we want to surround ourselves with on our journey there. Most of us have picked a learning institution that we hope will carry us to success and many of us have had to figure out a plan to pay for it. We are considered to be adults, yet we are still treated as young children. This also adds to the divide between us.

There is such a simple solution to this problem though, and it amazes me that this isn’t universal knowledge. We both need to support each other. Parents should lift their kids up when they are down – no child should have to cry themselves to sleep feeling as though they cannot talk to the two people sleeping in the room next door. If your child comes out as gay, you should be thrilled that they had the bravery to do so in front of you, because it is a huge act of courage. If your child is in love with someone, you should wholeheartedly support that relationship. As long as no harm is coming to either party… there is no reason to separate them. From a kid’s perspective, it is so hard to live your life without support. Feeling alone while making decisions is so ridiculously stressful. We need help from those older than us, even though we will deny it to our grave. Just as those older need help from us, and we will be there to give them that.

We need to push to close the divide between us. It’s time for both sides to come together and to realize that there is no reason to not support each other. We both feel the same things – it’s time we respect that.

Advertisements

I am not embarrassed to love myself, and you shouldn’t be either

As I sit here in this coffee shop, drinking chai tea and looking at the people sitting around me, I quickly notice the diversity that surrounds me. There is an older woman next to me who looks to be in her late 40’s doing school work. A little bit farther, there is a black girl scrolling through Twitter. To the right of her, an Indian boy listening to music, mouthing out the words while looking through a textbook. Next to the door, a white girl who biked here, drinking a frozen mocha and looking out the window. We are all different, and we may have nothing in common except the fact that we all happen to be at Biggby Coffee on this day. With that said, I cannot find anything negative to say about these people, and that is exactly how it should be.

Confidence is a hard thing to have. Nowadays, it takes real courage to stand up for yourself. Why is that? Why should it take everything you have to look in the mirror and say, “I am an incredible human being”? There should be nothing that stops you from believing that. Other people should not affect how you feel about yourself; their opinions should not dismantle your own. However, that is much easier said than done.

For a long time, I believed that there was some magical recipe for being beautiful. I thought that if I straightened my hair every day and made any cellulite I had invisible and wore really expensive makeup, people would look at me and think, “wow, I want to look like her.” As I grew up though, I realized that there is no magic potion that would make me beautiful. In fact, I began to understand that the only way other people will perceive me as a beautiful person is if I believe that I am. I’m not only talking about physical beauty either – I would have to believe that my mind exhibits something amazing too, which was very difficult.

That is exactly the problem. Convincing myself that I am worth everything and anything should not be difficult. I found a quote on Tumblr the other day that actually presented this in a very deep way:

“At seventeen,
the hardest choice you should have
to make is what clothes you want
to wear,
or what food you want
to eat;
not sitting at the edge of your bed
at four in the morning
considering whether or not
your existence matters in this world.”

This is an issue so many people face, and it is one that often goes unnoticed. We are a generation of “I’m fine”, and “Don’t worry about it”, rather than “I need to vent, can you listen for a bit?” We are a generation that questions ourselves and whether or not we are good enough for the people around us even though we know that we will constantly disappoint ourselves by thinking this way. We are a generation that doubts our own beauty and worth simply because we aren’t up to date on the latest trends. We are a generation that blames society and by doing so, blames ourselves.

I dare you to look into a mirror today and tell yourself that you are amazing. Compliment yourself. Walk outside, think to yourself that you are beautiful, and do whatever you need to do. Smile at everyone you walk past and tell a stranger they look good. If you present an aurora of confidence, it will pass on to those around you. In order to breed confidence, you must start with yourself. Let me get you started: I am not embarrassed to love myself, and you shouldn’t be either.

18 things I wish I understood my freshman year of high school

As everyone has warned me… the end of senior year is coming far too quickly. With only a couple months left, my thoughts of high school are fading and those of college are rushing in. Although this next step in my life is an exciting one, I have come to realize that if I could redo the last four years there are quite a few things I would change. I figured that since I have not yet learned how to time travel, I might as well share my list of “things I wish I understood freshman year” with the rest of the world. So please, enjoy and try to learn from my regrets.

1. It is perfectly okay to wear sweatpants to school. No one is going to laugh at you or make fun of you – we’ve all had our lazy days.

2. Don’t be embarrassed to get a tutor. It doesn’t matter the subject, whether it’s math, english, or art; if you’re struggling, get help. There’s no need to stress yourself out to the point of a mental breakdown.

3. Your teachers are there to help you, not hurt you. Don’t be afraid to go to them for anything you need help with. Family issues, stress, friends, confusion… they want to be there for you. Appreciate them!

4. Drink water. I struggle the most with this one, but it really does help keep you healthy and focused.

5. Don’t be mad at yourself for not finishing the homework or receiving a poor grade on a test, just motivate yourself to make up for it next time around.

6. Challenge yourself. Don’t take blowoff classes simply because you feel like being lazy. Put yourself in an environment that stimulates your mind and forces you to learn new things.

7. Don’t try too hard to impress people… be yourself, act in a way that makes you comfortable, and don’t change things that you love about yourself.

8. Speaking of that, please love yourself. There is no need to look in the mirror and point out flaws. You are strong and you are important and therefore you should radiate confidence.

9. You won’t be friends with everyone you meet for all 4 years. People will come and go and you just have to accept that. Find your core group and stick with them, because they are the ones that will be there at 3 am talking you through the math homework that has brought you to tears.

10. Be open minded. Allow yourself to be introduced to new experiences and flavors of the world around you. Go to football games, art shows, plays… don’t miss out on anything simply because you didn’t feel like you would fit in.

11. It is perfectly okay to be emotional. If you feel strongly about something, express your feelings. Keeping them bottled up inside will only lead to an increase in stress.

12. Keep your parents involved. I know they can be embarrassing sometimes, but in the end they are the ones who have been there since day one. They love you more than anyone else on the planet – you should love them back just as much.

13. Eat relatively healthy, but don’t force it. You want to eat pizza a couple nights in a row? Do it. You want to eat an entire row of Oreos? Do it. Let yourself binge and be happy.

14. Apologize when you mess up, but don’t feel the need to apologize for everything. Stand by your opinions, just be sure you can back them up with a valid argument.

15. There are better things after high school, but the four years there can be pretty amazing too. Don’t focus too much on the future, live in the moment you’re currently in.

16. Don’t let relationships ruin your friendships. If someone breaks your heart, your friends will be there to pick up the pieces, not shatter them more.

17. If you are overwhelmingly sad, please get help. Going to therapy doesn’t make you a crazy person, it means that you are strong enough to face the issues you are having. Talk to someone, anyone. I promise you, it helps. Talk to me if you need to. Let it all out on Tumblr. Do something. Harming yourself will not fix anything, it will just make the pain stronger.

18. Let yourself mess up. You’re going to make mistakes and you’re going to feel awkward but that’s just what growing up is. Live for those awkward moments and bring yourself to laugh during them.

Why you should love yourself … “#LikeAGirl”

I will be the first to admit that I have no idea how football works. I don’t understand it whatsoever, and no matter how many times my family and friends have tried to explain it, I simply just don’t get it. So when super bowl Sunday rolls around, I usually find myself a seat next to the chips and salsa and wait around for the commercials to start. Yesterday, I believe most people were quite disappointed with the lack of comedic commercials; it seemed as though almost all of them were either extremely dark (Nationwide) or very emotional (moms, dads, self-esteem…). One, however controversial, stuck out to me.

The feminine product brand Always had a commercial showing what doing something “like a girl” means to people; specifically the difference between prepubescent girls and teenagers. I found it absolutely empowering for young girls. I think most people forget how horrible it is to grow up. As a young girl, you’re not worried about makeup, clothes, boys, acne, money, popularity… all you care about is getting chores done so you can play outside. I was thrilled that they created this social experiment to show why we have feminism, because so many girls are put down simply for being a girl, and that needs to change.

I can definitely say that I’ve had more than my fair share of experiences with low self-esteem. It’s a phase that almost every girl goes through. Girls are taught from the start to look a certain way and talk a certain way, and what happens if they don’t? Well, society just pushes those girls down to the bottom rung of the ladder. Every girl is supposed to be skinny, they should have long hair that shines, pretty blue eyes, a perfect complexion, and the most important: curves. It’s easy to get down on yourself if you don’t have these features.

What makes it even worse is that girls aren’t even allowed to love themselves. If a girl posts a picture of herself that is captioned “I just felt beautiful today,” her peers either don’t like it or attack her for being conceded. Since when did self-love become conceded? PLEASE explain that to me. If I want to say I’m beautiful, who are you to tell me I’m not?

So this is what we need to do – we need to teach young girls that freckles are cute, that scars can be pretty, that hair of all types is gorgeous, that every shade of skin color is absolutely stunning, that each and every girl can feel like a queen without having someone tell them they are. We need to preach self-love and confidence so it doesn’t die as they grow older. Girls need to believe in themselves, they shouldn’t have to rely on others to figure out if they are beautiful or not.

As for myself, I can tell you that I’ve grown to hate the little lisp that slips out when I get nervous and the freckles that magically appear when I go outside. I have never liked the way my hair curled in some places and not in others and I hate the fact that my skin is basically at war with me. I’ve always wished my feet were smaller than a size 10 and that I was shorter than 5’7″ and my waist was smaller than a size 8.

However, with confidence I have come to learn that the lisp that slips out is part of me, that my freckles come out when I’m enjoying the sun – they arise from happiness. My hair looks natural and that in itself is beautiful, my skin will change in time just as everyones does. My feet and my height and my waist all perfectly coincide with each other and that is how it was meant to be. I was not put on this earth to spend the years hating myself, I was put here to love myself and spread that love to those around me. So why don’t we start teaching every girl that this is how it should be?

My very biased opinion of Dr. Phil v. 16 year old Kristi

Hi everyone!

Fun fact: a girl from my school was on Dr. Phil last night. Another fun fact: I don’t like Dr. Phil.  I did, rather grudgingly, bring myself to tune in last night so I could watch him dissect a 16-year-old girls home life. Needless to say, it quickly turned into quite the comedy special. It wasn’t the girl, Kristi, that was the source of my laughter though – it was how ridiculously unprofessional Dr. Phil sounded throughout the entire show.

He started with the parents; there were no questions asked about how they feel about their daughter or what their family was like before she began having anger issues. Rather, it began with immediate criticism of them as people. Granted, they both needed a bit of a reality check, but it seemed that Dr. Phil wasn’t even focused on shaping them to become better parents. He simply just ranted on about how horrible of people they both are. There were no suggestions to help them deal with Kristi or fix their own marriage, he did not offer them any true solutions to put their family back together. This confused me because… isn’t that what psychologists are supposed to do? Find solutions? Help fix those who come to them? Be compassionate? No? Oh, okay.

Up next was Kristi. Here’s the deal: she has some serious anger problems, she’s disgustingly disrespectful, and does not seem to respect others or herself. I definitely think she needs some help. However, putting her on national TV with an audience waiting for something to make fun of her for and an asshole telling her every bad quality she has is NOT going to accomplish anything. Throughout the entire interview, he was in her face telling her how awful of a person she is. What made it even worse was that he did attempt to offer up a solution – he told the parents to ship her off to an isolated ranch in Utah, and to not allow her any say in the matter. This has to be one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard.

I’d love to have a chat with Phil. I’d do anything just to explain to him that kids cannot be treated like animals. Kristi obviously has problems she is dealing with, and yes, getting help would probably be very beneficial. This is a mental health issue though, and when it comes to these types of problems, a person needs to have a support team – which is usually his or her family. And yet it seems that Dr. Phil, master psychologist and world renowned therapist, has decided that shipping off a girl lost her own head is the way to fix everything.

Maybe he should spend some time in Utah.

I wish the best for Kristi and her family – I do hope that they learn to use compassion in order to heal each other. Rage and despair seems to be the only two emotions in that household. A family needs a base, one created from sympathy and care, and hopefully they find a way to work together and find that.

Dr. Phil, however intelligent he may be, really needs to spend some more time with those who are internally broken. Maybe then he will realize how terrible separation is for a lost person, and maybe… just maybe… he will become compassionate himself.