Ontogeny

Please excuse my extended absence from the blogging world as my time, energy, and soul have been completely consumed by collegiate education and self-discovery over the course of the past quarter-year.

I am a Psychology major, and even though I have no intention of working in this field, I feel that my studies have facilitated a complete shift in the framework of my worldview of humankind, in addition to the pace and style in which I conduct my day-to-day life.

I am a new person.

Okay, perhaps not a NEW person. I am still definitely myself, idiosyncrasies and all. But something clicked within me and created a (hopefully) permanent change in my outlook on life, and how I want to live it.

Perhaps the most impactful thing I learned all semester was a concept coined by Carl Rogers, a humanistic psychologist. He calls it “existential living.”

Existential living can be summarized by living in the “here and now.” This requires being fully present, both mentally and physically, in every moment and every environment you are placed in, which, as you can imagine, can prove exceptionally difficult to do when you have six upper-division level courses constantly competing for your attention, among other things like, I dunno, men? Facebook? Grey’s Anatomy? Philosophical podcasts?

I am guilty as charged for my preoccupation with the future, which I feel has robbed me of having meaningful experiences in the present. My former self never made time for actual experiences, other people, or simply stopping to smell the roses every now and then. Fortunately, a series of interrelated events and individuals have yanked me back from the future, and I am much more open to experience, flexible, and, dare I say it, relaxed.

I’ve learned a thing or two ever since this lightbulb went off in my little head. Let’s list them off, for organizational purposes.

  1. You don’t have to protect yourself from everyone. My previous self was so concerned about my own endeavors that I put relationships with other people on the back-burner. I had such tunnel vision that I had convinced myself that I didn’t need anyone else until I’d maxed out to my fullest potential. In retrospect, I admit that I was making excuses for my self-induced isolation as a defense mechanism. However, my newfound understanding of the human psyche has convinced me that people aren’t meant to go through any part of life alone. Attempting to do so can make you crazy, but, then again, so can people. It’s all about balance.
  2. More often than not, there is no definite answer. This concept terrifies me to this day, but I’m becoming more and more comfortable with it. The reason why I do not intend to work in the field of Psychology is due to the fact that there are so few, if any, definite answers as to why people behave the way they do, and, as I mentioned earlier, I don’t like that one bit. I’ve decided to focus my energy on the biological sciences, which are arguably significantly more concrete than theories attempting to account for human behavior. Take Freud, for example. The guy was a total nut case, and any theory I can draft up pertaining to psychological phenomena is just as valid as his were.
  3.  I can’t be good at everything. I suffer from chronic perfectionism. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Poor M, what a curse, to HAVE to be perfect at everything. Cry me a river.” Where’s your empathy, folks? Claiming perfectionism is not intended to draw attention to my accomplishments. It’s a symptom of anxiety, and it has claimed more years of my life than I would like to admit. Anyway, the reason I include this in my “Life Lessons Learned Spring 2016 Greatest Hits” is because, for the first time in my life, I faced the possibility of failing a class. As it turns out, I am no statistician, and I don’t play one on TV. In all honesty, I exhausted my mental resources in the fight for a satisfactory grade in my Statistics course, and no matter how hard I tried, I was incapable of earning an A in this class. My previous self would have been devastated, my self-esteem shattered. I got a B. My current self thanks the heavens that I passed the class, and has severed the tie between my grades and my own perception of self-worth and competence.
  4. There is no rush. I plowed through my undergraduate degree. This December, I’ll be receiving my diploma at the ripe age of 21, just three years after graduating high school. While I am extremely proud of this accomplishment, a part of me wishes that I’d allowed myself to enjoy the journey a little bit more, and perhaps I could have achieved a higher level of authenticity and security in what I want to become. Besides, I have the rest of my life to go to graduate school, and then work until I can retire in the next 50 years or so and live happily ever after with an obscene amount of dogs at my side.
  5. Breathe. This one was probably the most beneficial to my physiological health. I am a frequent panic-attack victim, however, despite this semester being my heaviest course load, I experienced minimal panic-attacks, and my heart thanks me, due to my newfound ability to control my own stress levels. Rather than allow myself to activate full freak-out mode, I am now able to withdraw from the stressful stimulus, recompose myself, align my Chakras, and return to the task at hand as a much more composed and serene individual.

I’m sure that I’ve learned numerous other lessons over the past four months, but for some reason, we as a species are comfortable with the number 5. Besides, I’m sure that you all are tired of hearing my enlightened self express how enlightened I am.

Anyway, I exited this semester more sane than I entered it, which is refreshing, because I only have a week to recuperate before I dive into the summer semester.

I don’t know who I am without academia.

Onward, ever onward.

M.

 

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Authenticity

Are you still there?

Good. Cuz M is back, baby.

This past couple of months has been nothing short of crazy. First of all, I took on 18 credit hours of school, which literally killed me. I am dead inside, and my soul has been sucked away in a flurry of final exams, which completely kicked my ass.

Also, I switched my minor to neuroscience, and have made the executive decision to enter the medical field, and specialize in something super cool and prestigious, like brain surgery. (Grey’s Anatomy may or may not have slightly influenced this decision.) I discovered that my one true passion is neuroscience, and that the brain is by far the coolest and most badass organ in the human body.

So, school is going well.

Employment, however, is not going so well. Over the course of the Fall semester, I have held three different jobs. I spent a solid THREE WEEKS as a barista at my local coffee shop. I learned during this time that it takes more than an obsession with coffee to master the art of espresso-making. Additionally, I am really, really good at spilling liquids all over me, my coworkers, and my customers.

Job number two was as a receptionist in a mental health clinic. All I can say about that is that frankly, I don’t want to be a receptionist.

And job number three, which I am proud to report that I have held for 2 MONTHS, is being a sales associate at one of my favorite clothing stores. I love it and want to work there forever because first of all, I get an average of 4 hours to work a week, which makes my paychecks big enough for about a quarter of a Victoria’s Secret bra, and I also get a 40% discount on all clothing items, which I can’t afford because I never work.

Kidding, I have no desire to work retail any longer than I have to.

But what I really wanted to tell you all about is that I got a tattoo!

Tat

Do you LOVE it?

It’s the Hand of Fatima, which is symbolic of the “feminine holy hand.” It’s located on my upper side, which, I’ve been told, is the most painful place to get a tattoo.

I’ll have you know, though, that I didn’t even flinch. My tattoo artist said I took it like a champ, which I obviously am.

I’ve been wanting a tattoo for a long time now, and I feel like getting inked is my way of claiming my body as my own. I feel empowered to live authentically-It’s funny what a little permanent sticker can do to a person. Also, I want like 300 more of them.

So there’s a semi-decent update on what I’m doing with my little life lately. More to come soon.

Cheers!

M.

Consummation

I have two days left of teenagerhood. Two days, people. And then I am twenty. And I am no longer considered an adolescent. But I am also not eligible to drink alcohol or rent a car. But that’s neither here nor there. What i’m trying to say here, is time passes quickly. Not to be sappy or cliche, but where did all this time go?

According to some website I found using Bing, (I should really change my default search engine to Google. Who the freak uses Bing?) the average life expectancy for a female living in the United States is 81.3 years old. By that statistic, my life is a fourth over. WHAT.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what i’ve accomplished over the first quarter of my life. To my dismay, I couldn’t come up with much. Of course, there’s the basic accomplishments that everyone of my age, SES status, etc. achieve, y’know, things like losing all your baby teeth, learning how to drive, learning how to change a tire (pending), moving out (I lasted 4 months), graduating high school (Honor Roll. Nailed it.), and starting college, I guess.

Then, there’s the few person-specific things that people accomplish due to situational factors. For me, some of those would include dancing for BYU’s youth ballroom team, getting published in my college’s literary journal, visiting Europe, beating Anorexia, and maintaining honor-roll worthy grades throughout my college career thus far.

In retrospect, I was an exceptional kid from an academic and civil compliance standpoint. But so what?

I love my social media accounts so much. SO MUCH. But the problem is, other people love theirs so much, too, and because they love their social media accounts, they share all of the fun, fantastic adventures their youthful selves are experiencing. So-and-so from high school went on a 6-month humanitarian trip. What’s-her-bucket got into some ivy league school on the East Coast. And that dude is married with a kid.

And me? I’m in the same place i’ve always been. Living with the family (which I love, don’t get me wrong. Not paying for food is bliss. And my family is basically the best ever), going to school, and working. One can’t help but feel stagnant, in comparison to my less-stationary peers. I’m not throwing a pity party here, I’m just stressing (as anxiety-laden folks like myself do), that I might be missing my chance here to go and do and see and experience. Sometimes, I feel like i’m in my own way.

The advice i’ve been given for this problem i’ve created myself is to stay the course, and things will work out. So I guess that’s what i’m doing.

Is this a quarter-life crisis?

M.

Ingress

I absolutely DESPISE when people say, “don’t let it get to ya, champ!” after someone else tells you something hurtful or offensive. Trust me, sir, if I had a choice in the matter, I would not “let it get to me.” But there’s this cute little thing called emotions, and when people are insensitive, it makes me hypersensitive. 

I have noticed recently that it is mostly when a select few males give their oh-so-entitled and completely unwarranted opinions that I get the most upset.  

“I liked your hair better blonde.” 

“Are you gonna eat that whole thing? You’ll get fat!” 

“You should start running, or go to the gym!” 

“You’re skin is pasty.” 

Not to generalize, but I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time I verbalized my verdict on a man’s appearance without him asking for my opinion.  

But for some odd reason, many men I’ve encountered in my life seem to feel that their opinion is always welcome because I am always in pursuit of their approval. 

As a girl in this world, I have plenty of societal pressure for acceptance without added remarks on a personal level, thank you. I already know that I’ll never be beautiful until I look like Kate Hudson or J-Lo (which is literally impossible unless you ironed and stretched me out like Play-Doh, removed each of my zillion upon zillions of freckles, gave me a spray tan and cheek bones, breast implants, hair extensions, and lipo.) 

But aside from being a girl, I am also a human. A flawed one. I’m short. I have zero muscle definition. My skin is comparable to an albino’s. Seven times out of ten, my hair is a frizzy mess. I don’t have an airbrushed complexion, or eyes as big as the moon. 

Y’know what I do have, though? A brain. And a personality. 

So how about instead of pointing out and re-pointing out all of my visual shortcomings why don’t you try commenting on my personality? 

Instead of, “you look good in that blouse,” why don’t you try, “you are so funny, you crack me up!”

I, for one, would MUCH rather be complimented on my personality, thoughts, accomplishments, and creative humor than my hair, legs, or outfit choice.  

To be frank, I don’t care if you like what you see. Because I like it. 

In the words of my idol, Tina Fey, “do your thing, and don’t care if they like it.” 

This is my new motto, folks. 

M. 

Amelioration

Today, while I was updating my knowledge on current Feminism-related events, I stumbled across the following quote: 

Women's world

Y’know, lately I’ve been so frustrated every Sabbath when I sit down in the pews and just wait for a speaker or teacher to say something that will stir up my Feminist rage. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been attending my church meetings with the expectation that somebody will say something offensive, oppressive, or degrading about the role of women in the Gospel. It’s as if I’m subconsciously, yet actively searching for someone to affront me. 

It’s stunting my spiritual growth. 

I don’t remember who said it, but we all know that quote that goes something like, “no one can offend you without your consent.” All of this consenting people to offend me with their derogatory comments and insisting that a woman’s place is strictly in the home is getting rather exhausting.

Why do I allow these people to affect my relationship with my church and my God? Who cares if Brother or Sister so-and-so don’t approve with my views on what my role as a daughter of God are? The only approval that matters to me is the approval of my Heavenly Parents. (Notice I said parents, I’d like to acknowledge the fact that I have a Heavenly Mother as well.) 

The God I am coming to know wants me to be happy. The God I know won’t repeal the incomprehensible love He has for me if I decide to pursue work outside of the home. Because what matters to me matters to Him. 

The God I am coming to know loves me as much as he loves my brethren, and knows that I am just as capable as they are in achieving anything I put my mind and energy into, and He encourages me to reach my full potential in every dream I pursue. 

So go ahead and keep trying to nudge me toward the ‘mommy track.’ Continue preaching your Relief Society lessons on the cruciality of being a submissive, home-making, child-rearer and telling me that this is the right way for me to live my life and fulfill my role. Keep blaming me for infecting the thoughts of the men I encounter if I choose not to cover my shoulders, or wear shorts that don’t hit the knee. 

Because I’m through letting this culture we are so caught up in affect the growth of my testimony, and my ability to feel the Spirit. 

The important thing is, progress is being made. Even the General Relief Society President has acknowledged the fact that a woman should not be limited to the role of a stay-at-home housewife. 

Small steps toward equality are being made. What more can I ask for? 

Carry on, Mormon Feminists. 

Mr. No-Good-For-Me

Scenario: Boy finds girl on Facebook. Boy initiates small talk with girl via online messaging. Boy showers girl in compliments regarding her beauty and flawless sense of humor. Boy offers girl number and suggests that girl texts him. She does. Boy and girl continue flirtatious conversations over text message for a day or two before boy decides to ask girl on date.

Girl accepts boy’s offer. Boy picks girl up, does all the right things, makes all the right moves, and sweeps her off her feet. On this first date, boy kisses girl. A lot.

Boy and girl continue to “get to know one another” through virtually every medium, besides face-to-face interaction. Boy “likes” all of girl’s photos on social networking sites, continually complimenting her on her “foxiness” and playing the part of a gentleman with an infatuation for a lady. Leading her to believe that he has a liking for her. Girl decides that she likes boy, too, and begins to feel genuine fondness toward him. Gradually, the texts from boy decrease and the depth of their conversations shallow to virtually nothing. Weeks pass by before boy decides he’d like to see girl again. She agrees, and they meet up for ice cream. Boy kisses girl again. A lot.

But the interest that boy had in girl is no longer there. It takes some time, but girl finally realizes that again, she has been used and objectified. She realizes that the only motivation boy has in getting to know girl is so that boy can kiss her. Girl is hurt.

Okay, that’s not a scenario. It’s a real-life situation.”Girl” is me. And let me tell you, I am sick and tired of this scenario. I don’t know if this is a personal issue, but all of my latest suitors tend to think that it’s okay to kiss me on the first date. That it’s okay to string me along just long enough for me to think that there’s something there, and then back up until they feel like an M.O. session.

Admittedly, I am a phenomenal kisser. It really is no wonder why boys gravitate to my lips. (Joking, everybody.) But what boy is doing to girl is WRONG and unjustifiable.

Let’s start with the root of the problem: the kiss. And the lack of meaning behind it. I don’t know about you, dear reader, and I may be old-fashioned, but to me, a kiss signifies mutual feelings of affection toward each other. Notice I used the word “affection,” not “attraction.”

Unfortunately, far too often, the kiss is no longer a signifier for anything more than lust. But it still seems to hold its power to reinforce feelings of affection for the kissee to the kisser.

That was a lot of mumbo-jumbo. What i’m trying to get at here, is don’t kiss me until you are confident that you like me for who I am as a person rather than a pretty little thing to lay your eyes on, and are ready to show me that those feelings are there.

So here I am, confused, hurt, and frustrated, at myself, mostly. I am never one to initiate a kiss. But i’m not exactly one to stop one, either. But if he and I are not on the same page as to what  the kiss even means, then I am left to hope that our feelings are the same, and discover later that it was nothing more than a shallow action.

I guess that’s just one method of figuring out if a guy is going to be good for me or not. And now I know why my mom always insisted that I wait until the third date to kiss a boy. You were right, mom. I am now committing the three-date rule to a policy.

Good news is, I now know that boy is no good for me, and will no longer be giving him the authority to be not good for me. Lesson learned.

In summary, people suck. Watch out for the selfish and shallow. Trust only those who have proven worthy. It’s an every-man-for-himself type of world. And keep your walls high.

I apologize for my excessively cynical attitude. But I feel much better now.(:

Over and out.

M.

 

The Harm In Formality

First dates are so formal. If you think about it, you spend three or four hours engaging in some sort of structured activity with another person, nervously and anxiously trying to impress the dude and try to get to know him at the same time.

My question is, how are you supposed to get to know someone when they are putting on a front just like you are in order to impress you? I know i’m guilty of spending an extra half hour making sure my hair has more bounce and shine than usual and that my eye makeup is just slightly darker in attempt to make my eyes that much more alluring, and sucking on breath mints until he arrives.

Then he comes to the door, wearing a just-more-than-casual button-up shirt that he may or may not have ironed beforehand, and wouldn’t be caught dead in on a typical day. You exchange a stiff “hello” and follow him to his car, where, if he is a “gentleman”, he will open the passenger door and wait for you to self-consciously climb inside before jogging around the automobile to climb in through the driver’s side.

I don’t care how much of a “gentleman” your date is, there is no way that he regularly opens the car door for his passengers. It’s just not natural.

As the time passes, slowly at first, but progressively faster, you anxiously and cautiously engage in a conversation in which all you can think about is the kind of person you’re coming across as and anticipating possible conversation-starters just in case, heaven forbid, the current topic of conversation dies out and you both end up sitting across the table in an awkward stupor of speechlessness, and how you only get one first impression and oh gosh now it’s raining and he’s going to see your hair transform into an untamed, frizzy mess and nobody is into an untamed frizzy mess.

Again, I thought the point of dating was to get to know someone and see if they make the cut for a second date, and eventually, a relationship. But it’s really hard to do that when you’re putting on a faker-than-fake persona that you THINK he will like. Let’s be honest, people. You can only hide your crazy for so long.

So there you are, sitting across the table with someone that you can now call an acquaintance, and the conversation is beginning to flow a little more freely. The tension is gradually being lifted and you feel yourself relax. That is, until it’s time to order, but luckily you’ve premeditated appropriate food options in order to avoid getting food on your attire, face, or worse, in between your teeth. And also, it can’t be a hamburger or else he’ll think you’re a total fatty.

Then there’s the matter of how much you should eat. You can’t possibly finish the entire dish in front of a GUY, even though you skipped out on lunch today and can feel your tummy eating itself it’s that hungry. And you better not eat more than he does. And you better not eat too fast, but you can’t take too long and make him wait for you, either.

What’s the big deal? If a guy is gonna treat me to a 12-dollar dinner at my favorite restaurant, you better believe I’m gonna enjoy it. ALL of it.

The date comes to a close, and let’s say hypothetically he does like this fake-o person you improvised, based on your assumptions of what he likes, and you get a second date with this suitor. How long are you going to play the part of the well-mannered, exceedingly polite, normal girl that you were on your first date? And by the way, he’s doing the same thing. Where does the formality stop, and a couple decides to be themselves instead?

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good, well-planned, structured date. But I HATE the pressure that comes with it. All it is is two people putting on a show for one another while out for a night of public entertainment. Maybe I’m the only one with this problem. I just find it immensely difficult to be myself on a date when there is a mutual expectation to behave as a proper, formal person who is just talkative enough to make herself interesting, but doesn’t give too much away, and is instantly intrigued with everything that comes out of her date’s mouth.

I guess everyone’s different, and some people just need some time to break out of their little shells when they’re around new people. But I just wish there weren’t so much pressure to impress people. On dates. In everyday life. Like I said, you can only hide your crazy for so long, and after spending X amount of time with the same person, they’re bound to meet the REAL you. And the faster you can be the REAL you around someone, the faster you can weed out the ones who aren’t going to stick around when they meet you in your entirety.

Can I get an amen?

M.