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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Lessons Learned At A Coffee Shop

I am notorious for my ability to hold in my grievances when I am physically interacting with someone, and then letting my frustration consume me until I am around my kin, whom I feel comfortable ranting my pants off to. Somebody will offend or frustrate me, and in the heat of the moment, I brush it off or even agree with the perpetrator, meanwhile, a flurry of anger swirls within my little self.

Today, my mom and I went for coffee because we are addicts. Also because the best of conversations are had over coffee, and it was raining. My mom left her phone in the car, so we were free of distractions. I saw this as an opportune moment to release some of the anger i’d been stewing over for the past few days regarding someone who shalt not be named because this is the World Wide Web, and I feel like I should probably grow up and address these specific issues with this person in a face-to-face manner like grown-ups are supposed to do.

Anyway, there we were, drinking our overpriced lattes, and me complaining about aforementioned grievances between sips. After about seven minutes of this, I was just getting started, and my mom had that “problem solver” look on her face as I spoke.

Once I finally shut my mouth for a moment, my mother’s parental advising began.

I don’t know how you guys feel about your mamas, but I can say with absolute certainty that my mom is badass and super wise and I need her bad.

First of all, my mom made it blatantly clear that my complaints were in vain. She told me that I am in control of this situation, and that if I can’t express how I feel to this individual, that I have nobody to blame but myself. Then, because I am an anxiety freak who thinks she needs to have everything figured out right now, or kill herself working towards what she thinks she wants, my mom told me to just enjoy.

Now, these little nuggets of advice might seem simple and completely obvious, and perhaps they are, but to me, they are profound words of wisdom. She is absolutely right-I am in complete control of how I allow this situation to affect me. I have a couple of options here: 1) Remove myself from the source of the frustrations or 2) Express my grievances to this individual and see how things go from there. If they don’t go the way I need them to, I resort to option 1 by default.

Mama Tingey solves another one.

I want to dwell a little longer on my mom’s second piece of advice. “Just Enjoy.” My mom may or may not be going through a bit of a crisis right now, but she revealed to me today her plan to get a tattoo on her ankle. (We come from an LDS background, this is a BIG deal.)

She said getting a tattoo is something she’s always wanted to do. That’s the thing, if you don’t actually DO the things you want to do, you will never do them. Duh?

This all may seem a little jumbled, but I couldn’t help but think about my own life. In my previous post, I complained (haha surprise!) about how everyone else was out doing things and living their lives while I remained stagnant. But in reality, the only difference between them and me is the fact that they are out doing the things they want to do, and I am making excuses as to why I cannot do the things I want to do.

My mom is right, as per usual. I am young, things are flexible, and I should just enjoy. I can’t keep on going through life doing only things I tell myself I HAVE to do. I just need to swallow the world’s biggest chill pill and just enjoy.

M.

Feminists Can Like Flowers, Too.

I am very open about the fact that I identify as a feminist. I love talking about my philosophies on the matter of equality, and I DON’T like people opening my doors for me.

Because feminism is such a huge part of who I am, I think I give off the impression that I don’t want to be taken care of. People tend to think that ALL feminists are bra-burning, anti-chivalry, prideful people. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I do not fall under any of the aforementioned categories. (Well, I might be a little prideful, but I think that we can attribute that to my German-ness more so than to my feminist attitudes.)

I LOVE chick flicks. I would literally melt if someone gave me flowers and/or chocolates. I’m soft and love polka dots and bows. Sometimes, I want somebody to take care of me. I want to be wined-and-dined as much as the next girl, and no, none of that invalidates my membership in the feminist community.

What it does, though, is make me feminine, and that’s not a bad thing.

And maybe that’s the problem-we tend to think that feminism and femininity are contradictions. By my understanding, however, the whole point of feminism is to put femininity on an equal playing ground as masculinity. To eliminate the stigma that feminine traits are less desirable than masculine traits.

Wanting to be taken care of and “swept off my feet,” so to speak, does not make me anything but human. The need to be taken care of is a basic human need, and one that man and womankind alike spend their lives pursuing. Wanting romantic gestures all that jazz in no way undermines my desire and belief that I should be treated as an equal.

It goes both ways. In order for a dating relationship of any sort to work, that romance thing has got to be going on. Both partners are equally responsible for keeping that “spark” alive, and co-dependence should be the desired outcome.

I am obviously capable of taking care of myself 100%. An ideal romantic interest would be able to take care of himself 100%. The co-dependence thing comes voluntarily. If people are interested in one another, they will do cute, cheesy, romantic gestures because they want to make the other person happy. Not because they are so inclined to fulfill certain roles. And I definitely don’t believe that allowing a man to court you puts you in a submissive position, especially if the both of you are putting in equal work to date each other.

The other day, I was discussing this topic with a friend of mine, and she presented me with an ultimatum. Either I put down my equality guns and let some knight in shining armor place me on a pedestal, or I keep my “independent woman” front. Why can’t a girl have something in the middle? I understand that it’s a delicate balance, but I don’t believe that it’s unattainable.

Just thinking.

M.

Assign

You know how in cartoons, a giant lightbulb appears over one of the characters’ heads when he/she has an epiphany or suddenly solves the issue at hand? I swear to goodness that’s what happened to me on my last day of my Intro to Literature class. My giant lightbulb was caused by an epiphany. An epiphany as to the real reason why I declare myself a feminist.

On our last day of class, we were assigned to present a chapbook of poems that all relate under a central theme. Naturally, my theme was “Self-Representations of Women.” I actually thoroughly enjoyed this project, as I found multiple poems that I could completely relate to. Anyway, my epiphany hit in the middle of my presentation when I began slipping into the unscripted abyss that is a college kid’s Intro to Literature Chapbook Presentation.

At some point, I had said “The real problem at hand is that we assign virtually EVERYTHING a gender. It is either masculine, or feminine.” That didn’t really resonate with me until after i’d finished my presentation with the words “Smash the patriarchy!” with blushed cheeks and returned to my desk to find a hand-written note from a classmate that was seated nearby.

His note applauded me for presenting feminism in a way that had never occurred to him before, and he concurred that it is extremely problematic to assign everything from character traits to colors of the rainbow to a category of either masculine or feminine. I suggested hie look further into feminism, and we parted ways.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how this binary mindset our culture has ingrained in us limits us to who we think we are allowed to become. Unfortunately, femininity is considered the lesser of masculinity, giving most feminine things a negative connotation when compared to more masculine things.

For example, math and engineering, toy trucks, and football have all been deemed “masculine” and “boy activities,” and those who are not masculine are discouraged from engaging in “masculine” interests.

On the other hand, cooking, sewing, dancing, and hair-styling have all had the word “feminine” slapped to their foreheads to ward off masculine intruders.

This is problematic for dozens of reasons, and it affects all genders. Rather than allowing each individual to choose his/her interests, we steer them toward what we believe will be most fitting for them, based on their sex. This holds true not only for interests, but for emotions and personality traits, as well.

Women are supposed to be weak, submissive, gentle, soft, and nurturing. If we’re not, we’re considered masculine women, and what could be worse than that?

Men are supposed to be strong, athletic, assertive, and smart. If they’re not, they’re considered ‘femmy,’ which is even worse than being a masculine woman, because, after all, masculinity reigns supreme in the realms of the patriarchy.

I am a feminist because I don’t believe that everything a person can be needs to be assigned to a gender. Society is shaping who we are going to become, and we are playing right along with it. I am sick and tired of the “pink is for girls” and “blue is for boys.” Because I like blue, dammit. And superheroes. And math. And tacos.

Stop gendering everything, people.

M.

Veracity

Fact: everybody has something wrong with them. That’s what makes us human.

And sometimes, once we discover what’s wrong with people, we are not willing to tolerate it. This typically ends in the termination of a relationship. I’ve been thinking lately of ways to avoid this phenomenon, and i’ve come up with a viable solution. Why don’t we all just start asking each other from the get-go, “hey, what’s the matter with you?” Just so there are no surprises.

If we all decided not to be offended by this question and just offer up our behavior-affecting issues to people as we meet them, they’ll be able to decide then and there whether or not they are willing to stick around, despite whatever issue you have shared with them. Because if they decide initially that they won’t tolerate your individualized type of crazy, it won’t hurt you as bad when they decide they’re done with you before you can develop the feels.

Like on dating websites, in addition to asking you what your hobbies and interests are, there should be a field where you can describe what makes you a little psycho. But don’t feel bad, because we’re all a little psycho. I just think that if we were all more up-front about it, we’d all get along better. It’d force us to own up to our own downfalls, too, so we can all find ourselves even if we can’t afford a plane ticket to India.

I don’t propose this idea just in the case of romantic relationships. It’s directly applicable to coworkers, friends, roommates, all of the voluntary relationships we form throughout life. Let’s all just own up to our personalized forms of crazy and wear them on our T-Shirts.

Who’s with me?

M.

Winsome

You wanna know what i’m sick of? No? Okay, well grab a fuzzy blanket and a mug of hot chocolate with those mini marshmalllows and take a sit so I can tell you anyway.

I’m sick of being told that I am cute.

You read that right.

Woah woah woah, there, stop rolling your eyes and let me explain myself before you start calling me hurtful names like “stuck up brat-face.” That’s hurtful.

Lately, the gentlemen i’ve been interacting with seem to feel that by paying me such a compliment entitles them to something. I shall now illustrate with a real-life example.

Boy: You’re cute.(:

Me: Thank you.

Boy:…. No, really, though.

Me: Thanks.

What up with the “no, really though.” In no way did I indicate that I  disagreed with his calling me cute or discounted the compliment. I simply accepted it with a gracious “thank you.” Punctuation included, and intended to indicate that I was through with that topic of discussion.

“No, really, though.” Uhh, okay. Thanks, again. I really don’t know what more you want from me here, nor do I really have anywhere to carry our conversation.

I can’t help but feel like I owe these gentlemen my attention when they’ve paid me such a compliment. Even if I show no interest, I can’t help but feel like I OWE it to them for telling me that they thought I was cute. And that’s messed up. Maybe I’m the one with the problem, but i’d be willing to bet that you gentlemen of the universe could come to a consensus that when you pay a lady such a gracious compliment, you’re expecting a little something in return.

It shouldn’t be that way, though. This gentleman sought me out, not the other way around. I am not obligated to reciprocate anything.

In summary, yes, I do enjoy being complimented on my cuteness. Who doesn’t?! But do people even severely compliment each other anymore, or does everyone have a hidden agenda?

Help me in my fight against cynicism.

M.

Sapience

I am the worst at dating. The literal worst.

I decided to take a little risk and attend an NBA game with some dudebro who sought me out via good old FaceBook. The whole “stranger danger” concept never really stuck with me, and I am of the naive youth who really believe that people are who they say they are on the internet. It will be my downfall one of these days, mark my words.

-Back to my anecdote-

Aforementioned dudebro was no psychopathic serial killer, though. Just a dude. Sorry to disappoint. I feel like this post would be a zillion times more exciting had he turned out to be a murderer or something. Anyway, he messaged me to tell me that he had two free tickets to the Jazz game the following day, and was wondering if i’d like to accompany him.

In my defense, the only thing I hear when asked out on a date is “free food, free stuff, come with!”

For the sake of personal gain, I obliged him and agreed to allow him to take me to the basketball game. What could go wrong, right?

Now, there are a few rules when it comes to dating dudebros on the internet. One of the most crucial rules is asking the right questions before agreeing to meet up with anyone. Of these critical questions, the most crucial is that of age. You see, I had failed to ask this vital question, and the consequence was tragic.

The guy was 26. There is a 7-year age gap between me and him. Now, that may not sound like much, but it’s hella intimidating to me. When I think ’26-year-old single male,’ I think ‘adult.’ ‘Big boy.’ ‘Not suitable dating material for a lady of my youthful age.’ To my dismay, I had not discovered this minor detail until we were rolling to the arena in his $600 Buick.

The night only grew worse as we drove to his brother’s house. Plot twist: Dudebro invited his 28-year-old brother, his brother’s wife, and their child, to come with us. Oh, and on the way there, he ran 4 red lights. Where were the damn cops?!

Call me crazy, but I find it exceedingly strange to go on a first date with some guy and his married brother’s family. Is that not weird? Tell me if i’m wrong, because I’m pretty weirded out by it.

Also, this 26-year-old dudebro had some interesting comments on my outfit choice as well as my outer appearance. He said, (and I quote) “I’m a picky guy when it comes to what girls wear. Picky, picky.” As you can imagine, my feminist-y mindset loved hearing those words spew from his picky mouth.

No need to worry, though, because he later told me that I passed the test and that my outfit choice was to his liking. Abstaining from violence was nearly impossible at this point in the evening.

It was a disastrous night, and I demanded to be taken home at 10:30.

Reveal yourselves, normal boys, I beg of you.

M.