Category Archives: real life

My Life is Going, Not Just Through Summer

August 14, 2014

Guest Post by Emily Lin

Undoubtedly as summer ends and I make my way back to school, the question on everyone’s lips is going to be, “How was your summer?” Granted the only answer they expect is something along the lines of “Good!” or “Great!” Much like the “How are you?” question, these are perfunctory, lacking any semblance of actual care from the part of the asker.

Likewise, my answer of “It was great! I went to go see the Grand Canyon (hello-omitted-details-about-the-frustrations-of-traveling-with-family-or-anything-else-I-did-over-the-summer)” will also be routine. Nobody actually wants to know about how I waited tables or worked with an amazing woman on her blog over the summer. Nobody wants to hear the nitty-gritty details of server life and the chances of them tuning me out the second I say the word “feminism” are greater than the chances of this year’s winter being hella wonky again.

Despite that, I could go on about being a server in a futile attempt to try and make people more understanding, higher-tipping customers. And on about Tyece and Twenties Unscripted, about how it’s given me perspective on writing, perspective on life and perspective on the type of person I’d like to be. And on about spending time with my family, even if only for a week, I could probably spend hours talking about how my mother over packs, my dad is a workaholic and my sisters and I are amateur synchronized swimmers (or at least that’s what we tell ourselves), and how extremely grateful I am for all of them. And on about my senior thesis, otherwise known as “the thesis that never started,” and on about going to New York to visit friends and on about moving my boyfriend into his new apartment and on about losing my phone and on about….you get the picture.

However, I think the idea of asking someone about their summer is absurd. Granted this could be my school structure perspective talking; I don’t know how often “real people” get asked about their summers. But asking not only accomplishes nothing because it hides the truth behind an oversimplified easy response, but also because then it sets summer apart as this time of our lives where different things are supposed to happen, maybe even special things. We’ve secluded this three-month period, isolated it from the rest of our lives and then use it to “do those things we don’t usually have time to do.”

I know that it’s called summer break and I understand the necessity of rest and relaxation but does that equate to some sort of life-break too?

This phenomenon of “summer time” and “summer break” construction is like any other. In the same way that we’ve sectioned out the “twenties,” the “thirties” or the “prime” and the “retirement,” we’ve given ourselves a period of three months to fulfill an arbitrary purpose, some ‘other’ purpose, tangential to our ‘real lives’ that can technically be fulfilled at any other point in the year and in our lives.

“The time you have now is the same time you have when you’re thirty and the same time you have when you’re nearing the end of your earthly existence. It is all time. It doesn’t stop and it won’t wait.”

–Tyece Wilkins

Asking about summer carries with it the expectation of difference and with it the expectation of excitement. But my life is going through summer, fall, winter and spring with new things happening all the time. I want people to ask me how my spring is going, how my winter is going and how my fall is going because no matter what time of the year or time in life it is, it’s happening and I don’t want to wait three months after the fact to tell people about it.

My life is made up of not the seasons, not the months nor the weeks and the days but rather the overall passage of time from one to the next. I like to call it the present. It does not come in sections nicely portioned out to accord with an academic calendar or internship duration. Instead it flows, with the past pressing on the future and the future redefining its past.

“Life is most beautiful in its smallest doses, the fragments that we so easily forget.”

–Tyece Wilkins

This all came about when I was confronted this morning with the task of writing a “peace out” post for Twenties Unscripted, more or less wrapping up my summer with Tyece and all you lovely readers. I tried. I tried really hard to ask myself the question “How was my summer?” and then ended up taking a nap because trying to answer was exhausting.

So here’s what you get instead, a mildly whiny, somewhat philosophical piece of my take on time—which in retrospect actually sums up my summer pretty well. It’s been a time to reflect on the choices I’ve made and the choices I will make going forward about how I want my time to be spent because time, I’ve learned, is endlessly valuable but also notoriously perishable. It has also been a time to bitch and moan about those things in life that need to get done despite your unwillingness to do so (I’m looking at you laundry), and to grumble through the not-so-favorite jobs because money is necessary.

But this is life and in living it I want to let the experiences I’ve had with Tyece, with my co-workers at the restaurant and with my frustrating thesis mentor who won’t respond to my emails affect who I am becoming and ultimately will become in the future. Rest assured that means at the very least blog and Twitter updates as well as plenty of love and support for the Twenties Unscripted family.

Thank you and all the best,

Emily, the Intern who likes hats

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When Someone Says Suicide Is Selfish…

August 13, 2014

 

Roswell and I at someone's house senior year being ridiculous per usual

Roswell and I at someone’s house senior year being ridiculous per usual

This post is an excerpt from Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity. The full essay is available in the book, which is currently available for pre-sale here.

That was not supposed to be the last time I saw my friend. But, it was. Four months later when my sister said Roswell was missing, I first brushed it off, thinking his phone probably conked out or he had taken some impromptu trip. But, the days during that weekend in August 2011 stretched and stretched. I still figured he was gallivanting somewhere fun on a spontaneous trip. I wasn’t worried. After all, it was Roswell; that is what he would and should be doing. I sat at my desk that Monday and at 4 p.m. I mindlessly checked Facebook where I saw someone had posted a status praying that Roswell would rest in peace. Around 6 p.m, our mutual friend Darius confirmed that it was true. Roswell was gone. The universe had shifted. My heart had a gaping hole. And life would never be quite the same. Just like that, the person I called with my good news, the person I called on my bad days, the person who rooted me on and heckled me and humbled me, would not be on the other end of the line. It did not seem right. It did not make sense. I could not understand. Most days, I still don’t.

 

 

Facebook Is Not Made of People

July 19, 2014

Guest Post by Anna Wickham

Many days, Facebook is my gateway to the outside world. When I’m finishing up my next blog post in my apartment on a Sunday morning, or just having a lazy Saturday, Facebook is often how I communicate with my friends and keep up with what’s new in their lives. It’s a great tool for these purposes, but it is sometimes too easy to compare our lives with those we see on our computer screen. Whether we’re “liking” our friends’ new job promotion, watching them turn the key on their brand new house, or clicking through photos from a recent beach vacation in the Caribbean, we sometimes compare others’ Facebook profiles to our crazy lives and feel inadequate.

But one revelation has helped me view social media in a brand new light, one that I think is far more healthy and more loving and more real. It is this:

Facebook is not made of people.

Here’s what Facebook is made of: images, videos, internet links, “likes,” comments, and messages. Just like our brain subconsciously assimilates stimuli to create a framework that means something to us, so Facebook assimilates photos, status updates, and the latest viral video to create a picture of an individual. But unlike the brain, which creates a picture of something real, Facebook creates a facade: a snapshot of a person that they curated themselves. A Facebook profile is not a person.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there is anything bad about picking and choosing what to share publicly. I do this. If you have a Facebook profile (which, these days, is almost the same as saying, “If you have a pulse…” ), you do this. I certainly don’t blame anyone. If we are going to put our lives on display, we are going to do so in the most flattering light possible. The problem is that we tend to be hyper aware that we are doing this, but forget that 100% of our Facebook friends are doing it, too. I know that it’s a simple concept, but after it sinks in, it will totally change your mindset.

Here’s what I mean. Think about your best friend’s Facebook page. (Your best friend could be a guy, but for the sake of simplicity here, let’s assume your bff is a woman.) Her Facebook is not really her. It’s not the essence of who she is. It’s a collection of photos, words, and online content, all handpicked by her to represent her. Yes, in short, her Facebook profile is a representation of her. It’s like a hologram. It isn’t real.

But you know your best friend. I mean really know her. You’ve been there on her bad days and good days. You were there during her devastating breakup. You see her when her guard is down and she is truly being herself. You know where she comes from: her family, her hometown. And you know what? The real her, with all the flaws and imperfections, is more beautiful than the facade.

Women are especially prone to comparing ourselves with others through social media. Pressures to get married or have children, or simply to follow a certain trajectory in life can fill us with insecurity. But most of the time, we are comparing ourselves with someone who does not exist in real life. It’s like comparing yourself to a photoshopped picture of someone. You’ll take so much pressure off by realizing that things aren’t always as they seem.

While these social media holograms are useful and fun, and I’m glad for a lot of reasons that they exist, we have to keep in mind that behind each of those avatars is a vulnerable person with complexities, achievements, eccentricities, quirks, and disappointments. Just like us.

You are not your Facebook profile. No real people live in Facebook. You are your hopes and dreams, your fears, your failures, your successes. You are your opinions that you choose not to share with the world. You are your good days and your bad days. You are so much more than your online facade, and so are the people around you.

And reality is so much more beautiful.

AnnaWickham blogs about the millennial perspective in culture, travel, and music at The Worldly Blend. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

What I Know About Life Three Years After Graduation

May 20, 2014

This post is an excerpt from Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity. The full essay is available in the book, which is currently available for pre-sale here.

 

Graduation day with a side of niece.

Graduation day with a side of niece.

Find some sort of mechanism to channel all of your angst and resentment and nastiness in a healthy way. Because you will have a lot of angst and resentment and nastiness inside of you. Some people call that being negative; I call it being human. But, some people let the ugly bits of themselves spill out in ugly ways and that is what makes for an ugly life. So, you have to find something that anchors you more steadily than the promise of happy hour.  You will need something that you can indulge in when the music stops, the lights go on and all you are left with is your mess of a self. You’ll need something you can enjoy independent of any other person, something you can rely on no matter who is or is not in the room.

Date. Or don’t date. Just do more than suck up the air dying to be loved. The time in between now and when you settle down is not a freeze frame.

Pay the least attention to what he texts, less to what he says and most to what he does.

 

A Relationship Will Magnify, Not Mask, Your Insecurities.

November 19, 2013

Lists for twentysomethings are somewhat of my guilty pleasure. I always cringe when yet another one pops up on my timeline or news feed, yet I typically can’t resist reading them, even when they are littered with stale and recycled advice. Yesterday I stumbled upon “The 20 Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make In Your 20s” from Elite Daily. Like most lists of this ilk, there were things I both agreed with and disagreed with regarding the supposed gems of wisdom. Number 19 stood out.

“19. Thinking that this is the right time to fall in love…”

Even as someone who constantly advocates for being single and figuring your shit out, I don’t agree that it’s necessarily a mistake to think your twenties are a good time to fall in love. Perhaps it is a mistake to harp on finding love or to align yourself to arbitrary romantic timelines. But, when people fall in love is not a one-size-fits-all equation. Hell, it’s hardly a conscious decision at all. I have friends my age who are engaged and friends who enjoy being single. Neither one of these groups is inherently more intelligent, mature or self-aware than the other.

What is a mistake, however, is believing a relationship now, or ever, will somehow save you from yourself. I know. That sounds beyond cliché. But, we all see people do it every day. Total train wrecks who go and join themselves to a person thinking that partnership will be the panacea for their unfulfilling career, mounting insecurities, mountain of debt and every other issue they have. Instead, it does the exact opposite. The issues you have yet to sort through and deal with are only magnified, not masked, when you enter a relationship.

Maybe that is where number 13 in the Elite Daily list comes in:

“13. Blaming anyone else but yourself for anything in life. Hold yourself accountable for everything. At the end of the day, all you have in the world is yourself — so go hard. Don’t look to anyone for answers and instead of making problems, create solutions…”

It is my sincere hope that it does not come as a surprise to you when I say you actually have to work on being a better a person. We all do. It’s not something that just happens. It is not merely a byproduct of getting older. It is instead the result of a lot of hard work and reflection. We have to dig through our baggage. We have to not only want to be better, but we have to consciously and proactively work at it every single damn day. We cannot dump our issues on another human being and expect them to repair us.

It was right around this time two years ago that I started seeing a shrink. My life had just imploded for a host of different reasons so I was willing to try it after a friend’s recommendation. Since then, I’ve gone to therapy on and off. I’ve also been writing three to four times a week and that has been my catharsis as well. Did you think this blog was purely for your entertainment? Of course not.

Sitting on a couch for fifty minutes and pouring out your thoughts isn’t necessarily the solution for everyone. Don’t fret; I’m not going to go all Freud on you tonight, at least not anymore than I already have. But, we all owe it to ourselves to find that channel that does work, independent of another person. We owe it to ourselves to face our demons head on and come to grips with our very imperfect and scar-ridden lives. We owe it to ourselves to sort through our mess. Figure out our shit. Work on ourselves. Sleep easy at night because we are happy. Whole. OK with the mistakes we’ve made and the wounds we’ve amassed. And, at peace with the lessons we have learned from it all.

Xoxo,

Tyece