I hope I never have kids.

I hope I never have a daughter.

I hope I never have a daughter who feels pressured to wear make up when she’s 9.

I hope I never have a daughter who gets bullied by the boys at school because she’s good at math.

I hope I never have a daughter who accepts the fact that older men will eye her up and down and make disgusting comments about her on a daily basis.

I hope I never have a daughter who feels inadequate because she earns less money than her male counterpart, and who fears asking for a raise because she might be too pushy.

I hope I never have a daughter who lays on the bathroom floor, sobbing after she threw up her dinner because the magazines and people at school say she’s not the right size.

I hope I never have a daughter who wants to kill herself because people tell her that because she was born a boy, she’s not a real girl.

I hope I never have a daughter who has a 25% chance of being sexually assaulted.

I hope I never have a daughter who, if she is assaulted, has to see her perpetrator every day because the justice system failed her.

I hope I never have a daughter who cries herself to sleep because she thinks she deserves the abuse her partner gives her.

 

I hope I never have a son.

I hope I never have a son who kills himself because he suffers from depression but is too ashamed to seek help, because otherwise he’d be a wuss.

I hope I never have a son who commits a petty crime and gets let off the hook, while he watches his friend of color commit the same crime and face death.

I hope I never have a son who grows up to disrespect women as if he didn’t come out of one.

I hope I never have a son who tells me he doesn’t want to go to school because he’s being bullied for his sexuality, even though it’s the 21st century.

I hope I never have a son who grows up thinking guys can’t get raped and is therefore silenced if it happens to him.

I hope I never have a son who grows up thinking it’s okay to hit women because that’s how you show power and boys are supposed to be powerful.

 

I hope I never have kids.

I hope I never have kids who bully the little Muslim boy across the street because everyone on TV says that he and his parents are terrorists.

I hope I never have kids who do regular drills in their 2nd grade classroom on what to do if a bad guy comes into the school with a gun.

I hope I never have kids who will be discouraged to attend college because they won’t be able to find jobs or pay off loans.

I hope I never have kids who have unwanted pregnancies and home abortions because the sexual education program is abstinence only and abortions are too inaccessible.

I hope I never have kids who bully others for being different, whether it’s based on skin color, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or mental ability, religious identity, or otherwise.

I hope I never have kids who accept the society they live in instead of questioning it, trying to change it, and standing up for what they believe in.

 

 

Proud to Jiggle – A Pep Talk.

This post is going to be somewhat of an extension to my previous post about New Year’s resolutions. Lately, I’ve noticed that there is a lot of smack being talked about people who go to the gym within the first few weeks of the year. Apparently, regular gym-goers are not too thrilled that there are newbies on the machines who “don’t know anything about lifting”. Now, at my school, there are two relatively large fitness facilities on campus, plus a number of off-campus gyms that require a membership. I’m beginning to wonder why “resolutioners” are getting so much crap.

Sure, maybe they aren’t as experienced as the average frat star (many of whom, I’ve noticed, skip leg day too often. Sorry guys). And maybe this inexperience makes the newbies a little clumsy around the equipment. But why should they be bashed for trying their hardest?

I know how difficult it can be to make gym time a regular part of your routine, and it is equally as hard to get back in shape if one hasn’t worked out in a while. Along with that, I know that sometimes going to the gym, whether you’re in shape or not, can be challenging for some people because of self-confidence issues. I personally hate going to the gym because I’m constantly worried that everyone is looking at me, laughing at my struggle, watching every God-forsaken part of my body jiggle. Ugh. It just makes me want to stay in bed all day.

If anyone reading this knows me personally, you probably know that I have a lot of self-confidence and body image issues. Getting in shape has always been just this much out of reach for me, and naturally, going to the gym where everyone else seems to be in perfect shape is not something I’d want to do on my own.

But recently, I’ve adapted a healthier lifestyle, and while the thought of going to the gym still sends shudders down my spine, I have started working out at home through exercise videos (Blogilates, you’re the best). And through this, I have learned something: who gives a crap about your jiggle?

If you’re at the gym, sweaty and gross, jiggling all about (or not, perhaps you escaped the curse), out of breath, I want to say: HELL YEAH! Seriously. Be proud to jiggle. Be happy in knowing that you are pushing yourself to get better, even if you feel like you’re going to die.

Remember why you’re at the gym – maybe you want to fit into a cute dress, you want to run a 5k, or, like me, you finally want to start loving your body. And use that reason as a reminder whenever you feel like taking 3 rest days in a row.

Also, don’t listen to those people who complain about “resolutioners” clogging up the gym. You’re making a wonderful change in your life and you’re trying, what’s so bad about that?

I hope this sends some words of encouragement as winter continues, as I know it’s hard to continue the habit especially in the cold. I’m proud to jiggle and sweat, and I hope you are too.

Enjoy this video that inspired me to write this post.

New Year, Same Me.

Wait, what?

It’s January 12 of the new year, 2015. By now it’s pretty obvious that our resolutions to work out every day or volunteer all the time or just stop eating so many damn donuts have faded and we’re back to our old habits. But it’s no big deal, old habits die hard. And so for the next 353 days or so we will have that nice resolution we made in our minds but not our actions. Come December, we vow that “next year will be THE year!” and so the cycle goes.

Every year I have vowed that as soon as January 1st came around, I would turn into some major health & fitness buff and my incurable sweet tooth would suddenly vanish. Or, I have vowed in years past that I would stop being such a bitch all the time and would show compassion to strangers. Furthermore, I have made the resolution to do better in school or work or whatever a few times. Needless to say, I myself have had quite a run through the revolving door of New Year’s resolutions. Does that count as a workout?

Perhaps my biggest issue with New Year’s resolutions isn’t the fact that they most likely never happen, or the fact that they are usually never as attainable as we’d like to think. My biggest issue with New Year’s resolutions is that for some reason, we think that by the tick of a minute hand, we are completely new people. We have to wait until the very last day of the very last month each year to decide to change ourselves and then we get frustrated when it’s January 12th and we’re still eating the occasional donut. That being said, New Year’s resolutions are the ultimate form of procrastination.

I haven’t made a New Year’s resolution in 2 years because I realized I didn’t want to wait until next year to change something about myself or my life that I didn’t like. It’s so easy for us to fail at our New Year’s resolution because we expect instant gratification and a blank slate when in reality, January 1st has no magical powers over our lifestyle choices. Then, when our resolutions don’t work exactly the way we want, it’s easy for us to just say, “Well, I guess this will be next year’s resolution”. How do you get anywhere with that attitude?

I’m not saying resolutions are bad and should never be made. I’m just saying that we shouldn’t use the first of the year as the only time to make them. We also shouldn’t get frustrated when they don’t work out instantly. Everyone gets so motivated in those first few days of the year, then it fizzles out, and ritualism ensues. I guess what I’m proposing is not necessarily an abolition of New Year’s resolutions, but an establishment of everyday resolutions. Wake up every day in January, April, October, whatever and if you don’t like what you’re waking up to, resolve to change it then and there. Because if you keep waiting until “next year”, you’ll never get there.

Winter Greetings.

Quick post today, as the holidays have left me busy and unable to find the time to sit down and let my thoughts flow through to my keyboard.

I just want to say Happy Holidays, whether you are celebrating Christmas (I know I’m a day late! I’m sorry!), Hanukkah (also late), Kwanzaa or otherwise.

Or, if you don’t celebrate any holidays, I wish you a great winter season.

More posts to come soon.

-Amanda

Trust Fund Babies – An Exploration.

I go to a big university, and tuition here is not cheap, especially for out of state students like myself. I come from a pretty well off family, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here. After my high school graduation, I had a nice cushion of money that I received from relatives to hold me over into my first year of school.

What happened?

Like any college freshman without an inkling of responsibility, I blew a good chunk of that money on stupid stuff within my first month or so of being at school.

And what else happened?

My mom didn’t come to my rescue. She wasn’t sympathetic; I was in college now. I had responsibility. Kind of. So after I realized that I wasn’t going to be showered in monthly allowances for the rest of my life, I decided it was time for me to become financially responsible and independent.

I got a job in February and have since been “promoted” to supervisor. I’m nowhere near being financially independent, but I take pride (and gratitude) in the sense that I at least have a paycheck.

What am I getting at here?

Well, I thought that my experience would be similar to most of the people at my school. I figured everyone went through a phase of their parents choking off their money (not entirely cutting them off, but holding them accountable) and a yearning to get a job.

I’m wrong.

There are so many students at this school that take what they have for granted. I simply cannot wrap my brain around the fact that there are some students who don’t have part time jobs or anything at all. If I didn’t have any source of income beside my mom, I would be SOL. Seriously. And the thing is, I really don’t want to depend on my mom anymore.

My mom has done so much for me and my sister and I don’t think I can ever thank her enough. My way of giving back to her is by trying to become financially independent. I don’t want to be 25 years old and still asking her to pay for this thing or that. I honestly cannot understand how there are some students here that can just ask their parents for money or clothes or whatever and expect it at the drop of a hat. I mean, sure, I like going shopping with my mom, but I also pay for my own groceries.

This is where we have some issues. These students, trust fund babies or otherwise, will develop a sense of entitlement if they haven’t already. They will believe that everything will come to them if they throw a big enough tantrum. And they will not know how to work for their money.

Sadly, these are also the students that will probably never need to know how to work for their money because their parents are well off and well connected. In this day and age, your college degree doesn’t matter as much as who you or your parents know. It’s slimy, and it’s business.

My point is that yes, I come from a well-off family and yes, I still ask my mom for money sometimes. I’m not denying this fact. But I also do not want to become someone who thinks they’re entitled to anything and everything. I want a sense of achievement every time I get a paycheck because I know I’ve worked hard to earn it.

And of course, I want to remind myself that I am often in positions that many others of my age will never be. I want to remind myself to stay grounded and understand that I am lucky to go to a big school and to have a job. I want to remind myself that my mentality of working hard for my money will help me understand those who don’t have money at all.

Christmas cookies, tinsel, and a weekend without sleep: Finals, 2014.

Lately, I’ve been in a funk. I don’t really know what it is, but I’m just really not feeling Christmas-y this year. Maybe it’s the lack of snow on the ground or the lack of sleep from all the finals stress, but I just don’t feel holly jolly. It’s like an identity crisis because Christmas time is my absolute favorite time of year. It’s not just because I like getting presents, but over the years I’ve found new reasons to love the holiday season and I want to share them with you.

First,  there’s something in the air during Christmastime that makes everything a little bit more magical. Maybe it’s the faint smell of peppermint coffee (my favorite) or the crispness of impending snow, but I just love being outside during the holiday season because of this magical air. Now I’m sounding like I’ve really lost it.

Second, the decorations! Oh my! They truly seem to get more extravagant every year! In my hometown, I always knew it was truly holiday season when the wreaths went up and the lights were hung on every house and local business. Here at school, I’ve noticed the lights shining from dorm rooms, mini trees adorned with ornaments often fashioned from red Solo cups, and of course the lights hung in the square downtown. Now that makes for some magical air.

Third, everyone is more joyful. Yes, there are those crazies who get angry at the mall and the poor retail workers that have to deal with them, but man, I just love how everyone seems to be more jolly and smiling. Today, I was at Target and the cashier said “Happy Holidays!” and I know that she was getting paid to say that but I love the thought behind it.

Fourth, I truly enjoy giving. As I’ve gotten older, I don’t care as much about material goods like the latest phone or toy or what have you. I have really relished putting a lot of time and thought into each gift I give, from the funny (the sexy cowboy calendar I gave my friend one year) to the thoughtful (the at home spa kit I plan to give my mother this year). As T described to me earlier this week, gift-giving is a true test of how well you know someone. I love finding little things that people have mentioned off hand or things that represent an inside joke because putting meaning into a gift is the best part. And their reaction when they open it? Amazing.

I guess now I realize part of the reason why I’m in a Christmas-less funk. I just miss being home. The traditions I have with my mom and sister I simply can’t have here, well, at least not for another week and a half. I don’t have my dog to cuddle up with either at the moment.

But I’ll leave today on a happy note. I went to Target today with T to buy Christmas decorations for my room, and after putting them up, I feel a lot better. Sometimes it takes the little things like decorating and listening to O Tannenbaum by Vince Guaraldi Trio to remember what makes Christmas time so special.

Merry Finals!

-Amanda

P.S. Enjoy the attached picture of me, circa Christmas 1996. Even then I was a Christmas-loving, velvet-wearing fiend.

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How to Save the World – A Guide by a Middle-Class White Girl.

Privilege. What does that word mean?
Instead of providing a simple definition of privilege, I want to ask you some questions.

Can you innocently walk down the street at night and not be deemed “suspicious”?
Can you be assured in the fact that if you get pulled over, it’s not because of your skin color?Can you watch the news and see people who look like you being positively represented?
Do you have a place to sleep every night?
Do you eat at least one full meal a day of whatever food you may desire?
Can you hold hands with a significant other in public and not be judged or sneered at?
Can you tell your friends and family about your significant other and know that they will not try to “fix” you?
Can you walk down the street at any time of the day, wearing whatever you want, and be assured that you will not be harassed?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have some kind of privilege. Maybe you didn’t ask for it. Maybe you aren’t even aware of it. But you have it, and everyone knows it, especially those who answered no to the same questions you answered yes to. Sure, there are more concrete forms of privilege. For example, if you’re a white male, you can probably bet that you will earn more money than any of your female coworkers who do the same job. And if you fall anywhere in the middle class, you can almost guarantee that you go to a school, live in a house, and eat whatever you want while others cannot. But the more subtle forms of privilege, like the ones I listed above, are the most important ones. These are the ones we don’t think about, and because of that, we don’t think of them as privileges.

I’m writing this post as a white, heterosexual, upper-middle-class, college student. But that doesn’t mean I’m unaware of my privileges. With recent events involving Ferguson, Eric Garner, and others, I have come to realize that people like myself, people who unwillingly or unknowingly benefit from the oppression of others, need to take action. Why?

Because unfortunately, no one will listen if you’re not white.

That fact just sucks. But it’s the truth. And I’m tired of it.

I know that I am extremely lucky to have had every opportunity in my life thus far. I mean yeah, I had that angsty teen phase where my mom “just didn’t get me”. But other than that, my problems have been relatively easy to handle. I’m so incredibly grateful for everything in my life. I know that there are thousands of kids my age who are just as smart or smarter than I am that will never go to college. This awareness helps me connect to those people.

Over the summer, I volunteered with a social work team in the trauma unit of a hospital in Chicago. Being on the south side of the city, the trauma unit saw a lot of the same kinds of injuries and the same demographic. At first, I was afraid. I wanted to be able to talk to the patients, to develop a rapport with them, but how could I do that if I was just a little white girl from the suburbs? Their realities and mine were on opposite sides of a spectrum. I thought I could never relate.

But as it turns out, my awareness of the differences between our two worlds helped me connect. I shadowed one of the social workers as he moved from patient to patient and each time, he would tell them something along the lines of this:

“I know this sucks. It isn’t fair. This crap happens to people like you and not people like me. I get it. And I don’t like it. I wanna help you out, man, I wanna help you get through this time because I know you’re angry at the injustice. I am too.”

From then on, I used this as a frame to guide my own conversations with people who aren’t like me. One of the biggest challenges social workers face is the distrust of clients who come from different backgrounds. And rightfully so, too; I probably wouldn’t trust a rich little white girl from the suburbs if I was a working-class Latina. What would she know that would help me?

The point of all this is that in order to build those connections, to stop injustice, to end oppression, it has to end where it started. The privileged must use their powers for good. Unfortunately, we do not yet live in a society where the oppressed have their voices heard. It’s up to us to hear them.