Thoughts

The Social Media Facade

I think at this point in our lives, most of us can say that we use some form of social media platform on the reg.

For me, it’s Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat [although, to be honest, I mostly have the Snapchat app for the wide screen camera], of which my FB and SC are both private. In my mind, they seem to be a little bit more intimate forms of social media, so I don’t feel the need to allow just anybody to snoop in on my life. Instagram, however, is another story.

Instagram, like Twitter, has become a place for advertising and professional growth. People use it to boost their products and get their names out there. You’re limited on the amount of words and hashtags you can use in a post, which, if a reader is intrigued by a post, leaves opportunity for the poster to then direct the reader to a blog or website. And, with the recent implementation of a Snapchat-like function, and the brand new update which allows users to add multiple photos to one post, it has really opened a lot of doors for people out there who are trying to make themselves better known.

I don’t tend to post a lot of personal ish on IG. I post photos of my family, my dog, my friends and my boyfriend, and that’s it. I don’t post political opinions, or any opinions at all, for that matter. I do upload the occasional selfie – and that’s generally because my hair looks good or my make up was flawless. In short – I am not posting selfies [or any of my photos] for the likes. I’m posting them for the memories associated with them. I’d like to think that’s why most of the general public uses Instagram, but it’s not.

The invention of social media has brought many positives, but it has also produced some negatives. Celebs, public figures, athletes, etc. are so much more accessible than they used to be. We can easily see their day-to-day lives just by typing their name into a search engine. The onslaught of dysmorphia and eating disorders brought on by seeing “perfect” humans online every day has heavily increased. More and more of us feel insecure with ourselves and in relationships because everybody follows the lives of people we feel are better looking than we are. It’s easier to stay intertwined in the lives of of exes and people we no longer associate with. We see what’s happening in their lives and it makes us feel bad about ours. We are constantly comparing ourselves to others, and it absolutely needs to stop.

Social Media Facade Number 1: women who post “selfies” that are heavy on the cleavage are not secure with who they are. You should not be jealous of them. [Or, on the flipside, chiseled men who post “just outta the shower” selfies – come onnnnnnnn]. You know why they got a lot of likes on that photo? Because their tits are out. Ain’t nobody lookin’ at that face. Women who post pictures like that are insecure – they rely on how many likes and comments they get to feel better about themselves. But the people who respond to that photo are generally men who think it’ll be easy to nail that girl [which, sadly, it probably will be]. Don’t diminish your integrity for likes! You know your self worth, and that’s what matters.

Social Media Facade Number 2: people’s lives are not as perfect as they make them out to be! Oh my gawd I cannot stress this enough. I follow so many fashion and lifestyle bloggers on Instagram – it is their literal job to make it look like they are always put together; that their homes are pristine. GET REAL. All of them have children and pets – you know that white couch doesn’t stay white! And no, none of those people go to bed with their make up on or their hair done. The other day, one of these women had her baby, and she had clearly had a planned c-section and a complete makeover before she went into the hospital, because there wasn’t a single hair out of place, nor even a tiny glistening of sweat on her forehead [sidenote, I am totally not knocking c-sections, I’m 100% aware that they are necessary in the healthy delivery of a baby]. But, you guys, this woman was in the hospital with her newborn – the only reason she looked as good as she did was because that ish was going on her IG feed. Another example: I gal I know personally has been trying to gain IG celeb status over the course of the last year. She has repeatedly posted little zoomed in snippets on their decor for their new “dream home.” She gets hundreds of likes and comments from people – Ohhhh that’s going to look so good! But every once in a while, she will post something that shows that they clearly have no furnishings in their home at all [this person also claims to have a job that she obviously doesn’t have]. Case in point: don’t believe everything you see or read on Instagram.

Social Media Facade Number 3: people who make a point of constantly talking and posting about how great their lives are, are probably overcompensating. If you have to work that hard to prove to random strangers that your life is awesome, then it begs the question: Who are you actually trying to convince? Other people, or, rather, yourself?

Here’s my little tip to all of you – unfollow all the shit that makes you feel bad. I follow the fashionistas because I like their style. I rarely read the blurbs they write below their photos. I remove people from my friends lists who comment negative things or take semi-naked selfies. I follow profiles that feature puppies, beautiful or cool photos and people I like and know. While social media can be a bit of a hoax, it luckily gives you the freedom to pick and choose who and what you want to be associated with.

So go on with your bad self – post that conservative cardigan sweater selfie.

Why I Chose To Give Up Coffee

*Collective Gasp* [I know. Like.. Whyyyyyy would I ever willingly give it up?]

Truth be told, I didn’t even start drinking coffee until I was 23. I always thought it smelled soooo good, but the taste was so repulsive. And, in my more youthful days, no amount of creamer or sweetened syrups could trump that all-too-familiar bitter flavor.

I moved home from Chico the summer after my 23rd birthday. I was focusing way too much on my social life, and not nearly enough [read: not at all] on my education. Yeah, yeah, yeah.. I was your stereotypical Chico State student [BUT, let me take a moment to say that 99% (total guesstimate, BTW) of my classmates have done EXTREMELY well for themselves post graduation – props to all you guys. graduating from Chico State is definitely resume-worthy – talk about multi-tasking!]. After I moved home, I went back to junior college and decided it was time to get a job. There happened to be a local, family-run coffee shop who was hiring and within two days I had the job. I remember thinking, “This job will be perfect – I don’t even like coffee, so I’ll never drink the product and I won’t waste all of my money.”

Famous last words.

They always say that working at a coffee shop will convert you. Not sure who “they” are, but I never believed them.

Until I worked at a coffee shop.

Naturally, I became addicted to the stuff. Looking back, I probably had 3 -4 coffee drinks a shift. That’s not including anything I had after my shift or when I wasn’t working. Not only was it fattening [because I was drinking the shi-shi-la-la fancy drinks], but highly caffeinating. I have no clue how I ever went to sleep. Alcohol probably #truth #sorrynotsorry.

The coffee wasn’t the only thing I loved about that job, though. Because of the small, family run joint, we had so many regulars who also became family. I loved getting to know them and seeing their faces every day. It was a really great job, despite it being the gateway drug to my coffee habit.

The shop ended up closing after two years, but my caffeine addiction remained. I tried to give it up at one point, and the midday caffeine headaches were so bad that I immediately put a kibosh on quitting. What was it really hurting, anyhow? It’s a natural diuretic and seemed to curb my appetite in the morning hours [something every twenty-something female can understand the appeal of].

So for the longest time, it seemed to me that there was nothing negative about coffee. But after finally getting a real adult job a few years ago, where work actually became stressful and followed me home every night, I started to see the negative effects of it. My stomach would hurt if I consumed it before eating some food, I was so immune to the effects that I was drinking way too much for it to be healthy, and that eventually led to high stress levels that were getting to be more than I could handle [and, honestly, it really didn’t make me any more efficient with work or home projects]. I had also started getting migraines, something I’d never experienced before in my life.

Not seeing the link between caffeine and stress, I sought out an acupuncturist to help with the headaches and the anxiety. Our conversation:

Her: Do you drink coffee?
Me: Yes.
Her: How much, and how often?
Me: *sheepishly* Every morning, 4-6 cups.
Her: Maybe try switching to decaf, or cutting it out completely.

I almost had a panic attack right then and there. Give up coffee?! I couldn’t! I wouldn’t. There was no way. I relied on coffee. I loved coffee. It woke me up in the morning. It made me happy. It curbed my appetite. Coffee was my soulmate.

But with my health at stake, and with the realization that it could very well be the culprit of my recent anxious symptoms, I decided to give it a go. I could at least have decaf – that was better than nothing, right?

When I switched to decaf, I expected the dreaded afternoon caffeine deprivation headaches, but I never got them. It could have been the acupuncture, I’m not really sure, but I also didn’t crash mid-afternoon from the caffeine finally leaving my system. I felt better than I had in months, and didn’t miss the caffeine at all. I realized that part of my caffeine addiction was actually the physical action of having coffee in the morning at my desk while I worked.

It was a few weeks ago when I started to notice that I didn’t love the way that even decaf coffee was making my body feel. Every afternoon, like clockwork, I would feel like I was coming down with a cold or flu – my throat would get scratchy and mucusy [(<<< is that a word?) sorry, gross, I know], and my head would feel cloudy and feverish. It wasn’t a good feeling, and the only thing I could equate it to was the coffee, because I wouldn’t end up ever getting sick. It was around that time that I decided I would deplete what was left of my grounds and creamer and take a break from coffee altogether.

This last Monday marked my first day without coffee in the morning, and I have felt absolutely wonderful this entire week. I really don’t miss coffee at all. My body feels healthier, I’m more alert, I don’t feel sick every day. I do occasionally long for the flavor or the warm mug in my hands, but the effect it has on my body? That I definitely do not miss.

Will I give up coffee for the rest of my life? Probably not. When I’m up in Tahoe during the summer, I love sitting on the deck every morning with a hot cup of it and watching the sun come up and the world come alive. There are some instances, like that, where you just cannot replace your good ol’ friend, coffee.

Grammar Police

Being a writer and an avid book reader, I am aaallllllll about grammar.

And, yes, I am that stereotypical friend that will correct your grammar.

I know it’s annoying, but I don’t care. Wanna know why [and yes, I understand that wanna is not a “real” word]?

Here’s the thing, guys. We are ADULTS. I am almost thirty. I, along with all of my peers [and all of you!] have been spelling for probably at least two decades. We have been writing essays, reading books, and, in this day and age, we are constantly on social media. Facebook and Instagram are a whole conglomeration of words.

So don’t you think it’s fair to say that it seems completely unacceptable to me that people [ADULT PEOPLE] still spell words wrong, or use the wrong version of they’re, their and there?

Now, I understand that English and grammar come more easily to some than others. Myself, for example. I’ve been blessed with an affinity for words. But, on the flipside, I am terrible at science. It just does not click in my brain.

But spelling is something we do EVERY DAY – all of us! We all have a smartphone, we all send texts – there’s no denying that regardless of your career path you are still using words every day. I send and receive hundreds of emails every day. And it blows my mind how many professional emails appear in my inbox with glaringly obvious grammatical errors.

AND, on top of all of that, our computers and our phones have an autocorrect and/or spellcheck software built into them. So anytime you spell a word wrong, it shows you the correction, or it underlines the word in bright red – it’s literally glaring at you that you’ve made an error. How, I ask you – HOW do we continue to eff this up?!

Now, let’s talk about public figures. Celebs, athletes, body builders, Instagram famers – people who have hundreds of thousands of followers and who seem to make quite an impression on society. Maybe none of you ever notice when they use the wrong your or you’re, but I do. Or maybe you do notice, but you think, “Well, that makes them real. They make mistakes, too.”

Okay, fair enough. Making mistakes is part of human nature. But when you have agents, managers, publicists, marketing specialists, etc – basically an entire conglomeration of humans at your beck-and-call – there is absolutely NO EXCUSE for grammatical errors. Maybe I’m being harsh, but it totally revokes your credibility as a power figure in my mind. So many celebs post long and thoughtful posts that have so much potential to have meaning and be life changing, but there are so many misspellings and errors in word usage that it’s distracting.

I guess maybe my sour taste for bad grammar stems from this fear that we are losing something sacred – something centuries and centuries old! The written word is what has given us a connection to our world’s history. It’s how we know about dictators, royalty, early Egyptians – until a decade or so ago, it documented every major event from the past. And, yes, the internet and the age of technology has more than given us the ability to continue to do this [and definitely with more accuracy], but the nostalgia of the written word fills my heart. There’s something about it that’s so romantic and personal, and to see people almost slander it – well, it hurts a little bit.

Let’s be smart, you guys. Let’s not let technology dumb us down. Keep in touch with your roots – write and reteach yourself how to spell and use the correct version of words at any opportunity that you can. It doesn’t make you ancient, it makes you human.

And Just Ahead Dangles That Golden Carrot

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about temptation. What it is, why it exists..

Why does it exist??

And why does it make us bad people if we give in to it?

As an example, let’s talk about how difficult it is to eat healthy every day. You have to plan a meal, go to the store, buy all of the necessary ingredients, and then cook the meal, eat it, and clean up after yourself. And half the time, the meal isn’t even all that good, but all of that work went into it anyway – and with so little reward. And for what?

I mean, c’mon – it’s EXHAUSTING.

And THEN, on top of that, we berate the fuck out of ourselves for then giving in to our innermost desires, like, a portion of ice cream after said meal. Or a chocolate bar. You get the idea.

That is why I don’t watch what I eat. I mean, I DO, to an extent, and I exercise [occasionally], but I try not to overthink what I eat because, in my opinion, you only live once. You should enjoy life, enjoy the food you put into your body. INDULGE.

But there it is again – indulgence. Giving in to temptation, is it not?

So what is life, then? A constant bombardment of temptation? A series of crossroads that determine your moral code based on whether or not you give in to your guilty pleasures?

It just doesn’t seem fair.

But then, on the flip side of things, does giving in to temptation when it comes to relationships produce the same level of guilt that eating chocolate when we’re dieting does? Does it even compare?

I think it’s fair to say that most of us, at one time or another, have experienced a relationship with a person that has left a mark on our souls. It could be a friendly relationship, a romantic one, even just a work relationship. A relationship in which something happened that left an impression – something good, maybe; something bad. Something. And we don’t ever forget these people, or what their impact was on our lives.

So what do we do, then, if these people always linger in the back of our minds? Do we just try and forget about them and move on? Do we try and rekindle old flames? Repair a broken friendship?

And would the guilt of trying outweigh their constant presence on our conscious? Or vice versa?

Let’s go with the ever-familiar scenario of “The One Who Got Away.”

Don’t even say you’ve never had one. We all have.

We often think of them, but we’ve accepted the fact that it just didn’t work out. And we move on.

PLOT TWIST.

The one that got away returns! But you’ve moved on. New relationship, new chapter, new life. But the “one”!

But the timing.. It’s just so, SO bad.

What do you do? What should you do?

Is there really a right or wrong answer?

For most of us, our guilty conscious would balk at the idea of giving that person another opportunity, right? If you’re happy now, why would you even risk it?

There’s always that lingering, “What if.”

WHAT IF.

Only the two most controversial words when it comes to temptation and guilty pleasures.

What if I didn’t eat this ice cream? I’d feel so much better tomorrow.
But, what if I *did* eat this ice cream? It would taste SO GOOD right now.

What if I gave our friendship another shot? I miss how much fun we used to have..
What if I didn’t? I remember how much we argued because we didn’t see eye-to-eye.

Do we ever know what the right decision is? And is our decision based solely on emotion, or do we need to factor in logic, too?

The ongoing struggle for dominance between the head and the heart.

“I can resist everything except temptation.” — Oscar Wilde


Which do you guys answer to? I’m curious to know how you deal with temptation and whether or not you ever give in to it. Would love feedback!

Milk: It Does a [Baby’s] Body Good.

As a woman nearing my thirties, it’s only natural that my Facebook feed would be overrun with fellow female acquaintances announcing pregnancies and births. And it’s because of these ladies that I’ve noticed a common topic amongst them that really just irks the heck out of me.

The top is breastfeeding. And not just breastfeeding, but breastfeeding in public.

More and more, lately, I’ve been seeing moms on my Facebook feed share posts and thoughts about being harassed about breastfeeding in public. This in and of itself astounds me – but what’s even more mind boggling is that the people that are harassing them are WOMEN. Our fellow comrades!

Um.. WHAT?!

Look, I get it. Showing your naked breast in public is NOT the tits [ha-ha], generally speaking. In American society, naked breast = stripper [no offense towards those who have this job].

But if you’re feeding your brand new infant child that relies on your breast milk 100% for nourishment and survival? That is somehow offensive?

So let me get this straight.. Our society deems it okay to pay celebrities millions of dollars to show their parts on the silver screen? We are PAYING MONEY to see ADULT women [and men] who are deemed “famous” by society and tabloids with their clothes off. Carls Jr. specifically markets half naked women on their TV commercials with sauces and juices dripping all over their bits. Oh.. And people are paying money to go to strip clubs where it’s basically a crime if  a woman is wearing a shirt and bra.

Ahh but you find it offensive and disgusting that a mother would be discreetly feeding her helpless and innocent and hungry child in public.

Yes, well, I can see how this all makes sense.

NOT!!!!!!!

This is not the nineteenth century, people! Maybe you haven’t noticed, but there are literally humans on this planet that are CHANGING THEIR GENDERS, and you’re over here worrying about a woman feeding her baby and flashing a little bit of “forbidden” skin?

God forbid any of you people visit another country, lest you lose your mind over the fact that bathing suit tops are optional at public beaches [read: no women wear tops at beaches in Europe – literally not one].

No, I cannot relate to how closed-minded you are because I’ve grown up in a society where men openly love men and women openly love women and the idea of a mother doing something natural like feeding her infant child doesn’t bother me. I guess maybe I’m desensitized to it. I couldn’t even tell you the last time I actually noticed a baby being fed in public. Probably because I DON’T CARE. I have 6548721354987 other things going on in my life that a woman I don’t know feeding a baby I don’t know doesn’t affect my life in ANY WAY.

And, if it truly bothers you that much – LOOK AWAY. Avert your eyes. Oh my gosh, what a concept!

I understand that this post may offend some of your delicate sensibilities, and I am completely okay with that. I think sometimes our society needs to open its minds a bit more – whether people like it or not, our world is changing. And you can choose to hate it and expel useless energy on refusing to accept these changes, OR you can educate yourselves and roll with the punches.

Reflection

I haven’t written anything in a while. And it’s not for lack of inspiration because I’ve honestly had plenty to say. But everything I began to write would, more often than not, end up heading in a negative direction. And while I fully believe in writing to release inner demons, it is not the message I want to send to the world via my blog.

So, for now, I will be keeping those posts to myself.

I do, however, want to go all cliche and emotional since it’s the end of the year and everybody’s doing it and, well, why the heck not?

It’s funny how our concept of time changes as we advance in age. I can remember in my youth [okay, my younger youth] feeling like it took ages and ages for Christmas to come. A whole year seemed to go on in the span of several. And now, time seems to be sprinting by. One minute it’s New Year’s Day, and in the blink of an eye another year has passed.

As I sit here thinking about how I’ve spent my last 365 days, I realize how lucky I am to have had such a positive and wonderful year. I mean, sure, this past year, like all the others, has definitely had its ups and downs, but coming out at the tail end of it all, I am grateful to say that it’s been mostly good.

I was fortunate enough to witness two beautiful and completely different unions of love [one of which I had the pleasure of actually being a part of]. I myself put my own heart on the line – I dated, I put myself out there which is something I don’t often do [read: never]. I grew leaps and bounds in my career, I traveled, I traveled with my dog. The list could go on and on. And while of course there were some not so pleasant moments scattered amongst the good, I realize that life is just one gigantic learning curve. Are we going to learn from our first mistake? Or will we make the same one over and over until we discover we can no longer live with ourselves?

And what of New Year’s Resolutions? I sure am not one to make them, let alone stick to them. When I was younger I’d stack up a long list of things I wanted to accomplish or change in the coming year. And then a week later I’d have misplaced that list and never given it a second thought.

So instead of making a list of things I want to accomplish, I will make one for what I know I will accomplish.

I know I will advance in my career. I know I will be closer to buying a home. I know I will continue to date and meet new people and remain on the path towards finding love. And I know that throughout all of my experiences I will still be myself. I will still be true to me.

And that, I think, is the most important resolution of all.

A New Lease on Life

I consider myself a pretty lucky lady. I am surrounded by my loving [albeit dysfunctional] family, and I have a small but strong group of girlfriends. I have an amazing job working for an incredible company, which allows Bella and me to live away from my parents’ home. I have a roof over my head, a reliable car to get me to work and back home again – believe me, I count my lucky stars every single day for this beautiful life I have been given.

But, despite all of that, it does get me down sometimes that I’m 28-years-old and I still don’t own a home.

One of my [many, many, MANY] jobs at my company is to process eligibility for a majority of our clients. For example, if you are a new employee with a company, you are generally eligible for benefits after 30 days. I process the forms that you fill out to enroll with the company’s benefits. Most companies offer life benefits, and every time I process an enrollment for them, it crosses my mind that it’s silly that I even had to fill out my own form.

I have nothing of value to “divvy” up to my loved ones. Okay.. My car and my dog.. That is literally everything that I possess that holds anything of value to me. A home is the place you can go back to at the end of every day and be proud of. A place that you earned fair and square [well, for the most part – there are a handful of people on this earth that get gifted hefty amounts of money from their families].

And I don’t have that! I rent a decent apartment for an overpriced amount of money, and I don’t get nearly the service or the accommodations that I’m paying for. The struggle is real. And the truth of the matter is that I can’t afford a house right now. At least, not in a decent neighborhood. And, while I am desperate for that cozy homestead, I am not desperate enough to resort to one in the ghetto. Noooo thank you.

But where does this necessity to own a home stem from? Where all other “needs” are born – society.

And not just any society – American society. The most individualistic society on this planet. The society that tells you that you must flee the coop at the rip age of 18. The society that refuses to update its public transportation system because god forbid we give up our freedom by not driving our own cars everywhere. Yeah, that society is telling us that we all need to own our own homes.

My cousin lives in Chealsea, a [fancy] neighborhood right outside of London. She has lived there for several years and has just always rented a flat. It’s just too expensive to buy a place. And this isn’t just specifically a London thing – nobody in Europe buys. NOBODY. Everybody rents. It’s just the way it is. And nobody thinks anything of it.

So why should it matter if I’m almost 30 and I still don’t have a deed with my name on it? The bottom line is, it shouldn’t matter. What I’m doing now is exactly what everybody else in the world is doing.

At the end of the day, I’m happy. I’m able to pay my bills, fill my closet, feed my dog, travel to visit friends – those are the things that matter to me. My apartment is nice enough and large enough to entertain friends and family if I should so feel the need. What will a home do for me? At least at my apartment, when things break down, all I have to do is call the maintenance team and they will solve the problem [for no additional cost, at that!]. If I owned a home, I’d have to call a plumber, or an HVAC tech, or any sort of mechanic to come for a hefty fee and fix the issue.

Yeah, so, I’m throwing money away on rent every month, instead of investing in my own home. But if the rest of the world is doing it, then who the hell is America to say that it’s wrong?

It’s not.

And the moral of the story is, just be happy with what you have, for now. Don’t struggle or live outside your means because someone or something is telling you that you’re doing things incorrectly. Do what feels right for you. Someday, when I have the money to comfortably own and run my own home, then I will.

But for now, I’m going to enjoy the perks of living with a lease.