Gen Y and Self Vandalism

This semester I’m taking a US Cultural History class, which is fascinating. This class has caused me to pause and think about the way my generation functions, how we have been set up to interact with the “real world.” But the longer I’m in the class, and the longer I think about it, the more cynical I become.

You see, it strikes me how selfishly blind my generation is. No one cares for the well being of anyone else in a truly selfless and loyal way. There’s no concern for how one’s words effect and affect, because we’re “just kidding.” There’s no concern for how habits, like gossip, reveal two things- a victim complex (heaven help us if someone dares take responsibility) and a lack of respect for both self and everyone else.

Vicious lies and exaggerations blow beliefs out of proportion and feast on well-intentioned sympathy. Extremes offer something to talk about, just because we like the sound of our own voices, drowning out those who have a real message with derision and mockery.

All of this is revealed through not only nasty habits, but taste in music. A walk through the pop and rock sections of a music store will generally reveal artists who endorse this self-absorbed mindset, and it only takes a look at bands that are well known (Evanescence is who comes to mind) who sing of depressing loneliness, allowing for the hearer to wallow in self-sympathy, saying through their choice in music that they did all they could. This listener is their own worst enemy, unable to see beyond themselves, to see the damage left in their wake. They simply recite their sad stories and bare their scars over and over again, brooding on all their perceived injuries.

I will not deny that sometimes their scars are real, and tell a heartbreaking story. But there’s a difference between using those stories to make a point compared to brooding on them and reading way too much into every little comment. It is this second type I am referring to. It’s not healthy, and it’s highly destructive- to self and everyone else.

Along that similar thought process, not everyone is like this. I’ve met some genuinely kind, godly people my age. I’ve had some deep, encouraging conversations. I’ve had intellectually stimulating conversations with people only a few months older than me. But the trend I see is that of the selfish Gen Y.

We were the kids raised in the wake of globalization and the internet. We network instinctively, but this has given way to cyber-bullying. We are the true iEverything generation. We’ve been through countless anti-bullying campaigns and numerous self-worth messages. We aren’t allowed to say what we mean anymore, or mean what we say, especially if it offends. We’ve taken up a passive aggressive methods that put the Cold War to shame, because it’s all we’ve been left.

We rely on shallow relationships that spread horizontally, including everyone. This becomes a problem, because we no longer have relationships that are independent of each other. How we interact with one person is how we interact with everyone. If you hurt one person, you become a pariah in your social group, and there’s no forgiveness found there.

I suppose I could make excuses. After all, this applies to me too, though I so wish it didn’t. But I find I can’t excuse these behaviors, especially after feeling the sting of it. Something needs to change.

Respect needs to come back. A balance between this respect and our inflated self-image needs to be found, so we can not only respect ourselves, but others. After all, if we don’t respect ourselves, why would we respect others?

We need to learn how to listen, how to sit quietly and try to understand and comprehend what others are saying. We need to stop over analyzing everything that is said or done, and accept that maybe, just maybe, everyone else isn’t out to hurt us. That maybe they’re hurting too.

In short, we need to grow up. We can’t all be Peter Pan. We need to leave behind Middle School mentalities.

It makes me so sad that we’ve lost the innocence of childhood. That gentleness and kindness have become objects of mockery. We were made in the image of God, and we might have been his masterpiece, but someone went through the gallery and sharpied it, and every other piece in there.

The sobering thought is that it was me, and you, who desecrated that masterpiece. We are our own vandals. We can’t continue in this trend. We’re only hurting ourselves and others far more. Something needs to change.

If everyone has a longing for a basic dignity, a dream of equality, and a hope that one day they’ll be respected, without having to change themselves, then shouldn’t that be where we start? I don’t believe it’s too late for my generation, but I don’t think changes will be easy.

Unrealistic Expectations and the Myth of Perfection

I am a Type-A perfectionist with mothering tendencies. I am very much a morning person, and once I’ve gotten my shower, I’m wide awake and happy as a lark. I like to have things a certain way, and since I’m a micro-manager, if that way isn’t achieved it’s very hard for me to focus on anything. I have to be dying to miss a class, and my homework must always be at least a high B. When I work, I believe that I should give it my all, and do my very best. And it’s a constant struggle to fulfill my ideal of perfect officer for both my club and my honors society.

I’ve read theories on why I am the way I am. Everyone has contributed their two-cents worth about my personality flaws, and I catch myself taking these to heart, becoming paranoid about being perfect. I’m sure all of these theories play a part in it. I am a first-born, and a “parentified” child. I was homeschooled, so I expect more of myself academically than I expect from my peers, and it’s a thorn in my flesh that I am not the best at everything I do. I am an unrepentant over-achiever, and anything short of perfection, or my perception of what that would be, is not good enough.

These tendencies have caused huge problems for me. Friendships have been lost, or put in danger, because I come across as bossy and a “busybody.” I have been known to make friends feel like I don’t really want to spend time with them because I’m so busy, and penciling them in is taking away from other things, or on the other hand, I’m way too involved for their comfort. I never stop moving, meaning that I’m exhausted at the end of the day, and grumpy because I haven’t met my expectations for me.

Pausing now, in an hour of time gained unexpectedly, I can’t help but think about my expectations, my values, and the consequences. If I’m being brutally honest, I know that my goal- perfection- doesn’t exist on this earth, and it makes me think about why I do what I do.

There’s this drive in me that’s forever pushing me forward, while pulling me back over my mistakes at the same time. I need to do better. Need to reach my goals. This need makes it impossible for me to sit still (even as I’m writing this my feet and legs won’t stop moving, and I’ve gotten up several times to do little tasks.) I’m tied to both this vague future point and everything I have ever done wrong, and it leaves no room for present satisfaction.

I try to be “normal” and not let these needs and habits interrupt my life. I can try to explain it to those who are closest to me, but whether they take this into their calculations of me or not is another matter. I try to take everything I’m told with a grain of salt, and not let it become too personal. But sometimes, I really just need affirmation.

Sometimes, I just need someone to be patient with my quirks and habits. I need to people understand just how deep their words, even the most basic comments, go. I need to be heard out and what I say be taken seriously and treated with respect, and not joked about. Some days, it’s a struggle for me to not sink into a semi-depressed state because I’ve fallen short of perfection yet again.

Please don’t give me a handful of nice sounding Christian platitudes. I know that God is the only place where perfection exists, and that I’m not God. I don’t want to be God. I know that I’m a broken human being, and telling me that I shouldn’t have such high expectations of myself doesn’t help, it just makes me feel worse, because no one else lives like I’m a broken human, too. I know that one day God will make all things right, and restore the earth and everything in it to perfection, and I have faith that I, too, will be restored.

It’s not something that logic can work through. Trust me. I’ve been trying for the last twenty years. It’s not something that I’m entirely sure I can fix, and if I can, I can’t help but wonder if I’d really want to fix it.

You see, these traits make me a fantastic employee, a great student, and a Super-Womanesque officer. I’m responsible to a fault.

I guess my point in writing this is to clear my mind, to point out that you can take me or leave me, but understand that there’s way more under the surface than you could ever imagine. I (almost) always mean well in what I do, despite how that comes across. And above all, I just wanted to point out that I am merely human, despite everything I can seemingly accomplish without help. Please treat me like that.

Sorry, Just Not Sorry

The intelligent backlash is beginning against Emma Watson’s HeForShe campaign, and although it proves a refreshing break from the “Oh, look, she does have ovaries” and “This is not a woman to love” comments, its half thought through, at best.

Arguments are being made that this campaign is unfair to the men, because it doesn’t address the issues of female on male violence. It doesn’t discuss men’s rights, when he doesn’t want his significant other to have their child, and it certainly doesn’t talk about false accusations of rape.

This is all true. The campaign was not designed to handle these issues. But let us consider the source. Emma Watson was employed as the UN’s Women’s Goodwill Ambassador (emphasis mine). Not “Human Goodwill Ambassador” or “Domestic Orders Ambassador.” Naturally her focus will be on that which she was hired to focus on.

Conveniently, none of these articles bother to mention that even in first world countries, there is discrimination, and something needs to be done. As a woman, I can expect to earn 70 cents to the dollar (USD), compared to my male counterparts. In all the readings I’ve done, not only are women still discouraged from discussing the amount on their paycheck (which is considered bad taste and poor manners, allowing for discrimination to occur un-noticed), but supposing they feel the need for a raise, if they ask, although some companies view that as a valuable trait for upper level employees, they are treated as though they are somehow emasculated, losing their femininity by being aggressive.

This occurs at all levels, too. This last week, in one of my classes we were given an assignment and broken into groups. I was the only female in mine, which isn’t that unusual. However, as we went through the assignment and began discussing ideas, I was offering valid ideas, with support for my interpretation, which was the core of this assignment, but everything I said was not even given a fair hearing by my peers. It took the male professor to come over and ask if everyone was being listened to in order for my peers to hear me out, because they valued another man’s voice more than my own.

I didn’t believe this happened anymore, until it happened to me. I thought that surely the US had progressed enough that those who are my age, those who have been raised in an extremely politically correct era, would treat me equally. It is deeply disturbing to me that in one of the most advanced first world nations, this would happen. It is deeply disturbing to me that only half of the world still has no voice.

So while the HeForShe campaign isn’t addressing male issues, I do not believe it is totally invalid. Sure, it doesn’t address male issues, but let’s be real. It was created by a person who was hired to handle female issues, so why would it handle male issues? Maybe you should take it to the UN and request a Male Goodwill Ambassador to fight for equality, instead of complaining about Emma. But you won’t. It’s much easier to complain about perceived wrongs than do anything.

Sorry, I’m just not sorry for asking for equality. I’m not sorry for wanting to be heard, for my thoughts being given just as much weight as those of my male peers. I’m not sorry for not wanting to be called names because I chose to be aggressive in making myself heard.

40 Things Every College Girl Needs To Be Reminded Once In A While


With a few exceptions, this is surprisingly accurate. I wish I could share this with all the new freshmen ladies this year.

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

[tc-related post=310923 align=right]

1. The number of weekends you have in college to go out and let loose is not infinite, go out at least once a weekend.

2. So you’ve gained a few pounds? You’re becoming a woman you’re not supposed to look 18 forever.

3. College wouldn’t be college if you got 8 hours of sleep every night. Embrace being tired it means you’re doing something right.

4. Pizza is one of God’s great creations, you’re hurting God’s feelings when you act too good for it.

5. Don’t let one creepy guy form your opinion on an entire fraternity.

6. Do not minimize what a privilege college is. Many people who are capable to be where you are can’t get there for a variety of reasons. Respect your opportunities.

7. Don’t settle for attention from icky guys

8. Don’t settle period.

9. Don’t give up if…

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Nameless story, Chap 7

My heart attempted to make an escape through my mouth as I jumped, turned and slammed down the laptop lid simultaneously. Autumn stood directly behind me, arms crossed, a very confused look on her face.

“Holy crap, don’t do that to me!” I gasped, pressing a hand against my chest.

“I thought you knew I was in here,” she said dryly. “I made enough noise coming in.”

“I didn’t hear you,” I snapped, very irritable.

“I could tell by your reaction,” she said sharply. “I might be a rookie, and I might be younger than you, but I’m not stupid.”

I gave her a filthy look and tried to slow my heart rate. You act suspicious, people will treat you like you’re suspicious, I told myself, slumping into my seat. Guilt stabbed me in the heart as I looked back up at her.

“Look, I didn’t mean it,” I started, my voice shaky. “I’m sorry. I’m not saying that you’re stupid, I didn’t mean it like that.”

“No, I get it, you’re under a lot of pressure. Can’t be easy, training a rookie to take the place of your best friend,” she said, seeming irked. Something close to compassion, or maybe it was pity, flitted across her face for a moment before her expression settled into on of curiosity. “So who were you promising what to?”

“Sarah,” I said heavily, running a hand through my hair, feeling as though I’d just run a marathon.

“But she’s-” Autumn began. I looked at her tiredly and she changed track pretty quickly. “Why? What were you promising her?”

“Why? Because she asked me to do something if I could,” I said, running my fingers through my hair again.

“Well, what did she ask you to do?” Autumn asked, sitting down on the foot of my bed.

“I don’t see how that’s any of your concern,” I said, trying to stay calm.

“I guess it’s not,” she said, wilting. I could hear Sarah reprimanding me in the back of my mind.

Come on, treat the poor girl better. She doesn’t deserve this!

“Does it have anything to do with that thing you were reading?” Autumn asked hesitantly. I forced myself to not flinch, to not tense up.

That “poor girl” is too smart for her own good, I told Sarah defiantly.

“Yes, it is,” I said, turning away. I was sure my guilt was written all over my face.

“Well, this whole thing must have you torn up pretty bad,” Autumn said carefully. “but it sounds like your friend knew that it was coming.”

I couldn’t restrain myself as my hands curled into fists on my desk. Slowly I turned my chair back to face her.

“Why do you say that? Who told you anything about Sarah’s death?” I demanded harshly.

“Well, you for one,” Autumn said, watching me. “And the other squad members. The placement officer. Not to mention that thing you were reading.”

The world fell away as I heard and comprehended what she was saying. My heart attempted to escape through my mouth again, and I must have jumped to my feet, because I was suddenly standing.

“How much did you see?” I asked, my voice deadly quiet. Autumn’s eyes had grown to the size of golf balls, as she continued to stare at me.

“Just the bit about, um, her being in big trouble and, um, the files on the SD card,” she said, sounding slightly concerned. My breath escaped from my lungs like a balloon, and she took the opportunity to roll off the bed and move to the other side of the room, still watching me warily.

“I’m not going to tell anyone,” she said hesitantly. “If your friend got killed for it, then there’s no way I’m going to go running my mouth about all of this.”

I stared back at her blankly, my brain struggling to process everything that I was hearing.

Told you you needed to be nicer to her, Sarah’s voice echoed in my head. Numbly I shot her a mental dirty look.

“Oh goodness, this is too much,” I muttered, dropping back into my desk chair. “What did I do to deserve this?”

“I don’t know, but it must have been really fun,” Autumn said wryly. I studied her serious face for a moment before smiling.

My emotions felt like a roller coaster, and I was drained from the breakneck speed they were changing with. Numbly I wondered if I was going insane, and then I dismissed the thought.

“I’m stuck with you, aren’t I?” I asked her.

“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” she countered.

“That’s not how I meant it-“I began as a wicked smile, much like the ones that Sarah used to give me, spread over her face.

“I’m just messing with you,” she said, with an overly patient tone of voice. I considered throwing something at her, and then dismissed the thought.

“It might not be that bad,” I said. “Of course, it could also be horrible. You’ll never know until it happens, Autumn.” Surprise flitted across her face, only to be replaced y a teary eyed smile.

“That’s the first time you’ve used my name,” she whispered, grinning more genuinely that I had ever seen her grin.

“Don’t get used to it,” I said gruffly, turning back to my computer to hide my awkwardness.

“Can I ask exactly what’s going on?” Autumn asked, crossing the room. “If I’m getting in trouble, I like to know why.”

“I wish I knew,” I answered, opening my laptop back up. “Whatever it is, it sounds illegal.”

“Is it illegal if a branch of the military and a government funded research group are both doing it?” she asked. “Whatever ‘it’ is, that is.”

“Yes, it is,” I said. “Assuming it breaks the laws, that is.”

“Well, it must,” she reasoned. “Why else would Agent Castello be killed?”

“I have no idea about that either,” I muttered, exiting out of the folders and ejecting the SD card. “But I have a feeling I’m going to need more help than I have now, and it looks like Sarah intended for a couple of other people to be in on this.”

“The more the merrier,” she chirped, sounding possitively excited by the prospect, blissfully unaware of the knot that was forming in my stomach.

“Right,” I said, hiding the card in my desk. “Merrier indeed.”

I Am Enough

You’re not good enough.

You can’t fulfill me.

You’ll never be enough.

So I do more

I try harder

I meet your goals

The bar is raised once more.

I believe your words.

I see what you see.

I will always fall short.

So I do more.

I try harder.

I meet my goals.

The bar is raised once more.

I’m growing weary.

I can’t keep this up.

Perfection is my goal.

So I do more.

I try harder.

Strive for my goals.

The bar cannot be raised.

I’m not good enough.

I can’t be fulfilled.

I’ll never be enough.

I can’t do more.

Can’t try harder.

Can’t meet my goals.

How did I get to this?

I was made enough.

You do fulfill me.

I am enough for you.

I don’t need more.

Don’t have to try.

No goals to meet.

Remind me who I am.