Dear Millennials: You’re Not Victims

We live in a time where no one wants to take responsibility for themselves. When things go wrong, it’s never our own fault. It’s always someone else’s. Fewer people are getting married because it’s too much responsibility – it’s easier to just live with someone under the illusion of marriage. Fewer people are having children. They’d rather have a “fur-baby” than an actual child because raising a human is a lot of responsibility. Sometimes they go so far as to get rid of a child because they refuse to own their choices.

Nothing is ever “our” fault. It’s “their” fault, whomever “they” might be – rich white men, capitalism, conservatives, liberals, the economy, the education system. You name it, it’s been blamed for something. I’m not pointing out any specific person, religion, political party, or any other belief – it’s everywhere you look. News media has grabbed hold of it, celebrities have grabbed hold of it, and, in turn, culture at large has, too. This kind of behavior leads to one becoming a victim of his circumstances. Never making gains to solve his own problems but asking people to solve them for him – because he deserves it, gosh darn it. Because “they” owe it to him. Because he is a victim of “them.”

Being a victim of your situation isn’t such a new thing. I haven’t lived long enough to know what it’s looked like in past generations, but I definitely know what it looks like among millennials, because I am one, and I’ve fallen into the “victim” mindset before. Millennials are crying for “safe spaces” so they don’t feel offended or attacked. Instead of engaging in healthy debate and conversation, they’re blocking traffic in “peaceful” protest or attacking one another on social media, or simply whining about something, whether it’s the state of our nation, their paycheck, or other things they feel victimized by.

If it sounds like I’m being harsh, it’s because I am. Millennials don’t like harsh. Can’t we all just get along in a world of fluffy animals and cat memes? Why get a wake-up call now when I can just retreat into my safe space and rock back and forth in a fetal position until I get what I want?

I think this is something millennials need to hear. Millennials were raised believing they are special and the world is their oyster. Many graduated into a crappy economy with a mountain of college debt, leaving many disillusioned. And yet, instead of standing up and being responsible, many are choosing to be victims. Yes, I said choosing. They think they deserve something that they’re not getting, and they take personal offense to that.

“This is all the baby boomers’ fault.”

“This is all the liberals’/conservatives’/whatevers’ fault.”

“This is all the American school systems’ fault.”

True, there are a lot of things in this world that are out of our control. We couldn’t control when the economy took a turn, or who got elected before we could vote, or the cost of higher education, but if we become victims to these circumstances, we’ll never get anywhere or change anything.

Sadly, a lot of millennials have adopted this mindset. They choose to lay down and die, or continually complain about their situation without taking strides to change it. And some even openly call themselves “victims” when they aren’t even victims at all. They still have a job, a paycheck, and a life with many freedoms and luxuries many people in the world do not have. But when their feelings get hurt, it becomes a national tragedy.

Do you know who real victims are? Corrie ten Boom, who faced unimaginable atrocities because she chose to help people in grave danger. Talk about owning your choices. Or Anne Frank, who didn’t even know she was going to become a hero to millions. Who lived in constant fear of her life but still continued to dream and live.

Do you know who real victims are? The children of Aleppo, who wonder if they’ll see their parents again, or even if they’ll see tomorrow. Syrian refugees who literally have no home and hardly a friend in the world.

Do you know who real victims are? Women and men who are fighting for their lives and their dignity every day as sex slaves. People who have been ripped from their homes and told they have literally no worth as a human being.

Puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

Just because you graduated with debt into a bad economy, or because one person didn’t respect your customs or creeds, or catcalls you on the street, does not make you a victim of anything. Rather, it doesn’t have to. You have to own your circumstances, not let them own you. You’ll be miserable if you let that happen. At the end of the day, finger-pointing isn’t going to do anything for you.

This is my opinion, and if you disagree, congratulations. You have a mind that thinks for itself and forms its own opinion. This is me, floating my own opinion out for the sake of (hopefully) starting a (meaningful) conversation (that doesn’t involve namecalling or blaming.)

Own your decisions, own your circumstances, and you’ll own your life.

 

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Missing Someone.

 

Sometimes people leave you halfway through the woods.

– Cinderella, Into the Woods

There have been many times in my life when I’ve missed someone. I’m sure that’s happened to you too – missing a person is not a peculiar thing. Maybe they’ve left your city, or just left your life. Or they’ve left this life, which is its own kind of missing someone.

Whatever it may be, they’re not with you anymore. But they’ve left something behind, and that something is usually (ironically) Emptiness. Because there’s a hole in your life now, a gap that used to be filled by moments, moments with that person. But now that the person’s gone, you gotta work on filling that gap.

I’m in a period of life right now where I’m missing someone. I forgot how much it hurts. The last time someone I loved moved away from me, I was in third grade. I remember laying in my mom’s bed crying after I found out my best friend was moving away. I didn’t think it was fair. Why would my best friend leave? How do people leave people they love?

I did the same thing a few months ago, except I was with a different loved one and we cried together. We sat there and hugged each other and cried for a long time. Because parting is hard. Missing someone is hard. I replay the last time I saw them again and again in my mind, wishing I could have held on to that moment just a little bit longer.

I didn’t think it was fair. How do people leave people they love?

And then those memories come, the whispers of the time you spent with that person. You associate things and places with them. I think of my friend every time I see a Pontiac Grand Prix – no joke. Sometimes those memories hit you like a truck. Other times, you wake up with those quiet remembrances in your head.

There’s a certain stretch of busy road that I associate with that loved one. It’s weird how those associations start, isn’t it? We drove through that corridor so many times, after going out to restaurants or watching scary movies, usually accompanied by blaring music. All of those times we drove it, I never thought it would end. I think about it every time I drive down that particular stretch of road. On a bad day, it’ll bring tears to my eyes. On a good day, it’ll make me smile.

That’s the thing with missing someone. You never know how it’s going to hit you. You never know how a memory is going to make you feel. I smile when I think about the time the friendly stray cat followed us around my neighborhood. Until I wish we could do it again. Then I start crying. (I cry easily.)

After I got off a FaceTime conversation with them the other night, I started crying. I started crying because I saw them, but I wasn’t with them. I have it much easier than some people – if you’ve lost a loved one, you can’t see them or be with them. Thank goodness for modern technology.

There’s a little bit of selfishness with missing someone…maybe more than just a little. You want them to be back with you, for them to stay as they were, locked in your memory. But people change and grow and move. To keep them in one place forever would be selfish.

One thing I’ve learned from missing people is that people are perpetual, never static. You, as a human being, have the right to change – and move. And leave, if you think it’s necessary.

I tried moving away once. But I’m a homebody. I still live close to my childhood home. I got so devastatingly homesick that I couldn’t function. My loved one just moved back to his original home. I couldn’t imagine doing what he did – moving so far away for such a long time. It takes a brave person to do that. It takes a brave person to leave. And to go back.

Just like it takes a brave person to change.

Change, like a person, is perpetual. There won’t ever be a facet in your life that isn’t changing. And usually, change hurts. In this case, it can cause you to miss someone. Badly. But keep in mind the oft-quoted words of C.S. Lewis:

“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

Sidney Carton also said something similar to this at the end of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities – right before he was about to die. That’s what we call Perspective.

Back to that Person. That person who is not with you anymore. Remember that there are far, far better things ahead than what they left behind. Leaving is a hard decision. But just wait. Watch that Person grow and become something incredible, something they could’ve never been if they’d stayed. Continue to cheer for them, to love them, and miss them. It’s okay to miss them. Because eventually the “missing” part becomes less painful, because you look up from your tears and see not only the person they’ve become, but the person you’ve become.

And trust me, it’ll be amazing.

 

You Are An Incredible Woman.

If you’re not a woman, don’t read this.

Just kidding, you can read this. In fact, if you’re NOT a woman, I would actually encourage you to read this.

I consider myself to be a feminine woman. Some people might be turned off my the term “feminine” – what does it even mean? Isn’t it kind of a (gasp) stereotype? Well, yeah, it is. (But what adjective isn’t a stereotype? Think about it. Few adjectives are subjective. Use wisely.)

But before you get mad at me for calling myself “feminine” when “feminine” could mean a lot of different things, I’ll elaborate further. I would classify myself as a low-maintenance girly-girl. (Labels, am I right?) I like lipstick and I’m really into flowery fragrances, but I don’t take three hours to get ready in the morning and I couldn’t care less what my hair looks like from day to day. So, there you have it. Low-maintenance girly-girl. But feminine all the same.

Now, I think it’s kinda rude when people say a woman isn’t very “feminine” or “ladylike.” Maybe she just wasn’t raised that way. There’s definitely a stigma for how women should act (and also a stigma for how men should act). And there are millions of women (and men) who don’t fit that stigma (most of them, actually, unless you’re like John Wayne, who is the man’s man. I don’t know what the female equivalent would be. Something completely unattainable, like Betty Boop.)

I was raised the way most girls in the US are raised. Most of my baby stuff is pink or pastel-colored. I played with dolls, Barbies, princess dress-up clothes. And I loved it. (Parents, don’t ever think that you’re poisoning your child if you raise them the typical boy/girl way. Seriously. It’s not a mortal sin to dress up your baby girl in a pink onesie. It’s your kid. I loved the way my parents raised me.) When I reached those good old formative years (I’m talking somewhere between 8-15), my tastes changed as I was able to make some of my own choices. I was definitely a tomboy. When I was twelve I was obsessed with Robin Hood so I got a bow and arrow. I loved knights and swords and all that stuff. (Confession: I still do. Lord of the Rings fan for life.) The more I made my own choices, the more I discovered what kind of person I was. Now, in my twenties, I’m somewhere in the middle of tomboy and girly-girl. I still love my sweatpants and baggy flannel shirts, but I also like lipstick and shopping at Bath and Body Works (but only when I have a coupon.)

Before I start talking about feminism, I’ll talk about…feminism (I promise this post isn’t about feminism.) The word comes with a lot of weight behind it and a lot of connotations, good and bad. When some people hear that word, they think of the sixties and bra-burning. Some people think of Amy Schumer when they think about feminism. Other people are just really confused when people talk about feminism. What is feminism?

A lot of people define feminism by what it’s not – it’s not about hating men. It’s not about being better than men. It’s not about abortion or birth control. It’s about equality. That’s the political side of feminism. The side of feminism that’s about equal pay for women, contraceptives included in health insurance, and so on.

But I also think we’re all very aware of the social side of feminism, one that doesn’t concern itself so much with how women are paid but how they’re treated and how they’re depicted in the media. For example, Ghostbusters (the new one) is being held up as one small step for feminism, and a giant leap for women-kind. People are getting mad about it because it’s a team of all women as opposed to the Bill-Murray-helmed original, and other people are getting mad at the people who are mad at the fact that it’s all women. And still other people are mad that people are getting mad over a petty thing like people getting mad over a movie. I mean, people have gotten mad at movies before, right? Remember Twilight? (Okay, maybe it was just me who got mad at that movie. I was mad that it existed. But I think you get my point.)

So what’s the big deal? Why are people getting mad? Why are people getting mad at people getting mad? Well, that’s just a matter of opinion. Everyone has their opinion on feminism, and feminism is such a hot-button issue right now that whenever someone significant talks about it, them talking about it gets talked about.

So here’s my answer:

Feminism is being a woman.

 

Remember Audrey Hepburn? (I know, I’m biased because we share the same name, but I’m going to talk about her anyway.) I consider her a feminist icon. “But, Audrey!” you may say to me (Audrey being me, not Hepburn). “She was so…girly! And she was always the romantic interest in every movie ever!” Have you ever seen Breakfast at Tiffany’sNo? Go watch it right now. Watch it for the cat, if anything. That movie could have been written in 2016 and still been relevant.

Audrey Hepburn is probably remembered as one of the most feminine women to ever walk the earth. She always looked beautiful, she was extremely thin, and she said things that made you feel good about yourself. She also stepped out of the spotlight to raise her children. And she was also a humanitarian for basically her whole life.

I don’t know if she ever even talked about feminism. But she was a woman. An actress, a model, a mother, a humanitarian. “Oh, but she was pretty and frilly. Not every woman can be like her. She’s an unrealistic example.” Is she? True, there are few people who are as thin as she is, and many women (including myself) wish we could be half as beautiful as she was, but she’s still an icon. A lot of women look up to her as an icon of fashion and life overall.

She’s a woman. She’s a feminist.

What about your mom? (Not a yo momma joke, I promise.) What does she do for a living? Is she a doctor? Does she work retail? Is she a stay-at-home mom? All of these things are worthy pursuits. She’s providing for her family, whatever she does. She doesn’t have to have the highest-paying job just to prove something. Stay-at-home moms are some of the fiercest people I’ve ever met.

Let’s just get one thing straight: women are amazing. All women are amazing. Even women who aren’t “feminists” by the world’s standards are amazing. Women who still have old-fashioned ideas about womanhood are amazing. Unconventional women who don’t want to get married or have children are amazing. Audrey Hepburns are amazing. Melissa McCarthys are amazing. Being very feminine is amazing. Being very not feminine is amazing too.

Feminism is not shaming men. Feminism is not blaming everyone else for how bad you have it as a woman. Feminism is not belittling other women because of their opinions. Feminism is being your own kind of woman.

You’re an amazing, feminine woman whether you own sixty shades of lipstick or prefer black skinny jeans over a skirt any day (maybe you are both of these things at the same time, and that’s amazing too). You’re an amazing, feminine woman whether you played princess or pirate when you were a little girl. You’re amazing and feminine whether your idol is Taylor Swift or Condolezza Rice. You are a woman with beauty, power, and strength no matter who you are, without having to try to be anyone or anything else.

You don’t have to adhere to societal ideals or typical “feminism” in order to be a true woman or to stand up for woman-kind. You know how you can stand up for woman-kind? By working your butt off to make the life you want for yourself. Stop caring about what everyone else thinks feminism is and start being your own kind of feminist.

There’s my truth bomb. I hope it caused a ripple and not a splash.