Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Daddy Issues

It's one of those days where I'm listening to my "Best of Taylor Swift" playlist with the volume all the way up and blog about my feelings. I'm not too sure why I'm feeling so angsty, but something tells me it's because I've been watching so much Gossip Girl lately and therefore am channeling my inner Blair Waldorf. Anyway, without further adieu I thought I'd talk to y'all today about a very serious issue very close to my heart: Daddy Issues. Today I'm going to talk a little bit about why our society chooses to make fun of victimized women for their own selfish benefit and how the type of thinking seen in this meme below needs to stop:



While I'm not opposed to sharing details of my personal life on this blog, I don't quite feel comfortable telling whoever clicks onto my page the intimate details of my relationship with my own dad, but I will go ahead and say that it's...difficult. But even if it wasn't, I would still want to talk to you all about why it's so shitty to make fun of girls or making assumptions about their promiscuity based solely on their relationship with their biological father.

I firmly believe that if you stereotype a woman or make fun of her for having these so-called "Daddy Issues", you're no better than those despicable poor excuses for human beings that make fun of rape. In both of these scenarios, the victim in question has no control over the events that scarred them emotionally and as a result are affected for their rest of their lives...and you're really going to make fun of that?

For those of you that aren't familiar, "Daddy Issues" stems from the idea that a girl who--for whatever reason--didn't have a positive relationship with her father develops into a woman who is vulnerable and easy. TV shows and comedians have been using Daddy Issues as inspiration for jokes for decades, and for some sick reason audiences laugh, only perpetuating the stereotype. At face-value, I can maybe begin to see why some people find it funny, but let's unpack this joke a little bit: basically when you pass judgment about a woman who has these supposed Daddy Issues, you're taunting a very vulnerable part of her past. Essentially the joke is "HAHAHA your Dad wasn't emotionally (or tangibly) available to you when you were little, and because a father-daughter relationship is generally the primary way a girl learns to associate with men, your ability to do so as an adult isn't as comfortable and fluid as it is for your cohort!" Does anybody really want to turn around and tell me that's funny?

From a strictly objective perspective, we should all be able to acknowledge the importance of our parents' love and support, whether this is something readily available to us or not. When we're born, our parents nurture and raise us, and as a result the first adults we learn to associate with are our mom and dad--or the guardians that act on their behalf. It's no surprise that as we grow older we rely on the support given to us by our parents to seek out other relationships and utilize the tactics that worked before. So for those people that weren't given the appropriate space to grow and learn to communicate as a child, it's understandably difficult. It feels as though you're behind a dense learning curve that is almost impossible to catch up to.

I'm not too sure why this is on my mind today, but I sat through my French class this evening just grinding my teeth at the thought. As a young woman who has been told she has "Daddy Issues" I can tell you from a very personal level that it isn't funny, and if you've ever mocked a woman's relationship with her father I suggest you apologize as soon as you can.

But anyway, as is habit on this blog, I try to rotate serious topics with more lighthearted posts, so next time you hear from me hopefully I'll be a bit more chipper. I hope you're all having good weeks and you're enjoying the nice Spring weather. And for those of you experiencing less-than-stellar temperatures out there, I hope you can at least bundle up in your favorite sweater.

Talk soon!
Lauren

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Universal University Uncertainty

First of all, I'm prouder than I should be about the title of this post. What can I say? I'm a wordplay nerd. But that's not why we're here today. Yesterday I brought one of my best friends from home to my college so he could stay the night and go to the admitted students open house that's currently going on, and all of this got me thinking about one year ago when I was weighing my options and trying to figure out where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life. To be fair, if we're talking about my life exactly one year ago, as in April 2013, at that point I had already been sold on JMU for a while, but I know for a lot of high school seniors that are sorting through acceptance letters or juniors unsure of where to even start, this time of year can be especially stressful. Hence why I'm writing today: let's do this college thing together. I don't have any siblings, so no one in my family paved the way for me and my parents; that also means that I have no younger kids to pass down my knowledge to, so you, my dear readers, are getting the brunt of my lecturing. Sit back and enjoy the show.

This first part of the post is going out to those students completely unsure of where to start on the college process. Well, there are a few key components to consider, the most important being the 4 S's: Size, State, Selectivity and Setting.

First of all, size is pretty self-explanatory, but by that I mean both the student population and the acreage of the campus. Do you want a small, medium, or large school? For example, James Madison University (my school/the best school in the nation/Go Dukes) has about 20,000 students total with a relatively large campus. In the grand scheme of things, it's about medium sized, tending toward the larger end of the scale.

The next key component is one you and your parents (or whoever is footing the hefty tuition bill) need to sit down and seriously discuss, because it stands for State, aka do you want to be in the same state in which you currently reside or are you looking to cross state lines? (God, Lauren, can you say "state" any more in that one sentence?!) There are benefits to both, but personally I didn't even bother applying to out-of-state schools. For one, I live in Virginia so the schools available to me at an in-state price are superb, and I just didn't have an interest in going elsewhere. There are benefits to both options, but important elements to consider and discuss with Mom and Dad are the cost and the proximity to home. It's no secret that going out of state for school can dramatically raise the price of your tuition and sometimes affect your chances of being admitted. Additionally, if you're anything like me you like knowing that in a pinch home is only a few hours away. But a lot of people want independence badly enough to only see their family on scheduled breaks; it's just something to consider that will put the scope of prospects into perspective. I urge you to really think about how much you rely on your family as a support system; there's nothing wrong with admitting you want to go home more often so you can hang out with your parents. Trust me, hanging out with my parents is one of my favorite past times.

The next thing to consider is Selectivity, and by that I mean where can you feasibly get in? I know this can be the depressing part, but actually look at admissions stats and requirement to see how you stack up. Of course, just because you're out of the SAT range they'd like to see doesn't mean that all bets are off, in fact quite the opposite. You should apply to a few schools you're not 100% sure you qualify for in order to test your limits and reach; just make sure you balance this out with a few sure-fire safety schools and some that could go either way as far as you're concerned. If you need help determining where you stand, counselors can help you realistically judge where your transcript can and cannot gain access. Also just remember that these parameters exist for a reason: you need to be academically capable and comfortable where you go to school; challenged but not drowning. Grades aren't everything and they definitely aren't a true measure of intelligence, but in this case they're all we got.

The final S stands for setting. Do you want an urban, suburban, or rural environment? For me, I wanted a school that was surrounded by a quaint "college town" that functioned around the university to provide basic amenities plus a few unique coffee shops and independent bookstores. You, however, might want to be in the heart of the city or be able to see cows from your dorm window. Also consider the scenery that accompanies this type of setting: do you want mountains on the horizon? Four distinct seasons? Upper 60s all year 'round?

I will warn you though, once you've determined what you're looking for, don't buckle anything down because none of these are as important as that "feeling" you get when you step foot on the right campus. It sounds cheesy, but you'll just know when you belong somewhere. For example, just on paper, JMU seemed all wrong for me. The size and setting weren't what I thought I wanted at the start of my search, which initially scared me away from even considering the school I now couldn't imagine myself without. I originally thought I wanted to go to a small school with no more than 5000 kids, but as I quickly learned upon touring multiple college campuses, I didn't necessarily want a small school; what I wanted was a tight-knit school community. I'm happy to say that's what I got here, but I wouldn't have known that if I stuck strictly to my original protocol. So my advice for determining what you look for in the "4 S's" is to know what you want, but be flexible and willing to push your boundaries a bit.

Once you've thought through those major elements, I would recommend using an automated college filter online, or asking the career and college planning counselor at your school, if such a person exists where you live. Online, The College Board makes a great computer system that can help narrow down your choices. It will consider the 4 S's I just talked about, but will also ask you smaller-scale questions you should also consider; for example: religious affiliations, co-ed status, and housing preferences. Once you get some schools in mind, I would recommend scheduling a visit with your parents or close friends to experience the school in a way that websites and brochures just can't show you. Make sure to go when school is actually in session and students are walking around so you really get a feel for the atmosphere--early in the morning on a Saturday won't give you as authentic or bustling of an environment as 1 PM on a Wednesday will.

__________________________

This next section is for seniors that are still unsure of what you tell all your parent's friends that won't stop nagging you with the age-old question "So where will you be going to school next year?"

First of all, congratulations on your acceptance to what I'm sure are some fine schools; you did it! The hard part is over, now it's time to make a decision. And while closing your eyes and pointing at an acceptance letter can be a tempting method, it's not the best way to decide where you're be spending the next four years of your life.

My first tip is to do your research: ask around. Talk to students that currently attend colleges you're interested in about their experiences; this is easier if you're looking at an in-state school where older kids you knew in high school now attend. If you can, visit them overnight to get a good feel for the day-to-day life on campus; spending an overnight at my second-choice school quickly made the decision that it wasn't for me. If you don't know any people at your prospective university, see if there are any offered open houses or tours specifically for admitted students where you can experience the campus through the eyes of your future self. Eat in the dining halls, visit a dorm, talk to bystanders; for some reason doing all of this once you've gotten in is a lot more beneficial. When I first toured JMU before I even submitted my application, I couldn't really see myself here yet, only because the possibility of getting in was unknown. Once I came back after getting my acceptance letter, however, I was really able to start mentally placing myself around campus because I knew I was allowed to, if that makes any sense.

Another way to help sift through your options is to make Pros and Cons lists. Be critical and really think about what you do and do not like about every option. Next, take the time to sort the items on your lists by importance, i.e. is the fact that it's in the city the most important pro, or is the good food more imperative? Once you've messed around with these lists, read each of them aloud to a parent or friend without announcing the school's name as you do so. A lot of times we tend to get wrapped up in bias when we hear the name of a college, especially if it has a particular reputation (either good or bad). By omitting the name of the school and instead just considering the most important criteria, others can help you determine what the best fit for you is based solely on the factors you've ranked.

And my last tip for you is, in my opinion, the most important. If you're really stressed out about this decision, put it into perspective. The right college is one of the more pressing choices you'll make in your life, but like most things, it's not irreversible if need-be. I know that's probably odd to hear, but it really is important to know that you're not legally bound to attend for four years. Obviously no one goes in expecting to hate where they go to school, but just know that if that ends up being the case you can always transfer after just one semester. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, because it is quite a daunting process, but it is reassuring to know that you have more than just one shot to get this right. Plus, if you don't feel ready to go off to school, there's no shame in taking a gap year to work or attending community college to ease you into the process. Just know that you're awesome and I have faith in you to do what's best for your life right now.

And that's it; I hope this was at least somewhat helpful for some of you. I hope you're having a good Monday, and I'll see you soon!


__________________________

For any inquiries or comments, leave a message below or tweet me @asauerpatchkid

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I Don't Like

I'm not a pessimist, I promise. That being said, on any given day there are at least a few things that put me on-edge. I don't like dwelling on those things, but at the same time...

I don't like people that insist upon standing on my heels when forming a line. Like, I get that we need to be organized, but I don't need to see the outline of your entire body or your flyaway hairs in my peripheral vision.

I don't like how the second I put on a decent coat of nail polish, I immediately feel a strong desire to pick it all off and scrape at my nail beds. I just end up with a waste of time and chipped off flakes of varnish all over the floor.

I don't like anonymous hatred. Y'know, those 140 character ambiguous rants that actually aren't that ambiguous after all. Subtweeting, anon inquiries, and Formspring-hate are a coward's method of problem-solving, and while I have anxiety, I don't let cowardice overcome what I choose to broadcast. You wouldn't let someone you don't like stay in your house rent-free, but when you spread hate anonymously that's basically what you're doing; you're letting the thought of them persist while they get to continue living life without consequence. I don't like people that think they're clever enough to judge another person under a layer of anonymity. Because guess what? We all get the memo: we know what you're talking about and we know you're too afraid to sign your own name alongside the bitter things you have to say. Plus it's just mean, y'know? Anyway...

I don't like having to ask my parents for money. It means I've dipped into my savings because I just "had to have" something--leaving me with only enough cash to fill up my gas tank two or three more times. I don't like admitting to my mom that I fucked up my bank account, because I want her to go to sleep not having to worry about me.

Speaking of parents, I don't like the expectation of life-long loyalty to lineage with no exceptions. There truly are a select few parents that are hideous individuals, yet their kids are expected to accept these faults as an all-powerful excuse, just because of genetics. I don't like that society and Western culture have taught me to lodge a wad of guilt into my own throat every time I ignore my father's calls or refuse to return an "I love you" when all I'm trying to do is spare my own heart from shattering.

I don't like eating alone. Even when I bring a book with me to the dining hall to make up for the fact that my friends are all too busy to eat with me, I imagine everyone staring at me and shaking their heads out of secondhand embarrassment. Obviously no one cares much--if at all--but the logical part of my brain that knows how ridiculous I'm being just can't seem to get the memo across to my insecurities.

But most of all, and perhaps ironic enough to make you realize my generally cheerful disposition: I hate complainers. I truly do. If you're the type of person to comment on the only cloud in an otherwise perfect blue sky, I have no time nor patience for you. I want to only surround myself with people that are most comfortable laughing, those that unapologetically sing and dance to Top 40 music, and those that would rather shrug it off when they trip on the stairs. If I could, I would dismiss all the naysayers and the haters. If you're with me, let's go find our next adventure. Bring your sense of humor and a pair of sunglasses.

Friday, April 4, 2014

How I Met Your Terrible Finale

Every April, bloggers worldwide attempt to write something every single day for an entire month. The project, cleverly titled BEDA (Blog Every Day in April), completely slipped my mind this year, as I haven't attempted since I was 16. In fact, when my friend Claire texted me about my lack of a blog post at 11:50 PM on April 1st, my reaction was one of total shock.

"I can't believe I forgot about BEDA!" I thought to myself, vowing to start bright and early the next day to make up for lost time. But guess what, y'all? Life happens, and here we are on the 4th day of April, BEDA-less. For that reason, I'm not promising a post every day for the rest of the month, but I will tell you that during my English lecture today I brainstormed a list of things to write about, so you may be hearing from me more often than usual. May.

So today I thought I'd alienate a good 75% of my readers by writing about the finale of CBS's How I Met Your Mother, also known as the most disappointing end to a series in the history of television. I've given myself four days to process my thoughts, so it's finally time for me to share without boiling over from angst. For those of you that don't watch the show, this may be a pointless entry for you and you can just tune in next time, and for those of you that do watch there will obviously be a lot of spoilers.

Let's kick it off by talking about how dumb it was for the entirety of Season 9 to focus on Robin and Barney's wedding and them overcoming the numerous barriers in their way only for them to nonchalantly announce their divorce. As writers, it's beyond stupid to develop a complicated relationship to just destroy it. That type of negligent writing is akin to watching a toddler build a giant block tower and knock it down immediately after adding the last block. Plus, I was never too crazy about Robin and Barney as a couple, because I thought their problems were ultimately larger than their similarities, but even I was rooting for them by the end. I wanted to see their marriage, I wanted them to have kids, I wanted them to grow old together! The writers decided from the very beginning that Ted and Robin would end up together, and instead of changing their minds when they realized the show was going in a different direction, they instead wrote poorly-developed scenarios in order to stubbornly stay on track. Which is why the reason Robin and Barney divorced was so stupid; Robin has always dreamed of being a successful international reporter, and Barney's flippant lifestyle would support and encourage constant travel.

Speaking of Barney, his relationship with his daughter was also poorly executed, and the sad thing is that was the best thing the whole episode had going for it. Barney having a kid was, in theory, very sweet, but I think we all know that would end terribly and he wouldn't actually be a good father. He is ultimately too selfish to have a child, and then on top of that him raising a girl is beyond ridiculous, as most of his fantasies involve young women with daddy issues. Plus, it was beyond sexist to not even acknowledge the woman carrying the baby at all--she wasn't named, she wasn't featured, nothing. She was just a vessel to allow for some last-minute character building. Sloppy.

Lily and Marshall ended up alright, which I'm very happy about. I do like that their relationship is so healthy and honorable and that even though no one else in the show can get their shit together, they at least stay together. And on top of that, they're still hot for each other, which you almost never see in televised married couples; they're usually crotchety and at each other's throats all the time.

Now for Ted, who used to be my favorite character and my fictional crush until the finale aired. His relationship with the mother was alluded to be sweet and close to perfect, but we as viewers got no real taste of their dynamic as a couple. I rooted for them and I eagerly awaited for them to meet, as the title of the show suggests, but when the writers actually sat down to execute those key early stages I was unimpressed. The whole 9th season inches closer and closer to the beginning of their romance, but then in the last twenty minutes the writers realized oh shit people still don't even know this lady's name. So as a result we got a shitty voiceover montage of them meeting, learning her name was Tracy, and then her dying. As nonchalant as that. Way to throw away a pivotal character. Here's a suggestion: if you name your show How I Met Your Mother, maybe I dunno...pay special attention to the mother?!

But I could honestly forgive all of the aforementioned ills if the show ended there. If maybe we saw Ted's face, cut to his kids crying, and then them hugging and saying something like, "I know you miss her kids, I do too". Sure, it would've been cheesy, but it would've at least paid homage to the great love story that Ted and Tracy was. But instead, the mother got brushed to the side to make room for Robin.

Ted was friend-zoned (though I hate that term and I don't think Ted would've used it) by Robin early-on, after they tried dating but their long-term goals were too different to make it work. But apparently all of a sudden things are magically better now that they're older? Suddenly after years of never wanting children Robin will assume the responsibility of mothering two grown kids? Suddenly after years of Ted wanting a stable life he's going to subject himself and his family to Robin's hectic schedule? Suddenly after countless episodes of moving on from Robin, Ted has the hots for her again? Oh and he kept that stupid blue French Horn after 20 years? Ugh, I'm sure most people weren't as disappointed as I am, but I literally can't deal. I can't erase the image of Robin smiling through her tears in her terrible bob haircut and 5 dogs as she gazes out the window at a graying, cardigan-wearing Ted Mosby.

So I think I'm just going to try to pretend that finale never happened. In my head, Robin and Barney never got divorced, Lily and Marshall bought a nice apartment in Manhattan for them and their 3 children, and Ted remained an aging widow in the suburbs after having a fantastic marriage with the woman he waited his whole life for. If you have any other thoughts on the show's lackluster finale--even if you completely disagree with me--leave them in comments below.