In A World Of Lydia Bennets, I Am An Elizabeth Bennet

I have always felt very drawn toward “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen. The book, the movie adaptations (including “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”), the sequel adaptations (like “Death Comes to Pemberley”) and even The Lizzie Bennet Diaries own a special place in my heart. I used to think it was because I loved period movies, like “Gone With the Wind,” “Little Women” and “Mansfield Park.” But, no, I’ve discovered through many of the adaptations, that my true love lies with none other than Elizabeth Bennet.

It seems that in today’s world, everyone is in a rush to be in a relationship. Everyone seems to be in a rush to be with someone, settle down and stay with that one person forever. If you ask me, it sounds a little too good to be true. The relationships our parents and grandparents once had aren’t readily available like they used to be. Young people today are often baffled by how many options there are in modern dating, and most feel opposed to settling down. Modern dating is large loop of dissatisfaction it seems.

I’m 20 years old, a junior in college and I have never been in a relationship. I’ve never even come close to being in a relationship. At times, it’s been frustrating. I’ve wondered if there’s something wrong with me, or if I’m in the wrong place or some similar. I’ve often wondered if perhaps my time is running out, since most of my friends have found someone they like so much that they’ve been with them for several years now.

Though it can be frustrating and annoying to be in my boat, I feel almost more comfortable with it. It’s not that I don’t want to be in a relationship, it’s just that I know looking for one is a wild goose chase in today’s world. Dating apps like Plenty of Fish and Tinder either draw in creeps and perverts or guys who don’t want to date, only hook-up. Trying to meet people through blind dates or friends often follows a similar pattern.

It’s taken me a couple of years, but I’ve decided to stop looking for love altogether. It’s not that I’ve given up on it, or anything, but I just think that if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen, one way or another. I think that’s why I identify so strongly with Lizzie Bennet; she had a similar opinion about marriage and settling down.

Though the plot of every “Pride and Prejudice” adaptation includes Mrs. Bennet attempting to marry off her girls to rich gentleman, every version also includes the headstrong Lizzie who refuses to settle for just any man. In “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” she has a conversation with Charlotte at the ball where Lizzie says, “I shall never relinquish my sword for a ring.” Charlotte replies and laughs, “For the right man, you would,” and Lizzie replies, “The right man wouldn’t ask me to.” I feel as though this theme runs throughout all the “Pride and Prejudice” adaptations and also my life.

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I am interested in many things. I have many passions that fall in a great many of areas. I like writing, literature and publishing and editing, and although this is the preferred field of study, it may not be the one I embark in after graduation. I am also interested in stage managing and the technical side of theatre, and if perhaps there are no jobs in either of those things, I’d say I’m pretty well-versed in the area of event planning, as well.

I honestly think that throwing a boyfriend into the mess of my life, which includes all of these passions, my ambition to work with people and the struggles I endure with my mental illness, would be a little bit crazy. Maybe the Universe is waiting to hand me ‘the one.’ Or maybe, the Universe is attempting to wait until things cool down before I can and have time to meet any ‘one.’ Either way, I’m completely fine with waiting.

I’m in no rush to date, meet people or settle down. I’m 20. I have the rest of my twenties and maybe even some of my thirties to worry about those things. Meeting a man is at the bottom of my priorities list. I want to graduate college with a degree I want to pursue, find a job in one of the areas I’d like to pursue and settle down in an apartment of my own with a sense of some kind of stability.

If you’re unaware of the “Pride and Prejudice” book or any of its adaptations, you should know there are really three important characters in the Bennet family that are relevant to the big-picture.

There’s Elizabeth “Lizzie” Bennet, who is in no rush to settle down and is willing to wait for the ‘right’ man, rather than settling down in a marriage where no love is present, is the main character. There is also her older sister Jane, is a beautiful woman, not otherwise engaged, who knows the importance of love in a relationship but also realizes the value of and need for wealth in her time period.

Finally, there is Lydia, their younger sister, who loves to chase the soldiers around town, loves flirting and adores the idea of being someone’s wife. Her naivety is something that sets the family back more than she can comprehend.

I don’t really care about wealth in today’s age; I’ve always had to hustle and grind to get what I want in this world, and I would rather someone who has had a similar upbringing rather than someone way more privileged than me, so that crosses Jane off the list. I feel as though there aren’t many Jane-like people in today’s society, that more people are ready to settle down rather than wait and more people are looking at class differences to marry advantageously rather than not.

So that leaves Lizzie and Lydia. In a world of Lydia Bennets, I am an Elizabeth Bennet, and proudly, at that. I’m in no rush to meet a man and I am in less of a rush to marry and settle down. I could never be a trophy wife; I work too much and I don’t think that’s the sort of thing I would want to or think that I could ‘shut off’ per se.

I want to thank Jane Austen, Seth Grahame Smith, Hank Green and Bernie Su for creating such relatable Elizabeth Bennets. Without these characters, I would feel lost in the romantic world, not knowing quite what my options were. The “Pride and Prejudice” universe has always offered me comfort that my ‘Mr. Darcy’ is still out there. And maybe, just maybe, he’s waiting for me too.

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I’m 20-years-old, a junior in college and I have never been in a relationship.

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on September 6, 2017.

I have always felt very drawn toward “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen. The book, the movie adaptations (including “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”), the sequel adaptations (like “Death Comes to Pemberley”) and even The Lizzie Bennet Diaries own a special place in my heart. I used to think it was because I loved period movies, like “Gone With the Wind,” “Little Women” and “Mansfield Park.” But, no, I’ve discovered through many of the adaptations, that my true love lies with none other than Elizabeth Bennet.

It seems that in today’s world, everyone is in a rush to be in a relationship. Everyone seems to be in a rush to be with someone, settle down and stay with that one person forever. If you ask me, it sounds a little too good to be true. The relationships our parents and grandparents once had aren’t readily available like they used to be. Young people today are often baffled by how many options there are in modern dating, and most feel opposed to settling down. Modern dating is large loop of dissatisfaction it seems.

I’m 20 years old, a junior in college and I have never been in a relationship. I’ve never even come close to being in a relationship. At times, it’s been frustrating. I’ve wondered if there’s something wrong with me, or if I’m in the wrong place or some similar. I’ve often wondered if perhaps my time is running out, since most of my friends have found someone they like so much that they’ve been with them for several years now.

Though it can be frustrating and annoying to be in my boat, I feel almost more comfortable with it. It’s not that I don’t want to be in a relationship, it’s just that I know looking for one is a wild goose chase in today’s world. Dating apps like Plenty of Fish and Tinder either draw in creeps and perverts or guys who don’t want to date, only hook-up. Trying to meet people through blind dates or friends often follows a similar pattern.

It’s taken me a couple of years, but I’ve decided to stop looking for love altogether. It’s not that I’ve given up on it, or anything, but I just think that if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen, one way or another. I think that’s why I identify so strongly with Lizzie Bennet; she had a similar opinion about marriage and settling down.

Though the plot of every “Pride and Prejudice” adaptation includes Mrs. Bennet attempting to marry off her girls to rich gentleman, every version also includes the headstrong Lizzie who refuses to settle for just any man. In “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” she has a conversation with Charlotte at the ball where Lizzie says, “I shall never relinquish my sword for a ring.” Charlotte replies and laughs, “For the right man, you would,” and Lizzie replies, “The right man wouldn’t ask me to.” I feel as though this theme runs throughout all the “Pride and Prejudice” adaptations and also my life.

I am interested in many things. I have many passions that fall in a great many of areas. I like writing, literature and publishing and editing, and although this is the preferred field of study, it may not be the one I embark in after graduation. I am also interested in stage managing and the technical side of theatre, and if perhaps there are no jobs in either of those things, I’d say I’m pretty well-versed in the area of event planning, as well.

I honestly think that throwing a boyfriend into the mess of my life, which includes all of these passions, my ambition to work with people and the struggles I endure with my mental illness, would be a little bit crazy. Maybe the Universe is waiting to hand me ‘the one.’ Or maybe, the Universe is attempting to wait until things cool down before I can and have time to meet any ‘one.’ Either way, I’m completely fine with waiting.

I’m in no rush to date, meet people or settle down. I’m 20. I have the rest of my twenties and maybe even some of my thirties to worry about those things. Meeting a man is at the bottom of my priorities list. I want to graduate college with a degree I want to pursue, find a job in one of the areas I’d like to pursue and settle down in an apartment of my own with a sense of some kind of stability.

If you’re unaware of the “Pride and Prejudice” book or any of its adaptations, you should know there are really three important characters in the Bennet family that are relevant to the big-picture.

There’s Elizabeth “Lizzie” Bennet, who is in no rush to settle down and is willing to wait for the ‘right’ man, rather than settling down in a marriage where no love is present, is the main character. There is also her older sister Jane, is a beautiful woman, not otherwise engaged, who knows the importance of love in a relationship but also realizes the value of and need for wealth in her time period.

Finally, there is Lydia, their younger sister, who loves to chase the soldiers around town, loves flirting and adores the idea of being someone’s wife. Her naivety is something that sets the family back more than she can comprehend.

I don’t really care about wealth in today’s age; I’ve always had to hustle and grind to get what I want in this world, and I would rather someone who has had a similar upbringing rather than someone way more privileged than me, so that crosses Jane off the list. I feel as though there aren’t many Jane-like people in today’s society, that more people are ready to settle down rather than wait and more people are looking at class differences to marry advantageously rather than not.

So that leaves Lizzie and Lydia. In a world of Lydia Bennets, I am an Elizabeth Bennet, and proudly, at that. I’m in no rush to meet a man and I am in less of a rush to marry and settle down. I could never be a trophy wife; I work too much and I don’t think that’s the sort of thing I would want to or think that I could ‘shut off’ per se.

I want to thank Jane Austen, Seth Grahame Smith, Hank Green and Bernie Su for creating such relatable Elizabeth Bennets. Without these characters, I would feel lost in the romantic world, not knowing quite what my options were. The “Pride and Prejudice” universe has always offered me comfort that my ‘Mr. Darcy’ is still out there. And maybe, just maybe, he’s waiting for me too.

To Those Struggling To Get Back On Their Feet

We are in the long-run. We are in a fight to save ourselves. We hold a compass that only points forward.

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on August 21, 2017.

Hi there,

I know you’re struggling. I know you’ve been struggling for a long time. It’s getting bad, isn’t it? It feels like you’re drowning all the time, like your feet are trying desperately to reach the bottom, but it’s like someone moved it lower, right? Your legs and arms are tired from not only holding yourself up but other people, too. You’re fading, your breath is running out, and you feel as if this is it.

Every time you feel your head bob under the wave, under the tide or under the current, you always find some way to make it back to the top. Whether it be a helping hand or some strength you never knew you had, there is hope.

I know you don’t want to hear this, but it has to be said. You need to keep going. You need to keep fighting. You need to keep your head up. You cannot give up; there is no giving up. Don’t let yourself drown. Don’t let yourself down.

I know it’s tiring. I know you’re done with the world. I know you’re done with the people around you, even the ones who are helping, even the ones who you’re helping. I know you don’t want to get out of bed. I know you have little interest in doing the things that once made you happy. I know this and so much more. Trust me, I’ve been there.

I, too, feel as if there is nothing to hope for tomorrow. Hell, I lost my faith at the beginning of the summer and it’s only just starting to make a cameo back into my life. It’s going to take a while to re-teach myself to keep faith in things that you can’t see or hear. It’s going to take a while for me to heal. It’s going to take a while for me to feel comfortable again.

When life stops throwing you curve balls and starts throwing you things much worse than baseball analogies, you need to keep your head up. When the raining and pouring stops and you’re faced with a full-blown shit-storm, keep your eyes on the horizon. When your heart is so broken you can’t process anything short of positivity, force yourself to move forward.

You can’t do this alone, but you can do it. You’re not alone. I’ve been in dark, shaky places. Most of the time, I feel like I’m wearing shoes on the sandy beach, with my ankles sinking and my feet feeling wobbly; unable to grasp any solid ground. My hands are always out in front of me ready to feel the ground if I fall down on the way to wherever I’m going. I try to prepare myself for the absolute worst. It’s okay to brace yourself for the worst, even if the worst isn’t coming.

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This is a rough period in your life. Whatever you’re going through has your on your tippy-toes all day every day just to ensure that you won’t be caught off guard by anything worse. It has you on your knees, looking up at the sky wondering if anyone is watching you. If so, why would they let all of this bad stuff happen to you? Why aren’t they helping you navigate it? Why aren’t they helping to fix it? Why do things keep getting worse?

I don’t have any answers for you. I don’t know if anyone is in the sky, or Heaven or the afterlife. I don’t know if we have guardian angels or gods. I don’t know if the universe is a being who watches out for you. In this dark time, I’m not sure of anything anymore.

The only thing I know is that we have no choice but to go on. We have made it this far, and even thoughts of giving up scare us. It would be too easy, you know? It would be entirely too easy to give up, to start over, to start new. It would be impossible. There’s always a catch; nothing worth having ever comes easy.

We are in the long-run. We are in a fight to save ourselves. We hold a compass that only points forward. You can stop and rest as long as you like, but that dial will never point any direction but forward. Take the time to heal your bones, to heal your senses and your overall well-being. Take the time to be caught in the middle. But, remember, at some point you have to get up, dust off those hiking boots and continue on that journey.

Because we’re at the bottom. It feels as if we’ll never make it to the top. Maybe the top doesn’t exist. Maybe life is just one large incline in which we can fall off of easily, but can never surpass. I don’t know what awaits you toward the top; nor do I know that there is a top, per se.

What I do know is this: it gets better on the way up. You will gain your footing. You will take all the time you need to do so. The climb will begin again, but it’s up to you to begin. You are the main conductor of this journey.

You will be okay. We will be okay. You are never alone and you matter more than you can imagine. You were put on this Earth to rise up and scoop up all the opportunities that you possibly can. There will be a tomorrow. There will be an after-tomorrow. I don’t know what it holds for you, but I do know it holds you.

Let it hold you. Let yourself exist. Let yourself continue. Let yourself persevere.

You will find your footing once again; negativity isn’t permanent. You will find yourself again, one way or other. We always find ourselves where we are seldom looking. You’ll find your way out of the middle and back to the top, or at least further than you are now.

You will find your feet again. Let yourself find peace, no matter the circumstances. Let yourself live again. You owe yourself that much.

 

 

In The End, It Always Matters

Chester Bennington, although maybe not known by name to some, has been a familiar and comforting voice to millions of people all over the world who have before or are now dealing with issues of their own

This article was originally published with The Odyssey on July 24, 2017.

Just two months after the genre’s beloved Chris Cornell passed away, rock music has suffered another great loss. On July 20, 2017, TMZ reported that Chester Bennington, of the iconic rap and rock band Linkin Park had passed away via suicide. Chris and Chester were good friends, and it is no coincidence that the same day Chester took his life would have been Chris’ 53rd birthday. Two legendary and iconic voices were taken from this world too soon within just months of one another; both plagued by demons no one else could see. Suicide is a terrible tragedy. We will never forget Chester.

Linkin Park’s most recent album, ‘One More Light’ was just released this past May and rose to a number one spot on the Billboard 200. The album, which diverged from the band’s iconic grunge and rock sound, features Chester’s meaningful lyrics, Mike Shinoda’s smooth rapping and the usual unique beats Linkin Park often brings to the table. A music video for a song off the album, ‘Talking to Myself‘ had debuted the morning Chester’s death was announced. The song coincidentally speaks of the challenging aspect of talking to someone enduring a tough situation, not unlike the feelings Chester was bottling inside.

The band was set to embark on a major U.S. tour beginning next week to promote the new album but they have decided to cancel all the dates in lieu of recent events. Despite Chester’s history of substance abuse problems, childhood abuse, and transparency concerning his mental illness, his death came as a shock to not only fans and friends, but also to his family and bandmates. No one witnessed any signs, making Chester’s suicide that much more heartbreaking.

We have all suffered a great loss. Beginning in 2000, with the release of their most-recognized album, Hybrid Theory, Linkin Park has been a household name for the past decade. Breaking boundaries with their hip-hop-infused lyrics mixed with rock and instruments and electronic sounds, the band has had six number one albums and more hits than you can count. They’ve collaborated with artists across all types of genres, toured with artists all over the world, and continued to remain as iconic as they were in 2000.

Chester Bennington, although maybe not known by name to some, has been a familiar and comforting voice to millions of people all over the world who have before or are now dealing with issues of their own. His calming and understanding voice has helped people not only understand their feelings surrounding their issues, but has helped them conquer and cope with their problems as well.

I’ll never forget where I was when I heard the news. I’ve never felt such pain in regards to a musician death before. Immediately, I began having chest pains as my brain desperately tried to process the information it had been fed. Just ten minutes after everything sank in, I found myself crying my eyes out while my mother embraced me. Although I am devastated for the families, bandmates, friends and others fans who have to endure this tragedy, I am not attempting to make Chester’s passing about myself.

The truth is this: Chester Bennington was a legend. His death is not about you or me. It’s about all of us; all of us are mourning the man who not only served as a voice to help us equip ourselves with the tools needed to escape and endure our mental illness, physical illness and all the emotions surrounding those things, but also one of the brightest stars the music scene has ever seen.

Many of us have been listening to the band since they made their debut, and even those who started late were able to resonate with some part of some song that gave them hope for a better, stronger tomorrow. The mere idea that Chester’s suicide was precipitated, planned out to a T in regards to details, and unexpected to all makes his passing more painful.

Suicide is a force that plagues even the brightest of people. Though Chester dealt with a history of abuse, anger and depression, he held one of the most passionate voices both within and outside of music. He was the embodiment of surviving what life throws at you today only to throw it right back tomorrow. More than a beacon of hope, Chester and Linkin Park were able to save thousands, if not millions, of lives with their music.

I honestly hope none of you ever have to experience the dark demons and shadows that suicide invites to the party no one planned; suicide stays, even after it has completed its goal. Chris and Chester believed they could not face their demons any longer, and escape was impossible. Though we loved them, their music, and their voices, please know that they were wrong.

No one will ever forget the impact both artists had on this world, on the music industry, and on the millions of lives they touched with their words and music. These feelings are escapable. It is completely okay and acceptable not to be okay. Please know that you are always loved and always supported.

If you or someone you know is struggling with the news of Chester’s death or something else serious, please tell someone. Call the suicide hotline, which is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. You can also chat with experts or text the crisis line by messaging HOME to 741-741.

You are never alone. Please do not let Chester’s death catalyze your dark feelings; there is hope out there for all of us. In the end, it always matters. In the end, you always matter.

Chester Bennington, I am so sorry you felt this was the only way out. You were truly an icon and idol to many of us, and we cannot thank you enough for that. We hope you are at peace and in a better place now.

When my time comes
Forget the wrong that I’ve done
Help me leave behind some reasons to be missed
And don’t resent me
And when you’re feeling empty
Keep me in your memory
Leave out all the rest

Yes, My Mental Illness Is Debilitating

I’m absolutely exhausted and I haven’t even made it out of my bed yet.

But I’ll never stop trying to fight it off

This article was originally published with The Odyssey on August 9, 2017.

I’m sick today. I feel shaky, my hands are sweaty and my head hurts, among other things. I have a laundry list of complaints that include body aches, bloating and a fluctuating change in appetite. I’ve been to the doctor, but they say I’m healthy.

They’ve checked all my boxes, noting that I’m doing well with eating vegetables and fruits. This is a different kind of sick. This is the type of sick where I don’t want to see the sun, don’t want to get out of bed, don’t want to see anyone ever again. I have mental illness and it’s debilitating.

I’m not intentionally ignoring you. I’m not ghosting you on purpose and I didn’t read your text and not answer to hurt you. I haven’t answered emails in days because I know I will have to prepare myself to truly process all they have to say. I know I was supposed to have that file sent to you last week, but it’s honestly on the bottom of my to-do list.

It’s not that you’re unimportant to me; you are very important to me. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about all the things I’m not doing to show you that. I haven’t forgotten about the things I was supposed to do for my boss, my mom or my doctor either. Everything is piling up and I’m less than thrilled.

I feel like an anvil is crushing my shoulders. My head is filled with pressure and my ears are ringing nonstop. I don’t know what I did to my neck or my back, but I feel terrible. I am not only sluggish but fatigued. I’m absolutely exhausted and I haven’t even made it out of my bed yet. Everything is so dark and I feel as though I don’t deserve to see the light just beyond my blinds.

My phone is right there. You’re probably near yours too. If I just picked it up and dialed your number, you’d probably answer. But what if you don’t? What if you’re too busy to answer? What if you’d rather not talk to me and you press ignore? It’s better I don’t touch the phone at all.

It’s been hours since I woke up and my stomach is growling. I know I should feed my body something to sustain it, but I can’t think of anything I want to eat. I can’t think of anything appetizing and make myself sick to my stomach just thinking about food.

Even if I manage to get out of bed today, I will not be productive. I will hug myself in the shower, neglecting to wash my hair, as strands or even locks of it twirl around the drain. I will put off getting dressed for too long. When I do get dressed, I’m lucky if I put on a bra or socks. I honestly feel as though every move I make is forced.

I return to my room and sit on my bed, staring at the wall for probably hours. You text me, but I don’t answer. You felt obligated to text me. You don’t really want to hear from me. I don’t want to annoy you. I don’t know what to say to you. I opt for nothing at all.

How do I describe how I’m feeling? I would write a text, backspace, rewrite, delete, edit, compose again, and finally lock the phone altogether. I just feel…empty. No, that’s not it. Tired. That’s too simple. Jumbled. Confused. Overwhelmed. How can you be overwhelmed when you haven’t done a single thing today? Scared. Anxious. No, not nervous. Anxious. Panicked. Suffocated.

Despite all those adjectives, I feel my true feelings don’t even scratch the cusp of those descriptors. This overwhelms me more.

Later I may manage some food and maybe I’ll manage too much. I’ll eat too much, returning to the nauseating sensation that plagued me just a few hours earlier. With a heated blanket and a heating pad, I swaddle myself. I overheat. I sweat, I hyperventilate and panic.

I don’t want to see anyone. The question of whether or not I should contact you is not even a thought in my mind anymore. I can’t stop thinking about all the things I’m not doing. I can’t stop thinking about all the deadlines I have missed. I can’t stop thinking about all the people I have disappointed. All the people I have let myself disappoint. All the people I have let myself let down because I couldn’t force myself to get through another day.

I am constantly fighting with myself. There is and will always be a crazy battle raging inside of me. I am either not doing enough or doing entirely too much. I am either not eating or stuffing myself. I am either over-sleeping or barely getting 4 hours. I will never do anything in-between. I will never do anything half-assed. I have mental illness and it debilitates me.

I hate that it debilitates me. I hate that I let it win some days; that I let it convince me to stay in bed, avoid all contact and sunlight and convince me that I am not worth it. I hate that it discourages me from doing things I love. I hate that it makes everything difficult. I hate that I woke up feeling exhausted.

Though I despise my mental illness and absolutely wish it would slink away to give me a chance to catch a fucking break, I have to let it engulf me sometimes. I have to let myself rest. I have to convince myself that it’s OK to let myself rest. I have to put myself first and I have to give my body time.

Though I shouldn’t go days without human contact, a shower, a decent meal or any sense of productivity, I have to let myself breathe. I have to learn to do things in little steps, instead of overwhelming myself.

Maybe we’ll opt for dry shampoo and face wash tomorrow. Maybe I’ll try to text a few people tomorrow. Maybe I’ll order in or ask a friend to bring something over. I’ll answer a couple of emails. I’ll check some things off the to-do list.

I have mental illness. It’s debilitating. I don’t want to get out of bed sometimes and I force myself to get out of bed other times. It’s not constant but it never goes away. I’ll talk to you about it after I have my latest episode. I’ll try to describe to you what I’m feeling.

I’ll try to open the blinds and let some light in. Maybe I’ll open the window. Maybe I’ll go for a drive. I’ll try to watch a movie I like or listen to music I like. I’ll attempt to go to work. I’ll attempt to get my work done.

My mental illness is debilitating. Sometimes, I let it convince me of things I know are not true. Sometimes I let it lock me up deep inside myself and convince myself I’ve forgotten where the key is. I let it convince me that I don’t even have the key. Sometimes, I gather all my might and kick it up to high heaven. I let my mental illness know that today is not the day. Tomorrow might be, though.

It’s hard. It’s never going to stop being hard, but I’m never going to stop trying. I have mental illness. It’s debilitating. I let it hold me when I can no longer hold myself, but I never let it win.

11 Ways To Be A Better Library Patron

9. Do not use your phone while speaking to staff.

Library employees are people, too.

This article was originally published with The Odyssey on July 17, 2017. 

I’ve worked at a library for the past four years, and every time I think I’ve seen it all, some library patron comes out of the blue and proves me wrong. Libraries and their employees should not be taken for granted. We are here to help you, not serve you. Here are the top 10 ways to be a better and more respectful library patron.

1. Have your library card or identification on you.

Let us know that you are actually the person you say you are. Also, have it ready so that we can get you in and out.

2. Don’t be that person that comes in five minutes before closing.

Come in tomorrow and we’ll help you with a nicer tone and we will have more time to dedicate to you.

3. Know what you’re looking for.

Have a title or author, please. The description of the book is not enough information for us to locate it.

4. If there’s a problem with your account, don’t talk down to us.

You are more likely to rattle the employee and their nerves instead of resolving anything. Also, be willing to compromise.

5. Know the library policies.

Know when we fine you, where you can eat, and what areas of the library are off limits. Stop acting shocked when you get fined for an item that was extremely late and or lost.

6. Don’t compare the library you’re at to any other library.

You are where you are. Not all libraries operate the same. Different places have different regulations and you have to follow those regulations, whether the other library has them or not.

7. Parents: Computers aren’t babysitters.

Neither are library staff. Watch your children or take them with you.

8. If your child is throwing a tantrum, leave the premises.

Attempting to calm them down is giving everyone a headache, including the other patrons. You can let your child “feel emotions” outside.

9. Do not use your phone while speaking to staff.

This is common decency.

10. Clean up after yourself.

The library is a privilege, not a right. Many libraries don’t allow eating in certain areas, but if you’re going to break the rules, at least clean up after yourself. We have a million other things to do at closing time when we don’t have to clean up your mess.

11. What happens at the library, stays at the library.

Any problems you have with the library, don’t bring them up outside of the library. Library staff who are off duty want nothing to do with you.

 

Body Positivity Is Great. Period

Here’s my response to “Body Positivity Is Great And All But Not When It’s Ignoring Health Concerns.”

If you are not a doctor, you don’t have the right to define someone’s health.

This article was originally published with The Odyssey on July 10, 2017.

Body positivity is something that all people, regardless of size, shape, color or gender absolutely need to survive. Last week, an article was written in the UNC Greensboro community that criticized the body positive movement, saying that the idea is ineffective when it ‘ignores health concerns.’ The article goes on to ostracize body positivity, and although I think the author had good intentions here, they did not articulate themselves at all. Here’s my response to “Body Positivity Is Great And All But Not When It’s Ignoring Health Concerns.”

To begin, weight does not indicate health. Everyone carries their weight differently. Just because someone looks ‘obese’ or ‘overweight’ to you, doesn’t mean they actually are obese or overweight. The actual definition of ‘obese’ is “grossly fat or overweight,” but who decides if the person is grossly fat? All of the women in the photo below weigh the exact same weight, 154 lbs.

Second, if you are not a doctor, you do not have the right or the qualifications to define someone’s health. There are several health conditions that can cause an individual to gain weight, and often these medical conditions don’t take into consideration whether you balance your fruits and vegetables. Some of these conditions can result from thyroid issuesmental-illness-related problems, or simply side effects from hormones.

Just as many of these health conditions make it more difficult for people lose weight. This includes Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)insulin resistance, or even something as simple as depression.

Next, I’d like to articulate some things. In the article written last week, the author makes a few key points which I’d like to debunk. First, they mention that the body positive movement “promotes a sedentary lifestyle.”

This is so incorrect that I don’t even know where to begin. Not everyone who is body positive is ‘obese’, or ‘super-thin.’ (I use these terms in quotes because I find those terms to be subjective – the opinion often lies in the eye of the beholder). Those you consider to fall under those terms aren’t necessarily unhealthy.

Bigger people are not promoting anything, they’re simply existing. Also, no one has ever looked at an ‘obese’ person and thought, “I’m going to sit around all day so I can look like that.” Not sure where this claim comes from, but it honestly sounds made up.

Self-love does not equate to negativity toward exercise and dieting. Like I’ve mentioned before, not everyone who is body-positive is plus-size, and those that are don’t necessarily hate health or exercise. I think the author was considering a very small group of people when they wrote this article, and that’s simply disrespectful because they generalized a whole bunch of people.

The author of the article also posed this question to their audience, “Where is the line between body confidence and obesity?” Why does there have to be a line between the two? Couldn’t the line connect both together? Since ‘obese’ is a subjective term, I’ll begin using the word ‘overweight,’ or the phrase ‘seemingly overweight’ from now on.

Can seemingly overweight people not have body confidence? Why should self-love correlate with health at all? The two are very separate things and do not depend on one another. They can reflect one another if the individual feels that way, but they do not require one another to exist. And again, you may be severely incorrect in assuming someone is unhealthy based on the way they look to you.

What you consider ‘health,’ and what someone else considers ‘health’ is always going to be different. When people throw up the middle finger on Instagram in regards to body-shaming, they are looking to shame those similar to the author of this article. That middle finger is to shame those who think they’re helping thinner people or bigger people by offering unsolicited and unqualified medical advice concerning that individual’s health.

To be fair, it’s never been about health. The author was correct when they mentioned the correlation between body image and society. Often people decide what is ‘healthy’ and ‘normal’ based on what they see both in the media and in society. The truth is: society will never be pleased with how you look. Clothing companies will never truly accommodate for plus size people, and if people truly cared about our health, they’d advocate for an increase in plus-size active wear, or even for the decrease of fat-shaming so that plus-size people no longer have to hide.

For some reason, people think that fat-shaming bigger people will encourage them to lose weight. It’s the same with skinny-shaming, really. Here’s some tea: it may encourage weight-loss, but what about when that weight-loss isn’t healthy? What about when that weight-loss spirals into an eating disorder? Is that the individual’s fault too?

Society and the media will never take responsibility for its faults. At the end of the day, what matters is how you feel about yourself and your body. Self-love does not and will never correlate with the amount of love you have to give, or the amount of love others have to give to you. Unconditional love for yourself will come from you loving yourself unconditionally, no matter what state you’re in. You are lovable and acceptable the way you are, no matter how you are.

And no, we’re not sending a radical message to anyone. Let’s not pretend body-shaming is an issue that pertains only to women. We are sending a message to women, men, young boys and girls that there is a need to love yourself, rather than the need to be thinner or bigger. You just have to learn to love yourself.

Like I said, I think this author had their heart in the right place, but the execution of opinion was not the best in my opinion.

“Let’s leave it to the doctors and medical professionals to criticize.” Yeah, why don’t we?

No, I Won’t Reach Out To You When I Am Having A Breakdown

When I am having a major depressive episode, anxious meltdown, or drowning in my mental illness, don’t expect me to come to you.

It’s just not something I’m comfortable with.

This article was originally published with The Odyssey on June 27, 2017.

When I am having a major depressive episode, anxious meltdown, or drowning in my mental illness, don’t expect me to come to you. When I have a breakdown, I feel as if the entire world is resting on my shoulders, but my shoulders are weak and could give out any minute. I feel as if I am paralyzed; I cannot stand up. I cannot stop crying. I am frozen. I won’t ever reach out to you when I’m feeling like this. It’s not personal. it’s not a cry for help. I just can’t function like that. Let me help you understand.

It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been friends. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve come to me with your problems. It definitely doesn’t matter if we’re in the same proximity. When I am breaking down, I will not reach out to you for help because I don’t think I need help. My first instinct is to doubt myself – I automatically think that my trigger was self-inflicted, or I was being too sensitive. My second instinct is to hide my feelings. I shouldn’t bother anyone else with my problems. People have problems of their own, and I’m freaking out over nothing. My third instinct is to push it down, far away and act like it never happened. I should be stronger than this.

When I don’t come to you, don’t take it as an insult. Don’t think that I’m avoiding you, or that I’ve been speaking to someone else over you. Don’t be upset with me because I wasn’t able to express myself. I’ve never been very good at expressing my feelings. It’s hard to explain why I was fine a second ago, and now I can’t stop shaking. It’s even more difficult to let myself be so vulnerable. When my mental illness strikes, I’m as raw as it can be. There are no shields, gates or guards up; I am completely naked and surrounded by darkness. It’s terrifying.

I’ve tried coping mechanisms, but personally, I’ve found that riding it out is the best way for me to handle a breakdown. When I open up to others while breaking down, I feel it is often harder to calm down because I feel like I have to prove or explain myself. I don’t always know the reasons for why I become upset. I rarely have the answers.

When I’m breaking down, don’t expect me to reach out to you. Don’t expect me to come to you when I’m letting my anxiety and depression get the best of me for an unexpected amount of time. Don’t ask me to talk to you while I’m crying, don’t ask me why I’m shaking, and don’t ask others what is ‘wrong’ with me.

I know that people aren’t so great at handling grief, depression, or mental illness in general. It can be hard to reach someone, especially when they have a mindset like mine. It can be even harder to know what to say and what not to say. A trigger could disguise itself as a compliment; you never know what weapons you’re expelling when you speak. It’s a difficult situation. I choose not to back others into the corner that is mental breakdowns because I don’t want anything to become worse. When I’m at my lowest and most vulnerable, I can’t chance anything going wrong. I don’t have it in me to handle mistakes when I’m down like that. When I’m down, I’m not feeling very strong at all.

What I will do is come to you after a breakdown. I’ll text you, call you, or return to our hang out after I’ve cried my eyes out and calmed myself down. I might tell you about it if I’m feeling a bit stronger, or I may wait until I’ve got my feet planted firmly. I’ll talk to you about why it happened, and maybe we can discuss ways to maybe soften the blow the next time.

I will reach out to you when I feel I am strong enough to. Please understand that you have done nothing wrong. I will reach for your hand when I feel safe inside myself enough to do so. Let me return to my strength before we can be strong together.