What I Wish Someone Had Told Me After Graduation

If you can survive four years of constant academic pressure, know and believe that you can survive four more years of anything.

“And now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.” – Neil Gaiman

This article was originally posted on The Odyssey on July 5, 2016.

Congratulations, you’ve made it through four years of school that pushed you to the edge and back more than once. You’ve made it through the heartache, the anxiety, the overwhelming pressure that your academics, your friendships and your relationships have caused you during those years. You’ve escaped the horror and panic of not knowing there was a test, not knowing how to do the homework, not knowing how you’re going to survive after graduation. The real world is kind of terrifying, and it doesn’t matter where you’re graduating from, reality is going to smack you in the face regardless. I wish that someone had told me just how things would turn out in the future. So here I am to pass what I’ve learned onto someone else.

People love to talk about your accomplishments. Your friends, parents, and family could spend an entire house party bragging about where you’ve traveled, how you achieved your grades, and who you’ve made an impact on. They will find the smallest victories to chat about with friends, co-workers, and sometimes even complete strangers. All that talk can chalk up a lot of pressure in someone. It can build expectations that you may not be ready to take on or ever fulfill. The first thing you need to know is that you control your future. It doesn’t matter if your neighbor thinks you’re going to cure cancer, or alternatively, if perhaps your mortal enemy believes that you’re going to cause the apocalypse. Your next step lies beneath your own feet. Trust yourself and only yourself to move forward. Know that you will make mistakes and maybe you’ll disappoint someone. Wouldn’t you rather disappoint someone following a dream of your choosing instead of making that same person proud while you’re unhappy?

That leads me to the next point, choose your own happiness. You are an adult now, and you may have been an adult for a while, but sometimes we all need a reminder. You have the freedom to make your own decisions, which can be both a blessing and a curse. This is not to say that you will not receive support and comfort when you need it; I’m sure your parents will be more than happy to wash a load of your laundry every once in a while. Know that you are in charge of your body, your well-being and your mental health. It does not matter how many restrictions your family places on you, now that you’ve graduated, you can make some decisions for yourself. You can choose to give up or survive. You can choose to wake up with a smile on your face. You can choose to relinquish all of your burdens, all of your hate, and all of your grudges. All of that sounds extremely overwhelming and very scary, but know that you are not alone. You are never alone, and there is always another hand reaching out at the same time yours is.

Know your worth. You are going to change so much after graduation that you might not even recognize yourself anymore. If you thought that you had changed during those four years, get ready for a new transition. Embrace change and be open. After graduation, there are going to be so many new ideas and challenges rolling your way, that you’re going to have to stay on top of everything just to keep up. Everything happens for a reason, even if you’re not entirely sure just what that reason is. Even if change seems to ruin everything, keep your head up and your eyes open. As one door closes, several others open. Remember that, and you’ll be OK.

You’ve just endured four years of complications, four years of obstacles, four years of ups and downs and merry-go-rounds, and you’re still here. Sometimes the going gets tough, and it seems easier to give up and start over. Sometimes it seems easier to give up forever. Fight for yourself. You may be so fortunate that you already have someone, or several someones fighting for you, fighting on your side. The most important thing to remember during this weird post-four-years-of-hell time period is that you have to look out for yourself. At the end of the day, some people stay, and some people leave, but the only person that has always fought for you is you. Fight for your survival, and fight for a better tomorrow. Don’t go down without a battle.

Finally, realize that time doesn’t stop for anyone, or for anything. Some will argue that each minute you waste on this planet being unproductive, is another minute you become closer to your demise, or your end. I think that’s totally depressing. As the former CEO of Twitter, Richard Costolo once said, “Don’t always worry what your next line is going to be.” Live in the present. Yes, you control your future and your happiness and your well-being, but don’t get caught up in all this future talk. Worrying about tomorrow before you even step foot into today can be seriously toxic to not only yourself but the people around you as well. Know all of the things listed above, but keep them in the back of your mind. You can’t predict the future, but there will always be consequences attributed to your actions.

You’ve already survived at least four years of school. If you can survive four years of constant academic pressure, know and believe that you can survive four more years of anything. If that seems entirely too overwhelming, take it down. You can definitely survive four months of anything, four days of anything, and at the very least, take it every four minutes. You’ve survived this long, and you can absolutely survive again, and you will survive again and again and again. I wish someone had warned me of how much everything would change, and how to battle that change because I was not as prepared as I thought I was. I truly believe that everyone can afford to be more prepared. I know even after I’ve experienced everything, I am still learning new things and will continue to learn as much as I possibly can.

12 Signs You Definitely Graduated From Marple Newtown High School

You’ll always remember where you came from and your roots at Ol’ MN High. You may have hated high school, you may never want to drive past those old ruins ever again, but somewhere deep down, there is a part of you that misses something about Marple.

Some of the things we remember the most about good ol’ Marple.

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on June 27, 2016.

Whether you graduated this past June, last year, or several years ago, Marple Newtown will stay in your memories forever. It doesn’t matter if you hated high school or loved it, there is always going to be something you miss about the building, whether it be something specific, like a friend group or a teacher, or something more structural, like the routine you had or having lunch at a certain time every day. Here are 11 signs you graduated from good ol’ MN, and 11 signs you know it will remain in your heart forever.

1. You know what “Maple Newton” is.

Between away sports games and band competitions, if you graduated from Marple, you are no stranger to its odd cousin “Maple.” For whatever reason, people just can’t seem to get the name right. For those of you around a few years ago, you’ll remember Maple Newton’s odd uncle, Arple Ewtown. #NeverForget

2. You went to Friday night football games for the team and the band.

Friday night football games were the best time to chill out with your friends, drink hot cocoa, eat french fries, and cheer on the team. Don’t think for a second you also weren’t there to support our two-time-winning-champion marching band, and by the way, congratulations on that win!

3. You own several orange t-shirts.

Whether you were in clubs, on teams, or participating sports-fundraisers, you own more than a few orange t-shirts. You also most likely own at least one pair of MN sweatpants. You’ll wear that spirit wear forever – not only does it show you pride for Marple Newtown, but everything is also super comfy!

4. You remember Lip Dub.

No matter if you were dressed up, painting your face, decorating the hallways, or throwing confetti and paper airplanes, Lip Dub was definitely memorable. We will never forget rallying in the gym, cheering on the lip-syncers, or the sweaty hallways. If large crowds, high temperatures, and school spirit isn’t your thing, at the very least, it was a nice way to get out of class.

5. Infinite Struggle

Infinite Campus was definitely better than Edline, no doubt, but it was still a struggle. Don’t even get me started on the mobile version. Checking your grades was a wild goose chase. In that moment, I swear we were Infinite(ly done with Infinite Campus). Thank Heavens!

6. Variety Show was always fun.

I remember loving Variety Show since before I was even in high school. It was such a fun way to showcase your talents and have a ball with your friends. Over the years, Marple has seen approximately ome pirate-metal band, hundreds of radio-worthy singers, fantastic dancers, a few funny comedy acts and countless amazing performances. I’ll never forget seeing my friends up there having the time of their life. One time we had such a great show that the fire alarm went off!

7. You loved choir/band fundraisers.

Not only were you supporting your fellow pals in the music department, but you also were able to buy candles, frozen pizzas, and I even got churros in bulk one year. Donating your time and money to help out the music department was a win win.

8. You volunteered with Interact, StuCo, Tiger Guides, Renaissance or NHS at least once during your four years.

Between giving tours, donating holiday shoeboxes and thanksgiving baskets, organizing pep rallies, and handing out programs and pamphlets at school events, you probably volunteered with at least one of these groups during your four years. Even if you weren’t largely involved with them, you couldn’t help donating a can of cranberry sauce for Interact, or helping make signs for Homecoming.

9. Renaissance trips were goals.

Receiving good grades didn’t mean just making your parents happy at MN, it also meant hopping on the Renaissance list. Being on the Renaissance list (apparently) guarantees you discounted prices on school-event tickets, but the main reason for making the list was so that you could attend the trips and events planned just for those students who achieved this awesome status. Some of my favorite trips were to Dave and Buster’s, Morey’s Pier and the movies in the auditorium were a blast also.

10. You know the drama department never disappointed.

Every play and musical at Marple Newtown will forever stay in the hearts all of who performed, all who built the set for, and all who attended the showings of. Being an avid participator in the drama department myself, I can honestly say that being in a play every year made my four years both amazing and super stressful. Performing for all of our faithful audiences made that stress worth it though!

11. Last Senior Day was emotional for everyone.

Everyone knows that Last Senior Day is kind of a giant free-for-all. You’re supposed to go to your classes, but all senior teachers pretty much allow you to sign your yearbooks, visit other teachers, and reminisce freely. You know as soon as the loud speaker plays that Green Day song, the tears are sure to start welling in your eyes. If you weren’t sad to leave school, you most definitely left a friend or favorite teacher behind, and that, my friend, makes leaving all the more bittersweet.

12. You still have MN Pride.

You’ll always remember where you came from and your roots at Ol’ MN High. You may have hated high school, you may never want to drive past those old ruins ever again, but somewhere deep down, there is a part of you that misses something about Marple. Whether it is a friend, a teacher, a security guard, or a memory such as a field trip, a production or game, or a life-changing creative writing class, you can’t shake the fact that whatever that something is definitely changed your life for the better.

Love Is Love Is Love And Guns Spill Blood

If you leave this article with anything, leave with this: do not dare forget these victims. Do not erase this mass murder from your minds.

“Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.” -Lin Manuel Miranda

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on June 14, 2016.

On June 12, 2016, 50 individuals were gunned down during the early hours at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The gunman, who does not even deserve to be named or be made infamous, opened fire in the club and took hostages with an assault rifle, a handgun, and several rounds of ammunition. This mass shooting is being labeled at the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. It is also the 133rd mass shooting this year. This tragedy should also be labeled as a hate crime because it was “a crime motivated by racial, sexual, or other prejudice, typically one involving violence.” Pulse, the club where the shooting took place, was holding a Latin-themed night, which promised fun for all who attended. Before you claim that race is not a factor in this crime, I beg you to realize that a majority of the victims were people of color, and race is absolutely a factor in this terrible happening.

On this Sunday, men and women of all ages and from all different walks of life were having a blast at Pulse, which is famous for being not only an open nightclub but also a safe space for LGBT and LGBT Latin communities. The terror that these people experienced is unimaginable. As the first gunshots erupted, chaos exploded, and this space ceased its reign of safety. As if mass murder were not enough, the evil man also took hostages in the bathrooms, terrifying anyone and everyone in close proximity to both he and the club. As I sit here writing this article, three days after the shooting, my heart refuses to stop racing, and my panic does not even measure up to what these poor human beings witnessed that night. No one should ever have to experience such violence.

Let us not rush and assume that this was radical Islamism, though so many have already jumped on that bandwagon. Though I believe it is important to recognize the shooter’s embracing of ISIS, I also believe that we should pay close attention to the timing of all of this. Ramadan, an extremely holy Muslim holiday, is still going on and will continue until July 5th. If he was as devout a Muslim as many are saying, know that he would have never committed such an act of sin. Just as he should not represent all of Orlando, he should also not be pegged into representing all of Islam. Let’s not focus on what religion the shooter was, or who he represents, and let us focus on what this shooting actually is: the last wake up call I ever want to see reported on the news.

If you’ll allow me, I’d like to use this opportunity and this tragedy to talk about gun violence and gun control. I know that this is sticky and tricky subject, so if this is something that triggers you or upsets you, I invite you to scroll to just after the photo of the woman with the Orlando sign. However, if guns and gun violence just make you uncomfortable, well, they should.

After the Sandy Hook shooting in December of 2012, so many swore that they would never be silent about gun control again, and while many have been fighting, issues such as these can be swept under the rug as time passes, and the victims names, their stories, and their families are forgotten. A mass shooting is defined by having at least four people shot and killed or wounded, not including the shooter in that tally. Since Sandy Hook, there have been 998 mass shootings. There were 372 shootings last year, in 2015. There have been 133 shootings already in 2016, and it is only June. This problem is not getting any better.

This problem needs to stop being swept under the rug. It is time to stop hitting the snooze button. It is time to march on behalf of our fallen brothers and sisters, especially the ones who are not safe to be who they truly are out in the open.

While changing your Facebook profile photo to support Orlando is nice, and praying and lighting candles are wonderful ways of coping, they are not fixing this problem. They are not even really helping to raise awareness for this problem. Awareness is not the problem. Learning how to utilize the voices we were given in order to make a change and do some good in this world is becoming the problem.

The restriction of guns and change of gun laws are a touchy subject. I do not mean to offend anyone or disrespect anyone’s views here; I am only trying to shine some light on a problem that we need to start paying attention to. Some people believe that no matter how many restrictions we place on guns and firearms, no matter how many background checks we have to enable, these criminals will still find a way to acquire these guns. While this may be true, wouldn’t you rather attempt and try to slow down the process they need to endure to obtain these weapons? I, personally, would rather try to fix something and save even just one life instead of ignoring the problem because of some lame excuse like, “My voice doesn’t matter.” All of our voices matter, and together, our voices could be indestructible. Any change toward stricter gun control in this day and age, at this peak of violence and bloodshed, can only push progress and help not hinder.

I encourage you to write your hearts out. Write letters to your local congressmen, to your mayors, to your policy makers, to everyone and anyone that will listen, and even the people who won’t. Sign every petition you come across. As long as you stay safe, and obey the law, take it outside and protest on the streets. Write articles, tweet about it, post on Tumblr, do whatever you can possibly do to make your voices be heard. It is time that we as a community, we as a nation, take the next step together. These aren’t just any voices asking for peace anymore; these are the voices of people who do not want to see any more bloodshed, and these are the voices of people who want the right to be who they truly are openly and safely, without the fear of losing their lives for existing.

*If you wanted to skip the gun-talk, you’re welcome to pick back up here.* While Orlando brings up many debates about gun control, restrictions, and violence, I want to make sure that it is not the only thing brought up.

What happened in Orlando was a hate crime. It was a disgusting, homophobic, and violent hate crime. One man saw two men kissing in front of his family, and instead of attempting to understand the differences that strengthen this country, and allow it to be as diverse as it is, he chose to make a decision that he did not have the right to, and destroy the lives of almost a hundred individuals in Pulse Nightclub during the early hours of June 12, 2016.

If you leave this article with anything, leave with this: do not dare forget these victims. Do not erase this mass murder from your minds. Just as you won’t forget those innocent children from Sandy Hook, do not delete the victims from Pulse either. Read the City of Orlando’s list of names and Buzzfeed list of bios. Remember their faces. Spread their stories, not the shooter’s.

If you would like more information about how you can help Orlando directly during this difficult time, you can look here for a list of ways to lend a hand. You can also donate to this GoFundMe on behalf of the Pulse victims. If lending a hand is simply not an option for you at the moment, take a look at the list of candlelight vigils happening in honor of the victims and their families across the country. According to Bustle, the city of Orlando is asking that people located in Orlando refrain from holding vigils as not to deplete the city’s resources.

14 Struggles Every Library Employee Knows To Be True

Whether you are a librarian, library assistant or a page, you have experienced a few of these struggles at least once during a shift.

“A well-stocked, well-staffed library is like a gardener who plants books, knowledge, and dreams and grows readers, learners, and do-ers.” ~ Laura Purdie Salas

This article was originally posted on The Odyssey on June 6, 2016.

Contrary to popular belief, we actually do more than just “read books all day.” Library employees don’t read on the job at all, in fact. We are too busy shelving, checking your books in and out, and solving problems that the average patron just can’t seem to figure out. The next time you visit your favorite local library, make sure to thank an employee for helping you. While our struggles may seem odd or simple to you, every library employee can relate to these fourteen troubles, mostly because they occur pretty often.

1. Shifting shelves

If you’re a page, or someone who shelves frequently, this is a common struggle. When there is not enough room in a section, we are forced to shift books up, down, and around so that we can accommodate the location of (most of the time) one book. Depending on how packed your collection is, this can be either a simple or difficult feat.

2. Patrons who need a really specific type of book

I usually encounter this type of patron mostly on the weekends. They usually come in asking for a really specific type of book, like picture books about iguanas but also with facts that are acceptable for a preschool audience and at the same time have to do with the first day of kindergarten and mention potty-training. If you don’t already know a few off the top of your head, your fingers are crossed so that you are able to find some items that you own with that oddly-specific search online.

3. Slow nights

You would think that slow nights would be a dream come true, but most of the time, slow nights are a nightmare. Don’t get me wrong, after a long, busy, day, peace and quiet is well-needed, especially in the junior room. However, when that peace and quiet continues on for six or seven hours, that’s when time takes the shape of a slug. If you are able to sit desk during this time, consider yourself lucky. If you’re a page well…I guess you’ll find yourself-

4. Shelf-reading

It has to be done. The books have to be in order so that you can find them later, if needed. Sometimes it can be therapeutic, but mostly, it’s a drag. Some sections are easy, not many items out of order, a simple time. Nonfiction, however… harrumph. Sometimes it seems easier to take the entire shelf off and place it on a cart instead of trying to organize on the shelf. That’s the real nightmare.

5. When patrons come in at close

No offense, but we actually have lives outside of the library. Yeah we might be heading home to drink some tea, and curl up in bed with a good book, but that still requires us to go home. Which we can’t do, if you insist on coming in five minutes before close with a large fine and a list of requests. It’s not only inconsiderate, but it’s also rude. You’re not just inconveniencing one person, you’re holding up an entire staff of people, including the people who have to lock the doors, which they cannot do, if you are still inside.

6. Looking for lost items

The minute a patron decides they need a certain item that is marked ‘lost’ in the system, you better be ready to engage in a wild goose chase. That item could be misshelved, on display, in someone else’s hands, or perhaps it wasn’t ever returned in the first place. You’ll never know because all that you do know is that it isn’t on the shelf. Sometimes we get lucky, and the item is nearby or actually on the shelf, but most of the time, it is a lost cause.

7. Patrons who swear they returned a book and it’s not on the shelf.

Similarly, patrons who think they are smarter than the computer. While the employees are not perfect, and we do make mistakes, the computer is more likely to accidentally scan your book in even when you do return it. The computer does not lie, pal. I’d say about eight times out of ten the computer is the truthful one. But sure, take my name and my supervisor’s number.

8. The summer reading frenzy

The two weeks preceding it, and the actual kickoff are a literal nightmare. Don’t get me wrong, summer reading is amazing for libraries; it increases circulation and attendance for programs. The actual business of the days, while the program is in process, is crazy though. The influx of people that come in asking to record their readings and claim prizes can be a little overwhelming and very exhausting. T-shirts that say, “I survived summer reading,” are definitely for library staff, not students.

9. When someone wants to request a book they can’t remember the name of.

While I mostly think this is a struggle in the children’s room, a patron who cannot remember the title of the book they are looking for will undoubtedly turn the library employees into detectives. The next question I usually ask is if they remember the author, and later perhaps, the color of the book, the characters, or any part of the plot. A child will tell you that the book is about ‘a white dog named Buddy’ and you pray to the Library Gods that Google will come up with something plausible. An adult patron will most likely remember something less intricate, like the author’s middle initial, and so you embark on the journey of the alphabet and similar authors to the one they last read. It is never boring.

10. Having a mind-fart when attempting to recall a title.

When a patron comes in asking for the newest Patterson title, or the newest “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and you just can’t remember the title, even though you probably just saw it on display. Instead of looking it up, you stand there for several minutes staring blankly at the ceiling while the patron stares blankly at you, waiting. The important thing is that you know the author, and can point the patron in the right direction. It’s the little things.

11. Patrons who don’t know how to use the computers

Any library employee who has computers in their department knows this struggle all too well. While this issues is mostly focused around people who have no experience with computers and were forced by their grandchildren to make a Facebook account, it can still be struggle when you have to wait on other patrons. No ma’am, I’m not sure why the sound isn’t working, why your windows closed, or why “The Google” isn’t giving you what you want, but I’ll put on my thinking cap and see how I can help.

12. When books are returned in sticky condition

Again, something we find more often than not in the children’s room, but sometimes makes an appearance with Adult items. The disgust that is reflected on one’s face after handling a sticky or otherwise damaged book can be identified the moment it is expressed. While I’m sure that the peanut butter and jelly sandwich was delightful, your library book did not require a taste test. Please don’t feed the library books.

13. When patrons don’t follow your directions to find a book and you have to find it yourself

See the bookshelf on your right? No, your right. Yes. Take that down all the way to the end, and your book should be on the bottom shelf. What do you mean you couldn’t find it? Oh, you know what, just let me show you where it is. Okay? Are you good now? What do you mean you still can’t find it? I’ll go get it okay. Found it! “Where was it?” On the shelf. You’re welcome. Have a nice day.

14. When patrons try to get out of paying their fines

Both exciting and terrifying, telling patrons they have fines is always an experience. While some patrons have no problem paying their fines, some patrons let their account pile up until it is blocked from being used. Here’s where they try to trick you. Sometimes patrons think that they can swindle their way out of their fines, and try to make a bargain as if the library is an old thrift store. They attempt to ‘make a deal’ with you, as if you can excuse some of their overdue fines. Good try buddy, now either pay your fines or you can’t use your library card, your choice.

Whether you are a librarian, library assistant or a page, you have experienced a few of these struggles at least once during a shift. It doesn’t really matter what department you work in, the work is the same and the patrons will act the same. Whatever messes you may encounter, whichever patrons may yell at you, and no matter how many lost items you fail to locate, remember you are not alone. Other libraries and library employees feel your pain and understand the struggles. We can only hope things will get better, or at the very least, the missing items will mysteriously reappear before we purchase new copies. We can dream, right?

Take It From Me: Deleting Toxic People Is So Important

However, when you realize you’re stuck in a messy and bad relationship, it can be difficult to end things or escape.

“Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.” – Robert Tew

This article was originally posted on The Odyssey on May 30, 2016.

Relationships can be tricky sometimes. When it’s good, it’s good, with problems that can be solved in a mature way and memories you’ll never want to forget. However, when you realize you’re stuck in a messy and bad relationship, it can be difficult to end things or escape. If you are confident in your self-worth and know attempting to fix something broken is a waste of time, this article probably does not apply to you. This article right here is for those who aren’t quite sure how to delete toxic people and break out of a toxic relationship. In this article, I will discuss my journey with toxic relationships, how I was able to escape them, and how others should go about deleting toxic people from their lives.

When I was a junior in high school, I became involved with a plethora of people that had all sorts of problems. I was that friend that everyone always went to for advice or to vent. I thought that this was a good thing at the time, and I thought it meant that people trusted me and depended on me. That is, until I realized that they were doing more than depending on me, but rather, leaning on me. They were latching onto me, asking me to fix their problems, not help them fix the problems by themselves. They were clinging to me for survival.

I began to feel very worn down all the time and feel extremely bad about myself. I entered what my parents thought was a phase, but was me feeling like I had let down every single person I had ever known. My friends would act happy and free when we would hang out, and the minute they went home, they would post something negative or dangerous online, which only gave me anxiety about their safety. I didn’t know where to turn. I thought telling my parents would be violating the trust bestowed upon me and asking for help from other friends would only betray those suffering. Any time that I had attempted to help a depressed friend, I felt like I was the only one trying to save them. If I didn’t succeed in making my friends smile or laugh, I thought that perhaps they would self-harm later and the blame would be on me, for not being good enough at helping them.

If I wasn’t able to succeed in “helping them,” I would instantly feel as though my self-worth was equal to zero. I felt as though I did not deserve to live because I could not even be there to help my friend who was on the verge of ending everything. I wasn’t trying to help them, simply because they weren’t asking for help. I was trying to fix them, to cure them, because they made me feel like I was the only one who possibly could. Those friends put me under a spell that I could not break, and so I fell into the negativity cycle that made me consider ending my own life.

Thankfully, I was able to overcome that consideration and realize that my life is valuable. I was lucky. I know others do not have the same luck that I do. Toxic people are like leeches; they will latch onto you and try to take you down with them. It’s not always intentional, and sometimes they are oblivious to the pain they put you through. While this explains the terrible way they treat you, it does not excuse it.

During this terrible year of high school, I was faced with several toxic relationships, that I dug a hole deeper into every time I was unable to fix a friend’s issues. Sometimes the separation you require from a toxic person is easy; sometimes all it takes is one last straw to be broken, and you decide that you are finished with all the negativity. Other times, it is excruciatingly difficult. Manipulative people will always try to rope you back into the situation, no matter how many times you try to leave. They will make you think that you are the problem and that everything is your fault. They will try and trick you into staying and continue to serve them. I am telling you now, right here, that you are not the problem.

Finally, I realized that I could not possibly help the toxic person and that they were beyond my help. We as people are not built to fix other people. We are built to hold other’s hands while others figure out how to fix themselves. We are built to support other people while they embark on the journey of recovery. Asking someone to be your only crutch in this world is not only selfish but harmful for both of you. Support systems should always be made up of more than one person. One person will not be able to handle the pressure, the overbearing anxiety, or the disappointment that often accompany recovery.

If you find yourself in a toxic relationship of any kind, whether it be a romantic or sexual relationship, a friendship, or literally any other kind of negative relationship, know that you are better than that, and you deserve better than that. Know that there are so many people willing to help you, and lend a hand. Remember that you are never alone, no matter how many times you fall down, fail, and don’t feel like getting back up again. You can get back up again, and you will.

I cannot tell you how difficult it was to cut off and delete all the toxic people in my life. I am going to be a sophomore in college and I am still in the process of it. Toxicity is sneaky, it will hide behind the nicest smile, the most soothing hug. The minute you start feeling like you are the only one responsible for someone else’s life, mental health, and safety, is the minute you need to wake up and realize that you are not in a healthy relationship.

All relationships should maintain positivity, happiness and love. Even through all the bad stuff, you should never have the fear of having someone’s blood on your hands for something you could not possibly fix. Mental illness does not disappear with love. Mental illness is something that needs to be survived by an entire team of people, supporting and encouraging baby steps of success. Toxic people often bloom under the duress of their mental illness and tend not to operate under the love and positivity aspects one would usually expect from a healthy relationship.

Sometimes it is not their fault, and like I said, they are not always aware. Remember that if you are unable to handle someone’s mental illness and the anxiety of the whole situation, you are not a failure or a quitter. Mental illness is hard, and if it begins to affect you negatively, you know it is time to leave. The other person may hate you for leaving. They may not understand, and they may try to put you down in any such way that they can. If this is the case, just hope that one day they understand why you left. If you find yourself bereft of hope, remember that you did not give up, you just let go.

While the deletion of toxic people is a long and emotional process, the aftertaste of freedom is amazing. The weight that will be lifted off of your shoulders will be extreme. You may not know who you truly are without that toxic person and you may get lost finding your way back to yourself, and that is absolutely OK. There are many bad people out there in this world, but believe me when I say that there are so many, if not more, good people out there as well. You deserve to be free, happy and healthy.

If you feel that you are anxious or depressed as I once felt, I encourage you to reach out to someone for help. Just as that toxic person should not have depended solely on you, you should not depend solely on yourself or another. Life is precious, and we were all put on this Earth for a reason. I believe that we were all put on this Earth to change the world in some way, shape, or form. Whether it be on a large scale, or simply changing someone’s world, you are here to make a change, so before you think about ending your life, remember that there is an entire world out there with an infinite amount of possibilities willing to help you make that change. Remember to put yourself first. You deserve it.

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‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ — Cute or Boot?

The Bennet sisters are equally as feisty as the original, but essentially more badass.

A review of the new adaptation of Jane Austen’s love story.

Originally published on The Odyssey on May 24, 2016.

Everyone loves a good love story, and if you’re a fan of Jane Austen, she often delivers when it comes to such a story line. The original “Pride and Prejudice'” narrates the charming love stories of two Bennet sisters who find perfect husbands in the most roundabout ways. Jane Bennet is acquainted with the wealthy and charming Charles Bingley early in the novel, while her sister, Elizabeth ‘Lizzy’ Bennett finds herself annoyed and revolted by the ever-present and gloomy Fitzwilliam Darcy. The movie adaptation was just as lovely as the book, too.

What could be more perfect than curling up with a blanket, hot tea, and “Pride and Prejudice?” Doing just that, of course! The movie, also based on the novel by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, was released in February of this year and has already made over 16 million dollars at the box office. Though the name of the film suggests gore and filth, there is nearly no blood shown at all.

The suspense-filled movie can be described as gruesome, but also incredibly awesome. The Bennet sisters are equally as feisty as the original, but essentially more badass. Instead of fighting over ribbons and stumbling over words, they now sharpen their knives, polish their guns, and slay zombies like there is no tomorrow. Mr. Bingley, is perhaps still the awkward young man he was before, but now has military experience and Mr. Darcy is a colonel and expert zombie hunter.

The movie stars Lily James, the newest princess in the most recent version of “Cinderella,” who plays Elizabeth, Sam Wiley, who starred in “Maleficient” as Diaval, debuts as Mr. Darcy, and Matt Smith, who joins us from the “Doctor Who” series, portrays Parson Collins. The rest of the cast is filled with equally as talented actors and actresses, including Douglas Booth (Mr. Bingley), Lena Headey (Lady Catherine), Bella Heathcote (Jane) and Emma Greenwell (Caroline Bingley). It was also directed by Burr Steers, who directed “Charlie St. Cloud,” and “17 Again.”

Fans of the novel may feel some hesitancy or perhaps disgust when regarding this movie. However, I am an extreme “Pride and Prejudice” fan and I absolutely adored this rendition of the story. Every story has the capacity to be recreated and reborn, and while it may seem that this adaptation should be watched in irony at best, I assure you it is worth giving a chance. If you adore the original novel and film for the beauty in detail, characterization, and romantic plot, you will be pleased to know that the zombie version also pays close attention to these traits. However, if you were pleased with the original’s peacefulness, tradition, and historical resemblance, you may want to avoid this rendition.

When I first heard about this movie, I was also extremely hesitant. Some masterpieces should not be recreated, just in case they are butchered in the process. When buying tickets for this movie, I mostly intended to watch it ironically. I expected the absolute worst and found that I had misjudged the movie entirely. The acting is not incredible, and Elizabeth Bennet mumbles quite a bit, but I believe that adaptations such as these should be able to stand alone if needed, and this film certainly has the ability to. I absolutely recommend reading and watching the original “Pride and Prejudice,” but if you have an open mind and feel like opening the door to a slightly more action-induced rendition, you are sure to enjoy the zombie edition of this beloved story.

In my experience so far, I have only read good and intrigued reviews regarding this new film. At the very least, people were surprised whilst watching, and encourage other viewers to take a chance. While it is definitely a little creepy and veers off from the original story line, it is still witty, funny, and different. If you’ve seen this movie and enjoyed it, prepared to be excited. Steve Hockensmith, who wrote the prequel for the zombie adaptation, has also written a sequel, titled “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After.” The title alone secures an interesting plot, to say the least. Though there have been many rumors, director Burr Steers says there is no sequel in the making at the moment, though he would jump at the idea if requested. I hereby declare this film to be cute.

To All The Seniors That Have Inspired Me

To all the seniors, past and present, that have inspired me: Thank you.

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” –Voltaire

Originally posted on The Odyssey on May 2, 2016

Having an older brother has always given me the opportunity to have an interesting perspective on age and the different ages of the people that surround you. While I dealt with my melodramatic troubles in middle school, like most seventh-grade girls my age, I remember hearing my brother talk about all the great people, mostly his peers, in the school who had really made an impact on his time there. I remember envying him for his experiences and wishing that I were in high school too.

When I finally became a freshman, I tried to make friends with as many different people as I could. I found myself talking to new freshmen, sophomores I had known from middle school and even my brother’s friends who had not graduated yet. While I realized that I was at the bottom of the food chain and had little to no meaning in the upperclassmen’s lives, I was still very aware of the seniors who presided over me in the different clubs I had joined. I saw them as leaders, role models and generally people whom I would look up to in the future.

Those seniors would become my mentors, my peers and would play a role in some of my favorite memories from high school. Being very active in both theater and the literary magazine, these students became the ideal that I would strive for as I grew older. I remember thinking to myself, Wow, I can’t wait to be just like them. As cheesy as it sounds, I wanted to make a difference in other students’ lives as they had in mine. They inspired me to take that extra step and become a member of something that transcended the idea of leadership.

My senior year of high school, I was able to stand in the shoes of those leaders and hope that I had influenced underclassmen as the seniors had once influenced me. Becoming a leader and mentor was never about leaving behind a title, name or legacy, but instead a family. As my freshman year of college comes to an end, I find myself recognizing the amazing upperclassmen I have been granted the opportunity to work with this year alone. In what seems like a few short months, I have learned so many new things and have gained so many amazing friends just from the events that I have participated in with these students. Between a literary magazine and theater, once again, I have had the pleasure to meet some influential people. I can only hope to be as accomplished and significant as the seniors I have met this year. I cannot wait to see each and every one of you change the world.

To all the seniors, past and present, that have inspired me: Thank you.