My Experience With ‘The Vagina Monologues’

The topics were uncomfortably incredible; they were raw, emotional and heartbreaking.

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“I’m worried about vaginas, what we call them and don’t call them.” – Eve Ensler

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

When most people step out of their comfort zones, they start small. If someone receives anxiety from working out at the gym, they may only go late at night. Small, like, taking a hike when you’re not a fan of nature, or submitting to a publication even though you’ve never written before. Not small like feeling uncomfortable talking about sexual assault and genitals and then auditioning for ‘The Vagina Monologues’. Except, that’s exactly what how I started the diaspora from my comfort zone and became involved with the play. Here’s my experience in the wonderful show that is ‘The Vagina Monologues’.

Last year, when I was a freshman, I was stopped in my university’s dining hall by a man who happened to be selling chocolate vaginas. You heard that right; he was selling little chocolates that were shaped like vaginas. I was instantly intrigued because you don’t just sell chocolate shaped like things unless you’re trying to make a point. He was promoting a play titled ‘The Vagina Monologues’ and informed me that ticket sales and choco-vagina sales would benefit the Women’s Center on campus. I immediately bought a ticket and a baggy of chocolates.

When I went to the show, however, I had no clue what I was about to see on that stage. With the auditorium fairly packed, and my two friends on either side of me, we prepared for the show, which turned out to be one of the best shows I’ve ever seen live.

At first, the play made famous by Eve Ensler was funny and quirky. There were some dirty jokes, some F-bombs, some vulgarities, but I was entertained, to say the least. The first act was full of giggles and gasps when we couldn’t believe the actors said such things, and then we couldn’t believe we had laughed at such things.

The second act was more powerful than anything I’ve ever seen on stage before. As someone who appreciates theater with all her heart, I was honestly blown away at how influential the second act of the production was. The topics were uncomfortably incredible; they were raw, emotional and heartbreaking. There was power laced in each monologue on that stage that night. I left the theater feeling some type of way, yet I couldn’t explain just how I felt. The performance of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ was so emotionally enriching that I couldn’t believe how impact-full such a raw and blunt performance like that could be.

Sophomore year rolled around, and so did the auditions for this year’s performance of the play that had blown my mind just a year before. I somehow convinced my best friend to audition with me, and we hiked to the Women’s Center to cold read some monologues and eat some complimentary tootsie rolls. Though the giant felt vagina on the wall intimidated my best friend, it only excited me more. I couldn’t believe I had an opportunity to be a part of something so powerful, so meaningful, so real.

As soon as auditions concluded, I found myself with three other women in the group read for ‘The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could’. My family laughed when I told them the name, but I kind of dug it. Coochie snorcher has a nice ring to it, and it sure as hell sounds a lot cooler than vagina.

I was granted the parts of memories 10 and 13-years-old, which consisted of some pretty graphic language, a tale of child molestation and the guilt that follows the child later in life. With the women in my monologue, I was able to help tell a raw story with a happy ending. The story is written to shine the light on homeless women and the amount that report having been sexually assaulted, molested and harassed in their lifetimes, specifically before the age of eighteen in our case.

You would think that the atmosphere and the energy surrounding the production would be dark and gloomy, or at the very least intense, based on the blunt content of the show. It is the exact opposite, and it’s wonderful. There is so much positive energy both on stage and off-stage, both contributed by the cast and crew.

The cast members are all so nice to one another, and all of us are so different; we all come from different walks of life. There are mothers, professors, grandmothers, undergraduate students and graduate students. There are so many different ethnic groups and identities involved, that we truly capture the empowerment and equality that lies in the feminism presented in this production. You couldn’t have asked for a better environment to perform in.

I am truly honored to have played these parts with the ladies in the Coochie Snorcher in the Shippensburg University 2017 production of ‘The Vagina Monologues’. Though I took a head-first dive into the outside of my comfort zone, I know now that it was totally worth it.

Thank you to my best friend for taking this scary jump with me. Thank you to my cast-mates, who showed me that there doesn’t have to be drama in every show on stage. I’d also like to give a huge shout-out to my dad, who came to the show alone and totally embraced the beauty of it. If you came out to see the 2017 ‘Vagina Monologues,’ thank you. Thank you for supporting the Shippensburg University Women’s Center and Women’s Centers in the area.

Finally, a huge thank you to our director, who truly worked her butt off in order to make this production the best it could be. She never gave up on any of us, and she continued to make sure we were all comfortable and confident. A fantastic show couldn’t exist without a fantastic director, and for that, we are so grateful.

 

It’s Not Giving Up, It’s Stepping Back

Know that even if someone important to you does depart, that they may return. If they don’t, however, know that you’ll be just fine because you can stand on your own two feet.

What to realize when someone “leaves you” due to your mental illness.

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

We’ve all seen that picture that circulates the internet with a few words written on a photograph that reads, “Please don’t leave,” or “Please don’t leave me.” I’ve heard many people relay those same words to me as they beg me not to ‘leave them behind’ due to their mental illness. I wish they would realize that I’m not leaving them behind; I’m simply taking a breather. When someone ‘leaves’ you for reasons surrounding your mental illness, understand that they’re not giving up on you; they’re simply taking a step back.

Mental illness can be a very powerful and draining thing. Enduring it alone is difficult and many people believe they cannot survive without the support of others. This is true in some cases. The problem is that there will almost always be someone who ‘leaves’ due to the circumstances surrounding your mental illness, and you can’t give up just because that person is no longer around.

I don’t really like to use the word ‘leave’ or ‘leaves’ because I think that usually correlates with someone disappearing. Generally, you leave a place, not a person. You are not an object. You are not an island and your mental illness isn’t shark infested waters. A better word for your situation is likely ‘step back’ or ‘give in’. Giving up and leaving are generally not what a person does when they can no longer bear the weight of your mental illness.

Your demons are dark, no matter what kind they are and no matter where they originate from. They are dark and heavy on your soul. They try to eat you alive. That’s what creates depression, anxiety, and other types of mental illness. When a friend or family member that was once close to you decides to remove themselves from your life due to a circumstance surrounding your mental illness, it is not your fault. Let me repeat that: it is not your responsibility to keep someone from taking a step back.

Friendship is fluid. Family can even be fluid, though many don’t think so. Demons are scary and powerful. They will try to drag anyone and everything down with them into the pits of darkness. They are incredibly toxic. When someone close to you forfeits their relationship with you, it’s because they’re trying to get as far away from those evil demons as they can.

Many of us shoulder our own demons, and if someone takes a step back from their relationship with you, it’s likely due to the fact that they cannot handle both your demons and their own.

It feels personal, but I promise, in a real friendship or a real, genuine relationship, it isn’t. Friends are not generally equipped to handle those types of things. They aren’t registered therapists or psychiatrists, and no matter how many times they lend you an ear, they simply aren’t trained to help you in the way you require.

Understand that those who can no longer face your demons are not giving up, they’re taking a step back. In the bargain that is their mental health and your relationship, they will and should put their mental health first. Just as you aren’t to blame for your mental illness, you’re not to blame for your friends departing.

As long as you have not hurt those friends or family members on purpose, or manipulated them in any way to get what you wanted, you are not the problem. If you genuinely did not hurt someone and they step back, it is not personal. Know that, however, if there was manipulation and ill-feelings involved, that your relationship may not return, and sometimes that’s for the better. It is not someone else’s job to fix you. It is their job to hold your hand while you fix yourself.

Think of your relationships as one of those bridges that lifts up its ends to allow the ships to pass through. The ships represent time. You and that person are just lifting up your sides of the bridge. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to, the bridges cannot pass through if you do not lift your side up. Many ships will pass through. Sometimes, even after the ships have passed, your friend may not wish to put their side of the bridge back down. That’s okay, too. Sometimes it’s not meant to be.

After realizing the reason for your relationship’s hiatus, you have to remember that you are not alone, no matter how lonely you feel. Everyone has to put their mental health first, but that doesn’t mean that yours no longer matters. Your mental health and mental illness are just as important as anyone else’s. Know that you cannot give up just because someone you care about took a step back. You have to take a stand up for yourself and fight tooth and nail for your life. If life was meant to be easy, we’d all live forever.

You have to learn to be your own anchor. You have to prop yourself up and fight against all the negativity coming at you. Be your own ray of sunshine, and perhaps you’ll be a ray of sunshine for others too. You are meant to be here. You have a purpose even if you haven’t realized it just yet. If you weren’t meant to be on this Earth, the Universe would have picked you off long ago.

You are meant to be here to change the world, even if it’s someone’s world. Realizing that will help you in your process of healing. Know that even if someone important to you does depart, that they may return. If they don’t, however, know that you’ll be just fine because you can stand on your own two feet. You are strong. You will always be strong. Continue to be strong, if not for anyone but yourself. No one can drag you down but you, remember that. You are your own anchor.

Working At A Library As Described By ‘Parks And Recreation’

Libraries can seem like an escape from reality for patrons, but for employees? Well, let’s just say that sometimes we need to use the real world to escape from the reality of the library.

“Hogwarts is fictional. You do know that, don’t you? It’s important to me that you know that.” – Ben Wyatt

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on February 13, 2017.

Libraries are wonderful, magical places where you can escape the trials and tribulations of real life and be welcomed into a world filled with zero limitations. That is, if you attend the library to read. You can also use the computers, study or even attend events like book clubs and workshops. Libraries can seem like an escape from reality for patrons, but for employees? Well, let’s just say that sometimes we need to use the real world to escape from the reality of the library. Here’s what it’s like to work at a library told through ‘Parks and Recreation’.

1. When you have to open or close the library

Between the patrons waiting at the door for you to open at exactly 9 a.m. and the patrons who just won’t leave at 9 p.m., opening and closing are an adventure. Never mind the patrons, the amount of books left in the drop-box at open and close are also crazy.

2. Desk-ing by yourself

Employees have to take breaks, depending on how long their shift is. Sometimes, you have to hold down the fort at the desk alone for a bit when others take breaks. On a Tuesday night, this is a piece of cake. On a Saturday afternoon, however, you better brace yourself. Especially if you’re in the children’s room, and there’s a program going on.

3. Having to answer a phone call that requires a lot of patience

Sometimes when people call the library, they have several questions. Sometimes by several, I mean a few, and sometimes I mean hundreds. Though the reference department mostly answers these calls, sometimes the phone calls end up being dispersed throughout different departments. Lucky us!

4. That end-of-the-day adrenaline rush

No matter what day it is, no matter which department you’re in, you’ll feel the power when it comes near the end of your shift. Though working at a library can be fun, and is definitely rewarding, it can be extremely stressful as well. When it nears the end of your shift, you think about all the stuff you’ll do after getting off work, even though you’ll probably end up Netflix and chilling by yourself.

5. When patrons argue about paying fines

Look, I don’t make the rules, and even if I did, you yelling at me over a fine isn’t going to change the fact that you owe a fine. Let’s get one thing straight: the library is a privilege, not a right, and if you abuse that privilege, you don’t get to use it anymore. Pay your fines and you’ll get your privileges back.

6. When you find a book or fix a problem that no one else could

Not all of the library’s issues are easily fixable. If the book isn’t where it’s supposed to be, I can’t give it to you because I don’t know where it is. If the receipt printer isn’t working, and we’ve already troubleshooted in the ways we know, I can’t give you a receipt because I’m not the receipt printer genie. However, sometimes you find your way by trying the weirdest things, and when you save the day, oh wow, are you a hero.

7. Working in the children’s room like…

It never stops. In the summer, there are more children because parents don’t know where else to take them. During the school year, everyone and their mother need the same biography or the same Reading Olympics book. The screaming children, the bodily fluid stains, the crying, the meltdowns, the running, the injuries and the angry parents just keep on coming.

8. Busy days and quiet days

When it’s boring, time moves more slowly than a snail. The library is quiet and it’s as if the only sound we can hear is each other breathing. Alternatively, when it’s beyond hectic and busy…

I feel this on a spiritual level.

9. Shelf-Reading

We have to keep the library nice and orderly so that we can all locate books whenever we need to. However, when the letters and numbers start to blur together and all of a sudden it’s like you’re reading everything upside down, that’s where shelf-reading becomes the death of you.

10. Maneuvering staff dynamics

There’s often a lot of differently aged people who work at the library. Due to this, there is a lot of butting heads. Some people don’t know how to work technology, and sometimes pages have to teach them while working. There’s also a fair amount of gossip between workers, which doesn’t constitute a healthy work environment anywhere. We receive enough pettiness from the patrons, we don’t need it in staff-to-staff interaction too.

 

Don’t Go To Shippensburg University For A College Education

Attend Shippensburg for the Raider Bowls on Wednesdays, the tacos on Tuesdays and the multicultural nights at Reisner.

Go for the whole experience.

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on January 23, 2017.

On paper, Shippensburg University looks like any other state school. There are highly commended professors and even more highly commended academics. You could spend hours looking at the awards the school has received for its facilities, its residence halls and its dining halls. While those appreciations are lovely and wonderful to look at, they shouldn’t be the reason you attend the school. Don’t attend Shippensburg University for the award-winning college education they have to offer you. Instead, attend Ship for a unique college experience you won’t find anywhere else.

While you’re attempting to embark on the long and confusing road that choosing a university is, remember to look at more than what they market to you. You’ll have a great meal at every school you visit, simply because of your tour. You’ll see a clean campus and beautiful architecture. You’ll also see the award-winning perks that Shippensburg has to offer you. While I’m not encouraging you to overlook these amazing accommodations, make sure you look beyond them as well.

While you’re in the dining hall, pay attention to the dynamic that surrounds you. Pay attention to the way the students speak to and address one another. Especially notice how hard the food faculty work in order to ensure perfect service for you and others dining there.

While you’re roaming about campus, look closely at the students in classes. Notice how they take notes, how they listen and more importantly, how the professors project the academics at their students.

Take note of all the amazing opportunities there are lying in each academic building. Notice the fliers for internships, clubs, apartments, study abroad opportunities and future jobs. Stop at the tables in the CUB, or the Ceddia Union Building. Look at the ceiling and how many floors we have dedicated to different offices, different clubs and departments and different services.

While all of this may seem like a one-time experience, as you leave campus, smile at the students taking pictures by the Old Main fountain. Look back at the restaurants you won’t find anywhere else but our quaint little town.

Don’t attend Shippensburg University for the award-winning education. Attend Shippensburg University for the blaring student section during a football game, during which we cheer for both the team AND the band. Attend for the endless Ship puns that may annoy you at first, but will bring you pride and joy soon enough. Attend for the late-night french fry runs, the seasonal bingo games and the music playing in the amphitheater during the day. Attend to witness the diversity Ship has to offer in theater, in dance, in clubs, in Greek life and in athletics. See the unity each student embodies as students gather to support a local cause or a friend in need.

Attend Shippensburg for the Raider Bowls on Wednesdays, the tacos on Tuesdays and the multicultural nights at Reisner. Attend for the events you’ll only find being held by our clubs like the Homecoming Lip Sync, the spa days during finals or the surprise open-mic nights you’ll only stumble upon by chance. Come for the poetry slams, the cookie exchanges, the major-wide meetings where you know everyone in your department.

Come see the sunsets which are beautiful every day of the year. Come to feel the utmost relief after recognizing the water tower after getting lost in town. Come to experience the best wings you’ve ever tasted in town.

Commit to Shippensburg and you’ll experience all of this and so much more. Commit to becoming a Raider so that you can experience the best college experience possible. Join the red sea and see it roar like never before. Make a home out of Shippensburg and all of its amazing opportunities.

You can attend Shippensburg for its amazing academic qualifications, but know that you can get that piece of paper anywhere. Attend Shippensburg University to board the Ship and become a part of the crew. We hope to see you soon!

17 Hopes For 2017

If you’re going to change yourself, don’t wait for the new year to start. If you’re going to treat yourself, don’t wait for a new year. Start now.

“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” – Ben Franklin

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on January 10, 2017.

Since the new year has graced us, I have become increasingly more annoyed with the saying ‘New year, New me.’ If you’re going to change yourself, don’t wait for the new year to start. If you’re going to treat yourself, don’t wait for a new year. Start now. Regardless, 2017 isn’t about you. 2017 is about all of us, coming together. Here are 17 hopes and ideas I would like to see throughout 2017.

1. New steps toward equality

The bathroom debate should be settled. No more hate crimes. No more death. No more hate. Let’s take new steps to achieve equality. Embrace your neighbor. Embrace diversity.

2. Less extinction

Let’s do our best to save the cheetahs, gorillas, pangolins, elephants, and tigers. These are all animals that are critically endangered. Stop hunting these animals and selling their parts. Wildlife is crucial, it’s time we start to protect it. For more steps to help prevent extinction, visit Endangered Species Coalition.

3. Less fear

Back to embracing your neighbor. Religion, race, gender and sexuality should not divide us and tear us apart. Educate your friends; don’t attack them. Together we can fight homophobia, transphobia, islamophobia and racism.

4. Bigger spotlight on mental illness

If Carrie Fisher’s death has taught us anything, it’s that we need to continue talking about mental illness. We need to slash the stigma surrounding mental illness and overcoming challenges surrounding mental illness. Depression and anxiety are real. Mental illness does not make you weak, or any lesser of a person. Let’s talk about mental illness. Stand out. Speak out. Reach out.

5. Distinguish the difference between privilege and right

The public servants of this world, janitors, cashiers, and other workers who help you are people too. We must stop treating employees like they are lower than us in society. Alternatively, if you are fortunate enough to have someone who pays your expenses for you, that is a privilege, not a right. Know that not everyone has that privilege. There is no need to boast about your privilege. Be content, know that you have it and never stop giving. This applies to other aspects of privilege as well.

6. More body positivity

Enough with the ‘one size fits all’. I’ve seen Halloween costumes that don’t even work that way. Even the food costumes. All bodies are beautiful. Fight against the internalized hate you have been taught to root deep within your conscience. No one has to ‘eat a burger’ or ‘run some laps.’ Let people love themselves. All bodies are beautiful

7. Letting women make their own decisions

For the love of God, let’s stop the war on women’s bodies. I am so tired of men making laws and rules about what a woman can and cannot do with her body. I am tired of the debate surrounding the ‘luxury’ tax on tampons and pads. If menstruating is a luxury, I better be getting paid vacation for those five plus days. In fact, let’s increase the trial of men experiencing the simulation of period pain and labor pain in order to raise awareness. Let’s remember that women brought us all into this world. They deserve just as much respect as everyone else.

8. Better education

Where do I start? Better sex, driver’s, special,and literary education. Also, better education to women and men across the world. Inform, don’t attack. Stop sheltering people, and allow them to experience the world both as they see it and how they don’t see it. Allow people to see the bad and the good. Don’t let history repeat itself.

9. Increase funding for police body cameras

You don’t have to pick a side between blue and black. An increase in funding for body cameras will help everyone, and hold people accountable for what they do. I think it’s time we all start facing the consequences of the evil in this world.

10. More important media coverage

No offense to the Kardashians, but I want to see more of Aleppo than I want to see of whichever K’s new boyfriend. I understand the media is unreliable. Maybe there’s no changing that. Regardless, I’d like to see more current events and less current celebrities.

11. Talk more about gun control

I’m not saying I have a solution ready to go. What I am saying is that more citizens own guns in the United States than any other country in the entire world. The Pulse Nightclub shooting in June 2016 was the worst mass shooting in US history. There is an evident problem with people gaining access to guns and using them for evil. I’m not saying we should fight with one another, I just want the conversation to continue.

12. Celebrity life prolongation

Whether or not David Bowie is creating an awesome alternate universe on the other side, we need to stop losing so many icons. George Michael and Carrie Fisher, both trailblazers for sexuality and mental health, died within days of one another. We lost Bowie and Prince in 2016. If 2017 touches the remaining Beatles or Cher, we’ve got an issue.

13. Stop giving young children iPhones

You can say what you want about millennials. but we weren’t given iPhones as children, and most of us didn’t grow up spoiled like most kids who were. Young children should go outside and play! They shouldn’t go to the library just to play on the computers. When they’re having a tantrum or crying, your first thought shouldn’t be to hand them a device to distract them. Pay attention to your children and discipline them. Stop letting technology take over your child’s mind.

14. More open-mindedness

We need everyone to be more open-minded, and that includes our parents and grandparents, too. We are all humans; what we believe in or how we worship should not be associated with violence. We need to stop assuming. Innocent until proven guilty. Don’t let hate blind you.

15. Erase rape culture

Stop telling victims it is their fault. Stop telling victims to close their legs. Stop telling victims that their assault wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t drinking, but allowing perpetrators to slide by because they were drinking. Erase the double standard, erase rape culture. Attorneys, judges and prosecutors should realize the pressure put on a victim when they decide to press charges. There will be riots if another Brock Turner slips through the system.

16. Raise awareness for climate change

Regardless if we actually live in someone’s snow globe, the temperature is radically different every day almost. It’s winter and it could be 60 degrees tomorrow. Something is wrong with the climate in this world, and we need to talk about it. Open your eyes.

17. Spread love, not hate

Finally, let’s just start being decent people. Smile at people. Donate to people. Make sure your neighbor always has enough to eat. Spread positivity. Together we can make the world shine brighter. Let’s make 2017 brighter if nothing else.

To All The Perfectionist-Procrastinators

I am my own worst enemy. I am the worst perfectionist procrastinator you will ever meet.

Are you your own worst enemy? Me too.

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on January 16, 2017.

Hi, my name is Casey (Hi Casey) and I am my own worst enemy. I spend most of my time bullying myself, pressuring myself and trying to make sure I don’t disappoint my worst enemy: me. My parents were never particularly strict with me when it came to my grades or my future, so I guess someone had to take the job. I guess that someone is me. It’s a tiring and difficult job but I just can’t seem to let myself go.

I am my own worst enemy. I am the worst perfectionist procrastinator you will ever meet. I know when I can procrastinate and when I can’t and then I still find a way to work even when I procrastinate off-schedule. It’s a work in progress. Progress that I’ll end up procrastinating. It’s a system I’m working on.

In high school, I was particularly terrible at this system, waiting until two or three in the morning to print out a paper due the same day, approximately six hours later. I would stay up entirely too late for a student who had to wake up at 7 a.m. at the very latest each morning to assure my punctuality. I was still late sometimes. I took a two-hour nap every day after school when I didn’t have to stay after and when I did have to stay after, it was until late because I was a theater kid.

Theater was a fun way of procrastinating. It still is, but it’s not as effective, because, in college, theater doesn’t really take a day off. In high school, there were times when we would go to rehearsal but there would be nothing to do. In college, there really isn’t ever a time when you have nothing to do, both in and outside of theatrical activities.

College is pretty great because you make your own schedule and you have your own time to delegate your priorities. If you have priorities, you are probably very good at organizing them. If you’re like me, however, you probably try to do everything at once and then end up stressing out and only taking a break every few hours to cry. While this isn’t healthy and I know it isn’t healthy, I keep doing it.

My name is Casey and I am my own worst enemy. What kind of person makes it harder for themselves just because they don’t feel like doing the work? I am the slacker in a group for a project that determines your final grade and the group is made up of the one, the only, procrastinating perfectionist, me.

I know that perfection isn’t attainable, but I’m gonna pretend I didn’t hear myself say that. Maybe I’m just picky, maybe I just like things to be organized. Then why is my room so messy? It’s not a priority. Why are my priorities so messy? Great question. Anyone else have any questions I won’t be answering anytime soon?

If you’re like me, you will push yourself to the edge and then spend most of your break recuperating, because you had to single-handedly lift yourself back up the ledge. If you’re like me, you will spend hours and hours working on a small task so you don’t have to fry your brain working on a larger task. If you’re like me, you’ll wait until the last minute and then have several breakdowns and gain anxiety from the anxiety you caused yourself.

Why are we like this? I don’t know. I can’t seem to fire myself from this job. I can’t even lay myself off, it’s like I’m feeding off of my own pressure. Maybe I work well under pressure? I think there’s a line between pressure and too much pressure, though. Why can’t I see the line?

My name is Casey and I am my own worst enemy. I know when to recognize improvement and I know when I’ve exceeded my expectations that I’ve done some good work. The only problem is that my expectations are pretty high, even when I swear I’m just trying to do my best. E for Effort, more like Me for Mess.

It’s not just with grades and schooling either, I find myself having to do the absolute most in my workplace, in my extracurricular activities and even my sleep schedule. Why aren’t I sleeping enough? Well because you’re not doing anything in an organized matter? Not good enough.

It’s never good enough and I can’t seem to figure out why. The only person I’m trying to impress is myself. Why am I so impossible? How can I strive to be better than me?

I like to think I have a strong desire for improvement. I feel like you can never stop improving. You’ll never be the best. Even when you’re the best at one thing, you still have other areas to improve in. If you’re with me so far, you’ve probably got a similar mindset. Who are you willing to impress if not yourself?

If you are your own worst enemy, know that you are not alone. You are not dumb, you are not ‘OCD’, you are not sick. You are a human being who wants to improve themselves and while your methods may not be the healthiest, at least you never give up.

If you are your own worst enemy, join us. Tell us your name, your problem and we will welcome you. You will achieve improvement and greatness. You will see a better you. Know that you must accept the you found in the mirror first. Accept the mess on your floor, the frizz in your hair and the clutter in your backpack.

Know that you will improve anything that you put your mind to. Remember that you deserve a break, though and remember to take that break. Remember to embrace relaxation and don’t forget this work ethic. Work often but reward more often. You can be your own worst enemy as long as you are your own best friend too.

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You Are Your Own Galaxy

Your future isn’t a ticking time bomb.

The only person who can define your success is you.

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on January 3, 2017.

Time isn’t real. Okay, let me rephrase. Time, regarding how long it should take to complete a task, doesn’t really exist. We learn from a young age that certain tasks take a certain maximum amount of time, but this just isn’t correct. Writing a paragraph may take some people five minutes, while it may take other people ten. It depends on the person, the topic and the paragraph. Writing a paper may take an hour, or several. It depends. Just like menial tasks don’t have time limits, your success doesn’t either. Your path, your possibilities and your future successes are infinite; you are your own clock, you are your own galaxy.

Your future isn’t a ticking time bomb. It isn’t going to explode in a year, ten years or twenty. Anything is possible at any age, any time, any day and any year. Do not ever let anyone else define a time-period for your success. Your success is infinite and will never expire. Your productivity, your passion and your inability to complete certain tasks do not limit future you. You are your own galaxy, you abide by your own rules, your own system of time and your own governing.

Some people know exactly how they want to spend the rest of their lives the minute they accept their high school diploma. Some people don’t. Some people won’t find out for several years. Some people never find out. All of these things are OK and perfectly acceptable. Some people have one major, some people have two, some people have five. Some people have none. Still acceptable. Some people finish college in two years, some finish in five, some finish in ten. Some never attend college. All of these people are human. You do not become less of a person because you don’t have your life situated a certain way.

Your success will never abide by a time limit, no matter how many parents, teachers or people on the internet tell you that you’re not in the right place. Know that you are in your own place and what’s right or wrong can only be decided by one person: you.

Just because other people surrounding you have completed something faster or slower than you does not mean they are wrong. It simply means they are abiding by their own time, their own potential and their own possibilities. It does not make that person any less intelligent, any less potent or any less successful.

No matter how many people try to commandeer your future and your success, that little piece of paper does not define your worth. You are not measured in grade point averages. You will never be measured in grade point averages.

If college isn’t your setting, no worries. Your advancement in the business world does not define your success. The only person in the entire world who can define your worth, your success and your intelligence is you. Moving at your own pace? Fantastic. Moving faster? Awesome. Taking a break from moving? Treat yourself. Not moving at all? Perfectly acceptable.

People are destined to have different paths in life. If we were all heading down the same path, life would be pretty boring. We aren’t all meant to be doctors or lawyers or business executives. We’re also not meant to not be doctors, lawyers or business executives, either. There is a huge need for every occupation out there. Anything is possible. Your potential will never expire.

Age is just a number. You can go back to school, you can get a new job, you can start again, funds permitting. Life does not slow down for anyone.

When you or someone you know is not completing a task according to whoever’s allotted time expectancy, do not shame or be ashamed. Allotted time isn’t real. Our successes are not measured in seconds, minutes or hours. Our successes are not limited by a clock. Our successes are infinite, our futures are infinite, our potential, infinite.

You are your own amazing galaxy. You are vast and beautiful and it’s OK if you haven’t discovered everything out there yet. You may never discover everything out there and that’s OK, too. You are wonderful and curious and you will find your way. Your success cannot be measured by other galaxies, because you are your own galaxy. You have different methods practiced in order to obtain different outcomes. Your possibilities are endless. You are a gracious and ground-breaking galaxy and your success will be abundant.

Do not give up and recoil because you are not meeting someone else’s requirements. You are on your own path to success and will not be swayed by other’s attempts at discouragement. Know that you are a worldly wonder and you will find your way, no matter which direction you head in.

You are your own galaxy. Shine like the star you want to be.

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