Valentine’s Day with your woes

Over the years of asking my friends and family about blog topic ideas I have come to the realization that there is a commonality in their perception of me and with the concept “write what you know.” I thought the questioning would lead to something along the lines of my 2016 predictions, the ratio for a perfect BLT or my opinion on the time jump on Pretty Little Liars. I was wrong. Thus, let us begin with a concrete fact: I have been single for 22 years. If you excel in math, then you will count that up to the summation of my life. That is 22 years of being single on Valentine’s day—not that I understood what that meant for the first 12 of them.WOES

Recent studies show that depression and anxiety rates among young adults spike during the first two weeks of February, according to single white girls with social media accounts. Disparaging the holiday of Valentine’s Day has become a social norm to be likened to the word “literally” and the act of twerking. Everyone is doing it, but now it’s more out of habit than enjoyment.

Regardless of the shade V-Day gets it is actually a pretty dope Roman Catholic holiday celebrating St. Valentine, the patron saint of engaged couples, happy marriages, courting traditions and epilepsy.

Do not fret, this is not a post exploiting the consumeristic nature of V-Day or the deep sadness brewing inside my unloved heart. On the contrary, this is a declaration of love for a day meant to celebrate just that.

Love is a truly beautiful thing. It typically gets romanticized to epic gestures or flamboyant weddings, but in reality, love is just a solid, deep feeling of affection. I feel love for my family and friends, my deceased childhood dog and for Leslie Knope. It’s a form of human affirmation that we aren’t horrible monsters and that others do want to be around us. But “love” gets muddled to romantic partnerships. That the most concrete form of acceptance is finding your one true soul mate, having forty babies and dying holding each other in the bed you shared for sixty years. And that could sound appealing—and maybe even ideal—but typing that statement made me cringe a little.

One of the greatest love stories of all time, Romeo & Juliet, has taught me something very important: don’t fall in love at a young age if you don’t want to deal with the drama of double suicide. Honestly, it taught me that things can get messy in a romantic relationship, whether it’s a disagreement on dinner plans or killing your boo’s cousin in a duel.

This realization led me to embark on a modern love story for the ages: falling in love with myself. It’s less of a cheesy Cosmo suggestion and more of an annoying way of stating that everyone should focus on themselves if they have that luxury this Valentine’s Day. Sometimes there are too many distractions in our lives to really sit down and enjoy our own company.

Regardless of the pressures by societal timelines or binge-watching Rom-Coms, do not feel guilty if your perfect way of celebrating love is being alone. Straight up, I love hanging out with myself. It usually involves two different kinds of meats, a hefty glass of beer and trying to mimic the spiritual voice of Beyoncé.

As Valentine’s Day makes its bend around the corner, let’s acknowledge the important people in our lives with heart emoji-filled texts or throwback Instagram photos, but let’s also celebrate the person we should love the most. In doing this you will help foster a day of mass self-love. When people love themselves, it makes it easier to love others and for others to love you as well.

On a day intended to celebrate what many would consider the purpose of human existence, let’s wine and dine ourselves. We deserve love, especially from ourselves.

Be kind. Be you. Slay.

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How my rights in this country will change by the end of this article

Written with immense help and words from my lovely cousin, Jase Tilley.

In my parent’s home, above my red, wooden mirror in my small, teal-tiled bathroom adorns a sticker. It reads, “in a world where you can be anything…be yourself.” A gift from my mother most likely purchased on a whim at the Dollar Tree. It is large and ugly, but its meaning has always lingered dear to my heart.

It is a beautiful sentiment for those who have the means and opportunities to choose their own path in life. When I was younger, I imagined that meant becoming the superhero I always thought I was. As time progressed, the paradox of this sticker left me disheartened.

In 1993, I was born an American citizen in the state of Oklahoma. I wouldn’t know this until the hormones kicked in, but I was also born a lesbian—a part of me that I have not shared with many people. Yes, I did struggle accepting myself for a short period in my adolescence, but a larger part of the reason I have waited until now to come out is because I thought the second I was true to myself would also be the second I would be open to discrimination.

This thought blinded me from the perpetual truth. I damaged not only myself, but possibly other members of the LGBT community by selfishly protecting my personal fear. Morgana Bailey, a human resources activist, gave a TED talk that crippled me. It was poignant, raw, and possibly hit me in the most revolutionary, tear-filled moment I have experienced. In it she says:

I’d always told myself there’s no reason to share that I was gay, but the idea that my silence has social consequences was really driven home this year when I missed an opportunity to change the atmosphere of discrimination in my own home state of Kansas.

In February, the Kansas House of Representatives brought up a bill for vote that would have essentially allowed businesses to use religious freedom as a reason to deny gays services. A former coworker and friend of mine has a father who serves in the Kansas House of Representatives. He voted in favor of the bill, in favor of a law that would allow businesses to not serve me.

How does my friend feel about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning people? How does her father feel? I don’t know, because I was never honest with them about who I am. And that shakes me to the core. What if I had told her my story years ago? Could she have told her father my experience? Could I have ultimately helped change his vote? I will never know, and that made me realize I had done nothing to try to make a difference.

For those of you who have known me for a month, a year or a lifetime this may come as a surprise to you. The truth is that nothing changes for you. You may temporarily be titillated by the fact that I shared a secret, or confused as to why I am making such a big deal out of something so a couple months ago. Despite the liberal steps forward our country has seen over the last year, discrimination persists. As a result, something so personal, so consequential to ones happiness, becomes a defining characteristic through which our society views you. Instead of being a personal decision, matters of the heart are subject to public scrutiny, with devastating effects on the LGBT community, and the heart of our nation.

In some states there are laws in place justifying discrimination against people like me by hiding behind the guise of “religious freedom.” In states like Texas, Indiana, Alabama, Kansas and my home state of Oklahoma, it is legal for someone to fire me, prevent me from adopting children, not approve a home and refuse service because of my sexual orientation.

Plain and simple, there is a chance that I could be legally discriminated against in certain states. There will be no physical or tangible difference post-coming out, yet by admitting a singular part of myself, that lingering risk still remains. I am still the same human being I was before you read this article–except I may be sporting a little more rainbow. So does it really make sense that there are laws protecting people who think there is something wrong with the way I was born and no anti-discrimination laws protecting people like me just because I happen to be attracted to Beyoncé instead of Jay-Z?

I was raised in a Catholic home, attending Catholic schools through high school. I was required to take courses that aligned with the Catholic faith. What I learned in my years as a student from the teachings of Jesus Christ was the opposite of what I see conservative politics claiming they are trying to uphold.

I’m no expert, but it seems like Jesus was a cool dude. He taught about acceptance, love, sacrifice, and service. The bible has a couple verses about homosexuality and hundreds about acceptance. That’s like standing in a field of beautiful sunflowers and deciding to pick the only one that is dead and forcing people to smell it.

Although it may be time to get rid of the ugly sticker, the message will finally take shape for me. Today, I finally decide to be me in this world where we can truly be ourselves.

Choose Happiness My Dear Friends

I am a firm believer that happiness is a choice. It’s actually proven by science. Anyone can become a person that finds it easier to settle into happiness, rather than dwell in sadness. Smiling is easy. Laughing is wonderful. People are inherently good in their cores. So why are there still Scrooges that exist in the world? If you’re feeling down, please let me give you some advice from my happy heart.

“I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.” – Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx

  • Find joy in everyday things. Everyday routines slowly become more and more monotonous. Next time when you are brushing your teeth, give yourself a cool, foamy toothpaste mustache. Then shave it. With your toothbrush, please. When you are shampooing up your locks, check out what a mohawk would look like on you. Then decide it is a bad idea and continue to wash your hair.
  • Breathe. It ain’t that bad. Whatever stresses you are dealing with in your life, take a second and breathe. Literally. Like big ol breaths. It is proven to relieve stress. The less stressed you are, the more time you have to be happy. It’s almost Christmas, so the only thing you should be stressed about right now is if Santa Claus and his elves are going to be ready to fly around the world in a very short amount of time.
  • Show gratitude. Telling the people in your life that you are grateful for them is proven to make you happier. What a thought. Making other people happy helps you become happy as well. That sort of sounds like a theory for a perfect world. Go tell someone you’re thankful for them now and spread the happy bug!
  • Stop and smell the donuts. Screw roses. Donuts smell and taste better. If you need a quick happiness high, grab a sweet treat. But try not to over-indulge. I know from personal experience that one donut too many can send you from pure ecstasy to a disgusting, crying mess. Moderation is key, Sarah.
  • Spend some time alone. Spend just ten minutes alone with your thoughts. No smartphones, no Buzzfeed, no Netflix. Just you and your wonderful brain. Think about puppies, the beach or maybe something more spiritual like Beyonce. Whatever makes you merry. Go to your happy place.
  • Surround yourself with people that build you up. It’s easy to be happy when people around you aren’t negatively effecting your mood. Have friends who make you feel like they are lucky to have you in their life. People who look for the good in everyone and stray away from hate. It is easier than one would imagine to conform to other people’s emotions — even hatred. There are more people in the world who want to be happy, as well as see other people happy. Find them, and hold on to them tight. These are the people who will truly succeed in life.

“The most important thing is to enjoy your life — to be happy — it’s all that matters,” – Audrey Hepburn

Go laugh and be merry. Hug a dog. Kiss your grandmother. Play Beyonce’s new album (seriously though). Just be happy. It really is that easy.

When I Grow Up

I knew from a young age, that I was born to lead a life of crime fighting.
I knew from a young age, that I was born to lead a life of crime fighting.

Returning home is constant reminder that I have almost no idea on where I see myself in the future. Anytime I run into my parent’s friends they ask me the same two questions. How is school going? Obviously, wonderful.  Go Pokes. Or what do you want to do after college? This question is more stressful than trying to fit everything on one plate at a Chinese buffet. I usually respond with something along the lines of “something better than whatever you are doing, hag.” Jokes. But even after I have been asked this question so often, I am still never prepared. Because of this I have decided to formulate a list of all the things I would like to do when I grow up.

Pokémon Trainer. Many people can relate to childhood memories of spending an insane amount of time and money trying to fill custom binders with Pokemon cards or trying to decide if you wanted to purchase the red or blue Gameboy game — because they were obviously so different. But that was never enough for me. I dreamed of being Ash Ketchum. Of capturing my own first Pokémon. I saw myself gathering all of the badges and traveling through caves with my best friend, Pikachu. This was the first profession that thought I could truly excel at and still believe today would be a good fit for me.

Beyoncé. I am a woman so I want to be everything that encompasses and embodies the essence of Beyoncé Knowles. I am a very big advocate of everyone being themselves, but if I was half of the woman that Queen B is than I would be an angel, a star and a wonderful human being. I want to have the presence like her when she walks on stage. I want to change the lives of many people just with the sound of my voice and the moves of my hips.

Superhero. Anyone who knows me knows that more than anything in this entire world I want to be a superhero. I want a cape. I want to fly. I want to save the world. And more importantly I want a super rad name and back story. Some haters continue to think that I am ridiculous for believing that it is possible, but if there is one thing that my parents taught me growing up is that I can do anything I set my mind too.

Happy. I do not know what I want I want my profession to be when I am older. I do not know if I want to be a mother, or if I want to get married. I do not know which city or which country I want to reside in. I do not plan things ahead in my life. The farthest I’ve gotten is daydreaming about traveling to Ireland and rescuing a dog. All I know is that I want to live a happy life doing something that makes me and other people happy.

So to everyone who does not have their future planned out,  do not worry. We have time to figure out what we want to do. Focus on right now and live the life you want to live, even if that means holding on to your childhood fantasies.