Blog Eight: “Respect Your Elders”

“Respect Your Elders”

“Respect your elders”, something I have heard my whole life and yet still have difficulty doing. Respecting one’s elders has been taught and preached since, what seems like the beginning of time. Practiced in every country, city, nationality, language, race, and every culture. We are taught the “golden rule”, which is “treat others the way you want to be treated”. We have a tradition of our values and respect which makes some sense, yet in some cases, it doesn’t make any. Though this may be an exceedingly unpopular opinion, it is valid and relevant through the fact that this issue matters, not just to one person, but to everyone. This issue of respect (or lack thereof) involves our values and morals.

There are many reasons to respect one’s elders, and do not get me wrong, I am not stating one should not. However, I am stating that just because someone is older than you, and is technically qualified as one of your elders, does not automatically give them the right to deserve respect. And in fact, there are many cases in which I do not believe one should be respected as an elder, let alone a human being, just because they are older than you. Cases in which involve rape, blackmail, degrading, mental, physical, and emotional abuse, stealing, harassment, bullying, and in some cases, the general display of the lack of respect. All issues and concepts of which are pretty disrespectful, don’t you think? If one does not have the decency from one human being to another to treat another with even the slightest amount of respect than who are they to be disrespecting? And you may be thinking, often times, these people are the breadwinners (at least in the family). The one(s) who provide(s). And in many cases, (especially when the other is still a minor), the minors/younger ones are often dependant on their elders. Not only have we taught one another that respect heavily relies on dependance, but it also relies on harmony as well. We have built a system where harmony is often presented when one respects their elders, however, if their elder(s) do not deserve their respect in the first place, regardless of whether or not they receive it, there is no true harmony to begin with. Examples such as evil stepparents, abusive guardians, rude and often times harsh school administrators, disrespectful family friends, and more all demonstrate people who have authority and power over others who are typically younger than them.

I do not believe anyone, whether they are an elder or not should be disrespectful, but then have the right to gain respect from others. However, often times treating one’s elders with respect, even though they may not deserve it, makes you the bigger person. And not only that, but elder’s who care for you, love you, and respect you, deserve to be respected unconditionally. Though there are many situations in which this is not the case, and instead of being arrogant to the fact that each person deserves respect, including elders, the elders should not only be enforcing it more, but showing it more too.

Many elders in our lives deserve unconditional respect, however, there are many who do not. True respect towards a person should be earned, not automatically given, regardless of  whether they are your elder or not.

Blog Seven: The Fear of Failing

The Fear of Failing and The Impact That Comes With It

You are only human. Throughout your life you are bound to make mistakes. Whether they be big or small, mistakes occur when something goes wrong, and in some cases, it can lead to failure. Society has taught us to strive for success but fails to realize that without failure, success will never happen.

Due to this twisted mindset society has expected us to conform to, it causes many issues in our lives. It is presented in children being punished for bad grades. Young girls becoming unhappy with their bodies. Mental disorders, Eating disorders, Striving for Perfection, Addiction, Substance abuse, and many other health concerns which impact our lives on a daily basis. The pressure is not seen, though it is shown, heard, and felt. Shown through the tears, sweat, and often breakdown of one’s self. Heard through the cries, screams, and criticism telling us to “work harder”, “do better”, “try again”. And felt through our words and others’ as we pick ourselves back up time and time again. But throughout all this hardship, failing must serve a purpose. Making mistakes is something we know how to do all too well, and maybe, that is not such a bad thing. Society has not trained us to perceive mistakes and failure as a good thing. We were never congratulated if we were sent home with a test marked with the wrong answer, and a big, red “F” at the top of the page. We must start looking at mistakes and failure for what they are: a learning experience. Not the end of the world. But because we fail to do so (see what I just did there?), we encounter the pressure of society. And once this happens, we crack. We search for a release, a temporary fix, possibly something to take the pain away, something to help us forget, instead of either admitting we are wrong, or investing all that energy and effort into finding the solution. Bettering ourselves.

Another way which would help our whole perception on making mistakes and potentially failing because of them would be our lack of positivity in our lives. Becoming a more positive, and optimistic person is not simple nor easy, but it is a key solution to the mindset and outlook we have on our lives and the choices we make. Instead of beating oneself up over the fact that they did not solve the problem correctly, they need to realize that they simply just found another way the problem cannot be solved. Which, by the laws of math and science for matter, is progress. Making such efforts to pursue a more positive outlook on our lives can reduce the pressure of society, leading to us becoming more accepting of not only ourselves but others as well, and living a healthier lifestyle.

Examples of perseverance and success after failure and mistake include instances such as J.K. Rowling’s famous novel Harry Potter being rejected from twelve publishing houses, featured in new movie La La Land, leading actress Emma Stone is portrayed as a young aspiring actress who quickly becomes torn apart by being rejected audition after audition before nailing the perfect part, or any athlete for that matter learning and gaining more skill from their losses instead of their victories.

We are raised from early on that we are required to make our best efforts into making as few mistakes as possible, and that failure is not accepted because it is such a bad thing. Turns out, each and every mistake or failure serves its own purpose in our lives. Not only is this a difficult concept to understand, but it also requires an entire alteration of society’s perception of failing and mistakes, however, society starts with us. Learn to accept each and every mistake and/or failure you make and choose to either fix them or move forward with them. Failure and mistakes are apart of human nature and our learning process, and without them, there would be no such thing as success.

Blog Six: Body Positivity

Body Positivity

Instead of playing a role in the show of “perfection”, why not act out who and what you actually are, and all the beauty which lies behind it? Body Positivity is a concept of which is crucial to comprehend as well as implement in our thinking and vision as soon as possible in order to change society’s views. Now that the social media industries are bigger and more popular than ever, it is necessary to understand and teach healthy views and mindsets, and becoming body positive, does just that.

Body diversity should be advocated/represented much more often. Whether it be men or women, tall or short, fat or thin, young or old, muscular or lean, it is so much more powerful to teach ourselves to become comfortable in our own skin. By having brave and confident individuals to do so, it truly benefits a society where beauty is defined by the amount of likes received on a social media post is determined on their size or appearance.

However, Body Positivity is in no way, shape, or form promoting/supporting obesity, nor is it shaming naturally underweight men and women. The whole positive mindset which this is based upon is finding self love and acceptance, and if one is unable to find it, they must learn and gain it. Body Positivity simply stands for loving the frame you have built into. Though, much like other movements and positive mindsets, many people who are often times impressionable believe that shaming one’s body is okay. Whether it be their own body or someone else’s, no one deserves or has the right to/to be body shamed. Though I am unable to tell you who’s bright idea it was to begin leaving negative comments on someone’s post, or simply bashing their physical appearance in person, it is extremely wrong as well as immature. Body shaming can potentially cause minor to major social anxiety, insecurities, eating disorders, and much more.

A quote that ties into body image and the reaction from society would be that “a women does not have to be modest in order to be respected”. Each person has their own unique qualities that make them special and set them apart from everyone else, we should learn to embrace them, and even flaunt them. Qualities like wide hips, birthmarks, freckles, hair type, eye color, weight, cellulite, scars, are all personal and make up who someone is. If one has a physical quality and they comfortable in clothing that is flattering towards those areas it should not define his/her self worth nor their self respect.

Rethinking the way we view weight and physical appearance is the backbone to a healthy and successful future for many young boys and girls in the next generation, as well as in this one. Body shaming is an issue we must confront head-on in order to accept body positivity and make a lasting, and responsive change for the future and the well being as well as confidence of many.

Blog Five: “Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?”

“Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?” -Danielle LaPorte

This quote identifies the bold message that society sends to each individual raised into it. Society seems to have an entire set of guidelines in which we are expected to follow. Guidelines such as being expected to have a perfect body, being mentally stable, maintaining a 4.0 grade point average, being the social butterfly along with having a popular social status, controlling our feelings on our own, sustaining an independent charisma and stable mentality, as well as building strong, healthy relationships with those around us, and many other aspects which society expects us to follow all contribute to its perception of perfectionism. The whole problem with perfection is that it simply does not exist; Therefore leading our best not being good enough. This applies in many areas.

Physically, many young girls are brought up with nothing but the mentality of being skinny, with a developed body, and a pretty face. As for boys, being tall and athletic with characteristics such as a six pack, or built arms is the “goal”. This all is demonstrated throughout Glamour Magazines, Reality Television, and social media. Magnified by the fact that the most influential cities in the world contain aspirations of many young boys and girls aspiring to be a model or actress. Instead of the world teaching us to be comfortable and happy with our bodies we are learned to shame them and bring not only others but ourselves down because of it. This then causes many issues such as mental disorders, eating disorders, anxiety, self harm, unhealthy thoughts, lack of confidence, you name it. These all affect one’s mental and emotional state to a severe breaking point at which is challenging and difficult to comprehend, as well as deal with.

Furthermore, let’s all take a moment to remember that one saying which has been repeated several times throughout our lives, “Life is what you make it”. That little girl or boy inside of each and every individual wanted to be a fairy, princess/prince, astronaut, cowboy/cowgirl, superhero, rockstar, actress, etc. We are raised upon the thought of our dreams and unshown potential as “unrealistic”. Afterall, look at where those who neglected what society had told them and did it anyways ended up. Michael Jordan never made his high school Varsity basketball team and eventually became one of the greatest basketball players and athletes of all time. Marilyn Monroe who made it to Hollywood despite the fact that she played the “dumb blonde bombshell”. Rosa Parks who taught our nation one of the most powerful messages pertaining to equality simply by refusing to give up her seat once more. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who dreamt of equality as well as Abraham Lincoln who became the backbone of our nation, Jackie Robinson who was the first black man to make it to the MLB. Walt Disney, fired from the Kansas City Star due to the opinion that he “lacked imagination”. These individuals upon many more, all told themselves they could. These individuals are some of the many role models and idols who became who they are after the world told them they should be something else.

In a world so judgmental, it’s no secret it is extremely hard being yourself. Though, what we lack to realize is each one of us was destined to be something great. Someone with our own personal message behind us. Our purest state was before we were introduced to society’s standards; if we were able to preserve our thoughts and desirability imagine how different we as a race would grow to be.

Blog Four: Purpose

Purpose

It’s interesting how people find their purpose in their life. For some, it can creep up on you when they least expect it. But for others, the unfortunate ones, (I like to call them, I myself being included in this batch), it may take years or even one’s entire lifetime to find their purpose. For purpose is not something one is given, but is something one must find.

Once one may think or determine that they have found their purpose, it may cause them to feel a sense of security, boost their ego, and feel quite fulfilled. Though for the many who have yet to do so, it can be much more complicated. One may begin to feel an immense amount of negativity in their lives and finally realize that the cause of it all is the fact that they are unaware of what’s next. Unaware of what they are and are not good at. Unaware the future may hold something brighter than what they think it will. But because we aren’t able to see that, it can leave us feeling so empty; so bare. This feeling of vacancy can cause, and often does, one to begin feeling an abundance of negative emotions which can greatly affect one’s overall happiness and further outlook of their lives and future’s. Feelings and illnesses such as moderate to severe depression, lack of motivation, lack of interest (both in general and in things we once found importance or significance in), increasing in moderate to severe anxiety or stress, immense amounts of pressure, and much more.

Of course, school does not make it any better. A place commonly referred to as “hell”. The stench of insecurities, hate, and deceitful personalities consume the halls and campus. But despite the fact that people may hate the ground you walk on, or one of members harassed you for being late to school and sentenced you to detention, or maybe the grades you have been striving so hard for have plummeted to the ground because you were out sick, or are having all that negativity start to take a toll on you, you crack. You find yourself broken into a million different pieces and on top of it all, you are still growing, learning, and developing into who you will become. So you ask yourself, “what’s left in the end?”.

We move on throughout our lives sealing these wounds, or trying to. “Living to fight another day” as the well known Tacitus would say. We press on and continue through the pain in hopes of it one day being worth it. In hopes of it one day being for something we find relevant and of great importance to us. Throughout this all, we develop thicker skin. We are set into a frame which has been custom shaped for us. Ever since I began having these very thoughts of hopelessness and feeling just out of reach, my father would tell me that I have my whole life ahead of me, as well as a whole lifetime which I am able to dedicate to finding my “why”, as he calls it. And in contempt of the fact that I have not found it yet, it is okay. I am not alone. Who’s to say that those who have not found what they have been searching for do not have something greater in store for them? Just because we may not have already found our “why”, or the reason worth it all, the reason worth living and pressing on, does not mean we may not ever find it, and it does not mean that we currently have surrounding us is not truly important. So, for everyone out there, everyone reading this, or everyone who may never come across this but feels the same way and can relate, find your “why”.

Blog Three: Equality

Equality

One would think that throughout our country’s experience and existence we would be evolved enough to abide by what we established so long ago. Yet we are constantly surrounded by many aspects which do not seem as though our country is “one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”.  Issues which pertain to preposterous prejudices which exist in our country are absolutely pathetic. These consist of women not being paid the same amount as men, our justice system including enormous flaws, girls not being raised the same way as boys (including double standards), racism and acts of hatred of all forms, and many other unfair aspects faced day to day in which we do not develop or evolve from as a society and country.

Women not being paid the same as men is absolutely ridiculous. Not only does this affect unfair income, but also the way they are treated and other aspects of their job. A prime example of this would be seen last year, during the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada. The field all the women teams played on was turf, when men teams were always assured grass playing fields. Though there may not be a clear distinction to one who may be unaware of what it is like to play on turf, it often times is harder to play on, does not provide as much cushion as natural grass does, and also can cause several injuries. Many lawsuits filed by female athletes have been brought to attention however, much like many of these problems, we should not be having this problem in the first place. In addition, there have been many posts on social media regarding “Equal Play, Equal Pay.” by the members of the US Women’s National Soccer Team which have emphasized the fact that they are fighting for equal pay, equal pay, and equal respect as well as treatment for the same work the men’s teams are given.

Our justice system has made several unlawful judgements and mistakes which have affected the lives of many for the worse. There have been far too many cases throughout history where the judge and jury have selected the wrong decision as to whether someone is either guilty or innocent or not. Not only have they either punished or released the wrong person, but there also have been multiple instances where celebrities or other big names have gotten away with breaking the law(s) and have either gotten away with it or have not been subjective to the set penalties.

As many have seen, this year the well known clothing brand amongst many teenage girls, Brandy Melville, came out with a shirt very similar to the one linked, which brings me to my next topic: Raising boys and girls the same way. Do double standards seriously still exist in 2016? I’m afraid so. This may be a small example of the big picture when it comes down to equality, but it is one very real and that everyone is aware of. Aspects such as boys being parented different than girls, having different expectations of them than girls have and different responsibilities which set males and females of the twenty first century apart.

Racism. Unfortunately, racism still occurs in the United States due to the fact that we haven’t moved forward as a country. Not together, at least. The fact that certain races are still targeted or known by certain stereotypes is truly disgusting. All people, no matter the color of their skin, gender, sexuality, opinions, religion, appearance, etc reserve the right to be treated like a person. We, together, all make up the United States of America and yet we don’t act like it. Some of us don’t accept one another. Some of us can’t accept the fact that everyone is different. But what good are we as a united nation if we aren’t united at all? We have not created equal no matter how hard we’ve tried to be because of the actions and words said and committed against other citizens of our country who do not believe in equality and fairness. That itself is disappointment.

The way we have adapted our way in life in this country has got to change. We may be the same country we were from the beginning but we sure are not the same people. For a strong nation much like ourselves, we should have progressed much further than this a long time ago, however, it’s never too late. Keeping one’s eyes, mind, and heart open to consideration, fairness, and equality will transform our nation into what we actually claim to be. “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”(The Youth’s Comapanion, Francis Belamy).

Blog Two: The Power of Image

The Power of Image 

We live in an extremely contorted world. Full of misconceptions, fallacious and extreme standards, racism, along with judgmental and subjective human headsets. This is because we as humans are flawed. Flawed because of what we have developed our society to become. Flawed because of the negative impacts and unhealthy distribution society has implemented into us. But most of all, flawed because we praise image and appearance so highly.

In Cameron Russell’s TED Talk, “Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model.”, she speaks of acknowledging the power of image, especially in today’s society; and how in the modeling industry as well as in society, contain excessive subjective standards such as “slender figures, femininity, and white skin”(Russell, “Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model.”) all imprint a certain perception of beauty into society and the modeling industry. She also states that those who do not fall under this category “are paying a cost for how they look and not who they are”(Russell, “Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model.”). This pertains to racist aspects found in society that convey the message of insignificance as well as displeasing views towards physical appearance of those whom are of color, not a size zero, may have a different shaped nose, may not have fuller lips nor a crisp jawline, etc. Society and the media included in it is not created equal, and equality itself is one of the key aspects of image.

By society transmitting the message of unsatisfactory in all physical appearances but theirs, it causes many whom are affected by it to often times find themselves dealing with a mental disorder, (or two). The pressure society sets on both young girls and boys, may cause severe anxiety as well as depression due to the whole recurring theme of not being good enough in society’s eyes. However, eating disorders are also extremely frequent in appearance and body image because they torment the minds of many into looking a certain way, being a certain weight, or fitting into certain clothing. One of the many reasons this is common is because society has never told us that the number on the scale does not define us. Society never told us that there’s beauty in every size, shape and form. Society only markets and teaches unrealistic “examples” which we then are told to follow, and the cycle starts over again.

Time after time again, we complement this false sense of beauty placed onto a pedestal; and yet if we continue this way, we will never be able to understand a plethora of things. Happiness, self-love, confidence, self-esteem, acceptance, and many more. Having set such high as well as impractical standards and expectations much like Victoria’s Secret models or the Kardashians, have damaged us and does not serve as any kind of practical example as to what beauty should be considered and the way it can change one’s life.

Acknowledging the power of image and appearance and its monumental effect it has on our society is important to understand in order to live a healthy, content life, especially in 2016. It is unfortunate in the fact that physical appearance and beauty is praised so highly. Though, with a greater understanding of the media, and the media’s greater understanding of society, we can create a more practical and universally accepted idea of beauty, and stop seeing people through their appearance but through their mind and their heart.

Blog One: Pain is Inevitable

Truth is, everyone’s been through some form of hardship. Whether that be a loss of a loved one at a young age, growing up in a broken home, battling a disease, caring for family members, dealing with inner struggles, going through traumatic events, everyone has dealt with pain and heartache. Pain both breaks and shapes us into who we become through weakness, struggle, trauma, and experience. The key in life, is to realize that pain is inevitable and uncontrollable, and thus to take one’s challenges, and find or grow strength from them.

Inner struggles pertain to those of which are helpless. An example of an inner struggle could be someone who might not necessarily be comfortable as their own gender. There are many aspects which go into not being happy with one’s gender such as gender discrimination, bullying, gender norms, unsupportive relatives, etc. These examples all take a toll on someone extremely insecure with themselves and makes everyday life exceptionally harder. Sexuality is another immense struggle which people face and is much more common now, than it was back then. Sexuality is a massive conflict that not only is concerning to them, but to those around such as family and friends. One’s sexuality becomes a target for stereotypes, bullying, inner confusion (which is frustrating as it is), and religious views which affects one’s confidence and security with themselves.  Mental illnesses such as Depression, Anxiety disorders, Eating disorders, and many more affect many people and their mental state. A mental illness is, just like most inner struggles, a constant, everyday, interminable battle with oneself. Mental illnesses are extremely difficult to live with as well as overcome and bring a great amount of pain into one’s life. The majority of people have at least one major inner struggle which is the root of pain in their lives. Inner struggles sometimes are never overcome, however, they truly do have an affect on people and the way they live their lives. Those who have been able to defeat or see past these conflicts have benefitted greatly due to the fact that they have surpassed a time that they can honestly say was difficult to go through but it allowed them to grow. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, the tunnel is just different for everyone, and you do not exit the same person as you entered.

Inevitable experiences are events one may go through/have gone through which have defined them for better or for worse. Rape and Assault are prime examples of a life changing event/experience one may have to live with. Rape and Assault are extremely traumatic experiences of which could happen to both male and female and may lead to future mental challenges, illnesses, or obstacles. “We don’t seek the painful experiences that heuw our identities, but we seek our identities in the wake of painful experiences.”(Andrew Soloman, “How the worst moments in our lives make us who we are”). Natural disasters are another example of a tragic experience which cannot be controlled. A natural disaster is an event much like a hurricane, wildfire, storm, earthquake, tornado, tsunami, (you get the point) which can cause one to lose their family, home, business, and lives. Once someone has gone through an event as tragic and unexpected as this, they must start over. This is where finding the strength and courage come into play to build a secure self. In Andrew Soloman’s “How the worst moments in our lives make us who we are”, he speaks of finding one’s identity through hard times and struggles we face. We as humans, are capable of feeling pain although at times we may not know why. “Pain is purposeful.”(Andrew Soloman, “How the worst moments in our lives make us who we are”). Probably one of the most painful events or experiences one can grow from would be death of those around them. Death is something we all have in common. We all know we too will pass one day, and we all know those around us will too. Death is, to say the very least, an eye opener. Death can cause one to create a new perception on their life, motivate, and above all, teach us not to take anything for granted. Sometimes we don’t realize what we have until it’s gone.

In order to learn, grow, and develop mentally and emotionally throughout one’s life, they must take their weaknesses, traumas, illnesses/disorders, and major challenges and flourish them into who they are. Acceptance and strength come hand in hand in order to create themselves into someone they are proud of. Without pain, we would not grow. Take yourself for who you are, and who you will become. No pain no gain!