#Timesup: A Challenge

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“I have to ask, is your ass real?”聽 “Send me a pic of the magical booty” “I just really want your body” “I just want to see it”.
The above quotes are actual text messages sent to me from men either right out of the gate or after one or two dates.聽 It’s so common that it didn’t even occur to me to get mad about it until I told one of my friends about the latest guy, and how he wanted to “enjoy each other once or twice and then go our separate ways” after I told him that I didn’t really want to continue seeing him.聽 I rolled my eyes at the message and shared it for a laugh, but she got pissed.
“What the fuck!聽 What is wrong with men these days?聽 Whatever happened to a gentleman??” she fumed.聽 And her anger slapped me into reality.聽 These men could care less about me, who I am, or what I’m about.聽 All they see is I have a pretty face and a Kim Kardashian ass which is all they need to know to kick-start their lust and their bold messages.
The amount of talk surrounding the #metoo movement and Oprah Winfrey’s speech is sorely needed and long overdue.聽 To be fair, I don’t know of a woman who doesn’t appreciate a good compliment, but the amount of focus on our physical looks is complete bullshit.
I looked up a relevant definition:聽ob路jec路ti路fi路ca路tion;聽noun;聽the action of degrading someone to the status of a mere object.
“A mere Object”.聽 An OBJECT.聽 Non-human.聽 Non-living.聽 Non-worthy.聽 Most of all, replaceable.

We women have talked about stuff like this in the comfort of our small, intimate circles for forever.聽 “Oh my god, I got whistled at again when I walked by the gas station.”聽 “He totally grabbed my ass when we hugged” “I don’t really feel comfortable, but it’s my job so I can’t really say anything.”聽 聽It’s become a rite of passage; when did you first feel like the subject of a man’s desire?

And as much as it pains me to admit it, woman exacerbate the problem.聽 I can’t even count the amount of times I scroll through Instagram and see booty pics, cleavage shots, and suggestive eye winks staring me in the face.聽 I myself been guilty of choosing pictures to post solely based on the fact that I know my body looks good.

I don’t think that woman should have to hide their bodies, not by a long shot.聽 But there is a difference between classily showcasing your hard work and raunchily baring juuuuust enough where men feel confident sliding into your DM’s, knowing that they won’t be rebuffed.

Where has respect for ourselves gone?聽 I know without a doubt that the reason that so many men take the objectification route is because a lot of the time, it works.聽 I used to be the girl that thought she had to comply with whatever a man said just so that they would like me.聽 I found out the hard way, though, that once you give in, they simply move on.

Girls who give in have, sadly, become a dime a dozen.聽 And it’s not just because the amount of ‘easy’ woman have risen; how can we expect a girl to grow up knowing her worth when the only examples of men she has around her are the root cause of the problem?聽 When her dad is physically or mentally absent?聽 When she has 5 other half-siblings from 3 different women? When every other woman around her sees the objectification as status quo or worse, as a badge of honor??

As a gender, we need to give each other the strength to take a stand and demand the respect that any human deserves.聽 We need to applaud woman who have the courage to post makeup free and truly candid shots where their thighs might be squished or their face might be on their ‘bad side’.聽 We need to focus our comments more on how amazing their personality is or how awesome it is that they are helping out at home while their mom is recovering or how cool it is that they choose not to drink because it’s healthy.

Even typing out the above paragraph felt cheesy.聽 “Hurdy hur, I’m telling people to focus on inner beauty, I’m a nerd”.聽 THAT is how much sexualization has penetrated our inner selves–I can’t even urge my readers to focus on better things without feeling weird about it.聽 And that is exactly why all of this bullshit HAS to change.

And so, I have a challenge for myself, and a challenge for you:

Stop focusing so much on your body.聽 I know that you do.聽 There has not been one day that has gone by in the last 15 years where I have not had a negative thought about my body as a whole or in part.聽 Not ONE.聽 Where on earth has this thought pattern gotten me?聽 A rollercoaster of weight loss and weight gain, and even at my skinniest I never once was satisfied.聽 Focusing on your health and wellness and FEELING AMAZING should be where your focus is laser-pointed; the physical part will simply naturally follow.

Stop complimenting only the physical.聽 It’s so easy to do: “Nice boots!” “Omg I LOVE your haircut!” “You look so cute today!”.聽 These comments never fail to give a little ego boost, to be sure.聽 Yet how awesome is it if you hear something like聽“Wow, you are a really awesome mother.” “I really appreciated your help today, you made my morning so much less stressful.”聽 “I love how patient you are-you inspire me!”.

Stop comparing your body with others’.聽 This has become widespread with the rise of social media.聽 This girl’s bum is wayyyy more toned.聽 This girl’s hair is SO BOUNCY.聽 This girl’s stomach is so freakin’ flat.聽 But fast forward 50 years, and we are all going to be in the same state: wrinkled, grey, and playing Parcheesi with our fellow retired neighbors in our Florida condo.聽 Let’s seriously…SERIOUSLY…stop this bullshit.聽 It serves zero purpose.

Our bodies and our minds should both be at their healthiest state the majority of the time.聽 And when our inner self is full of positivity, the negativity from the world seems to have less of a hold on us.聽 The final step is to share that positivity with others, regardless of what might be thrown our way.聽 If WE start spreading how awesome we are rather than how sexy we are, the world will take notice.

Be positive.聽 Be helpful.聽 Be healthy.聽 Be YOU.聽 Inspire others to be the same.聽 And most of all, know that #timesup will continue to manifest into reality only if we relentlessly show that it is a valid movement.

Let’s do this!

 

The Paradox of “Breaks”

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As I prepared to write this post, I commented to my friend that “I don’t even know what I want to write about…I’m mentally exhausted.” And then, with a self-deprecating tone, followed up with: “…..from break.聽 I’m mentally exhausted from winter break.聽 What the fuck.”

It sounds ridiculous.聽 Yet it’s very true–I have had two glorious weeks off of my routine; gallivanting around during the weekdays, visiting friends, indulging in way too many adult beverages, sleeping in past 6am EVERY day, and generally being the most productively unproductive that I could be each and every day.

I know for an absolute fact, however, that I could not live my Winter Break lifestyle on a regular basis.聽 Don’t get me wrong, it was amazing to be able to do whatever I wanted for the last fortnight, but there is a part of me that is really excited to get back to my routine.

And the thing is, the very word “break” conotates that it is temporary.聽 If you are ‘breaking’, you are not fully stopping whatever journey you are on, you are simply taking a pause.

Taking a break from the regular makes you appreciate the day-to-day sameness that much more.聽 Right now, I am actually looking forward to get my gym time in at 5am every day.聽 I’m looking forward to my football and kickball games in the evenings.聽 I’m looking forward to having the school day structure when I can eat and (more importantly) when I can’t.

Before break, the routine was good, but it was getting old, which is why it’s so important to take the chances you get to go completely off-book: it helps you appreciate the playwright’s genius that much more.

It makes me curious, though, why having complete freedom for an extended period of time leaves you feeling crappier than restricted freedom?聽 Being held to a certain schedule, in theory, would be more aggravating than being able to choose from limitless options every minute of the day, yet I can say with certainty that it is not.

Personally, I think that routine is not the enemy, and is in fact our greatest asset.聽 I highly doubt any person who has accomplished anything of note wakes up every day and chooses their schedule willy-nilly.聽 The times that I have been most successful are when I had a strict routine and was actually pretty busy with multiple things in my life.聽 As the saying goes “if you want something done, give it to a busy person.”

More evidence for this fact comes from this break; I had a list of 3 major things I wanted to cross off my list because I had SO MUCH free time.聽 Guess how many of them I got done?聽 If you guessed all of them, you would be off by three. *slow head shaking*

However, I am actually glad that I was unproductive over winter recess, as I feel like it truly allowed me to actually TAKE. A. BREAK. and give my brain a chance to rest.聽 Now that I am staring down the barrel of a regular, routine-filled week, I am excited to fit in more of my goal-oriented tasks along with my must-do’s; it doesn’t feel forced, and it doesn’t feel overwhelming.聽 I’m good to go.

On a related note, I’ve also been thinking a lot about resting on a more minor, daily scale.聽 Purposeful breaks like meditation, reflection, mental preparation.聽 There are many times when I have 10 or 20 minutes here or there, and instead of viewing it as time I could use productively, I simply scroll through my Instagram, catch up on Facebook, or mindlessly swipe on Bumble.聽 Those things may be a ‘break’ in theory, and they are definitely not bad some of the time, but they should not be the go-to’s.

It is so important to give our minds a productive respite when we get really busy.聽 It’s easy to run on ambition for days or even weeks at a time, but to make continual, steady progress it is critical to refuel.

For some reason, however, it is quite hard to take these long and/or short breaks without feeling guilty if you are a person who prides themself on being productive.聽 It took me almost all of winter break to relax into the idea that it was ok to watch TV for the night, or to sleep in until 8, or to just go on a run instead of driving to the gym.聽 Yet because I did finally embrace it, I got to actually enjoy it AND I’m excited to start up the grind again.

There is no shame in shoving everything to the back burner for a period of time (key word: ‘period of’, not, ‘the rest of’).聽 If you get the opportunity to do so, sink into it wholeheartedly.聽 And if you aren’t lucky enough to be a teacher, make sure that you are taking your vacation days seriously as well as building in other breaks into your week so that you can fully take advantage of the days that you have to be ON with a full throttle.

In a nutshell, milk every part of life for everything it’s got; be FULLY lazy when you can be, be FULLY engaged when you need to be, be FULLY productive when you should be, and be FULLY happy in every moment.聽 We are only given so many minutes in a day, and while there is no magic ratio of how to spend them on certain tasks, make sure that you get the most out of each one.