Being A Working Woman In A Man’s City

Walking down Fashion Avenue with my white lace skirt blowing against my legs, I hear two men shouting, “Damn, I love this city. And I love gorgeous women.”

Mind you, it’s 8:30 a.m.

The two women walking next to me in pencil skirts and designer handbags rolled their eyes. “Sometimes I just want to turn around and yell back ‘would you talk to your daughters this way?’ That would shut them up,” one woman said.

“It’s disgusting,” said the other. “I can’t even walk down the fucking street to go to work without getting harassed.”

And then they turned the corner and their conversation shifted to their plans for this coming weekend, as if they’d never heard those men shouting.

Many women in New York City experience this every day, myself included. I feel like I have to pull my dress down even further or cinch up my shirt as I walk past the group of leering construction workers next to my building. I stood on line for a smoothie the other day wearing a very modest dress and a man looked at me agonizingly slowly from head to toe, and said “nice dress.” I can’t even count the number of times I’ve walked past a man and had him shout the words “so hot” in my face and walk away. Not to mention the men that sit at the tiny chair and tables on Broadway and turn around to very blatantly stare at a woman’s ass as she walks by.

It’s infuriating and demeaning, and yet, just like the two women on my morning commute, I do nothing but roll my eyes. Why? Because of the other hardship we face as the weaker sex — fear of retaliation. What if a guy shouted something at me, or touched me or harassed another woman? What if I said how I really feel, and told him to fuck off? Would he get mad and attack me? Would he scream back and further embarrass me?

So I keep my head down and keep moving. I roll my eyes and go off on a silent tirade. I complain about how a working woman can’t be noticed for her intellect and watch it happen all over again on my walk home from work.

The good men do exist. They stand up for us or tell the leering men to stop acting like pigs. A man once got off a subway and punched another man in the face for touching and harassing a woman standing next to me. But far too often these men don’t stand up, and the only voices heard are those of the pigs degrading women.

There may statistically be more women in New York City than men, but we seem to be nothing more than an objectified minority.

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A Restless College Student Struggles to be Present

Lately two words have been stuck inside my head, refusing to leave.

“I wish.”

It’s human nature to think about all of the things that could have been accomplished or that could have been experienced.

Like many college students, especially those graduating this May, I can’t help but think of all the things I didn’t do.

I wish I’d joined more clubs that don’t specifically relate to my major. I wish I hadn’t wasted so many nights wasted. I wish I’d developed a more diverse group of friends with different interests. I wish I’d taken more electives like psychology or women’s studies.

I wish I’d explored more of the surrounding area by my university. I wish I’d gotten to know more of my professors. I wish I’d devoted more time, effort and energy to the clubs I was involved in. I wish I’d actually done some of the required readings.

I wish I’d listened more and talked less. I wish I’d spent more time focusing on practicing yoga. I wish I’d memorized the AP Style textbook. I wish I didn’t do things just to post them on social media. I wish I’d devoted more time to studying issues I strongly advocate for. I wish I’d been more involved with student government. I wish I’d read more.

I wish I’d had more time.

It all boils down to time. If I’d had more time, I could have easily accomplished all of my wishes and then some. If I’d had more time, I wouldn’t regret the things I couldn’t accomplish.

Too often I find myself wishing time away. I wish it would be summer vacation already so I don’t have to study. I wish it would be fall semester already so I could be in Paris. I wish I was 30 years old so that I could have an apartment in New York City and a “big girl job.”

My life is so focused around wishing for what I want to do and wishing for time to do what I didn’t do. Missed opportunities and future endeavors cloud my thoughts daily. I don’t focus enough on the present or making the most of the time I am given.

So my goal for the rest of the semester, this summer at my internship and during my time abroad is to stop wishing, stop regretting, stop planning. I want to learn how to live in the moment and how to live it for myself, not for my Instagram account.

I want to learn how to be, not think about what I could become or what I could have been.

 

 

The End-of-Semester Slump

It’s that point in the semester – I want to give up.

I want to lay in my bed with the lights out in my dark grey sweatpants and mindlessly binge-watch Netflix until my eyes start to hurt.

I have to give myself a pep talk every morning to get out of bed for class. “Only four more weeks left,” I remind myself.

Like many other college students, by the end of spring semester I can feel the stress and exhaustion of the entire school year pressing down on my chest like a weight.

Assignments, chores and tension all start building up the closer May gets.

Meanwhile, my motivation spirals and so does my mood. The smallest comments, accusations or questions invoke a full-blown meltdown. The smallest problems become difficult to manage.

I start to slack on basic assignments and I’m rewarded a lower-than-usual grade because of my obvious lack of effort. The lower the grade, the higher my stress level.

I start to slack on maintaining friendships and I’m rewarded with arguments and aggression. The more arguments, the higher my stress level.

I start to slack on maintaining a healthy diet and workout routine and I’m rewarded with weight gain. The more weight gain, the higher my stress level.

By the middle of April, I’m so mentally exhausted from beating myself up and feeling stressed out that I become hollow. I attend classes, I speak with friends and professors and I go to work, but mentally, I’m not there.

I let my laundry build up in the corner of my room, I stop taking the time to make dinner every night and a frown permanently settles on my face.

The end-of-the-semester slump sets in and I take to my bed, hiding from responsibilities. Four more weeks.

 

The Struggle of a Millennial Writer in an Era of Listicles

The $40,000 I pay per year and the long hours I spend studying all amount to listicles and open letters.

Media have changed from providing consistent, informative substance to circulating “click-worthy” content written by millennials.

And I am guilty of providing this fodder.

I spend hours coming up with clever lists that feature the most relatable gifs and writing heartfelt letters to anyone that ever had a sliver of meaning in my life.

At this point I want to write an open letter to thank everyone for reading all the crappy open letters I’ve ever written. Throw in a listicle naming off everyone that hid their cringes whenever I wrote a cliché “20 things all college students understand” list.

Why do I continue to join the millennial bandwagon?

Let’s face it – listicles get the most shares, and therefore the most recognition for the author.

For the same reason, we give our best content away for free to websites like The Odyssey and Elite Daily. And by best content, I mean both well-written content and the content most likely to go viral.

We all sit around and write blog posts each week about different nail art designs or ways to get over a breakup and come graduation, we wonder why we can’t get hired at the job of our dreams.

In a world where social media circulates thousands of articles per day, why don’t more aspiring magazine journalists or bloggers get offered jobs?

We lack originality.

Try articulating to a potential employer why your nail art listicle that got 21.4K shares is different from any other nail art listicle.

Then there’s the pressure of a deadline – it’s hard to have a grand revelation about your life every single week by Friday at 5 p.m. Some of these websites have a strike system too, which means if you don’t produce content when you’re supposed to, you can’t be a contributing writer.

And so we succumb to the listicle or the open letter that takes 30 minutes at most to type up. It’s likely to go viral, please our editing team and it doesn’t take up too much time.

Isn’t it ironic that with so much information at our fingertips, we choose reduce our knowledge and entertainment to the simplicity of a list?

We live in a world where time is of the essence for both our readers and ourselves. The shorter the article, the more it’s shared. The shorter the time it takes to write, the more time we have to contribute content to more digital media platforms.

The endless cycle continues. The listicles live on. The open letters never close.

At what cost?

Just the small price of tuition and our creativity.

I’m Concerned About My Privacy, And You Should Be Too.

I read an article on Cosmopolitan Magazine’s Snapchat feature today that presented a girl who gave up her iPhone for a flip phone.

My first reaction was astonishment. I was amazed that someone from my generation was able to experience the convenience of an iPhone and willingly give it and all of its features up for a simple flip phone.

A flip phone doesn’t have the Facebook app signed in and waiting to be used while waiting in line for coffee. It doesn’t have the Snapchat app to send hysterical pictures to friends throughout the day. It doesn’t have group messaging to coordinate who’s eating lunch in the dining hall at 11:30 so you don’t have to eat alone.

My second reaction was embarrassment – not for this girl, but for myself. How have I let a piece of technology control my daily habits so much that I couldn’t imagine life without it? I’ve become unable to stand in a line for coffee without clutching it as a safety net to avoid talking to strangers. I can’t even read 10 pages of a homework assignment without checking Instagram at least once.

My iPhone is the first thing I see when I wake up every morning because it’s my alarm. That puts the phone in my hand. It doesn’t leave my hand until after I’ve checked my notifications and I’m forced to put it down to get dressed.

My iPhone is the last thing I see before I close my eyes for the night and the last thing I hold. I have more physical contact with my iPhone than I do with other human beings.

And I know I’m not alone. Surely not everyone is as attached to their phone as I am, which I partly blame on being a journalism major and habitually checking my email for appointments.

Surely I’m not the only one that doesn’t even remember their passwords for said social media accounts because I stay permanently logged in on my phone.

And when those who aren’t millennials see our obsession with what has become similar to an external organ, they wonder why. Why can’t we put our phones down? Why aren’t we more concerned about our privacy? Why do we let an object control our emotions, thoughts and actions?

Between photos we’ve posted on Facebook and tweets we wrote in the last 5 years that are rumored to be recorded by the government, I don’t feel as though I own the right to my privacy anymore and it’s too late to get it back.

So maybe the girl with the flip phone has the right idea – maybe if we all stepped back instead of obsessing over advancing technology further, we’d regain control of our lives and our privacy.

But when children are growing up playing Candy Crush on mommy’s iPhone instead of playing with Legos, I don’t know how feasible going back in time would be.

Technology expands each day, and many of us worry that if we don’t adapt to the advances, we’ll fall behind.

I don’t know which is worse – being a step behind everyone else, or someone having knowledge of every step you take.

I Don’t Want to Face My Fears, And That’s OK.

Ever since I was little, I was told that the best way to alleviate your fears is to face them.

After taking two international flights, scaling a cliff on horseback and taking an elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower, I can confirm that that advice is bullshit.

Fear is natural. It’s what keeps us from asking someone on a date, or what keeps us from jumping out of a plane. It dictates our lives and I think that’s ok.

I see nothing wrong with living in the United States for the rest of my life because I don’t want to fly. I don’t feel the need to take the elevator instead of stairs just to face my fears. I don’t ever want to scale a cliff again to face my fear of heights.

As long as it does not restrict what I want out of life, why should I be forced to fix it?

I welcome fear. I don’t want to die before I’ve accomplished everything out of life. I want to live to see myself graduate law school. I want to come home to a 150 pound golden doodle jumping on my chest. I want to explore New York City so much that I don’t need to stare at google maps trying to get from Central Park to the Met.

I want to do things that I enjoy in life, things that don’t scare me. If I can’t ever visit France again because I don’t want to get on an airplane, then so be it. If I don’t want to jump out of an airplane, then why stress myself out over conquering my fear of heights?

Why make life anymore complicated than it already is?

I don’t take risks. I live comfortably. I take the stairs and I drive 8 hours to school. I am okay with living this way, and there is no need for me to change.

My life is not worse because I cannot face my fears, or because i’m being “deprived” of experiences that I could have if I weren’t afraid.

My life is better because I don’t do things that make me scared.

Besides, at least climbing to the 10th floor of a hotel will keep me healthy.

Dating is Antiquated and It’s Sad

Dating – what a silly concept in modern society. I can’t say that I’ve ever been out on a “true” date – the kind where the guy picks you up at your door instead of texting you saying “I’m outside.”

The kind where the guy takes you to a restaurant and asks you questions about your family instead of asking you to “Netflix and chill” while meeting your mother via Snapchat selfies.

The kind where you get nervous when he walks you to your door because you’re not sure if he’s going to kiss you, instead of remembering that you made out with him drunk at a party last weekend.

Proper dating has become an anomaly. There are so many levels to dating now that I’m not even sure how to do it anymore. People are either “seeing each other” or “talking” or “just hanging out.”

I’m not saying I want a guy to ask me to “go steady” or ask my father for his permission to take me out. I think that part of dating is kind of antiquated.

All I want is for a man to ask me out to dinner, not meet me at a bar and ask me what I want to drink.

The man isn’t the only person to blame in this situation – women are just guilty.  Continue reading

48 Things I Wish I Knew as a Teenage Girl

  1. Your mother is always right, no matter how much you don’t want to admit it.
  2. You should learn how to cook at least one meal.
  3. Those 5 or 6 Oreos won’t kill you – eat them while you still can.
  4. Being a nerd is more attractive than purposely acting stupid.
  5. You won’t miss the party of the year just because you decide to stay in one weekend.
  6. Most people drink in college, but it’s okay if you don’t.
  7. In moderation, alcohol isn’t poison.
  8. A man that doesn’t respect your decision not to have sex is not worth your time.
  9. Sexism still exists – never stop fighting for what you want.
  10. You won’t automatically gain the freshman 15 just from drinking a couple of beers and binging on pizza every now and then.
  11. Running sucks, and there are so many other ways to stay healthy and exercise.
  12. Brussel sprouts don’t suck as much as they did when your mother made you eat them before you left the dinner table.
  13. Bubble baths are not just for babies.
  14. No one will remember or care what clothes you wore to school.
  15. College is nothing like your high school english teacher says it is.
  16. You shouldn’t have sex in high school – not for a religious or moral reason, but because it’s inexperienced. Men don’t understand how to make it a pleasant experience until you’re older.
  17. Your number doesn’t mean shit.
  18. Every person who enters the women’s bathroom gets their period. You don’t have to try and muffle the sound of your tampon wrapper.
  19. It’s not the end of the world if you miss a practice for an after-school sport.
  20. College is so much better than high school.
  21. Most of the friends you have freshman year of college won’t be your friends by senior year and that’s ok.
  22. You don’t have to be friends with everyone and it’s ok if you’re not loved by everyone.
  23. Bars are not the place to meet quality men.
  24. Your mom’s cooking really isn’t that bad, especially compared to dining hall food.
  25. Making money during the summer is a lot more important than taking days off to work on your tan.
  26. A tan isn’t worth the risk of getting cancer and using a tanning bed wastes a lot of money.
  27. Being an undeclared major is almost smarter than coming into college declared – most people change their major anyway.
  28. It’s ok to quit a club because you don’t like it anymore, even if you hold a position of leadership or authority.
  29. Taking a personal day every now and then won’t ruin your GPA.
  30. Ben & Jerry’s can heal all wounds.
  31. Wine has the same power.
  32. If your friends don’t like your boyfriend, they’re probably right about him.
  33. Everyone gets zits.
  34. Remembering to wear your retainer every night may be a pain in the ass but you’ll be thankful when your teeth stay straight.
  35. Coffee is not bad for you, it is not disgusting and it is 100% worth the risk of stained teeth. That’s what Crest white strips are for.
  36. Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but sometimes it’s not doable. Keep snacks in your car.
  37. Sleepovers suck. Don’t be angry when your mom says you can’t go.
  38. Your siblings will be your biggest allies in the future – don’t burn bridges.
  39. Always have an umbrella handy and dress in layers.
  40. Bagels don’t cure hangovers – iced coffee does.
  41. Sit near the door in class if you’re hungover.
  42. Never leave the house for an extended period of time without a phone charger.
  43. You have your entire life to make your own rules so abide by your curfew. Staying out past 10 isn’t worth the consequences.
  44. Never go shopping when you’re hungry.
  45. You don’t have to be nice to everyone – stand up for yourself.
  46. Don’t buy every “required” textbook for a class.
  47. Don’t get caught up in all the crap life hands you, because in 5 or 10 years it won’t be relevant. Live a little and enjoy the time you have.
  48. Nothing will make you happier than doing what you love.

An Open Letter To My Older Sister

I remember the days where I used to tell you I hate you more than I love you. It was never that I actually hated you – it was always out of jealousy.

I used to spend hours searching your room trying to find your diary, hoping to get a glimpse at the life you had. Compared to mine, yours always looked better.

You were allowed to stay out until 10 p.m., which to a 9-year-old was pretty awesome at the time. You played spin-the-bottle with boys while I was still calling them “icky.”

You were always smarter than me, and you had 4 more years of experience than I did. Your writing was beautiful, you knew how to put on makeup, you learned how to drive first, you had a boyfriend first – you did everything first.

And here I am at age 19 and I still envy you. The only difference is that since I’ve matured, I won’t pinch you or call you names because of it – I’ll just work harder to become half the person I know you are.

Most of the time I watched you grow up and succeed. But sometimes I watched you fail. I watched your heart break, I watched the ever-present smile fade from your face, I watched lock yourself in your room to cry because you didn’t want anyone to see.

Continue reading

Why I Won’t Apologize for Not Wanting Children

I don’t ever want to have kids.

*Insert horrified gasp or dramatic eye widening here*

I typically don’t get a positive response when I tell people that I can’t picture a future where I ever have children.

What I do get is a lot of, “you’re only 19, you’ll change your mind.” I’ve also heard, “I said the same thing when I was your age and now I have (insert number here) kids!” The ever so charming, “that’s so selfish,” has been said a lot, or my favorite, “you’ll change your mind once you meet the right person.”

What does the “right person” have to do with my decision to carry a child inside of me for nine months anyway?

Continue reading