When Sleepless Nights Become an Accomplishment

Like many other college students, I’ve occasionally stayed at the library so long that I’ve fallen asleep on top of my books and notecards.

I’ve “pulled an all-nighter” to finish an assignment or to study for an exam I didn’t properly prepare for.

I’ve gone out to the bars and stayed until close and then stayed up an extra hour after that eating pizza and engaging in drunken shenanigans with my friends.

And then the morning comes.

The alarm goes off at 5:45 a.m. and you groan, desperately trying to quiet the obnoxious noise. You lay in bed for an extra 5 minutes contemplating if going to the gym/work/class is really that important.

Finally you get up. You make a cup of coffee – and then another. You dress in a zombie state of mind and drag yourself to your destination.

Eventually, you perk up little by little and proceed to tell everyone you only got 5 hours of sleep last night.

“I was up studying all night for that exam.” “I woke up so early to workout this morning.” “I stayed late at the office last night to get some extra work done.”

Society values sleepless nights. Staying late at the office is a sign of dedication. Sometimes I respect or envy someone that stayed up late studying for an exam more so than I respect myself for falling asleep at 9 p.m.

Pulling an all nighter is like being accepted into this cool, exclusive club of over-achievers. Staying late at work proves motivation to a boss. Waking up aggressively early proves effective time management. Being the last student to walk out of the library feels like an accomplishment.

Why does sleeplessness signify more respected values than a good night’s sleep? Why do I feel more accomplished the bigger the bags under my eyes grow?


The Real Reason You Won’t Find Me at the Gym

I feel pressure every single day to go to the gym.

Between the constant advertisements on my computer for cute workout clothes, new diet and weight loss tips popping up in every women’s health magazine and Cosmopolitan’s daily “butt challenge” videos, it’s hardly a suggestion.

Not to mention that one of my roommates runs 15 miles per day and the other gets up at 6 a.m. to hit the gym early.

No pressure, right?

Wrong. Every day, I come home kicking myself mentally for not finding the time to squeeze in a quick, half hour run on the treadmill.

It’s not just that I can’t seem to find the time to go – it’s that I adamantly hate working out. I find absolutely nothing about it enjoyable.

A lot of people enjoy the day after the gym, where their muscles ache to the point of discomfort. They say it proves that they did a great workout, and it makes them feel good.

I’m sorry, but in no world do I want my arms to be so sore that I can’t even reach above my head to wash my hair in the shower.

I haven’t been to the gym in so long that I’m painfully uncomfortable working out in front of people I know. God forbid that cute guy on the baseball team sees me sweating like a pig trying to finish one mile. And what if I’m lifting incorrectly? I’ll look like an idiot. Not to mention the fact that at this point, the most weight I can lift is 10 pounds and I can’t do more than 20 sit ups in a row.

I’m out of shape, out of time and out of habit.

Every time I try to start making the gym a habit again, I skip one day and fall right back off the wagon. If I skip two days, I tell myself that I’ll start again on Monday. Every Monday, it’s suddenly 11 p.m. and I find myself wrist-deep in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s instead. Oops.

The only type of exercise I actually enjoy doing is yoga, which just so happens to be one of the instructor-taught classes that got taken away from my university due to underfunding. Of course.

Sure, I could always pop a yoga video into the retro VCR that adorns the recreation room in the gym. That’s if I can ignore the door swinging open and closed as each new group of noisy people comes in to get free weights or a mat.

With yoga out of the picture, I’ve tried coming up with numerous ways to get my ass to the gym.

“The hardest part is getting there,” I’ve had people tell me. But honestly, the hardest part for me is staying there.

I’ve worn gym clothes to class, sneakers, sports bra and all, and walked into the gym, got on the elliptical, completed one mile and left, completely unmotivated to do any kind of weight lifting or abdominal workout.

So what gives? Why do I hate myself at the end of each day for not doing something that I loathe? Why do I feel like I have to put myself through the torture of bicep curls next to some sweaty rugby player?

Because society tells me I should. Because people tell me I should. Because doctors have told me I should, since 30 minutes of exercise per day is the healthiest way to live.

Because the kids in my 3rd grade classroom told me I should when they found out I weighed 120 pounds. Because my coaches in high school told me I should to bulk up to improve my game. Because my parents have told me I should, my friends have told me I should and most importantly, because no one has told me I shouldn’t.

No one has ever looked at me and said it’s OK that you don’t work out. It’s OK that you hate exercising. It’s OK if you’d rather lie in bed for an extra hour in the morning and eat vegetables all day instead of putting yourself through a monotonous workout.

No one has ever told me it’s OK not to work out because that’s not what society tells us. That’s not what workout apparel advertisements tell us, or social media tells us or magazines tell us. They tell us to drink lemon water, buy cute, strappy sports bras to wear to the gym, find a boyfriend that will fulfill your “relationship goals” by working out with you and do certain uncomfortable-looking exercises to tone your butt in time for bikini season.

Hats off to those that enjoy running or swimming or exercising in general – it is very healthy and has a lot of life-long benefits. Good for you.

But to those that consider walking to the car each morning enough exercise for the day, you’re not alone.

I don’t want to come home at the end of a long day of exams, club meetings and LSAT prep just to stress myself out more with the promise of going to the gym.

Fuck that. If you need me at the end of the day, I’ll be accidentally dropping food down my cute, $60 sports bra, thank you very much.

How to Have a Bad Day

When I wake up in the morning, I slowly pull apart the blinds next to my bed. Then, I either groan as I fall back against my pillows because there is some form of precipitation coming from the sky or I debate skipping class because the sun is shining.

Either way, I slowly pull myself out of bed, drag myself to the bathroom to do my hair and makeup and coordinate my outfit based on the proper footwear for the weather.

Today it is raining. Rain boots it is.

Rain boots are heavy, clunky and simultaneously make my feet really cold and really hot. Plus, they look very awkward when paired with yoga pants so I’m forced to put on jeans, AKA leg prisons.

Then I pull on my rain jacket, which is too thin when it’s a cold rain but too confining when it’s a warm and humid rain. I have to make sure I remember my umbrella too, even though it turns inside-out with high winds.

After about 5 minutes of walking across campus, my hair that I took time to straighten is now frizzy, my makeup has practically melted off my face and my wet jeans are uncomfortably sticking to my legs.

Once inside, finally away from the rain, all motivation drains from my body. There are fewer things more depressing than watching the rain fall.

Rainy days are the kind of days that make you want to curl up in bed under several blankets and drink green tea while watching movies. They don’t exactly motivate me to sit in the dreary, dim library studying for a biology exam.

Rain sucks. If you want to have a bad day, just go to class in the rain. Bonus points if it’s a Monday.

What Makes Me Happy

I’ve fallen in love before. I’ve been to the very top of the Eiffel Tower. I’ve been in a car going so fast down tall hills that my stomach tickles. I’ve eaten an entire death by chocolate cake. I’ve laughed until I cried, rode horses along the coast of Aruba and taken a tour of Venice in a gondola.

I’ve experienced true, earth-shattering happiness before, and yet nothing has made me as happy as achieving my goals.

Maybe that’s a sad thing to admit – the money I’ve spent, the countries I’ve traveled to and the people I’ve met pale in comparison to crossing a long term goal off of the list I keep on the desktop of my computer.

The grueling and draining hard work that I’ve experienced in my short 20 years of life amounts to more than some of my happiest moments.

Maybe it’s the American idealist in me. We’re often criticized as a country for overworking to the point of exhaustion and not taking the time to stop and smell the roses, for lack of a better term. Often, the goal is to work hard enough to have money that supposedly makes us happy.

But I don’t get much pleasure in working hard for monetary purposes. In fact, most of the work I do doesn’t involve compensation at all.

What makes me happy is the accomplishment. Being able to watch the work I’ve put in, the long hours I’ve spent and the dedication I’ve maintained turn into something I’ve dreamed of for a week or for my whole life makes me happier than money ever could.

That’s why university breaks are a mystery for me. Relaxing by the pool with a drink in hand is nice for a day, but any longer and I’m ready to break out my laptop and start working again.

If you were to ask me what I love, I’d say my friends, family, chocolate, wine, dogs, fashion and traveling.

If you were to ask what makes me happy or satisfied, my first answer would be my accomplishments.

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.

Why I Hate New Year’s Resolutions

I’m a quitter.

I have never gone more than a month of consistently working out because I don’t see results right away. I’ve switched my major twice because the work wasn’t something I could sit down and effortlessly finish in under an hour.

I’ve asked other people at work to help me when I didn’t feel like learning how to do something. My roommates light the candles in my room and open cans of soup for me because I’ve tried and failed at using both a lighter and a can opener.

I can’t even finish one goddamn stick of chapstick without losing it and just buying a new one because I don’t feel like hunting for it under my bed.

If something doesn’t come easy, I stop trying.

It’s not just day-to-day things, like using a can opener, that I quit. It’s relationships, jobs, clubs or even friendships. While I like a challenge, I prefer ones that I can see myself easily overcoming. The ones that require actual work and dedication I factor out of my life immediately.

Whether it’s out of fear, laziness or just lack of interest, I’m not sure. But this is why I hate new years resolutions.

Every year, I’ve made a resolution to try and fix one of these problems individually. I’ve promised myself I’d go to the gym at 6 a.m. before my 8:30 class, and promptly hit the snooze button on my alarm until 8:15. I’ve tried to change my personality to be more easy-going so that rough patches in friendships don’t occur, which usually lasts until there’s a sink full of dirty dishes that I rant about until someone cleans them.

That’s why this year, my only resolution is to  try. “Trying” isn’t a commitment. Trying could mean setting those alarms and maybe getting up in time to make breakfast instead of going to the gym. It could mean learning more things, like using a can opener, instead of letting others solve my problems for me. It could even mean buying 3 different chapsticks so that when I lose one, I have three more.

Trying doesn’t mean I’ll have effortless relationships, or that I’ll lose 15 pounds in a month. It means I’ll make the effort to work harder to eventually achieve those goals.

It also means my roommates won’t hate me as much for leaving passive aggressive notes on our whiteboard.

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

How to be a Heartbreaker

This week, my thumb finally healed.

Three weeks ago I sliced it against the jagged edge of a metal can, trying to cook dinner.

For two hours it bled uncontrollably onto a Band-Aid, distracting me from everyday activities.

I wore the Band-Aid consistently for the next two weeks and it consistently got in my way.

I’d try to wash my hair in the shower and I’d feel it. I thought about it every time I picked up my pen. It prevented me from texting with both hands, decreasing my communication.

It was in the back of my mind for three weeks, disturbing me.

Routinely, I woke up each morning and changed the Band-Aid, cleaning the wound in the process.

Eventually, one day I woke up and it didn’t hurt anymore. The skin grew over the cut, the blood had dried and all that remained was a   scar – a subtle reminder to be more careful.

Three weeks ago, I broke my own heart.

I sliced it with the sharp edge of my words.

For two hours it bled uncontrollably, distracting me from everyday activities.

Eventually one day I woke up and it didn’t hurt anymore. All that remained was a metaphorical scar – a subtle reminder to be more careful.