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Why You Should Stop Apologizing For No Reason

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You need to stop apologizing. But no, I don’t mean you should NEVER apologize (that’s for jerks.) And no, this isn’t just for women (although it was born out of a women’s issue). This blog is for passive people. Or rather, people who don’t think of themselves as passive but are in fact acting passively in their lives and therefore causing disappointments.

I was sitting beside my boyfriend the other day when I, being the naturally clumsy person that I am, bumped his leg and reflexively exclaimed “Oops!” I continued eating my lunch, but he stopped and studied me for a second before saying “I’m really glad you didn’t say ‘sorry.’”

Sorry 2I looked at him quizzically until it hit me that I had said “oops” which, if I’m being truthful, isn’t my go-to remark. I usually say “sorry” even when there isn’t anything to be sorry about. I bumped his leg while we were having lunch so what should I be sorry about? Nothing. It’s so insignificant in the scheme of our lives that I could say nothing and he wouldn’t think anything about it within 30 seconds unless he was just in a horrid mood that day. But I say sorry ALL THE TIME. Every time I accidentally hit him (which unfortunately happens a lot with me). Any time I have to redirect him toward his car in a parking lot (because he’s really terrible with directions). Whenever I want to ask my boss a question and he’s quietly working at the desk across from me. If I need to ask a store clerk where to find something. If I accidentally touch a stranger when we walk past each other.

It’s really kind of ridiculous when I think about it. I’m not really “sorry” for any of those things. My use of “sorry” in those situations isn’t what the word truly means. If I had purposely insulted my boyfriend or the store clerk, perhaps “sorry” would fit in that situation. But considering that I’m generally a nice person and I don’t go around throwing out insults at random people, I probably won’t need to apologize to strangers anytime soon. Maybe if I actually stepped on my boss’s toes with my stiletto and caused him pain rather than figuratively stepping on toes by interrupting his working groove, it would be worth an apology but not in this situation!

Back in June, Pantene started a #ShineStrong campaign which focused on empowering women by pointing out how much and unwarrantedly we say “sorry” and challenging women to be stronger (like Pantene hair!) by not being sorry. It was an eye opening video for me even if it was a sly advertising campaign because I had never had anyone point out how women apologize for things that aren’t “sorry-worthy.” After seeing the commercial, my boyfriend and I discussed it, and I made the decision to stop saying “sorry” as much. And then I forgot about that decision until my “oops” incident a few days ago. I felt like I had failed him, and I wanted to apologize for it! I think I said something like “I’m not going to say I’m sorry, but I feel bad that I was very ineffective in my attempt at being less ‘sorry’ all the time.” So I really started to think about why I felt this strong compulsion to apologize for every little meaningless infraction of propriety.

Sorry 3We have bumps with boyfriends and interruptions and corrections and brushes with strangers and none of it is worth feeling sorry about. It’s a waste of energy. We put ourselves in a passive position where the person who’s being apologized too matters more than we do. Their feelings—which weren’t even affected—are more important to us than our own feelings. And that isn’t right.

So stop apologizing for no reason. Stop being passive. I will say that it’s not as easy as it sounds. It has to be an active decision. It has to be something on your mind regularly until it becomes habit, but overall, isn’t making it an active part of your life an important way to distance yourself from the passivity that you’ve been drowning in?

I don’t want to be a passive person who sits by and lets others run my life or who feels insignificant next to another’s needs. I’m my own person. I’m important for just being me. There’s respect for others, but there should also be respect for yourself. Learning to tone down the apologies is exactly what I need to do to fully respect myself. And it’s very possible you could benefit from it too no matter what gender you are. Because who wants to be a passive onlooker in this life anyway?

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Why American Sniper Isn’t Oscar Worthy

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Since seeing the first trailer for American Sniper, I was torn about my feelings for it, whether I should see it, whether it would be any good, what kind of light it would portray topics I find touchy. But after hearing that it had 6 Oscar nominations, most notably that of Best Picture, I felt like it might be worth the watch to make my own opinion. And I’m sorry to say that I was thoroughly disappointed. American Sniper is not Oscar material.

And it’s not because it’s about ‘Murica and nationalistic and Republican while I have rather obvious liberal leanings. (One of my coworkers likes to say “if you’re not liberal when you’re young and conservative when you’re old something’s not right.” At 24 years old, I find that statement to make a lot of sense.) But it is because it looks like propaganda, and I don’t think propaganda has a place in the Academy Awards. But the real question is “Why is it propaganda?” You might think because of how nationalistic it is, but truthfully that’s not where I have the problem. It’s the character of Chris Kyle that I have a problem with.

Let’s imagine for a moment that this isn’t a movie isn’t based on a book by the main character. Let’s imagine that this is just a fictional, heart-wrenching but feel-good American solider story. If that were the case wouldn’t you expect to see some character development? Shouldn’t Kyle go through a series of events that change him in some way? Shouldn’t we question his actions as an audience, especially as violent and xenophobic as they appear? Shouldn’t the film comment on who he is as a person in someway? Or at least address in some form the thin line between “right” and “wrong” that he’s treading?

American Sniper 2One of the problems that Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger had, despite all its comic-book-brought-to-life glory, was that Steve Rogers’ character was rather one-dimensional. He fought for what was right. He fought to protect America. He was the essence of what America strove to be in the world. But that’s not interesting to moviegoers. We like to see conflict, change, development, growth, and resolution. The plot in Captain America: The First Avenger was compelling but the character of Steve Rogers left us wanting more. Captain America: The Winter Soldier accomplished this better because it at least allowed the audience to question for a minute Steve’s intentions. And the Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes’ character is even more interesting as he grows and the audience questions whether he’s good or evil. In this way, Chris Kyle is like the murderous, not-so-heroic, real-life version of Captain America. He’s a hero because he saved a lot of his own troops and helped progress the War in Iraq in America’s favor. But just as Steve Rogers is one-dimensionally characterized as obsessed with justice and what is right, Chris Kyle is one-dimensionally shown to favor “God, country, and family.”

What bothers me is that some of the other characters in the film like Chris’ wife Taya and fellow Navy SEAL Marc Lee do question Chris’ intentions and actions. Taya doesn’t understand why continuing to go back to Iraq is so important when they have a family and a life in the States that he should be living.

“You’re my husband, you’re the father of my children. Even when you’re here, you’re not here. I see you, I feel you, but you’re not here.”

“I need you… to be human again. I need you here.”

 American Sniper sets up a veterans’ affairs story that could be really influential and relevant to current societal discussions, but it chickens out. It’s more interested in chronicling Kyle’s kills with the afterthought of thrown-in veterans’ issues scenes and therefore looks more like propaganda. A fellow soldier in an auto shop, Kyle’s wife, a veterans’ hospital psychologist all seem concerned that the horrible things he’d witnessed and participated in while in Iraq might have somewhat psychologically affected him, but Kyle stoically denies any suggestions that he suffers from PTSD. No, he regrets that he didn’t save more American soldiers (because that’s not a sign of PTSD at all). When he finally does end up in a veteran’s hospital with a psychologist and the movie could really make a statement about PTSD and the long journey of recovery, it just skips to Kyle spending time with wounded veterans. A hero hailed by his loyal and starry-eyed subjects.

It’s good to see that Kyle had such compassion for his fellow soldiers. That he relished that brotherhood born in the “trenches” of Iraq. And it’s a redeeming quality for a man who appeared like a cold-blooded killer at times, but it was only 3 scenes in the movie. One minute he’s in a psyche office and the next, he’s smiling and laughing with wounded veterans on a shooting range and everything is hunky-dory. He’s healed! It’s a miracle! If all veterans were like the Chris Kyle of American Sniper who just needed to do some volunteer work, wouldn’t veteran rehabilitation and reentry into society be quick and painless?

But. It’s. Not.

It’s hard and grueling and because I’m not a veteran or related to anyone who’s been to war I can’t even begin to comprehend what it’s like to come back and try to live a normal, civilian life after committing my life to protect my country and to take down “the bad guys” even when that distinction is a little murky. Chris Kyle made it seem too easy. That you can just kill hundreds of people in the name of your country and shake it off like “no-big-deal-wish-I-could-have-done-more.” And that makes him seem crazy.

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Was that the point of the movie? To slowly reveal to the audience that he was a mindless, killing machine with no remorse? (His statement about his friend and fallen soldier, Marc Lee, disturbed me the most when he vehemently insisted to his wife, “The letter’s what killed him. He gave up!” after she tried to discuss Marc’s apparent anti-war thoughts in a letter read at his funeral.) That’s certainly not the major takeaway that most audiences seem to be professing though. Most of my Facebook friends were talking about how emotionally rending it was and how it really signified what being “American” (or maybe I should say “Murican”) is about. So if that’s the main takeaway by audiences, then I just can’t get on the American Sniper Oscar Nominee bandwagon. The way the movie develops (or rather doesn’t develop) the character of Chris Kyle and completely misses out on making a societal statement on veteran’s affairs ruins any chance it might have had at being Best Picture worthy. It fools proud, nationalistic audiences and Chris Kyle fans alike into a false sense of hero-worship through the film when it actually gives mixed messages as to his hero-status as well as lacks any real thesis behind the film. And that’s just not what I expect from the Academy Awards.

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Why You Should Be Your Own Valentine

Valentine-1Welcome to February—the Season of Love! Or as I like to call it, “The Make Sure You’ve Validated Your Worth Through a Relationship” time of year. But seriously though, everyone makes February about either couples’ romance or “Singles’ Awareness.” All the dating websites and apps promotions are in full swing, and every ad I see is for “getting the best gift for your honey,” and they all make me want to gag. Last year, I wrote about why we hate Valentine’s Day even though it’s supposed to be a day of happy, mushy, gushy feelings. This year, I’m not feeling quite as cynical, but I do have a Valentine’s Challenge for you: use Valentine’s Day to be YOUR OWN Valentine.

What does this mean, you might ask? Do you need to send candy and flowers to yourself on the 14th? No, it’s not so literal as that (although, I suppose you could if you really wanted to). Being your own Valentine is about loving yourself this Valentine’s day. We can get so caught up in having a “fairytale” romance because we think it will make us happy, when really, what we need more than anything is a little self-love. My YouTube videos are geared towards teen girls (though I know all demographics enjoy them), and I give them this challenge for Valentine’s Day too because I remember from my time as a teen how ALL IMPORTANT Valentine’s Day and having a boyfriend was to me. Looking back at age 24 though, I see how much time and energy I wasted worrying myself sick about boys and relationships. Not that me telling teen girls to stop worrying is actually going to have any effect on stopping their obsession with boys, but I at least want to give them an alternative. Like being your own Valentine.

So why should you be your own Valentine this year?

1.) Skip the stupid Valentine’s Day heartache!

When you’re single on Valentine’s Day, it sucks. You’re constantly reminded of your singleness by every commercial, restaurant special, and friend who “can’t hangout because they have plans.” If you’re a teen and hoping for a secret admirer to show up with a flowers or a card in your locker, you’re setting yourself up for heartache. This isn’t the movies! Those kinds of things don’t really happen! So you’re better off taking the time to love yourself a little extra on Valentine’s Day rather than wasting it wondering if the cute barista at your frequented coffee shop will give you a foam heart design on your order.

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2.) It builds self-confidence and self-worth!

When I talk about “being your own Valentine,” I mean using Valentine’s Day to look at yourself and take stock. What are you being too hard on yourself about? Where do you need some extra encouragement? What do you feel inadequate in? Take those faults you find, and bolster them up with love. Remind yourself that you are not your pants size. Remember that you’re so much more than the job you currently have or how expensive your clothes are. Heck, find a cheesy valentine card (they’re rampant on the Internet) and send one to yourself. Just remind yourself of how awesome you are even when you don’t feel so great.

 

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3.) Why should you rely on someone else for your happiness?

But really, why does a guy buying you flowers or jewelry mean that you have any more worth than you did before you had a guy doing that? You can be happy with or without a guy fawning over you.

4.) Boys are stupid anyway.

No one can argue that point, I bet! We love them, but they also do some stupid things and can be stupidly oblivious to wonderfully devoted women right in front of them. So just be your own Valentine and skip the drama and friend-zoning.

5.) It applies to you if you’re single or taken.

Sometimes we forget once we have a significant other that we should still love ourselves. We start to gather all of our self-worth from the relationship rather than cultivating it personally and sharing it with our partner. We get consumed by trying to make a relationship work that we forget to take care of ourselves. So this Valentine’s Day, remember to love yourself more than anyone else. You can celebrate with your significant other or by yourself or not at all but don’t forget that the most important person to make happy is you.

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How To Know You’ve Set Too Many Goals

Too Many Goals 1So it’s a new year! And just like in 2014, I’ve continued my Novel Writing Journey. My goal for 2015 is a little different than last year’s because I’m not limiting myself to one chapter per month but rather setting out to finish the first (very rough) draft of the novel. I’m afraid of this task, but I am urged on by my intense desire to finish the draft and come away from 2015 with a little more substantial proof of my hard work. However, after this first month of writing, I’m realizing I may have bitten off more than I can chew. Not just with my novel writing goal but perhaps ALL my goals. I’m afraid I’ve given myself too many passion projects.

Too-Many-Goals-2You see there was a time, maybe two or three years ago when I wasn’t doing anything for myself. I was barely hanging on just going to school and dealing with all my college responsibilities. And last year especially, I made the decision to start adding in fun things and making them goals so that I could feel vindicated in taking time out of my busy schedule to do them. And it worked! Somehow I was able to do all the stressful “life” things from before AND add in these fun goals and accomplish them both without a time machine! It’s amazing! It’s a miracle! Hallelujah!

I also feel like it’s increased my self-esteem because I can look back and say “Hey I did these things that I never thought I’d be able to do without giving up something else,” and yet here I am having done them! Hooray! The more things I accomplish—especially those activities which I feel contribute to my creativity and intelligence and overall health—the better I feel about myself. I’m a rockstar and a superhero!

Too Many Goals 3But now, I’m feeling the strain of adding all these new and fun goals to my plate. I mean, at this point, it really does feel like there’s physically not enough time to do them all. Before I felt like I couldn’t do fun things because I was too exhausted. But now when I’m exhausted I still make time, but the time that I’m making I still have to make decisions between which of those goals I’m going to work on. And as I make these decisions I realize that in order to successfully accomplish my goals I need to be working on several of those goals at once. (Now is when the need for a Time Turner comes in. I always need a Time Turner).

Too Many Goals 4So now I’m facing some tough decisions at the beginning of 2015. I started out with high hopes for continuing old goals and adding new ones, but I’m finding it doesn’t look feasible on a long-term scale. So what do I do? I don’t want to give some of them up. I picked each goal for a specific reason. For the way it makes me feel or how it might help me in my career or influence my future. I can’t just abandon a few without feeling a significant blow to my self-esteem. So what happens as I step into a new month with more demands set on me? How can I power through and still feel like I’m helping myself rather then hurting? How can the immediate reward from working toward these individual goals be enough of an incentive to continue when I’m feeling exhausted and used up?

How do I keep going when I’ve set too many goals and I didn’t even know that was possible? Who knew you could have too many goals?

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