Giving Thanks: Sara Says

It’s always really awkward because I’m totally the type of person to be like, “you shouldn’t love your significant other only on Valentine’s Day,” or “you shouldn’t care about the environment only on Earth Day,” or, more timely, “you shouldn’t be thankful for things only on Thanksgiving.”

Because I guess it’s probably true. We should be thankful every day, not just the day we obscenely indulge ourselves with turkey and mashed potatoes.

Nevertheless, I’m going to give thanks while I sit with my family around the dining room table, and I’m going to give thanks here.

And I’m going to try not to bore you with all of the I’m thankful for my family and my pets and my house and the fact that my dad pays the heating bill during the winter so my toes don’t fall off due to the cold clichés. Because what I’m thankful for this year (in contrast with last year’s thanks being given to the TV show Friends) is my college education.

So, maybe it’s kind of a cliché, but it’s the last time I get to use that cliché, so I’m going to give it all it’s got.

College is the best because I live in an apartment with my five best friends and because it’s socially acceptable to lie in my bed all day and watch Netflix and because I have this charmingly young adult ability to avoid responsibilities. But it’s also the best because, I go here, Assumption College, and the things I’ve gotten out of it I don’t think I could’ve ever ILLexpected.

Whenever I think about how grateful I am for the fact that I go to this school, I just think about the fact that I’ve been given the chance to write a senior honors thesis—even though it doesn’t feel like much of a blessing when I see on my to-do list that I have to force myself to write seven or eight pages that day, or when I have to deal with the fact that I literally have no place to store all of the Interlibrary Loans I have in my room.

But when the sheer mass of work I have to do on my project starts to pile up on me, I just ask myself: When is the next time I’m going to be able to dedicate an entire semester to studying the way Disney is a propaganda machine and represents the way we conduct foreign relations?

I can answer that question real quick: Never.

And then I just smile at the fact that I’m so unbelievably fortunate that my course load has made room for me to do this and that I have faculty who support me in this endeavor (shout out to Dr. Kisatsky for advising this thing) and that I’ve had the time and the means to flesh this project out into something so much more than proving that Disney movies perpetuate stereotypes.

And even if I weren’t writing my thesis, the simple fact that I just go to school here at Assumption is enough to be thankful for.

A little story: When I was a senior in high school, all of my friends were the absurd hipster geniuses that you all probably didn’t pay much attention to because all they spent their time doing was computer code and going to Passion Pit concerts. It wasn’t very easy to feel good about myself by the time college acceptance letters started to come out.

Don’t get me wrong, I know Assumption is a great school, I understand (all too well, actually) that a lot of upper echelon schools nowadays are just getting you to buy the name at the top of your degree. I get it.

But my best friend goes to Columbia University in New York City. Someone else goes to Duke University. My other friend goes to Tufts University. Another goes to Yale University.

ivy league

So it’s more than understandable that their acceptance letters made mine feel, well… Sub-flippin-par.

But now, four years later, I’m sitting in my room in five men, and guess what? I’m working on a really cool project for school. I’m writing a column as the Assistant Editor-in-Chief for my school’s newspaper. I’m planning my work around learning my dance team’s nationals routine this weekend. I smiled today, which is way more than I can say for Columbia or Duke or Yale.

And this all has everything to do with the fact that the kids at Assumption are good people and my professors actually guide me toward success instead of grading on an impossible asscocurve. My worry of getting a job over the person sitting next to me is non-existent. It has everything to do with the fact that Assumption is a pretty awesome place.

So there. That’s what I’m thankful for.

Assumption and all of its awesomeness.

Happy 20 Years: Sara Says

I’m going to have to start this one off with a huge apology. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you all in the last issue a fundamental fact about myself: I love the television show Friends more than I love breathing. And I know, I know, it’s a lot of peoples’ favorite show, but for me, the obsession has gotten a little bit obscene. I’m not just tuning into Nick @ Nite every night at ten to let the show lull me to sleep, nor am I just religiously catching the reruns on TBS every afternoon. I’m sitting on my couch for three hours (or four or five…), sticking each DVD from my box sets into the TV and reciting Every. Single. Line.

I’ve read my special edition trivia book cover to cover multiple times, tried my hand at all the spinoffs, have my very own special version of Central Perk with my friends at home (Ultimate Perk, Main Street, Andover Mass. It’s a real gem, you should go sometime) and I honest to God shared at the Thanksgiving table last year that I was thankful for Friends being in my life.

I’m sorry if this rant makes your love for Friends seem inferior, I really am, because that’s not the point of this column. The real point of this column, however pathetic as it may be, is to say happy twentieth birthday, Friends, you’ve shaped my life more than you could know. It’s probably (definitely) more than weird for me to dedicate an entire column to how much I love a television show that isn’t even on the air anymore, but with one that has so steadfastly remained by my side, I think the weirdness is bearable.

So thanks, Friends, for settling disputes amongst the Heath siblings about what we would be watching for hours on end. Thanks for the days where my sister would have it on a long loop and the rest of us slowly, like coffee through its filter, would slide into the living room until we are all laughing beside one another. Thanks for the nights my parents ordered pizza and let us eat it on the couch only if we put Friends on. Thanks for making the show about family, not just friends.

Thanks for the lobsters and the breaks and the letters that are 18 pages—“front and back!” Thanks for Ross and Rachel, for telling me not to give up on people I love (romantically or not) and for showing me that even if in one life you were hurt by someone beyond repair, you still have the room and the strength in your heart to get off the plane.

Thanks for teaching me that “y-o-u-r means your; y-o-u-apostrophe-r-e means you are” and that opinions that don’t matter are like a cow’s opinion—they’re moo. Thanks for telling me that the appropriate response to obnoxious people is “shut up, shut up, shut uuup,” and to tell people I don’t feel like spending time with that “I wish I could but I don’t want to.” And when all else fails? Say it loud and proud: “oh… my… God.”

Thanks for teaching me to be like Chandler and to always laugh at myself, to realize that every once in a while it’s okay to grow up and learn how to love, to see that if a job makes you miserable and isn’t your dream, you should chase after what truly fulfills you.

Thanks for teaching me to be like Phoebe, to be myself and not care what other peoples’ judgments are, to let my spirit be free and to be accepting of people from all walks of life.

Thanks for teaching me to be like Joey, to have love unwavering, to persevere through moments where people don’t believe in you, to be a loyal friend.

Thanks for teaching me to be like Rachel, to be brave, to know that it is possible to start over, to be beautiful on the outside but even more so on the inside.

Thanks for teaching me to be like Ross, to never give up on finding true love, to be a good parent, to know that it is not a bad thing to be passionate about academia and learning.

And thanks for teaching me to be like Monica, for teaching me to clear the clutter from my life, to be determined and focused on what I want, to stand up for myself and to be assertive about what I do and do not deserve.

Thanks, Friends, for the laughs, the one-liners and the love. Happy 20 years.

friends

Also appears on leprovoc.com

10 College Girl Trends that Need to End… Now

*Disclaimer* I am no guru, nor a life-coaching expert; simply a twenty-something who is fed up with the BS.

 

1.)    Being selfie obsessed

selfie1Yeah, the world can be a hard place, so maybe we need something to feel good about. And on days where our hair is doing that thing we really like, maybe we should document it. But the daily, hyper-edited, overdramatic selfie? Nobody needs that all over their Instagram.

2.)    And while I’m at it…

Taking pictures with your significant other…kissing. While it’s awesome that you love each other and I’m a proponent for there being more love in this world, your PDA does not need to be broadcasted on the internet for everyone to suffer through. I mean really, who even is taking those pictures of you?

3.)    Getting “white girl wasted”

We all have our nights where maybe we’ve had more drinks than we’d intended, but anything short of in control of your alcohol once you’re an upperclassman is just not cute. Unless it’s your birthday, nobody wants to see some chick falling all over herself.

4.)    Sincerely complaining about first world problems

Oh, the college student has a lot of homework? The college student doesn’t want to study for their midterm on this Thirsty Thursday? I’ll be real here for a minute: I’ve been known to complain about the stress of my college work load (I feel bad for anyone who’s around when I’m working on my thesis). But when all of this stress builds up and all we can do is release a bitter storm of complaints, we need to take a moment to remember that not everyone is under school-work-stress; they might be under where-is-my-next-meal-coming-from-stress. As demanding as college can be, we are fortunate to be collegiettes. That’s not to say that schoolwork isn’t taxing, but perspective is important.

biddie dress 5.)    Body-Con Dresses (AKA the Biddie Dress)

Yeah, maybe I’ve donned one or two in my hay-days at 18+ club nights, but I’m talking about the girls prancing from dorm to dorm on a college campus. While they may be cute, you do not need to be in a body-con dress to play beer pong with the guys next door.

6.)    Saying you’re going to die alone (See: “An Ode to the Future Cat Ladies of America”)

I’ve said it once, but it warrants repeating: as a twenty-something (or late teen) collegiette, if the worst thing in your life is that you’re single, you’re pretty damn lucky. Yes, sometimes it sucks being alone, and yes, sometimes it’s pretty easy to fall into the trap of couple-envy. But instead of being bitter, why not fall in love with the rest of your life? I hate to be the raincloud on someone’s parade, but stop focusing on the boyfriend who isn’t there, because he’s just that: not there. Instead, focus on the people, the friends, the passions, that are there. Besides, any guy that’s interested in you will be deterred by this pessimistic outlook. You attract more flies with honey than vinegar!

7.)    Slut-shaming

I get it. Sometimes you see a girl and you wish so hard that she’d cover up with more clothes. Maybe it’s not even personal, right? Maybe you just don’t want her to get a reputation, or for a guy to get the wrong idea. That’s not so bad, right? Except what do those thoughts say about women as a gender, as a community? It says two things. First, it says that we, as women, do not support each other. That in an instant, we are ready to throw someone under the bus, spit biting words like “slut” or “skank” or “whore”. Call me naïve and call me a pacifist, but things run so much smoother when we are able to support each other. Second, it says that when a girl dresses “slutty”, it’s okay for a guy to take advantage of her, whether she wants it or not. And I think we can all agree that it is never a victim’s fault in situations like that.

8.)    Taking off your shoes in the middle of a club or a party

As the wonderful Miss Jenna Marbles says, “when you go out at night, you need to make a mini marriage with your shoes.” Do not wear a pair of high heels that you can’t handle; it’s as simple as that. While I myself love a good high heel and envy those who can wear them (they make me just a smidge too tall), what I don’t love is seeing a drunk girl whine that her feet hurt and carry them around the bar or party with her. And I’m not trying to be some stick-in-the-mud, judgmental bitch; I’m concerned for safety here! Surfaces could be slippery, there could be broken glass. For all you know, you could contract gangrene on those floors!

9.)    Saying all you want to be is a housewife

Going to college is a privilege that every college girl should be thankful for (see #4, “Sincerely complaining about first world problems”), which is why I absolutely cannot stand listening to young women—intelligent, talented, capable young women—tell me that all they want in life is to be a housewife. Don’t get me wrong; my mother was a stay-at-home mom, and I admire the full-time job she gets no retirement from; there is no nobler career path than motherhood. But to be a twenty-something lady with the whole world within your grasp, I cannot wrap my head around the lack of ambition. Young women just like us fought so hard for everything we have, yet many of us digress. It leaves me shaking my head.

10.)            Being ignorant of important global issues

But really. Why have I overheard a girl at my college ask what a democrat is? In the booming age of digital media, it seems as though we are all connected to everything; to each other, to school news, to our favorite celebrities. This is all fantastic; call me an old lady, but it truly boggles my mind that I literally have a hand-held computer beside me when there are people in the world who remember when the television was invented. Why is it, then, in the midst of all of this technology, that we are such a ridiculously ignorant demographic? As college-educated ladies, it’s up to us to start learning about these issues and formulating plans for change. One great way for keeping up with currentcnn events amidst our crazy, collegiette schedules is to follow news outlets on Twitter! The best part of Twitter news is that it is so quick and easy; it’s only 140 characters, for crying out loud! My favorites are CNN (@CNN) and CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) for immediate, hard-hitting news. To make it more digestible, I love this new website called Kicker (@goKicker), which breaks down the news into easy-to-understand coverage, concluding the stories with doable action-plans.

 

An Ode to the Future Cat Ladies of America

I’ve recently come to the decision that I’m going to name my future cats after all of my favorite kinds of cheese. First we’ll have Mozzarella, then Cheddar (an orange cat, obviously), Gouda, Brie, and finally Ricotta. Yes, I am a painfully single twenty-one-year-old Imagegirl. Yes, I’ve gotten my heart broken a decent amount of times. And yes, I’m super bitter. But a recent conversation with an ex-boyfriend about my future cats has me rethinking all of that.

So maybe he’s not exactly an ex-boyfriend, but he’s certainly an ex-something. An ex-boy or an ex-friend or an ex-best-friend-kinda-sorta-almost-but-then-didn’t. And maybe I can admit to missing him and maybe he can admit to missing me, too. That maybe we’re just giving each other space, that we don’t want to work it out, that we reopen each other’s wounds before we’re allowed to heal. But whatever way I roll the dice with us, I am still left with a gaping hole and carefully considering my future cats.

When I told the ex-(you fill in the blank) about my cats, he laughed. “You’re going to have to start liking more kinds of cheeses.” His response was met with my mouth ajar, my eyes narrowed, and my mind wondering how much of an incredible jerk are you? He laughed some more and my eyes further narrowed. “Come on,” he insisted, “you know you’re awesome. You know I think you’re awesome.” And you know what? I really am pretty awesome.

My college is noticeably more densely populated by women than men, so naturally I’ve encountered just about every variety of young adult female imaginable. I’ve met a lot of single girls, and they’re all pretty awesome. (To be fair, I’ve met a lot of taken girls, and a lot of them are pretty awesome too, but this post isn’t about that.) It’s about the girls I see drinking their pink moscato out of plastic “Single Ladies” wine glasses and who bitterly adorn black to the dining hall’s “Couples Dinner” each February 14th. As a fellow pink-moscato-drinking, all-black-wearing, single lady, I salute those girls; but I have to ask: why all the bitterness? I’m single, and in a lot of ways I want to proclaim that my lack of man does not define my personality, but maybe in a lot of ways it does. Maybe, it defines those traits my ex deemed so “awesome.”Image

Being an awesome single lady has taught me a lot, like how the way I dress is for me and that food was meant to be eaten and enjoyed. It’s taught me that there’s a whole world inside of my campus’ library and that if I really want to, I could rule that world. What’s cool is most of my fellow Future Cat Ladies of America have embraced those luxuries that the single life provides, too.

I’ve learned that it can get hard sometimes, that a lot of nights I really do feel the emptiness inside of my hand and that yes, I will get lonely. But I’ve also learned that sometimes comedy is the best answer, that days where it gets a little bit darker than the rest, I just have to trivialize this all because really, if being single is the worst thing in my life, I’m pretty damn lucky. I’ve learned how to laugh. I’ve learned how to laugh a lot.

What’s more is on those darker, lonelier nights, I’ve learned that if I can’t laugh, it’s okay not to. It’s okay if I want to gather around my fellow Future Cat Ladies of America and watch The Notebook and cry that Allie and Noah’s love is so pure. I’ve learned that even if we Future Cat Ladies of America are single, everything will be okay. We are okay and we are valid, important, and worthwhile people who are deserving of happiness. I think people call that “confidence”.

There’s an uncited statistic circulated around a lot of girls my age that says that a young adult has three “serious” relationships prior to meeting the individual with whom they are supposed to spend the rest of their lives. While the Future Cat Lady living inside of me wants to declare that a crock of crap, the reasonable academic in me wants to acknowledge the substance of that statement. So maybe it isn’t necessarily three relationships we’re looking at (sometimes it’s one… or seven), but there’s something to be said about the amount of self-knowledge and self-worth acquired in a serious relationship (and a subsequent serious heartbreak). It might be vital in finally finding the right mate. So if I’m twenty-one, and I’ve never been in a serious relationship, and “statistically” I need at least three, that has me settling down at… thirty? Thirty-two? The Future Cat Lady in me is buying herself more anti-Valentine’s day garb, but the rest of me is excited at all of the time I have to achieve my goals; to publish my writing; to read more books; to spend more nights with my other fabulous single ladies; to have more nights dancing and scuffing patent leather heels along city streets.

And maybe I’ve dug myself into my Single Lady hole, that on weekend nights I spend less time straightening my hair and more time laughing with friends. And maybe instead of trying to impress a guy with a new dress, I’m rocking a comfy pair of jeans. This isn’t supposed to be some “slut-shaming” article; this is supposed to be a power-praising one. And I’m not trying to say girls in relationships suck; like I said before, right now, it isn’t about them. This is for my fellow Future Cat Ladies of America, how maybe we need to see all the awesome in ourselves, how maybe we need to see that being a Future Cat Lady of America is what makes us awesome.Image

Now, instead of hiding shamefully my perpetual single status, I wear my title as a Future Cat Lady of America with pride. I know I’m not loved by somebody else; on the contrary, I’m appreciated most by myself and not a significant other. I know that being a Future Cat Lady isn’t something to be scared of, mostly because we all know it’s a load of mellow-drama; we won’t die alone. But maybe this attitude that is so often bitterly mocked by young women is one we should embrace, one that somehow gives us confidence, and somehow makes us awesome.

So girls, I raise my glass to you: may our jokes always remain funny and our books always open; may we work hard at our jobs, but play harder with our fellow single ladies; and, as the old adage says, may our heels remain high, but our standards higher.