“Productivity” in a pandemic
My social media feeds are inundated with businesses promoting every possible way to be productive. Take an online gym class, you sloth! Learn a new language, only to recite the words back to your computer in a laughably bad attempt at an accent. Make food from scratch which requires you to go to the store for ingredients, even though that destroys the point of it being a quarantine activity!
I’ve tried each of those since quarantine began. I definitely bought into the hype, thinking the activities would cause a domino effect of efficiency each day. Sure, they were fine, but I wasn’t feeling ~fulfilled~ or ~enlightened~ like I hoped I’d be.
Then I thought that my extra free time could get some creative juices flowing. Many of my Branding of Me classmates have put out wonderfully well-written and insightful blogs. I wish I could say the same, but this week has been full of schoolwork and stress. It’s left little room for creative energy or new ideas.
I went into this blog with no real idea of what to write about. Yet as I’m sitting here, I can feel it dawning on me. What’s the point in comparing myself to what other people are doing right now? Why should I make myself feel bad because someone else is handling things well? I shouldn’t feel inferior after reading a great LinkedIn blog or seeing somebody post their 30-day workout challenges to Instagram. Whatever I’m doing, or not doing, in this time period should be fine by me.
It’s now more than ever that I have to remind myself not to get caught up in comparisons. I have my own talents and weaknesses just like every other human in this world. Some people find creative energy and prosper with some alone time. Some people struggle and begin to shut down. I’m finding myself in the latter category as the weeks go on, but I’m getting up every day. I’m calling my family. I’m going to work from 9:30 to 12 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I’m finding new TV shows and drawing in my mandala coloring book. I’m going on walks through new trails and winding up across the street from University Mall, only to think “whoa, I really walked that far?” And I’m proud of myself for finding out new things about myself over these past few weeks.
If you only internalize one thing I say throughout this blog, just do you. Do whatever’s going to make you feel in tune with yourself. Don’t only do the things you feel are “productive.” That word is so overrated. It implies that anything apart from cleaning your room, doing schoolwork and exercising is a waste of your time. That anything for your mind or soul is not as important. That if you’re not still a workaholic, you’re doing this whole thing wrong.
I don’t buy that, and you shouldn’t either. Many people’s mental states are taking a huge hit. It’s not enough to just push through each day, ignoring the feelings that arise. I’ve found it much more positive to self-reflect and understand the flow of emotions we feel each day. To, even if only for a moment, dissociate from the million-and-one stressors on our plates. At this point, nothing could be more valuable than being self-aware and spending our time on whatever matters to us.
So don’t ever let anyone make you feel bad for not being “productive.” True productivity is whatever makes you feel happy, accomplished and at one with yourself.
I just did my makeup for the first time in a month
I chose some orange eyeshadow from (my holy grail) Urban Decay’s Naked Heat palette.
Lately, I’ve been craving a sense of normalcy. I’m sure you all also have to some degree. It’s easy to feel like life is anything but ordinary in today’s time. Or maybe it’s too mundane, with the most riveting part of our days being daily walks and occasional mask-bearing trips to the grocery store. With that being said, I’m committed to making this indefinite time period where the world has effectively stopped feel as close to the status quo as possible. I sat down earlier today, contemplating the best social distancing activity that doesn’t include Ol’ Reliable Netflix or my new best friend Hulu.
Then, it occurred to me. I should do something I used to do before some mornings at work, seldom a day of class, and every night out without fail: my makeup.
Even though I don’t have any reason to doll myself up, why not? What’s stopping me? I’ve always enjoyed wearing makeup for many reasons (none of which involve impressing or deceiving men, might I add).
For one, the 20-or-so minutes I take to apply my makeup are therapeutic. It’s relaxing to sit down without distractions and sift through your cosmetic supply. I typically go about it without much rhyme or reason; whichever products I feel like applying at that moment are fine by me. Makeup is also a nice way to give yourself some creative license in an impermanent and malleable manner. You can explore and try new things, but you can always take it off if you’re not a fan. It allows room for exploration, but it’s not as high-stakes or long-lasting as other forms of expression like tattoos and new haircuts. Unless, of course, you’re into permanent makeup (we’re sticking with the stuff that wipes off with makeup wipes and micellar water for this blog, though).
A lot of people tell me they just aren’t good at doing their makeup. I believe that statement couldn’t be further from the truth. Makeup application is a learned skill upon which anybody can improve with practice. Nobody is born with perfect makeup application skills. I remember my middle school days where I first discovered makeup. I fiendishly applied two to three different types of mascara each day, coating each one onto my poor lashes multiple times. My family sometimes referred to me as Tammy Faye Bakker (looking back, I can’t blame them). As I got older, I refined my skills and decided that less is more for my personal style. However, there are definitely nights where I want to apply a full glam look and try new techniques. If you think that you can’t apply makeup, all you need is more practice! It’s easy to seek out help even though makeup counters are currently closed. The internet is chock full of free tutorials on YouTube, and the artists break it down step-by-step. If you can allow yourself time to practice and nail down some simple looks, you’ll emerge from quarantine looking flawless.
Makeup and music go hand-in-hand for me. I always play music as I’m applying my makeup. Plus, music still has my back during the trying times that have become my reality (shoutout to Apple Music). If you know me well, you know that I have a soft spot for 2000s-era hip hop and pop throwbacks. I’ve felt inexplicably nostalgic about the music of my late childhood for years. It makes me feel happy and carefree in a way that many other genres can’t replicate. Similarly, makeup makes me feel fun-spirited and creative. Both allow me to let go of my stressors and stay present in the current moment. I’m grateful for both because they add color and character to my life.
Today, I implore you to do one thing that makes you happy, even if it’s for no reason at all. You don’t need to justify to yourself why you aren’t cleaning your room, cooking an elaborate dinner or learning a new language during this quarantine. Relax for a minute and just be.
I’m signing out on this blog post by sharing the songs I listened to while I did my makeup today:
- Angel – Shaggy feat. Rayvon
- Say it Right – Nelly Furtado
- See You Again – Miley Cyrus
- Your Love – Nicki Minaj
- Dilemma – Nelly feat. Kelly Rowland
Taking ourselves less seriously is one of the best things we can do right now. This is evidenced by the day I got my braces on (don’t you love how the alternating pink wires perfectly complement my Hollister V-neck?)
The healing power of humor is palpable. It’s something that can alleviate our negative emotions and make us smile even when everything else looks bleak. Sometimes, it’s a way to cope with unfortunate events. From this apocalyptic era we’re currently in, a new and hilariously embarrassing social media trend has emerged: it’s ominously named “until tomorrow.”
This all started when I opened my Instagram feed a few nights ago. Somebody posted an embarrassing childhood picture of themselves. The caption said nothing but “until tomorrow.” Weird, I thought, but maybe this is an inside joke between them and their close friends. As I scrolled down I noticed the trend continuing. People who didn’t even know each other were posting less-than-flattering pictures of themselves, all of which were captioned with “until tomorrow.” A few minutes later, I got this DM from a member of my sorority.
“So… you liked my post so you have to post an embarrassing picture of yourself, for the caption you’re ONLY allowed to write ‘until tomorrow’ and you can only tag me.”
Ahh, that’s why so many people were posting their hilariously embarrassing moments! I took this challenge in stride. I dug through the myriad of childhood photos of myself on my mom’s Facebook page. Boy, did I hit the mother lode (ha, get it?) I was not the cutest kid, and I definitely wasn’t the cutest adolescent. Middle school was a particularly rough time in my looks department. Exhibit A: I remember my mom and Nana each curling one side of my hair. I wanted to look impeccable for my first middle school dance at my new school. All I have to say is wow.
I loved seeing my friends comment back, laughing at my Vera Bradley wristlet and my excessively voluminous hair, which my friend lovingly deemed “sausage curls.” I also took great joy in commenting on my friends’ pictures, belly laughing at the fashion and music trends back in the early 2010s.
This is what I love about humor. In this anxiety-filled time, one thing we need as a society is to take each other less seriously sometimes and let loose. Everyone’s “until tomorrow” posts were an amazing distraction from the dire straits the world is currently in. Additionally, we live in an era where social media is a filtered version of reality. People tend to post only the most flattering pictures of themselves, down to the angles, filters and (in some cases) photoshop. This trend is the antithesis of the obnoxiously perfect, seemingly flawless social media landscape. Everyone was able to laugh at themselves and poke fun of others, highlighting that what we once thought was an amazing outfit and pose is something we’d all cringe at years down the road. It’s refreshing to see people not holding themselves to the same unrealistically high social media standards as usual. I, for one, am a big fan of “until tomorrow” and hope humorous and self-aware trends like this last far into the future.
Some Things Never Change
The Age of Corona has been quite a tumultuous time. I could have never anticipated an end to my junior year that would play out in this way. It’s so easy to dwell on the negatives associated with social distancing and the lifestyle changes that happened in the blink of an eye. There are so many hardships that many have encountered from this pandemic that sent the world into a 180-degree tailspin. With that being said, my newfound free time has left me pondering my college, and even life, experiences thus far. In a time spattered with dizzying change and uncertainty, I want to point out the constants that have remained. Thinking about, and showing gratitude for, the unchanging elements of my life has helped me feel comforted and grounded.
For starters, one of my roommates is staying in Chapel Hill with me. Some of you may remember Kila as the calm, collected friend from the blog where I reflect on cutting my finger on a can of pinto beans (curse you, manual can opener!) Having her here helps monumentally with feeling less lonely. Just as always, she’s here to watch true crime documentaries with me and cook for both of us. Today she made turkey meatballs with homemade tzatziki sauce! I’m grateful to have her here; she makes this unprecedented time seem much less overwhelming.
My boyfriend, James, is also still in town. I feel horrible that the UNC seniors have had so many of their traditions and rewards taken out from under them. My heart breaks that he’s missing out on graduation and one last spring on this beautiful campus. Having him nearby means I can support him through this difficult time. He’s another person who always shows me love and appreciation, and that validation helps me in turn.
I can still communicate with my family via FaceTime and our iMessage group chat. My immediate family is pretty big; I have two parents and three siblings that are 24, 17 and 8 years old, respectively. They are all quarantining together under one roof in Charlotte. It’s nice to catch up with them and see how they’re doing at home. Just as I was walking to Target a few hours ago, I called my mom up to give her my daily update. In this time of anxiety and fear of the unknown, keeping in touch with my family helps me remember where I came from and feel connected to my roots.
Even though my apartment’s gym is closed, I still get in some exercise at home with my personal mini trampoline. Since high school, one of my favorite ways to sweat has been jumping on my trampoline and playing music. Weird, I know, but it works for me. I get to zone out and forget about everything else going on when I’m just jumping away. Especially during quarantine, it’s a great way to relax and clear my mind.
I’m still working at the front desk for my apartment building. For me, keeping a job is the best possible way to maintain a solid schedule. Additionally, it is a privilege for me to have money coming in at this time. Something that has been weighing heavily on my mind is the sheer number of people who have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus. I cannot fathom the stress and pressure that anyone in that situation is feeling. The fact that over 139,000 North Carolina residents have filed for unemployment is heartbreaking. I hope that every employer goes out of their way to show empathy and understanding toward their employees. It’s imperative now more than ever.
Social media is popping off more than ever. I always say that Twitter is at its peak when there’s a world crisis going on. Also, TikTok is currently full of families’ shenanigans as they quarantine together. These timely posts give people something to talk about and make memes that share society’s collective perspective on an issue. In my second blog for this week, I’m talking more about the power of humor. It’s a strong coping mechanism for me and many others I know. It reflects our mindset in a more lighthearted way. We’re currently being bombarded with negative news in the press, so it’s nice to see humor come out in people’s social media posts.
I certainly don’t blame anybody for having a pessimistic outlook on life’s state of affairs right now. It’s not a great time to be in the workforce or to be a college student. So many monumental events like weddings and graduations have been pushed away. There’s nothing wrong with going through the emotions of grief, anger and fear. Anyone who’s telling you otherwise needs a dose of reality. With that being said, thinking about the things in your life that haven’t changed can provide some peace of mind. Reflecting on COVID-19 has cemented this idea in my mind that I have always known to be true: the people in your life are far more important than the places or things.
Confessions of a Caffeine Connoisseur
Yep, that’s me.
I’ve just returned from a Dunkin run, so I feel especially prepared to write this love letter to caffeine. This is such a clichéd phrase, but I truly feel like it gets me through my day. Whenever I drink coffee, I go from sluggish to bright and energetic. There’s a big iced coffee craze now, but let me be clear – I do not discriminate caffeine sources whatsoever. I love hot coffee in the morning, especially when I wake up missing my warm blankets. Tea is a great option for when you just need a little somethin-somethin – I like it both hot and iced as well. Although I know it’s not the best stuff for me, I’ve grown up on diet soda and it’s a staple. Diet Coke from a fountain pairs great with any lunch. If you’re just dipping your toes into the world of caffeine or you’re a veteran who wants to explore your options, look no further for my recommendations at two popular coffee chains.
- If you need a blast of energy – I’m talking wired-to-where-you’re-talking-fast-and-possibly-shaking – I highly recommend the Nitro Cold Brew with Sweet Cream. This is not for the faint of heart, or stomach, but it’s delicious and full of what you need to get through your midterms.
- For somebody who wants some sweetness and a little boost of energy, a Nonfat Grande Vanilla Latte is my go-to. It’s delicious in hot or iced format, and the simple goodness of the vanilla flavor is exquisite. You just can’t go wrong with it.
- For those who don’t like coffee or don’t need a ton of caffeine to have a solid energy level: first, I’m jealous of you. Second, I highly recommend the Iced Blueberry Black Tea. Pardon my Generation Z language, but this drink slaps. You can get it with or without lemonade for a cool, citrusy flavor addition.
I’m certainly not a Starbucks snob. I like my coffee however I can get it, and Dunkin is no exception to the rule. One positive attribute separating Dunkin from its green mermaid competitor is the price point. The large coffee pictured above only cost $3 after tax. At Starbucks, this could easily cost $5.50 or more. Although I can taste the difference in quality (examples of which I’ve noted below), that won’t stop me.
- I like Dunkin’s Vanilla Iced Coffee, but here’s a quick PSA. If you’re ordering an iced coffee at Dunkin, ask for half the normal amount of cream, sugar and syrup. You’ll thank me later. This concoction is far too sickly sweet with the full amounts of sweet stuff. Even with half the normal sweetness, to say it still tastes like coffee would be an overstatement. Additionally, you need to ask for liquid sugar. From my understanding, Starbucks always uses liquid sugar. At Dunkin, they’ll give you the granulated stuff unless you ask otherwise. It’s not fun to punch a straw through your iced coffee and get a mouthful of gritty Splenda. Been there, done that.
- What could be better than coffee and chocolate? Mochas are a decadent way to ease yourself into coffee drinking, and they’re a great treat. Dunkin’ makes a great mocha, and I highly recommend drinking it hot to avoid any granulated sugar fiascos. It’s a nice pick-me-up when you need the warmth and comfort of hot chocolate but the zing of coffee.
I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m ripping into Dunkin too, too much. I really enjoy their coffee and appreciate the more affordable price point. Sure, it’s no Starbucks in my opinion, but it has its time and place.
Although I mentioned drinks from two popular coffee spots in this post, I highly recommend looking locally for the highest quality product possible. The Meantime is an excellent, student-run option for coffee and tea lovers on UNC’s campus. Supporting local businesses is always a great idea, especially when they provide something as universally great as caffeine. I implore you to look around your city for small coffee shops and try it out. You may find your new holy grail.
Midterm Week Survival Guide: The Treat Yourself Edition
This week has been a crazy one indeed. Between the first confirmed case of coronavirus in the next county over from me, the Super Tuesday madness and the midterms that have corroded every last one of my brain cells, I may be losing my marbles just a little bit.
That’s okay, though! A little stress is sometimes a good thing. I often can’t motivate myself to get mundane tasks done unless there’s a fire lit under me. Impending deadlines are usually the spark I need to chug some coffee and get moving. Yet in the chaos of midterm week, it’s so important to find time to just be. To find a hint of peace in the madness. (Yes, I know this is way easier said than done, but I’ll actually feel myself going delirious if I spend too much time studying. You know what they say, all work and no play makes Kristen a dull gal – and no fun to be around.)
I’m sure you’re all familiar with the typical de-stressing techniques. Take a bath with a glass of wine. That’s great and all, but I often don’t find the motivation to lay in lukewarm bathwater with some bottom-shelf red blend in hand when I’m already drowning (get it?) in work. My apartment also doesn’t have a bathtub – just a shower with a bench. NEXT.
Here is my list of realistic de-stressing techniques that have been helping me get through this tumultuous midterm week. Some of them only take a few minutes, so it’s easy to take a quick break during grind time.
- True crime: If you know me well or have ever logged into my Netflix account, Forensic Files stays at the front of my Keep Watching tab. I think following the high-stress situations involved in true crime cases helps alleviate me of my own stressors, even temporarily. Immersing myself in a conflict unconnected with what’s going on in my life can be a nice step away from my reality. Something about true crime manages to make me simultaneously intrigued and sad. I like a melancholy moment as much as the next Enneagram Type 4.
- Get the lo-fi hip hop study beats GOING. I’m listening to them as I write this post. A lot of people use music to study, but I get distracted in the lyrics and will start belting out the words. I also find that being around people is a huge distraction when I’m studying – I’ll start a random conversation or start laughing at nothing, and then it all goes downhill. What mitigates both of these issues? That’s right – lo-fi study beats. They mellow me out and help my blood pressure go down a bit when the stress piles high. Spotify and Apple Music both offer a great selection of playlists to help you mitigate the high-stress environment that studying can bring.
- Find a few minutes to caffeinate yourself. If I get writer’s block when writing papers, I find that taking a step away and trying some coffee or tea can help revitalize me. Here’s a real-world example: I’m going to Dunkin with my boyfriend in a few minutes before I start writing my second blog and researching for a midterm paper. My favorite way to treat myself during midterms week is by letting myself get all the coffee I need. Want some caffeine recommendations? I’ve got many in my next blog post.
When the going gets tough, treating yourself is of utmost importance. I know I’ll need to reread this blog over the next 36 hours when I’m frantically trying to finish the last of my midterm essays. I’ve been working hard over the past week to make all my academic ends meet, but there’s something validating about getting on your grind and turning in those papers and exams. In all reality, I’m privileged to be at a school that challenges me and pushes me past what I thought I was capable of. In reflecting on the semester at the halfway point, I’ve come to realize that writing these blogs is a nice break from the concrete and research-based assignments that I complete in other classes. It’s a time for me to just be.
NEDA for all, not just some
(Disclaimer: In this blog, I’ll be speaking about eating disorders. If this content may be disturbing to you, do not read any further.)
We are currently two days into National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA) Week. It is a time for people to celebrate recovery and uplift those who still battle their own demons day in and day out. Although we live in an era where terms like “body positivity” and “health at every size” are buzzwords, I believe there to be many misconceptions that should be more thoroughly highlighted during NEDA week.
- You can not see eating disorders. Read that sentence again. The media has pushed the standard image of someone with an eating disorder: it’s typically a rail-thin teenage girl. Because of this narrow idea of how eating disorders present themselves and who they impact, they often go undetected in people who have a “normal,” overweight or obese BMI. Even if they lose an alarming amount of weight in a short period of time, doctors will often congratulate them on their weight loss without questioning the process contributing to the change. You never know how much somebody may be struggling with their body image and their eating patterns. Physical appearance is not an indicator of whether someone has a healthy relationship with food. Let me use my experience as a personal example. When I was a junior in high school, my self-esteem was very low. I chalked it up to being overweight, so I became obsessed with losing weight and looking like my thinner peers. Although it got to a point where I was eating one small meal per day, my lowest documented weight was still technically overweight. I felt that, since I wasn’t even close to being underweight, I wasn’t “sick enough” or “good enough” at losing weight. This feeling created a sense of inferiority and was yet another blow to my confidence. It is impossible to know how someone eats or behaves around food by looking at their size. The notion that an eating disorder can be seen needs to change in order for as many people as possible to receive treatment and get on a path to recovery.
- Eating disorders fall under a wide umbrella. Anorexia is typically the first eating disorder to come to people’s minds, and most understand what it entails. However, there is a multitude of other eating disorders that greatly impact people’s relationship with food and with themselves. Debilitating conditions such as bulimia, binge eating disorder and orthorexia are not well understood in the cultural lexicon. It is important that we strive to understand these iterations of disordered eating better. We have to recognize that they exist and are detrimental to many people’s health and overall wellness. When anorexia is the only topic of conversation, it invalidates others’ struggles and excludes a wide range of people from the conversation. While anorexia is clearly a huge issue, we as a society need to learn more about other ways that people suffer from disordered eating patterns. These voices often go unheard, and validating everyone’s unique experience is a way to make NEDA week more holistic and beneficial for all of us.
- No two stories are the same. While many people think that eating disorders stem from a desire to be skinny, this is not always the case. I would argue that they often spur from a desire to control one aspect of life when everything else seems tumultuous and uncontrollable. Sometimes, it stems from a life-changing event. If you watch an episode of My 600 Pound Life, the sufferers often find that their eating patterns spiral out of control due to trauma. Many have had extremely upsetting life occurrences that cause them to cling to food as a reliable form of support and comfort. Although it is easy to judge someone in such a situation, the backstory behind their issues tend to be shockingly sad. It’s always important to have an empathetic attitude toward people who deal with food-related issues. You never know what someone is dealing with and how people cope with the lows of life.
I felt compelled to write this article at this time and place because of an incident that happened around this time last year. I was walking down Raleigh St. when a car of teenaged boys yelled out “Heyyy, thickums!” to me in a sarcastic tone. The cowards chuckled to one another as the car rolled by. I was stunned. I didn’t know how to react, except to hold in the tears until I got home. Then, I called my mom and explained what happened between sporadic breaths, sobbing to her about the cruelty others can so needlessly fling toward others. I think a lack of empathy is a deep-rooted societal issue. It especially comes into play when we are exposed to others’ intimate and internal problems. Although casting judgment upon others is often our gut instinct, I urge you to consciously combat that as much as possible. During a week where eating disorder awareness is being promoted, I want to especially prioritize showing love and care toward those around me. I challenge you to do the same. We need more compassion and care in this world, without a doubt. And one easy step of that process steps back to the age-old adage: never judge a book by its cover.
An Ode to a cappella
There are many aspects of my high school experience that I don’t exactly miss. I’m glad to have those long hours, inflexible schedules and catty cliques past me. However, there is an aspect of high school that I miss dearly: a cappella.
Participating in an all-girls a cappella group throughout high school was beneficial in so many ways. Singing without instruments and working as a team added so much joy to my life and a break from the monotonous routine of school. For this reason, it was on my radar when I started at UNC. The vast selection of groups on campus made it simple to seek out opportunities.
During my first semester at UNC, I signed up to audition for an all-girls group on campus. Incidentally enough, I caught strep throat just days before the audition.
In the fall of my sophomore year, I signed up for a co-ed group’s audition and chickened out before my audition time. At that point in my life, I was terrified of rejection. I’d heard horror stories of people auditioning for 5+ UNC a cappella groups, just to be turned away from each one.
Although my summer 2020 internship search has molded me into someone much more receptive to constructive criticism and a challenge, I was scared. Putting yourself out there and showing a group of judges (also your peers) a very personal aspect of yourself – your singing voice – only to be told it’s not good enough?? No way, sophomore year me said.
I was involved in other extracurriculars at school, so it was easy to push the notion of an A cappella group to the background of my mind. I saw A cappella groups advertising their auditions in the pit, and I didn’t think too much of it.
However, this article that I wrote for The Daily Tar Heel put a cappella back in my conscience. I interviewed members of two a cappella groups, The Tarpeggios and Tar Heel Voices. They both spoke to the friendship and sense of belonging their groups fostered. They emotionally spoke about their connection to music and how it has helped them become more confident and enthusiastic people.
After the interviews ended, I told them about how I participated in high school a cappella. They were excited, and some questioned whether I pursued it in college. I would wistfully tell them, “It just didn’t work out with my schedule,” but internally I knew it was the fear of getting turned away that kept me back.
Interviewing those a cappella members tugged at my heartstrings. I was taken back to my chorus instructor’s room at lunchtime and my days singing and making music with friends. Since nostalgia comes up in my blogs pretty often, here are all the things I love about a cappella and the ways it has benefitted my personality and work ethic.
- Community: My high school, like any other, had a set social hierarchy and cliques across the board. Yet when I came to Mrs. Tilson’s classroom to sing, those boundaries and frivolous “friend groups” went away. I made friends with people who I otherwise would’ve never gotten the opportunity to know on a deeper level. Just as our voices blended together, the social castes and cattiness melted away. The gaps that music can bridge are so beautiful and unique. It is an opportunity we don’t utilize often enough as humans.
- Confidence: Exposing one’s self to the vulnerability of singing in front of others is a strength. Many are unwilling to do it, worried about what others will think or whether they’ll mess up. So often, we put boundaries up around ourselves and shut the intimate aspects of our being off from the rest of the world. A cappella is an amazing way to break down that barrier. Even if you aren’t a soloist, giving your voice to others is a wonderful way to build self-esteem. I found an adrenaline rush from performing. Even if I had little mess-ups during a performance, it would be validating to hear a positive reception of the music. More importantly, I felt proud of myself for putting myself out there for others to hear. I found that a cappella gave me a voice – literally and figuratively – and enabled me to speak boldly and with self-assuredness.
- Cohesion: In a cappella and in life, being a team player is a critical skill. One of the most important aspects of singing in a group is learning to blend your voice with others. It’s imperative for the 10 or more voices in the group to sound like one gorgeous tone. You have to have a listening ear. Even in the middle of a performance, you have to constantly listen out and correct your pitch so that the whole group sounds melodious. If you aren’t a team player, you won’t blend with the group and will hinder the goal of sounding like one collective body. This translates perfectly to the professional sphere. In the workforce, you have to be a collaborator and a coachable employee in order to succeed. You have to work well with others and adjust to spontaneous changes as they come. My a cappella experience has prepared me for this important trait, and I am grateful for that opportunity.
I fervently believe music to be one of life’s greatest gifts. It transcends our worldly differences and the trials that we experience every day. I often find it to be a break from the boring and mundane, and there is a different song for every mood and moment. Even though I regret not being more directly involved with music in college, it’s something I will always love and pursue. I want to make more music throughout my life. I’m done shying away from it in fear that others won’t like my voice or the music I play. It’s an integral part of me.
Pi Phi Pride
When I was in middle and high school, I sneered at the idea of ever joining a sorority.
Why would I pay for my friends? Aren’t they just about meeting boys and going to parties? That’s so dumb. I’m definitely not your typical sorority girl.
I still maintain that I’m far from the stereotypical blonde, thin, social butterfly of a sorority girl. My aunt was in a sorority, but neither of my parents were involved in Greek life. For that reason, I had no clue what to expect when I went into sorority recruitment.
That was a tough week. It was a blow to my self-esteem, to say the least. It felt like house after house was rejecting me on the most personal level. I felt like something was fundamentally wrong with me. Am I not pretty enough? Not funny or smart enough?
I went with my gut and chose a house that made me feel like I was enough. Like my talents and personality and contributions would be not only accepted but celebrated.
I have been a proud member of Pi Beta Phi since my first semester of college. I’ve found it to be an environment where women challenge one another to be successful. I wanted to take this time to explain how my time in Pi Phi has benefitted by personal growth in many ways.
- Leadership potential: I am currently in my second leadership position in the sorority. I was a Philanthropy Public Relations and Marketing Assistant last year. This helped me spread the word about our philanthropy events to other chapters and campus groups. Additionally, it meant I could get involved in something greater than my organization itself. Sometimes, college can feel like an insular bubble of limited people and places. With philanthropy, you can actually make a difference in the local community and elsewhere. It is a great privilege to be in a sorority, and community service helps me to acknowledge that opportunity and mobilize it for positive change. In January, I became the Vice President of Recruitment. I am thrilled to help bring a member class of bright, dynamic women to my chapter. Additionally, these positions will give me post-graduation job experience and familiarity with executive action.
- Friends: My sorority has led me to close friends who I can confide in and go through the tumultuous years of college with. I want to give a special shout-out to my little who makes me incredibly proud every day. Even though she’s technically my little (meaning that I’m supposed to act as a mentor for her), she inspires and motivates me every day. I am ecstatic for her achievements in Kenan-Flagler Business School and her nonstop grind to accomplish her goals. I relish her accomplishments as if they were my own, and I still remember when she told me about her internship at JP Morgan this summer! I am so grateful to have met her through Pi Phi because I’m confident that we are kindred souls.
- The food: I am far from Gordon Ramsay. In fact, I could easily compete on Worst Cooks in America. If you need any proof, check out my other blog post for the week about how I sliced my finger on a can of pinto beans. The fact that Pi Phi serves 10 delicious meals per week helps me avoid needing to survive on Lean Cuisine and ramen noodles. Additionally, the extensive salad bar at every lunch helps me eat healthily and get some vegetables in my diet without buying paltry and expensive produce at the Franklin St. Target. Also, meals are a great bonding time. People from across different grades will sit together and ask about each other’s days. I have gotten to know many unexpected members better just from sitting with them at a meal. It reminds me of eating home-cooked meals and having dinner-table conversations with my family, which can be relaxing after a stressful day.
Although sororities often get a bad rap in pop culture and the media, my college life would be very different if it weren’t for Pi Phi. Is it the most important thing in my life? Absolutely not. But is it something that supplements my day-to-day life and brings me comfort? For sure. My sorority has brought me a lot of happy times and real-world leadership experience. More importantly, it’s also surrounded me with encouraging and validating women. As somebody in college and on their own for the first time, that is invaluable.
The most embarrassing injury ever
It was Sunday night, around 10 p.m. After 10 or 15 minutes of struggling, a can of pinto beans was almost completely open. The manual can opener was of no help, but I’d finagled it to where only a tiny bit of the can was still sealed.
The Uncle Ben’s rice was waiting patiently in the microwave, and the beans were driving me up a wall. Alright, I thought, let me just pop open the rest of the can so I can finally eat this rice and beans. Then the unthinkable happened.
Okay, it’s not unthinkable whatsoever. There’s definitely a high chance of this happening any time you’re dealing with sharp cans. I should’ve considered this possibility before my impulse and impatience kicked in.
As I celebrated my triumph over aluminum and a manual can opener, I looked down to see that the can of beans had actually beat me.
There was a fresh diagonal slice across the top of my middle finger. In favor of withholding the gnarliest details for the weaker stomachs out there, it was menacing.
I never get injured. How could this have happened? (In hindsight, prying open a jagged aluminum can with my bare hands wasn’t the best idea. Especially not when I’d been writing an essay all day and was rather delirious.)
I calmly let out the revelation. “Ohhhh, I just cut my finger open.”
My three roommates popped their heads out of their bedroom doors in tandem. They all stared at the cut with pained looks on their faces.
When I looked back down and saw the crime scene pouring out of my finger, I started shaking.
One of my roommates, Kila, immediately went into Mom mode.
“Put your hand under the cold water.”
I redirected my hand to the sink and started wincing at the first real sensation of pain coming from this cut. I think I was too far in shock that I’d injured myself in such a dumb way to feel the sting at first.
Kila went on, using her logical thought processes to deduce the next step. “Alright, urgent care’s closed by now, so we’re going to the ER.”
She helped wrap my finger in paper towels, but they quickly went from white to red. Shocked by the amount of damage a manual can opener is capable of, I threw on shoes with one hand and grabbed my health insurance card.
Kila took me in her car since I don’t have one on campus. We pulled up to the UNC Emergency Room in a matter of minutes since she’s a Chapel Hill native. She was narrating a time she broke her finger and was in that building for six hours.
She dropped me off and found parking. I walked in, and the receptionist had bug eyes at my hand. We’d wrapped it in paper towels and a Target plastic bag, so she likely thought I’d chopped the whole hand off or something crazy.
She asked me the normal questions like my birthday and then asked for my social security number. “The whole thing?” She nodded.
Boy, was I grateful for the college application period where I probably wrote that number down 30 times. That was the only way I would’ve known what it was.
I was then immediately redirected to a man who examined my hand. When I took off the bandages, I began hyperventilating again at its condition. He tried to distract me by asking what happened, and he sneered once I divulged that a can of pinto beans led to my demise.
After bandaging it, he sent me back to the general waiting area. We walked through the labyrinth of stretchers and medical supplies. As we kept going back, some people looked like they were in grave condition. Loved ones were by their side, looking stressed and sleep-deprived.
Once I was redirected to a cot, Kila and I decided to watch TikToks together and distract ourselves from our morbid environment.
We were situated across from a counter of employees working on computers. Remembering her favorite part of her last ER experience, Kila waited for an employee to make eye contact with her and then asked,
“Y’all still got a Wendy’s in here?”
They looked at each other sheepishly and then said no.
A woman pushing a portable computer came by to collect my health insurance and an ID. Kila had to sign the waivers on my behalf since my finger was out of commission. When asked for her relation to the patient, she signed “best friend.” We belly-laughed at the cheesiness of it with the ER employee.
One by one, I was seen by various people who analyzed the cut, decided to use adhesive instead of stitches, brought the cut back together and made a splint for me.
We got up to leave, and Kila reminded me to ask for an itemized receipt. (An aside: any time you go to the ER, ask for an itemized receipt. They don’t want you to see that they charge exorbitant prices for minimal things or services that weren’t actually completed (I’m talking $50 for a Tylenol pill kind of ridiculous.) If you ask for an itemized receipt, they’ll often remove some of the most frivolous charges, and you’ll end up with a less expensive bill than before.)
I paid a hefty co-pay, and we were finally out. Even though the story is far from a fairy tale, it got a happy ending in a sense. Kila got her Wendy’s after all. I bought her a spicy nugget meal on the way home for her troubles and help along the way.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, I wanted to explain why I love covers and share some of my favorites.
Two Valentine’s Days ago, Frank Ocean released his cover of Moon River. I remember listening to it with my boyfriend in his dorm room, and we were mesmerized. It brought out an emotional response from both of us, and I found myself unable to listen to it again without tearing up.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, I want to discuss some of my favorite musical covers. I find there to be something valuable in artists taking an already beloved song and putting a unique twist on it. Covers serve as a lens into artists’ musical inspirations and personal music taste. Additionally, they demonstrate the interconnectedness of music and the subtle links between genres. With all these reasons in mind, I want to share my favorite covers and why I enjoy them time and time again.
Moon River – Frank Ocean (2018)
This song has a long history, and many artists have sung their renditions of it. It was originated with Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (back in 1961), and the song’s lyrics speak of wanderlust and a desire to explore the world with somebody else. What I find most impressive is how Frank Ocean puts an almost sixty-year-old song in a modern and fresh context. He’s the perfect artist to do so; he’s no stranger to melancholy and nostalgia. It’s hard for me to pinpoint why this song almost always makes me cry. However, I think one reason may be that his voice sounds so authentic and raw. Even though this song is not his own, he makes it sound like the emotions are. The ethereal sound is another reason why I enjoy this song greatly and find myself returning to it on rainy days or late at night. An aside regarding Frank Ocean covers – he was supposed to be singing Willy Wonka classic Pure Imagination in this Chipotle commercial. Although Fiona Apple sounds beautiful in it, I can only help but wonder what Frank would have sounded like (probably otherworldly in the best possible way). Oh, what could have been. I guess I’m stuck with the Maroon 5 version.
Killing Me Softly With His Song – The Fugees (1996)
This Roberta Flack ’70s classic (which is technically a cover since Lori Lieberman first sang the song a year prior) was rejuvenated in the 90s with the immensely talented Lauryn Hill. My favorite aspect of this song is the vocal harmony present throughout. Hill’s layered vocals sound beautiful and create a sense of soul and conviction behind the words. I also love how the drumming beat present during the chorus evokes a sound that is so distinctly ’90s. The melody of the song is also an earworm, but I’m never mad when this song gets stuck in my head. I’m even humming it as I write this, and I can’t say I’m upset. This song stays on repeat, and I like walking in tandem with the beat on my way to class.
Blue Velvet – Lana Del Rey (2012)
This song was initially sung by Tony Bennett in 1951. I think something distinct about Lana’s version is that it’s not some insanely different version from the source material. Lana’s aesthetic and brand early in her career of mainstream popularity was something of a mid-twentieth-century woman. In her music, she seems both infatuated and disillusioned by her life’s course in many ways. I think this song fits into her discography excellently because it speaks of bygone beauty and nostalgia for a time where she felt truly alive. Lana is another artist who basks in melancholy – she thrives on music where she can reminisce on better days and face a quarter-life crisis in the meantime. Additionally, the deep capabilities of her voice help her to glide through a song traditionally performed by men. I love the musical outro to her version. The orchestra sounds simultaneously gorgeous and sad. The violin follows her lamentation, “I still can see the velvet through my tears,” as if it feels her pain. When I listen to this song, I feel it too.
There are dozens of other covers I enjoy, but these three came to mind as being impactful on my understanding of the power of musical inspiration. It’s always fun to see artists create something new out of a tried and true song. If you enjoy covers like I do, I’d recommend visiting the BBC Radio 1 Youtube Channel and watching their Live Lounge series. They bring along very popular artists who cover some unexpected songs. A fun one that I particularly enjoy for its charisma and character is Harry Styles’ cover of Juice by Lizzo. Enjoy!
Proud to be an ENFP
Why awareness of my Myers-Briggs result will help me in my professional career, and why you should know yours
If you have a computer, I’d venture to bet you’ve taken an online personality test before. I’ve been guilty of taking a Buzzfeed “Which flavor of hummus are you?” quiz or two hundred. Although I thoroughly enjoy these fun assessments, I don’t usually find that the results apply to me.
For example, I am a Sagittarius born on December 21st. Yet if I’d been born nine hours later, I would be a Capricorn. I don’t find myself to apply to many of the Sagittarius norms (adventure, risk-taking and an outdoorsy bent), but I chalk this up to being on the “cusp” between two signs. Even still, I’ve never seen a personality quiz that I totally believed in or felt was accurate – until now.
When I read the description of the ENFP personality type, I find it to be accurate to a T. I am energized and recharged by spending time with others as opposed to being alone (Extraverted). I prefer to focus on big-picture ideas, as too much attention to minute details can be draining to me (Intuitive). I tend to use my emotions and values to make big decisions instead of only logic and facts (Feeling). Finally, I thrive on being spontaneous and going with the flow as opposed to planning far into the future (Perceiving).
I have found that an in-depth assessment of my personality will help me in my career. On the one hand, it makes me more aware of my personal strengths. With a deep understanding of my strengths and unique abilities as an ENFP, I can use my positive qualities as an asset. Let me explain the ENFP’s strengths and how they tie into my post-graduation career plans.
- Curiosity: I love learning a little about everything. Soaking up random knowledge is one of my favorite things, be it through the Today I Learned subreddit or by watching a documentary about an unfamiliar event. My love for exploring new concepts means I can bring a new perspective to the workplace and expand others’ horizons of what’s possible. I also never shy away from trying out a new idea. Even if it doesn’t work out, there are new options to explore.
- Observance: I tend to be hyper-aware of my environment. I also find that reading the room and determining others’ moods and thoughts comes naturally. With this in mind, I can use the observance of my surroundings to present the right idea at the right time to the right person.
- Energy: As someone who will be in an entry-level position upon graduation, it’s imperative to be charismatic and have a positive attitude about your work. I can use my positive attitude and energy to put others in a better mood and motivate those around me. Having high morale is important to success in the professional realm, so this positivity will help me to stand out among my peers.
- Good communication skills: As cliched as the term is, I consider myself a “people person” through and through. I enjoy building a rapport with others through conversation, and having people open up to me feels validating. As an advertising and public relations professional, knowing your client well is of utmost importance. With strong communication abilities, I will learn what makes my client “tick” and figure out their needs and wants before others.
Even more important than knowing my strengths, recognizing and accommodating for any weaknesses is key for success as a working professional. In order to grow and develop, one must tackle their shortcomings head-on and execute a plan for improvement. I want to address some of the ENFP’s weaknesses and explain how I plan to combat these issues so that I can be the effective working woman I desire to be.
- Lower practical skills: While I love the brainstorming period of projects, I often get bored with the process of executing and administrating the task. One way that I’ve found effective in combatting this problem is to keep a written outline and agenda. For example, when I write essays, I keep a planner and will create checkmarks for each step of the process (deciding the topic, finding relevant research, writing an intro, body paragraphs, conclusion, review). Checking off each small box as I go is satisfying, and I’ve found that rewarding myself for the little things keeps me on task.
- Overthinking: Anyone who knows me well knows I stress. Myself. OUT. I believe this to come from a place of self-doubt. For this reason, I place a lot of pressure on myself and hold my work to high standards. The solution? Even though the ENFP knows how to stress and overthink themselves into oblivion, they also know how to relax. I love a good self-care moment where I can play some sudoku, watch a TLC reality show or just talk with my apartment-mates about their day. I’ve found that that separating my whole sense of self-worth from my performance in school and work is key to prevent overthinking.
- Emotional to a fault: When I was a little girl, any degree of criticism about anything I did or said would have me blubbering and sobbing from embarrassment. As I’ve grown, I’ve thankfully moved on from publicly reacting in that way. Even still, I’m gonna call a spade a spade here: it’s still hard for me to receive criticism, and I feel myself shrinking inside whenever I get a strong helping of tough love. I can react defensively. I sometimes start crying in my room as soon as the door shuts, thinking about my shortcomings. One way that I’ve started to mitigate this is to replace the negative self-talk (“how did you mess up this badly? That’s so embarrassing) to positive encouragement (“this person gave you this feedback because they want you to succeed and they value your contributions” ). Reframing the mentality around criticism has greatly mitigated the emotional gut reaction I feel, and I don’t find myself wanting to crumble after receiving it anymore. I’m going to get criticism and lots of it, and I have to internalize and accept that to succeed in the workforce.
I’ve found that an in-depth analysis of the ENFP’s strengths and weaknesses has helped mature me. It has led me to understand the positive qualities that can be used to my advantage and the negative qualities to mitigate, both of which will make me a strong asset to my post-graduation job. If you want to learn more about your personality type, I strongly recommend taking the Myers-Briggs test yourself. You may learn more than you anticipated.
After all this deep personality talk, I took a Buzzfeed quiz. If you’ve ever wondered which flower matches my personality, it’s a sunflower 🙂
Blog No. 4: Don’t you regret having a boyfriend all throughout college?
Nope. And here’s why.
Since I posted some childhood pics of me last week, I figured posting one of my boyfriend as a little one was only fitting.
Today is my boyfriend’s 22nd birthday. He is a senior at UNC, and I am a junior. We began dating soon after I started college, and I have gotten a lot of skeptical looks from people after explaining this.
“Why would you spend the most independent years of your life with a boyfriend?”
“What’s the fun in being taken all through college?”
“Don’t you need time to learn about yourself?”
I guess now is a good time to address these questions. I totally get where these concerns are coming from. Nobody wants a co-dependent relationship bogging down a time where it’s ideal to be hanging out with friends and celebrating your first taste of independence. But I want to explain why my college relationship has helped me and contributed to my personal growth and maturity.
- I have a constant support system. College, while fun for sure, can be overwhelmingly stressful at times. While I certainly have friends who I go to in times of need, my boyfriend is also a great person to talk to. The fact that he’s a year older than me in school means that he has some perspective that I don’t, and this especially came to play during my first year at UNC.
- I never have to worry about a cocktail date for my sorority’s functions. This sounds like a dumb, superficial reason, but it has merit. While my single friends stress about finding a last-minute date by awkwardly asking a classmate from a group project or surfing Tinder until carpal tunnel ensues, I know my boyfriend is down to go with me.
- He understands exactly how to make me feel better. He’s adept at picking up on my mood, even if I’m not being particularly talkative. This is nice when I feel like I have a million things going on. He’s also a nice balance to my often over-the-top personally since he generally keeps things even-keel.
- I have a built-in friend to help me navigate the Triangle area. Since he’s originally from Durham, he’s taken me to a lot of fun places that I would’ve never known existed had my Charlottean self not had him around. From Jordan Lake to Parker and Otis, it’s been fun to have someone expand my horizons and show me around.
- I’ve been introduced to a whole new group of friends. In our two-and-a-half years of dating, I’ve come to call his friends mine. They’re awesome people, and it’s crazy to think I never would’ve met them had I been single this whole time. I have some fond memories with them, and it’s kinda fun to be the baby of a group.
Even though I’m trying to keep this post minimally sappy, my boyfriend has contributed to some of my favorite memories of my time at UNC. He has given me an abundant amount of care, time and understanding, and I will always be grateful for his presence in what can be a volatile four years. He’s awesome. Happy birthday, James 🙂
Blog No. 3: The Cost to be a “Girl Boss”: My Take on MLMs
It all started with a sickly-sweet Instagram DM. It was full of emojis and superficial flattery, but the sender (who I did not know) ultimately asked if I was interested in detox “shakes” and “body wraps.” I was certainly intrigued, but I immediately got an ominous and fishy air around the message.
Looking through her profile, I saw that every post was saturated with weight loss teas and motivational graphics about being your own “girl boss.” But why would anyone with a successful start-up be DMing random girls and guilt-tripping them into buying weight loss products? I felt curious, so I looked up It Works!, the name plastered through each post.
Boy, did I fall down a rabbit hole.
It was like a whole world of secrecy was opened up to me. I now finally understood why some Instagram and Facebook posters had otherworldly obsessions with “their own” company. I understood why they claimed to be working so much less than a 9 to 5, yet their job consumed their entire identity and social media presence.
The realm of Multi-Level Marketing, or MLMs as I will refer to them from here on out, sucked me in. I became fascinated with people’s stories of hope and inspiration and how the MLM left them burnt out, friendless and in debt – and in one harrowing case I read, divorced.
I couldn’t believe that so many people continue to fall for the scheme. I don’t mean this to belittle or mock people involved in them; I mean this to condemn the immense greed and brainwashing that MLM leadership has employed for decades.
Some of my friends and family have heard me rant about MLMs before, and they don’t get it. They can’t understand why I passionately detest them. Why do I get so emotionally invested? Allow me to use this post to explain the strong feelings I harbor against MLMs.
First, I will explain why they are a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad business model.
The AARP conducted a study on the financial success rates of people involved in MLMs. They found that 47% of those who enter MLMs lose money from their involvement, and 27% end up breaking even. This is because the MLM participant is required to purchase hefty amounts of stock to sell.
They end up making a commission, but even more money goes toward the person who recruited them into the MLM (their “upline”). This very business model is why they have been lovingly referred to as pyramid schemes. The recruitment-based and funneled commission model is also why many people cannot advance in the company and lose money in the end.
How, might you ask, do MLMs get away with business models eerily similar to pyramid schemes? Although the business model is recruitment-based, many companies use the technicality that selling a product makes it “not a pyramid scheme.”
However, a number of MLMs have been involved in class-action lawsuits for being pyramid schemes in sheep’s clothes.
Last April, Young Living Essential Oils was caught in such a lawsuit. The lawsuit claims that the company is deceitful in multiple ways. For one, the company is operating as an illegal scheme due to its recruitment-reliant business model.
Additionally, the lawsuit has exposed that the MLM charges exorbitant amounts of money to join the scheme and purchase starter kits to then sell for commission. In 2016, the average loss from joining Young Living was $1,175 – do you need any more proof that these aren’t a good idea??
Another example comes from 2018, when Rodan + Fields (which you may know from developing ProActiv) was sued for not disclosing a chemical that caused “change in iris color, eyelid drooping, itchy eyes, eye infections and vision impairment.” – exactly what I want around my delicate eye area!
More than losing money, many have lost friends and loved ones from their MLM involvement. One aspect that speaks even more to the predatory nature of MLMs is their insistence on seeing every new friendship as the opportunity to make a sale.
This ex-MLMer said that she was told to “cut out everyone who didn’t buy our products or participate in our ‘downline’, even family.” She lost over $100,000 during her 10-year participation in the company.
Another ex-MLM participant said that, when her mother fell ill to cancer, she was instructed to use that information as a sales ploy. She even had other women in the company using her story and pretending it to be theirs in order to score a sale!
MLMs have also gotten participants so brainwashed that they’ve contributed to divorce. This Reddit user said her husband chose his participation in Amway over their marriage. In their 20s, their minimal budget was completely going to expensive starter kits and stock for him to sell, causing them to sink into debt. He pressured her to “prospect” sales for him during her long commute to post-grad studies. When she finally left, he said, “Don’t blame Amway for this! Amway is just a vehicle for success!” – what a heartfelt, emotional statement straight from their pamphlet.
The desperation employed by MLMs is unethical at best and disgustingly insensitive at worst. I firmly believe that these companies, which often skate around the law in order to deceive as many people as possible, should be stopped entirely. If you want any more information on how these companies operate or more personal stories from ex-MLMers, I recommend visiting the anti-MLM subreddit. There are many resources that describe the morally decrepit MLM business model much better than I could, but I want people to be aware of these companies.
If you ever get an Instagram DM or Facebook message that seems eerily similar to the one I received, I also recommend visiting isthisanmlm.com to see whether the company is one.
So now, when people ask me why I feel so passionately about MLMs, I can explain that they are predatory, deceitful and a TERRIBLE idea. They are harmful and have, quite literally, ruined lives. If I were you, I wouldn’t touch one with a thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot pole.
Blog No. 2: Why I still enjoy watching Spongebob
Only the first three seasons, of course.
I often have people ask, “Why do you still like Spongebob?”
“Isn’t that a kids’ show?”
“My mom said I couldn’t watch it as a kid because it rots your brain.”
Well, this rotten-brained 21-year-old has a lot to say about what is, in my humble opinion, the best cartoon ever. Even still, I often find it hard to describe why I still find so much enjoyment from its lighthearted humor. I want to take the time to brainstorm so that I have a solid answer the next time somebody asks me that question.
- It’s a prime source of nostalgia. I remember having a Spongebob-themed eighth birthday party, and it. was. LIT. We watched the first Spongebob movie. I wore Spongebob pajamas and made up a dance to Lose Control by Missy Elliott, forcing my friends and mom to watch me. The show has inspired an innocent joy in me since I was young. I can always rely on it to relax and reminisce on the elementary school days when I had no real stressors – except deciding which of my older brother’s friends I would have a crush on next.
- I still find the early seasons genuinely funny to this day. A few weeks ago, I was watching the show with two roommates. They watched it occasionally as a kid, but they weren’t as immersed as I was. Even still, they were belly laughing at the antics and the jokes that went over their heads back in the day. So much better than Bachelor Monday, right?
- The only primary female character is more intelligent and well-rounded than the rest of the cast combined. Sandy Cheeks is into so many different things, and she always rises to the occasion. She’s a scientist who built a rocket (that traveled from the bottom of the ocean to the moon!) She’s a karate enthusiast who can chop up Krabby Patties with just her hands. She lifts weights with Larry the Lobster like it’s nothing, throwing anchors farther than him and the other gym rats. Plus, I don’t think her character was pigeonholed in the same way that many male writers archetype their female characters (well, this did happen in the later seasons, but I’m talking about the Spongebob golden age here). She’s an independent woman through and through!
- The current popularity of Spongebob memes links together an entire generation of people who grew up with this show. I would consider it to still be a canonical piece of American pop culture. Although there were so many other cartoons out at the time, something about this one was exceptionally memorable for us. It’s a collective reflection of our nostalgia, our happy times, our childhood innocence. That’s a powerful thing, and my ability to bond over this show and its jokes with people my age is a nice reminder that we’re not all so different from one another after all.
Ultimately, I still haven’t pinpointed a concise answer for why I enjoy Spongebob so much. When people ask me this question in the future, I’m just going to answer, “Because it makes me happy.” And for whatever your Spongebob is, your hobby, even your guilty pleasure, I think you should use that answer too. If it brings you joy, what more does anyone need to know?
^me trying to figure out when I can start ranting about random things
on my blog. I guess I just did. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Blog No. 1: Let’s Get This Party Started
My name is Kristen Danielle Jones, and one thing that I love to embrace is a good challenge. As a student in Gary Kayye’s Branding of Me class, I’m being tasked with a semester-long one. I will be creating two blog posts per week, and they can be about anything I please.
Although I love writing, this is a daunting endeavor. Many of my classmates have clear-cut interests and themes for their blog, and their voice and identity exude through their writing. I’m creative-minded, but my interests don’t lie in one designated place. I could talk for hours about music, 2000s pop culture or reality TV – in no particular order. I also love ranting about pretty much anything, and I take to debate like a moth to a flame. With all this in mind, I’m still trying to figure out my niche.
While I decide how to hone my passions for these blog posts, allow me to reminisce on my childhood. For many people, this time establishes the foundation of their personality and central identity. There’s a chance these moments could frame this semester of unfiltered, unapologetic writing.
- I’ve always considered myself to be somewhat of a black sheep. While my siblings are athletically gifted, I’ve been musically minded since childhood. I attribute that to my regular attendance in Kindermusik – props to my mom for enrolling me as a little girl 🙂
- I always kept a diary, and I was entertained to say the least when looking back at one recently. Seven-year-old me lamented the “vichious” ants at my picnic table one summer day. For this reason, I came to UNC wanting to be an English or reporting major. One writing and reporting course convinced me otherwise. I changed to the advertising and public relations track and have never looked back.
- Being my older brother’s copycat cemented a lot of my interests as a kid – Guitar Hero III, T-Pain, etc.
- I was a huge spelling bee nerd in elementary and middle school. I still remember traveling to my rival school for a tournament in seventh grade only to be eliminated for misspelling the word dearth as “dirth.” The word that came next? Manicure. It stills haunts me to this day.
- I’ve tried many sports (softball, basketball, soccer, swimming) – and have failed catastrophically in each one. I was definitely only there for the post-game Caprisuns and Goldfish. For proof, check out my roster pic for the Vestavia Hills Nuggets. You can see the unbridled excitement on my face.
Although I’m still not sure where this blog will take me, I’m excited to be sharing my thoughts, rants and embarrassing childhood pictures with you along the way.