2018 | The Good, Bad, & Ugly

About one month ago I sat on my bed, eager to write a “Christmas Letter” detailing my year. This clearly slipped through the cracks. My bad. To be fair, I try my best to come up with a main idea for each post I write as to not embarrass my previous English teachers, but I struggled to think of a point to make readers reflect on their own years. Unable to come up with any cohesive storyline, I abandoned the post until today. Here’s to a selfish “my year in review” which is sure to entertain. This past year was full of triumphs, setbacks, and one overarching theme that finally became evident with only a few days left to spare: gratefulness.

***

2018 was another year of growth for me, much as I’m sure it was for you. I began dating, got two (two!) new jobs, moved to Boston from Providence, took the LSAT, and fell in love with Scotland. There were plenty of tears. Some came streaming down my face as I uncontrollably sobbed, wondering if the pain would ever subside. But others, and these are my favorite, came from beautiful moments of unadulterated happiness- such as one of my best friends getting engaged this past September.

Essentially, it’d be silly to characterize the year as either “good” or “bad”. I don’t feel like a year is quantifiable in such terms. Instead I like to rely on more ambiguous I-have-a-liberal-arts-degree questions like What have I learned? Have I loved and been loved? Am I trying to better myself? What makes me happy and why? As we all know, the end of the year is typically a time for reflection, review, and resolutions.

So let’s start with the highlight review reel, the sometimes superficial fluff I’d include in a Christmas letter that’ll lead you to believe my life is flawless, darling:

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Mount Adams from the Madison Spring Hut in New Hampshire this summer.

I welcomed in the New Year surrounded by friends unlike the previous year and will be in one of these friend’s weddings this May. Photography became my go-to hobby on weekends and I continued to travel New England in search of places to utilize my Canon T5i Rebel’s tripod, having graduated from leaning my iPhone precariously against inanimate objects with a self timer. I secured a new full-time job in a high rise in the heart of downtown Boston. Scotland and London blew my mind in April. I bagged a few additional peaks in the White Mountains this summer and have now summited seven of New Hampshire’s ten highest 40,000 footers, some multiple times, most alone. This September I juggled studying for the LSAT with a full-time job and part-time volleyball coaching gig at Suffolk University. I turned twenty-six this November.

As we all know, pleasure accompanies pain. It’s how we can distinguish feeling between the two. Though 2018 was an overall productive year for me, it was only this way because pain often drove me to make difficult, but necessary choices.

Dating has not come easily to me. I’ve written about this previously, but struggling with your mental health while trying to let another person into your life can be a challenge (it’s a challenge even without a mental health disorder!). I began the year by making myself miserable over a guy who clearly only wanted a casual hookup. I self harmed, closed myself off to friends, and questioned my value as a human being. After some deliberation, I pushed myself to continue dating. This summer I was delighted when I was asked out on a second date with a guy I felt I had a connection with. After a somewhat turbulent, yet sometimes wonderful seven months, the relationship ended amicably. As I sat on my bed crying, I felt a million emotions at once, but self-harm and suicide never once crossed my mind. I felt both relieved and anguish in a beautiful, tragic kind of way, but above anything, grateful. I learned so much through my heartbreak. I’d grown and came to terms with what I consider to be things I am inflexible about in a relationship. I will not beg someone to love me as I have in the past. My self-worth is not determined by anyone other than myself.

Other than dating, the latter half of my year largely revolved around studying for the LSAT (Law School Admission Test). Working as a paralegal over the past year has not satiated my appetite for the legal field, so after many heart-to-hearts with female attorneys I had worked and work with, I signed up to take the September LSAT in August. I’d never considered myself someone who could even dream of being a lawyer, so I kept the fact I was studying for the test quiet for a few weeks until my anxiety really kicked in. Was I too stupid to do well on the test? Did I even have enough time to study? What would people think of me if I didn’t get into a good school? The “what ifs” began making me physically sick, negatively impacting my health as the test approached. I constantly felt nauseous and sick and ended up losing fifteen pounds, but not in a way I was proud of. Finally, test day came and I completely bombed the LSAT. Again, my self-worth came into question.  Was I a piece of sh*t for not scoring what my brother had? How could I have thought this profession was for me?

One of the blessings of working around attorneys is that it forced me to begin thinking more critically and logically. So while faced with a choice, I did what I believed to be necessary for my success. I swallowed my pride and paid half a month’s paycheck to sign up for a class leading up to the next test in January. After busting my ass this winter, I scored three points higher on the midpoint test than I did on the September test. I consider this a small victory. No matter what happens, I know my self-worth is not contingent on a test that asks me questions like, “Where can Polly sit if she can’t sit next to Jeff and Nora?”. CRAZY, right?

In addition to getting comfortable with the idea and practice of dating, I have also come to terms with aspects of my past that I’ve buried for some time. Interpersonal, romantic relationships had been a violent, emotional struggle for me while growing up. I grew up believing I was “sick” and “unnatural” because I was attracted to both sexes. I beat myself up and spent a large majority of my highschool career and a few years in college terrified someone would find this out. After thirteen years (yes, I knew as early as 7th grade), I finally began identifying myself as pansexual if asked. I no longer feel frightened or disgusted by something that I consider naturally a part of me and who I’ve always been. I’ve never felt the need to proclaim this or make a statement about it, but my point is that 2018 was the first year I am not afraid to admit it. I have nothing to apologize for. For this realization, I am immensely grateful.

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Picture Cred: Amanda Dettmann

While visiting my sister this Christmas, I walked into her room to get a grip on the new condo she now inhabited (my parents moved to Georgia this fall leaving Alli in Wisconsin to finish up her master’s). I sat on her bed slowly, wrapped in a warm towel, still sopping wet from the shower. As tendrils of water from my hair snaked down my back, a small handwritten note caught my eye.

I am grateful for my struggle because without it I wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength.

If you know my sister, Alli, you know she lives for Pinterest quotes. If you know me, you know I live to roast Alli about living for Pinterest quotes. Somehow, this quote didn’t strike me as something to make fun of.

I’m still kind of unsure of my strengths in life, but I know 2018 has pushed me to my limits. I’ve felt emotions I was unaware I could even feel until this year. Some came from simply gazing upon peaks of summits shrouded in cloud, others from allowing myself to become intimately vulnerable with another human being. It’s been a year of pain, bliss, stress, joy, and everything in between. For all these things, I am grateful because it’s allowed me to live my life to the fullest. We call can’t be sure we will be granted another trip around the sun, but we sure as sh*t can be sure of making what we can of the life that was given to us.

Here’s to 2019!

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When one member of the squad gets engaged, we all get engaged.
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Preliminary Dating Profile: One Hundo P Real

Any time I visit my dear old grandparents, they make it a point to ask how I’m doing:

“Oh, we didn’t think we’d make it this far. We might go any day now…it’s nice you called. How is the weather? Do you like your job?”

Sprinkled amongst their many questions is always one that always serves as a special treat:

“Are you meeting any nice men out there?”

While it’s definitely thrilling enough having them grill my sister about her boyfriend (whom they are under the impression was born in Nigeria and whose name has been American-Depression-Era-icized as “Timmy” instead of Temi), I sometimes get the pleasure of explaining to my 88-year-old grandparents that no, they will not live to see the day I date anyone and get married anywhere other than a Las Vegas church by Elvis while three times over the legal limit.

My grandparents are tough folks, having grown up in the Depression and all, so they put on their bravest faces, ignore the shock, and try to keep their teeth in their mouths.

Bless their souls, I love them to death.

In spite of them almost certainly believing I am a closet lesbian, I have decided to put myself out there…starting now. Here’s a preliminary start to my dating profile which will be up within the next month. I’m not joking.

This will be my Profile Pic.

Name: Kristin Elizabeth Hovie III*

*Not the III

Short Blurb on Me: I spent most of my life fighting with my father (who didn’t understand my curiosity about the human world) and this curvalicious octopus b*tch (who wanted my voice to seduce my hot love interest). My best friends include a neurotic crab who composes music and Flounder, who is basically my day one hoe. Oh wait…that’s The Little Mermaid…

Hometown: Bumblef*ck, Wisconsin

Currently: Laying in a ditch contemplating the meaning of life.

Birthday: November 9th

Education: BA in English, elementary tap dancing.

Occupation: Standing in line for food at soup kitchens due to said Bachelor’s Degree.

Height: Chances are I can probably dunk on yo ass and hit a three point fade away jumper on you in a game of one-on-one. If you like ya shawties…shawt…I am very not that.

Body Type: A cross between a sock monkey and an 80-year-old amateur adult film star. I will not send you anything other than head-shot photos because I want to troll you so hard on date #1. I just might be a transvestite.

Sexual Orientation: I identify strongly with a potato.

Ethnicity: White as f*ck.

Thing I am Most Passionate About: Taco Bell, a good whiskey Old Fashioned, and shaking my ass on the hood of Whitesnake’s car

Religion: The one with human sacrifices every Tuesday night.

Skills/Rewards:

  • Thumbs Up from mom for cleaning up dog poop on front lawn
  • Gold Star for mastering “Mississippi Hot Dog” on the violin
  • Pat On The Back from dad for being able to tell the difference between a Phillips and Straight Edge screwdriver
  • $10 from Grandpa for power washing front porch
  • Insurmountable Feelings of Pride from Self for backing a trailer 
  • Pokemaster (all badges, beat Professor Oak’s nephew no prob)
  • Killed a Basilisk and saved Hogwarts on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (for PS2) in roughly eight hours
  • Powers: Fireblast (but only five times per battle or I get worn out), Bubbleblast, Scratch, and Whine
  • Participation Ribbon for 13th place at Summer Fun Run of 2004

Hobbies include chilling.

Things Overheard about Kristin:

    • “I just don’t understand how she finds shoes large enough for her feet…” -Kristin’s prom date Senior year of High School after being stepped on several times
    • “I was always very concerned about her…in fifth grade she would crawl around on the ground at recess by herself and insist that others call her ‘Blackstar’ or something like that. The janitor had to rip down half the forts she made along the fence back in ‘04.” -Kristin’s 5th Grade Teacher
    • “Kristin who?” -Kristin’s 7th Grade Crush
    • “Helluv an ass.” -Homeless man in New York City

Hobbies:

  • Catching mad air off my front curb with my Razr scooter
  • Cyberbullying children 
  • Tweeting slam poetry at McDonald’s
  • Working on my beer pong wrist flick while in public places
  • Probably making you a sandwich

Quotes:

  • “Positive self talk is hard when you’re working with an idiot.” -Me

This is me knowing how to have a good time.

If Interested:

  • Contact me at this phone number (920-555-5555). It’s my dad’s cell, he’ll want to conduct a thorough screening of your dating profile and will set up an appointment/date if you fit the following qualifications:
    • Nobel Peace Prize recipient
    • Have owned or currently own a Mustang GT
    • and Like fart jokes

To Date or Not To Date, or In My Case: I Have Yet To Do So But I’m Working On It, Mom and Dad Plz Don’t Worry

 

I remember sitting in my 7th grade science class, absent-mindedly chewing the end of my number two Ticonderoga pencil while my teacher droned on about cell tissues when it suddenly occurred to me:

Eh mah gawd. I wonder what my future husband is doing right now, I thought self indulgently as I scribbled my self-given nickname across my notebook’s lined paper.

Ace. Ace. ACE. Ace with a little star at the end. Scribble scribble scribble.

My dad and mom let me get ACE on the back of my soccer jersey last summer because I scored a goal on another team this one time. I vaguely recall scoring the goal, only because I wasn’t sure how to celebrate at the time. So naturally, I did what any other child raised by hard core Bon Jovi fans did- held my middle and ring fingers down with my thumb, raised my hands above my head and yelled, “rock on, dudettes”.

Yeah. I got first choice of frozen grapes during half time.

“So this little guy here is called the mitochondria,” my teacher repeated as he squeaked his dry erase marker across the whiteboard in front of the class. “Anyone heard of this before?”

He looked around hopefully.

I rolled my eyes. Like hell-ooo? Didn’t everyone know it was that weird bean shaped thing? I went back to daydreaming.

Would he have blue eyes? Brown hair, maybe? Perhaps he was kinda like that one dude in the Meg Cabot book I just finished. Drrreamy! ❤

I continued to doodle stars around all the “Ace”s I’d scrawled across my notebook page. I looked to see if my teacher was paying attention to my desk in the back of the room. Slowly, I reached into my backpack until my hand brushed against the hard outer cover of my diary. The mitochondria could wait. I had to figure out how many days I’d liked my crushes for.

There were currently three of them I was keeping tallies on; Mason, Alex, and Kyle.

Varying in height, hair color, and age, all three only shared two things in common:

they were white as f*ck and didn’t know I existed (Wisconsin probs, everyone is varying degrees of fourth generation German or Scandinavian).

I flipped quietly through my diary’s crisp pages and huddled over my desk, shooting warning glances at my desk neighbor that clearly meant back awf.

By warning glances, I really mean it probably looked like I was trying hard not to sh*t my pants while painfully grimacing at poor Jenny Parkins only three feet to my right.

This was pre-Lactaid, but still.

December 11th, 2005 8:45pm, I thought. No…December 18th, 2005 7:47pm…no…yes! Finally! December 22nd, 2005 3:56pm!

“Alas!” I exclaimed as I stroked my beard.

Christmas break is almost here. Volleyball wasn’t bad except I gotta gripe man. The score thing after sucked. I had this dream last night though where (ew!!! Lol!!!!) I made out with Alex. I woke up french kissing my pillow…LOL [YUCK!!!]. It’s been 264 days or basically 8 monthes & 22 daze since I first started like him he’s is so hott ALLI IS COMING UP THE STAIRS…wait she’s gone now. But yeah. Mason wuz my homeboy for like…8 monthes and 14 daze. Lol. Anyway, heart u! Ace~

*Yes that is a real entry*

But hmmm. I just saw Alex in the hall today before third period and I think he noticed me, I thought to myself as I slowly closed my diary and shoved it into my backpack. I mean, I’d dropped my water bottle and caused a scene where my friend ended up tearing her pants against the lockers, but still?

It had been 8 monthes, with an “es”. GASP! That was longer than Mason but shorter than Kyle (little punk only lasted 246 days).

Well, fast forward ten years and Mason now has a cleft palate, Alex is somewhere off in Slovenia, and Kyle is living in his parents’ basement playing video games. It’s now been over a decade since I’ve had a crush on these three pubescent, zitty, little boys and I have yet to call them up and tell them I liked them each for two hundred and some odd days back in middle school. I’ve never told them, quite honestly, and I don’t think I ever will. I’d rather just talk sh*t about them on a low volume blog post via my WordPress site instead.

So what’s the point?

I’ve been on Earth for twenty-three years, eight months, and some odd days and I still get those fleeting thoughts wondering what my future husband is doing at this given moment. I used to think to myself, oh golly gee, I wonder what I’ll be doing with my boyfriend in like, ten years or twenty years from now maybe we’ll be doing brunch somewhere together somewhere in a big city like Green Bay, Wisconsin. BUT, girls in middle school, high school, college, and even now:

You don’t need to be defined by whether you date or not. Either way, you’re much more than who you’ve dated, who you will date, or who you’re currently dating.

But anyway, back to our feature presentation, as we’ve just left Kristin as a little hopeful, wonder-stricken teen.

Young Kristin was quite the card, she was quite the little dreamer! I pictured myself floating gracefully across the gum strewn sidewalks with my Kohl’s clogs, boyfriend in tow twelve years from now. Great things were in store! My family would be so proud!

Well, high school came, handed me braces, and kicked me in the groin a little but I still persevered past the person my freshman yearbook photo portrayed me to be (lol, yikez). But still, no boyfriend. Maybe what I needed was a guy who was older than me, more mature than the horndogs who I was growing up with!

God bless, I was able to find that much-wanted boyfriend through volleyball.

Well, “he” being volleyball itself. Lol! ❤

Like any other hairy-armpitted, arm shaving, sixteen-year-old virgin, my parents had me join a year-round sport in hopes I’d find some friends to distract me from my teenage angst about the impending Iraqi War. It was either that or do crystal meth in my basement with my cool but kind of creepy next door neighbor.

Volleyball it was!

Countless hours later, I emerged as a semi-human, semi-lesbian looking weirdo my senior year. So what if the only fling I’d had was with another girl who now denied everything? I had a ❤ BOY ❤ taking me to both Homecoming and Prom! How blissfully “normal”!

After texting back and forth, exchanging flirtatious winky faces and accidental T9 auto-corrects from my totally sick Motorolla Razr, I found the whole “talking to a boy” thing to be a lot of pressure. I had too many volleyballs to hit, too many digs to be dug, too many long, romantic car rides to practice an hour and a half away. I couldn’t juggle talking to a boy as well! The dream of seeing myself walking down the street with a boyfriend seemed to fade slightly as I’d tie my shoes before practice after school almost every day.

This led me to college where I was delighted to see more human boys all over the place. By golly, some of them seemed to like me too! I had shed my braces, dyed my hair a few times, learned some time management skills, and wore horribly short dresses to bars that I could’ve purchased for my kid sister. This would get me that long-awaited boyfriend! My friends around me seemed to find humans they liked, and don’t get me wrong, I did too, but nothing seemed to work out beyond the whole “well we both think each other are totes hawt” deal.

So the big question Oprah definitely has for me, “where are you now, Kristin?”

I’m here. I’ve never had a boyfriend, but somehow I’m alive, by golly! If I can do it, you can too! I will however, reserve the right to b*tch to my friends about this any time they unwillingly lend an ear.

I must confess, it’s hard to see all these young women around me worrying about the future status of their love life like I used to back in my old 7th grade science classroom. We sometimes can try to determine how to finagle where we’re going to find our significant other who can propose within two or three years of meeting us, set a date a year beyond that, and god willing, settle and have children after that as well.

There’s nothing wrong with dating, there’s nothing wrong with not dating. What I’ve noticed in my past behavior is the urge to date only because everyone else was doing it, not because I felt ready or like I truly felt a connection with another human. Don’t get me wrong; there had been moments where I thought, “this could be it! I could come home for the holidays and show off this guy to my family and brag about what a catch I’d had”, but they were few and far in between.

Some part of me wishes I could go back and tell myself not to try too hard, to settle back and not take life too seriously. Some of the happiest couples I’ve met just started out as casual flings that turned into something much more, while others started off as friendships that grew into ❤ luv <3. The other part of me is glad I’ve been the old celebate hag (sarcasm, obvi) I have been because EH MAH GAWD I am just learning so much about myself, like how quickly I can down a McGang Bang, or how many shots of tequila I can do before I never want to see that stuff again. It’d be rewarding either way.

So what I’m trying to say is this:

When it comes to relationships, boyfriends, girlfriends, and whatnot, there’s value in just respecting where we’re currently at, whether it be single for twenty-three years, or dating someone new every two days as long as you have respect for yourself and others. Things will fall into place, you just have to trust this. Don’t force it. It’s like taking a big dump, right?

My 7th grade self didn’t realize this as she scribbled tally marks in her diary with the amount of days she’d like her crushes for. She pined away, longing for relationships she genuinely wasn’t ready for at the time and yearning for the idea of a boyfriend. I wish I could’ve told her everything would work out fine, and that she’d be fine either way, but I know she’d find this out in a decade anyway.

Through my many years, I’ve been sort of embarrassed that I’ve only been on one date in my life, thinking it was something to hide or not mention to others. Until recently, I haven’t thought of it as something I could use as a way to determine what I want out of life. This in mind, I think you’ll be able to use your lack of relationships, or even past and present relationships to determine what you’d like in the future for yourself. It’s a great learning experience either way, but just remember: it’s not worth writing over three hundred pages of pure angst in your diary over, especially when your sister can find awkward entries you’ve written and then proceed to never let you live down the fact you woke up trying to make out with your pillow.

Just some food for thought and words of advice.

#blessed

 

 

Can We Attribute Our Unhappiness to Social Media?

This is old news by now, but does the name Essena O’Neill ring a bell? No? In case you missed out on her video that went viral last November, I’ll give you a semi-quick rundown on the seventeen minute video. You can also check out her video here

Amidst tears, O’Neill draws attention to how “fake” she believes the social media world has become and how unaware the average viewer is to what really goes on behind the beautiful, yet highly unrealistic images viewers see on a daily basis. She claims her departure from this impractical world should serve as a wake up call for all her followers.

She tearfully continues on with her video (sans makeup) arguing “culture creates validation and insecurities” and later begs viewers and social media personalities to create content that isn’t based on “views, likes, or followers”. Furthermore, she launches a tirade against the business behind sponsored or paid social and posts, a current hot topic for those interested in law (and more particularly, fashion law). This topic has recently forced one of our independent federal agencies, the Federal Trade Commission, to pay more attention to how they can protect consumers on social media in the future*. More on this below, but back to O’Neill’s video for now.

While watching this young Australian’s video, I found it shocking to think someone could blame many of their insecurities on apps that pubescent Silicon Valley geeks dreamt of in their parents’ basements (I’m only half sarcastic, here). Could social media really be blamed for this young woman’s unhappiness?

This brings me to my question for you today: does quitting social media remedy the true nature of our unhappiness?  Is this truly going to help fix negative feelings you have toward yourself?

O’Neill believed this was the answer. Soon after posting her self-declared “last Youtube video”, she proceeded to delete all her social media sites save for one, Instagram, but only after deleting two thousand photos off her account. Keeping a few select pictures, she quickly gave new captions to those that remained with newer, brutally honest captions:

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She later deleted her Instagram account as well.

After she made these changes, O’Neill said she hoped to start a movement where the average viewer could realize their self worth isn’t determined by their physical attributes or social media influence. Just because O’Neill thought she wasted many years living a lie didn’t mean others should as well.

This being said, there’s many varying opinions on whether social media serves an overall good purpose or not. We see lovers connect, celebrities make millions, and teens cyberbully others all within seconds of a simple flick of the thumb. It’s simultaneously amazing, yet terrifying.

Personally, I admit I’m no stranger to unhappiness which I can partially attribute to social media, and on a deeper level, my deep rooted desire to be perfect. I can definitely admit I’ve felt validated after reaching a new high of “likes” or “views” on social media platforms, while also feeling crushed when a new profile picture doesn’t get as many likes as I would’ve thought. Was I not thin enough? Had I not marketed my post effectively? Should I feel embarrassed to post a selfie? As my Pop Culture professor so wisely said, “I receive likes, therefore I exist”. Any “like” I’ve received has given me validation. Though I know this ultimately to be false, it’s hard to continually remind myself of this over and over again. I’m sure many others would agree.

In saying this, I realize I’m part of the problem I’ve created for myself. I’ve spent HOURS clicking through photos, scrolling down my home feed, and stalking girls I don’t know, obsessing how I’m not as pretty, thin, or worry free and happy as they seem. How can I realistically think another person’s life is trouble free based on photos they are able to manipulate? All my own photos are edited, retouched, and manipulated to catch me in both the best lighting and during the most flattering “picture perfect moments”. How is fair to assume their photos haven’t been as well?

I seem to get the most likes on the most perfect photos of myself and my behavior seems to continue to snowball into what could resemble a highly predictable lab experiment as a result. People like following people who look happy and pretty. It’s inspirational. I accumulate likes, therefore I am. More happy photos, more likes. More likes, more happiness. It’s a vicious negative feedback loop we’ve created for ourselves.

So should I abandon my Facebook, multiple Twitter accounts, Snapchat, and Instagram in search of this ever elusive happiness I’ve been chasing for a large portion of my life? I’ve tried. For a couple months I wasn’t on Facebook, I didn’t enjoy Snapchat until a year after it became popular, and quit using my beloved Twitter because I didn’t think I could handle the responsibility. We’ve all had friends who express their distaste at the world of social media and delete accounts only to reinstate their profiles some odd months or weeks later.

So does unplugging our lives make us happier in the end?

I’m not so sure. I’m not so sure we’ll ever know the answer, or whether there even is a “right” answer (don’t get me started on existentialist theories). Finding happiness may or may not be as simple as deleting your accounts if you’re disconsolate. Quite simply, this is a discussion up for debate and it’s a highly personal and contested matter. I understand deleting accounts out of inactivity, but deleting based on lack of self esteem?

Though there’s no simple solution to this complex problem, I firmly believe we have the power to be part of the solution, not the problem as social media users. I think it’s time to stop viewing social media as an untamable beast, because we have the opportunity to control what we post and what we view to an extent. We have small opportunities to put a positive spin on what we see every day!

Armed with this positivity, I decided to do my own experiment on Instagram a few months ago. I posted a close up photo of my face, one half with makeup and editing, the other without any makeup or retouching. The response I received was more than I could’ve ever asked for. It was my most popular post since joining Instagram five years ago, and still would’ve been considered it my top post even if it had gotten no likes. It’s possible to use social media for good purposes to outweigh the bad. It felt like I was holding up my middle finger to all the negative feelings that haunted me from this picture perfect image of myself that I had wanted to be.

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The photo I took of myself showing both sides of social media. Perception versus reality.

So even though I’ve dragged you through a lengthy post just to give you no solid answer to the question of whether quitting social media remedies the true nature of our unhappiness, I hope this makes you think. Maybe the question shouldn’t lie in whether social media can make us unhappy or not, but instead on how we can participate in this world with more realistic expectations of ourselves. Yes, bloggers will edit their photos. Many girls will airbrush their skin to perfection, and others will show off expensive meals, new makeup and cars or share lengthy posts of their vacations to Ibiza on Snapchat. This all is inevitable, especially given social is a huuuge, untapped resource for anyone who’d like to market to millennials (at the very least!). I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see many brands add or increase both organic and paid social within the next few years. My only hope is that we all get a little more educated and that the Federal Trade Commission is able to keep up and catch unlawful practices**. However, it’s up to us to get stronger.

Long story short, when Essena O’Neill decided to post her last YouTube video last November, she set off a firestorm of response from her peers and viewers. The question of whether social media serves a positive or negative purpose is too difficult a question to give one finite answer to. For some, quitting social media may help reduce feelings of inadequateness, decrease their maladaptive pleasure seeking impulses, and potential depression. As O’Neill showed, even those who seem at the top on social media platforms can suffer behind closed doors. Their lives and paychecks revolve around likes, views, and shares. But our lives don’t have to.

I’ve felt both positively validated and negatively impacted through what others and myself have posted. The answer we seek may not lie with whether our happiness is a direct result of social media, but instead, whether we’re able to control the intake of information through educating ourselves and constant reminders that this world has the aptitude to seem airbrushed and perfect. I’m going to challenge myself to view the social world as less of an intimidating place, but as a burgeoning market for retailers and promoters. I’m also going to vow to constantly remind myself there’s more to life than a “bikini ready” beach bod or nailing that perfect cat eye. Both are great, yes, but remember that you alone are enough. You breath, you love, you are loved, therefore you are!

xx

Kristin

Please don’t hesitate to comment and reach out, whether you agree or disagree with me. Let’s keep the discussion going!

 

*As many of you know, influencers and bloggers are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to wear, drink, or promote a company’s merchandise, often ignoring the rules the FTC lays down to protect consumers from what they determine to be “unfair, deceptive or fraudulent practices in the marketplace” (per their site’s “What We Do” section). For more information on the FTC, I encourage you to visit their site

**One of my favorite fashion law bloggers continues to call out popular bloggers (L’Oreal’s 15 L’Orealista bloggers, the Man Repeller, amongst many other offenders) for not appropriately disclosing paid posts. Putting #sp in the description part of photos is no longer enough. The Fashion Law’s founder and editor-in-chief explains this all much better than I ever could. Find her explorations of calling out bloggers here.

 

L-O-V-E: I’m Real Talking About the Thing that Makes Us Either Want to Sing or Puke. Or Both.

You guys know by now that I’m the sort of person who goes around whining about third-wheeling and lecturing anyone who will listen about my life philosophy about love: “love is patient, love is kind, love will kick you right in the behind” or to put it more simply, “love is all a chemical reaction in the brain”.

You should also know now, that I only truly believe that when things go to shit in my own life. This is extremely hard for me to admit, but I believe in love. There, I said it. Go mark it on your calendar.

I believe in the he kind of love that old people have for one another after looks fade and years usher in their 60th wedding anniversaries, the love like in that one movie where the kid stands outside that chick’s window with the boom box playing that 80’s song, the sort of thing that happens in Rom-Coms (girl in big city meets boy, they date, he/she screws something up, he/she gets pissed, they make up, cue couple banging as camera pans out showing big city skyline) even though I mostly hate them.

Ugh. I wanna punch myself in the face right now for saying that and go back to having a faux thick skin about it and tweet, “guys just want 2 bang” or something on Twitter that condemns men for being promiscuous shitheads.

But like many of you guys, I’ve been hurt by liking (and fiiiiine, okay even “loving”) someone and want to make it seem like it was all fake when it happened to protect myself. Who hasn’t gotten rejected before? That is life, my friends. It hurts every time, but you end up picking yourself up, brushing off the pain, and you try again. If you have gotten and kept every single person you’ve ever loved, then dude, screw you. You’ve never had the pleasure of crying into a tub of Ben and Jerry’s or having a one night stand rebound with that old ex-Playboy bunny who walks around State Street (shoutouuuuut!).

All this mushy/barfy talk leads me to this blog post. This is uncomfortable for me to write. And not just because I am name dropping the crushes I wrote in my locked diary in middle school. I like to pretend that I can only Love with a capital “L” things like quesadillas from TBell or the McChicken, but at the end of the day I secretly wish I had the balls to pin wedding dresses on Pinterest or let myself think I deserve to be happy with someone. But I like to play it cool. I’d rather joke around about it and be the “cool girl” or “bro” who isn’t interested in anything love related because I’m under the delusion that it makes you seem weak.

So K Hovs, where in the hell is this post going today???

Essentially, I recently visited my sister at Binghamton University this weekend and had some time to reflect on stuff. I’m a chronic over-thinker, so that part was easy. But that’s what this post is about- love. What it has meant to me at different stages of life and where I think I am now. Unfortunately, this isn’t too inspirational of a post. I won’t promise to try dating someone once every week, be married by 26, or whatever it is that I promise I’ll do in each post.

This is my opinion, and this blog is my medium of talking my problems out. Readers beware ❤ . This is nearly everything I thought about while nursing a gin on the couch at a party, sitting on the airplane waiting for Packer/KC game updates, and while Grand Theft Auto V-ing my way through Milwaukee while driving home.

* * *

It’s nuts when you think about your first crushes up to the present day- post college, in my case. I’m super fortunate that I was a creative (or weird, honestly- creative is just an artsy way of saying weird) and I kept a diary from 7th grade until patchy entries through my freshman year in high school. The diary entries mostly involved me stereotypically writing my crushes’ names alongside mine and documenting the times we walked past each other in the hallways taking note of when we made eye contact (maybe one time out of three years, five crushes, and two schools. I’m not gifted at math but I can tell you those percentages aren’t lookin’ too hot).

But for some background, let me take you on a quick journey through my perception of relationships. No need to buckle up, it’s a quick trip.

In 7th and 8th grade, I seemed to value looks above all and went for anyone who I’m sure Hitler would’ve chosen to represent his regime to be honest (light brunette/blonde hair, light eyes, a particular interest in conquering early 20th century Europe, you know, that stuff). Most importantly, they were all pretty much younger than me and on my brother’s soccer teams. Between the years of 2004-2007 I probably attended 90% of my brothers games and tournaments and later lost 99% of my dignity when the goalie of my brother’s team first talked to me (after I liked him for “287 dayyyys ❤ “) and I quote, said, “oh, are you Logan’s little sister?”

I don’t do percentages, like I said, but I am 100% sure after that I stopped liking him because I was so shocked he didn’t notice me staring at him during all those games I went to (for those of you who don’t know, I am Logan’s older sister, Alli is our younger sister).

Here's me nearing middle school age.

Here’s me nearing middle school age. And nearing the peak of my weird stage. 

Long story short, the infantile stages of catching dem feelz involved a whooooole lot of nothing for me. I just didn’t understand why when I looked at Mason, Alex, Kyle, and whatshisface in the halls why they didn’t just fall in love with me already. Thus began my long road to who I am today- me not doing shit when it comes to someone I like. Turns out staring at them doesn’t make them wanna marry my ass- it just makes them think I believe they have some ketchup on their face. Watch out boys. If I like you, I’ll blink twice in your general direction and expect you to interpret that as true love. I wasn’t too upset over the unrequited love, however. Me and my 14-year-old self rebounded miraculously and holed up in the basement to play Barbie Horse Adventures where I’d pretend to gallop around like a horse while the game loaded.

I evolved a little in high school, though. Like from Charmander to Charmeleon, maybe. Don’t you worry.

So it turns out I was a huge weirdo also for at leeeeast the first two years of high school. That shouldn’t surprise you given my love of PS2, GameBoy Color, Pokemon, and my obsession with drawing cartoon strips of a beaver I made up called “Beever”. I didn’t have any particular crushes on anyone, mostly due to the fact that I was so busy with volleyball on weekdays and talking to random (most likely) 65 year olds on AIM who weirdly asked me an awful lot what I was wearing (a t-shirt with a zebra on it tucked into some high waisted Diadora soccer shorts, duh). They never replied after that, usually.

But anyway, I was living the dream with my braces on and trying to fit in by wearing size 4 long Hollister jeans and a tight shirt that honestly made me fart really bad during the day because I spent a majority of my time sucking it in. Ayyyyyyy. I was a hit with boys.

My early high school experience can be explained and summed up through one simple anecdote. My freshman year I had a huge zit in the middle of my forehead and I picked it so bad that I was largely noticeable. I went around and told people that I had been shoveling snow and accidentally hit myself in the face. No one believed me. And no one dated me.

My perception of what I thought love was changed slightly in high school than what it had been in middle school (think puppy love to like, maybe…dog love???) but I didn’t really change until my last two years wherein I experienced the “I was the crazy ex” type deal. I was obsessed with who I was with and couldn’t be without them. I accused them of cheating. I caused them to barely have any friends their age. I done fucked up, guys.

Looking back, I clearly realize that my perception then was off. I was off. As you may know, that’s when I was going through the beginning stages of going off the deep end and my thoughts were psychotic. I obsessed over plans for getting married, over kids, over everything an 18-year-old shouldn’t be worrying about unless they’re marrying their cousin in rural Idaho. High school is a time of incredible changes before college. I’d bet many of you changed from senior year high school to college. Plans change, feelings change, long distance gets hard and tests your relationship out. Why settle for your significant other when you can have the instant gratification of flirting hard with someone else who may mean absolutely nothing to you? Talking to new people and living in the moment is exciting- some people never get out of this stage. That’s what some people want, and that’s fine.

So now that I’ve made the trip back out to where I went to school after graduation and feel somewhat removed from this culture, I can see more so of what I want from love.

In my situation, I’m not going for the “fun” “let’s see where this goes” type of deal. I don’t think I really ever had in college- I’m in for the long haul because for me, going through those stages is mentally exhausting for me. That’s who I am. I’m not better or worse than anyone for thinking like that, I’d like to note. I’ve figured out I most likely feel this way in part because of those adults in relationships around me. They’ve shown me what love means to them, and in turn, I’ve taken what I’ve learned from them and formed my own opinions.

WARNING: I’M BOUT TO GET ALL CHEESEY ON YA ASS. If you are in college or high school reading this and are just looking to have fun in a relationship, just skip this. Honestly, I’m doing you a favor here because I’m coming from a point of view where I never went through that stage or had a desire to. So you will most likely disagree with this. And I promise I’m not judging. I’ve had many friends go through the “fun” stage and have reaped the benefits of having an automatic, fun friend. It’s pretty dope. But anyway onto my opinion because I am a philosopher (jk)…

I’ve spent my whole life watching my parents and seeing how truly beautiful their love for each other is (barf, did I just say “beautiful”? I’m getting just as uncomfortable as you). My sister and I moan and roll our eyes whenever my dad makes my mom laugh until she is standing up dancing around the room with him when a good 80’s song comes on. We moan and groan but then laugh with them. Or at them, if the song is “Rock the Casbah” because my dad always messes up the lyrics.

My parents are best friends and teammates. They are not worried about calculating who loves who more. They trust each other. They respect each other. They make each other better people and challenge each other. They spend the most valuable thing one can spend with one another- time.

Though my sister and I tease my dad about “marrying up”, we know looks never mattered the most for either of them. It’s admirable and perfectly nauseating watching how well they work together and how much they love each other. And now I know why I find it nauseating. It’s not because I’m grossed out, or worried about suddenly getting a new addition to the family (lol, jk). It’s because I feel sick to my stomach that I’ll never find someone that will make as great of a friend as they have found in each other. I personally don’t believe in soul mates per se, but I do believe there are people out there that first, have amazing chemistry and second, work well together and create a great team. Things may not be perfect, but they have the ability to work through the trials and tribulations they went through together and make each other better humans. My parents make me cling onto that hope that I can find someone like that, and that’s where I am about now.

BOTTOM LINE:

Though this post isn’t like previous posts where my goal is to try and motivate you to be a better person, it’s the monologue that’s going on in my head right now and I’d like to use it for reference when I’m confused later in life. Who knows where I’ll be in ten years. Twenty years. Thirty and beyond.

My parents have provided me with a great example of what I’d like to have in the future. Even looking at my friends’ parents helps as well- I’m surrounded by a bunch of adults who are so in love it wants to make me vom all over them. Lovingly, of course.

So if you’re going to take anything away from this post, ask yourself where you’re at right now. What do you believe and why? Are you with someone? Who are you with and are they pushing you to be a better person and vice versa? (Do you love this shit? Are you high right now? Do you ever feel nervous? Hahaha, jk but xoxo Drake)

But I genuinely hope that you are happy and believe in love too. Because everyone deserves that.

KH

I’ve Been Single for 22 Years! Why and How I’ve Managed to Keep Boys at Bay: A Humorous Article

4th grade-senior year of high school were the most prominent of my awkward years

4th grade-senior year of high school were the most prominent of my awkward years

(Originally written for my Rhetoric 440 Class)

I’m not what you would call an expert on dating. I’m more of an expert on sh*t talking about someone who, unbeknown to me, is standing right behind me or at finding the Jimmy Johns closest to my current location.

I mean, I’ve spent my fair share of time at bars and being sexually harassed by men both half – and double — my age …but the actual boyfriend-girlfriend “should we change our Facebook status to ‘in a relationship’ ” thing? Never.

Don’t get me wrong. I do have some expertise in the dating arena. It’s called “how not do it”. If you’re not like me and the 17% of other college senior girls who have never, ever been in a relationship, here are my tried-and-true tips for keeping boys at bay:

  • Frequently use words such as “feminism”, “tampons”, and “I love you” around potential suitors. It’ll terrify them.
  • While you’re walking home from the bars at 3 in the morning, drunkenly rant about how you’re being sexualized by every Tom, Dick, and Harry you saw that night. Never mind that you were wearing this 100% polyester piece of fabric you thought was a dress but later realized was a shirt that shows off your sweater puppies! (But hey…it made you feel h-o-t!)
  • Hit puberty early and reach 5’11” early in 9th grade, all while sporting braces.
  • Have this completely unintentional “resting bitch” face that says “I’ll kick your puppy if you talk to me.”
  • Acquire the habit of stealing Reese’s Puffs from college house parties you go to…uninvited

These tips are all I’ve ever needed to keep me wallowing in single-girl despair. They’ve only failed me twice: on my one and only actual date, in which I forgot my wallet (sorry, Jesse); and the time I was told I’m “the one” by this kid on Twitter who saw me tweet about the McChicken five times in one hour.

And I have had guys tell me how “awesome” my personality is (Really?). I’ve managed to resist the urge to punch these guys and scream, “Hey! You can date me if you want! Hello?!” I just nod and smile as I’m being friend-zoned as the girl who appears to be in a long-term relationship with Taco Bell.

So why haven’t I put on my big-girl pants and changed my habits? Why do I keep setting myself up as this highly undateable girl?

The answer hit me like a (friggin’) freight train on Thanksgiving when extended family members asked, for the hundredth time, if I had a boyfriend. For once I didn’t struggle to think of a cute joke to distract my (now) slightly worried grandparents from the fact that no, I still don’t have a boyfriend. This time I had an “excuse”.

I explained that I didn’t have a boyfriend because I’d be going to grad school in Stockholm or London or Edinburgh or Los Angeles, even if Daddy has to donate money to build a wing in a library to get me in. By golly, ain’t nobody got time for a boyfriend! I’m a strong independent woman. I don’t need no man!

Grandma was already sleeping off the Thanksgiving turkey by the time I’d finished my speech. That’s when it hit me: I’m not too busy to date, I’m just afraid to commit.

Going to school in upstate New York, 900 miles from my Wisconsin home, gave me a good excuse to avoid guys my senior year in high school. Even my high school date for every major dance confessed he hadn’t asked me out because I was “leaving in a year.” Thanks?

Now that I’m a senior in college, I’ve avoided dating anyone because I knew I’d have to either break it off or do the painful long-distance thing.

Sure, I’ve seen people in successful long-distance relationships.

“It’s a pain in the butt,” says my sister, Alli, “but every time I come home it’s like I never left.”

My brother, Logan, and his girlfriend have been doing the LDR thing for a couple of years.

“Some people are worth it,” he says. “You don’t even think about the distance as being a problem.”

But I also know people who’ve had their hearts broken when distance became too much. And that scares the living daylights out of me.

So I fall back on my old excuse: Why date anyone when I’ll be leaving in a few months?

I could use that same excuse after grad school, too: Why date if I could be leaving for a job elsewhere?

Whoa. This has gotta stop.

They say there’s no sin in living, that there’s power in action.

I’ve watched people fall in and out of love. They all managed to live through it. Some even fell in love again.

So what if I fail at dating? At least, come next Thanksgiving, I could tell my family I’d given it a try.

xx KH

PS: This article was written with the intent of giving perspective from a humorous angle…not to complain. Even though I’m the world’s best whiner, I wrote this to make people laugh all while self reflecting.