Dating for (Mentally Ill) Dummies

It wasn’t my best date, but it wasn’t my worst either. He showed up, unlike my first date ever in college. That was a plus.

He was sweet, I knew that much, but I found myself straining to find common ground amidst lengthy, awkward pauses. Tense crossed legs, vigorous nodding (don’t dissociate, damn it), I gripped a cold fizzy beer in my right hand like the lifeline I knew it was. Feigning interest, I propped my chin in my hand and noticed that his eyes flicked towards my now-exposed wrist. Self-consciously, I jerked my arm off the high-top table and back into my lap.

We needed a distraction. He had mentioned salsa dancing in passing earlier, so I drained my IPA in ten seconds and vaulted myself off my chair, date in tow. The poor guy probably thought he was gonna lay the pipe that night.

After a ten minute Uber ride, we flashed our IDs and a quick smile to the bouncer and entered a sticky-floored bar in downtown Cambridge. Shaking my head when asked for another drink, my date and I hit the dance floor. Under the flickering lights and gyrating, sweaty bodies, a bridal party from my college’s hometown screamed at my arrival and asked if I was dancing with my husband.

Grinning like an idiot, I smacked her shoulder and yelled, “HE’S MY BOO” over the pounding bass. Whipping my hair around like a banshee, I fumbled with my date’s shirt buttons and unceremoniously unbuttoned his shirt in the middle of the dance floor. An hour later, I soberly drove him to his house and dumped him off on the curb. I hope he didn’t see me exchanging numbers with that Julian kid earlier. Gawd, being manic was so great.

The dates I’ve had are few and far in between, but it’s safe to say that between myself and my friends, we have a few stories to tell.

If “getting out there” and “meeting up with hawt singles” on apps is what gets us millennials off our phones, off our asses, and into the arms of that girl/guy who had a puppy in photo number three, then so be it. I used to balk at the thought of exchanging messages through an app only to meet a rando in a bar, but now I have learned to embrace it for what it does and the purpose it truly serves (meeting people!).

Dating is hard. I often find myself wondering how the hell two people can mutually agree to see one another after a first date. Through many (MANY. I’m a HAWT piece of a**!) trials and errors, these meet ups have taught me to live in the moment and chill out a little bit. Not every Tom, Dick, or Harry will be your potential husband. What they will be is a potentially good time, so offer to split the beer, get to know the human next to you, and enjoy being in the moment.

Easier said than done though, right?

It used to be a lot harder. As I’ve described in previous posts, I’ve had a somewhat abnormal dating past life due to several factors, the largest being my mental health.

After a particularly ugly break up in high school, I was confronted with parts of my illness I was in no capacity and had no idea how to control. I became angry, frustrated, and increasingly negative while in the throes of my anguish- but most of all, I became scared. Scared of myself, scared that I was unable to control my mood, and scared I was unworthy of loving someone or being loved in return. Undiagnosed and not treating with a psychiatrist or therapist at the time, I had convinced myself at the age of eighteen that I couldn’t be trusted to date or see anyone until I “fixed” myself. Unfortunately, this delusion continued on through college.

As you may be well aware of (but I was not at the time), mental illnesses aren’t something you can “heal” or “get over”. It’s a bit harder than just taking your Prozac, drinking water, and reading up on the latest edition of “Dating For Mentally Ill Dummies”. Mental illnesses are for life. For some, myself included, it’s sometimes just a matter of learning how to properly cope and find ways to be successful despite maladaptive learned behaviors and thinking patterns.

In hindsight, I spent years (yes, years!) too afraid and discouraged to put myself out there and go on dates, worried I’d become obsessive, manipulative, and insecure like I had been in high school. What I failed to accept until recently is that I’m no longer the girl I used to be.

Now that I’m cognizant of the fact I’m better equipped to handle what life throws at me, I decided to make some changes and take some risks this past year. I know I’m far from the functioning capacity of one who has not struggled with a mental health disorder, but I understand it should not inhibit my pursuit of happiness and self-discovery. With this in mind, I accepted that dating would be an uphill climb, but one I was willing to undertake. Life is simply too short to close oneself off to pathways just because they may be painful and difficult.

***

I’m not unaware of the shock that has passed across some of my dates’ faces as they see the deep purple scars on my arms, a visible talisman of inner turmoil from my past. For some, my mental health been a deal breaker. For others, it’s served as a topic of conversation that has led to unexpected common ground.

It’s a road divided. My mental illnesses serve as a fork in the road where I know only one of two routes may be chosen after my illnesses been revealed. Either we will see one another again, or we will part ways contingent on this reality.

This fork in the road used to worry me, but I’ve learned to let go. I have nothing to apologize for, I have nothing to hide. My mental illnesses are something I will have for the remainder of my life and whoever I end up with will be well aware of this. As long as I’m working on getting better, I see no reason why they should be thought of as having a negative impact on my dating life.

So although it’s taken me years to build up the courage to go on dates, I couldn’t be happier I finally took the chance. I can’t expect (and don’t expect) every date to end perfectly or even well. I’m becoming better at dealing with rejection, though it sometimes hurts more deeply than I know it should. I’m a work in progress. I’m better off learning how to deal with the ups and downs of dating now rather than avoiding it altogether because I’m worried something will go awry- because things always do.

The more dates I go on, the more I’m convinced I’m doing the right thing- even through heartbreak. I’ve never characterized myself as someone who is resourceful, but now I’m forcing myself to deal with my mental illnesses head on instead of avoiding them. Becoming comfortable in a fluctuating state of disquietude doesn’t allow growth and I’m learning to embrace this, however scary it seems. And so far, it’s been a painful, yet wonderful road filled with lessons I’m beyond grateful to continue learning.

 

 

Wanderlust: How I Travel

 

White Mountains, New Hampshire

If I had a dollar for every time I saw a blog post entitled, “Ten Places to Travel When You’re Broke AF” I’d actually have enough money to go on one of these proclaimed “cheap” places.

While I think it’s great Millennials have a desire to get out and travel the world, I find it discouraging to think others feel left out due to a lack of time, money, or travel buddy.

Let’s be real, some recent college graduates have just begun working and may only have three to five vacation days in the bank. For my current job, I work on three Saturdays out of the month and do not have the luxury of two consecutive days off four times a month or taking a “long weekend”. Oh, poor me!

Now that I’m living on my own, I also pay for my own groceries and rent on top of other expenses. Who knew just taking up space on planet earth could equate to so many dollar signs?

NOT ME, UNTIL I DITCHED MY PARENTS AND MOVED OUT EAST. My former bedroom has already been renovated.

So anywho, flexible and fixed expenses can add up quickly, especially if you’re trying to do things like eat food and not live in a dumpster.

Add limited funds to the issue of being a lone twenty-something-year-old and your options may seem limited for travel.

So although I can’t jet-set like a mofo, I have little angst about the fact I can’t travel to tropical locations or ski resorts as often as I’d like.

HOW CAN THIS BE? I THOUGHT YOU LIKED TO WHINE, KRISTIN HOVIE.

Well I can’t deny bitching is a great pastime of mine, I’ve been able to utilize my new location to take more adventures that are friendly to my wallet, work with my schedule, and doable alone.

Princeton was my favorite Ivy League school to visit.

The result: many day trips to regional destinations. Remember, wanderlust doesn’t always have to apply to overseas destinations. This in mind, I’ve been exploring New England like it’s my day job. The east coast offers no shortage of beautiful oceanic views, mountaintop selfie opportunities, and historical landmarks. The best part of this? It’s relatively cheap, everything is within about a four-hour car ride, and these trips are doable alone.

Naturally, most of the places I’ve been require plenty of photos. I tend to post my adventures on Instagram and other social media sites and as a result, sometimes get questions about where I’m going and how I find I found the location I’m posing in front of. I’ve compiled a short question/answer section below that goes over a few of the most common inquiries. ENJOY!

The Providence Performing Arts Center

Q. How do you find these locations?

A. A mixture of research and spontaneous..ness.

Short answer: TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google, Social Media, and Bloggers.

Longer answer: My trips are often determined based on a healthy mix of researching the shit out of things and YOLOing. I like to be outside as much as possible, but when this isn’t possible I tend to gravitate towards museums and the performing arts. I’m also lucky in the sense that bloggers like Kiel James Patrick and Sarah Vickers share their location on their Instagram photos. If I think what they’re posing in front of is pretty or fun, I’ll plan a trip. I started following a bunch of bloggers on social media sites for New England inspiration.

Further Insight: When I saw the Boston Symphony Orchestra in January, I planned ahead about three weeks. I managed to get my hands on a $34 ticket in the nosebleed section and did my research to figure out where to park and how much it’d cost me. The venue was gorgeous and I had a great time remembering when I used to carve my initials into my rental violin in middle school. While walking down Massachusetts Avenue, I saw a sushi place I decided to randomly stop by for food. The combination of planning ahead and YOLOing worked out well in this case. Both were public venues where I didn’t feel weird or nervous about being alone. This was also the case when I saw John Cleese at the Providence Performing Arts Center (also around $40).

Other times, I’ll plan an outdoor trip a few days in advance. For obvious reasons, it’s important to take the weather into consideration. TripAdvisor has been a godsend this past winter to help me identify National and State Parks that are worth visiting. I’ll typically find locations on this site then research them more thoroughly to see if it’s worth my time. Trips to places like Fort Wetherill can be attributed to planning ahead while seeing the breathtaking views of the Omni Mount Washington Hotel are purely coincidental (I literally pulled off the highway).

Sometimes the spontaneous doesn’t work out, but it’s not worth getting upset over. I decided to nix a trip to the Boston Contemporary Museum of Art because I felt uncomfortable walking around Boston alone after dark on empty streets.

The Providence Public Library

Q. Do you feel uncomfortable alone? Do you hike by yourself?

A. Sometimes and it depends on the location.

Short answer: Like I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I sometimes do feel uncomfortable being alone. If it makes sense, I’d rather feel uncomfortable surrounded by a group of people than uncomfortable alone in the mountains. I do not hike alone in the White Mountains or Adirondacks. It’s simply too large an area to not have great cell reception and people have died falling off cliffs or drowning in rivers. Though I’ve been responsible for children while hiking and know the basics, I simply do not have all the supplies necessary to feel comfortable hiking alone.

Longer answer: I was very stupid this past fall and decided to hike Mount Ascutney in Vermont after eating nothing but a granola bar for breakfast. I was also out of shape and thought I could handle a two mile hike to the summit (3140’ as opposed to Cascade Mountain which I did a couple summers ago at 4098’). I managed to make it to the top of the mountain fine, but the hike down reduced me to tears. I was shaking so badly on the hike down I moreso flopped my way down the path to my car. Lesson learned. On the bright side, I was smart enough to screenshot a map of the hiking paths and thoroughly research it before leaving my apartment in Providence.

I am snobby when it comes to hiking and don’t think Newport’s “Cliff Walk” is considered a hike at all, but I will definitely do this alone. Ditto with beach walks!

The Palestra at Penn

Q. Who is taking your picture?

A. Me.

Short answer: Target sells these cheap, smartphone tripods that are about three inches tall. I have also become acquainted with the ten second self timer. I’m working on purchasing a tripod for my Canon t5i Rebel now, hopefully this will allow me to experiment with editing less grainy photos.

Long answer: It would be a lot less effort to just take a photograph of a landscape without me in it, given I’m by myself, right? Yes. Though I have plenty of landscape photos, I just think it’s more special when I’m in the pic to show that I was there. When my kids look back on my pictures years and years from now, I think they’ll find it more interesting to see photos of me doing things, not just…things. I know I enjoy going through my parents’ photographs of when they hiked the Great Smoky Mountains at my age. My favorites are the photographs where my parents are shown along with the landscape around them. Say what you want, but I like the creative problem solving involved in trying to capture both a feeling and moment in front of something breathtakingly beautiful. It’s artsy and just a tad bit vain, but I like that sh*t.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Q. What are your favorite places that you’ve traveled to so far?

A. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Fort Wetherill, and the Adirondacks in New York.

Elaboration: The Museum of Fine Arts was and is incredible. I’m a fairly artsy person, so I could spend hours parked in front of a few displays or paintings but there are so many different exhibits that continually change that are sure to appease just about everyone. Fort Wetherill might just be my single-most favorite location in all of Rhode Island. Though many newcomers may pass Jamestown on their way to Newport, it’s definitely worth the pit stop. It faintly reminds me of Capri (Italy) with the rocky outcrops, secret beaches, and incredible ocean views. Though it can get busy on weekends, it’s fun to climb around the rocks and watch the sunset from this state park. The Adirondacks will always have a special place in my heart after working at Camp Treetops a few summers ago. I was only living there for about three months, but there’s something comforting about being surrounded by giant mountains.

Adirondack Park, New York

Q. What other places do you plan on visiting?

A. Mount Washington (New Hampshire), the Boston Public Library, and Blue Shutters Beach (Rhode Island) in the summer.

Short answer: I’m absolutely dying to hike Mount Washington this spring or summer once the weather conditions get better. It’s the highest mountain peak in the northeast. The only reason I drag my butt to the YMCA or go out on runs is to get into better shape for this trip. After seeing photographs of the Boston Public Library, I knew I will have to take the forty-five minute drive just to check out the amazing architecture of this building. Check out the photo below, it looks like something straight out of Harry Potter. I’ve been to Blue Shutters Beach a couple of times this winter already, but I can’t wait to haul all my beach things with me this summer. The water is an unreal shade of blue-green, the sand is white, and it’s a very natural environment. Summer can’t get here soon enough!

Newport, Rhode Island

Let me know if you have additional questions regarding travelling regionally as I’d be happy to dish, betch. I’ll pretend I have awwllll the answers.

In the meantime, get out and explore wherever you are!

More pics from my adventures below:

Beavertail State Park, Rhode Island

 

Mount Ascutney, Vermont

Ocean Drive (Newport, Rhode Island)

Omni Mount Washington Resort, New Hampshire

Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire

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Fort Wetherill, Rhode Island

 

ELECTION 2016: The Paradox of the Informed Voter

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Happy Election Day, guys. We made it! Here’s something I’ve written to voice some of the frustration I’ve experienced during the Presidential Election of 2016. Remember, what you’re reading is just more discourse thrown out into cyberworld and by no means should you take what I’ve written to be unquestionably true. Read it with a healthy dose of skepticism, as you should with everything out in the world today. So without further ado, here’s my take on 2016.

***

You hear it all the time.

“Get informed”, “know the candidates on the issues”, “read this article”. Insert link to a completely random website. It’s hard not to get bombarded by political articles and videos while perusing through social media sites and newspapers.

Do you consider yourself to be an informed voter? The data says most likely, yes.

According to a study done by Rasmussen Reports conducted in September of 2013, their model showed that a whopping 83% of American Adults consider themselves to be informed citizens while just 12% admit they are not informed citizens.

It’s difficult to imagine not being informed at this point unless you’ve been living in a World War II bunker a mile under Earth’s surface.

However, the issue at hand is not whether voters are informed. It’s more so an issue of how badly informed and poorly equipped to use the information at our disposal they are, claims Art Carden, Associate Professor of Economics at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.

I agree in many respects.

In 2012, he advised voters to stay off Facebook and Twitter and pick up a few books instead. We have a duty, Carden argues, to be informed voters and largely ignore the partisan propaganda that repeats “vacuous (or economically illiterate) platitudes for the umpteenth time”.

The same should be said for the 2016 election, an election taking place in a time characterized by clickbait, bad journalism, and biased data.

So what is one to do to become “informed”?

I wanted to find out.

I began this past January by trying my hardest to stay up date on the issues. I read countless books on economics that are far above my head and followed each state’s primary election and three major debates closely. Each day I began my day by reading the political news from NPR, New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, RealClear Politics, and FiveThirtyEight. I made sure to watch both Fox News and CNN’s headlines. What were the Democrats saying, what were the Independents and Republicans saying? I fact checked rigorously and tapped into what pollsters were saying in Podcasts. I spent an entire day teaching myself how polls work and how each poll determines the outcome of their data. I refused to let my upbringing and socioeconomic factors blind me from seeing the world through another person’s eyes. It’s nothing short of fascinating of everything I’ve learned in eleven months of following the election cycle.

And guess what?

The more I learn, the more I realize how little I truly know.

I am not an expert in economics, social issues, the national debt, and have no concrete plan on how to solve any of America’s problems. There are many schools of thought and methods political parties claim is most effective to make America successful, but historically, before any true results can be seen, a new president is elected or policy remains stuck in political gridlock in Congress.

What shocked me most was learning that often, presidents can be elected based on how the economy did under the previous president- whether or not the president realistically had control over the economy or not. We saw this after Bill Clinton was elected over incumbent president, George H.W. Bush (data from the renowned American Economist, Nate Silver here and here).

Furthermore, I can’t find any NONPARTISAN, raw data to conclusively prove that Keynesian economic policy is superior to Laissez-faire or vice versa. I don’t think there is a perfect answer to this problem as both have reliable evidence for and against them. Economic geniuses tout their preferred solutions, but who am I to determine what’s best for America? Which experts should I trust? I’m a 24 year old English major grad. Dream big.

Over the course of the past year, I’ve taken the “isidewith.com” quiz MULTIPLE times and have gotten highly frustrated trying to figure out what I think is best for America moving forward.

I collapsed into an existential crisis after being asked about whether or not I think fracking is okay or not.

 

How can we, experts in very little, expect to make an informed decision for the rest of America? I wasn’t an expert on fracking- in fact, who even is?

While my thumb hovered absentmindedly over the Fracking question, I realized I, and no one else, can truly claim they have EVERY solution guaranteed to work for any single issue. To further my personal crisis, I realized the most highly educated voter can vote for the same candidate as someone who decides to choose the candidate based on their hairstyle.

It’s completely and utterly absurd, but it’s part of our democratic system.

We have the freedom to vote for whichever candidate we’d like for based on whichever personal reasons or research we’ve done- whether the reason be we believe everything a certain set of news outlets report or what our own research shows.

That’s why candidates use certain tactics rather than others, they realize they can appeal to a portion of voters through specific tactics- some less noble than others.

Bottom Line? Not all hope is lost, of course. Through my search to become more educated on the issues, I’ve remembered two very important points that align with those of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU):

#1: Use reliable sources.

Remember in high school when you had to use research from scholarly sources and type a bunch of stuff into Easybib? Turns out this isn’t just something that’s valuable in the classroom, it’s something that is extremely important post-graduation. Here are some great links to reputable and informative sites from AASCU.

#2: LISTEN and RESEARCH.

Are you being persuaded through political rhetoric? If the candidate uses political rhetoric to avoid answering a question, your red flag should go up. Learn more about political rhetoric here.

See? Not all hope is lost. Election year is a reminder to all of us that we should strive to educate ourselves and not fall into the trap of only reading headlines. If you already do this, great. I challenge you to truly try to understand those who oppose your worldviews. Why do they think the way they do? What is their socioeconomic status compared to your’s and how does that affect their decision making process? Try not to dismiss others as simply, “dumb” or “crazy”. It’s sometimes hard as hell, but it’s a great mental exercise.

So even though 2016 was a grueling, long year filled with plenty of crazy moments (remember when Ted Cruz appointed Carly Fiorina his VP?) and utter terror at the thought of electing either major party nominee to be the 45th President of the United States, I think it’s time to appreciate our democracy for what it is: imperfect, just like us. 

Get out there and vote!

 

***

As always, a public disclaimer on my political opinions: I identify as slightly left-of-center and am an Independent voter.

On Politics: An English Grad Dives In

Happy Fourth of July, people! Time to find a flag, hug your dog, take trendy Insta pics, and crack open a cold one. Because this is America, damnit!

No time like the present to talk about one of the topics your parents told you to avoid at your in-laws. We all know the topics to avoid: money, religion, politics along with questions like, “Aunt Marlene, should you really be throwing back that many glasses of wine in front of your kids?” and that “God loves the Gays” t-shirt your rather flamboyant cousin wears to family reunions just to piss of your great-uncle Albert. Truth is, politics have been around long before Uncle Sam, and definitely will be long after. We might as well not ignore this fact. This being said, I’m not condoning getting into full blown arguments with your family, friends, or complete strangers during your mother’s cousin’s daughter’s nephew’s grandparent’s funeral. These heated arguments arise from deeply rooted passion from within us and should always be treated with extreme caution. Instead, I’d like to attempt to offer a more optimistic view of politics for what they are today in America. It doesn’t start off pretty, however.

As I’m sure many of you are, I’m frickin’ frustrated. With all the media hype around Trump and Clinton, it’s hard to tell the bullcrap from the…not so bullcrap. Us, as the general public, have to constantly fight this sh*tstorm of information on a daily basis. All of this discourse comes from outlets which have anywhere from a slight to more pronounced bias. We all know the New York Times and CNN are more liberal, just as the Wall Street Journal and Fox are more conservative. What I’m not so sure about is that we constantly remind ourselves this whenever we read or watch anything. As humans, we’re constantly being bombarded with information. Whether it be billboards, commercials, or that chick at Macy’s who insists on spritzing you to death with Dolce and Gabana Light Blue, we are always taking in information and processing it to form opinions based on our real life experiences. All the discourse put out in the world comes from another human with biases, save for cold hard numbers, which we know can often be misinterpreted and manipulated as well, given the study (“COFFEE NOW OKAY TO DRINK, HUNDREDS OF ANTIOXIDANTS”, etc.). Sometimes others’ opinions match up neatly with ours, other times, not so much. And that is the beauty of being in a country such as America! Hug hug, kiss kiss!

It’s a privilege that we can speak ill of our president and not go to jail, or disagree with prominent figures in government and not face imminent death. BUT, with this comes responsibility. This (sometime) apparent lack of understanding around  is where my frustration comes from.

To political candidates and voters alike, perception is unfortunately reality. We’ve all heard Hillary name calling Trump and vice versa. The low blows and mudslinging candidates do is something I wish they’d keep to themselves, but this is certainly never going to cease. However, if we would change the quality of our arguments, the candidates might have to change the way they try to attract voters. Optimistic? Definitely! There’s no harm in the effort to move in this direction.

Voters have a duty to be informed as they face the general discourse around politics. I’ve heard one too many times ignorant arguments and counter-arguments for both presidential candidates and quite frankly, it’s frustrating as hell to watch or listen to- for ANY side (I can honestly say I haven’t heard any recently, thank Gawd). It’s not the fact there are arguments themselves (this, of course is completely inevitable), it’s the quality of the arguments I sometimes see that I find rather frustrating.

This being said, this is why there’s value in attempting to understand where the opposing side is coming from. Most of these differences come from a fundamental level of disagreement (the interpretation of the Constitution being a HUGE one, in my opinion*) and there are issues where some cannot understand why another side would think they way they do. I completely understand this, especially when it comes to social issues.

However, I could sit here all day making comments such as, “well, Hillary is going to jail and her pantsuits suck” or “Donald Trump is an idiot and his hair is ridiculous”. How do these counter arguments serve to do anything beside provide SNL with material for skits every once and awhile? To me, I find more value attempting to understand why each politician or political party may be doing or saying the things they do. When I grow frustrated by the political positions of either side (generalizing as a two-party system, here, sorry Green Party, Libertarians, and the Mickey Mouse Brigade), I find that attempting to understand how my personal experiences affect which party I align with more reminds me the opposite side as a whole isn’t inherently “wrong” or “evil”**. To an extent, it’s just a difference in opinion about how I’d like to live (or others to live), where I’d like my taxes to go, and which general direction I’d like the country to move to bring things on a very basic level. It’s too easy to sit here and b*tch about the stereotypes that stem from each party, yes. But how does this help us have a more intelligent and worthwhile debate? I’d argue it doesn’t help, and this only creates a more disillusioned general public. We don’t know what we don’t know only because we’re only scratching the surface level of why we’re disagreeing in the first place. Sometimes we’ll just have to agree to disagree, but the more we understand and can work together, the more we can potentially expect advances in bipartisanship.

I don’t want anyone under the impression that I think America is full of disenchanted, uneducated voters, because I don’t think that’s true. I’ve seen arguments I can respect, both on social media and other outlets, and I am relieved to know voters aren’t just voting against or for a candidate for their hair…or lack of. I think it’s important to take this next election for what it is: important, yes. Monumental, yes. This being said, get informed from reputable sources. Try to identify the author’s viewpoint. Read to understand, not to attack others.

Is the Huffington Post normally your news source of choice? Try reading Wall Street Journal’s articles about the same topic (even though it’s a b*tch to try and access their content online). Try not to anger at the difference in opinion. It’s uncomfortable to be uncomfortable, but it’s time we started putting more emphasis on understanding so we can more effectively debate with one another in a civilized fashion. I think there’s much progress to be made and this can help us help each other. Constantly forming and reforming your life philosophy is never a bad thing because at you’re moving forward. Just trust that at the heart of each major political party, it’s not unreasonable to believe each has the country’s best intentions in mind***.

Please take everything I say with a grain of salt, as you would any publication. Read knowing what someone else is saying is not “the truth” and is instead just more discourse being thrown out into the world. You, as a human, have the right to form your opinions which lead you to live your life the way you do in a way where you can maximize your happiness. If you disagree with me, that’s completely fine. Like with any political publication or show, you’re at complete liberty to do so, because once again, this is America, my fellow mavericks. Get out there and enjoy the fireworks!

FULL DISCLOSURE ON MY OWN POLITICAL OPINIONS:

Though I will sure as hell not be braiding your hair anytime soon, telling you who I support and why, to make this post more candid, I will reveal a couple things:

I come from a family divided on political opinions.

My experiences growing up and from going to a public university have led me to be more left of center for some issues, and right of center for others. I don’t identify completely with either major party, but instead like to think there are political candidates from either party I’d support at different times and for different situations.

To me, neither party offers the “end all, be all” solution to America’s problems at the present moment. This is like thinking one wrench will work for all screws. Sometimes it provides the perfect solution, other times, not so much.

I hope this helps you understand what I’ve written and why.

_________________________________________________________________

* There are several different ways to interpret the Constitution. To generalize at an extremely basic level, some people prefer a “loose” interpretation and others, a “strict” interpretation. How we interpret what we believe our Founding Fathers wanted for the United States of America is highly contested and each party differs in how they interpret this, hence why issues such as Obamacare are controversial.

** I realize this could be a completely generalized thing to say, especially given social factors which involve a lot of ethos. I’m not trying to downplay issues which can bring forth very passionate responses (religious rights, gay marriage, racism etc.) but would like to believe the best from each party on a fundamental level. For example, a white supremacist group leader may support a current Republican nominee, but does this make ALL conservatives racists? Hell no!

*** I obviously can’t speak to each candidate’s intentions, but I’d like to believe this for each party. I think of the circumstances upon which the two-party system was “born” and am not discouraged. Aside from corruption, unlawfulness, and other factors, I genuinely believe this system is the best for our country at this time as opposed to other systems.