Wildewoman

She’ll only be bound by the things she chooses.  


This summer I fell victim to an emotionally crippling case of pre-graduation anxiety. I felt like a shell of a human, empty and lacking depth, due to the upcoming release from the limbo I had been residing in since my junior year of college. A limbo caused by three major changes, zero discovery of an academic passion, and the reality of going through the motions to earn a degree no matter how painful it may be. The last week of summer was brutal, resulting in me balancing on the thinnest of ice thanks to good ole Murphy’s Law. As fate would have it, the series of severely unfortunate events would then continue into my first week of school.

On my first day of class, a day I optimistically thought would be the start of my last semester; I was told that I would not be graduating in December. The ice cracked beneath my feet and I plunged into the mother of all breakdowns. The thought of a graduation in December had kept me afloat for the past two years; and someone telling me that I was bound to school an extra semester was devastating.

After many episodes of weeping while driving, one of my newly acquired favorite pastimes, I decided I was sick of wallowing in self-pity. My situation is not the end of the world, it’s shitty, but not life altering. Buried deeply beneath the surface of post-grad panic was the root issue. I had entirely lost my sense of self. I had stopped doing the things that made me happy without even noticing. Allowing all forms of creativity to slip through the cracks and filling those gaps with work, loads of social drinking, and spending money on material objects that gave me a false sense of joy.

As per usual, I’m impatient and can’t wait for things to evolve organically, so I am going to start changing things for myself. First order of business is fully immersing myself in creativity through writing and my insane DIY projects (the ones I know my roommates love so much. I’m sorry in advance to what may happen to the garage). I am also challenging myself to go a month without wearing any make up, inspired by all the bare beauty campaigns. Through this social experiment, I’m interested to discover if treatment from my peers, based off superficial beauty, will influence the way I think and define myself as beautiful. By discovering the faux and alluring mask of confidence that makeup can provide, I am determined to have confidence shining from within rather than from the glitter I threw on my face.

IMG_3433

So September, I’m taking you on in all my freckled and red-faced glory. Hope you’re ready.

Advertisements

I’m Not Bossy. I’m a Boss.

My entire life I have been fortunate enough to have strong female role models. Women who are independent, intelligent, and love selflessly with every ounce of their being. Still to this day, some of the people I respect and idolize the most are women with the wonderful  “take it or leave it” attitude; exemplified by a strong sense of self and the fewest amount of fucks given about what anyone thinks. We all know them, we all want to be friends with them, but mainly we all would give anything to be even a fraction as badass as them.

While catatonically scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, the YouTube video for a new PSA from Girl Scouts of America caught my attention. I was a part of Girl Scouts for over a decade and it contributed largely to the person I am today…but mostly I’m a huge fan of their cookies, so I pressed play.


Here is the Ban Bossy message verbatim because I stole it from the website:

When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy.” Words like bossy send a message: don’t raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys—a trend that continues into adulthood. Together we can encourage girls to lead.

I began to think about my childhood and if I had ever been labeled as “bossy.”  I knew that there was a point when I began to not speak up in class, became less assertive, and cared less about expressing my opinion, however, I wasn’t sure of the exact timeline of events. I didn’t know if there was anything specific that prompted this transformation or if I had just gradually chilled out more and stopped caring. As always though, I was thinking pretty confidently that this obviously did not apply to me and I must be an exception. I decided to ask my mom because no one on this earth would know better. This is what she said:

Hi,

So first of all, I was listening to some of the Ban Bossy videos and I have changed my mind: I don’t think they should ban bossy, I think girls should embrace it. Being bossy is good. We should change the meaning so if someone says they are bossy, the teachers, coaches and women in their lives should say, “That’s right, every one needs a boss but lets talk about compromise.” Bossy girls just need to learn management skills.

As for you, you were born to be in charge. Always the first in line, the first to volunteer, the first to venture out. In preschool, you helped organize snack, opened everyone’s juice boxes, tied everyone’s shoes, and made sure everyone had a pencil or supplies. Bossy? Maybe some kids thought so because they wanted to do it themselves and when someone does it for you, it can be annoying. But mostly at even 3 you could see the big picture and knew what it would take to accomplish any task.

By the time you were in second grade, some of your natural instincts had been squashed. You hesitated or needed permission to do things and taking charge wasn’t acceptable and conformity set in. (Remember the White underwear phenomenon) 

But I do believe the final blow came in 4th grade, when you had to play at the big kids recess and no matter what you tried to do, you were stopped, berated and threatened. You weren’t bullied like your brother was but for a kid who wanted to take on the world that year was the beginning of your shrinking violet stage because in the world there would always be someone bigger, older, and smarter that you feel deserves to be in charge rather that you.

Even today, you have amazing ideas and then the doubt sets in. Four-year-old Claire would have done ANYTHING! Today’s Claire…She’ll do some things but need a quorum to do it.

I truly believe you are the most amazing human who is destined to do amazing things.

Love you!!

Well, shit. I’m not the exception. My life has been fully effected by this “bossy” label and I could have not been more unaware. What happened to this spunky in-charge four year old and how do we get her back?

Scan

First let’s address this “White Underwear Phenomenon”:

The year was 1999. There was a girl in my class who was pretty, tan, had older siblings, and wore only the best bell-bottom denim pants in existence. It goes without saying that she was the coolest second grader to ever bless the James Foster Elementary playground. She only wore white underwear and you were considered existentially lame if you were repping your favorite cartoons or any sort of design. So for an entire year all the girls of Room 28 stuck to a strict white only policy, set forth by said mean girl. Confused mothers everywhere soon found themselves at Target purchasing their daughters new white undies.

At seven years old, my confidence and instinct to lead had already begun to fade away. I was a child with so much potential! Who knows what I would be doing today if I could have just confidently rocked my Disney princess chonies like every other seven-year-old girl on the planet.

My mother’s honest words were tough to read, but inspired me to make a change and try to bring that prematurely ambitious four-year-old back to life. She’s right about everything (as moms always are). I step to the side and let others lead, silencing my voice and ideas constantly, because the majority of people may not agree. When the odds were against me, my natural instinct to lead was tossed to the side and I did everything in my power to blend in with the crowd. I highly encourage everyone to ask their parents about their individual “bossy” story; I think it can be the cause of some major self-revelations.

I am taking the pledge to ban the negative connotation of the word bossy. I am taking the pledge to no longer let the judgements of others cause me to doubt myself. I am taking the pledge to encourage young women to be creative, speak their mind, take control of opportunities that are presented, and wear whatever color underwear they want, dammit!  As always, I think Beyoncé says it best: “I’m not bossy. I’m a boss.”

Ps. Thank you Mom for being such a kind and strong female role model! Love you!

1801354_10201592066986915_1425756656_o

The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself

Rooted deep within all of us is a fear of failure. It’s a fear of being embarrassed because you may not be good at something, or a fear of taking a risk because things may not work out the way that you want them to.  I’m the first one to admit that I’m afraid to fail and it has affected both my personal and professional life for far too long. I can’t make a career path decision because I am constantly worried that it’s the wrong one, and I consciously cut all romantic possibilities for a fear of rejection. I put up a wall and stopped taking risks; I wasn’t failing, but instead plateauing. My life philosophy shaped by fear created a toxic illusion that not failing was the same as succeeding. Embarrassingly enough, it wasn’t until after reading an assigned article in my biodiversity course, entitled “No Limits,” that I discovered how truly wrong I have been.

Most of the time when a professor assigns readings, I roll my eyes and read it with a look of agony and despair as if the professor maliciously planned the literary torture. However,  “No Limits” got me thinking. This article takes a scientific approach to human beings and our talents. It analyses why some people are considered “gifted,” and what makes a select few extraordinary at a skill while the rest of us are categorized as normal and watch in envy.  Yes, our genetics and epigenome do play a large role here, but its also comes down to something called “deliberate practice.”

From “No Limits”:

“Deliberate practice requires a mindset of never being satisfied with your current ability. It requires a constant self-critique, a pathological restlessness, a passion to aim just beyond your capability so that you actually long for daily disappointment and failure. Most importantly, it requires a never-ending resolve to dust yourself off and try again… We do not – and cannot – know our own limits until we acquire and deploy the right resources and find the necessary motivation to push ourselves to them.”

My challenge for myself, and others out there, is to stop over-thinking, over-analyzing, and to do the things that terrify us the most. Fall in love, move to that new city, and take that job. Living in fear leads us to merely exist. We fall victim to our fear of failure, when it seems that failure paves our road to success.

….And other clichés.

 

Click here to read “No Limits”

Be yourself! Be unique! You’re rad!

Recently I have been fascinated with exploring and analyzing culture on the individual level. As humans beings we are so unique and choose to express ourselves through different creative outlets. The way we dress says more about ourselves then we would like to admit, and I like to think that what we choose to wear can say a lot about who we are. My friend Olivia has always been a badass when it comes to putting an outfit together and I decided she would be the perfect place to start when exploring how we choose as individuals to express ourselves. Here is what Olivia has to say about her Southern California bohemian look: Image

I think my style is truly an accurate representation of my personality, aura, or whatever you want to call it. As I’ve gotten older I’ve stopped trying to blend in and follow the trends and just be myself. It’s so much more fun that way. I draw my inspirations from a lot of places. Mostly from all the places I’ve lived: funky bohemian San Francisco, classic chic of the east coast, and laid back surf from the beaches of San Diego. Lately I’ve been feeling more bohemian because of my travels. This summer going to Israel and Jordan really influenced my life and consequently my style. I feel confident in basically all my clothes and I don’t buy anything that doesn’t make me feel like me. Style is the physical representation of the self, so don’t ever force yourself into a style that isn’t you and remember you don’t need a magazine to tell you how to dress. I think some people see how I dress and assume I’m a dirt tree-hugging hippy (half true). But honestly, let them think what they want. Being true to your own personal style is better than caring what other people think. Don’t blend in; stand out. Be yourself! Be unique! You’re rad!

ImageImageImageImageImageImage

What Olivia is wearing: Hi-low tank by Honey Punch, bell bottom pants by Brandy Melville USA, heels by Aldo, and hand-made earrings from the local OB Farmers Market

Want more style profiles? What does your style say about you?

There’s No Place Like Home

A bedroom is personal. We hand pick photos to hang of people, places, and things that we love. We display nik-naks collected from years of travel to remind us of places we have been and the memories connected to them. We decorate to make our space feel safe, comfortable, and perfect to call home. Even if you may feel that you don’t have the interior design eye, you choose things that reflect you, making that space wonderful in your own unique way.

I love everything vintage and antique. All the furniture in my room is roughly 100 years old, because “new” to me isn’t comfortable. And yes, I am THAT guy. The one that goes the extra mile to scuff and sand freshly painted furniture to make it look old. Some may think that this is crazy and not worth the effort, but I thrive off a good project and I love the results. This style is not for everyone, but it’s me. Welcome to my home.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

My bedroom is filled with things that reflect my passion for travel, my eclectic interests, and little trinkets to remind me of the people I love. What does your bedroom say about you?

All Adventurous Women Do

Image

The wall next to my bed is cluttered with an array of post-it notes with little words of wisdom scribbled on them. Each one serves an individual purpose, whether it be to inspire, humble, or just a friendly reminder. Some are funny quotes from my favorite comedians; while others are taken from books, like the infamous and over used, “We accept the love we think we deserve”, from Perks of Being a Wallflower. Recently, after watching an episode of HBO’s Girls, I added, “all adventurous women do” to my collection of cliché inspirations. Something about watching Lena Dunham awkwardly shimmy and sway to “Dancing On My Own” resonated with me. I decided that it deserved a spot on my cluttered wall, which resembles an angsty teen’s Tumblr.

The end of my school year was coming to a close and the buzz of everyone’s spectacular summer plans began to weigh heavily on my mind. I had yet to snag an awesome internship or get a quirky job in an exotic location and I wanted to do something that would challenge me; I wanted an adventure. However, it is common knowledge that adventures cost money and a known fact that I have none, so my world full of endless possibilities was quickly reduced. I felt slightly defeated and began the task of accepting a dreaded summer spent under my parents’ roof, but there stuck to my wall was the chicken scratch that read, “All adventurous women do.” I made the decision to figure out a summer plan that would be outside my comfort zone and to actually do something, no matter what it entailed.

As my first act of “do,” I moved to Berkeley with my childhood best friend. We were definitely living up to the definition of adventurous women while couch surfing for a week. Even though we had no real plan, or home, or jobs, I was satisfied because at least I was doing something.

Berkeley is exactly what I thought it would be- weirdoes and all. Everyone seems to be very academically driven and tolerant to the diversity of humans that reside within its borders, a refreshing change. We met up with a group of friends and I sat observing as their unnecessarily complex vocabulary flew over my head. I was impressed by the accomplishments of my peers, but began to feel pretty shitty about my own success as a student. Suddenly a question was thrown in my direction, “So Claire, what do you do?” Fuck. There was that word again, do. The storm cloud hovered over my head as I racked my brain to come up with an answer. My mind continued to spiral as I accepted that I don’t do anything nearly as impressive as any of the students at Cal. I’m not even sure if I really do anything at all. Was this the beginning of an identity crisis? What do I actually do? I felt inadequate, answered simply and let them proceed with their intellectual banter.

My ego suffered further trauma when I spent the next evening at Stanford. There I was, a basic public school betch in a sea of scholars. Nursing a beer, I took in my surroundings. To my left was a female race car driver, to my right, a professional ballerina and across the room, a guy who got a perfect score on his MCAT. Was this real life? The genius over there was spending his summer engineering pacemakers while I’m a failed biology major with little to no direction. But hey, I am relatively decent at beer pong and can recite every line of Bridesmaids, so at least my time at school hasn’t been a total waste.

Rewind to high school and the question, “What do you do?” would have been answered without hesitation. I’m Claire and I play soccer. I spend my days going from practice to practice and my free time drowning in schoolwork. I am a college bound athlete and sports are what I do.Image

But this isn’t high school anymore, (thank god) and as soon as we stepped on to our college campuses we were no longer the jock, the geek, or the theater kid. No one has any way of knowing if you led your team to win a championship, planned the pep rallies, or got elected prom queen and honestly, no one really cares. What you do transitions into what you did, giving us the wearisome satisfaction of constructing an entirely new persona. After much analysis, I discovered that I was so caught off guard by the question, “What do you do?” because I had hoped that I was now defined by my character and skills, not by how I execute them. Superficially however, this is not the case. Instead of being labeled by after school activities, we are now defined by our majors and careers. It’s what we do that gives strangers a first glimpse of who we are. For the majority of us that failed at becoming a professional athlete or rising star, the journey of finding our identity and choosing what we do becomes our hardest battle.

Image

All adventurous women do, whether it be kicking ass in the business world, exploring foreign lands, or raising a family. Our actions are only a front protecting our complex inner beings. In my book, as long as you are proactive, moving in a forward direction and end each day proud of who you are, then you must be doing something right.

That Festival Feeling

Image

My last weekend was spent in the paradise that is the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. A magical world where hipsters from all walks of life unite under the Indio sun to drink alcohol, indulge in drugs of every form, listen music, and talk about their ironic lifestyles. We all acknowledge that half of the appeal of Coachella is the trendiness that comes along with it. Many treat it as a fashion show, some just want to be able to say that they went knowing very little about the bands playing, and others use it as an excuse to dance in zero to no clothing. Just as suspected, it was in fact four days full of dirty hippies, wide-eyed junkies, and one too many trendy girls in flower crowns.  However, I am not an innocent Coachella goer. You better believe that I rocked a flower crown and had every outfit planned out down to the last accessory. I swayed to the seductive sounds of The XX, wept as Alt-J performed “Breezeblocks,” danced like a fool at Jurassic 5, and hugged more strangers than I would like to admit to.

Although the main reason that people gather in Indio are to witness performances by some of today’s most talented musicians, I truly feel that there is magic in the air that keeps everyone coming back year after year. A magic that I like to call the “festival feeling.” I didn’t understand this feeling until the second day of the festival as I lie in the grass surrounded by my best friends listening to Yeaseyar’s set. There was a sense of freedom that washed over me. Freedom from the judgments of society and the freedom to love and soak up every last drop of joy from that moment and every moment there after. I experienced a complete loss of judgment of others, which was replaced by the beautiful embrace of differences and accompanied by all the respect in the world for the people that were just being themselves. If a 400 pound grizzly bear of a man wants to howl at the rising moon during Modest Mouse, then I say, “Fucking go for it big guy, good for you!”

Image

Strangers became friends, insecurities went out the window, and I was able to see everything in a positive light. There is no combination of words to do this “festival feeling” justice; it is something that you have to experience for yourself to create your own definition.

Sadly, my fairy tale weekend had to come to an end. Stepping back into my apartment a depression instantly swept across me. It hit me that I was back to the grind of a twenty-something college student and all of the negative energy that comes along with it. The thought of walking into my campus gym made me cringe. I couldn’t imagine subjecting myself to seeing all the stick thin, sweat free girls and guys in frat tanks only half working out.  I dreaded having to return to a place where everyone walked with his or her head down, just going through the motions trying to get through the day. I didn’t want to go back to sitting in class pretending to pay attention, while I actually surf the Internet for clothes that I can’t afford. My reality that I had known was now my nightmare and the happy-go-lucky feeling I had over the weekend seemed like a distant dream.

Why can’t reality always have that “festival feeling”?

I believe that it can. Southern California has societal pressures that leave people with a harsh and judgmental mindset. We have it programmed in our brain to compare ourselves to others instead of embracing individuality. The influence of the media and today’s society are always going to be there, but if we recognize that these are only ideas manifested by American culture this feeling can become a reality. We should be fighting for ourselves as individuals and be flaunting our quirks, not disguising them.

With some digging, I discovered that my “festival feeling” stems directly from the wonderful people that I have in my life. It got me thinking about how much the people we surround ourselves with can affect who we are in the moment and who we are to become in the future. It’s those humans that see the beauty in diversity that you should have in your life. Surround yourself with the people that believe in you as an individual and make you a better human being.

Image

This is the time. Find the ones that give you your “festival feeling” and never let them go.

Challenge Accepted

Image

I’m just your average twenty-something female:

I have the dorkiest, funniest, and most supportive friends on the planet. I actively practice both emotional and romantic abstinence, which many people refer to as “single.” I love myself, I hate myself, and I’m definitely not going to keep to that diet that I started 2 days ago. I make an effort to maintain a social life, which usually consists of drinking and spending the very little money I do make. I work a part time job with a full class schedule studying Anthropology and Biology. Lastly, my least favorite question is, “What do you want to do with your degree?” This question always earns the sarcastic response, “It’s unclear.”

One of the major misconceptions in the mind of American twenty-somethings’ is that you have to have it all figured out, but it’s not entirely our fault that we feel this way. Society has constructed expectations of what “they” think people should have accomplished by a certain age to be considered “successful”. By 18, we should have graduated from high school, and be attending a four-year university with a career path already selected. By 21, we should be graduating college and either finding a good stable job or continuing on to graduate school. Which means by age 25, we should be settling down to reproduce, have at least a master’s degree, and have located one of those money making things that were passionate about. When this is all we have been taught, then how are we expected to know and think any differently? I want to not only challenge Americans’ definition of success, but make it clear that there is not just one definition or one right path to get there.

I’m going to be honest when I say that I truly have NO idea what I want to do with the rest of my life and I’m (somewhat) cool with it. I didn’t realize until I left the country and traveled on my own, that the rest of the world doesn’t think like Americans do. This may seem foolish, but at eighteen I had only known the life that I had in the wonderfully vain Southern California. I had never even considered the perspectives of the youth in other countries and how their views on growing up could be any different than mine.

I will never forget my Dutch friend, Chiara, laughing and saying to me, “You need to chill out girl. You Americans are too up tight.” Never in my life did I think I would be too up tight, to most Americans I am considered laid back, but she was right. Here I was a young eighteen year old, on the verge of having a minor stroke, who had escaped to Australia to “find myself.” I really did need to chill out. We’re young, and we have time to figure out our lives. We’re rushing through all the fun stuff and trying to grow up too quickly because of our “bigger is better” American perspective.

My goal through this blog is to illustrate the societal constructions and perceptions for the young twenty-somethings in college who are… well, just trying to get their shit together. Through the different entries, I will explain my observations on the American youth and make an effort to use my skills as an anthropologist to be as objective as possible.

Being in your twenties is an interesting transition period in every ones’ life. It’s the time when you are figuring out who you are, what you like, the awesome people you want to hang out with (and the awful humans that you don’t). It’s the only time when you can make really dumb decisions and people will look at you and think, “Wow, that guy is really living.” That doesn’t last forever, when you’re thirty it changes and for that same dumb decision people say, “Wow, that guy is a fucking dumb ass.” At some point we all have to grow up, but for now let’s raise our glasses and cheers to a decade of success, failure, adventures, lessons, love, lust, and embarrassment and just ENJOY it. And to all you adults out there: Cut us a break, ya responsible geezers, we’re working on it.