Thought Catalog


You Can’t Tell Me Who To Be When It Comes To Love

Posted: 21 May 2016 02:00 PM PDT

Unsplash
Unsplash

I will not be a woman that abides by the 'dating rules.'

I will not follow the correct path to falling for someone; I will not color in the lines of love. Instead I will draw my own picture, make designs and shapes outside the boundaries.

I've never been one to speak cautiously, to love simply, or to have sex quickly and unattached.

In fact, I've always done the opposite. Instead our generation's careless descent into the hookup culture, yet cautious approach to love—I do the complete reverse.

I jump quickly into love and carefully into sexual intimacy.

I've never been the type of woman to guard her heart, to be smart about love.
And I've never been the type to jump into bed with a man I don't have a deep connection with.

To me, love and sex have always had their own rules. My rules.

See, I want to fall fast into love, but slow into lust.

I want to scope the mind, not feel a body.
I want to touch a soul rather than someone's skin.

And I don't want to be told who and what to be.

I don't want to be told that I'm not a Feminist because I fall too quickly for men. That I need to be stronger and more independent, not tripping headfirst into love.

I am independent and always will be, even if I fall in love.

I don't want to be told that I'm not a powerful woman because I let men into my heart. Or that I'm not bold or confident in my body and sexual identity because I don't sleep with men.

I find my sexual identity in not sleeping around, which is simply my personal choice.

See, the world is wrong for their one-sided perspectives. You can be a Feminist, a strong-willed, self-assured, solo-riding woman who still loves to love. You can still be a Feminist without giving your body to men.

I don't want to be told who to be. That I should be a woman who loves less, and has sex more. Who follows the rules of dating—don't be too much or too distant, too committed or too chill, to weak or too strong.

I don't want to be the woman who always walks a straight line when it comes to men and relationships.

I'm not the kind of woman that does what she's told and I'll never be.

I won't be the woman who does what the world wants.
I won't be the woman who changes herself for a man.

I will always be the one that loves too much, who falls headfirst, who takes careful steps to intimacy. And the one who doesn't see anything wrong with that. TC mark

This Is How You Remember Your Pain Without Letting It Destroy You

Posted: 21 May 2016 01:00 PM PDT

apricotberlin
apricotberlin

As someone who writes, I've started to notice we all have a tendency to identify ourselves with our pain.

This isn't really a bad thing, per se. We all have stories. We have been on top of mountains and we have been pulled into undercurrents, sucked into riptides. We all have perspectives of the beautiful and magical parts of life, as well as the sides that are dark and not as kind. We tell our stories because we know others who have been there. We tell them to remind ourselves of where we've been and how far we've come. We tell them to ask for help, hoping someone will hold out their hands and not let go. And sometimes we tell them to set ourselves free.

I have started to wonder though where the line is for talking about our pain, and basking in it. Telling your story isn't always fun. You sometimes have to go back and relive moments that you'd rather keep suppressed. The hurt, disappointment, and anger that you move past from can sometimes fuel your most creative work though, so you relive and you write and you hand it to the world saying, "Hey, this is what I have dealt with," and hope that it connects with someone.

We write about our happy moments in addition to the painful ones, but we also know that misery loves company.

For me though, I've always had a hard time letting go. I have always been someone who is sentimental. I hold onto everything. Cards from my seventh birthday, art projects from fifth grade, journals from middle school. I attempt to throw them out but I never go through with it. I get so attached and I love to remember.

I tend to do that internally too.

My memory carries snapshots of smiles after a long night. Compliments from past loves. Quotes burned into my brain from people telling their own stories. Melodies from music that I listened to with friends who were passionate. Mental scrapbooks filled with memories that do me no good to remember so sharply, but I can't seem to discard them.

It's helpful when I'm telling my story.

It's not helpful when I'm trying to move forward in my life.

When I'm making new friends when old ones leave. Finding new love and falling in love after being broken-hearted. When I try to take steps on a new path because that's what we need to do, I know that I'm doing the right thing. I love the excitement of new, of fresh starts and clean slates; We aren't pictures and we don't stay in the same place forever. Yet I almost feel like remembering past things so vividly holds me back from truly embracing new things. I don't know if it's because past things have made me afraid of new. Or if I'm afraid of forgetting things in my past that I feel made me who I am.

Or if I'm just scared of letting go because I've always been so good at holding on.

Yet there is a point where you are no longer simply recalling your pain. Where instead of taking a stroll down memory lane, you start building a house there again. You start branding it on your skin and saying, "This is me and it's all I'll ever be." The world starts viewing you through this one lens and you never grow.

Or you never convince the world you've grown.

So where is the balance? How do you use your past to your advantage, and not let it be your identity? How do you keep moving forward without cutting off everything that made you who you are today? If I'm honest, I'm still learning how to do just that.

I know that we can't stop being vulnerable and being open about our pasts. I think if we choose to forget, we choose to also abandon the things we learn. We can't let our pain be in vain and have to make the same mistakes when we don't have to. Yet if we truly don't want to live in that world, we have to be willing to stop holding onto memories so tightly that we can't move forward. There is a difference between remembering and living in the past.

Because I think there is a reason we remember. So that when we finally do move forward we do bigger and better things than we ever thought we were capable of. TC mark

I’m Sorry I Couldn’t Stay

Posted: 21 May 2016 12:00 PM PDT

Thought.Is
Thought.Is

We travel through towns and crowded cities, everywhere we go laying our claim on the land with our Converse and combat boots, initials carved into tree bark and dandelion seeds set free into the wind.

But we've reached a crossroads here.
You want to step left,
And I want to run right
into warm sun and possibility

until you lose sight of me like summer light behind autumn storm clouds.

We used to know each other.

Like the dirt beneath our fingernails, like the squish of mud between our bare toes.

You used to push me on playground swings and I'd imagine a future, big and far away. Not knowing then, that this is what we would one day become.

I never imagined that the shift of wind
would blow us to two different places,
two different dreams.

When I lay awake at night I listen to the tree branches, the crickets, the birds too confused in the hot-cold weather to know if they should go or stay.

I think about our sun-kissed skin,
the cities and towns we've traveled,
the scars we learned to trace with fingertips,

to remind us that who we were isn't who we'll become.

Your feet are in old shoes, tattered, worn, familiar. I have bare feet, ready to crack and callous with a new adventure in every step.

We've reached two separate paths, like Robert Frost said.
But divided you cannot conquer both.

It was never about you, about love, about fear.

But about the decisions we must make when the world's against us, when our hearts pound in our ribcages saying go go go.

It was about me.
And my need to run.

Through towns and crowded cities, laying my claim on the land, writing my name in every place, setting my wishes free into the wind. Becoming new. TC mark

The Truth About Sex In Relationships (Hint: It’s Not As Important As You Think It Is)

Posted: 21 May 2016 11:00 AM PDT

Twenty20, marishkakuroedova
Twenty20, marishkakuroedova

I get emails from people from time to time questioning if there is something wrong with their marriage simply because they aren’t having as much sex as they used to.

Now, it’s a perfectly natural thing to worry about …but if a reduction in sex is the ONLY thing that is “wrong” with your marriage, then there is really nothing wrong at all.

How can I be so sure?

Well a recent study conducted on DatingAdvice.com reveals something about sex which the rom-coms would like to have you thinking otherwise on.

What did it reveal?

The study showed that on average, only 1 in 4 people would end a relationship because of “bad” sex. Which means that 3 in 4 people don’t feel “bad” sex is …well …all that bad.

…Which is something that at first thought sounds odd, but in actuality is perfectly correct.

Why does it sound odd at first thought?

Well, we have been conditioned from an early age (mostly from the media) into believing that a happy successful relationship should involve constant passionate sex. We believe we should be having sex every night …and that that sex should not only be good, but incredible.

And if it’s not…then something must be wrong.

BUT…

That’s how we’ve been programmed to think. It’s not how reality actually is. The reality is that once you are married, after two or three years, the once passionate sex becomes …well …less and less passionate.

It’s still good …but we tend not to be as turned on by our partner as we once were.

And we see that even though the sex isn’t as good as it once was, we still care for and love our partner. In short, we begin to see (and accept) that the kind of infinite passionate sex couples are “supposed” to have (according to the rom-coms) …simply doesn’t exist.

And this is where REAL intimacy can begin to be built

When we realize that our marriage shouldn’t be a mirror copy of what we see on the big screen, we can truly look at our partner (and the relationship we have with them) as they are …and build the kind of intimacy that long-lasting relationships are made of.

Intimacy that is based on truth …and not a perception of truth that we have been wrongly programmed into believing we should have.

This article is not meant to be anti-rom coms. I like rom-coms. But I would class them as my old headmaster used to say “chewing gum for the eyes”. They’re meant to entertain you …not educate you about how life should be lived.

6 Rules To Live By When Navigating The Dating World

Posted: 21 May 2016 10:00 AM PDT

Wyatt Fisher
Wyatt Fisher

Look people, I don't claim to be the sharpest tool in the shed. In fact, I don't even claim to be sharp, or even in the shed for that matter. I can admit that, at times, I've been a complete tool…but I feel like that's getting off track here. What I do know, without a doubt, is that dating today is fucked. I mean seriously, beyond belief, what-in-the-flying-shit-are-we-doing kind of fucked.

Guys have no idea how to tell if a girl is seriously into him, or just bullshitting around for free drinks and to kill time. Girls have no idea if a guy is looking to find his way into her pants, or really get to know her and find his way into her heart. Sometimes neither party knows what's going on, what they want, what the situation is, or how to navigate such a pothole filled road.

Ultimately we’re all wondering just how in the hell to figure this whole "not being alone forever because I really don't want to take care of 6 dogs, 4 cats, and a goddamn parrot just to feel needed" thing. Sounds dramatic? Damn right it is, I'm barely holding on to my twenties, with no kids and no stable relationship, and the clock is ticking. But here are six tips to hopefully navigate us through.

1. Remember Your Social Skills!

I don't know about you, but the MOST AWKWARD thing to me, whether I'm on a date or just trying to spark the interest of someone, is when I feel like I am guiding the entire conversation. And this is coming from a male perspective!! Realistically, WE ARE supposed to be asking more of the questions, getting to know her, making her feel special, etc. However, we fully expect reciprocation to some extent. One word answers, lack of eye contact, no semblance of true interest……these things indicate to us that you are NOT interested. You might be shy, and completely and totally into us, but you can bet your ass we won't feel that way.

Now, guys, if you do this, you can basically kiss any chance you had goodbye. Your entire goal, your mission, is to make her laugh. Keep her entertained. Learn about her. Make her feel like her answers to your questions are the only thing that matter to you at that moment in time. This is really just like Social Dynamics 101, yet so many people in my generation have trouble with this that I'm about to start a monthly self-help newsletter.

2. Be Honest, To A Fault, With Everything You Say.

If you're looking to just meet new people and play the field, say it. Don't lead anyone on. If you're hoping to stumble into something that leads to that happily-ever-after love, say it. The worst thing that we're doing to each other nowadays is not being transparent about our intentions.

I don't care what it is; If you're hoping to just date someone on the surface to appear normal because you hire hookers to spank you while you wear adult diapers, just say I…..……..errr, scratch that. Be honest about the first part, casual surface dating. Keep the kinky shit locked deep inside till at least the 3rd date.

3. Be Willing To Pick Up The Check.

I don't care what you believe, whether it should be picked up by the guy, split, picked up by whoever initiated the date…..whatever. Unless otherwise specified, both parties should at least be willing to entertain the idea, and pull out a wallet, even if you know damn well the other person intends on paying. When I take out a girl on a date, I expect to pay. A few times, just to be sweet, they beat me to it (I had my wallet on the table, it became a fun race). That showed a ton about their character. Ladies, I'm in no way saying "pay for more dates". Not at all. But the willingness to, that goes great lengths in proving that you're independent, fair, cool, and are perfectly capable and happy to pay for things sometimes. After all, in a relationship it's usually give and take when it comes to who's going to pay for what.

4. Be Confident, Not Cocky.

There's nothing wrong with talking about yourself. If you're really proud of something, confident about something, by all means talk about it. Women love men who exude confidence, and real men love women who can do the same. But there is a fine line between being confident and being cocky, and the latter is really kind of suffocating.

When someone is confident, you can feed off that and let it amplify your own confidence. Cockiness is different, and it can certainly be a turn off. Too much of that and the conversations turn into a weird form of a bragging contest, like the other party is trying to keep up. Nothing has ever been wrong with a little modesty.

5. Don't Spend Too Much Time Talking About Past Relationships.

I feel like I shouldn't have to even point this out, but unfortunately, my faith in the dating scene is consistently let down. I've been on dates where the girl kept mentioning something about her ex and I could barely fight the urge to tell her to invite his ass, just make sure he covers the insane bar tab I'm about to ring up. I've also seen guys approach girls in the bar, and within minutes start discussing the girl who did them wrong. This shit is not attractive, for either sex. If you ABSOLUTELY feel the need to touch on something, fine, but DO NOT DWELL. A couple sentences will do, at most. Trust me.

6. Be Yourself!

Just because he/she is into hiking up mountains, playing nude water polo in shark infested waters, cooking meth in the garage Breaking Bad style, or whatever…..You SHOULD NOT pretend that you're into the same stuff when you're not. By all means, ask questions and be interested in their hobbies, but don't try to make yourself seem so perfect by acting like you're into the SAME EXACT SHIT!!

Look, I will never skydive or bungee jump. Why? I don't personally believe in jumping out of airplanes that are NOT crashing and I certainly don't believe in tying a giant rubber band to myself and leaping off of tall things. That's just me. I casually dated a girl who loved that stuff, and I never once let her think I would entertain the idea of going, but I did ask to see the pictures from it. That was to let her know that even though it's not my thing, I want to see how into it she is.

Bottom line: show interest but be yourself. You should round each other out, teach each other new things, and be able to build each other up with new experiences and interests (if you're willing, my skydive example is not applicable. Fuck all of that nonsense).

That's it. There really is no set way to go about things, but these are damn good guidelines to follow. It's a treacherous, dog-eat-dog dating world out there, so the more you equip yourself with the knowledge of it, the better off you'll be.

Happy mating ladies and gents!! TC mark

Why I Absolutely Refuse To Date Anyone Who Says They’re Not A Feminist

Posted: 21 May 2016 09:00 AM PDT

Trainwreck
Trainwreck

Feminism and women’s rights seem to be everywhere we look. And yes (surprise, surprise) I think that’s amazing. I think it’s important to talk about how we treat women, how we can make the world better for future generations, and how ultimately our lives are impacted by laws and legislature. OBVIOUSLY I’m jazzed about the fact that feminism is no longer a super foreign word and probably trends on Twitter once a day.

But what is it? What at the very basic definition is feminism?

According to Merriam Webster, feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.”

Seriously. That’s it.

So if all feminism is is the belief that men and women should be treated and respected in the exact same way, why and HOW am I still being hit on and asked out by people who do not think of themselves as feminists?

And more importantly, why did/have I continued to date them?

I don’t really know the logic behind this. I’ve dated all sorts of people. Honestly, it kind of sounds like a Dr. Seuss book. Some have been tall, some have been small. Some have been wild, one had a child. I have dated men from bars, I have gotten frisky in their cars. Really it’s been a little all over the place.

But outside of the whimsical rhyming I wrote mostly for my own amusement, there have been a handful of men (I can only speak to men because I haven’t dated any women like this) who somehow, did not consider themselves a feminist. They called the feminist agenda stupid and rolled their eyes at sentences that included things like “Title IX” and “equal rights” when they came up. Somehow, in the age of when a woman will likely be a front runner for President, I still managed to find men who did not believe I was their equal.

And you know what? Never a-fucking-gain.

Because you know what someone who dates me who doesn’t identify as a feminist is really saying?

They’re saying that at the base level, at the core of what they fundamentally believe, that they do not respect me simply because I’m a woman.

By dating someone who does not believe in feminism, I would be dating someone who thinks of me as less than, or as incapable, simply because I was born with XX chromosomes and a vagina. I’d be dating someone who inherently looks at us, looks at me, and only sees what I can’t do, rather than focusing on what I can. It’d be dating someone who doesn’t think about things in the terms of progression or moving forward, but dating someone who admittedly thinks backwards.

I would be dating someone who doesn’t allow for, or really even WANT change or growth.

By dating someone who does not believe in feminism, I would be dating someone who if we ever had a daughter, wouldn’t raise her to be the empowered, self-actualized woman I would want to raise. I’d be dating someone who would raise a daughter to think there are things she cannot do, things she cannot be. I would not be dating someone who I would honestly be able to look at and think, “That’s a good parent. That’s someone I’m proud to have a child with.”

By dating someone who does not believe in feminism, I’d really be saying that my own beliefs are not as important as theirs. By dating someone who does not believe in feminism, it would be putting their needs ahead of my own. By dating someone who does not believe in feminism, I would be lessening my own stance and would really, not be behaving like a feminist. Because we would not be equals, it wouldn’t be a level playing field.

So you know what? I’m done. D-O-N-E done with anyone who does not openly identify as a feminist. I’m done having arguments where all I’m saying is, “I’d like to be treated exactly like you,” and that’s seen as ~*ridiculous*~. I’m done staying quiet about things that are important to me like closing the wage gap, making sure sexual assaults on college campuses are handled better, and protecting a woman’s access to reproductive care.

Because the fact of the matter is that while yes, everyone is entitled to their beliefs, if in 2016 you seriously don’t think you’re a feminist – you’re just wrong. If you can’t just say, “Yes everyone is equal,” you’re not someone I want to (or will) waste time on.

So no. If you’re not a feminist, I don’t want to date you. I may have just let it roll off my back before, but I’m done with that. I’m standing up for myself, for my fellow women, and saying that this is important to me, and it should be to the person I date as well. No matter how tall, small, childless or carless they may be.

If you’re not a feminist you can keep your drinks and your compliments, because I don’t want anything you have to offer anyway. TC mark

Why Do Iran’s Leaders Keep Lying About Treating Women With Dignity?

Posted: 21 May 2016 08:00 AM PDT

via Flickr - Beshef
via Flickr – Beshef

In 2007, 19-year-old Reyhaneh Jabbari was convicted of murdering Moreteza Abdolai Sarbandi, a former intelligence ministry worker in Iran. According to Jabbari, Sarbandi had invited Jabbari to his flat under the pretense of hiring Jabbari as an interior designer. Once she arrived at the flat however, according to Jabbari, Sarbandi locked the door from the inside and attempted to sexually assault her. With no clear escape route, Jabbari said she struggled to protect herself from Sarbandi – eventually grabbing a knife from her purse and stabbing Sarbandi in the shoulder. A friend of Sarbandi's entered the apartment through the locked door shortly after the scuffle, allowing Jabbari to escape. Sarbandi later died from blood loss caused by the wound Jabbari gave him.

Despite evidence that supported the contrary, the courts in Iran could not sufficiently conclude that Jabbari had acted in self defense, and sentenced her to death. Reyhaneh Jabbari was hanged on October 25, 2014. In her will, she told her mother, "I wish I could have hugged you until I died."

Human rights groups declared Jabbari's execution a travesty; Amnesty International decried her death as the result of "a flawed investigation and unfair trial." For Iranian women in particular, though, Jabbari's execution was a disappointing signal that the change they were promised by Hassan Rouhani had not come.

A year before Jabbari was executed, Hassan Rouhani was elected president of the Islamic Republic of Iran after running as a "moderate reformist." Rouhani’s election was successful due in part to his campaigning for stronger women's rights in Iran – Rouhani made many promises and claims that he would address women’s rights issues in Iran while he was running for President.

However, since Rouhani took office in 2013, women's rights in Iran have worsened by almost all accounts. Cultural and political misogyny continued to plague Iran as it attempted to scrub Western influence from its country. Hijab and forced veil laws are still heavily enforced by state-sanctioned "moral police" officers who patrol public spaces and imprison women for violating modesty laws. Tehran strengthened its stance against reproductive rights, and passed a bill allowing men to marry their adoptive daughters as early as their thirteenth birthday. All across Iran, women were banned arbitrarily: from waitressing at coffee shops to witnessing sports events.

Violence against women saw an unfortunate resurgence as well: Reyhaneh Jabbari became one of a growing number of women who received capital punishment in Iran since Rouhani took office. In a startling report, the UN Ambassador for human rights in Iran recently confirmed that Iran's execution rate was the highest it's been since 1989, and continues to outrank China for executions per capita. In October 2014, there were at least 14 instances of acid attacks committed against young Iranian women who were "badly veiled," burning and blinding many, and killing at least one woman. The attackers were believed to be Hezbollah, a notorious proxy organization affiliation with Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

The president-elect of Iran's largest opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Maryam Rajavi, echoed her frustration with the Iranian regime's poor treatment of women in an announcement for International Women's Day. In her address, Rajavi stated that "Velayat-e Faqih is a senseless monopoly that is confronting women’s equal rights full force. They have turned Iran into a big prison for women."

Rouhani promised that he would address women's rights, but when all of these injustices occur while he's in office, his promises feel empty. His popularity in the West just adds further insult to injury: Rouhani profits heavily from Western dignitaries hailing him as a "progressive" by Iranian standards. Progressive actions land Iranian women in jails. How can Rouhani be called a reformist when women in his country are punished for reform?

The truth is simple: despite all of the praise Rouhani has received from the West, Iranian women like Reyhaneh Jabbari continue to be stripped of their rights, freedoms, security and safety. The only Iranian leaders worthy of praise are the ones that can bring women's rights and liberation to Iran. TC mark

There’s Only One Way To Kill The Jealousy That’s Ruining Your Life

Posted: 21 May 2016 07:00 AM PDT

blaireblackmon
blaireblackmon

I'm a jealous person. I don't try to be. But it's there.

Why? I don't know. I certainly don't get anything out of it. As Joseph Epstein wrote, "of the seven deadly sins, only envy is no fun at all."

Envy eats at me. Even if you've been successful—in fact often more so when you're successful—you'll still look around at other people and think: "How did they get that?",  "Why don't I have that?" And then you're unhappy or resentful or worse, you wish ill on other people.

I wish that I didn't think those nasty, entitled thoughts. Who does? I find it to be even more embarrassing because when I really think about it, I have pretty much everything I want. But envy follows me like a shadow, as it does for a lot of people.

Last week I was having dinner with James Altucher and we spent a lot of time talking about jealousy. He said he struggles with it too. He asked me what I do about it. I shared an exercise I came up with.

I'll quote him paraphrasing me, since he put it in better words than I actually did when I tried to explain my thinking.

If you are envious of someone, you can’t just pick one or two things about them. Because it’s their entire history that has got them the one thing you are envious about.

So, he said, PICTURE THAT YOU CAN CHANGE PLACES IN EVERY WAY WITH THEM. But then it’s forever.

He said: Would you do it?

This works because the answer is usually no. The jealousy is real but the logic behind it won't stand up. I've found that this exercise helped me make progress in eradicating the selfish, toxic taste of jealousy and envy (not just for me, but also for people I've passed it to). When I feel it coming on, I don't just accept the emotion as it is, I take it—as Epictetus wisely advises—and say, "Hold on a moment; let me see who you are and what you represent. Let me put you to the test." 

For instance, let's say I was feeling jealous towards another author (and every author will admit to do this at one time or another). First, I'd want to think about why. Maybe it's because they've sold a lot more copies than me or their books have gotten more attention. Well, aren't their books a very different style than yours? Yes. Well, why don't you write in that style? Are you not capable of doing that? No, I am. I choose not to because I don't like that style. It's not what I want to do creatively. OK, well then isn't it a bit entitled to think you can make that choice and still get the exact same results?

And putting that all aside for a second, do you actually want that person's life? Do you want to be the person that went into making those books? Do you want to be on the road all the time like that? Do you want to have to be in the space they're in? Not at all! Don't you like what you have? Don't you like who you are? Of course. I feel great. Alright, well ask yourself if it'd be worth trading your life for theirs.

What James and I started doing at dinner was run through people we had felt pangs of jealousy towards, either personally or professionally. He'd name someone whose work he admired and then I'd point out that the guy had a gambling problem. I named someone who was a well-paid speaker and investor and James told me that the dude cheated on his wife a lot. James picked someone who has a great reputation and has won a lot of awards. I pointed out that despite being a critical darling, the person's work hadn't sold well and actually the author was quite frustrated about that. I mentioned a woman whose work I was a big fan of and then I remembered how many people had told me that she was controlling and mean. We talked about a really successful businessman and then we realized that the guy hated his business and talked about wanting to do something else all the time.

What's left after you run through this exercise is a couple things. First, you're reminded that nothing is as clean and simple as you think. Jealousy makes another person's situation rosier than it is. Second, it's clear that a lot of what we covet comes at a cost. Often, we're aware of this cost (which is why we haven't pursued it already) and seeing the way that the cost has played out on the people we're envious of is a good reminder. Third, we're able to see something we often miss: that we have it pretty good and even though our eyes may wander, in fact, if forced to choose, we'd stay put.

There is another part of envy that I think we missed—something that has helped me more philosophically than practically. We forget that it can be a two way street. From the outside, we see how well someone might be doing or what awesome stuff they have and all we think is: I want that. We don't think: "Do they like what they have?" We don't think about what they want.

There is a sad story I write in Ego is the Enemy about one of my heroes, Ulysses S. Grant. After his dysfunctional presidency, Grant partnered with his son and a dishonest investor named Ferdinand Ward to create a Wall Street brokerage. Grant bankrupted himself in the pursuit of riches he didn't even need. His friend General Sherman noted the unfortunate irony—Grant had lost everything in an attempt to "rival the millionaires, who would have given their all to have won any of his battles."

All Grant could think about was what other people had and in the process lost sight of how much more impressive what he already had was—comically so. There are lots of millionaires. Most of them are forgettable. There are very few Ulysses S. Grants. Yet he wrecked his life—wasted the golden years of his life—thinking if only I could be more like them.

I've done this. You've done this. We've tried to chase what other people have, we've felt inferior because we don't have it. Have we ever stopped to think: "Are those people happy with what they have?", "What if what I have is better?", "Could they actually be jealous of me?"

Or maybe neither of you have it right! There's a scene in one of my favorite Lawrence Block novels, Grifter's Game, where Joe Marlin is having an affair with a beautiful woman. Then he thinks of her going back to her husband and gets angry and envious. And then he realizes, oh wait, if the husband ever found out about the affair, he'd be justifiably angry and envious too. "It always works that way," he says. Though really they could both benefit to question why they are with this awful woman in the first place. In fact, she's manipulating both of them, using that envy to her own advantage. Neither realizes the truth until it's far too late.

I can't say that this exercise is flawless or that it magically cured me of my jealousy. It's not supposed to. It's an exercise—a tool to use when envy appears. Do I have to use it more than I like? Absolutely. But it's far better than being under envy's delusive, destructive sway.

And there's one other benefit of running through this process—of walking through whether you'd trade what you have for some random thing that's turned you green with jealousy: Appreciation. Gratitude. You have it good—better than you know. It's only when you forget that, that you begin to covet. But when you remember, when you understand the true value of all that you possess—and realize even that people might actually resent you for it—that's when happiness and contentment are possible. TC mark

How Internet Culture And Digital Media Are Giving A Powerful Voice To Minorities

Posted: 21 May 2016 06:00 AM PDT

Personal Photo
Personal Photo

Beyond the popular notion of the blogging world as an overtly saturated, face value driven, sell-out circus, there is the domain of the digital space serving as a political space.

Not only in distinctly politically charged blogs, but of even personal style and expression blogs, particularly those showcasing people of color. How are we entering political grounds?

It's fascinating to think about use of first-person journalism, not only in the realm of narcissistic trespasses, but in power imbalances when it comes to aspects such as race and gender. But wait — did I just coin the blogosphere as a type of journalism? Hear me out. What differentiates the millennials from generations past is the paradigm shift in terms of how we consume content.

I'm not talking of our haphazard feeds that jump between a daily dose of fashion inspiration, 9gag memes, and political analysis of Donald Trump.

The rise of social media isn't hasn’t simply produced a self-obsessed generation in which every other person is a #blogger, #socialmediaguru or #photographer. What's often overlooked is the potential of collective intelligence.

You see, no longer are we just consumers, but producers of content— this is essential in what has evolved in the digital media sphere. Production culture and social media are becoming, if not already, one in the same. Many of the media hegemons of our world today often thrive as aggregators of citizen journalism.

As media becomes more and more influential, bloggers, vloggers, and Internet influencers are pioneering collective intelligence of millennials who are reshaping popular public discourse.

Too much “me” in a piece of journalism can be distracting for some, but blogging takes the medium of micro-memoir to the egalitarian space that is the Internet. Cue the emergence of spaces and movements that celebrate minority voices and narratives— from #BlackGirlMagic, #ReclaimTheBindi, “diasporic style” blogs, to the general uprising of people of color everywhere unapologetically claiming their corners of the Internet.

Blogging is never to take the space of journalism, and I'm not challenging blogging to journalistic credibility — there are probably far too many typos, run on sentences, or casual reflections in my own blog for me to reckon that.

The cherished tenets of objectivity will always have it's place in formal journalism, but first-person narration can explicitly mark the attempt of marginalized voices to assert their right to narrate.

It represents a means for historically overlooked narratives to create their own spaces. Reconstruct their own identities, as intersectional as they may be, and declare their own voices.

So, for every creator on the Internet—especially minorities: strive to share more than just a pretty dress. Grace us with the styles, ideologies, and narratives unique to you.

Take the notion of our self engrossed culture and use that precisely to revamp popular discourse.

Your story matters, too. TC mark