mental health, Random Life Things

You Have The Right to Remain Fat

Recently, Bill Maher said some incredibly inflammatory things about fat people. He asserted that “the problem with our healthcare system is that Americans eat shit and too much of it.” He stated, based on this OPINION PIECE in the New York Times , that “poor diet is the leading cause of mortality in the United States.” The article, which contains gems equating fatness with disease such as “Three in four adults are overweight or obese. More Americans are sick, in other words, than are healthy,” is misleading at best.

The study that this opinion piece cites actually says “Specific diseases and risk factors, such as drug use disorders, high BMI, poor diet, high fasting plasma glucose level, and alcohol use disorders are increasing and warrant increased attention.” It further states that,” Ischemic heart disease (IHD); cancer of the trachea, bronchus, and lung; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Alzheimer disease and other dementias; and cancer of the colon and rectum were the 5 leading causes of death.” While “obesity”and overeating are risk factors for Ischemic heart disease, so are things like:

Rather than examine the complexities of the information presented in the study, Bill Maher decided to lash out at an already marginalized, ridiculed, and shamed population. “But why do people have so many pre-existing conditions? Being fat isn’t a birth defect. Nobody comes out of the womb needing to buy two seats on the airplane.” He goes on. “Everyone knows “obesity” is linked to terrible conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and virginity.”

The links between being fat, diabetes, and heart disease are there, but are not well understood and don’t prove which causes which. “Excess weight is an established risk factor for type 2 diabetes, yet most obese individuals do not develop type 2 diabetes. Recent studies have identified “links” between obesity and type 2 diabetes involving proinflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-6), insulin resistance, deranged fatty acid metabolism, and cellular processes such as mitochondrial dysfunction and endoplasmic reticulum stress. These interactions are complex, with the relative importance of each unclearly defined.” Not all patients who are fat develop Type 2 Diabetes. Not all people who develop Type 2 Diabetes are fat.

Maher goes on. “There’s literally nothing being overweight does not make worse.” He cites things like eyesight, pain, memory, fatigue, depression, and a weakened immune system without actually offering evidence to support any of these claims. “We scream at congress to find a way to pay for our medical bills but it wouldn’t be nearly the issue it is if people just didn’t eat like assholes who are killing not only themselves but the planet.” He says a lot of other really inaccurate and inflammatory things, but I’d rather get down to the nitty gritty of why this matters.

“Obesity” is complex.
While we all know that overeating is one thing that can contribute to being fat, “The risk factors that contribute to “obesity” can be a complex combination of genetics, socioeconomic factors, metabolic factors and lifestyle choices, among other things. Some endocrine disorders, diseases and medications can also cause weight to increase.” Healthy foods are considerably more expensive than processed foods, genetics play a huge role in whether or not you’re fat, and some medications, particularly psychiatric medications, cause side effects like weight gain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or even diabetes. A few years ago, a combination of medications I was on caused me to gain 70 pounds in 2 months.

Fat Shaming DOESN’T work.
According to a 2014 study from the University College London, “Our results show that weight discrimination does not encourage weight loss, and suggest that it may even exacerbate weight gain,” the study’s lead author, Sarah Jackson, said in a statement. “Previous studies have found that people who experience discrimination report comfort eating. Stress responses to discrimination can increase appetite, particularly for unhealthy, energy-dense food.”

Health At Every Size is an approach that every doctor should be familiar with.
I’m very lucky. I have excellent doctors who actually listen to me, evaluate me, and work hard to accurately diagnose me. There are people my size and larger who are not so lucky. There are women who have been told their pain would resolve if they lost weight who actually had undiagnosed cancer. Health At Every Size posits that the war on obesity has been lost and that, rather than shaming people for something that is very difficult if not impossible to sustainably change, doctors should address their own fatphobia and anti-fat bias when it comes to how they practice medicine.

Diets don’t work.
Here are some good places to start if you don’t believe me or if you just want to do more research on your own:

https://medium.com/@aweightlifted/why-diets-dont-work-and-what-actually-does-dfd6df2f23f2

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/05/04/why-diets-dont-actually-work-according-to-a-researcher-who-has-studied-them-for-decades/

https://www.buzzfeed.com/sallytamarkin/weight-neutral-dietitians

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/changepower/201010/why-diets-dont-workand-what-does

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/6/13/17452936/dieting-weight-loss-netflix-explained

James Corden’s video is a good start, but still has some problems.
“We know that being overweight isn’t good for us, and I’ve struggled my entire life trying to manage my weight and I suck at it… I’ve basically been on and off of diets as long as I can remember and, well, this is how it’s going.”

I’m not going to get into it too much on this post, but Intentional Weight Loss is inherently fatphobic. From Fierce Fattie, “The fat acceptance movement was created so the fat bodies were no longer erased and marginalized and discriminated against. By intentionally losing weight, you are erasing a fat body if you have a fat body, and you are buying into the rhetoric that being thinner means that you are more worthy, more desirable, and a lot of people say, “Well, I’m losing weight to become healthy.” You are also buying into that rhetoric that being thinner means that you are a healthier person, which is not based in science. “

In the words of James Corden, “Fat shaming is just bullying….and bullying only makes the problem worse.”

Want to know more? Virgie Tovar is a great place to start. She has this excellent Tedx Talk:

She wrote this book that changed my life: https://www.amazon.com/You-Have-Right-Remain-Fat/dp/1936932318/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=virgie+tovar&qid=1568654331&s=gateway&sr=8-1

She has a great website with a blog and resources: https://www.virgietovar.com/

Here are some things I’m meaning to read but haven’t got around to quite yet:

https://www.amazon.com/Body-Not-Apology-Radical-Self-Love/dp/B0797YK75T/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=virgie+tovar&qid=1568654390&s=gateway&sr=8-2
https://www.amazon.com/Things-One-Will-Tell-Girls/dp/1580055826/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=virgie+tovar&qid=1568654390&s=gateway&sr=8-4

And here is a whole great list of books I hope to read many of!
https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/118723.Fat_Acceptance_and_Fat_Activism

Adventure, Random Life Things

2019

As I wrote about in my post about writing, I got myself The Hemingway Deck by Best Self Co. as a tool against writer’s block. This year, I will attempt to make my way through at least part of the deck on my blog.

What do you need to do by the end of the year to make this year meaningful?

-Hemingway Deck By Best Self Co.

By the end of 2019, I would like to have a stable full-time job with benefits (specifically health care). I will travel to Scotland, spend time with the people I care about, and love on my dog. A job won’t directly make this year meaningful, but getting a job means that I am and can expect to continue to be mentally stable, and that would be very meaningful indeed. By the end of the year, I hope I have not been hospitalized for my mental health (or for any other reason)! I hope I have made new friends and nurtured old friendships. I hope I have volunteered my time to causes I am passionate about.

In trying to figure out what would make 2019 meaningful, I find myself reflecting on 2018 and all of the amazing moments I have had with the people I care about. From lobbying for Amnesty International with River in Washington, D.C. to screaming at the top of my lungs at the Taylor Swift concert with Monica to thinking, for a few minutes (and until I saw his teeth in the photo I had taken), that we had just met Ed Sheeran with Tiffany, 2018 has had some really amazing moments. I got to spend a week with my family at the beach, got to spend a weekend at the beautiful Lake Fontana with my parents and brother, saw SO MANY concerts, went to NYC with my best friend, had Breakfast at Tiffany’s, had tea at The Plaza, was there for a live recording of The Daily Show on election night and saw Michelle and Barack Obama speak in Washington, DC. I got to spend time with my cousins, parents, brother, best friend, and friends. I started babysitting for three children who I enjoy spending time with. The year may have started a little rough, but by May, things started looking up, at least for my mental health and my social calendar.

To be fair, 2018 certainly had it’s challenges as well. Politically, it’s been a rough year. It’s been a tough year to be a woman. It’s been a rough year to be a survivor of sexual assault. I’ve had to avoid the news as much as possible while still remaining as informed as I can with print media. I struggled with depression and anxiety and gained back almost all of the weight I had lost from 2017-2018. I had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep and found myself not wanting to leave the comfort of my bed. I let things get so bad in my room that it looks like a bomb went off in here. I spent more money I didn’t really have to spend on things I didn’t really need to own that I’ll just end up getting rid of in 2019 when I hopefully get my act together and declutter my room.

I hope to travel to new places and smile more and dislike myself less. I hope to fear less, love more, and stop being so afraid of life that I miss how magnificent it can be. I hope to stop judging myself about every single tiny thing I think I do wrong and start having faith in myself that I can succeed and do hard things. I hope to grow in my friendships and my relationships with my family members. I hope to be more patient and to stop absorbing every mean thing people say to or about me. I hope to remember, all the time, that there are many people who love me and want to see me succeed. I hope to maintain the fragile mental stability I have seen since starting to see a new psychiatric nurse practitioner in May. I hope to grow by leaps and bounds in therapy and learn more about myself and the person I’d like to become. I hope to talk to myself the way I talk to people I love and treat myself like I’d treat a friend.

I think that for 2019 to be meaningful, I need to pay attention to the small moments. I need to learn to love and appreciate myself as I am instead of as I wish I was. I need to revel in the laughter of my friends, the smiles of my parents, the barks of my dog, and the look on my brother’s face when he steps into Scotland for the first time. I want to read more poetry, read more novels, write more blog posts and articles, spend time playing board games and going to movies and smiling with friends, take River on walks, bake new things, and practice gratitude for the many overwhelmingly wonderful moments in my life.

Random Life Things

Self-Rescuing Princess

A friend of mine told me about a short story he was working on and it immediately made me think of the song “Little Me” by Little Mix.  If you don’t have the time to watch the video, here are the lyrics:

She lives in the shadow of a lonely girl
Voice so quiet you don’t hear a word
Always talking but she can’t be heard
You can see her there if you catch her eye

I know she’s brave but it’s trapped inside
Scared to talk but she don’t know why

Wish I knew back then
What I know now
Wish I could somehow go back in time
And maybe listen to my own advice

I’d tell her to speak up, tell her to shout out
Talk a bit louder, be a bit prouder
Tell her she’s beautiful, wonderful
Everything she doesn’t see
You gotta speak up, you got to shout out
And you know that right here, right now
You can be beautiful, wonderful
Anything you want to be
(Little me)

Yeah you got a lot of time to act your age
You can’t write a book from a single page
Hands on the clock only turn one way, yeah yeah yeah
Run too fast and you risk it all
Can’t be afraid to take a fall
Felt so big but you look so small

Wish I knew back then
What I know now
Wish I could somehow go back in time
And maybe listen to my own advice

I’d tell her to speak up, tell her to shout out
Talk a bit louder, be a bit prouder
Tell her she’s beautiful, wonderful
Everything she doesn’t see
You gotta speak up, you got to shout out
And you know that right here, right now
You can be beautiful, wonderful
Anything you want to be
(Oh, little me)

(Little me yeah)
Tell you one thing I would say to her

I’d tell her to speak up, tell her to shout out
Talk a bit louder, be a bit prouder
Tell her she’s beautiful, wonderful
Everything she doesn’t see
You gotta speak up, you got to shout out
And you know that right here, right now
You can be beautiful, wonderful
Anything you want to be
I’d tell her to speak up, tell her to shout out
Talk a bit louder, be a bit prouder
Tell her she’s beautiful, wonderful
Everything she doesn’t see
You gotta speak up, you got to shout out
And you know that right here, right now
You can be beautiful, wonderful
Anything you want to be

Yeah, little me

As I was trying to decide what to write about today, I was listening to Little Mix and remembered the conversation about my friend’s short story.  I decided that I would write something to Little Me:

People will try to make you feel small.  Don’t let them.
People will try to make you feel like you take up too much space, like you use too many words, like your feelings don’t matter as much as theirs.  This is bullshit.  You are no more or less important than anyone else.  Your thoughts and feelings and opinions and dreams matter just as much as the next person’s.

He will use words dripping in honey to make you stay in what became toxic a long time ago.  He will make you feel stupid, insecure, and crazy.  Leave the second you don’t feel happy anymore.  Leave before he cheats.  Leave before he gaslights you.  Leave before you let him ruin your self-esteem with cruel words and lies.  If you don’t, it will take years to recover, but you will- in fact- recover.

People will tell you you’re a good writer.  Believe them, even on days when you’re struggling to come up with what to put on the page.  Believe them, even when you feel like you aren’t producing your best work.  You probably won’t believe this, but you will have bylines one day in a local women’s magazine.  You will write blog posts for important organizations.  You will write blog posts of your own that will help other people.  Ed Sheeran says that writing songs is like turning on a tap in an old house and I think the same goes for writing other things as well.  When you first turn on the tap, the water may be brown and gross and undrinkable, but the clear cool water will come with time.  The first things you write will not be the best, but better things will come to you.

You’re going to feel like you want to die from time to time.  The feeling will pass.  I promise.  Sometimes it takes longer than others, but you always end up happy to still be alive when the dark cloud finally moves.

One day you will read the words:
“darling, you are worthy.”
“darling, you are worthy.”
“darling, you are worthy.”
“darling, you are worthy.”

in a book by Amanda Lovelace.  You think you hate poetry, but you don’t, you secretly love it.  It awakens a fire within you that you didn’t know was there.  When you read these words, you will finally believe them.  You will be 29 years old.

It will take time, but you won’t hate yourself or your body forever.  You’ll come to a place where you start to accept and love every flaw and imperfection.  You will use this to set a good example for young people around you by not constantly critiquing yourself in front of them.

Your parents will tell you to absolutely NOT get the dog.  They will say no.  They will say you can’t.  They will give you a million reasons why not to get the dog.  Get the dog anyway.  She becomes so much more than a pet.  Best. Manic. Purchase. EVER.

It’s ok to need help and it’s ok to ask for help.  You learned this already, back in 7th grade, when you reached out and Beth got you the help you needed, but sometimes you will forget.  Sometimes you will feel unworthy of help and like your problems do not matter.  That is your brain being mean and isn’t reality.

Your dream job isn’t going to work out the way you want or expect it to, but it will work out the way it needs to.  It will feel like the end of the world, but I swear you will make new dreams.

You will make new friends and lose old friends.  You will reconnect with some people and lose others forever.  You think the end of high school is the end of everything because you’ll all be going your separate ways.  You aren’t wrong, but you aren’t completely right either because you haven’t even met your best friend yet.  The people who are meant to be in your life always find a way back into it.

You will get to travel the world with your best friend.  Oh, the places you’ll go!  You’ll put your toes in oceans across the world and eat ALL of the soft serve ice cream together.  You’ll see historical places and witness history being made.  You’ll march for what you believe in in Washington, D.C. and in Asheville and you’ll also spend hours in sweatpants or yoga pants just watching tv together.  You will have tea at the Ritz in London and at the Plaza in New York.  You’ll eat breakfast at Tiffany’s and have freshly squeezed juice at a market in London and eat ice cream at Edinburgh Castle.  You’ll see plays on the West End and on Broadway.  You’ll witness each other’s heartbreaks and healings and will be so much better for it.

One of your idols will die and the world will feel smaller and darker for a long time.  You’ll re-read all of her memoirs and eventually read her novels.  You didn’t get into Star Wars until college, but Carrie Fisher will have an impact on your life forever.

You’ll feel like giving up a million times, but you will always hold on to a spark of hope or find someone to hold the hope for you until you can find it again.

You are brave and strong and fierce and beautiful and intelligent and worthy and anyone who tells you or makes you feel otherwise is a liar.

You’ll be single for longer than you thought possible, but during that time you will learn to love yourself and you’ll heal from the ways you’ve been hurt in the past.

You will keep going, even when you feel like giving up.

You will learn better and will then do better.  You will become a person that you can be proud of.

You will forget all of your accomplishments during your dark moments, so make a list of them and read it when necessary.

You are not a failure.

You are not a waste of space.

You are an activist, an advocate, a writer, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a niece, a cousin, a granddaughter, and so much more.

You are worthy.

You are loved.

You are important.

You are a self-rescuing princess.

Random Life Things

Highlights From The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis

Not everyone has time to read through a 138 page document produced by The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, but fortunately/unfortunately, I do.  The Commission gave 56 recommendations for what to do to help with the crisis, but the President just can’t seem to get a grip on any of them.  Instead of listening to his own Commission, he has decided to focus on enforcing opioid laws instead of providing opioid treatment.  Here’s a rundown of what the commission had to say.

Roster of Commissioners

Governor Chris Christie, Chairman
Governor Charlie Baker
Governor Roy Cooper
Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy
Professor Bertha Madras, Ph.D.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi

Introductory Letter

“Our people are dying.  More than 175 lives lost every day.  If a terrorist organization was killing 175 Americans a day on American soil, what would we do to stop them?  We would do anything and everything.  We must do the same to stop the dying caused from within.”

“Without comprehensive action, including your national public health emergency, the death count will continue to rise.”

“It is time we all say what we know is true: addiction is a disease.  However, we do not treat addiction in this country like we treat other diseases.  Neither government nor the private sector has committed the support necessary for research, prevention, and treatment like we do for other diseases.”

“The recommendations herein, and the interim recommendations submitted by the Commission in July, are designed to address this national priority.  These recommendations will help doctors, addiction treatment providers, parents, schools, patients, faith-based leaders, law enforcement, insurers, the medical industry, and researchers fight opioid abuse and misuse by reducing federal barriers and increasing support to effective programs and innovation.”

“We recommended that all law enforcement officers across the country be equipped with life saving naloxone.”

“We recommended full enforcement of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act to ensure that health plans cannot provide less favorable benefits for mental health and substance use diagnoses than physical health ailments.”

“Today, only 10.6% of youth and adults who need treatment for a substance use disorder receive that treatment.  This is unacceptable.  Too many people who could be helped are falling through the cracks and losing their lives as a result.”

“One of the most important recommendations…is getting federal funding support more quickly and effectively to state governments, who are on the front lines of fighting this addiction battle every day.  Bureaucracy, departmental silos, and red tape must not be accepted as the norm when dealing with funding to combat this epidemic.  Saving time and resources, in this instance, will literally save lives.”

“Accordingly, we are urging Congress and the Administration to block grant federal funding for opioid-related and SUD-related activities to the states. . This was a request to the Commission by nearly every Governor, regardless of party, across the country.

“The Commission also identifies the need to focus on, deploy, and assess evidence-based programs that can be funded through these proposed block grants.”

“From its review of the federal budget aimed at addressing the opioid epidemic, the Commission identified a disturbing trend in federal health care reimbursement policies that incentivizes the wide-spread prescribing of opioids and limits access to other non-addictive treatments for pain, as well as addiction treatment and medication-assisted treatment.”

“The Department of Labor must be given the real authority to regulate the health insurance industry.  The health insurers are not following the federal law requiring parity in the reimbursement for mental health and addiction.  They must be held responsible.”

“We are recommending that a drug court be established in every one of the 93 federal district courts in America.  It is working in our states and can work in our federal system to help treat those who need it and lower the federal prison population.  For many people, being arrested and sent to a drug court is what saved their lives, allowed them to get treatment, and gave them a second chance.”

“Drug Courts are known to be significantly more effective than incarceration, but 44% of U.S. Counties do not have an adult drug court.”

“The Commission recommends enhanced penalties for trafficking of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues and calls for additional technologies and drug detections to expand efforts to intercept fentanyl before entering the country.”

“The time to wait is over.  The time for talk is passed. 175 deaths a day can no longer be tolerated.  We know that you will not stand by; we believe you will force action.”

What This Administration Has Already Done:

  • Announced the launch of a new policy to overcome a rule that prevents states from providing more access to care at treatment facilities with more than 16 beds.
  • Directed all federally employed prescribers to receive special training to fight this epidemic.
  • The DOJ has continued its efforts to stop the flow of illicit synthetic drugs into this country through the U.S. Postal Service
  • NIH DIrector Dr. Francis COllins has been partnering with pharmaceutical companies to develop non-addictive painkillers and new treatments for addiction and overdose.  THe Commission worked with Dr. Collins to convene a meeting with industry leadership to discuss innovative ways to combat the opioid crisis.

 

 

Random Life Things

Privilege

If you identify as white and you are reading this, chances are it’s going to make you a little uncomfortable.  But discomfort isn’t always a bad thing.  Discomfort can be a place where learning and enlightenment happen.  It has been for me in the past and continues to be for me in the present.  Anyways, today I want to talk about white privilege.

Yesterday, I posted a graphic on Facebook.  It said:

dear white people

It got a few likes, but what really stood out was the person I have known for over eighteen years commenting on it and claiming that white privilege isn’t real but that people are racist against this person all the time for being white.  I tried to be patient.  I tried to be kind.  I tried to explain that white privilege doesn’t make you a bad person or mean that you don’t have difficulties or that no one is prejudiced against you, it just means that you started your life (and live your life) with several advantages over people of color.

I tried to explain that reverse racism isn’t real because we, as white people, have not been oppressed on an institutional level for hundreds and hundreds of years.  We have not been enslaved in the millions because of our skin color.  We didn’t have to suffer through the indignities of Jim Crow.  We haven’t been lynched because of our skin color in the thousands (though some white people have been lynched for siding with and helping people of color).  We are statistically less likely to be incarcerated.  We have representation in all forms of media that look like us.  It’s easy to go into a store and find a barbie or doll that looks like us.  Most of our favorite tv shows and movies have main characters that look just like us.  The vast vast majority of “heroes” are white.  We get to learn about many many people of our own race in school.

Our parents don’t have to give us “the talk” about police safety because we are less likely to be shot and killed by police officers.  According to Vox, “An analysis of the available FBI data by Vox’s Dara Lind found that US police kill black people at disproportionate rates: Black people accounted for 31 percent of police killing victims in 2012, even though they made up just 13 percent of the US population. Although the data is incomplete because it’s based on voluntary reports from police agencies around the country, it highlights the vast disparities in how police use force.”

Someone may have biases or prejudices against you because you are white, but that is not racism.  (Please see video #2 if you are having a hard time with this concept).  I tried to put it in simple terms that could be easily understood, but this person continued to argue with me, at which point I ran out of spoons and had to end the conversation.  I just didn’t have the energy to continue at that time.  I unfriended the person for a variety of reasons, but one of them is that we aren’t that close to begin with and I really have no desire to be friends with someone who won’t even entertain the idea that white privilege exists even though it has been explained and pointed out to them.  I wish that I hadn’t unfriended them.  I wish I had said, “this is emotionally exhausting work for me and I need to take a break and come back to it.”  But that isn’t what I did and, as a result, I had an even harder than usual time falling asleep last night, wondering if I had just been able to come up with the right sentence, if maybe I could have changed this person’s mind.

I know it’s possible, because I, too, once didn’t believe in white privilege and was very defensive the first time someone tried to explain it to me.  I know it’s hard to believe now, but I was actually in the College Republicans my freshman year at WCU and used to call Feminists “Feminazis.”  I’m not proud of the person I was, but I’m proud of the person that my college professors (Dr. Pete and Dr. Herzog), graduate school friends (Monica, Hanna, Jen, and Shyra), and graduate school professors (Lisen, Russ, Heather, Phyllis, Melody, and Valerie) helped shape me to be.  I care about others, I’m empathetic, and I understand that my ability to even type this up on a computer and post it to the internet with my name on it reeks of privilege.  I could tell you of so so many instances where white privilege has benefited me, but I find myself again running out of spoons.  Perhaps I’ll revisit this post later.  Just in case I don’t, please do me a favor and watch these three videos:

 

Random Life Things

Harassment isn’t sexy.

Something happened last week that made me really uncomfortable, but the more that I think about it, the more pissed off I get.  Last week, I received a message on Facebook from a guy I kind of-sort of know from undergrad.  He is an acquaintance at best.  Everything was fine at first, we just kind of chatted about what he’s been up to and what’s new in my life.  He sent me his cell phone number and asked me if I wanted to hang out when he got home.  In an attempt to be polite, I replied with something along the lines of “oh, I’m really busy between now and when I leave and I want to spend as much time with my family as possible.  I’ll check, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have much free time” instead of just saying “no.”  That was my mistake, but it’s often difficult for me to flat out say “no” when I’m invited to do things with men.

I pretty regularly feel like I have to apologize or make an excuse that they would find legitimate.  Saying “no thank you” or “I don’t want to” would make me a rude bitch in the eyes of many people, so I often say things like “oh, maybe….I’ll have to check my calendar” or “oh, I’m so sorry, I already have plans”.  In general terms, if I really want to hang out with someone, I’m going to make time to do so and would say something along the lines of “I can’t today, but I’m free on Saturday if you want to hang out then”.  This summer is different and a little more tricky since I do have less than 40 days left in this country and a LOT to get done in that time.  But I digress….the conversation continued via Facebook.  The specific details of it aren’t really important, but he ended up saying that he hasn’t had much alone time for the past year and telling me that there are three things he’s been without for a year and that he really needs right now.

A person that I hardly know asked me to hang out with him, then expressed to me that one of the things he needs as a result of his deployment is a woman.  I can assure you that he has no romantic or long term intentions, as he included “a woman” in a list of other things.  Perhaps I misunderstood, but the context of the rest of our conversation led me to believe that he was hopeful that I could help him with this ordeal.  Partially because he said things like “that’s what I hope to get when I get home” and “been gone for a year and rarely alone”  pretty shortly after asking me if I wanted to hang out with him.

This offended me and upset me for so many reasons I can’t count them all.  I don’t care who you are or what you have done for this country, I am not an object and am not a piece of meat that you get to order from a menu just because you’re a veteran or just because you think you need and are owed the company of a woman.  With the exception of my student loan service company and $5 I borrowed from my friend last week, I do not owe anyone anything, including but not limited to: my time, my money, my body, my belongings.

I have read on many Peace Corps South Africa blogs that many volunteers receive marriage proposals frequently.  When they say no, the men who have asked can’t seem to comprehend why the volunteer wouldn’t want to marry him and can’t seem to fathom why the answer may be “no.”  I hadn’t realized how frequently *some* men in America (and women, I’m sure) have the same attitude.  Our culture teaches women that if we do dare to say no, we better have a pretty damn good reason for doing so and we better be willing and able to give a list of how and why we came to that conclusion.  Just saying no doesn’t seem to be accepted and “no thanks” seems to be the mark of a prude or a bitch rather than an assertive individual.

I guess what I’m getting at is this- Even when this guy made me really uncomfortable, my response was to make an excuse and say I couldn’t talk anymore because I was going to go watch a movie.  The next night, he facebook messaged me again.  He said “hey” to which I responded “I wish you well and I hope your trip home is safe, but you made me very uncomfortable last night.”  End of conversation.  I should definitely work towards being better at communicating my feelings to others, but that does not give anyone the right to say things to me that make me feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

Later in the same week, I responded to a different request from someone else by essentially saying “no…sorry!” and was told that I had hurt this person’s feelings.  I am allowed to say no.  It’s not ok that people often try to make me feel guilty or ashamed for telling them no.  I should not feel like I have to apologize or make excuses when I don’t want to do something.  There is a big difference between being assertive and being a bitch, but I think that many people confuse the two.

Adventure, PCV, Random Life Things

All About Me

I realize that my blog has been getting more traffic lately from people I don’t actually know. It’s probably because I’ve been posting Peace Corps things 🙂 I guess I should probably tell y’all about myself.

  • I just turned 24 on Easter
  • I have a B.S. in Psychology from the Honors College at Western Carolina University
  • I am currently a full time graduate student in internship semester working on my M.A.Ed. in School Counseling
  • I was born in Texas but moved to North Carolina the summer before third grade
  • I live with my parents in the house I grew up in
  • I have one absolutely amazing big brother
  • I have a ton of cousins, the majority of whom live in Tennessee
  • I volunteered at an orphanage in Kenya for two weeks in July 2012
  • I was the secretary of my high school’s FFA
  • I was also on staff for Army JROTC
  • I don’t speak any other languages
  • I have five tattoos, all of which can be easily covered by clothing.
  • I am a feminist
  • I am also a secular humanist, but was raised in the Catholic Church
  • I love to read
  • I graduated from A.C. Reynolds High School in Asheville, NC
  • I am passionate about sharing my love of reading
  • I enjoy knitting
  • I love Coca Cola and anything that combines chocolate with peanut butter
  • I’m the pickiest eater I know
  • I love to listen to music. Ed Sheeran and Mumford and Sons are what I have been listening to the most lately
  • There is nothing more beautiful to me than a clear night sky. I love to look up at the stars. It reminds me that I’m part of something bigger
  • I began my journey applying for the Peace Corps in August and I will be leaving for a teaching position in South Africa this July
  • I horseback rode regularly for a little over five years, then injured my back and have been unable to return to it
  • I have worked in a bookstore, a few summer camps, a frozen custard shop, a few offices, and in hotel housekeeping
  • I love watching the moment when a student “gets” something he or she didn’t understand before
  • I am a huge nerd/dork/whatever you want to call me 🙂
  • I love Harry Potter
  • I also love Doctor Who, Sherlock, Firefly, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, the Vampire Diaries, and Mel Brooks films

Books I enjoyed reading include but are not limited to:

  • The Harry Potter Series
  • Anything by Christopher Moore, particularly Lamb
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Books by Chelsea Handler
  • Walk Two Moons
  • The Hobbit
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Number the Stars
  • Rena’s Promise
  • His Dark Materials Trilogy
  • The Book Thief
  • Anything by Roald Dahl
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy
  • Wildwood
  • Anything by Shel Silverstein
  • World War Z
  • The Wizard of Oz Collection
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey
  • The Diary of Anne Frank
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • Beloved
  • The Lovely Bones
  • Les Miserables
  • The Other Boleyn Girl
  • The Wicked Series

There are many more, but that’s all for now 🙂