Someone Worth Fighting For: A Lesson From Jerry Springer

“You fight to defend a lover, not to win one. If you do, it isn’t love.” – Jerry Springer

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The tortured love story is as old a story as time itself. We can look at it from every angle — Romeo and Juliet, Heathcliff and Cathy Earnshaw, Allie and Noah, Bones and Booth, Marissa and Ryan, Blair and Chuck — and easily see that the theme of difficult romance has been a big part of our literature, television and culture for hundreds of years. The effortless romances are nice, of course, but often we don’t find them compelling enough to read about.

Previously, I’ve blogged about how these fictional couples affect our expectations of real-life relationships, either causing us to pursue unsuitable romantic partners or remain in relationships that aren’t working out. Of course, comfort in a relationship (often caused by longevity) is another reason why we stay with people we know in our hearts are 100 percent wrong for us, but I think the real problem is the way we romanticize our struggles in the name of love.

The other day I was watching The Jerry Springer Show (Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!), and Jerry’s final words included the above quote. Although we tend to look down on the show’s usual caliber of guests, I have to admit that many of their situations were like exaggerated versions of our own. At the very core, we find people who jumped into relationships they weren’t ready for, whose partners cheated on them with their supposed best friends, who had difficulty letting go of an unworthy significant other. Granted, a good portion of people on that show are either strippers, missing teeth, or both, but in essence their situations are not all that different from our own.

I couldn’t get over how many people were willing to give their significant other a third and fourth chance in spite of everything. Situations especially distressing for me were the ones in which the person (usually the woman) remained convinced that the other would change and one day give him or her the time of day.

Let’s face it — most of us have been on that end of an unequal relationship, in which we care for the other person a whole lot more than they care for us. Maybe we hope that by sticking around through mediocre treatment, we will in turn encounter the greatest love story of all time. Or maybe we don’t give ourselves enough credit, and feel that without another person — specifically this other person — in our lives, we have nothing.

In those situations, we have to remember Jerry’s words. It’s one thing to fight for something that is real: to defend a loved one from attack based on prejudices or something along those lines. However, it’s an entirely different story when we fight for the adoration of someone who treats us poorly, makes poor decisions or doesn’t give us the time of day. As Jerry says, that isn’t love. It isn’t even a real relationship.

“Until next time, take care of yourselves — and each other.”

Why TV Does Not Glamorize Teen Pregnancy

As many of my readers know, I’m a bit of a reality TV junkie. While I miss the music videos on MTV as much as the next person, I have made do with the wide variety of reality shows the station has to offer (even some of the more embarrassing ones, like Jersey Shore, which has become my guilty pleasure!).

And yes, I will admit, I watch the teen pregnancy shows. Because the original cast of 16 and Pregnant featured girls my age, I thought it was interesting to see how having children affected them and think about how different my life would have been if I had made different choices. Over the years, I kept up with them as they graduated to Teen Mom, and while it isn’t the most groundbreaking show on television, I still thought it was intriguing to see how their lives turned out.

In the time since the shows first began to air, 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom have received a lot of criticism throughout the nation. Many people suggest that such programming only glamorizes teen pregnancy and encourages teenagers to have unprotected sex so that they can have the fairy-tale endings they see on TV.

When I hear this, I have to ask: do these critics actually watch the show? Every week when the show airs, the four girls all have to deal with very serious issues: custody battles, financial problems, difficulty balancing school and work and raising a child, decisions relating to adoption, etc. Not one of the girls has it all completely together. Even Maci, who seems to have adjusted the most to teen motherhood, has been in and out of court with her son’s father, and her schoolwork has suffered so that she could care for Bentley. Meanwhile, Amber Portwood endures postpartum depression early on, and faces legal issues of her own.

Maybe it’s just me, but none of those scenarios sound particularly appealing. When I watch a show like this, it makes me think of how lucky I am not to be in the situation myself. Although I am not knocking motherhood and or trying to disrespect teen mothers, I do think that the show demonstrates very well that being a parent is hard. Being a parent when you’re only sixteen, seventeen, eighteen years old is even harder. I never doubted that, but when I watch this kind of thing on television, I see challenges I might never have even thought of.

To make matters worse, some of these girls have also had to deal with the pressures of fame on top of teen parenthood. Their every moves are documented in the latest issues of OK! and Us Weekly magazine, and people across the country are judging their actions. Yes, they chose to be on television, but I doubt if any of them expected to have gained celebrity status so quickly.

The show might give some of these girls a leg up in their future careers, but it has never depicted their lives as easy or perfect. Any viewer with half a brain will see the many difficulties the cast faces, and realize that nothing about the show ever promotes teen pregnancy or makes it seem particularly desirable. When I watch shows like Teen Mom, I am thankful for the decisions I have made, and I know that if I were to get pregnant at even twenty years old, the road ahead would not be an easy one.

What do you think about these types of shows?

Following Your Heart And Finding Your Backbone

“See, now that’s your problem. You’re wishin’ too much, baby. You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love

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As children, we were always taught that we had the power to make our dreams come true. The possibilities were limitless — as long as we wanted something badly enough, put in some effort and had a little faith, we would undoubtedly be able to obtain it. Our desires were merely a four -leaf clover, a penny in a fountain,  a wish upon a star away.

Innocent young creatures as we were, we felt entitled to our dreams. And why shouldn’t we? After all, we were nice enough to the other kids, did our best to behave and sometimes even ate our vegetables. Sprinkle on a little fairy dust and we were well on our way to accomplishing our goals.

Of course, as silly as this sounds, some of us have carried this philosophy into our adolescence and adult lives. Logically we know that no fairy godmother is about to wave her magic wand over us and make all of our hopes and dreams become a reality, and yet we still wind up waiting around for our lives to happen to us. We let our emotions get the best of us and meanwhile hope that the answers and solutions to our problems will find their way into our lives and work themselves out.

Sometimes, when we want something badly, we don’t think about it in the most rational way. Although I consider myself extremely goal-oriented and I have worked hard to achieve what I have, I will admit that I also have my struggles in certain areas, and that I have goals that I’ve been working on for years with no luck. This can get even a fairly optimistic person like me down. Such failed attempts at any task might make me and anyone else think, Oh, how unfair life is. Then, we blame our circumstances and wonder if our dreams will ever become our realities.

As I was reading Eat Pray Love this week (just finished today!), the above quote really struck a chord with me. Too many of us simply wish for things as if wishing is all we need to do, but then we forget to wish with our backbones, or really stand up for ourselves and do what needs to be done, as hard as that might be. Sometimes, we need to look within ourselves and find a strength we were lacking before, one that will guide us toward achieving our toughest goals and improving upon our weaknesses.

At the end of the memoir, author Elizabeth Gilbert wraps up her year of travels by discussing how she ended up with such a peaceful and happy new life. Now involved with a Brazilian ex-patriate who pledges his love to her, Gilbert writes, “I am happy and balanced. And yes, I cannot help but notice that I am sailing to this pretty little tropical island with my Brazilian lover. Which is — I admit it! — an almost ludicrous fairy-tale ending to this story, like the page out of some housewife’s dream… Yet what keeps me from dissolving right now into a complete fairy-tale shimmer is this solid truth, a truth which has veritably built my bones over the last few years — I was not rescued by a prince; I was the administrator of my own rescue.”

Too often we expect others to come to our rescue, or for timing to work itself out, or for all of our annoying little setbacks to disappear, but the truth remains that in order for us to see any real improvement in our lives, we have to slay our own dragons. A little help every so often is certainly appreciated from the ones we love and admire, but we have to rely fully on ourselves if we want to experience positive change. We can only live out our fairy tale endings if we muster the courage (find our backbone) to do something about them.

Meet Me Halfway (Or Elsewhere)

As I make my way through The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (yes, I’m still reading it — my summer has been hectic!), I can’t help but notice the relationship dynamics between the various characters. While the book focuses heavily on the cultural differences between four aging Chinese mothers and their Americanized daughters, I was especially drawn to the relationships between the daughters and their significant others. In particular, I noticed an interesting contrast between two of the marriages in the book, and this made me think more about how we handle our relationships in reality.

The first of these two marriages that we learn about is that of Rose Hsu Jordan and her husband Ted. The couple falls in love after Ted’s racist family disapproves of his non-white girlfriend and he feels the urge to rescue her. And thus the relationship is based on this damsel-in-distress mentality: “With imagined tragedy hovering over us, we became inseparable, two halves creating the whole: yin and yang. I was victim to his hero. I was always in danger and he was always rescuing me. I would fall and he would lift me up. It was exhilarating and draining. The emotional effect of saving and being saved was addicting to both of us. And that, as much as anything we ever did in bed, was how we made love to each other: conjoined where my weaknesses needed protection.” 

During their marriage, Rose relies on Ted for all of the major decisions until things begin to fall apart. Once Ted experiences his own misfortune, the relationship takes a toll for the worse (ultimately ending in divorce), and Rose must finally forge her own path and make her own decisions.

The other marriage I want to focus on is that of Lena St. Clair and her husband, Harold Livotny. Throughout Lena’s description of hers and Harold’s relationship, she continually refers to them as equals, and their relationship seems extremely analytical. They move in together because of some practicality, all romance aside, and once they get married, they keep a list of who has paid for what groceries and household items. They even split their mortgage proportionally based on their salaries, and keep track of everything they can in order to remain “equal.” Ultimately, this too leads to their marriage’s demise.

So here we have two (albeit fictional) relationships: one that is completely unequal and the other that is nearly exact. One relies heavily on extreme emotions and the other is logical and has no frills. And yet, both relationships ultimately suffer because of the equality (or lack thereof) of the people in them. Where can we find the perfect balance?

The same theme popped up again when I was watching the final episode of Sex and the City last week (I could tell you that my sister forced me to watch it, but in all honesty, it’s my latest guilty pleasure). From what I gathered in the episode, Carrie’s boyfriend du jour, Aleksander Petrovsky, is a Russian artist who asks her to live with him in Paris as his career takes off. However, after Carrie skips out on dinner plans with French fans of her book in order to support Petrovsky at his show, the artist more or less blows her off later that evening. It is there that she decides that she can’t sacrifice her whole self for a man who won’t give up anything for her.

Relationships have their give-and-take, but do they really have to be about sacrifice? — Tweet this!

How healthy can a relationship possibly be if both sides are only keeping track of what the other has done for them? Of course we can’t expect to rescue or be rescued constantly, but surely we shouldn’t have to keep lists the way Lena and Harold do, either. While I think we should strive to be as equal as possible in what we provide each other, I don’t think it necessarily has to involve money, but rather our time, support and other assets. I also don’t think we should keep track of such things so closely, but rather we should do what feels right. In other words, if your boyfriend visits all of your art shows, you should want to be his biggest cheerleader when he’s performing in his open mic nights. Show each other that you appreciate the things you do for one another. Don’t take it for granted, and don’t take advantage either.

Where do you find that perfect balance?

An Escape From Reality

Regular readers of this blog probably know that in many of my posts, I focus on the lies we tell ourselves, our quest for bravery and the misconceptions we take away from pop culture about love and relationships. My approach is usually to recognize and accept the reality of what is going on around you, and try your best to move on or let go of whatever you think is holding you back.

However, I realize that sometimes we are too quick to give up on things. Maybe we don’t give ourselves enough credit. Maybe we are afraid of getting hurt, so we cut things off before we have the chance to really experience them. We might be taking a realist’s approach — or we might be doing the safer thing by moving past certain feelings.

I’m not saying that you should do something that doesn’t feel right. I’m also not saying that you should let people step all over you. But I do think you should be allowed to be a little irrational from time to time. If you want to feel like you’re a princess in a fairy tale once in a while, then by all means, go for it. If you want to keep wishing for something that may be a long shot, then do it.

Maybe these things aren’t the most practical, but sometimes, they’re all we have. Sometimes we need to have hope and just pretend so that we can handle some of the tougher things later in life. As long as we don’t live in a delusion, we should be able to have those small comforts that an escape from reality will bring.

The Five Boys You Meet In College

Let’s face it — although we may come to college with the intention to learn as much as we can, experience personal growth and receive a diploma, we tend to keep dating in our minds. What kinds of guys will we meet when we get there? Who will live down the hall from us? What friendships will evolve into more… and will the boys be cuter than the ones we went to high school with? Though these thoughts may border on superficial, we can’t deny that they’ve crossed our minds (and boys, this includes you too, except the other way around).

As one of those girls who did date the boy across the hall and observe her other friends in relationships throughout that first year and a half, I became a bit of an authority on the types of guys one might run into at school. Keep in mind that you can’t lump everyone together exactly (some may even fit multiple categories — a good friend of mine claims to fit at least four of the five!), but these are just a few of the major categories I found when I got to college.

The Five Boys You Meet In College

1. The Ladies’ Man.
When he’s not hanging around his fraternity house, he’s most likely at the gym or the pool. At night you can find him at any party that has a surplus on beer and flip-cup tournaments, although he occasionally goes out to the local bars with his bros. He’s generally attractive and a sweet-talker, but his moves are as obvious as they are endearing. His girl of choice is scantily clad and often a few years younger than he is, and although he’s known to be a bit of a player, his male and platonic female friends alike still think of him somewhat affectionately. He may not be the best choice in boyfriend, but he is fun to have around in classes and at parties, and he provides good insight into what guys do when they aren’t interested in a serious relationship.

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2. The Hipster.
Often clad in a V-neck shirt tighter than anything you own, the Hipster frequents those hole-in-the-wall places you’ve never heard of and scoffs at the ones you have. Although his hoodie is oddly reminiscent of something Justin Bieber might own, he wouldn’t dare listen to a pop station on the radio unless he were doing so for ironic effect. If you do manage to impress this boy past his usual sense of mild entertainment, you will be exposed to the most obscure of bands, artists and films, with which you must keep up and then look down upon once they become better-known among society. You may have difficulty holding the Hipster’s attention for long (assuming you can accept his choice in facial hair), but never fear — if things end abruptly, you can always reflect upon the relationship by posting a few crappy polaroids on your Tumblr. You know he will.

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3. The Nerd.
Perhaps my favorite of all the boys, the Nerd uses his brain to his advantage. Confident in his abilities but not particularly cocky about much else, he knows how to have fun but also knows how to prioritize… usually. He may get more excited than most over some new technological feature, but it’s okay, because at the same time, he totally accepts your insistence at seeing the latest Harry Potter movie at its midnight showing or the fact that you have to finish that blog you started before you go out (cough, cough). He’s cute, but unlike the Ladies’ Man, he is somewhat unaware of the fact that he outgrew his awkward stage from high school, so he doesn’t let it get to his head. Even if you don’t end up dating him, he’s great to keep around as a friend — always willing to hold an intelligent conversation or fix your computer!

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4. The Nice Guy.
More often than not, the Nice Guy hangs out in the Friend Zone. He’s sensitive and sweet, always willing to listen and help you solve your problems, without asking anything in return. Because of this, girls tend to latch onto him, confiding in him everything they might tell their girl friends in the hopes of garnering a male perspective. He’s that shoulder to cry on and ideally everything you might want in a boyfriend, but you’ve never really thought of him that way and you would hate to rock the boat. Instead, the Nice Guy sits and waits because he doesn’t want to make you uncomfortable, and usually never tells you how he feels because he knows you’re falling for some jerk (Ladies’ Man, perhaps?) anyway.

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5. The Pseudo Nice Guy.
The most dangerous of all (much more so than the Ladies’ Man), the Pseudo Nice Guy disguises himself as, you guessed it, the Nice Guy. He works his way into your life, feigning concern whenever you need to talk, and stealthily gathers your inner-thoughts and secrets. Slowly, he proves his dependability and worth to you, but unlike the Nice Guy, he makes a move in the best way he knows how — by appealing to your heart in whichever way you have demonstrated possible throughout the course of your friendship. He constantly reminds you of what an honorable person he is, but through those reminders he manages to manipulate you in other ways. Such a boy can be difficult to spot because of the many ways in which he manifests himself, and he can also be difficult to abandon when his facade does begin to crack. Be on the look-out and if something in the relationship feels wrong, it probably is.

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Editor’s Note: Some of you may be wondering, “what about the Bad Boy?” After all, we’ve all met/dated at least one of those in high school. …Well, that’s simple. He didn’t make it to college!

My questions for readers:

– Have you encountered any of these boys?
– What other types of people have you met?
– Guys: do girls fit into these categories, or how might you categorize them if you had to?

The Reality of a Second Season

Before I begin, let me admit that reality television is one of my guiltiest pleasures. I watch way too much MTV for my own good, and while I find myself poking fun at a lot of what I see on television, I also find myself continuing to tune in every week.

Nevertheless, as the original Teen Mom cast (first seen on 16 and Pregnant) films its third and final season, and the stars of Jersey Shore relocate to Italy to shoot a fourth season, I begin to question the producers’ decisions to continue a reality show cast past its first season. Yes, they are attracting plenty of viewers, but the shows no longer serve their original purposes.

For example, on 16 and Pregnant and the first season of Teen Mom, we are introduced to a group of girls who had children when they were young, and then we watch the struggles they face as teen mothers. By the second season, the girls have become somewhat of celebrities, and now, as the third season is being filmed, we begin to see the faces of Amber, Maci, Farrah and Catelynn on the covers of tabloids and on the front pages of our favorite celebrity gossip sites. They may talk about their financial problems on the show, but after being paid for several seasons and appearances, how can we really believe that? The show depicts these girls as normal teenagers, but at the same time they are followed by paparazzi and treated as celebrities.

Of course, after three seasons of Jersey Shore, who wouldn’t be able to recognize The Situation from a mile away? In the first season, the characters (I know they are “real” people, but I consider them characters) are just seven strangers with penchants for fake tans and drinking, and the people they meet have no real preconceived notions about them. Now, on the third season, you’d better believe that the girls that Mike, Vinny and Pauly bring home are only there because they know who Mike, Vinny and Pauly are. Snooki may lead you to believe that she is about to find the Guido of her dreams, but in truth she will never find someone who doesn’t know her already for her poof and her love of pickles.

When reality shows go on for longer than a season, they no longer serve their original purpose, and strangers’ reactions to the cast members are skewed by what they already knew about them from television. Instead, they become a place for fans to recognize inside jokes and feel like a part of the cast themselves, regardless of how “accurate” the depiction really is.

The Freshman 15: Life-Changing College Moments

As a 20-year-old girl who is halfway through her sophomore year, I’ve got one thing on my mind: change. It’s something I blog about quite often — change in one’s perspective, change in one’s relationships, change in one’s life events — and part of my obsession with change has to do with the fact that I’m in college. After all, college itself presents a series of life changes, and we would all be lying if we said we didn’t allow our environments to change us.

January is an especially important time of year to recognize change. Because we have entered a new year, we are more likely to embrace the new experiences that we’re exposed to. Although it hasn’t even been two years since I first enrolled in college, I already feel like I have undergone some meaningful changes within that time, and that many of those experiences have become defining moments in my life.

For this month’s Freshman 15, I wanted to discuss some of those defining moments that many college students I know have experienced. Feel free to chime in with some of your own!

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The Freshman 15: Life-Changing College Moments

1. The first time you refer to your dorm room as “home.”
For some, this moment comes quickly — in my case, within my first week of summer as a college freshman. And it can be a slightly emotional experience, because you might feel like by feeling so comfortable away from your family, you are betraying the home you have always known. It’s the moment when you realize that your dorm room is not just a few cinderblocks and some interesting wood furniture that no one actually owns in a real house, but rather, it is the place you always return to… a place where you’ve already begun to make some memories.

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2. Establishing your core group of friends.
Chances are, you won’t remain friends with everyone you met at orientation. However, as the year progresses, the large group of freshmen you once clung to will begin to dwindle, and soon you’ll find yourself with the ones who you really click with. In college, you have a larger pool of potential friendships, and therefore you are more likely to find people you’re more compatible with than those you socialized with in high school. These friends will be the ones who help you through everything (and vice versa), and you will be thankful that you took the time to find them. If you’re the social butterfly, reach out to someone else — you can really make their (and your!) college experience all the more worthwhile.

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3. Attending your first college “party.”
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a huge partier and I never have been. However, regardless of how many house parties you went to in high school, there is something exciting about going to your first actual party in college. Whether you’re looking for a raging frat party or a fun but slightly uneventful evening, you will be able to find exactly what you’re looking for. Plus, through trial and error, I was able to find out that I strongly preferred parties to awkward clubbing excursions anyway!

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4. Doing all of those household activities you never thought you’d do.
Before college, I had done laundry maybe twice, and only with parental supervision. Boiling water? Ha! Who needed to boil water when you could just stick a frozen dinner in the microwave? Of course, I quickly learned some of the vital life skills for self-sufficiency, and I transformed from Girl-Who-Couldn’t-Use-Oven to Girl-Who-Bakes-Cookies-For-Everyone. A year and a half later, I maintain a tidy apartment and am more than capable of taking care of those daily chores. Of course, it is difficult not to have someone around to help you all the time, but being completely tossed in a situation in which you have to fend for yourself can actually be beneficial once in a while.

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5. Discovering Hulu.
Okay… maybe this one isn’t exactly life-changing. But having access to all of your favorite shows whenever you want to watch them is an important skill indeed. Hulu taught me that it was okay to be busy — I could still have my down-time whenever I wanted.

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6. Finding an organization on campus where you belong.
Knowing where you fit in and feeling a strong connection to that entity is one of the best things you will ever get out of college. The more you try to get involved, the better chance you will have at finding the club that changes your life. To quote Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower: “I don’t remember where and I don’t remember when. I don’t even remember the season. I just know that it was the first time I felt like I belonged someplace.” This is exactly how I felt when I first became involved in my honors college, and it is a feeling that I hope every college freshman will pursue.

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7. Realizing it’s okay to ask for help.
Whether you decide to visit your professor in office hours or you attend tutoring sessions to prepare for exams, you are doing exactly what is right for you. In high school, there was always that stigma against asking for help — if you went in with extra questions, people might have made judgments about your intelligence in order to feel better about themselves. Nowadays, going in for assistance is often the “smart” thing to do. Once I realized that not knowing didn’t make me any less of a student, college became a lot easier for me.

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8. Reuniting with old friends for the first time since college.
Let’s be honest for a minute… when I left for college, I did not want to look back. By the end of high school, I no longer considered myself particularly close with many people, and I was thrilled to move forward and meet new friends. However, I did maintain some close friendships, and occasionally I caught up with my high school acquaintances during vacation. Seeing people you haven’t spoken to in almost a year shows you how much you have changed since the last time you were both in the same place at the same time. You make for polite conversation, but at the same time you know that you have only drifted apart even farther.

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9. Taking an introductory course that ends up making all the difference.
I originally applied to college with every intention of becoming a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. Soon after I started freshman year, I realized that while I still loved writing, I did not want to work for newspapers and constantly focus on the negative. I changed my major to Advertising/Public Relations on a whim, mainly because a career aptitude test on the Internet suggested it to me, and then enrolled in the two prerequisite classes: Principles of Advertising and Introduction to Public Relations. Those classes not only made me fall madly in love with the integrated marketing field, but they also gave me exactly the inspiration I needed. Within the semester, I became involved in two clubs related to the major, started working on my resume and created my very first blog.

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10. Realizing that you like to learn and it doesn’t make you dorky.
College provides so many guest speakers, self improvement seminars and other educational events that you’d be crazy not to take advantage. Being at such a well-rounded university re-instilled in me a thirst for knowledge, one that I hope college freshmen will develop early on.

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11. Going home for the first time.
Being in your old room becomes an out-of-body experience. Your parents and family will begin to notice changes in you that you hadn’t even begun to notice in yourself. Even after I came home from my first month at school, I couldn’t get over how many relatives had commented on how much I’d grown up in that time. Many of my friends began to undergo those same changes in that short period of time as well.

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12. Volunteering with a group.
Everyone needs a cause to believe in and support. As a freshman, I went to a place called Give Kids The World with the honors college at my school, and immediately fell in love with the organization. GKTW is a place for families with children that have life-threatening illnesses to relax for a week and enjoy the theme parks as well as the organization’s own attractions. Going to this organization to volunteer gave me more of a purpose and a platform as I made my way through the first two years.

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13. Getting your heart broken.
To put it lightly… this one sucks. It’s one of those “character building” moments that you really don’t want to happen. But college teaches you to be careful about who you trust in or how much happiness you can place in another person, and by getting hurt, you are simply learning that lesson the hard way. At the same time, you learn to treasure those who really are there for you, and some relationships do grow stronger. You also begin to learn what you will and won’t accept from someone else.

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14. Recognizing that who you were in high school doesn’t matter.
Who cares if you were the jock or the nerd? Who cares what your GPA was or how you did on your SAT? You’re already in college at this point, so none of this matters. College gives you the chance to rebrand yourself, create a new identity and throw away the past if you so choose. At twenty years old, the petty memories of high school hardly mean anything to me anymore. People simply become characters and your former life becomes just another story.

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15. Realizing that you have a choice in your future.
Now that you’re in college, you are just beginning to gain some control in your life. You choose your major, your friends, your daily habits, your classes, your career path. The choices you make now will start to shape who you will become, and it can be exciting and terrifying at the same time. Be sure not to make any hasty decisions, and put yourself first. It’s your life.

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I hope you enjoyed! Here are some questions to consider:

– What were some of the defining moments in your college experience?
– If you aren’t in college yet, what are you most looking forward to?
– What topics are you looking to learn more about in the Freshman 15 series? Post your answers below! 🙂

How To Start Over When You’re Halfway Through

Next Monday, I will begin the spring semester of my sophomore year of college, but it feels like just yesterday I was packing my bags and getting ready for the beginning of summer classes. A lot has changed in the six or seven months since then, both personally and professionally, and while some aspects have been enjoyable and fulfilling, I’ve definitely had my share of crappy-life-lesson/”character-building” moments throughout these past two semesters as well. After experiencing the best freshman year I could have ever hoped for (minus, of course, constantly getting sick), I found sophomore year to be a bit of a letdown.

However, looking past all the obstacles, I realized that my year isn’t over. I can change its course if I want to — and I will — toward something much brighter. I don’t have to look at the aforementioned highs and lows and then call the entire year a failure; instead, I can work on making this spring even sunnier than the last.

So for those of you in a bit of a rut this year, looking to reinvent yourselves or improve your circumstances, here are just a few quick goals you may want to work toward in the coming months:

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♥ Do what you want to do; forget who’s watching you.
When we worry so much about what others think of our actions, we let their values dictate our own. Instead of constantly tiptoeing around others’ feelings, let’s remember to decide for ourselves what is best for us and how we should lead our lives.

Figure out your priorities.
You can only wind yourself so tightly with commitments before you begin to unravel. I’m not saying to quit the things you love or need, but learn how to manage it all so that you can still get full nights of sleep and not feel like you’re sacrificing something better.

Spend more time outside.
I don’t care how brightly decorated or well-lit your dorm is — it is no match for a cloudless, sunny day. Change your scenery by abandoning your room and heading outside into the fresh air. Do your homework by the pond, catch up on your reading on the benches near your building or take a long stroll with a friend during the limited down-time you both have.

Don’t neglect your health.
Eat the brain foods that will keep you going and throw out the junk food that makes you crash. Hit the gym for an hour or search for workout videos on YouTube. Don’t treat your health as a last priority; you have one body, and the better you treat it, the better it will treat you.

Avoid dramatic situations.
Easier said than done, of course, but try your best to stay away from those toxic relationships and untrustworthy “confidantes” who are mostly looking out for themselves. When you feel yourself being sucked into such situations, remind yourself that you have no time for those things, and steer clear. Had I followed my own advice in the past two semesters, I would have been much more productive.

Remember that nothing good happens after midnight.
Yes, it is extremely hypocritical of me to say that at this hour, but it’s something I plan to work on! What I mean by that phrase is that it’s important to get your beauty rest, especially during the week (because, let’s face it, we’re usually out till much later on the weekends – and rightfully so). Besides, nothing good can come of that late-night text or Facebook IM. Shut off your phone and computer and get some rest — trust me, it’s better for you.

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What are you looking to change in the upcoming semester?

The Truth About Trust

Every day, life presents us with a new series of challenges. As students, we must find the perfect balance between school, work and our social lives, and sometimes this can be difficult to manage. We will have our ups and downs, our highs and lows, but we recognize that everything in our lives is subject to change.

As someone who adjusted very well to college life in the first year, I can honestly say that I didn’t run into many problems until recently. With a successful freshman year behind me, my love affair with school remained strong until early in the fall semester of sophomore year, when reality began to kick in. Suddenly I was forced to question many of the personal decisions I had made, including several regarding trust, and I realized that life really isn’t all roses.

In fact, the issue of trust has been an important one for me. As someone who tries to see the good in everyone, I hate to think that people would ever take advantage of that optimism, or that seemingly strong friendships could dissolve quickly because of that. But as I’ve begun to face some more difficult situations at school, I’ve realized that trust isn’t something you can give away so quickly, even if you want to.

It’s a trickier situation in college than in high school because relationships have to accelerate much faster here than anywhere else. As a university student on your own, it makes sense that you’d want to find your group of friends early on — it gets lonely without a support network! Because of this, you get to know the people you’ve befriended much faster than you would typically get to know someone you met on the street. People dive into best-friendships, bromances and relationships all too suddenly because of this need to avoid loneliness.

However, when forming those bonds, it’s important to slow down the process as much as you can. You can’t tell a stranger your innermost thoughts and dreams; you have to let the friendship develop further before you can even begin to tell your life story. People aren’t always who they say they are, and it may take you months to figure that out.

I’m not saying that you need to be completely paranoid and skeptical, but just be aware that not everyone will prove to be the great friend or significant other you hoped they might become, and don’t start to really confide in those people until you’ve taken the time to get to know their personalities and tendencies.

Trust is only valuable when deserved.Tweet this!