We’re 21 and 22, and We Still Don’t Know What We’re Doing

Last week, I talked to my brother on the phone for an hour. Most of you won’t find this particular fact interesting at all… unless you know me and my brother. We’ve always had this odd relationship. I don’t really know how to explain it, but it’s not the typically brother and sister relationship. We’re 22 months apart, meaning all of his prospective girlfriends where my best friends, and all of my prospective boyfriends were his. Kind of created a bit of a jumbled mess in high school… but we’re past that now.

I’m Type A, he’s not. But we’re both extremely competitive, which is sort of a problem when you’re so close in age. My competition was him, and his—me. We have completely different plans for our lives. Other than parents, competition and our love of talking about absolutely nothing, we don’t have a ton in common. We’ve never really been the type to just hang together all the time. We hang out whenever we are buying the ‘rent’s birthday/Christmas presents and whenever we’re stuck at holiday parties together. I was thrilled when he decided to go to Alabama (except for the fact that he did, in fact, copy my decision), but when he came home that first weekend I bawled like a baby—and everyone at the football game that night can tell you that. He and his friends would rather do weird guy stuff while me and my friends watch Friends. He cheats at card games, while I’d rather play fair (you know you do).

He’s weirdly identical to dad, except I am too. But we’re not identical to each other. I look like mom and he acts like mom. I do too, but not as much as him. He can talk forever about stocks and all that fun stuff, while I’d much rather tell you about my newest plans. He knows that when I get stressed out, I’m likely to stop eating, stop sleeping, work like a maniac, call mom in tears and still manage to online shop. He on the other hand will find every way in the world to procrastinate and then somehow finish on time. He likes Alabama, and he loves Ardmore. I, on the other hand, am seeking to start my career elsewhere, particularly a large city on the opposite side of the country, but I digress… He wants a house and a car, but I’d rather have a cute apartment garden and call it a day. I don’t care for yard work but he jams on the lawnmower.

Now, we’re both single, beginning our careers/just finishing school, and we have no freaking clue who we are. I know that I am Kaitlin, and he is Kyler and that we are co-existing on this earth at the same time for some reason. So the other night, I called home to talk to my mom, and she wasn’t there. Normally, I’d settle for dad (if you knew my dad, you would understand why talking on the phone with him is settling. He doesn’t quite understand how to, you know, hold a conversation). But dad was with mom on one of their “dates.”

So, I talked to Kyler. (Which isn’t settling but he’s normally busy and probably isn’t interested in my complaints of the day) Kyler and I don’t talk about normal brother-sistery things. We never have, and I don’t think we ever will. But when I called the other day and he was the one of the other line, we talked about life. Particularly, my life because I was the one who called and if I call, I usually have something on my mind. So I spilled my guts, and he listened. Then we hung up and he went to the gym. Two days later, he calls me and he spills his guts. I listened and then I went to bed.

But his exchange was a little different than mine because he thanked me for being an example for him. Yeah, that threw me for a curve ball too. He’s my older brother. So, my response was number one to thank him for thanking me because let’s be honest, it’s nice when you hear something like that. Then my other response was, “I don’t have it all together.” Then, we had an hour conversation (if not longer) about how all our lives, we’ve thought we were expected to have it all together by 22. To have the job, not relying on mom and dad for money, have a long-term relationship (if not engaged or married already) and etc.

No, our parents did not lay the ground work for this. I’m pretty positive mom and dad have told us you will not have it all together, so stop freaking out when you realize you’re wrong (or in the words equivalent to that). With the evolution of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we see the best of everyone. I don’t put a picture on Instagram without first thinking, I really love today’s outfit or look how artsy my cup of coffee looks. When I post on Facebook, it’s to share the next big thing that’s happening in my life. When I post on Twitter, it’s the day’s thoughts (the good or funny ones of course). But we don’t publicize the struggles. I don’t post on Instagram when my hair is looking especially bad or I’m feeling a sweatpants day because those skinny jeans are just too difficult to deal with. I don’t post on Facebook when my paper ended up getting a grade lower than I wanted or when mom is right again when I really, really don’t want her to be. Twitter is about as honest as it gets on social media, but even there you’ll only see “I’m having a really bad day” or “#KaitlinProbs.”

So basically, my brother and I came to the conclusion that at 21/22, we thought we’d have a lot of this stuff figured out. And we don’t. And that’s kind of disappointing. We thought we’d already be through all this “struggling to survive” and we’d be hitting the good part where you know stuff and aren’t just guessing. But really, we’re just at the beginning of the trial and error stage and that’s an exhausting thought. I’m 21 and he’s 22, and we don’t have it all together.

We still don’t know how to budget, and I don’t know how to file my own taxes. My keys still fall behind the counter. The gym is still too far away from my bed, and I still don’t know how to drive (honestly). And if I had any clue how to fill out medical forms properly, I wouldn’t be the girl in the doctor’s office calling my mom. I don’t understand why somedays my body can work on just 4 hours of sleep, but when I get a full-night’s rest I’m groggy all day. I don’t know how to cook bacon without getting popped by hot grease, and I don’t understand apartment leases or why some don’t come with washers and dryers. I have hundreds of photos I keep meaning to get printed that are 5 years old. Why do my fruit smoothies contain 400 calories and a chocolate-chocolate chip muffin only has 250? I don’t know where Mr. Right is, but I hope he stays away long enough for me to put pictures of my friends and family in these frames instead of the creepy photos that come in them and long enough for me to learn how to get important work done without my carpet being combed in the same direction (weird, I know. Don’t judge me).

Why do I have emails about life insurance and 401k plans when I can barely afford to feed myself and put gas in my car? Why is the healthy stuff so expensive and the unhealthy stuff so tasty? Why can’t my dog live with me in my apartment and why can’t he be a normal dog that doesn’t eat doors and household furnishings? And oh my gosh, does the list go on!

Some days I really think my 10 year old cousin knows more about life than I do. But the good news is, we both know a lot now that we didn’t know 5 years ago or even just a month ago. We’re learning, and the really good news is: we’re learning at a rapid pace! I think that’s where we all get confused. We see these people that have everything together, but really they’re just putting pieces to the puzzle together and we can only see that one piece. If I had a clue why we had to wonder around this world trying to figure out life instead of having an owner’s manual, I’d be a millionaire and could pay someone to cook my bacon. But what fun would that be? To know it all? Let me tell you some of the fondest memories I have with friends are when things went wrong.

So the point of this blog is to A.) say thank you to my brother for helping me realize life isn’t about having it all together. B.) point out that he is, in fact, the best oldest brother and all of you should be jealous—hehe. And finally, C.) note that one day I will in fact know how to do the previous things listed (except maybe for the chocolate chocolate chip muffin thing…I’d rather keep thinking it’s healthier). So have fun not having your life together (and maybe post about it) because isn’t life really fun when you aren’t perfect?

Mirror Mirror on the Wall…

Not gonna lie…2014 was not my year. I had a great year, don’t get me wrong. But I felt like I was constantly fighting an uphill battle…

About midway through 2014, I realized I didn’t really like the person I saw in the mirror. I really struggled to find exactly who I was and who I wanted to be. I struggled with expectations and stereotypes. I struggled with anxiety and control. I had to re-dream my dreams. I struggled with my past and struggled with planning my future.

It’s kind of ironic, you know. When things turn in your direction and your dreams start coming true…all of a sudden there is a fear that will nearly paralyze you. I’m not really sure how to explain it, but as soon as I realized some of my dreams were within my grasp, I started questioning my judgement. Do I really want this? What if this really happens?

I dream of a life outside of my comfort zone. I dream of a big city big enough to handle my personality where I can see so many different faces and cultures on a daily basis. I dream of a career that is ever changing.

When the groundwork for this dream started being laid and everything started moving really fast, I thought about backing out. There are a lot of reasons that I started thinking maybe I would be happy staying here, living in Alabama, working here. That has never been my dream. I’ve never dreamt of living in a big house with the white-picket fence and two kids and a lot of money in the bank. That’s a great dream, it’s the American dream. But it’s not my dream.

It sounds crazy, I know, that I would dream of living in an apartment with no car. It sounds crazy, I know, that I don’t want kids until after I accomplish most of my career goals. It sounds crazy, I know, but that’s my dream.

While its OK and even great to want those things, it’s just not what I want. It’s difficult to want different things because honestly a lot of people don’t understand. Most of the time, I don’t know if my parents understand. I know it hurts people to think that I want to leave. Trust me, my dad has told me the crime rates, how expensive it is, how much I really wouldn’t like it. I wouldn’t expect anything less from him. I am daddy’s little girl, after all.

But those are the thoughts I started having when I realized my dreams were coming true. I started thinking maybe I do want the ring, the husband, the white-picket fence with 2 kids right out of college. Maybe I do want those things.

But that’s when I really started becoming unhappy and when I really started getting anxious about everything. When I started changing my dreams to accompany those things. Well instead of New York, I can go to Nashville. I can have the house, the car, the southern culture, and the city. I started playing these mind games with myself. In my mind, I was going to have my cake and eat it too. But in reality, I was settling. I was settling for an easier path. A path without uncertainty. A path that I would have complete control over and would be very comfortable.

2014 taught me a lot of things. It taught me people are not always who they say they are. It taught me that it is, in fact, possible to go 3 weeks on less than 5 hours of sleep each night. It taught me how important sleep truly is to our health. It taught me that going to the doctor when you first get sick is better than waiting it out. It taught me that being alone is ok and that it is possible to be happy and alone. It is actually possible to be happier when you are alone. It taught me that a pair of shoes can in fact change your life. It taught me that saving money is important, but what’s the point in having money if you don’t enjoy a little bit of it. It taught me that losing someone is difficult and that death is really, really hard. It taught me that liquid and electronics do not mix. (It actually taught me that in 2012 too). It taught me that if you’re brave enough to ask, you’ll find a lot more opportunities presented to you. It taught me that it’s ok to brag on yourself sometimes. It taught me that I am my harshest critic. It taught me flowers can in fact turn your day around. It taught me that no matter how many people you have pushing against you, you always have at least double that pulling for you. It taught me vacations are nice but there’s no bed as comfortable as the one in my apartment. It taught me I spend an unreasonable amount of money on coffee, and that’s ok. It taught me how much I truly miss running. It taught me that sometimes you have to take a blind leap of faith to get the rewards. It taught me that there is a time to say goodbye. It taught me some of the best friends are made over cheap margaritas and Mexican food. It taught me that if you ask the Lord for it, he will grant your request according to His will. It taught me that Christmas trees are in fact meant to stay up year round. It taught me that my health is one of the greatest blessings in life. It taught me that losing your voice for football before a presentation is in fact worth it. It taught me that it is ok to be selfish, especially when it comes to your dreams.

But most of all, 2014 taught me that if I’m brave enough to dream it, brave enough to ask for it, brave enough to pursue it and brave enough to fight for it, my dreams will come true.

I am grateful for the struggle that was 2014. Because now I can start 2015 with a clean slate, and I can look in the mirror and be happy with what I see.

I am very, very blessed and this year, most of all, has reminded me of that over and over. So for 2015, I’m not making any big new year’s resolutions. I want to get back to running and to keep my life a bit more organized (and my room). I want to travel, a lot. I want to be spontaneous. I want to say yes to more opportunities. I want to spend more time building relationships with people who dream as big as I do. I want to spend less time worrying about minimal issues. And most of all, I want to spend more time learning who I am, what I want, and what I’m capable of.

Happy New Year!

A Very, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

It’s 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Usually, I would be in Tuscaloosa, napping on my grandparents’ couch after baking all morning. We’d be preparing for the entire Brewer/Hood family to pile in the home that my mom grew up in. The count would normally be from 25-30 people, 6 or more dogs, and one cat that wouldn’t show up until after everyone left. Normally, I would have already opened all of my gifts from Santa because he always came to our house a week early so that we could be with our grandparents on Christmas Day.

But this Christmas is different. It’s different because we’re all grown up. My dad and brother both had to work this morning and will go in Friday as well. I just returned from a work trip to south Florida, and I’ll be working from home Friday as well. The gifts are all wrapped under the tree still, and my grandmother has significantly fewer mouths to feed on Christmas Day.

It’s bittersweet. I am so thankful to be home for the holidays this year in my own bed. But I will miss the family meal and white elephant games in Tuscaloosa. I logged on to Facebook last night to find out my best friend from grade school got engaged, several of my friends are accepting full-time jobs and internships, and I’m talking with agencies hundreds of miles away from home. In all honesty, it’s been really hard to get in the Christmas spirit this year. I’ve had all my gifts purchased for a few weeks now. I’ve watched all the movies, drank hot chocolate, been to Christmas parties, and even hosted one myself. My tree has been decorated in my apartment since before Thanksgiving, but Christmas just isn’t the same this year.

I welcomed Christmas break with open arms this year after a trying semester and a schedule full for next. But work never stopped, school never stopped, and here I am, still working, on Christmas Eve. My family has done everything the same. I have done everything the same. But Christmas is just different this year.

I asked for a few things, most of which I picked out with mom in the store, but there’s really not anything I really need or even really want. All of the things I am getting are all “nice to have” gifts that I’m still thankful for, but I’m very aware that they are things this year.

The Brewer/Hood family isn’t the only Christmas celebration with empty chairs this year. The closer Christmas has come, the more aware I’ve been of a hole in my heart. My grandmother is still on my mind, especially with a family holiday being tomorrow.

Someone sent my grandfather an anonymous gift the week before last in the mail. It was an ornament with a poem. It reads:

I still hear the songs, I still see the lights, I still feel your love on cold wintery nights. I still share your hopes and all of your cares, I’ll still remind you to please say your prayers. I just want to tell you you still make me proud. You stand head and shoulders above all the crowd. Keep trying each moment to stay in His grace, I came here before you to help set your place. You don’t have to be perfect all of the time,’ He forgives you the slip if you continue the climb. To my family and friends, please be thankful today. I’m still close beside you In a new special way. I love you all dearly, now don’t shed a tear, Cause I’m spending my Christmas with Jesus this year. 

I’m thankful to that person who sent this gift. My grandfather has it sitting on the mantle and shows everyone that walks through the door. He actually got the tree out after he received it because he knows “she would have wanted it this way.” I’m thankful, too, because it reminds me that she’s not missing anything. Rather, she has a better view and is celebrating with the One who made this holiday.

This Christmas isn’t really different, every material thing is the same. I’m just very, very aware of hurting hearts this year. Perhaps because mine is still healing.

The Lord has been good to me this year. He extended my grandmother’s life 4 months more than the doctors expected, allowing me, my brother, my cousin, and my dad and his brother to spend more time with the little woman who brought us all together. He blessed me with an incredible internship that not only provided professional experience, but that provided the finances that will be used so I can experience an internship across the country this summer. He blessed me with love, but also with a reminder that He has a better plan. He blessed me with supportive friends that have made this year extra special, and new friends that I can’t imagine my life without now. He blessed me with an education at a top tier school for public relations and the opportunity to obtain two degrees in my four years. He afforded me the opportunity to write a thesis and conduct an independent study. He blessed me with a loving brother, an overprotective dad, and a mom who is my best friend. He has ended relationships, formed new ones, and made old ones bloom brighter and better. He has gifted me with professors, advisors and connections that I never knew were  possible and opportunities beyond my wildest dreams. He has connected me with my dream agency and continues to have perfect timing everyday. Through the trying times, He held my hand, dried my tears and is continuing to heal my heart. The Lord has been good to me this year.

My thoughts are with those celebrating the holidays with fewer people this year than last. I’m praying for healed hearts because it hard when your hurting during the holidays. I can only imagine the opportunities 2015 will bring. I’m thankful for the opportunities, the love, the heart ache, and even the pain of 2014 because I know I am a better person for it. I hope 2014 treated you well, and that 2015 treats you better.

So Merry Christmas from me and my family. We appreciate the prayers, love and support you have all shown this year. We hope you have a very, merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Goins-1

Adventure May Hurt, But Monotony Will Kill You.

So, I’ve been MIA from just about all social media for about a month now, with the exception of Twitter, for a number of reasons. I’ve received numerous texts, Facebook messages, Twitter DMs, etc. from several people wondering why I’ve fallen off the face of the earth. I figure it is easier to write a blog, than try to explain in individual messages. But for the record, thank you so much for your messages and for checking in on me. I will of course send each of you messages just to catch up, but for the ultimate explanation… here you go:

September 15 started a spiral of events in my life. My Mimi passed away from a long fight with Parkinson’s Disease. I apologize for not letting anyone know really. It was probably inconsiderate of me not to let anyone know so they could support me at the funeral and etc. But everything happened very quickly because we had prepared for that day since her health started declining quickly in mid July. I didn’t even have time to inform my pastor in Tuscaloosa of the passing. I was surrounded by family, my best friend, and our closest family friends at her funeral. Thank you for your words of kindness and thoughts. Although her passing was expected, the loss is still difficult and weighs heavy, especially with so many significant events occurring that I know she would have LOVED hear about and experience.

After she passed, me and my boyfriend broke up, another loss that weighed heavy in such a trying time. After two such large events happening in the same week, I had a lot of loss to overcome and strength to regain. But as usual, life continued.

On my grandmother’s 73rd birthday, 8 days after her passing, God started working in my life. While I’m sure He was working on my heart in those 8 days, He really started moving on her birthday. I’ve started a new job in September working with a great lady literally living out one of my dreams. It’s been an amazing experience, and I cannot wait to see where else this opportunity is going to take me. Aside from working a job that I love, I also got a new calling at Capstone Agency, the student-run PR firm I intern for at UA. I was moved to account executive of a very large account. While taking over the account only two weeks before the pitch proved to be significantly difficult and time-consuming, I’m so excited to tell you that it went great. Thursday, I pitched to the director of integrated marketing communications for a multi-million dollar corporation. I have not had more than 6 hours of sleep in 3 weeks, I’ve drank at least 3 cups of coffee per day and I’ve been at the office more than I’ve been at my apartment. I’ve napped on the floors of Reese Phifer, I’ve survived my first ear-infection and hole in my ear drum, I’ve overcome obstacles, I’ve lead an amazing team of 9 people, and I’ve made some of the best memories of my life. It’s been spectacular. It’s been amazing. It’s been challenging. It’s been the best experience thus far in my life, and I’m only 20.

I’ve also become a certified Zumba instructor and made 4 great friends while dancing for 9 hours straight. I’ve met a number of international students, all of whom I introduced to the real southern accent (apparently my southern drawl is even more significantly southern than the rest of UA) and good coffee. I’m preparing for my first gala in Chicago on my 21st birthday. And I’ve got two huge clients I’m working for next semester, possibly three. The best is yet to come.

Life has thrown me a curve ball. It hit me in the gut and tried to knock me down. It hurt. It left a bruise that’s still healing. But I’m still standing.

God is within her. She will not fail. 

Sometimes you ignore God long enough because he is asking for change. He is begging and pleading for you to make that change. He gives you chance after chance, sign after sign that something is not right. But you don’t listen because you’re comfortable. Life is easy. While life may not be perfect, at least you know what to expect. Especially in college when life is so unpredictable, when you find something that is predictable and comfortable, it’s hard not to hold on.

So then God has to step in and make the change you refused to make yourself. Sometimes it takes people months to get over stuff like this, for them to see the positives, and to understand what the bigger picture is. But if we open our eyes and listen to some of the things happening around us, you get a glimpse of that overall picture.

For instance, relationships can alter dreams…big dreams. While I may still have been able to move to New York or Seattle while in a relationship, chances were slim to none that he could have followed. So at that point you have to pick between something comfortable and a dream that is out of your comfort zone in a city hundreds of miles away and alone. Too many dreams fall apart at this fork in the road.

Great things never happened in comfort zones.

Since that week, I have had so many opportunities presented to me that I have taken advantage of. Those opportunities will get me my dream job in my dream city someday. Not only that, but I’ve met people with those exact dreams in those exact cities. I’ve met people with my same personality, worked on the same project together and developed friendships that can only be made at 2 a.m. in the basement of a 80 year old building that was a bomb shelter in WWII. Friendships that can only be made running away from a drunk guy who was chasing you at 3 a.m. on your walk to the car.

Because I took those opportunities, I have met some of the people that I will see in NYC and Seattle. I will know people there, I will have friends, and it won’t be so uncomfortable chasing a dream.

You’ll turn out ordinary if you’re not careful. 

As far as my heart goes, it’s still healing. The little things remind me of my grandmother nearly all the time, and I really just want her to be here so I can see her smile when I tell her what’s happening in my life. She was my biggest cheerleader, especially when it came to my career. She wanted to hear all 850 comments from my letter to Cade Foster. “Another one, another one.” She would get so excited. I still haven’t watched an episode of Big Bang Theory. Sometimes it hits me all over again.  As far as a man, I’ve got my daddy, my brother and my poppy and papaw who are the only men I need because they support each and every one of my dreams. And right now I’m focused on guarding my dreams.

Success is not for the lazy. 

My warning is for all the college and high school girls out there with big dreams or those going through a breakup that just can’t understand why… Listen to God and let Him work in your life. Things will start to fall in place. It may take a month or six or maybe even a year, but He’s still there, He’s just working on something really big.

Ugly and Definitely NOT Acceptable

An article is running like wild fire through social media about why girls wear the “sorority girl uniform” otherwise known as nike shorts and extra-large t-shirts to class on college campuses.

I get it, I really do. Girls are sick of boys complaining about what they wear on a daily basis. I’m not just talking about sorority girls here, either. Most campuses are only less than 30% Greek, half of those, if not more, being fraternities. Nike shorts and big t-shirts are the norm for all on most college campuses.

However, that may not be a good thing.

She gives three reasons why these “ugly” uniforms are acceptable. I have three reasons why they’re not.

Her reasons:

1. It is hot outside 2. No one has time to look “cute” for an 8 am. 3. It is comfortable, and normal clothes are not.

1.

 Her argument might be valid if this uniform trend continued on game days.

“We are in the South in general, and it is HOT. With temperatures and humidity as suffocating as they currently are, no one wants to put the time and effort into looking cute.”

Have you ever seen a sorority girl — or any college girl — on game day? Makeup? Check. Perfectly straightened or curled hair? Check. Dress? Check. Shoes other than chaos or athletic shoes? Check. If you think it is hot sitting in an air-conditioned classroom for an hour, what do you call 95 degree heat, in high heels, designer dresses, sitting in a concrete stadium packed with 100,000 people?

If the classroom is hot, I guess the game days are close to hell. 

2.

No one has time to look cute? Seriously? How about just being professional? Have you ever thought that for just a second your professors are looking for a student to recommend for a DREAM JOB? Have you ever thought the professor that lectures you for an hour twice a week actually worked in your field and knows professionals who are looking to hire college graduates? Have you ever thought maybe, just maybe if I put a little extra effort into presenting myself as something a little more than a college student just trying to get by, you might get that dream job right out of college, if not soon after?

And as for the “That is seriously pushing it, too, especially if you live off campus” comment, exactly what do you plan on doing once you are not attending classes everyday? As far as I know, most jobs start at 8 or 9 am, which means rush hour traffic is right in those two time slots. Are you planning on living in your office? Please don’t give me the “I’ll have time to be professional and grown up when I graduate” excuse. You are not in high school anymore. You are an adult.

3.

Finally, it is comfortable. Do not get me wrong here. I have an abundance of Nike shorts and big Comfort Colors t-shirts. I love them, and they are extremely comfortable. But I am just as comfortable in a sundress, maxi dress, nice shorts, and shirts that are actually my size. And get this: my chaos match all of those outfits. 

She ends with:

Now come fall and winter, we’ll look a lot more presentable. Scarves, sweaters and jeans are easy and effortless to wear when it is cooler weather, and they look cute! Now of course, even when it’s cold, we’ll probably still be wearing yoga pants, leggings or whatever else is quick at times. Just give us some time, and we’ll look a little more presentable. For now though, the uniform continues.

Why are scarves, shirts that actually fit, shorts that are not meant for the gym, or a simple sundress not “easy and effortless to wear?” Why don’t you just only wear this “sorority girl uniform” at times? 

Last semester, I was called to a last minute meeting where a C-suite executive of a major global company sat at the head of the table, and I did not have time to run home and change. It was a good thing I was not wearing this “uniform” otherwise, I probably would not have networked with him, sat in on another meeting, or been invited to meet with him and his staff in New York.

So, do not blame the girl–whether in a sorority of not– that puts an extra 10 minutes of time into looking like she did not just roll out of the bed (even though she probably did) when she gets your dream job because your professor chose to tell her about the job opportunity instead of you

 

I did not name this a uniform or particularly a sorority girl uniform. This is not meant to shame any girl for wearing this outfit, just meant to bring awareness that the excuses are not valid, and there are legitimate reasons why you should wear non-athletic apparel to classes. 

The Barbie Debate

Barbie gets a bad reputation because of her look. We’ve all seen the posts on Pinterest or blogs that show what Barbie would look like if she was a real girl. We get it. Barbie’s appearance sets an unrealistic expectation for the way women are supposed to look. 

But do you remember what it was like to be a 4-5 year old with a Barbie? Barbie was all about dreams and make-believe. 

“My whole philosophy of Barbie was that through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices.”- Ruth Handler, creator of the Barbie doll.

When I used to play with the doll, it was about dressing her in the prom dresses I wanted to wear to prom one day. It was about Barbie being a business woman or a teacher or whatever profession I was fascinated with that day. It was about the wedding dress for her wedding. It was about her job. It was about her hobbies. It was so much more than how tall she was, how skinny or fit she was or the color of her hair. 

Look at half of the toys we buy kids today. They’re witches and wizards and princesses. They’re a myriad of fantasy characters that we know the 3-9 year old imagination can run wild with. 

Do we really have to blame a toy for eating disorders and body image issues? I’m a 20 year old girl. I am fit and in shape. I have curves. I am not a size 0 or 2 or even a size 4. 

I played with Barbie dolls as much as any girl. I played with them, dressed them, cut their hair. I had the Barbie Dream House and the Barbie VW car. I used to carry them everywhere I went. I loved playing with Barbie dolls. 

Never in my 20 years did I look at a Barbie doll and think that is what I am supposed to look like. I never held my Barbie up next to my mom and think my mom wasn’t normal because she didn’t look like Barbie. I never told my babysitter she didn’t look like Barbie. I didn’t even ask WHY women didn’t look like Barbie. The thought never crossed my mind. 

Because Barbie was a doll. 

Barbie was a business woman who dressed nice and I could be a business woman that dressed nice. I can wear the heels and dresses and still conquer the world. The size of my breasts, waist and butt can’t do that. What I look like can’t achieve my dreams and goals. 

If body issues stem from anywhere, its from the magazines we read, the movies and shows we watch and the people we hang around. As a cheerleader, I sat and listened as my teammates criticized their bodies. Wanting the lose the pudge or the thunder thighs. And believe me, I know all too well the burden of buying pants a size too big for your waist so your thighs can fit it. I know the gap at the back of the jeans. I know the struggle of buying a swimsuit top in a small and the bottoms in a large. I’m not some itty-bitty girl. 

And I struggled with my weight, still do some days. Wanting to be smaller. Wanting to be more fit. But that’s not from me playing with a Barbie doll when I was young. It’s from reading magazines that are constantly displaying headlines: “Miranda Lambert loses XX pounds,” “Jessica Simpson loses XX pounds on weight watchers” “Best and worst celebrity beach bodies.” They go on and on. How many weight loss shows are on television now? How many infomercials can we watch of drug x and y that does this better than that. This weightloss plan. New Year’s Resolutions. 

Look at the people we see on television. Guiliana Rancic, Kendall Jenner… the people that model in the fashion shows we watch. America’s Next Top Model…girls were voted off for not being skinny enough. 

And we want to blame Barbie for all this nonsense? Where are the rational thinkers? We set down the Barbie dolls before we’re teenagers. And we pick up the magazines, watching the television shows. 

But overall, none of this is really this issue. 

Yes, there should be a Barbie that looks like a size 6 girl. But there should also be supermodels that are size 6 that aren’t classified as overweight. The weightloss commercials need to be taken off certain programmings. 

But for goodness sakes, let’s educate our girls. Let’s educate them with what’s normal. Explain B.M.I. Explain why our bodies need calories and fats to live. Explain why exercise is healthy but too much exercise is unhealthy.  

If we’re going to explain why elasticity effects the economy, then we sure as heck need to educate children and teenagers on what it takes to nourish our bodies. More than the half a week the schools spend on talking about anorexia and bulimia. 

Something as huge as our health deserves more than 3 hours of terrible videos. Knowledge is power. 

Let’s let our girls continue to play with the dolls like little girls do. Let them rip all the clothes because the thumbs never fit through the holes in the sleeves, let them lose all the shoes, put men’s clothes on the women dolls. Let them get lost in their imaginations because they’re girls just wanting to play.

A Memorial Day Tribute

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When I walked down the narrow street that led to Ground Zero, we were pushed to the side by firefighters trying to get the truck back to the garage. Ten House is the fire station located in the heart of Ground Zero.  At least 5 fire fighters assisted on the street as the 4 firefighters on board attempted to get the fire truck down the narrow street and into the garage as thousands of people filled the streets. It took 3 tries to get the truck into the station.

Friday, May 22nd, 2014 was just another Friday. There was no chaos, no incident, no attack. Yet, getting the fire truck one block down the street to the Ten House station was a struggle.

Can you imagine September 11th? Can you imagine the chaos? Can you imagine the fire fighter that had to climb out of the truck to remove the body from the street so the truck could get closer to the Twin Towers? Can you imagine the fire fighter that had to tackle a man whose clothes were on fire to put them out? Can you imagine the chaos they had to pass in order to get to the heart of the attack? Can you imagine the last sights of those that gave their all that day?

The last thing they saw was not a room full of family. They didn’t get to say goodbye to their children. They didn’t get to say I love you to their spouses. They didn’t get any of that.

Their last sight was a terrorist attack. They smelled burning bodies. They went in knowing the chances of them coming out alive were slim to none. But they did it anyways 

On Friday, thousands of people flocked to Ground Zero to see the memorial fountains, the bronze wall on the side of the Ten House, and the newly opened museum. They listened to stories of survivors who gave tours, pointing out where the planes came from, where they were standing and which tower fell first.

On Friday, as thousands visited to pay their respects to the thousands that passed that day, they encountered conspiracy theorists. They encountered people who stood on the ground where people died shouting lies.  The survivors who were giving tours would stop to curse these people. I do not blame them. The disrespect of those people to bring more pain to those who had already lost all, who had already experienced the smell and sight of death is beyond anything imaginable.

The memorial fountains were designed and constructed in such a way to express to visitors exactly what was lost that day. In the center of each acre-sized fountain, is a black, square hole where the water disappears. You cannot see the bottom. You cannot see the end. No matter where you stand around the bronze panels surrounding the fountain, you cannot see a visible end. There is a black hole.

People all around were stretching their neck to see over the bronze panels attempting to see the bottom. They never felt the satisfaction of finding the end. Because there is no satisfaction to be felt. Because there is no end to be seen. 

Perhaps this blog is more relevant for 9/11. Perhaps I would have more hits if I published it on 9/11. But that’s not the point. The point is that today is Memorial Day and I’m not sure that any of us really understand what we need to remember, what we need to respect. We’re too busy cooking hotdogs and hamburgers by the pool with our family and friends. We’re too busy to remember the lives lost in any war, on any day. We’re too busy to remember those that gave their all so that we can enjoy the day off. It’s a little twisted don’t you think? There are soldiers, firefighters, police, nurses and other emergency workers working today while we enjoy the day off.

God Bless those soldiers who fought, who died, who are fighting, who will fight and who will die, protecting our freedom and protecting our rights. 

God Bless those emergency workers we protected, who died, who are protecting and who will protect and who will die protecting and saving lives. 

Thank you for your service.

You can read the stories of fire fighters from the Ten House here.