Sexual Harassment Online

“Your beautiful body hot as fuck Mmmm I need you and them hips an ass in my life I bet you taste real sweet and just delicious.” 

Uncomfortable? So was I when I opened this Instagram direct message. I get at least five of these messages a week, and I only have around 2,190 followers. This is in addition to several weird comments on photos, and less sexual pestering in my DMs (see below). 

In growing my Instagram account, I often follow a number of accounts that I don’t know. I’d estimate that 70% of the random dudes I follow end up sending me a DM trying to start up a conversation. News flash — just because I follow you does not mean that I’m asking for a conversation, and I’m definitely not asking for a comment on how beautiful I am etc. 

You. Have. Just. Been. Unfollowed, sir. 

Virtual Voyeurism

Instagram has popularized voyeurism. In doing so, I don’t think that they thought about the dangers that it posed. Now, I have chosen to open up my life to the public, but that does not mean I’m “asking for it.” In no situation is a woman “asking for it.” 

Instagram has done its fair share to protect people against bullies, and even just made a landmark decision to prohibit anyone under the age of eighteen to see posts advertising diet products. But it hasn’t done much to stop its sexual harassment problem. In the twenty-five paged PDF, “How to Talk With Your Teen About Instagram: A Parent’s Guide,” there is no mention of sexual harassment. 

There are numerous stories of photographers exploiting Instagram models, or companies preying on influencers’ financial insecurity. And while many proclaim that they’re smarter than that, I can say that it’s tempting. I have a miniscule following, but get offers constantly. And, I regularly get solicited by men labeling themselves as “sugar daddies.” 

What’s worse is that as someone who has been harassed, you can actually get in trouble for calling our your harasser by name on Instagram’s platform. Why you ask? Well, because of their Harassment Policy – isn’t that ironic? Further, Instagram’s “Help Center,” makes no mention of sexual harassment or predatory behavior. They just mention ways to report registered sex offenders. A simple search of related terms comes up with nothing. 

There are many accounts that publicize DMs and comments in which women have been harassed. Often, they poke fun at the issue. As women, we know that to deal with this sort of constant stream of harassment. A bit of levity is needed for us to feel both sane and safe. The account @chossyDMs posted such content… And guess what? it was REMOVED by Instagram. No worries though, you can be added to its new private account, @chossydms2.0

The Downside of Dating Apps

This experience isn’t unique to Instagram. I’ve heard of women experiencing harassment through LinkedIn. Boys, “connecting” on LinkedIn means growing your professional network… not connecting emotionally or sexually. Outside of these platforms, there’s also the obvious — dating apps. These apps do more than Instagram does. I know from experience that Bumble has a no tolerance policy for harassment or predatory behavior. I had my rapist removed from the platform. 

As someone who was assaulted by a connection through a dating app, in the short interm after this happened, I tried to use them again. For obvious reasons, I was hesitant about meeting up with anyone too soon, and refused to go to anyone’s home. Especially not after a few minutes of messaging. I can’t tell you how many guys got angry at that – or even how many unmatched me. This was even after I explained that I had been assaulted in the past and would prefer to get a drink first, or just talk a little more. Matches continually took offense to my fear, or were just outright annoyed at me. 

Boys, let me ask you a question. If your sister, or cousin, or mother, or friend was assaulted in the past, and exercised similar caution on these apps… would you be mad at her

After continual disappointment by men on these apps, and even just on Instagram, I decided to ask my followers if they have had similar experiences. The results were staggering.

Survey Results

Can’t Escape Harassment

When asked how the inappropriate DM made them feel, respondents had reactions ranging from feeling taken aback, to feeling disturbed, violated, and objectified. 

When asked how they responded to dick pics, some ignored them, some replied something snarky or angry, but the majority blocked them. Not a single respondent reported the message. One individual said the following about the message she received, “I was fourteen and never had seen an adult penis. It made me feel SO ashamed and disgusted.” 

This is the world that women live in. We are never free from harassment, not even in our own homes because of the digital world we hold in our hands. 50.3% of active Instagram users are female. And while the majority are 18-24, a significant portion fall into the 57 million portion that are ages 13-17. Instagram SHOULD take responsibility for the safety of these users. If they truly want to create a safe and positive environment for its users, it can not ignore this problem. 

Let’s Demand Change

I created a petition on about this issue to demand that Instagram create policies around sexual harassment and predatory behavior, as well as mechanisms to report such incidences. Today I ask you to #bebossy with me and sign this petition. After signing, please share the petition to you social media platforms with the hashtag #EndInstaHarassment. Our voices matter.

The Window Sill

I had been out of my intensive treatment program for almost 6 months. I was substantially better. Yet, after a night out, I ran home, up to the top level of my apartment building, kicked out the window screen, and perched myself on the window sill. As I sat there sobbing, trying to catch gulps of air through my tears, I tried to work up the courage. I was going to jump.

But I didn’t.

If I had, this would have been my second attempt. And while most people think this is so crazy, or focus on how detrimental suicide is to the people who love you (I know this, and ultimately this is the reason I stepped off the ledge), what they don’t realize is what it is like to be in such tremendous pain that you don’t feel anything anymore. And for me, as someone who self-harmed, it was about trying to feel something, anything.

I am still here today, but I can’t tell you that I don’t still have those days, that I don’t still have the thought cross my mind. And my rational mind can still tell me that I’m being irrational, while my illness stubbornly still sees suicide or self harm as an option.

An Epidemic

A recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO) says that one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds. This means that close to 800,000 people die by suicide every year. This is more than those lost to malaria, breast cancer, or war and homicide. Today, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for 15-29 year olds, after road accidents.

Just thinking about this overwhelms me. The sheer amount of pain this represents is immeasurable. WHO also finds that for every suicide, there are many more attempts of suicide. Further, suicide rates are higher for vulnerable groups who tend to experience discrimination. For example, refugees, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, indigenous peoples, and prisoners. This is a global public health issue, and is one that is having a disparate impact on the most vulnerable in our society. What frustrates me is that suicide is preventable. And there many low-cost interventions that can save lives.

I acknowledge the privilege that I have to be able to afford high-quality treatment and medications. I also acknowledge that as a white, middle-class, cis-gender, heterosexual women with a higher education, I am also privileged. Because of these things I do not face the level of discrimination that underrepresented groups do face. Because I am not isolated as a result of my identities, I experience a sense of connectedness – a major preventative factor against suicide. I am not othered by society, and I also know how to access helpful resources.

How Can We Help?

The majority of the conversation about World Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is often how to help a friend or loved one who is either displaying suicidal behavior or who has divulged suicidal thoughts. But this is a conversation of privilege. I was able to use my smart phone that night on the window sill to contact my therapist, I was able to take my emergency sedative that I could afford to pay for, I was able to seek safety in my apartment. I was able to seek support from other people who have an understanding and knowledge about mental health. And while my experience is important, as is every experience of someone with a mental illness, I know I am at an advantage.

This is why I have made the choice to highlight the groups that don’t normally get talked about when we discuss suicide prevention. And as weird as it sounds, I thought of these people when I decided to step off the ledge and close the window. I thought about how if I did not have all of those things I listed above, I probably would have taken my own life that night.

A part of my healing process has been using the energy and good days that I do have to help others. Whether this is by telling my story or attending mental health events in the community, I am able to make my pain have a purpose. And that makes me feel like I’m worth something. Like there is a reason for me to be here on this earth.

So I ask you to acknowledge your privilege. And understand that by doing so, you aren’t giving anything up. Instead you are recognizing that other people do not have the advantages that you have. It is accepting that any initiatives or programs to help these groups will only help to bring them to an equal position to that which you are standing in right now.

If you think you have nothing in common with these groups, think about the human brain. An organ thats structure is maintained in every person, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc. An organ that can experience the same mental illness that you or a loved one may experience. That’s chemistry, anatomy, irrefutable scientific fact. Connect to their humanity. By supporting and giving back to these communities, we can help to alleviate many of the risk factors that contribute to their higher suicide rate. Equality isn’t just about laws, equal treatment, or financial wellness – it is also about deserving to live a life without pain. And personally, I think every human being deserves that.

General Resources

Conquer Your Credit Card Debt

Let’s conquer your credit card debt.

I recently have found myself in a bit of credit card debt. I am somewhat comforted knowing that I’m not the only one — but seeing as we are approaching another financial crisis, it also turns the notches up on my anxiety level. Nonetheless, here are the facts. 

One in four millennials carry credit card debt for over a year, and Gen Z’ers are outpacing other generations in their credit card debt accumulation. Being an in-betweener (I was born in 1995, right after the millennial generation ended, and Generation Z began.), I am at least “on trend.” Though, not in a good way. 

So being the millen-z that I am, I took to my social media to crowdsource some info from my friends and followers on how to pay off my debt. A number of people asked that I share the results – so, here goes!

Well, there’s the obvious advice: “lock em up, don’t spend what you don’t have.” These words are straight from one of my friends, and while I’m thankful for the advice… At this point it doesn’t help. What is of value is the advice to pay off the debt or card that has the highest interest first. This makes perfect sense, as the higher the interest – the longer it will take to pay off the card. So by devoting your attention to what I’ll term the biggest pain in your ass, you’ll save more money in the long run.

So, have you heard of a balance transfer? You have! Great. Still confused? Same. But I think I’ve figured it out — well I guess I have because I just did one. 

A balance transfer is actually a pretty simple concept. You apply for a new card that has a lower interest rate, or even better, 0% APR for 18-24 months. Then you transfer the balance to that new card from the old card. Basically, the new card gives money to the first card. So, you’re using one card to pay off another. Or multiple. You could transfer balances from multiple accounts to this new one, so you can make a single payment rather than multiple payments across different cards. 

Finding the right card can be hard, especially if you are already experiencing some credit card debt, and your credit score took a blow as a result. From this experience, and my trusty friend Credit Karma, I learned that if you use over 50% of your total available credit, it can lower your credit score. Best practices say to only use 20-30% at any given time. 

I used Credit Karma to recommend me credit cards that I would have higher chances of approval for based on my credit score, and then checked those cards to see their policy on balance transfers. I was approved for the PNC Core card. 

A common question about balance transfers is if you can do them across different banks or lenders. The answer is yes! My Capital One account is the problem child, and I used this new PNC card to do the transfer. There is typically a transfer fee.

By doing this I am able to pay off the PNC Core balance with 0% APR for 18 months, and for the remainder of the debt in the Capital One card, I have lowered my interest rate and therefore made it easier to pay off faster. 

Some of my friends and followers suggested taking out a loan to help alleviate credit card debt. Taking out a loan to pay off existing debt is really just moving the money around. The debt is still there, only the lender or bank you need to pay back is changing. But there are three situations where this might make sense for you.

You should only take out a debt consolidation loan if the interest rate on that loan is lower than that of the current interest you are paying. If this is the case, go for it! It can help you pay off the debt faster.

Sometimes by consolidating into one personal loan, you can lower your monthly payment. Say you are paying off multiple cards and the monthly expense ends up being around $500 dollars. If you can consolidate all that debt into one personal loan that has a lower monthly payment, say $400 dollars, you can pay off your debt faster.

Sometimes when we have many bills to pay, we can forget or miss a payment. This in turn hurts our credit score. But consolidating debt into one personal loan, you can focus all your time and energy on that one account. If you do this, you MUST lower or cease your credit card usage, or else you will never catch up.

A few suggestions pointed me in the direction of savings apps – like Tally. Described as, “another credit card payoff app, but with a twist,” this app is designed for people with high-interest credit card debt. As an automated debt manager, Tally directly extends you a line of credit that it then uses to make payments toward your highest-interest debt (refer back to “the basics”), while paying the minimums of the rest. As the user, you are now paying back the Tally credit line, which has a lower interest rate. 

A big plus to Tally is that it helps you to never miss a card payment, which in turn protects your credit card score. One thing to know is that you need a credit score of at least 660 to even qualify. 

If you don’t meet that requirement, I’d recommend something like Digit. Digit analyzes your spending and automatically saves money each day for you. It looks are your expected purchases, upcoming bills, and more and then determines how much would be “safe to save,” each day. It then pulls that amount directly from your checking account and stores it for you. You can then use this money to put towards bills, save for a vacation, or for our purposes – pay off your credit debt. 

Next up, the Avalanche method. This is basically a fancy word for something we already discussed under The Basics. This is the strategy of paying off the line of debt with the highest interest rate first, while making the minimum payments of the others. Once you tackle that high-interest debt, you then move down the line. 

Dave Ramsey, author, radio host, and financial expert, recommends the snowball method over the avalanche method. The difference is that in the Snowball Method, you pay the smallest balance off first, and move upward,  regardless of interest rate. He prefers this method as it helps you stay motivated. The satisfaction of paying off that first debt can help you to push forward and tackle the others. So if you tend to deal with motivation issues, or just are overwhelmed by paying off that high interest debt, go with the Snowball Method. 

Also recommended was doing “odd jobs” as a side hustle. Dog walking or sitting with Wag or Rover, or selling clothes on Poshmark. This sounds like a great idea, and maybe even fun or low stress. But I’ve tried both and it’s both slow and exhausting, with minimal return. I love dogs, don’t get me wrong, but working through those apps has a few negatives. 

First, it’s an over-saturatured market. There are so many people registered on the app that it becomes rare to get a gig. Additionally, if you have a full-time job, this can often make it a challenge for clients that want their dog checked on or watched during the day. Then there’s the general annoyance of watching other people’s dogs. Dogs that are sometimes untrained or have behavioral issues that weren’t disclosed to you. 

I never made much money off Rover. But by publicizing that I was using the app, acquaintances or friends did start to offer me gigs. For long-weekend dog sitting, I was able to make a bit more money. But generally, you are usually giving up weekends around holidays, and you have to be okay with that. 

Now, Poshmark. First off, you have to have clothes to sell in the first place. If you’re like me, this can be hard. I keep my closet to only what I actually wear or have worn in the past year. If you do have some things to get rid off, maybe after doing some spring closet cleaning, cool! The only thing I will say is that people are going onto Poshmark to find clothes at good discounts. So your earning power is quite low because of this. You have to list pretty low, and Poshmark takes part of the profit. I’ve had items sit on my Poshmark closet for over a year, and have ended up just donating them. So while this is an option, it’s not very fruitful. 

The above are just the options suggested to me. I am employing a balance transfer, and getting Tally to help me remember to pay my bills. There are definitely more options out there, so don’t let this little blog be the end all be all. 

From this experience I’ve also realized how little I know about finances and financial health. The following were recommended to me as educational resources. I added in Be Wealthy and Smart, a podcast by Linda P. Jones, a financial mentor. While addressing a number of topics, a lot of her content is aimed at helping women to gain financial empowerment. So, check it out!

Hopefully this helps! I know this stuff can be uncomfortable to talk about. As someone who has always had anxiety about money I’m no different. We weren’t taught about these things as kids or young adults. At this point, the best way to learn is by sharing best practices with one another. Best of luck!

Suns Out, Tums Out

This weekend, local Columbus girl bosses Stef Streb and Julie Wojno threw a body positive pool party – Suns Out, Tums Out. This event brought together 105 women from around the city to put on their swimsuits and reclaim their bodies. And let me tell you, it was magical.

each guest received a drink coozie, and if you were 21+ up to two beers

Every summer in grade school I would throw a pool party a week or so before school started. At first bringing girls from all different friend groups together for a day in the sun and a good ole fashioned water balloon fight. Eventually, boys started coming too, despite my dad’s complaints.

This was the highlight of my summer, and when I think back on those pool parties it always makes me incredibly happy. I rocked bikinis, ran around, ate as many pieces of pizza that I wanted, and took tons of pictures. But I often wonder where that carefree version of me went. When did I go from complete comfort in my body, to dreading being in a bathing suit? When did I start comparing my body to the bodies of other women at these kinds of events?

Where did the confidence go?

Well, research conducted by a local non-profit, Ruling Our Experiences (ROX) can shed some light on that. In 5th grade, 86% of girls say that they are confident, and only around 20% say they want to change something about their bodies. Between 5th and 9th grade that dramatically changes. By the time girls start high school, only 60% say they are confident, and further, 58% now want to change something about their bodies.

Learn about Ruling Our Experiences in this short video

ROX works to intervene during that critical time so that young girls do not lose that confidence. Suns Out, Tums Out ran a raffle that benefitted ROX, and in total raised $575 dollars for their cause. And let me tell you that felt good. I want young girls to never lose that confidence, I want them to experience what I cann the “Suns Out, Tums Out feeling,” everyday.

Walking around at the event, I kept wishing that every pool party could feel like this. Hell I wished that every space could. It took me back to the pool parties I used to throw, back to when I didn’t think twice about my body. Deep down I just had this feeling of, “why did we have to grow up?” As women, we not only learn to hate our bodies, but we also learn to compare ourselves to other women. And let me tell you – this can often create this innate competitiveness of who can be the smallest and the “healthiest.” We begin to resent each other, and sometimes when we see a woman proudly posting a bikini photo on the gram, our first reaction is to accuse her of seeking attention. How sad is that? Wouldn’t it be great if our first thought was, “Good for her,” or “look at how confident she looks.”

Pure Magic

Well Suns Out, Tums Out created just that. The day I woke up for the event, I actually kept finding myself on the verge of tears. And I kept racking my brain like, what is wrong with me, did I forget to take my happy pills? Am I starting my period? What is going on? And as I approached the party in my Lyft, I started to tear up again. I was happy. I was thankful. Happy to be entering a space where I wouldn’t have to think about my body. Where I could forget sucking in my gut, and sit down and just let my rolls be rolls. Where the feeling of my thighs rubbing together made me feel cute instead of self-conscious. And thankful that an event like this even existed.

my glitter

Upon entering the pool party I was immediately taken aback by the sheer beauty of all these amazing, normal bodies just glistening in the sun… and glitter. Yes, I said it – glitter. Guests were encouraged to glitter up their bodies. Normally I would be so concerned about where I put the glitter and what I was calling attention to, but watching everyone smear their bellies with a rainbow array of glitter I did the same. I glittered my tummy, my butt, my thighs and I started to feel that child-like sense of confidence bubbling up. And just standing around a table full of women excited to get the chance to just wear glitter for fun for a day is really something to be seen. You immediately bond with girls you have never met before over this feeling of pure joy.

The fun didn’t stop there. Next up – the braid station. Yes my friends, whatever braids you could imagine – you could get. As someone who can’t braid her own hair, my dreams came true. Women of all ages waited in line to get pig tail braids, princes Leia braid buns, crown braids and more. And the ladies from PENZONE Salon, glittered up themselves, were able to make it all happen. A big shout out to them, I think they probably braided all 105 women’s hair there. The line was steady throughout the whole event.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

The only thing just as steady was the consistent stream of photos being taken. And the best part was that taking the photos had nothing to do about how anyone looked, and more so how we all felt. You definitely could feel this vibe of comfort, inspiration, and just pure respect for everyone in the space. No one was worried about what they would look like in a photo – they just wanted to be able to remember the day. And let me tell you, I didn’t want it to end.

We Need More Body Positive SPaces

Despite being exhausted from the sun, and emotionally overwhelmed, I wanted it to last forever. Towards the end of the event, you could tell that others felt the same. Looking around I noticed that people were more quiet than they were at the beginning of the day, and many were just sitting, looking around with pure contentment on their faces.

guests could take photos with a balloon wall

I know that I was feeling an appetite for this sort of space to be the norm, and I can only guess that that was running through the minds of everyone else. It was so refreshing to spend a day with women, tums out, not talking about what we like or don’t like about our bodies, and eating as much as we want because Sweet Carrot, Jeni’s, and Bakes by Lo are to die for, and not once hearing anyone say, “I feel so fat,” or “I can’t believe I just ate that.”

And none of this would have been possible with Stef and Julie, who consistently show up to help women reclaim their bodies and their confidence. Who aren’t afraid to raise their voices against diet culture. Who wear what they want, when they want because they appreciate and love their bodies. Who got in the pool when no one else was ready to make the jump yet, to show us it really was okay. If I had not met these two, I would not have come as far as I have on my own body positive journey. And if I dare say it, they’ve kindled the beginnings of a movement here in our community.

Stef (left) and Julie (right)

From starting out with small, intimate Girls Nights where twenty or so women would come together to talk about body image and struggles with diet culture, to already having a location booked for next year’s pool party at an even bigger venue – there is an appetite among women for body positive spaces, and they have taken on the responsibility to make that happen. Women want to come together both to talk about this issue, but also to have genuine conversation and connection beyond talking about the latest diets and exercise programs. And to see local businesses like Land Grant, Rhinegeist, Sweet Carrot, Bakes by Lo, Jeni’s, PENZONE, and more supporting this cause gives me hope. Hope that eventually spaces like this will be the norm for girls and women. And that culture will understand that who a woman is matters more than what she looks like.

swag bags filled with product and discounts from the event sponsors

Just that one afternoon confidence boost has carried through to the next day. Today I put on a crop top, tossed my hair back, and walk from my car into this coffee shop with my head held high. And funnily enough, the staff, who I am familiar with from coming here regularly, commented that I looked “radiant” today. In my mind I said to myself, “yes I know. It’s that Suns Out, Tums Out after-glow feeling,” and it’s priceless.

This Changes Everything X The Women’s Fund

Did you know that women made up the majority of film directors in the silent movie era? I didn’t until I saw the documentary This Changes Everything at a private screening hosted by The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio. Now, in 2018, over 80% of the top 100 grossing films were made by men. This film shines a critical light on gender parity in Hollywood. Like me, when you read that sentence you probably thought about equal pay and representation – but it is far more than that.

Let’s do an experiment. Think back to your childhood. What movie or TV show that you remember made you feel like you could do or being anything you wanted to be? For me, I can’t think of any. I don’t think I felt that way about any movie until the Tomb Raider and Charlie’s Angels, which didn’t come out until I was over ten years old. But that experience is different for men – and there are numbers to explain why.

Growing up invisible

A large part of This Changes Everything features research conducted by the Geena Davis Institute of Gender in Media. In talking about why she started the organization, Davis cites the effects media has on young children: ““we are teaching them that girls and women don’t take up half the space in the world.” In one study conducted of children’s media, they found that 72% of all speaking roles were male, and 4/5 narrators of animated characters were male. There were simply a lack of leading female characters. And when they were depicted, female characters are six times more likely than male characters to be shown in sexy, skin-tight attire. What is this telling little girls?

At age five, young boys and girls have the same ideas about what they want to be when they grow up. After that, it drastically changes. The documentary, supported by the research, attributes this to the lack of female stories being told. Former Chair of Dreamworks Animation, Mellody Hobson says, “I’ve been one of those little girls looking for myself. You start to believe that there’s something wrong with you.”

For Men by Men

In 1979 a group of six female directors in the Director’s Guild of America, or the “original six,” found that in the previous three decades only 0.5% of all directing assignments were given to women. And although they sued the studios for discriminatory hiring practices under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), there was no lasting change. In 100 years, only one woman has ever won an Oscar for Best Director. In one of Geena Davis original studies in 2010, she found the following:

Further, a higher percentage of girls/women are shown on screen when one of more femles are involved in directing of writing films. In order to tell more female stories that aren’t stereotypical, inconsequential, or sexist we need more women in production. And the dollars show it. More and more, movies made by women gross more than movies made by men. Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, grossed $821 million. Man of Steel, another DC movie, directed by a man, only grossed $668 million.

What it comes down to can be summarized by a quote from director Maria Giese, “women’s creative input is not making it into our nation’s story-telling – into our narrative.” This is extremely problematic, because worldwide our media makes up 80% of the world’s media consumption.

How To Make Change

This Changes Everything does a great job explaining what needs to be done to create systemic change. Overall, the film was hard-hitting, shocking, and heartbreaking. But what President and CEO of the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, Kelley Griesmer said at the beginning of the event, “this is not depressing, this is energizing.” The film made me want to do more. And being surrounded by a theatre of over seventy women (and one man), I could feel how palpable the desire for change was. There were audible gasps, and “wows,” and a few remarks of “really?!”

What hit me the hardest was that throughout the film, they showed young girls watching media, with sound bites from existing films out there. Snippets filled with stereotypic, derogatory, and sexualized comments directed towards female characters. It made me think back to those movies I watched as a young girl. Movies that made me so painfully aware of my body and my looks. One interviewee in the film, who I cannot remember said that the thing she had learned early on as an actor, was that “the way your body is shaped means more to the world that what you’re thinking about.”

my ticket to the film

That sentiment, and watching all the misogynitic movie and television clips made me feel vulnerable and exposed. The film successful created the effect that I believe it wanted to. And the biggest takeaway for me about how I can personally help this issue, is to take my power back as the consumer. More and more we talk about voting with our dollars – not buying from companies that are corrupt, discriminatory, or bad for the environment. The same has to be true for movies. We can make the choice for ourselves and our children, no not see movies that depict women in sexist ways. To instead pay to see films with central, complex female characters and more importantly, films directed and produced by women.

The last thing that struck me was that the documentary was directed by a man. It seemed a little weird when that was the first thing to pop up after a documentary about female representation in the film industry. While the movie discusses the importance of male allies – this still seemed strange to me.

The Women’s Fund

President and CEO of the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, Kelley Griesmer address the audience

If you haven’t heard of the Women’s Fund, you’re missing out. Right here in Central Ohio, this organization is focused on igniting social change for gender equality. They host numerous events that spark conversation and raise awareness, and also conduct invaluable research into related topics. What I love about this organization is that it also takes on a very intersectional approach – taking the time to also address the experiences of women of color.

Their work doesn’t only address today’s women, but also today’s girls. Not only are they focused on disrupting social norms, but they work to “empower all women and girls to reach their full potential.” From advocacy to education, they are committed to giving us our voice back. Their decision to screen this film only further proved their fierce dedication to addressing gender equity in all spaces of our culture and society. If you are interested in learning more about the Women’s Fund visit their website, or shoot me a message. We can’t fight this fight on our own. As said in the film, “misogyny is an invisible sport,” and the more of us standing together to shine a light on what’s lurking in the darkness, the greater the impact.

What is consent?

What is consent? By now, I would hope that most of us have come to understand the parameters of this concept — especially given recent media and news coverage, and the ongoing #metoo movement. But unfortunately, I had to learn first hand that that wasn’t the case. 

This isn’t my first #metoo story, or even my second. But this is the most recent, involves online dating apps, and because of how old I am now and aware I am of the world around me, and the situation itself — it is the scariest. The reason that I am sharing this because I want to talk about the nuances of consent, and underscore that as the victim – there is no right response in this sort of situation. I’m not looking for sympathy — but instead hope that my story can bring comfort to someone else.

The first thing I’ve been kicking myself in the butt for is allowing myself to take the dating app seriously, after I had already given up using dating apps. If you follow me on Instagram, you’d know that I still have my accounts, and just entertain myself by identifying creeps that use fake photos and then report them to the app. Just your regular, low-key catfish detective. But I landed on someone that was real, despite their fishy looking photos — and the hopeless romantic, and frankly, the loneliness in me swiped right. 

**Trigger warning: sexual assault


The details in-between that are inconsequential, but trust was built. And because of that trust, I eventually accepted an invitation to hangout at his apartment. Now, in my own personal interest, I do not wish to go into specifics – what matters is this: I was sexually assaulted by this man and his roommate. 

Out of fear of encountering further physically harm, by two men that could easily overpower me, I let it happen. When it was over, they offered me a glass of wine. I refused, despite their begging. Part of me was scared that there was something in the drink. 

When the opportunity presented itself I quickly dressed, they began to beg me to stay, and it started to come off a bit aggressively. On my feet with my bag in hand, I smiled and insisted I was tired and needed to get home. I didn’t want to appear afraid or upset, so that they would just let me leave peacefully. I let myself out, and then found myself running down the stairs and to my car. 

I drove home. I took a long, hot shower. But I didn’t react. I didn’t reach out to anyone. Instead I was angry at myself. I consider myself an advocate of women’s rights, I’ve written about related topics before, I’ve told myself that I would verbally say ‘no,’ and that I would fight back if I ever found myself here. But I hadn’t done that. It’s really hard for me to take my own advice, or consider what I know to rationally be true – to be applicable to me. So in writing this, I am also writing to myself, to let me know that I did nothing wrong. 

Defining consent

First things, first. Consent. At its simplest, consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity. Here are some important tenets of consent: 

  • Giving consent for one activity, does not mean giving consent to another, or to recurring sexual contact
  • You can change your mind at any time if you want to stop
  • Clothing, flirting, or kissing is not an invitation for anything more
  • If you are under the legal age of consent defined by the state, you cannot consent
  • Consent can not be obtained if someone is incapacitated because of drugs or alcohol or if they are passed out
  • Consent after insistent pressuring using fear or intimidation is not consent – this also comes into play when power dynamics are involved
  • Saying yes or giving into something because of any form of fear is not consent
  • Having an existing relationship does not imply consent
  • Silence is not consent

Now this is not exhaustive. But at its core, consent is not implied or assumed, and it can not be obtained through pressure or force. 

I will also say that consent can also apply to simply being touched. I once found myself in a bar, just trying to hang out with my girlfriends – and this man came up to talk to me. I told him I was here to have fun with my friends. At this point, he started touching my arm and the small of my back. I immediately said, “did I say you can touch me?” To which he responded, “you know you like it.” I had to literally get in his face and yell at him to get him to back-off. He then proceeded to tell my friends that I was a bitch. Cream of the crop, huh? 

The fact of the matter is this. This is my body, and no one is entitled to it other than me. No one gets to have power over it except me. 

You did nothing wrong

But I froze this past weekend. I evaluated the situation, and I felt the best thing I could do was just let it happen. And here’s the thing. You get to do whatever you need to do to get out of and survive an assault. You have done nothing wrong. There is no “correct,” or “better” response. This should have never happened to you, and if it does I am sorry. Truly sorry. But I am proud of you. I am proud of you if you survived, and I am proud of you if tragically you did not. And too often, the latter happens. 

I am still processing this. And I am not looking for sympathy. And I will also offer this — there is no correct way to process this either. You may feel angry, or sad, or scared, or just numb. You may be in shock. You may cry, you may not cry. You may get law enforcement involved, you may not. You may tell someone, and you may not. You have every permission to process this how you need to. 

Please, if this does ever  happen, or has happened to you — I encourage you to use some of the resources below, when you are ready. Thanks for listening. 


Columbus, Ohio Specific resources


So I got a wake up call this weekend, all thanks to a quote that I saw posted on Instagram. It read, “you gotta start being sick and tired of your own shit, sis. That’s when you’ll start making the changes that need to be made in your life.” 

And it hit me. I find myself again and again in dating situations where I am not treated with respect, or ultimately am used. And while that is not entirely my fault, I also know the following about myself: 

  • I’m a giver, and I will do almost anything for people that I care about, even if I just care a little
  • I often take responsibility for things that are not my fault
  • I care what people think of me, even when that person is disrespectful to me

What’s worse, is when I express my frustration, I find myself gas-lighted… and then somehow I end up being the one to apologize, and made to feel as if I did something wrong. A.K.A I get gaslighted.

A recent example

I recently started talking to someone. At the outset, it felt so different. He said that he wanted to get to know me, and when I asked how we’d do that since he lived in another state – he said he wanted to talk to me every day. Woah, every day! In my last relationship I was criticized for wanting to talk even every other day. Imagine my surprise. Someone who is interested in my daily life. 

It was great. And I was comfortable talking to him right off the bat. I usually describe myself as shy, but this time that wasn’t the case. That made me feel excited. And I felt even more excited when he told me he was coming to Ohio and wanted to come see me. Me? You want to come see me? Hell it’s usually like pulling teeth to get a guy to make a plan. 

Here’s where I started to misstep. Out of my excitement, I made a dinner reservation for the night he was coming because it was Pride weekend in Columbus, and I knew it would be hard to find a place to eat. I cleaned my apartment, and I got all done up. And then I sat. Hours passed, the reservation passed. And then I found out he was finally in Columbus by seeing from his social media that he was at a party. I was upset, and this first time he was apologetic. I let it go because he had been at a friend’s birthday party, and I was just some new girl. 

Red Flags

Did it register as a red flag for me? No not at all. Instead I blamed myself for having high expectations. 

He’d be in Cleveland for a month, and though not for a good reason, serendipitously I would be in Cleveland the next couple of weekends to take care of my mom. We hung out that first weekend. I got ready to go out, and was dressed and ready to go by 10 PM. It was 12:30 AM before I heard from him. But nonetheless, I ubered downtown and we had a fun night. But,, here’s a list of things that I’ve apologized for since: 

  • Being upset he wasn’t replying to me the following weekend, and didn’t make an effort to make plans even though he said he wanted to see me
  • Driving to his neighborhood because we were going to meet up, but then sitting there for hours and finally hearing from him that he forgot
  • Picking him up at 4 AM to go get his car, being promised breakfast / hanging out that day, and then being upset because that didn’t happen and I was ignored 
  • Being sarcastic, him not understanding my sarcasm and thus accusing me of it not being sarcasm

Self Reflection

Why was I apologizing for my feelings in reaction to his mess-ups? Should I be apologizing for asking to have my time respected and for there to be open and clear communication? Why am I feeling bad about myself right now after he posted that when he sees one “flaw,” he backs away from a person. Am I really flawed for wanting those things? 

I had a total flashback to my past relationships at that moment. I was letting myself get walked all over, and I was seeing that as a reflection of me and not as a reflection of that person. 

My number one issue is the gaslighting. So let me tell you a bit more about what gaslighting is, and how you can deal with it. 

Gaslighting 101

Gaslighting occurs when a person engages in certain behaviors or says certain things that make you question your reality – ultimately allowing them to maintain control. Here are a couple of examples: 

  • Denying that they’ve said something or done something even though you have tangible proof otherwise
  • Their actions don’t match their words
  • They tell you or others that you’re crazy 
  • They project. For example they’re a cheater, but they constantly accuse you of cheating
  • They tell blatant lies, so that your constantly forced to question whether something is true or not
  • They tell you that everyone else is a liar, and that they’re the only one with correct information
  • Even though they constantly tell you that you don’t add value, they randomly throw in a compliment. And what they normally compliment you on is something that serves them. 
  • They will advantageously forget any of their past negative behavior
  • They will disengage from listening to you and claim that they don’t understand what you are trying to say 

These are just a few examples. Some common things that gaslighters will say to you are: 

  • “You’re just over-sensitive”
  • “You always jump to the wrong conclusion”
  • “Stop taking everything I say so seriously”
  • “You’re reading too much into this”
  • “Why would you think that? What does that say about you?”
  • “You are just paranoid”


So how do you know if you’re being gaslighted? Besides some of these behaviors and phrases, a big part of it is how that person makes you feel as a consequence. Consider the following: 

  • Do you often ask yourself if you’re being too sensitive?
  • Do you make a lot of excuses for that person’s behavior?
  • Are you always apologizing?
  • Are you often made to feel like you’re crazy in the relationship?
  • Do you always wonder if you are good enough for them?

For me. This comes up as me always apologizing. Always. And then making excuses for that person. It was never their fault, somehow it was always mine. 

how to deal with it

Personally, I will say that if you feel like something isn’t right. It probably isn’t. In a past relationship I continually made excuses for why I wasn’t allowed to see my significant other consecutive days in a week, or for them being extremely late, or blowing me off. In that relationship, it turned out that I was being cheated on. Now it isn’t always that severe of a reality, but at the end of the day, being gaslighted is extremely bad for your mental health. Here’s what you can do. 

  1. Identify that there is a problem. Trust your gut. Answer those questions above for yourself. Just by doing that, you’re taking a huge step. 
  2. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings. You cannot control what you feel, and your emotions should always be respected by another individual. Their actions have an effect that they are responsible for, even if they didn’t intend them to have that effect. 
  3. Sort out the truth. One thing that is helpful for me is to replay or even rewrite a discussion I have had with a gaslighter, and the discussion that got us there. Where do you start to abandon your own perceptions and begin to take on theirs? How did you feel during the conversation? 
  4. Take a minute to visualize the situation. How would it have gone ideally? Do you feel like it is possible with that person? If not, envision yourself without the relationship, feeling positively and having a strong support system. 
  5. Talk to your close friends. Ask them for an objective, brutally honest opinion on the gaslighter, and if being in that relationship has changed you. 
  6. Give yourself the permission to let go, or stop interacting with that person in your life. Identify all the other people that you would consider as a part of your support system. 
  7. Abandon trying to decipher who was right and who was wrong. Focus instead on how you feel. Emotional well-being is always more important. 
  8. Remind yourself that even if you are right, you can’t control anyone’s opinion of you or of the situation. The only opinion you can control is your own. Do you like the person that the gaslighter makes you become?
  9. Consider what you would tell a friend in this situation. Write it out, but address the letter to yourself, and read it back when you’re finished. 
  10. Make a list of all the totally awesome things about you. 

Their GASLIGHTING ISN’T about you

One thing that is important is that there is a distinction between a real disagreement and gaslighting. What makes gaslighting distinct is that only one of you is actually listening and considering what the other person is saying and the other is simply insisting you are wrong and calling you crazy. Conflict is important in relationships. But this sort of conflict is unhealthy. 

I’m never going to make this guy understand that he did anything wrong. But that doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with me. Remember that how someone treats you is more reflective of them, than it is of you. 

You’re Thinking About Me

I know exactly what you’re thinking about me – and it’s nothing good. Yep, you’re looking at me that definitely means you and your friends are talking about me – and it’s nothing good. 

This is what my brain continually tells me when I interact with or even just come near people. The mechanism behind this is a cognitive distortion called mindreading. First let me tell you about cognitive distortions


Often described as irrational thought patterns, while they can be experienced by anyone, cognitive distortions are especially prevalent in individuals who have anxiety or depression. Crack the champagne, I check both of those boxes. Cognitive distortions can have really negative affects on our mood, and sometimes even lead to unhealthy behavior. 

There is an array of different distortions, but my brain is most guilty of mind-reading. Those who mind-read assume that they know what others are thinking of them. Now a certain degree of this is helpful to us as social creatures. It is a large part of emotional intelligence – which comes in handy when we need to take cues from a person’s facial expression or body language. 


Too much of this behavior can be miserable though. Let me give you a few examples of common mind-reading distortions that I have:

  • Say I’m tardy for work. I think that everyone is thinking about my tardiness for the whole entire day, and that they are thinking I lack commitment or am a bad employee.
  • From my other blogs, you know that I am working on body positivity. Related to that work, I am constantly thinking people are having negative thoughts about my body and how I look. I sometimes assume someone may not want to be in a relationship with me because of my body. 
  • I have a group of friends that I met because of an ex-boyfriend. After the break up I always thought people were thinking negatively about me. I also then would tell myself that they didn’t want me around anymore. 
  • If I have a mild disagreement with a friend, or have to cancel plans I think that the person doesn’t want to be my friend anymore. 

Now, when I write it all out, I can see how it is irrational. But in the moment, by brain can’t distinguish that. Now you might say, “everything isn’t about you.” Believe me, I know that. For me, this distortion is more about my deep loyalty to the people in my life. 

I think what compounds my distortion is the fact that I am highly emotionally intelligent, and am a total empath. I pick up on the emotions of others constantly. So sometimes it can be confusing as to whether what I am picking up on in a mind-reading situation is completely irrational or not. 


Here are some techniques to combat this cognitive distortion. 

  • First, identify what you predict the person/people are thinking
  • Ask yourself what evidence you have to support that thought
  • Look for other possibilities, if your friend doesn’t text back after that disagreement they could just be preoccupied or cooling down before they continue the conversation. 
  • Imagine that the thought is true, then ask yourself would it mean more about you or more about the other person? 
  • Ask yourself if it is realistic to expect everyone to like you
  • Act counter to the thought 

That last one can be scary. For example, with that group of friends I mentioned, I initially would leave get-togethers early because of the mind-reading I was doing. I convinced myself that I wasn’t welcome there. After awhile, and some positive reinforcement from a friend, I started to fight that urge to leave. I would stay even if my urge was to grab my purse and go. 

What else can this look like? Say you’re in an unfamiliar social setting, and you’re thinking that the people there don’t like you or think you’re awkward. Instead of avoiding eye contact and babysitting the snacks, approach people and introduce yourself. Focus on the conversation and really listen to what that person is saying. It will distract you from the thoughts you were having, and also probably disprove them. 

What about thinking about your body? Recognize that the majority of people have insecurities about their own bodies. And because they are focused on theirs, they don’t have the time to pay attention to yours. Also remind yourself that people don’t like you for how you look, they like you for how you make them feel. List out qualities that make you, you. Remind yourself of your value. 

I will say this. Don’t just let these thoughts drift away. Distressing thoughts like these tend to recur, especially if you do live with a mental illness. By taking the time to think about them, or even write them out, you give yourself the opportunity to prove them wrong by finding the inconsistencies. Maybe you even work on a list of rational statements that you can use to reply to yourself in the future. By leaving these sorts of thoughts unresolved you are just leaving the door open for them to be disruptive again in the future. 



You can also use mindfulness after you’ve taken the time to do this work. Having come out of a cognitive behavioral therapy program, I went through the above exercises to challenge my distortions. Since I’ve done that, I now use a visualization technique to keep them at bay. It’s going to sound really cheesy, but it works for me. 

As the disruptive thought comes up, I imagine it spelled out in the sand. After recognizing it, I imagine a wave coming up onto the sand and erasing it. In that visualization, I acknowledge the thought, but then allow it to pass without judgement. You can generate your own visualization to do the same, but I urge you to first do the work to address and disprove your most common distortions. Take your power back, and then focus on how to maintain it. 



So recently I reached a tipping point. I got fed up, and I realized I didn’t want to feel how I was feeling anymore. I was tired of my constant awareness of how my body looked. Was the way I was sitting showing my stomach rolls? Is my arm pressed too firmly against my side making it look wider than it really is? Could my butt showing in these shorts? 

I was tired of feeling like if I ate a cookie or skipped the gym that I was doing something morally wrong. Tired of associating living a successful life with working out everyday and eating different variations of salads for 2 out of 3 meals, 7 days a week. 

I was tired of thinking that I couldn’t go to the beach or fall in love until my body was smaller. Tired of thinking that I could wear certain clothes, even though I love fashion. Tired of not having pictures of certain memories because I didn’t like I how I looked in photos. 

Some background

Now let me tell you about that tipping point and how I got there. 

In the winter of 2017, I had already been in a major depressive state for about a year. Exasperated by a breakup and the fallout from that relationship, and dealing with health issues and family problems I had hit rock bottom. As I have written about before, after self-harming I realized that I needed help. I took a medical leave from work and entered treatment. 

During that time I also found out that I needed my now third knee surgery and that it was going to be the most intense yet. Complications during that surgery made my recovery time even longer than it was going to be at the outset. 

Over three months later, I finally returned to work and life – still with more recovery to go. But when I got back, everyone started telling me how great I looked. Asking if I lost weight. I honestly didn’t know the answer to that question. I had been basically bedridden for three months. I didn’t have the energy to get up, or let alone weigh myself. 

Size does not equal health

It took stepping on a scale after those comments for me to realize that I had lost 30 pounds. I felt great. Like i had accomplished something while I was away. Like that was my biggest accomplishment. Not that I had gotten through a major surgery or started to come out of my depression, but that I lost weight. 

But it didn’t last long. Nine months later, I gained it back and then some. I was so frustrated with myself that I criticized and insulted myself almost everyday. What had I done wrong? I was working out, I always had a well-rounded diet…

Panic set in. In a frantic call with my mom, I was brought back to reality. She listened to my cry and talk myself down for a minute, and then interrupted me… “sweetie, you were really sick. You were depressed and not eating. You were on pain medication with no appetite.”

She was right. That weightloss was during a time I wasn’t healthy. Now, I was mentally stable and able to talk again. I was enjoying food again and taking care of my body. Now I was healthy. 

The dress fitting

Despite that realization, I was still upset. Still felt like that failed. And that all came to head at a dress fitting for a bridesmaid’s dress. 

I had had the dress hanging for a while in my closet. Unconcerned. I scooped it up one Saturday a month before the wedding and headed to Macy’s with my Spanx and strapless bra in my purse. 

I got into the dressing room, stepped into the dress, put my arms through the sleeves and proceeded to reach for the zipper. It wouldn’t zip. At that moment, with the bride in the dressing room with me, my heart dropped into my stomach faster than I let out my next breath. Then, I noticed the dress was tight around my thighs and that the lining wouldn’ t go all the way past my butt. 

“Do you expect that she’ll lose the weight?”

We walked out to the tailor and I stood up onto the pedestal in front of all the mirrors. The tailor came out and went straight for the zipper. He tried to zip me up, yanking at the dress as if no one was inside of it. “It doesn’t fit,” he said. He turned to the bride, and said as if I wasn’t right there, “do you expect that she’ll lose the weight.” 

I could feel my chest tighten and my eyes begin to fill with tears. He began to say that they usually don’t hem dresses unless they fit. Still — not talking to me. I snapped, “we’ve established that it doesn’t fit, let’s hem the dress.” 

He huffed and puffed, but got to work. I felt like I was standing there in front of the mirror for ages. Crying quietly and trying to avoid my own reflection right there in front of me. When he was done I walked as quickly as I could back into the dressing room and closed the door. I felt like I was suffocating. 

When I doubt call your MOM

I took the dress off and immediately texted my mom. After that, I emailed the bridal shop where the dress was from and inquired about ordering a new dress. I was not about to ruin one of my best friend’s wedding — the people in my life are the most important thing to me. I didn’t care about how much money I would have to spend, I just wanted it fixed and I wanted it fixed yesterday. 

It was all I could think about the next few days. And when I found out the bride was also contacting the shop I panicked. I had become a problem. An added stress. 

For the next week I cried myself to sleep. I was exhausted. I was confused how this happened. But I knew that I didn’t want to feel this way anymore. 

Freedom from Shame

The SnapChat memory

Then I had a SnapChat memory from a year ago pop up. A mirror selfie at that 30+ pounds lighter time. And then I remembered. I hated my body then when I was thin, and I hated it now. It wasn’t all about the weight. 

And it wasn’t my fault. I, just like you, have grown up in a society and culture that glorifies certain bodies and demonizes others. Now I may have a larger body, but my body at my size, and my skin color still put me in a place of privilege when it comes to the most marginalized bodies. 

Regardless, I want to be free of the constant shame I have of my body. I want to walk around not focused on how I look and eat food without thinking people are watching me. I want to take a photo and not hate how I look. 

Making new meaning

Personally, I knew I could not accomplish this all on my own. So because I have the means, I made the decision to work with a body image and intuitive eating coach. 

Julie helped me to turn that negative bridesmaids dress experience into a story in which I decided to take the power back. For me, it is no longer a story about failure or sadness. It’s a story about me deciding that enough is enough. 

I can tell you that I’ve begun to notice small changes. The day of the wedding, after alterations that cost more than the dress itself, I fit into it like a glove. I was comfortable, I got my hair done, my nails done, and I did my makeup. And not once did I have anxiety about that dress. Not once did I think about how I looked. I strut my stuff with my head high, and I was present. I ate the absolutely delicious dinner and dessert without shame. I enjoyed every moment of two of my dearest friends getting married. For one night I was free. And I hope to share the rest of this journey to freedom with you. 

I’ve Been Stuck

So I’ve been stuck. Call it writer’s block, call it a depressive episode, call it what you want. I can’t describe how I feel more accurately than the word “stuck.”

But what I’ve realized is that feeling stuck, or like you’ve reached a plateau, doesn’t mean that you aren’t still making progress. I think that these days, with the presence of social media, there exists this pressure to always be doing something. You have to have something “interesting” to add to your Instagram story – and binge watching bad superhero shows on Netflix in your underwear doesn’t always cut it. The things that you do just to get by each day doesn’t cut it.

But isn’t that sort of messed up? Everyday of our lives should cut it. The nitty, the gritty, the seemingly boring and uneventful.

On a Personal note

I’ve been on this road of self-improvement and self-care for a little over a year-and-a-half now. There have been marked ups and downs. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the times of neutrality. The times where there’s nothing remarkably good happening and nothing disappointingly bad. Everything seems to have gone into slow motion. And that’s felt frustrating. Frustrating because I can’t identify the progress that I am making as easily as I would like to.

I’ve never felt like this in my life. And it sounds crazy to say — but I feel stable. Sure, there are days or spans of days where I can sink into a dark, depressive hole… But more often than not, I’ve just been floating in calm waters.

But what is important that I’ve realized is that that progress has not stopped. I’m just in a period where the changes are more incremental. And maybe that means I need to put in more work — but it could also mean that I need to be truly present in the person I am at this moment.

Socially Prescribed perfectionism

A study by a writer and activist from Inc. found that 67% of millennials feel extreme pressure to succeed, compared to 40% of GenXers and 23% of Baby Boomers. Millennials have this profound feeling that they “haven’t done enough yet,” and that time is running out.

I can definitely relate to that. With social media, you see so many more examples of young people accomplishing amazing things as artists, entrepreneurs, and even CEOs. Meanwhile, I struggle to pay my bills every month and make just enough to stay afloat.

A recent American Psychological Association (APA) study found that in comparison to prior generations, millennials are harder on themselves, and report higher levels of social pressure to be perfect. This has reached the point where the desire for perfection has become unhealthy. I often feel like I’m stuck in some sort of rat race. I couldn’t put it better than a writer from The Cut:

“And yet there is obvious risk to feeling trapped in an endless cycle of unreachable expectations and overly critical self-evaluation. Tying one’s sense of self-worth to achievement can make a person unable to hold on to the sense of satisfaction that comes with success, and has been associated with clinical depression, anorexia, and early death.”

don’t get distracted

Sorry – don’t mean to scare anyone with the “early death” part — but we all need to take a collective deep breath. And also we need to pause to recognize that we’ve already done some pretty great things in our life — even if there isn’t a trending BuzzFeed article out there about us.

That same APA study showed that this pressure can be even more damaging when we feel like that pressure to be perfect is coming from others. We’ve all become the victims of self-comparison. We live in a meritocracy that places huge importance on self-success – and then we’ve gone and made matters worse by comparing where we are in life to the highlight reels that everyone else is sharing to their social media. And heaven-forbid we have a day that isn’t worthy of sharing to our feeds. Because to us that means we haven’t accomplished anything that day.

So remember this. Progress is slow and life moves fast. Don’t waste the days you have worrying about if you’ve done enough, if you’ve accomplished enough, if you’ve made enough money, or lost enough weight. Be here now, even if that feels uncomfortable. Take that weight off your shoulders, and have a goddamn drink or a piece of chocolate. True progress is made through experience and interaction, and I think you’re doing pretty fucking great already.