Harry Potter is for Adults Too

I remember when my dad stubbornly refused to read the Harry Potter books for years. Anytime my mother, sister, and I would encourage him to pick up the hard-cover 7-part series, he’d scoff and claim that Harry Potter is for kids. He was a fan of heart-racing action adventure novels, not some magical fantasy children’s series. Of course, I finally convinced him, as I can be quite persuasive.

Fast forward a few months. We are in line for the midnight premiere of the final film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Typical of my father, he has still not completed the series. However, he has become absolutely enthralled by the novels (a fact I would gloat about for years to come). He is mere chapters away from the last line, “All was well.” While my family friends, sister, and I wait in line in outside the theatre, we urge him back into the car to finish the book. Thankfully, just in time for us to enter one of the best movies of our lives, he had closed the cover and left it to rest in the backseat.

Harry Potter is not just for children, as proved by my skeptical dad. And here’s why:

The Characters

Everyone knows that the characters can make or break a show, movie or book. If the characters are lifeless and bland, they can make the plot fall apart at the seams. It’s also important not to confuse good characters with good character development. You don’t have to like them; you just have to understand and really experience them. What sets Harry Potter apart is its superior character development. Within chapters of meeting each character, you already feel like you know them. This can be shown by my distaste of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Being the obsessive fan I am, I wasn’t constantly repeating throughout my reading, “He/She would never say that!” When a series lets you connect with the characters on such an intimate level, it’s impossible not to be riveted by it. Whenever Harry does something unnecessarily brave (and borderline stupid), Hermione makes a matter-of-fact comment or Ron is just plain obnoxious, it just makes sense. And that’s a characteristic of a series that adults can’t help but enjoy.

The Action

Whoever claims Harry Potter is for children must have not read or seen the series. If they had, they’d recognize that every single book is overflowing with action, adventure, and violence. We constantly experience the characters looking death in the face and somehow warding it off. From facing three-headed dogs to being chased by enormous serpentine creatures to fighting dragons to battling dark figures, your head might spin from the danger with which many of the characters face between the ages of 11 and 17. J.K. Rowling scripts these action sequences eloquently. You feel the pulsating fear, the slow pace of the intense battles, and the heart-wrenching deaths of beloved characters. There’s never a dull moment. Some of these scenes may prove a little to frightening for kids, and that’s why they’re perfect for us fearless (ish) adults.

The Relationships

Nothing keeps someone hooked to a series quite like a well-desired relationship between two characters. Several of these occur throughout the series, but none other like that of Ron and Hermione. It’s an underlying idea that we see develop through each book. Watching the two grow from enemies to friends to best friends to something more can be simultaneously frustrating and exciting. You just want to shake them both and say, “Just go for it already!” But the years that spread out between them makes it all the more engaging. The woes of their inevitable relationship are entertaining to read, especially when they’re so obviously into each other but refuse to admit it (a.k.a. The iconic Ron and Lavender Brown relationship that left Hermione in pieces). A little romantic drama always creates a more exciting plot line and makes this series much less of a “children’s series.”

The Magic

The best part of Harry Potter, of course, is the incredible magic. J.K. Rowling creates a world that most of us would die to be a part of. Learning about spells, divination, and transfiguration in school rather than math, physics and English? Count us in! Rowling manages to take magical creatures and experiences that we’ve heard about as children and make them into a realistic world. For most of us adults, we’ve learned to accept that “magic isn’t real.” Maybe this is true and maybe it’s not, but Harry Potter makes us believe that it could be real. It helps us see an honesty in Rowling’s words, and not just view magic as silly magician’s tricks, ancient witches brewing bubbling potions, and meaningless Abracadabra’s. This type of magic actually makes sense to us, and we believe in the power of magic and how it can be used for the good and bad. With this, Harry Potter teaches readers a valuable lesson about the world. As Dumbledore says in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” It reminds us that not everything in the world is black and white; there is a lot of gray area that we can interpret in our own way. There is a beauty and mystery in the idea of magic, and Harry Potter gives us a reason to believe in something more.

So, next time you hear your mere Muggle friend scoffing about the ridiculousness of Harry Potter, remind them that it is so much more than a magical, fairytale series. It is packed with incredible character development, an intense and enthralling plot, riveting action and adventure, and a beautiful world of magic. Maybe this is just coming from a woman who’s read the series more times than she can count, but, in my humble opinion, there’s a lesson that we can all learn from Harry Potter about believing in what we don’t quite believe.

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What I’ve Learned In 20 Years

Yesterday I turned 20 and I have had time to reflect on a lot of things. The greater part of the last 20 years has been filled with laughter, love, and adventure. Just the way I like it. I decided to create a list of lessons I’ve learned thus far to analyze how I’ve grown over the past 2 decades.

Failure is a Necessity

Recently I have been faced with a fair amount of failure and rejection but it’s only made me stronger. I hope for the best but have learned that I cannot control everything and failure is good for me. I have learned to appreciate the philosophy that everything happens for a reason. I can choose to focus on all of the negativity, but I’ve learned to move past it and continue working for what I want.  A lot of rejection in a row can take a toll on a person but rising up through the pain is such a rewarding feeling. There is hope out there, but only if you keep trying no matter how many people tell you no. Keep persevering and keep telling yourself you are worth it. I’ve spent hours creating cover letters for internships that never even got back to me. I applied to jobs where the interview went really well and still never got the position. I’ve come to realize that I’m not what everyone is looking for. There is someone out there coveting your personality and skill set, keep looking for it.

Love Gets You Through

No matter how many bad days I have, the people I love are always there to make me feel better. Keeping steady relationships with family, friends, a significant other — I believe those are the foundation of a good life. The people I trust are everything to me and having a solid support system has allowed me to learn more about myself than I ever thought possible. These people have taught me about what I need in a relationship and what I am expected to give back to maintain mutual trust and respect. If you give love, you will get love. Whether it’s with your friends, your family, or your significant other. There is always room to invite love into your life and I have learned to welcome the love with open arms. In a way I believe that love is at the center of human existence because it gives us a deeper purpose and validation in the world. There are most definitely times of heartbreak and loneliness, but no matter where those feelings fall they can be replaced with love. Friendship love is one of the most beautiful kinds because you pick your friends. When you score with someone who truly cares and understands you, it is quite an amazing feeling.

You Can’t Be Friends With Everyone

Work has taught me about this most. I worked in a restaurant for about two years and I most definitely did not like everyone I worked with. I had some great friends, but people who didn’t carry their own weight always got on my nerves. I learned how to take a deep breath, focus on myself and give my best personal performance. I did my job and I did it well, which is all that I can ask of myself. I’m not going to like everyone and not everyone is going to like me. That’s just the way life is and it took me a long time to realize that. In grade school you are, for the most part, surrounded by the same people who you’ve grown up with since kindergarten. When you enter the real world after high school there are people you’ve never met before that have no reason to dislike you, but will. I learned this lesson going into college and I have accepted the fact that that’s how life goes. I am myself and simply because of that people won’t like me…and it’s okay. This is a big one for me. In high school it was difficult for me to get caught involved with petty friend issues and problems with my family. Looking back on how I’ve matured since then is really a rewarding feeling because I’ve learned to brush things off a lot easier. I won’t deny that I’m a sensitive person, but I try to reason with my emotions to not take things too personally. When I’m faced with a problem I think about where the other person is coming from and how I can use that information to gauge the situation. This mental process helps me let things go a lot easier and in return lowers my stress levels. I used to take it so personally when a customer wouldn’t be friendly to me, but now I think about how I am doing my best and if they’re having a bad day I can’t change that and I hope they feel better. The more I think about letting things go and filling my life with peace, the more it takes form and happens.

Me Time

I am a busy bee all the time. If you aren’t busy 24/7 do you even go to Emerson? I balance my life equally between academics, work, friends, and myself. There have been many times when I forget to care for myself and I feel overworked very quickly. By age 20, two years into college, I have found a a way to prioritize myself as well. Taking nights off to drink tea and do absolutely nothing. The thought sounds disgusting… doing nothing.

However, I need to do nothing sometimes. Alone time is sacred to me. Just to unwind, yoga breath, and have everything be still for a little while. Boston is a fast paced city anyways so it can be difficult to take a step back. Find your happy place and soak in the solitude. This lesson might be the most important thing I’ve learned over the past 20 years. It has led to more happiness for myself and those around me. It allows me time to think about everything going on and evaluate if I am truly happy or not. I cut out any negativity and focus on all of the great things going on in my life. There is no better feeling than when you feel content with the decisions you’ve made for yourself. Don’t be afraid to be selfish!!!

I’m excited to be 20 and break into a new decade filled with new challenges, adventures, and life lessons. Expect another article in 10 years about what I’ve learned by 30…hopefully some of the lessons listed above will still ring true with me.

Millennials as Trendsetters

Millennials: the generation everyone loves to hate, including ourselves. You can catch us laughing at how ridiculous we truly are, sipping on our $6 cold brew coffees in jeans that reveal more skin than actual denim. However, there is no doubt that we are style and foodie icons, revolutionizing our lives with trends that are so outrageous that they somehow work.

Avocado Toast

Of course, we begin with the idolized avocado. It’s a fruit so perfect, it has endless forms. Need a kick to your salad? Throw in some cubed avocado. Smoothie time? Don’t mind if I scoop in some fresh avocado. However, it’s undeniable that the millennial’s favorite use of this treasured treat is simply mashed on toast. It’s the breakfast of champs: a golden-brown piece of your favorite toast (for me, it’s rye), topped with creamy mashed avocado and sprinkled with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. It’s as close to perfection as I’ll ever get. And that’s clear from a CNBC article, stating that Americans spend approximately $900,000 on avocado toast a month (and no, I didn’t add any extra 0s). While it may get some hate from our elders, claiming it is a huge investment in a piece of bread with green mush on top, it’s truly the perfect way to get in some healthy carbs and buttery goodness, without actually fatty butter, of course. You can surely find it served at almost every cafe or brunch place, perfect for a lighter breakfast or afternoon snack.

Unicorn Anything

You’ve seen it all over your Instagram feed. A series of rainbow-colored milkshakes, doughnuts, and even corn, not to mention the unicorn-printed shirts, hats, and room decor. If you’ve forever been a die-hard fan of fairytales, now is your shining moment, as millennials have brought the make-believe into real life. Some trends didn’t go as well planned (ahem: the Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino), but most are well-executed. And even if it doesn’t taste great in food form, it never fails to be an aesthetically-pleasing addition to your photo collection. Sure, most parents probably think it’s just full of unneeded sugars and artificial dyes, but what’s a little treat now and then? And if you’re trekking all the way to New York City, it’s a shame if you didn’t even try a rainbow bagel.

Millennial Pink

Fasten your seatbelts, because millennial pink might just be the new black (gasp!). It’s true, the color has spread like wildfire throughout our generation. From suede Converse to laptop covers to hoodies, millennial pink has made its mark. It’s the color that defines our generation, showing that we can make even the most innocent shade of blush into a rebellious, daring icon. You’d be shocked to find brooding college “sad bois” in baby pink hoodies, young women in rose-tinted shades, and professional boss ladies strutting to work with a tote bag in the same shade as Pepto-Bismol. The new craze has even been seen in our wine preferences: rosé beats red and white almost every time. It’s almost impossible to avoid giving in to the trend, what with it completely taking over favorite millennial stores such as Forever 21, H&M, Zara and Brandy Melville. What’s so empowering about this trend is that it is for all; finally, pink is no longer “just for girls,” but appreciated and supported by all millennials.

Whole Foods

This one might just be the most peculiar trend to non-millennials. Why go out of our way to a grocery store to spend almost triple what we might at a normal grocery store? Well, parents, it’s the idea of it. Whole Foods represents all of a millennial’s wildest dreams: organic produce, healthy eating, and a branded grocery bag to show off that, yes, I can afford to shop at Whole Foods. And, since our generation is infatuated with the idea of natural and healthy cooking, it’s a win-win. More so than past generations, we are all about fruity smoothies, roasted veggies, quinoa bowls and lean chicken breasts. And the perfect place to live out our organic dreams is in the heaven of all grocery stores itself. Not to mention it’s the best spot for a weekday work lunch with your coworkers. Talk about health goals.

Athleisure

Last, but not least, there is the golden fashion trend of our time: athleisure. It was honestly a gift from above. How we managed to make comfort look stylish is beyond me, but our plans have succeeded. Brands like lululemon, Adidas, Nike, and Athleta are absolutely booming today as millennial flood their prized locations. While the gym life has also become popularized in our generation, it seems that the idea of seeming as though you go to the gym is even more popular (much to all of our relief). It is now considered fashionable to show up to class, your favorite cafe, or the mall in track pants, neon sneakers, geometric sports bras, and sweat-resistant tanks. I could go even as far as to say it’s considered glamorous. Of course, regularly showing off brand-name athleisure products proves your wealth and good fortune. Those may just look like stretchy black running pants, but you know she dropped $80 on them. And the best part about wearing those clothes is the mystery of it. Did they just go to the gym and are now grabbing a post-workout smoothie? Are they pregaming their workout with a sweetgreen salad? Do they even have a gym membership? Who knows? It’s all about the perception you put out of being a hip, trendy, fitness icon.

While some of our millennial trends may be borderline preposterous, there’s no doubting their influence on today’s world. We are constantly coming up with new and exciting ways to improve our lives, both physically and aesthetically. We are rebels, within reason, and love nothing more than finding the next best thing to show off to the world via our social media. The pursuit of each social trend stems from our desire to both stand out from the crowd and be supported by our millennial community. And with that, we continue to push forward (maybe with significantly less deconstructed dishes and overly-priced basics).

Disney as an Adult

1. Etsy Ears

  If you don’t know already, Etsy is a wonderful website to buy Disney themed merch at. Not only do they have shirts and jewelry, but there are countless shops solely dedicated to handcrafting and selling Disney ears. You can find pairs in almost any color or theme. Many shops will even do custom orders. My most recent purchase was a pair of skull ears that glow in the dark. 

2. Wait Times and Planning 

   This probably doesn’t speak well of me, but I swear I’ve grown more impatient as the years go on. So when it comes to Disney, the wait times can be excruciatingly long. However, I also now have apps like the My Disney Experience and Headsup to help me make the most of my time and provide some entertainment in line. One of the best parts of being an adult at Disney is being able to completely plan and customize your trip to your every whim. Planning out fast passes in advance help you to make the most of your time and avoid as many long lines as possible. 

3. Dining and Drinking Around the World

  Something I’ve learned to greatly appreciate in my recent ventures to Disney is the food. Sure as a kid I loved to get a snack here and there, but never fully appreciated the full experience  Not only do the parks have mouth watering must-haves such as pretzels and dole whip but countless sit-down restaurants available if your budget allows for it. Epcot and Disney Springs are the places to go if you’re looking to have the Disney eating experience. Being 21 and Disney is a great combo. Epcot has an endless array of alcoholic beverages that are both tasty and strong. 

4. Money

One of the biggest things I’ve come to realize as an adult is how expensive going to Disney is. Everything from the food to the park tickets themselves is pretty high in cost. Even with Disney Blogs giving us all the top notch ways to save money, there’s no doubt that a Dinsey vacation is going to cost you a pretty penny. I’m definitely way more appreciative of my trips looking back.

 

5. Extra Magic Hours

Extra Magic Hours at night are some of my best hours spent at Disney. Simply put, fewer kids and shorter lines.

 

6. Changes to the Park

One of the things about being able to return to the Disney park as an adult that is equally as exciting as it is heartbreaking are the changes they make to the parks. Your reaction undoubtedly depends on your taste as a Disney fan. New park additions can mean more rides and experiences for park goers, but can also mean older and more classic attractions get torn down. I’m still pretty bitter about Tower of Terror.

7. Memories

Since I was fortunate enough to be able to go to Disney more than once growing up, I have some pretty fond memories (mainly of Disneyland) that make going back even more special now. Returning to places and reliving experiences that made me so happy as kid help to make it just as special as an adult. I often find myself tearing up during the firework show (I know, make fun of me all you want.) Disney sure knows how to capitalize on nostalgia.  

8. Disney is romantic

There’s nothing better than spending a day at Disney with your S.O. The food, the mutual love of pin-trading (I got lucky with that one) and the firework shows at night all make for a great date.  There’s a reason I’ll be spending my five year anniversary at Magic Kingdom this year!

My most recent trip to Disney (Spring 2017) rockin’ some classic Minnie ears.

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Being Brave

   We know there are phrases that will undoubtedly change our lives. I love you’sand I do’sboth bringing cheerful memories or associations along with them. However, there are other words we hope we never have to hear. Your little sister has canceris definitely on the list. I was fourteen when my younger sister, Grace, was diagnosed with precursor t-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

   I had been out of the country with my mom for a couple of weeks, and when I returned home my dad urgently requested that I come over the next day. I had no idea what was going on, but being fourteen, I automatically assumed I was in trouble for something. The whole drive over I prepared myself for a lecture that never came, but instead heard my Dad say the words Grace has cancer. Time seemed to stop at that moment. Everything felt heavy, the air, my limbs.  I didnt know what to say. Should I ask questions? What questions am I suppose to ask? How can you subtly ask if your three-year old sister is going to die? My dad kept talking about how the cancer was aggressive. At fourteen I wasnt aware that there were nonaggressiveforms of cancer. I focused on breathing. He asked me if I wanted to go play with Grace upstairs. I nodded.

   I went upstairs to play with my sister, unsure if I should be acting normal. At three years old one of her favorite games was dress up. I found her in her bedroom among assorted plastic jewels, shiny bows and itchy dresses. She was beaming when I walked in, proud of her collection. She handed me a purple hairbrush and asked me to do her hair. I slowly combed her soft brown curls while she looked through the assortment of bows and barrettes. After a few moments of silence, she said, Sissy, its okay if some of my hair falls out; its because of the medicine.I was stunned by her candid tone. I focused on brushing her hair to keep from crying. But then my sister turned around and looked at me and said: Its going to be okay, because Im being very brave.

   Today my sister is nine years old, finished with treatment, and less than a year away from being cleared. She has been busy helping organize toy drives and working with the hospitals dog-therapy program to help provide some joy and comfort to the kids still going through treatment. In her two years of treatment, she fought like hell to keep her spunk and sunshine demeanor, some days, though, got the best of her. Yet, on others, like the day at the park when two older boys made fun of her not having hair, she had the courage to go up to them and say, Well, I have cancer and Im cute. 

   Im so incredibly proud of her. I know some people are proud because she beat it. As happy as I am about that, it feels wrong to say because along the way I met so many other children who werent so lucky, and its not because they didnt fight hard enough. Im proud of my sister for keeping her spirit and positivity and having the insight to use them to give back even at such a young age. Ive tried to learn from her and have a more positive outlook. Thats why even though Grace has cancerdid change my life, Im choosing to focus on Its going to be okay because Im being very brave.

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The Life of a Homeschooler

  Okay, I’ll admit it, I was homeschooled.

I know what you’re thinking, but I was not homeschooled in the antisocial-god fearing-I only wear sandals-sort of way. In fact, it came as a surprise to many people when I decided to be homeschooled at the age of ten. I was raised by a single mom who worked as a school teacher. My mom, bless her heart, has always put 110 percent into everything that she does. It didn’t come as a surprise when she was a favorite among students at Kyrene del Milenio Elementary school. However, growing up as an only child, and attending the school where my mom taught was not a great experience from my young perspective. For me, it meant waking up at 5 am and getting to school before the sun came up. It meant eating cheese danishes from the vending machine in the teacher’s lounge for breakfast. It meant sharpening pencils for my mom’s classroom every morning. It meant re-watching every VHS from the school library (I might scream if someone ever makes me watch the animated Hobbit movie again). However, in most people’s eyes, I was the shy girl who read all the time and had an amazing teacher as a mom.

So, in third grade, when I started dreading school and straight up refused to go, it came as a surprise to many people. My mom hadn’t been teaching for a couple of years, a result of traumatic brain injury. I was struggling socially and academically throughout third and fourth grade. I didn’t get bad grades, but I had a hard time sitting at a desk all day. I excelled in reading but was average at math and was skimmed over in a class of 35 kids. I was not only bored but I was a weird kid. I was obsessed with horror from a young age, loved to read at lunch and had crushes on girls and boys (I didn’t connect this idea until I was 14). None of these things helped me to make friends and I remember being mortified when I realized that many people in my grade would talk about me behind my back. Secret conversations and laughter ending abruptly with eyes averted whenever I walked past. Even my “best friend” in third grade told me she had to be my secret friend at school even though we had sleepovers every weekend. All of these things resulted in tears before school and refusal to go. Eventually, my mom sat me down and had me make a list of everything I wanted in a school.

      Addy’s Dream School

  • More reading time
  • Pets at school
  • Help with math
  • More field trips
  • Wearing PJs whenever I want

After making the list, homeschooling was an obvious option. My mom and I only knew one other family that homeschooled, so it was a mostly unknown option to us. Still, we started this strange and exciting endeavor at the beginning of my 5th-grade year.  My mom used her teaching background and resources to create general lesson plans and we eventually found local homeschool groups to join. I continued with homeschooling all the way through high school. I took community college classes from age twelve, graduated with double the credit needed for high school graduation, performed Shakespeare, volunteered with multiple organizations and traveled extensively with my mother.

Despite all the weird looks when I told people I was homeschooled, the probing questions about my social life and college plans, I’m not going to be ashamed of being a homeschooler anymore. It has brought me academic challenges and travel opportunities that I would have never had otherwise, but more importantly, it introduced me to a group of friends that taught me self-confidence and accepted all of my weird quirks. I was immersed by people who wore whatever they wanted, studied everything from music theory to Latin and valued treating each other with respect. This has shaped me in numerous ways, but most obviously brought me to Emerson College where I continue to be surrounded by creative, weird and passionate people.

The Power of Wonder Woman

I’ll be the first to say that I thought I was Wonder Woman when I was younger. In preschool I had a red velvet ribbon that I would wave around as my Lasso of Truth. Nowadays, anyone who knows me knows how big of a Marvel fangirl I am. However, if you asked me which superhero movie has had the biggest impact on me, the honor goes to DC’s latest Wonder Woman.

I grew up on Batman: The Animated Series and the Justice League Animated Series, so I’ve been waiting for a good adaptation for a while. Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman didn’t do it for me. My worst fear was that these same filmmakers would ruin my Wonder Woman as well. However, with female director Patty Jenkins, I instead found myself crying three separate times during the movie.

From the start, Diana is a girl who wants to kick ass and take names. She wants to be able to fight alongside her people and protect those she loves. As she grows, her goals never change. She changes, seeing what the outside world is like once she leaves her homeland, but always her mission has been peace and protecting humans. The opening scene she runs from the cozy plan laid out for her and heads to the training grounds to imitate the warrior women she looks up to. Watching young Diana throw punches at the air like she’s one of the great women of Themyscira made me tear up. I could see her drive and her desire to be just as strong as everyone else.

What I thought was the most telling about Diana and how inspirational she is had nothing to do with her badass fighting. The first time Diana is exposed to the bombs and bullets of our modern world, her first instinct isn’t to take up arms and fight. Instead she tries to stop Steve, Chris Pine’s character, and insist that she help every single person she passes. The crying civilians and wounded soldiers clearly affect her and inspire her to fight to protect them from any more pain. Gal Gadot really brings this empathy to life and convinces the viewer that Diana has an investment in the lives of others. It hurts her to see suffering and she’s willing to lay down her life and leave her comfortable homeland to save the world.

Diana is the hero I need, the one who doesn’t give up even when the world seems to be a terrible place. The DC Universe right now is too dark and hopeless about the state of the world. The Marvel Universe is a bit lighter but there aren’t any female characters I can really look up to and say “That’s who I want to be like” (sorry Black Widow). The first female led superhero movie in some time has given me a woman with emotional intelligence and physical prowess. Personally, I can’t wait to see how she takes the Justice League to new heights and saves the world yet again.

The Art of Tinder

Swipe left. Swipe left. Swipe left. Pause. Click. Scroll. Swipe right. Match. Swipe left. Swipe left.

We’ve all been there. You’re bored, and you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed. Then all of a sudden, you close out and click on that orange fire icon and start swiping. It’s mindless entertainment, and we can’t deny the rush it gives us to literally rate people based on a single photo. But, why?

For me, the Tinder journey has been just that: a journey. I end up going through phases in which I cover months without touching the app. And then, suddenly, I’ll see a friend swiping, and I realize I kind of miss it. Then begins the brief phase, lasting between one week and one month, where I’m back on the app, semi-regularly. No matter what prompted my return, I must admit it always stems from some level of boredom. That, I believe, is a commonality of our generation; with a constant stream of information being thrown in our faces, we’re always looking for ways to be entertained. For most, that’s spending hours each day tagging friends in memes and flipping through people’s Snapchat Stories. But, when that gets old, the best way to uncover some new content is through Tinder, since you’re always being shown new faces.

In my opinion, Tinder doubles as a dating (or hookup) app and a self-validation app. We can’t deny the little ray of pride we feel when we match with someone we find pretty attractive. Even more so when that person messages us. In this day and age, it’s hard to get that kind of validation in person. Face-to-face human interaction has spiraled downwards as we’ve become consumed by our devices at all times of day. It seems to be getting more and more difficult to meet someone in person and have them actually ask you out on a date. Some might say that chivalry is dead; I say that direct conversation is dead. If I’m being honest, I would probably find it very strange and uncomfortable if any stranger approached me and tried to strike up a conversation. So, to get that same feeling in a much safer and more comfortable environment (a.k.a our phones), Tinder can often be that outlet. You get to talk to people you find attractive, to whom you’d never typically speak, and feel validated by their attraction to you. And, if all fails, you can just stop responding or delete them and move on with your life. It’s as simple as that.

The problem with Tinder for me, though, is the varying levels of involvement each individual on the app has. There are some people who live by Tinder as if it’s a religious text; there are others, like me, who go on it once in awhile and often forget about their matches. There are some who are on the app solely to find one-night stands and meaningless hookups; there are others who are looking for relationships or even just friendships. This is a flaw in the app for me; it’s very difficult to find someone who’s on the same page as you. While I myself am not searching for my future husband on Tinder, it does get a bit tiring when most of the men with whom I match seem to only want to hook up once and then move on. It would be a lot better for me if Tinder added a couple more settings to their Discovery Settings. Since you can edit the gender, age range, and location range you’re looking for, I believe you should also be able to edit “what” you’re looking for (ex. relationship, friendship, regular hook-up, one-night stand) and only match with people who are on the same page as you.

However, what’s most interesting to me about Tinder is the emphasis we place on photos and bios. There are settings on Tinder that can place your photos in order of how attractive people will find them. There are articles and studies done on what types of photos receive the most right swipes. To many, Tinder is truly an art form; a lot of thought goes behind the making of a Tinder profile. Just as it is with any other social media platform, we are given the power to control how others view us. And, in creating this image, a lot of thought is involved. You can give as much or as little as you want, and in return, also get as much or as little as you want. That is truly the art of Tinder.

I will end with 5 of the most ridiculous messages I have received from recent Tinder guys:

  1. That’s funny.. My second girlfriend had the name Swetha too!! But the thing is I only had one girlfriend
  2. U like bad boys?
  3. if you were a flower you’d be a dammmmmnedelion
  4. I’ll make you a deal. I’ll set you up with my bunny if you set me up with your tall blond friend in the fourth pic?
  5. hey

Reading in Strange Places

“Addelynn Rose please come to the checkout desk. Your mother is looking for you. Thank you.”

I’ve heard my name called out over the Barnes and Noble speaker countless times. I would climb out from behind whatever shelf or display I was reading behind and go to the checkout desk, a sheepish grin on my face. My mom would take a breath of relief, then smile warmly and ask, “Was the book really good?”

As a kid, I never sat in the chairs at bookstores. I know; it’s weird. I preferred to find a small corner, a nook between bookshelves, anything that was slightly hidden. I must have gotten weird looks from the few people that walked past me, but I was too absorbed in my book to care. It wasn’t just bookstores though. I’ve always managed to find odd places to read. Staircases, boat cuddies and playground castles have all served as reading nooks. I attribute a lot of this, particularly when I was younger, to being shy. They say that cats like to sit in boxes because it gives them the illusion that they can’t be seen which dramatically lowers their stress levels. Finding hidden places for me to read did the same thing for me as a kid. I’ve never felt comfortable in a large group of people. Reading was my escape so I figured that it made sense to literally hide as well. Each corner or crevice becoming my own secret place where I could experience other worlds without distraction. If you’re doubting me you should go watch The NeverEnding Story again.

As I got older it became less about hiding and more about forming attachments to a place. I started to notice that I would associate a particular place with what I read there. I can walk through the park near my childhood home and name places after what I read at each one. A small hill slopes down parallel to my cul-de-sac, Judy Blume hill. I remember filling my afternoons, stretched out on a picnic blanket on this hill, reading Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret and Superfudge. The Eucalyptus by the park is Book Thief. The pine next to it is A Wrinkle in Time. The top of the playground tower is Stargirl tower. I’ve read multiple books in each place, but usually there’s one book that sticks out in my memory.

Every time I read somewhere it was like I was leaving a bit of myself there too. The more I read in a place the more I felt comfortable in it. For me going to a new place was like getting to know a new friend. There’s always one conversation where you share a secret, a part of yourself, and that’s when you become really close with them. Reading somewhere new was like sharing a secret with that place; it would become mine in a sense. It was comforting to know that no matter where I went I could find somewhere to read, to feel safe.

Reading in strange places wasn’t always a solo activity for me. My love of reading is definitely influenced by my mom. She not only encouraged reading by filling our house with books but by reading with me. We use to read out loud together, switching off every page or two. We would read whenever we got the chance like on the public bus or at our favorite restaurant. I have a pretty distinct memory of starting Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at The House of Egg Roll. Although I’m pretty sure we read in a tree at least once or twice. I’m extremely grateful that she not only inspired my love of reading, but my love of reading outdoors or wherever I feel comfortable. I often felt like an outsider growing up and being able to read where I felt safe was so important to me.
I’ll admit that I sometimes read in chairs or semi-normal places now, but having somewhere that I don’t associate with anything besides reading is important to me. I’m in love with the idea of spending hours alone with a book, completely transfixed by another world filled with complex characters and stories. They say the best books are the ones where you can forget you’re reading a book, and I agree with that wholeheartedly.

For me, a strange reading place, whether it be underneath a tree, inside a cuddy, or in a blanket fort, only enhances the experience of a good book. There’s something that just makes it feel right. The same way you feel when you find the perfect sleeping position or have a really good first kiss with someone. I might not hide in Barnes and Nobles anymore, but I still find my own hidden places whenever I can. My current favorite? Graveyards.

A “How-To” Guide for Women

How many times has a woman been told she “deserved” what she got? That it’s “her own fault” she was catcalled? That she should’ve just “minded her own business” and everything would have been fine? Well, as a woman myself, I can say that I’ve heard these phrases time and time again. We are taught to blame ourselves for the actions of others, and that we should hide in fear rather than stand up for ourselves. So, since society seems to know so much about how women should be acting, I decided to create my own guide for how women should act in public:

Wear what you want.

Shocking, right? Yes, you can wear a short skirt or a tight dress if you want! It’s absurd that we are taught that it’s because of our clothing that we are catcalled or attacked, as if wearing jeans rather than shorts would have really made a huge difference. At the end of the day, it is unacceptable to allow the possibility of others’ actions to influence what we wear. In my experience, it hasn’t mattered what I or anyone else wore. It’s interesting that society only seems to highlight the instances in which a woman was wearing a skirt or shorts and fails to mention the times when a woman was wearing, say, sweatpants or a hoodie.

Say what you want.

We are all entitled to stand up for ourselves. We are told that if someone catcalls us, we should put our heads down and keep walking in silence. If that is what you want to do, please do so! It isn’t self-deprecating to want to pick and choose your battles. However, it’s when we feel like we are silenced by the voices of our elders that it is unjust. If someone says something degrading to you, and you want to say something back, you should feel capable of doing so. And we shouldn’t be reprimanded for wanting to speak up. Why is it that society allows the taunting voices of catcallers, but attempts to silence the innocent voices of confident women?

Go out by yourself if you want.

How many times have you been reminded to always travel in groups and to never travel alone at night? I can say I’ve felt guilty on numerous occasions for walking home alone at night. But, now, I look back and am glad I did so. I don’t want to cower in fear and hide. When we are afraid and allow the fear to affect our actions, that is when we have let them win. So no, I will not go home at 9 pm rather than 1 am. Women deserve to have freedom and independence in the places they call home.

At the end of the day, the message of this guide is not that women should be acting in these or any ways; it’s that women should feel comfortable making their own decisions on how to act in public. Being catcalled, stared at and attacked is absolutely disgusting and degrading and can be so humiliating. We deserve to have the support of our society to respond to these instances in a manner we see fit. The cycle of victim blaming will never cease if we continuously reprimand women for matters that are out of our control. When we start recognizing that these instances are in no way our faults, that is when we will finally see how ridiculous it is to tell women how they should and shouldn’t be behaving.