Create Your Own Story

In the April 7th edition of TIME Magazine there was a commentary article entitled “Fast-Track Girls Finish Best” by Charlotte Alter. The article talks about two recent books Marry Smart by Susan Patton and Lean In For Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg and the advice they are both giving to young women today. Patton focuses on marriage/building a family while Sandberg zeros in on the career side of things. Although they both focus on different aspects of a young woman’s life, they are both saying the exact same thing: we don’t have any time to waste.

With all due respect, as a woman in my mid-twenties, I have to say I completely and wholeheartedly disagree.

Now, I haven’t read either of these books for myself and I also never plan to read either in the future. Here’s why.

Patton’s March Today Show interview sums up her book enough for me. Patton urges college women to primarily focus on finding a husband, further suggesting that young women should spend 75% of their time finding a spouse and 25% on professional development. She even suggests that if you need cosmetic surgery to do so before college, in order to make yourself more “socially successful” at finding a spouse. Patton has our biological ticking the moment we turn eighteen. She actually really seems to believe that we have absolutely no time to waste if marriage and children are part of our life plan, “Work will wait. Your fertility won’t.” I guess I missed the memo that said parents spend thousands and thousands of dollars to send their daughters to college for them to find a spouse and get knocked up. After all, that’s the only thing all women want anyways. Right?

Sandberg takes on the other extreme, that your career should be your prime focus. Sandberg, as the chief operating officer of Facebook, is a hugely successful woman in which many young women look up to. She has certainly climbed her way to the top in the corporate world and she deserves every bit of that success and admiration. The TIME article points out that in the introduction to Sandberg’s book she writes, “There’s no question that the world moves faster today… This means that grabbing opportunities is more important than ever.” Meaning, we need to take every opportunity we can to further our career as soon as we can. Alter describes Sandberg’s viewpoint perfectly, “The idea is to get good enough, fast enough, that your career becomes childproof.” Makes sense because all women are solely career hungry. Right?

Here’s where I have a problem with what both these women are saying. It’s not the advice itself that ticks me off (alright, maybe a little). It’s the fact that these women are sitting there telling other women where their priorities should be. Maybe I’m completely crazy, but what if we all just worried about creating our own story? I don’t see men writing countless books and articles for other men about how to live their life. It seems like most men sort of just figure their life out on their own. Why can’t we do that too? How about if women just started supporting other women’s decisions despite if we agree with them or not? How about if we all just decided which life path to take on our own based on what is personally important to us, what goals we have for ourselves, and our interests? Would the world fall apart? No degree, no life experience, no personal background qualifies one person to give another person advice about what their priorities should be. Part of life’s journey is figuring out those priorities for ourselves. The mystery of not knowing what the next step will be is half the fun. The priorities we choose create our own unique life. A life completely different from the woman sitting right next to you, living across the street from you, or living across the country.

Before my husband and I got married, we were dating for almost eight years. I was a sophomore in high school when we met and started dating. He has been a huge part of every aspect of my life since then: proms, graduations, birthdays, vacations, sporting events, successes, and failures. I chose to stay in a relationship with him because it just felt right to me, because I couldn’t imagine my life without him in it. While my friends were thinking about which boy they wanted to hook up with next I never once questioned my decision to have a serious boyfriend through most of my high school career and all throughout college. Although, he has always been and will always be one of my top priorities here’s the shocker- he wasn’t my only priority. My school work, where I wanted to go to college, and my career were all important to me too. I wanted to get good grades, go to my dream college, and have a successful career all with him right by my side. I never felt like I needed to pick one or the other. I created my own life story to fit all my own priorities. Yes, I got married less then two years out of college. But, I married my best friend, one of my biggest supporters, the person who always pushed me to be the best I could be. I also filled my time with priceless work experience, internships, and classes that would help me fulfill my other priorities. About two months out of college I was offered a job in my dream profession. Not because I was lucky, but because I worked for it. I sculpted my life to incorporate both of my priorities into it. I took part in internships, classes, and hobbies that showed I was serious about my career too. I had more than one dream, more than one priority and I created a life that would fit them both in it together. This is my story and let me be the first to tell you, it’s probably not yours too.

My decision to get married in my early twenties was one of the best I ever made, but I wouldn’t suggest or discourage another young woman from doing the same thing. I would rather ask, “Do you truly believe this is the best thing for you personally?” I couldn’t be happier to have started my dream job right out of college, but I wouldn’t suggest or discourage this either. I would rather ask, “Are you sure there’s nothing else you’d rather do?” I decided not to continue my education right after college, but I wouldn’t suggest or discourage this decision either. I would rather ask, “Do you feel completely prepared to reach your goals with the resources you currently have?” I decided that I was happy in the state I was living in, in the area I called home, so I decided to stay. I never studied abroad nor did I feel the need to travel immensely after college. I wouldn’t suggest or discourage another young woman from making that same decision. I would rather ask, “Do you feel completely fulfilled or do you feel like you are constantly chasing after something new?”

Unfortunately, my life decisions, what I have chosen for my priorities, won’t help you find yours. Patton’s and Sandberg’s won’t help you either. Follow your heart and trust your instincts. If you aren’t ready to settle down- don’t. If you aren’t ready to enter into the workplace- don’t. If you want to focus on getting married and having kids- do it. If you want to work solely on building your career- do it. If you want to make both work- trust me you can do that too. Making a quick decision is easy to regret, but no one ever regretted taking the time to truly figure out what they wanted. Despite what Patton and Sandberg suggest, you my fellow ladies have all the time in the world because as soon as you figure out your own priorities you won’t need anymore time.

From woman to woman, my advice to you is simply no advice at all.

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Fitness: Interval Running Workout #1

I hate running. I love working out, I love going to the gym, and I love being active. But, I don’t love running. No matter how many land sports I tried growing up and throughout high school I always went back to swimming. Not just because it was the sport that I felt like I excelled the most at, but because it also does not involve running. My hatred for running was evident at an early age. During my kindergarten soccer games I would plead with the coach to be the goalie because that was the one position that running wasn’t really involved. Plus, the ball was not really flying at you that hard, if at all. Through middle school and high school I tried tennis and lacrosse. I tolerated the running but it was definitely not something I looked forward to. In college, I pretty much abandoned the running world altogether and just stuck with swimming. Once I graduated, that is when the real problem arrived. I needed a cardiovascular exercise to partake in. I had been so active my entire life that it felt strange not to have an activity to turn to. Swimming was pretty much out of the question. First, I was kind of sick of it after about fourteen years of competitive swimming and second, the membership to all the pools around me are expensive. I tried biking at the gym, and using the elliptical as well, but I just wasn’t seeing the results I wanted and wasn’t getting that same post-workout “high.” That was when I decided I needed to face my biggest fear: running.

Over the next couple months I slowly tried to build myself up to running 3 miles. I was getting there but it was a slow process that really wasn’t much fun. At all, in fact. I searched for a new running method, talked to some friends, and was introduced to interval training. This has completely changed the way I feel about running. I actually don’t mind running now (I won’t say I like it). What is interval training? Interval training is when you push your body really hard for about 30 seconds to a couple minutes, then you “rest”/take it easy for another 2-3 minutes, then you work your body back up to high intensity for a couple more minutes and repeat, etc., etc. You get the point. I like interval training for many different reasons. One, it’s quick. All you need is 20-30 minutes. If you can make it 40-45 minutes, great but it’s not needed. Two, I can see and feel the results. I love how interval training is sculpting my body without me even having to pick up a weight. I also notice that the actual running is getting easier each week enabling me to push myself a little harder than I normally would. It seems to be working a lot faster than just straight running. Three, it burns more fat (especially for women) than just straight running. Pushing yourself hard for a few minutes, “resting” for a few minutes, then going hard again actually makes your body work harder. To achieve that mountain/roller coaster effect your body needs to work each time you increase your intensity, then it gets to rest, but only before it needs to work its way back up all over again. Lastly, interval running also keeps your body burning long after your workout has finished. I can feel my body working, sweating, and radiating off my hard earned heat throughout my drive home from the gym and until I hop in the shower. After one of these workouts I feel like I have accomplished something, like I have just done something really good for my body and myself. Probably because I have.

I have a set of about eight interval running workouts that I continually cycle through. I hate doing the same workout twice in a row because I get bored very easily. I am always finding and adding new running routines to keep my workouts fresh. In hopes to inspire other running-haters to give interval training a shot I will be sharing my workouts here with you, one at a time. This week I am going to share one of my favorites because it really doesn’t involve a lot of running but it’s still highly effective. But you will need to get your butt and calf muscles pumping because there are a lot of hills involved:

 

1st Set: Warm-up!

0-3:00: set incline on treadmill at 2 and the speed at 3.5 mph

3-5:00: incline- 4; speed- 4.0 mph

5-7:00: incline- 5; speed- 5.0 mph

7-8:00: incline- 2; speed- 6.0 mph

2nd Set: Get the blood flowing!

8-16:00: Repeat the warm-up set above

3rd Set: Hill time (a.k.a. booty time!)

16-20:00: incline- 12; speed- 3.7 mph

20-21:00: incline- 15; speed-4.0 mph

21-23:00: incline- 10; speed-3.0 mph

4th Set: Feel the booty burn!

23-30:00: Repeat the 3rd set above!

5th Set: You’re really working now!

30-37:00: Repeat the 3rd set above, again!

6th Set: One last time!

37-44:00: Repeat the 3rd set above! Yes, again.

7th Set: Sprint- give it all you have left!

44-45:00- incline-2; 6-10 mph- whatever you can do, push yourself, it’s only 60 seconds.

8th Set: Cool down!

45-50:00- no incline; speed- 3 or 3.5 mph

*Disclaimer: This is one of the longer work-outs. I don’t always have time to do the whole thing but even if I just do half of it, I’m sweating big time!

 

For more information about this work-out, go to the awesome Blogilates website. I found this work-out there. You can also find a lot of other health/fitness tips there too. And plus, the website is super cute.

If you want to read more about interval training/running, visit Nerd Fitness. They give a pretty straight forward and simple explanation of how it’s done/it’s benefits.

I hope you all get a chance to try this workout, it’s worth a shot. Feel free to post your experiences below. Make sure to check back next week for Workout #2. Happy exercising!

Book Review: How To Disappear Completly by Kelsey Osgood

Last night I finished reading an anorexia memoir titled How To Disappear Completely by Kelsey Osgood. Although I wouldn’t classify this book as one of the best books I ever read, I really did appreciate the subject matter. If you are looking for a really entertaining read with spotless writing then this probably isn’t the book for you. But, it definitely provides a lot of food for thought.

Before reading this memoir, I had read other anorexia/addiction memoirs. The stories are brutal and heartbreaking. The things they put their bodies through, the extent they go to to lie, to hide things, to become sicker is unbelievable. But usually in the end they persevere. They overcome their downfall and get on a road back to health. For me, these memoirs were never more than stories. If anything they made me want to eat more, be happier, and just love who I am. I couldn’t imagine going through what they put themselves through. For me, these stories were deterrents. It never occurred to me to look at the other side of the story. To think about the readers who aren’t as happy with who they are, who are struggling to stand out or fit in, to feel loved, or admired. Osgood makes a very good point- these very memoirs are enabling these readers to be anorexic, to get the attention they are striving for, to accomplish something that is worth noting.

I’m still not sure if I completely agree with what Osgood is saying but I do agree she has something there. She refrains from giving any specific details about her own disease, claiming that from experience this only encourages bad habits and behaviors. If she reveals her lowest weight, that gives another person something to strive to be. If she discloses the amount of food she used to consume, that only gives someone a plan. Osgood claims she became a “good anorexic” by studying other people’s memoirs, case studies, magazine articles, documentaries, and television shows. As a young girl she graved attention she didn’t think she was getting, she wanted to accomplish something people would talk about, she wanted to be known for something, to succeed in something. She wanted to be “perfect” and loved. With all this information readily available at her fingertips- in the libraries, the bookstores, on the internet, or on television, Osgood felt like becoming thin would help her reach those goals and desires. She was going to get thin the easiest way she knew how, the way she had seen many other girls get thin. And boy, was she going to get really thin- she would show them. She found a new purpose, a new goal, a new way to feel better about herself and she had a lot of helping in doing so.

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Our society values being thin, pretty, and popular. We thrive to be successful, to accomplish something with our lives. We are bombarded with examples of “perfect” people and to reach their image seems nearly impossible. We can’t imagine a healthy way to look like that model in a bikini ad because we aren’t given the tools. Their aren’t many diet and exercise ads that say, “I ate this, this, and this today and I am still thin. I am still healthy.” But, there are many ads out there for unhealthy diets, their are many resources out there (chat rooms, internet forums, etc.) in which people encourage each other to get thin, to be the thinnest, and do it in the worse possible way. To be the worst is to be better, it’s means you are the “best.” I’m not saying that there aren’t any people, companies, or diet plans out there promoting the right things. But I do think they are harder to come by and aren’t as easily accessible. It’s easier to find stories about people who have suffered. It seems easier to starve yourself than to educate yourself on healthy eating and exercise.

This book made me stop and think- how about if we lived in a world where we didn’t talk about things like this? If no one ever shared their stories of eating disorders, drug addiction, or alcohol abuse. If no one ever revealed their greatest weight loss tip or the easiest/quickest way to get high. If we didn’t know the truth of people’s struggles, if we weren’t given that information to ease our own problems- would these diseases still exist? Would they be as prevalent? It’s a weird thought but something worth thinking about whether you agree or not. I personally think they would still exist. I don’t think these diseases or substance abuse would just magically disappear. And I certainly wouldn’t want to cut off an open dialogue about people seeking help and treatment. But I can’t help but think that maybe a little more privacy wouldn’t hurt.

After reading this book, I don’t know if I see the point in writing about your darkest, gruesomest days anymore. Publishing or filming the details of your life for the rest of the world’s entertainment. Why do we have the right to pry into your personal life? That’s your story, your personal intimacies, and no one should feel the need to publicize that information or even read it. I do believe that writing and coming to terms with where you have been, what you have done, and what you see your future to be are all huge parts of therapy and recovery but this can all be done, and should be done, privately. Your support should come from your family, friends, and loved ones. Not from people who don’t know you, who may encourage you to back track at any moment. In this age of social media frenzy, we all need to appreciate our privacy just a little bit more.

I always enjoy a book that forces me to think in a different way, to open my mind to new alternatives and ways of thinking. I like hearing different takes on the same subject, hearing all different sides before forming my own opinion. I will often stumble upon something I have never thought of before. How To Completely Disappear goes beyond anorexia. It brings to light a subject that everyone can relate to. It encourages you re-think what your version of “perfect” is, to re-evaluate what makes you happy, and to value your own personal life more. I think we can all learn something, whether we agree with Osgood or not, from this book. We should all stop to think about what we want to share before we share it- the effect it will have on yourself, on your loved ones, and those you don’t even know. Next time you go to write a status, post a picture, create a tweet, or even write a blog post just stop to think for a moment before hitting ‘enter.’ And maybe even put that smartphone down for a day. It won’t hurt, I promise. Censorship is a practice we should all partake in a little bit more.

Seizing The Moment: Winter Olympics 2014

“Just get out there and know you have the opportunities. Just try it.”

Sarah Hendrickson, on encouraging young women to take up a sport.

Wondering who Sarah Hendrickson is? After this year’s Olympics you probably won’t have the same question. But for now, let me answer that for you. Hendrickson is the reigning female ski-jumper world champion. Now nineteen years old, Hendrickson started jumping when she was just seven. By the time she was twelve she was jumping off the Olympic large hill at the Utah Olympic Park and just one short year later she was traveling all over the world for competitions. At a young age of thirteen, Hendrickson was ready to make a name for herself, ready to go all the way to the top.

The problem? Hendrickson excelled in a sport that didn’t really support her, that didn’t really support any women athletes- until recently. The 2014 Winter Soci Olympics will be the first time women athletes will be competing in the ski jumping event and Hendrickson will finally get to celebrate her success, along with many other female ski jumpers, the way she deserves. The long battle is finally over. Female ski jumpers have been petitioning to be included in the Olympics since 1998. They¬† have heard all sorts of excuses ranging from it’s a man’s sport, there aren’t enough women involved, or that it’s not “medically appropriate” for women to participate. Hendrickson and other young aspiring ski jumpers had full support of their older teammates, women who knew what an accomplishment and honor being an Olympic athlete truly was. Just before the 2010 Vancouver games, Lindsey Van and Jessica Jermone helped to lead a gender discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was unsuccessful at the time, but a year later in 2011 the International Olympic Committee finally approved women’s ski jumping as an Olympics sport looking ahead to 2014.

This story really stuck out to me because this just isn’t something many people think about anymore. We get too comfortable, we think that since we have come such a long in gender equality that’s enough, we assume that everyone has the same rights, we don’t pay attention to it anymore. This proves that there’s still plenty left to do and that there are really amazing women out there trying to make it all happen. I was a competitive swimmer since I was 9/10 years old all throughout college. I was lucky enough in those 12-13 years never once to feel undervalued or excluded based on my sex. I was lucky enough to be in a sport in which, because of the brave women that came before me, I was accepted. Being a part of a competitive sport has taught me more skills, values, and life lessons then I would have ever imagined. Being fully immersed in a sport goes way beyond the physical, it shapes the person you become mentally along the way. You form friendships, develop skills, experience failures, celebrate successes- you inherit a second family. I never once stopped to think that other women haven’t been as lucky as I have been. I never once stopped to think that the struggle isn’t over.

Despite being excluded in the Olympics, these female ski jumpers could still compete, could still enjoy the sport, could still excel on an international level. But, in the end they were still told they couldn’t do something that their male counterparts have been doing since 1924. Their success automatically stopped. Not because they couldn’t make it to the Olympics but because someone told them they couldn’t. As Hendrickson recounts in a TIME interview (in which I got the rest of this information as well), “It’s really hard to pursue a sport like that, where there’s not really support, not really a future.” With all setbacks and disappointments included, Hendrickson stuck it out despite her temptation to switch her full focus onto soccer. She is a prime example that nothing is truly impossible. If you want something bad enough you will do whatever it takes to get there.

What does this mean for all us non-Olympic-athletes? A lot.

1. Never take anything for granted. Be thankful for every person, place, thing, or opportunity in your life.

2. Support and inspire each other.

3. Try something new.

4. Don’t take “no” as an answer for anything.

5. Do what you love.

6. Never pass up a new opportunity and don’t give up on old ones.

7. Always seize the moment.

The Olympics are about more than just the sport. It’s about what it takes to get there and the lessons you learn a long the way- it’s about the journey, both good and bad. This year while I am watching the Olympics, this is what it will mean to me. It will be about the athlete’s impact both on and off the “court.” It will be about their impact on people just like me. What does the Olympics mean to you?

Sometimes, life happens.

This afternoon I came across this absolutely horrific, but yet inspiring, story on BuzzFeed. Last week a, beautiful and very sweet, 12-year-old girl from Tennessee died suddenly from pneumonia complications. A completely heartbreaking story that I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue to read. According to her father, Taylor only had minor flu-like symptoms and even tested negative at the doctors. Like any good parents, they got her the right prescriptions and set her up with all the necessary tools to ride out this yucky, but what seemed to be minor, virus. But apparently, that wasn’t enough. Again- why was I reading this? This is a horribly depressing story that I really wish these parents, or any parents, didn’t have to go through.

Nevertheless, I went on reading and I’m really glad that I did. While sorting through some of Taylor’s stuff her parents found a letter that she had written to herself, to be opened in ten years. Her parents did not know about this letter and had no idea what they would find on the inside. You should really go check out the letter for yourself because Taylor was one amazing, funny, and caring little girl. There was one line that really stuck out to me the most, it was the last line of the letter:

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Now remember, this girl is only 12-years-old. I know many people in their fifties and sixties who don’t even think like this. But, with only a mere 12 years of life under her belt this little girl had the intelligence and insight to write this as advice to be given to herself at age 22. To me, that’s amazing and completely inspiring. And the best part about these few simple words? They are completely true.

Life isn’t always easy. I know many of us wish life was always happy and filled with success, love, and prosperity. Let’s stop for a moment, is that what we really want? Thinking about it now, after reading those words- I think a perfect, easy, problem-free life would be boring and unfulfilling. If nothing ever went wrong in your life, if you never had to overcome a challenge, how would we learn? People become who they are from their struggles and from the challenges they overcome. Most of the time that “new” person is better than the one they were before. We can’t always expect the best outcome in life, we can certainly wish for it but we also need to be prepared for the worst. You can’t prevent life from happening to you. There’s actually very little you can control. What you can control is how you handle these problems you are faced with- what you learn from it, how to choose to grow as a person, and what you decide to pass on to others. We all struggle in our own way, there is not one single perfect life out there. I hate to break it to you but something bad is probably going to happen to you at some point in your life. The more we embrace that reality, the better prepared we will be and the more we will get out of the one life we have to live. In the end, be thankful for the very simple fact that you are still breathing. There are many people that would have wished they could have one more day, one more moment to live their life. You have this moment, you have this life. Don’t take it for granted- live, grow, and learn every day. No matter what.

In the wise words of one kick-ass little girl: stuff happens, “go with it.”

Cheers, to celebrating love!

During my normal daily internet browsing I came across this absolutely adorable story/video about a 70-year-old woman who never got to wear the dress of her dreams on her wedding day so she decided to that she was going to make that happen now. This story struck me for many reasons. First let’s get to the obvious- this woman is kick-ass. It takes a lot of guts at the age of 70 to walk into a bridal store and say you are here to shop for a wedding dress… for yourself. Yes, you have every right to shop for whatever and wherever you want but that won’t stop other people’s eyes from staring and making assumptions about you. I can just imagine some of the things that ran through some people’s minds, “Why is she getting married NOW?!”, “Who do you think she is marrying?”, “How old is she?!”, or “She thinks she looks good in that?” I wish I could say that everyone’s reaction to seeing an older woman shop for a wedding dress would be positive (because it is a very awesome thing) but unfortunately, it will not. There will always be nay-sayers and debbie-downers everywhere you go and to put yourself in the spotlight like that is one of the coolest things I ever seen. I also think that it is amazing that after all these years this woman is still following her dream. I think there comes an age in many women’s lives that they give up on what they haven’t accomplished yet. They think their life is over so there’s no use in trying. Let this one single woman be an inspiration to all. She just shoved it in everyone’s face proving that it’s never too late. If your still breathing then your dreams are still worth achieving. Don’t put a limit on what you can or can’t do, you have no idea what you could be missing out on. Seeing the pure joy and happiness written all over this woman’s face says it all. If she hadn’t taken charge of her own dreams she never would have gotten to experience that happiness and that once in a lifetime feeling. That pure joy and happiness is the second reason that I love this story so much that I just had to come here and blab about it to you all.

Having just had a wedding of my own this story also reminded me what a special and memorable experience I had the honor of having. Yes, I agree that the idea of a “typical” modern wedding has gotten way out of hand. The extravagant venue, the music, the flowers, the decor, the food, the favors, the dresses, the tuxes, the makeup, the hair, the shoes, the cake, the first dance, the honeymoon all seem to consume your mind. Why do we need all these things to get married? Why isn’t love enough? Well, I will tell you why. In fact, love is more than enough. Like this woman, if you are with the right person, you don’t need all these things to be happy. All you need is that other person by your side. It doesn’t matter what you are wearing, where you are, or what’s for dinner. All that matters is that you are now bonded in a deeper love, a love that will only make you love your partner more and more everyday. BUT, until you experience a “typical” wedding day for yourself you won’t understand why you need those other things. It’s actually not really a need, it’s more of a want. All humans need love. We all have a natural instinct to find love. But, we also have wants as well. We want to share this moment with all our friends and family. We want to feel our absolute best. We want to have the time of our life. We want to feel like a princess. We need our partner to feel whole but we want our celebration.

A wedding is a celebration, it’s a once in a lifetime celebration. A celebration indicating that you found the love of your life, your soul mate, and your best friend. It’s a celebration that is worth the world. The day you get married is full of bliss, love, laughter, and joy from the moment you wake up till the moment you go to bed. The moment you slip into that dress it’s pure happiness. Your first step down that aisle is pure happiness. Your first kiss is pure happiness. Your first dance is pure happiness. The biggest moment of your life is immensely surrounded by happiness. There is so much love, so much excitement, so much good surrounding the both of you that it completely reaffirms why you are there, doing what you are doing. It’s true, the moment you say “I do” is really all you need but all that happiness that surrounds you makes for an unforgettable, completely self-centered, incredible moment that everyone deserves. We don’t need it but we want it.

This woman demonstrates that all you really do need is love. She was married happily for many, many years never having had a lavish wedding but she also demonstrates that sometimes it’s alright to want more than you need. If you want it- go get it. That pure joy on her face can’t be faked. That love for her husband can’t be faked. That want had to be clenched. And their love will only grow stronger.

You can see a few pictures on David’s Bridal Facebook page. Follow me on twitter @LConfidence and/or at my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lipstick-Confidence/411787572256608.

When does being “comfortable” go too far?

Lately there has been a lot of attention in the media about college-aged women and their sex lives. If you are a normal person you probably already said, “Wait- stop right there. Why should we care?” And you are exactly right, why should we care? Unfortunately, there are many reasons why we should care that go way beyond your personal morals about sex. Barnard College, a prestigious women’s college in New York, is one reason we should care. When students arrived back to campus this Fall they were greeted with a new guest policy that they were never warned about. The new guest policy states that no student is allowed to host an overnight guest “no more than three consecutive nights and no more than six nights total in any 30-day period.” Their guests actually have to sign in (and sign out) with security guards located in each dorm- another reason we should care. The college claims that this new guest policy came about from other students being uncomfortable with their roommates guests- one more reason we should care.

I see so many problems with this that I don’t even know where to begin- it’s actually kind of infuriating. Being a recent graduate of a women’s college this strikes a very personal cord with me. Let’s take it piece by piece. First, the wording and implications of the new guest policy really irks me. Why do they care how many TOTAL nights a student has a guest a month? Six nights doesn’t even cover all the weekends in a month. It seems to me that they are insinuating that when a student has an overnight guest they have sex and they are trying to control that personal choice. I just don’t see any other reason for it. If it was solely for the roommate’s sake they would have stopped at the “three consecutive nights” rule. Yes, even that part seems a little unfair but at least I understand it. It’s uncomfortable to have someone you barely know staying in your room and they certainly shouldn’t over stay their welcome so that part is totally fair. In life you have to give and take a little. But there is absolutely no reason any college or university should be concerned with how many times a student chooses to have an overnight guest. Another reason I feel this new rule is mostly about sex is that it pertains to all students, even those students living in singles. These students are not bothering anyone when they have a guest so why should they be restricted? Why should it matter? I realize that it’s hard to have a rule that only pertains to certain students but that’s one of the many perks of single living or of being an upper classmen. If the roommate issue was the only reason behind the new policy there are many other ways Barnard could have went about it.

Next, I do understand that many colleges have guests policies but how much they are actually enforced is a different issue. I do believe in some sort of guest policy because it’s necessary for the safety of the students but once again, Barnard has gone too far. The fact that these students have to sign in and out their guests with a guard stationed at their dorm is beyond me. It’s like your literally displaying your personal life to the public. I completely understand why students would feel like their guard is constantly judging their personal decisions, even if the guard could actually care less and is just doing his or her job. Every time you bring the same or different person back you are wondering what they are thinking. It’s uncomfortable and a private decision that shouldn’t be logged on a piece of paper. Not to mention that this is occurring in a place that celebrates all the freedoms women have gained and all the successes we have made. But how can you stand for that when your actions say the exact opposite?

Lastly, and the the biggest problem I have with this whole thing, is that this is resulting from the roommate’s “uncomfortableness.” Are you kidding me? How old are we again? Do we know how to use our voices? Apparently not. If these students can’t function in a safe, sheltered, single sex environment there is no way they are making it in the real world. What ever happened to working through your own problems instead of running to administration or a higher power? It’s an essential life skill that these women seem to be lacking. If you don’t speak up your roommate is going to assume you don’t have a problem with her guests so she is going to keep doing it. If these “uncomfortable” roommates could nicely express their concerns I bet 98% of these students would take those concerns into account and be more considerate about their guests next time. There are always going to be the few who don’t care about anyone else or their feelings but that’s what your residential/student advisers are for, not the administration. If three intelligent and grown women can’t work through their problems and differences I really do feel hopeless for the future. Once you bring your problems to a higher power you are then making someone else feel uncomfortable and are invading their privacy and two wrongs never make a right.

This controversial debate couldn’t of come at a better time for my blog, right when I’m talking about being in “uncomfortable” places. So naturally I feel inclined to throw out a few tips about how to talk to your roommate (or anyone for that matter) about something they are doing that is making you uncomfortable:

*Talk to your roommate in private. Not when your or his/her friends are in the room or when you are in a public place. Also, make sure it’s a good time for them to have a serious talk. If they are going through something super stressful they aren’t going to be as understanding as they normally would be.

*Be specific. Don’t just say, “I don’t like when you have guests overnight.” Tell him/her why. Is there something that they do that annoys you? Does it prohibit you from doing what you have to do? If you don’t give them something to work with they aren’t going to be able to fix it.

*Once you voice your concerns, you need to listen to theirs as well. What’s important to you may not be important to them and you aren’t going to be able to change that. You are going to have to find some even ground that you can BOTH live with.

*Whatever you do, don’t be judgmental. Don’t tell them that what they are doing is “wrong.” Make it clear that this is your personal preference, not a matter of right or wrong.

*If you need to, make a list of each of your needs and expectations then compare and contrast. Find a solution that meets all these needs.

*If all else fails, get a trained student involved. Talking to someone else who recently probably went through the same thing you are could be really helpful for the both of you.

*And sometimes you just have to suck it up. That’s what adulthood is all about, welcome to the real world.

College is an essential time for students to grow on their own, think for themselves, make their own mistakes, and learn from them. In four very short years you are supposed to become an adult, a full functioning adult. It’s scary and not easy. But guess what? You have to do it. Rules like these do not exist in the real world but problems like these certainly do. If you can’t learn how to handle them in a safe environment I’m not sure you ever will.

Here are a couple interesting articles about the this new guest policy from The Daily Beast and The Nation.