This Should Be Everyone’s Pet Peeve

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I went to get a pizza.  He drove, because I hate driving.  From his apartment, it takes about five minutes to get to the pizza place.  It’s a straight shot.  Turn out of the parking lot, drive, turn into the pizza lot.  The end.  It’s so easy.  And it should’ve been a happy drive, because I got pizza at the end.  But it wasn’t.  Do you know why?  Because in the five minutes that it took us to get to the pizza place and back, I saw five drivers staring at their phones instead of looking at the road.

Five drivers.  In five minutes.

Behavior like that infuriates me.  By this point, we have all heard the statistics.  In case you haven’t, here’s a rundown:

  • Texting while driving makes you 23x more likely to crash,
  • slows your brake reaction speed by 18%,
  • causes 1.6 million accidents a year,
  • and is the cause of 11 teen deaths every day.  Source

These are ridiculous numbers.  This stuff shouldn’t be happening.  It’s really not that hard to not use your phone while you’re driving.  And I know most of us have seen these statistics and messages at one point or another.  So why the crap are we still doing it?

  • I need everyone to see that I’m driving fast.  Live large!  A lot of people I know Snapchat while they drive so they can put up the miles per hour filter, as if we’re all going to be so impressed that you’re going 80 in the left lane.  Congratulations, friend, all you’ve done is give me road rage from my living room and also endangered everyone on the road around you, including yourself.
  • My fave song came on the radio and you have to listen to me sing along. #totalfan  Again, this is a common Snapchat thing.  Even if your viewers share your music taste, which they probably don’t, if they wanted to hear the song they’d just pull it up on Spotify, where they don’t have to listen to your (probably terrible) voiceover.  Not only is this dangerous, it’s dumb.
  • I’m texting a romance interest and I have to reply now because if I wait too long they’ll think I’m not interested!  No, they won’t.  They should think more highly of you for practicing safe driving.  And if they don’t, well, you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
  • I’m a good driver; I can use my phone while driving and be fine.  I’m still paying attention to the road.  Maybe, but not enough attention.  Your brain is not wired to do two things at once.  Sorry.  See brake reaction time stat above.
  • I’m bored and I’m tired of just looking at the road.  Sucks.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to die anytime soon.  And I don’t want to be the cause of anyone’s death, either.  I think most people agree with me on that.  So I honestly don’t understand why people think this is still okay.  It’s not okay.  It’s stupid.  You can be the greatest person I’ve ever met, but if I catch you using your phone while you drive, my respect for you will plummet.  And while I know my opinion of you means nothing, the fact that you’re more likely to harm another person by texting while driving definitely should.

I’m really not trying to sound all self-righteous here (I know it sounds like I am).  (Okay, maybe I am a little.)  But really, in all honesty, I am just genuinely baffled by the fact that texting and driving is known to be one of the most dangerous things you can ever do, and yet people still do it.

Y’all, it’s not that hard to just wait.  I know it’s tempting.  I know think you’re a good enough driver.  I know there might be no one else on the road right now.  But please, for the love of God, just stop.

Spanish: More Than a Language

Since I first mentioned my Spanish capstone project on this blog, it’s changed a bit.  Not drastically — my overall focus is still immigration, and I’m still reading a lot of books.  But even though I’m still fine-tuning my thesis statement, I’ve already learned something valuable.

For background: I’m white.  I grew up in a two-parent home.  Both my parents are college-educated, and they have always earned sufficient income to give me and my two siblings everything we need, plus extracurriculars such as 4H, music lessons, and summer camps.  Spanish language and culture has been an interest of mine since I was 8, and my parents had the means to allow me to learn.  Now, I’m about to graduate college with a Spanish degree, with a highly commendable command of the language.  I’m proud of this.  And I’m grateful.

More background: for my capstone, I’m mostly focusing on the work of Esmeralda Santiago.  Santiago, if you don’t know, is a Puerto Rican woman who moved with her family to the US when she was 13.  She did not speak much English when she arrived.  It was not her choice to move here, so unlike me, learning English wasn’t something she did for fun, or because it was interesting, or because she had dreams of being able to speak other languages.  Santiago learned English because she couldn’t have survived here without it.

It hit me, as I was reading Santiago’s two memoirs, that for me, Spanish is a luxury.

I have worked hard at learning Spanish.  I’ve worked hard for confidence and accuracy.  Languages come fairly naturally to me, but it hasn’t all been easy or fun.  I’ve continued my study of Spanish just as much to gain an advantage in the job market as I have because I enjoyed it.  But that is the difference between Santiago, and every other Spanish-speaking immigrant, and I — I had a choice.  I chose to study Spanish because I could, not because I had to.  And I was not thrown into the Spanish-speaking world before I was ready.

One of my old roommates was also a Spanish major.  She now works at a refugee resettlement organization, and teaches Spanish to kids after school.  She uses Spanish all day, every day.  Spanish, for her, is a talent and a passion, but also a way to do what she really wants to do, which is care for people.  While Spanish may have started as an interest for her, now it is entwined with her purpose.

Honestly, that is my goal too.  I want to be able to use Spanish in my daily life.  One, because I enjoy it, and I’ve spent a lot of time learning it, but also because it enables me to expand the circle of people to whom I can be useful.  Being able to speak Spanish opens me up to other parts of the world, and by extension those I’m connected with.

A few posts ago, I put up a graph of the results from a personality test I took.  I scored very high on the “dutiful” aspect, which makes sense.  When I realized that Spanish began as a luxury for me, I felt kind of spoiled.  But then I thought about Bill Gates — his asset, now, is that he is very wealthy, and he puts his money to good use through philanthropy.  While being able to speak a second language is a little different than being worth millions, I can try to turn my own luxury into something that is useful to the world as a whole.

Why Do We Hate Discussing Controversial Issues?

I know very few people that enjoy discussing politics and controversial social issues.  Most people, including me, tend to shy away from these topics and stick to lighter, more enjoyable, less divisive conversations.  In my experience, the people who actively bring up politics and divisive issues are the ones who have strong opinions backed by very little research (not always, but usually).

I have one friend I typically discuss social issues with.  She’s a sociology major, so she often talks about current events in her classes, and we generally have similar opinions.  Even if we disagree, we know how to do it respectfully, and we both admit when we have and haven’t done research on a topic.  Last time we met for coffee, we intended to stay away from politics, but ended up discussing them and other controversial issues almost the entire time we were together.  It was intellectually refreshing.  And then we wondered why people don’t do this more often.

Of course, there is the obvious reason.  Politics and social issues are divisive.  I’ve mentioned before that talking about politics means talking about everyone’s baggage as well.  It’s uncomfortable and annoying, and sometimes not worth the arguments that will inevitably ensue.

But why do these things hold so much passion for us?  One reason is that our political beliefs are closely related to how we view ourselves — our self-identity.  I read an article the other day about what parts of our brains light up when we discuss politics.  I couldn’t find the original article, but I did find this (older) one that got similar results to the one I read.  In the study, scientists monitored subjects’ brains while they evaluated “information that threatened their preferred candidate” just before the 2004 presidential election (I told you it was an old article).  Here’s what they found:

“We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning,” said Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory University. “What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up, including circuits hypothesized to be involved in regulating emotion, and circuits known to be involved in resolving conflicts.”  [emphasis mine]

Discussing politics isn’t the same as discussing what color to paint the walls.  Attacking someone’s political beliefs is more like insulting their kid.  The parent isn’t going to think rationally about that (at least at first); they’re going to be angry.  How dare someone say that about their kid, who they have a strong emotional connection with?  How can they believe x, when clearly y is true?  It’s hard to separate reason from that innate emotional response, and it’s much the same for politics.

I think another reason it’s hard to discuss these things is because it requires true self-examination.  It’s hard work.  First, we must inform ourselves about what’s really going on.  Then, we have to compare our moral values against what’s happening in the world, and then we have to pick a stance, and then we have to defend it.  It’s difficult.  It’s time-consuming.  In my experience, I’ve never just known what my opinion is on a hot button issue.  I have to research.  I have to discuss.  I have to mull it over.  And then I sometimes end up changing my mind.  It’s introspective, and introspection is hard, because it requires us to really know ourselves.  And sometimes, we don’t like what we find.

Other times, we think we do know ourselves.  We have opinions and we stick to them. But we still avoid discussing hot topics because what if someone has a better argument?  What then?  If my views are disproved, am I really who I think I am?  Good counter-arguments can dismantle us, and our sense of self-identity, completely.

But as uncomfortable as it is, these things can’t be avoided.  If we avoid learning and trying to form opinions, we will get used, or ignored.  We’ll be seen as ignorant or outdated.  Our usefulness to society declines.  My friend brought up this specific situation: over the past two summers, she has worked at a children’s Christian sleep-away camp.  It’s similar to the quintessential camp experience: horseback riding, rock wall climbing, and overnight camping trips.  But the staff faces big issues.  Last summer, they received  call from a mother wondering what the camp’s policy was for transgender children.

Transgenderism and gender dysmorphia is something that Christians typically avoid.  It’s incredibly difficult to understand, especially within the context of Christianity, and on top of that it has to do with sex, which is often a taboo topic in Christian circles.  But if the camp staff hadn’t discussed it, they would have come across as willfully ignorant to that mom.  And they might have missed the chance to minister to a group of children that needs love the most.

Politics and issues like this aren’t fun.  We live in a messed-up world that often just looks bleak.  But the only way to affect it is to know what’s happening, and know how we feel about it, so that we can do something to enact change.  They say nothing good in life is easy, and in this, it’s more than true.

On Trump’s Inauguration Speech + A Discussion on News From Twitter

So, I watched the inauguration.  I didn’t really want to, but it’s history, as my mother told me, and mother knows best.

Just so we’ll be clear, I don’t like Trump.  Also, I don’t pretend to be any kind of political expert.  Because I’m mostly tired of hearing and speaking about Trump, but now we really have to, here are my reactions to his speech in bullet form:

  • His speech was all about America.  Obviously, as President of the US, it should be.  But, he also implied that the US is the most important country in the world.  While there is no denying that it is highly important as a global power, I feel that he completely dismissed the importance of literally all other countries, and by extension, the people who inhabit them.
  • He seems to think that helping or even being involved with other countries equals harming the US.  I completely disagree.  From an economic perspective, helping other countries develop and therefore become richer benefits the US because it means they have the power to buy and sell from and to us, which over time increases our own GDP.  I realize that the US as a whole, in trying to “help” other countries, hasn’t always been the most helpful.  However, I think it is prudent to maintain an attitude of mutual benefit.  No man is an island, and countries (metaphorically speaking) aren’t, either.
  • He mentioned that he was going to eradicate Islamic terrorism.  While not a bad sentiment, I think this wording showed his skewed worldview.  The terrorist groups that claim Islam are not recognized as truly Islamic by the vast majority of Muslims.  I’m all for ending terrorism, but I’m definitely against perpetuating xenophobia.
  • His speech really was more of a campaign speech than an inaugural address.  I watched NBC’s live stream of the ceremony, and the reporters noted that some of the paragraphs were verbatim from campaign speeches.  I’m not sure if that means he is too inexperienced/doesn’t care enough to prepare a real inaugural address, or if he is so insecure in his support that he still feels he must garner it.
  • The NBC reporters also noted that he kind of insulted all the former presidents with him on the podium as well as the Republican senators.  I agree, because he implied that the government has completely failed in most respects.  I’m not saying it did or didn’t, but the way he put his views was quite tactless.  Although let’s be honest — he’s not known for tact.

That’s all the thoughts I have on that.  Stay tuned till Thursday for a much more enjoyable discussion on coffee culture.  Or read on if you feel like talking about Twitter and news.


So, Twitter.

It took me awhile to get into Twitter.  I don’t use it the same way I use Instagram or Facebook.  While those are ways to keep up with people I actually know, I use Twitter to get my news.  I don’t have cable, so I don’t watch televised news much, and I barely have enough time to read the books I need to for school, let alone various news sites.  So Twitter it is.

Here’s a breakdown of what I follow:

  • Business/entrepreneurship journals
  • Local TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers from my hometown and college town
  • Local police and emergency services accounts
  • Major US newspapers — Wall Street Journal, NY Times, etc.
  • Various BBC accounts
  • Celebrities
  • Bloggers

As far as news goes, I normally scroll through and read tweets and headlines, and I’ll read the articles I think are most important or that have to do with my hometown.  If several separate sources are writing about the same thing, I try to pay attention.  I’m also guilty of scrolling past stuff I don’t want to see, because let’s be honest — news is usually depressing.  I also try to pick and choose somewhat strategically what articles I click on, because most newspapers will only let non-subscribers view so many articles a month.  I try to save those free ones for important stuff.

Yesterday, someone mentioned something along the lines of, “That’s the danger of getting your news from Twitter.”  I don’t remember why they said it (I should probably pay more attention).  But it made me wonder why some people feel that way, because I think Twitter is a pretty good place to get news.

First, for my part, I follow well-known, established news sources.  I know journalists can never be completely objective, but to work for such established organizations means to follow ethical and objective journalistic standards to the best of your ability.  I tend to believe the best of the general population, and don’t think that a professional journalist would willingly jeopardize their career by reporting nonsense.  Readers do need to read critically, of course, but it is in everyone’s best interest for journalists to report objectively.

Second, I don’t just scroll through headlines.  When I see something important, I read the article to get the available details.  If I have time, I’ll read about the same event from another source.  I don’t do this all the time, of course, but I know that getting information from more than one source is preferable.

Finally, even if Twitter is not the best source of news, I would still rather stay updated through Twitter than not make an attempt to stay updated at all.  I try to be a good citizen (4H drilled that into me) and staying informed is one of the best ways to do that.  Until I make enough money to have cable and newspaper and magazine subscriptions, I’m going to keep using Twitter.

How do you get your news?  What’s your opinion on Twitter as a news source?

Thanksgiving 2016

So I was planning on doing a photo gallery of things I’m thankful for in my life, because today is Thanksgiving and I didn’t want to write a whole post.  But turns out, I don’t take that many photos — and also, I had a different idea.

  1. I’m thankful that I live in a country where we get to elect our own president and representatives, even if the results aren’t always what I wanted.  It hasn’t even been 100 years since women got the right to vote in the US, and here I am, never having lived in a world where I couldn’t.  Unlike many, many women all over the world, I got to voice my say in my own government on November 8.
  2. I’m thankful I live in an area that has clean water.  As of this week, Flint, Michigan still doesn’t have clean water.
  3. I’m thankful that I have the money to mostly pay my own way for my living situation and college education, and I’m thankful that my parents have the means and willingness to make up for the little I don’t have.
  4. I’m thankful that I have a good chance of soon having enough disposable income to support the causes I feel strongly about, because I am tired of feeling and not doing.  I’m thankful that I’m privileged enough to have this be one of the things I’m thankful for.
  5. Finally, I’m thankful for the ability to blog and the community I’ve gained from it.  Blogging and reading other blogs forces me to think through hard issues and exposes me to viewpoints very different from mine.

All these, of course, are in addition to the things you all know I love — my boyfriend, my parental units, friends that still love me even when I suck at texting back, books, coffee, and the fact that cats exist — just to name a few.  I could go on and on, and I probably should because thinking through all these things forces me to have a better attitude.  (Maybe that should go on my goals for the new year.)  But I’ll go ahead and sign off now, because I know there is Southern-style dressing and turkey waiting for me.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Oh — and don’t forget to #ShopSmallSaturday!

Discussion: LifeWay’s Decision to Pull Jen Hatmaker’s Products

On October 25, this interview with Jen Hatmaker was published on religionnews.com.  In it, she talks about her views on Trump (dislikes) and Clinton (open to supporting), the Black Lives Matter movement (supports), and LGBT rights (supports).  Two days later, LifeWay pulled her materials from its stores because of her opinions on LGBT rights.

First off, let me just clarify that obviously, LifeWay is a private company.  They have every right to pick and choose what they make available to customers.  We live in a free country, and if LifeWay doesn’t want to sell a product for whatever reason, they are perfectly within their rights not to sell it.  I understand that.

That said, I think their choice was a little bit silly.  I looked through Jen Hatmaker’s website for the books she has written, and while I must admit I’ve never read any of them, none of the descriptions seem to insinuate that they have anything to do with what Christians should believe about the LGBT community.  They’re what you would expect from a well-established Christian author — devotionals for women of all ages, a 7-month plan to combat excess in 7 areas of life, and a few in depth Bible study books.  If you hadn’t read the interview, you would never know her views on LGBT people.

Second, Jen Hatmaker is not the only Christian who supports LGBT rights.  Those two things are not mutually exclusive.  By pulling her materials, LifeWay robs its customers of the freedom to choose their own Christian role models.  It’s almost as if they do not trust their customers to pick the “right” materials, even though the majority of their customers are church leaders who have had extensive training in ministry and theology.

Finally, a good friend brought up this question: if Hatmaker weren’t so high profile, would LifeWay would have cared about the interview?  Do they extensively research every single author, artist, and publisher whose products they carry, and reject them if they don’t exactly match what LifeWay believes?  If not, how do they know they aren’t carrying products by authors who are even more liberal than Jen Hatmaker?

By October 31, Hatmaker published the below post on her Facebook page in response to LifeWay’s actions.  In my eyes, she handled the ordeal with grace.

Hi, everyone.

A couple of quick thoughts on all these tender things:

1. First, regardless of what you see from strangers on the internet, our real friends and ministry partners and colleagues and fellow pastors have been across the board, carte blanche, by the dozens and dozens and dozens…kind and good to Brandon and I this week. Every one of them. We can’t even keep up with it. So know that regardless of headlines, we have very much experienced a faithful witness to Jesus through our friends in our real life this week. They give the church a beautiful name worthy of its source.

2. I’m not here to defend or explain right now. I have very open hands here. I have nothing to protect, nothing worth losing that I am not afraid to lose. I have zero agenda for myself. I don’t feel self-protective or defensive or scared or angry. I am neither trying to gain applause or start a war. Some people are throwing parades and some are burning books, but I am not motivated by either; I’m neither overly encouraged or overly discouraged. If you believe the hype, you have to also believe the hate, and neither is fully true. Some are certain I am after “the approval of people,” but here is the truth: I don’t love the approval of people, but I do love people. I love them because Jesus’ love for us is so insane and big and outside our templates and it reaches and reaches and reaches past our comforts to draw people to Him, and He does this with or without our permissions and sanctions and rules and hierarchies, and He has done it for all of time and will continue to do it for all of time. We are standing outside the city gates with people He asked us to stand with, and that is the beginning and end of it.

3. The time will come to discuss and talk about this together, but know this: we deeply, sincerely, with our minds and hearts both engaged, including perspectives all along the spectrum, in deep discussions with people we trust and respect, with prayer and careful study and deliberation moved into this space. We wrestled with and through Scripture, not around it. Our view of the Word is still very high, as is it for the hundreds of thousands of faithful believers who believe likewise.

4. Regardless of your position, please remember this as you respond, discuss, and take this conversation to both your Facebook walls and your dining room tables this week: all around you, the LGBTQ community is watching. They are listening. They are watching how we respond, how we talk about them, how we actually feel about them in our churches. They are your neighbors, your colleagues, they are in your churches already, some of them are in your homes, some of them are your children and you don’t know it. Most of them are quiet because they are scared. With good and obvious reason. But they are beautiful people loved by Jesus and no matter what, we should speak in a way befitting the way of grace, the same way that found and saved and redeemed and healed us too. Please don’t mistakenly take me to the mat in public or private and imagine it doesn’t carry weight with tender, beloved people who are bearing witness to all this.

I love you sincerely. I am always grateful to be your sister. All of you. And I hold those of you who are angry or shocked or confused with me this week very tenderly, too. I love you and I am here in the tension, committed to our little community and to all these sisters of mine. I am still here, hands open. Please remember with kindness and mercy the eyes on my page this week, so impossibly dear to God.

On the Election

I didn’t want to write about the US Presidential election at all.  I dislike getting into politics.  I don’t know a lot about it, and I just don’t like what it does to the vibe of a room.  You bring up politics, and you bring up everybody’s baggage right along with it.  Obviously, politics are incredibly important, and paying attention to current events is just part of good citizenship.  But that’s not what I want for my blog, so I’ve refrained from posting about it.

However, this election is different than any other election we’ve had here. I was stunned to wake up yesterday morning finding out Trump won. I honestly didn’t think it would happen. 

But what shocked and saddened me more than anything were the blog posts I saw throughout the day. Nobody in my area made a big deal about the results in person (at least that I saw), but the internet blew up. I didn’t realize how many minority bloggers I follow until yesterday. It didn’t truly hit me how scared people are until I read the reactions. 

I am also afraid of a Trump presidency. But I’m a white, straight, middle class woman. I have much less to fear than black people, gay people, and immigrants. Yesterday, I read about people wondering if they should leave the country before they get deported. I read about people getting physically sick with anxiety over what may happen to LGBT rights. I read about people getting harassed like it’s the 19freaking60. 

I don’t want to be upset about the election. I want to stop thinking about it, and remember that there are checks and balances, and just focus on my semester of school. But I know that a lot of people can’t because they are afraid. 

I don’t know what I can do to make things better. The election is over. All I can do right now is say that I see you. I see your fear and your anger, and I am so sorry that America has failed you. 

Discussion: Is It Ethical for an Entire Editorial Board to Take a Stand Against a Candidate?

About a week ago, I got into a quick Twitter conversation.  (I rarely get on Twitter, but since realizing that it’s a form of mini-blogging I’ve tried to get more on board.)  Charlie Burris, a newscaster for the UT Vols, had tweeted this:

The link leads to a USAToday editorial that explains why people should not vote for Trump.  You may want to go look at it, just for context.

I saw that it was an editorial, and replied:

He then replied back:

(Behold my snark above, usually reserved for close friends)

In the time it took him to reply, I read the actual article (which yes, I should have done before tweeting), and realized it was not written by one sole editor, but was a collaboration of the entire editorial board of USAToday — that is to say, ALL of their editors worked together to write this piece.  So I understood much better what it was that Burris was saying, told him so, and left it at that.

That realization got me thinking.  The USAToday editorial board was obviously within their rights to publish an article like this.  Every American citizen has the right to free speech, and they published the article inarguably as an opinion piece.  While they didn’t all agree on Clinton, they were all united against Trump, and they said so.  The real question here is, was it ethical for them to do so?

In today’s world, there’s almost no such thing as unbiased media.  Journalists can try to be as objective as possible, but it is very difficult to weed out every instance of human bias.  Most big media companies in America lean liberal or conservative, and everyone knows which is which.  However, rarely do we see the leaders of a media company uniting publicly on a hot-button issue.

The more I think about it, the more okay I am with the article.  If media companies are going to lean left or right regardless, I would rather them put that opinion out in the open, if the other option is to claim neutrality and then publish meticulously worded news stories that lean one way or the other.  If I know without a doubt that a company holds certain ideals, it makes it easier to me to filter their articles through my own ideals.

However, I really do see Burris’ point.  News media in its purest form is meant to deliver facts and facts only, and an entire editorial board publicly expressing one opinion completely undermines that goal.  It is hard enough these days to filter through the media, and USAToday probably alienated a lot of readers by taking a public stance against Trump.  Even though they had the right to speak against him, Americans don’t like to see media companies being so blatantly one-sided.

Do you have an opinion on this?  Let me know what you think with the poll below, and feel free to elaborate in the comments.

Why It’s Not a Bad Thing if You’ve Never Been Kissed

Last night, I went out for coffee with one of my best friends.  We went intending to sit and read at the coffee shop, but (inevitably) ended up chatting about life.  Somehow, we got to talking about relationships, and my friend told me about a conversation she’d overheard where two girls were talking about how sad it is, at our age, to have never been kissed.

I think a lot of people our age feel that way.  Not having been kissed can make us feel left out and undesirable.  Especially as we get older, it becomes a point of insecurity, and many people hide the fact so they won’t be stereotyped as inexperienced or prudish.  We think potential partners don’t want the “responsibility” of being someone’s first, or that we’ll be bad at it when we finally do kiss someone, or that our friends will secretly judge or pity us (which is exactly what those girls were doing, if obliviously).

There Are Other Things in Life Besides Kissing

I definitely understand all those concerns, because I’ve been there.  But I also don’t think that not having been kissed should be something to be sad or insecure about at all.  Kissing and physical intimacy are great, but there are also a whole lot of other great things in this world that we can get excited about.  Putting a lot of emphasis on a person’s kissed-status implies that their sexuality and sexual experience are more important than their thoughts, opinions, hobbies, skills, talents, interests, and the myriad of other things that make people awesome, and that’s just wrong.

When I meet someone new, I couldn’t care less whether they’ve been kissed or not.  I’d rather learn what they’re interested in, what they’re good at, and what they want to do in the future.  Teachers care about whether you’ll be a good learner.  Employers care about what you can bring to their company.  Even potential partners should care more about whether you two will get along than your sexual experience or lack thereof.  (Obviously, in a serious relationship sexual pasts are something that should be discussed, and sex and kissing are very different.  But I’m talking about kissing, and whether you have or haven’t been kissed shouldn’t be an initial deal breaker (if it is, get away from that shallow human!).)

Not Having Been Kissed Can Be By Choice

Although it may seem a foreign concept to some, sometimes people have had opportunities to have their first kiss and have (gasp!) passed them up.  A lot of times, this is for religious reasons — I know several people who want to save their first kiss for their wedding day.  Some people know that kissing and physical intimacy will distract them from their goals, so they avoid it altogether.  Some people don’t want to date for whatever reason, so they don’t kiss anyone, either.  Some people wait for a partner they know will be lifelong.  Not ever having been kissed isn’t always because you can’t get a date.

Never Having Been Kissed Doesn’t Equal Inexperience

So, we’ve established the fact that kissed-status has nothing to do with a person or how awesome they are.  That said, not having been kissed doesn’t necessarily equal sexual inexperience or naivety.  We live in the age of the Internet, and that means people have access to porn (which, to be clear, I’m neither condoning nor condemning at this moment).  While porn may not be (and probably isn’t) the best teacher for sex stuff, the availability of it means that many people are exposed to sex and physical intimacy long before they ever touch anyone sexually.  (We can discuss the consequences of that later.)  And even if porn isn’t accessible, our media and our culture are so overrun with sex-related topics that it’s really not hard to figure out what’s going on.

Also, people are natural explorers.  Just because someone has never been kissed doesn’t mean that they don’t know what pleases them or turns them on, and it doesn’t mean that they don’t have ideas for what they might like to try with a partner in the future.  And it definitely doesn’t mean that they don’t or can’t have a good sex life all on their own.

Unfortunately, too, some real assholes exist in our world, so not having been kissed romantically doesn’t mean that someone has never been touched sexually.  It may just mean that that person had a terrible experience before they ever got to experience a romantic kiss, and perhaps now they just want to be not be touched like that ever again.  You just don’t ever know someone’s background or what they may have gone through.

Not Having Been Kissed is Not Sad

Kissing is an important and awesome part of life.  Physical intimacy is one of the things that makes us human, and we know that humans need love and physical contact in order to develop properly and feel connected and happy.  But people can live and thrive without kisses.  What we can’t live without is love from friends and family.  It’s sad that there are babies who grow up in overcrowded orphanages and never get held, ever.  That is a tragedy.  What’s not a tragedy is someone who hasn’t been kissed.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

TL;DR:

  1. Just because someone hasn’t been kissed doesn’t mean it’s because they’re undesirable.
  2. Why are we still putting so much importance on what a person has or hasn’t done sexually?  There are so many more things that make people people, and that’s what we should focus on.

My Rambling 3 Cents About Body Positivity

So, here’s the deal.  I consider myself a feminist in that I believe women should be treated equally to men, and I strongly believe in body positivity for all people, male and female, and all body types.  I think I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I, like every other woman, have issues with my own body.  There are a few things I don’t like about my body, like my skin, which is prone to acne and dry spots and weird gross fungus sometimes (even though I’m a super clean person.  How does this happen???).  I also feel like my shoulders are too wide, and I wish my hair was less frizzy, and I sometimes wish my boobs were a bit larger (although that not nearly as much as I did when I was in middle school.  Thank goodness).

However, this is not a post about what I don’t like about myself.  What I do like is that I’m pretty muscular, as in if I actually went to the gym on a regular basis I could be ripped.  I’m a pretty small person, and I also really like that for the most part (it does tend to get annoying when people think it’s okay to comment on my size because I am small.  Update: it’s not.  Just don’t comment on people’s size ever.  It’s kind of rude).  Also, the vast majority of the time, I love my small boobs because I can get away without a bra and with wearing low cut tops that would be too revealing if I were bigger.  There are perks to everything.  (Except maybe stupid skin.  I really hate that.)

Anyway.  I really started writing this post to say that I’m super thin, and I get quite a lot of comments on that.  When I worked at a bank as a floating teller, it never failed that at every new branch I went to, one of my coworkers would comment on my size.  It happened every single time.  I even get comments from random strangers, usually women.  It’s to the point that I know now that even though I’m not the prettiest person you will ever meet, my body can be the object of envy just because I am small and thin.

I have two main points here.  One is this.  I take nudes sometimes, just for myself, because I like feeling good about my body.  The last time I did, I got the idea to take a version of these photos below.  (I took these particular ones especially for this post.)  In these photos, I’m sitting like I normally do in class or at my desk.  (Obviously I don’t have great posture.)  And even though I’m thin enough that a lot of people notice, I still have stomach rolls.  See that?  I pretty much live with red lines on my stomach from where it folds over when I sit down.  It’s just a fact of life.

My other main point, that I tried to make rambingly a few paragraphs ago, is that even the people you see whose bodies you envy have things they don’t like about themselves and wish they could change.  I see people every single day that I wish I looked like, both online and in person.  I envy something about every single one of my friends.  So this is just a general reminder, because I know we’ve all heard this before — the Internet is full of body positivity messages for women, which is awesome.  This is just my reiteration.

My final three cents:

  1. First, you are beautiful.
  2. Second, everything you dislike on yourself, someone else has probably envied.  Everything you have envied about someone else, they have probably disliked.
  3. Third, your personality, your brains, your skills, and your passions are what really define you.  Not your body, ever.