The importance of self confidence

Self confidence has been on my mind.

I’ve been thinking about what it takes for a person to have confidence in themselves, but more importantly, how seemingly small actions (messages, words, images, etc.) can break that down.

Thanks to an array of great influences, good opportunities and plain ‘ol good luck, I am pretty confident in myself, but it just takes a moment for me to realize how easy it would be too feel down on myself.

I mean, according to magazines, television and the wonderful Internet, I should have a flat, toned stomach, a larger than life breast size, a thigh gap, a button nose and long luscious hair. I have none of these. My stomach, thighs and nose are all larger than is deemed “ideal,” my breasts are not larger than life and my hair is a limp mess most of the time. I may be able to accept these “perceived faults” of my body, but what about the million of other people in the world who strive to be what the media tells them they need to be?

Not everyone is lucky enough to feel  confidence in themselves. And can we really blame them? Without someone to tell you how beautiful you are the way you are, you’re left with the “ideal” version of who you should be, but aren’t. Without being able to take pride in one’s work due to being too shy or afraid of failure, many are left to feel even worse about themselves.

Of course, I have my days where I dislike who I am or where I am, but lack of confidence is a cruel circle in my life. One bad thing feeds into another until I feel as if there is no way out. So here is my unwarranted advice, mainly as a reminder to myself. I may not always succeed in every one of these, but I sure try:

Tell someone they are beautiful. Forget the “standards” and be your own person. Take a risk in life and in your work. The results may surprise you. One (or 100) failures do not characterize who you are, so be confident in your image and all of your accomplishments.

The good things feed into other good things, after all. The bad things are bumps in the road.

And because I have been thinking a lot about resources for people to feel better about themselves  (in whatever way that may be) and want to have the support of thousands, check out the organization “Love is Louder” and for you Western Michigan University students, follow @loveislouderwmu on Twitter.

From the ‘Genie’ to ‘Mrs. Doubtfire,’ Robin Williams gave me hope

Two little girls, one 9 and the other 7, settle down into the love seat in the basement of their grandparent’s house. They rewind the VHS and they hit play.

“Oh, I come from a land, from a faraway place
Where the caravan camels roam
Where it’s flat and immense
And the heat is intense
It’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home”

Those two little girls, now grown and past high school, spent every single summer watching Disney’s “Aladdin.” They would belt out the songs, paying no attention to who was who during the duets. They would push the movie back in the second it popped out of the VCR.

Looking back now on that little girl I used to be, all I can think about is the thread that held the “Aladdin” series together: the Genie voiced by the wonderfully talented Robin Williams.

By now, the world knows that Williams died. I don’t consider myself particularly attached to celebrities overall, but Williams holds a special place in my heart.

I used to spend every single summer with my cousin Caleigh watching “Aladdin.” We made it our tradition. Williams, through “Aladdin” connected my cousin and I on the very short visits we had with one another in the summers.

When I was a kid, my parents were arguing. Divorce was discussed. My brother and I cried. That is until my mom popped in “Mrs. Doubtfire,” a movie that neither of us had ever seen before.

I was young, but I remember that moment because even in the midst of an inevitable divorce and arguments, Williams was able to make both of us smile. I’m sure that at the time I wasn’t thinking about the significance of the moment, but it is a moment I will never forget. For 90 minutes my brother and I forgot the tears and we just laughed.

Robin Williams was a comedic genius that no doubt dealt with his own demons. But in his times of struggle, I find it amazing that somehow he was able to help a little girl dealing with divorce feel as if the world wasn’t falling into pieces around her.

I have waited a couple of days to write something on Williams because 1) I have been watching all of his movies and 2) I just didn’t quite know how to put everything I was feeling into words.

Williams provided something I will never forget: hope. That things will be okay, and while he couldn’t find hope in his own life, it is a wonderful thing to be able to instill it in another.

Since the news of his death broke, I have seen various social media postings on him. But I hope that through all of the remembrances, that people can start to give some real attention to those who struggle with depression on a daily basis.

A friend on Facebook posted something that I had never thought of before. He said that people should be careful about saying a victim of suicide was “free” or “at peace” because it could validate suicide as an adequate solution to depression or mental problems (I am paraphrasing). Naturally, I had said something of the sort, but what he said really got to me.

Ultimately, with his nudge, I came to this conclusion:

While I understand the sentiment of saying “you’re free” or “at peace now” fully, it does seem to largely conflict with the true issue. That people with depression and a host of other mental issues need help to deal with their personal problems. I think it is so easy to say you’re free or in peace because we want to believe that suicide was the last answer. We don’t want to think that somehow someone could have helped such a beautiful bright person because that would mean that we as a nation (both those suffering from depression and those not) would have to actually take a stand on mental issues. Of course yes we wish that someone could help but I don’t think a lot of people want to feel the burden of helping others who are having a hard time.

Williams death has reminded me of a very important thing: be kind to all. You never know how your actions will influence someone or what a person is dealing with. So be kind. Be understanding. And be there if someone needs you.

Selfie shame: A case against it

It’s true…selfie shame exists.

You walk into a restaurant (grocery store, classroom, work, etc) and somebody is snapping a duck-face, kissy-lips, don’t-I-look-so sexy selfie.

So you judge.

Don’t worry about it. Everyone does it. I’ve done it. I do it.

But I love myself a selfie. Make-up or no make-up. I love selfies.

I know that I am judged just as much as I judge others, but I am comfortable with who I am.

I bring this up because I have noticed it in my day-to-day life, but more immediately because I read an opinion piece on the State News about why people need to stop taking selfies.

The gist of the writer’s argument: “Put your phones down and enjoy life.”

Great advice. I get it and there were plenty of snippets of advice the writer offered that I agreed with.

But I didn’t agree with the feeling I experienced after finishing the article.

Shame. For taking a selfie. A photo of myself with a book or food or at work or wherever.

When I was Editor-in-Chief of the Western Herald, I had a co-worker who took selfies with everything. His drink. His computer. His (well, the office’s…) Ron Burgundy cutout. And I love him for it.

The point is that I will never be made to feel shameful for taking a photo of myself. In some form, it captures who I am, what I am doing, and yes, what I look like.

My life is no less fulfilling because I took a selfie. I keep them mostly to myself and they make me happy.

And all of this made me realize that it’s time to stop judging others too. I do it far too often and if I do it, I shouldn’t judge others for it.


The end-all be-all

When I started this blog, my mind was so set on only writing about journalism. For years now, my sole passion has been journalism and media. It has been my end all, be all.

That’s not the case anymore. Don’t get me wrong, my passion is still in media and anything journalism. But over the past few months I have discovered that I am so much more. Which in reality is an obvious fact, but one that I still have come to.

I have memories. I have had experiences that no one else has had. I have grown in so many different ways. So yes, I will still use this blog to write about journalism when I see fit, but it is time to start writing about me and my life.

Today I was thinking about the drives that my family used to take out to Gobles, Mich. to visit my uncle when my mom and dad were still married. Things were never ideal for my family, but I always look back at those trips as good memories.

I remember piling into my dad’s truck listening to “Little Red Rodeo,” while my parents held hands. It was a seldom seen display of affection between them. I have accepted the fact that my parents aren’t together and have both moved on with their lives in different ways, but sometimes I have to think, “what if?”

Yes, what if seems to sum it up.

I don’t know if anyone can ever get away from thinking of what could have been but I think there is a sort of beauty in that. Life can take a person so many places, a family so many places, but in the end I believe we all end up where we are supposed to be.

REVIEW: ‘Sharp Objects’ by Gillian Flynn

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (2006)

Since graduating college just a few short months ago, I have fully launched myself into reading any book I can get my hands on.

Most recently, that is Gillian Flynn’s 2006 debut novel “Sharp Objects.” The novel highlights the story of Camille Preaker, a Chicago reporter off a short stay in a psychological hospital, as she travels back to her hometown of Wind Gap to cover the murders of two young girls. While there trying to get the “big break” that would put her newspaper (the fourth largest in Chicago) on the map, she is forced to deal with her past, her hypochondriac mother Adora and get to know her 13-year-old half-sister Amma.

“Sharp Objects” mixes the best of mystery, psychology and journalism (oh yes, journalism). It reads like a very long news article, but in the best way possible. The sentences are crisp and clean with no fluff. At just 252 pages, the novel takes you through as multiple people close in on the ultimate question: “Who dunnit?”

But the success of this book doesn’t lie in figuring out who committed the crime (although the realization just pages from the end of the book is perfect), but with the familial connections between the Preaker family and the entire community of Wind Gap.

The entire town is connected due to it’s size. Old women gather and gossip about back when they were popular. 13-year-old Amma runs the town with three other girls, causing trouble and making sure that she gets everything that she wants.

Camille is an outsider to this world of Wind Gap, leaving her life behind many years before. A life with an overly attentive mother, a sister Marian who died from sickness and Camille’s own addiction of sorts to sex and harming herself.

All of these things Camille thought she left behind as she closes in on what really happened when she was a child, who could possibly kill two little girls in this small town and if those two things are connected.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Happy Mother’s Day to the three best women I know

Although Mother’s Day is nearly at an end, I wanted to take a moment and say a few things.

First of all, I have the best mother and mother-like figures in my life. Whether I am sad, happy or just plain ornery, they are always there for me. When I graduated from both high school and college, they have been there for me and all the time before and after.

To my mom, I love you. Thank you for putting up with me on the phone when I don’t say anything, even though I am the one calling you.

To Robin, thank you for treating me like your daughter for the last eight (almost nine years).

To my grandma, thank you for being a wonderful mother to your kids, but more importantly the best grandmother I could ever ask for. You are always there for me.

Now, to get to the main point of this post.

All of you women are selfless. You give daily to make sure that I can have the best life possible. I don’t know if I could do that.

I am a college graduate who is employed in my desired career. I am just over a year away from marrying someone I have spent much of my life with. I am happy.

None of this would be possible without you.

I love you and I just hope that if I ever become a mother I can be half as amazing as you three.

‘Second Winter’ hits Western Michigan University’s campus (photo gallery)

A blast of snow hit Western Michigan University’s campus Tuesday night (March 11), following two days of nearly 50 degree weather. Classes were still scheduled for Wednesday and students made their way to classes surrounded by mountains of snow and snow-covered trees.
Take a look at some pictures from today’s winter wonderland on campus.

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