Culture

It’s that time of year again. Love is in the air, but you don’t have to save it all for your significant other. Parks and Recreation had its ladies gather on February 13th for a “Galentine’s” Day celebration. While the show is a comedy and depicts the holiday in a comedic way, embracing the idea is a great opportunity for you to take a break from your love life to hang out with your girl friends. My friends decided that the day following Valentine’s Day worked better for us – it’s all about finding time to appreciate your friends and spend time together. Here are some ways you can enjoy your own celebration:

Brunch

Who doesn’t love brunch? You get a wide variety of food because of the hybrid morning/afternoon time. It’s the perfect time to catch up with your pals and hear what kind of Valentine’s Day they had. This is a good way to squeeze in some time with your friends if you’ve all been busy at work and haven’t had time to see each other. Save your breaks and take a long lunch!

Candy and Gifts

You don’t have to get your friends a gift. However, the day after Valentine’s Day provides a lot of sales. You can get a lot of discounted candy to munch on or a nice movie to watch with your friends.

Relaxation

Holidays can be stressful but hanging out with your friends never has to be. My friends and I are movie fiends, so we do romantic comedy movie marathons. If your significant other refuses to sit through Sleepless In Seattle with you, you can watch it with your friends the next day. Another option is a group spa day. Do what you like and enjoy yourself.

These are just a few ways you can celebrate. You can do a book trade or a shopping trip together. It doesn’t have to be just your friends – your coworkers or family members can join in! The point is to show love for everyone in your life.

Image: Flickr

Culture

In life, we end up settling for a lot of things. We settle for the salad instead of the burger we’ve been craving all week, or for the steady job instead of pursuing our dream career in music or art. We settle for the little things, and then the big things, and keep telling ourselves that in the end it will be for the better.

Unfortunately, life is short. The message of Carpe Juvenis is to #SeizeYourYouth and to live your life right now. Don’t wait for later to pursue your passions. And with this comes the idea of never settling.

A lot of the time we coordinate the phrase “never settle” with the concept of relationships. But not settling applies to all aspects of life and is something that you should live your life by. You never know when a chapter in your book is going to be closed or a page might turn, which is why it is important to do what you love and be happy doing it and to never settle. We spend such a huge portion of our lives caring what other people will think of us if we wear our favorite orange sweater out in public or if we decide to go to the gym even though we’re desperately out of shape. Instead of caring about what others think, care about what you think and do whatever brings you joy and the feeling of accomplishment.

At the end of the day, your happiness is most important. And while there’s no time frame on chasing your dreams, you won’t be young forever. Live your life to the fullest, seize your youth, and never, ever settle.

Here are some real life examples for daily ways to keep yourself from having to settle:

  • Work hard in school and complete all assignments on time so you don’t have to settle for a college or job you don’t truly want
  • Stay dedicated to your job so you can afford to purchase that item you’ve been saving up for
  • Hold your friends accountable to being on time and following through on commitments (and do the same!)
  • Plan study dates with friends so you can get the A you need to keep your GPA high
  • Practice for an interview ahead of time so that you don’t bomb it and have to settle for a different job you’re less excited about
  • Eat a healthy homemade meal so you can enjoy an indulgent treat later in the day, guilt-free
  • Go window shopping with your friends instead of going on a shopping spree so that you can continue to pay your bills on time

Image: Gratisopgraphy

CultureSkills

The New Year is about resolution, new beginnings, and fresh starts. However, many times, our wish to take on these new goals and challenges are paused by last year’s mistakes. Forget last year – it is long gone. The only things left of it are what lie in our memories. Okay, and maybe all of the ‘Facebook Year in Reviews’ that have infested all of our newsfeeds. Here are a few things that we must remember and forget about last year:

1. Breakups

A friend once told me, “Relationships aren’t necessarily all about love – they’re about learning about yourself and what you value in any relationship.” Her words stuck like glue. I’ve always been a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and relationships, be it a romantic or friendly, all have their reasons for happening. People are put in our lives for us to learn and grow. If people bring positivity into your life, you will learn and likewise, if people bring negativity in your life, you are also bound to learn something. Sometimes, breakups just mean you have learned what you need to learn from that person and it is time to move on to the next chapter in your life. Other times, breakups serve as reminders to make sure you are surrounding yourself by people that inspire, surround you with positivity, and push you to become the best you can ever be.

2. Last Year’s Failed Resolutions

We all have that New Year’s Resolution that we have thought of since November. Perhaps we want to get healthy, read that book that always seems to be referenced in important conversations, or learn to acquire more patience. And we also all have that disappointing New Year’s Resolution that seems to be every year’s repeated resolution. Cut the cycle. Take the initiative of not waiting around until New Years and start now. In addition, your failures last year will not be your failures this year. Time is ongoing and does not repeat itself. There is always a chance for new beginnings.

3. The Little Voice

We may be fearless, fierce, and fabulous when it comes to pursuing our dreams, but who doesn’t have that little voice of doubt in the back of their heads? When in the midst of determination and motivation, it is absolutely vital that you do not give into the small voice that has the power to hold you back. Perhaps this happened in 2014, 2013, or even in 2012, but not in 2015. The mind is most powerful – bury that voice in a place you can’t retrieve. Smother it with positive thinking and remember to always believe in yourself!

4. Grades and Job Disappointments

It’s understood that GPA’s are cumulative therefore, that impossible course where even passing, or the absolute taste of glory, last semester will forever be factored in it. However, thankfully that course last semester will forever be left in long gone notebooks. This semester is a new term composed of new courses taught by new professors. Do not assume all math courses will be impossible or all philosophy professors will be a dreadful walk through the underworld. Each semester brings new opportunity to improve your grades and learn from last year’s mistakes. Likewise, we all know that jobs that may have not worked out last year bring their burdens – be them financial or personal. However, it is important to take what you learned from these mistakes in order to not repeat them in future professional endeavors. Learning and growing from these mistakes and keeping a determined and positive outlook are key to any new beginning.

5. Habit Downturns

It’s possible your overall health this past year has gone downhill. Diets were broken with that 1:00 a.m. pizza craving, exercise habits interrupted by finals week, and eating habits completely totaled by just living on campus. It’s possible you began biting your nails or gone back to smoking cigarettes. There’s a chance you discovered habits of shopping until you drop or even a seriously undesirable Netflix addiction. It happens. But habits can always be shifted and changed.  Do not be discouraged by last year’s mishaps.

New Year’s is called “New Year’s” for a reason. It is out with the old and in with the new. What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Forget last year’s mistakes and take only what you’ve learned from them. Anything is possible this year – find it inside of you to conquer these goals!

Image: Time Management Ninja

CultureHealth

Having sold over 100 million copies in 52 different languages and by breaking the record for fastest-selling paperback book, it is clear that Fifty Shades of Grey has left an impression on current readers. Not to mention the highly anticipated 2015 film adaptation and the board game- yes a game was actually made based on the book- to go along with the success of the franchise, one can only imagine why this novel has enraptured so many.

Since I am one of the few who have not read Fifty Shades of Grey or its sequels, I only have a superficial viewpoint of the books itself. But after reading an article by Edwin Smith of The Telegraph, I became curious about some of Smith’s points over the books influence and people’s reactions in their own relationships. Smith makes the point that in a very progressive era, specifically for feminism, Fifty Shades of Grey shows how our culture is still somewhat stuck in older gender roles- however in a more modern way- and how people today are willing to fit any norm to find a partner. Smith goes as far to say that for men “in 2014, we might often stand a better chance in the arena of dating if we appear to be a bit more like Mr. Grey, and a bit less like … well, ourselves.”

This point, though saddening, can be seen as somewhat true to today’s standards in relationships. For example, when prom season was rolling around, a girl I knew truly did not want her boyfriend to waste so much money on one night, so she paid for the tickets. However nice this gesture was, other girls thought it was bizarre because they truly believed that it was the guys place to pay for everything. And although the idea that one person must be dominant and the other submissive in the relationship no longer applies to all areas, it still exists in places such as who is paying for dinner?

These restrictions limit the amount of vulnerability and closeness that two people can share. If they were to act as themselves and not conform to roles, each partner would be given the opportunity to experience what a real, loving relationship feels like. However, people today are so engrained with stereotypes that it is hard to except people who are truly being themselves, who might spread themselves across many different types of roles instead of just the ones designated to their kind.

This alienation of total freedom from gender norms is how people get the idea in their head that they must change themselves to impress others and vice versa. One can find countless blogs and Youtube videos dedicated to how you should look or act to attract someone else. For example, earlier this year popular Vine maker Nash Grier posted a video about what he wanted from a girl. Albeit this video meant no harm, Grier received a ton of backlash seeing as he was telling his mostly young female audience how they should not be themselves to attain a guy. Yet girls are not the only ones who suffer from these pressures. These norms expect young men to be powerful and aloof, but do not allow them to be as emotionally invested in the relationship. Plus, we can’t forget how in gay and lesbian relationships society always expects one to be the “man” and the other the “women” of the partnership when clearly they are just two people enjoying a relationship.

Now, to an extent, it is debatable how progressive or digressive relationships like that of Grey and Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey is, depending upon how you view their dominant/submissive relationship and the entire nature of the book, but that is not the point. It is undeniable that the notion of changing yourself for love is predominant in the book, in other forms of media, and in our culture as well, and it is my hope that with a little more sensitivity to future partners that everyone can learn to use themselves to find their other half rather than looking to models of what people should be like because those forms are so grossly incompatible with modern day people and relationships.

Image: Unsplash

CultureEducationInspiration

We’ve all been there. We’re checking our phones before we go to sleep, in the middle of the night, and as soon as we wake up. We glance at our phones to see if we have any new emails or text messages even when there isn’t an alert or notification. We send texts, scroll through Instagram, read new status updates on Facebook, and get lost in the black hole that is Reddit. From our waking moment until shut-eye, we live a good portion of our day through small screens. It’s easy to get burned out from technology and the constant access to one another. The information available is overwhelming, and technology never sleeps. It is a 24/7 beast that never loosens its grip, that is, until you make it. This leads us to our trick that has helped us recharge when we feel consumed by cell phones, apps, laptops, tablets, and other gadgets that have monopolized our attention.

The trick to recharge yourself is to unplug. Unplug from the constant communication and attention hog that is technology. Obviously we’re not saying to give technology up forever, but press those ‘Off’ buttons on your laptop, cell phones, tablets, and other gadgets you might use, for an afternoon, an evening, or even for an entire day! Without distractions in the form of buzzing, beeping, and red flashing lights, you can actually enjoy the present moment and let your mind power down for a short while. To unplug, simply switch the off buttons on your devices, put them in a drawer or another room (out of sight, out of mind), and plan activities that will keep you active and away from technology. When you allow yourself to step away from being constantly accessible, give yourself more ‘you’ time, and choose to engage in-person rather than on text or Instagram, you’ll feel recharged and ready to go.

Besides recharging and preventing burnout, here are some more examples of great benefits of unplugging if you still aren’t convinced to give up your iPhone for a couple of hours:

More You Time

Instead of spending most of your time reacting to phone alerts, use your time to focus on yourself. Maybe that involves going for a jog, listening to music, cooking, reading, or just catching up on some much needed zzz’s. Listen to your body and give yourself more ‘you’ time.

Build In-Person Relationships

A TIME mobility poll showed that 17% of all poll respondents said they check their phone at every meal regardless of whom they’re dining with. Instead of being distracted and glued to who is trying to reach you by phone, pay attention to the people physically around you. Get to know people in-person rather than through text. These relationships you build face-to-face will be much more valuable than the ones you build online.

Feel Less Stressed

You hear a buzz or beep and immediately reach for your phone. Whether it’s an email or a text, you might feel the need to respond to someone or take care of the issue immediately. If multiple texts or emails come in, there are more responsibilities now added to your plate. The stress and to-dos add up quickly.

Experience the Present

You’ve seen others do it and you’ve done it yourself: walking and texting. When you walk and text or just spend a lot of time on technology in general, you miss out on the amazing things happening around you. You miss the beauty of a flower garden, a potential new friend walking by, and awe-inspiring architecture. When you need directions, instead of asking someone for help and engaging with another human, it has become far too easy to use an app to locate your Point B. Join and experience the present sans technology, and who knows what you’ll see and discover.

Sleep Better

Try sleeping with your phone not next to your head. Instead, charge your phone in the kitchen or bathroom. This way you won’t be tempted to roll over in the middle of the night and check your text messages. This might also help prevent your phone from being the last thing you see before you get some shut eye. Furthermore, the light from phones and laptop screens affects the production of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone, in our bodies. In turn, your sleep will be delayed and you will feel tired, cranky, and unproductive the next day.

Be Happier

Live your own life. Stop comparing your life to the highlight reel that you see on your friends’ news feeds and statuses. Remember that people post only the best photos and updates on their profiles, and what you see are edited and curated portions of their life. You’re not seeing what’s behind-the-scenes. Social media can make us feel lonely and jealous, both of which do not make us happier. When you experience the present and stop living your life through your screens, you will feel happier.

Be More Productive

Without the constant distraction of technology, information, and communication, you just might get more done. Unplug so you don’t have to worry about multitasking or responding to anyone. Focus on your tasks. When you don’t have beeps and buzzes pulling your attention in other directions, you will accomplish more.

Have you ever tried unplugging for an afternoon?