Professional SpotlightSpotlight

In today’s competitive academic climate, attending classes isn’t always enough to give you the boost you need to land that dream job. Interning is an extremely popular way to beef up your résumé and gain valuable skills in the process. One person in particular has made the most of her college experience by constantly staying engaged in work and internships.

Esther Katro is the Queen of Interning. Seriously. With over 10 internships under her belt, Esther knows a thing or two (or three!) about working hard and building her portfolio. Having recently graduated from college, she now works as a TV News Reporter for 5NEWS in Arkansas. During college Esther would commute several hours each day for internships in New York City from Philadelphia, all while maintaining a big smile. Esther’s upbeat and go-getter attitude is contagious, and she undoubtedly seizes her youth and makes the most of each day.

Name: Esther Katro
Education:
Broadcast Journalism from Temple University
Follow:
Website/@5NEWSEsther

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth”?

Esther Katro: Waking up early! College gives you the convenience to schedule your classes late in the afternoon, but take advantage of the all the hours in the day! I’ve completed six internships that were not in Philadelphia, where I went to college. I had five in New York City, and one in Washington D.C. In order to complete these internships, I had to wake up at 5AM to catch the Megabus to get to work in the morning. I didn’t think I could do wake up that early and still be productive the entire day, but I learned that I have so much energy as a young twentysomething, and it’s important to take advantage of all the energy you have at this age!

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CJ: You majored in Broadcast Journalism at Temple University. How did you decide what to study?

EK: I grew up with parents who were Christian missionaries, so as a baby I grew up sleeping on airplane floors and was constantly being exposed to different people and cultures around me. I always knew I wanted a job where I interacted with different people everyday to tell their stories. My family watched the evening news each night, and when I saw the reporters sitting down and interviewing people, or chasing people down the street, I thought that’s what I want to do! I want to be a television reporter.

I chose to go to Temple University because I grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, and wanted to stay in the 4th media market and be able to give back to my community by covering stories in the area. I wanted to concentrate my studies in international relations after traveling to China and filming a documentary called “Esther Goes to China.” I believe that the more places people go and expose themselves to, the better they can understand how the world works to then make a difference in it and help solve problems. I hope I can do a lot of international work as a working journalist.

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CJ: What cause or issue do you care greatly about and why?

EK: I’m a water advocate, along with Matt Damon! In high school I got involved with the group H2O for Life, which educates Americans on conserving water and then helps build wells and provide water to people in developing countries, where water is limited. Within this topic, I’m most passionate about women in these developing countries whose job it is to fetch water daily. This activity takes up to six hours of their day, and so they can’t get an education because they’re spending so much of their day traveling to get water from the well and bring it back to their families.

I’m very passionate about women getting an education, and hope that my platform as a journalist can also serve as a women’s rights advocate. I believe that every woman should have the right to a good education all over the world.

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CJ: You earned the Congressional Award Gold Medal in 2013. How did you get involved with the Congressional Award and what was your biggest takeaway from the experience?

EK: When I joined H20 for Life, as mentioned above, the woman running the program also ran the Congressional Award program at my high school. I was already doing a ton of community service, and through this organization I was going to be doing a ton more!

The Congressional Award seemed like the perfect place for me to log my hours, and also meet like minded people who share my desire for community service and outreach. I’ve made friends at the community service events that I’ve attended or led that have become some of my best friends.

Through H2O for Life, I traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, to speak and film about water issues in the country and overseas. Working with people who were just as passionate about the World Water Crisis as I am, but also inspiring people to get involved with the water crisis, was one of the best experiences I have ever had.

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CJ: You have had many internships over the years. Which ones stand out the most to you and what did you learn from those experiences?

EK: I knew I wanted to be a broadcast journalist after I watched the kids news show Nick News with Linda Ellerbee do a special on how girls who were my age didn’t have the opportunity to go to school where they lived in Afghanistan. At 11 years-old I wanted to make a difference.

As a sophomore in college I had the amazing opportunity to intern for Nick News with Linda Ellerbee, the show that inspired me to become a journalist, which is incredible! As an intern for her show, I was able to be on set when we interviewed Seth Myers, right in Linda’s home! I also got to act as a production assistant when we did a studio show at HBO Studios with Gloria Steinem called “Are We There Yet?” where we discussed if women have achieved equality to men yet, or if there’s still improvements to be made. This was my first internship in New York City, and it exposed me to so many successful people in the industry. The people who work at Nick News feel like my New York City family, and Linda Ellerbee has taught me some of the best interview techniques that I’ll carry with me for my entire life.

CJ: What advice would you give to a young person who is interested in pursuing a career in multimedia journalism?

EK: Intern everywhere. Seriously. I’ve had 15 media internships in both print, online, and broadcast journalism that all have been very different and have made me a well rounded journalist. I’ve taken sports internships, morning news internships (where I’ve had to be at the studio at 4 a.m.!!), and even wedding and food writing internships.

The more you expose yourself to as a journalist the better, and I think the most structured way to get that exposure is to intern. I think that traveling and opening up your eyes to as many people and cultures helps, but I strongly believe that interning in this industry is the best thing you can do for yourself. It’s important to know how to write clean copy quick and accurately, and to meet your deadlines, but it’s also important to know how to use a camera, to edit footage, and to talk in front of a camera. A multimedia journalist needs to be able to effectively accomplish every job description in a newsroom, and the only way to get good at that is to intern.

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CJ: You’ve done a lot of commuting from school to your internships. What are your commuting tips and how do you stay productive during that time?

EK: I call the Megabus my mobile home, because I probably spend more time riding a bus than I do at my actual home in Philadelphia. I’ve had five internships in New York City and one in Washington D.C., and I took the Megabus to commute to all six of those places. It’s fun! You get to meet so many interesting people on the bus, and learn what they’re doing at these cities. But sometimes the person sitting next to you doesn’t want to talk, so in that case I try to get my homework done since the bus has Wi-Fi and power outlets.

I love to catch up on my reading with my Kindle which is great because the Kindle lights up so I don’t have to turn on the headlight above me and disturb the person sleeping next to me. I love to write on my iPad too. I love to write about my day. Barbara Walters once said that her greatest regret is not keeping a diary. When I read that quote, I thought, I’ve got to keep a diary of what I do everyday because as a journalist, commuting, everyday is so different and exciting!

My number one advice for commuting is to never ever sleep! Just look out the window and you’ll see the city lights lit up if you’re traveling at night, or you’ll see people just starting their day if it’s the morning. Or just people watch inside your bus or train. It’s really awesome to see how the world works and the many different people inside of it.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

EK: The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger (because there are some days when I felt I lived her life).

CJ: What is a book you read in school that positively shaped you?

EK: Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

CJ: Every day in your life must be different depending on school, internships, and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

EK: No two days are the same. Ever. Which is why I love commuting and why I’m a journalist. I love change. However, on a typical Monday I would get up at 5AM. Well, technically 4:58AM because I set three one minute alarms until 5AM. I pick out my clothes the night before so I get ready in about 10 minutes.

I drive to the train station which is about 10 minutes from my house and take a 40 minute train into Center City Philadelphia. From there, I hop on the Megabus, and take a 2-3 hour bus ride (depending on traffic) to New York City. I have a 30 minute walk to my building. I put in a full day of work at my internship, and then from there I do the same commute in reverse to come back home. So at least six hours of my day are spent commuting!

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CJ: What is an area, either personal or professional, that you are working to improve in and how?

EK: My life is so fast-paced, so I often don’t have time to sit and think about what I should improve on except when I’m sitting in the bus commuting. I often think about my day too much in the bus or talk to the person next to me that I don’t get to write about everything that happened during the day. I regret that. I want to focus on writing more about my days, which requires a lot of discipline. I hope to one day compile my writing into a book of all my internship experiences…I just hope it won’t turn into a promotional ad about the Megabus.

CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

EK: This is going to sound like I’m not human, but I can’t recall the last time I had a bad day and needed to unwind. Sometimes I’m convinced I’m a robot made in the bottom of a news basement somewhere. I just always have a very positive outlook on life, and it’s really hard for me to get bothered by something because I’m always looking ahead, and I never dwell on anything bad that happened. I’m always looking for the next story or the next internship.

But I will say that finding at least one person at your work or internship that can be a close friend is always very helpful, if you need to get something off your chest or just unwind. I’ve always been able to find other intern to become really great friends with, who I can share any dilemmas I’ve having with. Also, fro-yo always helps. Bad day = a big cup of frozen yogurt. It’s healthy right?!

CJ: What made you decide to go to Arkansas?

EK: I sacrificed a lot, if not all, of my college career for internships. I took internships at all hours of the day. I would drive to unpaid internship at 3am when I would see my college peers just leaving the bars. And while I learned a lot about journalism and the personalities in the business, I only saw the top of the field. I was only interning in top 10 markets. The opportunity in Arkansas, was my first on-air job offer. My gut told me not to take the job. I thought this was just the first of many offers. However, a big benefit to having so many internships is that I had so many different mentors and contacts in the business to go to for advice. And everyone told me to take the job.

One of my former internship bosses told me, “There’s only one New York, Philly and D.C.–the rest of the country is Arkansas.” Although it was scary to move so far away from home on the East Coast, the journalist in me knew I had to see this part of the country. I also didn’t want a break from college to entering the work force. I wanted to sit at graduation, knowing that after the ceremony I would hit the road with my parents, on my way to my first reporting job.

I guess you could say you need a crazy passion to work in television news, and I never wanted a day off.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

EK: Stop chewing gum! It’s going to get stuck in your braces and totally extend this whole metal inside your mouth process. Also, to stop wearing UGG boots, and to not pop your own zits because more will grow back! And I guess, I would tell myself to write everyday, be confident in myself, and to be nicer to my parents…they will be your best friends in your twenties and hopefully for the rest of your life!

Esther Katro Qs

Images by Esther Katro

Culture

In a recent interview Oprah Winfrey spoke of when she realized that she could “use television as a service” to make the world a better place. Although the concept almost seems laughable since television can often be stigmatized, that does not mean the idea is untrue. The Oprah Winfrey Show show was famous for launching careers and inspiring people to be better. Is it really possible to change the world through television?

We first have to determine what it means to change the world. Is changing the world a contribution to the zeitgeist like Oprah’s Favorite Things? Is it if you learned something? (I learned how to check a pulse from a TV show.) The news informs masses everyday. Still, I feel that real change makes you really think.

We could find examples of these types of changes on television right now. Peter Norwalk, creator of the show How To Get Away With Murder, said that he wanted to normalize physical intimacy between men. His audience of millions is being exposed to gay characters which could force them to focus on this polarizing topic. It will not necessarily cause a universal change, however, because some will turn off the TV. Still, this awareness could spread and change the world however slightly.

If it is possible to change the world through television, we have to be careful. Last year, 111.5 million people watched the Super Bowl. The images they see can be extremely influential. Though the Super Bowl is an extreme example, there are still millions of people watching television all year. This means that millions of people are reached all at once. American shows air in other countries and shows from other countries like England and France are airing in the United States, giving us an entirely different viewpoint than what we are used to. We, the viewers, need to realize that we are getting messages from television, whether we want to or not. It’s up to us to figure out what we want to learn from them. Just because Aria is dating her teacher on Pretty Little Liars, doesn’t mean it is exemplary behavior. It is a plot point. We have to learn what values work for us.

So, I do believe that television can change the world. It just won’t necessarily change everyone all at once or in the same way. That means that the next time we are watching our favorite show, be it Scandal or those Law & Order reruns that are always on somewhere, we need to think about what we are getting from it. There is a chance we are just getting some quality entertainment. Yet, every experience has the potential to shape how we see the world. Television might just change the world after all.

Image: Flickr

Culture

It’s the time of year where we say our thanks to the things we’ve taken for granted, and being without a phone for the second time this semester has caused me to realize all the things I’m truly thankful for when it comes to my phone. Being without a phone has made me acknowledge not only the many things I take for granted regarding my phone, but also the things that having a phone has caused me to take for granted. Here are some things I’ve become thankful for that may just influence you to put your phone down for a couple of hours this holiday season.

1. Reminders

I’m always busy, and with being busy comes needing a way to stay organized and on top of things. My phone has all of my alarms, appointments, birthdays, and random notes in it in order to keep my daily life together. Being without it has definitely made me thankful for my little partner in crime!

2. Email

After missing out on the email for my 8:30am class being cancelled and getting up and lugging myself to class, I have definitely taken having access to email on my phone for granted. Being able to have my email on my phone allows me to check it straight when I get up; along with any cancellations that go with it!

3. Social Media

Not being able to Instagram on the daily may or may not be causing me to have withdrawals. Social media helps me keep in touch with my friends at school, as well as my friends and family at home. Being without easy access to all my social media sites has made it a lot more difficult for me to stay up-to-date on everyone’s lives.

4. Nature

Though being without a phone has given me my share of hardships, it has also helped me to realize how beautiful my campus truly is. Instead of scrolling through my feeds while walking to class, instead I look around and notice the beautiful flowers, trees, and architecture that I so easily took for granted.

5. Friends

My relationships with those who are my true friends, as well as my family, clearly deepened without a phone involved. It brought back emailing and direct messaging on Twitter, which although may be annoying, shows me who my true friends are when having to make an effort. It has also pushed me to spend more time talking to my friends and family face-to-face rather than texting them 24/7. Not having a phone has allowed me to be more social and have better relationships in general.

Though having a phone is a great thing that many of us take for granted, it’s also important to acknowledge the little things that we overlook when we’re absorbed in our screens.

Image: Jonathan Velasquez

CultureInspiration

Gender identity is a complicated topic. It is very personal and there is a lot of media with conflicting information about what it is. Once upon a time, it was just “male” or “female,” but that has changed. High school and college are confusing times, and a lot of wrong or misunderstood information can hurt people who are figuring themselves out.

Tumblr and Facebook and a lot of other social media have embraced various gender identity situations. Even though labels aren’t always the best way to get information across (because it can lead to stereotyping and harmful actions), it can also help people find others in similar situations. For example, my school recently started a group for “Trans or Gender-Nonconforming,” and the club is meant to provide a safe space for students to discuss gender and personal experience.  Many schools and universities have such clubs, and people who attend the meetings often realize that they are not alone, and this is comforting. 

What is important is that people are happy with how they see themselves. Theoretically, someone shouldn’t be judged negatively for how they identify.

Even though there are environments that allow for people to be a-gender, bigender, pangender, gender fluid, transgender, and many others, there are also places that are unaccustomed to this variety. It may be because of certain local or social customs. It may be because of misinformation. Either way, such environments can be a scary place for someone who is trying to understand themselves or others. The fear of being judged, shunned, bullied, hurt, or worse because of how they identify shouldn’t’ be an issue, but it is.

Like sexual orientation, gender identity is now becoming a topic that is being more socially acceptable to talk about. I hope that our society is able to transition to a place in which tolerance, acceptance, and freedom are words that can be associated with gender identity. I hope that people are able to accept others and themselves. I hope people can be free and open-minded.

It is okay to not be sure right now and it is okay to explore and try to understand. Growing is a part of change, and change is a part of growing.

If the situation now is difficult or scary, that’s okay. There will be new places and new people. Things get better. Love yourself and accept others. Remember that being happy and safe are the most important things.

Image: le vent le cri

Culture

urban out 2

Kent State University in Ohio was the site of a horrific shooting in May of 1970, and now, the campus must relive the unfortunate event through the offensive actions of retail company Urban Outfitters. The clothing company recently released a new sweatshirt that resembled one from Kent State. However, this item of clothing had what appeared to be splattered blood splotched all over. Due to this mockery of a tragedy, Urban Outfitters has received severe backlash for this controversy, which is exactly what I believe they were looking to obtain.

Urban Outfitters has done many controversial things in the past. For example, they have sold tank tops that told consumers to “Eat Less,” stole necklace designs from a freelance jewelry maker on Etsy.com, and even used the current President’s name as a color choice for a t-shirt (I’ll let you guess what color they had him represent). This clothing company uses ploys such as these in order to get a rise out of the public, thus gaining attention. The kind of attention they get clearly does not matter to them, nor do the consequences that usually follow, but Urban Outfitters and countless other companies have used controversy as a means of garnering awareness of their company’s existence.

Although using painful cultural issues and historical events has proven to be successful in receiving more news coverage, it only goes to show how our capitalist-driven society’s obsession with financial gain has reached new heights. Consumers need to be mentally aware of ploys such as these in order to understand why companies like Urban Outfitters pull these antics. These actions were incredibly insensitive and disrespectful, and if you’re aware of these marketing techniques, then avoiding these immature companies becomes much easier.

Image: FashWeekly, Business Insider

EducationHealth

A 2006 survey done by Tjaden and Thoennes revealed that 1 in 4 women reported a case of sexual assault on campus over the past 20 years. Since then, American college campuses have utilized every expense they can to protect students from unwanted sexual advances. A phrase that used to closely follow public service announcements about sexual assault and rape was “no means no,” referring to the idea that if the victim says no or is too intoxicated to say anything, then the act is a crime. However, current California legislation has redefined and clarified what it means to partake in coitus consensually. The new law that has been passed changes the “no means no” into “yes means yes.” This means to have intercourse consensually, both partners must say a certain, unambiguous “yes.” New legislation such as this causes college campuses nationwide to reexamine how to investigate and ultimately prevent these offenses.

The prime force that prompted this article came from one of my professors who, in class, brought up the topic of sexual assault on college campuses. My professor told our class about how the progression of American society has affected how we deal with issues. In her youth, women were responsible for not inviting sexual assault, whereas today, people understand that these unwanted advances can occur under any circumstance, whether the victim is wearing revealing clothing or covered from head to toe. Yet, today, it is the responsibility of the school to inform all students on these dangers.

She also pointed out how the involvement of male role models has shown men their part in helping to prevent this issue from occurring. Two examples of men combating the rise of sexual assault are the recent 1 Is 2 Many video advertisements and the invention Undercover Colors by a group of young men from North Carolina State University.

The 1 Is 2 Many ad shows male celebrities like Daniel Craig, Steve Carrell, and Seth Meyers informing the audience on the statistics of sexual assault. The ad also goes on to explain how men are just as responsible for preventing this crime and protect their daughters, sisters, friends, etc. Ads like this allow male viewers to relate to the situation on a deeper level than if a woman were the focal point of the ad. This example teaches men that they have an equally important role in helping women (or at the very least being aware that being an aggressor in these crimes is unacceptable). The group of young men at NCSU took this notion a step further and created a nail polish called Undercover Colors that changes colors when it comes in contact with date rape drugs.

With all of these progressive movements toward educating both sexes on the dangers of sexual assault, media is paving a way for other states and even countries who struggle to prevent sexually charged crimes. Technology and social media has given our society insight into the crime; we are capable of going onto Youtube and watching PSA’s on sexual assault or we can see news of it on our news feeds. There are television shows like Law & Order: SVU and films like Speak that expound upon the struggle of victims of sexual assault that one can refer to in order to understand such atrocities. Media has brought a new sense of awareness to this issue by illuminating the topic so even a state like California would redefine the meaning of sexual assault. The hindrance of all sexual crimes is still a rather distant goal considering the number of people worldwide who are sexually assaulted, whether on college campuses or just out in the real world. However, I have full confidence in the idea that media can be employed as a catalyst to help abolish outrageous actions. Media can be a tricky and manipulative creature, but if operated in the right manner media can be a powerful force for good, like in the case of ridding the world of sexually based crimes.

 

Image: Flickr

Culture

“State marriage bans, such as the one we have here in North Carolina, are living on borrowed time, it’s a matter of when– not if– they are struck down,” said Chris Brooks, a legal director for the ACLU of North Carolina, after the news came down from the U.S. Appeals Court stating that the bans on same-sex marriage in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia were unconstitutional. For the avid supporters of marriage equality, they have found relief in this news, viewing it as years of arduous work pursuing the creation of equality and obtaining support for inclusive, positive media as a success.

For years the LGBT community and its advocates have tried to gain support for equality, and during that time most homosexual entertainers suffered through the frustration and personal agony of staying “in the closet.” Remember when Rupert Everett, a hugely popular British actor in films such as My Best Friend’s Wedding and the second and third installments of Shrek, told other rising gay actors to stay in the closet because the truth would ruin their careers? But as time and progressive media has passed through culture, the LGBT image has been made palatable for the appetite of mainstream society and has helped to instill a need and desire for equality.

Early television shows like The Corner Bar and Hot I Baltimore produced some of the first gay characters shown in actual situations and relationships. This paved a path for shows like Friends, The O.C.,and Sex and The City to display gay and lesbian characters and storylines onscreen for millions of fans to see. However, the trend did not stop with small appearances on primetime shows; this trend has progressed to have entire story arc and shows centered on same-sex relationships.

For example, Ryan Murphy’s Glee was a big hit with audiences, and his character Kurt – who in the beginning was struggling with coming out – resonated with more than just LGBT youth. This is an excellent case of how media can be used to boost a worthy cause; by showing youth that a young gay man can deal with issues that parallel those of straight kids, Murphy helps teach tolerance and acceptance. Other shows that integrated same-sex relationships into modern society are HBO’s Girls and ABC’s Modern Family.

Our culture has also come very far in accepting gay and lesbian actors. As said earlier by Rupert Everett, there was a time when coming out meant absolute career suicide, but today there are many actors and actresses who have come out and maintained a successful career. A few examples are Neil Patrick Harris, Zachary Quinto, Sarah Paulson, and Ellen DeGeneres.

Although some say that not enough has been done to incorporate the LGBT image into the mainstream, we should all still be optimistic about this acceptance of everyone; we’ve come a long way. Yes, there have been, and still are, shows that stereotyped gay men – remember Queer Eye For the Straight Guy? – and there has been a persecution of the careers of gays who came out in the past, but to know that we are progressing out of this situation, that we are moving towards a state of equilibrium among acceptance of sexual orientation, should show that there is a lot to be hopeful for when looking towards the future.

Image: phillymag

Culture

It seems like most of the people my age and younger have that you-only-live-once mentality. I honestly don’t have a problem with the concept of YOLO because, to be completely honest, I’m all for people realizing that we do (depending on what you believe in) ONLY have one life to live. It helps put a lot of things into perspective.

It makes you realize that there are no do-overs; no second chances. Once your time is up…it’s up. I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but that’s the hard truth. Upon reading that, you shouldn’t get the urge to go out and do something crazy. You should, however, try to make the most out of the time we are given on this earth.

That is why seizing your youth is so important. That is why NOW is the time for you to do something meaningful with your life. I’m not saying that you can’t do meaningful things when you’re older but why wait until then? You don’t know what tomorrow holds so there’s no better time than the present to do something that matters.

Don’t ask me to tell you the meaning of ‘doing something that matters’ because it’s your job to figure out what that means to you. We all have different goals and dreams so when I say do something meaningful with your life, I don’t mean you have to find a way to cure cancer or step foot on the moon (although both of those accomplishments would be AMAZING and if you want to do either of those things, I say go for it!) but what I do mean is that you should do something that will make you proud of your younger self 60 years from now.

There is no right or wrong way to live but lately I’ve been seeing a lot of videos on Facebook where young people are participating in the fire challenge, the pass out challenge, and whatever other crazy challenge that’s popular these days. I’ll never understand why teens and young adults are willingly setting themselves on fire or making themselves pass out, but I do know that when they’re doing these things, more than likely, there’s a little voice in the back of their mind saying, “you only live once.”

I get it. When you’re young, you feel invincible; like you’re always going to be healthy, like you’re never going to die and you can pretty much do anything because you’re young, and when you’re young you can make mistakes or get so drunk you get alcohol poisoning or forcibly stop the oxygen from going to your brain so you can pass out. You only live once so it makes it okay to do things that won’t better your life in any way. You only live once so why not go to parties all the time instead of focusing on your schoolwork or if you’re not in school, saving up to travel the world and experience other cultures.

I can go on and on and on but the point is, this generation, with our you-only-live-once mentality, turned the concept of YOLO into an excuse for doing irresponsible things and posting it on YouTube or Facebook. I’m not saying this is every young person because it’s not, but people who do something like participating in the fire challenge or getting drunk at a party will get more ‘Likes’ and shares on Facebook than someone who graduates from high school with good grades or someone who spent their summer in a different country doing charity work. The media also tends to focus on teens and young adults who do things that don’t reflect how amazing our generation is. This doesn’t mean that there is a shortage of young people doing great things, it just means that more young people need to be proactive and do the things that matters.

Once you figure out what that means, DO IT. Don’t just sit there. Get up and make something happen. Take this life, the one you only get to live once and make something out of it. You don’t want life to pass you by because when it does, there’s no pushing a rewind button.

This is why you have to start living now. I like a good party as much as the next  person, but that’s not all there is to life. Your age is not an excuse for you to purposefully make mistakes. If you know what you’re doing is wrong or irresponsible but choose to do it because somebody said YOLO, then now is a time for you to evaluate your life. Too many young people lose their lives because they do not-so-smart things and they feel that seizing their youth equates to doing something dangerous or something that they’ll probably regret the next day.

Yes, we only live once, but you don’t know how much time you have. Don’t waste it doing something that doesn’t mean anything to you. A lot of people believe that youth is wasted on the young because, often times, we take this time in our life for granted. But I say take these years for granted. Only take them for granted in a positive way. Seize your youth. I know I keep saying that but it is exactly what I want everyone who reads this to do.

You alone are the author of your own story, so write a good one.

​Image: morguefile

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

CultureEducation

What does it mean to be a girl? That is the opening question presented in Always’ new “Run Like A Girl” campaign. According to the subjects in the commercial, to run or throw like a girl is an insult; it is a sign of weaknesses or inferiority. But when the directors asked girls who had not yet reached puberty what it meant to run like a girl, these young girls ran and threw invisible balls like any normal human being would: with all of their strength and effort available.

Somewhere along the years, the overtly sexual and male-dominant media saturates the minds of young boys and girls with images teaching them that boys need to be powerful and better than girls. Thus, as a culture, young girls are raised to be insecure. “…like a girl” has now become a means of humiliating another person rather than representing a gender’s capabilities.

In the documentary Miss Representation, the filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom explores how the media’s obsession with women’s appearances and the lack of strong female role models in media has affected girls today. Some of the adolescent girls interviewed for the film expounded upon their own stories of their struggle with body image, showing how this shift to harmful media has damaged the young female psyche. The film also explains how if you were to ask boys and girls who had not yet gone through puberty if they would like to be president, most would raise their hand. But by the age of 15, there becomes a large gap between the number of boys and the number of girls who wish to run the country one day.

The media exploits the female body in sexual, demeaning, or violent manners in order sell products with little thought of how this alters the mind of children. The media sources claim that these actions are done to please the public’s wants, which is a complete fallacy. They are satisfying the needs of other media and advertisement companies in exchange for dollar signs six-figure salaries. All the while, this is done at the expense of our young girls’ confidence.

Media and film outlets have attempted to lift this burden of off girls before with films such as Million Dollar Baby or A League of Their Own, presenting how women can do just as well as men, can be just a tough, powerful, and in-control as men. However, these films are drowned out by advertisements of stick-thin scantily-clad girls being pinned down by husky male models and by television shows that glorify the female body over the mind (i.e. Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars). And don’t forget about the video games that portray women as objects rather than subjects- when you play Tomb Raider or Mortal Combat you don’t naturally project yourself into the character’s shoes, you feel as though you play alongside Lara Croft and need to protect her.

So what does this mean for young girls today? It means that they’ve become the universal punch-line of boys’ locker rooms and sports fields alike. By teaching young people today that physicality is a trait of masculinity, the media is reserving those actions for the male demographic, reducing the role of women in another category. What young and old alike need now is to become consciously aware of this so as to not pass these notions on to future generations and teach them to be aware of the control of media.

Image: Always #LikeAGirl