Gun Violence and Orlando Shooting

I’ve wanted to post a post about gun violence on my blog for quite some time, but it feels more appropriate than ever following not only one but two shootings in Orlando, Florida. Before I get into my opinion and what I think should be done, I’m going to give some background on the two shootings at hand, as well as some general facts regarding gun violence and casualties. Continue reading

Let’s Talk About The Stereotypes Surrounding Music Genres

Personally, I’m a huge music fan, and I tend to think it’s weird if you don’t enjoy music. However that is my opinion, and opinions are what I wanted to talk about today. I’m so sick of being afraid to show people the types of music and artists I like because they will judge me on it, and I’m also sick of people trying to tell me what music genre I should fit in. Music is one of the most important aspects in our world, why are we letting it categorize us when we should be letting it unify us? Continue reading

WE FORGET HOW FORTUNATE WE ARE

I know that there are many problems and injustices that apply to people just like you and me, such as gender inequalities and stresses to compete for perfection, but there are so many problems that many of us cannot even begin to imagine in other third world countries. Living in these first-world countries, we have no idea how fortunate we are to have the kind of oppuortunities we have. As I’ve recently been involved in our school’s Amnesty International club I’ve been thinking about this fact a lot.

Amnesty International is an organization that specializes in advocating for human rights for all kinds for all people regardless or religion, orientation, gender etc. Recently, our school revived the branch at our school through a new and updated club. Many friends of mine are a part of the club for the past two months or so, and we are all eager to start working for a better future for others.

While we knew it was worse in other countries, we are still surprised at the statistics we find surrounding the amount of poverty and rights violations occuring in these places. We’ve decided in order to organize our efforts we are going to do different events for different human rights according to the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights by the UN. So far we have planned potential trips to organizations like Bernie’s Book Bank, which distribute donated books to kids who don’t have access to them, falling under the right to education. And also Feed My Starving Children for a person’s right to a standard of living adequate for heath, which includes access to food, water, medical care housing etc. Finally, seeing as we want to work with people in other countries, we have found an opportunity for our club to go to the airport in our city to welcome refugees coming in from places like the middle east, so their first impression here is a good one. All of these organizations and many more are working hard for adults and children in third-world countries to gain what their rights entail for them, and to get them the kind of life everyone deserves an opportunity to get. The least we can do is help them reach their goal.

 

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Here’s a picture from the last time I visited Feed My Starving Children with some friends of mine. (I’m in the black tank top, and ladyemrys.com is in the white and red shirt next to me.)

 

It was just so eye-opening seeing how well we had it in our community and in our country (and other first-world countries) and how little it took from us to share some of it with those other populations so they can work on improving their quality of life.

What really drove me to write this post though, was a guest speaker than came to our English class today. Following Into The Wild, we are working with the theme of living deliberatey, or living according to how you want to live despite society’s or your situation’s restrictions. So a teacher in the department connected us with someone she knew from an orphanage where she volunteers in Honduras so that he could come talk to us about his journey from poverty and misfortune to where he is now. For privacy reasons, I’m not going to include his name.

Starting with his mother giving birth to him and his sister after being raped at a young age, they lived for many years in an orphanage, all three of them. Working in the fields before school every day, and then racing to school if they wanted a seat in their classes of hundreds of students. In an orphanage with 100’s of kids, he looked at it as a blessing that the Lord gave him so many brothers and sisters to live with. And as he became close with them he knew that if he had the opportunity to leave this place, he would do all in his power to help all of them back home.

To his surprise, he did get an opportunity and got a visa for America. He still has a hard time believing how we live here, seeing as he was able to find enough change on the ground in a day to equal what people in Honduras made a day working. He decided to finish his education and is in the process of finishing college as an international business major.  He already knows that he’s going to use the education to start a business back in Honduras so that he can give jobs to all those people without them so that they can have the money to afford adequate living.

He was particularly inspired to do this upon returning to Honduras to help the kids at his old orphanage learn english. Occasionally he would read stories to them to help them learn how to read. One of the books was about careers, so during it he stopped to ask them what they wanted to be when they grew up, and nearly all of them wanted to follow after there parents, making tortillas and working in the fields. He said it was heartbreaking to see that these kids didn’t think highly enough of themselves and weren’t exposed to enough to think bigger than that. He named that as one of the specific instances that he knew he wanted to help his people, and other people in the same situation.

While getting out of a  childhood and community like that is incredibly difficult, it was inspiring to hear how he was so inclined to give them the same opportunities he was so lucky to reciev, instead of just working on bettering his own life in America.

That made me start to think about just how fortunate we are. You may be frustrated because you did bad on a test, or because you weren’t able to get the new book as soon as it hit stores, but there are people in other countries who are lucky to even get an education or get their hands on old, used books. It really puts your problems into perspective when you see what other people have to work through every day just to live and be happy.

As a follow-up, if you’ve never volunteered before I highly encourage it. Get involved in any way you can whether it’s on a large scale, or just in your community. I promise you, you will feel so fufilled and happy after doing it because you know you are helping others and not just doing things to benefit yourself. I’ve never met anyone that didn’t enjoy the feeling you get from volunteering even if the work can be difficult. As for me, I’m involved in Amnesty Internation (like mentioned earlier) and a fundraising club at my school called YSET, which raises money for students that can’t afford academics, atheletics, or extracurricular events (like Prom ) at the school. I’m also in the process of applying for a volunteer spot at my local hospital as well. My best friend works with a local barn and riding center where she helps special-needs kids use horseback riding as therapy every Wednesday and she never has anything bad to say about the experience. Quite the contrary actually! We both love to volunteer, so if you have any ideas for us or questions let me know!

As for me, I’m involved in Amnesty Internation (like mentioned earlier) and a fundraising club at my school called YSET, which raises money for students that can’t afford academics, atheletics, or extracurricular events (like Prom ) at the school. I’m also in the process of applying for a volunteer spot at my local hospital as well. My best friend works with a local barn and riding center where she helps special-needs kids use horseback riding as therapy every Wednesday and she never has anything bad to say about the experience. Quite the contrary actually! We both love to volunteer, so if you have any ideas for us or questions let me know!

Do any of you volunteer/do you want to start?

-Lily

STOP THE GLORIFICATION OF BUSY

“I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let… let’s evolve, let the chips fall where they may.” -Tyler Durden (Fight Club) 

We all know what it’s like, in our society from high school to everyday applications, to have the pressure of being busy and being perfect on your shoulders. While there are people out there who DO thrive on having things to keep them occupied all the time, most people need breaks and those same people are afraid to take them. Our society makes it seem like you aren’t having a fulfilling life if you aren’t constantly working, or in my case, being booked solid with extracurriculars. I think we need to stop trying to be perfect and do the things that make us happy instead of the things that make others happy, and that’s what we should strive for instead of impressing others or completing ourselves. 

My parents have never been the kind to force me into things I didn’t want to do, or book up my schedule just so I was out of the house. Therefore, I’ve had time to explore outside individual interests, like reading, writing, drawing, blogging etc. And I feel like all of them have made me into a better, more rounded person. But I will admit that now being in school with so many kids used to this busy and intense schedule of doing everything, it is certainly stressful. So much pressure is put on you to make plans and join things simply to be busy, even if they don’t make you happy. Then, there is the pressure when it comes to simply trying to apply for something you are interested in, but you won’t be taken seriously because you don’t do every extracurricular and sport under the sun. We need to stop the glorification of the idea of busy, some people are just as happy being in a calm environment like their own home.

I think that it can be tracked back to the parents. When our parents were kids, they didn’t have the kind of opportunities we do now. More than that, their parents never pushed them to try things, resulting in them regretting all the things they never did when they were young enough to just try things with no consequences. Now that they are adults with kids, they are pushing that regret out through us and living vicariously through their children. Dads that never had a parent that watched them play baseball or moms that never had the chance to learn piano, are using this as their opportunity to allow their kids to play piano and have someone cheer them on from the stands. The problem here is that the kids may not want to play piano or/and baseball. Maybe they want to read and write or be a photographer?

Starting in early elementary school, we are already being forced into things we didn’t know or didn’t want to do. Maybe it was no-cut soccer, or gymnastics, or piano, either way, the majority of us were still a bit young to have a passion like our parents always wanted. Most of us just wanted to play outside with our friends or ride our bikes to get ice cream, or read our books. Unless our parents really pushed it, little to none of us had a passion yet. Our parents booked our schedules up in hopes of us getting the childhood they never had, but that meant we may be missing out on the parts of the childhood that we wanted.

Moving into middle school, most kids already had their “things” whether they liked it or not, and these years were dedicated to improving those skills and trying to find what we really loved. The problem with finding what we really loved though was the fact that the kids who have been in the hobby we were actually interested in were intimidating due to their history there. To illustrate, imagine you are a seventh grader and you want to join the basketball team. Would you be more motivated to join the team knowing there were plenty of new people learning who hadn’t played before? As opposed to if you were the only new person trying out, out of 30 girls who have been playing for years and years already. Out of fear, most of us just decided to set it aside and let the people who were good at the hobby do it, and then maybe we would pick it up later. It’s too bad there never was a later time to pick it up at. This turned into a fear of trying new things, forcing us to stick with whatever our parents or we had chose at a very young age.

Finally, we move onto high school, and the pressure is worse than ever. Because now is the time when you realize everything you participate in helps to determine how you appear to colleges. The people I talked about earlier, that have been in the same sport(s) or extracurriculars for so long, have solid spots on teams and, therefore, solid things for their resume. While the people like me, who were never that invested in extracurriculars, have to start now or never. I entered this year with plenty of clubs and ideas to do this year, but by the time I got adjusted to homework and a schedule, the last thing I wanted to think about was things that would take away from time to do my massive amounts of homework (which I actually addressed in a previous post) and things that would take away from the time I take to recuperate from it all. Therefore, I only am in a couple clubs this year and am going to play a sport this spring, now that I will know how to adjust everything around the time commitment. For how stressful school is, and how hard it is to excel in it, I feel like school itself is a full-time job. On top of that is our own health (though it gets pushed to the side sometimes), our sleep, our social life etc. I think that by colleges looking for people stuffed with extracurriculars on top of good grades, we are just more likely to put all that other stuff aside.

If the scheduling stress isn’t enough, there is also the comparing yourselves to others. Just because someone is busier than you, you assume they are more successful, more well rounded. But what colleges and jobs don’t see is that while you seem like you aren’t busy on paper, since you may not play sports or act or do music, you may have plenty of interests that can’t be done through a small school club or a school sport. Me for example, am a total adventure-junkie, I prefer hiking to cross country and traveling to an “international club” after school.  They may not see how stressful it is not to feel like you aren’t good at anything just because it isn’t a socially popularized talent, they won’t see how good of a writer you are with your short stories or how well you work with kids when you babysit. It is simply ridiculous that you are judged and compared to others on paper based on your extracurricular activities, then based on what is actually happening in your brain and what kind of person you are. These people can have closed off ideas of success and fulfillment, and I think that it is extremely unfair that if you don’t find the same things interesting, you are practically disregarded. I’ve met plenty of people that are passionate about other things, like human rights and politics and bettering our world, and on some level I think that means more than a small amount of passion to many materialistic things. 

I know recently I’ve been stressing out over this a lot, and I’ve recently been having absurd ideas that if I’m not great at sports or a star at something I will have a hard time getting a college to accept me. While I know my grades are very good and my classes are rigorous, I feel like my extracurricular history isn’t enough and I think a lot of this has to do with how society has turned extracurriculars into a full-blown competition instead of simply things that make you happy. If we stop this glorification of busy, the stress, the pressure, and the competition to be perfect will all lessen. This will help us mentally and physically, we won’t be as stretched thin doing things we don’t love, and we won’t be losing time to sleep or relax or be with the people we care about. Stopping this would help all of us live a better life that we love, not that other people have told us to love. 

-Lily

BEAUTY AND BODY IMAGE

“To me, beauty is about being comfortable in your own skin. It’s about knowing and accepting who you are.” -Ellen Degeneres

All over social media and all over society as a whole we hear people being referred to as being either beautiful or ugly, or skinny or fat, or any other comparison where there is a very good connotation to one-half and a very bad connotation to the other. At first, this wasn’t a big issue, but over time as people evolved and technology and information became more and more available, there was more exposure to these predetermined standards set upon the human body. And once something is put in your face enough times, you start to believe it whether you want to or not. As a result, many people nowadays are having self-esteem and self-confidence issues primarily stemming from these predetermined interpretations of beauty. After recently watching and reading a lot about beauty and body image, I felt compelled to write about it, and share my thoughts on the topic.

If you aren’t entirely sure what I’m talking about, what I mean is the unrealistic standards set by celebrities/models, their publishing companies and unhealthy treatment of their bodies, which then in turn “inspires” men and women to act the same way even if it means being unhealthy to their own bodies. This is where it starts. Celebrities like Kylie Jenner become famous for their bodies, and for being pinpoints of beauty. Therefore, when young girls are constantly exposed to pictures and articles about her showing how famous and beautiful she is, these girls feel pressured to look like her if they want to be considered “beautiful” to themselves and others. What these young girls do not know is that while she may look similar to how she looks in the pictures, she has gone through so much makeup and styling along with hours of photo editing to make herself look just like what they are striving to look like naturally.

This isn’t just a girl thing either, even though statistics show it is certainly more common for girls to gain eating disorders and other mental disorders over trying to make themselves beautiful, men experience this too. It may not seem as obvious, but when you think about it, it really is quite plain. Men are judged on their body type as well, but in a different way than us. They are judged on their muscles, and if they have a six pack or nice biceps. It’s just something society has become accustomed to doing, along with judging men based on their height. Many girls want a guy that is taller than them because it makes the guy seem more strong and manly. Well what about the guys who aren’t naturally tall? Why is it okay to standardize how beautiful, or in this case handsome someone is based on how tall they are and not by their other qualities?

Of course this isn’t just something that has to do with the Kardashian Family, but with most celebrities in general. Most celebrities or even just famous people on the internet wear tons of makeup and do their hair/get it done before taking pictures. Along with that, many professional photos are photoshopped so that the people look skinnier with exaggerated curves. Many people compare their natural state or broken out skin, frizzy hair, and body weight to these picturesque images and begin to feel ugly or less beautiful than these people, when in reality we just haven’t been put through as much as them to look like that. Therefore, if people continue to compare themselves to people like that and in that state, they will always feel like they are ugly.

Once a person starts to feel like they are ugly, it can escalate quickly to feelings of worthlessness and overall low self-esteem. I’ve never experienced serious feelings of these things, but I know people who have and it sounds like Hell. It sounds like an unbelievable pit of self-loathing and panic and distress that I can’t even begin to imagine. What’s even more is that feelings of worthlessness aren’t just feelings. They seep out of you into your everyday life, affecting your life. If you think you are worthless, you will start to stop standing up for yourself and just believing what bad things people say about you. On the flip side, you will also start to deny the good things people say about you. Easily, from exposure to so many standards you can begin to think you are less than the other people just like you in this world, and the fact that media can do that is terrifying.

Thankfully, as much as a problem this has been in this generation, there has also been a lot of improvement as well. Many celebrities such as Zendaya, have been taking action against unrealistic standards of beauty. Zendaya in particular took it upon herself to release unedited pictures of her from a recent photo shoot because the edited ones were far too unrealistic for her liking and she didn’t want her fans looking up to that fake version of her. Similarly, there are plenty of celebrities that are fighting the publishers to ensure that their real body is the body that their followers are seeing. Secondly, many companies are creating advertisements that doesn’t only feature stick-skinny models, but also plus-size models and everyday people with everyday body weight. One example is Dove, Dove started their “Dove Campaign For Real Beauty” about ten years ago and it has been pivotal. The videos launched through this campaign became viral quickly exposing the world to things they knew about but had chosen not to believe. The purpose was to educate young girls and women alike that it wasn’t their makeup or hairstyles that made them beautiful, it was themselves. It was a refreshing point of view to see then and it continues to be a basis for many companies and their marketing now. It shows that while some media can promote unhealthy and downright impossible beauty standards, other sources can preach positive messages about body image and loving yourself. Having a positive body image means knowing what your body looks like and being proud of it.

Of course problems with beauty standards aren’t new and problems with worrying about the way we look isn’t solely based off of what we see on TV and online. I’m not saying that this is a brand new issue only our generation is facing, but it sure is becoming a bigger and bigger problem as we become exposed to more via social media and other types of mass communication. So the more we put it out there, hopefully the more we will be able to change our ways. Write about it, post about it, make videos about it. Just show what you know and make it known that we want a change. We want to make sure our models and celebrities are healthy while being fit so that our girls can look up to that and make themselves healthy too. We want to make sure the people we are looking up to are leading us in the right direction. And even though it may seem like not a big deal now, over time it will become more apparent that the repetition of these standards being put in our faces will begin to brainwash us whether we want to believe it or not, so we might as well stop it now and spread the positive body image.

Below I’m linking some of the sources that I’ve come across recently that inspired this post as well as sources that I got some of my information from, so if you are interested keep reading and watching!

Zendaya’s Instagram post: https://instagram.com/p/9FV2sdJmOk/?taken-by=zendaya

Dove Campaign For Real Beauty videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/doveunitedstates/playlists?shelf_id=8&view=50&sort=dd

Dove Campaign For Real Beauty 10th anniversary article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/21/dove-real-beauty-campaign-turns-10_n_4575940.html

Body photoshop before and after: https://youtu.be/17j5QzF3kqE

Teen health and the media: https://depts.washington.edu/thmedia/view.cgi?section=bodyimage&page=fastfacts

Just remember, you only have one body. Be kind to it.

-Lily

GLOBAL GOALS

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On September 25th 2015, 193 world leaders have agreed to 17 goals for our generations and future generations, that will rid our world of poverty, inequality and take action for climate change. These 17 goals are now being known as the Global Goals, or #Globalgoals.

These goals cover areas of life as we know it, that everyone needs to work to ensure not only for our generation, but for the generations of our kids and our grandkids. The goals go as follows:

1. No Poverty
2.Zero Hunger
3.Good Health and Well-Being
4.Quality Education
5.Gender Equality
6.Clean Water and Sanitation
7.Affordable and Clean Energy
8.Decent Work and Economic Growth
9.Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
10.Reduce Inequalities
11.Sustainable Cities and Communities
12.Responsible Consumption and Production
13.Climate Action
14.Life Below Water
15.Life On Land
16.Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
17.Partnership For The Goals

Countries now have the opportunities to adopt these goals that will lead to a better life. This better life is already predicted for 2030 if we begin now. If you can honestly say you don’t care about these global goals, you are saying that you don’t care about the physical and mental health of your kids or your grandkids or yourself. If everyone is promoting these goals and increasing public knowledge, the world your future self and future decendents will live in will be better than the one you grew up in. Not only will the environment be being restored the what it should be, but your kids will be able to grow up free and not have to worry about saying they are gay or lesbian or trans or a man or a woman, because everyone will be entitled to the same rights and the same respect.

Caring is the first step to making a change. I know that every single item on this seventeen goal list is something that I care deeply about. I may not be directly affected by poverty, or starvation, but there are people out there who are, and they need people to stand up for them when they can’t. Just because someone doesn’t know how to say something, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be heard. 

So it’s time to spread the word about these global goals, so that people who are unaware of them can learn about them, and people who are aware of them can be sure that they are practicing them and preaching them. How do they suggest you spread the word? Share your support and educate by doing one of these things:

1.Take a #GlobalGoalsSelfie of yourself, and let your followers know which goals you are most intent on preserving and changing, hashtag #GlobalGoalSelfie and tag @TheGlobalGoals in your picture.
2.Do the Dizzy Goals Challenge and share it! A link to view the rules for this challenge will be posted below.
3.Make your own version of the “We the people,” video. I will include the original linked below so you can see what I am talking about. Once it is finished, share it with friends, family and the internet, so people can see your support for the cause! My best friend and I are planning on making one, I will post it afterwards as well!

These goals won’t mean anything if we aren’t working together to make them true for our world. The leaders have created it, why can’t we follow them through? We don’t only want to make them known, we want these goals to be unforgettable. Want to read more about it? Check out the links listed below:

Global Goals Official Site: http://www.globalgoals.org/

Dizzy Goals Challenge Rules: http://www.globalgoals.org/dizzy-goals/

“We The People” Original Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpqVmvMCmp0

Global Goals Twitter: https://twitter.com/theglobalgoals?lang=en

Global Goals Instagram: https://instagram.com/theglobalgoals/

Last but not least, the topic of this post was originally brought to my attention by my best friend Emrys, who has also written a very informative post on the #Globalgoals as well, her post will be listed below, and I highly advise you to check it out!:

The Global Goals For Sustainable Development

I hope that you guys decide to take part in this movement for a better tomorrow, in the end it will be worth it! Thanks for reading!

-Lily

Picture credits: https://twitter.com/theglobalgoals
http://newstoryhub.com/2015/08/the-global-goals-for-sustainable-development/