Because I’m a Woman

I watch a channel on YouTube called Yes Theory.

Their entire philosophy is based on the premise that when we start to say yes to things, we open ourselves to experiences that would never have been possible if we had said no. It encourages its followers to be spontaneous and preaches the idea that strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet.

To live out this philosophy, the main people involved are three 20-something, friendly, and fit guys who travel around the world and complete challenges based on the spontaneity and kindness of strangers.

In their latest video, one of the guys is abandoned alone in Slovakia with no money and no phone, where he must attempt to return to his friends in Budapest.

I love everything about this channel and I hope someday I can live my life in a similar fashion.

But, I know this isn’t as realistic for me. Simply, because I’m a woman.

The thought of being dropped off in and exploring a random country sounds like a dream. The thought of being dropped off alone in a random country sounds terrifying.

I hate that just by being female, doing anything becomes more dangerous. I am a strong believer that a woman can do anything a man can. While that is true, it’s also true that women have to take a lot more precautions than men do.

I read a study that asked groups of men and women about the things they do in their everyday life to avoid being assaulted. The responses from women went on for pages. For men, there was one answer: “Nothing. I don’t think about it.”

Photo Credit: twitter.com

Words cannot express how much I wish this weren’t the case, how much I wish men and women were really, truly equal when it comes to things like this.

I wish that my mom didn’t have to worry about me going to the beach with my girl friends at 5 PM, even though she is fine with my older brother going to the same place with his guy friends at one in the morning.

I wish that women weren’t twice as likely as men to experience sexual assault or violent crimes.

I wish it weren’t like this, but it is. And let me tell you, it sucks.

To any men who are reading this, appreciate the fact that you don’t have to make sure you have your keys in your hand when you’re walking to your car at night. Be grateful that when you’re running by yourself and a truck drives behind you, you don’t have to stop to let it pass so that you can see what it is doing. Remember that there is a reason why girls always go to the bathroom in groups.

Tell this to your sons. Make them understand what it’s like. Teach them how to make women feel safer.

Maybe someday we’ll live in a world where a young woman can walk through a city alone, the only thing on her mind being how grateful she is to be there, and her biggest concern being what she will eat for dinner.

That’s all we want.

 

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“Time… and I Have Gone Away”

When I was younger, I thought that by the time I was this age, I would have everything figured out.

Obviously, I haven’t lived up to that expectation. Looking back, I really didn’t have a clue what I would be, considering I thought High School Musical movies were a credible source for what teenagers are like.

Now that I’m actually in high school, I know that the expectations I had for this age were completely unrealistic. It’s definitely not as glamorous and there are far less organized musical numbers than I had envisioned.

But, when I think about who I will be in five or ten years, I picture some perfect version of myself. I’ll be kind and successful and doing all of the things that I wish I could be doing right now. I won’t be insecure about how I look, how I speak, or anything else that I care about now. I’ll have grown out of it by then, because I’ll have realized that it doesn’t matter.

Photo Credit: pinterest.com

I’m sixteen now, but I’m still fantasizing about my future self, just like I did when I was six years old, and my expectations are still probably just as ridiculous.

I like to think that once you grow up, you know yourself completely. I like to imagine that I’ll have it figured out. I won’t have to picture the type of person I want to be, because I’ll already be that person.

In a perfect world, it would work like that. But, this world is far from perfect, and so am I.

I don’t think anyone ever fully grows out of certain things. We learn and grow our whole lives, but it’s not like everything just magically falls into place one day.

When all is said and done, I just hope that who I am in ten years is someone I’d like to know now.

Here Now, a Long Time Ago.

Do you ever wonder what the world looked like before anyone was here?

What would the earth look like if there were no buildings, no cars, no sign that it had been touched by any human ever.

Take a look around at exactly where you are right now. Stop reading for a moment, close your eyes, and try to picture it.

Photo Credit: pinterest.com

I think there would be lots of dry grass where I am. If I were to lay down on the ground, I would slowly sink into the scratchy brush until my back met the hard dirt below.

The air would be cool. There would be lots of oak trees everywhere.

A creek might curve its way through the little valley, slowly moving across the open space. Supposedly there used to be one, but it’s long gone now.

It’s night time. The sky would be so dark, but the stars would be so bright, speckled against the blackness.

I’m not quite sure what it would sound like. I know there would be wind, rustling the brush a little bit. The barn owls, coyotes, and mountain lions would roam through the hills, looking for something to eat.

I’ve never known the world when it was untouched, the way it was supposed to be. But, I think about it all of the time.

I wish I could be there.

 

My Tuesday Run

Image from redbirdhills.com

In cross county, my coaches always remind us that the sport has as much to do with mental strength as it does physical strength.

With that in mind, I’d like to invite you to come running with me – for the mental part, at least.

Here’s what a few miles look like inside of my head.

Mile 1:
Don’t start too fast, just get warmed up.
It’s hot today, but not as bad as it usually is. The gravel crunches beneath my shoes. We reach a little bit of downhill.
I hear my coach’s voice: “Let gravity do the work.”
Get your breathing back. Drop your arms. Shake it out.
The road in front of us curves up a long hill. It’s steep.
Slow it down. What hurts worse, lungs or legs? Legs. I can breathe still.
My calves tighten the farther up we climb. I count my steps between each exhale. We’re running in 4/4 time. I inhale on the 1st beat, exhale through 2, 3, 4.

Mile 2:
Sweat drips down my forehead. I wipe it off with my shirt.
Take it easy now.
My breathing is steady – that’s good. My left calf hurts more than my right. The opposite of yesterday.
This hill is a bitch. Settle in, we’ll be here for a while.
It hurts.

Mile 3:
Keep your arms down. Breathe.
The road settles and is flat for a while.
You’re not tired, it just hurts.

Mile 4:
What hurts worse, lungs or legs? Both. You’re not tired, you just can’t breathe. There’s a difference.
The next two miles are steady uphill.
Use your arms! The harder you work the faster you’ll be done.

Mile 5:
This hill is a BITCH.
My ragged breathing is louder than my shoes on the pavement. Sweat covers my whole body. My arms ache from pumping and the muscles in my legs feel like they’re made of both cement and water at the same time. My mouth is so dry that when I touch my tongue to the roof of my mouth it sticks.
Eyes up, on the road. So close. I feel awful.
I can’t breathe. The smell of wood chips in the orchard makes me want to puke. Push.
Everything hurts.

The Finish:
I jog past the green gate the marking the end of the road, the end of the run. My left foot leaves the pavement and lands on grass and the right follows.
Don’t sit down. Breathe.
As I walk back and forth beneath the oak trees, my lungs start to settle down. The tension in my legs slowly fades, first easing up in my quads and then from my calves.
My breathing returns to normal. I’m not hurting anymore.
I just ran five miles.
I feel good.

 

cigarettes

via melbournechapter.net

I’ve always been fascinated by cigarettes.

I suppose there’s something sort of compelling about them, being a glorified, rebellious accessory of sorts.

I used to love the smell of smoke. It reminded me of when I was younger.

Now I never trust anyone who likes cigarettes. Cigarettes kill people.

They do it slowly, squeezing the air out of your lungs little by little, until one day, you can’t breathe at all. They burn holes in your throat and melt your skin, but, at that point, you’ve grown so used to the feeling that you’re convinced it makes you feel better.

In the beginning, before it becomes a problem, you can still decide when you want to smoke. You know it’s addicting, but you tell yourself you’d never let it go that far.

But, after a while, when your first urge after you wake up is to go outside and smoke or when a meal never feels complete until you’ve finished a cigarette- that’s when you really have no control at all.

Cigarettes kill and if you still smoke that either means you just don’t care or you live under the false pretense that young people are invincible. Either way, you’re foolish.

Maybe I’m wrong. I probably shouldn’t be so judgmental.

But, there are plenty of other ways to be fascinating.

The Right Words

Photo Credit: pinterest.com

When it comes to writing, I plan everything out in my head.

Even if I’m not physically writing, I’m pretty much always thinking about how and when and what words to use next.

It happens all the time: when I’m walking down the street and see someone eating alone at a restaurant, in a movie theater with my friends, whenever I’m doing anything. I start putting together bits and pieces of a story or poem, trying my best to remember it all, until I have the chance to jot something down.

My mind is constantly filled with words, phrases, and thoughts. I don’t think there’s ever been a time when it was completely empty.

But, for some reason, I can’t seem to find any words at all to explain how I feel about you.

I’ve been trying for months now, but they never seem to fit together quite right.

The thing is, I think about you all of the time. I know how it feels, but I just don’t know how to describe it.

Maybe it’s because I don’t fully understand it myself. Maybe it’s because the only messages I ever get from you are hopelessly unclear.

Whatever it is, I hope I work it out soon. Because, once I do, you’re going to have a lot of reading to catch up on.

The City

I hate Los Angeles.

I’ve always claimed to hate all big cities. They make me feel claustrophobic and whenever I’m surrounded by so many massive buildings, I can’t help but be reminded of all of the damage that we’re causing to our planet.

At some point, I managed to convince myself that LA was the worst of them all.

Aside from the fact that the public transportation is terrible, air pollution is even worse, and there are simply too many people crammed into too small of an area. I could never see myself living in a place like that.

But, for some reason, my last trip to Hollywood almost convinced me that it isn’t as bad as it seems.

Photo Credit: past daily.com

Maybe it was because it was so busy, so overflowing with energy. In a place that I’d thought to be the root of all destruction to the natural world, I discovered that it was full of real, living people. The city was alive.

Maybe it was all the lights. I’ve only ever been used to endless black skies, so dark that the stars light up the world. You can’t see stars on Hollywood Boulevard, at least, not the ones in the sky. But the neon blues, pinks, and yellows gleaming throughout the streets somehow compliment the night sky. They’re sort of magical – similar to stars in that it feels like they are begging you to fall in love beneath them, but also very different.

Maybe it was the man sitting on a bench at 11:30 PM who yelled to my friend and me, “You are so beautiful! Have a beautiful night!” It wasn’t in a gross way, though, you could just tell he was looking to make other people happy. He might have been drunk, but hey, we don’t judge.

Or maybe it was just because I was tired and had been caught off guard or something.

I still hate Los Angeles. But, maybe now, just a little less than before.