I Used to Worry About How My Life Looked, But Now I Focus on How it Feels

I Used to Worry About How My Life Looked, But Now I Focus on How it Feels

Some observations, some confessions, and some advice, shared from my screen to yours.


I'm 19 years old. Barely an adult. Barely a child. Caught between two worlds, desperate to fit in. I used to try and piece together fragments of lives I craved to form my own. It became perfectionism. Anxiety. Depression. Raw feelings brought on by a facade.

But I'm only 19 years old. I'm hoping this means I've just barely struck the surface of my lifetime, but truth is, I don't know. So why am I living by a timeline I didn't even set? I don't know who and what and where I want to be when I've only dipped my toes into the ocean of choice, of freedom, of adulthood. I have a life ahead of me - hopefully a long one - and I don't want to live day to day, thinking "I just have to get through today." I just want to live.

So I started over. I let myself explore. No timeline, no boundaries, no followers, no one to impress. I put down the phone. Gasp. A teenager? A sorority girl? Off the grid? Crazy, I know. Here's what my experiment taught me:

1. Snapchat

I used to get bombarded with pictures and videos, all taken from slightly different angles, at slightly different moments, of the same exact things. I never had to wonder what my friends were up to or how they were doing; I could tap on their story to get the first person experience. I felt like I was everywhere with everyone, all the time. No need for communication or connection, just streaks and quick response times.

That's not right. I want to SEE you, I want to hug you and ask how you've been - how you've really been - and talk about it. The good parts, the bad parts, everything. A face frozen on a screen for 10 seconds will never be enough for me.

2. Instagram

"Unlock phone. Open app. Scroll aimlessly. Find something better to do. Repeat." My routine.

I'd like a few posts, each time probably thinking, "their life looks so fun," as I lie on my bed, scrolling and scrolling and scrolling.

Instagram is a world in which you get lost in the fake, smile-laughing-candid-not-at-all-posed picture you spent an hour editing and texting all your friends about the perfect caption for. I mean, did you really go to the beach if you didn't take pictures? Of course not. I've since learned to seek discomfort. To take mental pictures with emotions, and share them in words to those I care about. Stop crafting the perfect one-liner to describe your day. Nothing worth sharing can be boiled down into a couple of words.

3. Twitter

No longer an efficient method of broadcasting information, the Twittersphere has exploded into literal cyber wars about religion, gender, politics, and so many topics that cannot possibly be maturely discussed from behind a screen. For so long it has been said that actions speak louder than words. We preach about these causes and tragedies, ultimately voicing support but rarely attempting to make a difference.

Get off the phone and do something.

Whether it's a simple conversation with your partner rather than a passive-aggressive subtweet, reaching out for a heart-to-heart with a friend when you feel the need to retweet that sad song lyric, or even writing a letter to an official about a political issue instead of publicly and ineffectively degrading someone's well-deserved opposing opinions - what you do and what you say are very different, but how you choose to act and speak can make a difference if used in the right way.

We as a society are so well-versed in the art of ignorance, of distraction, of turning a blind eye to anything that makes us even the slightest bit uncomfortable.

Social media has outgrown justification by the need for self-expression and has since manifested into a desperate search for validation from, might I add, people whose negativity really shouldn't matter. If you're like me and the little voice inside your head tells you something is missing, be brave and stop fighting yourself. Stand up to your doubt, anxiety, depression, fear, whatever demon holds you captive. There are enough evils in the world trying to tear you down without your fuel in the fire. Open your eyes and understand that your only purpose in life is to live. There's nothing more to it; it's simple. Put your head in the clouds, feet on the ground, hands in the air, whatever you want to do.



The revolution begins within. I'm going to fight, and I hope you choose to do the same.

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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.


Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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The Potomac Urges Me To Keep Going

A simple story about how and why the Potomac River brings me emotional clarity.


It's easy to take the simple things for granted. We tell ourselves that life is moving too fast to give them another thought. We are always thinking about what comes next. We can't appreciate what's directly in front of us because we are focused on what's in our future. Sometimes you need to snap back to present and just savor the fact that you are alive. That's what the Potomac River does for me.

I took the Potomac River for granted at one point. I rode by the river every day and never gave it a second glance. I was always distracted, never in the present. But that changed one day.

A tangle of thoughts was running rampant inside my head.

I have a lot of self-destructive tendencies. I find it's not that hard to convince yourself that life isn't worth living if nothing is there to put it in perspective.

My mind constantly conjures up different scenarios and follows them to their ultimate conclusion: anguish. I needed something to pull myself out of my mental quagmire.

All I had to do was turn my head and look. And I mean really look. Not a passing glance but rather a gaze of intent. That's when it hit me. It only lasted a minute or so but I made that moment feel like an eternity.

My distractions of the day, no matter how significant they seemed moments ago, faded away. A feeling of evanescence washed over me, almost as if the water itself had cleansed me.

I've developed a routine now. Whenever I get on the bus, I orient myself to get the best view of the river. If I'm going to Foggy Bottom, I'll sit on the right. If I'm going back to the Mount Vernon Campus, I'll sit on the left. I'll try to sit in a seat that allows me to prop my arm against the window, and rest my cheek against my palm.

I've observed the Potomac in its many displays.

I've observed it during a clear day when the sky is devoid of clouds, and the sun radiates a far-reaching glow upon the shimmering ripples below. I can't help but envy the gulls as they glide along the surface.

I've observed it during the rain when I have to wipe the fogged glass to get a better view. I squint through the gloom, watching the rain pummel the surface, and then the river rises along the bank as if in defiance of the harsh storm. As it fades from view, I let my eyes trace the water droplets trickling down the window.

I've observed it during snowfall when the sheets of white obscure my view to the point where I can only make out a faint outline.

I've observed it during twilight when the sky is ablaze with streaks of orange, yellow, and pink as the blue begins to fade to grey.

Last of all, I've observed it during the night, when the moon is swathed in a grey veil. The row of lights running along the edge of the bridge provides a faint gleam to the obsidian water below.

It's hard to tear away my eyes from the river now. It's become a place of solace. The moment it comes into view, I'll pause whatever I'm doing. I turn up the music and let my eyes drift across the waterfront. A smile always creeps across my face. I gain a renewed sense of life.

Even on my runs, I set aside time to take in the river. I'll run across the bridge toward Arlington and then walk back, giving myself time to look out over either side of the bridge. I don't feel in a rush for once. I just let the cool air brush against my face. Sometimes my eyes begin to water. Let's just say it's not always because of the wind.

I chase surreal moments. The kind of moments you can't possibly plan for or predict. Moments where you don't want to be anywhere else. The ones that ground your sense of being. They make life truly exceptional.

Though I crave these moments, they are hard to come by. You can't force them. Their very nature does not allow it. But when I'm near the river, these moments just seem to come naturally.

I remember biking around DC when I caught sight of the Potomac. Naturally, I couldn't resist trying to get a better view. I pulled up along the river bank, startling a lone gull before dismounting. I took a few steps until I reached the edge of the water. The sun shone brilliantly in the center of the horizon.

A beam of light stretched across the water toward me, almost like a pathway to the other side of the river. I felt an urge to walk forward. I let one-foot dangle over the water, lowering it slowly to reach the glittering water below. I debated briefly whether I could walk on water. Though it sounds ridiculous, anything felt possible. Snapping back to reality, I brought my foot back up and scanned the vast blue expanse before me.

Eventually, the wind began to buffet against my left cheek, as if directing me to look right. I turned my head. A couple was walking along the bike path. They paused beneath a tree for a moment and locked eyes. Smiling, the man leaned in and whispered something in the woman's ear. As she giggled, they began to kiss softly.

While I looked on with a smile of my own, I couldn't help but wonder if there was someone else out there in the world willing to share this moment with me.

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