Home For The Holidays: From The Black Sheep's Perspective

Home For The Holidays: From The Black Sheep's Perspective

Some things are better left unsaid.

Even though my university is 15 minutes from the house in which I grew up and where my family still lives, I am rarely home. Studying, working and doing other college-student activities keep me occupied on campus. So, spending the holidays with my family is great and fulfilling because I barely get to see them when I am at school.

I love my family. I am fortunate to have parents that love me and support me both emotionally and financially. However, as I get older and approach the end of my undergraduate career pursuing a major in journalism, I have come to realize that I have vast ideological differences compared to my family.

It is your average white, middle-class, midwestern four-person household that lives in the suburbs of Minneapolis. That being said, their interests run fairly steady with an average midwestern family--they love sports, have conservative-leaning political views, hunt and hang out at neighborhood taverns with long-time friends from high school (which is less than ten minutes away).

I share many characteristics with my parents, including their humor, responsive tendencies and rather profane vocabulary. But there are other attributes I do not share and, as I grow older, this divide has deepened.

These differences are more profound than our bond over Jim Carrey’s performance in "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" and Sebastian Maniscalo's stand-up comedy. It is the beliefs I hold, which I don't feel my family acknowledges, that reflect who I am as a whole. I begin to wonder if my family even knows me--leading me to realize, I am the family's black sheep.

Being the black sheep in the family can be exhaustive in that you feel rather under-appreciated. My aspirations, my interests and my goals are very different than those of my parents. This becomes a problem because it is something I obviously want to discuss, but half the time it’s a one-way street, and I am not being fully listened to or understood. It’s almost as if when I talk about what I study and what I want to do with that, I either get a minimal response, a confusing response, or the worst— no response at all.

It’s not that I ridicule my family for their passion for sporting events. Good for you, that is awesome. Rock on, do what makes you happy.

It's not that they don’t understand my choice to be vegan; and it’s not their constant preaching of their beliefs.

It’s the isolating feeling that comes with being the black sheep of the family, and especially over the long span of the holidays. And my family would agree that I am dissimilar.

This is not meant to be a rant, but if I hear the word hockey one more time in the next 24 hours I may have to evict myself from this three-week staycation.

Hockey, football, golf, baseball. It’s an obsession, especially with my 17-year-old brother’s participation in sporting activities (during the holidays, it's hockey.)

What's more is that politics can rarely be discussed within the household. My family has rather polarized views and can get defensive toward ideas that differ from their own.

I think it is a shame that something so important is such a fragile subject. Maybe it used to be easy to suppress political beliefs, but in the climate we live in today, it is close to impossible to bite your tongue about important issues...like the leader of our nation. I study journalism. This is a subject in which I am interested and yearn to talk about with the people whom I love most. But, it is extremely difficult to say anything without some sort of stale reaction.

I feel like an alien. I want to talk about what’s happening in the news, the world and culture. But usually, dinner-table conversation highlights one of my family member’s disgust with the Eagles beating the Raiders and losing points in their fantasy football league. Sometimes, I will bring something up that I am writing about and my family will be engaged for 1/10 of the time they are for talking about the local golf course closing. But that's normal; it wouldn't be family dinner if someone wasn't criticized for their political views.

At the end of the day, I care deeply for my family and love them very much. But as I get older and become immersed in the world, my views and personality are developing. It looks as if it is going in a direction far from that of my parents.

This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. But spending this much time back home definitely opens my eyes to the differences between me and my family members. It makes me sad, but it also makes me realize that I am my own person.

I am their daughter, but I possess a conscience and brain that thinks the way it does because of my own experiences, evolving into the fully fledged adult I will soon come to be.

I love my family, and some things you have to turn the other cheek to. This is a battle I can’t fight. And anyways, I am a pacifist. You should hear how they feel about that. That was a joke.

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Joining My Sorority Changed My Life

There is more to Greek life than meets the eye.

When I started my first semester of college, I was shy, nervous and a little lost. I made some mistakes, lost my footing and attempted to get my act together. Moving eight hours away to a place where I knew absolutely nobody was the scariest thing I've ever done, but the one thing that made it ten times more bearable was the decision to rush.

Since move-in weekend, the "The Possibilities Are Endless" recruitment fall 2017 flyers were hung up in every hallway from my dorm to my classrooms. Coming into Ohio, I said I would never rush. Greek life has had a bad reputation among many and it didn't seem like the right thing for me. But I kept stopping by to read those flyers, paying attention to the block letter sweaters that sorority girls wore to class, and couldn't help but stare as I walked past the sorority houses on campus.

Ultimately, I decided to rush. What should hold me back? Nothing.

So I stepped out of my safe little bubble and walked into 10 houses of girls screaming the "Go Greek" song at the top of their lungs for two weekends in a row, and man it was the best decision I've ever made. Walking out of Alpha Omicron Pi for the last time before bid day, I never would've imagined what an impact this chapter would have on my life in such a short period of time.

After one semester, I had met my closest friends, not only in college but life in general.

Since day one, these girls have treated me better than the shallow friends I had known for years back home in high school. Throughout the entire first semester, if I ever needed anything, ran into trouble, needed advice or a shoulder to cry on after a bad week, all I had to was say the word and my sisters would be waiting for me in their rooms. They are the reason I made it through those first difficult months away from home, that bad exam or that one aching heartbreak.

What so many people don't realize is that the awful stigmas, stereotypes and bad reputations that Greek life has are not true at all. From the outside, it's easy to brand us as shallow girls who all wear the same clothes and act the same way. But we all know that you can't judge a book by its cover, and the same thing applies for judging sororities.

You can't know what it's like unless you've gone through recruitment or have joined yourself,

Recruitment teaches us valuable conversational skills, how to look nice, and present ourselves in the best image possible. All these qualities are important life skills when it comes to future job interviews. We host charity events for our philanthropy, helping those in need, and have mandatory service/volunteer hours we must complete each semester. Every chapter has a minimum GPA that their members must meet in order to remain in the organization.

The general idea that those who are in Greek life are not serious about their studies, slack off and don't get good grades is one of the biggest lies I've ever heard. Here at Ohio University, the average GPA of members in Greek life is actually higher than the overall GPA of the rest of the student body.

If that doesn't speak for itself, then I don't know what will.

Being in a sorority teaches us how to balance sisterhood and studies. Older sisters are always willing to lend help to the new freshmen if they're struggling with a difficult class the others have taken before. We always put our academics first, and social life second.

My sorority taught me how to lift each other up, to tell your sisters you're proud of them, to tell them you love and appreciate everything they do.

With these amazing women, I've had the time of my life in college. From date parties, to bid day, family dinners and socials, these are the memories I will cherish forever. It's made me a better, more dedicated and happier person. Thanks to my chapter, many opportunities have opened up to me.

I know I'll always have a home there and friends who run to me with open arms after being away for an entire month over break. And it means the world to have such loving people who worry about you and miss you every day when you're away.

There truly is no way to express my gratitude for Alpha Omicron Pi, and I hope that others will see this and realize there is so much more to sororities than meets the eye.

Cover Image Credit: Anna Kropov

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Thoughts About A 21st Birthday

Turning twenty-one has its pros and cons.

In life, we all have the "useless" birthdays. These birthdays are nothing but a celebration of turning another year older. This is kind of how I felt last year when, in February, I became twenty. But twenty-one is considered a milestone, especially for American youth. In the long run, how unique is gaining another responsibility?

I only question this, and slightly dread it, because there is more that comes with being twenty-one. For myself, a female, being this old means I am required to receive Pap smears in South Carolina, a procedure I do not like in the least. If you don't know what this is, well, they put a plastic thing inside you to open the region up and check the cervix for cancer. It isn't pleasant for me for multiple reasons.

But, back to what everyone knows about this age: drinking and the ability to purchase whatever kind you like.

I will probably enjoy being able to drink here. Thing is: I've had alcohol before. In Europe and Mexico, everything is a bit more relaxed, and it is indeed an excellent experience to learn what wine tastes like, or alcohol in general, and how to be a responsible drinker. Have I snuck some vodka in a tea before while on a trip? Yeah, and it was good. So, in hindsight, I've already had a taste of that part. But I'm celebrating regardless of experience.

Also, I'm going to be happy to be twenty for the next little bit. Do I know what I'm doing with my life? Not necessarily. And it will be a while until I do. But that is the point of being at this stage. And another year won't change that.

Yeah, I'm happy it is coming up, and that I get to see my friends and family, but I have only lived a short part of my life. More milestones will top this one, and they might not even be birthdays. But I'm still glad to be able to celebrate with those I love.

Cover Image Credit: unsplash.com

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