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.
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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.

Cover Image Credit: http://www.wweek.com/arts/2015/11/18/thanksgiving-crapshoot/

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To The Girl Who Had A Plan

A letter to the girl whose life is not going according to her plan.
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“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” - William Ernest Henley

Since we were little girls we have been asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We responded with astronauts, teachers, presidents, nurses, etc. Then we start growing up, and our plans change.

In middle school, our plans were molded based on our friends and whatever was cool at the time. Eventually, we went to high school and this question became serious, along with some others: “What are your plans for college?” “What are you going to major in?” “When do you think you’ll get married?” “Are you going to stay friends with your friends?” We are bombarded with these questions we are supposed to have answers to, so we start making plans.

Plans, like going to college with our best friends and getting a degree we’ve been dreaming about. Plans, to get married as soon as we can. We make plans for how to lose weight and get healthy. We make plans for our weddings and children.

SEE ALSO: 19 Pieces Of Advice From A Soon-To-Be 20-Year-Old

We fill our Pinterest boards with these dreams and hopes that we have, which are really great things to do, but what happens when you don’t get into that college? What happens when your best friend chooses to go somewhere else? Or, what if you don’t get the scholarship you need or the awards you thought you deserved. Maybe, the guy you thought you would marry breaks your heart. You might gain a few pounds instead of losing them. Your parents get divorced. Someone you love gets cancer. You don’t get the grades you need. You don’t make that collegiate sports team. The sorority you’re a legacy to, drops you. You didn’t get the job or internship you applied for. What happens to you when this plan doesn’t go your way?

I’ve been there.

The answer for that is “I have this hope that is an anchor for my soul.” Soon we all realize we are not the captain of our fate. We don’t have everything under control nor will we ever have control of every situation in our lives. But, there is someone who is working all things together for the good of those who love him, who has a plan and a purpose for the lives of his children. His name is Jesus. When life takes a turn you aren’t expecting, those are the times you have to cling to Him the tightest, trusting that His plan is what is best. That is easier said than done, but keep pursuing Him. I have found in my life that His plans were always better than mine, and slowly He’s revealing that to me.

The end of your plan isn’t the end of your life. There is more out there. You may not be the captain of your fate, but you can be the master of your soul. You can choose to be happy despite your circumstances. You can change directions at any point and go a different way. You can take the bad and make something beautiful out of it, if you allow God to work in your heart.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Patiently Waiting With An Impatient Heart

So, make the best of that school you did get in to. Own it. Make new friends- you may find they are better than the old ones. Apply for more scholarships, or get a job. Move on from the guy that broke your heart; he does not deserve you. God has a guy lined up for you who will love you completely. Spend all the time you can with the loved one with cancer. Pray, pray hard for healing. Study more. Apply for more jobs, or try to spend your summer serving others instead. Join a different club or get involved in other organizations on campus. Find your delight first in God and then pursue other activities that make you happy; He will give you the desires of your heart.

My friend, it is going to be OK.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Beavers Photography

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My Experience Pole Dancing

I took a pole dancing class, and so should you.

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As a girl whose dance experience consists of a kindergarten ballet class and fourth-grade hip-hop class, I had low expectations for myself when my friend said we were going to a pole dancing class for her birthday. Nevertheless, I was excited. Over the years, I have reformed my judgmental and negative view towards sex work in general into a more understanding and nuanced view. This being a world I am not particularly privy to, I was interested to experience some of the behind-the-scenes work in a fun night with friends.

We stepped out of the Uber and into the dance studio, Studio Rouge, furnished with sultry red walls and dim lighting. We shucked our shoes and paired off on the poles. The instructor greeted us warmly, and we randomly drew our "exotic name tags," such as Eden, Pandora, and Chardonnay, and mine, the not-so-sophisticated (perfect for me I suppose) Glitter, to better embody our "exotic alter egos."

We were walked through a basic routine over the course of the hour. We laughed at each other's awkwardness, cheered at each other's success. We surprised ourselves with perfectly-executed body rolls, smooth pivots, and exhilarating spins; while I am somewhat lacking in the hair department, I was able to nail an (imaginary) hair flip. We danced to the bops of Ariana Grande, Rihanna, and some much-appreciated early-2000 throwbacks.

The instructor reminded me of my yoga instructors: positive and encouraging. Other aspects of the class were also reminiscent of yoga -- aligning your body with what your mind tells you to do, movement requiring coordination, balance, and strength, and a safe and welcoming environment.

After spending these recently cold days walking around campus hunched over my steaming coffee cup with a beanie pulled down to my brow, it was nice to experience the freedom and confidence-boosting of this class. It was a girls bonding night spent cultivating sexual energy in a safe space. We ended the class feeling refreshed and elated; it boosted our self-confidence and increased our respect for the strength and skill required of professional exotic dancers. As someone coming from a background where sexual expression is looked upon with disdain and sexual acts are regarded with shame, the experience was empowering and nearly necessary. We can't wait for another lesson.

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