Learning To Look Up

Learning To Look Up

You might be surprised at what you start noticing.
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We've all been there: walking somewhere without ever looking up from your phone screen. It happens all the time. Sometimes the lack of focus on the world around us makes us trip or fall. Sometimes we look down to avoid starting a conversation with someone when we're in a rush. And sometimes we do it because we feel awkward in a situation, so we turn to our phones to provide us company, to ease the fear of being alone, to make us look "cool." Regardless of the various reasons we do it, the fact of the matter is this: while we watch our phone screens, we are letting the world pass us by.

I, by no means, am innocent of this phenomenon. But something that a professor said to my class made me take a step back and think about this habit of mine. The class is a creative writing class, so along with encouraging us to write every day, she told us to make an effort to look around us, to really see the world and its details every day. These are the things that inspire us, after all. So how did we get here? How did we become a generation of people who don't look at each other? And, more importantly, is this making us lose our empathy and our sense of self?

Being alone is not something I was always comfortable with. If I'm being honest, I'm still not completely comfortable with it. There's something so vulnerable in sitting down at a table to eat lunch alone. It's not for a lack of friends, just a lack of time or planning. But this need to always be with people, to always be connected to something, be it a virtual network or a physical network, is something that has been slipped into our society. But in looking down at a phone during that solo lunch, you miss a part of the pleasure in the meal. While you're too busy trying to stay connected, you lose connection to the real, physical world you are a part of.

So let's start looking up. Or let's just try to; progress doesn't have to be instant. Look at the leaves on the trees. Look at the sky canopied above your head. Look at the faces of the people you know. Look at the faces of the people you don't know. Admire the details, the quirks, the things that make this life beautiful and scary and lonely at times. Understand that being you, that having alone time, that being disconnected, is okay and is transformative. Be present in the world you inhabit. And yes, look at your phone; it is important to stay connected, and phones help us stay connected to the people we can't be physically with in the present. But don't let that screen consume you. Look up. You might be surprised at what you start noticing.

Cover Image Credit: Quicken Loans

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To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

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When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

SEE ALSO: They're Not Junkies, You're Just Uneducated

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

Cover Image Credit: http://crashingintolove.tumblr.com/post/62246881826/pieffysessanta-tumblr-com

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Smartphones Have Become Our Generation's Most-Loved Distraction

It's time to address your scrolling habits.

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When was the last time you truly connected with someone, face to face, with no distractions? How often do you find yourself grabbing your phone and mindlessly checking all of your social platforms? In a society overwhelmed with media and concerns about our online presence, it is hard for us to break away and spend more time in reality.

We depend on our phones. They get us through traffic, boring bus rides, and long walks to class. This dependence could possibly be decreasing our ability to form true social connections. I believe media and technology can strengthen connections in a broader sense, but they can also cause us to fail at interacting with the people and the issues around us.

Our phones can cause us to miss out on life. Before smartphones, casual conversation was tolerated. As a kid, I would spend endless hours running around outside with friends, creating our own entertainment. Changes in technology lead to changes in society, so it makes sense that the way we interact with one another has also changed.

According to a study completed in 2014, the development of cell phones has actually ruined our social skills. We are likely to mind our own business, stay within our social bubble, and follow up with our areas of interest on our little devices. This dependency, in a way, creates isolation. Instead of smiling at strangers or getting to know our classmates, we pour our attention into our screens. Are our communication devices creating an anti-social environment?

Smartphones prove to be distractions in everyday life. It is easy to fall into the trap of constant scrolling, avoiding real-life responsibilities and opportunities. We repeatedly check our phones within a given hour. It is hard to study with a phone just sitting out on a desk because our eyes and brains have become conditioned to crave our smartphones. The more time you spend scrolling through feed, the harder it is to go without it. There is always that small urge to catch up on the latest news or posts.

Media's influence on our minds can be draining as well. What you fill your head with has a tremendous impact on your mood and wellbeing. Think of all the comparison felt upon looking at Instagram posts. How do you mentally feel after sitting on your phone for an hour? Everything from the images we see to the tweets we read filter through our brain. If checking your phone is the first thing you do in the morning, then you have already started your day by filling it with negativity and countless amounts of images, possibly influencing your mood and thoughts.

However, not everything on the internet and social media are negative. They are both resourceful tools. Without a doubt, our phones serve as an outlet to communication and creativity, linking us to the outside world. But when we let it infiltrate our reality or become our obsession, we are directed away from forming deeper, meaningful relationships with the people around us.

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