No Means No

No Means No

"If you didn't like it, you wouldn't be kissing me back."

"No" is one of the first words we learn as children. I learned mine with my parents and my older siblings telling me "no". I learned the stinging feeling someone can have when saying "no". I adapted this quality, always never letting my voice quiver when I say something I mean.

There was loud music. I love music. Not specifically my type of music was playing, so I kept to myself. Couples were kissing, sneaking off into separate rooms. I also had no desire to fulfill the teenage girl roll people think we have of "hooking up" with a guy. He approached me, asking about my ex. What had we done? Why did it go bad? What kind of things was I "down to do?". Talking about my past relationship was not exactly what I wanted to do, I stated as I began to get up and grab a snack from the table filled with cheese puffs, pretzels, pop and cookies.

"You're really pretty. You have beautiful eyes." Thanks, I got them from my father. He persisted, sitting very close to me, and beginning to touch me. "Do you want to just mess around?" "No one else is up here, no one will know." "C'mon, do you know how hard it is to find a girl like you." After each of his sentences pounded in my head, I respond with a simple "no".

Nevertheless, it went on, into the night as nore people started to drift off into separate rooms, out of the main room, leaving me laying on the floor wrapped in a blanket, half sleeping. He was sitting across the room, until he got up and moved by me once again. This time he didn't ask. There were no questions. As he touched my body, a safe place for me with patchy scars and freckles scattered like the stars. He grabbed me, kissed me against my will, saying "If you didn't like it, you wouldn't be kissing me back."

If you didn't like it, you wouldn't be kissing me back.

My hundreds of thousands of "no's" floated away, with no meaning to them. They lost the sting I knew as a child, they lost the seriousness when I said it earlier that night. And as I sat there on the floor, still saying no, I realized no never had a meaning to him. It was an empty, bottomless word. I then realized he was an empty, bottomless person. Hollow, with no beating heart to feel compassion or regret.

I don't blame myself now. I know when I say no, I mean it. I sometimes get reminded of that night and the countless times I said "no". When I see someone that was at the same house, in a different room, I think about if they heard my all of the times I said "no". Did they know I was saying no? Did they see me get up and leave? Did they know what happened? Sometimes when I see him, dodging eye contact and going off to a separate room, I think about all of the times I said no. Does he think about it? What role does "no" serve in our society, if people don't have a universal definition?

Cover Image Credit: Katie Minarsich

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Empowering Mantras That Soothe The Soul

Learn and repeat these mantras to center yourself.

January is the month of change. We can decide to change at any time during the year, but the start of the new year pushes us to be our best self. If you have something you want to stop, or start doing, now is the time. As I sit in Spain far away from my family, friends, and peanut butter (which is shockingly impossible to find in Spain), I’m confronted with a new challenge and a new opportunity to grow. Although studying abroad is an incredible opportunity and I am more than grateful, I would be lying if I said there aren’t moments of crying in the shower and longing for my body pillow at home (his name is Maxwell and he is pink, and no, I’m not pregnant).

Whenever I get overwhelmed I find it extremely helpful to stop, take a deep breath (or sixty) and repeat calming mantras to myself until the feeling passes. Mantras can be words or sentences and phrases that you can repeat to yourself anytime, although traditionally they have been used during meditation. The goal is to help focus the mind internally and block out any external distractions. It helps to center you and mentally decongest. Scientifically, the benefits are incredible.

The repetition of mantras have been linked to a decrease in heart rate, brain waves and the ability to slow down breathing.

“I am enough”

Fake it till you make it. Believe it or not, say it over and over again. We are what we think, so think positive.

“This too shall pass”

Life goes on even when you think it can’t. We have to experience the peaks and valleys to live a full life. Remember that in a bad moment, it will pass and a new feeling will replace it. And treasure and revel in the good moments because you know what you have overcome and what you may face in the future.

“I am grateful”

Your nail breaks, you spill your coffee, you tumble down a flight of stairs. Plenty of things happen throughout our days that may cloud our overall perception. Challenge yourself in those negative moments to list three events or people you may have overlooked that made your day brighter. Gratitude literally alters the way our brains process our emotions and thoughts and the best part is that we are in control of making our thoughts positive.

“Let it Be”

Time and time again we learn this lesson. It is what it is, what will be will be. That’s not to say it’s always a graceful moment of acceptance, but there’s a certain freedom in knowing that so many things are out of our control.

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5 Must Things To Do During Second Semester

Looking for things to do during this winter season? This list has got you covered.

For many of us who have just started our second semester, or are about to, the stress of college is about to come at you full force and smack you in the face. Personally, I find second semester to be much more difficult compared to first semester.

First semester is filled with tailgates, football games, hayrides, pumpkin patches, Thanksgiving, Halloween, the list can go on and on. Due to the fact that there's so many more activities to do first semester than second, that can lead to a semi-dull second semester. With that being said however, here's a list of things you can do to prevent all that boredom.

1. Go to other sporting events that your college offers you

College sports are one of the best parts of living in America so you might as well take full advantage of them. Even though football season may be over, hockey and basketball season are in full swing right now. Also, by end of March and beginning of April, baseball will start as well. Going to games as a student is a great way to have fun with your friends while not having to bust open the piggy bank.

2. Pajama and movie nights

A simple enough idea, but has the potential to have tons of fun if you decide to give it your all. During the winter, especially up north, it can be brutally cold so staying inside is priority majority of the time. But that doesn't mean there's not a way to enjoy all that cold.

Curl up with your best friends whether it be in your dorm room or apartment while showing off the funniest or best pajamas you own. Pick out your favorite movies and settle down for a night full of laughter, gossip, and memories.

3. Enjoy the outdoors

Even though I just said that winters up north can be brutally, there's still plenty to offer when it comes to enjoying the great outdoors. Go ice skating and watch all of your friends struggle to stay upright and fall down, or go skiing/snowboarding and enjoy the beauty of the snow while getting a great workout in.

Or, you could be like my friends and steal dining hall food trays and use those to sled down some hills. Having these options can help you look forward to the winter and enjoy activities other than staying inside.

4. Go to a museum

Learning about different cultures or parts of history can be a lot more fascinating than people would like to admit. Go to your local college museum and check out cool facts there or drive to a city around you to check out other museums as well. If you're close to a moderate to large city, you will usually be able to find a history museum, aquarium, or some type of science museums. These are fun ways to learn new facts about the past, present, and future of our world.

5. Day trip

Spontaneous (or not spontaneous) day trips can be a blast with your friends or significant other. Choose a random place to go and drive there. Find something to do wherever you go. You'll make some great memories that'll last you a lifetime. It doesn't even have to be far, it can be only 30 minutes away and still be just as fun. Where the destination is doesn't matter, it's who you're going with that matters.

I hope these 5 ideas of what to do in the winter will help you enjoy your second semester of college while still having as much as first semester. After all, you're only in college for four years, so take advantage of everything you can do while you can!

Cover Image Credit: Maddie Blank

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