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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Success Is Great, But Failure Is Better

Fail and fail often.

Don’t let success get to your head, but don’t let failure get to your heart. Know that things don’t always work out as planned, and that is OK!

For many millennials, it’s easiest to just give up when something doesn’t go your way. But take heart. Success is great, but failure is better. The reality is, you’re going to fail... a lot.

Failure does not mean your idea was not good or that your dream isn’t valid.

Failure means you have more to learn.

Failure is GOOD.

It shows you that you did something wrong and that you need to take a redirection. It’s an opportunity to come back stronger with a better attack plan. It’s a second chance.

Having failed many times in my life, there’s one thing for sure: failing sucks. It sucks being disappointed. It sucks not succeeding on the first try. However, you can learn to become a good failure.

Failing is inevitable, which is why it is important to learn from our mistakes. You’ll learn more from a single failure than a lifetime of success. Here’s what you can do when you mess up: accept what you can’t change, keep an open mind, maintain a positive attitude, and know that nothing will be perfect.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I was on an engineering team at my school. I was extremely confident in our abilities as a team, so when we didn’t advance to the world finals, I was devastated. The next year, however, my team placed second at the national competition, and we advanced to the world finals. If I had allowed that initial failure to consume me, I wouldn’t have been successful the next year.

It was not easy to advance to the world finals, but because I took my previous failure as a learning opportunity, my team succeeded. I knew I couldn’t change the past, so I didn’t focus on it. I kept an open mind about the competition and did not allow my bitterness to harden me, thus maintaining a positive attitude. My team wasn’t perfect, and I knew that. But I knew if we worked hard, we would succeed. We did.

Every failure is feedback on how to improve. Nothing works unless you do, and nothing works exactly the way you want it to. Failure is life’s greatest teacher; it’s nothing to be scared of. If we are so focused on not failing, we will never succeed.

So fail, and fail often.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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7 Things English Majors Go Through

Yes, I'm an English major. No, I'm not throwing away my education.

I love being an English major.

And no -- I'm not lying.

While I do advocate for womxn in tech and the rise of STEM majors, my heart belongs to the humanities and more importantly: English Literature.

Here are some of the things as an English Major that I have experienced:

1. So... Do you wanna be a teacher?

As an English Major, my sole purpose of getting my degree is not to just become a teacher. I also want to be a writer. Get it right. I also want to be a teacher, though, so...

2. Writer's Block

Writer's block = hell unleashed. My brain is my most valued. My heart, too, but my brain is what helps me actually write my essays and poems. When my brain isn't working, I'm not working, and with those two not working -- I'm not getting anything done.

3. Having Friends Ask You To Edit Their Papers

My mood 24/7 when people ask me to edit their papers. I'm working on my own, leave me alone. Seriously though, I know I'm an English major, but there's a reason why office hours were created -- but if you REALLY need my editing/revising, pay up.

4. Reading "Whatever" Literature

There are some great works that I love reading (Frankenstein, Great Expectations, Dr. J & Mr. H, etc). But if I'm forced to read another book that EVERYONE has "read" and ends with the classic patriarchal ending -- I'd rather not. Give me some more Mary Shelley, please.

5. Reading AMAZING Literature

OK BUT WHEN THE CLASS READS SOMETHING LIKE MRS. DALLOWAY -- I AM SO HAPPY (I love you, V.W). But, honestly, I love most literature (especially classics). It's only with very few works that I'm upset with reading. (50 Shades of Grey? Blegh.)

6. Getting Trash-Talked About Your Major

OkAy, SuSaN, I get that you're happy with being in the business school, but frankly I don't care, so don't worry about me or my major. We, English majors, get trash-talked about our majors. Back in the day, our major was considered noble and great -- and now it's considered as "throwing away our education".

7. Knowing that We Chose the Right Major

In my experience in college so far, I've met very few -- actually no one who has changed their major from English Lit/CRTWRT. (Disclaimer: I'm sure there are some?) But those of us who stayed with this major know that we chose the right path for ourselves. While our friends in STEM, Business, etc. are "having fun" with their path, we get to read our favorite works, write, and appreciate the arts. So... who's the real winner? ;)

Cover Image Credit: Study Breaks

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