'The Year of Living Awkwardly' Is The Perfect Back-To-School Read

'The Year of Living Awkwardly' Is The Perfect Back-To-School Read

Our favorite high school disaster starts sophomore year.

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"The Year of Living Awkwardly" is the second book in the Chloe Snow's Diary series by Emma Chastain. The first book, "Confessions of A High School Disaster" follows Chloe Snow, a Massachusetts teen, through her freshman year of high school, and this book picks up right where the last one stopped, with Chloe working at the pool during the summer.

At her job, Chloe gets to know incoming freshman Grady, who has a crush on her. However, she is wary of dating a freshman because she's worried about what the people at school will think. It's not until they get back to school that she realizes she actually likes him back, but it's too late, as he is already dating the most popular and low-key meanest girl in her grade.

Chloe's mom, who has been living in Mexico for the past year, is trying to win a custody agreement to have her stay in Mexico for part of the year and attempts to manipulate Chloe through email into agreeing. Meanwhile, Chloe's dad is dating her English teacher/drama club director, and she has to deal with having another woman in the house that isn't her mom after a year of it being just her and her dad.

Fuckboy Mac Brody returns from college, revealing that he broke up with his girlfriend, with intentions to hook up with Chloe. Since Chloe had wished to be with him all last year, while he played around with her even though he had a girlfriend, she decides to give him a chance since Grady is already dating someone anyway. Ultimately, Chloe feels cheap and ashamed to be hooking up with Mac and tells him it's over because she deserves something more serious.

Chloe also has to deal with her best friend Hannah becoming friends with the same mean girl that is dating Grady, and Hannah not believing Chloe about her being mean. Her other best friend Tristan is heartbroken because his college boyfriend didn't want to keep up a long distance relationship, but agrees to go out with Elliot, a nice boy that's in drama club with him, Chloe, and Hannah, that visibly likes Tristan more than he likes Elliot.

After a subpar audition, Chloe is dismayed to find out that she's going to be part of the ensemble in their spring musical, "South Pacific," after playing Maria in "The Sound of Music" last year. She decides not to quit because she'd miss her friends too much if she did. Chloe additionally thinks, during a warm-up exercise backstage before opening night, that being in the ensemble has led her to get to know a lot of the people in the cast, and now she actually cares a lot more about the other people doing the energy circle with her, as opposed to last year when she only interacted with the other leads.

I would highly recommend this book; Chloe is a very relatable character that goes through emotions we can all understand and has experiences that are very familiar to any reader.

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn’t sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It’s obvious your calling wasn’t coaching and you weren’t meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn’t have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn’t your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that’s how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “it's not what you say, its how you say it.”

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won’t even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don’t hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That’s the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she’s the reason I continued to play.”

I don’t blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn’t working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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4 Things I Learned Growing Up Playing Sports With Boys

Playing two different sports throughout my life with mostly guys has been both scary and rewarding.

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Recently, I joined a taekwondo class at the local YMCA. It wasn't quite as daunting as some may think. My taekwondo career began about seven years ago, and this school is associated with my school back home. It was familiar to me, almost like I was still taking classes back home. The most familiar thing is that I'm still one of the only females in the class. While I was never the only female in taekwondo class back home, no other girls or women stuck around in class during the seven years.

Taekwondo isn't the first male-dominated sport that I've participated in. Being an athlete has been part of my identity since the age of 6. My love for sports started when my dad introduced me to the Seattle Mariners. I played Little League baseball for five years and I was the only girl for four of those years. While I was never in the top of the batting lineup or played the coolest positions, I still had a successful baseball career.

Comparing these two sports has never been something that I've thought deeply about until I joined the new taekwondo class. It makes sense to do so since they've both played significant roles in my life.

Here are four things that I've experienced while participating in male-dominated sports.

1. I've been told to do "girl pushups" too many times.

I experienced this mostly while playing baseball. No one ever tried to stop me from playing baseball, but there were times where I was singled out and told to "adjust" the workout because they attributed my struggle to the fact that I'm a girl.

2. People have been surprised at my capabilities.

There have been multiple instances where I made a play or scored a point while sparing a guy. How I made the play or scored always seemed routine to me, but I've had people come up to me and were stunned at what they just saw me, a girl, do. In my more recent memory, I was sparing a guy for our belt test. I scored on him with a spinning hook kick, which was routine for me. He gasped in shock. After the test, the same guy came up to me and said, "That kick was amazing!" and shook my hand. It wasn't until my instructor pointed out to me that he probably hasn't spared very many women at a brown belt level that I realized that he was genuinely shocked.

3. Personal doubt is chronic.

I'm aware that I shouldn't compare myself to others, but the fact that I'm surrounded by mostly guys is really daunting. Using gender to fuel my doubt is such a cop out, but it's a reality I'm sure that other females experience, both in sports and in the real world. Even though I've proven to myself multiple times that I have the capability to compete against guys, the stereotypes still get to me after all this time.

4. Many people want to see me succeed.

I've been blessed with having supportive coaches and instructors. They've been sympathetic to the fact that it's hard to be different and that it's not easy having to represent other females in the sport. One of the reasons why I was able to play baseball for so long and continue to push towards getting my black belt in taekwondo is the fact that my coaches and instructors were always there to help improve my technique and make me stronger.

I'm glad that I experienced and continue to experience participating in male-dominated sports. It's taught me to be strong and to not give up if my opponent has certain advantages over me. I encourage other women and girls to participate in male-dominated sports. It's not easy but rewarding when you succeed.

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