We are a generation that is criticized for oversharing. We post every accomplishment on Facebook, every good picture we take on Instagram and every thought we have on Twitter. We are obsessed with presenting a version of ourselves that is polished, successful, fun and witty to the world. We use media outlets to gain a control on the perception that other people have of us that is unprecedented. We can literally broadcast (the good parts) of our personal lives for the world to see. Part of this is really incredible. It opens our eyes to the lives of people around us. It shows us a side of our friends and families that we might not have ever seen. It shrinks our world- connecting us to strangers through common thoughts and interests. Social media opens up a dialogue that has never existed before; it creates a familiarity that has forever changed the way we interact with one another, which in many cases is great. However, this increased access into the personal life of people around us can also be toxic. Along with older, more traditional media outlets, Snapchat has changed the way we relate to one another. It has given us the opportunity to share our most casual moments with the world. While in someways Snapchat is more private than other forms of social media, as it is generally reserved for closer friends and posts only last for 24 hours, Snapchat boasts a level of intimacy that can be toxic. Snapchat allows users to practically stream their lives to their "friends." This all access account can be very entertaining, but it can also be too much. When we share things non social media, they take on a glow of being special and exciting. Because Snapchat is used more frequently than other platforms, it can make events that we miss out on look more special than they actually are. It can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. I noticed this summer that as I watched my friend's Snapchat stories if felt left out, even when I saw events that I could not have possibly gone to. I realized that this wasn't the purpose of social media. It was supposed to help me connect with friends, not feel isolated. So I decided to cut Snapchat stories out of my daily routine. At first it was diffcilt to miss out on seeing my friends' daily lives. But soon I realized that I was happier for not knowing every litteldetail. I started focusing more on my own life and what I was doing, while still being able to keep in touch with people over different forms of social media. Pushing myself thto give up a habit that was popular but also toxic showed me that there is such a thing as oversharing and giving up that part of culture can lead to a happier life.
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To the girl struggling with her body image,
You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.
Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.
So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.
Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.
Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.
Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.
It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.
So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.
Love your body, and your body will love you right back.
It's now been a week since I stepped foot on the African continent for the first time in my life. I first visited Johannesburg, where my dad and I spent a day on an 'apartheid tour.'
This tour consisted of visiting Shanty Town, one of the poorest communities in South Africa. The living conditions were indeed different. They had to steal electricity through homemade wires connected to the telephone poles. They had only a few porta potties for ten families to share. They had several spickets to obtain fresh water from. There was no heating in the houses, which were made from pieces of painted aluminum.
Such inconvenient circumstances have come from years of oppression towards black people in South Africa. It was incredibly sad to know that these problems still exist and that apartheid only ended so recently.
On the other hand, the people showed very little anger. Despite their living situations, the people of Shanty Town were so kind and welcoming. Everyone we passed smiled and waved, often even saying hello or asking about our wellbeing.
It brought some serious warmth to our hearts to see their sense of community. Everyone was in it together, and no man was left behind. They created jobs and opportunities for one another. They supported each other.
The next part of the day included a tour of Nelson Mandela's old house. We then made a trip to the Apartheid Museum.
Overall, Johannesburg did not disappoint. The city contains a rich history that human beings as a whole can learn a lot from. Johannesburg is a melting pot that still contains a multitude of issues concerning racism and oppression of certain cultures.
After two days in Johannesburg, my family made our way to Madikwe game reserve, where we stayed at Jaci's Lodge.
The safari experience was absolutely incredible. Quite cold (it's winter in Africa right now), but amazing enough to make up for the shivering. We saw all my favorite animals: giraffes galore, elephants, zebras, impalas, lions, hyenas, wildebeests, rhinos, you name it. While my favorite animal will always be the giraffe, I don't think any sighting could beat when two different herds of elephants passed through a watering hole to fuel up on a drink.
Finally on June 1st, I flew to George to start my program with Africa Media in Mossel Bay. On Sunday, we went on an 'elephant walk.'
The safari was certainly cool, but that makes the elephant walk ice cold. We got to walk alongside two male elephants - one was 25, the other 18. They were so cute!! We got to stroke their skin, trunk, and tusks. They had their own little personalities and were so excited to receive treats (fruits and vegetables) at the end of the journey.
My heart couldn't be more full. Africa, you have become my favorite continent. And it sure is going to take a lot to drag me away from you.