On Walking Home Alone: The Danger And Freedom Of Female Solitude

On Walking Home Alone: The Danger And Freedom Of Female Solitude

The subtle danger of being a woman, as experienced in the first semester of college
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Before coming to college, I didn’t really walk around much by myself at night.

If I did go out at night, it was always with friends, and I would always either drive myself home or get driven by someone else. I also lived in the suburbs, so if I did walk somewhere at night, it was fairly safe. Since coming to USC, this has changed by necessity. I don’t have a car, but even if I did I wouldn’t use it to drive across campus to hang out with my friends, or go to the library or a late night Starbucks run.

And even though I am often in a group, if I’m hanging out with people who live in other dorms, I will inevitably end up walking home alone. Sometimes that’s gonna be at 3 am.

When I first got here a couple months ago, I would always hear my mother’s voice in my head. “Whatever you do, don’t walk around by yourself at night. You never know who’s going to be around and what can happen.”

At one point early in the semester, while talking to her on the phone, she told me about her friend’s daughter’s experience in college: she had been walking home alone one night and a man jumped out of the bushes and attempted to strangle her. Law enforcement was able to intervene, but the worst came very close to happening.

So I got an app where my friends could “virtually” walk me home, and I did use it once. But once I got more used to the routine of walking home alone, I ended up deleting it.

There’s sort of a feeling of freedom that comes with walking alone at night. When it feels like you’re the only person on campus, and the world is yours. The nighttime air seems pleasant, not frightening, if you are in the right mindset. But there’s always that thought in the back of my mind: what if the worst did happen to me? I can get almost to the point of feeling like a man, with nothing to worry about, just taking a walk, but this freedom doesn’t ever really exist for me.

A recent weekend, on Saturday night, I was walking home alone after a party, scantily clad, and I realized that I resembled every female character in a horror story that gets separated from her friends and is then horrifically murdered. It’s her solitude that puts her in danger. As women, we’re taught to fear solitude above all else, and not without good reason. We go to the bathroom in packs, we take pains to not get separated at parties, we don’t let each other walk home alone when we can avoid it. But sometimes you can’t avoid being separated. It just happens. And what then?

So much of what we do for fun as college students is subtly dangerous to women. Every time we go out and drink, there’s a chance of getting raped, or even killed, if we somehow end up alone. The only way to be completely safe is to never go out at all. And I’m not talking about just parties. I’m talking about not leaving your dorm if it’s past 9 pm. That’s the choice we always face as women: accept the limits to your freedom or say “fuck that” and put yourself in danger.

Neither is a great option, but that’s where we’re at.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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Signs You're An INFJ, The World's Rarest Personality Type

INFJ, from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator instrument, is believed to be the rarest personality type, and to make up less than 2% of the population. Oh, and I am one.
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INFJ, referring to one of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, has become a bit of a buzzword in the media over the past several years. The reason behind it: INFJ is considered to be the rarest personality type, making up less than 2% of the world's entire population. They are labeled as "The Advocate," and have been described as "mysterious," "intuitive," and "emotionally intelligent," yet the type as a whole is often misunderstood.

Oh, and I am one. Perhaps you are, as well.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, created in the 1940's by mother and daughter, Isabel Myers and Katharine Briggs, originally stems from the typological theories of Carl Jung, a prominent psychoanalyst. The test assesses an individual in 4 categories: Extroversion vs. Introversion, Sensing vs. Intuition, Thinking vs. Feeling, and Judging vs. Perceiving, and using these criteria, determines which category one’s personality most tilts toward. INFJs would be those individuals whose personalities favor the sides of Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judging.

INFJs can be difficult to spot due to the fact that they are not prevalent in society and tend to be reserved individuals. However, INFJs make fiercely loyal friends, empathetic and organized workers, and exceptional leaders for causes they deem worthy and for the greater good of humanity.

INFJs often report feeling lonely and "different," and for good reason. INFJs are low in numbers so they tend to have trouble finding others who see the world in the same realm as they do. Most people who are this type have admitted feeling different from their peers since they were a very young child.

INFJs take an all-or-nothing approach to life. INFJs, a curious mix of emotional and logical, do not like to waste their time on anything inauthentic. Although they may dabble with playing the field, INFJs are truly about quality over quantity and will become disinterested in anyone or anything they perceive as being fraudulent, scheming or wishy-washy.

INFJs exude warmness, and others immediately feel comfortable in their presence. It is not uncommon for a stranger to sit down next to an INFJ and within minutes, disclose their most personal secrets, fears and dreams. In fact, this happens frequently to INFJs with seemingly no rhyme or reason. This personality type has a knack for making others immediately feel at ease, and they are great listeners and trusted confidants who speak in human terms and meet others where they are.

INFJs are somewhat empathic, and they tend to "just know" things. One of my favorite one-liners from Game of Thrones is by the character, Tyrion Lannister, "I drink and I know things," and this can often be said of an INFJ, with maybe fewer libations. INFJs have a highly-accurate sense of intuition that they have been sharpening for all of their lives. Without understanding exactly why or how, an INFJ will see, within minutes of meeting an individual, their true character. As a result, they tend to be more forgiving of their friends who exhibit unruly behavior because they can identify the true root of the behavior, such as insecurities or past trauma.

INFJs ultimately seek genuine truth and meaning. This personality type does not care one iota about grandiose tales or extravagant gestures if there is not a true and genuine motive behind them. An INFJ’s calling in life is to seek insight and understanding, and as they develop, they often can spot a lie or half-truth in a moment's notice. If they believe an individual to be a phony or a manipulator, they will have no trouble writing them off. Likewise, this type often enjoys traveling, adventures and experiences that heighten their understanding of the intricacies of life and promote self-reflection.

INFJs are true introverts, yet people not very close to them believe them to be extroverts. This happens because INFJs can be social chameleons and have an innate ability to blend in in any social setting. The INFJ can be the life of the party for a night or two, showcasing their inviting nature and vivaciousness. However, this is never prolonged because, in introverted-fashion, they lose energy from others. Those close to an INFJ know that this type prefers bars over clubs and barbecues over balls, and can give a speech to thousands of people but cringes at the idea of mingling with the crowd afterward. Eventually, this type will need to retreat home for some quiet time to "recharge their batteries," or they will become very on-edge and exhausted.

INFJs have intense, unwavering convictions, sometimes to a fault. An INFJ has certain ideas about the world and a need to foster change in society. These are deep-seated and intense beliefs that they will never abandon. If a career, relationship, or law does not align with their moral compass, an INFJ will have no qualms about ignoring it or leaving it in the dust.

INFJs tend to keep a small circle of friends and prefer to work alone. Although an INFJ may have hundreds of acquaintances, if they call you a "friend," you can be sure that they mean it for life. This type can count their close friends on a set of fingers and they will be loyal and devoted to these prized individuals no matter how much time passes between their interactions. An INFJ can be a great team player but the idea of group projects and collaboration meetings naturally make them sink down in their seat. These are people who enjoy working from home or in a quaint office with a handful of like-minded coworkers.

INFJs cannot stand small talk. This trait aligns with the need to pursue truth and all things bona fide. To an INFJ, small talk not only takes energy, but has little purpose as it is merely speaking to fill silence without revealing any deeper layers of the individuals involved. Do not talk to an INFJ about the weather unless you want to see a glazed-over look. Instead, tell them about the causes you are promoting, the wish-list of your soul, or the way you smile every time you smell lavender because it reminds you of your great grandmother.

INFJs are typically high-achievers and people-pleasers. If you want a task done right the first time, hand it over to an INFJ. They will plan every detail down to the minute and will always deliver a glowing finished product. However, when delivering criticism to this type, do it gently, as they take every word to heart and are always striving for perfection. This type is a unique blend of a dreamer and a doer, but they can easily fall prey to extreme bouts of anxiety or depression centered on feelings of inadequacy or failure.

INFJs are gifted in language and are often creative writers. In accordance with their introverted nature, INFJs prefer to spend time alone and develop enriched inner-lives with many hobbies and skills. This type has trouble conveying their emotions verbally, so they turn to pen and paper. This, combined with their creative nature, leaves no surprise that the majority of successful writers are, in fact, INFJs.

INFJs make decisions based off of emotion and insight. An INFJ judges the world around them and the people in it based off of how they make them feel. This type does not care about track records and performance history, instead they look for the heart of the matter and how a person or company treats them personally. This type will trust their "gut feeling" about a situation and go with that, which has almost always proven to be accurate.

INFJs like to reflect on deep thoughts about their purpose and the world around them. This type is a thinker. INFJs are old-souls who spend a lot of time in their own minds reflecting on their purpose and the meaning behind everything that happens to them. They are often readers, researchers and intellectuals who truly enjoy learning. Although this is a noble endeavor, it is essential that the INFJ has friends, typically of the extroverted type, who can help them to be less serious and relax every now and then.

INFJs are visionaries who always see the big picture. This type tends to always operate about ten steps ahead. They are skilled planners and focus their sights on the end goal and what is needed to propel them there. However, while INFJs are off in dreamland about their futures, they can sometimes forget to be present in the world that is happening now. As a result, they do well with other more grounded types who can remind them to live in the moment.

INFJs are "fixers," and they gravitate towards people who need help. This type loves a good fixer-upper and with their ability to see the "good bones" of another person, their true motives and intentions, and to readily provide comfort and compassion, they fall victim to the Broken Wing Theory, or the idea that they can rescue others who have a "broken wing," or who have been dealt a poor hand. This can be rewarding for the hopeful INFJ but also frustrating and depleting when boundaries are overstepped.

INFJs seek lifelong, true-blue relationships. This type usually finds themselves with intuitive extroverts, such as the ENTPs, ENFPs, and ENFJs. These types connect with the INFJ on the deeper plane of intuition, yet also will get the INFJ out of their own heads and out on the town on a Saturday night.

Think you might be an INFJ? Find out which type you are here: https://www.mbtionline.com/.

Cover Image Credit: www.pexels.com

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10 Tips On How Not To Waste Your Time When You're Traveling

Sporadic trips are great, but maybe plan a little on the train ride in.

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For New Years, I took a trip to Boston. It wasn't sporadic— my boyfriend and I booked a room at Boston's Verb hotel, situated across from Fenway Park, about a month in advance. However, we didn't look at how we were going to get to Boston until the day before we left, or what we were going to do until the day we got there. If we had sat down and cracked open our laptops for 45 minutes while we watched American Horror Story reruns on Netflix, we wouldn't have spent so much on transportation and walking around in freezing rain looking for something to do. However, while we were content not going out and getting "drunklestiltskin" levels of drunk, it might have been better if we outlined what we were going to do on New Years Day and how we were going to get there.

We ended up spending about $10 to us the T, which isn't bad, but we spent $30 on parking and $45 on Uber rides, which wasn't bad until our last driver took the long way. If we had researched the area a little better, we might have been able to find things to do in the area we were staying, or map out a route to take using public transportation.

1. Book your hotel in the area you want to visit

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By doing this, you'll save on transportation costs because you'll either be within walking distance, or public transportation will have stops close to the places you want to visit. You also will be less likely to get stranded in an area you're unfamiliar with.

2. Get an idea ahead of time the things you want to do, and map out how you'll get there

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This helps you create a budget for transportation so that you don't think you're stranded in an area that doesn't have public transportation. Ubers can be expensive, especially if the driver takes the wrong turn, or wants to learn your life story.

3. Budget so you don't overspend

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Plan out how much you want to spend on transportation, how much you want to spend on food, and how much you want to spend on alcohol, so that way you don't spend all of your money, and have to create a new life or ask someone to borrow money you may never be able to pay back.

4. Don't be afraid to talk to strangers

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My boyfriend and I asked several bartenders where the best place to get a bite to eat would be, and that's how we found our new favorite restaurant— Eastern Standard. It's like the perfect restaurant if you don't think too hard about it. But our server had to tell us the staff at the bar wasn't being paid to endorse or promote it. It was just really good.

5. Look for stuff ahead of time

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If there's some type of public event, or you decide to visit on New Year's, St. Patty's Day, or on another popular date, look to see if you need tickets, and buy those ahead of time. If the weather isn't good, this will keep you from standing in line in the rain only to find out the cover charge is $60 a head.

6. Learn how to read the subway maps

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Ask someone who's been there and is good with direction, or get an app, so you don't get on the train going in the opposite direction of where you need to be. Boston and New York City should have apps where you can get the live subway schedule, so look for that if you need to.

7. Leave your car if you can

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Find a good, safe place to park, and if you know you're staying overnight, make sure the garage or lot allows that. This will also force you to explore what's around the area and you may just find something great you wouldn't have found otherwise.

8. Look at peak times

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If you're going somewhere popular to tourists, look at peak times so you can plan ahead and get there a little sooner. Standing in line is fun and all, but people can make or break that, especially when it comes to anything getting in the way of food (at least for me).

9. If you're a frequent flyer, try Pre-TSA

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If you fly a lot, you know TSA security checks can make or break your trip. If you're deemed low risk, you can get through security faster. Apply on the TSA website— www.tsa.gov

10. Don't just look at hotels

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For international travelers, hostels can be great. Some will let you stay for free if you do a few chores. Other great choices are Air BnBs and even camping. I also had a friend who couch surfed through an app, but do that at your own risk.

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