What Being Engaged at 17 Taught Me

What Being Engaged at 17 Taught Me

Am I the only girl in her 20's that isn't engaged right now?
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It was early afternoon two years ago when my fiancé said, “Wanna go get coffee?”

We’d never, in the almost three years of being in a relationship, gone for coffee. He hated coffee. I knew that something was wrong and I felt it in the pit of my stomach.

We didn’t end up grabbing coffee, instead we sat in his white Mustang in a nearby Mission Viejo suburb, where he admitted to cheating on me a week earlier when he was blacked out at a party. I remember hitting him on his chest, watching the tears stream down his face and wondering what I had done wrong to push him so far away. He dropped me off at my grandparent’s house and he drove down their street for the last time.

I was 17 when I asked him to buy me a ring from the jewelry store at Disneyland and I obsessed over my a-little-too-big cubic zirconia $16 emblem of our unending love that rested on my finger. We talked about having our ceremony on the beach and digging our toes in the sand. I wanted Harry Potter themed items in the décor and he loathed the idea. I should have seen that as the first red flag.

Now at 22 almost every month one of my Facebook friends becomes engaged. I see endless pictures of my feed of stunning rings with captions like "Feyonce", "He put a ring on it", and even more relationship statuses changed to "engaged" to finally cement their love.

(Photo via Huffington Post)

This May I went to one of my high school best friend’s wedding to her lover of only a few months, and I cried while I watched them dance and feed each other cake. I look at these pictures and rub the empty place on my finger where my old ring used to be. It’s hard not to measure my worth as a young woman in her 20s against these young and blushing brides–some years younger than me, flashing their pearly whites beside their handsome beaus. Obviously I know I’m worth more on my own than what a marriage license could give me, but how can I not see these new fiancés and remember when I, too, was planning my special day in a whirlwind romance of love?

It took months and months of crying, Netflix binging and late night conversations with friends in order to get over the man who “got away”. Even now, it’s hard not to feel a quiet pang in my heart when I watch David Tutera’s My Fair Wedding and wonder what could have been. For two years, though, I have never regretted the path that I’m now on.

What I realized is that relationship taught me a lot about my worth as a woman. Being left by someone I was going to walk down the aisle with broke me, but it made me realize what I did and didn’t want in a partner. It was hard, but because of it I take relationships very seriously. I follow my mother's advice, which is to never date anyone I wouldn't marry. I will never again settle for someone. Saying “I do” means more to me now than it ever did before. It doesn’t just mean pinning wedding dresses all day; it means building a lasting and trusting relationship with another person.

(Photo via Instagram)

While it's not my personal path, I say congratulations to all you newlyweds out there. And, to anyone else who is a bit jaded by all the social media engagements, remember we're all on our paths. Marriage isn't on the table for you right now, but it will when the time is right. As for me, I think I’m going to wait just a little bit longer, until I finally feel in my heart that a ring on my finger is meant to be.

Cover Image Credit: Grey Likes Weddings

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4 reasons how Drake's New Album May Help Us Fight Mental Illness

Increasing Evidence Points to Music as a Potential Solution to the Mental Health Problem.

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Okay, You caught me!

I am NOT just talking about everybody's favorite actor-turned-rapper— or second, if you've seen Childish Gambino's "This is America" music video. Unfortunately, current research hasn't explored specific genres and artists. However, studies HAVE provided significant evidence in possibilities for music to treat mental health disorders. Now, before you say something that your parents would not be proud of, ask yourself if you can really blame me for wanting to get your attention. This is an urgent matter concerning each one of us. If we all face the truth, we could very well reach one step closer to solving one of society's biggest problems: Mental Health.

The Problem:

As our nation continues to bleed from tragedies like the horrific shooting that shattered the lives of 70 families whose loved ones just wanted to watch the "Dark Knight Rises" during its first hours of release, as well as the traumatic loss of seventeen misfortunate innocents to the complications of mental health disorders in the dear city of Parkland— a city mere hours from our very own community— it's impossible to deny the existence of mental illness. As many of us can already vouch, mental illness is much more common than what most would think: over 19 million adults in America suffer from a mental health disorder. Picture that: a population slightly less than that of Florida is plagued by hopelessness, isolation, and utter despair.

Disease in the form of depression holds millions of people prisoner, as anxieties instill crippling desperation and too many struggles with finding peace. This can be you. It could be your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, your cousin, your aunt, your uncle, your friend, your roommate, your fraternity brother, your sorority sister, your lab partner, or just your classmate that sits in the corner of the lecture hall with a head buried into a notebook that camouflages all emotion.

I hope we— the UCF community— understand the gravity of the problem, but it's clear that some still see mental illness as a disease that affects only a handful of "misfits" who "terrorize" our streets, while the numbers reveal more to the issue. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans suffers from a mental health disorder. The problem is so serious that suicide has risen to become the second-leading cause of death among 20 to 24-year-olds. While many continue to ask for more antidepressants and even the occasional "proper spanking," recent studies indicate increases in occurrence, such as one in depression from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015. So, clearly, none of that is working.

The Evidence:

If we really want to create a world where our children are free from the chains of mental illness, we need to think outside the box. Doctors and scientists won't really talk about this since it's still a growing field of research, but music has strong potential. We don't have any options at the moment, which means we need to change our mindset about music and to continue to explore its medicinal benefits. If you're still skeptical because of the title, then please consider these 4 pieces of solid evidence backed by scientific research:

1. Music has been proven to improve disorders like Parkinson's Disease.

Researchers sponsored by the National Institute of Health— the country's largest research agency— saw an improvement in the daily function of patients with Parkinson's Disease. This makes patients shake uncontrollably, which often prevents them from complete functionality. The disease is caused by a shortage of dopamine— a chemical your neurons, or brain cells, release; since music treats this shortage, there's an obvious ability to increase dopamine levels. As numerous studies connect dopamine shortages to mental illnesses like depression, addiction, and ADHD, someone could possibly use music's proven ability to increase dopamine levels to treat said problems.

2. Listening to the music has the potential to activate your brain's "reward center."

In 2013, Valorie Salimpoor and fellow researchers conducted a study that connected subjects' pleasure towards music to a specific part of the brain. This key structure, the nucleus accumbens, is the body's "reward center," which means all of you have experienced its magical powers. In fact, any time the brain detects a rewarding sensation— drinking ice-cold water after a five-mile run in sunny, humid Florida, eating that Taco Bell chalupa after a long happy hour at Knight's Library, and even consuming recreational drugs— this structure releases more of that fantastic dopamine. So, with further research into specifics, doctors may soon be prescribing your daily dose of tunes for your own health.

3. Listening to Music may be more effective than prescription anti-anxiety medication.

In 2013, Mona Lisa Chanda and Daniel J. Levitin— two accomplished doctors in psychology— reviewed a study wherein patients waiting to undergo surgery were given either anti-anxiety medications or music to listen to. The study took into account cortisol levels, which are used daily by healthcare professionals to gauge patient levels. This "stress hormone" was actually found to be lower in patients who listened to classical music rather those who took the recommended dose of prescription drugs. Sit there and think about that for a second: these patients actually felt more relaxed with something as simple as MUSIC than with chemicals that are made specifically to force patients into relaxation before surgery. Why pop a Xanax when you can just listen to Beethoven?

4. Music may release the chemicals that help you naturally relax and feel love.

Further studies continue to justify music's place in the medical world as results demonstrate increases in substances such as prolactin— a hormone that produces a relaxing sensation— as well as oxytocin— the substance that promotes warmth and happiness during a hug between mother and child. So this study basically showed us that music has the potential to actually make you feel the way you did when Mom or Dad would embrace you with the warmest hug you've ever felt.

The Future:

The evidence I present you with today is ultimately just a collection of individual situations where specific people found specific results. There are a lot of variables when it comes to any research study; therefore, data is never truly certain. We should take these findings as strong suggestions to a possible solution, but we must remember the possibility of failure in our search.

The neurochemistry behind the music and its medicinal properties is just beginning to unfold before the scientific community. In fact, extremely qualified scientists from the National Institute of Health— the organization that basically runs any important medical study in the United States— continue to remind us of the subject's youth with the constant use of "potential" behind any and all of their findings. Therefore, it's our responsibility as a community to look into this— not just that of the scientists at the National Institute of Health.

We're all surrounded by music. It's at the bars. It's in our ears during all-night sessions at the UCF library. It's keeping us awake through East Colonial traffic at 7:00 AM while hordes of students focus on their cell phone screens instead of the paved roads ahead. It's in the shoes we wear, the actions we take, and the words we say. IF YOU'RE READING THIS: it's accessible to you. So, don't be shy, and try to play with your Spotify account, or even just on YouTube, and gauge the power of music. As more and more of us see the light, we can promote the movement and carry on as more research comes out to support us.

Drop the bars, drop those addictive pills that destroy your body slowly, and pick up your headphones and press PLAY.

Just relax, close your eyes, smile, and live.

Cover Image Credit:

@champagnepapi

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Why Women Can Be Doctors

I am a female and I can successfully become a doctor.

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STEM fields are overrun with males and their hormones and the healthcare field is no exception. We tend to think of women as nurses and men as doctors but women are just as capable of being doctors as men. I am one of those women that will be a doctor.

Traditional gender roles are being challenged more and more every day from the shift to the workforce from the home to becoming CEOs instead of personal assistants. Women are continuing to break the glass ceiling and it is time for the world to recognize that they are more than capable of being doctors.

My personal goal is to break into the healthcare field as either a surgeon or an emergency medicine doctor. I can do this because I am strong-willed and independent just like many other women looking to break into the medical profession as more than a nurse.

There is nothing wrong with women as nurses; however, there is something wrong when women believe that all they can be is a nurse instead of going through the many years of grueling medical training to become a physician's assistant or a doctor. We don't believe we can so we choose not to instead of taking a chance and proving ourselves and everyone else wrong.

As a first-year college student, I made the decision to pursue a career as a doctor instead of a nurse. I was all set to become a nurse until I found someone who believed I was destined for more. A person who believed I was destined to make decisions and be in charge. I would not have regretted becoming a nurse had I chosen that path but I would have regretted not choosing to believe I could do more.

Women, believe that you are smart and important. No matter what career option you choose, it is the one you were meant to do whether it's being a nurse or a doctor you can be a strong and important person. Women can be doctors, but they can also be whatever they choose to be.

Cover Image Credit:

Pixabay

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