Miss Musings

A modern miss provides commentary on sociological and psychological issues concerning politics, the media, literature, and everyday observances.

#MissCollege: Finding a sense of place

As I dropped haphazardly taped up boxes of school supplies on my floor and frantically gazed around the white cellar that I now had to call home, I wondered if I would ever feel welcome at the massive University of Central Florida. People were abuzz with joy during move-in day, but I felt on the outskirts of something great.

My first week of college felt like a vacation, competition, and an episode of Big Brother. I attended too many club meetings and had a copious number of awkward conversations that always included the following questions: “What’s your name? Major? Why UCF? Can we be best friends?” I scrambled to meet people with cars and baked a lot of chocolately treats. Oddly enough, I didn’t cry.

After the first two weeks life seemed to make more sense. I didn’t need a map to find my classes, and I pinpointed life-saving shortcuts to get from my dorm to across campus in 7 minutes. I discovered the unpredictability of on campus shuttles and nailed two committee interviews. I even made a few amazing friends. Often I questioned if I was socializing enough, even though I had already committed to too many activities and projects for others. So I kept running to meetings, studying, and scheduling.

Now I am in a comfortable “college rhythm.” A few days ago UCF had its largest homecoming event called “Spirit Splash.” At the event, thousands of UCF students run into the reflection pond and attempt to catch rubber ducks that volunteers hurl into the water. Often Spirit Splash can get violent, as the demand for rubber ducks is ample and the supply is lacking. That day I stood on the perimeter of the madness, awkwardly holding my phone to take video of the brawls, and wondering if I made the right choice in coming to UCF. I stayed close to home and made friends, but I still felt like I was chasing dreams too slowly. Suddenly, rubber ducks started being thrown into the crowd of eager students in the water, and surprisingly, to us, the misfits on the outskirts of the party. Hundreds of hands flew up in the air to catch a duck that apparently had wings and flew toward all of us. I spotted the duck and knew it was going to be mine, and I watched it land right onto my shoulder. Later that day I ran into the middle of the reflection pond, empowered by being wrapped into a tradition. I stopped hesitating. Instead of saying “maybe next year,” I thought, “why not go right now?”

Courtesy of Knight News

Courtesy of Knight News

With that anecdote, I will list of some items to consider if you are trying to find yourself at college or a new workplace.

  1. Take too many risks.
  2. Have an overriding reason to wake up every morning. For me, it’s the idea of working in New York and living among the magic of a big city. When I want to give up on an assignment, I just remember the vague outline of a potent dream and how I can reach it one day.
  3. Talk to people. In lines. At shows. In class.
  4. Make meaningful friends. Having a friend in class to remind you of a deadline or exam will be vital to your success.
  5. Remember that you can’t do college alone.
  6. Allow yourself to break down.
  7. Be vulnerable with a few people.
  8. Work on one big self project in your free time, such as writing a story or painting a mural.
  9. Be nice to everyone.
  10. Wake up earlier and use your mornings to write to-do lists.
  11. Speak louder than usual when you are nervous.
  12. Volunteer to do things you feel you are under qualified for.
  13. Relish the time you are challenged, because you will grow even if you don’t succeed with something.
  14. Join a lot of things and then evaluate what you enjoy most. Then drop.
  15. Don’t make promises or appointments you can’t keep.
  16. Be early.
  17. Do homework the day it is assigned, if possible.
  18. Take one entire day off every week.
  19. Don’t let anyone talk you out of your beliefs.
  20. Don’t let anyone try to define you.
  21. Avoid talking politics.
  22. Be wary of people in competitive environments.
  23. Dress up on exam day.
  24. Try something, fail, and remember why you wanted to try in the first place.

 

College is tricky. It can feel lonely even if you try to get involved quickly. All you can do is work hard and let people come to you. Chase your passions and everything else falls into place. Take classes for yourself and take care of your health. Life is long, and this is just a blip on the screen, so don’t worry about making all of your memories during these four years. This isn’t the highlight of your life; it’s just a moment. Learn from the experience and cherish it. You’ll find your place now and again later as you grow. Be an emotional nomad; life is more fun that way.

 

 

#TreatYourself, epiphanies, and the art of being Elsa

This piece started as a Facebook post, then it was fully drafted in an email with no subject line or recipient. I figured that no one in particular needed to read these thoughts of mine, so, naturally, I posted them on the internet.

Over the past summer I noticed that I was not a very happy camper; I was about to start college (whoo!), but I felt dependent and helpless. I couldn’t drive, I wasn’t taking care of myself, I lost my flexibility, my heart was empty and in need of a rebound, blah blah. I realized that I had completely lost touch with who I was and where I was going. Therefore I did what any lonely girl would do – read inspirational quotes and eat chocolate. I read one quote from a role model of mine, Gloria Steinem, which changed my perspective tremendously:

“We must become the men we want to marry.”

I am not a sentimental person all the time. When people would say “THIS BOOK/QUOTE CHANGED MY LIFE” I would roll my eyes. But this quote you just read gutted my mind. Wow. I was seeking to meet the people, particularly the guy, that I wanted to BE.

Pivotal. I stopped focusing on myself in search of self-actualization… yet I was only distracting myself from my own flawed perspective. Little did I know I had been doing this for at least a year, probably more. I dropped my laptop in surprise (kidding, I love this thing), and got to work on mission: be your own #flawless self, by doing the following things:

1. Yoga. I CAN BEND MY BODY IN COOL WAYS. I CAN FOCUS ON MY BREATHING, EVEN THOUGH I HAVE AWFUL ALLERGIES. EUREKA, THAT IS THE SPOT!!

2. Reading every day. I used to dislike reading because I am impatient, but now I see why I love books: you don’t have to look at beautiful actors and feel self-pity or turn the volume up-and-down. I read fiction, non-fiction, auto-biographies, and the news. I feel mentally fly.

3. Coding every day. I am going into computer science and was always a bit put off by the techy people who knew how to code everything ever. Instead of wallowing, I started using codecademy to learn new skills and brush up on old ones. Now I can make pretty glowing buttons using jQuery! Activate #STEMFemme super powers!!!

4. Learning a language. I signed up for Duolingo and do lessons in French and Spanish every day. Both of these are languages of the United Nations, which I fell in love on my trip to New York City, so I wanted to at least learn to say more than “Bonjour” and “Hola.”

5. Learning to drive. I was bad at driving for three years and just gave up on it, and in doing so, limited my freedom, adulthood, and individuality. So I began driving consistently and got way better at the mechanics of driving – I have even driven to downtown Orlando! Learning to drive has empowered me in unexpected ways, so I urge you to challenge yourself and do one thing every day that scares you (Eleanor Roosevelt quote).

As I heal myself from a life of self-limitation and underestimation, I gain pride in who I am and simultaneously stop caring so much about how I present who I am to others. But enough about me; this post was meant to help you. I am no Gloria Steinem and I am way too verbose, but I thought I’d lend you 26 quick, meme-worthy, sentence-long nuggets of wisdom I have gained during my coding/French/yoga sessions.

  • Instead of learning to shape society, we should learn to stop letting it control us.
  • If you do not try to own something, no one can steal it.
  • Your greatest insecurity will one day be the world’s greatest trend.
  • Just because you can operate properly does not mean you are over everything bad that has happened to you.
  • Venting is restricted flow.
  • Both love and pain are mental constructs, and you can control which one is greater than the other.
  • Just because you pick your battles does not mean you are a doormat.
  • You are not a paradox – you are balanced.
  • Love is flexible and undefinable and not designed for you to understand.
  • Jealousy indicates distrust and should not be felt in love. If it is felt, it is not love.
  • You are your worst enemy and your greatest ally.
  • You cannot change everything or waste energy being mad at social structure.
  • However, you can morph your own structure.
  • Trust that most people are dishonest sometimes.
  • Make yourself feel special.
  • Superheroes have unnatural superpowers… supermodels have?
  • You are not fat. You have fat. Everyone has fat. Everyone is “fat.”
  • Worry about your appearance. Motivate yourself. Then love what comes out of motivation.
  • Accept authority under most circumstances.
  • Stop complaining; it inhibits.
  • Do not settle. 7 billion people. You’ll find “the one” and your true friends.
  • Try not to change, because change is organic. If you try to control who you become, you will make the process of transitioning difficult.
  • Do not ask people not to pigeon-hole you. They will just pigeon-hole you as too sensitive and move on.
  • Pride is not shameful, it’s healthy.
  • I am not defined by how I was born but by what I do every day.
  • I love you. I love me too, though. Maybe me a little bit more. But it is okay because you should love you. Don’t make others do all the work. They won’t.
Finally, love is not about control, it is about relinquishing it. It is about trust. Loving yourself means taking care of yourself and letting yourself bloom out of your own two feet. Loving others is letting them do their thing and knowing inside that they won’t hurt you. I am a control-freak, admittedly, but I am learning to let the leaves change every year and the sun come up every day without my help or personal contribution. The world spins even when your world crashes down, and all you can do is enjoy the ride some higher power takes you on.
Namaste, go with Beyonce, and make like Elsa and –
let it go

#DearMe: An open letter to my 13-year-old self

The YouTube #DearMe challenge has been around a while, but I thought I would take my own written crack at it. Here is an open letter to my 13-year-old self.

letter

Dear Samantha,

I hope this letter finds you well. You’ve got a lot going on, from friends to feelings to body image. You’re beginning to find your own way among the patterns of teenagers. Gone are the days of being friends with your sisters friends – finally, you are finding your own crew! Yet, you are under internal and external pressure, sweating from the heat of feelings you shouldn’t have to deal with right now. That girl is going to tell you to date this guy, and you won’t want to. And you don’t. Good going! Resist, resist, and smile. Your boiling point is a bit higher than you may realize.

Right now you may be confused about what you are doing. Are you cool? Are you wearing the right things? Does your outfit for the 80s dance look good? Sip that butterbeer at HP world slowly and appreciate how wonderful your family is. At times, they will be all you have.

You just got over a big hump in your life: the body hump. Not your body, but the idea of it.

Your body is not the enemy. Food is not the villain. Exercise is not the solution. You are not the problem.

Sometimes you will wonder why no one has a crush on you. They do, you just don’t want to recognize it. Let the other girls have the boys. You’ve got yourself to work on.

Whatever you do, keep writing. You are going to find a voice that others want to hear! After all the listening you do, people finally want to know your story. However, make sure you aren’t so busy writing that you forget to live your story. It will be worth telling and living, even if at times it does not seem that way.

When you are 17, you will discover that you want to visit New York. When you are there, smile and breathe. It will be your last chance to catch your breath before you have to be an adult. You will go to summer camp and it will be a lot better than last year’s, even though last year’s should have been perfect and you won all those awards. Yes, when you are 17 you finally have faith in other people and be blindsided by humans you never thought you’d get along with. You’ll fall with your eyes open and break open and have to sew yourself back together, only to realize you aren’t sure who you are anymore or what you are about to become.

All throughout the years from 13 to 18, you’re going to have bad thoughts. You don’t need meds or therapy: you need to open your eyes. Those girls don’t mean to hurt you. Break every mirror in your sight with your own thoughts. Black and white definitions will cage you in. You will not lose anybody that you need. You will survive, and your stories will thrive. You will have faith in organizations that will fail you and your voice will grow so loud that silencing yourself and growing up will be painful sometimes.

Your best friends right now will not be by your side forever, and truth be told, very few people will be. Keep being supportive to your family and stop putting eggs in baskets only to watch them bust open. Not yoking.

Laugh at stupid jokes and take plenty of time for yourself. You will grow to love food and puns and pretty pictures. In two years, you’ll meet a great programming teacher and begin to chart your very own path. You will speak at conferences about your experience as a homeschooler, start a blog that you love because it is YOUR OWN, and you will win things and lose things. The college choice will be one you weren’t expecting, but you will be SO excited and proud of your school. Keep an open mind and don’t expect too much. Love while you can, and try not to regret.

Remember – no matter what, it’s not your fault, and you’re going to live a big life after. At times you feel helpless and want to go back to it, but don’t! You are all you need, perfect in the most complex and simple ways. Call yourself a paradox and life will be much easier to live.

P.S. You’ll won’t finish any of those novels you start, but you will keep writing. Your favorite quotes will be from Virginia Woolf, ee cummings, and Beyonce. You’ll become a empathetic feminist and slam-poetry-lover who finally feels smart. Take on the world but enjoy the ride; I love you.

– Samantha, age 18

16 random mistakes I made and the lessons I learned

I’m not perfect. No one is, trust me.

I was assigned one hour to write about a time I made a mistake, and I will sheepishly admit that I had to waste time thinking about a time when I made a true mistake. This is not out of haughtiness, rather, I spend an inordinate chunk of my daily life ensuring that I don’t mess anything up. Call it chronic perfectionism, a flaw in and of itself, anxiety, or perhaps rigid meticulousness.

Inside, however, I know I have made many mistakes throughout my life. While I do not currently have any notable regrets in my eighteen years on Earth, here are some examples of times I know I messed up.

Mistake #1

I almost hit a motorcycle my first time driving to school.

What I learned: Don’t always listen to the person next to you and make sure to look before you change lanes.

Mistake #2

I mixed up the gas pedal and brake (You may reconsider getting in a car with me….).

What I learned: You may not be safe from crazy drivers like me, even in innocent parking lots.

Courtesy of Gurl.com

Courtesy of Gurl.com

Mistake #3

I have false hope about a lot of things.

What I learned: This is often a side effect of the “go big or go home” mentality. You know what they say, shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you will get sucked into a black hole of despair. Something like that.

Courtesy of Bust.com

Courtesy of Bust.com

Mistake #4

I used to cut up my clothes to make new fashionable looks.

What I learned: Children are creative creatures and my mom was incredibly patient during my art escapades.

Courtesy of Buzzfeed

Courtesy of Buzzfeed

Mistake #5

When people would tell me that they have a problem/issue, I would not always take it to heart.

What I learned: You don’t have to be a sponge that soaks up people’s moodiness, but if someone says they are bonkers, avoid them, and if someone wants sympathy, just give it.

Courtesy of Zimbio.com

Courtesy of Zimbio.com

Mistake #6

I talked myself out of my STEM passions because I was afraid the abundance of men would be too intimidating.

What I learned: I am pretty intimidating myself, and not everyone is out to wage a gender war. Most students just want to build things and pass their classes, not discourage people from pursuing their dreams.

Courtesy of Huffington Post

Courtesy of Huffington Post

Mistake #7

I let flattery get the best of me.

What I learned: From personal relationships to college counselors to seedy folks, many people want things from you. Compliments are fine; but falling for sequential and deceptive falseness does nothing for you. The biggest flatterer in your life should undoubtedly be yourself.

Courtesy of Giphy

Courtesy of Giphy

Mistake #8

I want my life to be planned to the “T.”

What I learned: Plans and people change constantly. Fear is innate. Let things go.

Courtesy of CinemaBlend.com

Courtesy of CinemaBlend.com

Mistake #9

I believe some things last forever.

What I learned: Nothing lasts forever. Life, roses, pastries, love, friendship, movies… they are all terminal. Enjoy what you have while you have it, because forever and always is simply an empty lie.

tswift

Mistake #10

Dependency.

Avoid whatever enables you to stray from who you are in all circumstances.

Courtesy of Tumblr

Courtesy of Tumblr

Mistake #11

Apathy. 

EVERYTHING matters a little bit. You deserve attention, but don’t miss opportunities. If you are considering not trying too hard to achieve something, reevaluate why you are in the position of the challenge in the first place. Perhaps you are not striving because you do not want it. If you do not want it, leave it.

Mistake #12

Not getting involved in dual enrollment sooner. 

What I learned: Some of you may know that I have been homeschooled since 2nd grade. My social abilities are fine, but you do learn a lot of lessons in the school environment. I would definitely have started dual enrolling at community college full time in junior year if I had known how great it would be.

Mistake #13

Stressing over college.

What I learned: I applied to 8 colleges and eight additional honors college programs. I was flat out rejected from two schools and waitlisted at another. In many of the honors college programs I was waitlisted, and after my hands cramped up from writing essays and I stressed over packing for scholarship weekends, I discovered that I did not belong in Harvard or Duke’s class, but rather, at a public school’s. I have been thinking about college since 7th grade and spent so many hours reading essay-writing books and studying for the SAT. It did not hurt me, but I did not enjoy high school as much as I could have.

Courtesy of HerCampus.com

Courtesy of HerCampus.com

Mistake #14

Allowing other people to change how I felt about my body.

What I learned: It’s the same story as everyone else’s: girl is confident, girl sees skinnier girls, girl loses confidence, girl eats less and exercises more and runs a dark streak through her formative tweenage years. Now, I eat cheesecake. I eat fries. If anyone truly cares about how much I weigh less than I do I would be extremely shocked.

Courtesy of HelloGiggles.com

Courtesy of HelloGiggles.com

Mistake #15

I felt guilty about not having a boyfriend during most of my teen years.

What I learned: The last thing a stressed 14-year-old with zits and plummeting self-confidence needs is a boyfriend to attempt (and probably fail) to impress. I write boss stories, belch loudly, don’t curl my hair, dance like Beyonce, and watch football every weekend. I would not be me if my favorite habits were squelched by some outside influence for yeeeeears.

Mistake #16

Not being YOLO enough.

What I learned: Zac Efron has a “YOLO” tattoo and I try to live by the #YOLO mentality. Coincidence? I think not.

Courtesy of funnygirls-help.tumblr.com

Courtesy of funnygirls-help.tumblr.com

There you have it, internet: 16 random and not-so-shameful mistakes and the decently insightful lessons I learned from making them. Now, it’s your turn. What is your biggest mistake? Leave a comment if you are feeling zesty.

 

Happy Birthday, Miss

*insert greeting in any language here, and a kind gesture to welcome you with positivity and happiness*

I am writing to tell you that Miss Musings is a year old. In April, she was born – I stare at a picture of an overexcited child screaming of social media strategies and content ideas. As she aged, she became a bit more quiet and settled into a gentle weekly, and eventually monthly, rhythm. I kindled her spirits and sought her voice in post after post, and received few comments but (mostly) kind reactions to her smiling face. “What a cute blog you have there, Sam. She’ll be Mrs. Musings before you know it.”

Courtesy of the Public Domain.

Courtesy of the Public Domain

Since M2 is a year old, that means I am a year older – and boy, what a year. From April 2014 to April 2015, I have:

  • Changed my career path (several times) ((constantly in flux))
  • Written stories I am proud of
  • Believed in myself
  • Found art in unexpected forms
  • Watched more football than I care to share
  • Applied to college, was accepted to five great schools, and chosen where I will shake the world for the next four years
  • Competed, and lost
  • Competed, and won
  • Met my best friend
  • Fallen in love with said best friend
  • Inspired myself
  • Went to prom
  • Cried, talked, and laughed myself to sleep
  • Discovered that I am exactly who I want to be, and who I always aspired to be
  • Spoke without shaking
  • Did some research (or at least gave it my best shot)
  • Lived away from home
  • Eliminated toxicity from my heart and my mind
  • Pinpointed and began coping with a dreadful case of worry
  • Stayed fitfully curious
  • Found my heart in New York
  • Helped someone who was hurting
  • Was helped when I was hurting
  • Felt accepted
  • Accepted others in full
  • Found beauty in the little things
  • Cultivated my passion for human rights, feminism, and domestic politics
  • Learned to never apologize
  • Learned to never be afraid
  • Never, ever, gave up

 

What have you done this past year? Let me know where you have been, what you have done, or who you have become.

Media

Twitter: @sammimorri

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