Climbing out of Limbo

Over the past few months, I have been slacking. Not just on my blog (though you may have noticed a lack of recent posts), but life in general.

While in college, I was doing well:  I worked out three times a week, ate four to five meals a day, wrote, read whenever I had time away from studying. My GPA my last semester at HU was 4.0, I helped three student organizations run, and I walked a dog during my lunch break.  I did all of those things and still had a strong social life that was filled with people of all different majors, even people outside the state. My day had a strict schedule, and I stuck to it. I got things done. I was awesome.

What happened?

Now I’m lucky if I work out once a week, I eat perhaps two meals a day, write only for work, read maybe every other day, never study foreign languages, and my social life is minimal (though I still Skype my out-of-state friends). I don’t set my alarm clock, and have trouble getting up in the mornings, even when I go to sleep early. My planner buried itself under a pile of papers; it’s not like I used it. The most I do for myself is attend personal development seminars once a month, and smaller business plans (for the same program) once a week. This isn’t enough.

The problem is lack of structure. Because I don’t have a schedule that revolves around other people (classes, clubs, etc.), I haven’t scheduled out my day like I used to do, and the result is that I never get anything accomplished.

Today, I resolve to change that. If I want to be successful in any aspect of my life, I need to change my habits. I need to be internally motivated rather than using the external motivation that I have always used. Starting today, my days will be strictly scheduled. I will wake up at 7:00 a.m. and work out six days a week. I will eat at least three meals a day. I will write five hundred words a day that is not for work. I will write at least two blog posts a week. I will maintain my business’ website as well as the websites I maintain for work. I will practice my French twice a week, and I will study German three days a week. I will read a personal development book for half an hour every day, my Bible for half an hour every day, and a novel or short story anthology for half an hour every day. I will listen to four educational podcasts or CDs a day (which I can do when I get dressed in the mornings and while I eat meals). I will make more local friends (most of my friends are long-distance).

To keep this list of promises to myself, I will spend every Saturday night planning out my week, and half an hour every evening planning the next day. To keep myself accountable, I will write a blog post every weekend to document my progress (if I am out of town, it may be posted on Monday, but only if I am out of town).

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Crime Drama and Feminist Paradox

I do not consider myself an avid watcher of television, but there are a few shows that I make a point to watch, and several others that I’ll watch if they happen to be on when I want a distraction. The Mentalist is one such program.

It was on the other night, and my parents were watching it, so I joined them. I had only seen one or two episodes before, so Jane was the only character I could identify. I watched the episode for some time before I realized that Teresa Lisbon was the senior agent. This came as a shock to me, and I immediately asked myself, “Why are you surprised by this?” There are plenty of crime dramas in which a woman is in a position of administrative authority. After a few moments of reflection, I figured it out:  Lisbon has long hair, and is, in general, feminine. In most shows, powerful women have short, masculine haircuts. Director Shepherd on NCIS is a good example of this. Her relationship with Gibbs is the only facet in which she is shown as a feminine figure. Her short hair is a symbol of her masculine authority. In Bones, Cam has long hair, but it is pulled back when she is at the Jeffersonian. She may be a woman in her personal life, but at work, she is a masculine figure.

This is an interesting aspect of our culture. For a woman to have power, she must masculinize herself. Even in the mainstream feminist movement, this is the case:  many feminists display their feminism by becoming masculine. Women who are feminine are sometimes scoffed at for being weak. This strikes me as odd. Isn’t feminism about celebrating the feminine and placing it alongside the masculine in value? So why do we take the feminine out of feminism?

I’m not saying that women should live in the kitchen and spend their lives waiting to be saved by a man. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with women having short hair or other attributes typically associated with the male—on the contrary, I have short hair because I look ridiculous when my hair is long. I am wearing a tie as I write this, because I look good in them (actually, I look more feminine in a tie than I do in a plain t-shirt). What I am saying is that women should not be looked down upon by butch feminists for being feminine. Being masculine so that you can be considered equal to men is devaluing the feminine. Femininity has different strengths than masculinity, but that is not to say that femininity is not just as strong.

I believe that true feminism is giving women value equal to men without removing their feminine nature.

 

Single, Not Broken

As soon as I began college, it started. My friends paired off and married, two by two. There was a period of almost a year in which I attended at least one wedding a month. While I still have some unattached comrades, most of my friends have said their vows and joined the League of the Married™*. I believe that for them, that was the right decision. It fit into the life that they wanted and involved attaching themselves to someone who was good to and for them. I am happy for my married friends. But I want something different.

Twenty-one and single, however, is not something that my culture accepts. Since I was in high school, I’ve been pushed toward relationships:  relatives ask at every family gathering why I don’t have a boyfriend, and friends take on the responsibility of telling me who to date. Now, most of my friends are engrossed enough in their own romantic lives that they leave mine alone, but the stigma of singleness remains. One friend of mine frequently told me that he was afraid that I would be a crazy cat lady, and so always tried to set me up with his friends.  I’m not even seeing anyone, yet my mother wanted to buy a coffee mug for my future husband. I won’t even start the list of people who have talked about my future as a mother. I feel like Eleanor Dashwood, pitied as a spinster despite her age of nineteen. When I look at the expectations pertaining to marriage in this culture, I can’t help but wonder, “Why?”

The current couples’ culture that exists in the States devalues the individual by declaring that if someone, especially someone female, does not have a significant other, that person is somehow defective. If a person does not place the same irrational value on romantic relationships as everyone else does, they are viewed as hard-hearted. I don’t agree with that view. I believe that a single woman (or man) has just as much value as a married one. I don’t have to be married to be a good person—or an important one. Marriage isn’t my focus in life. My focus is to learn, grow, and establish myself as a writer and a member of my community.

Being single doesn’t mean that you are a bad person; it means that you are moving in a different direction.

*The League of the Married is not an actual trademark (at least to my knowledge).