Chicago

How America Will End

Terrorism won’t end America.

Consumerism, apocalypse, disease, and war won’t end America.

Because America (the idea, the people, and the country) is stronger than these factors.

America was built on simple ideas: freedom, liberty, the pursuit of happiness (paraphrasing, but you get the idea, right?).

Sure, there were some major issues early on and there have been some speed bumps along the way. I’ll admit, we are nowhere near perfect and we don’t necessarily live up to the ideals that we preach 100% of the time.

But on any given day, I would say I am proud to be an American.

Honestly, I have never been afraid living in America at any point in my life. I have always had a place to sleep at night, food to eat, clean water, and basic security. I have even had a few extras, like education and entertainment. Things that I think we all take for granted.

As Americans, we occupy a privileged status and while there may be occasional threats to our nation’s security, we are protected in ways that other persons in other countries in the world are not. As individuals, most of us are relatively safe.

Of course, not all of us have the same amount of privilege, but our Constitution guarantees us a degree of recognition of each others right to think, speak, feel, and be who we want to be, which is unfortunately a privilege in this world. (Again, not perfect … but better than many places)

So, what (in my opinion) will be the end of America?

It won’t be a narcissistic, mysogynistic, islamophobe who quotes Fascist dictators and hesitates to denounce a white supremacist terror organization (because as long as he’s not the victim, it’s okay, right?).

Unfortunately, he isn’t the problem.

What will end America is the fact that a large portion of our citizens, filled with hatred and prejudice, exercise their right to vote while those who are victimized and level-minded (I never said this was an unbiased account) do not.

I’m not sure if it comes down to education, culture, or simply hatefulness in human nature … but the fact is that the Republican side of American voters supporting this man is tarnishing the “greatness” of America.

Technically, it’s too late to “stop” him. I would love nothing more than to be hopeful about things … but history has shown that horrible people can rise to power, even when the populace votes for their leaders.

Most likely, anyone reading this understands the gravity of the situation and hasn’t made moves to support this man. I think most of us are surprised, but the reality is  that there are plenty of Americans who do. (Seriously, where were they hiding all these years?)

I wish more than anything that these votes in support of him were a product of corruption. Because at least then I could make sense of this phenomenon. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

What’s more, I don’t see any way to reason with people who are so blinded by hatred. Thus, I worry for the future of America.

The America that he promises to “make great again” would be unrecognizable in his hands. America in his eyes, is not the America I see for myself, or for anyone that is privileged to live in this country. We all deserve better than an America under his rule. We all deserve a world that is free of leaders like he pledges to be.

Above all, I am fearful for the future — something that I don’t think I have seriously said ever before in my life.

I fear for a country that supports a man who speaks with hatred, incites violence, and has only known power and financial excess his entire life.

I fear for a country that votes to elect said man as their leader.

I fear for a country that has clearly forgotten history; because day by day, his trajectory has come closer and closer to that of a certain Adolf Hitler.

I fear, most of all, for a country that makes the crucial mistake of allowing a thinly veiled dictator to take control. Said mistake is one that America will never recover from, making all the progress made in the last 239 years meaningless.

Again, I don’t know where his supporters have been all this time, brewing in their hatred, so I know this falls on deaf ears…but I can’t think of any other way to express this growing sense of dread that his campaign has instilled in myself and others.

Of course, there is nothing we can do other than exercise our right to vote, speak out against hate, and hope for the best.

But I fear that those measures are too little and too late.

I am furiously wishing and hoping that America proves me wrong.

I don’t know what comes next if we allow history to repeat itself and allow someone who preaches for his plan of deportation, segregation, and (probably) genocide to slide into power and enact his screwed up racist plans.

I don’t know.

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Chicago

Truly Madly Deeply

Sometimes we experience tragedy without being directly impacted. I guess, you could say I’ve found the right place in a Social Psychology Graduate program (Oh yeah, that happened. More on that later…), but I think I’ve always been this way. Individual experience is so much more than internal thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs. I am highly sensitive, empathetic, and too deeply wrapped up in emotions. I know that, believe me. And I love nothing more than when these characteristics are hurled at me as insults, when I think these are the very things which make me me.

I wrote a blurb on Facebook this week about how the WDBJ shooting impacted me. Ever since I’ve felt…different. Forgive this hackneyed tidbit of advice, but — life is precious. I want to savor every moment, love every creature, and benefit everyone and everything in anyway I can. I sound sentimental as hell and I’m not sure what I mean by this, but I want to live life.

Life has been amazing to me lately.

I’ve been overworked, sleep deprived, and often felt lost or like a failure…but I’m important, valuable, and have a lot of wonderful experiences ahead.

_____________________________

Back to grad school … I spoke with a professor about a month ago regarding applying to my school’s program for next fall. She knew I would graduate this fall and I was somewhat disappointed that I would essentially sit here waiting for next fall after completing my undergraduate coursework. However, she mentioned a 5 year program I didn’t know about, where I could enter grad school THIS fall and complete my Bachelors degree on time as well as obtain a Masters degree spring the following year.

Instantly, I wanted to say no. I wanted to give up and be done with school, but where would I be? Truthfully, I have no idea what I’m doing with my life.

There’s something so satisfying yet terrifying about admitting this.

But I think we can all say that at some point (maybe even now) that we have felt this way. Regardless, she told me to think about it and let her know if I was interested.

I took a leap and called her back the very next day and in a whirlwind two weeks — along with a multitude of pulled strings all thanks to my former professor — I now find myself in grad school.

I’m shocked. I have imposter syndrome like you couldn’t imagine. “I don’t deserve this, I”m not smart enough, talented enough, driven enough….I’m not in the right place.” It sucks. I can see that I am talking myself down when at the same time, I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now.

How many times in my life will I be able to say that? I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be right now. 

Sometimes it takes a little reflection at the end of the week (or blogging) to come to terms with that yourself. Sometimes it takes learning about a tragedy, which may not directly impact me, but through societal factors and personality factors I’ll likely learn everything about during my graduate studies, impacts me as directly as it impacted the families of Alison Parker and Adam Ward.

I already said my political piece on the issue, but I think the human component of learning about tragedy should be addressed as well. So while I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be — I’m nervous.

I’m afraid of failure, of success, and of stagnancy.

But life is wonderful because I can feel all these emotions at once. I can simultaneously celebrate and mourn.

I’m learning how to balance my emotions. I know I’m an emotional person and it doesn’t take much to make me angry or to make me cry. But it also doesn’t take much to make me smile or laugh.

The coming months (years? eek…) are going to be stressful. They’re going to be draining and make me question everything.

There’s something about growth and struggle…some quote. Whatever that may be, I think that’s going to be my new motto.

All I know is that I have a grad acceptance letter plastered to my fridge and I’m trying my best to recognize that leaving a few dirty dishes in the sink tonight do not mean the end of the world tomorrow. That sometimes I need time alone, sometimes I need coffee or wine or mac and cheese.

Through all of this rambling… I’m learning about living my life for me, for whatever that requires in a given moment or situation, and remaining cognizant of how fortunate I am to be here as well as how deserving I am of all the opportunities and accomplishments thus far.

I think these lessons apply to everyone, though. We need to celebrate our victories, own our achievements, and brag about our own abilities. We need to smile in the face of hatred, power through in the presence of bullies or toxic influences, and keep our heads on straight and oriented towards becoming a better person and human being.

My life has turned around the last month. I’m enjoying work again, feeling like myself, and understanding that life isn’t exactly what I want but it’s what I need right now.

Happy happy Friday

x Danielle