Love Like This

HAPPY GALENTINE’S DAY!!!!!

For those of you who are already confused, I’ll turn it over to Leslie Knope.

“What’s Galentine’s Day? Oh, it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas. It’s wonderful. And it should be a national holiday.”

Basically, the day before we all celebrate romantic love, you can celebrate other kinds of love with your best buds. Obviously this isn’t just about ladies – anyone can celebrate Galentine’s Day! The main thing to recognize is that it’s just as important as Valentine’s Day. If there’s no romance happening in your life right now, or if you’d rather not spend a whole day fixating on it, February 13th is the perfect way to celebrate love for your closest friends instead. And even if you are super into Valentines Day, that’s cool, too – you’re just adding an entire extra day of love. I mean, what’s better than a day dedicated to hanging out with your besties and telling each other how much you love one another? THATS WHAT ITS ALL ABOUT!!!

After leaving high school, I learned that a big part of life is the work and effort that needs to be put into maintaining successful relationships. Mainly, I noticed that since all of my close friends had moved away for college, if I wanted to keep our friendships alive, it was going to take more effort than before. And by experiencing this, I learned that the best friends to have are the ones who you want to make the effort for, and who want to make the effort for you, too.

As I starting stumbling more and more into “adult” life, I also began to understand the importance of removing toxic people from my life. This doesn’t have to mean you create major rifts in your relationships for the sake of getting rid of people you aren’t close to anymore. But rather, I came to terms with the fact that my own personal wellness is greatly affected by the people I spend the most time with. And the best thing you can do is surround yourself with people who make you happy. Find the people who make you feel safe and welcomed, who you trust to always have your best interest at heart, and who bring out your best self.

So for Galentine’s Day, I’m reflecting on all of the amazing friends in my life and how much they mean to me, how much they inspire me, and how much joy they add to my life. When I stop to think about all that my friends have accomplished, I’m so grateful to be able to share it with them. Some of my friends are landing their dream jobs and pursuing grad school. Some are taking time to figure out what their next steps should be. Some are taking on new responsibilities while others are making the world’s greatest grilled cheese, and I couldn’t be more proud of every single one of them.

I’m often labeled as the Mom Friend and I hold that label very close to my heart. I care so deeply about all of my friends. I want them to be happy and I want them to pursue their dreams and I want them to stay hydrated and get enough sleep. Seeing the people you love succeed is one of the most rewarding things ever – not because I had anything to do with it, but because their success is just another piece of their life that I get to be a part of, and with that, our relationships become even more special.

I know I’ve spent this entire post spilling all of my sappy Hufflepuff guts to everyone, but I’ll leave you with one last thing: don’t be afraid to share your love. That’s what you would do with your significant other on Valentine’s Day, right? Why should Galentine’s Day be any different? Today, I encourage all of you beautiful rule breaking moths to celebrate your friendships as loudly as you possibly can. Sometimes it may feel silly to share genuine feelings of gratitude and sincerity with your closest friends once you’ve reached the point in your relationship when your love is understood. But it’s definitely worth it to give those feelings the recognition they deserve. So let’s go spread the love, and most importantly, eat some waffles. Because why would anybody ever eat anything besides breakfast food?

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BroadwayCon 2018

BroadwayCon just ended and I need to put all of my emotions somewhere (emphasis on the EMO) so buckle up, friends.

This was my third year in a row returning to BroadwayCon, so part of me knew what to expect. Anyone who has been to a convention for their own personal nerdy outlet – whether it’s comics or Harry Potter or YouTube – knows the magic of celebrating with thousands of strangers who are as nerdy as you. And there’s no shortage of that at BroadwayCon. I know to expect a lot of theater nerds dressed as their favorite characters, big groups of people breaking out into song, seeing my favorite Broadway actors, and spending an entire weekend feeling welcomed by fellow Broadway fans. So even though we know all of these equally nerdy people exist, and we can all very well expect a fun event that manages to leave you simultaneously invigorated and exhausted, what exactly makes this weekend so special? How is it that we leave with our hearts fuller than we ever could have anticipated, even though we’ve had our outfits planned for months and already know our schedule and have been counting down the days since we purchased our tickets?

I actually think there’s a simple answer. If I had to pick one unique reason why BroadwayCon shines such a light on this community, it’s the important and deliberate lack of walls.

There were several times throughout the weekend when the performers and creatives who we admire so much reminded us that the audience is just as much a part of the theater experience as the actors on stage. We were reminded time and time again how the nature of theater is inclusive and immersive, allowing for the wall between “celebrity” and audience member to be shed with little effort. There’s a very clear admiration we all have for one another, and it’s not only reserved for the folks who have starred in Broadway shows and earned Tony awards. Over the course of the weekend, we experienced the talents of young and undiscovered performers through singing competitions and dance parties; we all gathered on stage – some of us for the first time, others for the hundredth – to bond over our favorite Tony performances; we played pictionary and trivia with the people who sing on our favorite cast recordings. There are so few places I can think of where this mutual love and kindness exists on such a personal level. Being an attendee at BroadwayCon makes you feel just as important as the actors and voices and stories that you’re there to celebrate.

And that is no small feat.

The attention and understanding that goes into planning, developing, and executing such a unique experience is beyond what most of us can probably imagine. From the friendly volunteers who greet you at the door to check your badges, to the lively and entertaining hosts and commentators of panels and workshops, the excitement was palpable at all times. It never felt like you were invading someone’s space or that you didn’t belong. Because at the end of the day, we’re all just a bunch of dorks who, for some reason, have found a special connection to each other, to the world around us, and to ourselves through theater. And whether that’s shared with 20 or 200 or 2,000 people, it’s a simple but powerful reminder that the Broadway community welcomes everybody.

The idea of breaking down walls and building up kindness is exactly what we all need right now. BroadwayCon is the perfect place to start a new year, get inspired to do whatever motivates you, and know that wherever you’re headed, you’ve got an entire community rooting for you. Thank you for giving us such a perfect weekend, BroadwayCon. Can’t wait to see you again next year.

Do The Work

Of course I’m writing a “get ready for 2018” post. For those of you who didn’t already guess this was going to happen…hi, my name is Jessica, and thank you for reading my stuff for the very first time.

This past year, my main mantra was “be present”. I’m approaching the two year mark of when I first started practicing meditation, and focusing on the present is one of the main skills you are encouraged to work on in your practice. And during a year that was so unpredictable, I found it much more rewarding to devote my attention to the present moment and take things one day at a time rather than try to guess what would be happening in the future.

The first step in starting this new practice was recognizing the difference between a goal and an intention. While a goal is more likely to be something you can cross off your list, an intention is the manner in which you get these things done. Someone once described an intention to me as the compass you use on your way toward your goal. This doesn’t necessarily mean there are foolproof methods to getting where you want to be, but intentions can be reminders of how we want to show up in every moment that gets us closer to our goal, or even more simply, whenever we need some guidance.

So I made small changes over the past year to allow myself to place my mind in the present more regularly. I tried not to live through the screen of my phone to capture every moment so I could share in on my Instagram story. (Although, I often have really great Instagram stories. Do you follow me on Instagram? You should follow me on Instagram.) I didn’t completely shut out social media, but I made a conscious effort to remove any expectations from my mind and rather look at the moments of my life for what they truly were, and finding enjoyment in that. It was, and still is, a super difficult task. It’s something I’m going to be working on my entire life.

For 2018, I’m still very focused on the importance of pausing to recenter myself and experience the truth of the moment. But after the year we’ve all just endured, it’s safe to say we might not always want to accept the truth of the moment, because it’s likely to be some sort of garbage. And while you don’t necessarily need to equate being present with being happy, it sure would be great for those two things to line up, right?

So I’m shifting my focus a bit for the upcoming year. In the meditation class I took on New Year’s Eve, we took some time to contemplate the intention of discipline. This has been one of my go-to intentions when I’m frustrated about not getting something accomplished, but it has also been difficult to digest because of the harsh connotation that comes with the word discipline. There’s an association with punishment and being hard on yourself, which definitely isn’t something any of us want to do voluntarily. I’ve often tried to soften the idea of this intention by reframing it as “gentle discipline”, but more often than not, that just leads to an easier way out when facing potentially uncomfortable limits.

In class that day, our meditation instructor made an important distinction about the intention of discipline that struck me, and I had one of those great moments when things all came together like pieces of a puzzle that I didn’t even know I needed to assemble.

Discipline doesn’t necessarily have to be something that is met with discomfort. It doesn’t have to mean that you’re doing something wrong that needs to be fixed. Instead, we can consider discipline as a means to getting closer to your goal, or closer to something that makes you happy, that makes you both satisfied and accomplished. For example, not all of us may enjoy going to the gym, but when we finally get there and finish a workout, we’re likely to delight in our ability to have done the thing, despite the struggle. So rather than saying “I need to go to the gym or else I will fail at completing this goal I set for myself,” you can shift that thinking to say “I need to go to the gym because I want to feel the satisfaction of following through with my plan and come out on the other side successful. Plus, endorphins make you happy and hell yeah, I want to be happy.” It’s easier said than done, but it’s a practice. It’s an intention. It might not always work the way you want it to, but making the effort is half the battle. Some might even argue making the effort is the entire battle. I’ll leave that up to you.

Last year I saw the show Prince of Broadway, a revue that showcased the work of Broadway producer Hal Prince. (This is relevant, I promise). After sharing highlights from Prince’s career and all he has accomplished, there was a final song called “Do The Work” about reminding yourself that while there is definitely a great deal of luck associated with success, in order to get to that point, you have to – you guessed it – do the work. I still think about that song when I want to be inspired, and when presented with this new perspective on the intention of discipline, everything seemed to click together. Now if they would just release that cast recording…

So without further ado, let’s gear up for another year that is bound to be difficult and unpredictable at times. But if we do the work, perhaps we can make it something worth celebrating. I’m rooting for you.

Obsessed // 2017

Happy December! Originally, I was going to make this post an in-depth review of my favorite albums from this year, but then I started thinking about all of the other great media that gave me inspiration, motivation, and hope in a year that was far too full of dark moments. While it’s far too easy to dwell on those times that we felt defeated, I figured it would be fun to share all of the great pieces of art, moments of brightness, and other doses of positivity that were shared in 2017…in my opinion, that is. And because I feel the need to tell anyone who will listen why I love the things that I love, these categories seemed like a great way to round things up this year.

Album

I originally had about six albums chosen for this and I narrowed it down to two and I refuse to make any more cuts. I REFUSE!!! (But I’ll include honorable mentions because I’m weak: Reputation by Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa by Dua Lipa, About U by MUNA, and What If Nothing by Walk the Moon). I’m notoriously bad at picking favorites, but this was definitely the most difficult category for me to decide, so it’s gonna be a tie between *drum roll* Betty Who’s The Valley and SUPERFRUIT’s Future Friends. This year was clearly all about my obsession with synthpop. In fact, I didn’t realize I had a favorite genre until I was considering which of the albums from this year I loved the most. But as you can see, both of the masterpieces I chose as my top favorites are composed with similar styles. I’m obviously not a music expert so I don’t know all of the technical language to describe them. And yet, I can understand what I find so special about each of these works. These albums are both so fresh and vulnerable and bright and run the gamut when it comes to emotions. Falling in love? Check. Just ended a relationship? Check. Need to help your best friend get over a break up? Need an upbeat self love anthem you can sing in your mirror on your bad days? Need a romantic ballad you can sing in the shower even though you’ve never been in love before? These. Albums. Deliver. It. All. You’ll want to dance around to the catchy jams and text all your friends how much you love them and be proud of all that you’ve accomplished…and the epic vocals are just a plus.

Song

While I’m still not so patiently waiting for a new full length album from one of my pop queens, the single “Cut To the FeelingCarly Rae Jepsen released this year did not disappoint. I’d say it was just enough to hold me over for a little longer. (An emphasis on the little, I hope). I’m always a big fan of fun pop jams, but this year, I found myself craving the taste of lighthearted and feel-good songs more than ever…for obvious reasons. Truth is, I don’t think I’ve met a Carly Rae Jepsen song I didn’t like. I firmly believe she is far beyond her years when it comes to talent; her ability to put on an sonically cohesive and satisfying album that gives you tastes of 80s pop that can be blended into the pop we hear on the radio today feels effortless. And frankly, the rest of y’all have slept on her post “Call Me Maybe” career for far too long. I’m putting it out there now: let 2018 be the year the pop world fully appreciates the genius that Carly bae truly is.

Book

I have been talking about The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas to anyone who will listen all year. I even have a previous blog post completely dedicated to why I love this book, so I don’t need to go into detail here. But I will say that this book is not exclusively for folks who read young adult literature. I truly believe it’s required reading for anyone who enjoys a good story that leaves you thinking long after you read the last page. The story captures the narrative of the Black Lives Matter movement in such a moving first hand experience that I can’t imagine the reader not being affected by Angie Thomas’s words. Plus, it’s being made into a movie and the cast is bomb. So make sure to read the book before you head to the theater.

Network TV Show

I started watching The Bold Type against my usual reservations when it comes to brand new series. I usually wait a few season for the show to gain traction before I start watching, but I’m so glad I made an exception for this show. It airs on Freeform, which isn’t often the best selling point, but this show exceeds expectations in so many ways. The show centers around three 20-something women living in New York, working for a magazine themed around women’s empowerment. Plus their boss is an equally badass woman who gives them both guidance and freedom to explore the possibilities of their careers. I know this may sound like a cookie cutter example of a show that’s exploiting the current wave of feminism women are passionately getting involved in right now, and in all honesty, that might be their intention. I don’t blame them. My goal is not to figure out whether or not their intention to share these stories are playing off these cultural clues simply for success – that’s likely the goal of every entertainment outlet. But lucky for us, sometimes the result of this intention is a brilliant representation of thoughts, ideas, and movements that we’ve been lacking on our screens. I really think that’s where The Bold Type truly earns its success. I dare you to watch this show and not be inspired to take down the very next person who tries to steer you further from your goals.

Streaming TV Show

I don’t watch many streaming shows, mostly because there’s too many to choose from and I get overwhelmed very easily. But this year, I couldn’t help but drive right in to One Day at a Time as soon as it was released. I’m much more likely to gravitate toward half hour comedies, shows with diversity, and stories I can relate to. With this show, you’re guaranteed a stellar three for three. First of all, anything that highlights the brilliance of Rita Moreno is an automatic win for any living breathing human. The cast is then rounded out with a group of actors that beautifully and authentically bring the Alvarez family to life. Along with the laughs, the show delivers so many relatable storylines; they represent this family with genuine care and attention while also keeping it fun and entertaining. You can see the truth without getting wrapped up in painful drama. You instantly fall in love with this family, their traditions, their ambitions, and their complicated yet rewarding relationships to their own personal identities and to each other. Also, I am painfully and wholeheartedly the white Elena Alvarez.

Broadway

When I first heard about Come From Away, it was described to me as a 9/11 musical. Which, let’s be real, does not sound like a good idea at all. Sure, you can make successful musicals about sad things (see: literally all of my favorite musicals), but this was something I didn’t quite understand the intention behind. But when I learned that this wasn’t simply a musical about 9/11, but a musical that explores the days following the event from the perspective of a group of rerouted travels in Canada, my skepticism eased and I was a lot more open to the idea of seeing it. I knew it would still be an emotional ride, but as I already said, I sort of have a thing for musicals that make you feel and the feelings and cry all the tears. One of my favorite things about theater is that it’s both entertaining and evocative right in front of your eyes. You have an experience that is so immediate and so vicarious that it can be overwhelming in the best way possible. And this couldn’t hold truer with Come From Away. Not only is the story told beautifully through captivating songs, an incredibly talented ensemble, and even some laughs, but the message of the show is something we all need to hear, see, and believe, especially at this moment in time. It makes it even more powerful that the show is based on a true story. This production allows us to explore the ways we respond to tragedy, the power of selfless kindness, and the proof that at our very core, we’re capable of unconditional love and care for one another, family and strangers alike.

And because I love to hear from *~my fans~* here are some suggested fun favorites from 2017.

Favorite Meme – “First of all…” Some faves:

5a8Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 7.56.36 AMScreen Shot 2017-12-22 at 7.58.47 AMScreen Shot 2017-12-22 at 7.59.46 AMScreen Shot 2017-12-22 at 8.01.31 AM

Favorite Baby Animal GIF – I believe in you, little pup.

Favorite Internet doggies – Bagel and Chanel moved into the Gardens this year and I love them so much!!!!

Favorite Vacation – Not only was Disney incredible, but specifically, the Food & Wine Festival is what dreams are made of

Favorite Viral VideoThe only way to walk into a room

Let me know what some of your favorites were from this year! Thanks for reading, friends. See ya in 2018.

The Weapon We Have Is Love

It’s no secret I love being busy. Just four months after I graduated college, I had somehow managed to lock down a full time job, a part time job, and a volunteer position. And while many people could not understand why I would want to spend my free time doing work that I wasn’t getting paid for in addition to a 40 hour work week, I couldn’t be happier. Especially because my volunteer position was with one of the best organizations out there – The Harry Potter Alliance.

I’m sure you’ve seen posts from me over the past year sharing about the HPA’s campaigns, various articles I’ve written for our Medium publication, or simply expressing my love for my fellow HPA volunteers and staff members. When I talk about the HPA to my friends and family, I always describe it as “a social justice initiative themed around Harry Potter”…to which most people respond “how did you find something so perfect for you?” And honestly, they couldn’t be more right.

Even though my full time job is also at a nonprofit, The Harry Potter Alliance has given me the opportunity to expand my social justice actions even further. I truly can’t imagine myself doing any other work besides somehow helping people, which is why I was drawn to nonprofit work in the first place. So it’s no surprise that even when I’m not at my 9-5 job, I’m continuing the fight for social justice with an organization that not only aims to improve the world by turning fans into heroes, but also believes it’s just as important to share your Hogwarts House as it is to share your pronouns.

It’s been one year since I’ve joined the HPA as a volunteer, and in that time I’ve had the opportunity to take on many different roles on our campaigns team, better known as the Department of Magical Causes and Correspondence. First and foremost, I am the LGBTQ+ Researcher, responsible for keeping our staff updated on the latest LGBTQ+ related news in the world and providing resources and information that can be referenced in future campaigns, on our social media channels, and other projects conducted by the HPA. I’ve also spent time on the social media team, contributing to the HPA’s Pinterest page and assisting copywriters on various platforms. I also love to write articles for Medium, as well as generally help behind the scenes however I can. Working with the HPA has helped me embrace the fact that my love of fandom and my love of activism don’t have to exist separately. In fact, they’re infinitely stronger together.

Fandoms are a place where I’ve always felt comfortable. Whether I’m gushing about Harry Potter or YouTube or Broadway, I thrive when I’m surrounded by other people who share my level of passion and aren’t afraid to show it. There’s nothing more freeing than connecting with others who respect, understand, and celebrate your authentic self. With the HPA, I’ve been able to do that on a whole new level that I’ve never truly experienced before.

People feel comfortable in this group the moment they join. Though our communication is almost exclusively virtual, our relationships develop quickly and are always a solid form of support. We have come out to each other before anyone else in our personal lives, we’re open about our struggles with mental health and the need to take time off and recharge, we share self care techniques when we notice someone struggling, we have staff-wide discussions on how to better our communication both within the organization and out in the world, and more often than anything else, we’re always sending love, positivity, support, and lots of virtual hugs.

There are people in this organization that I’ve never met before who I consider some of my closest friends. We share jokes and bond over TV shows and always know the perfect GIFs to send each other. We all share a passion for making a difference, and it just so happens to be in a way that attracts other like-minded Harry Potter fans. Working with this group of superheros, wizard activists, and genuinely caring group of nerds is quite literally the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to magic. I could not be more grateful.

Welcome to Nightgowns

I’ve always admired the art of drag, but it wasn’t until this past year that I’ve really gotten immersed in its culture. Obviously, a big part of that was through RuPaul’s Drag Race. I unapologetically love that show; I think it’s truly special and I will defend it against anyone who says otherwise. But my love of drag extends far beyond the queens I watch on TV.

As someone who surrounds herself with as much queer culture as possible, the more I learn about drag, the more I appreciate how its history has shaped so much the queer world we know and love today. From the first time I watched Paris is Burning, to the books I read in undergrad, and the various queer spaces I’ve been introduced to during my time in New York City, I’ve had the pleasure of learning about the trailblazing LGBTQ+ heroes that have paved the way for us in so many ways. Honoring and celebrating these people is more important than ever, which is why I’m still reeling from my experience at Nightgowns.

I have to admit I was far from prepared for the magic I had the pleasure of witnessing at the show Sasha Velour hosts at National Sawdust in Brooklyn. I could go into all of the details of how the show was structured and all of the queens I was excited to see perform, but to be honest, that isn’t the essence of Nightgowns that I’ve been holding on to. Of course the queens were incredible – New York is overflowing with amazing drag queens who know how to entertain. But this show was a completely new level.

It was a celebration of queer spaces, voices, and experiences. It was a place where anyone could be a drag queen – or king, or whatever monarch you felt in your heart. The queens paid tribute to women, performers, and artists of color, they made statements about voices that are silenced and identities that aren’t discussed, they were weird and extravagant and bold and unique, and absolutely everything that drag celebrates.

Truthfully, it’s easy to forget about the history when you’re watching your favorite queen lip sync to the latest Ariana Grande single. And I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing – far from it, I would argue. The very essence of drag is to have fun and be entertained in a space that makes you feel welcomed, safe, and carefree. For me, this was just a piece of what Nightgowns delivered.

All of the performances left me speechless. My jaw fell open in awe too many times to count, and not only because of the talent I saw displayed on stage. What moved me most was the emotion, the artistry, and the bravery to do the complete opposite of what the audience expected. There were moments when I didn’t completely understand what was going on, and I was quick to realize that I didn’t need to. While there are definitely messages to be shared and feelings to convey through drag performances, there’s also the freedom to not necessarily need those things. It’s enough as a drag performer to go on stage, show your art, and simply – or maybe not so simply – subvert the ideas of what is normal. The very fact that I was fully captivated watching these artists perform is enough to prove that authentically existing in these queer spaces is enough, and worth being celebrated.

Something Sasha shared that I can’t seem to get out of my head is the idea of screaming when we need to be heard, and when we don’t, sitting down and listening with our full attention. As a drag fan, this hits extremely close to home. I’ve had a lot of privileges in my life that have afforded me the luxury of needing to seek out books, movies, and other media to truly learn about the history of drag and why it’s such an important part of queer culture, rather than living through it myself. These spaces encourage us to learn and think openly no matter our own personal histories, but I realize that I have been granted the opportunity to do for this for the majority of my life. So I feel it’s my responsibility to highlight the voices of those who haven’t been allotted these opportunities, supporting their art and their personal journeys, and remembering to sit down and listen with my full attention when these amazing people have something to say.

As a member of the queer community, I am so grateful to be surrounded by folks who want to celebrate the history and beauty of our community. It’s one thing to read about queer culture, or to watch a movie about it, but to experience such moving expressions of pride in person was transcendent in ways I never thought possible. Nightgowns gives me so much hope as a writer, an activist, and an advocate for using queer history to lead us further in the revolution.

Aim and Ignite

It’s back to school! (But not for me. Thank god.)

When I was in undergrad, so much of my time was spent stressing about what my major would be. First I tried English, making the decision based on nothing other than the fact that I enjoyed reading and writing. But I eventually came to the conclusion that literature wasn’t the right course of study for me, and instead, I wanted my time and energy to be spent on a subject that interested me, challenged me, and invigorated me. Based on my years of crossing things off my list and exploring new topics in college, I finally chose to major in Gender Studies.

There are plenty of people who don’t even know what that means. Or if they do, their first thought is likely “what do you do with that?” But I had never intended to go to college for the sole purpose of establishing my career (sorry, Mom and Dad). I was always so intimidated by my peers who knew the exact job they wanted, even though they were only 18 years old. I didn’t even know which Taylor Swift era I identified with the most – how was I supposed to know what I wanted to do for approximately the rest of my life? So instead of stressing myself out by trying to figure it out, I was simply going to learn as much as I could. And in my opinion, Gender Studies was the perfect way to do that.

Basically, Gender Studies explores the ways that gender significantly affects the different aspects of our lives. Though the premise is simple, the actual experience was one of the most challenging and rewarding I could have ever asked for. My curriculum consisted of classes in all kinds of subjects, like communications, English, politics, and even science. If you think there’s no way to consider gender in some of these subjects…that’s where the challenge of my major came in. Sure, there were a lot of times when I had to make a stretch or two to make a connection, but for the most part, I was forced to really think. I was forced to figure out new ways to think about the world around me. I was forced to think about possible answers to difficult questions. I was constantly questioning the dynamics I had been so familiar with my entire life. It was a really cool experience, and I totally encourage everyone in college to take at least one gender studies class if you can. It will challenge you in ways you never thought you even wanted to be challenged in the first place.

But despite the long rant, this isn’t me preaching that my major was the best major in the world. I don’t necessarily think everyone should study something in undergrad that simply sounds interesting and you hope will eventually turn into something more profound. But I do think it’s ultimately important to study what interests you. I think this idea of freeform thinking and exploration of difficult questions can be argued for any major you choose in college. You’re exposed to all of these new experiences in such a short period of time. It’s natural to constantly be questioning things and changing the way you view the world.

My major taught me how to think, how to appreciate and recognize my privileges, and how to always keep things interesting. But that wasn’t just because there was a magic spell put on me once I discovered the wonders of Gender Studies. It’s because I was able to fully immerse myself in the subject that was interesting to me, that I was personally invested in, and that I truly felt would help me learn what was most important to me. And after taking ownership of that, I felt like I left undergrad with the ability to make decisions for myself that I could be genuinely proud of, and truly happy about. From putting in the work and exposing myself to experiences that both scared and invigorated me, I learned to trust myself more and give in to the excitement of learning for the sake of learning. So whether you’re actually still in undergrad or you just love me enough to read all of my blog posts, I hope you can take away the inspiration of doing what drives you to be your best self. And keep learning.

(Whoa….wait….this entire post was SO Ravenclaw of me…….BRB taking a new sorting test)

Don’t Panic

Just a warning: I’m starting this blog off with a bit of a #HumbleBrag. Sort of.

I’ve had a lot of people tell me before that I seem to have my shit together, which I consider to be the greatest compliment of all time. But let’s be real…I don’t know anyone who truly has their shit together. Odds are, we’re all faking it til we make it, including yours truly. However, I will say that throughout my first year post-grad, I’ve found some really great resources that have made the faking it look really impressive. (While on the inside, all of us “adults” are actually just giant babies). Here are some of my secret weapons.

How to Adult

When I was in high school, I saw a post online that said “I wish there was a Sesame Street type program that taught you how to do adult things like grocery shop and do your taxes.” Luckily, that magical program now exists. Scrolling through this channel’s videos, you’ll see that they’re all practical life skills that we should probably already know how to do, but no one has ever explained to us before, and now it would be kind of embarrassing to ask. Maybe you never learned how to properly do your laundry, or maybe you have no idea what the stock market even is, or where to begin when you’re looking to move into your own apartment for the first time. Good news, folks: these short, informative, and concise videos are a great place to start, so you don’t have questions like “how do adults make friends?” in your Google history.

Yoga with Adrienne

What do you do for exercise and stress relief when you can’t afford a gym membership, it’s too cold to run outside, and the nearest “donation based” yoga studio is basically just a place to stand too close to other people while everyone sweats and pretends to be healthy? You do Yoga with Adrienne. It definitely takes a bit more discipline than your usual workout regimen, but for me, it’s been worth it during those days I can’t bring myself to do any other sort of workout. YWA videos don’t take too much time – some are as short as ten minutes – and Adrienne’s guidance with each video encourages you to go at your own speed. Her friendly and inviting teaching style translates effortlessly through her videos and it never feels like a chore to keep going until the end. And for another option, if meditating is more your jam than yoga, check out Insight Timer – it’s free, has over 5,000 different guided meditations to chose from, and it’s free.

The Financial Diet

I can’t exactly remember how I stumbled upon this channel, but I can probably guarantee it was toward the end of my college career when I was about to move back home, I wasn’t sure if I would have a full time job, and I had spent the majority of my time in undergrad stressing about money…you know, the usual 22 year old stuff. Enter two angels: Chelsea and Lauren. TFD focuses on small ways you can make a big impact on your financial situation. Of course, these aren’t hard and fast rules for every person; you’ll definitely need to try what works best for you and adjust accordingly. But overall, their financial advice is extremely easy to digest (Get it? The Financial DIET?) and their personal experiences are super relatable. Whether you’re interested in boosting your side hustle, getting the most out of your paycheck, or need some tips on how to best use your credit card, spend some time on TFD.

Period Kit

This particular adulting tip is just for those of us blessed with uteruses. I gotta be honest, the first time I watched this video by Ingrid Nilsen (one of my favorite YouTubers) I thought it was unrealistic for me to carry around so many things all the time. Who has room in their bag for all that? But the truth is, we’ve all made the unfortunate mistake of telling ourselves we’ll always have tampons and liners in our bag, and then the day comes when those emergency things get used, we never replace them, and the horrible cycle continues – pun 100% intended. It wasn’t until I started carrying my period kit around with me everywhere that I realized I have not been living my best period life in the past. Especially for anyone who tends to be surprised by their period each gloriously non-pregnant month, this kit is the ultimate game changer.

Zocdoc

For someone like me who basically spends all of her free time at the doctor, this website was such a lifesaver…seriously, because doctors keep you alive. (I’m ALL about the puns today!) This was especially a great resource for me when I moved and had to change all of my doctors. All you need to do is search for the type of doctor you’re looking for, your zipcode, and what type of insurance you have. Even if you don’t have insurance, you can choose the option “I’m paying for myself.” The website gives you an extensive list of doctors in your area, and you can filter through based on your personal preferences. You can also make appointments online, fill out your new patient forms, and check-in before you even get to the office. I’ve found that 95% of the time, the offices are familiar with Zocdoc and will know how to collect your information on the computer. So not only do you have a one stop shop for finding a new doctor, but you also don’t need to talk on the phone with other humans to make an appointment. Isn’t the Internet amazing?

~ Extra miscellaneous tips that really drive home the “adulting” image ~

  • Always carry a pen with you
  • Decorate your bathroom
  • Sign up for theSkimm
  • Get a reusable water bottle (and bring it everywhere)

What are some adulting tips that you rely on in this totally bonkers life we’re living? I want to know them all! Soon enough, we’ll all be faking it so fantastically that maybe we’ll stop using air quotes when we say the word “adult”…Maybe.

Pride // Playlist

Happy Pride Month!!!! I was inspired by Spotify to make a playlist of all of my favorite queer and allied artists (but mostly queer). I also added some commentary for a few of my favorites. Check out the playlist below!

 

Gasoline – Troye Sivan

I remember Troye’s first EP being released not too long after he posted his coming out video on YouTube. Knowing that one of my favorite queer YouTubers was releasing music made me REALLY excited, especially when I heard this song. He was (and still is) a very young kid who has a major platform, so hearing him share a song with male pronouns made me feel like such a proud mom.

Hold Each Other – A Great Big World

Truly the first time I’ve ever heard both male and female pronouns sung by the same person in one song!

Born Naked – RuPaul

The quote “we’re all born naked and the rest is drag” is so revolutionary. This song encompasses Ru’s ability to challenge norms, break barriers, and serve as a prime example of living as your true self even when you’re told it’s wrong. If RuPaul is wrong, why would anyone want to be right?

Strangers – Halsey feat. Lauren Jauregui

MY 2 BISEXUAL QUEENS!!!! Seriously, I’ve been such a big fan of these ladies for a while, and not only is this song an absolute jam, but it’s so important that the bi community has a song from two strong women who can sing about dudes in one song and ladies in another.

Ease My Mind – Hayley Kiyoko

All the female pronouns!!!! Hayley is so unapologetically WLW in all of her songs and I love it.

Come To Mama – Lady Gaga

This song makes me feel like Gaga is my queer mom who will hug me for 20 minutes whenever I’m sad.

Can I (Call You Summer) – Tyler Conroy

I met Tyler when I was a baby gay freshman and he was the president of our school’s GSA! He has always been such an inspiration to me as someone who works incredibly hard to achieve their dreams, and does so while being fearlessly true to himself. Also, it’s the perfect summer jam.

Girls/Girls/Boys – Panic! At the Disco

My true bisexual anthem from the marvelous Brendon Urie (…naked)

The Thrill of First Love – Falsettos

I will never shut up about Falsettos!!! But honestly, this show is such an important snapshot of queer history. It shows how far we’ve gotten, how much further we still have to go, and it’s all told from the perspective of a seemingly normal family who are flawed, complex, and ultimately relatable.

Know Your Name – Mary Lambert

Not only does this song make you want to dance all around, but the music video is basically the fun, queer version of Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood”. Instantly obsessed.

I Know A Place – MUNA

I love MUNA’s entire album, but this song stuck with me when I read an article about how it was written in the wake of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando last year. Listening to the song in that context gives it an even greater impact of love and amazingness. Plus, this performance had me crying like a baby.

GDMML GRLS – Tyler Glenn

This entire album is a testament to Tyler’s strength as he navigated his journey toward the queer community while being dismissed from another. For me, listening to this song gives me such a clear image of a young kid whose identity is being constantly questioned by those around him, even though he wants to explore the truth that he knows has always lived inside of him.

I wish everyone a Happy Pride! Let’s continue to support each other while we stay strong, keep learning, resist, and be proud ❤ Enjoy these jams!