Once A Gymnast

Check out this article about being an ex-gymnast by my high school teammate, Aliza (she was way better than I was, just for the record).

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http://www.readunwritten.com/2016/01/07/gymnast-sport-whole-life/

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How Living With My Boyfriend Changed Me, But Not In The Way I Expected

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It seems counterintuitive that living with my boyfriend would make me a more independent person, but that’s exactly what it has done. Last year, when I was considering what it would be like to live together, I assumed that cohabitation would make my boyfriend and I codependent. And honestly, I’m so thankful that it hasn’t.

I moved in with my boyfriend immediately after I graduated from Skidmore College. We had three weeks to turn his parents’ basement apartment in Brooklyn into our new home before I left to spend six weeks studying publishing at Columbia University. We packed all my belongings into an excessively large U-Haul and trekked the four hours to NYC. Our first stop? IKEA.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Breathe In, Breathe Out: What It’s Like To Live Life With An Anxiety Disorder

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(This was originally a post on here, but I’ve republished it with Unwritten, so I’m sharing it again.)

For an hour and a half, I stared at the floor. My knee bounced up and down. When my eyes weren’t fixed on the carpet in front of me, they darted back and forth to the door, measuring my distance from it. My notebook was open in front of me, scribbled notes covering the page and intricately drawn lines in the border. “You’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay,” coursed through my head. I was sweaty and clammy, my blood rushing to my extremities. It took all my power to not run from that room. I flipped absently through the pages we were discussing, feigning like I was paying attention. I wasn’t very convincing though, as my professor looked at me across the room, subtly asking if I needed to leave. I shook my head. I knew if I left the room, I wouldn’t come back. My hands shook and I felt like I was going to throw up. This was the first time I had a full-blown panic attack in college .

For a week all I ate was rice, saltines, and dry Life cereal. I lost 7 pounds. My phobia of throwing up was worse than it had ever been, and sitting down to meals in the dining hall was harder than every test I’ve ever taken. I spent hours lying in bed, trying not to panic. By ten o’clock every night I was exhausted.

I went to a counselor once a week, if not more. I made emergency appointments. I called my parents four or five times a day and I texted them nonstop. They dropped everything anytime I called – sometimes for 5 minutes, sometimes for an hour. I cried a lot. I depended on my friends more than ever before and I couldn’t give them anything in return.

For over a month, my heartbeat was faster than normal. My thoughts raced uncontrollably. I woke up in a panic every morning, unable to function properly. I went on a lot of walks around campus. I couldn’t be alone. I considered taking a leave of absence from school, but I knew if I left, I’d never come back. Sometime during that month I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Dear Eugene: An Open Letter To My Hometown

Eugene Cityscape at Dusk by Jeff Green

Dear Eugene, Oregon,

I always knew that growing up meant leaving home, but I didn’t know it would be like this.

Ten years ago, I sat in the back seat of a rental car as my family drove slowly away from my best friend’s house. I looked out the window and felt like I should probably feel sad, but I didn’t. I was excited. Moving was an adventure. Everyone thought I’d be a dramatic preteen and freak out about moving – get rebellious and distant, argue with my family – but that’s not how I reacted. Looking back, that’s probably how I should have felt, though. I knew basically nothing about the place I would be calling home for the next ten years. All the information I had about “Ore-eh-gone” was contained in a few photos of my “cow house” with the huge stone fireplace and shag carpet, my Roosevelt Middle School schedule (I was just glad I wasn’t going to “Spencer’s Butt”), and some pictures of my mom standing around pretty flowers at the new university she was going to be working at. Honestly, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Looking back at the past ten years of my life, I couldn’t have been luckier to end up in Eugene, Oregon. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t always loved you – you’re a weird, slow, outdoorsy, hippie place – I’m much more of a city girl. I don’t really fit in with the type of people who choose to live in you; I like the fast-paced atmosphere of city life, I hate nature, I like when there are actually four seasons (not just “rain” and “construction”), and I never once wore Birkenstocks with socks (I swore when I moved there that I would never do it and I stayed true to that commitment). And yet, despite all that, now that I’m gone and my family is leaving, I find myself feeling kind of home-less.

Because here’s the thing, Eugene: without you, I would be an entirely different person.

Eugene, you taught me how to be a person and how to take on the world with optimism.

You taught me to be more accepting of people who are “different.”

I learned what it meant to appreciate nature, even if I never fully appreciated it myself.

You taught me that rain will come whether you’re prepared for it or not and that sunlight will always burn the fog away.

I learned to love college sports in a way I never thought I could – I learned to find a sense of community with strangers.

You gave me friends who deserved my friendship and friends who didn’t; I learned to be forgiving and to stand up for myself.

Even when I was desperate to get as far from you as I could to go to college, you still welcomed me home with open arms every winter and summer.

You taught me that being nice can get you farther than being smart or ambitious or “perfect.”

You gave me gymnastics and every bruise, tear, trophy, and friendship that came with it.

You introduced me to the most influential, important summers of my life – summers that taught me to accept myself, that taught me how to love, that there truly are people out there who will love me for exactly who I am.

I learned to get in touch with Judaism and gave me a beautiful community of friends.

You taught me how to mourn for people who are taken from the world too early.

You brought in the crowds for the latke party every year, the tradition I will have the hardest time saying goodbye to.

You gave me the most incredible high school experience with classmates who will take the world by storm.

You bonded me with my family. You showed me that family is the most important thing, no matter how far apart you are.

You showed me the most incredible farmer’s and craft markets.

You gave me a friendship that pushed me to grow every day, a friendship that has sustained four years of separation, countless arguments, late-night emergencies, and too many “I told you so”s to count.

You taught me to love writing.

I don’t think I can ever thank you enough for everything you’ve taught me. I haven’t seen you in almost a year, and next June, when my brother graduates from high school, may be our final goodbye. But you’ll always be part of me and I will always feel at home in my memories of you. So, my dearest Eugene, thank you. I love you, 541.

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Ileana’s Guide to Starting a Blog

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Now that I’ve been blogging for about three years, people have started asking me for advice on starting their own blogs. Apparently people have started thinking of me as an authority on blogging, which is pretty cool. So here are my tips on starting your very own blog.

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You have to actually LIKE writing.
If you’re planning on starting a writing-heavy blog, you should enjoy writing. If you never fell in love with an academic essay you wrote, or jotted down random ideas on post-it notes or napkins or whatever was laying around, or spent hours looking at notebooks in bookstores, then writing a blog may not be for you. You might be really funny and you might have some amazing ideas, but if you don’t like writing, then writing a blog is going to feel like work.

Read some other blogs.
If you want to start writing a blog, it’s a really good idea to read other people’s blogs. You can get inspiration, see cool designs, and read some really great writing.

You don’t have to know exactly what you’re going to write about. 
It’s okay not to have everything planned out. I took a class this spring about making websites, and we were required to make site maps and wire frames and detailed descriptions of everything we were going to write, what photos we were going to use, etc. I really don’t think that’s necessary for starting a blog. You can plan and plan and plan, but if you don’t have any content, your blog will be nonexistent. When I started my blog, I had no idea how I was going to structure it, what categories I would have, or what my menu bars were going to look like. I didn’t organize my blog until at least a year in, and that worked really well for me. Starting a blog is different for everyone, so if you want to start with organization, you can, but don’t be afraid to just start somewhere.

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Choose your platform. 
There are so many blogging platforms out there – I didn’t know about that many blogging websites when I started writing, so I just kind of stumbled on WordPress, but there are so many platforms for you to use. You might want something different if you’re planning to post a lot of photos, or upload videos, or use gifs, or write a lot. Do your research and choose wisely. Here’s a list of just a few, make sure to poke around and see what’s going to fit your needs best: WordPress (my fave, obviously), Blogspot, Foursquare, Wix, blog.com, Blogger, Weebly, and Tumblr. Be aware that some of them are free and some cost money, and some of the free ones have deluxe options if you want to pay for certain themes.

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Just start writing. 
There is nothing as important as just writing things down. The hardest part about writing is often getting started. So just bite the bullet and start somewhere. You don’t have to love every sentence you put on the page; you can always edit later. But you have to just start.

Share it with people. 
If you want people to read what you’ve written, share it everywhere! Post it on Facebook, Tweet about it, email it to your mom – do whatever it takes to get people reading. If they like what they see, they’ll read more and share it with their friends!

Quick Life Update (Excuses for Why I Haven’t Been Writing)

Hi everyone! I know it’s been approximately, well, forever, since I’ve actually written anything here, so I want to explain why:

Chicago trip #1: When my mom broke her clavicle so I flew out the next day to

Chicago trip #1: When my mom broke her clavicle so I flew out the next day to “help” her and we ended up walking around the city for the entire day… oops.

Excuse #1: In the past month I have traveled to Chicago twice, so two of my weekends have been filled with family and Chicago (and not having a computer with me).

Chicago trip #2: The one where the whole Paules side of the family got together in Chicago for the first time in forever and had a great time.

Chicago trip #2: The one where the whole Paules side of the family got together in Chicago for the first time in forever and had a great time.

My last day at Columbia; that campus is incredible.

My last day at Columbia; that campus is incredible.

Excuse #2: Things have been super hectic. During the second to last week of the Columbia Publishing Course, we had our magazine workshop where I was the publisher of our mock magazine. The magazine was for career-focused women and it was called “Bossy.” It was amazing. My group was made up of seventeen women and one man and we had an incredible time spending eighteen hours a day creating a fake magazine. As tired and stressed as I was, it’s kind of also exactly what I want to do with my life. On top of that, I had multiple job interviews that week (more on that in the next excuse). A week later, the course ended and I moved back to Brooklyn and tried to relax for my last week of summer vacation. I slept in really late, went to the gym, and watched a ton of Netflix (if you haven’t watched “Grace and Frankie,” you should).

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Excuse #3: I joined the ranks of the employed! One of my many job interviews panned out and I am now officially a full-time employee at a publishing house. Last Monday was my very first day as a Marketing Assistant in Higher Education at Oxford University Press. I got a free mug and a tour of the coffee machines on my first day, so I think you can assume I’m enjoying it (in all seriousness though, it’s been really great – my coworkers are awesome, my boss is the nicest person ever, and I’m learning a lot). In my free time at the office, I’ve been trying to decorate my cubicle; so far I have Christmas lights and some cloths from South Africa – if you have any brilliant cubicle decoration ideas, I’d love to hear them!

Look, my Oxford mug filled with iced coffee. What could be more perfect?

Look, my Oxford mug filled with iced coffee. What could be more perfect?

You know you're an assistant when......... Coffee run #1

You know you’re an assistant when… Coffee run #1

Coffee run #2 (same day)

Coffee run #2 (same day).

Excuse #4: I didn’t realize that time management was a hard thing when you have a grown-up job. I was always so caught up in worrying about finding a job that I didn’t even think about the fact that having a 9 to 5 job might be hard… it’s not that my job itself is insanely challenging, but managing my time throughout the day has been a bitch and a half. Let’s start with the fact that I have to wake up at 6:45 (Okay, 7:20). I’m trying to go to bed earlier and earlier but no matter how much sleep I get, 7 am doesn’t get any better. Then there’s trying to go to the gym, the 2+ hours of travel time to commute to work, making dinner that isn’t fast food (I had Burger King for my celebratory dinner after my first day of work… it was a shameful moment), etc. It’s way harder than I thought, although I guess I hadn’t really thought about it much.

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Excuse #5: I’ve decided it’s about time I get paid for my writing. I’m sick of writing blog posts and articles that appear all over the internet (some of which have gotten over a million views, for the record) and only getting a pat on the back and some “congrats!” emails from my parents. Not that I don’t love those emails, because I do, but I could be thousands of dollars richer if I was even getting just $10 for the things that I’m writing. So I guess that’s one of the real reasons I haven’t been posting my normal content here… I’ve still been thinking of ideas and writing them down, but instead of sharing them with all of the internet for free, I’m trying to get paid to freelance. That being said, if you have any connections I can use, HMU (PLEASE, I’m desperate).

So that’s my life in a nutshell! I promise I’ll try to write more. Love you all <3

Feminist Fairy Tales in Fifty Words or Fewer (Part 1)

My most recent brain blast was a few days ago in the shower, when I realized that all the mothers in fairy tales are dead, all the step-mothers are evil witches, and all the daughters are naive girls who need a man to save them. I’m far from the first person to realize this, and certainly not the first to comment on it, but as a writer, I knew I had to share my opinion on it. Instead of just ranting about the gender inequality illustrated in fairy tales (that we share with our children at very young ages), I decided to take on a new project: Feminist Fairy Tales in Fifty Words or Fewer. Below are my first two, Snow White and Cinderella – they are adaptations of the traditional fairy tales (as we grew up with them – a.k.a. generally the Disney version, though I did research many of the other versions as well).

SNOW WHITE:

FFFF Snow White

CINDERELLA:

FFFF Cinderella

What I Learned from a Baby with Resting B*tch Face

  
 A few weeks ago I was on the subway with my boyfriend, Matt, when a young couple and their baby sat next to us. The little girl was probably about one year old and was sitting in her stroller glaring at her parents. As she looked around, Matt and I smiled and waved at her. Matt and I both love babies and there’s nothing we like more than making silly faces at random babies in the hope of making them giggle (if we succeed, we often plot how we would steal the baby). This particular baby, however, did not respond to our smiles. We didn’t worry, though, we just tried to make some of our other go-to faces that induce baby giggles. No success. We continued, unthwarted, to play peek-a-boo, make quiet monkey noises, and pull out every trick we had. Nothing. We didn’t know what to do. We kept trying, but literally nothing happened. The baby just stared us down like we were the least amusing people she had ever seen.

 She was, I realized, the first baby I had ever seen with Resting Bitch Face. It was amazing and terrifying. I was legitimately intimidated by this baby – she just was not pleased with anything. She gave the same unhappy face to her parents, who did not seem surprised. This was clearly not the baby’s first time sporting the RBF. 
 As obvious as it was that we would not succeed, Matt and I continued to try to engage RBF Baby. I know this is a silly blog post, but RBF Baby taught me something important about adults who have RBF: it’s really not intentional. RBF Baby smiled just before we got off the train; her parents had given her a cookie. So here’s the other lesson I learned from RBF Baby: not everyone is going to like you, and sometimes trying harder makes them like you less. It’s often better to just cut your losses and let them not like you. Giving someone a cookie, though? That will always make them smile.

Embrace Your Freckle-Face

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The first time I was jealous of someone’s tan I was probably about twelve. I was lying on the beach of a small island near Martha’s Vineyard with my two best friends, and like every summer, I had a sunburn. I’d slathered SPF 50 all over my body to my mother’s request, and I still had a sunburn. My friends, olive-skinned and gorgeous, with dark brown hair perfectly streaked with natural highlights, were tanned to perfection while I was “lobster-girl,” as my dad lovingly referred to me.

I was jealous beyond words. As twelve-year-olds often do, my friends and I came up with a great (i.e. idiotic) plan: we would cut athletic tape into shapes to put on our bodies so they would remain pale while the rest of our skin got tan. I traced a star, a spiral, and a flower onto the tape and willingly trimmed them down before we stuck them to our hips. We walked to the beach, spread our bodies out over our towels, and waited. My friends loved tanning and laying in the sun; after about five minutes, my skin was hot, my hair was burning, and the sunlight was seeping through my translucent eyelids and killing my corneas. I peeked at my friends; they were still peacefully soaking up the sun. Frustrated, I sat up and gave up on my goal to ever be tan in life.

Friends, teachers, coaches, acquaintances, and even strangers have told me I’m pale. All people, from all walks of life, have decided it’s necessary to point out how light my skin is. Fun fact, pale people never forget how pale we are – you don’t have to point it out to us like it’s a new development we haven’t noticed. I always laughed when people made jokes like, “oh I thought you were wearing white tights, but those are just your legs,” or, “I bet if any of the cream cheese from your bagel fell onto your skin you wouldn’t even notice,” but they really weren’t funny. Because here’s the thing: making fun of people for any part of their natural appearance is body shaming. It’s not inherently mean, but what you’re saying when you tell someone they’re “too pale” is that they don’t fit into society’s mainstream (and often fake) world of beauty.

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But pale is beautiful. Recently, more than any other time in my life, people have told me they love my freckles. And know why I have freckles? Because I’m pale. A few weeks ago I watched a ridiculous YouTube tutorial about how to put on fake freckles and I was shocked – freckles aren’t just a cute kid thing anymore, apparently they’re the newest desirable beauty trend.

That being said, whether they’re “in” or “out,” here’s why you should always love freckles: they’re a sign of youth – a lot of people’s freckles fade as they get older, which is why so many more kids than adults have freckles; they can be a great indicator of when you’ve been slacking on the sunscreen – as cute as freckles are, they develop because of sun exposure, so freckles can remind you to layer on that sunscreen; no two freckles are the same – they make you unique; freckles can hide unruly blackheads and pimples – the different shades of freckles across your skin can conceal redness and irritation without actual concealer (meaning you can let your skin breathe); freckles are beautiful.

If you need more convincing, just look at this spread Vogue did on freckles or check out this article.

20 Things I learned in College

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Now that I’ve settled into post-grad life (I mean, kind of… I still think it won’t entirely hit me until fall rolls around and I’m not at school), I came up with a list of things I actually learned in college. This list isn’t entirely complete, and probably never will be, but college taught me a lot of things, and most of them I didn’t learn in the classroom.

1. There will always be another party to go to.
2. Eating healthy and exercising regularly is hard.
3. It’s not worth it to worry about what other people think of you – they’re too worried about what you think of them to think bad things about you anyways.
4. A strong work ethic will get you farther than being smart or talented (okay, I kind of learned this from my mom, but I learned it in practice in college).
5. Mental health days are sometimes necessary. In high school and the beginning of college, I thought that attending every single class was the most important thing; more recently I learned that mental health days can make the rest of your week more successful.
6. When you don’t understand, ask questions.
7. One test or paper will not make or break your college career.
8. Having a job and relying on yourself for money teaches you a lot.
9. You can learn just as much, if not more, from a class you do poorly in as a class you do well in.
10. Your friend group will change, and that’s okay.
11. Time management is an essential skill.
12. It seems like everyone is having sex. They’re not.
13. You can bullshit your way through a lot of things; learning which things you CAN bullshit and which things you CAN’T bullshit might be the most applicable skill you’ll learn in college.
14. Lowering your standards to take part in the hookup culture won’t make you feel better.
15. Explore! Friends, interests, classes, clubs, etc.
16. There can be a lot of peer pressure; be true to yourself, don’t do things you don’t want to.
17. It’s okay to need your parents once in a while.
18. Immunity to coffee occurs really fast.
19. Always be confident.
20. You won’t remember the assignments, you may not remember the classes or the professors, but you will always remember the days spent laying outside in the sun with your friends. Don’t get so caught up in the “school” aspect that you forget to live.

Grown Ups Run 5Ks

  
Since my boyfriend and I moved in together after graduation two weeks ago, we’ve been doing a lot of “grown up things,” like spending over $1,000 on furniture, putting together IKEA products, cooking real meals, and working out together. 

Last week I decided to try to go for a run (which I haven’t done in, like, ever). I ran a mile. If you know me, you’ll know that’s a huge feat. I actually remember the last time I ran a mile before that – it was freshman year of college when I thought for a hot second that I would try out for the crew team (by later that day I decided I wasn’t going to try out).

So imagine my surprise today when I decided to try to run two miles and I actually did it. I immediately texted everyone in my phone (my mom, my best friends, etc.) because running two miles is something I thought I’d never do. Not even that I couldn’t, but that I just wouldn’t even ever try. 

My best friend and fellow running hater, Lauren, texted me back and said, “Noooooo why would you do that?” Good question, I thought, why would I do that? I hate running. I would much rather take an exercise class, like cardio kickboxing or hip hop pole dancing. “I’m trying to be a grown up,” I told her. “I want to be able to successfully run a 5K. Grown ups run 5Ks.” I think she was surprised by my response. Since when does being a grown up mean you have to be able to run a 5K? 

I guess I associate running 5Ks with other grown up things like wearing sunscreen when you don’t want to and making dinner even though you can afford to eat out because the successful adults in my life run 5Ks. A lot of successful young people I know run 5Ks also, but with my transition into the “real world” of post-grad life, I decided it’s time to get my grown up on. 

Next time, 3 miles.

iBooks!

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Last semester, I spent a ton of time putting together an e-magazine of some of my favorite posts from here. The e-zine is now available on the iBooks store for free downloads to your iPad or computer! I had a ton of fun making it, and I hope you guys will enjoy reading it. Below is the link that will bring you to the listing on the iBooks store:

https://itun.es/us/Th-i7.l

Sometimes I Wear Tiaras, Even During My Own Graduation (What Tiaras Mean to Me)

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As you can see from the photo, my graduation cap bore my signature tiara, complete with sparkles and the color pink. Maintaining this blog for the past two years has dramatically changed my outlook on life – probably more than any college class, this blog taught me what I wanted to do with my life. That is why, for my final moments of my undergraduate career, I decided I couldn’t be complete without a tiara.

It wasn’t about the tiara itself, in fact, for those of you who don’t know, “princess” is not how I would ever describe myself. I like pink and sparkles and glitter and all things girly, but I still don’t think of myself as a princess. I was never a princess-obsessed little girl, and I am not a princess-obsessed grown woman. Tiaras, to me, mean confidence. They mean self-assurance and strength. Tiaras are a blatant symbol of womanhood, and womanhood is a beautiful thing. Tiaras mean beauty, elegance, and smiling even when you’re upset. Tiaras mean being strong when all eyes are on you and being strong when you’re alone. Tiaras are about mothers, daughters, sisters, and feminists.

For everyone who thinks “Sometimes I Wear Tiaras” is just a silly blog title, you’re wrong – for me, it’s so much more. This post was originally going to be about me wearing a tiara on graduation, but it’s turned into more than that; just as my blog has turned into more than a place for me to put rantings and personal stories. “Sometimes I Wear Tiaras” has opened so many doors for me and shown me where I might want to go in life. And tiaras aren’t just accessories, they are a way of life.

“Why is Your Millennial Crying?” Comic Hits Close to Home

Earlier, I found this post on Bustle, and it really hit the nail on the head about how I feel as a millennial. I hear people complain about millennials and our apparently non-existent work ethic, obsession with technology and social media, and love of expensive “hipster” things all the time, but a lot of people don’t consider the fact that we do actually have a lot on our plates. On a side note, while some millennials do display the characteristics above, I know a lot of millennials who work their asses off, take on multiple unpaid internships just to hope for a minimum wage entry level job out of college, and are humble about their accomplishments.

That being said, take a look Gemma Correll’s comic below and see if it fits your life:

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Why “You’re Secret Hot” Is An Insult, Not A Compliment

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Last week, a man told me I was “secret hot.” What does that mean, you ask? Well, it means that I look pretty average until I put on makeup and a fancy outfit. Then I look hot. He explained that I look normal when I’m at work (in my dining hall clothes), but then I put pictures on Facebook of me with more makeup and tight dresses, and then I look hot. I think he was expecting me to say thank you, but mostly I was offended.

Here’s the deal: I don’t need random friends of mine to validate my looks. I’m perfectly fine with my boyfriend being the only guy to tell me I’m hot. Apparently when I wear jeans, converse, and a t-shirt, I look pretty plain. SHOCKER. When I’m working at the dining hall, I’m not trying to look good, I’m trying to do my job.

I truly think the guy who told me this was trying to compliment me – but honestly, I’d much rather be complimented on my ideas, my work, or my writing than on my appearance. Sure, it feels nice for people to tell you that you look good once in a while. But just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I need to be reassured about my appearance on the daily. And telling me that I’m “secret hot” is a very backhanded compliment. But you know what? My boyfriend fell in love with me wearing a nasty purple baseball cap, black nonslip shoe covers, and a gross green apron. So I’m not “secret hot.” I’m just hot.