Not Drunk Enough: 25 Thoughts You’ve Definitely Had At The Bar

One more repost from Unwritten!

It’s Friday and you and your girls are planning on having a casual night out: happy hour drinks, dinner, and maybe a quick stop in a bar before going home to spend time with your bae, Netflix. But before you know it, you’re four drinks in and your friend is dragging you (willingly, let’s be honest) to some club with a name like “Infinity” or “Secrets” or “Chandelier.”

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10 Myths About The Second Semester Of Senior Year Debunked

Check out another repost of mine on Unwritten!

You’ve worked your butt off for almost four years, joined countless groups, clubs and teams, made some amazing friends, and had some great experiences. But it was hard – really hard. So, you got to senior year and you buried yourself in your thesis, and then second semester came around and you finally thought you’d get a chance to relax and have a blast. Not so much. In order to fully enjoy your last college hoorah, you should know what you are actually in store for.

Busy

I miss Cape Town so much. Check out a friend, fellow ex-gymnast, and current Cape Town traveler’s experience living there now!

Nearly Normal

I cannot believe I’ve been in Cape Town almost two weeks! After a slow first few days, when, to be honest, I wasn’t really sure what I had gotten myself into or if I really wanted to be here, life in this new city has been pretty non-stop.

I finally started work last Wednesday, and so far I’m learning a ton and really enjoying it. The Cape Town Refugee Centre works with the most vulnerable refugees on a local level. Most of the work I did in school looked at these issues with a very wide lens and on a very global level. At the Centre, though, we work directly with vulnerable clients to assess their needs and see what, if anything, we can do to help. Even though I’m only a few days in, I know that I am going to come out of this experience with a great…

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An Open Letter To My Little Brother Before He Enters College

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If I told my brother the same things I was told before going into college, people would probably think I was giving him strange advice.

The first pre-college “gift” I received was a rape whistle (it was from my little brother). While it was a practical gift, I guess, it was also weird – it essentially told me that the first thing I should know about college was that it was a dangerous place for me to be. For the record, I never once used that rape whistle (or the variety of other anti-rape products I received during my years in college). I didn’t even take it out of the package. I went to a small liberal arts college and I never really felt unsafe. While I’m not by any means claiming that my college was perfectly safe (as the many sexual assault victims at my school could tell you), I myself never feared for my safety.

Thinking about it now, I may have never even opened the rape whistle, but I also didn’t get rid of it. Why? Because it seemed like something I could at some point need. It’s still sitting in my living room in my apartment in New York City, untouched, in one of the drawers of my coffee table. But if I had given my brother a rape whistle last Christmas, as I considered doing, it would probably also remain in the package – but it would probably also sit in his desk at home, or the back of some closet – he wouldn’t bring it with him to college and always know exactly where it was, despite not using it. He would probably forget about it. And that would be fine.

When my best friend, a guy, started college, his dad sent him a box of condoms. Again, a practical gift, but the message my friend received at the start of his college career was that college would be the time to have sex. We essentially received the exact opposite messages – I learned that I should be vigilant about unwanted sexual advances and he learned that society expected him to have sex. More basically put, men should seek sex, while women should fear it.

So I want to change the message. My brother, almost eighteen years old and a high school senior, is getting ready to embark on the “best four years of his life” (I would definitely say that description of college is up for debate). But as a feminist, a college graduate, and most importantly his sister, I have some advice of my own for my little bro.

Hey Buddy,

I can’t wait for you to go to college (hopefully on the east coast *cough cough* so we can be closer together). You’re going to have so much fun, learn so much, make so many friends, and become even more yourself. I truly can’t wait to see the person you become throughout your college years. But before you go, I want to give you some advice:

  1. Be yourself. When I got to college, I wanted to reinvent myself – I thought I could make myself into someone who was completely different than the person I was in high school (aka cooler, friends with more “popular” people, invited to the best parties, etc.) – that didn’t happen, and I’m so glad it didn’t. Just be you; don’t worry too much about what everyone else thinks.
  2. Be someone people can count on. Stick up for what you believe in, stand up for your friends, and stay strong.
  3. All that peer pressure stuff. Don’t give in to peer pressure and don’t pressure anyone to do anything they don’t want to do. Whether it’s drinking, drugs, or anything sexual, don’t do anything you aren’t comfortable with (and don’t make anyone else feel uncomfortable).
  4. Listen to your friends. If your friends tell you something is wrong, listen to them. Don’t discount them. Especially your female friends – if they talk to you about being catcalled, or someone making them uncomfortable, or anyone taking advantage of them – listen. Believe them. Be there for them.
  5. Don’t rape. Not that I believe you ever would, but for the number of times I was told how to not get raped, I think it’s fair that I tell you once how not to rape: If someone says no (or does not say yes) to your sexual advances, stop.
  6. Don’t let your friends rape or be raped. If you see a friend taking advantage of someone else or being taken advantage of by someone else, step in. Don’t be a bystander. Do something – it’s always better to have a friend be mad at you for a day for “cock-blocking” than to have someone be traumatized for life by a sexual assault.
  7. Be the feminist I know you are. Don’t shy away from the term “feminist” because of the negative stigma that is still associated with it. Think about all the strong women you know – me, Mom, your teachers, your camp coworkers – and remember that we are only this strong because of other women and men who aren’t afraid to call themselves feminists.

Love you always,

Your big sister

Insta Art

My creative endeavors recently have taken a turn; I’ve been spending a lot of time drawing and doodling (and posting it all on Instagram). If you like what you see, check out my Instagram! @ipaulesbronet

I’ve drawn everything from bridal gowns to pumpkin pie, and I’m always looking for new ideas. Let me know if you have any brilliant ideas (or want me to make something just for you) and I’d be happy to doodle it.

What It’s Like To Find Your People

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In the summer of 2012, I fell blissfully in love. It was the first time I had ever been so overwhelmingly happy that I had to share it with the world. I felt like sunlight radiated from my pores. It was the only thing I could talk about, the only thing I could think about. 

It was my first (and only) year as a counselor at SEP. I wasn’t in love with an individual, I was in love with a feeling. I was in love with the group of people who gave me that feeling. And like any first love, I didn’t realize what I had until it was almost over. 

Standing on a porch that was drowning in early morning sunlight, I felt something new in the pit of my stomach (and not just the pancakes my friend had made). Like I was a character in a magical realism novel, I began to feel a fire within my body – in the space where my ribs meet, a few inches above my belly button, I felt a warmth that spread through my body to my fingertips and beyond. It was a feeling so fulfilling that I have searched for it everyday since. It has become my goal to find happiness that infects my body the way it did that August morning. 

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Six weeks earlier, I filled a suitcase with summer clothes, towels and toiletries, and other essentials. Just minutes from my house, I was ready to go on the adventure of a lifetime. I thought I knew what to expect – accepting people, a fun time, a learning experience – I had no idea I would find my people.

Up to that point, I thought I already found my people – friends who knew me and understood me, teammates who cheered me on, and family who always had my back. But you can’t know what it’s like to find your people until you’ve truly found them. So in addition to gaining the things I expected to at camp that summer, I finally found my people. And they were nothing like what I expected; they ranged from a frat bro with an extensive shoe collection to a heavily-pierced camp newbie to a pair of sisters who had lived all over the world. They were people who initially intimidated me, people who were interesting and cool and intensely intelligent. But the way I just described those few people doesn’t do them justice; they were so much more than one description. Because the frat bro? He is also an incredible artist, a fiercely loyal friend, and a ridiculously funny storyteller with a talent for funny faces. And the heavily-pierced newbie? She is one of the most adaptable, supportive people I have ever met, who gave us all sentimental necklaces after only a week of knowing us. And the sisters? They are reliable and dependable and always willing to stand up for a friend. They are amazingly independent and perfectly unique and they taught me that love for a sibling can be the strongest kind. These people I just described are only 4 of the 13 people I fell in love with that summer. Some of the others became irreplaceable pillars of confidence in my life. One gave me the strength to push for what is right, no matter the consequences. Another taught me to love my body in all of its uniqueness. One showed me that redheads always have the most fun. And they all taught me to believe in myself, to fight for myself, and to love myself. 

This may all seem overly-emotional and corny, it may feel repetitive, or it may seem out of the blue. But there is method to my madness. Two nights ago, I learned that this summer, SEP will not take place. And while this shouldn’t (and logistically doesn’t) affect me, my heart broke. I thought about all the campers, counselors, and other staff members who, with one email, just lost the chance to find their people. SEP fosters friendships, relationships, and people-finding.

But if I know the children of SEP, the passionate, talented, and caring young adults I’ve come to know over the years, this won’t be the end. Camp will come back, stronger than ever, with people who have a renewed zest for connection. The SEP legacy is forever and I have no doubt that this is not the end. And to all my SEP babies, my junior counselors who are now leaders and my campers who are college-bound superheroes: don’t worry, you’ll find your people. You already have.

Never forget, “someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers, and me.”

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Looking Back: The Time I Was “The Other Girl”

As promised, here is a follow-up post about my thoughts now on my week with Chris.

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After our week together in Florida and our few weeks of chatting about how things were going with his girlfriend, Chris and I texted on an almost daily basis, and I grew way more emotionally attached than he probably realized. We Skyped each other and talked about our families and our life goals. After a year of this, I truly thought I knew his soul. I was basically waiting around for him to break up with his girlfriend, which is when we would finally be able to pick up where we left off. Which was where? A few thousand miles apart and a year after one night of kissing. We were nowhere. My pseudo-relationship with Chris made me completely uninterested in everyone else; in our one week together, I fell head over heels for a guy I had no chance with.

Eventually, I realized that I was getting the short end of the stick in our “relationship”: he and his girlfriend were still in a happy relationship, and I had fallen for someone who was emotionally and physically unavailable. I cried in my best friend’s car on a vacation to visit her in her new city, and I finally knew I was wasting my time. So I broke up with him. I know that seems ridiculous – how can you break up with someone you’re not dating? Well, I did. I told him I needed a break from him – from texting, from SnapChatting, from sharing our life stories and our daily nonsense.

A few months later, when I thought I was fully over him, I began talking to him again. But before I knew it, I was back in the same hole I had been in before – hoping that he’d realize how compatible we were, how we were supposed to be together, and every other thought hopeless romantics have. Once again, I ended things.

I’m not sure if that was the last time I talked to Chris, or if we talked again casually after that, but eventually it truly ended. I can’t remember the last time I spoke to him, but I’m glad I finally got myself out of it. I remember being brokenhearted over Chris more than once, but that was my own fault, not his. I had made our relationship out to be so much more than it was. In the end, we were just flirty friends who made out one time. 

Now, three years later, I still think about Chris once in a while, when he shows up on my Facebook feed or someone talks about Florida or spring break, but I’m happy to say I did eventually get over him. In the past year, I’ve considered reaching out to Chris a few times, but ultimately decided against it. Even though we had a truly wonderful friendship, it wasn’t worth the pain I caused myself crushing on him over and over again. Chris was a really flirty guy and for all I knew, he had the same relationship with me as he had with a million other girls. For a while, he meant the world to me, but I could have just been a blip on his radar.

Despite everything – the tears, the classes I didn’t pay attention in because I was texting Chris, and the missed chances I had with other guys – I still don’t regret any of it.

The Time I Was “The Other Girl”

(I wrote this post almost three years ago, before I even had a blog, and I wasn’t ready to share it with people until now. For the most part, I haven’t updated anything I wrote, aside from a few grammatical and syntactical errors. I hope you enjoy this peek back into my life – and my writing – three years ago. I’ll be writing a follow-up piece soon about my take on this pseudo-relationship now, so stay tuned for some “everything is clearer in hindsight” shit coming your way soon.)

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Original Title: I Should Probably Feel Worse Than I Do

Let me just preface this by saying that I do actually have morals, I promise. But I went on vacation for a week, and apparently so did my morals. The story begins spring break  my sophomore year of college. I had been planning a Habitat for Humanity trip for almost an entire year with another girl, and we were finally on our way to Florida. There were seven kids from my school and eight kids from another school staying in the same house.

Upon entering the house, I locked eyes with Chris (*name has been changed). I immediately thought he was cute, in a rugged kind of tall, dark, and handsome way. We flirted for a few days,  cuddling and watching movies all squished on the couch with our new friends, but I knew something was up. He was a total flirt, but for some reason he was holding back. Everyone could tell there was something going on between us, but for some reason Chris wasn’t making a move. Half way through the week I was totally invested in making something happen between us – I knew we were both attracted to one another, and it felt comfortable (for the first time ever). He didn’t make me feel awkward or self-conscious, and I could look into his eyes when we talked without feeling out of place. It just felt right, and it was the first time ever that something felt like that for me. Of course, once I had fully committed myself to the idea of putting myself out there, the truth came out.

He had a girlfriend at home. I was disappointed, but it didn’t make me want him any less. I decided at that point, all morals aside, that if I couldn’t have him, I would just tease him – after all, he had waited until we were in way too deep to tell me he was otherwise engaged. So, I dressed nicely, I flirted up a storm, and, needless to say, it didn’t make me feel any better. Teasing him didn’t help me feel any less teased to begin with. Shocker. The night after he told me about his girlfriend, we watched a movie with everyone. We cuddled, per usual, and if the sexual tension was butter-knife-ready before, it now could have been cut with a shoe, or something equally as dull. I had a hard time sitting next to him without jumping him. This was when I decided to pull the “is this as hard for you as it is for me?” card, figuring I was still just teasing him. His aggressive kiss on the cheek told me my teasing had gone a bit too far. We were screwed. It was all down-hill from there. Later that night we decided it was time to talk, and after admitting that he wanted to kiss me, we chose not to do anything – neither of us wanted to mess up his relationship with his girlfriend. I told him I thought we made the right decision; he told me he didn’t. I knew we were in over our heads.

Fast forward 24 hours to us making out on the couch. Clearly we lost our resolve. It wasn’t very strong to begin with. Our morals, along with our decision to “just be friends” went out the window. You’re probably thinking I’m a terrible person, or that he’s a terrible person. We are both better than our actions that week, and yet we still did what we did. Do I feel bad? Without a doubt. Do I think it was the wrong thing to do? Absolutely. Do I regret it? Not even a little bit.

Before you judge me too harshly, give me a chance to explain myself. Actually, feel free to judge me all you want, I deserve it, just don’t hold it against me, and don’t let it define your opinion of me. If you had asked me before that vacation if I would ever do something like this, my answer would have been no. Ask me now if I’d ever do it again, my answer is still no. Here’s the thing, though, when you’re a lonely college sophomore who has never been told you’re beautiful by a boy, and has never kissed someone you actually want to kiss, your morality line might become a bit blurry when these options present themselves to you. Chris made me feel wanted, and special, and important. He made me feel like I mattered. For someone who has never been told they’re wanted before, that feeling is intoxicating. Chris was charming and sweet and he cared about me. I needed that. I don’t regret doing what I did because it was an experience I’ll never forget. I don’t regret it because both Chris and I can learn from it. I don’t regret it because I won’t ever forgive myself for hurting not only his girlfriend, but also the two of us. And I don’t regret it because I learned a lot about myself.

(Follow-up: In case you’re wondering, Chris and I kept in contact after our time in Florida, and talked a lot about what to do in the following days. My friends disapproved of me talking to him, and they had a point – we couldn’t really keep the flirting to a minimum as we should have been able to. He decided to tell his girlfriend what happened. She forgave him. So while it might be easy to say, “well, I dodged that bullet” to becoming a home-wrecker, finding out her reaction really didn’t change my opinion of the event. It was still wrong what we did. I don’t know her motivation for letting Chris get away with cheating on her, but it doesn’t really make a difference. Whatever her reason, it doesn’t just let us off the hook – Chris and I have both agreed to never do this again. Hopefully we’ll both stick to our decision this time.)

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice: 11 Fun Indoor Fall Activities

Fall is in full swing and there are all the Pumpkin Spice Lattes, carved pumpkins and freshly-picked apples to show for it. But while these fall festivities are all sorts of fun, they’re also outdoors, which generally means it’s freezing (and sometimes rainy and windy and miserable). If you’re not a huge fan of the cold, here are eleven perfect fall activities you can do without leaving your home.

  1. Bake apple everything

Apple pies aren’t the only fun apple snack you can make – from apple chips to baked apples to applesauce, the options are limitless. So choose your favorite, turn on the oven, and get going. Not only will you make your house warm and toasty, it’ll smell amazing from the baking apples and cinnamon you’re bound to use.

  1. Make these pumpkin spice delicacies

Pumpkin flavored foods are all the rage, so instead of breaking the bank buying all your favorite pumpkin goodies, make your own! Try out these delicious pumpkin cheesecake bites!

  1. Go online shopping for sweaters

Sweaters are arguably the best part of fall – they’re warm and fuzzy and comfortable, and if you find the right one, you can wear it to work and in bed.

  1. Dye your hair a warm fall color

While pastels and neons are all the rage for summer, muted tones and warm colors are perfect for fall. If you’ve been wanting to try out that chestnut brown, or auburn, or dusty blond, now is the time. Grab your BFF and your new hair color, and get your dye on.

  1. Make crafts out of fallen leaves

Fallen colored leaves can’t just make childish wreaths, you can also make beautiful mason jars, pretty rocks, and candle holders.

  1. Put together a fall playlist

Look through your iTunes library and start making your “Fall 2015” playlist. Choose your favorite fall songs and listen on repeat.

  1. Practice your nail art

Nail art is beautiful, and fall is the best time to try out your new favorite colors and styles.

  1. Watch your favorite fall TV episodes

All the Thanksgiving episodes of Friends, anyone?

  1. Make cinnamon-scented candles

Candles are actually really simple to make – all you need is wax, some cinnamon, and cute jars, and you’ve got yourself an adorable candle.

  1. Drink your favorite coffees and teas while reading a great book

Have a favorite book? Wrap yourself in blankets, make some tea, and reread your all-time fave book.

  1. Host your own paint and sip night

Gather your favorite ladies, buy some wine, and stop by the craft store to get some canvasses and paint, and make your own apartment decorations!

Do you love fall but love it even more from the comforts of your couch? Then hopefully these eleven activities will have you and your friends set all fall long.

Huffington Post: Anxiety

Three years ago this week, I cried over the prospect of eating a grilled cheese sandwich. I couldn’t do it. I was constantly exhausted, I fell asleep in class, and the list of things I felt like I “couldn’t” do was endless. My anxiety was the most severe it has ever been in my life. This is also when I started writing. I typed notes and stories into a Word document – by the end of the year it was 40 pages long. When I was feeling brave, I read some of the stories to my roommates. A year later, I started Sometimes I Wear Tiaras. It’s easy to remember all the things my anxiety took from me, but it also gave me my voice. In my three years living with diagnosed Generalized Anxiety Disorder, I’ve found my voice. I’m so proud that my second piece for Huffington Post is about my experience with anxiety. And for everyone out there living with diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health disorders: “You made it through yesterday, you made it through today, and you can make it through tomorrow. Be brave. I believe in you.”

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.