Life, It’s a Relatable Thing

Written By: Kaelyn Binder

As we look around at one another it is easy to make assumptions about the individuals we are seeing. No matter where we go, we are surrounded by people that may seem similar to us, yet far from what we view ourselves to be. Surface level assumptions that lead to biased opinions about people we don’t even know. From what they are wearing, to how they walk, or who someone is associating themselves with, we as humans create surface level opinions about the individuals we are surrounded by. However, have you ever considered how you may personally relate to those people who you are so ungraciously depicting? Have you ever attempted to view them past their surface level appearance or general demographics? Although it may be hard to realize at times, every person that walks this earth is more than just the skin they show or the clothes they wear on their backs. We are compiled with stress and worry, we have learned from beautiful mistakes, and we were all created from similar life experiences that in turn molded us into who we are today. Throughout the remainder of this blog post, I would like to ask each of you to dig a little deeper and consider whether or not you can personally relate to these ordinary circumstances and practices that we as humans experience each and every day. Go ahead and make yourselves comfortable, grab some coffee or a beer; because let me tell you something, those two surface level beverages are definitely something that I can relate to.

Stress, It’s a Relatable Thing

    Have you ever been in a public library or a coffee shop and seen an individual who appeared to be on the verge of a mental breakdown? Yeah, that’s called stress, and that is something that we can all relate to. Stress is a mental and physical emotion that every person around you has felt at some point in their lives. Take it from a true college student working two jobs and going to school full time for the past five years. Yes, I said it, FIVE. Not only do I stress about money, school work, and getting things done in a timely manner, I also personally stress about much more minor things that I know each and every one of you can relate to. Even the simplest things in life are easy to stress about. For example, have you ever stressed over waking up late and realizing you snoozed your alarm for the fourth or fifth time? All you can think to yourself “S@*#!  I did it again!” Yep, that is something I can definitely relate to. Or maybe you are stressed because the toast you just made for breakfast is overly burnt and is now inedible.  As a result you end up hangry, leaving the house irritable and agitated. What about when you are in a hurry in the mornings and can’t find the shoes you are wanting to wear even though you have seven other perfectly wearable pairs of shoes waiting to be worn in your closet? As crazy as all of that may seem, the majority of us have all stressed about and can relate to minor instances such as these. So, the next time you see someone who appears to be in distress at your local coffee shop down the road, realize that this stress may have been caused by an instance much more minor that it may appear. Instead of assuming the worst, consider creating a bit of random small talk to simply let the individual know that “Hey, I can relate”.

What is Life?

    Growing up into who I am today I was sent through a series of ‘phases’ that weren’t all that pretty. From my initial tomboy image that I rocked until highshcool to learning how to acquire more lady-like attributes, I still find myself in an awkward phase in life learning how to “adult”. However, aren’t we all struggling with the concept of what ‘adulting’ actually means? I mean, we are sent through a long and drawn out educational career where we are faced with so called core curriculum that is supposed to aid us in our future paths in life. But then again, how are we supposed to relate those core curriculum courses to what we all struggle with today?  I am now a college level student who is about to graduate in May, 2019 and am still struggling to find an understanding of how the Pythagorean Theorem or how learning a song to remember the capital of all fifty states relates to the everyday knowledge that we are all supposed to be familiar with. Individuals my age (stinkin’ millennials) can almost all relate that we don’t have any sort of understanding of how to properly file our tax returns, how to understand the basic car troubles that we all undergo, or how to appropriately treat any health issues we may be experiencing. Call me crazy, however WebMD is still my go-to medical symptom site, and I know my parents are tired of receiving phone calls from me worrying that I may be experiencing a potential stroke. Don’t lie, the majority of you can relate, we all tend to self-diagnose thanks to WebMD. The point that I am trying to make is that no matter what age you are, or where you find yourself at in life, we can all relate that learning how to ‘adult’ is a never ending phase.

(Relat)ionships and Friendships

One thing that I can personally appreciate is that the friendships and relationships I have been a part of are what helped me grow through each of those so called phases. It wasn’t until I graduated high school that I was able to fully understand just how important some of those connections that I made truly were. The people we associate ourselves with directly impact what we are going through at that point in time. They are a reflection of not only our tough times, but some of our most prosperous moments as well. Have you ever been apart of a friendship that you thought was fun and adventurous but turns out was damaging and toxic? I know I have, and it was an experience that I have both learned and grown from. What about being a part of a relationship or friendship where you were their emotional support blanket? Although it may be difficult at times, in these circumstances we must understand that we are someone who that specific individual personally felt they could relate to and confide in. Lastly, there are going to be certain people within your life where you feel an instant connection with them. They are the ones who share similar interests and odd habits, such as eating a pickle and peanut butter sandwich; not many people can relate to you on that, but the ones who can are the ones worth waiting for. What I am trying to get you to see is that we make connections to people in life based on what we are going through at that current time. It doesn’t matter if you were able to relate to someone on a deeper level or through the discussion of your sandwich, what truly matters is that at that exact moment, you found a level where you could both relate.

Technology, it’s how we relate.

As our world has become more advanced, technology has created a new avenue that allows us all to connect and relate to other people around the world. For individuals my age, as well as those who are younger than me, it is easy to get caught up in the technology that is quickly shaping our lives. Through the use of social media platforms we are able to connect with people who may have once seemed unimaginable. Whether it be famous actors or athletes, health and fitness enthusiasts, or the numerous array of influencers that fill our social media feed, there is always someone who we are living vicariously through each and every day. We are now given the accessibility to make connections through Instagram or Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter, or perhaps through other blog posts with individuals and groups who we never thought we could connect with before. At times we may get caught up in our overly obsessive scrolling, I too am guilty of that, however we are generally viewing our social media as a way to visually connect and relate to different people. It is crazy to me that through the use of technology and social media we all have a particular individual or group who we have never met, yet we feel we can relate to.

I relate to you, and you relate to me.

    I feel like it is safe to say that there are numerous other ways that I could discuss with you about how we all relate to one another. Whether it be surface level relatability, or deeper internal relations there is always something you can relate about with the person sitting next to you.  If you like Macaroni & Cheese, we can relate. If you wear mixed-matched socks, we can relate. If your family isn’t perfect, we can relate. If you are secretly upset with your body image, trust me we can relate. The list goes on. As this blog post comes to a close and I am writing to you, I keep thinking to myself how and or why I chose to write about relatability. What I have decided, is that not only am I an individual who has told myself numerous times that only I would understand, but I am also an individual who appreciates being the person that others turn to when they feel they are alone. What I would like you all to remember, is that we all are connected to one another in some shape or form. Simply breath, stay calm, and always remember that everyone around you can relate.

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An Emotional Guide to the University Transfer Process, New School- Same You

By Teresa Zortman

I very distinctly remember being 18 and thinking “I have this figured out.” By “this,” I mean college, and by “figured out,” I really had no idea. The only thing that I knew was that I wanted to leave my suburban hometown, and become “a badass business woman.” With that specificity, what could go wrong? But what happens when you choose the ‘wrong’ place to spend the next four years at the expense of thousands of dollars? What if you are under contract as a student athlete? What if your instagram pictures at the beach make your friends red with envy? I hope that by sharing my transfer journey, at least one struggling college kid can resonate and understand that it is okay to take your college experience into your own hands. Your happiness is important, radical change isn’t the answer for everyone but for myself it was exactly what I needed.

A little about me

I grew up in a California suburb that has become known for the railroad running through it and the rice fields surrounding it. A great place to raise a family, being an hour from the Sierras and two from San Francisco. Pretty perfect for the matured adult, but pretty boring for the car-less teen. Luckily, I was a decent enough track and cross-country runner to get some collegiate attention. After a quick visit to Southern California and a scholarship offer, I was on my way to Los Angeles to start school in the fall, leaving my sleepy old hometown in the dust.

You do not have to be happy all the time, but it should be part of your experience

Have you ever seen the Spongebob episode where Squidward goes to a village of other Squidwards? He thinks it is perfect until he realizes that the days there do not vary or change, and everyone there is fine with that except him. Well, that’s what I felt like after four months in sunny Southern California. The beach is great, but the 10 miles to get there took 25-30 minutes because of traffic. I was running the sport I love, but the practice regimen was starting to break down my body. I had some nice friends, but at night I would still break down alone and cry. Somehow everyone was living in their paradise, except me. I wanted to like this place, I spent so much time telling people about how excited I was to go “Sunny, perfect SoCal” before I left home, I was sure it would pan out.

There came a day I realized that maybe I did not fit in at my current school. I sat and filled out transfer applications to various schools, but I could never send them. Shame that I was “giving up on my team” or that people from home would laugh at me since I was so sure when I left. I felt trapped. I tried to assimilate to the culture and every time it only made me realize even more that I did not fit in. With the way things were going at the moment, I was depressed, angsty, and no-where near the best version of myself. I had never quit something before, that’s why Cross-country and track had come naturally to me, but at some point my course needed to be corrected, so I opened up for that to happen.

When I stepped on the campus I knew

During the Summer, my family was taking our bi-annual trip to Montana. My younger brother was on the college search, so we stopped by University of Montana. An old friend from high school was attending the university and graciously gave us a tour. The tour was for my brother, but I fell in love. The campus lit something inside me the moment I stepped foot on the brick paved walkways. I continued to think of Missoula as we drove away and even when we got home. That was a feeling I hadn’t had before.

So, while sitting at my Southern California University, I applied, got in, and got a scholarship.

There’s no good way to tell everyone

As my second year in Southern California drew to close, the reality that I was leaving began to set in. People would ask me about housing arrangements for the next year, and I just smiled and said “oh yeah! Maybe we can do that!” I knew I had to tell everyone.

So I started with my closest friends.

They were more supportive than I could’ve even hoped for. I felt closer to them because they only wanted what was going to make me happy, if that meant a different school so be it.

Not long after telling them, the news spread on the track team like wildfire. I got people coming up to me asking if it was true, the cat was officially out of the bag. Some people surprised me with how supportive they were, some turned out to be hiding the same secret. One of my closest friendships was forged by the fire we went under for transferring out. I felt so loved by people who I would’ve never expected. For those people I am so grateful. Others were not as supportive, and still do not talk to me, but that was something I had to learn to be okay with. It strengthened me in patience and love so much that the depression and anger that lived in me no longer had a place to live, even if they felt entitled to be there.

It’s okay to doubt

Before I left, even though I had been accepted to UM and more and more details of the transfer had begun to come together, I still questioned my decision. I would love to say that it was ‘easy’ since I was clearly struggling, but the reality was I was living a life that I knew would be discontinued in a matter of months. After the good workouts, the beach visits, the good days, I truly questioned if I should just pull the plug on the transfer and gut it out. I remember breaking down on the phone with my Mom wishing that I would just know what the right choice would be, she simply said “you’ll end up where you are supposed to be.” As I sit here in my favorite coffee shop in Missoula, I can say she was right.

Where I am now

Almost everyday, my decision to come to University of Montana is affirmed. The University took all but a few of my transfer credits, and supportive staff has made me enjoy academics truly more than I ever have before. I have formed close friendships with other friends, transfers and traditionals alike. I even entered a sales competition within the business school and took home 3rd, bringing internship opportunities and close relationships with inspiring professors that I had not known before. There is a sense of comfort that comes with being in the right place, it’s unexplainable.

Even though as I am writing this it is -5˚ in Missoula and Sunny and 65˚ in Irvine, I have no doubt this is my place.

My Advice

There is a difference between missing home and missing out. Too often, college students feel obligated to gut out a decision they made when they were still in highschool. Psychologically, your brain changes from 18-22, that also happens to be when we, as students, have to make one of the bigger decisions of our lifetime. There is nothing wrong with changing your mind, or making the ‘wrong’ choice for you. Life is as positive or negative as you want to make it, having the courage to take your happiness seriously is not something to be overlooked. Transferring is so often ‘taboo’ because it IS a radical change, but why is a radical change towards happiness a bad thing? Everyone is entitled to pursue their own future and happiness.

Transferring universities is not a “one size fits all” solution. But for some, it can make all the difference.

What Losing Friends Has Taught Me

By Gianna Pagano

My Sophomore year of college I met a girl and we instantly connected on so many levels. From that moment forward we became best friends and we were practically inseparable. We did everything together, and I literally mean everything. She was the person that I looked up to for advice on family, friendships, boyfriends, and even academics. Not only was she nice, but she was smart, loyal, spontaneous, hilarious, and most important, she always supported me whenever I needed her.

As we get older and mature into who we decide to become, we often grow out of friendships or lose touch with them. A lot of the times these falling outs can be completely unintentional. Whether we get busy with school, work, family, new relationships, or we simply just change, the truth is that this is just the reality of life. 

I’m sure many of you have experienced something similar, and you can relate that it isn’t easy. There was never an argument or a huge fight that ended our friendship, we simply had a falling out. The past few months have been extremely difficult for me, and I feel that both my friend and I have missed out on being there for each other for many important events.

Having a falling out with a close friend can be emotionally draining, so here are 5 recommendations that helped me and can help many others going through the same process:

Give yourself time to process your emotions and understand the situation

A breakup with a friend can be just as tough as a breakup with a significant other, and it is normal to experience a wide range of emotions. To cope with your emotions, start by giving yourself time to grieve and assess your feelings about the situation so you can come to terms with the reality of losing a friend. During grieving, ask yourself: Are our problems beyond repair? Did they do something unforgivable? What caused this to happen?

Since the breakup with my friend, I have experienced about every emotion possible. I initially tried to brush it off and pretend I did not care. However, as weeks turned into months, I realized I was genuinely hurt by the situation and I missed her. I experienced a range of emotions: jealousy, anger, disappointment, loneliness, and confusion. I cried, A LOT.

It is important to remember that it is okay to feel vulnerable during these situations. You might force yourself to hold in your emotions, but bottling up your feelings is not healthy and it is normal to cry it out. 

Look at the situation from their perspective

Everyone has flaws, even you. Try to be more self-aware and understand you might have been in the wrong too. If you both equally contributed to the falling out, then you cannot throw all the blame on them nor should you hold a grudge. It is better to ask yourself: Why did the friendship end? Should I have tried harder to maintain it? Remember, friendship is a two-way street and it takes two people to communicate.

You should take into consideration how they are feeling. When you lose a close friend, it is likely that they are also experiencing the same or similar emotions as you are. And guess what, she probably misses you just as much as you miss her.

Do NOT make your mutual friends choose a side

I cannot express this one enough. A good friend would NEVER try to put their other friends in an uncomfortable position by forcing them to take a side. This problem involves two people, and no one else. Your mutual friends might be hurting too because they’re conflicted and feel they now have to split their time. Making your friends choose a side will only cause more drama and could ultimately make you lose those friends too. 

When both of you are in the wrong, you must be mature and refrain from speaking negatively about them. In my situation, I know that the girl was and still is an amazing person, so I never could say anything bad about her. Talking crap to your mutual friends puts them in an even more difficult position, and frankly, it will make you look petty.

Make new friends

Moving on is never easy but making new friends can be when you put yourself out there. While you may think that no one will ever compare to your lost friend, surrounding yourself around different people can fill the void and offer you new friendship qualities. Evaluate which qualities you look for in a friendship, then find the courage to expose yourself to new people.

I used to struggle when it came to making friends, and when I was younger, I honestly did not have that many. After my falling out, I decided to put myself back out there because I was tired of feeling left out. I ended up meeting a few girls recently that welcomed me in with open arms and have since become people I could not imagine my life without.

And finally, reach out when you are ready

If you are as stubborn as I am, this will be the hardest part. This requires you to be the bigger person and to take initiative. If you realize that you still want them in your life, start by apologizing or reaching out. If the two of you are still unable to resolve your issues, then at least you know you did everything that you could.

I found myself reaching out many times during the first few months, but I eventually stopped because nothing was changing. We would agree that we both missed each other and wanted to resolve our issues, but after each time I reached out, I never heard from her again. It turned into a never-ending cycle and only caused me more pain. I finally had to accept that when she was ready, she would let me know. 

If the friendship was genuine, remember that this is only temporary. Eventually you will both come around and have the opportunity to discuss the situation, but for now it is going to take some distance. In the meantime, be patient, focus on yourself, and understand that sometimes people change.

6 Tips to Becoming a Writer

Writing can be hard, but it is necessary to formulate your thoughts and to understand the world around you.  I once read that, as humans, we don’t write because we understand, we write to understand.

We write to understand, to share, to express ourselves, to heal – to communicate.

Whether you’re writing a blog post about DIY Halloween Costumes or a very personal experience, there a few key factors to note when getting started.  Here are my 6 tips to becoming a writer:

 

  1. Write What You Want to Read

If you don’t enjoy what you’re writing, chances are you wouldn’t enjoy reading it either, so why would anyone else?  Austin Kleon writes about this in Steal Like An Artist in the chapter called Write the Book You Want to Read. 

He talks about how you should write about what you like.  He tells us to think about our favorite writers and then think about what they would create if they all collaborated – Write that.

 

  1. Make it Engaging

When you write, don’t tell the reader how incredible you felt on the rollercoaster, make them feel it.  Or, maybe you’re writing about a painful experience or the most exciting time in your life.  Whatever it is, take the reader there.  Words exist so that we can express ourselves to others.  Are you more likely to be drawn to a piece that just tells you something, or are you more likely to be drawn to a piece that makes you feel something.  We read to learn; We read to experience a world different from our own.  JK Rowling didn’t tell you about Hogwarts, she took you there with Harry and she did it with words.

We all have the ability to take the reader there, we just have to be creative with our words.  If you’ve ever been to an impromptu show, you may have seen the game they play where one person leaves the room and the other stays behind with audience.  With the remaining person, the audience chooses an object to describe to the other person when they come back into the room.  When the person comes back into the room the audience has to describe the object to them without explicitly saying the name of it.  As you write, think about what you are wanting to write about, and then leave it on the page as if you are describing it to the person coming back into the room.  That is how you take the reader there.

 

  1. Have a Point and Maintain That Point

Whatever the topic is that you are writing about, make it a point to have a point.  That means that with every sentence, you need to be able to come back to your point.  As a reader, have you ever read something that didn’t stay on topic and by the time you get to the end of the piece (if you get to the end of the piece), you wonder how you got from point A to point B?  As a writer, you never want to create a piece that doesn’t have a clear journey beginning to end.  As you are writing, take time to pause throughout your process and read different bits and pieces and ask yourself if there is a arrow pointing directly back to your point.  If not, it probably doesn’t belong.

 

  1. Be Vulnerable

When people read something, they are either desiring to learn something new or to hear “me too”.  Writing a piece that lets the reader know “me too”, is 10X more effective than a “how to”.  That’s why local parenting magazine Mamalode is so successful.

CEO and Founder, Elke Govertson, was looking for “me too” not “how to”, but continued to only find the latter.  One year, on the night before Mother’s Day, she thew a party in which she called “Mother’s Day Eve”, and invited fellow mothers to come together in the name of motherhood.  Out of vulnerability, these moms began to share their experiences with one another – the good, bad and the ugly.  For the first time, Elke didn’t feel alone or lost in the perils of Motherhood.  Instead, she felt uplifted and empowered and, most importantly, part of a larger community who could say “me too”.

Through her own experience, Elke wanted others to feel the same.  She knew from her own frustrations with the “how to’s” that a publication filled with “me too” stories, like the ones shared that night, would create value in the lives of mothers across the country and even the world.   Thus, Mamalode was born and is referred to today as “America’s Best Parenting Magazine” across the United States and in various parts of the world; all because of a little vulnerability.

You see, we’re all human.  At the end of the day, we’re all made up of the same stuff.  We experience upmost joy and happiness, as well as the deepest heartache and pain, all while craving to love and be loved; always wishing for more time.  What differentiates us from one another is how we experienced those commonalities.  It’s funny how some of the most gut-wrenching topics to write about are ones that every single human on Earth, has or will experience.  Think: love, loss (death) and time; the three abstracts that motivate every single human on the face of the Earth.  Be vulnerable and write about your experiences with those.  Let your reader know “me too”.

 

  1. Find Your Voice and Embrace It      

There is no one like you in this world, and there will never be anyone that is as “you” as you are.  That’s pretty incredible.  This means that your voice, whether you’ve found it or not, is yours and yours only.  We each have our own thoughts and experiences and opinions.  If you don’t voice them, no one will because they’re not you.  To find your voice you must be willing to be vulnerable (see #4).  Sometimes this is the hardest kind of vulnerability to engage in because you are forced to be vulnerable with yourself.  You must ask yourself questions like: “What do I truly think/feel about this?”, “What does my voice sound like?”, “Am I being honest with myself?”.  Once you’re honest with yourself, you have the key to unlock your voice, which not only helps you to find yourself, but also to discover where your niche is in the world.  Maybe your voice sounds at home in humor or dripping in satire, or how to create a multitude of DIY Halloween Costumes.  Perhaps your voice is more at home talking about the tough stuff.  Wherever your voice is at home, follow it there, put your feet up, get to know it and write.

 

  1. Actively Pursue YOUR Human Experience

 There’s an incredibly metaphoric, on-going scene in the first Princess Diaries movie that is so important to remember when it comes to this tip.  Princess Mia’s neighbor in San Francisco is a writer who sits in front of his house every day working on his autobiography.  The ironic part of his “autobiography” is that is filled with events that he sees happening in the lives of others within a hundred-foot radius of his front porch.

As a writer, you need to make sure you leave the porch.  Pursue and engage in YOUR human experience, because no one else can truly write about that (see #5).

In contrast, there’s another movie called Stuck in Love that hits this head-on.  About a family of writers, it follows the life of a father – a writer, who hasn’t written a single word since his wife left him for another man three years ago.  He’s raising two teenagers – one of which is publishing her first novel and, the other, a Stephen King fanatic.

Raising both children to be writers from birth, the father gets hold of his son’s journal (a journal he has paid him to keep since he could write, along with his sister too), and tells his son that he needs to really experience life to become a better writer.

To become a better writer, you must actively pursue your human experience; you must really experience life.  You can’t do this from your porch.

 

 

 

 

 

…And since we’re talking about Stuck in Love, I will leave you with this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meg Dowaliby is a Senior studying Marketing at the University of Montana, who has a passion for content creation and storytelling.  Meg considers herself to be a “creative” with the objective of evoking emotions that bring people together as a marketer.