Musings of a Millennial: Generation-Why?

just your average quarter-life crisis, documented for the world to see.

is tinder killing the romance? in defence of the dating app

Let’s face it: most of us have been there. It’s been six months since your last relationship and you’re ready to lightly tread back into plenty-of-fish infested waters; you’ve been hit with a dry spell of almost a year and you really just want to scratch THAT itch; you’re tired of being set up with your mom’s friend’s kids – the reasons are endless when it comes to fishing around the app store for the latest dating app.

In 2012, the release of Tinder revolutionized modern dating, cutting out the middle man and getting you to where you needed to be. Based solely on vanity, Tinder was built around the now-infamous “Swipe Left, Swipe Right” model, where you would swipe one way to match, and the other to pass. Tinder knew what it was doing. Far too many times my friends and I have been on dates where the guy didn’t quite look like his Facebook profile picture, or worse, it was a set up by a friend, which meant answering a barrage of questions as to why it didn’t work out afterwards. Then Tinder came along and cut right to the chase.

Since Tinder, a variety of dating apps have cropped up. Religion-based apps like J-Swipe help Jews meet fellow Jews; Bumble took it one feminist-step further and forced the woman to make the first move; Grindr helped link LGBTQ+ singles; and Hinge, the latest flavour, took what all of these apps had and added a more personal touch using a question component.

To me, these dating apps have been unfairly demonized, heralded as romance killers that are just fuelling hook-up culture. But according to a Pew Research Centre study conducted in 2016, 59 per cent of Americans think dating apps are actually a good way to meet someone, and 15 per cent have actually used them to do so. For same-sex couples, the data shows that approximately 70 per cent have met their partner on the apps rather than a face-to-face introduction. The proof is in the pudding.

While that doesn’t necessarily mean that these swipes are meant to last, new studies are showing that dating apps are, at the very least, having a positive effect on the way we get together with people.

A 2017 study, conducted by economists Philipp Hergovich and Josue Ortega, shows that there is a correlation with the rise of dating apps and interracial dating and marriages, and marriages that begin on dating apps are less likely to end in the first year.

Though constantly using these apps has lead to young people claiming they have “swiping fatigue,” for some of us, it’s a necessary evil that we hate to love and love to hate. As younger users give up the swipe for a month and throw up their hands, dramatically declaring themselves celibate for the rest of time, these apps open the door to romantic possibilities for the elderly, the disabled, and anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable in physical social settings.

For every type of “dater,” there’s an app. Whether you’re in it for the thrill or in it for the long haul, you can cater to your specific needs, taking into account age range, location, likes, dislikes – everything you would have to hash out during the small-talk portion of the date, which is often, the most awkward part.

So if you’re not into Tinder’s fast-paced swipe model, you can easily replace it with Hinge’s slower, more intimate model. The app asks you to answer funny or personal questions that show up on your profile, which can alleviate the added stress of fumbling over a cheesy pick-up line, allowing the user to find a commonality with their ‘match’ before taking the plunge.

The rise of Hinge is proof that we want the apps – we just want them to be better. Hinge is the first app to launch a new feature which is aimed at improving its recommendations, based on whether or not matches had successful real-world dates. In the Beta trials, 90 per cent of members said their first dates were great, and 72 per cent said they wanted to go on a second date, according to a Tech Crunch article.

There’s no denying that the apps are here to stay. They have helped modernize romance, catering to those who either don’t care or don’t want to go through the awkward process of actually putting yourself out there at a bar or going on a string of dates that your friends vetted for you. While there’s no doubt that the apps have contributed to the rise of hookup culture, who says hooking up is such a bad thing? Whether you’re hooking up for a night or hooking up for life, if that’s intimate for you, then hook-up away!

Dating apps are certainly not the saviours or the creators of love and intimacy, but they are taking romance somewhere new and exciting, whether you swipe for the night or swipe for life.

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the most important thing i’ve ever written

Originally published in 2015 for The Dialogue Projects.

You know that saying, “la vie en rose”? It translates to that english saying “living life through rose-coloured glasses.” That’s how most of us are born, and how our parents want us to be brought up in this world; happy. Now imagine one day, in the middle of your blissful adolescence, you wake up, only to find that your sunglasses are no longer rose-coloured, but instead, they are grey. That is how living a life with Depression feels.

I’ll never really know when my depression hit me. I just know that at some point in my adolescence, I realized that I was severely unhappy, and I had no idea why.

But to me, and to everyone around me, it was just a phase. Quickly it became “oh, she’s just becoming a teenager” and “she’s just experiencing puberty”. So for a while, that’s what I believed, and I managed to suppress these feelings of unhappiness through most of my grade 9 year, condensing them into nothing but a phase. However, going into my second year of high-school, my real battle with depression began. As my sense of sadness grew stronger, it became intolerable. It began to pour out of me like a toxic fume, and began to affect every aspect of my life. And just as sudden as my Depression appeared, I suddenly began to cope with my overwhelming feelings of sadness and anger by self-mutilation. Self-mutilation is a very taboo subject, due to its terrifying, graphic nature. Often, people who cope this way are made to feel ashamed, and are branded psychotic or crazy. But for me, it’s so important to share this part of my story, as it is so vital to who I am today. At the time, I figured that if I could translate my emotional pain into physical pain, the pain would be in my control. And I continued on with this habit in secret, covering up any evidence with long-sleeve shirts and bandaids.

My sunglasses were beginning to turn grey, and no amount of cleaning them, scrubbing the grey away, could bring back the rose-colour I once saw my life through. I tried to take the sunglasses off so many times, but a voice in my head insisted that I could only see if I wore them, from the second I woke up, until the second I managed to fall asleep. So I did. And that is when my depression manifested itself into a full grown illness. My second year of high school was incredibly difficult. There were certain situations which had triggered my depression to become its absolute worst self – days where the sunglasses became completely black, where I could not see anything but darkness and there was no chance at light. I became extremely irritable, hostile, cold, and sad. I lost a lot of friends that year. I came very close to failing almost every class. I barely slept.

Only when I decided to tell my parents what I had been suffering through alone, did my illness come to the forefront of my life. Because I wore long sleeves all the time, and I kept my coping mechanisms to myself, my parents only knew what I allowed them to know. I kept them in the dark because I was so deeply ashamed of that their baby had become. On the outside, I was smiling. I was a high school student and a girl going through adolescence like most normal girls do. But inside, I felt blue, consumed by so much anger and hatred for life, and for myself. Often times, I would find myself fantasizing of how happy everyone would be without me. I felt so incredibly worthless, and most days felt that my life was a waste of precious space on this earth.

I walked into my parents room one night, and remember telling them point blank what was going on. I remember admitting, out loud, that I was depressed, and how terrifying it was. But from then on, my family became a strong support system for me. Granted, there were days where it became too much for everybody, and that’s the reality of living with someone with Depression. It will affect your family an incredible amount, but I can confidently say that even though it was so hard for them, my family did and still does, to this day, have so much support for me, regardless of whether or not they truly understand me. And I thank them for that.

The rest of my high-school years were spent healing, on the inside and on the outside. I had learned to deal with my Depression in a much healthier, productive way. I began to immerse myself in activities that were positive and stimulating, I was taking medication regularly for a while, and I was seeing a therapist. I also learned that not everybody will stick around when the going gets extremely tough, so I lost a lot of friends that year, and I was the subject of people’s gossip. But I had my core few that stuck around (thankful for you all) and I was finally on the right track to restoring my sunglasses to that beautiful rose-colour that I once knew so well.

However, I experienced a big change in my life, and that triggered my Depression all over again. As I entered my first year of University, my depression gifted me with a brand new pair of old, worn-down, grey-coloured sunglasses. It assured me that the only way I could cope with this big change in my life is if I promised to never take them off, so promise I did.

The thing about Depression is that it has the ability to come and go, and I think that makes it hard for people to understand. How can you be so incredibly sad one day, and the next day, feel almost fine? But it’s knowing that you SHOULD feel happy, so you try. You paint a smile, you go to classes, you attend parties and hang out with your friends, just to feel a sense of normalcy. But really, all you WANT to do, is to sink into that hole of perpetual sadness, because that is what truly feels most normal to you. And that is what most of my first year of university was like. I began to cope with my Depression in unhealthy ways yet again, like going out almost every night, drinking obscene amounts, and sleeping all day, so I wouldn’t have to deal with the fact that my battle with depression was far from over. I began to fail most of my classes, and the pressures from school added to my already worsening illness. Luckily for me, despite the days I would go dodging their phone calls, being flakey with plans and FaceTime dates, I had a very solid support system that consisted of a few of my best friends, and someone I had been seeing throughout the school year. On days where I felt as though there was no point to continue on with my life, they got me out of bed, insisted themselves into my life when I tried to shut them out, got me to go to class and work on assignments. (If you’re reading this, you know who you are. Thank you). But unfortunately, no amount of support from these people could make the feeling go away. So in March, after months of silent suffering, I sought professional help at Western, and by seeing a Psychiatrist, and speaking with my parents, I made the decision to return home right away and take a break from school to help myself heal.

Fast forward to right now, present day, present moment as I sit here and write this piece. My depression is still very much present, and very prevalent in my day to day life. This year in particular, has been a very tough uphill battle. Often times, I feel myself trudging up this hill but it’s like every step I take, the top of the hill is nowhere in sight. But I keep fighting, and I will not stop until I have conquered this uphill battle and can finally say “good-riddance” to those sunglasses that I’ve been wearing most of my life. It’s a process, and a grueling one at that. I have very bad days, days where I feel hopeless like there is no reason to continue living, and then, although temporary, I’ll have good days, spent laughing and doing normal things with friends and family.

Depression is never easy. It will always be an uphill battle. But what I can stress to you, and I wish I took this advice when my depression first hit me, is that it is so important that you do not suffer in silence. Do not avoid seeking help, and reaching out for a hand because you feel ashamed. There is NOTHING to be ashamed of. Ending the stigma against mental illness is so important, and it should be discussed, it should be brought to light and given the attention it needs. The worst thing you can do to yourself is be ashamed. I used to look down at my arms and feel disgusted with myself, so much so that I begged my parents to spent thousands of dollars on having my scars removed. Only once I began the scar removal treatment, I realized that I will NEVER again try to remove my scars. My scars remind me that I was, and still am, a warrior. I survived a serious battle and I am living to tell the tale and to, hopefully, inspire others to do the same.”

dnusc: fuck it, it’s all relative

“I like messy… I can appreciate the clean lines, but it just… doesn’t feel human to me.”

“Your art is an extension of you,” I interrupt.

“Exactly,” he responds.

Walking into his room, which also doubles as his studio, it’s evident that Dillon Nusca appreciates a good mess – he says it applies to not only his art, but also his life. His room exudes that – complete with a collection of zines to make any magazine stand jealous, works from various artists posted up all over his walls, and boxes and boxes of sketchbooks. His bed is not five steps from his working desk, which is decorated with pens and pencils strewn across it, along with his computer that pumps out whatever music he’s vibing to these days (Krautrock and The Lemon Twigs are just a few of his current musical interests).

“I’m a messy person… I’ve got a messy life,” he says as he begins to spread out prints, posters and everything in between.

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Dillon Nusca is 21, but based on the amount of artwork he throws across his coffee table, you’d think he’s well beyond his years. I note that this is probably the biggest collection of sketchbooks I’ve ever seen, but he’s quick to reassure me that there are plenty of artists he knows that have amassed double the amount. Although Dillon isn’t one for self-adoration, his drive to always be better is apparent, and it especially shows in his constant progression as an artist. His talent is refined, but he’s not one to acknowledge that.

Dillon is currently enrolled at OCADU for Graphic Design, doing his fourth year. He now knows he wants to be a Graphic Designer, but it wasn’t always that clear for him.”First and second year, I kind of discovered I was more into drawing, because I really wasn’t enjoying my program. I felt like drawing gave me more of an outlet and a freedom to do things that Graphic Design wasn’t letting me do.” Now, in his fourth year, he realizes that graphic designers do in fact have the same freedom as illustrators, “it’s just a matter of having the confidence to throw it out there into the world, which is nerve-racking, but if you do it right, it works.”

But before Dillon was collaborating with names like LoveBot and starting up his own brand, All Relative, he was heading down a completely different path. He recalls of a time where he actually thought he was going to follow in his dad’s footsteps of general contracting and become a landscape architect. It took a high-school wood-shop class, and a push from his mom, to dissuade him from a path that he wasn’t passionate about and go into the arts. “I remember working on this project [building a mini house] and letting my friend do all the numbers. I remember being like, fuck that, I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life.” He credits his art teacher Mr. Bonder as one of the more personal inspirations in his life. “I was given a lot of freedom to create what I wanted, within the guidelines. What I hated [about some art classes] was that everyone’s work looked the same, because of the curriculum, but he gave me lots of freedom. That was cool. He was dope.”

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He names little players, like Mr. Bonder, his mother, along with several other Toronto names, such as Avi Gold and Sneeze Magazine, as his inspiration. Basquiat, UNGA, and Broken Fingaz are among the bigger names that come to his mind. All of his inspirations are immensely singular and distinguishable, a quality Dillon aims to achieve in his own work.

“I get bored easily. I like to constantly change things up – do something different. I just like to keep busy, always. Just do something. It doesn’t even have to be good.”

He shows us some of his most recent work – his T-Shirt designs for his brand, All Relative. Each T-shirt is a hand-painted one-off, which people often mistaken for being done on Photoshop. “It’s a compliment, I guess I’m doing it that spot on.”

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The name All Relative was a happy accident. “I figured it doesn’t matter, it’s all the same. Fuck it, it’s all relative.” He smiles, in a ‘get it?’ kind of way. “The more I think about it, it works with everything. Everything in a sense is relative to one another, everything is kind of connected in a sense.” It’s clear the more he talks about it; All Relative is so much more than a passion project. Dillon is working to push his designs out for Toronto, and hopefully the world, to see, and won’t let the fear of rejection get in his way. His passion, hustle and creativity let him power through.

With all the different mediums that he experiments with, you’d think it would be hard to identify a ‘Dnusc’ original, but it isn’t. He is distinguishable among the growing Toronto/OCAD art scene, whether he knows it or not. Through the countless sketchbooks we flipped through, through all the failed collaborations, the triumphant ones, the missteps and the progress, it’s still obvious WHO Dillon Nusca is. Everything flows in a perfectly imperfect way, and like Dillon says, “Fuck it, it’s all relative.”

kids are weird

Or maybe I’m weird. Or maybe kids are weird with me, and I am weird with kids. Either way, there’s some weirdness going on.

When I was younger, I never gravitated towards the baby dolls. You know, the one’s you had to feed, to nurture, to burp when they cry. I used to gravitate to the play kitchens, because I thought being my own chef would be cool (Gordon Ramsey – if you’re looking, I have years worth of fake experience). I used to play memory games, because I wanted to exercise my brain. I used to play with Bratz, because I always had a passion for fashion and the ability to express that through these dolls was something I valued. What I never found myself doing, was playing the role of ‘mommy’. My parents bought me toy babies, and my friends would try and play ‘house’ with me, but I was always disinterested. Growing up, this lack of maternal interest manifested. I detested baby-sitting, I found it redundant to try and speak to little kids, let alone babies. I was terrified of holding a baby up until last year. Throughout high-school, when I finally had an adult-ish brain, I would always be the “no babies for me” friend, to which all of my other female friends would gasp in disbelief. Always met with, “how don’t you want kids?” or “don’t worry, when you get older that will change”, I found it pretty exhausting to try and justify myself, so I would change my answer to “yeah, maybe one day!”, or a simple shrug and a laugh. Only when I really started to grow and become more of an actual adult, rather than ‘adult-ish’, did I find myself questioning my values about child-bearing, and kids as a whole.

See, to me, I never saw the appeal. I remember going on a trip with my little cousin and my family 3 hours up North, in which we were stuck in the backseat together. The entire ride, I was met with questions that made me want to rip my hair out. “Why is a tree called a tree?”, “How old are you?”, “How do you say Giraffe in X language?” – all to which I replied half-heartedly, waiting for the minute she’d shhhhh. Every moment of silence I would use as an opportunity to pretend to go to sleep; earphones in, eyes closed, regardless of how wired I truly was. This was all to gain just a little silence from the pestering questions that I didn’t have the patience to answer – I never did the whole dumbing down something to explain to a child in your highest pitched voice thing; wasn’t for me. But EVERY TIME my eyes would close, not even 5 seconds later, I would feel a little tap tap tap on my shoulder, and I was forced to remove my earphones and entertain another game of 21 questions. Soon enough, I would have her asking me if she could play with my hair after licking her ENTIRE hands, front to back, clean, Post-Cheeto’s. I can’t even try to paint a picture for you all of my face when she asked to run her sticky, saliva’d fingers through my hair, but I’ll just say that I was absolutely horrified at the idea.

No lie, these were my exact thoughts. Here, though, is where I should explain that I do not HATE kids. Hate is a strong word. Let alone, my family. I actually love my family, and all of my little cousins to death. But, do I find myself disconnected from some kids more than others? Absolutely. And that’s because sometimes, I just can’t produce that maternal, loving aura that other women around me know how to do so effortlessly.

Anyone who’s ever known me will say that my feelings about kids has evolved in some way. It used to start off with a general dislike for all children of all ages, before I got to know all of my wonderful baby cousins. It then evolved to being able to tolerate the idea of them, but force me to hangout with one and I’ll be the one crying and throwing a tantrum. Now, I’ve found myself in limbo. I sort of dislike them, but I sort of think some of them are really cute?

Somewhere around last summer, not long after the horrific Cheeto-fingers incident, I found myself seeing super cute, fresh out of the oven babies, and not being totally repulsed, even expressing how cute I thought they were. No, not EVERY baby – but some. And to my friends around me, this was weird. I held my first baby ever last winter, after years of fearing I would drop them/not knowing what to do with them, and I cried the entire time. They weren’t tears of sadness or fear, but more of awe. I was in awe that something this beautiful, this innocent, this peaceful, could be created by two people. Two people! It’s SO simple! A wonderful little creation that drowns out any background noise is brought into this world (unknown to them that this world is actually a soggy pile of dog-shit at the moment, but that’s neither here nor there), and they can’t even hurt a fly. That’s when my relationships with new-borns, specifically, started to change a little bit. I found myself constantly questioning the new mother’s around me about the experience, and am still so intrigued. But still, my feelings constantly slide from one end of the spectrum (get that child away from me) to the other end (Awwwwwwww that kid is sooooOOOOooOO cuuuuuute).

I used to think that maybe I was just a frosty bitch who possessed zero maternal instinct. I don’t think that’s true anymore. With my friends, family, and even animals, I possess a very strong maternal instinct. I care deeply, I love passionately, I am unwaveringly loyal, I am protective and I put others before myself all the time – all qualities I see in the mother’s that I am surrounded by that I adore and admire. But put a kid in front of me, and ask me to converse with it? I can’t quite seem to make that instinctual maternal connection. I treat them as if they were my equal and it’s just another day at the office, when really, that’s not the case. Kids at different ages mature differently, and must be treated accordingly. But if I’m not talking to a kid who possesses the same level of maturity as me, with the ability to form full sentences and competent thoughts, then I’m not talkin’. I’ll find myself becoming uneasy and out of my comfort zone, clambering for the right words to say – almost as if the little thing is judging me? But does that make me a cold-hearted bitch who is unfit to be a mother, should I choose to become one? No.

I’ve come to learn, based on observation and discussions with current mothers, that there is no rule-book to being a mother, or even a woman. Sure, there may be a guideline that gets ‘Dropboxed’ into the files of your brain once you give birth and somehow you find yourself KIND OF knowing what to do and say – but how you raise your kids, and what kind of mother you’ll be, is all up to you. It’s comforting knowing that if I ever do settle on a decision and choose to have kids (because I’m always wavering), that when I push those suckers out of me, I don’t HAVE to do the whole baby-voice thing. Will I? Maybe. Will I also talk to my hypothetic kids as if they were already grown adults? Probably. Will I decide that I actually definitely do not want kids, but instead, adopt a heap of dogs that I can mother? Seems like a great plan too. My options are so endless.

The whole stigma around not having kids is total bullshit. Does it make me a monster if I don’t want kids? Absolutely fucking not! Am I unlovable because of this? I don’t think so. I used to be scared to tell my s/o that my feelings on the whole “having kids” thing change like the seasons because I feared they would think I was mean, or even worse, stop dating me because they can’t see a future with me. But I know I can still be a kind-hearted, philanthropic, feminist bad-ass boss-lady, and not have kids. I can still invoke some kind of good change in the world, and share my love with animals, my family, my companion and OTHER people’s kids, without having my own. Why do women who bare children automatically get the title of “best woman ever”, as if they’re fulfilling some kind of ROLE that all women were ‘meant’ to fulfill? I’d like to think that in today’s society, we are becoming more accepting of shifting family roles/relationships/sexuality/marital institutions and what it means to be a woman, and that’s pretty cool. More and more, the dialogue surrounding motherhood is opening and expanding, and the stigma around it is being challenged by those who are unable to have kids, or simply don’t want them! You don’t need to justify yourself to the naysayers!

Listen, maybe in a perfect world, we’d all be baby booming! But this isn’t a perfect world. And people aren’t perfect. Fuck, some of the mom’s I’ve heard of kind of really really really suck. You know, the one’s who get their babies high and that kind of thing.

So I’m going to try and sum this up but I’ve also been told that summarizing isn’t my strong suit (3 hour storyteller over here):

Kids are weird. I am never going to think of them differently, and you can quote me on that. I still think a lot of kids are pretty gross, sticky, and cry a lot, and their inability to be on the same wave-length as me until they’re teenagers drives me up the wall. But, on the same coin, there are kids who I can shoot the shit with despite all of those annoying little characteristics. Right now, I think I want to have 2 boys. That can change! But what I know is that I will not be the cookie-cutter, baby-voice, ‘cutesy-tootsie’ woman that society thinks is the ‘right’ kind of woman. Sure, It could be that in a few years time, should I actually choose to have kids, that will change and you’ll see me toting a “#1 Mom” mug, driving a mini-van . But I doubt it. It’s how I’ve been since I was old enough to walk, and how I’ll continue to be, because that’s just who I am. Can’t change myself all for the sake of fitting societies definition of the right kind of woman.

So, to all of you women who aren’t sold on the idea of pushing a big head out of your vagina (or adopting!): you’re still lovable and loving. To all of you women, like me, who are extremely unsure about where you stand: you are allowed to be uncertain, and you will know when you know. And if you never know, well then there’s your answer. To all of you women who are so excited for motherhood: you are strong as fuck! just don’t ask me to babysit!

Looking forward to updating you on my status of children in the very, very far future!

Do your kegels,

H

am i a bad feminist?

I am a feminist.

I have and will always continue to identify as a feminist. I believe feminism is extremely important, because who doesn’t love equal rights for all, am I right? I’ve worked hard to get to a point where I can empower myself, empower other females, and speak up in a (still) very patriarchal society that would rather me shut up. I go to rallies, I share articles, I get fired up around feminist topics and support the non-extreme idea of feminism. I take rape extremely seriously, I believe in eradicating the wage gap, and I believe that I can do anything that a man can do.

I am a feminist.

But the other day I was driving, blasting my music and rapping every single bar (flawlessly, might I add) to one of the many countless rap songs I was listening to, it dawned on me. How can I, a self-proclaimed, self-loving, body-positive, sex-positive, pro-choice progressive-ass feminist in 2017, sing along with artists like Lil Wayne, our beloved Drake and even The Weeknd and be okay with the message they are perpetuating? Rap has a misogyny problem – we all know it. But I listen complacently, and if I’m going to be honest, I still enjoy it. And there lies the problem.

If any guy (or even girl) referred to me as his “bitch”, I would bite back. But why is it that when women are referred to as “bitches”, “hoes” and “sluts” in musical content, I’m totally okay with it? Is it because society and the music industry have completely desensitized these words, so that now all we’re left to do is take them with a grain of salt? Because artists like Eminem and Tyler, The Creator will write lyrics about rape and violence towards women, and yet, they sell records. Albeit, maybe I won’t listen to the songs that promote those messages, but I’ll skip to the next song on that same album, and chances are, I’m about to be referred to as a bitch and told to suck a dick. And sure, some will make the argument that there’s a line between what the artist says and the views they actually hold; it’s their “musical persona”. That could be enough to help us musical-misogynists go to sleep at night, but doesn’t that excuse have holes in itself? Yes, it’s our responsibility to draw and know the line between the two, but what about those young and impressionable minds who don’t? What about the boys who truly believe it’s okay to refer to women as playthings with no say over their bodies, just because so and so sang about it?

There was a time when the female presence was strong in rap; take Salt N Peppa, TLC, Lauryn Hill and Eryka Badu, who all built their careers for the most part on the shoulders of other women, empowering one another and upping their fellow ‘femcees’. But now, the strong female presence in rap is scarce, with artists who have loosely feminist, if not at all feminist messages, like Nicki Minaj, dominating charts. The lack of a strong female voice to counter the ever-present male dominated rap game doesn’t help our musical misogynistic case out, so what are we really to do? 

I’ve thought about this before; how crazy it is, and dare I say hypocritical, that I can support artists and music, without even realizing it, that spread such a negative, misogynistic message when it comes to women, and still advocate against the very things they talk about.

So this is where I had to ask myself: am I even really a feminist? And if so, am I a good one? Where is the line between micro-aggression, political correctness and de-sensitization? Do we continue to take things as simple as a really catchy song, and make it just that? Are we meant to take these messages with a grain of salt? Or is our complacency really a gate-way to allowing our society to move 5 steps backward when it comes to women’s rights?

 

 

The Hypocritical Feminist,

H

a little rant.

S’cuse me while I rant.

I was just scrolling through Twitter, and after jumping from profile to profile, I landed on a profile, and on a tweet. The tweet was along the lines of bashing people who advocate/publicize their mental health and how they are crazy. As someone who does so quite often, my stomach formed a pit and I actually felt hurt. This person aside, there are people who still, day-to-day, stigmatize mental health. Who still appropriate mental health with being psychotic and crazy. Who still scream, “attention-seeker!” if someone so much as mentions their mental health. My question is how can someone, who has grown up at such a time where mental health and suicide is so prevalent in today’s society and today’s youth, go on to write something so ignorant in such a public setting?  Think of your friends who suffer quietly. Think of all the strangers you don’t know who contemplate taking their own life away, daily. Think of all the people who are no longer here because they chose that route. And yet, you can still be so ignorant?

A quick google search on mental health stats in Canada will lead you to CAMH’s website, where you will finds stats such as, “Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16% among 25-44 year olds.” Suicide is the leading cause of death in Canada in youth-adults, second to car accidents. 24% of a group of human beings have taken their lives, and yet, you have the nerve to silence the people who choose to talk about it, rather than take away their own life?

Seeing this made me so mad, because I can’t help but feel that it was targeted directly at me. It feels targeted at me, and my friends, and at any other person who was brave enough to actually say “Hey! I know you’re all living comfortably and blissfully unaware of the world around you, but there’s a mental health problem that is growing exponentially! So I’m here to talk to you about how I am depressed! Or how I have bipolar disorder! OCD! Anorexia! Bulimia! Borderline Personality Disorder! And it debilitates me day to day. Please listen! Let’s talk! Let’s de-stigmatize!”

How can you bring yourself to tear someone else’s bravery down like that? Calling it a cry for attention is not offensive like you think it is – it’s downright true. Because mental health stigma DOES deserve every ounce of attention, if not more. For a second there, after seeing that tweet, I wanted to delete everything I’ve ever written advocating for mental health. I wanted to go back in time and take back every opportunity of vulnerability I’ve shared, all because of one sad tweet from one sad person. And then, I remembered why I speak so freely and openly about mental health. And it’s because of people who tweet, text and speak ignorance. I understand that speaking to the masses may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I get that. To some people, not everything needs to be broadcasted. And at the end of the day, everyone is entitled to their own opinions. You don’t agree with my opinion or the way I go about starting the conversation around mental illness? I respect that. But calling anybody who chooses to do so names? I don’t respect that.

Please, I remind anyone who has ever doubted their voice and the reach it has, do not let people who stigmatize, who use the wrong language, who are IGNORANT, lead you back into the dark. I ask you to take your voice and make it louder, and when they call you crazy, or tell you to get over it, or make fun of your Dialogue Projects piece, or your blogpost, or your status, or your Instagram, you post double. For every stigma you come across, you tear down 5 more.

They want to see crazy? Show them crazy.

Crazy girl out.

H

how trump’s victory made me woke again

Lately, I’ve been feeling uninspired and apathetic. I’ve been uninspired to create, to write, to advocate. I’ve been going through the day to day motions, and have succumbed to settling into the comfortable pattern that is my life.

About 4 years ago, I began to define my interests. I began to advocate for things that were important to me; for animals, for the environment, for women, and for ALL human rights. I had just begun to discover my voice and how I can use it to positively benefit the world, and I wanted everyone to hear me yell as loud as I could. I became a vegetarian and adopted a more environmentally-friendly way of life. I wrote statuses about animal advocacy, climate change, feminism, and human rights. I shared various articles and videos on Facebook, educating my fellow peers along with myseld. I thought I was doing enough for the causes I held near and dear to my heart, because at 16, I thought it was all I could do. But slowly, as I grew older, I became an activist only behind a screen. I was a “clicktivist” or otherwise known as a “slacktivist”.  I was doing the bare-minimum to support all these different causes, albeit very important ones, though I felt like I was truly making a difference. I didn’t eat animals – yay for me. I switched my cosmetics over so to avoid brands that tested on animals – gold star for Hailey! I signed online petitions for just about anything – change is a comin! But was that enough?

2016 was truly the year of, as Kylie Jenner would say, “realizing things”. I think it’s safe to say that 2016 was a big, wet, messy, disgusting bag of trash. Sure, a lot of good stuff happened in 2016. But A LOT, and I mean A LOT, of downright BAD stuff happened too. And I don’t know whether it was the 2016 U.S. Elections (namely Trump’s win) or a coincidental epiphany that lead me to this moment, but as a millennial in the 21st century, I feel that I am not doing enough. 

I remember my World Issues teacher once said to my class that WE are the generation with all this potential, but we’re also lazy, and that stops us from reaching that potential. As of two days ago, since Donald Trump’s sad victory, I have had this pit in my stomach and this sinking feeling in my heart that my teacher was right.

The last little while, I have refused to acknowledge the fact that I have become lazy in my activism for animals. Sure, I don’t eat them, and I share a video here and post a status there, but if I’m being honest with myself, when was the last time I really, truly sat down and educated myself on current animal welfare affairs? I read what I see on Facebook, and continue to scroll aimlessly. I tell myself almost every day that, “today I will watch this documentary about factory farming” but I end up watching trash T.V. instead. I tell myself “this weekend, I will participate in that animal protest that I read about online”, but instead I end up sleeping in. Why? Why couldn’t I ignite the fire that drove my passion anymore? Because, if I’m being honest, it’s a lot easier being brainless than being mindful. And sadly, I think that’s the mentality that a lot of us tend to adopt every now and again.

But what’s crazy, is that all it took was a bigoted moron to be elected as president of a country I don’t even live in, for me to light a fire under my own ass and remember that the world still needs work.

Some of you may not understand what Trump being elected has to do with my sudden shift in consciousness, so let me explain it to you the best I know how. In pertinence to the election, had millennials been entirely in charge of the vote, they could have swayed the victory in Hillary’s direction, at least based on the projections that we were shown. However, the sad truth is that although the masses of millennials did show up and place their vote – many did not; many voted as a means of protest; many took it as a joke and voted for Harambe (RIP). What could have happened,  had those who didn’t care to vote showed up? Or had those who voted in protest, did not vote in protest but in confidence? Or had those who took their countries future as a joke, instead realize the magnitude of their actions? I can’t say. But what I can say is that this year has showcased some of humanities darkest corners, and it is OUR responsibility to spearhead change in the right direction.

I started off this post addressing my frustrations with the fact that I have been feeling uninspired and apathetic about the issues I once cared for, and I am ending it by taking responsibility, and by doing so, I have reignited those passions. No more will I educate others before I educate myself. No more will I sit idly by and waste my potential behind a computer screen, only throwing out likes and reposts but not getting out of my chair and using my voice. No longer will I waste that very potential that my teacher was talking about.

I know the world can seem like an awful place sometimes, but the silver-lining is that we have the power to spread the right message. For me, the right message is a message of animal rights, human rights, environmentalism, etc. For you, it might be a variety of different things! No ONE message is necessarily the RIGHT message, as long as you’re spreading a positive message. So don’t let yourself get lazy, and spread whatever message speaks to you, because the world can’t do with lazy right now.

Change starts today, and it starts with us.

 

Vote Hailey for Prime Minister 2020.

 

too cool for school

Ahh, September. As the end of August commences, the air gets chillier, the sun starts to set a little bit earlier, our bank accounts have gone rogue, and once we step into Wal-Mart, we are woken up from our blissfully ignorant nap and reminded that it is THAT time of year again.

The shelves are no longer stocked with pool accessories and lame dad barbecue aprons, no. They are replaced with colourful duo-tangs, value packs of pens, and big signs that read: BACK TO SCHOOL!

Yep. Back to school time has arrived. And for some of us, AKA some of YOU, school has already begun. Newbies, you have semi-survived orientation/frosh week, proud of the fact that you’ve emptied out “like three 2-6’s in two days”. Veterans, you have successfully crushed yet another frosh week that isn’t technically for you anymore, but you celebrate like it’s your party anyway. As for me, I am faced with the painful reminder that for a second year in a row, I am home and I am school-less (for now).

Tonight, along with many nights prior to, my parents tried to sit down with me and have a conversation about school after tip-toeing around it for weeks. And this is more-or-less how that conversation went:

Them: “So you don’t really have a choice – you’re going back to school in January. What do you want to do with your life?”

Me: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

This whole “ride the wave until I figure it out” thing that I’m doing was my idea and I continue to stand by it 110%, but this year, just like the last, around this exact time, I always tend to ask myself, ‘what if?’. As I sift through an endless amount of Snapstories, all of which are too long, too loud, and too drunk, I think to myself, ‘that could’ve been me’. The first two weeks of September throw my brain into panic mode over the choice I’ve made to take a seat from school. I sit and think retrospectively about the past year that I took off to re-evaluate my life and although I’m happy that I did it, seeing as I’ve grown and gained a little bit of perspective on my life, can I say I’ve completely figured myself and my future out? No way. And that scares me. Why? Because now, as I enter what will be my second ‘year’ (undetermined) off, I am clueless as to where I want to go in my life, what my goals are, my aspirations, my hobbies, and who I definitively am. I’m still lost, and I guess in some way, that’s okay. Being lost isn’t such an awful thing. I needed, and still need that time for myself – I needed it to focus hard on anything other than deadlines and going out every night just because.

But every time I tell myself that being lost isn’t so bad, that little part of me, so so small that I know I can shut her up if I reeeeeaally tried, yearns for that University (or college) experience. Part of me wishes I could be like my friends who know exactly what they want to do – who know their path. Part of me wishes to be back at school, drinking dollar beers on a Monday, lining up in the depths of winter just to be inside the club for 2 hours, taking those longs walks across campus because my program buildings were basically scattered across the world, and being constantly surrounded by friends.

Taking time off from school takes EFFORT. It ain’t no cake walk. It takes effort to get out of bed and NOT be a complete hermit; to get dressed, find something productive to do with my day, push myself to look at different schools and programs, or call a friend and make plans. Nothing is a walking distance, everything is a bus or a car ride away. Bars cost 110 times more than they do in University towns, because well, they can. And I’m back to being surrounded by rules. HOWEVER, along with all that effort, comes plenty of FREE benefits (yay). I have food readily available, I can work a job without the stress of school weighing me down into a deep, dark spiral of coffee and no sleep, I don’t have to run into ANYBODY that I don’t want to run into because I can conveniently wrap myself into a blanket burrito and never leave my house again! But most importantly, this time off has given me the freedom to explore (albeit in my own backyard). I experienced what it felt like to be in a real relationship, to work hard and appreciate the value of MY dollar, to set short-term goals, what I like, what I don’t like, how to kick my illness’ ass, how certain dynamics with friends work when you’re not around all the time, among many other things! And these are the things, although they may seem small and completely unrelated to school, that I try to remember whenever I regret not being back at school at this very moment; when I ask myself ‘what if?’

I, along with many of you I’m sure, may not know exactly where I’m going, or exactly what I like, or EXACTLY who I am (because really, who are we if not always changing anyway?). And parts of me may miss being a University student, especially because on night’s like tonight when I’m in bed watching Netflix, my friends are out taking shots and meeting new people, but at the end of the day, I think I’m just fine where I am. And as for that conversation with my parents – I may not be totally ready to go back to school and my answer still might be ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, but I’ll figure that out when I need to.

You can always ask yourself ‘what if?’, but that’ll keep you up at night. And I don’t know about you, but I like my sleep.

Stay too cool for school y’all,

H.

 

 

forget your troubles, come on, get happy.

TRIGGER WARNING: mental health, mental illness, self-harm, Depression.

I must warn you that this post pertains to mental health and may have some trigger topics. Please do not read it if you feel that it may trigger you in any negative way, although I write with only positive intentions. I write about it because honesty is the best policy and when it comes to my mental health, speaking up is better than not speaking at all. Self-harm is extremely taboo but I’m going to try and break down that wall for a minute and be absolutely raw and real.

I have suffered from Depression pretty much my entire adolescent, young adult life. I have had manic episodes, black-out rage attacks, I have self-harmed, I have stayed calm, I have ripped my hair out and my skin apart, I have sat calmly and weathered through the storm. But I’ll go ahead and tell you that self-harming isn’t just leaving scars on your arms. It can be excessively drinking, or doing drugs, or pulling at your eyebrows or eyelashes, or picking at your skin… It is anything that you do to cope with your emotions, that HARMS you.

I used to self-harm quite frequently when I first confronted my illness about 5 years ago, because I needed a way to control the pain that I was feeling, and if I could translate my internal pain into external pain, than I would be in control of my own emotions, and how I was feeling – my pain wouldn’t control me. But of course, I realized that this is and was a terrible way of coping with my pain. I eventually found several positive ways to cope with my Depression. I started doing yoga, I went to Reiki, I turned to religion, to spirituality, I wrote, I painted, I laughed, I tried everything – and it helped. I felt so triumphant when I fought away the urge to self-harm, and I celebrated it proudly, like a badge of Sobriety. But I won’t lie, there had been times, even in my victory, where I had relapsed, and that disappointed me in ways I can’t even describe. I felt like I had failed myself – I was doing so well! Why did I have to go and ruin everything I had worked so hard for? But I had to remember, just like anyone else who is in the same boat as me has to remember, that it takes time, and it takes a lot of willpower and work, and coaxing yourself out of some really dark thoughts, to fight that urge. And once you do, you celebrate a big win for yourself.

I’ve felt my emotional stability  being tested time after time during this long battle with mental illness. Whether it be due to external or internal factors, I’ve found myself faced with the urge to self-harm, because the pain is too unbearable. Have I succumbed to the urge before? I have. Have I ever felt ashamed? Of course, even though I shouldn’t. Have I disappointed myself? More than anything, because my body is my temple and my pain and sadness should not control me or my actions. Have I been able to FIGHT the urge to harm myself? Many times! And do I want to continue to fight away the urge to self-harm, and be able to celebrate my victory permanently? Always.

Today, like many other days before, I am faced with that same feeling. So, like many times before, I turn to something positive; I turn to writing. In a moment where I want to pull my hair out, or tear at my skin, I am writing, hoping that with every word I type, the pain will subside and evaporate into the air, and float far far away. I am writing, hoping that my honesty can help anyone else who is feeling negative walk away from that route. I could have easily taken the easy way out, and left a mark on the body, the skin, the bones, that shelter my insides. But that would mean I let my sadness win, and I don’t like to lose.

Self harming is absolutely, without a doubt, 100% the worst possible way to cope with anything. Your body, your soul, your mind… YOU are a temple. A holy temple. Any scratch, dent or mark, whether you created it or someone else did, is an invasion on this beautiful holy temple, and it should be rejected. It’s not to say that if you have or do self-harm that you should hate yourself, because you should most definitely NOT. But it’s to say that when you feel the urge to invade this holy temple because sometimes, you need to feel pain on the outside to release the pain from the inside, remember that there are other ways to make the inside pain go away without causing pain to yourself. There are so many more positive, constructive, productive ways to release your sadness, your anxiety, your fears and your pain. And although it might take a lot of work and I mean A LOT of work, it is so beyond worth it because you get to wear it proudly on your body, like a Medal of Honour, saying, “Today I Beat My Depression.” It’s about saying “fuck you” to the urge to self-harm, and saying “hello” to all the alternative ways to fight it. Self-harm, as unfortunate as it is, sometimes comes hand in hand with mental illness, and many people suffer from the urge to self-harm, but just know that you’re not alone, and taking the step to stop yourself from self-harming is taking a step towards your overall mental wellbeing.

A disclaimer: I’m most definitely not a doctor or at all certified in the field of psychology, psychiatry or being a doctor.

However, based on my experience grappling with self-harm and Depression, if you are feeling the urge to self-harm, here are some positive ways to release the tension building inside your mind and body.

  1. TAKE A DEEP BREATH. We’re gonna do it together, okay? You better be doing it, I’ll know if you’re not. Ready? Set? Inhale slowly through your nose for 5 “Mississippi” seconds. Let the air fill your belly, and your lungs. Hold hold hold hold. Release slowly for 5 “Mississippi” seconds through your mouth. Rinse and repeat for as many times as you need until you feel ready to go to sleep.
  2. Channel your senses. (This one is coming straight from therapy so you know it’s gonna be a good one.) What you’re going to do is either take a paper and trace your hand, or  you can do this mentally if you don’t need a visual. Written inside the trace of your hand, in each finger, you’re going to make the title each of your senses, so “sight, smell…” and under each title, you’re going to jot down the things that normally make you happy, or make you feel remotely calm, less anxious, etc etc. Example: Sight: beaches, forests, sunsets, my dog – anything that appeals to my sight that makes me happy or calm. Once you’re done jotting down your list, abuse the shit out of it. If you wrote down chocolate makes you happy, go eat a brick of it while simultaneously listening to whatever music makes you happy and staring at pictures of the beach and sniffing flowers. It may sound absolutely ridiculous, but I swear by this method. There have been so many times where I have used this method to even just avoid an anxiety attack, or lift myself out of a funky mood.
  3. Rip up paper! This one’s a good one. If you wanna go at it, by all means! As long as you’re not harming yourself, harm as much paper as you want! Just be sure to recycle it after 🙂
  4. Go for a walk. Sometimes nature is really the best stress-reliever. If you feel taking a short recess from your life is necessary, go walk aimlessly into the forest, the park, on the sidewalk, walk until your legs become jelly! Walk it off.
  5. Talk to someone! Friends, family, your pet, your pen pal, ANYONE! If you feel like talking is something that helps you, TALK. Don’t shut up! Ever! Find the person or people that you feel support you or make you happy and GO TALK!
  6. Go to the gym! Ahh the good ol’ gym. IF you have a membership, go take advantage of that boxing class, or blast some bad-ass rap and get shredded. IF you do not have a membership, there are many ways to find good workouts online or even ask a friend to work out with you! Exercise is known to release endorphins and other smiley chemicals into your brain! {Don’t believe me? HERE’S AN INFOGRAPHIC! 
  7. (I strongly suggest this one) Try Reiki! If you aren’t sure what Reiki is, visit this website for a little bit of information on what the Reiki practice is and a simple Google search should also do the trick. But basically, the best way I can describe it, is that it’s “energy healing”. You lay down on your back, and the Reiki master uses their energy and their hands to help heal you of bad energy that resides in your body. I know it sounds a little different than any usual therapy, but I promise you, I felt so different after my first Reiki session, that I had to go back. I felt as though all the anger and rage that had built up deep inside my body was finding it’s way out in the most natural way. Do not be apprehensive, because you never know what may help you in your healing process. I will write a separate blog post on my Reiki experiences.
  8. Create your go-to Happy As FUCK! playlist. Or visit 8tracks or Spotify and find the right playlist for you AS LONG AS IT’S ALL RAINBOWS AND BUTTERFLIES. I don’t want to hear any of that sad, break-up, acoustic rainy days, stay in bed all day playlist shit. NONE OF IT.
  9. Read this book. It literally has changed my life in ways I can’t even describe and has given me a nice pack of abs from laughing so hard. AND this book. It has also changed my life in ways I can’t even describe, and has given me a new outlook on life from a more spiritual side.
  10. You can visit this website and just type type type away, and watch all your thoughts evaporate into thin air. Kind of like writing a letter and setting it on fire but less work.

In fact, here’s a list of websites that you should visit if you’re feeling uneasy/sad/anxious or just need a lil pick-me-up:

10. WHATEVER ELSE WORKS FOR YOU AS LONG AS IT IS NOT HARMFUL TO YOURSELF OR OTHERS AND IS A POSITIVE WAY TO RELEASE HOW YOU FEEL! Whether it be writing, making music, listening to music, watching Cat videos, yoga! Try and go to that place that once made you happy/calm/relaxed, although it may feel far far away to you at times, and visit it for a long time. Hold onto it, use it and abuse it until you feel like you can go and continue to be the kick-ass person that you are.

Here are some PROFESSIONAL and suggested resources for anyone that feels that they are a danger to themselves or others. Please do not feel ashamed or nervous to make use of these resources. They exist to BENEFIT and help you in every way that they can. 

http://depressionhurts.ca/en/information/resources.aspx

http://www.cmha.ca/mental-health/understanding-mental-illness/depression/

http://www.kidshelpphone.ca/Teens/PhoneUs.aspx

http://www.suicide.org/hotlines/international/canada-suicide-hotlines.html

http://sioutreach.org/

http://mindyourmind.ca/

http://suicideprevention.ca/thinking-about-suicide/find-a-crisis-centre/

http://www.mentalhealthhelpline.ca/

http://healthymindscanada.ca/resources/

http://www.schizophrenia.ca/links.php

http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/health_information/finding_help/Pages/distress_crisis_resources.aspx

http://www.anxietycanada.ca/english/index.php

Telephone numbers you can call:

Mental Health Helpline: 1-866-531-2600

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868

Distress Centres of Toronto: +1 (416) 408 4357

(911) or any other emergency contact that you feel you should call if you or someone else is in danger.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thanks for taking the time to read such a heavy piece of writing.

To anyone who’s sitting there and wondering why I wrote this piece; it’s because I wish I had someone openly advocating about this stuff, letting me know that I wasn’t alone when I felt the MOST alone. I wish I had someone share with me all the positive ways they started dealing with their overwhelming sense of sadness. I wish I had someone tell me “it’s okay! I’ve disappointed myself too but you’re NOT A FAILURE!

I hope this reached at least one person who needed it and if you didn’t need it but maybe needed some ways to just relieve stress from work or relationships or whatever the fuck else, here you go!

LOTS OF LOVE,

H