Fear of Everyone

Fear of Everyone

We live in a deranged and evil world. That’s just part of life. God created perfection and we royally messed that up. So we’re stuck with a fallen world full of sin and pain and oppression. Part of that is fear, especially fear of our fellow humans.

I do my best not to walk alone, especially at night. I don’t look at my phone when walking. When I get in my car I don’t sit there for very long, I start the engine and drive away. I try to be friendly but not too friendly to most people I meet or pass while working or just outside my home. I think about what I wear, is it too revealing? Is it going to draw attention to me? I think about the guy who smiled politely in Walmart, is he a potential stalker? Did our one moment of eye contact cause him to fixate on me? Will he follow me to my car? To my house? I consider every flirtatious comment I hear. Was it serious or playful? Was the wink just added for effect or does it mean this guy might push me farther?

These are things I, as a woman, am trained to think about and consider on a daily basis. Everyone I come in contact with is a possible threat to my safety. Not even just men, women will lure other women into dangerous situations as well. But for the most part, I have to see men as a threat.

No, not all men are rapists. Not all men are going to attack women. Not all men are terrible people. Not all men.

But some men. Some men.

See, it’s that uncertainty that terrifies me. After all, statistically, I’m more likely to be attacked by someone I know, someone I trust, a friend, a relative, than a stranger. Which ones though? On the news the family always says, “I didn’t think he was capable of this!” And “He was such a smart, kind man!” So now I have to worry about everyone.

Okay, full disclosure, every man makes me nervous if I am alone with them and I’ll admit that includes my family, my friends, my pastor, my co-workers, etc. There is ALWAYS the thought in the back of my mind, ‘I am vulnerable.’

I’m not even being that paranoid here!

I asked many of my female friends: How often do you think about your personal safety?

Of just over ten women, all but two answered daily. DAILY. Some said many times a day: often. When they’re alone (in a parking lot, at home, outside, on campus). When they see something a bit suspicious. When it’s dark outside. One friend elaborated that they’re specifically afraid of being around men and that she’s gotten her pocketknife out when a man happened to be behind her on a walk. The two women who said they did not think about safety daily said they didn’t because either they felt protected with their dogs and pepper spray or they said they’d lived in so many dangerous situations before that they had a silent confidence.

Then I (and my sister) asked some male friends the same question.

The consensus was that they rarely thought about personal safety. When they’re driving or at work sometimes. One man said he never thinks about his safety when in a familiar place like his home. If they’re alone in a big city they would think about their safety. Those kind of things.

Can we all see the differences here? Can we see how women are afraid? Every. Single. Day. And men are generally just… Not? They’re worried about situations that are dangerous for everyone: driving, work related accidents, cities. Women are afraid of the dark because they don’t know who might be lurking in it.

I didn’t have a strong opinion on the recent Women’s March beyond that I did disagree with some of the official political/social stances. There was quite a bit on my newsfeed asking what rights women didn’t already have. Yes, women can vote, drive, work, etc. It’s really great here compared to other countries. But saying someone else has it worse doesn’t discount that we should be doing better. As a woman, I should have the right to feel reasonably safe in my own home and workplace. Yet, I don’t.

So yeah, there’s more equality to fight for here. But so much of it is social. It’s a long game now. Women will be afraid, especially of men, until… I actually have no idea what can fix this. It’s so ingrained in our culture. I can’t say ‘until most men don’t victimize women’ because that’s not accurate. Most men don’t victimize women. But women are more often victimized by men.

I think about this a lot. And it’s not fair. It’s not fair that I grow up in fear while my brother, in the same house, grows up in confidence and assurance. It’s not fair that I have to be afraid or risk rape, pain, humiliation, and hey even death. It’s not fair I have to warn my little sister about not walking alone. It’s not fair that women are given pepper spray for their birthdays. It’s not fair that I feel I have to treat every man like a rapist. It’s not fair to me. It’s not fair to the men around me (except, of course, those who ARE terrible people).

Usually I try to have some kind of call to action or purpose to my posts. I guess this purpose is just more or less awareness. If you’re a woman then none of this is new to you. If you’re a man, maybe it’s helped you understand why women still feel like they’re not equal. It’s all this. There are fears that men may never think about in their whole life time. It doesn’t stop for us. From small children we are raised to fear and when we are grown we have no reason to stop.

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Always Don’t Sometimes Mix Your Passion With Making Money But Do

Always Don’t Sometimes Mix Your Passion With Making Money But Do

“You should never mix your passion with money.”

“If you want to be a good writer you can’t focus on the money.”

“Don’t think about making a decent living, it’ll get in the way of what you love.”

YOU MEAN TO TELL ME THAT GREED CAN DESTROY MY LIFE?? OH MY WORD! THANK YOU FOR SUCH HEAVY WISDOM! THIS IS DEFINITELY NOT SOMETHING EVERY CHILDREN’S STORY HAS TAUGHT ME SINCE I WAS A SMALL BABY! CLEARLY YOU ARE WISE BEYOND ME AND KNOW SO MUCH MORE ABOUT THE WRITING COMMUNITY THAN I! HERE I WAS WITH MY LOWLY 4 YEAR DEGREE IN THE SUBJECT THINKING I KNEW A THING OR TWO ABOUT WRITING LIFE!

Who doesn’t want to be the next JK Rowling or James Patterson or Veronica Roth? We all want to be successful doing what we love. Yet, there are always those who tell you that you can’t do it. I run into this A LOT with writing although I think it’s true of most creative endeavors. People ‘warn’ me that if I’m not careful I’ll kill all my creativity and start to hate writing. I don’t really get why so many people think that if you make art that you’re some kind of fragile snowflake who needs to be protected from themselves. Like if they don’t warn you of the basic principle that loving money is gonna bite you in the butt then you’re going to run yourself into the ground.

I KNOW I will most likely never be rich, much less rich off my writing. I KNOW it’s hard work to make money off writing/art. I know what I’m getting myself into here. But don’t tell me that I shouldn’t even think about trying to make money off my writing.

I’ve spent basically my whole life writing and making my writing better. I have spent countless hours reading about, analyzing, and understanding how to write. I paid thousands of dollars to go to a university where I could learn even more from people far more experienced than I may ever be. I have WORKED HARD to write and I will NOT be told that everything I have accomplished so far, every late night paper, every annoyance, every failed draft, every frustration,  every finished story, every completed poem, every lesson learned, every dollar spent, was only for my personal enjoyment and I shouldn’t expect to make money.

No.

Shut.

Your.

Mouth.

People don’t say these things to those who want to be accountants. People don’t say it to those who want to be biologists, or doctors, or forensic pathologists. Those people have passion for their work too but are rarely warned about the dangers of making money. Yet writers, painters, etc. we’re told that we can’t expect much. It’s not about hard work for us apparently. Nooooo, if an accountant loves their crappy job they may be obsessed but they’re also driven and dedicated. If an artist loves their crappy job they’re eccentric and obsessed and they’re not seeing the bigger picture and they should get a ‘real’ job.

I don’t even want to be rich. It’d be nice (I mean, come on, tell me you’ve never fantasized about being incredibly wealthy!) but it’s not a necessity. I want to make money off my writing. I want it to be realistic, tangible. I’m working hard toward that goal. Writing is a real job and I’m not a sellout or stupid for wanting to make a living doing it. It is my passion and wanting to make that into a living doesn’t make it any less of that.

 

 

 

 

 

I finished Mogworld and am currently reading: Wolf Stalker by Gloria Skurzynski and Alane Ferguson

(I feel like I bit off a little much starting the year with a book over 400 pages long so I’m scaling back and going to read a few shorter, easier reads this week and next.)

We Care About You. We Don’t Care About You. We Care. We Don’t.

Working with the public is weird. Also, annoying and interesting and sometimes crazy. One thing that it can do is suck out all your compassion, trample it with horses, then shove it into a garbage disposal before spitting it out into a dirty litter box. So sometimes what some of us retail, minimum-wage workers do is just turn off our empathy and compassion while we’re dealing with customers. It’s easier to just not care about anyone rather than risk your emotions on an unruly customer.

At the same time, we’re human and can’t really turn off our emotions all the way. We DO care about our customers (at least all the people I’ve worked with do). We want you to have a good experience in our store/restaurant/etc. because… well, because why should we wish misery upon you? We want to save you money, that’s why we ask about coupons, discount cards, if you saw our sales, etc. We want you to have a good time in our establishment because if our roles were reversed we would hope you’d treat us the same way. Most of us also have a vested interest in building up the company we work for, not just for the paycheck but because we are part of it so we want it to do well.

I had a woman come up to my register and she asked how I was. Small talk. Meh. I go between a short, honest answer and a “fine” (which is usually still honest). This time I went with a short, “I’m tired. Had a late night.” Short, to the point, innocuous. She responded that she was also tired. Because she had just driven all night. Getting back from a funeral. A funeral for a 17 year old girl. A 17 year old girl who was killed by a drunk driver. I could see how much pain she was in. Her eyes were already tearing up just mentioning it. That hurt me. I had no response. I was so blindsided by her words and her pain. I cared. I cared even though the way I quickly wrapped up the transaction might say otherwise. I cared even though I couldn’t say anything to console her.

I care about customers. I’d say every one of my coworkers cares. But we also don’t care. Like, yeah, that woman broke my heart but part of me was also thinking, “I didn’t know this 17 year old and I don’t know you. People die every day. Why did you taint my whole day with this negativity?” I didn’t care about this stranger’s pain almost as much as I did care about it.

I like to think I’m a loving and compassionate person but at the same time, working in retail there’s this weird limbo you live in where you do care about customers as people and also you hate them a little bit.

I don’t care that your last pair of headphones broke five minutes after buying them. I don’t care that you really don’t like this one particular author. And while I don’t mean to be callous, I don’t care that it’s the anniversary of a death in the family, or divorce, or literally any other depressing life event. If it’s clearly busy in the store and you want to sit around discussing book reviews with me, I’m gonna walk away as fast as possible. If the store is not busy and you want to sit around discussing book reviews then I will be happy to do that with you. It’s a little different than just small talk because it’s about actually seeing the customer as a human person and not just part of your pay check.

Whether or not I care about you as a customer is really dependent on how the rest of the store is holding up. If there’s a line, I don’t care. I need to keep everyone moving along and whether you seem like a great person I’d like to be friends with or not, I don’t care about you or anything you have to say. I care about the money you’re spending and that’s about it. But if the store is fine then I can take a moment to see you as a real person who has their own lives, hopes, and dreams. Just like me.

 

 

 

 

Currently Reading: Mogworld by Yahtzee Croshaw (I’m less than 200 pages from the end, it’s a bit longer than I remembered)

Integrity: Even if it Hurts

This is a topic I’ve actually wanted to write about for a little while now. My parents really pushed to instill integrity in each of their children. Part of integrity is keeping your promises. But then, I think there’s more than just keeping promises because you can very easily avoid actually promising to do things. It has more to do with keeping your word.

If I say that I’ll do something, regardless of whether the specific words “I promise” leave my mouth, I should do it. It should hold the same weight as if I swore on the life of my family… okay, maybe not that far but you get it.

We all know/knew those people. The ones who would say they’re free this weekend, of course we can hang out! Then 2 hours before you’re supposed to meet up they text you and say that they’re going to a movie with someone else, so sorry, forgot about our plans and said yes without thinking, we can hang out next weekend. Well, why are you willing to break plans with me because you “forgot” but you couldn’t just break plans with the other person? It’s probably because I was just a standby plan until something they actually wanted to do came along.

Now, I understand extenuating circumstances. If I have long-standing plans with someone but then one of their relatives unexpectedly comes to town or an emergency crops up then I get it. There are things outside your control that can disrupt plans. But when I have long-standing plans with someone to hang out at my house and they cancel because someone else invited them to see a movie then I get a little bit upset.

Actually I don’t get upset, I just get disappointed. When I was younger and this happened to me, I would think there must be something wrong with me. Maybe I wasn’t interesting or fun enough to be first choice. Maybe they didn’t think our friendship was important. Now when this happens I’m know that I don’t have to be disappointed in myself but in the other person’s lack of integrity. It’s not my problem. Well it’s sort of my problem because now I don’t have plans and have to be lonely thinking about what I could have planned instead of trying to hang out with someone who obviously thought I was just a backup to more exciting things anyway and probably isn’t even thinking about me and won’t think about me again until they’re done having a great time with other people and now they want to have a mediocre time with someone as boring as me.

Clearly this gets to me sometimes.

The beginning of Psalm 15 asks, “LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle?” Then it goes through some expected behavior/traits of Christians: he who works righteousness, speaks the truth, does no evil to his neighbor, etc. The one that really grabs my attention is “He who swears to his own hurt and does not change.” To me, this is the epitome of integrity. When you say you will do something, when you tell someone you’ll be there for them, when you say you’ll be available, when you say you’ll vacuum the living room before bed, when you say you’ll feed the dog, etc. etc. etc. Do it even if when the time comes, it’s going to be really inconvenient. Like, yeah, I SAID I would clean the kitchen after work but then I had to stay an extra two hours because someone else didn’t do their job so now I don’t have time to clean the kitchen. No. You said you would do it after work and it’s after work. So do it. But, I won’t have time to watch the episode of my favorite tv show tonight and Mark will spoil it for me tomorrow!

Too bad. This is what it looks like to keep your word. This is integrity, this is what the Psalmist was talking about. It might seem trivial to apply this to things like letting the dog out or cleaning the kitchen but if you don’t have integrity in the small things then how can someone believe you’ll have integrity in the big things?

I’m not perfect. I don’t keep my word all the time either because I make mistakes. But this is something that I really do work on. I do my absolute best to follow through on what I say, even if doing that is going to be detrimental for me because that’s part of what integrity looks like.

 

 

 

 

**I’m adding a little section at the end of each post to let you know what I’m reading (as per my new year resolutions) so that it not only motivates me to keep reading but also to keep me accountable**

Currently Reading: Mogworld by Yahtzee Croshaw

New Year, New Me (Sort Of… If I Have to… I Guess)

New Year, New Me (Sort Of… If I Have to… I Guess)

2016 was absolutely a year. There were a lot of downs and ups so I’m heading into 2017 with… no expectations. Well, no expectations for the year as a whole. I have expectations for myself. That’s right, New Year Resolutions!! YAY!!

There are about 87 things I want to do to better myself next year: read more, exercise, get rid of stuff, memorize scripture, write the stories for friends, take up knitting again, write a novel with my sister, make more crafts, keep my room cleaner, write my novel, talk with distant friends more, paint, minimize my chronic insomnia, pay off a lot of my debt, cook more, visit friends, write poetry more often, maintain my instagram account, publish another ebook, learn how to sew, use less plastic, save for a car, THE LIST GOES ON PEOPLE. THIS IS NOT THE WHOLE LIST.

However, to be realistic, I can’t accomplish all of these things in a year. I mean, okay, yeah, actually I probably could if I somehow gained crazy good time management skills. I’m pretty sure that those skills are built over time though so I’m going to narrow it down.

I have no idea when I heard of S.M.A.R.T goals but I’ve really appreciated it. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based (as shown below. Found the image here with a quick Google image search).

I like this way of thinking about goals because it takes the resolutions above “read more” and “get rid of stuff” to the next level. In 2017 I will always be ‘reading’ a book and any book from my shelf that I have not read by the end of the year I will donate or sell. That goal took two very general goals and made them real. I’ll be keeping track of which books I’ve read/used so that by the end of the year I’ll hopefully be able to get rid of the ones I either never read or didn’t like when I reread them.

So I’m going to break down my goals into a couple categories and go from there to make them as SMART as I can.

  1. Writing goals
    1. Finish the short stories for my friends. I want to do about 5 and have three started (two are more than halfway done)
    2. Get a draft of a novel with my oldest sister (she proposed the idea a couple months ago and we’ve started a bit already)

How will I accomplish this? I’m going to set monthly writing goals. I haven’t decided if I want to set word, page, or time goals but I’ll be experimenting in January to see what works.

Why do I want this? Well, because I want to write for a living and if I want to do that I need to be writing all the time. I’ll be keeping up on this blog, of course, but I want to get more fiction work done.

2. Bible goals

  1. Read Psalms everyday  (I’ve done this in previous years)
  2. Memorize 8 chapters of the book of Romans (I have memorized chapter 1 before and started 2 so I’ve got a start already with this one. It’s just something I’ve wanted to do for a while)

How will I accomplish this? I’ll be writing down a verse from Psalms each day. Sometimes I’ll be reading a chapter a day and sometimes I’ll read the chapters in parts. For Romans, I’m thinking I’ll be asking my best friend to keep me on track each month.

Why do I want this? Because I believe the Bible wholeheartedly. I need to KNOW what I believe. I can honestly say that during the times in my life I was reading the Bible daily and memorizing scripture I was happiest. Not only that but God tells His children to learn His word and I am God’s child so it follows.

3. Stuff/Minimizing goals

  1. I’m going to use that method of ‘if you don’t use it in a year then get rid of it.’ I’m applying this to my clothes, books, and movies.
  2. By the end of March I will be going through all my boxed/stored things and figuring out what to throw out/donate

How will I accomplish this? I have a couple of bookshelves and as I read I’ll be moving them from my full shelves to the (currently) empty ones. I’m going to be fairly lenient with some of them because I do have textbooks and informational books that I won’t ever be reading cover to cover. For those ones, I consider using them for reference purposes as being ‘read.’

Why do I want this? I’ve talked about this before but I just feel more and more overwhelmed by how much stuff I have and how consumerist our American society is. If I’m not finding use in my stuff then I don’t want it around. There are things that have sentimental value but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

All of this will be recorded in my brand new, 2017 planner (also I’ll probably mention these things on here as well)! I’ve never been great at using a planner but I’m going to try my hand at it once more and see how it goes. Hopefully, this year will be a good one!

 

Did you make any new year resolutions? If so, which one do you think is the most important one?