My superhero

So, today is superhero day. It is a day to dress up like Batman, unashamedly rant about Superman, and binge-watch every Marvel and DC movie on Netflix.

But it is also a day to honor those people in your life who have been your superheroes.

A superhero is “a hero…possessing extraordinary, often magical powers.”

me and dad in plane

See! My dad really CAN fly!

Like any good daughter, I say my dad is my superhero.

He may not fly or have super-strength, but he can drive I-77 in no time flat when my tire blows out and carry my heavy printer up two flights of stairs to my dorm.

He may not have a Batcave of high-tech weaponry, but he can stay up with me for hours converting videos for school and remotely fix computer viruses from miles away.

He may not be able to teleport or create forcefields, but he is only ever a phone call away and can help me build myself up after a fight with a friend.

He may not be able to manipulate water, but he always makes my tears after a break-up go away.

My dad has saved me so many times the past 19 years. He’s helped me get good grades, motivated me to be the best I can, hugged me tight through break-ups and tears, and been the most amazing dad I could ever hope for.

Thank you, Dad. I love you.

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Beauty, not inferiority

I just don’t understand why some people have a need for negativity.

At breakfast this morning, I sat near a table of people all sitting and talking. Seemed normal until I started listening to what they were saying. The girls at the table seemed to have an opinion about everything–a negative opinion. If someone walked by wearing light-washed jeans, they said they were so lame wearing “dad jeans.” If a girl sat near by and had bacon on her plate, they talked about how she’s such a fatty. As soon as someone mentioned a class, they would complain about how the professor was such a [enter expletive here] and it was such a waste of their time.

I just don’t understand why they had to say something negative about every little situation. They could not just let something be. They had nothing even remotely positive to say about anything. I don’t know how they live this way. I felt depressed just hearing them.

The girls did not see the people around them as real human beings with real feelings and real life stories. They saw them as objects to criticize. They saw them as opportunities to rise above the rest by stomping on the heads of others.

It reminded me of a line from Mean Girls where Lindsay Lohan’s character, Cady, is competing in a mathlete competition and has to face a “far-from-plastic” female opponent.

Miss Caroline Krafft seriously needed to pluck her eyebrows. Her outfit looked like it was picked out by a blind Sunday school teacher. And she had some 10-cent lip gloss on her snaggletooth.


And that’s when I realized, making fun of Caroline Krafft wouldn’t stop her from beating me in this contest. Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter. And ruining Regina George’s life definitely didn’t make me any happier. All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.

Putting someone down doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t make you smarter, prettier, or more respected. It makes you hateful. It puts a weight on your heart. It makes you cynical. It keeps you from seeing just how beautiful the world can be. It makes you mean.

This is not the way we are called to live.

I don’t mean to sound pious, but I believe every person is a child of God and should be treated like the beautiful creation they are. Sure, I might not like one girl’s outfit or think a guy’s accent is odd, but I do not see these differences as something that makes them inferior–I choose to see them as things that make them beautifully unique.

We may not be able to control much about the world, but we can control what we put into it. Other people may muddy the waters with curses, criticisms, and hatred, but we have the ability to counteract this with praises, encouragements, and love.

Everyone is a creature of God. Treat them as such.

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Are stereotypes really that bad?

stereotype 2

Stereotypes have a purpose, just know the limitations. Courtesy of http://www.quotehd.com/quotes/words/stereotype

I find it so interesting that, as much as we liberal-minded people like to think people are unique and don’t fit into the categories we put them in, dating site data shows that people actually do fit relatively neatly into categories. White men seem to love fishing and NASCAR and black women tend to like soul food and Tupac. So the question is, after we’ve seen how so many people don’t fit the mold, why do others fit it a little too well.

While I was discussing this in a science course, I chose to pull on my communication background to try to explain this. When we create categories, we inadvertently create communities of people who seek refuge with others “like them” who are also placed in the same category. When these people interact, they create their own “organizations” with their own cultures. Because of this, we can apply some organizational communication theory to examine them. People create cultures to make sense of the world. We affiliate with people who support our existing opinions and provide their own opinions that fall within our personal range of acceptability.

As people communicate, they shape each other’s realities while themselves being shaped. So, when like-minded people get together, they become more like-minded.Therefore, it is not surprising that people who are strongly connected to and affiliated with each other, they subscribe to many of the same beliefs, practices, and preferences. If a group of NASCAR-loving fishermen all hang out together, it is likely they will all like NASCAR and fishing that much more because it is something that bonds them to each other and gives them a sense of belonging.

Now, this sense of belonging does have more of a biological tie. Humans are social creatures. We seek community to survive and meet our psychological needs. Creating a culture is one way we do this. We seek out people who will accept and “protect” us. So, it makes sense that we would seek out and become like the people around us. The question is, though, is this wrong? Just because a group of women all happen to like soul food and Tupac, should they be stereotyped? Are they just this description?

Stereotypes are just descriptions of a group of people. Objectively, they are not the evil fate we often make them out to be. The problem arises when we say that this description, this stereotype, is the only description for these people. I am a white young adult female who likes Starbucks and has a serious Pinterest addiction. Based on these interests, I am the stereotypical “white chick,” but, I can also work on an engine, cut down a tree, and cheer on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yes, I am a stereotypical white girl, but I am more than that. I have many of the same interests as people around me, but I have many more interests, too.

The same goes for any other social category. Yes, they will have things in common with other members of the same category, but I would argue that’s a good thing. It means they have a steady culture to identify with. The important thing, though, is that they are more than that. They share things with their culture, but they have their own interests. They have something that makes them more than their category, more than their stereotype.

Not meant to be “fixed”

For a genetics class I’m in, I had to write my opinion to an NPR story about genetically modified apples. Now, I don’t want to make a habit of posting my class assignments on this blog (I have a portfolio for that) but as I wrote this, I felt like people should read this an really have an opinion about it. So, hear it is. Feel free to disagree, but I just want to share my opinion about this.

A normal apple (left) compared to the genetically modified apple (right) courtesy of http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/02/13/386029863/gmo-apples-get-the-nod-but-not-much-of-a-welcoming-party

I love how most of the debate over the genetically modified apples had to do, not with the ethics of genetically modifying food we put in our bodies, but rather whether the market was strong enough to support the product.

Now, I don’t think eating a genetically modified apple will cause me any physical harm, I’m uneasy about the implications of this research. The argument for these apples is that it is more convenient and that it fixes a “problem” with apples in their natural state. This is an argument that, if legitimized by the consumer market in purchasing these apples, could change the public’s view on more controversial uses of genetic modification.

In class, we’ve debated whether humans should be genetically modified if it means fixing the “problem” of disease or mental illness. I stood, and still stand, by the idea that some “problems” are not really problems and should be left alone. The world is not meant to be perfect, so we should stop trying to make it so.

If people get behind the idea that fixing the “problem” of an apple going bad is justification for tampering with an apple’s genetics, their reasoning will lead them to believe that fixing the “problem” of disease is justification for tampering with a human’s genetics. This is something I have a problem with.

It may not be scientific, but I believe that everything was created the way it was for a reason and, while we have free will, some things are just not ours to mess with. It may be a stretched example, but I relate this to parents letting a child decorate their room. The child can pick the furniture, put things up on the walls, and even paint the walls if they have pretty cool parents. But, few parents would let their child knock down the walls and completely rebuild the room into a brand new creation. That isn’t decorating the room, it is recreating the room. We have the freedom to change some things, but I believe there are some constraints we must learn to live within.

So, browning apples are inconvenient. No one like a brown, squishy apple. But that’s life. There are a lot of things in life we don’t like: brown apples, stinging bumblebees, wilting flowers, and cancer. But they are things we have to live with. They exist because they have a purpose. Just because we don’t see a purpose doesn’t mean they don’t have one. Just because we see a problem doesn’t mean it always needs fixing. Some things in life are just meant to be unpleasant, and without them, we may encounter consequences that are even more unpleasant.

Just my opinion.

Morning cup of nostalgia

It’s funny to think how things change yet still stay the same.

I’m sitting here thinking about how I’m relaxing on my dorm room bed scrolling through my news app for an interesting story with my coffee in a travel mug. I thought about how much I want to go home for the summer to, just for a while, escape the fast-paced, high pressure college life and go back to simpler times. Coffee-and-newspaperTo sit at the kitchen table with my parents while each of us drinks our coffee and reads the news in our own way. Mom with her local paper, Dad with his state paper, and me with my news app.

There’s just something about drinking coffee while reading the news that is so timeless. Generations before me have done it differently, but we’ve all performed the same fundamental task. We’ve woken ourselves up with a hot cup of caffeine and stories from the world around us. My grandfather’s coffee might have been home-brewed while mine came from the campus cafeteria. His news might have made that satisfying crackling sound while mine silently scrolls.

But it’s peaceful to know that in our ever-changing world of the new pushing out the traditional, old and young can be brought together by a simple cup of Joe.