The Beauty of a Daddy Issued Diva 

Father’s Day: A day to celebrate paternal bonds. What if these bonds have been broken, tampered, or never existed to begin with? Fatherless day is a bit more grim. It is not exclusive to those who have lost a parent, but also exists for those whose fathers are very much alive, but are not a part of their life. For the children of fathers who were there… but never really there. For the children of fathers who were around, but also brought a whirlwind of rainclouds and eggshells wherever they were. For the daughters who have never been “daddy’s little girl”, and roll their eyes at anyone who is.

The term “daddy issues” has such a negative connotation. Urban dictionary offers some synonyms; “slut, cougar, attention whore, bitch…” you get the idea. While the population of “daddy issued divas” may be a niche market, it is a population nonetheless. And, like any other population, stereotypes always come out to play. Unfortunately, the daddy issue stereotype is a hard one to be associated with. The second a guy finds out a girl’s dad isn’t in the picture… BAM! She must have some serious daddy issues.

image

As a believer in Freudian theories, I can’t argue the importance of familial relationships in the development in personality, emotions, and future relationships. What I can argue, though, is that a damaged parental relationships doesn’t always lead to a broken person.

Here are 5 reasons why a Daddy Issued Diva is ultimately a stronger, more well rounded female;

image

1. We have thick skin:

When the person who played a main role in creating you is the person who tries to break you down, you learn how to take criticism. I would often come home from school and consider myself lucky that I would never have to deal with bullies there– because I learned how to deal with the biggest bully in my own home. Yes, you read that correctly, I considered myself lucky. Call it delusional, call it reframing, but I’ll call it surviving. An empowered daddy issued diva understands that their biggest critic is themselves, so we consider our sources, and simply dust any unnecessary negativity off of our shoulders.

2. We say how we feel:

And we mean what we say. We’ve learned how to deal with our issues by discussing them (…thanks, therapy!). Bottling things up inside only leads to an explosion, and who wants to deal with that? We’ll write letters, draft blog posts, maybe even send a pigeon carrier to let you know how we feel. The trouble comes when these conversations land on deaf ears. But hey, we’re use to that.

3. We know better: 

When your baseline of comparison is an unfortunate one, you learn to raise the bar. We won’t settle for the shady characters of the world– because we’ve dealt with enough in our own home. I would rather be single for the rest of my life then settle for a relationship that is anything like the one my parent’s had. I learned by opposite example, which is a very difficult thing to do. During the worst of times my mom would tell me, “don’t do what I did.” I won’t, and you shouldn’t either. Never, ever ever ever allow anyone to make you feel like you’re not worth love and respect, because you are. 

4. We are appreciative: 

The little things count. Grand gestures are red flags, because we are use to them being distractions from the garbage that lies beneath the surface. You can’t put a price tag on a good relationship. People show their love in many different ways. In fact, receiving gifts is only one of the five love languages. In my experience, someone who only talks this language of love probably doesn’t have much love to give. However, the other four languages, (words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch) are appreciated by daddy issued divas tenfold.

5. We are genuine: 

Knowing that we are “daddy issued” makes us vulnerable. In being in this position, the best way to carry on is to be 100% genuine in everything you say and do. My daddy issues are not something that I talk about frequently, but Father’s Day strikes a nerve for me. I cry every time I watch a father-daughter dance, because that type of love is one that I have never felt, or will ever feel. It is not the same sadness experienced by someone whose father has passed on from this world, for they can find some type of solace in their loving memories. My memories are clouded with sadness, criticism, control, insults, and downright anger. But, from darkness comes light. Although I will never be daddy’s little girl, I’ve got a strong family of boss ass women that are now capable of anything.

So, the next time you meet a Daddy Issued Diva, consider yourself lucky. Look at this girl with nothing but respect, because it is more than likely that she has been experienced a life that you never could imagine. To my Daddy Issued Divas out there– stay true to yourself, believe in the beautiful person that you are, and never settle for less than you deserve. And dad, if you happen to see this… I hope your day is mediocre at best.

 

Imagine an alien came down to Earth, and asked you to describe the taste of water. How would you do it?

Trying to describe the nondescript taste of water, to me, is the equivalent of trying to describe what it’s like to live in an unhealthy mental state. There is nothing to compare it to. It just is.

Now, imagine this alien takes you back to their planet, and gives you a taste of what water is to them. Suddenly, you can describe what you have been drinking your whole life by comparison. You have gained a fresh perspective into a different world, allowing you to reanalyze your baseline norm.

I did not have a comprehension of how detrimental my mental state was until I learned what positive mental health was. This is a petrifying thought. For 18 years, I lived in a figurative cage— bounded by the confines of mental health. I went for physicals every year… I was a healthy specimen. I was an honor roll student, had hobbies, interests, and a great group of friends. Yet, I was ridden by anxiety—- but that was my norm. I was use to the apprehensive fears that would keep me up at night, because that’s how everyone feels, right?

My anxious mental state was just a drop in the bucket compared to the bigger issues surrounding them. For 18 years, I dealt with problems that were bigger than myself. They all revolved around one thing—- mental health. But, it was not my own mental health that consumed me, it was my Dad’s.

Have you ever met someone who had behaviors so ridiculous that you just attributed it to, “oh, that’s just who they are.” Well, let me tell you, one glance at the index of a psychology textbook will tell you, there is a rhyme and a reason for everything.

I know of many people who have grown up with a parent or loved one that was ill. Disorders of the heart, brain, muscular or skeletal system are apparent, but disorders of the mind or personality are not so easily recognizable. Sometimes, in the most frustrating of cases, the disorders aren’t even recognized by the person who is suffering. In these cases of denial, the suffering falls upon those around them. Suffering becomes a part of everyday life, but you learn to put on your big girl pants and deal with it, because everyone is dealing with something, no?

I am here to tell you, nobody deserves to suffer. You are more than your circumstance, and there is always a way out. Sometimes, you have to fight like hell, but I promise you, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Everyone says that life is short, but I think that discredits time spent suffering. I know there are people who look at me, and judge the life that I live. But you know, I wouldn’t challenge these people to try on the shoes that I have once walked in, because they have trekked through a dark, painful, and treacherous past.

Yes, life is short, and there will be suffering that we cannot control. That is inevitable. But we must recognize the things that we can work at— with mental health being at the top of this list. Sometimes, this means making hard decisions, and doing things we don’t want to do— such as seeking treatment. The ratio of those who would benefit from speaking with a mental health professional and those who actually do is incredibly skewed— which I personally think is a MAJOR underlying reason behind many of the problems in our world as a whole, but I digress.

The fact that #WorldMentalHealthDay is trending is a victory for the entire world. Between the election, clowns, and everything in between, we can scroll through a feed of support for those who know what it is like to fight an internal battle. Today is a day that we recognize the warriors who have overcome wars within themselves, and more importantly, letting it be known that you are not alone. There may not always be answers, but there is always someone who will listen to you. Who will understand you. Who will support you. Who will let you know, you are not crazy. No one deserves to feel that the weight of the world is resting on their shoulders. No one deserves to think that “grinning and bearing it” is any way to get through life. You deserve happiness. You deserve mental freedom. You are entitled to your health.

How many times have you heard the phrase, “it’s all about who you know”? Life is about connections: making them, maintaining them, and celebrating them. Think about your circle of close friends— how did these relationships begin? Was it at work? School? On reality TV?

Last month, I had the privilege of attending the opening of South Side Iron gym in Lemont, Illinois. But before we get to that, let’s rewind a bit…

image

Last year, 20 individuals were sent to Hawaii in the pursuit of finding love. The premise of this dating experiment being, if your perfect match was standing right in front of you, would you even know it? What became of this, for two contestants in particular, was something that went beyond MTV’s expectations. Love involves trust and commitment, and while the goal of this show was romance, these qualities are also representative of genuine friendships.

If everything went according to plan 100% of the time, life would be pretty boring. These 20 men and women hoped to come out of this experience hand in hand with their perfect match, and a nice chunk of change from winning the grand prize of one million dollars. Sure, couples were paired and the cash was won, but what MTV couldn’t predict was the wonderful friendship and future business pairing between Connor Smith and Tyler Johnson.

image

As this was going on in Hawaii, I was in NY, working at a kickboxing gym, bonding with my fellow trainer over our love for reality dating shows (among other things). A connection was made and we became fast friends, and soon, after discussing the most recent episode of the Bachelor, she suggested I should watch the MTV show Are You The One. As luck would have it, season 3 was premiering in a matter of weeks, allowing me to jump on the AYTO bandwagon.

Many can argue that in this technological world, we’re losing our ability to connect with others. The first word in “social media” is social, and if used correctly, actually enhances our connections exponentially. Through social media, my connection with Tyler — excuse me, Teeboogie — began. We bonded over our love of dancing (they don’t call him teeboogie for no reason), deep thoughts on life, and upbeat positivity.

image

Now that we’ve covered the connections made in Hawaii, New York, and the world of social media, let’s jetset over to Illinois. Growing up, fitness has played an important role in Connor’s life. He told us that when he was younger, exercise was his reward. “If you finish your homework, you can go workout with your brother!” Over the past year, he has followed his heart, pursued his passion, and worked until his dreams came true with the opening of South Side Iron. When looking for a staff of fitness professionals he could trust, Tyler was a forerunner on his list. While Teeboogie’s energy is contagious and fitness knowledge is visible (peep the abs), the acquisition of licensure was necessary. So, with that, Tyler studied his butt off, aced his NASM certification exams, and became a licensed personal trainer.

image

In due time, all these mentioned connections were bound to collide. A few days before the grand opening of South Side Iron, I sent a “this may sound crazy, but…” text to my college roommate and my fellow kickboxing trainer/reality dating show fan. The best kinds of connections are those that are on the same wavelength as you— the ones who applaud your adventures and who’s personalities enhance your ideas in ways you couldn’t imagine. At 6am on the day of the grand opening, we boarded the plane and headed to Chicago.

image

Watching people follow their dreams ignites a special type of inspiration in my soul. Knowing the hard work and dedication that went behind the opening of South Side Iron made the decision to hop on a plane for a 24 hour adventure a no brainer. When watching TV, especially reality dating shows (my guilty pleasure), you don’t often think about the lives of the people off camera. After a taste of fame, it isn’t unusual seeing these individuals selling tummy tea on Instagram, or walking around feeling entitled to special treatment. This is not the case for Connor and Tyler, in fact, it is quite the opposite. Humble and hardworking are the pressing adjectives that come to mind in describing these two men. Both have overcome struggles in their lives that they have not allowed to define them, but instead, have helped them to propel forward and conquer what may seem to others as unconquerable. The positive energy in celebrating this momentous event in their lives was immeasurable… wonderful things happen when you live your dream!

image

If you’re in the Chicago area, be sure to check out South Side Iron located on 1243 State Street, Lemont. You will walk out feeling strong, inspired and ready to conquer the world!

Safety, or something like it…

For the past 10 weeks, I’ve been conducting academic research in the field of Humanistic Psychology. This school of psychology focuses on how to help already healthy individuals become healthier. It is believed that given the right set of psychological and social conditions, everyone has the potential to become happy, fulfilled, creative, and emotionally whole.

A major tenant of this school is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This theory represents the stages of growth in humans, and the motivating factors leading up to achieving one’s fullest potential.

image

My investigation is geared towards analyzing social media usage in relation to one’s placement within Maslow’s Hierarchy, and ultimately reaching self-actualization. For research purposes, I’ve been focusing on the levels of love,belonging, and esteem. However, the events of the past 24 hours have made me rethink one of the most preliminary stages: safety.

On Friday, 6/11, YouTube sensation and The Voice finalist Christina Grimmie was shot dead as she was signing autographs for her fans. This 22 year old singer’s life was cut short by an attacker that she had embraced with open arms. Armed with two guns and a hunting knife, the murderer then took his own life.

Hours later, just a few miles away, 50 people were killed inside an Orlando nightclub. What should have been just another Friday night out quickly turned into what is being called the worst terror attack in U.S. history since 9/11. Pulse nightclub, a gay bar that was opened to promote awareness to the area’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, was dedicated to the owner’s (Barbara Poma) brother who had died from AIDS. Pulse’s website speaks of Poma’s brother; “Being raised in a strict Italian family, being gay was frowned upon. However, when John came out to his family and friends, the family dynamic transitioned from a culture of strict tradition to one of acceptance and love.”

These two devastating events brings me back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Pulse set out to create an environment of love and belonging, as Poma’s family did for him. Shows such as “The Voice” allows for talented artists, such as Christina Grimme to ignite their esteem, in a way that highlights their unique talents. Maslow believed that an individual cannot transcend levels without fulfilling the one that comes before it. You cannot become self-actualized without building esteem first. Esteem cannot be felt without first building true relationships of love and belonging. None of this can be achieved without ensuring our very basic needs of food, water, and sleep.

But, with safety as a foundational level, how can we build upon this in such an unsafe world?

I believe that we are becoming conditioned to accept unsafe conditions as our norm. Acts of terror, as horrid as they could be, are more commonplace than they ever should be. Maybe Maslow was wrong. Maybe safety should be removed from the hierarchy. Regardless of our understood unsafe conditions, the world keeps turning. Individuals such as Poma are still out there, attempting to create environments of love and belonging. Opportunities such as “The Voice” still exist, giving those with talent a chance to exhibit it, building their esteem. But, does this mean we should just give in, and accept the fact that we’re living in an unsafe world?

In a Facebook article a friend of mine shared, a statement was released that says, “This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them.” As an eternal optimist, it’s hard for me to come to a realistic conclusion. I don’t think any politician, scientist, religious leader, great thinker, or everyday person can come up with a viable response to the lack of safety we’re feeling. So, I’ll end this post with a page from the book “Ten Billion” by Stephen Emmott that has really stuck out in my mind…

image

In 7th grade Lauren had to memorize “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” to the tune of “when the saints go marching in” and every time she looks out her window and sees snow she starts singing “whose woods these are, I think I know…” ❄️🌲🎼

Whose woods these are I think I know.  
His house is in the village though;  
He will not see me stopping here  
To watch his woods fill up with snow.  

My little horse must think it queer  
To stop without a farmhouse near  
Between the woods and frozen lake  
The darkest evening of the year.  

He gives his harness bells a shake  
To ask if there is some mistake.  
The only other sound’s the sweep  
Of easy wind and downy flake.  

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,  
But I have promises to keep,  
And miles to go before I sleep,  
And miles to go before I sleep.

-Robert Frost

’Twas the night before school starts, as I lie in my bed,
thoughts of new lessons race through my head.

A journey on hiatus for about 2 years,
as I traveled the country and conquered my fears.

Now it is time to get back to the grind,
Researching articles, stimulating my mind.

Deepening my passion for psychology:
from Bachelor’s, to Master’s, now on to PhD.

A dream I had reasonably put on the shelf,
Is now within reach, so I can better myself.

A deep desire that my heart has been yearning,
that magical quest: the adventure of learning.

I’ll be up late doing homework, you’ll probably be snorin’,
But one day soon, I’ll be Dr. Lauren.

So, on this, the eve of my first day on this quest,
I leave you with this poem to get the excitement off my chest!

I am here to debunk several patterns of close-minded thinking. What comes to mind when most people think social media: selfies, hashtags and narcissism. They think, this generation doesn’t stand a chance, because they are so self absorbed in the world wide web, they lost the ability to communicate face to face.

While yes, I’ll have to agree, the number of duck faced selfies is disheartening, I am going to have to take a stand against the pessimism surrounding a world that is so near and dear to my heart.

The social media boom happened within my lifetime. I remember my mom taking me to the library as a kid, playing computer games, teaching me to become more savvy than I was able to realize. Next came my family’s first desktop computer being installed in the den (…it was a Dell, and I’m not talking pop singer). Soon after came “AOL”, when I created my first screen name: Cimba12000 (Cimba was my dog, don’t ask where the 12000 came from). What spiraled after that was a world-wind of AIM profiles, away messages, buddy chats, homepages, and icons, until one day, a brand new world was created: MySpace.

image

I was the girl people would give their myspace passwords to, so they could “pimp them out.” I became proficient in HTML by the 7th grade, and would help create “sick layouts”, to make my profile stand out amongst the pack. When I started high school, a friendship began when a girl came up to me and said, “Hey! I recognize you from Myspace…”

I followed the ebbs and flows of this world of social interaction, and kissed Tom from Myspace goodbye when Facebook entered the room. At first, it was strictly for college kids. Soon enough it became open to the general public, and naturally, I was one of the first to make the switch. This gave me the learning curve I needed to hit the ground running, maintaining my throne as a social media queen.

image

Fast forward to today, we’re switching app to app from Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Youtube, and Google+, just to name a few. Social media as become an entity that most people can’t remember life without. Being so engaged in the timeline (Facebook reference intended) of this crazy world from the start is what gives me such passion for it, and has led me to my current career: Social Media Publicist.

It drives me crazy when people say, “Oh, so you just Facebook for work?” Another line that drives me nuts, “You studied psychology, when are you going to get a REAL job in the field…?” Ouch. The science that goes behind social media is an intricate one. If you think about it in simplest form, social media is people’s thoughts, conversations, and actions being recorded; allowing us to study it in both a qualitative and quantitive way…. that is a psychology major’s dream.

In grad school, we were inspired to become not psychologists, but agents of social change. As we went up, one by one, presenting our capstone research, many people applied their studies to the world of mental health counseling: hospital settings, rehabs, schools, and even businesses. Then, I went up there, and presented my research on using social media to change the stigma of mental health. After I concluded, my professor, and director of the Master’s Program stood up and said, “This is what Community Psychology is all about. Using the lessons and techniques we have learned, and applying them in a setting where people would least expect it.”

Taking what I have learned in the classroom, on the internet, and in this crazy reality called “life,” I bought a web domain and named it “Out There Social.” I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but I knew I needed it.

Here I am, on my 3 year anniversary of working as a Social Media Publicist, virtually screaming from the rooftops: Social Media is what we make it. It’s something that’s created by us… so if we don’t like what we’re seeing, let’s change it.

Out There Social became my platform for promoting resiliency, confidence, and positive mental health in the most fun, exciting, and aesthetically pleasing way I possibly could. I truly believe the power is in our hands (quite literally, our fingertips), to change the world. Next week, I will begin my journey on the road to a PhD, studying the use of Social Media in the world of psychology.

On my first day of grad school, I was assigned a question, “What does it mean to be an agent of social change?” So here it is, my response, (written in Sept. 2012), which perfectly sums up everything I believe about social media, why I work in the field, why I will continue to study it, and why I am so head over heels in love with it:

“In psychology, the tools we need to change, help, or make a difference are already within us. The job of a psychologist is to communicate to the world how we access these tools, and what to do with them. We are surrounded by psychology whether we recognize it or not…. A psychologist, or an agent of social change, has the important job of making the components of the field recognizable by everyone.

The important role of psychologists is to learn from this, and inform the population on the skills they need to properly handle the problems life will throw at you. As time progresses, problems become more complex. Technology has changed drastically since the time of Miller’s addresses, which introduced a new version of old problems– such as cyber-bullying. Face-to-face communication was also greatly impacted by the changing times, meaning some people relate better to a computer screen than a human.

On the bright side, technology makes psychological research and information instantly available. Miller states, “the practice of valid psychology by non-psychologists will inevitably change people’s conception of themselves and what they can do” (Miller, 1969). Due to the fact that technology connects both psychologists and non-psychologists, if used correctly, this may be the tool we are looking for to implement a mass social change.” – Lauren DiTo