When Are You Done?

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A question you’d never ask

to a rising or setting sun;

Star, oh star, tell me-

When are you done?

Today, I woke up, took a deep breath, and was able to enjoy a sense of relief that has been a stranger to me for the last 28 days. Four weeks ago marked the beginning of my comprehensive exam, which is the point that has the power to transition you from a student to a candidate in the quest for a PhD. Embracing the reality that the power is ultimately within me, and not within the exam itself, has led me to take on this challenge as I take on everything else— with strength in my gut, and a smile on my face.

A major factor I had to consider in my decision to pursue such a degree online was sacrificing being surrounded by a community of fellow learners, all going through the same stressful crap, at the same stressful time. One of my favorite parts about the program that I selected is that it requires you to attend 3 on ground residencies, in varying cities, in order to interact with the faculty and your peers as you build your dissertation research plan.. or DRP for short. At these residencies, I was able to connect with fellow learners and form a bond outside of our digital discussion boards. The beauty of maintaining such connections is the ability to keep your community of fellow learners in your pocket, as you go back home and continue the journey of PhD-dum.

Another learner I have grown quite close to; a fellow lady boss who has embodied the spirit of “I can do anything I set my heart and mind to”, completed her comprehensive exam a quarter before mine began. Naturally, she was the first person I went to for advice. What she told me was quite simple… don’t procrastinate! Now, completing a degree online means you’ve got to dedicate your time wisely, however, I call myself “Last Minute Lauren,” and often find myself experiencing the phenomenon of— due today… do today!

This was not the case for comps, though. Instead, I found myself experiencing the feeling of— due in four weeks… freak out every day about it until it is done! But giving into the negative side of a stressful situation doesn’t get you very far. In fact, it blinds you from the very tools that you need to keep moving forward. So, once I was able to convince myself that “I’ve got this”, and truly believe it, I was able to start writing with a fierceness ready to take the scientific world by storm.

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So what exactly were my comps like?

A student can’t sit for comps until they have received a passing grade on their DRP, which has been developed throughout those 3 on ground residencies. The DRP is a detailed outline, rooted in psychological theory, advanced statistical methodology, and over 75+ scientific, peer reviewed articles that explains what exactly you plan on conducting a dissertation on.

When I say the word “dissertation”, people cringe. It’s a word that is associated with being long, difficult, boring, and most often related to Ross from Friends. But when I think about dissertation, I think about the love of a particular subject that it represents. If you’re willing to dedicate so much of your time and mental energy to learning so much about one thing, this must be what you were born to do.

On my very first day of grad school, my professor referred to us, those pursuing our Master’s in Psychology, as agents of social change. Everything I learned throughout this program, I learned through this lens, where I focused on how the tool of social media can be used in a positive way. On the first day of class at my online university, I was taughtthat a PhD is not something you get, but rather something that you become. It does not just mean being a learner to the highest degree, but instead, a creator of new knowledge. To me, my dissertation is the culmination of these two definitions, putting forth such effort and ideas into the world that are rooted in the promise of promoting positivity.

While there are hundreds of topics worthy of dissertation research, my particular interest falls within the category of Applied Psychology. Any time I tell someone I study psychology they say… “oh, so you’re analyzing me right now.” Psychology is so often associated with therapy that those outside of this psych world don’t know much about the other facets that exist. Put simply, there are two paths that you can take in studying psychology. If your goal is to become a therapist, your degree include clinical hours and supervised internships, training you to help others sort through their web of thoughts. Or, you can take the other path— a path that I never, ever ever ever thought that I would love as much as I do… the path of research.

As an undergrad, research classes were the most boring lectures I’ve ever had to endure. Statistics. Factors. Variables. Boring. Boring. Boring. The classes on the abnormal mind, on personality, on interactions, THOSE are the ones that really got me going. I learned and I learned and I learned some more, but when it came time to digest, that’s when I realized— hey, wait a second, none of these other classes would exist if it weren’t for research.

Researchers are the ones who dig deep, and ask the questions, based upon questions of theories that those before them have pondered. The next fork in the road comes when selecting what type of research you’d like to conduct. One road is numerical in nature, quantifying constructs into statistical puzzles. The other road, qualitative research, analyzes data in a descriptive way, painting a meaningful picture of a complex situation through methods such as interviews or case studies. I chose to trek along the numerical road of quantitative research, for math has always been a subject that my hyper-analytical mind has found soothing. In my comps, I wrote that “numbers are meaningless unless we can find the patters that lie beneath them”, and that’s something that a nerd like myself finds fascinating.

I always quote my favorite professor in defining science as a way to solve a problem. With the endless problems that exist in the world, science is pretty damn important. My dissertation will begin with the explanation of a problem. But, in science, you can’t just say that something is a problem… you’ve got to back it up. You back it up with the research that’s been created and peer reviewed by other researchers, that is based upon the research that someone else has researched. There a scientific world of interconnected truths that exists outside the realm of what we’re being fed by the media, but, I digress.

I have not digressed too far, though, because the problem that I am explaining in my dissertation is that of a distracted, digitally connected society. It has been said that because of the integration of digital technology into our everyday lives, we are becoming too distracted to consider our own thoughts. That is a terrifying reality. Living life in a thoughtless way makes us so easily controllable, but is something that I think can be remedied if we all choose to practice a little something called mindfulness. Being mindful is a concept that’s based upon Eastern thought, and represents the act of being present. If we are mindful, and choose to use digital technology in a mindful way, we are regaining our power over our own minds.

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A dissertation must not be confused with a plan of action to save the world. Such a mindset in tackling such a lengthy endeavor will drive you crazy. While science is a way to solve a problem, the world is not black and white. Each study that is conducted are the building blocks used that when considered together, become a force towards positive change.

So, I’ll ask again, what exactly were my comps like?

I received 3 separate questions, requiring a response of up to 17 pages per question, with 20+ research articles referenced within each response. Each question will be graded by 3 separate professors, double blind, meaning they don’t know who submitted it, and I won’t know who graded it.

Question 1 asked me to explain the theory my study is based upon, and why this theory is best suited for my topic, by also explaining other theories that I won’t be using. Classic learning… examining what you DO know, by comparing it to what you DON’T know! My study is rooted in Carl Jung’s theory of personality. This is the theory where that four letter typology comes from— like, for example, I’m an ENFJ— meaning I prefer extraversion to introversion, intuition to sensing, feeling to thinking, and judging to perceiving. Without going into 17 more pages of detail, spark notes version is here to explain that I’m interesting in knowing if these aspects of personality are associated with how mindful an individual is.

Question 2 asks about the current literature in the field. The board that approves or denies the right to research (which is my next step in this journey.. *gulp*), will throw your study out so fast if it’s been done before. A study can only have scientific merit if it explains why and how it is filling a gap that exists within the particular field of interest. Such a gap keeps widening within the world of social media psychology, because media itself is changing daily. What I’m doing, that other researchers have not done before, is considering the relationship between one’s personality type and mindfulness, along with how integrated social media use has become within their life.

Finally, Question 3 was where I explained my research methods, starting with my reasoning behind choosing quantitative research over qualitative, in a more words than just, “Math is cool. 😎” Each concept I explain, from personality, to mindfulness, to social media use integration has to be defined through valid and reliable assessments that exist. Then, once I get all of this data, what am I going to do with it?! I’m going to statistically analyze the hell out of it, that’s what I’m gonna do.

What comes next?

In one week, I’ll find out if I pass my comps, or have to make any revisions before resubmitting. Then, I get assigned to a mentor, and have to explain my study to the big, bad, Institutional Review Board, that can make me or break me. After jumping through that hoop, the dissertation games begin! I will write more, and more, and more about the theory and literature my study is based upon. Until finally, it comes time to actually collect the data. After reaching my magic number of about 100 participants, I’ll crunch the numbers and see what statistics has to say about the relationship between personality, social media use integration, and mindfulness. Yada yada yada.. there’s my dissertation!

But when are you done?

Short answer, never. While graduation commences after the dissertation is complete, you are never really done with your PhD. Again, this degree is not something you get, it’s something you become. I am slowly but surely realizing what people mean when they talk about their life’s work. The topic of social media use integration was quantified by researchers that I have been fan girling over since 2012. As a PhD you keep building upon the knowledge that you create, expanding this web of information to inspire others in your field to run with it, adding their own twists and perspectives.

I can say, with a smile on my face that the knowledge I am seeking to create is in fact my life’s work. Because here I am, on my first day that I don’t have to be writing about my dissertation topic… writing about my dissertation topic.

So when you see the rising sun,

And say; oh star, when are you done?

It will simply continue rising;

Her duties only just begun.

Rising. Setting. That consistent sun.

Oh star. Oh star. But when are you done?

Life and learning are but a process;

And such a journey is quite fun.

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Hot Mess Express

Some people say that social media has made us all narcissists. Others argue that we’ve been narcissists all along, and social media is just a mere tool that we use to flaunt our narcissism. In either argument, the point has been made that there is a link between social media and superficiality.

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Social media makes us want to highlight the best parts of ourselves. Why would we want to share our flaws and imperfections with the world? We post the photos that we look nice in, and the moments of our day that we are proud of. We’ll post our most delicious meals, because no one really wants to see the meal that you burned because you left it in the oven too long.

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But, it is those meals that we’ve destroyed that make us human. It is the pimples that we cover with snapchat filters that give us something in common. No one is perfect. Everyone has flaws.

This morning, a friend of mine (& fellow blogger) tagged me in a post with the tag #gloriousmess, where she talked about the parts of herself that she has embraced as her glorious mess-ness. This is related to a global campaign of individuals sharing their flaws, promoting self love for every aspect of who they are. Campaigns like this one force us out of our comfort zone, bringing us face to face with the aspects of who we are that we would rather brush under the rug than scream from the rooftop.

With that being said, here are mine…

My mind is always filled with a million thoughts. I’ll talk so fast that I’ll stumble on my words, because my brain is moving a mile a minute… and that’s without coffee. I’ve got an overabundance of energy, and while that may sound wonderful, it can also cause me to come crashing down. I consciously have to manage where I exert my energy, which usually causes me to feel like I’m letting some aspect of my life falter. I am a Type-A perfectionist who is her own biggest critic. I can be wound so tight that I wear my shoulders up to my earlobes, and have to take zzzquil to get out of my head and off into dreamland (non-habit forming… yeah right). My addictive personality begs to differ.

Mindfulness and awareness are my tools in embracing what makes me a glorious mess. It’s one thing to acknowledge our flaws, but we must take one step further in becoming the best version of ourselves. For me, something that has helped me immensely has been practicing yoga once a week. It allows me to set aside time for myself to give my brain a break from the consistent flow of thoughts swimming though it. It’s teaching me new tools to carry around throughout the week to help clean up my messy mind… starting with the simple reminder to just breathe.

What makes you a glorious mess? Dig deep into your soul until you have reached a point of uncomfortable. Take those parts of yourself that you have tucked under your bed, and display them on your shelf. Embrace who you are— every damn aspect of you.

I’m Not Done Yet. From Finstas to Finding Yourself

 

“Protopia is a state of becoming, rather than a destination.” – Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable. 

As I flip through my copy of “The Inevitable”, my mind wanders to the corners of its own protopia. Kevin Kelly describes it as a state that is better today than yesterday, although it may just be by a little bit. A Protopia is the realistic future we should be striving towards. It’s the unavoidable tomorrow that will arrive come sunrise…

As a working member of this technological society, I know first hand that we are morphing. We’re growing, expanding, and changing, every. damn. day.

You may be reading this and thinking, “duh.” We’re not static beings, but instead are multi-faceted humans with the capability to learn and morph with our environment… This is universally understood. However, how often do you stop and think about how our technological presence plays a part in all of this?

Maybe you’re one of those naysayers who believes that social media is the devil. Maybe you’re a child of the 00′s, who doesn’t know life without an online identity. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, we can all agree on one thing: the internet isn’t going anywhere. So, let’s come together & brainstorm ways to use these intertwined virtual networks to create a very real protopia.

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Unless you live under a rock, it is likely that you are a member of at least one social network. Whether its Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, or a blog platform like Tumblr- you have created a virtual portrayal of real life you. I had an interesting conversation with my 17 year old sister yesterday about this topic. She was talking about how important “aesthetic” has become, and the great lengths her peers will go through to completely scrap an old look to become something new. “Finstas” are being created, and for all y’all who aren’t in high school, these are fake instagram accounts used to post photos that you only want your close friends seeing. It’s not even a matter of these posts being nasty or offensive, these are typically just photos that don’t go with the users “real” insta aesthetic.

The question then becomes, what is real? 

If you scroll all the way down to my very first Instagram post, I’m still the same ol’ Lauren I am today. Just younger, and strapped with an iPhone 4. The core of a social media identity is to represent who you are, but in a virtual world. This is sort of a crazy concept to wrap your head around, so it does not come as a surprise to me that we’re running rapid with finstas and gym posts, when we haven’t once lifted a weight IRL.

On or offline, there is a (not so) simple solution to this: self awareness. 

How do you define yourself? How would you describe yourself to others?

When I was in 6th grade, I shopped at Hot Topic and listened to Good Charlotte. In 7th grade, I had a change of heart and style, and started shopping at PacSun. The middle school years are when you’re searching for your identity. Trying on different masks, seeing which one fits. If I had an Instagram back then, do you know how many punk rock princess posts I’d have to delete before setting foot in PacSun…

It is concerning to me that kids have to go through this process of finding and creating themselves with a smartphone permanently attached to their hip. Social media has become a window to the world, and rather than developing their own identities, we’re clinging to the identities of others. Everyone wants contoured skin, a million followers, and an A1 aesthetic… but are losing touch with their own reality in the process.

Don’t get me wrong, if anyone is a social media advocate – it’s me. But, I am not blind to its dangers, In fact, I’ve made it my life work to create an anecdote.

Educate

We’re always learning, whether we realize it or not. While scrolling though Instagram, you’re learning about the world. About what people ate for lunch. About protopias. Literally– anything and everything.

This classroom is an interesting one, though. With the exception of posts that are created with the intention of being educational, most users aren’t putting their content out there with the thought, “wow, someone is really going to learn something from this.” But we should. What if everyone on social media stopped and thought for a second, “what can people learn from this?” before hitting that – post – button? Unrealistic, I know. But this can be flipped. What if everyone on social media stopped and thought, “what can I learn from this?” as they are scrolling though online content. This type of open-mindedness and thirst for knowledge can lead to a more fully developed sense of self. Think about thinking. Don’t just get lost in the mindless clatter that social media can be.

Inspire

Perhaps content we see or post isn’t meant to teach a lesson, but instead has the power to spark someone’s imagination. At the core of the platform that I’ve created, Out There Social, my goal is to inspire others to leave their comfort zone. This is the fuel that ignites the fire of everything I capture, ponder, write, and share. This is why I do what I do. This is why I love social media. Because I can reach the masses with messages that are so near and dear to my heart. I left my comfort zone in the dust years ago, and have been virtually screaming from the rooftops for everyone else to do the same.

We must realize the power we have as social media beings. Anything you post online, is seen by someone. It may not be a crowd of millions, but an audience is an audience. You have the conscious choice to decide how you will use this virtual stage. You have the free will to portray yourself to this audience anyway you choose. Your best bet, be yourself. Easier said than done, when most of us have a hard time grasping who we are.

Think of yourself as an online source of inspiration. Use your voice to challenge others to think for themselves. Allow people to walk in your shoes, but give them the freedom to tie their own laces. Close your eyes an imagine your own protopia. Then, get out there and make it happen.

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.

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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.

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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 

Social Media CEO to Essena O’Neill: You Were the Lie, Not Social Media

Here’s how we feel about Essena O’Neill…

As an entity that thrives on social media, we find this whole Essena O’Neill situation fascinating. Is anyone REALLY surprised to learn that it takes more than one shot to get that perfect Instagram photo?…

Learn to decipher social media through a filtered eye, because that is exactly the type of eye that is posting. If you can present your message in a way that is aesthetically pleasing, then more power to you! The more appealing your post is, the more publicity you will get, and the more people your message will reach.

Social media in its simplest form is a means of communication. Strip away the filters and the likes and what you’re left with is a message. If your message is rooted from a lack of confidence, then your problem lies within. But, if your intent is to motivate, engage, teach, inspire, or any combination of the aforementioned, don’t be ashamed of the percentage of Valencia in your photo! A positive message in a pretty package is still a positive message… so keep on sharing your wisdom, filtered or unfiltered!

Social Media CEO to Essena O’Neill: You Were the Lie, Not Social Media

“Blocked.” Does Avoidance Solve the Problem? 

Being a millennial in the technological world of 2015 is a blessing and a curse. 

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We’re connected in a way like never before, where we can express our thoughts and feelings instantaneously. The anxiety of picking up the phone, dialing someone’s number and hoping they pick up is long behind us…

So, we got rid of that anxiety, and replaced it with a new one. Today, we are scoping out Instagram maps and tagged photos. We’re watching who ‘likes’ what, and freak out when Snapchat no longer tells us who’s best friends. Is technology the problem, or are we?

Considering social media is something that is being created by us, I’m going to say that we are the problem. But, on the bright side, there is a solution. One solution many people turn to: “block this user.” From a psychological standpoint, avoidance is basically coping by not having to cope. You’re pretending the problem disappeared *poof* into thin air. The feelings of discomfort are gone, and you are free to sink back into your comfort zone.

Of course, there are some situations where blocking a person is necessary. Perhaps they are someone you genuinely do not want to find you, due to possible violent or traumatic outcomes.

Some people “block” out of maturity, because they do not agree with the thoughts a person has, and would rather ignore them than give into the temptation of engaging in a fight.

Then there are others, who “block” because they are being told to. They’re faced with an ultimatum from a significant other, where they have to prove themselves by “blocking” someone else from their life.

To the one that wants the blockage:

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You remember on Friends when Ross was marrying Emily and she told him he couldn’t be friends with Rachel anymore? You’re Emily.

First of all, before getting into a relationship with someone else, you have to be 100% secure with yourself. Know what you’re worth and be proud. Be confident in yourself, so you can be confident in your relationship. A major tenant of any relationship is trust. By telling the person you supposedly love that they can’t talk to someone— what you’re actually saying, loud and clear, is “I don’t trust you.”

Maybe you have a reason not to trust this person. Maybe this person can’t have a platonic relationship with the person you want blocked. In that case, maybe you shouldn’t be in a relationship with them. It sounds like your future is a lifetime of mistrust, checked phones, and trying to dig for a deeper connection that doesn’t actually exist.

Or maybe these reasons are all in your head. Maybe you’re creating situations that cause you to be skeptical due to experiences you’ve had in the past. Maybe you’re not giving your significant other the benefit of the doubt.

In either case, have some more respect for yourself. Don’t think that simply “blocking” someone is going to erase your problem— because your problem lies within: security with yourself, and with your relationship.

To the block-er:

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Toughen up you weakling! A lot of people choose appeasement over dealing with their problems, because it seems like the easier option. Instead, all it does is dig yourself into a hole of deeper problems. You’re creating a standard with your significant other that they’re allowed to tell you what to do. A relationship requires sacrifice— it’s a give and take. It’s not a dictatorship.

Maybe your bae hit the nail on the head. “Block this person, you still have feelings for them.” Maybe they’re right, and maybe you’re too afraid to confront those feelings. Maybe if you didn’t block that person, you would suffer other repercussions, like having to sleep on the couch, or getting your iPad smashed.

Maybe they are completely wrong! Maybe you are putting a genuine friendship at risk, just to ease someone’s nonsensical, worrying mind. Sometimes its easier just to say yes, rather than put effort into explaining that they have nothing to worry about.

In either case scenario, you’re doing two things:

  1. Respecting the person that doesn’t trust you.
  2. Disrespecting the person on the sidelines.

To the block-ee:

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Knowing you are blocked by an old friend, former love interest, or even just some random Joe Shmo is a blow to the ego. I’m currently in this situation, on two very different sides of the spectrum (if you couldn’t already tell from the course of this post)…

The first one stemmed from a mutual attempt for a mature post-hook up-friendship (those could get messy, especially when feelings are involved). The second was from a long time friend, who feels more like a family member to me. In both instances, the “blocked” notifications hurt.

One of my favorite pearls of wisdom from the book “The Four Agreements” is: Don’t Take Anything Personally.

“Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world.

Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds…” -Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements 

To everyone reading:

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Maybe I’ve been watching too much “Are You The One” lately, or maybe its situations I’m currently being faced with, but I truly believe that when you are with your “Perfect Match”, you will be able to trust them.

Take a step back and look at your relationship for what it is. If you truly appreciate the person you’re with, and feel in your heart that they are doing the right thing for you; then let them follow whoever the hell they want on Instagram. If you feel that just one simple glance at a tweet is going to jeopardize your relationship, then maybe you’re better off single.

If you’re being told what to do this early in your relationship and would rather appease than succumb to threats, then do some research on abusive relationships. If you are giving into appeasement because you genuinely care for someone, have a mature, civilized discussion with them about the person they are feeling threatened by, and tell them they have nothing to worry about. But only if you mean it.

Stay true to yourself, realize what you are worth, and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Sometimes this means having hard conversations, sometimes it’s walking away from something that no longer suits you, and sometimes it’s writing a blog post to call attention to the issue. You’re given one life… live it out of compassion and trust, not out of jealously and fear.