I have a complicated relationship with control. As in, I like to have it. And when I don’t, then it’s usually one of the topics of my next therapy session.

This whole year has taught me how much I value having control. And the last eight months or so have been an exercise of showing me how little control I actually have on most things. It’s been about finding ways to cope with that fact and doing my best to control what I can.

Over the summer I was a counselor at a summer camp. It seemed like a natural position for me. I’ve always adored kids and I was working in the arts & crafts area. Two things that I love. And yet, it was probably the most challenging summer of my life. There were parts of it that I really enjoyed: being on the lake, really cool bosses, coworkers from all over the world, all around new experiences, etc. But it was also exhausting- mentally, physically and emotionally.

I think I called my mom crying more times this summer than any other period of my life. A lot of it had to do with feeling like I never had privacy or a moment to myself. As an introvert, I seldom felt completely recharged. But a good portion of it had to do with my days being completely structured in a way that was out of my control. If I was upset or not feeling my best in the morning, then I had to continue on with my completely planned day, without the time or space to fully right my mind.

And because as a counselor, you’re always trying to make sure that your kiddos are having a safe and fun time, it meant that I was constantly pushing down my negative out-of-control feelings so they wouldn’t impact their experience. By the time camp ended, I was running on fumes.

A few weeks later, I started as an RA in the Honors dorm at Mizzou. During the Fall semester I also taught a one-hour Freshman Interest Group class to a class of 23 Honors journalism students. I absolutely loved it. I made it a priority to be available to my residents and tried to be there for them as much as I could. It made me so happy when they shared with me what was going on in their classes and what successes they were having in their orgs. I often felt like a proud mom.

But it was hard sometimes. Many of them were emotionally vulnerable with me. I was honored that they trusted me with their struggles, but sometimes it felt heavier than what I was equipped to bear. Some moments were even scary, especially when it came to mental health. At the end of the day, I was not a trained counselor. And in my friendly RA capacity, I could only do so much. It was terrifying to think that one of my residents could do something really permanent, and I honestly had no real way to stop it.

And just when I thought life had given me enough recent examples to wrestle with control, COVID-19 hit. I’m self-aware enough to not take it personally. This virus and its effects are hitting literally everyone. I’m blessed to have a safe home, a good family and health insurance. So far, the truly worst thing that has happened to me is that I had to cancel my spring break trip to Chicago with a friend.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve been 100% okay, either. I drove home on Friday, March 13th. At the time that I left Columbia I didn’t know that Mizzou would be going to online-learning for the rest of the semester. I brought home a few things, but most of my stuff was still in my dorm room in Missouri.

I don’t even consider myself that materialistic of a person, and yet every time I thought about my belongings still being in Columbia, I had a pit at the bottom of my stomach. It felt like my life was split in two places: Texas and Missouri. I felt unsettled. And with all of the other uncertainty going around (how were online classes going to work? who was healthy and who was actually sick? what was even going on?), that was one thing that I deeply wished I could control.

It also didn’t help that one of the ways I cope when I feel anxious or stressed is craft: and all of my craft supplies were part of the belongings I had back in Columbia. So for the first week I was home, I relied on a few of my other coping mechanisms. I baked brownies. I organized my family’s pantry. I paid close attention to my professor’s emails and wrote new assignments and crossed out old ones in my planner. I made lists. I even went as far as ordering my planner for next school year just because I knew it would make me feel better about the world.

I also tried to soak in some of the simple joys of being home. Having a couch to lounge on. My dad’s phenomenal cooking. Being near my brother. Seeing my neighbors (while being six feet apart). Even still, I had trouble sleeping up until my mom and I drove to Missouri and back to completely move me out of my dorm room.

Everything in this world feels very out of control right now. Online classes from home are an adjustment. Trying to formulate some kind of new routine has been key. I’ve found that getting up at the same time as I would for class helps. Showering and putting on clothes that aren’t PJs works wonders. I’ve been doing schoolwork at the dining room table because there’s more natural light and I’m less likely to nap. Going outside, whether that be my back patio or a walk around the neighborhood is the best break.

A few other ways I’m trying to find some control: I ordered a medicine ball so I can continue to do some of my workouts that I did at the gym at home. I’ve been writing letters to friends who now live far away. I renewed this blog so I can continue to have an outlet for my thoughts in writing.

One really random way I’m relishing having control right now is through my body hair. Over Winter Break I realized the longest I’d gone without shaving my legs since I started in the 6th grade was probably four days. Even in winter, or when I really didn’t even need to shave, I was shaving almost every day. I haven’t completely sworn off shaving, I’ve just decided that I’m not going to shave unless I have a specific event with an outfit where you’re actually going to see my legs. So as of today (March 28th), I haven’t shaved my legs since January 20th. And every time I’ve mentioned it to someone, they have not even noticed. To which I say: “why was I shaving so much in the first place?”

What it comes down to is the only thing I can control is me. Whether that be through my actions or attitude. The rest of the world can be going completely bonkers, and I have to do my best to not let it weigh me down. Even if it isn’t easy.

And when I’m struggling with my lack of control, I have an amazing support system. Both my family and my friends have really been there for me this year when I’ve struggled. And I am so thankful.

My advice as a 20-year-old college student right now is this. Find your coping mechanisms and don’t feel sorry for them. Practice social distancing as much as you can. If you know a healthcare worker, please thank them. And if you love someone, shoot them a quick text and tell them. I think everyone could benefit from hearing that right now. Just because we’re social distancing doesn’t mean we have to be virtually socially distant. And wash your hands!

A few other ways I’m looking forward to taking control and growing from this experience when it’s all over: making more time to spend with friends and family, taking more dance classes at the rec and finally asking the cute guy in my marketing class if he wants to grab coffee. Because it doesn’t hurt to have a few things to look forward to. (:

College has been hard.

College has been hard. But not always in the ways I expected.

And before I elaborate on that, I want to preface this blog post with the note that this post is going to be a little all over the place. But that’s kinda how my brain has felt recently.

With three weeks left of my freshman year I can already say that college has challenged how I see myself in more ways than one. And while I’m proud of myself for that growth, at times it’s been personally unsettling and disappointing.

In high school I was in the top 10% of my graduating class. I held leadership roles in multiple organizations. I wasn’t always a straight A student, so that was how I was able to justify to myself that I didn’t define myself by my academics. I was able to trick myself into thinking I didn’t care as much as I really did. I compared myself to my friends on occasion, but since we all had different interests- we all had things we excelled in individually- it was never a true comparison.

Then I got to college. I was a Walter Williams Scholar- grouped in with other freshmen who had high test scores and GPA’s like me. We are all on the journalism path, with many of us having previous journalism experience. And while so many of these people are my friends and are people who I adore and respect- I’ve come to terms with I’ve fallen into the comparison trap.

The thing that I excelled in and that set me apart in high school, is no longer what sets me apart here. Which is why I’m here. To go to the best journalism school in the country with other students who are doing the same. It’s one of the things that I love about this school, but it’s still been something I’ve been grappling with in my mind.

I am now among a group of people where I don’t have the highest GPA or the most experience or the clearest idea of what the hell is going on. And that isn’t a bad thing. I want to be surrounded by people who are better than me, because they help push me to be better too. But that also doesn’t mean that that is always easy for me to accept.

It’s forced me to take a good hard look at myself outside of my academics. Because if that’s the only thing I judged myself on, I would lose my sense of self.

Another area of my life that I’ve been thinking about more since getting to college has been my relationship with my religion.

Growing up, Mansfield wasn’t the most religiously diverse place in the world. When I was in high school, most of my friends went to my school AND my church. Or if they didn’t go to my church, they went to a different church in the Mansfield/Arlington/Fort Worth area.

Now that I’m in college, that is far from the case. A lot of the friends I’ve made may have grown up religious, but they are choosing not to practice now. And I’m continuing to meet people who come from a wide variety of religious backgrounds.

I’ve joined a college ministry called Ukirk that is part of First Presbyterian Church in downtown Columbia. It’s small, but I love it.

Since coming to college, I haven’t been super good about making it to church every Sunday morning. I’ve figured out that I like church events that are more discussion based, where I can hear different perspectives and it’s more interactive. More of a small group type of ministry. Fortunately, that’s what most of Ukirk is.

So in that way I feel like I’ve strengthened my relationship with God, because I’m determining how I connect with Him best as I’m becoming more of an adult.

But one thing that has weighed on my heart this semester is the decision that the Methodist Church made at the special session of the general conference. Members at the conference voted to strengthen the Methodist Church’s ban on gay and lesbian clergy and same-sex marriages.

I was baptized Presbyterian, but for most of my life I’ve been a part of Methodist churches. Since moving to Columbia I’ve been going to a Presbyterian church, but I had assumed that wherever I move after college I would still check out the local Methodist church first. That is no longer the case.

Now that I’m in college, I have more friends who identify somewhere on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum than friends who identify as straight. I was lucky and had a pretty progressive upbringing, so I’ve always been pro-LGBTQIA+ rights. But now I don’t know how I can look my friends in the eye and say “I fully love and support you for everything you are,” while still being a part of a church organization that says the opposite.

And I hate that. Because to me, church and God have always been about love and community. Some of my biggest supporters from back home are part of the Methodist church. And I still love them dearly and know that as individuals, they also do not agree with the decision the Methodist Church made.

Between finding a church that I liked on my own for the first time and spending a lot of time thinking about the decision the Methodist Church made, this year has really been a time of reflection on how I want to carry my religion into my adult life. It’s also been a time of separating God from the church as a whole in some ways. Because unfortunately the Church can let me down, but God doesn’t. I’ve also figured out that I let myself down even more when I don’t include God in my life.

On Monday I had my first appointment with the person who will hopefully become my regular therapist in Columbia. I liked her a lot, and she helped me talk through a few of the things mentioned in this post. I plan on seeing her again before I leave Columbia for the summer.

I’ve been lucky. Between my mom being a social worker and my grandfather being a family counselor, my family has always been very pro-therapy. I went for the first time when I was going through some health stuff my sophomore year of high school, and when I wanted to start it up again before my senior year kicked off, my parents were all for it.

I found someone who I really liked back home. Her name is Elisha, and I still see her when I’m home for school breaks. Even when I didn’t have anything necessarily going “wrong” it was still nice to go and talk to her about once a month my senior year. I would often go into her office thinking I didn’t have much to talk about, and then before I knew it our hour together would fly by.

It calms my anxiety to have someone to unload things onto, who can also help me process the things I’m feeling. The way I describe it is I always feel lighter when I leave therapy.

And even though I’ve always known this, I thought I could get away with not having a regular therapist here. I really thought I would be okay with only talking to Elisha on breaks.

I did okay with that the first semester of college. It wasn’t too difficult. Nothing serious really popped up.

This school year I’ve been a front desk attendant at my dorm,  the Honors dorm, working the late night shift of either 10pm-1am or 10pm-3am, depending on the day.

The night before the first day of class for the spring semester, when I walked up to the front desk for my shift, the guy who was working the desk before me was in the process of helping a resident. The resident claimed he had a package, but we couldn’t find it. He was super high, and at the time I remember thinking that there was a chance that he had already picked it up and had just forgotten about it.

Me and the guy working before me tried to help him, and because he was so high and confused, it turned into about a 10 minute interaction. He had a friend with him who ultimately took him back up to his room. Before that interaction I had never seen or talked to him before.

The next day our RA told us we had a full dorm meeting. There were several Honors College employees there, and the mood was solemn. They informed us that a student had passed away earlier that day in his dorm room. When they told us his name, I realized it was the resident who I had interacted with the previous night.

I immediately freaked out and told the building coordinator what I had seen. I knew that the police were probably going to be retracing his final steps to try and figure out what had happened to him. But what irked me was that as far as I knew, I was one of the last people to see him alive, and I didn’t even know it at the time.

For the next few days I dealt with feelings of whether or not I should have done something, because he was clearly so high when I saw him. My parents and friends reminded me that he was not the first or last person I’d seen high while working at the desk, and he had a friend with him.

And even though I’ve moved past those feelings of whether or not there was something I could have done, I still think about his death more than I should. Because I only had one interaction with him. That was it. I didn’t even know him. But I also didn’t know when I talked to him, that I would never have the opportunity to again. And I think that’s what gets to me. How final it is.

So I would say it was that experience and the fact that I realized I kept lingering on it that  made me realize I should probably find a regular therapist here in Columbia.

I told my aunt tonight that I like being go-go-go all of the time, but sometimes it keeps me from taking the time to fully process everything that is happening around me. And therapy helps with that. It’s healthy for me. And I’m not ashamed to talk about it, because the more we talk about, the less stigmatized it will become.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been giving a lot of tours to future Walter Williams Scholars. It’s been fun getting to show them around and to talk to them about why I love Mizzou so much.

But I’ve also tried to be honest with them about how college is not always easy. Because I know that if they are a Walter Williams Scholar, they probably have the same extreme need to overachieve as me and my friends.

I’ve talked about how I dropped a class this semester, and while it initially made me doubt who I was as a person, it ultimately was for the best. I’ve talked about how it’s been difficult to be so far away from my family. I’ve talked about how important it’s been to learn to say no. I’ve talked about how figuring out how to adult has been STRESSFUL.

I’m hoping that by being honest with these incoming freshmen, it will help them to realize that while it may look like everyone around them has their s-h-i-t together, that is FAR from the case.

I’ve learned that college is a lot of faking-it-til-you-make-it. My friend Janae has told me she thinks I’m the one adulting the best in our friend group. I’m pretty sure the main reasons she thinks that are because I write literally everything in my planner, I keep my dorm room clean 90% percent of the time and I do my laundry on the same day every week.

And those three things are small, but it’s that consistency that helps keep me sane. College has been all about learning how I best operate away from home and away from everything that was once familiar.

But while I’m a girl who loves her routine, it’s also been fun to break away from it on occasion. I’ve loved doing things like staying up until 3am talking to my roommate about random stuff, going on adventures with new friends and getting back into dating. In March I went to a concert in Arkansas on a school night with a friend just because I could. And we had the absolute best time.

It’s my routine that allows me to enjoy the random. And learning that about myself over the past year has been important.

There’s been all kinds of things I’ve learned outside of the classroom since coming to college. And it’s kind of thrilling to know I have so much left to learn during my time here. Even when life has been stressful, the the three things I haven’t doubted are 1) I made the right choice in coming to Mizzou, 2) God is looking out for me and 3) no matter what, my parents have my back- all the way from Texas.

If you made it to this point in this post- CONGRATS. It was long and sporadic. I’m looking forward to this summer when hopefully I can close a few of the tabs in my brain.

In a life update, this summer I will be a counselor for a Jewish summer camp called Camp Sabra that is located in Rocky Mount, Missouri on the Lake of the Ozarks. I’m super excited for this new experience and to be loving on kiddos while being surrounded by the great outdoors. And I’m hoping to get a lot of blogging done in my free time. 🙂

My Tribe

Well it’s official folks. I made it through my first semester of college. It wasn’t always pretty, but I’ve learned a lot and I’m so happy Mizzou is my school. I’ve met so many incredible people and made friends I hope will continue to be in my life long past the time we graduate.

I chose Mizzou because it has the best journalism program in the country, and when I visited the campus it felt more like home than any other school I visited. I could really see myself spending four years of my life there. Of course, both of those things made moving 10 hours away from Mansfield only slightly easier. It was still terrifying.

One of the things I’ve learned since being in college is that not everyone has the same support system that I’m fortunate to have. As I mentioned in mi familia, my immediate family is pretty darn close to perfect. I don’t think I fully realized how lucky I am to have the relationships that I do with my parents and brother until I got to college and realized that very few people can go on and on about how amazing their younger brother is.

But it’s not just my parents and Nick. I’ve had a whole tribe of people help me get to this point in my life, and I couldn’t have done it without them.

For instance, my grandparents are phenomenal. My Grandma and Poppa moved from Houston and my Nana moved from Georgia before my brother was born so they could be closer to us. I honestly can’t remember a time when my parents had to hire a babysitter when I was little, because my grandparents were always so willing to watch us. Anytime I had a dance recital or track meet or awards ceremony they were there. And for a lot of those things I wasn’t ever that good. I literally got last place in every single track meet I ran in in middle school, and every time I had at least one grandparent in the stands cheering me on. I was spoiled with ice cream and thoughtful Christmas presents. My Nana took me on a two-week trip to Italy for my 15thbirthday. But the thing I value the most is that they are there for me. They have made me and my brother a priority and have made sure that we know it. I am so lucky.

Then there’s my church family. I’ve talked about Melony Harmon before in My Faith Story, and two years later she continues to be just as amazing. My senior year of high school the girl’s small group got another leader- Beth Mallory. This woman is a saint who I’m blessed to have in my life. Even though she hasn’t been in my life for too too long, she makes me feel like I’ve known her for forever. She’s crafty and kind and she makes the yummiest treats.

During my time volunteering with children’s ministries I was fortunate to get to know Andrea Roberts, Michelle Gery, Victoria Johnson and Jenny Williams. Andrea was there for me my junior year of high school when I came to church on the verge of tears after a friend’s birthday party did not go well. Michelle texted me a few times throughout the semester just checking in to make sure I was doing okay. Victoria had all of the Ignite kiddos pray for me the weekend before I left for college. I think about that sweet prayer a lot. And Jenny always gives really good hugs.

The Capstone class of 2019 sent me a finals care package that had snacks and notes from friends to encourage me to get through the last week. Everyone from that program is fantastic. Darin Charles continues to take time out of his busy life to host get-togethers with Capstone grads when we’re home for breaks. And I don’t know whose idea it was to give us study Bibles for graduation, but that Bible is now one of my favorite possessions.

I have the best neighbors a girl could ever ask for. When we moved to Mansfield the summer before I entered the 6thgrade I had no idea how much having really good neighbors could mean to a person. Whenever I was home alone it was always a source of comfort to know that if something went wrong I had at least ten people nearby who would be willing to help me out. I’ve spent countless hours on driveways, around firepits and in swimming pools having the time of my life. Whenever our parents all get together all of us neighbor kids who are around the same age share in each other’s pain in how embarrassing our parents can be. The second I get home I know I’m probably going to see at least three people out on someone’s driveway who will want to know how college is going, because we are all genuinely invested in each other’s lives.

When I was little, my parents were part of an adult Sunday School class called the Pathfinders. It was a class full of couples who were around my parents age who also had kids. Even though a lot of the families (including mine), now go to different churches, we’re still close to several of the families. Two of those families are the Luna’s and Trezza’s. The Luna’s have three girls who are all younger than me, but who are growing up so stinking fast. I’ve always thought of them as my little sisters, and one of the reasons why I try so hard is because I know they are looking up to me. Both the Trezza’s and the Luna’s still live pretty close to my family, and I know that if I ever need anything, I can always call them.

Finally, I’ve been blessed with the best teachers all throughout my education. They’ve encouraged me to read, to ask questions and to want to continue to learn- even beyond the classroom. One of the things I did before I graduated from high school was I tracked down as many of my former teachers as I could on social media and messaged them so I could send them a graduation announcement. I was able to go back as far as my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Urias. Especially in elementary school I think teachers get a lot of appreciation from parents, but not so much from the kids. I wanted all of my teachers to know that even 10+ years later I appreciated them, because for a year of my life they taught me what I needed to know so I could move on to my next step. I wouldn’t have gotten to 12thgrade without 1stgrade and I wouldn’t have gotten into college without all of my incredible teachers.

There are a few teachers that I’ve kept in touch with more than others. My 6thgrade year was a big one because it was my first year at Mansfield. I was the new kid and having teachers like Mrs. Giadrosich and Mrs. Crose made the transition so much easier. Mrs. Giadrosich had her first baby during my year, so I feel like I have the unique opportunity to really watch her kids grow up. I had Mrs. Boydstun for both my freshman and senior year for English. That woman is a superwoman. The amount that she cares for her students and their futures is immeasurable. Mrs. Watson and Ms. Rooney both made me a stronger writer and helped to give me more journalism opportunities. I’m fortunate to have been their student.

A few days ago, while my friends and I were struggling through studying for finals, my friends started talking about how out of all of us they view me as the most “put together” one of the group. I found this shocking, because I most certainly do not feel like it. At this point in my life I feel like I’m being held together by my planner and a prayer. I’m apparently really good at BSing that I have my shit together.

But the more I think about it, the more I realize the reason why I’m able to fake having my shit together is because I have that whole group of people I just mentioned cheering me on. They’ve all done everything they can, each in their individual ways, to set me up to succeed. I want to do them and myself proud, but I also know that if I stumble along the way as I figure this whole adulting thing out, they will be there to help me get back on my path.

I chose Mizzou because my parents and grandparents were always supportive. Because my church family prepared me to continue to explore my faith no matter how far away from home I am. Because my neighbors remind me I need to also have fun. Because I have the Luna girls looking up to me, so I have no choice but to do my absolute best. Because my teachers set me up for success from the very beginning.

There is a football player that plays for Mizzou named Jalen Knox. He’s a freshman who went to Timberview High School, which is another high school in my school district. We’re both from Mansfield, and we both chose to go to Mizzou, albeit for very different reasons. It makes me wonder what his tribe looks like, and how it led him to choose Mizzou. I like to imagine that we’re both thriving because we both had tribes that prepared us for this step in our lives. Because my tribe did a pretty good job.



O’Rourke is Beto than Kavanaugh

I know, I know- it’s been a hella long time since I’ve posted anything. So many things have happened in the last few months that I’ve thought about blogging about, but I haven’t made the time to just sit down and do it.

As I sit here writing this, there are exactly 31 days until the midterm elections. In exactly one month from today, Texas has the chance to elect a Democrat as our senator. Even though I now go to school in Missouri, I mailed off my absentee ballot last week. This election was too big to miss out on. I proudly voted for Beto O’Rourke, and after what happened today, I am 1000% sure I made the right choice.

If you haven’t heard already, the Senate confirmed Judge Brett Kavanaugh today 50-48. That sad excuse of a man will be one of the nine people sitting at the highest court in our country and will be making decisions that will affect generations of Americans. I’ve already screamed into my pillow, cried and ranted with my friends about it- if that tells you anything about how I’m feeling about the decision.

Texas senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn both voted in favor of Brett Kavanaugh.

After three women came out publicly accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault; after listening to four hours of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s grueling testimony; after seeing Kavanaugh’s utter meltdown when he gave his own testimony; and after the FBI performed one of the most half-assed investigations that I can ever recall, the two men who have the privilege of representing my state still voted to promote Brett Kavanaugh to one of the most powerful positions in the world.

The whole thing just makes me sick to my stomach.

I love this country. I love that we don’t make it easy to give one person too much power. I love that there are long processes that we have to go through when it comes to doing just about anything. In general, it gives me a sense of security that these processes are theoretically supposed to ensure that men who have been accused of sexual assault and who throw public temper tantrums when questioned about it won’t ever have access to this much power. But today I feel like our leaders have failed me and the other 167 million women who make up this country that I love.

Because to me and every other woman I’ve talked to today, this vote felt like a personal attack. It felt like the 50 senators who voted ‘yes’ were essentially saying “yeah, we don’t give a f*ck about the women in this country.”

The summer before my junior year of high school I attended the Washington Journalism and Media Conference in Washington DC. On the second to last day of the conference, we were given the time to meet with our state representatives. Even though I’ve never been a fan of Ted Cruz, I decided to set up a meeting with him anyways. At the last minute he had to cancel, so I ended up meeting with a couple members of his staff instead. When I got out of that meeting, I had a Snapchat message waiting for me from one of my friends at the conference. It was a picture of Ted Cruz buying an ice cream cone from a street vendor. I don’t know the details of why he couldn’t meet with me on that day, but from my perspective he picked getting ice cream over meeting with one of his future constituents.

After that meeting I was also scheduled to meet with my Congressional Rep, Joe Barton. We had a short meeting before I had to rush off to meet the rest of my group. I mentioned this briefly in my last Mansfield Speaks speech, but as I was leaving the Rayburn House Office Building, I was alone in an elevator with a guy in a suit who looked to be in his 30’s or 40’s. He got off the elevator before I did, and as he was getting off, he squeezed my ass. I was so startled by it that it took me a little while to process what had just happened. I was 16.

The way Ted Cruz voted today, he basically said that what happened to me in that elevator two years ago was okay. I already knew that he doesn’t care about the opinion of young people in his state, but now I know he doesn’t care about the women either.

In contrast, Beto O’Rourke has expressed that if he were in Ted Cruz’s position, he definitely would have voted NO to Kavanaugh, because he believes survivors. If you go on Beto’s website, he has a whole issues tab dedicated to women’s health alone. He cares about equality and wants to close the gender pay gap.

Beto is currently on a college tour around Texas. He’s already been to UT, Baylor, UTSA and many more. He has spent a good portion of his campaign appealing to young voters, because he knows we are the future. He sees the value in us and wants to make sure that we are heard.

I have spent a good chunk of today being angry at our country and it’s leaders. Brett Kavanaugh is only 53 years old, which means we could be stuck with him for the next 30+ years (which is terrifying). But it’s politicians like Beto O’Rourke who also give me hope. It’s good men and women like him who decide that it’s worth it to put themselves in the public eye in order to run for office, to hopefully make America a better place for everyone.

I will be graduating from the University of Missouri in 2022 with a dual degree in journalism and political science. My hope is to be a media liaison for a politician. And I would consider it an honor to work for Beto O’Rourke. But in order for that to happen, I need everyone I know to go out and VOTE so we can get this man into office. So please do.

Time’s Up

Last night I spoke at my school’s third annual Mansfield Speaks. It’s a TED-like event where students can speak on a wide range of topics, all centering around one theme. This year’s theme was time. Most people talked about time in the literal sense, but I took different approach. I originally was inspired by the #metoo movement, but as I was writing my speech it actually became perfect timing, because that’s when the ‘Time’s Up’ movement came to be.

I wrote this speech because I never had the courage to tweet #metoo. By the time I was brave enough, the moment had passed, so I never did. Because I’ve never been raped or severely sexually assaulted, I didn’t feel like that I could honestly be a part of that movement. I was scared that people would judge me because nothing “that bad” had happened to me. That’s when I realized that that was part of the problem. So this speech was a way for me to say #metoo, and to hopefully help other girls like me realize they can say #metoo as well, without feeling guilty about it. My speech is below.

Every woman I know has her first time. The first time she noticed a man staring at her not as a person, but as an object standing there for his own pleasure. The first time a man touched her in a way that made her feel dirty, and made her question what she could have possibly done to warrant such a behavior from him. The first time a man said something to her when she was walking to her car alone, that made her walk just a little bit faster and grip her keys just a little bit tighter.

My first time was when I was 11. I was at Hawaiian Falls with my family and a few friends of ours. I was wearing a lime green tankini swim suit that I loved. A friend and I were floating on the lazy river when a group of about five boys swam up to us and told us we were hot. I could tell they were a little bit older, so my naïve 11-year-old self was flattered. We said thank you, and continued on in our own private conversation. That’s when one of the boys grabbed me by the arm and said “the polite thing to do when someone compliments you is to give them a kiss. I’ll take a hug please.” I politely told him that I didn’t want to and ripped my arm out of his grasp, but he and his friends continued to follow us down the river. I felt trapped, and I didn’t want to cause a scene. So I got off of my float and hugged him. I tried to make it quick, but he held on just a little longer than what I was comfortable with. After that, the boys left us alone, and my friend and I climbed out of the lazy river at the next exit.

Since then, there have been plenty of other ‘times.’ There was the time that I was alone on an elevator in DC with a man who randomly grabbed my butt as he walked out. There was the time that I was on a mission trip and one of the other guys on my worksite wouldn’t stop calling me ‘sweetie,’ and whipping a towel at me and some of the other girls, even after we asked him to stop multiple times. There was the time that a friend and I were in Fort Worth getting dinner. As we were walking down the street towards the restaurant, two guys who were clearly in their 30’s started catcalling us and laughing about which of us they called ‘dibs’ on. There was the time a different friend and I were studying at a Starbucks when an older gentleman sat down in the chair across from us, when there were plenty of other places to sit. He pretended to read his newspaper, but we could feel his creepy gaze on us as we discussed our upcoming world history exam. When he got up to use the restroom we gathered our stuff to leave, and as we were putting our backpacks in the car we saw him leave as well. We watched his car follow us for three streets. My friend took a different way to take me home. To this day I wonder if those first three streets were just a coincidence.

All of those times may not seem like a big deal to most. But they were all times that I felt a little less safe in my own body. They were times that I’ve had to question “is this the cost of being a woman in today’s world?” And for many of those instances, I never told anyone about it until just now. Right now in America, we as women are in a funky middle ground for equality. By most appearances we are being treated equally, and we’ve seemingly made it so far. Especially speaking as a young white woman. It seems almost silly to complain about some guy grabbing my ass on an elevator when there are women and girls being raped, forced into marriage, sold into slavery etc. all over the world. Or even the way I’m treated compared to women of color right here in America. And trust me, I’ve had that pointed out to me plenty of times when I tell someone I’m a feminist.

But we shouldn’t have to make this a contest to see who is being treated worse. We should be making an effort to stop all forms of sexual assault and misconduct, because it is all bad. We should be empowering those who speak out, and creating an environment where both women and men feel comfortable to say #me too. Because when a woman complains that her male boss often invades her space and touches her way more than what she is comfortable with, the first thing that’s said shouldn’t be “well at least she wasn’t raped.” By setting the bar at rape, we are basically saying that other acts of sexual misconduct are okay. We should be condemning all acts where a man (or woman) treats someone inappropriately. We should be shutting it down at the beginning, without giving it a chance to escalate further. And when a woman does speak up about someone making her uncomfortable, we should be trusting her instincts and not ignoring her.

We should be crushing the idea told to little girls that when a boy is mean to her, it means he likes her. We should be teaching kids consent at the same time that we’re teaching them to share. And we should be reinforcing this message over and over and over. We should be teaching kids from the very beginning that it doesn’t matter what genitalia the person sitting next to them has, because they deserve their utmost respect. Because those kids will grow up and I don’t want a single one of them to be able to share a ‘first time.’

But until we have that generation of kids, we need to be keeping the men and women in our generation, and the generations older than us, accountable. No more, “he was just flirting.” No more, “that’s just how men talk.” No more, “that’s just the way he was raised.” Nothing changes if we don’t start calling people on it. And I know it’s way harder than it sounds. It’s terrifying to go against the status quo and admit when something isn’t right. It’s a constant battle, but one that is so so worth it. The time is up in being complacent. The time is up for not speaking up for those who don’t have a voice. The time is up for not speaking out against those who abuse their positions of power. It is time for women to be treated equally, and I’m ready for it.

If you would like to read my speech from last year’s Mansfield Speaks, it is at the bottom of my Worksite Sexism post. The theme was perspective, and I talked about changing people’s perspective about how men can and should be feminists too.

Photo Credit: Breianna Hasty

mi familia

Just a warning, this blog post is about to get super cheesy.

I know everyone says this, but I truly believe I have the best family in the world. Even when my brother is annoyed at me for making us late to church or my dad’s joking has gone just a tad bit too far, they are still the best people I know, and they are still my favorite people to spend time with.

About my dad… For a huge chunk of my life, and for most of my memory, my dad worked as the Director of Public Relations for John Force Racing. That meant he traveled a lot on weekends to all of the races, and he worked from home for the most part during the week. He loved it, and he was amazing at it. He was, and still is, the very best in the business. Ask anyone who knows anything about sports PR and they will agree with me. Despite loving it, at the end of the 2016 racing season, my dad decided to take a step back from the racing world. I think it really hit home for him that I don’t have much longer before I go off to college, and Nick isn’t far behind me. He decided to take a job at Heritage Auctions, so he wouldn’t have to travel as much and could be around for Nick and I more.

As much as I loved having him home on weekends and having him home every night, it was weird. It was weird to see him wearing a tie all of the time and to hear him talk about handbags and art. After a few months though, that weirdness changed into something different. It became increasingly clear that my dad was not an “indoor cat” as he called it. Having a 9-5 job and pretty much just churning out press releases was not for him. His passion is in event PR, where he can be out and about meeting and talking to people. Heritage Auctions is a great company, it just wasn’t the best fit for him. Like I said, for most of my memory, my dad worked for JFR. I never noticed it when he worked there, but he had this glowing passion for what he was doing. At Heritage Auctions, there was no glow, and I hated to see him unhappy. He tried to hide it, but the passion and zest for the work he was doing was just not there.

And then, about a month ago he came home and told Nick and I that he had given his two weeks notice. Nick and I were surprised, because it seemed so sudden. What we didn’t know was that my parents had worked out the math and budgeting to where we could make it work as a family. Since then, he’s been working for his friend Tony Fay. He works from home most days and is working on a variety of projects that he is passionate about. He has a fire in him again and the difference in his overall mood is astronomical. I am so stinking proud of him. He’s always told my brother and I to do what we are passionate about, and I’m proud of him for following his own advice and setting an example for Nick and I. All of the money in the world is not worth him doing something that he is not passionate about, and I will live every day of my life being appreciative of the lessons that he has taught me.

About my mom… Firstly, she is an angel. Anyone who calls her anything less is simply wrong. For the ten years that my dad was flying all over the country for work, she was at home figuring out how to cart two busy kids around, work, and keep her sanity intact. Even now, when both of my parents are home I still always automatically put her name down when I need something signed. She is one of the smartest and most creative people I know, and she never gives herself enough credit. She is the DIY Queen. If she attempts something off of Pinterest it is almost always successful, and often turns out looking better than it did in the original picture. In any room in our house I can point out at least five DIY things she has done. Growing up, all of the other kids were always jealous of Nick and I’s Halloween costumes because she always knocked them right out of the park. Nick was Darth Vader one year and his chest plate even LIT UP.

On top of being a sewing and spray painting goddess, my mother is a social worker at a dialysis clinic. Social work is one of the most underrated, underappreciated, and underpaid professions out there. I don’t know where she gets the patience to deal with some of her crazy patients, but she does it with grace and class. She is a paperwork aficionado and a therapist all rolled into one and the world is greater for it.

Lastly, whenever someone tells me that I look just like my mom, I always tell them thank you for such a wonderful compliment. My mother is the most beautiful woman out there, both inside and out. I hate that she doesn’t always see that, which is why I try to remind her as much as possible. I love how much I’m like her. I get my craftiness from her, my love of finding a good bargain from her, and my perfectionism from her. Last weekend when we were in Fayetteville visiting the University of Arkansas, we had the option of going out for dinner. We chose to order pizza and watch HGTV in our hotel room instead, and that was the perfect night. Whenever I think of her I think of the children’s book Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch. “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my mommy you’ll be.”

About my brother… Nicholas Todd Werner. Gosh, I love him so much. He’s truly the best little brother a girl could ever ask for, even though little isn’t really something you could call him at this point (he is currently 6’2”). He will be 16 the day after Christmas, which is truly crazy to me. He is growing up too fast. First and foremost, he is one of the smartest people you will ever meet. He has the most amazing memory, which he puts to good use in school. It’s always been extremely frustrating for me because he picks everything up so easily, and then tests so well. But despite being uber smart, he’s incredibly modest about it. He never brags about it, he just does his own thing.

On top of that, he is also one heck of an athlete. He made the varsity swim team as a freshman, which is really difficult to do at MHS. Even though he is not the fastest swimmer on the team, he is one of the coaches’ favorites. He is extremely reliable and punctual. He doesn’t goof off or complain, he just works hard and consistently improves. He has the attitude and motivation that coaches’ dream about having in their athletes.

And if that is not enough to brag about, he is also super sweet. Anytime anyone I know finds out that Nick is my brother, the first thing they talk about is what a sweetheart he is. I hate to cook, and he knows this. So whenever we’re home alone, he often pops in my room and asks if I want him to make me a grilled cheese. He makes the best grilled cheeses too. He knows the perfect moment to flip them, and he knows that I like having two types of cheese. Additionally, since he’s so tall, he is also at the perfect height to give really good hugs.

I sing his praises now, but we used to fight all of the time. That didn’t really change until my freshman year of high school and his first year of middle school. I think we both became so busy, that we didn’t see each other as much. So when we did see each other, we didn’t want to spend that time arguing. Now I feel like we have a deep appreciation and respect for each other. We are both very different people, and that’s okay. One of my favorite parts of my week is driving him to swim practice and us talking about our day. He is one of my best friends, and I love knowing that he will forever have my back, just like I will forever have his.

So for now, that is all. Thank you for letting me brag on my family for a bit. They make it so easy, and I want the world to know how awesome they are. I would not be the person I am today without all of the things they have taught me, and I’m proud to be my parents’ daughter and Nick’s sister. Between the bar that my dad and my brother have set, it makes it near impossible to find a guy that meets those standards, and I’m pretty fortunate to be able to say that. At some point I’ll make a post bragging about my grandparents, because they are pretty fantastic as well. It only makes sense that the people who raised my parents are also the best!

Post Mission Week 2017

Before I publish any blog post, I usually wait two to three days after writing it before I share it with the world. Out of all of my blog posts, the only two exceptions to that rule have been my last two. I regret nothing I’ve shared on this blog, because it is my personal truth. However, I do want to go back to waiting a few days to think about the impact of my words before hitting the publish button.

Even though I sometimes share my blog posts on Facebook, I never really expect a ton of people to read them. In my mind, my blog is still a secret part of the internet where I share my crazy thoughts and passions. My last blog post created a different kind of stir than what I am used to. A couple of my friends who were also on Mission Week are subscribed to my blog, so they get an email whenever I posted something. They both read my last blog post on the way to our worksite and shared it with a couple of other girls in their vans. Throughout the morning I had a few people approach me saying they had read what I had written and appreciated me using my voice.

About an hour before lunch that Wednesday, I stapled my finger with the staple gun while installing insulation underneath the house. Not gonna lie, it hurt a LOT. Luckily, one of my awesome work team adults, Robin, was a nurse and she was able to get my finger bandaged up pretty quickly.

After she did that, Pastor Tina called me over to talk to her and M’Kenna* behind a truck and out of view. She had set out a blanket for us to sit on, and her, M’Kenna, Robin and I sat down to talk. They had read my blog post and were deeply concerned about what I had written and what it had revealed about a few of the boys’ behavior on the worksite. Pastor Tina told me she appreciated what I had written, but she wished I had said something to her before writing it. I completely agreed with her, and that is something I deeply regret doing.

We then talked about feminism, and they gave me a chance to release some of my pent up frustration. I told them that what it came down to was that I just wanted to be taken seriously for the work that I was doing. And I wasn’t just talking about that worksite. I was talking about all women, in pretty much all aspects of life.

Pastor Tina asked me what I wanted to come from all of this. I told her I thought something should be said to the whole group, and she agreed with me. I told her I didn’t want anyone to be specifically called out, because that would only muddle the overall message. She asked if I wanted to speak too, and I politely declined.

Later, at lunch, Pastor Tina and Mr. Gene (her husband and the resident construction expert), talked about how everyone on the worksite was working hard and that everyone should be treated with equal respect. They reminded everyone to be more careful with their words and the impact that they may have on different people. Pastor Tina expressed to everyone that even though no one may have been intentionally sexist, it had become apparent that there was some underlying sexism on the worksite, and that it needed to change.

I was satisfied with what they had said, and was happy that they had addressed the issue. In that circumstance, that was the best course of action. After they spoke, more people figured out that it was my blog that spurred that conversation. To my face, everyone seemed to have a pretty positive reaction to it. I had one negative comment on my blog, but I dealt with it, and I’m okay with it. The boys who wrote it needed to hear what I wrote and what Pastor Tina expressed. Even though they disagreed with it, they needed to know that they deem as seemingly harmless jokes are wrong.

Despite what you may have thought based off of my last blog post, Mission Week is still and will forever be one of my favorite weeks out of the whole entire year. I love it. It’s a week where I can help better my little corner of the world, build upon my relationship with Christ and spend time with some of the best people I know.

I did not let my week be dominated by what I had written and the ripple effect it caused. I am still happy I wrote it, because nothing ever changes if no one ever says anything. I’m pleased with the after effects of what I wrote, because it pushed everyone into an uncomfortable conversation.

After the week was over, and I was talking to my Mom about it, and she mentioned something that really got me thinking. Pastor Tina is a feminist in her own right by being a pastor. In such a male dominated field, and in a job where many denominations don’t even allow female pastors, she’s a bad*ss just by following what God has called her to do. It made me realize how many feminists I really know, who are quietly or not-so-quietly challenging the status quo and improving not only their lives, but the lives of those who will come after them. And I love that.

*M’Kenna is a sweet young woman who was the sort-of nurse throughout Mission Week. She was Pastor Tina’s pastoral intern this summer and meeting her was one of the best things to come out of writing my blog post. She was there when I needed to talk and she gives great hugs. Getting to meet her kind, strong, feminist and God-loving heart was one of the greatest blessings of my week.

Another Note: A few people commented on FaceBook wanting to know where all of the adults were when a few of the comments I mentioned happened. There were 36 teenagers and 9 adults. The adults couldn’t be everywhere at once, but they tried their best. As the oldest group, we were given a special project. At the ages of 17 and 18, they shouldn’t have to babysit us anymore. We should know by now what is appropriate to say and do.

Worksite Sexism

Right now as I’m writing this, it’s night 3 of Mission Week 2017. Today was our second day on our worksite and I am already exhausted. To switch it up a bit this year, all of the seniors and recent high school graduates are together on one work site that is over an hour away from the church. It’s very different, but for the most part I like it.

The homeowner that we are helping is a man whose home experienced massive flooding over a year ago and still has a ton of damage. A few groups have come before us and helped with small projects, and we’re redoing insulation, dry wall, repairing the foundation, clearing out trash, replacing doors, building a new deck, etc. It’s a massive project, which is why we have a team of about 36 high schoolers and 8 adults there at the site. The sad thing is we won’t even be able to do everything that needs to eventually be repaired in these short four days.

But what I’ve been thinking about, and what my friends and I have been talking about quite a bit, is how sexist some of the guys in our group are. We’ve been mocked, ridiculed, belittled, and been manhandled by quite a few of them. We’re doing the same amount of work and performing at the same level, yet they treat us like we’re inferior. It’s interesting because I haven’t noticed this on a Mission Week before, and this is the sixth year I’ve participated. I think it may have to do with how many more guys there are on the worksite than what I’m used to, and I notice it more now than I ever have. I try not to get offended easily, but some of the things I heard were just downright disrespectful.

Here are a few examples of the things that have been said to my friends and I:

  • “Are you sure a pretty thing like you should be down here? You’re gonna get dirty.”
  • “You’re so skinny. You’ve always been skinny. You’re so nice to look at.”
  • “Geez. It must be her time of the month.”
  • “I’m surprised you’re helping with the ice since women usually don’t do anything.”
  • “Yeah women are property.”
  • “Why don’t you let us boys do this job?”

It’s super insulting, because us girls signed up for Mission Week to work. And we’re working our asses off, just like the guys. We’re climbing ladders, using saws, carrying heavy loads, crawling underneath the house, etc.

Yesterday, we had to clean out old insulation that was underneath the house. Most people didn’t want to do that job, because there were a ton of bugs, a potential for snakes, and many people are claustrophobic. Three guys stepped up and put on the white suits, mask, and safety goggles. When the work team leaders were going around asking who was interested, they pointed the question at the boys, for the most part assuming the girls would not want to.

I hate bugs, spiders give me the heeby jeebies, and if I see a snake I’m likely to scream. But every Mission Week I like to do something that scares me so I can grow and push my boundaries a little bit. I volunteered to go down there and clear out debris. Most girls applauded me, but many of the guys tried to talk me out of it. I suited up and went down there. And then I stayed down there, longer than any other guy. The suits get hot, but I wanted to prove that girls can do anything that guys can do, and we can do it just as well, if not better.

I thought of it like this. A few months ago I spoke at Mansfield Speaks, a speaking event that my school hosts that’s similar to a Tedx Talk. I spoke about feminism and why men should be feminists too. But I can’t give a speech about feminism and then turn around and say “I can’t do that, that job is for a guy.”

Today, I suited up again to help install the new insulation. I also helped repair some plumbing that was underneath the house as well. As I was climbing out from underneath of the house I was thrilled to see two more girls underneath the house on the other side. I was proud to see two more powerful young women showing the boys that we can do anything, just like they can.

As a young woman it’s frustrating and infuriating to hear guys my age talk about women in such a derogatory way. And most of the time they don’t even see how what they just said or did was wrong. Today when I finally snapped at a guy for manspaining me and calling me “sweetheart” even after I told him to stop several times, he accused me of being on my period. That shouldn’t matter. I was doing just as good of a job as he was, and even if I was bleeding out of my vagina, that would of just made what I was doing that much more impressive.

I’m forever hopeful that as guys mature and continue to witness the powerful things that the women around them are doing, they’ll eventually see that we’re just as strong as they are. But until then, I’m going to continue to challenge myself and show the boys who is boss, and encourage other young women around me to do the same.


Below is my speech from Mansfield Speaks, in case you are interested.

“About a year and a half ago, I was at a drag race in Ennis, Texas. My dad had worked for a drag racing team for the past ten years, so I’ve grown up around the sport. I decided to take my boyfriend at the time with me, because they’re an interesting way to spend a Sunday and I thought we’d have fun. We were standing near one of the pits, watching the cars warm up, when a guy who was probably in his mid fifties walked up to stand next to us. Now granted, he may have been a little drunk, but he started talking to my boyfriend. He mentioned that the drag races were a perfect date to take your girlfriend on. Keep in mind, I was the one wearing the John Force Racing tank top, and the one pointing out different racers and cars. I politely told the man that I was actually the one who took my boyfriend to the races, not the other way around- and he looked shocked. He then began quizzing me on the sport, asking me about five questions about the drivers, cars and history of drag racing. When I was able to answer all of his questions, he then turned to my boyfriend, said “good luck with this one,” and walked off, calling me a ‘feminazi’ underneath his breath. A few days later, I was telling a friend about it, and she told me I shouldn’t have said anything, because I could’ve embarrassed my boyfriend, and that I shouldn’t have worried about being such a feminist.

It was those two events that pushed me to learn what being a feminist really means. In today’s society, feminism tends to be a dirty word. People think it means that you hate men, or think that you’re better than them, when in reality that couldn’t be farther from the truth. They confuse feminism with misandry, which is really unfortunate, because feminism actually kinda rocks. The real definition of feminism is the belief in the social, political, and economic equality of all genders, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, religion, ability, and sexual orientation. Which I know that sounds really long and scary, but it’s actually quite simple. Feminism means equality.

When I first auditioned for tonight, my speech had a different direction. I was surprised to learn that many men think that because they are male, they can’t be a feminist. I’m here to tell you that feminism is inclusive to everyone, which means men can be feminists too. Because believe it or not, men benefit from feminism as well. 

Up until the age of 8 or 9 boys and girls cry about the same amount. And then suddenly it’s not okay for the boys to cry anymore. Boys are taught that showing emotion is emasculating and that if they want to be seen as a man, they shouldn’t cry. This leads to men learning to bottle up their emotions without a proper outlet to let those feelings out. Because of that men commit suicide at a rate of 3:1 to women.

Having emotion is normal. It’s human. And we should not look down upon men who choose to show it. If a guy is grieving, let him grieve. It’s not girly or gay. It’s healthy, it’s normal, and it should be encouraged. Feminism promotes the idea that everyone should be able to share their emotions without fear of retaliation.

According to a recent study at the University of Michigan, men on average receive 63% longer prison sentences than women who commit comparable crimes. The study also found that women are twice as likely than men to avoid going to prison if convicted of a crime. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, currently 93% of their inmates are men. Another example is if a couple with kids is getting divorced, the mother is granted primary custody 68% of the time. 

Feminists want equal rights of all people, even in the areas where the patriarchy benefits women. We want an equal playing field. The idea that women are delicate flowers or that they are naturally better caregivers is simply not true. And if you commit a crime, your gender should not come into play. 

In commercials and and on TV in general men are depicted as bumbling idiots who mess up the laundry or don’t know how to handle their kids and then their wives have to come in and fix it.

Once again, feminists believe that men are just as capable of carrying out household chores and raising their children. What gender you are should play no role in your ability to do anything. Likewise, women can do anything that men can do, and it should not be seen as threatening to her partner. Just because your significant other excels at something, does not mean that you are any less amazing.

When a girl walks out of her house wearing shorts and a tank top because it’s Texas, and it’s crazy hot, she’s often told that what she is wearing is too revealing and that she is asking to be catcalled, or worse– raped. This idea that men are incapable of keeping it in their pants is absurd.

Feminists like to believe that men are capable of controlling themselves. That they aren’t controlled by some animal instinct. And most importantly, that men are decent human beings. This isn’t hard to understand. Feminists like to believe that when a girl tells a guy no, their ego is strong enough to handle it. Feminism is basically saying that we see you as a human, past your gender and past what society stereotypes you to be.

But men shouldn’t be feminists just because it benefits them. They should be feminists because they respect women and strive for equality in all areas. Feminism is awesome. It should be celebrated. It should be encouraged. And it’s something everyone should be a part of. Tonight I hope I changed your perspective that men can and should be feminists too, because feminism matters.”


Currently as I’m writing this, it is 11:02pm on November 8, 2016. I turned 17 years old today, and Donald Trump is ahead by 35 points in the polls. I am terrified.

I’m terrified that a man endorsed by the KKK is in the lead right now, and that after tomorrow people of color won’t feel safe in their own communities anymore. We’ve made so much progress in the past 50 years,  and we can’t go back now. Because Black Lives Matter.

I’m terrified that a man with the temperament of a two-year-old will have nuclear launch codes. And if I’m being honest, that’s even insulting to two-year-olds.

I’m terrified that a man who threatened to ban a whole religion from our country will have control of our borders. Doesn’t he know that America was founded with the idea of religious freedom?

I’m terrified that a man who probably has no idea what real love even is, will get the power to tell some of the best families I know that they aren’t actually a family, or they aren’t worthy parents. The LGBT community deserves to feel safe and respected.

I’m terrified that a man who called immigrants rapists and murderers will  have the power to make legal immigration into our country that much tougher. America is a country of immigrants.

I’m terrified that a man that resembles an orange Cheetoh will have the power to get to control what I can do with my own body. Because what does he know?

I’m terrified that a man who clearly has no respect for women, will be the man who millions of little girls and boys will look up to. Because they need to know that the way he acts is NOT acceptable.

I’m terrified that a man who has lost millions of dollars and has evaded paying taxes for years will control our economy. He’s not a businessman, he’s a con man.

I’m terrified that a man who said that John McCain wasn’t a war hero will be the commander of our military. He doesn’t know what a sacrifice like serving our country even means.

I’m terrified that a man who has mocked people with disabilities will have the power to pass legislation that will either help or hurt this minority group. If anything, he should be the one who is considered MENTALLY disabled.

I’m terrified that a man that has demonstrated over and over that he does not understand how our political system works, will be the head of that very same political system.

I’m not only terrified, but truly heartbroken. I honestly thought our country was better than this. I’m crying the hardest I ever have as I write this. For months our country laughed off all of Trump’s antics. From the video tapes, to the Twitter rants, to the hateful rhetoric. We let him go on, never apologizing– because “that’s just Trump.” But sadly, this man will now probably be our next president. I’m just praying that the country can hold it together long enough for us to have better candidates by the next election. Because by then, my opinion might just matter. Happy birthday to me, and good luck to us all.

Dear Blank,

The following is a letter I wrote a few days ago. It’s to an unnamed family member. I am not a confrontational person, so whenever I get really heated about something or someone, I usually write a letter to let all of my emotions out, and then not send it. But due to a few things that were said during the debate tonight, I felt inclined to share this letter in particular.

Dear Blank,
As much as I love and respect you, I’ve decided to unfriend you on Facebook. I unfollowed you over a year ago, but since most of what you share and post I disagree with, I feel like I need a complete break. I could give you a whole list of things I disagree with, but I don’t have all day and neither do you. So I think I’ll share the one that’s been on my mind the most lately. And that’s your stance on abortion and Planned Parenthood.

While you call it murder, I call it a lifesaver. Why you ask? Because Planned Parenthood saves the lives of thousands of mothers every year, not to mention provides many other much needed services to both men and women. They provide breast exams, HIV tests, sex education courses, etc. Did you know only 3% of what they do is related to abortions?

But since that’s what you seem most bothered by, I’ll delve into that. I am not sexually active, but if I were and I came home pregnant, what would you say? That I deserve it? That it’s my own fault? That I should drop my plans and my dreams to raise a child I’m not ready for and can’t emotionally or financially support? I am 16 years old, just like so many other girls, whose best option would be an abortion.

As long as the abortion is done safely, there are no long term health risks to having an abortion. And if you do it early enough, it’s not a baby, it’s a group of cells. It is far from murder.

So many people are not ready to be parents or don’t want to be parents. Whether they’re too young, can’t afford it, or they just don’t want kids. Not to mention, child birth puts a mother’s body through a lot. Women still die from childbirth, even in 2016.

I’ve noticed that you still often say you are killing a child. And you’re probably thinking there’s always the option of adoption or just sucking it up and raising the child. But that’s really not fair to the child. Currently there’s too many kids that need to be adopted, and not enough parents willing or able to adopt. The child has a strong chance of being placed in foster care and not having a stable home. And if the child wasn’t wanted in the first place, that’s not a stable home either. Instead of focusing on helping unborn children, I think everyone should be focusing on children who are already born, and having trouble thriving.

Now I get it, you may still be the ignorant type that says “well if you don’t want to get pregnant you shouldn’t have sex!!” And that leads me to my next point: rape. I’m going to use myself as an example again. If I was walking home from school one day, and a guy pulled me into his van, and forcefully raped me, and I became pregnant from it, shouldn’t I be allowed to have an abortion? I wouldn’t know the guy’s health history, so there would be risks for the baby, and the psychological consequences of me having my rapist’s baby could be devastating. Not to mention I’m still only 16. There needs to be a way out for rape victims.

And I hate to be so blunt, but you are a man. When a woman gets pregnant, the man essentially gets to choose how involved he wants to be in the pregnancy. But a woman has to deal with it. And sometimes abortion is honestly the best option.

Now I know you’re a smart man and you’ve probably heard this all before. Why it’s not getting through to you is beyond me. But if you claim it’s because you’re a Christian I’m calling BS. I’m a Christian too. I go to church every Sunday, and after my church service is over I teach a Sunday School class to 1st graders. On Wednesday’s I hang out with my church’s youth group, and I’m part of a small group full of young Godly women like myself. I volunteer for my church’s VBS every summer and have yet to miss a mission trip. I’ve been baptized, I went through confirmation, and I read my bible regularly. I am every bit of Christian that you are, and I’m perfectly fine with abortion and Planned Parenthood. So until you get off of your high horse, consider us family, but not Facebook Friends.

Sincerely,                                                                                                                                                              Abby