Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Share the Load

Today, Sheryl Sandberg posted this ad on Facebook:



To be honest, I didn't understand why it was such an important campaign until I watched this video:




Obviously, I have some thoughts regarding this campaign:
  • Media in general is crazy powerful. I don't understand how people can't see how much of our culture is shaped by television, movies, radio, and now, social media. I expect that if the things people watched and listened to on a regular basis changed for the better, humanity would change for the better. Want children to grow up thinking that violence isn't the solution to their problems? Take it out of television shows. Want people to stop objectifying each other? Quit objectifying them in movies. Etc., etc.

  • I love social media. To be sure, it has its downsides, but there are amazing upsides, too. Social media can be such a powerful tool for change.

  • I am a Mormon, and there is a lot of talk these days about sexism in the Church. While I agree that there is sexism expressed (either directly or indirectly) by Church members, I don't think it's greater than the level of sexism expressed by people in general. In this video, we see that sexism is alive and kicking all over the place––in organizations, in countries, and in families. But we also see that small changes in awareness and behavior can change the way people think. That, to me, is amazing.

  • I sure am glad my parents constantly bust gender stereotypes. Growing up, my dad was the person I went to when I needed something ironed in a hurry; my mom was the person I went to when I had car trouble. My dad made breakfast, and my mom made dinner. My dad did the laundry, and my mom managed the bills. From the beginning, they just did what they wanted, without too much regard for society's prescribed roles, and I know I'm a better person for it. (Thanks, mom and dad.)

Thing I'm thankful for: Ramen. I know, I know. It's cheap and salty. But I looove it. I love it.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

"You're Too Nice."

"You're too nice." I hear that a lot. Honestly, I don't really know why. I guess people get worried that others are going to use me or manipulate me in ways that I won't like or am not aware of. But it bothers me. It bothers me that culturally, we connote "nice" with "ignorant" or "weak."

I read this today: 25 Things About Life I Wish I Had Known 10 Years Ago, and I rolled my eyes when I got to No. 13:
Be Nice.
I don't mean you should be a pushover. You can be someone that doesn't take shit and be nice about it. Just don't insult people, think you're better than them, or act like an idiot.

Wait––what? When did being nice mean the same thing as being a pushover? I'm pretty sure "nice" means "nice," and "being a pushover" means "being a pushover." Also, "nice" is so much more than not insulting people, not thinking you're better than people, and not acting like an idiot. It's an active word! Let's turn to Merriam-Webster for a definition of "nice."
Nice
: giving pleasure or joy
: good or enjoyable
: attractive or of good quality
: kind, polite, and friendly

Now, I realize that language is descriptive as well as prescriptive, but c'mon, people––let's at least attempt to be precise with terminology.

With the definition of "nice" in mind, I propose that not only are people NOT too nice, they are not nice enough! We could all stand to be more enjoyable to be around. We could all stand to be more kind, polite, and friendly.


Thing I'm thankful for: chocolate

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Uncertainty

I haven't really blogged in a while. Not really. I haven't shared what's been on my mind lately, and it's because what's been on my mind lately is a little depressing. Until you realize that it isn't depressing at all.

So. Here's what:

I've been thinking about the gray areas of life and about how the older I get, life gets less and less black and white and more gray.

I'm 34 and have never been married. In a Church that emphasizes marriage and family, I often feel like an outlier . . . Because I am one. It's hard to go to church alone, it's hard to go to family functions alone, and it's hard to live alone, when I so much want to be married and have little kiddos running around.*

But.

I have learned some things, the most important of which is this: I am okay with uncertainty now in a way that I never was before.

One of the basic principles of cognitive psychology is that perception and reality are far from the same. Because the brain cannot perceive everything, it fills in gaps. It makes things up, when it needs to make sense of things. And that's good! It's miraculous, even! A lot of times, it fills in the gaps correctly. It helps us sort out the important facts in life from the unimportant ones. The problem, though, is that our brains are constantly trying to make sense of things that ultimately do not make sense. Our brains do this so that we don't go crazy. They do this so that we can live a normal life. I think it's crucial to recognize this. It allows us to see that we may have holes in our perception, that we may actually be wrong about something, and that we may never know the answers to everything.

As a single person, people often try to make sense of my marital status, either for what they think is my sake or for their own. Mormons often say things like "Well, God probably has other great blessings in store for you" or "Maybe God wants you to learn something else right now" or "God is preparing someone really great for you." Religious people often do that; they try to make sense of things that don't make sense by turning responsibility over to God. The idea is that God understands what's going on, even if we don't.

I don't think that's good. I think it does a disservice to people to say things like that. We have absolutely no idea most of the time why things are the way they are. We desperately want answers because that's the way cognition works, but again, it's crucial to recognize this because it allows us to see that we may have holes in our perception, that we may actually be wrong about something, and that we may never know the answers to everything.

For me, that uncertainty is more comforting because it doesn't make my marital status my fault, and more importantly, it doesn't put the responsibility for my marital status on God. It simply means that most things in this life don't make sense. There is a lot of gray. A lot of complexities. A lot of complications. And I think that's part of what makes life interesting. It makes it extremely difficult at times, but more often than not, it makes it interesting and fascinating and wonderful. And suddenly the world doesn't seem gray at all, but colorful.


(For more excellent reading on the topic of uncertainty, see When God Makes You Wait––Huh???)


*Don't feel sorry for me; I don't. Being single is partly a lens through which I view the world and partly just a good example of how I've learned some of the things I've learned, so I mention it when it's applicable.


Thing I'm thankful for: Hangout