“Everyone’s Been There”: A Dangerous Myth

BY CHELSEA RICCHIO

Let me preface this post by acknowledging a universal truth of life – everyone has gone through tough shit or will at some point in the future. Everyone has a story.

But when it comes to mental illness, not everyone’s “been there”. People – usually sweet, kind, well-meaning people who are just trying their best – love to say this as a response to someone’s experience with mental illness (often one that is directly correlated with an emotion that everyone really does experience at some point in time, such as depression or anxiety). I believe that when people say this, it is with the best intentions. They want to make the person they’re talking to feel less alone, and they want to believe that they understand.

They don’t realize that statements like this severely invalidate the experiences of a person with a mental illness. It’s not born out of malice; it’s born out of ignorance and the limitations that come with being human.

Whenever I use the word ‘ignorant’ people tend to get all up in arms, but the thing is, when I say that I am not calling out anyone in particular. We are all ignorant because we can only fully understand things which we have experienced. We can try to better ourselves by learning more about the world and other people’s experiences, but we can only do so much, and many people do not go out of their way to do this.

I will be the first to admit that I don’t understand what it’s like to be a “normal” person, because I have never been “normal”. I do not know the difference. I do my best every day to imagine and to be empathetic towards others, but I do not understand. I don’t know. Continue reading

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Understanding Monsters and Why People Cheat

BY BRANDON MINIA

For the first time in the almost two years since I finally broke communication with my ex, I feel like I can now fully sympathize with her for something she did that I never thought I ever would.

I understand now why my ex cheated on me with my best friend.

Granted, she’s still a monster. It’s still despicable the way she deceived me for months, largewith my best friend at that, and that when it was finally convenient for her, she disposed of me and almost pretended that our relationship never happened. But there were a few moments in the months leading up to discovering their secret affair that I have never understood until now.

I’m going to reference an anime I finished last night (Thursday morning to be exact) called White Album 2, so for anyone who cares, there’s some major spoilers for that show coming up. (I also hesitate to recommend it, because as good at it was, it was the first piece of media I ever consumed that really punched me in the gut).

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When Paths Diverge

BY RACHEL WONG

Routine makes life so easy. We become so set in our ways that sometimes it’s hard to let go, especially when we decide to go one direction and life pulls us the opposite way.

When it comes to friendships and growing up, it took me a long time to really understandparting-ways the obvious – that we all grow, and when we grow, we change. We are exposed to the world everyday and we learn so many new things. We meet new people and engage in new opportunities. All of these experiences shape who we are, and ultimately, we find like-minded people to spend time with along the way. Spending time with those who are similar to you can put you at ease – it feels natural to open up to people that you can relate to. But when friends inevitably change and paths no longer align, it can take a while to realize that it might just be time to part ways.

. . .

Alicia* and I were inseparable. It’s hazy in my mind now how we even got to being friends, but we have known each other since we were 6 and we have stayed friends ever since. Like most friendships do, ours had its ups and our downs, and we were there for each other during times of both triumph and sadness. We were the kind of friends that talked all the time about the future and what our lives would look like together: we’d be each other’s maid of honor at our weddings, we’d get matching SUVs and we’d alternate hosting play dates for our children during the day.

It was a very idealistic way of thinking, but despite reality eventually hitting us, we made it – sort of.

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The Memory Phenomenon: Missing Things You Don’t Really Miss 

I’ve been writing a lot lately about minimalistic living and the importance of being mindful – topics that are proving to be similarly thematic. Their overarching theme: the importance of living simply and in the moment. Easier said than done, of course.
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The concept of minimalistic living extends further than cleaning your closet; in theory it’s tangible change that affects you mentally. Because a clutter free home equals a clutter free mind – or something of that nature. I’m not big on clutter. I like my possessions, but I keep the hoarding to a minimum, primarily due to my small apartment and my neurosis pertaining to mess. That said, I feel like I am constantly cluttered anyways mentally. 
I once attributed the fact that I hadn’t changed the background on my phone (a photo of me and my then ex boyfriend), to the fact that I’m an emotional hoarder. Maybe I don’t keep old clothes or hang on to every hairbrush that comes into my life, but when it comes to the sentimental, I’m grossly attached. In fact, just yesterday I found a photo of my ex boyfriend from high school stuffed behind a business card from a job I quit last August, snuggly layered behind behind two fortunes cookie fortunes that yet another ex gave to me years ago. It was at this point I realized, my emotional hoarding might be a little more of a problem than I’d given it credit for.

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Taking a Tolerant Approach to Education

BY CHELSEA RICCHIO

We talk and we talk and we talk about what needs to change in this world and the various things that we need to call people out on. But rarely do we talk about how exactly to do that.

I’d like to say that it doesn’t matter how you say something, it’s what you say, and in some cases that is true, but in this case, the “what” and the “how” are equally important. The “how” might even be more important.

Here is why – imagine that you’ve written something (it can be anything, even a text message), and someone reading it says to you, “Um, excuse me, but just so you know, semicolons are actually only supposed to be used when bla bla bla bla. I mean I don’t expect most people to know that, I’m just a huge stickler for grammar and I went to school for Creative Writing.”

Did reading that kind of piss you off? Because it pissed me off just to write it. Doesn’t whoever that person is sound like a stuck up douchebag? They sound like they’re lecturing, and not because they actually care about teaching you something, but because they want to show off the ways in which they are better than you. Continue reading