“So Awkward!”

When was the last time you had a really, super awkward moment? If you’re like me, then it’s your entire existence, from get caught singing to yourself in the parking deck by other commuters, walking into a street sign on a very busy sidewalk and having that one friend who isn’t afraid to go there in your conversations. And how do we, millennials, respond to awkward nowadays?

Pretty well, actually.

Remember, circa 2010, when “awkward” was the hot word, Internet posts rampantly started off with, “That awkward moment when…” and websites sprung up, entirely dedicated to people sharing their awkwardness….

Awkwardness is embedded, even celebrated in media today. Buzzfeed is always talking about awkward situations, and recently putting out this “How Awkward Are You?” quiz (try and beat my 41) (Look, do you see what I just did there? I’m really proud about being an awkward human). Have you seen TV characters lately? Abbi from Broad City is uncomfortably trying to flirt with her adorable floor mate and and work in the cleaning crew at a gym as she runs around NYC with her eccentric friend Ilana, you can actually feel the awkward through the tv. People like Jenna Marbles and John Mulaney are doing comedy. And MTV is glorifying this idea, even airing a show called Awkward (Does it still come on? Does anyone still watch MTV for that matter?). Slapstick comedy and word plays are still pretty popular, but awkward situations and characters currently reign the comedy world, probably because they’re so relatable.

We tend to seek out the awkward. It’s becoming an art form as well as a type of entertainment. I may or may not enjoy staring at my friends while stuffing my face and not breaking eye contact, along with making faces at people as they walk by…..I think I make my friends the most uncomfortable party in this whole situation.

There’s an entire Twitterfeed out there dedicated to the true questions we need to be asking on a first date to see how your potential lover handles awkward situations. First time reading them, I got kinda excited in anticipation for awkward date moments, I was about to have an impromptu date in class the next day (you know, the good kind when you know it’s a date but they don’t), just to ask “How seriously do you take monopoly?” “What’s your personal cheese cube limit?” “Have you ever been sexually attracted to a piece of fruit?” and revel in whatever kind of reactions I can get.

This celebration of awkwardness is leaking all around. Remember how just a few years ago, being a crazy cat lady was frowned upon, and feared by? Then the internet and Miley Cyrus exploded and now people embrace their love of cats and being cat ladies on clothes, Facebook, pretty much anywhere they can (For the record, I’ve been rocking the cat lady status since age 7. So ahead of you plebeians just after the 2014 Space Cat trend. [Please read that last sentence in a sarcastic pretentious, hipster voice]). (But seriously cats over people any day). On a side note, does anyone think that blind and (sometimes) first dates are weird? Hi, I don’t know you, but you might be my future mating partner. Let’s leave our respected warm beds and enter a social situation (by choice) and make uncomfortable small talk about our families and eat food, the messiest and least attractive thing either of us do, in hopes that despite lasagna stains and garlic breath, there will be many more dates to come.  And flirting? How do you try to make yourself attractive in front of someone? That’s a lot of effort and confidence that no true awkward person has. I could try bat my eyes (which looks like a strange eye twitch) and say something cute (causing my voice to crack and the words to mumble together), but I’m more likely to make a couple of goat noises and spit out pointless facts. (Really, either way would embarrass both parties involved). (Do you now understand why I’ve been picking cats over boys the past few years? They don’t care how you act, as long as you feed them and let them sit on you whenever they want.) This celebration of awkwardness is great, we can be our overly obnoxious selves, but does it mean that we’ve lost properness and sensibility? What about confidence? It’s normally seen as an antonym to awkward, but it seems like we’re changing that around. Be confident with your true self, the one that loves binge watching Netflix and not leaving the couch for three days straight! The one who picks stuff and food over social interactions! The one who studies all night and aces Econ but still has no idea what it’s all about! Millenials are here to usher in a new kinda person, who totally believes in their embarrassing selves. (Wow what kinda world are we going to leave for our children?)

Twenty

Oh hey, why don’t you look at that. I’m turning 20 in a few days. 

Twenty?!? Like venti?! 2-0? A third decade? November 17th won’t just mark me revolving around the sun twenty times, it’s the next chapter of my life: the transition from mini adult to real adult. 

Think about it, when you’re twenty, you’re living in your first apartment/college dorm/with your family, working and/or going to school. You have some responsibilities (rent, groceries, school books), and do a lot of taking care of yourself, but some things are still binding you to your parents (cell phone bills, health insurance). You’re young and fancy free, screaming “I’M AN ADULT” any chance you get while eating highly discounted Count Chocula cereal and coffee three meals a day and snacking on Starbursts and nachos and watching Toy Story for the tenth time in two days while writing your UNIV papers secretly hoping you never change.

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Inferiority Complex

There’s a quote by the old pal Aristotle, “the more you know, the more you don’t know”, which has always made sense to me. We’d study a few books in high school, and I knew there were still thousands worth our time. We more or less learned the definition of organic chemistry sophomore year, while my friends are registering for Orgo Chem II next semester. Touching up on just tidbits of things, I’d realize that the subjects go much deeper, and that there would be so much more for me to. Excited, I couldn’t wait to learn more new things once I made it to college.

Then I came to VCU. I’d talk to people who have developed feelings on British Prime Minister David Cameron’s foreign policy, friends who knew gender inequalities across the world and those who pretty much could describe every country’s flag off the top of their head. Not to mention the high numbers of multi-lingual people running around speaking in tongues.

“Hey I’m Claire, I barely have the attention span to read more than 100 pages and I speak broken Span-talian”. Your intense knowledge is actually kinda intimidating, it didn’t seem plausible to know so much and still be a teenager. I’m still trying to understand what ebola is, why do you know the different leader’s approaches on these things? 

Some friends would come up to me, discussing dead people and old stuff- you know, that history thing I’m trying to study- and speak of things-well how do you feel about Oliver Cromwell’s militant strategies? How about Canada’s treatment of Japanese Canadiens during World War II? Or Italy’s Prime Minister? Yeah, what about the IRA? Individual Retirement Account? No- Irish Republican Army- jeez you’re a history major, you should know this!

I’m not really sure where everyone is getting all of this information and informed opinions on things, maybe they’re an effect of this “information age” we live in, but I don’t go around researching the current political situation of major countries (maybe I should, but I also need to be writing a paper on Japanese internment, so I’m going to look up cake recipes).  As I move on with my college career, I’m running into more people with complex thoughts on complex situations and frankly,  it’s intimidating. I’ve always done well in school, but hearing these people I wonder if I’m supposed to know the same things they do.

Brownies fix everything.

And that’s when I take a moment, do some yoga breathing and take another sip of coffee and internalize a couple of things: we’re all different. We have different interests, and we utilize these things in different ways: some people study things as a major (thus do research in class) and others do them as a hobby (and research for fun). We all have different interests too, and can’t all be interested in the human genome project- but you know, there is a spot for all of us in the society. (On a personal note, history encompasses about twenty gajillion years on this planet and VCU’s history department only allots room for 12 history courses, so it seems about fair that I don’t know everything that has ever happened- sorry, I’m going to go study Louis XIV the Sun King don’t yell at me for not knowing French Indochina).

So the IRA- that’s pretty fascinating, but how do you feel about the end of Romanov dynasty in Russia? The international culture scene is pretty cool too, but what do you know about Richmond’s culture and history? We’ve all got strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to not let anyone else intimidate you- no matter how scary their brain is, remember that you’re a smart cookie too, just in different interests-and it’s perfectly, absolutely, okay.

(What I’m really trying to say here is that the world is huge and my brain can only hold in but so much stuff).

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do” -Edward Everett Hale

Confessions of a College Millennial

Since I was in elementary school, I knew that my future career would be somewhere in the arts and humanities. Falling in love with arts, literature, history, and other social sciences, my path was set to turn my passions into a job. As I grew older, I discovered that society was pushing me and my peers into STEM-H. As the millennial generation goes to college, most seem to follow this push, but there’s still a few of us who refuse to do so.

  1. I’m terrified of not getting a job after college. The way the job industry seems to be set up these days, I need a college degree to get a semi-decent job, and a master’s if I want my future family to live comfortably. People aren’t exactly knocking down doors to hire my major, and seeing that most history students want to teach, the dense competition scares me into thoughts of selling insurance or working at a grocery store. 
  2.  If I’m going to spend four years and a lot of money studying something, you better believe it’s going to be something I love. I spent years of my life drowning in geometry classes and meeting my doom in chemistry labs, but when it got to history and English, I pranced down the hall excited to talk about World War I and Modernism. VCU’s tuition bill is addressed to me, so I plan on getting every penny’s worth out of those checks I send. 
  3. It’s like your undergraduate degree hardly matters, people remind you than you can change your major or go into a completely different work field. Yet there still are those people who want to make fun of you for your arts or humanities major-oh you’ll never get a job studying sociology–sculpture major? more like starving artists. What ever happened to the Renaissance, when people sat around and thought the world of history, literature, foreign languages, and arts? Wasn’t the hipster movement supposed to make it socially acceptable to study international films and anthropology, or is that idea just to mainstream now and we’ve moved on to degrees in forensic science and petroleum engineering? 
  4. And speaking of foreign languages, the world we’re living in is getting increasingly more globalized. Shouldn’t we be putting a larger emphasis on international studies and foreign languages? Or is society getting so lazy that we’d rather use Google translate, which would help a few times, versus learning a new language, which would teach a new culture, light up a different part of the brain, and develop critical thinking and reasoning skills. The world is filled with hundreds of other countries and thousands of languages, there’s no getting around that.
  5. I want to major in something that I’m deeply passionate about. That thing, though, is a humanity, a success of humans, which society puts low on their totem pole. ECPI tells me to go into the medical fields, but with my fear of needles, that’s not going to happen. Engineers, scientists, and business men and women are praised, but I’m not looking into something I don’t feel passionate about. When was the phrase “follow your heart” replaced with “follow the big paychecks?”

    Thanks, society. My high knowledge of Tudor England and I are going to go cry in the corner. 

  6. There’s an inherent sense of competition and stress to being a college student. Always have to do well. Make Dean’s List, get into the good honor fratrority. Get the perfect internship, rock the seminar class. Stand out to future employers. Drink endless cups of coffee and don’t sleep for three days to get everything done. Oh, but don’t worry,  Bill Gates dropped out of college so don’t take college too seriously. By the way, you’re probably going to want to go to grad school if you wanna go anywhere in life, there is only one Bill Gates out there and that’s not you. No wonder college kids drink so much. 

Technophobia

Saturday mornings and afternoons I work the post office at good ol’ Buford Road. Everything is typically fine, do you want to send your package priority or standard, what size flat rate box do you want, no sir you can’t mail a letter to England with forty-nine cent postage, until the computer freezes up. And I don’t know what to do. I’m not the regular post office lady, I’m so confused. Help I need an adult.  I turn to the nice lady customer and tell her the truth: “I hate technology.”

I feel like there’s this expectancy for millennials like myself to all be super apt at computers and technology. Like since we all played Barbie computer games in kindergarten, we should be able to fix anything with a computer. Why should I take my iPhone to the Apple store when I could just use my children? Yeah, there are people who can build their own computers, hey James did it, and that’s cool and all, but I’d much rather be spending my time at my mom’s ancient sewing machine pretending I’m living a la Little House on the Prairie.  Continue reading