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Hosting my first community service event

A short post on the importance of loving and positive spaces

I hosted my first community service event this morning and only half of the people who originally signed up actually attended – but I’m not disappointed.

When the day began and people started to back out via text message, I was concerned that my first event wouldn’t go well. I had put a lot of pressure on myself to make this the best event possible, and in the process I managed to forget one of the most integral rules of event planning – you can plan every single detail, but there’s no way to guarantee it will go like you thought it would. Just so you know, that’s okay.

As soon as my volunteers began to show, a large part of my concern dissolved. I had a group of students that were happy to be where they were, and though some were timid, we all had an easy time making conversation.

A positive attitude can make or break an experience.

The event took place at a no-kill cat sanctuary in Indianapolis called Cats Haven (I high encourage you to give them a visit). This meant that we spent our time in a facility that houses over 120  felines, most of which are elderly or special needs.

It takes an especially big heart to dedicate one’s life to caring for such animals, and that much was immediately apparent in the women who operate Cats Haven.

We were welcomed by people who were eager to share their space with us (and by kitties who were eager to be petted). I couldn’t have asked for a more positive atmosphere. At that point any concern I had left melted away. The women at Cats Haven have an immense amount of love for the cats, and they hosted us IUPUI students just as warmly.

Overall, the positive energy in the house was just as tangible as the cat hair, which is what made the event special, not the number of attendees.

 

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Warning: This is a Positivity Post for Women Everywhere

That does mean it is a post that in any way is against men. If you read this as anything to the contrary, you are the problem, not me or my words. Thank you.

There is nothing more mystical to me than a woman of great knowledge, power or strength. There are also few things as disheartening to witness as a woman who is consistently having her knowledge, power or strength tested. As a nation, we have witnessed this during the entirety of the 2016 presidential election. Hillary Clinton has faced blatant sexism head on again and again, in nearly every interaction she has had with the media.

Everyone has been a witness to this disheartening effect in their personal lives, too. Though it is often the result of misogyny, the particular instances which have inspired this post are related to emotional trauma.

It is difficult to watch someone you admire fight back tears, and it’s even harder when there is no way for you to help them in that fight. However, I did not sit down to write this post just to let it dwell on sad things or end it negatively – I have a point. Let us go back to the mysticism I referred to before.

Women are amazing. To any woman who reads this, you are amazing.

We do not get told that enough, at least not for the reasons that matter. Thus the body image issues. Thus the internalized misogyny we often hold in the back of our minds so it may rear its head in times of doubt. It’s true that our strength is not often enough praised, so much so that we sometimes forget it exists, but it is also true that women can and have endured so much.

So, I wanted to write a short post to act as a reminder both to myself and to those who identify as a woman who may read this at any point: you have the ability to overcome whatever cruel act the world sends your way. I promise you. Please also remember that you are beautiful, not only externally as a human being that exists physically on this earth but also internally as an entity in this universe.

You are intelligent. You are skillful. You are courageous. You are capable. You are loved. You do not need anyone’s approval to be you.

You are swirling energy of radiant light that just so happens to currently exist in the shape of a human being, and you will get through whatever it is that currently weighs heavily on your heart.

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Miscommunications from Professors

(And other people higher up on the food chain)

When it comes to the classroom, there are very few things as frustrating as a professor who gives unclear instructions. It is especially difficult for me to be patient with communications professors who do this. How could you possibly give a delightful, well-informed lecture on transparent communication and then turn around and give us an assignment that has the whole class scratching their heads?

There are always going to be authority figures who give you unclear instructions – it probably started with your parents and will continue throughout the rest of your personal and professional life. So what are you supposed to do when you don’t know what to do in the first place?

First – do your best to have patience

Take a moment to remember how easy it is to leave out important details whenever you’re trying to explain something. We’ve all done it. If you’re knowledgeable about a certain topic you don’t always stop to consider what questions newcomers might have. So you end up spending five minutes rattling off your idea, having forgotten to explain something that to you seems obvious, and your audience winds up completely lost.

Give your professor/boss/grandma the benefit of the doubt here and calmly ask for clarification. Expect that occasionally the person might get a little embarrassed, assuming that because you’re asking a question you don’t like whatever they are trying to say. Assure them, if need be, that you just want to make sure you thoroughly understand.

Second – play it back in your head

Were the instructions unclear, or were you just not paying attention? Sometimes the part you are confused about was only mentioned once, and if you happened to get distracted at the time thinking about something irrelevant you might be lost on your accord. That’s okay. Just figure out what you need to do to come back to civilization and understand the assignment fully.

See if you can run back through everything your professor said and try to put the pieces together. If you’re still unsure, don’t be afraid to ask questions! If you would be more comfortable, message someone in your class and see if they have the answer to your question rather than the professor. Chances are, they are either confused too – in which case, at least you’re not alone – or they were listening better than you.

When all else fails – do your best

Don’t give up just because you are a little flustered. Do everything you know you are supposed to do, and if there’s another section of the assignment that you are unsure on whether or not to include – it’s probably best to do it.

Your professor may be a little disappointed if you misunderstood what they wanted, but at least they will be able to see that you tried.