Why Everyone Needs Sex Education

I know, I know, I’m still talking about the issues surrounding abortion. But it’s still consuming my brain and it’s still making me angry. My big stance is that abortion really isn’t the true issue here, that abortion is a solution to a lot of larger issues that are not being addressed. I also truly believe that everyone wants to lower the abortion rate, whether they be pro-life or pro-choice, we just have very different philosophies on how to accomplish that. I’m not really interested in debating people about when life begins, but I am interested in discussing ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies before they even happen.

This week I want to focus on one particular way I believe we can prevent unwanted pregnancies, and thus lower the abortion rate: Sex Education. Last week I talked about all of the reasons why I get to say with confidence that I would not have an abortion, and one of the big ways was that I had comprehensive sex education from sixth through ninth grade.

So this week I want to advocate for comprehensive sex education in schools. Here are my top four reasons why I believe everyone, regardless of religions beliefs or sexual intentions, should have comprehensive sexual education.

Comprehensive sex education lowers the rate of teen pregnancy.

Yes I am repeating myself, but I think it’s worth driving home. You can’t prevent pregnancy if you don’t know how. Understanding how birth control works and does not work. Knowing how to get it. Knowing how long semen lives outside the body. Know the difference between mensuration and ovulation. I learned about all of these before I even reached my teen years.

One of the many reasons I have not had an unplanned pregnancy is because I knew how not to get pregnant before I was ever having sex.

Values about sex can be taught at home, but facts should be taught in school.

As a parent you have every right to educate your children on your value system. But that doesn’t mean that you should shelter them from the facts either. And learning about safe sex and contraceptives does not mean someone is going to immediately go out and have sex. Values and facts are equally important when deciding how you want to go about your sexuality.

Even if you wait until marriage, you still need sex education.

 If you ever plan on having sex, you need sex education. Even if you are going to wait until marriage, even if you only ever have one sexual partner, even if you don’t believe in birth control and only want to have sex to have babies. You need to be sexually educated. All of that requires an education. If you are going to be sexually active at all you need to know how to not get pregnant just as much as you need to know how to get pregnant. Sexual education is not just for those who plan on having sex outside of marriage.

Sex education isn’t just about having sex.

Sex Ed is about so much more than having sex. There is so much more to learn about your body than just how to have sex with it. Health and hygiene is also a large part of sex education. How to wash, how not to wash too much, how to recognize a UTI (which you can get without ever having sex), are all important things to understand about your body even if you never plan on having sex.

Again, I’m not here to tell you when life begins. I’m not here to tell you when to or not to have sex. I am here to argue that there are ways we can lower the abortion rate, ways we can prevent unwanted pregnancies that we are not discussing. And we need to discuss them. We need to address the reasons why women get abortions rather than punishing them for not having the education, resources, and opportunities that they need to prevent an unwanted pregnancy in the first place.

Darci

Burning Out

We all have bad days, even bad weeks. But at what point does it cross over from a bad day to a full on burnout in life? At what point do you accept that this fatigue and apathy is long term and needs to be addressed?

Burnout is not simply a result of long hours or being over worked. It stems from a lack of control in life. Maybe the place that you work is being mismanaged and you are helpless to change it. Maybe you feel your work has no meaning. Maybe you don’t have a hobby or project that brings you joy outside of your work. Maybe you are so focused on helping others that you have no time or energy left for yourself.

I’ve come to realize that I need to be much more focused on myself. I need to prioritize not just taking care of myself but nourishing myself. I need to not only find my boundaries but stick to them. And I need to be more intentional of listening to my instincts. By getting stuck in my routine and focused on the go go go part of life, I wound up incredibly depressed and burnt out.

By the time I realized how burnt out I was, I didn’t just need a break I needed a full life shake up. I was in a job that was demanding and unfulfilling, working for people that are cold and incompetent. I was far more concerned with others needs than I was with my own. And all my free time was spent focused on others. I wasn’t sleeping, my skin was a mess, and the very concept of leaving my house became so overwhelming my whole body would feel like wet sandbags.

I didn’t need a break or a vacation, I needed a complete re-evaluation.

But the real kicker is that there were warning signs that I ignored. Red flag decisions at work that the ship was sinking. Demanding patterns from friendships that I know how to recognize but ignored. Small breakouts in my skin that I know how to deal with but didn’t make the time for.

I was just so stuck in my routine and my think positive attitude that my whole life had to be up in flames before I realized I needed to do something about it.

2019 is my year to focus on me. By the end of last year I was so low, so depressed, so burnt out, I knew I had to finally address it. It hasn’t happened over night but I have already come a long way.

I found a new job. Unfortunately not all work situations can be improved. Sometimes you just have to move on. I’ve learned a lot in my twenties about what I need from my job. And more importantly, I know what I am not looking for anymore. I found the next chapter and am taking all the lessons learned and putting them to good use.

I’m learning to say No. Perhaps my biggest hurdle. I don’t like saying No. I think a part of me has a fundamental belief that a person shouldn’t say No. But I am working on it.

I am working on boundaries. Both personally and professionally. Work-life balance, investing in friendships that are fulfilling and reciprocal and letting one sided friendships go, and listening to my inner voice. She often knows what’s up.

Change is hard. Growing is painful. Depression sucks. And burn out is awful. But all of these things are necessary. All of these things have a light at the end of the tunnel. And all of these things lead to better things. If you let them.

Darci

Don’t Overthink It

Confession: I am a very anxious person. I’m a Type A Overplanner who has back ups for my back ups. I make my bed everyday because a small part of my thinks if I don’t then clearly I will fail at everything that day. My house is always meticulously clean because when I’m stressed or depressed I cope by obsessively cleaning. I spend a lot of my time worrying about what others think of me. My mind is constantly spinning.

And it’s exhausting.

Anxiety is Overthinking’s partner in crime. I overthink things because I am anxious and I’m anxious because I am overthinking everything. It’s a vicious cycle that is hard to break. And what happens when you open up to someone about the things making you anxious: just don’t overthink it!

Google overthinking and you will get endless articles of “10 Ways to Stop Overthinking and Start Living” or “Ways Overthinking is Ruining Your Relationship” or “How to Love an Overthinker”. They break it down in quick sentences and a bullet point list to fix your problems. Just do this! Stop doing that! And the whole problem is now solved.

I hate these articles. If my anxiety could really be fixed by the flip of a switch, a quick daily mantra, or it was just a matter of deciding to not be anxious then I would have fixed myself years ago.

Here’s what I wish people could understand: I don’t want to be like this. Hell, there was probably a time when I wasn’t. But I am. And it’s a learned behavior. It’s my defense mechanism. My anxiety hurts me, sure, but also it protects me. My anxiety protects me from heartbreak and disappointment and abandonment. Sure I could just stop overthinking everything and work on having a positive outlook on life, and I may be happier for it. But it’s just not that simple.

Someone told me recently just to relax, be myself, and don’t overthink it. And I choked back laughter because overthinking is being myself. It’s meant to be a calming piece of advice, a gentle reminder that things aren’t bad so don’t spiral out. But really what I hear is “don’t fuck this up for yourself”.

I’m working on it. Or at least, I am aware of it. I’m trying to find ways to be kinder to myself, to be more positive, to look on the bright side. But anxiety is a part of who I am, and overthinking everything is my core. There is no 10 step process that will snap me out of this, reminding me that my anxiety could ruin my relationships isn’t the tough love talk that’s going to change me. I can’t help the way I think, and I can’t help how much I think. On my best days I redirect my energy into something productive to distract myself. And while I can learn better ways to cope with my anxiety, I am pretty sure it will always be a part of who I am.

And I think that’s the real solution. It’s not about fixing yourself, it’s about accepting yourself. I will probably always be someone with a mind that is constantly spinning, but what I can learn is how to be kinder to myself in the process. How not to be self destructive in the process.

My anxiety isn’t a problem to be “fixed”. It’s a part of who I am that needs to be loved. When I start to overthink and spiral, I don’t need a list of ways to fix myself, I need a hug.

So I’m trying not to get better, I’m working on being kinder to myself, and I am trying to love all of the parts of me. And there are good days and bad days. For the good days we have progress, and for the bad days we have wine.

Darci

5 Things to Stop Caring About

Life can be stressful. Life can be chaotic. Life can be hard. The biggest kicker, though, is that sometimes we make life harder on ourselves. By indulging in negative thoughts or memories, prioritizing toxic people, living in the past, we hurt ourselves in the present and delay our happiness in the future. I’ve been working a lot on reshaping how I spend my mental energy. How I talk to myself. What I am spending my time thinking about. Being intentional about catching myself in a negative spiral and changing the game. It’s not always easy. But it’s important work. I’m trying to retrain my brain to think differently. So this week I thought I would share the five things I am working on changing. Take a look:

1. Those Painfully Awkward Moments.

Remember that joke you made in a meeting that didn’t land? Or that answer you gave in class that was definitely wrong? Or that time you thought someone was waving to you but it was actually to someone behind you? Those painfully awkward little moments that your brain likes to recall as you are falling asleep or enjoying some quiet time and now suddenly your heart is racing. Those social blunders that were embarrassing in the moment but that was seven years ago and no one but you remembers them, let alone dwells on them. Even your bigger blunders are probably still only note worthy to you. It’s time to let those go. When your brain starts to remind you, catch yourself and tell your brain that happened years ago and literally no one cares any more. Take the power away from those awkward moments by reminding yourself that it wasn’t as bad as you remember and it is well in the past now.

2. What People From Your Past Are Doing.

I’ll be the first to admit that Facebook stalking is a semi regular event. Social media makes it all too easy to take a passing “hmm I wonder” and turn it into a two hour rabbit hole investigation of what people from my past have been doing. Ex’s, former friends, old coworkers, past roommates, former classmates, all people who are in my past for a reason. And yet, the curiosity gets the better of me every time. It’s natural, though very unhealthy, to look for validation through comparison. But it’s a temporary, fleeting validation that leaves us emptier than we started. It also distracts the focus on your own life. You don’t need to compare your journey, your goals, your accomplishments to anyone to be happy. And, in fact, doing so is hurting your progress. My suggestion? Block those people you find yourself checking in on. That way the next time you are tempted to see what they are up to, you can’t. Eventually you’ll break the habit of even wondering what those people are up to and you won’t be distracted by it any more.

3. Pleasing Everybody.

It’s a cliched lesson, but I think I will spend the rest of my life relearning it. No matter how hard you try, you will never please everyone. There will always be people who take and take and take but never give. There will always be people who are too wrapped up in themselves not noticed anyone else. There will always be people stuck in the comparison game and they will never be happy for you. It’s time to stop worrying about those people. Your life is yours and you have to live it the way you know is best. So keep focusing on your dreams and your goals, keep treating others the way you want to be treated, and when someone shows resentment or expresses grievance over you simply living your life, you now have permission to involve them in your life less. Making time for people who hurt you regularly or openly root against you is silly. It doesn’t matter if they are coworkers, friends you’ve known for years, family, or even romantic partners. Your time is valuable and your mental well being is important. So stop wasting your time trying to please people who can never be won.

4. The Worst Case Scenario Game.

I’ll be honest, I am a fan of this game. Especially when I have a lot of anxiety about a situation or feel a lot of pressure. Sometimes saying your fear out loud can take some of the power away from it. But too much of anything is a bad thing. And I realized recently that I never play the Best Case Scenario Game. My what ifs are always negative. I’m always preparing for the worst, anticipating the worst, assuming the worst. And not only is that way of thinking depressing and unhealthy, it’s exhausting. I find I am always worried, always anxious, depressed far more often. All because I am far too indulgent in my fears rather than focusing on my hopes. I used to justify this way of thinking by saying “hope for the best, prepare for the worst”. But what if by dwelling so much on the worst I make the worst inevitable? What if by spending more time focusing on the best, preparing for the best, even planning for the best, that made the best happen? So now, when I catch myself playing the Worst Case Scenario Game, I make myself stop and think about what the Best Case Scenario could be instead.

5. Where You Should Be in Life at X Age.

Again, comparison is a dangerous habit that pretty much only leads to depression. Just because you aren’t married yet, don’t have kids, haven’t gotten that degree, don’t have that professional title yet, doesn’t mean you are falling behind or failing. School was very structured, and it gave all of us this false illusion that the rest of life would be too. But there is no order of events, no timeline to follow, no progress report, no big moments you need to hit by a certain time. Plenty of people followed “the plan” of getting married young to someone they weren’t actually compatible with, had kids even though they weren’t ready to be a parent, or worked their way up the ladder for a career they didn’t want. Too many people do what they are “supposed” to do without considering if they want to do it. And too many people feel like they are failing at life because they aren’t doing what they are “supposed” to be doing right now. But the most freeing moment in life is when you realize that you get to call the shots for your life and you get to decide what path is right for you.

Why is it so easy for our brains to think negatively, to be stressed or anxious or overwhelmed, to focus on comparisons or the past, but we doing the opposite takes so much work? I’ve been wondering that a lot lately as I’ve been working on intentionally changing my patterns. When did those patterns form, I wonder. And when will they change? It’s hard work, it’s consistent work, but it’s good work. And hopefully it will stop being work someday and start being a way of life.

Darci

Spring Clean Your Life

Spring is here! I love spring. Longer, warmer days, cherry blossoms, cleaning (ya I know I’m odd), getting outside. This winter was crazy and I actually didn’t mind being cooped up inside but I am ready for the change of the seasons. This is the time of year when we start thinking about refreshing our lives, our home. Spring cleaning is a great way to remind yourself of your New Year’s goals and find renewed energy for them, a great way to intentionally take care of your home and honor the space you live (even if you KonMaried earlier this year), and a great way to harness this new energy into something productive. But spring cleaning doesn’t have to just be about literal cleaning, this is also a great time to refresh your life.

So while you are thinking about spring cleaning your home, starting that garden, and ways to manage your allergies, also think about how you can freshen up your life.

Here are 5 ideas on how to spring clean your life:

Declutter Your Mind

I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely an over thinker. Diving into why could be its own blog series. I find it hard to quiet my mind, and I can find decision making exhausting. So I try to find ways to eliminate some decision making. Steve Jobs famously wore the same outfit every day so he wouldn’t be burdened with decisions. Personally, I like picking out my outfit every day, but I love the idea behind it. For me, meal prep became my saving grace. Every Sunday I make a big batch of something (usually stir fry) and some smoothies and have my breakfasts and lunches set up for the week. For me, figuring out what to eat every day is exhausting, so finding a routine that eliminated that work was a huge help. Is there something in your day to day life you could streamline?

Clean Up Your Relationships

All relationships take work, but the good ones will fuel you and support you. Are there people in your life who you are giving time to that are not fulfilling? One sided relationships, toxic people, self involved people, they can all be a real drag on your life. How about yourself? Are you investing the same time you are getting? Take some time to evaluate the people you spend time with and how you could better prioritize your loved ones.

Check Your Attitude

Your mindset is everything, so it’s important to try and have a healthy attitude in life. How do you talk to yourself? Are you kind and patient and gracious? Or are you angry and bullying yourself? What are your expectations in life, and are they reasonable? Your attitude affects every part of your life and influence how you interact with others. Check in with yourself and see how you are reacting to situations and if that could be improved. The best part about an attitude change is that it costs you nothing and can completely transform your life.

Prioritize Self Care

I am all about self care this year. I’m learning to say no to things more (emphasis on learning), I’m indulging in beauty care products like face masks and bath bombs, I’m prioritizing my fitness goals, and it has been amazing. I’m feeling healthier, I’m getting stronger, my skin is looking better, and I have more energy to give to people now. Learning to take care of myself better, finding ways to look forward to taking care of myself, has lead to me being a better friend and partner. I’m don’t need to lean on others so I have more to give. What are ways you can indulge in self care? It could be reading more often, a special treat like tea or chocolate you can enjoy, going to bed earlier, or discovering a new hobby. Find ways to indulge more in you.

Get Outside

I believe being outside is cleansing. Go for a walk every evening, spend your Saturday at the beach or a park, make your backyard an enjoyable sanctuary. Winter is cold and dark and honestly I enjoy it for a short while, but sunshine is magic and we should all be spending more time in it. Refresh your soul with some much needed vitamin d.

What are ways you life to freshen up and spring clean your life?

-Darci

We Are All Broken

In a world where you can be anything, be kind” – Jennifer Dukes Lee

When I was a junior in college I broke my arm. More specifically, I broke my radial head, the part of your forearm that connects to your elbow. I had never broken a bone before. And honestly the inconvenience of not being able to use my arm for the better part of two months was far more difficult than the pain. I couldn’t bend or twist my arm at all for the first several weeks, I couldn’t grip anything with my hand. You realize how much you need your arm when you can’t use it. I couldn’t do most house chores, I couldn’t tie my own hair back, I couldn’t open my own pill bottles, I couldn’t put on a bra.

I became very dependent on everyone around me and it was challenging. I needed my roommates to cook my meals, do my chores, tie my hair back so I could wash my face. I needed my coworkers to do most of my job for me. Growing bone is also exhausting, so I was tired all the time. Honestly, it was a pretty embarrassing, helpless time.

But because I broke my arm right at the elbow, I didn’t have a cast. They wanted me to start moving my arm as much as possible as soon as possible so that it didn’t heal in one position. I had a sling that I was supposed to wear to alert people around me that I was injured and I needed space. But the sling was removable. So I often didn’t wear it.

Because I didn’t want people to know I was broken and helpless.

All in all, it worked out. No one ended up bumping into me, I didn’t trip and fall and hurt myself more, my chores got done, my job got done, I got fed, my school work was completed. For eight weeks I went about campus and almost no one knew that I was injured and exhausted. My arm healed, and life went on.

My point, if it isn’t obvious yet, is that we have no idea what someone is going through. Not everyone you encounter will have a literal broken arm, but everyone around you is going through something. And we don’t want the world around us to know. Your coworkers may be struggling financially, your friends marriage may be falling apart, your family members may be struggling with depression.

We are all hurt, we are all exhausted, we are all embarrassed at how broken we feel.

So this week, I challenge you to be kinder. Ask your barista how their day is going and really listen, give the people on the sidewalk a little extra room, reach out to your friends who you haven’t heard from in a while and let them know you still care. If someone is short with you, give them some grace. If someone is quieter, say hello. Set aside your pride, your self-centeredness, and be kind instead. Find one moment every day this week to be intentionally kind.

Maybe we won’t change the world with kindness, but maybe we will.

 

-Darci

Punching Down

Do you ever stumble upon a phrase that helps you articulate something you just couldn’t quite define and suddenly it all clicks?

That happened to me recently when I discovered the term “punching down”. I was reading a movie review for Isn’t It Romantic that compared the film to another recent rom-com starting an unconventionally attractive woman I Feel Pretty. Very similar plot lines, but this reviewer felt very differently about the films. She said Isn’t It Romantic was smart, hilarious, and most importantly it doesn’t punch down.

And as soon as I read that, it clicked. That’s what I don’t like about certain comedians, certain movies, certain television shows, certain politicians. They punch down.

So what is punching down? Punching down is when someone of a higher rank, a position of power, a person of superiority makes a joke at the expense of the less powerful or an oppressed group. You might also refer to this as cheap shots, or making someone the butt of the joke.

Or as I like to call it: mean humor.

Punching down is used to make someone or ones feel small. It’s used to downplay, to belittle, to shame, or to dismiss all disguised as humor. Basically punching down is someones way of justifying being a total asshole by claiming it’s just a joke. And quite often, it doesn’t work out so well for the joker.

Remember when Jesse Watters on The O’Reilly Factor went to New York’s Chinatown to interview Chinese-American’s and proceeded to ask horrifically racist questions (do you know karate, should I bow, can I get a foot massage, and mocked their broken english)? It was meant to be humorous, it was meant to show the apparently inherent hilarity of the Chinese culture, when really it was just blatant racism against a group of minorities.

Punching down is all over the place these days. Most women’s issues are punched down (who would want to sexually harass you), our current president does it all the time, Conservatives and Republicans think it’s a fun way to go after the Democrats. Using humor as a way to discredit real issues like sexual harassment or racism just shows that you are a sexist or a racist, not that you are funny and certainly not that these issues are real.

Things that are really funny punch up. Instead of wasting their time going after people who are typically the minority or the oppressed, they go after people with tangible power that’s being abused. A basic element of humor is that your best stuff will come from going after people that are bigger than you.

There has been a lot of critique of comedy over the last few years, claiming that we are all too sensitive and everyone gets offended too easily. What can we even joke about now? To which I say that is absolute bullshit. Making fun of the weak has never been funny.

Michelle Wolf’s White House Correspondence Dinner routine was funny because she went after a powerful establishment with meticulously researched critiques and take downs. Amy Schumer making a rape joke about Hispanics isn’t funny because there is no data to back her up, so she is just further perpetuating a false stereotype of an oppressed group.

Using comedy as a tool to abuse the already abused isn’t just deeply unfunny, it also reveals a lack of understanding of how power is structured. And that is the root of what is really being called out right now. Women and minorities face daily battles and uphill challenges, and those need to be taken seriously. And the biggest factor to be addressed is the abuse of the power structure.

Making jokes about it is not the solution.

Using humor to put people down, make people feel small, silence people, and downplay real issues isn’t funny. When you punch down, you aren’t making a joke, you are part of the problem.

 

 

-Darci