Listen Loud

If you listen with the Spirit, you will find your heart softened, your faith strengthened, and your capacity to love the Lord increased. —President Henry B. Eyring

This post is going to go in two extremely different directions. There is always more than one side to a story and sometimes different stories, happening at the same time can be like alternate sides of a coin. That’s kind of how this last week has been for me. It’s been a pleasing reminder and a rude awakening all at once.

This last weekend I went on a spontaneous trip to New York. It was fantastic as most random adventures are. As before every trip, I prayed for safety and guidance. This was particularly important in this instant due to the rare nature of the trip and my lack of familiarity not only with my travel companion and people I would see, but also with the place I was going. New York is often seen as a busy city, somewhere to hold on a bit tighter to your wallet. I was aware of what I was walking into, and knew that I would need heavenly guidance to get me on my way and avoid negative situations. I’m happy to report that there were no problems or altercations of anytime. I felt totally safe the entire time I was there and for that I am immensely grateful. However, this serenity did not come without my own decision making.

There were times where I was prompted to go one way or another, to wait or to cross the street (kind of a big deal in NYC where pedestrian and driving rules are skewed). This was little guidance that I’m familiar with receiving. I did find myself in some situations I had not anticipated facing at this current time, but from the time I was young, I was told these situations would come someday. For the first time this last weekend (yes, the first), I was offered alcohol more than once, despite being underage. I was amazed and strengthened by the ease at which my ability to say no and explain my reasons for the refusal came to me. Immediately, I recalled how my young women leaders had taught me for years and years that if I decided upon such things while I was young, that the choice would become easier and easier when it came. And it was. It was incredible how easy it was, and how much I was edified by a choice I had made years ago.

In addition to this whole experience, I had a missionary moment at the most unlikely of times. This is where part of my other side of the coin comes in, because as I had been packing, I’d contemplated how I would read my scriptures in New York and whether I should bring a Book of Mormon or just read on my phone like I do at home. I decided to read on my phone, but looking back, I really wish I’d had a physical copy with me. I can’t say that it would have changed my missionary experience at all, but it would have given me the choice. Anyways, this experience. My friend and I went dancing, etc. etc. and we ended up having a couple of guys we’d met walk us back to our hotel (it was late, dark, cold and New York). I felt completely at ease with this and it really was totally fine. As we walked and I talked to one of the guys, the topic of religion came up. I shared some of my beliefs and such and he realized I was a Mormon, and not only was I that, but I was also the first Mormon he’d ever met.

He had many questions due to his limited experience and despite my sleep deprived state, I found the spirit taking over and I was able to explain to him things about the church in a way that he could understand. There were analogies I couldn’t have thought of on my own, but the spirit so strongly helped me. He asked about my belief in the Bible, and how true/literal/commanding I found it to be. With all of the news and discussions that happen today about whether everything in the Bible should be taken literally or if some of it was only for the people of that time, this was a totally valid question. He had trouble wording it and I have trouble even trying to explain it but despite this, I could hear and understand what he was wanting to know. I talked about how the Bible was like the original smart phone and while much of it was true, there were also parts that may have happened more figuratively than literally. The Book of Mormon, I related, was like an update on a phone. It gave new information and somewhat of a new operating system that helped perform tasks better. General Conference, or the words of modern church leaders were like more frequent updates that we received to help us keep up to date with the changing world and have things specifically apply to us.

He shared with me some of his family’s beliefs and how he was areligous, that is, he didn’t not believe in things, but he didn’t practice or specifically stick with one thing. He was so open with this and told me how his family practiced Judaism, but he didn’t really know much about it. At once, I was able to recall some of the similarities I’d previously studied between Judaism and Mormonism and told him about these. This made so much more sense to him and connected the conversation even more.

Many missionary stories similar to this one consist of dispelling rumors, but this guy was just so open to understanding and asking questions. He may have had predisposed thoughts, but with me being the first Mormon he’d actually met, it deemed as though he dispelled these and relied on me as a source. I can’t say that this will go anywhere for him, or that he’s even given it a second thought after that evening. For me though, the experience was so enlightening into the way that the Spirit can guide me through a conversation on a whim. I was not prepared for a conversation like that one. I hadn’t been studying vigorously, but I knew enough and that felt good.

My weekend spent in New York was a grand one and I loved it all. A few things bothered me though and it wasn’t until I got home and felt more relaxed that I realized what it was. This feeling of “relaxation” wasn’t that at all. It was a feeling of privilege and it really upset me. Having spent the last seven plus years in small Idaho towns filled with small town farmers, I’d grown accustomed to the ways. In these towns, it seems as though there is a basic level of equality wherein people only fall below if a) they make choices that lead them there or b) they are immigrants and are working to move up to that equality. I’ve recognized these two populations for years and work to respect them and try to understand where they come from. In New York though, I was reminded of all of the other inequalities. It didn’t seem to bother anyone there, that in the bitter cold wind with below freezing temperatures, there were homeless people sleeping under the shelter of construction zones. No one seemed to notice the people digging through the trash or looking for their next meal. There were comments about how people didn’t feel sorry for them because their own choices had led them there and if they really wanted, they could change their situation. There were comments about how money given to them would be used to buy alcohol and drugs. I can’t say with certainty that these are invalid, but they weren’t proven either.

I didn’t do anything though. I didn’t stop the comments. I didn’t spout off my usual round of statistics declaring how the majority of homeless populations suffer with mental and/or physical disabilities. I didn’t give away change or leftover food. I didn’t give away the second hat I had with me. I didn’t do anything to make these situations better, and for that I’ve been upset with myself. I let my own middle class white privilege get in the way. I let my fears be stronger than what I spent my college career studying. I let myself down.

It wasn’t just coming home that made me realize this. It was my brother, years younger than me. He’d also spent the weekend in a city, albeit much smaller than NYC. He spent his night there walking around the city and talking to the homeless. He shared food and such with them. He learned their names and addressed them by such the next day when he walked around and saw them again. He did what I should have done.

This struck me so hard, because of the struggles my brother has had. I’ve worked so hard for everything I wanted (college, jobs, etc.) and I’ve been thinking of myself as being so great. And then my brother, who’s lost so many things from making decisions, did the better thing. He didn’t let his skin color get in the way. He didn’t let his money, his time, his friends, or anything else stop him. He was the Samaritan, and I was the Priest and the Levite.

I spent my weekend thinking I was in tune with the spirit, and at times, I was. I don’t know how closely I was truly listening though and the residual sting of this has left me thinking all week. I can’t go back and change what happened, but next time, I don’t think the trip will be for me. It won’t be for the sights that I get to see wherever I go. It won’t be just to have fun. Next time, it will be to open my eyes, and to see what life is truly like. Not for the majority population, but for the people I ache to be more for. It would have hardly taken any money, any time, any effort, to change just one more person’s day. It would have been so easy.

This weekend served as a reminder; A reminder of the spirit I have with me and the skills and abilities I’ve been blessed with. Also, it was a reminder of what more I can do, every single day.

Give a hug, Ladybug.

❤ Annee


Life is but a dream

“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”  —Edgar Allen Poe


I rush through the airport headed somewhere, wherever that may be. A familiar but unexpected voice calls to me. A surprise. Hey, Annee! How’s it going? It’s out of place here but I say hello to J. Then his wife, S, appears and soon all of them are around. W and E and G and B are there too. Where are they going? To dance of course. I wasn’t invited. I wasn’t supposed to know about their trip. No one was going to tell me. B tries to explain it to me now  but it’s just more upsetting. I miss him. I miss dancing with him. But now I’m betrayed by him. Even though I had been in a hurry, time slowed down enough for me to talk to him. Just long enough for the anger to continue. After the ride on the airplane—which I don’t remember—we’re finding a parking spot. Me and someone and more someones. Then there’s a crash. Broken ribs—all of them—punctured lung, pain, deep breaths, in and out. Driving again but it’s not scary. We stay at someone’s house, and J, S, W, E, G, and B are there again. Somehow, it’s their fault. My lungs hurt. Every breath and movement is pain but somehow I’m okay. Dance is still mine.


“Dancing is like dreaming, but with your feet.”


It’s dinner time and everyone is eating dinner it seems. It’s in Vegas. A large buffet in a huge building. The dessert buffet selection is too small. A lady comments on it. There’s playgrounds indoor for the kids. After you finish eating. Later. Hiding in a van. I’m on the inside of the restaurant and the outside all at the same time. I’m there and I’m not. A father and his adult son meet for lunch even though it’s dinner. Then there’s a bang. I don’t know why. It keeps going. Even when the help arrives. It keeps going. And going.


“The traditions of the dead generations weigh like a nightmare upon the living.” —Karl Marx


He needs you. That’s what they tell me. You have to go. But he’s deployed. He’s in a country. It starts with a K just like his name. It might be a Stan. Go. Something’s happened. Someone’s with me while I look, but only sometimes. They are looking for someone too. Did they find him? The place is in ruins. There’s more than one location we have to look. We look in the bunk. He’s not there. K is gone. His older partner in service is missing too. Don’t look for that guy, just find yours is what they tell me. Triage. He is old. He will die anyways if he hasn’t already. Other people are there. Some are soldiers and some are citizens. All of them seem to be hurt. What if he’s dead. We look everywhere. Then I remember. He has places to hide. He left me something. Back to the bunk. His tall laundry basket. We dump it out and under all the clothes a scroll like paper rolls out. There’s sweet lemon drops with it. I know it’s meant for me. It gives me what I need to find him and I do. Find him I do. He hold me tightly. I needed you. He has more treats. He’s unharmed somehow. He has so many sweets, popcorn and lemon drops but all of it is from this country so it’s different. He knows that food from K-stan is my favorite. There’s sweet milk too in small paper cartons. We eat treats before we leave. Get out it’s not safe yet. They make us go so we pack the treats up. He needs me close so I cling to his arm. Usually I hate this. I feel needy when I want to be near someone and with them but every time I leave his side he makes me come back. He needs me next to him. It’s nice. His first name is E. It’s his last name that’s K. We go home and still he wants me close by. The treats are great. There’s a restaurant. It’s like Pop’s on Riverdale. Then there’s a plan for hiking. We go by the house I’ve been to before, in another time. I get to the place for hiking before him. My hands are empty and lonely without his. It’s colder. When I leave this place I can still feel him needing me there, needing my constancy.


“I had a dream that you were mine
I’ve had that dream a thousand times
A thousand times, a thousand times.”


Don’t let the bedbugs bite!

❤ Annee


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Annee ❤

Love Will Find You There

Love and marriage, love and marriage
Go together like a horse and carriage
This I tell you brother
You can’t have one without the other

—Frank Sinatra

I’m currently taking a class entitled “Sociology of the Family.” We’re mere days into this class and already there has been so much good information. One of my favorite things about school is the classes and things that make you think. I’m not talking about “Give your opinion on blah blah blah” or “What was the author trying to say…” No. But what I do enjoy is the classes with readings that I actually want to read and I end up marking the margins of the book with thoughts and questions.

This class is doing all of that for me. We are reading a book called, “Marriage Go Round” and it’s so interesting. Along with this, we have articles to read for class each day. For class on Tuesday we had to read this article which was so informative to me. It enlightened me to ideas I had never considered or realized that these were even real things. Marriage without love? Who-da-thunk-it?

As I learned in class, the idea of love before marriage and falling into love has only existed for about 200 years. Before that, the feelings of “love” were something associated with adultery and a socially disapproved of relationship. Arranged marriages were popular, but even if a marriage wasn’t arranged, it was simply a union based on the benefits that would come. A man had no reason to marry unless he inherited land or something so that he could start a family to help him care for the land. Marriage simply made sense for society. In fact, if a marriage was not approved of, it could be annulled simply for that reason. One thing my professor pointed out between differences of relationships today and in the past is that it used to be that marriage, sex, and childbearing were a package deal. Today though, those things are very separated. In fact, you can separate all three of them. (If you didn’t know this, go have a talk with your Mommy or Doctor 😉 ).

 Immediately after learning all this, my mind started going back through history and trying to understand and it surprisingly made a lot of sense.

Take the classic example of Romeo and Juliet. They were in love. It was disapproved of because A) it was not an arranged or approved of marriage and B) they were “in love” but “love” didn’t exist like it does today. So many people romanticize Romeo and Juliet, but for what purpose? They were going against societal norms and we find it romantic. Kind of odd if you ask me.

Now let’s talk about fairy tales. If you’re up to date with the modern world or have read the original tales, you probably know that most stories don’t have the happy endings we generally associate with them (Thanks Disney). A lot of the princess-y stories center around this idea of true love. Many of them meet and “fall in love” after hours or days and sometimes it’s even “love at first sight.” When most of these stories were written, love was still the taboo thing that I talked about earlier. Perhaps that’s why these stories fit in so well to our modern day is because of our acceptance of things such as “love at first sight” and “soul mates.”

 Another example could be the book, “The Giving Tree.” I’d like you to think of this book as a mix between the old view of love and the new. The book begins with the old kind of love. The boy and the tree love each other and do things for each other which makes them love each other. Later on, the boy’s view changes though and he begins to have the new view. In this view, individualism is a large part. He takes from the tree without giving back. The boy is happy throughout these parts, but the tree is not. In the end of the book, he reverts to the old views and their love is true because they are focused on that idea of self sacrifice again to make the other happy.

Basically the old idea of love is that marriage and such came first for the benefit of everyone and then you grew to love that person. However, that love was not necessarily the romantic type of love. Nowadays, we fall in love first, and then get into a relationship. The author of the article mentioned earlier talked about this. Her point was basically that if we view marriage as a business type deal, then a union has been made that allows for the benefit of both parties. However, if we have to “fall in love” to get married, then without any other foundation, we can “fall out of love” and therefore destroy the marriage. “George Bernard Shaw once described marriage as an institution that brings two people together under the influence of the most violent, delusive, and transient of passions, and requires them to swear they’ll remain in that abnormal, exhausting condition until death do them part.”

(Update: I’ve also realized that this whole idea of no falling in love before marriage completely eradicates the modern view on same-sex marriage and transgender and all of that. If marriage is just a business contract for the benefit of both parties and attraction plays no part in that, then same-sex marriage and attraction is irrelevant).

All of this thinking this week has caused love and marriage to separate in my mind. Why the heck do they have to be involved? Do I want love or do I want marriage? Isn’t it better to attain marriage and then gain love rather than risk loosing love AND marriage?

Of course, it’s absurd for me to say I don’t want love, especially when this new view is the only one I’ve ever had until this week. But now I’m beginning to realize that this romantic love really isn’t what I want at all. Of course I want the feeling of excitement when my potential mate walks in the room. Of course I want him to hold my hand and dance with me in the rain. But I don’t need this romantic love view that we could lose for that. All I need is a best friend who I care about. Love should be about that self sacrifice and benefiting of each other. It should be a companionship with which you navigate life rather than the fireworks that go off when you kiss but eventually fade away.

All of this had been on my mind this week, and then in class today I asked a few questions which sparked a discussion. It ultimately ended with us questioning whether love was even real or not. We talked about Lee’s different styles of love and how he came up with different words to explain different kinds of “love.” Another thing mentioned in the last class was the idea of how our increasing technology and such causes people to continuously ask “Is there someone better out there for me?” There’s so many dating apps and such which widen the dating pool on such a grand scale. In the past, there was the people you met in real life and that was it. I would guess that this question is what causes people to cheat and/or break up. It causes unhappiness.

My patriarchal blessing when talking about my future husband mentions something about a “choice.” Because of this, over years I’ve come to realize how much of “love” is a choice. I am a firm believer that I do not have a soul mate. I can make a marriage work with any man who loves God so long as we are willing to work together and choose to love each other.

Within the church, there has been some talk of this in recent years. I know that church leaders have said that soul mates are not “real.” In addition to this, Elder Hales gave a wonderful talk. This information from the church is great, but I’ve also realized that I need to dig deeper. We’ve learned in class about the history of marriage, but what about marriage within the church? What about polygamy? What is God’s “stance on love” and does he think we should get married and then fall in love or fall in love and then get married? What is “right”?

What do you think? Am I right about all of this? Or do you completely disagree?

I’m constantly surrounded by couples and “I love you’s” and I’m pretty sure that 95% of my songs on spotify have some mention of love. Valentine’s day is in a few weeks so it’s only going to be getting worse. I’m curious though and I want to know more. I’ll get to the bottom of this and maybe find myself a man along the way 😉

a voice inside is telling you,
you’ve never gone too far,
whispering the promise of a prayer,
love will find you there.

Blow a kiss, Goldfish!

❤ Annee

If it Makes You Uncomfortable…

If this post makes you uncomfortable, literally in your own skin, and makes you think a little harder about the world around you, I will have succeeded in purpose. You guessed it, it’s time for Sociology again. The other day in class I was shown a video a faced with a question that I had never before considered: Does White Privilege exist?

I want you to take a moment to think about this, and if you find yourself question what White Privilege actually is and itching to Google it, hold off for a minute. You’re not alone in that lack of knowledge and I’m going to help you understand better what it is.

While you’re thinking about that, pause for a few minutes and take one of these quizzes for me. You don’t have to share your results although I would be curious to hear what they were, rather I ask you to keep your results in mind as you read the rest of this post.

After my class the other day and being faced with this question, I was curious about what others had to say, so I turned to Facebook.  I asked a few questions:

1. Does white privilege exist and if it does, why does it exist?
2. How has white privilege affected you?
3. Does reverse racism exist and is it the same thing as white privilege?

With the responses I got, a few things were obviously apparent:

  • People don’t know what White Privilege really means
  • They also don’t know what Reverse Racism means
  • People are very adamant about their beliefs
  • Most of their beliefs on this topics are based on a few experiences and not educational experiences on the actual subjects (to be expected)
  • I was surprised by the people that responded

That all being said, I got a large variety of answers all of which were really interesting for me to read and I want to discuss some of them but first, some definitions.

White privilege has many different definitions as it is a socially constructed concept, but in my own words, “White Privilege is the tendency for Whites to be treated with unearned benefits due to their skin color (whether consciously or subconsciously) by the majority of society.” Please take note now that my own interpretation and definition may not be the same as yours. Also, this is a MACRO idea. This means that this idea applies to society and institutions on a large scale, not individuals personally. That means that you may say, “Well I don’t treat people differently based on their skin color!” And while that may or may not be true, it doesn’t matter because this idea doesn’t apply to you. Rather it applies to large groups, such as an organization, city, state, etc.

That all being said, also take notice that White Privilege is not how you treat others, but rather how whites are treated and “privileged” in society. Here’s some examples of how that could happen. While going through this list, I ask you, no matter your skin color to see how many of those things actually apply in your opinion and tally them up and then tell me. I’ll tell you how many I can apply to my own life: 48/50. I can also tell you that when I first read over this list, I was really surprised by a lot of things on there. My thought was, “People really have to worry about this? I thought everyone had this benefit.” But because that list was even written, I know that someone of a different skin color than mine has felt the opposite of every single thing on that list. That right there is evidence to me of the existence of White Privilege.

So now take a moment to look over that list one more time. This time think about someone of a different skin color than you. How would they agree/disagree with those statements? Does it surprise you? Every time I look through that list I find another thing I’m surprised by. No one should have to go shopping alone with fear that they will be followed or harassed. I don’t face that, I’ve never have and I likely never will. But someone does and it’s because of their skin color. I have a privilege that they don’t. That is White Privilege. Now before you get all upset, I’m not condoning this or bragging on my skin color, I’m just trying to help you understand what White Privilege is.

White Privilege is the stories that plague the media these days about whites committing crimes and getting let off easy. It’s this. And this. This. This. And this. And this. It’s why I can wear any one of these and people will tell me it’s cool. It’s why people think this movie is funny. Open your eyes. Look here. Or here.

Go ahead and tell me it’s not real, I will listen but you better have some good arguments to make your case.

That being said, some of the arguments against it are interesting to me (borrowing from things I’ve heard and from responses to my Facebook post).

  1. It’s a made up term: Yes, thanks for noticing, it definitely is. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value or isn’t real. Race is a socially constructed concept as well and you don’t argue very often that that isn’t real (a post for another day). Nearly everything in our society is socially constructed. Why does money have value? Because we say it does. What the heck is a selfie? You can answer this, because the term was made up and became popular.
  2. It doesn’t exist because I’m white and I’ve never been given anything just for that: See the list I linked to above. Maybe you have and you just haven’t realized it. Also remember again that this is a Macro idea and doesn’t necessarily apply to you alone.
  3. No, because sometimes I’m favored in society and sometimes people with different colored skin than mine are more favored than I am: While this may be true, remember again that this is not a Micro idea and doesn’t apply to just you. There are more factors, including class, gender, age, sexual orientation and religiosity but based on our social stratification, we can attribute much of privilege to skin color.
  4. Everyone has equal opportunity: Tell that to the family living on the corner, see how they like your comment, and surely don’t give them anything to help them out because they of course have the same opportunities you do.
  5. What about whites having less opportunities because of minorities taking them? (I.e. Jobs, Scholarships): Look up the statistics and then come back to me with this same argument. I dare you.

So basically in my opinion, White Privilege is very real and apparent in our society. Racism is very real and apparent. The facts are sad. I’ve nearly cried writing this post while looking at a few things and I’m still not finished. We still have more to talk about. Ready?

Reverse Racism, I’ve realized, is a very misunderstood topic and term. My definition of Reverse Racism would be something along the lines of, “A form of racism that occurs as a response to or result of past or ongoing occurrences against group A, where group B was the group originally wronged.” That being said, I’m just going to tell you now that I think this is real too. It happens back and forth and it’s similar to White Privilege in that that may be one of the responses or causes of White Privilege.

This term is also socially constructed and you could argue that it’s simply racism. I would argue back that it is only a form of racism. I’m going to be blunt and point out simply that racism and arguments between people of different skin colors seem to always be “whites” against “insert skin color, ethnicity or ‘race’ here.” Am I wrong? Maybe in some instances but in my experience and education it’s always been just that. Sometimes it’s even whites against whites, but still.

For example, Reverse Racism is what I would call it when Whites complain about scholarships that are directed towards and exclusively for people of a specific “race.” These whites feel as though they are being discriminated against. Racism generally occurs from a majority population to a minority population. Reverse Racism is the opposite, when a minority is discriminate against the majority. Doesn’t happen? Look here.

I’m not going to point of the disputes of Reverse Racism because the responses I got basically consist of disputing the term—which is a concept whether you like it or not—or misunderstanding the topic. If you do have an argument though, I will happily discuss.

Anyways moving on, to sum up here’s a few more interesting thoughts and things to think about:

  • On the conversation of “Black Lives Matter” vs. “All Lives Matter,” Why do people say “All Lives Matter?” Ex. Is it just a way to distract/detract from the meaning of Black Lives Matter and put them “back to where they belong in social stratification”?
  • How would you say the Social Stratification in our country is organized? I.e. Who has the power in society?
  • Are the Young or the Old more empowered in society and why do you think this?
  • Is one group or section of society more ignorant to these concepts (everything discussed) and why do you think this? Statistics to show for it?
  • What should be done about inequality?

Thank you for reading and I hope this was enlightening. Comments are more than welcome and I’d love to hear more opinions (So go poll your friends and come back with more data for me 😉 )

So long, King Kong!

❤ Annee

The Stigmatization of Failure

Life is really scary sometimes. And our society and education system are set up in a way that your only goal is not to learn, to gain an education or even to have something to do. No, the goal is to succeed. To do well. To avoid failure. The grading system of schools is a measure of worth in a way, telling you how well you do at something, supposing you try. It does take effort to do well, but you don’t have to learn to do well. You simply have to memorize things and give the teacher what they want. Students are so plagued by this sense of having to get things “right” that they don’t care if they are learning something.

I’ve heard in a few of my different Sociology classes about this Stigma of Failing. We are afraid to fail and so we sacrifice our learning for an “A” in a class in which we had the potential to learn things about life and about ourselves and more. We’re afraid to raise our hand in class unless we are certain that the answer we are giving is right. If it’s not, we feel embarrassed. Due to this stigma, many of my Sociology teachers and others have challenged me to raise my hand anyways. The worst thing that’s going to happen is you learn something new from your failure. This happens in dance classes too. My beginning social dance teacher always has encouraged me to try hard things. He says, “The worst thing that will happen is you’ll laugh.” Eternal Salvation does not depend on a 4.0 GPA.

This semester, all of my Sociology teachers have really implemented this idea. They want us to learn to fail, so that we can succeed and actually learn something. So to do this, many of my assignments that I do won’t count. That way there’s room for me to mess one up or forget to do one. There’s extra credit in my dance classes to make up for missed things and even some of the assignments in those classes will be dropped.

I ran across something a few months ago (I can’t recall where) that really struck me as interesting. It’s a challenge of sorts that I wanted to take on. So why didn’t I? I’ve been too afraid to do it as ironic as that is. It sounds really hard and very much out of my comfort zone. The thing is, that’s the point of it. What is it? It’s called Rejection Therapy. The idea is that you learn to embrace failure and learn from it. Once a day for a set number of days (30-100) you do something that will result in rejection. It might be asking for a raise with your job or a discount at the store. It might be asking someone to do something with you or asking someone to do something out of their comfort zone for you. The rules are this:

1. A rejection counts if you are out of your comfort zone
2. A rejection counts if your request is denied
3. At the time of rejection, the player, not the respondent, should be in a position of vulnerability. The player should be sensitive to the feelings of the person being asked.

Terrifying, right? To play this game, you actually have to let yourself fail. Every day. I think it’s something my teachers would definitely approve of just because I would be learning something valuable. I’m still too afraid to do it. But I guess it can’t hurt too badly to try. Maybe I’ll start at once every few days and just update this post as I am rejected and try to be rejected. I think that because I’m in the Mormon bubble it’s likely that I will fail to be rejected at least a few times because people are so nice and willing to serve. Even last night at dance I asked huge favors of people and they were all willing to help me. (Next time I’m taking them cookies). Anyways, will you help me with this challenge? Join me and help change the stigmatization of failure?

Don’t Panic

I’ve become increasingly aware of a couple symptoms of our society that exist in every person I come across. I certainly have these symptoms, although mine seem to be a bit more dormant with my “don’t care” attitude—but this post isn’t about that.The point is, some people have these symptoms more than others and more often than not, one of the two symptoms prevails. As far as I can find, no one else has really connected these two symptoms to say that they are opposites of each other as I believe them to be but perhaps that’s because a person can have both. What the heck am I talking about, right?

The first is Optimistic Bias. This is a term coined for the idea of “that could never happen to me.” It’s the idea that although you hear about these bad things happening elsewhere, you honestly believe that it will never happen to you. These could be simple things, like not getting a part in a play when you’ve been acting your whole life or more extreme things like cancer or car accidents. I’m sure you can think of something that shows you have optimistic bias. What are you sure will never happen to you? For me, it’s getting salmonella. I once again, have that don’t care attitude and thus eat raw cookie dough and stuff, thinking that it will never happen to me because it hasn’t yet to me or anyone I know.

The second is Moral Panic. This is the idea that everyone is afraid of something because the media has hyped it up. I see this on a much smaller scale, simply looking at each person within the whole that has those fears. These fears may be due to a real threat but more often than not it’s simply something that has gotten out of hand and will never touch us. This is things like Ebola and Shark attacks. It could legitimately happen and we hear about it happening but the odds of it happening to us are VERY small yet we have fear that can’t quite be discarded.

It’s really interesting to me as an aspiring sociologist to sit back and watch one or both of these symptoms overcome the people in my life. A lot of times, their lives are run by these. Either they believe that nothing uniquely awful will happen to them or they live in fear of something that will likely never happen, happening. How do we balance these two things? I have no idea.

I see moral panic—and feel it in myself—often after something big happens. An event like a mass shooting or bombing, an onset of natural disasters, anything like that usually sets off moral panic. The media starts unleashing story after story of the awful things happening and suddenly everyone’s afraid. I think this moral panic sometimes makes it harder for events caused by man to reoccur in another location because everyone is so afraid that security and awareness is amped up. However the mix of optimistic bias in the situation makes it easier for those things to happen. For example, say a mass shooting occurs in a small city in a state across the country from you. Something unique sets this shooting apart from others and it’s the first you’ve heard about in awhile. Moral panic tells you to be more aware in public or to avoid similar situations at all. You watch the news consistently and give extra warnings of safety to your loved ones. You remember too, to tell them more often that you love them. Optimistic Bias tells you that your situation is too different from the one where the shooting occurred. You live in a small town where nothing ever happens and the crime rate is low. Nothing like that will ever happen to you, until one day it does. Moral panic then sets in to the rest of the population and the cycle starts over.

Authority figures seem to try to ensue moral panic, often even believing it themselves to gain support. A candidate who wants you to vote for them may tell you that a threat exists when it doesn’t really and then how they will fix it to make you fear the threat and desire of someone to fix it. They give you a problem and a solution all in one. Optimistic Bias on the other hand seems to be something we ensue naturally in ourselves. This is why when something bad does happen to us, it’s often such a shock we can hardly believe it. Media doesn’t play into this as much, except for in movies. A likable character is created and we adore them; then something awful happens to them even though they didn’t believe it would. We watch this Optimistic Bias take place right in front of us, yet we are significantly blind to it.

At the risk of being Optimistically Biased, here’s some of the thing people in my life and that the media shows moral panic about: school shootings (probably top), abduction/kidnapping, rape, drugs, car accidents, plane crashes, eaten by sharks, burglary/theft, natural disasters,  and so many more. Basically every bad thing that could happen has some connotation of moral panic with it. Have a friend with different colored skin? I’d bet you the things they have moral panic about are different than yours. Remember the kid that was eaten by the alligator? How many parents do you think had moral panic about it? And yet I’ll be there were some who had optimistic bias and let their kids risk getting hurt anyways. If I were to make a list of the things that people were Optimistically Biased about, it would probably be the same list, with Death (in general) at the top of it.

I wish I knew what a happy balance between these things would look like. Is it possible to have one? What would that look like? Or does the cycle just continue endlessly? Are these things good for our society to have?

I don’t know those answers. I do know that these symptoms plague everyone in our society (much thanks to the media) and that we should at least be aware of them. Sometimes it’s good to be afraid and alert and not ignorant to what could happen. But it’s not good to be so paralyzed be fear about something that you don’t let your children do anything. So do we panic or not? Of course, it’ll never happen to us right?

Chow Chow, Brown Cow!

❤ Annee