Monday, January 30, 2017

Why is Man's Best Friend a Dog?

I'm not comfortable around dogs.
I grew up an only child. I never had a dog, a cat, a gerbil or a parrot. I enjoyed the company or a few goldfish, but besides for that my interactions with animals were few.  
A dear friend of mine as three dogs- in her house!
A black lab, a mixed something, and small dog- like a terrier. When I first went to her house freshman year, I was completely unnerved. Constantly wondering where the dogs would move or decide to do next.
We've just entered the spring semester of our junior year, and last Saturday we celebrated my friend's 21st birthday. I had an amazing time and felt little to no anxiety, though we were in the same house with the same dogs, my perspective had changed since my first visit.
I had grown comfortable with what had originally made me anxious and uncomfortable.

Surprise and discomfort are human reactions to being exposed to something new.

Until recently, I avoided emotional expressions and meaningful friendships. During childhood, I rarely expressed my emotions or felt accepted by groups of my peers,  sheltering myself, my ego, my compassion and desire for friendship beneath a wall of self-constructed unworthiness. A wall that was still up when I entered college. I often wondered why I had trouble opening up to people and believing that others actually enjoyed my friendship.
I ridiculed myself for being detached and not having stronger interpersonal relationships, my emotions and subsequent behavior originated from my memories and experiences.The friends and acquaintances of my childhood are starkly different from my group of friends now. 
Celebrating with others, making memories and building support systems are new to me, and are the most cherished parts of my college experience. I was ashamed at how long it had taken me to learn how to be a real friend, but there was nothing to be ashamed about. 
Just as it took time for me to get used to the dogs it required as much if not more time to learn how to build meaningful relationships.
My perceptions expectations of friendships were created around past hurts, let downs, mean middle school girls and childhood of independence.
Feelings are not good or bad. They just are. They don't need validation or condemnation. They exist and manifest themselves through a stream on consciousness contingent upon current situations and emotions. They need only be felt, understood and released- by me.
I say that to say this- don't worry if it takes a while to grow accustomed to something new or if it difficult to make sense or move past something old. Time is fluid and emotions are ever adapting to our experience. Life without feeling is empty, and life without love is pointless.
It is hard to go through life alone, and I am so thankful for all of my friends who have enhanced my life with fun and understanding, and according to me man's best friend only has two legs!

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Mary Tyler Moore the Mentor, the Influencer and Friend

Mary Tyler gave television Moore

Mary Tyler Moore is a dearly remembered actress, who embodied style, charm, grace, independence and confidence.
Moore challenged social norms of what a woman should be and how she should act. She inspired women to shape their identities that didn’t rely on being a Mother or Wife (Feldman).
USA Today January 26, 2017
As a millennial, I missed many of Ms. Moore’s original performances but I am greatly appreciative and inspired by her legacy.

She was beautiful, she was smart, she was ambitious, and she took her career seriously, rather than seeing it as a pre-wedding way station (Bianco).

Since, her television debut in the 1960’s,  women’s rights and familial roles have progressed.
In 2017,  women are (theoretically) empowered to pursue their careers, make decisions about their families, choose their partners, challenge male assumptions and demand respect.
Women have made great strides globally and socially, but many are still restricted from their own ideologies of womanhood and success.
These ideologies begin in childhood and are reinforced through the media and other women; preventing women from becoming who they truly are and who they aspire to be.
There are many external factors that gender equality difficult, but there are a number of internal inhibitions that prevent women from flourishing.
Women are expected by their families, friends, the media and themselves to exemplify contradictory and impossible identities:
  •  Strong Minded Compromiser
  • Stress-Free Maid of Honor
  • Perfect Wife
With nonnegotiable characteristics:
  • Patient
  • Quiet
  • Calm
  • Always Thoughtful
  • Remembers Everything
  • In a Relationship
Inundated with these messages, it is natural to feel inadequate if we do not conform. We even impose our expectations onto others, and women who don’t conform or share our values are shamed.
[Womanism: a form of feminism that emphasizes women’s natural contribution to society]
As demonstrated by Mary Tyler Moore, on screen and in life, there are many faces and expressions of womanism and personal success. I applaud boldness and authenticity, daring to not only surpass social norms but event the depth of self-imposed restrictions. I support all women who strive daily to become the best versions of themselves.
We teach girls to shrink themselves + To make themselves smaller
We say to girls,
“You can have ambition + But not too much
You should aim to be successful + But not too successful
Otherwise you will threaten the man.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, **Flawless
I’m thankful for the strong women in my life, setting an example, encouraging me and teaching me to aspire to greatness. I thank them even for their well-intended expectations that built my defiance and courage
In the words of a feminist not included on my top five list, “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.”
But while avoiding haters- Don’t become one, especially your own.
So as a single, outspoken, frizzy haired 21 year old, I do what I want (within reason) and and encourage others to do the same.
 In the words of the great poet Onika Maraj,
“Think big get cash make them blink fast”

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Give Me Gemeinschaft, or Give Me Greatness

[German guh-mahyn-shahf-tuh n] 

Sociology. a society or group characterized chiefly by a strong sense of common identity, close personal relationships, and an attachment to traditional and sentimental concerns.

We know the dangers of groupthink, the atrocities that occur, the prejudices it produces, the wars it wages and the inclusion it inhibits. 

Groupthink can be comfortable, it's familiar and builds a sense of community at the expense of the exclusion of diversity.

"Diversity, the act of thinking independently together." 
                                   Malcolm X

Diversity enables societal progression,  through accepting various realms of thoughts that contribute to a common goal. It is the nucleus of technological advancements, innovation, empowerment and word change.

Diversity makes greatness possible. Every new ideas inspires the improvement of past ideas, each suggestion adds allows us to become better individually and as a nation.

Nonetheless, we frequently accept and expect conformity. Citizens have grown so accustomed to remaining among like-minded individuals that conflicting views brings contempt, ridicule and even dehumanization of those who appear or think differently. 

The term gemeinschaft appeared in last Friday's issue of the New York Times, in the article The Internal Invasion by David Brooks.

Brooks describes President Donald Trump as, "the ultimate gemeinschaft man. He is all gut instinct, all blood and soil, all about loyalty over detached reason."

As President Trump assembles a cabinet composed of similarly interested and invested individuals, and advocates for a United States citizenship that agrees with him, dismissing and limiting the availability of opposing views

he prevents America from becoming great. 

A conformist mentality, especially by those in power, inhibits progression.

I would love to the American people become great, empowered to become the best version of themselves, each person acting, thinking and working independently towards a common goal.

The greatness I long for will never come from a place of silence and adherence to discrimination. Greatness cannot coexist with gemeinschaft, conformity, fear. 

Our differences can propel our nation into greatness or drag it into a homogeneous pit of fear.

How our differences will affect us depends on how we will choose to view them, as something to be celebrated or something to be condemned.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

What's the Conte?



a tale or short story, esp of adventure
My name is Kalen and these are my contes
                                about culture, perspective and life.
Sometimes adventurous, but always analytical this blog will chart my cultural competency growth. I am an aspiring ethnographer and I find meaning in every conversation, interaction and relationship. Life is a learning experience and all of Earth's 7.5 billion people experience it differently, and I want to know why.
The Conte will be the aspect of culture that has my attention at the moment; 
                               ever changing, inclusive and inspiring.