After Gangam Style plays
Zach – “Kelsey, did you hear the song say ‘hey sexy lady’??”
Me – “Yup”
Zach – “What does ‘sexy’ mean?”
Me – “Uhhhhhhhh…… It’s really hard to explain.”
Zach – “That’s a good answer.”

The Many Faces of “Beauty”

So, today I was scrolling through my facebook news feed and I ran into a post from a radio station back in Minnesota.  They’re holding a contest for its listeners in which they have to post their before and after pictures of them getting dolled up to when a $1,000 makeover by a beauty school in the area.

http://www.kdwb.com/photos/main/from-not-to-hot-entries-for-384960/22340783/#/0/22340783

Thinking it would be cool to see all the before and after shots, I decided to click on the link and flip through the pictures. Only all I found was over a hundred of examples of what is wrong with our society. So many women who are naturally beautiful without makeup just caking their faces with inches of eyeliner to “define” their previously stunning eyes, eyebrows drawn on 10x heavier than the youtube tutorial they watched, bright red lips that look like plastic,and purple and bleach blonde streaks in fried out hair… It was heart breaking.

Now, if anyone knows me, they know I am a big fan of beauty products. This is the girl who had hair the color of red velvet cake for years.  Now a days, I’m lucky if I put on makeup more than once a week or if my hair ever gets out of its sloppy ponytail.  But I get it.  It’s fun to get dolled up, curl your hair, dye it funky colors, etc. And I love winged eyeliner and Taylor Swift red lips as much as the next girl. But when you see so many women masking their natural beauty in attempts to achieve a look that pinterest is telling us will make us beautiful, you can’t help but wonder how lost we really are.

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The first picture is me without any makeup
The second is me going for that fun pin up look complete with the Marilyn Monroe beauty mark
The third is me following every tutorial on
-“how to tightline your eyes”
-“how to apply mascara to look like falsies”
-“perfect eyebrows”
-“how to contour your face”
-“how to use drug store products to get the perfect nude lips”
-and “best smokey eye tutorial ever” (I also threw in my best attempt at a duck face for you)
The fourth and last photo is pretty much how I apply my makeup if I’m going to put any on for the day.

All of those pictures give off a different impression.  You gather different assumptions of the girl you see based off of what her makeup is like.  And honestly, I don’t think I look that “beautiful” when I try to follow the beauty rules for looking perfect.  Because in reality, beauty isn’t about looking the same.  Beauty is found in the things that make us different.

Your beauty is your personality expressed through your style. It’s your joy that shines through your smile.  It’s your heart shown through the expressions on your face.  It’s your freckles, your round cheeks, your high cheekbones, your deep brown eyes.   It’s not your makeup.

Experiment with eye shadows, play up your cheeks with a bright pop of color, curl your hair into the latest hollywood style, get some fun highlights or a dramatic haircut, but don’t lose sight of the fact that these things are designed to accent the beauty you were born with, not to morph your image into an artificial copy of what media is showing us. My suggestion is to try going a week without make up. Maybe even two. Then look up youtube tutorials on how to use make up for a “natural” look.  You’d be surprised how comfortable less makeup can be.

When it comes to beauty products, less really is more.  Don’t buy into the idea that you need to “put on your face” in the morning.  Your face is already there.  Makeup should not be used as a means to hide your “flaws” or make your face look like everyone else’s. It should be used as a way to showcase your beautiful blue eyes, your gorgeous cheekbones, your edgy style, or your bubbly personality.  Don’t use it to “make yourself pretty” because beauty products aren’t what makes you pretty.  You’re already stunning as it is.
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Bonus:  In my attempts to wash off the heavily caked makeup in the third picture, I splashed water on my face like a neutrogena commercial then blinked a couple times… and this is the result I got.    Less make up = less runny mascara when you cry
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Hey, wanna snort some coke? No? How bout we play flappy bird?

“This game is evil!”
“I hate my friend for introducing to this game!”
“The game is not fun, but it is addicting.”

These are things that I have heard and seen people say about this game called “Flappy Bird.”  Everyone is talking about it.  It quickly became the most downloaded app in a week.  Then the creator destroyed everyone’s lives by deleting it.  And my instant response was “NO.”

To be fair… My instant response was “no” mostly because I hate jumping on bandwagons. Call it my “pre-hipster snobbery complex” (that I’ve had since I was at least 10… before hipsters were even a twinkle in the sociomusic scene’s eye) ((please tell me you saw what I did there).  ANYWAYS,  I’ve been this way for a long time, and it drives my mom crazy.  I refused to ever get into Harry Potter (still have not read or seen any harry potter book/movie)… In junior high everyone started reading Ted Dekker books and it took me two years to be willing to touch one… I turned my nose up so high at all things Twilight.  And yes… I have snubbed the Hunger Games as well.  I do it PURELY out of pride and a desire to be different and possibly to make myself feel like I’m better than those who give in to bandwagon.  It’s BAD.  Seriously.  If I was to sit in a sermon on pride… this is right where my mind would go.  But then you add in the fact that everyone is saying it’s addicting… and that’s when I knew I couldn’t touch it.

Seriously, I’m currently on level 419 on Candy Crush.  I have procrastinated dozens of papers, blanked out of hundreds of one-on-one conversations, and tuned out of thousands of class lectures because of that game.  I know how bad addicting app games can be.  I knew I couldn’t get into flappy bird.  So every time I saw those two words on my social media time lines… I quickly kept scrolling.  I couldn’t let myself even read what people were saying about it.  But now and then, I would see a post, hear a conversation, scroll a little slower over that buzzfeed article… and eventually I was curious.

I thought to myself… “I mean, everyone else is doing it. It looks fun!”  and decided to make a deal with myself.  I would download it, play it for a couple minutes to see what it was all about, then delete the app before I went to sleep.

So there I was, sitting in bed, reading the app reviews while I waited for it to download.  I sat there with a smug  smile on my face thinking of how fun it was going to be be to beat my roommates score effortlessly and send her a screen shot.   I started up the app and made my first flappy bird tap ever.

And got a score of zero.

I laughed at myself, shrugging it off that I just wasn’t ready and didn’t understand how high the bird would go when I tapped, and I played it again.  Zero.  Again.  Zero.  Zero.  Zero.  Zero.  Then FINALLY I got one point.  One measly little point.  And then I remembered the words of my roommate “It took me an hour to get past four!”  And determination set in.   I focused on the screen, played around with tapping variations, tried to establish a rhythm, played round after round after round.  5 minutes of playing had gone by and I was still stuck at 3.  I wondered how bad I must have been to not be getting anywhere.  I realized by this point I had played longer than “a couple minutes” and still had not reached my goal.  So I said screw it and kept playing.

It was so easy to play.  I was hooked.  Game play lasted only a few seconds and you could just easily restart.  And unlike candy crush, you weren’t limited to a certain amounts of lives.  Endless game play.    I found myself zoned in and hooked like I had never been with candy crush or mario kart or jigsaw puzzles.  I found myself physically reacting in anger to the game, especially with all those ads that slowed the game down and made it glitch out.  I realized what was going on and it was scary.

That’s when I made myself delete it and vowed not to touch the game again.  Why?  Because it’s just not wise.   First off, you’re choosing to do something that you know is addictive just to experience some fun.  Um, hello? Drugs?  Secondly, what an awful way to treat yourself.  The game builds up your confidence, making you think “I can do it!  I can beat my high score!” only for you to fail at such a seemingly simple task, destroying your confidence and making you feel stupid.  And thirdly, part of the draw people have to this game is trying to beat each others high scores. Not in a sportsmanlike competition kind of way, but in a bragging, pride, “I want to humiliate you by proving I’m better” kind of way.   Remember that smug smile I had at the thought of crushing my roommates hopes and dreams by screen shotting my high score to her?  Hello, worm in my heart that is sin.  Nice to see you and your oh-so blatantly pleasurable evil self again.

I’m glad the creator removed it from the app store.  I really wonder what it says about our society that we can willingly allow ourselves to get sucked in to a simplistic game and become so invested in it in all the wrong ways.  I mean really, people are trying to sell their phones with flappy bird on it for anywhere between $300 to $100,000.  This is ridiculous guys.  C’mon!

I get it.  It’s just a game.  It’s just some simple fun.  But everyone needs to stop and check themselves.  Know your limits.  If you can enjoy this game without letting yourself play it for hours on end?  Play it.  If you can send your high scores back and forth with your friends with nothing but friendly competition as your motive?  Go ahead.  If you can play this game without screaming at your phone or chucking it?  Have fun.   But if you recognize that you’re going too far, show some discernment and delete it.  You’re better off without it.

Smoke

I am not the passionate being I once was.
So alive and yearning to consume anything I could grasp.

My desires like smothered embers have changed.
To wisps of smoke, curling peacefully through the air.

It was always the smoke I liked best.
The light was never so intriguing as the cloud it gave way to.

Every flame must be snuffed eventually,
or else it rages into a destructive monster, eating everything in its way.

I always thought the smoke was death.
That being blown out was the end.
But maybe, quite possibly, the smoke is a life of its own.

Life so beautiful in faint swirls, forgotten and unimportant. Unnoticed.
That’s where I’ve wanted to be.

I have wanted to be the calm gray.
I have longed for the afterthought.
I have needed to be in the so-called mundane.

I sometimes think back on my wick where I burned, and smoldered,
and cried out that I could never be quenched.
I miss that spark a bit sometimes, and what I felt it said about me.

But I was meant to be smoke.
I was meant to be the light scent in life.
I was meant to be the smaug momentarily hanging in the air.
I was meant to be blown where ever life sent me,
not standing obstinate against gales that would overtake me.

I don’t need to be fire.
I don’t want to burn.
I don’t want to be hungry for life
I just want to be a puff
I just want to float gently
I just want to be satisfied with my everyday.

The Hipster Freshman: A “How To” Guide on Being the Savviest New Kid Around

Being hipster is cool right now.  Don’t do what everyone else is doing.  Be one step ahead of the game.  Do something trendy before it becomes trendy.   And if you’re a true hipster, this applies to every area of your life.  It comes with ease.   But nothing tests the hipster soul more than that one sacred rite of passage.  College.

I’m not talking any kind of college experience.  I’m talking the freshman college experience.  You just graduated high school.  You were a senior.  The top dog.  You were the coolest of the cool.  You were aloof.  And now you’re off to embark on a new journey.  You’re going to do it right.  You’re striking off on your own without the parental units.  You’re establishing your identity.  Watch out life.  Here comes… you!

But how can you be “the new kid in town” without sticking out like a sore thumb?  How do you blend in?  How can you avoid being…. well… This guy.
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Being someone who has gone through the freshman orientation process twice (that’s what you get for transferring after your first semester), and has been an orientation leader every semester since, I think I can offer some solid advice to the (high school) Class of 2013 on how to be cool, how to smoothly glide into campus life, and how to blend in even as a freshman.  Because to be perfectly and brutally honest, you’re not as impressive as you were in high school anymore.  That doesn’t mean you aren’t special, or loved, or unique.  It just means all those “top dog” points you’ve been used to having… They’ve been wiped clean.

But before you read any of this… Remember, we were all freshman at some point.   The reason we can spot these things is because we all did them. Being a freshman isn’t a problem.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of.  Your campus is excited to have you.   So why would someone need a “how to guide” on how to not be an obvious freshman?  The things freshmen do that make them so obviously a freshman are things that clog up the system.   They slow down everyday life on campus.  They cause traffic to stop, lines to gather, and pedestrian collisions.  It’s not a problem to be a freshman, it’s just a good idea to try to slide into the campus life as quickly and smoothly as possible as to not inconvenience the people around you too much.  So consider this a guide to transitioning into the daily college flow.

With that being said, here is my best advice!

Your lanyard

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I get it.  It’s cool.  It’s convenient.  But don’t.   Don’t wear it with the lanyard hanging out of your pocket.  Don’t you dare wear it around your neck.  Or worse… wear it with around your neck with your keys and ID on it.  This is the #1 sure-fire way to spot a freshman.  This isn’t so much a functionality “flow of campus” kind of situation.  It just screams “FRESHMAN!” and if you’re trying to avoid that, stuff that lanyard in your pocket for no one to see.


Campus Maps

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Campus is new.  There are so many buildings.  But if you’re walking around with a map of campus?  You look like a tourist at disney land.   Do yourself a favor and snap a picture of the campus map on your smart phone.  No one questions someone looking at their phone.  And if you’re lost, don’t be ashamed to ask for help.

Groups

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Gee, I’d love to get to class faster, but this huge group of people is taking up the entire walkway.  I wonder if they’re freshmen?  Of course they are!  Freshmen tend to travel in packs.  It’s all those best friends they’ve made, ya know?  I like to call it a “flock of freshmen.”   If you make a lot of friends, that’s great.  As a senior, most of the people I’m friends with now were not the people I hung out with my freshmen year.  But that’s not to say that a social life is not vital to your college experience.  I’m glad you’re making friends, but please.  Do not walk in huge groups.  And if you do, walk on the grass.  Not on the road or the sidewalks.   My college has one main road that runs through campus and the shuttles from the apartment buildings drive on this road.  But for some reason the freshmen every year think that road is a giant side walk for them and their friends.   What’s worse is the freshmen who do not MOVE OFF THE ROAD when the shuttle comes.  Like seriously, don’t block traffic.  Ever.  Make friends.  Hang out in groups.  JUST DON’T BLOCK THE ROAD.

Talking About High School

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You may have been the only captain of the varsity basketball team in high school… but at this school, there are dozens of other students who were the captain of their varsity sports team as well.  You got into the same college as everyone around you, there’s no need to brag about your SAT or ACT score.  Please leave your Letterman jacket at home (I love mine too – the picture above is actually my Letterman jacket – but that phase of life is over).  Maybe tell those “funny high school memory” stories a couple times.  But if your RA knows the names of your 5 closest high school friends by the end of orientation, you need to shut up about high school.  It’s not to devalue your high school experience.  It’s not that it wasn’t important.  You just have to understand that your high school experience is not your college experience.  It isn’t the reality you’re living in any more.  And it’s not an experience that your peers share with you.  Reminiscing is great and don’t be afraid to talk about high school now and then, but people will get bogged down if that’s the only thing you want to talk about.

Trays

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Note: This may be something that is exclusive to my university.  Not every school goes by this standard.

A few years back, the student government at my school decided to take a green initiative at my school.  They encouraged everyone to stop using trays in the cafeteria so there would be less dishes to wash.   And it worked.  People stopped using trays.  But the trays are still there.  So every year, when the freshmen come to campus.  They see the trays at the front of the cafeteria and they grab one.  This clogs up the lines, slows down the process, and keeps everyone away from their food that much longer.  There are very few things as scary as hungry grumpy people.  Do yourself and the people around you a favor, and don’t get a tray.   If you don’t go to my school, your best bet is to watch the RA’s and see what they’re doing.  Simple as that.  Trays at my university are one of the fastest ways to spot a freshman.  The only other people who carry trays are visitors and that elderly professor who wears a bow tie every day. (He’s my favorite).

So there you have it.  Those are my 5 pieces of advice to avoid being an obvious freshman.   Remember, it’s not a problem to be a freshman.  It’s just important that you’re transitioning into the campus community quickly.  You want to fit in and be welcomed.  The best way to do that is to show the upperclassmen that you’re thinking about a little more than just yourself.  If you do the things I mentioned to avoid being an inconvenience, you’ll quickly gain respect from those people around you.  And don’t forget, this is exciting!  You’re going into college!  You’re starting your adult life.  Have fun with it!