Honest Confidence and the Lies of the Best

It’s been another busy month with lots of challenges, changes, great opportunities, and much room for growth. I don’t know if it’s the product of the slow, subtle crafting of my own thinking or a cruel joke by a menacing world (…I think it’s more of the former), but one of my greatest challenges and opportunities as of late involved the collision of these things – personal introspection and an opportunity to speak. I spoke on a question that’s been hanging around my mind for years but suddenly became especially – even painfully – relevant to me over the past few months.

“How does one become more confident?”

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Death and Social Media: Facebook Friends For Life

Anders Nilsen. Big Questions.

It’s been said too many times that social media is changing our relationships and degrading our ability to genuinely connect with others, but all those “superficial” interactions take on a unique significance when social media meets death. In a totally bizarre way, social media enables us to be friends with dead people.

And for that, I’m very grateful. Continue reading

Why We Suck So Much: Millennial Malaise and Our Bad Relationships

photoI’m part of a lost generation, so despite all of the other things that I’d rather write about I’ve decided to sit down and write about being a fucking Millennial.

I’m ashamed already. Please, don’t rub it in.

Why write this now? Maybe it’s because I really AM that self-absorbed (but isn’t that some kind of birthright from being raised up in the 90’s?). Maybe it’s because I’m just upset and have been coddled and gold-starred enough to think that my feelings matter and should be expressed.

To be honest, I don’t want to contribute to the same shit that we hear all the time about 20-somethings having no clue about anything or the embarrassment of living a parent-dependent, 30-year-old adolescence. Neither is the motivation here to straighten out all of the contradictory things people say about us Millennials; that we’re altruistic yet severely narcissistic, that we’re the most educated generation to date yet we say our clothes are what set us apart from other generations.

The real reason I decided to write about my generational existence is because Aziz Ansari gets me, a CBS article rubbed me the wrong way, and lately I’ve been living as a severely underemployed,* single Millennial lady with a dual-title PhD. In other words, I embody a classic case of Millennial Malaise: educated but broke, smart but single, passionate but pretty lost, all in all. And like nearly everyone else my age, I keep asking, “But why?!?! WHY DOES EVERYTHING FEEL SO HARD?!?!” Continue reading

The Problem Is That (You Think) You Think Too Much

stop and think

Hardly anyone has heard of philosophical counseling, but now that I’ve started my own philosophical counseling and consulting business, I’ve had loads of opportunities to describe the “how’s” and “why’s” of this form of philosophical practice. I start by emphasizing that, at the heart of the matter, philosophical counseling entails thinking about our lives and experiences in ways that help us become better people who think, live, and feel better along the way. Even though I think that’s a pretty compelling description of what’s at stake, it’s been met with a variety of responses.

Some people get it right away and are really excited to learn of such a “practical” approach to life’s questions. Some people are genuinely intrigued and want to learn more. But there’s another response that I hadn’t fully anticipated, which, although less common than the first two, has been frequent enough that it motivated me to write this post. 

Some people respond by saying, “Thinking as a solution to life’s problems? Huh. I think the real problem happens when people think too much.”

Oh, snap.

Now, let’s be honest. Approaching the topic of philosophical counseling per se is a new thing for me, so there’s a solid chance that my elevator pitch needs some polishing. But since I’ve heard it more than once or twice, I couldn’t just chalk this skeptical – if not down right dismissive – response up to poor marketing. I started to think about thinking, what it would mean to think too much, and if thinking too much is really a problem. (One thing is for sure: If thinking too much turned out to be a problem, it would be a major problem, one that could undermine all that I’ve been thinking and doing and working up to for so long. In the spirit of my philosophical commitment, then, and since I’m all in favor of critical self-reflection, I took this to be an important point of exploration, even if considering the possibility felt a tad bit risky).

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Fight or Flight? Don’t Go With That Flow

In the past few years of blogging I’ve written plenty about break ups, the upheaval and uncertainty that can follow in their wake, and I’ve optimistically chimed over and over again, “Things change. Something will happen.” Those phrases are meant to settle some fears and angst about the flux of life, the unexpected, perhaps even the undesirable, and make it at least more acceptable, more manageable, more palatable. One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is my sense that, yes, things change and something will happen.

In response to such changes, I’ve previously referred to the Taoist notion of wu-wei, or effortless action. Simply put, when life is likened to a river with all of its rapids, eddies, and currents, I’ve strongly accepted the wisdom in “going with the flow,” and I’ve applied this insight to my life, especially my relationships. However, thanks to a handful of conversations with a handful of people in the past week, I’ve decided to nuance my appreciation of going with the flow, perhaps in multiple arenas of life, but especially in relationships.

Because sometimes, and in some situations, going with the flow is just too easy.

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I May Be a Failure, But At Least I’m Not Bitter

dissEvidently, there’s a fine line between “making it” and “utter failure,” and, right now, I’m managing to stand squarely on it.

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“When Did You Choose To Be Straight?” About Two Years Ago.

tomatoesYou may be one of the 3 million people who have seen this video by now. As Minnesota becomes the twelfth state to legalize marriage equality (the sixth state in six months), it seems like our cultural consciousness is finally starting to shift with respect to how we think about sexuality. Given the resurgent popularity of the “When Did You Choose to Be Straight?” video over the last week, if you’re a straight person who isn’t on board with this cultural shift yet, don’t fret. The central question in this video will apparently enlighten and revolutionize the understanding you thought you had about your sexual self and others. As the creators of the video note, “asking the right question can be more important than anything you can tell someone.”

I love the idea that a simple question could wipe out homophobia. However, despite the great praise that the video has received for asking one of the seemingly most revolutionary questions, I don’t think that this is a good question, at least not in the way that it is asked. If anything, in the video this question assumes an answer, a simple answer that we should not be so quick to celebrate. In fact, I think it’s the wrong answer and it’s bizarre that no one seems to be calling the video’s message into question. That’s to be expected, though, because when we ask poorly formed questions we set ourselves up to get poorly thought out responses. And then we accept them with open arms, even if they are politically detrimental to our own cause.

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Person vs. Lying Robot: A Lesson In Ethics

Screen Shot 2013-04-20 at 9.28.07 PM

I’ve learned a lot this semester while teaching my first class in Medical and Healthcare Ethics. We’ve covered a range of topics that I hope to eventually make videos and write posts about, but one insight in particular has repeatedly been made apparent to me in my personal life: It’s inappropriate to respond to everything in the same way. Doing so not only increases your likelihood of responding to someone or some situation in the wrong way. It may also mean that there are some deeper things going on that are worth thinking about. For your own sake as well as everyone else’s. Continue reading

From the Horse’s Mouth: Why Philosophy?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had the great pleasure of meeting up with some really wonderful people last weekend at the Advancing Public Philosophy Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. This happy little Think for a Change video is one of my favorite things that came out of my experience there. Danielle La Susa, Avram (Oz) Blaker, and José Muñiz join me as we discuss philosophy and how one can experience the so-called crisis of not having any answers with playfulness, humility, and strength.

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Take Your Present Back: The Past Is Not a Trap

being and time

Yesterday was Daylight Savings and by springing forward we “lost” an hour. Perhaps your witty Facebook friends also updated their statuses by asking: “Where did the time go?!” I’ll roll along with serendipity because, as of late, I’ve been thinking a lot about time, how it shapes our lives, and how conventional wisdom on the matter can be a little misleading. The saying goes: “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift; that’s why they call it the ‘Present.'” Sure. But there’s more to it than that. Continue reading