When, exactly, did being nice lose its value?

As kids, it’s what we were taught; what we knew. My parents drilled this concept into my head since before I can remember, and when I entered school, our days were filled with learning all about kindness. I mean, they don’t call it KINDergarten for nothing. (I’m so punny. I know.)

QUICK SIDE NOTE: Who remembers Rainbow Fish? Oh, how I loved that lil’ guy.

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Seriously though, at that age, nothing in the world was more important than treating others with love and respect. Nothing was more important than kindness.

But somewhere along the way – particularly when we swapped our toy blocks for textbooks – nice lost its purpose. How was being nice going to help me solve that math problem? What did being nice have to do with receiving an A on that paper? Where was being nice going to go on my resume?

Growing up, we were taught to be nice, but as we got older, we learned that being nice gets you nowhere.

“Describe yourself in 3 words,” demands the woman interviewing you for a job. Never in a million years will the word nice leave your mouth, not because you’re mean, but because it serves no purpose. Just about every word in the dictionary will come to mind first.

You’re driven? Great. You’ll get assignments done.
You’re self-motivated? Awesome. You’ll be an efficient worker.
You’re…nice? Uh…Congratulations?

Needless to say, you probably wouldn’t get that job.

The thing is, I feel like nice is so undervalued and so underrated because you don’t even notice it’s there…until it’s not. Suddenly, smiles have been replaced by glares; inclusivity by ostracism. It’s like a light has burnt out without explanation. I didn’t know that bulb had an expiration date, you think as you rummage through your drawer, desperately searching for a replacement. But it’s useless. You’ll never find one because it’s not yours to find. You can’t control how bright others choose to shine. You can’t control how other people treat you.

The absence of nice is louder than nice itself.

Honestly, when it comes down to it, I don’t want to be anything other than nice. I mean, of course I want to be a lot of other things, but if I had to choose just one personality trait to posses, my decision would be easy. Ambition, drive, and intellect are all great, but they don’t really mean much if you’re not a good human being.

Each and every person has the ability to affect hundreds of people a day. You don’t have to be Mother Theresa or the president of the United States. All you have to be – literally, if nothing else, the only thing you have to be – is nice. A smile. A compliment. A gesture. When it’s this easy to be nice, there’s just no excuse not to be.

I have decided that there is no better word to be called than nice.

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An Honest Review of Megyn Kelly’s “Settle for More”

I read it in less than 24 hours.

For all of you scholarly bookworms out there, this probably seems like nothing. But for a gal like me who has multiple research papers to write, videos to edit, and friends to hang out with, this is a big deal. Bottom line: Regardless of how busy you are, when you find a good book, you’ll make time.

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Megyn Kelly’s Settle For More begins on what is easily the most talked-about day of her life: Debate Day 2015. Ah yes, the day she made herself Public Enemy No. 1 of Mr. Donald J. Trump. After posing her now infamous question, which brought to light all of the negative, disparaging things Trump has said about women in the past, it was game on.

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But what many of us didn’t know is that the game had long ago begun. Just as we’re getting a taste of what really ignited this inextinguishable fire, we’re launched back to Syracuse, N.Y. where one of the most famous women in news/journalism/politics/life? was born.

Here’s the thing about this book: It doesn’t so much drop crazy bombshells as it does fill in the pieces. While it’s most certainly not a tell-all – there is a lot that Ms. Kelly chooses to keep secret, as she should – it is still interesting. Very interesting. In a world where everyone is expected to always be politically correct – especially journalists – Kelly isn’t afraid to actually speak her mind. She doesn’t take herself too seriously (like the time she accidentally said “Fuckabee” instead of “Huckabee” on live television) and never tries to be anyone but herself. I think that’s her strength. She’s not “Megyn Kelly: journalist” or “Megyn Kelly: former lawyer.” She’s just Megyn Kelly.

Her downfall – at least when it comes to this book – is that she’s not very relatable. I mean, how many people do you know who got rejected from a job for being “too perfect?” True story.

Even her very emotional bullying story was marred by the fact that she was voted “Most Popular” the very next year. It’s just kinda hard to empathize, ya know?

But that’s not to say she didn’t have her struggles. For all the laughs that this book brings – and yes, I did laugh out loud on several occasions – there are also a few dark times, one of which, yes, is the Year of Trump. Prior to reading this, I never realized just how bad it was for her. Having to bring a bodyguard on a trip to Disney World is some serious business.

Kelly also hinted at having been poisoned by her driver on the day of The Debate when she suddenly fell horribly ill and began vomiting uncontrollably. But then she added, almost as an irrelevant afterthought, “I later learned there was a stomach virus going around – Rand Paul was also sick that night.” Personally, I think she included this last part for lawsuit purposes, but really does believe she was poisoned.

If you picked up this book just to hear juicy, salacious details, you might want to put it back down. Settle for More is very tastefully written, which is a nice way of saying she really doesn’t reveal too much. As a reader, this is always disappointing, but as a human being, I respect it. She’s not trying to trash anyone and she’s not trying to bring anyone down. Even with the whole “Donald Trump thing,” she’s not downright bashing him as much as she’s just telling her side of the story. Unfortunately for you, me, and every other nosy human in this world, the Megyn/Donald meeting inside Trump Tower was “off the record.” Oh, to be a fly on the wall…

One thing is clear, though: Donald Trump is relentless and Donald Trump is mean.

I’m sure many people bought this book just to hear all about Roger Ailes’ sexual harassment, and if that’s the case, they’ll be sorely disappointed. It was only a brief mention in the last chapter with very few details. She actually hadn’t planned on including any of this until her former colleague Gretchen Carlson came out in July with her own accusations against Ailes. It goes to show how much goes on behind closed doors that no one will ever know about…

In a 324-page book about one’s entire life, of course things are going to get left out. Still, I was disappointed to see just how much was. For instance, I never really felt like I got to “meet” her first husband, Dan. He was just someone briefly mentioned in passing. Similarly, she had applied to Syracuse University’s journalism program before she decided to become a lawyer, but got rejected. Nowhere was this mentioned in Settle for More. It makes you wonder what else she left out.

Still, this is the kind of book that you devour in a day (unless you’re some kind of scholarly bookworm, but we’ve already gone over this – I’m average). Hearing about her journey from three-figure-salary, corporate law badass to I’m going to throw it all away and accept a $17,000 reporting job instead is riveting.

It’s also fun to hear Kelly’s thoughts and opinions on various topics from sexual harassment to bullying to feminism. I’ve taken a special interest in Megyn Kelly and her story mostly because I love journalism and politics, but I also think this is a book for women in general. Kelly’s not one of those deluded, politically correct robots. Sexism exists, she says, and you want to know something? It’ll continue to exist. But you don’t have to let it stop you.

“You may not get invited to the bar with the boys. But do better, be better, and the odds are the hungover boys will soon be asking themselves how you keep getting such great opportunities.”

Sounds like a plan, Megyn.

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Why I’m Pro-Choice

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In theory, being pro-life would be nice. The name in and of itself sounds like a melody. I mean, how could you be anything but? If you’re not pro-life, does that mean you’re pro-death?

I remember being in 6th grade, sitting in art class at my super conservative elementary school. I was sitting at a large, rectangular table with my classmates, painting trees and talking serious politics as, you know, all 6th graders do.

The topic of abortion came up and everyone started playing the “what would you do?” game. Essentially the question went like this: If you were to find out you were pregnant tomorrow, would you have an abortion?

Every single person at that table said they would absolutely have the baby. And as a matter of fact, they added, they’d also raise the baby. It was only right.

I sat there painting my tree and I got a funny feeling in my stomach. It’s not that I thought they were lying to me, but rather, to themselves. It aggravated me how sure they were of their answers; how easy they thought it was. It’s so easy to be sitting in 6th grade art class and declare that you’d never have an abortion. That people who do are evil. That no matter what you’d have that baby. Right now you’re painting trees so it’s easy, but what if you were raped? Would it still be so easy?

The idea of terminating an unborn child actually makes me physically nauseous. And it’s something that I feel should absolutely never be considered after a certain period of time. I have a serious problem with ending the life of a developed baby. Trust me, I do.

But I also have a serious problem with hypocrites.

It’s just too easy. Right now I’m nowhere in that position, so it’s easy for me to say that of course I would never believe in abortion. Of course, I’d never do that. Of course, no one ever should.

But how can I say that? How can I ever know what it’s like to walk in those shoes? I can’t imagine it’s that easy.

From a young age, I’ve always been outspoken in my beliefs. And that day in 6th grade art class was no exception. As everyone sat there declaring with absolute certainty that they, under no circumstances, would ever have an abortion, I cleared my throat and said what many were surely thinking, but none would say.

Immediately, the room fell silent.

“You…what?”

I cleared my throat.

“I said I don’t know what I’d do.”

As expected, I sat there for the remainder of the class being judged, attacked, and looked down upon.

“How could you possibly do such a thing?” they snapped at me.

“How could you possibly know?” I calmly asked back, my voice shaking only a little.

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Guilty or Not Guilty?

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Back when I was interested in law, I matter-of-factly declared to my mom one day, “I want to be a prostitute.” I couldn’t understand why she was so appalled by my ambitious goals until I realized I had misspoken. What my 10-year-old self meant to say was that I wanted to be a prosecutor. Prostitute. Prosecutor. Same thing.

But upon further investigation, I realized prostitution wasn’t the only thing that wouldn’t be in my future. Prosecution would not be as well.

When most people hear of a crime on the news, their first reaction is to instantly feel sympathy for the victim and anger toward the perpetrator. But for me? I immediately jump to the defense of the criminal.

What if he didn’t do it?
What if it was a mistake?
A misunderstanding?
What if he’s sorry?

Believe me when I say how ignorant and stupid I probably sound. If someone raped and killed a woman, he doesn’t deserve redemption. And if he’s not put behind bars, he’ll probably do it again. And if he does it again, well that’s just not okay.

I know all that. And yet I always play the role of the defendant in my head. Maybe it’s because I always want to see the best in people. Or maybe I just really believe in second chances. Either way, it’s instinctual for me.

I guess it’s not so much that I side with criminals, but rather, that I need to hear both sides. Instinctually, I gravitate toward anyone who’s being targeted. If 1,000 people are hating a person, then I guess I need to be that one who doesn’t. I love exploring the other side.

Take football games for instance. When Ryan Fitzpatrick of the New York Jets throws an interception, everyone hurls insults and curse words at their TV. Sometimes I’m a part of this, but mostly, I just feel bad for the guy. While everyone’s yelling away, I’m sitting there thinking, “I can’t imagine how sad he feels right now.”

Before you call me stupid, let me just say that my brother and dad already have you covered. They assure me that he and his multi-million dollar contract will be just fine. But as an extremely empathetic person, I just can’t help my reaction.

I don’t care about the fact that he just ruined the game for us. He’s human. And I guess that’s a big part of my weird instinct to defend people. If nothing else, humanity unites us all. It’s just so hard for me to give up on people. To find them purely evil. And yes, people like that do exist in the world, like ISIS. But I’m talking about the people who are sorry. Who have regrets. Who are truly human.

I’m not saying that criminals shouldn’t go to jail. Not at all. I’m just saying I could never be the one to put them there. I’m too much of a softy (in a bad way) and I have the utmost respect for the prosecutors who have the strength, skills, and resilience to put them there.

Prostitutes are pretty cool, too.

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Why Me?

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When I was younger, whenever something bad happened to me the very first thought that popped into my mind was, “why me?”

Why did I have to break my wrist?
Why did have to develop allergies?
Why do I have to wear glasses?

I can actually remember thinking, “This shouldn’t be happening to me. It should be happening to some random girl in China.” I didn’t mean this to be offensive in any way to China or Chinese people anywhere. China was just the farthest place away that my primitive brain could think of. It felt like it’d be easy to exchange my problems with a random girl across the world. Her life is probably perfect, I’d think. I’d gladly take her “problems.” Not that she probably even has any.

How naive!

Eventually I realized how horrible this mindset was and realized I needed to change. How could I be so willing to dump my problems on another human being? How could I be so stupid to assume her problems probably weren’t even that bad? Of course, my problems were the worst. was suffering the most. Oh, how wonderful it is that I’m no longer that callous.

Now whenever something bad happens to me, I immediately say to myself, “Why not me?” This is probably going to sound weird, but I always picture in my mind that little, fictitious girl in China. I’ll smile to myself and be glad that it’s me experiencing this instead of her. I know that’s not the way this whole thing works. Just because I fall and scrape my knee doesn’t mean I’m taking one for the team and preventing all kids across the world from scraping theirs. But still, it’s a comforting thought.

I just hope that little girl in China is doing okay, I’ll think to myself.

…yet another racist white woman

Ellen Degeneres made a joke…and the whole world went crazy.

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Ellen’s known for photoshopping herself onto celebrities in pictures. From posing next to a naked Kim Kardashian to joining the Harry Potter clan, she’s photoshopped it all. And Olympic athlete Usain Bolt was no exception. But because of this picture – this one singular picture – all of a sudden she’s a racist and sexist and a bigot. People immediately jumped to the defense of poor Usain Bolt who is the target of yet another racist white supremacist. How could Ellen be so insensitive?

GIVE ME A BREAK.

Sometimes it seems like there are people in this world whose sole purpose is to wait around, just looking for something to pounce on.

And honestly, these people are doing more bad than good for the fight against racism. Think about it like this: If cops were going around writing every single person tickets for absolutely no reason, we’d then have absolutely no respect for policemen and certainly no respect for the law. It would become a joke to us.

That’s precisely what happens when people try to label things as racist that just aren’t. Suddenly the word racist holds no meaning. If a lighthearted joke like Ellen’s is racist, then I guess I’m racist too. And then I guess racism isn’t even so bad after all. Obviously I’m not racist, nor do I think racism is okay in any circumstances. But labeling things as racist that aren’t is doing such an injustice to every single person involved.

The most ironic thing of all is that out of everyone involved in this situation, Ellen is probably the least racist. The opposite of racism is seeing people for who they are, regardless of skin color. It’s when you look past someone’s exterior and into their heart, without even thinking about it. That’s exactly what Ellen did when she posted that photo. Its implications didn’t even cross her mind because why should they? His skin color didn’t even matter because why should it? The truth is, if Usain Bolt was a white man, none of this would be happening. But because he’s black, people saw an entirely different meaning to the picture. Ellen, however, did not. Nor did any person who isn’t racist. Because once again, skin color didn’t even cross our minds.

These people are doing the exact opposite of what anyone who is fighting against racism should be doing. They are further segregating us; further dividing us. They are creating good guys and bad guys and enemies out of innocent people.

Do you want to know what Usain Bolt did when he saw the picture?

He retweeted it.

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The Curse of Curiosity

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I’ve always been intrigued by people who don’t wonder.

Whenever someone tells a story, no matter the topic, a million questions instantly pop into my mind. It’s like I turn into some sort of investigator who needs to know every single minute detail from the what to the who to the when. Before the (understandably) annoyed storyteller can get halfway through the story, I’ve already made her go back to the beginning a dozen times. More detail. More information. More answers.

I never thought this was odd until I became the storyteller; the roles were now reversed. Time after time, my friends would listen to my tales, but time after time it was just that: they would simply listen. They wouldn’t feel the need to interject or push for any more detail than I had provided. They’d let out a laugh if it was funny or a gasp if it was shocking. But no questions ensued. When I realized this, two things happened.

(1) I became mildly concerned that my stories simply weren’t interesting enough.

(2) I became self-conscious. I need to be more laid-back. More chill. If someone leaves something out of the story, it’s probably not that important anyway. I made a note to simply listen the next time a friend told a story.

But I just couldn’t.

Why? Because I was too curious. There was so much I needed to know.

I’ve always been very interested in human beings. I have my own set of beliefs, morals, and standards, but I’m not the type of person who thinks it’s my way or the highway. I’m always interested in hearing the other side of an issue or what a person really thinks. While I often surround myself with like-minded people, there’s nothing I love more than speaking with someone who couldn’t be any more different than me. I’m open to change. Who knows? Maybe you just might change my mind. I want to be challenged and I want to challenge others. The problem? Not everyone likes a challenge.

As a matter of fact, most people don’t. When I fire my questions, people instantly become defensive. And 9 times out of 10, they perceive it as one thing and one thing only: judgment. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called judgmental in my life. And sometimes people are right. We all judge others based on what they wear or how they talk or who they’re with. It’s human nature; instinct. But most of the time, I simply just want to know.

I have no idea why, but it seems as though everyone has it in their head that two people can’t disagree. God forbid two people have opposing views on religion or politics and it’s the end of the world. But WHY? If anything, that makes things so  much more interesting. Unfortunately, most people don’t see it that way and most people don’t even care.

This brings me back to my original thought: I’ve always been intrigued by those who don’t wonder. How can people simply accept the fact that the sky is blue and the sun sets every night? How can they not ask questions?

My curiosity has led me to over-think. And be perceived as judgmental. And nosy. And argumentative. And annoying.

That is its curse.

But it has also led me to explore. And gain understanding. And knowledge. And, as a matter of fact, to be the exact opposite of judgmental.

That is its blessing.

Bottom line: We all have different personality traits that make us who we are. In my opinion, I don’t think they’re inherently good or inherently bad. I think that’s up to us to decide. I’m curious. Nothing I say or do will change that. But instead of slapping on a label of nosy or contrary or argumentative, I choose to merely say: I’m curious. And what’s wrong with that?

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