“WHAT’S THAT THING YOU’RE DOING ON INSTAGRAM?”

Dear Reader,

You probably don’t know this because you probably don’t follow me on Instagram (I don’t blame you), but I’ve been posting a picture every day since the beginning of 2016.

I have had to use a few throwbacks and birthdays as cop outs,

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but for the most part (and especially recently), I’ve been pretty good at taking a new picture every day. But pretty much every day, I get another person asking me why I’m doing this.

So here’s why:

1. I started over J-Term as a way to basically force me to get out of the house and be social. Miami’s break is crazy long compared to other colleges and I really just needed an excuse or motivation to do stuff. And, as dumb as it sounds, it worked. Motivation comes in weird ways sometimes so I just roll with it. 

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2. I know a lot of people who have done this before (shoutout to Zach–the first person I saw do it back in 2014) and I think it’d be really cool to be able to look back on what I did each day at the end of the year.

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3. It makes me take pictures. I have a love-hate relationship with pictures because I have a love-hate relationship with myself, period. I basically developed a reflex of running from cameras and constantly designating myself as the “photographer” for group pictures, but that turned very quickly into running away from social opportunities and allowing myself to be left out of a lot of could-be memories. And it’s weird that a photo-a-day challenge is the thing that motivates me to hang out with people and jump in front of a camera, but, again, I’m not questioning where the motivation comes from as long as the results are positive.

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4. Social media is fun. I like being able to update my instagram account every day and I like it when people come up to me and tell me they’ve been following my “project”–which is something I didn’t even expect to happen. But it’s weird how many comments and compliments I’ve gotten from people about my pictures–and even my Snapchat stories too! (I have a newfound passion for snapchat.) And I understand how social media can be dangerous and can be seen as just another chance for people to allow themselves to be validated by numbers or whatever, but I don’t care about the likes or the “feedback” or whatever anymore (which is something I’m embarrassed to say I ever even cared about.) It’s just a lot cooler when people come up to me in person and say that they loved a picture or a snap story made them laugh or they feel “honored” to be in today’s Instagram. That’s the part that makes me feel good.

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5. This. I read this forever ago and it still stuck with me as one of the coolest things ever. And I don’t know if this project will last more than 366 days or if I’ll even want it to (people tend to get sick of it by the time the project is up), but for now, I like that I’m finding the beauty in every day.

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I like that I’m telling friends to come in for a selfie or allowing them to take pictures of just me.

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I like this project, and I think I’ll just stop when I don’t like it anymore.

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Sincerely,

Sammy

LET’S HELP SOME FELLAS OUT

Dear Reader,

Sorry this is probably really annoying but my friends are in this contest and if they get enough votes they get to go to travel around Europe with the challenge of only being able to use RedBull for currency.

I told them I’d share this on my blog to try and get more votes for them but I really don’t know how much help this will do. Still, can’t hurt, right?

Here’s the link to vote:

www.redbullcanyoumakeit.com/en/applications/5442/

And here’s their video:

This opportunity would be so cool for them and I’m honestly really jealous that I didn’t know about this in enough time to make my own video. (But look out for me next year!! :D)

Thanks in advance for anyone who wants to take the moment to vote!!

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. Voting ends in 2 days and you only get one vote per Facebook account!

[NEW VIDEO] I’LL FIND A WAY – CARRIE HOPE FLETCHER (COVER)

Dear Reader,

I did an awful job explaining why I did this, so I ended up cutting most of the explanation out of the video.

Basically, I feel like you can get better at things if you just put yourself out there and do it (channeling my inner Shia LaBeouf here). I know I’ll never be a good singer and I’ll never have a range like Carrie Hope Fletcher or Sia or Lea Michele or anyone really. I know that, it’s fine. But I’ve always wanted to be at least a decent singer and I think (I hope) I can improve.

So my logic here is this: I got better at writing by having a blog and forcing myself to write more. I got better at editing videos and starting my YouTube channel and making videos. So maybe if I sit down every once in a while and sing on camera, I can try and get better.

We’ll see.

So this is a video of me from the beginning of January, trying out a cover of Carrie Hope Fletcher’s new song. I’ll probably end up making this video private one day but for now, let’s just put it out.

Why not try something new?

Sincerely,

Sammy

HIGH ON LIFE

Dear Reader,

It’s true that life’s a roller coaster, but right now’s a good part. And I’m not thinking about how long this is going to last or what’s inevitably bound to go wrong. I’m just enjoying the ride.

Second semester is great. My classes are really interesting and applicable to my future careers, and I’m at the point once again where I’m excited to do my homework. That’s how you know it’s good.

I’m taking a teacher leadership class and a class about learners with exceptional abilities. The people in them are so cool and the conversations that are stimulated by our readings each night are so interesting and it just makes me so psyched to have a class of my own.

My hardest class is probably linguistics, which is an 8am twice a week, but at least I have one of my closest friends to help me through it. And my easiest classes are for my journalism major, but I think that’s because I’m so excited about them (sidebar, I realize that I’ve been using this word a TON so far, but I looked up synonyms and I’m not about to call my classes arousing or thrilling, so we’re sticking with this.)

One of my classes is about feature writing, which is honestly just making me look at everyone as a possible story subject, which is so cool! It really makes me want to pull a HONY and start going around campus asking random people questions.

The other journalism class is about sex and the media and some of our future units revolve around Missy Elliot and Nicki Minaj, so that’s clearly an awesome class, too.

I’m also currently working on an article with a professor and classmate that will be published in an Educator’s Journal, which is something I’m already SO proud of, and we’ve only done the research!

As great as the present is, though, I am SO pumped for the future. I’m going to Gulf Shores for Spring Break and Hilton Head again this summer and I’m currently DREAMING of going to Vidcon in June, but we’ll see if that actually happens. Whether or not it does, though, Sarah and I have some big things planned that are SURE to happen.

But I get to see her along with the rest of my family (and my dog!!!) this weekend when I go home and I’ll get to go to Parker for coffee and the junior high to see little ones put on “Bye Bye Birdie” and maybe I’ll film a video but who knows.

I’m just loving life and it’s about time that I share some positive vibes on this thing.

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Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. If you like that picture, you might like the other 20 ones I shared last fall. Revisiting that post makes me happy. 🙂

MY MEETING WITH STANDARDS (HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY TO ME)

This Friday I really only got out of bed two times, and only to get food or go to the bathroom. I slept a lot, I missed my one class, and I really didn’t do anything productive.

I had a few days like that last semester, except the doctor had a different name to explain it. That was called “depression”, whereas Friday’s diagnosis could just be called the flu or a head cold. But the difference is that I didn’t need to go anywhere to get that diagnosis because I knew I could basically just sleep it off, drink some orange juice, eat lots of sodium (for my POTS), and in a few days it would correct itself.

I didn’t know that last semester. Or even throughout freshman year, for that matter. I didn’t know if I’d ever wake up, not feeling heavy, or numb, or just yearning to feel something. I didn’t know if a day would go by where I didn’t cry or I didn’t constantly think about dropping out of school, or just quitting. I didn’t know what these feelings were and that they even had a name, and that’s mostly because of the stigma behind terms like “depression” and “anxiety” and “ADD.”

There’s this statistic I read somewhere about people who take their own lives, and how they normally don’t have that feeling of community–whether it’s a support system or a church group or just close friends or family. In many senses of the word, they feel alone.

When I joined Phi Mu, I felt less alone. We had a sleepover before initiation and we went around the room and talked about the best time and the worst time of our lives. I was so moved by the openness of everyone and the atmosphere that was created–people talked about drugs, rape, the death of loved ones, even stories of walking in on a brother attempting suicide. Nothing was held back because these were all stories of things we had overcome. And now we had each other as a support system, should we need it. We knew what everyone went through at their worst, and we felt less alone.

My story of seeking out therapy after a professor referred me (due to a few rather dark, personal essays) seemed trivial in comparison, but I got a lot of love for sharing. And a few months later, a girl in my pledge class reached out to me with questions about it, because she was feeling the same way and wanted to find a professional to talk to.

Depression isn’t some rare, terminal disease that needs to be whispered about, but sometimes it is. People don’t know that much about it, and it’s because people are afraid to talk. I didn’t even know until last month that my ADD medicine can sometimes be deemed useless due to my depression. The brain is confusing AF, and we shouldn’t be scared off from trying to understand it and talk to one another about it. Because when we don’t, that’s when people can slip through the cracks.

Tomorrow I have a meeting because right now I’m on probation for not meeting grades–meaning that last semester I received a GPA of 2.6, which was actually pretty surprising for me. I mean, I didn’t think I did that bad. But I guess I did, and that requires a punishment–a probation period–because I didn’t meet standards.

And it’s interesting, because you could ask me anything about the Shakespeare plays I read or the media and communication class I took. Ask me about rhetoric or geography or how to write a solid news story for video or promote literacy in a high school class, and I could answer. I did learn a lot last semester, but just not in time, I guess. I didn’t always meet deadlines, I didn’t always go to class, and you can’t reward that behavior. It’s not fair to.

So tomorrow I’ll have to sit in front of a committee and give my side of the story, because although the numbers don’t lie, they never tell the full truth either. And it’ll be good practice for me, I guess, because I know that for the rest of my life, I’ll have to fight to be seen as more than a number. More than a transcript of grades or a piece of paper. Because I know I’ll be able to make a great teacher or a journalist or whatever I choose to do, and I know that this education will help me in the future, but the numbers aren’t really helping my case right now.

And it’s funny because I can tell them all that I’ve learned. I can tell them about all the wonderful relationships I have with my professors, and I can even talk about the article I’m co-authoring that’s going to go in some scholarly journal at the end of the semester, but they won’t really care about that. Because I could contribute all I have and work to the most of my ability, but if I don’t make grades, I could be dropped from Phi Mu, no questions asked.

So tomorrow, I don’t really know what I’m going to say. All I know is that at the end, I’ll ensure them that this semester is going to be better. I take adderall in the morning and citalopram at night. I have a supportive doctor and supportive friends. I’ve finally told my full family about what’s been going on with me. I haven’t had a panic attack in a month, and I even have a therapist I can turn to, should I need even more help. And I’ll end by saying that so far, I have all A’s, because that might be the only thing they really want to hear.

Because, again, we don’t know how to validate anything if we can’t quantify it.

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. You should listen to this wonderful song by Dodie Clark:

SHOUTOUT TO MY BROTHER

Dear Reader,

It’s interesting to think of how I talk about my family. Most everyone who knows me knows about Sarah (because she’s constantly featured on my twitter/instagram/blog/facebook/snapchat). Yes, we all know she’s amazing and adorable and kind-hearted and sensitive because I showcase her all the time.

Then we have my parents, who I try to refrain from mentioning on here–at least when it’s negative. Most people know about my mom, though. A simple Canadian with outstanding manners (my favorite example is how she apologizes to Siri when she is misinterpreted). She’s a very typical stay-at-home mom who my friends adore, and then there’s my dad who is a very typical working dad. A family doctor in town who gets home between 5 and 6 and tends to spend the rest of the night working alone in the basement or watching shows with my mom or playing poker with some guys in the community. And it’s not like he was an absent father or anything, but because we don’t have the best relationship, I tend to hold back my feelings (or at least save them for my journal). Because, to be honest, our relationship has a lot of ups and downs (or a lot of downs with the occasional up) and I don’t think constantly sharing my side of the story publicly on a website that he could potentially find one day is a good idea in the slightest.

I will say this, though: while we butt heads on just about everything, the most important thing he has taught me is the value of family. A little ironic, right? But he was married once before he met my mom and together, him and Carol had Caitlin, my older half-sister. She’s another family member that many people don’t know about. She grew up in a house two hours away from us and we did see her fairly often (considering how busy we all kept ourselves), but that alone was enough to keep us from having a “typical” sibling relationship, I think. I still 100% call her my sister (“half” if I’m clarifying) and I love her family dearly, it was just different.

But, as the title indicates, this post is inspired by my brother–who is frequently forgotten by my friends (just as much as Caitlin) which is a little odd if you think about it because he is only one year ahead of me and seventeen months older. But we’ve had an interesting relationship. It started off great, back when Sarah was the third wheel and Sean and I were best buds, but then we were put in the same class (a 4th grade/5th grade experiment) and that was where we honed our most defining qualities to one another: my annoyingness and his tendency to be a dick.

Then we just kind of grew up wanting more distance. We could still be civil and get along, but I think being grouped together for so long was really damaging. I don’t know how he felt about me, but I mostly just hated being in his shadow. He was always hilarious and the class clown and going on adventures with his big friend group and having funny stories to tell. Meanwhile, I was hiding away in my room because I was somewhere between introverted and constantly self-conscience and I still had no idea who I was.

He had always been so sure, though. And, of course, sibling rivalry kicked in because he was always better at soccer and smarter naturally and didn’t have to try to get people to like him. I was always just a little behind.

When he went to college, though, I think we got the separation we needed. He was suddenly at the other edge of the state and we hardly ever saw each other. And I think that’s helping us repair this relationship.

But that’s the other thing, I don’t know if he wants the relationship repaired, because he surely could get by without it. He has the same family as I do, but he gets different things from different people. He has a dad he truly looks up to and a sweet mom who is always just trying to do everything right. He has a half-sister who has her own hilarious family and is a blast to hang out with, and he has a younger sister who adores him and can actually maintain a healthy relationship. And then there’s me–someone who can fight with him for hours and knows how to annoy the hell out of him.

But he probably doesn’t need that in his life.

Okay, this post kind of took a turn I wasn’t expecting (and it’s turning out to be much longer than I intended), but my whole point of this was to talk about a new resolution I have: to re-connect with my family. Because today I was sitting in EDP and we were talking about creativity and I was thinking to myself how Sean is one of the most creative people I know. And I don’t know if he knows that, because I’ve never told him.

So I want to make some changes this year because whenever I see stories of sisters who don’t get along or don’t particularly like each other or are just missing out on the relationship that I get to have with my sister, I am saddened to the point of tears. It’s why I cried during Frozen and it’s why I cried last week while watching a short video called “Where’s Molly” for class.

And then I think, some people out there have this kind of relationship with their brother. This indescribable, wonderful thing that can’t be put into words because it’s just the simple fact that revolves around the importance of family. And I don’t want to grow up and have kids who don’t get to learn soccer or hear the funny stories or get to look up to their uncle, all because their mom was too stubborn for too long and refused to just grow up.

Sincerely,

Sammy

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AN OUTRAGED LETTER TO INSTAGRAM

Dear Reader,

My life is ridiculous enough for mildly entertaining stories, but not ridiculous enough for me to eventually make a sitcom out of my experiences, and that makes me sad.

If you don’t already know, I’ve been posting on instagram every day this year for a 365-day-challenge (except it’s a leap year so 366 days, except this story brings me back down to 365. You’ll get it in a sec.) So yesterday I posted this picture:

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With THIS caption: (literally this same exact one because I always send the caption to my sister first and if she says it’s funny, I’ll post it and if she says it’s not, I’ll say YOU’RE NOT FUNNY and post it.)

“I prefer to take my selfies on Snapchat because honestly the filters are 100x better.”

And THEN today I log on and see THIS.

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NOW, a little MORE background information. When something on instagram could be offensive or doesn’t agree with the morals behind my sorority, we can get “ducked” by our risk management chair, which basically means they put an emoji of a duck on our picture and we either have to change the caption or delete the photo because it is not appropriate to post (in one way or another).

In the past four days, I’ve been ducked TWICE.

And then today this happens??

So basically what I’ve decided is that I am incapable of making captions that aren’t offensive and I should probably just give up on instagram before I am ostracized by everyone who’s ever known me.

But anyway, I sent in a complaint and I’ll let you know what they say in return. Because honestly this is more entertaining to me than studying for linguistics.

Here’s the note:

“Dear Instagram,

I am very upset because my picture yesterday was taken down for an unclear reason. You can go look at my recent post to see both the picture and the message that I received when I logged on today, but basically I posted a picture that I took on snap chat and said, “I prefer to take my selfies on snap chat because honestly the filters are 100x better.” The picture featured me using the snap chat app to look like a bunny. It was a joke (v funny in my opinion) and I was offended that it was taken down.

I have posted every day on this app since the beginning of 2016 and this blunder caused me to mess up my streak. Needless to say, I am LIVID. It got positive feedback in my community and I got hella likes so I would appreciate a response so I can try to understand the reasoning behind why the picture was taken down or what exact guidelines I failed to follow.

Please respond as soon as you can or I might have to take my talent elsewhere.”

Sincerely,

Sammy