Some Thoughts About Turning 25

1. When people hear I’m turning 25, they like to joke about how a quarter of my life is already over. I’m not sure why it’s supposed to be funny—you’re literally joking about my death, people—but worse than that, it’s not even accurate.

I’m not the kind of person who likes to pretend I’m going to live to be 100. I don’t even like to pretend I know what’s coming for me in the next decade. Life has always been sort of an in-the-moment thing for me—I take it as it comes and try not to get too ahead of myself. I think that’s partially because there’s no real use to worrying about hypotheticals, but also because, at the end of the day, the big picture scares me.

If I could step out of my life and see it for everything that it has been and will be, would I like it? If I examined this sliver that’s already happened and compared it to everything I’ve always wanted it to be, would I still be happy? How many more 25-year increments will I have to live before it finally feels like I’m exactly where I’m meant to be?

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If Rom Com Heroines Had Looked Like Me, Would I Have Grown Up Differently?

When I pulled up Dumplin’ on Netflix last weekend, I only meant for it to be background noise. I was tired and planned to fall asleep, but instead I found myself lying awake for the full hour and fifty minutes of the movie, tears streaming down my face by the time the end credits rolled onto the screen. This movie, which I had imagined was just another coming of age teen flick, had punched me right in the gut. But more than that, it had touched me deep in my soul.

For those of you who don’t know, the film stars Danielle Macdonald as overweight teen Willowdean “Dumplin’” Dickson, a lover of all things Dolly Parton and the daughter of a small town beauty queen. Despite not being “conventionally pretty” (a phrase I hate to reiterate), Willowdean decides to join her small town’s beauty pageant to make a point, both to her mother and to society et al. In the movie, she did just that — and outside the movie, she proved so much more.

Growing up, I always loved rom coms, but I couldn’t necessarily relate to them. I wasn’t as confident as Elle Woods or as popular as Cher Horowitz; I didn’t even have the take-off-your-glasses-and-turn-into-a-beauty-queen potential of Laney Boggs in She’s All That. And while rom com heroines may have varied in personality, more than often, they were all the same: white, straight, able-bodied and skinny. And not just skinny, but undeniably pretty.

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A Story About Processing Sexual Trauma In The Digital Age

It’s 3 a.m. and I get on Twitter because I can’t sleep. I scroll through hundreds of posts, nearly every single one about Bill Cosby or Brett Kavanaugh and the respective sexual assault cases against them. “Believe women!” some people seem to be screaming into the abyss of the Internet. “But why believe women?” others ask in response. I close the app but I’m still restless; an hour later, I reopen it and read the same posts over and over again.

“Maybe you should get off the Internet for a while,” my friend tells me when I talk to her about it. “You need to look out for your own mental health.”

I’ve never been too good at that, if I’m being completely honest. I still can’t seem to speak plainly about the things I’ve been through; instead, I talk in vague euphemisms. A lot of my friends do that, I’ve noticed. They don’t like the word “sexual assault.” Or “rape.” Or “molestation.” Or “violence.” Instead they use phrases like “the thing that happened” or “that one party” or, sometimes, “#MeToo.” Mostly they don’t talk about it at all.

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