Tuesday, December 30

Pick Your Battles

This is kind of a culmination of several posts that I almost did over the past month and a half. Originally I felt awful because I was being such a terrible blogger and not sharing my thoughts with my dear readers (all two of you), but now I'm kind of glad I didn't. I always do better work when I've let something that bothers me sit and fester for a little while. This has been greatly bothering me, and it's had a very long time to sit and fester, so if I hold true to past performance, this post should be a masterpiece.

In general, I think social media is more trouble than it's worth (which is why - after deleting a couple of my social media apps and redownloading them and deleting them and redownloading them, along with the conclusion I came to which I will state at some point in this post if I ever mange to escape from the grips of this terrible run-on sentence - I chose to pretty much get off social media for the foreseeable future). Many people agree that social media is not a positive influence; however, in my extensive research (aka top results on Google) the main issues people have with social media include invasions of privacy, excessive wasting of time, and exposure to bad grammar (Um, well. You're not wrong.).

However, it seems to me that social media causes problems that are much more serious than the possibility that the difference between "your" and "you're" will be forgotten forever. While that would indeed be a tragic day for the English language, I see my peers losing more than an appreciation for the nuances of our lexicon because of social media use. 

I see their self esteem shattering.

I see their confidence being lost.

I see their relationships suffering because of insecurity.

(Oh yeah, and me too.)

I realize that these are common issues that teenagers have faced for years, even before social media was a part of our culture. While this is true, teens have never before dealt with them to the extreme that they do today. 

In case you're still skeptical, I assure you that as established in my previous posts, I'm pretty much an expert on all things social media. However, being a teenage girl on social media, I have an especially expansive knowledge of how teenage girls use social media. I did a little casual research (which I actually didn't know was research at the time to be honest) and discovered simultaneously not only teenage girls' number one use for social media, but also what I believe is the number one cause of the problems I just mentioned.

Every time I get together with any of my girlfriends, at some point in our conversation one or both of us will bring up the people who have been our latest Internet stalking victims. Let's be honest, ladies - we all do it.

I used to think that social media stalking was completely innocent and harmless (unless of course you like someone's photo from four years ago, in which case you are doomed), but after seeing its effect on me and my friends, I'm convinced that it absolutely is not.

Personally, I don't really have issues with self confidence. I guess I'm just too clueless and out of it to realize when something I do isn't "cool," and I've accepted that people are different and that some people will like me and some people won't, and that's that. However, most teenage girls do struggle with self esteem in one way or another, and the way most girls use social media only encourages this.

I'm super picky about my Instagram photos and I carefully monitor my page all the time to make sure that everything clicks and looks appropriately artsy and that I'm presenting myself exactly the way I want to, and I've found that this is pretty typical with most girls on Instagram. 

Instagram noobs being all, "X Pro II or Valencia" got us like:

On average it takes me about thirty minutes to do an Instagram post. 

After careful deliberation, I decide whether or not it's been long enough since my last post that I can post without people thinking that I have no life outside Instagram. Then I painstakingly select a photo, basing my decision on my previous posts so I don't have too many of one kind of photo. After all, variety is the spice of life - even my fake Internet life. Then I go through a ridiculously long series of editing apps to make sure that my photo is perfect. Then I comb through thousands of quotes and song lyrics on Pinterest in search of one that I can pretend is meaningful. After posting, I watch like a hawk to make sure I'm meeting my like quota. If I don't get "enough" likes, I sneak back after a couple days and delete the photo, ashamed and determined to "do better" next time. This is how most girls roll on Instagram, and the result is a ton of seemingly perfect profiles. 

It's amazing how easy it is to get access to total strangers on Instagram. Not only is it easy, but Instagram's "Explore" page practically encourages you to go check out as many people as you can.

And sure, they're total strangers, but COME ON - their eyeliner game is totally ON POINT. My eyeliner game is NEVER THAT ON POINT AND IT NEVER WILL BE.

Eyeliner is harmless enough (and if you're lucky enough that that's your only trouble, all I have to say to you is that practice makes perfect). 

But when you compare your entire life to this other person's best representation of theirs, it's easy to feel like you just don't measure up. But for some reason, it's insanely difficult to just not look at the things that make you feel bad about yourself. 

The thing that I hate most about social media is that it can give grossly inaccurate impressions. People pick and choose what they want to put out there to represent themselves, and it's easy to lose sight of the fact that even though their life looks perfect based off of their online profiles, they're human and they have imperfections and things that they don't like about themselves just like you. They could be losing sleep every night stalking your profile, wishing they could be like you - just like you do with them.


While I don't struggle with self esteem, I have huge issues with being insecure of my relationships. I attribute this to an unfortunate mix of personality traits and character flaws, but whatever insecurity I feel outside of social media is magnified by like, a million as soon as social media becomes involved.

One of my personality traits/character flaws is that I tend to be jealous. While my friends agree that I am "the chillest person on earth," I decidedly lose my chill when I get jealous. I know that jealousy causes problems in relationships anyway, and I struggled with it even before I got involved in social media.

If you can relate to me at all on the jealousy thing, social media is not for you. 

Similarly to the false impression thing I mentioned earlier, social media gives you twisted ideas of how your friends interact with other people. This can be damaging to friendships, but I've seen it completely ruin more-than-friendships.

I used to think that people talking about how communication and trust are vital in order for any relationship to succeed were just reciting cliches, but as I've had more experience with my own relationships and indirectly with others', I've come to realize that it really is that simple.

Simple? Yes. Easy? Not at all.

But as difficult as it is to develop communication and trust in real life, it's even harder on social media, and to be honest, I wonder if it's even possible.

Here's an example:

Billy sees Susie's witty status, chuckles, and likes it, blissfully unaware of the impending chaos this innocent little like will cause.

Sally, Billy's soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend, loses it when she sees that Billy liked Susie's status and after completely overthinking everything, assumes that Billy and Susie have been talking constantly behind her back and that Billy wants to ditch her for Susie. To avoid the embarrassment of being ditched for another girl, Sally texts Billy and breaks up with him.

All because Billy thought Susie said something funny.

While Sally rationally knows that of course Billy isn't interested in Susie because in reality he never sees her or talks to her or has any sort of meaningful connection with her, seeing them interact with that person on social media gave Susie a false impression of the extent of their relationship.

I don't think that I can even scratch the surface of how despicable social media has become to me lately. Does it have potential to be good? Possibly. Has it done me any good (other than giving me the opportunity to share this blog with more people)? Nope.

The only meaningful impact that I see social media having is overwhelmingly negative.

I don't want to sound like a hippie, but negativity is not something you need in your life, especially when that negativity is completely contrived.

So if you find yourself feeling not good enough because of all the "perfect" people you see on Instagram, get off Instagram.

If you find yourself obsessing over every minute detail of your relationships, overthinking and freaking out all the time because of seeing your friends' Internet interactions with people who aren't you, do whatever you need to do to stop seeing those interactions (and probably also work on that deeper-rooted jealousy issue too).

I've been doing some pretty drastic rethinking regarding my personal social media usage. Initially I started by just unfollowing people who I didn't care to keep up with and deleting people whose interactions with others caused me to feel insecure. But I found that I couldn't just stop checking up on everyone. I wasn't addicted by any means, but I don't think that it would be inaccurate to say that I was obsessed.

But how stupid is it to continue to be obsessed with something that drags you down daily?

That's why I'm officially off social media for as long as it takes for me to get my attitude changed.

I don't want to be one of those people who has an on-again, off-again relationship with social media, either.

I saw a meme one time that said that getting off social media is the grown-up equivalent to a kid running away from home - people only do it for attention, and everybody knows they'll be back right away. That's definitely been accurate for most of my friends who've "gotten off." (Yeah, they're all back now.)

I'm not doing this to get attention. I'm doing this because I'm in control of what I allow into my life, and reality is hard enough without letting unnecessary, contrived, artificial drama to permeate my life.

As a Christian, I try to make decisions in my life based off of biblical principles. These are the passages that most influenced me to make the decision to remove social media from my life.

 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil. (Proverbs 4:23-27)

 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:23, 31)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

Social media sounds suspiciously like something the Bible says to avoid, and even more suspiciously unlike something true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy or praise. Consequently, I simply couldn't justify continuing to allow it in my life to the extent that I have previously.

If you can stalk on social media to the glory of God, good for you. All it does for me is encourage jealousy, which ultimately hurts me, which is definitely not a good example of me keeping my heart.

I was a little more transparent in this post than I generally choose to be. While I didn't have it in mind while writing this post, it makes me think of a quote from Ernest Hemingway that seems to be somewhat fitting for how I chose to approach this subject: "Write hard and clear about what hurts."

Social media has hurt me indescribably. It's damaged my trust, it's encouraged manipulative behavior,  and it's made me angry at people I love, all without good reason or justification.

In life you have to pick your battles, and right now I'm choosing to battle with reality first.

Tuesday, November 18

My Unintentional Experiment

I conducted an experiment over the last couple of days.

Okay, so it was kind of unintentional, but while I was showering this morning (all my greatest ideas come to me while I'm showering), I realized that it was also sort of an experiment, or at least the preliminary stages of an experiment.

We just discussed in one of my college classes that the first step to conducting an experiment is to make an observation. Here is my observation.

I was unusually productive Sunday, Monday, and this morning (Tuesday). I wrote a letter, I did homework, I practiced piano, I worked out, I cleaned my bathroom, I fixed my hair (quite an accomplishment), etc...

And the only thing that I've done any differently - other than actually accomplishing things - is not get on Facebook.

It was kind of an accident that I did this. While my general opinion of Facebook includes lots of adjectives like "shallow", "time-wasting", and "insipid", a summary of my usage of Facebook only requires one adjective: "addicted".

However, I was busy on Sunday and just kind of forgot to log on. And yesterday I was too busy getting stuff done, apparently.

I've been accidentally Facebook-free for over forty-eight hours. Now in the real world, that's not a whole lot of time. However, Facebook is not the real world, obviously, and in the Facebook world, forty-eight hours is a very, VERY long time.

This is clearly evidenced by the three emails that showed up in my inbox yesterday and this morning (in addition to over eight hundred college emails that have accumulated in about a month) from the lovely folks at Facebook telling me that I "have notifications pending."

(I hate email.)

Three emails in fifteen hours after one day of complete inactivity.

I'm normally fairly good at keeping up on my Facebook, but I can tell you right now that unless one of my fantastic friends stalked all my photos, the chances that I have more than three notifications are very low.

This leads me to the inevitable conclusion that this is an accurate description of Facebook's relationship with me:

Why is Facebook so desperate to get me re-hooked?

One can only conclude that Facebook is in cahoots with the Martians.

By brainwashing the entire population and forcing us into a sedentary lifestyle, the evil geniuses at the forefront of the social media empire are effectively gradually weakening the entire human race to the point that when the Martians invade, we will be all but powerless to defend ourselves.

I kid.

But seriously, I find it incredibly interesting and likely not coincidental that my real life activity increased relative to my decreased social media activity.

Facebook is great. In fact, I'm going to finally break my accidental social media fast so I can share this post (because otherwise like two people will read it, and while blogging is fun and all, it's much better when people actually read your writing).

But I would encourage you to try just taking a little time off and see what happens. It can't hurt. Your time is too valuable to spend on things that aren't beneficial.

Additionally, it's important to keep in mind when using Facebook that it isn't real. It creates an artificial environment, and it's easy to blur the lines between what is true and what isn't. Like anything else, there's nothing wrong with a little fun, but stay firmly grounded in reality. You have a life outside of Facebook.

I don't care how cute that guy is, he can wait a day to get a message from you (and if he can't then GIRL you don't need him). Those likes on your adorable new profile pic will still be there after some time has gone by. I know it seems absolutely crucial that everyone knows what an AMAAAZING time you had shopping with your BFF, but I promise the world will go on even if you don't update your status today.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a whole day ahead of me and time is a-wasting.

Friday, October 31

Halloween: A Rant

I'm told that today is a holiday.

But everyone is still going to school and work and everything, so I say lies.

My family has never celebrated Halloween, and to be honest, despite it being a holiday primarily centered around candy and sweet things, it certainly leaves sort of a bad taste in my mouth.

(Ho, I'm so clever. Forsooth.)

So yeah, I don't like Halloween.

And as usually goes with my blog posts, this started with a thought.

"Wow, Halloween is really stupid."

Then it became a snarky Facebook status.

Then I thought, "Wow, Halloween is so stupid that I could probably write a whole blog post about why I don't like it."

And here we are, friends.

One of the things I think is really weird about Halloween is the fact that our neighbors who ignore us all year suddenly think it's okay to come knocking on our door asking for candy. In what universe does it make any sense that I am randomly going to give you my precious Snickers bars and peanut butter cups? I wasn't gonna give them to you yesterday, I'm not going to give them to you tomorrow, and I sure as anything am NOT going to give them to you today.

Another thing that I don't like about Halloween is the fact that adults and parents can be absolutely psychotic. Some parents seem to try to vicariously relive their childhood Halloween memories through their children by forcing their children to dress up and dragging them from house to house collecting sugary loot like Viking plunderers. 

This is pretty much the most accurate depiction of Halloween night I've ever seen.

On sort of a side note, I've never been a parent but it's been my observation that it's very difficult to force kids to do things they don't really want to do.

For example, that totally cute pumpkin costume for your little one?

Bitter reality
And can you blame the poor kid? That pumpkin's face clearly says, "I'm currently absorbing your soul."

Something else I don't like about Halloween is the fact that I saw one witch in the Publix bakery this morning and then I saw another one hanging out by the orange juice. I am not okay with that.

But the thing that really sealed the deal for me on not liking Halloween is how we have to do Halloween night in our house.

The first wave of trick-or-treaters usually comes right around sunset. A lot of times we go out to dinner or something to avoid them, but by the time it's dark outside, if you look out the window the streets are packed so full you can't drive through. Kids are swarming the houses like cockroaches. Plus, some people actually come to our neighborhood especially for trick-or-treating, which personally I think is cheating. If your neighborhood isn't good enough for you, that's your fault for not taking into account the trick-or-treatability before you moved there.
From each according to how bogus they think Halloween is, to each according to how well they planned ahead for Halloween. 

In other words, if I didn't hate Halloween and I was giving out treats, fully-committed Napoleon Dynamite who knows the entire dance is getting a whole bag of peanut butter cups, while five-minute sheet-ghost over here is getting celery sticks.

We turn off all our lights and put a heavy blanket over our front door. And that's pretty much how we spend Halloween night, barricaded in our home while strangers loot and plunder our village.

In conclusion, I strongly dislike Halloween and I think it should go away.

However, I must admit that there is one thing I like about this ridiculous holiday.

Day-after-Halloween candy clearance - in other words, the day that Meredith blows all her money on peanut butter cups and gallons of milk, cocoons herself in fuzzy blankets, and watches Jane Austen movies all day.

Now there's a holiday I can really get into.

Tuesday, October 14

A Lily Among Thorns

I know it's totally unusual that I manage two blog posts in two days (or even two months for that matter), but let's not talk about that. Let's just enjoy the illusion that Meredith has gotten her act together as long as we can, okay?


I'm here to talk to you guys about love.

And since I'm a young teenager who has never been in a serious relationship, obviously I know what I'm talking about.

I did some extensive research (and by "extensive research" I mean "I Googled this") and the definition for love I found is "an intense feeling of deep affection."

Let's just say I wasn't exactly satisfied with that definition.

So I delved even deeper into my intensive research. I Googled "true love." Underneath an entry about a movie from the late eighties, I found a poetic entry in the Urban Dictionary. It's quite long (after all, love is a complicated thing to define, evidently), but here are a few excerpts. (And here is the full article - warning: barf bags may be necessary)

Love is the feeling you get when all you have to do is think of her and it brings a smile to your face and a yourning to your heart. Love is not being able to think about nething but her.

Love is an overwelming feeling of pure bliss when the 2 of u kiss. Love is wanting to hold her in ur arms till the end of time.

Love is telling her u want to spend the rest of your life with her. Love is wanting to marry her even tho ya'll haven't been dating that long.


I don't know what a "yourning" is, but boy do I want to bring one to someone's heart. And I definitely want a guy to think about "nething" but me.

Way to go, Romeo.

Now I hate to not give someone's work a fair evaluation just because their grammar and spelling was magnificently incorrect.

(But guys, don't ever underestimate the power of a good vocabulary and skilled handling of the English language.)

But this person's attempt at defining love, along with many others, doesn't quite capture the entire idea.

Most people never get past thinking that love is about what you feel.

And don't get me wrong, love certainly is very much about those nice romantic feelings.

I read some in Song of Solomon to research for this post (don't tell my mom), and I'm not going to lie - I kind of felt like I was reading Fifty Shades of Grey.

So according to the Bible, love does and should make you feel warm fuzzies.


Love is so much more special and beautiful than all those feelings.

As nice as it is to feel love, feelings are only temporary. And to quote that cheesy song, I want a love that will last.

Based off of the Bible, I can conclude that the thing we're getting wrong about love is...well, pretty much everything.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor. 13:4-7)

When I read those verses, I can't help but think about my friends who are so "in love" with whoever they may currently be interested in. They gush about how much they love that person, but when I compare their relationship to the Biblical standard, their "love" simply doesn't hold up.

To be completely open, honest, and teenage girlish, I absolutely cannot wait to fall in love, get married, and raise a family with whoever God has for me. Thinking about it makes my heart so very glad.

But I want more than a shallow love based only on feelings. I don't want to have a relationship that makes people shake their heads and speculate about how long it will last. I've seen so many romances gone bad because there is no substance, and when the feelings went away, suddenly there just wasn't any love left.

I don't want my love to be cheap and shallow. I want people to see that there is something different with me.

I want to be a lily among the thorns.

Monday, October 13


This is sort of a special installment in the "Meredith Talks About Social Media" series.

Those of you who know me personally know that my interaction with other members of humankind is a constant struggle between sassymouth Meredith and sensible, kind Meredith. This is a struggle magnified in person because those interactions happen in real time. It's important to me that I maintain a good Christian testimony and that I am gracious to others. Consequently, I generally avoid voicing my opinions in person because I have a very good chance of slipping from intelligent debate into senseless and immature argumentation.

Since I am somewhat lacking in the controlling-myself-verbally-around-others department, I choose to voice my opinions here.

(And that's where I'm probably going to lose most of you...)

If you're reading this, there's a good chance that you're a person.

If you're a person, then there's a good chance that you're a social media user.

And if you're a social media user, then there's a good chance that somewhere along the way in your wonderful social media journey, you've fallen prey to something like this:

"Thousands of YOUR skin cells are dying every day. Little did you know that every time you scratch your arm, you KILL poor, helpless skin cells. STOP SCRATCHING AND SAVE YOUR SKIN. #SaveOurSkin #StopScratching #WorthItToItch #Hashtag #Selfie #Awareness"

Yes, this is an exaggeratedly shallow hypothetical awareness post. I didn't want to step on any toes.

I wouldn't be surprised to find out there's a toe-stepping awareness kick going on somewhere and I would hate to step on their toes because they might hashtag me to death.

I digress...

If you have seen something like my ludicrous skin cell salvation example, then you have experienced the most recently developed ways to support a cause: social media activism.

I am an almost-embarrassingly regular user of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In my experience with these sites, I have observed a lot of shallowness, narcissism, and - the good homeschooler in me cringes to say the "S" word - downright stupidity.

Generally, I don't mind that much, because hey - people are just dumb sometimes. But in the case of social media "activism," I find myself more and more irritated with every new awareness trend.

I feel like now would be an excellent time to clarify something: I acknowledge that social media can be a very effective way to raise awareness for legitimate, serious issues, and I have no problem with that.

Here are the problems I do have with social media activism when it is abused or misused.

Raising awareness is excellent. However, the vast majority of social media activists seem to be okay with just raising awareness. The point of raising awareness for a cause is to help get support for the cause. Don't commit to just awareness - awareness without support is useless.

"Oh yeah, I saw someone's post about that" is much different from "Oh yeah, that person got physically involved with that/donated money/did whatever it is people do when they support a cause." One of those two courses of action is going to show that you're legitimately committed and that you really think it's worth people's time. I'll give you three guesses, and the first two don't count.

Right. The people who get involved are going to leave more of an impact.

Social media is a very powerful way to communicate with others and get a message out. It is becoming increasingly more common that social media activism trends go viral. A good principle to keep in mind when entering the world of social media activism is that with great power comes great responsibility. (And NO I am not quoting Spider-Man's Uncle Ben - it's Voltaire, dearie.) Make sure you know what you're plugging. Think about the possible outcomes (and consequences). If you passionately (and publicly) support an "awesome" cause that later turns out to have been not so great, it will reflect badly on you and you are going to look very foolish.

Honestly, we could avoid a lot of problems if people would just think about things a little more.

My biggest issue with social media activism is the fact that because many of its participants are uninformed and not really dedicated to the cause that they so vehemently defend on social media, were you to bring it up in a real conversation, it is unlikely the person would be a very convincing activist. Your social media "life" should not be a completely separate entity from your real life. The two are intertwined, like a cool twisty pretzel.

While this concept applies to every aspect of social media use, it should be especially true in something that you are supposedly defending and trying to raise awareness for.

Guys. Keep it real. We as individuals are very small and we like to feel...well, not small. Being a part of something bigger is fulfilling and makes us feel powerful. But don't be fooled.

When you see this:

My knee-jerk reaction would be to recommend #DONOTPARTICIPATE (probably because I think like a grumpy old person)

However, you are probably a better person than I am.

So if you just can't resist, proceed with caution. Don't support something on social media that you don't really care about any time other than the five minutes it takes to do an Instagram post. And if you honestly care about something, do your research and find out how you can really get involved. 

Challenge yourself to do more than hashtag your way to feeling like you've helped.


Friday, September 12

A Strange Light

I spend a good bit of my time in public lately.

Now don't get me wrong, I still love pulling on a pair of sweatpants and hiding under my comforter for hours at a time, but since I've started dual enrolling, I have to go places and interact with people.
And even though for the most part I "fit in" (whatever that means) fairly well, I still kind of feel like this happens when I'm walking around:
(Only I don't look quite so fantastically beautiful.)
It's not because I sometimes spontaneously make spastic movements because I'm excited about something.
It's not because I look funny. (Usually.)
It's not even because I have this inexorable urge to break into the abandoned coffee shop at school and wander around dramatically singing "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables."
Don't judge.
I have this one teacher at school who is very interested in the fact that I happen to be a dual enrolled student who is also homeschooled. He told me he's always been a little skeptical about homeschooling in general, so naturally I felt a little pressure from the get-go to prove to him that whatever negative thoughts he had about homeschoolers weren't true, at least not for me.
So when we had our first test on Monday, my normal love for tests of all shapes and sizes was slightly tainted with anxiety. It was pretty typical as far as tests go, and as far as testing goes at this particular college, it was a pretty typical day. There were a couple of people who finished in five minutes, which used to impress me but I now know generally means they did quite poorly indeed. I finished in about twenty-five minutes, but I knew I wouldn't get picked up until later and I was quite comfortable, so I pretended to check my work for fifteen minutes longer.
I felt like I probably did okay on the test, but I wasn't sure, and I was worried.
Thusly, come the next class period, I was quite relieved when I walked into the classroom and the teacher said, "Here comes my star student!" I got the highest grade in the class, and I was pleased.

However, when the teacher was going over the test, I noticed one question that I had missed that he had not marked incorrect.
Oh, great.
My grade was already further away from a perfect score than I was happy about. To speak up and point out to the teacher that he had given me too high a grade would be stupid. I was at the top and I was happy about it and I did NOT want that to go away.
But on the other hand, honesty is the best policy, yes?
Nobody should have to deal with moral dilemmas at 9:45 in the morning.
Nevertheless, deal with it I did. I raised my hand and from my seat in the back row (I came in late on the first day and the teacher made us stay in whatever seat we had chosen) called out, "I think I missed one and you didn't take off for it."
Every head in the classroom turned around and stared at me.
The teacher is somewhat hard of hearing, so he asked me to repeat myself. The other students all looked at me, their confused expressions screaming, "What is wrong with you? SHUT UP."
I repeated myself and the professor got a little twinkle in his eye. He turned to one of the students in the front row and asked what they thought he should do. She said that since it was his mistake, she thought I should get to keep my original score, to which the professor replied that he decidedly disagreed.
He started walking down the aisle and I put on a brave face. I had literally just given away two precious points from my test score, and I felt like a tender part of me was about to have a giant red X scratched across it. But when the teacher handed back my paper a few moments later, instead of a glaring, blood-red -2, I saw a cheery, scarlet +2 written next to the question.
Now this teacher is a Genuine Antique Person, and he has a ball cap to prove it. I thought maybe he had just misunderstood me, but all I could get out was a confused "Umm..."
The teacher, talking to the whole class, said that because he's eighty years old and has been working at the school for ten years, he can basically do whatever he wants because the school isn't going to do anything to him. Apparently he also believes that honesty is the best policy, so in a case like mine, if the student doesn't try to hide the mistake, he rewards their honesty.
So that worked out.
Except that here I am, less than a month into the semester and already everyone in that class thinks I'm a little strange.
But that's okay. I didn't know that the teacher was going to reward me. I just knew this: Even though I don't loudly announce to the whole world that I'm a Christian, if I don't represent that in my actions, people definitely will never have a chance to see Christ through me.
So if looking a little strange to others means maintaining a good testimony, I'd say that's a pretty good tradeoff.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:4-5)
People may not always understand the difference, but they will always notice it.
Be the light.
Be strange.

Thursday, September 4

Meredith Talks About Social Media

I am a very popular person.

I mean, come on. I have like, 512 friends.

Despite the fact that the average maximum number of people humans can actually maintain meaningful relationships with is about one hundred (and if you're me, more like five), I am most definitely personally connected with all of those people and we share a strong, unifying bond.

That bond is, of course, the all-mighty Facebook.

My mom has been bugging me - Wait. I mean...

I've been thinking about doing this for a while, and I have finally given in.

Meredith Talks About Social Media - Part One

Since Facebook is far and away the most popular social media site worldwide, we'll start there, shall we?

For my safety, I'm going to insert a quick disclaimer here: Whatever you may read from this point on is 1) written from the viewpoint of a teenager and 2) is my personal opinion. Admittedly, my opinion may just happen to be the best, but that's just my opinion (and it's the best).

My hope for these posts is that maybe - just maybe - one of them will reach people who have blankly stared at their computer screens in confusion, questioning their decision to join the social media world and wondering what in the world they're doing, and that I can educate them and send them back into the big, scary world of social media with confidence anew.

And that hopefully we can have some giggles along the way.

Facebook was initially founded in 2004, and it was essentially used to connect students at various universities. It's grown significantly since then. As you are undoubtedly aware, everyone and their cousin uses Facebook. Pretty much.

Let's walk through what happens when you create a Facebook account.

All you need is an email address.

Supposedly only people over age thirteen can register for Facebook, but some genius eleven-year-old realized one day that there's no way to actually enforce that and told all his stupid little friends, so basically, that's not legitimate and anyone can have Facebook.

Moving on.

1. Profile Picture

After you give away all your personal information, congratulations! You officially have a Facebook account. One of the first things you will want to do is add a profile picture.

Despite the fact that the default profile photo is adorable...

Having a picture of yourself helps people recognize you and distinguish you from other people when viewing your profile, especially if you happen to be joining the ranks of John Smiths on Facebook. (Fun Fact: John Smith is the highest occurring name among Facebook users)

The initial choice of your profile photo is not as important as it may seem. My first profile photo was a horrifying picture of me wearing glasses (I have 20/20 vision). Just pick one and move on to the fun stuff (but then find a stunning photo of yourself to change to later).

2. Adding Friends

The next thing you will do is start finding people you know and sending them friend requests. When you add someone to your friends list, they see the statuses and photos you post, and you see their posts.

"Friending" people is one of those things that doesn't really make sense all the time.

I have several Facebook "friends" who I don't really like, don't really know, or don't really care about.

And that's normal. On Facebook, it is okay to friend that kid you talked to once in kindergarten if you want to.

If you want to only be friends with your family members or close acquaintances, that's okay.

There is no right or wrong with who you friend on Facebook as long as you're comfortable with the people you friend.

3. Posting/Liking & Commenting

The main thing on Facebook is seeing people's statuses. A status can be pretty much anything, and in this case, with great freedom comes great responsibility.

I rarely use Facebook as a way to actually keep people up on what's going on in my life. Generally when I post a status, it's an attempt at being witty, adorable, or charming (and I generally miss the mark on all accounts).

Just a few guidelines about posting statuses.

1. Avoid posting statuses incessantly. Most people have a couple hundred Facebook friends at least, and they already have a lot to wade through on their page. 

2. Be aware of the length of your statuses. They are meant to be fairly short, because few people want to take the time to read a lengthy post in their news feed (Sad, but true). If you find yourself consistently waxing eloquent, consider starting a blog, or simply cut back the length.

3. Don't ever ever ever ever whine/rant/in any way express selfishly negative emotions via Facebook status. If your grandpa dies, that's one thing. If you're complaining about anything and everything, please don't.

4. Think of posting a status as yelling it to a room filled with all the people on your friends list. This is essentially what you're doing when you post something, so use discretion. If what you're thinking about posting could potentially send your grandmother into shock - DON'T.

When you see someone's status or photo, you are given the option to "like" the post, or you can comment on it. Commenting is fairly self-explanatory, as is liking, but I have to let my teenage girl out for a second here.

There is a deeply psychological level to "liking" on Facebook.

Whether or not a guy likes our posts on Facebook is a legitimate factor taken into account when we're overthinking things.

Not liking someone's Facebook posts is essentially the social media equivalent to giving them the silent treatment.

Liking a profile photo has significant meaning.

Girls are terrifying creatures, and we are watching you.

Which sort of leads into...

4. Stalking

Facebook opened up a whole new world for those of us with investigative tendencies. Before Facebook, stalking required binoculars, a camcorder, and a ghillie suit. Now, all you need is determination.

Depending on the privacy settings of your victim, you could be granted access to all their photos, statuses, and personal information (favorite movies, books, quotes, music, etc...)

Whether it be a crush or a mortal enemy, if you want to learn creepy amounts of information about someone while simultaneously viewing their terrible middle school photos, Facebook stalking is the way to go.

'Tis a glorious, developing art.

5. Common Irritations

Since people are involved with Facebook (unless you only got on to play games, in which case, what is wrong with you?) there are occasions where you will find yourself super ticked off. I'm ticked off about eighty percent of the time when I'm on Facebook because I'm impatient and not very gracious. But we're not talking about my character flaws here (If we were, it would be an even longer post than this one). Without further ado, things that generally annoy me on Facebook.

1. Couples. Now before you tell me to just calm down and enjoy watching young love blossom, observe a Facebook couple for a couple weeks (if their relationship lasts that long) and then I'll tell you to just calm down and enjoy throwing up a little in your mouth. I'm very happy that you guys are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO in love. Really. But I don't want to see six gushing posts about the same thing in a row about anything, and your match-made-in-heaven is no exception.

2. Whiner babies. Like I mentioned before, it is not appropriate to whine on Facebook. The worst thing about whiner babies is that they create more whiner babies because they're so annoying. Don't do this. Just please don't.

3. Great debaters. I have a couple of Facebook friends who deliberately post statuses just to start arguments. I've only recently come to realize just how ready most people are to jump into an argument and prove that they're right. I'm sure you're right. But I don't need to see it on Facebook. Once again, consider starting a blog.

Now I conclude.

I'm not generally good at speaking succinctly, and I definitely squeezed a lot into this post. It's unlikely that your brain is feeling spongy enough to absorb everything, so it is fortunate that I (miraculously) managed to come up with a single sentence, a truth to live by.

In all things moderation.

Whether it be number of posts, number of exclamation points (personal pet peeve right there), amount of time spent online, etc., keep it balanced.

Don't worry, you can trust me - I have a blog, don't I?

Tuesday, September 2

The Character Secret

I'm a girl.

And being a girl is hard.

A few common characteristics of girls include tendency to overthink things, obsession with their appearances, and extreme concern for what people think of them.

Under the pressure of our overwhelmingly beauty-obsessed society, many girls entangle themselves with drugs or alcohol, develop eating disorders, or find themselves depressed because they are not pretty/thin/popular enough to satisfy the standards they think they must accept.

Because I'm a good, dedicated blogger, I've actually done a lot of research for this post, looking at statistics and whatnot. (And besides, I have a blog, so that grants me instant credibility.)

I noticed that it seems as though the percentage of girls who are happy with themselves is inversely proportional to the age of the girls surveyed. (English translation: the older the girls were, the fewer said they were happy with themselves.)

If you go on a valiant quest to discover scholarly literature on the top issues teenage girls are told they should face, poor body image/low self esteem are the omnipresent topics.

The overall impression given is that girls always have, always will, and always should be first and foremost concerned with how they look and whether their appearance is "acceptable" to their peers.

But I know a powerful secret.

If this secret were revealed to and accepted by everyone, it would likely result in the downfall of the modern beauty industry, the entertainment arena, and fashion empires worldwide.

This secret puts all of my teenage girl issues in perspective.

Meredith's Panacean Secret: Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. (Prov. 31:10)

In this verse and those following, we find a list of characteristics that should be desirable in a lady.

Only twice did I find anything remotely related to appearance.

However, more than a dozen character traits are listed. A kind spirit and good heart, trustworthiness, diligence, shrewdness, industriousness, generosity, a well-informed mind, compassion - the list goes on.

Society's obsession with beauty is in direct contradiction to the biblical truth: Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. (Prov. 31:30)

Girls who reject society's perverted views and seek the truth are more valuable than rubies.

Here's a little tidbit about rubies from this article:

"Among rubies though, there is no shortage of small gems, the kind used in cluster rings. They are somewhat expensive, but readily available. It is when you get into gems of a carat o[r] more that they get really expensive. Good quality rubies in this size range are few and far between."

It's not difficult to find a woman.

It's not even that difficult to find a woman of character. Like smaller rubies, they are readily available and have significant value.

But virtuous women are few and far between.

I want to be one of the few.

Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. (Prov. 31:28)

Tuesday, August 19

Back to School Essentials

Monday was the first day of school.

*breaks down sobbing over the death of my good friend, summer*

I know most of you share in my grief.

I'm back to dual enrollment, and after my first day, I think I can expect another interesting semester. 

Admittedly I was slightly terrified to go to my first class despite this being my third semester, namely because I watched God's Not Dead a week ago and I was heading into a philosophy class in a decidedly non-Christian environment.

Fortunately, the scariest thing that happened was that I had to get to know a stranger and then get up in front of the class and introduce him. 

College is great, guys.

Perhaps some of you are feeling overwhelmed by the coming work and stress of the school year.

Well, I have a blog, so obviously I know what I'm talking about. Here are my essential tips to make getting back to school as pain-free as possible.

1. Do something exhausting the week before you start back to school (just make sure you have time to recover before school starts). I flew across the country and then gallivanted all around California and then flew back across the country less than a week before I headed back to school, and I didn't even have time to get nervous or stressed about school starting.

2. Wear a fantastic outfit on the first day. Especially if you're going to be walking into a classroom. Your outfit and the confidence you have in it will be the first impression your classmates get of you.

If you don't feel like this,
Keep trying.

You'll get it. Thumbs up everybody!

3. Have your phone handy in case you're early to class. Unless you're unfortunate enough to be in a school that doesn't allow cell phones to be visible period when you're in the classroom, this simple device can prevent a whole lot of pre-class awkwardness.

As a general rule, I don't like to talk to people, especially random people I meet at school. So whenever my classmates get uncomfortably chatty, I pull out my phone and *BOOM* I have an instant excuse to be my wonderful taciturn self. If your neighbor doesn't get the hint, execute evasive maneuvers.

4. DO NOT forget your wallet in the classroom on the first day only to realize it's missing halfway to your next class which you only had fifteen minutes to get to, causing you to have to hustle back to your first classroom and, upon not finding your wallet, to frantically search for your professor's office, making you late (and sweaty) getting to your second class.

^^^this is definitely a purely hypothetical situation^^^

5. Based off of number four, I feel like I can accurately say that it's a good idea to have a backpack to keep your stuff in rather than leaving your things loose to stealthily slip under your chair and get lost.

6. Don't blog the night before class instead of doing your homework.


Wednesday, July 30

My Mid-Life Crisis

Hey guys, look - it's me!
No, really! Allow me to explain.

Fun fact about me: I'm a sucker for online personality quizzes. Since I have no hope of ever understanding me on my own, it's only natural that I should resort to the omniscient Internet for assistance.

There's only one problem.

Those quizzes are grossly inaccurate.

Oh sure, I was pretty thrilled with the results of the "What's the Color of Your Aura?" one (pink) and the "What Kind of Guy Will You Fall For?" one (the gentleman - naturally).

But then I decided to take a risk. I did something so hugely unprecedented that...well, it was so unprecedented that there is no way for me to even describe the unprecedentedness of this unprecedented event.

There's been this one quiz popping up all over Facebook the last couple of days, taunting and teasing me, tempting and tantalizing. And I just couldn't resist.

"Can We Guess Who You Are in Only 20 Questions?"

Now I was pretty curious about this one. How specific was this thing going to get?

Would it know my name?

My age?

My favorite color?

My deepest, darkest secrets?

So I set out on a quest to figure out who I am.

The website asked me deep, personal questions like, "How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?" and "Do you prefer beef or chicken?" (Chicken, in case you were wondering)

I pressed on through question after question, determined to discover who I am. Sweat dripped from my brow, my head ached from the extreme mental strain, my hand cramped until I thought I could never let go of the computer mouse ever again, I almost gave up hope, and then...

It ended.

The quiz was over.

My quest to find myself was complete. I breathed a sigh of relief, wiped tears of joy from my cheek, and eagerly began to read:

Here is our best guess at who you are:
1. You are female.
2. You are currently in your mid 40's.
3. You are raising a beautiful family, you have a career you're quite pleased with.
4. You've recently started volunteering in your community. 
5. You are taller than average, you have gorgeous dark hair and beautiful brown eyes.


Sayeth what?

Either I'm having a mid-life crisis, or....or....this quiz is wrong. Very, VERY wrong!

(I double checked on my Facebook page, and I'm still an average height, blonde-haired, hazel-eyed teenager with no children or career who likes to sleep instead of volunteering.)

So guys, I think I learned a valuable lesson today: The Internet has no idea what it's talking about 80% of the time (because they at least got the female part right).

And neither do I.


Tuesday, July 29

This is Not a Judge-Free Zone

I know quite a few people. And like I mentioned in my previous post, they are all difficult to understand sometimes. 

And for someone like me who's been raised in an almost exclusively Christian environment, it's been pretty eye-opening over the last couple years to realize that not everybody believes the same things I do.

So I came to the conclusion that not agreeing about everything is not necessarily bad. Just because we have different standards about music, dress, relationships, entertainment, etc. doesn't mean that any one of us is any holier than the other.

But that was when I was still interacting only with other Christian young people. However, as my circles have expanded more, I've started getting to know teenagers who believe all kinds of different things. And since we're all young whippersnappers and most of us are pretty proud of ourselves for figuring out what we believe (Ha.), and since naturally everyone wants to know what we think (Ha.), we share our opinions. A lot.

So I've been exposed to all sorts of new things. People I barely know have spoken freely to me about their personal lives and how various occurrences have affected their beliefs. They've asked me what I think and they've told me I'm wrong. 

And one thing I've heard from every single young person I've had this sort of discussion with is this: "I'll respect your beliefs if you'll respect mine."

I respect you. I'm sure you're a very nice person with lots of cool hobbies who is super fun to be around. But frankly, I'm not going to respect your beliefs or your attitude about your beliefs.

See, we live in a society that exalts the individual. We've been participation awarded into the belief that there is no standard of excellence. As long as you're okay with yourself, everybody else should sit down and shut up. 


I was spanked when I was younger (a lot). I was taught that I'm a sinner by nature. I was told that I was rebelling against my authority and being disrespectful.

This was news to me.

I was definitely pretty okay with myself while I was sassing back my parents and disobeying them.

But you know what? I could have been totally okay with all that and still be sent straight to hell for eternity. 

Regardless of the mediocrity our Godless culture force-feeds us, there is a standard of excellence.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

I don't like being at odds with other people. I would be very much happy if everybody would just love each other and put others first and all those lovely things. But that's not very realistic, is it?

I know you don't want me to judge you for what you believe. But even if I don't, God will.

Demanding a judge-free, respectful attitude from others indicates that you feel like something is wrong with what you believe. Your conscience is bearing witness that any belief that is in disagreement with the Bible is wrong, and your attitude about what you think reflects that.

Everyone will face God someday to be judged, and I don't think that "Well, I was okay with myself" is going to mean much then.

If God is okay with you, then everybody else can sit down and shut up. That's the standard that we should hold ourselves to.

Which is why it's saddening to see that increasing numbers of my peers - even in my Christian social circles - are accepting what society tells them so unquestioningly.

Don't let anybody tell you what to think (except us) - be your own person!


I'm not my own person. 

And I'm okay with that.

Monday, July 28



I'm a bad blogger.

I know you already knew that, but I still feel the need to say it (every single post).

Do you ever just feel like you're super boring? That's a terrible feeling for me as a blogger because it creates the following dilemma:

I know I have an obligation to you, my loyal followers, to provide delightfully charming and witty tidbits to brighten your day (Ha.) but at the same time I feel so indebted to you because you guys actually like my writing (unlike my first semester college English teacher) that failing to meet your expectations (aforementioned delightfully charming and witty tidbits) would be simply unthinkable.

So the simple solution is that if you all would just stop reading and liking my blog, I would feel a lot less pressured and then I might actually post.

But in reality I love you guys too much and that would be heartbreaking. Although I can always count on the random readers who pop up in obscure countries bazillions of miles away from me to stroke my ego...


Here I am, I am here, HERE AM I!

*waits patiently for applause, cheers, and other assorted sounds of rejoicing to die down*

Anyways. As usual, I did stuff this summer and I have stuff yet to do this summer (Even though there is less than a month of summer technically left, I plan to stuff some more stuff in because stuff is naturally meant to be stuffed in. Why would it be called "stuff" if one was not meant to stuff stuff into stuff?)

And as always, when I do stuff, I learned stuff. So here's the stuff I learned this summer.

1. If you're tired enough, anywhere is a very good place to take a nap.
2. People are odd creatures, ranging from very lame to very cool, and sometimes going very quickly from one to the other. As soon as you think you understand one, they remind you that you very much don't. I personally find this irritating.
3. I am not a tolerant person.

By the way - I actually thought about blogging a lot while I was doing various non-blogging activities this summer, mostly about how I wasn't blogging and how I felt bad about not blogging. Just FYI. (Did you think about me at all?)

4. Detroit (like Nineveh) is not a very nice place.
5. How to spell Nineveh.
6. Piano teachers are very scary people.
7. Telling someone "no" will not be the end of the world. I have a really hard time with telling people no or talking back to them at all, but I learned more or less out of necessity that it is not impossible, even for someone like me who is afraid of confrontation (and people).
8. Urban Dictionary is not helpful when you want to know accurate information about anything except maybe the term "subtweet."
9. When your diet is suddenly switched to nothing but cafeteria food, Hot Pockets, and ice cream, there is one thing that will become vitally necessary. Once you discover the magic of this thing, you will never go back to your boring life beforehand because this thing will give your imagination the boost it needs to convince yourself that every plate of cafeteria food is your mom's cooking. Or maybe it just hides the cafeteria food so you can't see it... Either way, this thing is gravy.
10. Little things make a big difference. Something that may be little or no inconvenience to you could totally change someone's day.

For instance, if you're casually driving eighty-five miles an hour down I-65 and you throw a gummy bear out your car window just for fun, it may stick on the windshield of an eighteen-wheeler carrying a lifetime supply of Hot Pockets and cherry Coke, causing that eighteen-wheeler to careen out of control over a cliff, plummeting into my backyard and thusly making my day better by a factor of approximately sixty-two. (We won't think about the truck driver because who needs that kind of negativity in their life?)

Are you convinced?

I'm going to stop now because ten is a nice, even number.

Like...wow. Look how even that number is.

Just a heads-up for you guys, there's a good chance that my life is going to become suddenly interesting sometime in the hopefully near future, so I will either be blogging a lot or blogging less than my current rate (so whatever is less than never) depending on what kind of interesting it turns out to be.

Isn't life so fun? You never know what's going to happen. Every day is full of surprises.

I hope the vast majority of your surprises are pleasant and that the unpleasant ones are not more unpleasant than necessary.

If you're still reading at this point, here's a virtual cookie and a free self-esteem boost: You're awesome.