Archive for May, 2010

Gen Y Believes in the Future

New York Times: “The Why-Worry Generation”

Who makes the future? More importantly, who makes a better future for everyone?

It’s not a trick question. But it seems to have confused a lot of people.

According to an article by New York Times columnist Judith Warner, members of my generation — which some people call Gen Y, or millennials —

have been depicted … as entitled whiners who have been spoiled by parents who over-stoked their self-esteem, teachers who granted undeserved As, and sports coaches who bestowed trophies on any player who showed up.

I’m sorry, but what planet have those people been living on?

I have wonderful, supportive parents, but I work for every A I get. And I’ve played lots of sports (including a non-magical version of Quidditch) but I never got a trophy for anything more than having a good attitude.

But this isn’t a complaint session about unjust attitudes toward my generation. There would be no point in writing that and even less point in reading it. I have too much respect for my readers to waste their time, at least deliberately. ๐Ÿ™‚

Instead, I’d like to clear up some misunderstandings. Maybe that will help people form a fairer picture of Gen Y.

Earlier generations had it tougher

Absolutely, earlier generations had it tougher than we do. I know it, and no Gen-Yer would argue about it.

We know that our parents didn’t have cell phones or educational software. They often had teachers who didn’t care if they succeeded. Our mothers had to fight against sexism (more than we do). Our fathers had to cope with the upheavals of the 1970s and 1980s. And they were all forced to wear those ridiculous fashions.

But truthfully, how does that make my generation look bad? It doesn’t:

Stories abound about them as college students, requiring 24/7 e-mail access to professors and running to Mom and Dad for help with papers or to contest a bad grade.

Let’s look objectively at those complaints. E-mail did not exist in our parents’ time, but now it does. Professors have e-mail and so do students. We would be foolish not to use it. And professors can choose to answer e-mail or not. If they do answer their e-mail, even on weekends, what’s wrong with that? It means that they are dedicated teachers, not that their students are spoiled.

As for running to Mom and Dad for help with papers, I plead guilty, but so what? Isn’t helping their kids what parents are supposed to do? I get help from parents and aunts and uncles as well as from my regular teachers. The result is that I learn what I’m supposed to learn. Since when is that a bad thing? Nobody ever does the work for me: they just help me do it better.

Working to live, not living to work

Another complaint people have about Gen-Yers is that we’re not worker drones. We actually want to have fulfilling jobs and lives outside of our jobs:

Many are increasingly declaring themselves unwilling to work more than 40 hours a week. … Almost universally they want to find a job that’s not just a job but an expression of their identity, a form of self-fulfillment.

Again, Gen-Yers realize that we are lucky. Earlier generations didn’t have a chance for limited work hours and fulfilling jobs. But they still wanted those things, and when they could get them, they grabbed them.

OMG, we even believe in ourselves!

Judith Warner, who wrote the article, puts Gen Y in a fairer and more positive context. She interviewed nine college students* recommended by their professors, and she found:

Emerging adults with a striking ability to keep self-doubt — and deep discouragement — at bay. Many were jobless, others were dissatisfied … [but] They didn’t call into question their choices or competencies. It was as if all the cries of “Good job!” they heard as children armed them against the repeated blows of frustration and rejection now coming their way.

That’s actually more positively than I would state it myself, because I have tons of self-doubt. I just don’t let it stop me.

Who makes a better world?

Let’s get back to the question with which we started. Who makes the world? And who makes it better?

Yes, a lot of it is outside of our control. But let’s try to answer the question anyway.

  • If you believe that you can’t make the world better, then you can’t.
  • If you believe that you don’t deserve to have a better world, then you won’t.

Whether it’s realistic or not, members of my generation believe that we can make the world better. And we believe that we deserve to have a better world.

Our parents deserved a better world, too, but they couldn’t get it. They did what they could to make it better for us.

And now it’s up to us Gen-Yers to finish the job.

Is that whiny and self-obsessed? Then the world could use a lot more whiny and self-obsessed people.

We can do it. We deserve to do it. Let’s get to work.

*Just for the record, I wasn’t one of the students she interviewed.

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.


I Don’t Hate Blake Lively, but …

Blake on the cover of Vogue Magazine, June 2010.

I don’t hate Blake Lively, the star of my favorite TV show, “Gossip Girl.” Honestly, I don’t. But she gives me a raging inferiority complex.

Blake got the cover of this month’s Vogue magazine, along with an interview and a photo shoot modeling beachwear.

She says that she eats what she wants and doesn’t exercise.

Oh, please, just shoot me now.

I exercise almost every day and eat like an anorexic gerbil. The only reason I’m not bulimic is that I couldn’t get okay with the idea of making myself throw up on a regular basis. Plus it’s bad for your teeth. I’m not fat, but it’s a constant battle.

The point is, I could exercise 15 hours a day and live on nothing but celery. But I would never look as good as Blake. Never never.

Yes, I know it’s mostly genetics, along with professional makeup artists and good photography. And maybe I’ve got a few IQ points on her to compensate. Big deal: lots of guys hit on me at parties because they think I have a high IQ. Not. The one feature where I look better than Blake is, well, let’s just say that I need a very good jogging bra. feature: Get the Eclipse Look Now.

And then there’s Teen Vogue. Yes, I know that I’m almost 21, but I still read it.

It has a slide show about all the fashions in the new Twilight movie, “Eclipse,” so you can buy them and wear them yourself. Sometimes I wonder if half the point of these movies is to sell clothes. Naturally, I’ll buy some of them, but they won’t look as good on me as they do on Kristen Stewart in the movie.

I don’t know. Maybe I should just stop reading fashion magazines and stick to Scientific American Mind. ๐Ÿ™‚

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.

Back Home, Shopping and Clubbing

Sorry that I haven’t blogged for the last week. I can’t believe how lazy I’ve been since I flew back home from school. Mostly sleeping and shopping.

I’ve been back home since Wednesday evening. I skipped staying at school for commencement today because I don’t graduate till next year.

Gail Collins, our commencement speaker today, is awesome and I’ve started reading her column in The New York Times. But I skimmed her book in the bookstore and a lot of it is about the 1960s. Yes, I know that many important things happened in the 1960s, but sometimes I just want to say, give it a rest! Between my parents and some of my teachers, I’ve already heard plenty about the 1960s.

My BFF Sarah got back from school in California yesterday, so last night we went clubbing. I used spectacularly bad judgment about a guy I met but there was no harm done. I lost an item of clothing — really lost it, I don’t know where it is. I’ll just let you wonder which item it was. But don’t get too excited: it wasn’t anything crucial. ๐Ÿ™‚

We did have a good time though. I sneaked in at 3am and my parents were asleep but my brother Josh was still up playing computer games. He graduates from high school in a couple of weeks. Don’t let him know this, but I’m actually kind of proud of him when he’s not being a total pain.

I start my summer job a week from tomorrow, and then I’m taking the MCAT in June, so I’ll be studying for that. Life is good. I hope that your life is good, too!

Ttfn …

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.

Rinth’s Really Bad Poetry

This is some really bad poetry I wrote because I’m exhausted from final exams and feeling sad about leaving college for the summer. You might not feel that way about your school, but we do about ours. It means a lot to us.

Anyway, this poetry is really, really bad. You have been warned. ๐Ÿ™‚

Walking Fearless into the Darkness

In the night after final exams,
I walk into the darkness,
Iโ€™m not afraid, maybe I should be,
(Though probably not, not here),
But Iโ€™m at home and I feel the warmth,
The lights on the street penetrate me,
Awakening memories in my mind and body.

In my thoughts, emotions, and flesh,
I recall the moments, the hours, the days:
Sharing heart with my friends,
Sharing ideas with my teachers,
Sharing embrace with a lover,
Or two, or just a nice someone
As an evening companion, or more.

The experiences and ideas,
Sights and sounds and touches,
They held me close,
They opened me up,
They poured themselves into me,
And made me more than I was before.

Soon I will leave here for a few months,
But I wonโ€™t ever be away, not from here,
Because here is something I carry with me,
In my mind and spirit, in the life that stretches
Before me, so much wider from what
Iโ€™ve learned and done and experienced,
And even more by the cherished ones who
Have led me and followed me and walked
Beside me, and who always shared their spirit.

Can I feel your breath on my face,
Your heat against my body,
Or is it the breath of possibility
And the heat of adventure, the shining
Stars of life that lie ahead, of a journey
To whatever comes, and even more
To whoever comes with it.

We will make the journey together,
All of us here, in the past and future,
For me, one more year in this place,
But for this place, forever in me.

And we canโ€™t make the world,
But we can make a piece of it,
And it will be better than it was
Because of what happened here
And those of us it happened to.

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.

What Good Teachers Do

They teach. They encourage. They challenge. They don’t try to overwhelm you or make you feel stupid. They’re mainly about making sure that you learn what you need to know.

I am totally tired right now from studying, but I had a good final exam today. That’s what made me think about good teachers.

The exam was thorough but not really hard. No particularly tricky questions. They were all straight-ahead: Do you know what we studied this semester, or not? If you know it, you do well. If you don’t know it, you don’t do well.

That’s not to say that the exam wasn’t a lot of work. It was. And there was one question where I might have messed up the last part. But whether I do well or badly (I expect to do well), I can’t say that the test wasn’t fair. It was fair. And it was clear, and it made me want to learn more. Isn’t that what education should really be about?

We are incredibly lucky at our school to have professors who care about us and take an interest in helping us succeed. Who explain things. Who answer even the stupidest questions with clarity and encouragement.

Another exam looms tomorrow. It will be fair, too. And tough. I know the professor because I’ve taken a class from her before. She’s close enough that I once went to her just to talk about a personal problem that had nothing to do with class.

And I can’t believe it, but I’ve been so consumed by studying for finals that I forgot we had a last homework assignment in her class. She sent me a gentle reminder, so before the exam I’ll get it done and turned in.

I’m going to study some more and then I have to get some sleep. I hope that you are having a great, exciting, and fun week! I am, too, even if I don’t sound like it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.

Killing Ourselves to Look Good

The bad news is that some cosmetics and personal care products are toxic.

The good news is that now, we can find out which are and which aren’t.

The Cosmetic Safety Database, created by the Environmental Working Group, rates the safety of cosmetics and personal care products by type and brand name. It lists everything from blush to glitter to hair conditioner, and even includes things like contact lens cleaner, dental floss, and baby powder.

The database rates products based on the toxins (if any) they contain:

  • 0-2: Low hazard
  • 3-6: Moderate hazard
  • 7-10: High hazard

A lot of the products seem to be okay. I looked at several types but not at the whole database because, well, I really have to finish this and get back to studying for my final exams.

I looked at the database’s listing of blush products first. At the beginning of the list, all the products were rated 0 or 1, which means they’re pretty safe. But the database lists the safest products first. Why would you buy anything else (unless it was so good that it was worth risking your health)?

At the end of the list, some blush products got ratings of 9, which means they’ve got a lot of toxins in them. And you’d be surprised at some of the brand name products that got 9 ratings.

Eyeliner went from a rating of 0, very safe, all the way up to a few products (such as CoverGirl Eye Enhancers) that were rated 7, which means they’re iffy. Glitter products went from 0 to 8.

Right now at school, with final exams coming up, we don’t even have time to think about cosmetics. But the Cosmetic Safety Database is a good site to bookmark for future reference.

We shouldn’t kill ourselves to look good.

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.

Playing House with 13

I took a study break and watched “House” from last night. I’m not sure what makes Hugh Laurie so … well, let’s just say that if I ever developed a Daddy complex, he’d be my first choice.

I firmly believe that if you’re going to get a Daddy complex, it should be about a TV star who’s inaccessible. That avoids a certain euuuw factor. ๐Ÿ™‚

If you don’t watch the show (shame on you), it’s about a brilliant but obnoxious doctor named Gregory House. Everyone in the hospital puts up with him because he can diagnose patients whose illnesses have stumped everyone else. He has an on-again, off-again love interest with the hospital administrator, Dr. Lisa Cuddy.

His best friend and roommate is Dr. James Wilson, who also works at the hospital. Wilson lets House live with him because he realizes that even though House is a medical genius, he’s very childish in other ways and can’t take care of himself. Wilson is part sidekick, part father figure to House. The whole show is basically a medical version of Sherlock Holmes, with House (Holmes) and Wilson (Dr. Watson).

In this week’s episode, Wilson was trying to spend some time with one of his ex-wives, so he paid the members of House’s staff to take him out socially in the evenings. It was pretty funny. One evening, they got up on stage in a club and started singing. Another day, Dr. Remy Hadley, a woman who House calls “13” (long story), offered to take him to a lesbian bar. As I said, House is pretty childish in some ways, and you could practically see his tongue hanging out at the thought. And when they were sitting in the bar, you could tell that he was really enjoying himself. Also, 13 doesn’t normally appeal to me, but she was more relaxed and attractive in that scene. She’s usually shown at the hospital in tense medical situations that require a lot of grimacing and running around.

Speaking of grimacing, well, I don’t really grimace when I study. Not normally, but as the end of the semester approaches, the pressure is getting to me a little. I want to graduate summa cum laude, and that takes a lot of work. Which I’d better get back to. Just don’t tell anyone that I ended a sentence with a preposition: that’s not the kind of word you should end a sentence with. Ooops.

I hope that you’re having a great evening and a great week! Ttfn …

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.