CSU kicks off Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Students milled in and out of the rows of tables that were scattered throughout the Student Center Atrium. The feeling in the air was one of acceptance and understanding, topped with a feeling of determination.

The Day of Action event is how Cleveland State University kicked off Sexual Assault Awareness Month (S.A.A.M.) on Tuesday, April 2 in the Student Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Health and Wellness Coordinator Denise Keary spearheaded the event, announcing speakers Matt Knickman, the director of Student Activities and Involvement, and Samia Shaheen, president of the Student Government Association.

Many organizations that push for awareness throughout Cleveland State attended Day of Action, supplying students with countless resources regarding sexual violence.

Not only did Day of Action kick off the significance of April, but it got members of The Cauldron thinking about what students of Cleveland State need to know to go through this month and carrying on afterward.

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Highlight on CRCC

There are many artists throughout the world that promote awareness for sexual and domestic violence. To hit close to home, Bon Iver, Grammy-award-winning indie folk band, recently performed at KeyBank State Theatre in Playhouse Square on March 29. Bon Iver started a campaign called 2 A Billion, which according to the website, is meant to “raise support, awareness and person-to-person connections in an effort to end gender inequality, domestic violence, and sexual abuse.”

Because this is a passion project of Bon Iver’s, it seems only fitting that they promote an organization in every city they perform at for their spring tour.

When they came to Cleveland on March 29, they partnered with Cleveland Rape Crisis Center (CRCC). CRCC had a table set up in the lobby of KeyBank Theatre. According to one representative of CRCC, they were the only organization that Bon Iver had reached out to about attending their concert as their 2 A Billion partner.

CRCC is a Cleveland-based organization that is centered on supporting survivors of rape and sexual assault. Their mission as a whole is to eliminate sexual violence on a local, national and global scale.

CRCC’s main office is located in downtown Cleveland in The Halle Building. The address will be provided in the resources section of this article. It is open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to  5 p.m.

In addition to this main office, CRCC also offers 14 satellite offices throughout Northeast Ohio, ranging from regional offices throughout Cleveland to campus locations, including Cleveland State. Students have the option to talk to someone from CRCC at their Student Center location in the Office of Student Affairs.

They have walk-in hours on Mondays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesdays from 2 – 6 p.m. They offer students individual counseling, victim assistance, prevention services and professional training.

CRCC also provides a 24/7 phone number and text hotline that individuals can contact whenever they need. There is also an online chat option on their website for those who feel more comfortable online versus using the phone.

For those that want to get involved in CRCC, Campus Outreach Specialist Jaliah Neely said that they are always looking for volunteers and interns who are interested in helping the cause and spreading awareness of sexual violence.

Every year, more than 40,000 people find themselves participating in the center’s counseling services and educational programs. CRCC is one resource that has made themselves available to the city of Cleveland in many ways and plans to continue to do so for as long as possible.

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Shows that promote S.A.A.M.

Countless TV shows and movies highlight the importance of sexual assault and its effect on individuals. Actors perform with the best of their ability to convey the impact these acts of violence have on human beings and those around them. Below are just a few of the many shows that have taken part in spreading awareness of sexual assault.

“The Bold Type”

This show has just premiered with its third season, but they didn’t hold back on topics since day one of its run. In episode ten of season one, titled “Carry the Weight,” the writers chose to use the finale to press the importance of assault and how it affects victims years after the occurrence. With “The Bold Type,” they do this through one of the main characters, Jane Sloan, who is a writer for Scarlet Magazine.

She embarks on an article that focuses on Mia, who is a rape survivor and performance artist. The performance that Mia is doing in this episode hits home for many, including Scarlet Editor Jacqueline Carlyle. Mia stands in Central Park holding heavy weights, symbolizing that even though she was assaulted years previously, the weight that she carries from that event still lingers inside of her. Anyone is able to come and take the weights from Mia, for their moment of personal acknowledgment that even though they have survived the attack, they are still victims on a day to day basis.

“Grey’s Anatomy”

This landmark season and episode stirred a lot of attention after it aired on March 28, marking the 19th episode of the 15th season. The writers held nothing back with this episode, highlighting sexual assault and putting rape survivors front and center. Fans of the show were curious of what this episode would hold, due to promos leading up to the release that said: “Due to sensitive subject matter, viewer discretion is advised.”

The episode had storylines that interweaved, but the main plotline resided with a patient, Abby, and doctors Teddy and Jo. Jo runs into Abby in the hall, becomes her doctor and gradually realizes that Abby seems to be showing some signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Teddy joins Jo in the treatment of Abby and is the one to administer a rape kit on Abby in what proves to be an emotional, moving and heart-wrenching scene, in which Khalilah Joi, who plays Abby, leaves a significant impression on viewers.

“The Fosters”

There are many instances on this show where the writers and cast highlight sexual violence. “The Fosters” was never afraid to push boundaries and finally took the steps other shows missed the mark on when it came to acknowledging statutory rape. In one episode, a boy under the age of 18 was assaulted by his dad’s girlfriend. Multiple occurrences in following episodes call what happened “sex.” Finally, another set of parents call what happened to the boy rape, due to the fact that he is underage and he was incapacitated at the time. These episodes also highlight victim blaming, which shows are talking about more in recent years.

They talk about kids being taken advantage of in foster care. According to a study about child abuse found off of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, foster children are 10 times more likely to be sexually abused in their foster home than children who live with both biological parents.

Out of the Darkness

One way that individuals can show support for mental health is the Out of the Darkness Campus Walk, which will be happening April 27 at 11 a.m.

The Out of the Darkness Campus Walks are a part of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). AFSP hosts these events across the country to promote awareness for mental health and suicide, which is the second leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 24.

Cleveland State’s Helping You through Peer Education (H.Y.P.E.) Team and the Suicide Prevention Student Leaders team are the ones hosting this year’s Out of the Darkness Campus Walk. The goal is to raise money and benefit AFSP as well as raise awareness regarding the mental health of students. Cleveland State has a fundraising goal of $5,000 for the campus walk. As of now, just under $1,000 has been raised.

Something that AFSP does at these campus walks is hand out beaded necklaces for participants to wear if they wish. The color of the necklaces define what the individual wearing them has gone through and why the walk means something to them. For example, if one wears a white necklace, it means that they have lost a child to suicide.

Silver – Loss of a first responder/military member

Orange – Loss of a sibling

Green – Personal struggle

Red – Loss of a spouse or partner

Blue – Support the cause

Teal – A loved one struggles

Purple – Loss of a relative or friend

Gold – Loss of a parent

White – Loss of a child

While this article’s main focus is on sexual assault awareness, highlighting suicide and the Out of the Darkness Campus Walk still rings true in equal importance.

According to RAINN, 94 percent of women who are raped experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during the initial weeks following. Additionally, 33 percent of women who are raped contemplate suicide, and 13 percent of women who are raped attempt suicide.

Getting involved with the campus walk is meant to help spread awareness to the Cleveland State community about why suicide is the second leading cause of death and help Cleveland State students find the resources they need.

This is the first time that the Out of the Darkness walk will be happening at Cleveland State.

The campus walk will be starting at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs lawn. Check-in begins at 9:30 a.m. and the walk is scheduled to go from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information on the walk, those interested can visit https://afsp.org/CSUOhio.

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Originally posted on The Cauldron.

April to bring more attention to sexual assault awareness

Usually, opinion articles tend to be more controversial, testing boundaries and pushing buttons. For the sake of transparency, I will be straight up from the beginning of this piece and point out that I am writing an opinion piece on this topic while also covering the entire Feature section. I will say that my opinion did not interfere with my reporting, but at the same time, that just seems like a dumb thing to say. Because frankly, it did.

Because everyone should care about sexual assault awareness. It’s not some hot topic boundary-pushing conversation piece that might cause an uproar in the middle of the dinner table. People should see the importance of it and want to spread awareness. Honestly, people should give a s—.

But would you believe that some people actually don’t pay that much attention to it? Come off like they don’t care. See the next college student that’s been raped on the nightly news and shrug, say, “Well, guess they’re both going to learn some lessons,” and move on with their evening.

Obviously, I don’t believe this is a worldwide issue for people. I know that a lot of people in this world care, but I’m still going into some finer details for those outliers who don’t understand what I am talking about.

First and foremost, let’s talk about some definitions. Sexual assault, according to The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), is defined as “sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the victim. Some forms of sexual assault include attempted rape, fondling or unwanted sexual touching.” Additionally, RAINN defines rape as “a form of sexual assault, but not all sexual assault is rape. The term rape is often used as a legal definition to specifically include sexual penetration without consent.”

Now that we have that basic knowledge squared away, let us move on.

There are many types of assault, unfortunately. There is acquaintance rape, which is the most common. According to RAINN, eight out of 10 sexual assaults fall under this category, which is when the assault is committed by someone who the victim knows personally. Intimate partners fall under this category.

Date rape also falls under acquaintance rape, because “date” may refer to someone you’ve gone out with, but it also refers to peers, friends, neighbors, etc.

Stranger rape, which is self-explanatory, includes a few types. Blitz sexual assault, which is a quick, brutal act of assault against the victim with no prior contact beforehand. Contact sexual assault, which is when the perpetrator contacts the victim, gains their trust in some way and then coerces them into a situation where the assault will occur. Lastly, home invasion sexual assault, when a stranger breaks into someone’s house to commit the assault. Basically almost every “Criminal Minds” episode.

As you can see, there are many types of sexual assault. It’s very sad that there are so many definitions for a crime that is so inhumane and shouldn’t be occurring in the first place. But alas, this is the world we live in.

According to the Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct that the Association of American Universities performed, 11.2 percent of students reported, “nonconsensual sexual contact by physical force, threats of physical force, or incapacitation since they enrolled at their university.”

What is sad is the fact that according to this survey, the most common reason that incidents were not reported was that individuals did not think that the reports would not be taken seriously. Furthermore, they were embarrassed, ashamed and thought “that it would be too emotionally difficult,” and they “did not think anything would be done about it.”

Let us talk stats based on gender. According to RAINN regarding undergraduate students, 23.1 percent of females and 5.4 percent of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation. (For the record, if you are incapacitated, you are incapable of fighting back for a number of reasons, like being drunk, asleep, under the influence of drugs or passed out. So yes, that would fall under assault, which seems obvious enough).

For the transgender and non-binary community, the stats are even more staggering. Based on a report from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 47 percent of transgender people “have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives, and these rates are even higher for trans people of color.”

So, just checking in at where we are so far, the stats are already bad enough for college students when it comes to rape and sexual assault on campus. Just talking as a decent human being here, but I think maybe those stats should lower to say..maybe zero. Just throwing it out there.

But then as we look outside of college campuses, and look at Ohio, specifically Cuyahoga County, our attention lands on untested rape kits. Because of course, that’s a national issue, the fact that there are thousands of untested kits just sitting on shelves in the back of crime labs.

In April 2018, “I Am Evidence,” a documentary about untested rape kits throughout the country that are stacking up in evidence storage facilities, premiered on HBO. A year previously, it was screened at the Cleveland International Film Festival. For my “Law and Order” fans out there, it was produced by Mariska Hargitay, who plays Olivia Benson on SVU. Because of course, Lt. Benson is also a badass woman in real life who isn’t afraid to call people out on how incompetent they are. Hargitay also founded the Joyful Heart Foundation, whose mission is to change society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse.

When this film premiered and was first discussed, there were approximately 400,000 untested rape kits throughout the country.

But there is a silver lining in that article! According to the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center (CRCC), the backlogged rape kits of Cuyahoga County have been looked into and some red flags were raised. Now, more than 6,000 victim statements are going to be getting a second look. The reason? The way words are used in interviews may have consequences. According to CRCC, “they’re looking for signaling language, or hints, that could cast doubt on the victim’s claims.”

Based on the CRCC report of this development, the chief advocacy officer at CRCC, Teresa Stafford, thinks this is a “game changer” for victims. The hope is that by looking into these cases, the issue of language in interviews will be brought forward and be a catalyst for training in the future. The goal is to remove potential bias when interviewing victims.

Obviously, there are a lot of steps that need to be made regarding sexual assault, be it on college campuses, throughout Cuyahoga County and at the nation level. But hopefully, by providing information and spreading awareness, everyone can become more knowledgeable about this issue and take the steps needed to abolish sexual violence one person at a time.

 

Originally posted on The Cauldron. 

Review of “The Importance of Being Ernest”

A piano plays softly in the background as the lights dim in the theatre. An eclectic collection of patterned rugs and leather, animal printed chairs sit on the stage as a butler mills about arranging trays of food. 

We’re placed in London in the 1890s, where themes of marriage and money ring high in this portrayal of “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde, presented by Cleveland State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance. 

“The Importance of Being Earnest” opened in The Outcalt Theatre of Playhouse Square on Feb. 21 and will continue through March 3. 

With a cast of nine characters and only two locations in the entire play, “Earnest” catches the attention of the audience with strong verbal dialogue, full of wit and sarcasm.  

Act 1 is set in the flat of Algernon Moncrieff, a somewhat selfish but brilliant bachelor portrayed by senior theatre major Steven Livingston. He can be viewed as a hero of the story, second to the main protagonist John Worthing, who is portrayed by senior theatre major Matthew Logan. 

The character of John Worthing is a bit paradoxical. Giving credit where it is due, Logan not only portrays John Worthing but also Ernest Worthing, his notorious, younger brother who lives an aristocratic life away from his older brother, Jack. 

Without giving too much away, the characters of Ernest and Jack are one and the same. Jack creates a younger brother by the name of Ernest, which gives him an excuse and alibi for when he travels to London, acting as Ernest. 

This is how our story begins, with Ernest visiting his best friend Algernon and explaining that he wants to propose to his friend’s cousin, Gwendolen Fairfax, who is portrayed by junior theatre major Brooke Myers. He gets the chance to propose, to the delight of himself and Gwendolen, but to the dismay of Gwendolen’s mother, Lady Bracknell.

Before long, Ernest reveals to his friend his secret identity, while learning that Algernon has a secret alibi of his own for when he leaves the city. This soon brings us into Act 2, set in the garden at the Manor House in the countryside of Woolton, which is home to Jack, his ward Cecily Cardew and Cecily’s governess, Miss Prism. 

While Jack is still in London, Algernon travels to Woolton, pretending to be the imaginary character of Jack’s younger brother with the goal of meeting sweet and sassy Cecily, portrayed by Elizabeth Samsa.

Cecily, excited to meet this mysterious uncle of hers, soon reveals that she has developed a deep love for Ernest through the stories that Jack has told her. Algernon continues with this charade and becomes friendly with Cecily. 

Unbeknownst to him, Jack returns to the manor with the intention of telling his family that his brother Ernest had died, in order to put an end to his years-long charade. However, this proves impossible with Algernon at his home, so he decides to play along. 

The play reaches an interesting obstacle when Gwendolen arrives at the manor unexpectedly to pay Ernest a visit. Instead of finding her new fiancé in the garden, she comes across Cecily, who just minutes before had become engaged to her own version of Ernest Worthing. 

Both ladies come to realize that they are supposedly engaged to the same man, much to their disbelief. A competition of sorts begins to arise for who is more fit to be the wife. Soon enough, both Algernon and Jack come into the scene and have a lot of explaining to do. 

The most delightful part of the entire play was the friendly but brotherly rapport between Algernon and Jack. The audience could tell that Livingston and Logan became one with their characters and made the fun and playful relationship as real as possible. With being quick to defend the other, chasing each other for the last muffin in the tin and the occasional friendly insult, this is easy to believe. 

The rest of Act 2 is delightful to watch as secrets are revealed and more characters come into play. The banter and silliness on stage seem real and tangible, easily felt in the audience. 

Full of hypocrisy in the best way, creative and hilarious wit and the eventual deeper revelations of characters, the audience leaves the theatre with one thought. It’s always important to be earnest.

Originally published on The Cauldron.

Bubbling Book Corner: Review: “Luckiest Girl Alive” by Jessica Knoll

Have you ever felt like you just made the biggest mistake of your life? Or something was so humiliating and degrading that you wished with all your might that you could force everyone to forget?

Imagine if it was that easy to just try and erase your past as much as possible. To live each day with the goal of becoming someone else entirely and leaving your past behind you. 

Well, Jessica Knoll proves that it is possible, if not somewhat emotionally staggering, in her 2015 novel “Luckiest Girl Alive,” to reinvent yourself in the eyes of everyone you know. 

“Luckiest Girl Alive” follows Ani FaNelli, editor of a top magazine and fiancé to blue blood Luke Harrison. Ani seems to have it all, from her size zero waistband to the sparkling emerald engagement ring that sits heavily on her finger. 

The chapters alternate between 28-year-old Ani and her 14-year-old self, TifAni FaNelli, her former name in high school. The chapters focusing on TifAni slowly shine a light on what lurks in Ani’s past, things that she has tried tremendously hard to forget. 

The beginning of the novel informs readers that something big occurred while TifAni was in high school, proven by a documentary that Ani is being prepped for during the first half of the novel. 

However, what exactly happened all those years ago is not revealed until the end, leaving readers on the edge of their seat. What exactly turned young, friendly TifAni, desperate for friends, into wealthy Ani FaNelli, who is pessimistic and manipulative to a fault?

This novel highlights topics like eating disorders and sexual assault, so some moments might be triggering for some. While these topics could have probably been delved into more, when it comes to the essence of the novel as a whole, I think Knoll got her point across sufficiently enough. 

Without giving anything too huge away, the tones that fill this book are representative of how years can change someone’s outlook on life. From craving acceptance in high school to demanding it in high society. Not knowing what type of life you want to live and then having your pick of jobs as an adult. Dieting to fit in versus dieting for an aristocratic wedding. 

Obviously, these are things that not everyone relates to dead on. Not everyone is marrying a rich member of Wall Street and getting the wedding of their supposed dreams. 

However, as cold and calculating as 28-year-old Ani comes off, she does showcase someone who went through hell and back as a child and made something of themselves as an adult. While she may have a rich fiancé and live in his classy penthouse, that doesn’t mean she didn’t fight to be at the top of her social life and career. 

If readers like the catty tones of “Gossip Girl” mixed with the dark hum of crime documentaries, the psychological thriller that is “Luckiest Girl Alive” is sure to be a new favorite. 

Originally published on The Cauldron.

What to read throughout 2019

I’m the kind of person that has a huge pile of books that she’s read, as well as an ever-growing pile of books to be read (TBR). The latter of the two piles never stops growing and hardly ever diminishes in numbers. However, this doesn’t stop me from getting more books.

I have always loved reading. As I’ve grown and filled out surveys or questionnaires where it asks what your hobby is, my answer has always been reading. Therefore, I’ve always felt a bit boring, especially when surrounded by people who never quite got swept up in the love of a good book.

As time went on I no longer cared what people thought about my favourite hobby. If anything I embraced it more. As happy as I am about that development, it didn’t help stop that pile of books from growing.

Since I live across the country from my parents and childhood home, most of my books reside in my multiple shelving units in California. However, in the past couple of years while I’ve lived in Ohio, I’ve started an entirely new pile of books to be read. It’s great, when I am here I can read from my TBR in Ohio pile and when I fly home, I have a completely new TBR pile to choose from. So many books, so little time.

So, my mission for 2019 is to read more of my TBR books because they’re just sitting together waiting for some affection. The goal is to slow down a bit in life and take a little bit of time each day to read, whether that be in between classes or before I go to sleep.

I’ve put some of these books down below, as a way to keep me accountable in my mission, as well as give some recommendations to anyone who wants them.

  1. “Luckiest Girl Alive” by Jessica Knoll

This novel is fast becoming one of my favourite books that keeps me wondering what is next. It’s one of those books that goes back and forth from past to present, following Ani FaNelli as she lives the life she created for herself after years of hardship and public humiliation. Her years of adolescence have followed her as she works her dream job in New York City with a gorgeous fiancé on her arm. Full of twists and turns, readers follow Ani as she navigates a path that could either save her from her own past or ruin everything she has worked for.

2. “A Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness

The first book in the All Souls trilogy, “A Discovery of Witches” follows a historian and witch, albeit reluctant witch, who finds a bewitched manuscript in the Oxford library she works in. The book follows her as she works side-by-side with an elusive vampire, by the name of Matthew Clairmont, as they fight to protect the manuscript while dodging threats from various supernatural creatures around the world.

3. “The Couple Next Door” by Shari Lapena

This books delivers the classic edge-of-your-seat missing child scenario. Similar to Jessica Knoll’s character of Ani, Anne and Marco Conti seem to have everything. The perfect marriage, nice home, beautiful baby girl. Except there is more than meets the eye in this seemingly loving household. After tragedy strikes while the couple is at a dinner party next door, the secrets that start to unfold keep you guessing what could be next.

4. “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” by Stephen King

A friend of mine lent me this book because it’s one of her favourite novels that she reads every year. I love suspense, if you couldn’t tell from the books I’ve already listed, so this was totally up my alley. Stephen King has always been a fav, how could he not be? This book is unique in the way that it is narrated by a nine-year-old girl who is on a hike with her mother and brother. She strays away to go to the bathroom, thinking that she can easily find her way back to them. However, this leads into a psychological thriller that follows her as she remains lost for more than a week.

5. “The Sun and Her Flowers” by Rupi Kaur

This book of poetry follows the same structure of Kaur’s previous book, “Milk and Honey,” with each section of the book following a certain pattern. “The Sun and Her Flowers” is structured with the following chapter titles: Wilting, Falling, Rooting, Rising and Blooming. Each chapter has poetry that fits into the theme. Kaur focuses on topics such as relationships, heartbreak, equality and love, immigration and accepting yourself. The perfect thing to read if you’re feeling introspective for the day.

6. “Talking as Fast as I Can” by Lauren Graham

As a huge “Gilmore Girls” fan, this is something that needs to be on my list. I’ve had it for a while now but haven’t gotten around to reading it from beginning to end. Graham started writing it when the cast reunited to film “Gilmore Girls: A Day in the Life.” She chronicled her experience with filming, reflected on returned to a character she hadn’t portrayed for about a decade and shared some anecdotes from her childhood. It’s fun, it’s quirky – it’s like you’re talking to Lorelai herself.

7. “Becoming” by Michelle Obama

I randomly came across this book when I stopped into Barnes & Noble one day. I just went inside to waste time, had nothing in mind to buy, but ended up leaving with “Becoming.” I knew that Michelle Obama had been promoting her novel and had seen excerpts of it online, so I was intrigued. It’s interesting to read about how she grew up, where she came from versus what we see now with her being in the spotlight. Ultimately, I was curious to read about the former First Lady’s perspective on events that we were only aware of through news segments or press releases.

8. “One Day in December” by Josie Silver

Numbers eight through eleven are all books that I received from my Book of the Month subscription. “One Day in December” follows a character by the name of Laurie, who could usually be described as a pessimist about love – she’s convinced that love at first sight doesn’t exist. However, one day she’s sitting on the bus, locks eyes with a man outside, and everything she thought she knew about love at first sight is blown away. She never finds him, until a year later when she meets him formally at her friend Sarah’s party – as Sarah’s boyfriend. Stories of love, heartbreak and friendship follow the three as the book chronicles the next ten years of their lives.

9. “For Better and Worse” by Margot Hunt

As someone interested in law, this intrigued me since it revolves around a couple, Natalie and Will, who met and fell in love in law school. They apparently always joked about how they were the perfect couple and that because of their degrees, they could plan the perfect murder and get away with it. 15 years later, Natalie puts that to the test. She jumps to the defense of her son after finding out he’s a victim of assault, when he admits one night to her that his principal molested him. Much to Will’s surprise, the plot they made 15 years previously is put to the test.

10. “#fashionvictim” by Amina Akhtar

Anyone remember that 2011 thriller movie called “The Roommate” that was about this young quirky student named Sara that became her roommate Rebecca’s object of obsession. #fashionvictim could be described as a mix of “The Roommate” and “Luckiest Girl Alive. Character Anya has it all and is dominated the world of fashion. However, she is one step below her coworker Sarah, who was born into this world. Anya finds herself wanting to be best friends with Sarah, wanting to become her. But when they end up being pitted against each other for a new promotion, Anya wants Sarah gone.

11. “Cross Her Heart” by Sarah Pinborough

“Cross Her Heart” is about a mother who will do anything to protect her daughter. Lisa is a mom who has done her best to put her past behind her and build a life that she and her daughter Ava can be proud of – and one that they can hide behind. Lisa broke a promise years ago and it is coming back to bite her and her daughter, because someone is controlling the bad things that start to happen to them. Everything that Lisa built is at risk of being ruined as she struggles to figure out who she can trust with her past.

When being perfect just isn’t an option anymore

I have a friend, let’s call her Jen. Jen has always been used to being the best of everything she’s tried. She strives for perfection and always has since her childhood. It’s just her normal.

But lately, that normal just isn’t possible anymore. Life is getting the best of Jen and she feels like a massive failure. Nothing seems to be working out and it’s causing a potential mental breakdown on a daily basis.

The thing is, this isn’t just a problem for Jen. It’s a problem for a lot of us, myself included. We all have our own levels of perfection we strive for. Those develop from years of pushing from family, friends, teachers, society, even ourselves. As we grow, everyone tells us what is right and wrong, what we need to be doing to succeed in life.

When you come to college, life just gets thrown off track. Everything you believed in and grew up thinking was correct gets thrown out of the window. We’re left with the feeling of loss, thinking to ourselves, “well, now what do I do? I had a plan. Why isn’t it working.”

But plans don’t always work out, especially when life takes hold and we no longer are in control of the steering wheel.

I spoke with Jen and had a moment where reality kind of hit me. We can’t keep doing the same things over and over just for the sake of feeling like we’re doing the right thing. Following that code of success we always believed in.

Yes, we may feel the need to keep some crappy job that brings in a pay check every couple of weeks, but also brings us to the brink of insanity. Just because keeping the thing that brings in money seems like the right thing to do, doesn’t mean it is. It is okay to take the time to find a job that gives you what you need while also letting you keep your mental health. We shouldn’t put our own health and happiness at risk. I’m not saying it’s okay to just sit back and bring in unemployment checks because working is too hard for you, because that’s just taking advantage of those around you.

However, it’s okay to take a couple months finding something that makes you happy and keeps you healthy, instead of pushing yourself hourly to keep something that destroys your inner joy.We may always feel like we’re failing, we may struggle daily trying to convince ourselves that things aren’t as horrible as they may seem. We all are our own worst critic and are thrown off when the train we’ve always been on starts taking a different route than what was planned. It may just be one of the worst feelings in the world for those of us that are perfectionists.

Take a deep breath and try your best. Sometimes that is all that you can do. More often than not things work out in the end.