Why You NEED to Watch The Handmaid’s Tale If You Haven’t Already

Hello, World.

In high school, I had to do a project called an “extended reading.” They were sort of the worst things ever, but alas, I was in AP English and they were required. Extended readings were used to make sure we knew a broad range of literature that we could write about/needed to know about for the AP exam come April. So, each student in my class would choose a book to read and then give a spoiler-ridden presentation on to the class. The presentation was supposed to offer an in-depth summary of the work, themes, motifs, character biographies, etc. Basically, people should felt that they actually read the book by the end of your presentation. I hated public speaking in high school, so I got hives everytime I stood at the front of the room to give my presentation. So, what does this trip down memory lane have to do with Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale? Well, my senior year of high school, my AP English teacher recommended I read it and present it to my class.

So, I read the novel. It was one of the first books, besides maybe To Kill A Mockingbird, that I read for class that I loved. Honestly, I loved the way it was written, I found the storyline fascinating, and I just could not put the novel down. I built a reading schedule, but quickly surpassed all of my goals and finished the novel in a matter of days. When Hulu decided to come out with a TV version of the book, I was hesitant. I was scared it wouldn’t live up to my impression of the book and would fail to capture the essence of the Atwood’s words.
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In September, I finally sat down to watch the show. I was hesitant but had been told several times it was amazing. The show also won a ton of Emmys, so I decided maybe it was worth watching. I sat down in bed to watch one episode and was hooked. I ended up watching three in a row. I finished the show within a week but re-watched portions a second time, just as I had re-read portions of the book years before. The show tweaked some aspects of the book, but I felt most tweaks were appropriate and didn’t detract from the overarching message and themes of the book.

Elisabeth Moss did an incredible, incredible job playing Offred/June. Honestly, I think she brought emotion and rawness to the character that was even better than the book. Due to the clinical nature of the world created by Atwood, sometimes emotions didn’t come through as well in written form, but the acting of the Hulu cast was powerful. The subtle emotions, the complete outbursts, the debilitating fear an uneasiness…the cast portrayed that well. I heard someone complain the acting was too mechanical. Ironically, it’s supposed to be mechanical. It’s supposed to feel cold and detached while highlighting small moments of hope and integrity and resistance.

I particularly enjoyed seeing the build-up to how Gilead formed. I think when I read the book, as a somewhat naive seventeen-year-old girl, I thought, “Oh this could never happen.” Today, I’m not so sure. Quiet movements led by enraged, blame-focused groups seem real. The stripping of women’s rights doesn’t seem far off as we, women, have yet to receive all the rights we should. I think watching people walk through the beginning of Gilead thinking, “oh, it’s fine. They’ll never get their way,” and then watching those same people struggle with the fallout, the rights-stripping, and the dehumanizing behavior of Gilead leadership is uncomfortable in the best way. At the end of the day, “that would never happen,” is the wrong mentality to have when you think someone problematic is gaining traction. “That would never happen” is essentially a call for the unimaginable, the seemingly impossible to make itself realized. I think if the TV Handmaid’s Tale gives us anything its the message that passivity is detrimental. We shouldn’t need our world to become Gilead to push change or resistance to problematic movements and ideologies.

Offred is strong as hell and though she’s inherently feminine –  seeing as her driving force is getting her daughter back, which is maternal – she pushes boundaries, she questions her Commander, she pushes back in the slightest ways that seem insignificant at the moment, but provide hope to those of us clinging to the edge of the book or sitting tense on our couches watching Elisabeth Moss say, “is this bullshit life enough for you?” Because it’s not enough for her. Though Offred is in the worst situation, she convinces herself that Gilead is temporary… that the wrongs of the leadership will be corrected, overthrown, people will gain their rights back. However, this is important insofar as it reminds us that all of this was absent when Gilead leadership bulldozed the country into submission.

I don’t want to spoil the show, as I think it’s a must-see, but I will say there were moments that made my stomach turn. There were moments when I wanted to scream at characters (specifically Serena Joy, who helped create the society that then stripped her dignity and belittled her intellect). I think shows like this, however, are uncommon, and I think the writing is just as powerful as Atwood’s novel is. So, if you haven’t watched The Handmaid’s Tale… I encourage you to do so!

Truly,
Callie leigh

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Becoming Your Best Self: Thoughts on Improving Ourselves

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Hello, World.

Most of us are striving to become the best versions of ourselves, and that’s really what life is about, isn’t it? Getting to a point where you can stand up and say, “I’m living my life how I want to live it and I like the person I am.” There are moments throughout our lives where we reflect on where we’re going, what we’re doing, who we’re surrounding ourselves with, and I think those moments prove pivotal. Reflection is what allows us to determine if we are doing what we want or if we’re hanging out with people who bring love and positivity into our lives or simply drama and negativity.  Today I want to share my thoughts on how we become our best selves.

I believe that becoming your best self is fluid and doesn’t really have a clear end point. It’s not mathematical. You can’t say, “at 25 or 31 or 45 I will be my best self if I add love subtract toxic friendship and multiply by career success.” Rather, it’s a fluid process that never truly ends. We can always be better and we can always grow more. While it’s not clearly mathematical when you will be your best self, I do think having more of one thing and less of another will enhance your life, making you happier and a better you. I am happier when I’m active. I like having people in my life who support me and who don’t bring unnecessary drama to the table. I think most people would agree such factors make them happier. However, happiness is just one aspect of being your best self. While happiness is crucial, I also argue that unhappiness also makes us better. When we experience negative things, it exposes us to situations that can make us stronger, more empathetic and more self-aware.

Some of the biggest learning experiences in my life did not come from moments of pure joy, they came from moments of heartache. Learning how you react to certain situations, how you handle stress, how you handle discomfort is a major step in learning who you are and whether that is who you want to be. I think in order to become your best self you have to take risks; you have to be willing to be let down or disappointed. In moments of frustration or moments of feeling defeated, we are able to begin again. We can reevaluate, understand any shortcomings, and bounce back stronger than ever. Or, we can simply crumble. I reiterate this theme a lot in my posts, but it’s because I feel it’s an important one: It’s not whether we fail, it’s how we respond to the failures.

I think a crucial part of being your best self is surrounding yourself with good people who make you better. I was recently out with friends and this rumor that circulated the law school during the first few weeks of the semester came up in conversation. I asked about its validity and the guy I asked essentially called me out. His face and demeanor said something like, “really? Are you serious or is this a joke? How immature are we?” I immediately froze, in part because I was caught off guard, and in part because I appreciated the moment. It’d been far too long since someone called people on gossip and talking about people. We’re all in law school, shouldn’t our conversations be a little more…elevated? Or at least not so immature in nature? In that moment I was thankful that someone reminded me that indulging in gossip isn’t worth our time and isn’t actually the norm in some circles. What. A. Breath. Of. Fresh. Air. So, my point in relaying this story is to say that who we surround ourselves with can greatly impact who we are. Did I spend my undergraduate days asking about rumors floating around regarding people I didn’t even know? No. So, becoming our best selves also requires us to be around people who make us better, and who encourage us to refrain from negative interactions (like spreading, even if inadvertently, rumors we hear).

When we know there is something we’re unhappy with or want to change, we should change it. We need to take active steps in making a change and moving toward becoming better. So, while it’s not mathematical per se, our best selves exist somewhere where we have better people in our lives, where we feel happy, and where we make an active change to the aspects of our lives that we feel are inhibiting our personal growth.

How do you work towards becoming a better person?

Truly,

Callie leigh

Chunky Necklaces and Sperry Topsiders

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Hello, World.

On Saturday some friends and I went shopping because we really needed some retail therapy. Life lately is insane, and most people feel super stressed about so many different things. Going shopping was a nice stress reliever because it let everyone just talk, look at clothes, and hangout without any school pressure. Since we were in my roommates hometown, we stopped by one of the major wineries because she is always talking about how beautiful it is. I really like living in the Bay Area because there are so many different, awesome places to explore all the time. I also am enjoying getting to know more people, and forming friendships with great people. Sophomore year of college is going by too quickly, but it’s been a great year on a lot of levels, and I know that my junior year is going to be even better, if not the best year yet.

I know I’ve posted a lot of outfit photos with my navy vest, but it’s seriously one of the best pieces of clothing in my closet right now. I love it so much, and it’s the perfect article of clothing for slightly chilly yet still warm days. I’m going to be really sad when it starts getting too warm to wear a vest, but I’m also excited to start wearing shorts and sandals. Summer outfits feel much easier to put together, but alas, fall or winter outfits will always be my favorite. ImageImageImageImage
Speaking of the fact that spring is coming, lately I keep thinking about where I was just a short year ago. My life was so different, the relationships in my life in much different places, and my hopes for summer and other things so much different. Things have changed so much, but its definitely for the best. I’m so happy, and things are really working out for me lately, which makes life so much easier. When years begin with a lot of hardship, sometimes it’s hard to see how it can get better, but if you just hold your head up, and keep pushing through, karma will reward you.
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I’m really enjoying where I currently I am, and although I’ve struggled with my major this year, my life plan, and my personal relationships, I feel like I’m figuring out who I want to be when this whole college thing is said and done. Hard work pays off, so every time I begin to question myself, I remind myself to keep pushing forward. I have so many goals, and I love all the things I’m currently involved in, so I just need to keep going after what I want. Also, I’m happy with who is in my life right now because for the first time in a long time, I feel like the people I surround myself with are 100% genuine.
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wearing- Vest: J Crew // sweater: LC Lauren Conrad // necklace: Poison Apple Salon, Chico // Jeans: Lucky Brand Charlie fit // sunnies: Kate Spade 
Photo Credit: Kate Walera
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Truly,
Callie Leigh

The Color of Friendship.

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Hello, World.

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship lately. When it comes to friendship, I consider myself to be a bit of a chameleon, meaning that I can usually get along with most people. I rarely dislike people, and I try my best to avoid conflict. Friendship can be hard though, because being a chameleon has advantages and disadvantages. Despite the fact that I get along with a lot of people, I’ve always been someone who has very few close friends that I spend a majority with my time with versus a ton of people I hangout with. Maybe because I’m an introvert I have  hard time really connecting with friends.

In my lifetime, I can count on two hands the people I felt I truly clicked with, and whose friendship and opinion I really value. Something one of my best friends and I have in common is that we often have fallings out with friends, and this can be really upsetting. When your friends with someone you invest so much time getting to know them, sharing your life with them, sharing memories, and then suddenly, something shifts and you look at the person and can’t help but think of the quote, “we’re not friends. We’re strangers with memories.” Losing friends is one of the most depressing things, and although my mom tries to cheer me up by saying that if you lose a friend over something other than murder, significant other stealing, or lying about something huge (i.e., I’m actually a con artist who is only friends with you to steal all your money), they weren’t really your friend to begin with. But regardless, it’s hard to accept someone vanishing from your life.

When I entered college, my Resident Advisor was a girl named Charlotte, and she was the sweetest, kindest person. She offered a lot of people similar advice about college friendships, especially during freshman year, and it went something like “you may think you really know someone because you’re spending so much time with them. But usually around January or a little later secrets can come out, and it’s either exactly as you thought or different.” This advice was welcomed, but to be honest, I kind of took it and then didn’t really pay attention. But then, as the year went on, I noticed friendships changing. Friendships where people were inseparable suddenly became separable and then some. There were times when people disliked each other suddenly started getting along. And friendships where you loved the person’s company at the beginning of the year, but then it suddenly felt like spending time with a stranger.

I’m not saying all friendships change, but people do, and that little fact changes everything. Friendship, true friendship, should be judgment-less, and each person should always want to hear about the other person’s life without trying to knock their spirit, or make some rude comment. Friendships are not something that should be superficial.

Friendships that have jealousy or hard feelings cannot be everlasting friendships. Trust me. And friendships should be natural, always. My best friend is someone I only see once in a while, and although we don’t hangout every minute of every day whenever we do see each other it’s like no time has passed, and we never have this awkward tension that I felt in other past friendships. She is always happy for me, and always has my back, which is something I both appreciate and love about her. I saw a quote once that I adored, and it said, “Friendship isn’t about being inseparable. True friendship is being separated and nothing changes.” This, my friends, is what I think is the mark of friendship. If you spend a little time away from someone, and when you try to hangout again they seem mad at you, irritated, or act like you’ve changed, maybe it’s time to revaluate why your friendship feels that way.

In my personal opinion, friendships that lack the natural, loving, open feel should be cut off. When do you cut off a friendship? When you lose all hope that the person you became friends with is the person you’re currently friends with. Or when life happens and two people change and go in two very different directions. Now, I’m not saying that friendships can only happen if two people never change or grow, but a true friendship allows the person to grow, doesn’t ridicule the changes, and doesn’t feel weird around the person because they’ve changed. Change is inevitable, part of life, and so it shouldn’t be something that is absent from friendship. However, you sure as hell better bet that if someone starts doing something I don’t do and they make me feel guilty, alienated, or unwanted because I’m not “cool” like them, they won’t be on my friend list for very long (and I don’t mean my Facebook friend list, although I have been known to delete people when they irritate me. I’m human?). Friendship gets people through life. It is a form of comfort, assurance, love, and happiness. We want friendships that will last, and we want friends who love us for who we are, who we will become, and who are willing to stand by us through every hurdle we face in this life. But something that should constantly be a little gem in the back of your mind is that it goes both ways.

In order to have friends, you have to be a friend. I’m not a perfect friend by any means, but I try to get as close as I can. I’ve recognized that some friendships are pointless, which explains why some people aren’t in my life anymore, but I’ve also failed to try with some friendships and lost people I wish I could still call on some days and just talk to. The important thing is that you recognize which friendships can be let go with nothing lost, which friendships you should work at, and which friendships will remain steadfast through everything. Another thing that makes a strong friendship is commonality. I think in many cases, opposites can attract, but in order for friendship to last I think two people should have similar moral codes. I think morality is where the basis for friendship lies, and although it may be overlooked for a while, in order for a friendship to get past the initial, getting-to-know each other stage, each person should have a similar sense of morality.

We could discuss friendship from now until the end of the world, but everyone is going to have some input on what makes friendships last, and what makes a good friend. For me, there are ways of recognizing a true friend, and those are: time doesn’t change the friendship, there isn’t jealousy or competition, each person loves hearing about the other person’s life, honesty with one another, and acceptance of differences. There are also, I’ve noticed over the years, ways of realizing which friends aren’t your friends and those are: jealousy, one friend has no desire to hear about the other, dishonesty, lying, getting really distant and angry when one of the friends brings someone into their life that the other doesn’t like (or boyfriends/girlfriends), and time does change something.

Your thoughts on friendship?

Truly,

Callie Leigh