I’m here to remind you to listen to yourself.

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Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

I know you don’t want to be pandered to. You may even be tired of people telling you it’s going to be fine or how exactly to navigate a time none of us can rightly claim to have experience with. Are you like me when something in your brain just screams “Nope!” the minute somebody tells you what you should be doing?

That’s the word. Should. What we should be doing right now is listening first and foremost to our own wisdom. If you stop for a minute, turn off the news, and think about it, our internal wisdom is what carried us through every difficult experience in our lives. It is the common thread. …

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Photo by Etienne Boulanger on Unsplash

We are having important conversations as a culture, but there are times I find the conversation surface deep with the real progress below where we’ve been willing to go. Consent is more than a verbal “yes” or “no” and until we discuss the implications of that, we can’t do the important work necessary to reduce sexual assault in our society.

In order to make true progress, individually and as a society, we have to be willing to lean into discomfort and talking about consent can be an inherently uncomfortable conversation for a lot of people. That’s okay. …

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Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

The stories my family tells became legend long before I was born. Every story has a lesson, which my elders, with repetition, wove into the fabric of my upbringing. They became part of me before I knew how to separate myself from my heritage, before I had a choice.

From the time I was a small child, I regularly heard stories about Grandpa’s early life. I heard about trauma. I heard about poverty. I heard how Grandpa overcame all of it because he worked tirelessly to make something of himself. …

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Photo by Paul Gilmore on Unsplash

Earlier this summer, my boyfriend and I got into a huge fight filled with tears, hurtful words, and loss of connection. In the middle of the fight, he told me my inability to let things go bothers him immensely. I immediately felt deep shame and a sense of rejection.

This was not the first time I’ve heard this from him.

In fact, he told me this very thing back in spring, just a few months prior.

I didn’t need his feedback to confirm what I’ve known for years; I struggled to let things go well before I met him. …

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Photo by Jennifer Burk on Unsplash

My story is not unique.

My story is the story of many women.

Maybe my story is a mirror for yours.

I was 14 years old when my parents went on the Atkin’s diet. I went on it with them and spent weeks eating eggs, bacon, cheese, and vegetables.

I felt the restriction. I felt hunger and I tirelessly tried to ignore it. I felt like a failure in moments when the hunger was loud and I didn’t feel like I could resist it.

In my adolescent brain, I convinced myself going on this diet was a show of solidarity with my parents, but underneath the rationalization, I was secretly hoping I would drop some weight myself. …

Watch out for vague descriptions, being pressured, and overly excited headhunters

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Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

I’ve worked as a freelance writer and dog babysitter in a part-time capacity since October of last year. In October I also left my full-time position as a wound care nurse. That position was my source of insurance, income to pay my bills, and my purpose Monday through Friday. I left that position for good reason with the intention of taking a forced sabbatical to drastically reduce my stress so I could be more effective at any job going forward.

After a few months dedicated to meditation and deep inner work, I started applying to jobs in February, this time pivoting from nursing to positions involving writing. I’ve always loved writing and spent my free time exploring different formats: poetry, short stories, social media posts. While I make no claim to be a nationally renowned writer or even an expert in my field, I’m adept enough to write frequently and well. …

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Photo by Philipp Wüthrich on Unsplash

I’m tired of having to explain this to people. I’m downright weary. After last week, I chose to write this article as a reference guide for anybody who wants to have this conversation with me going forward.

Yes, I’m annoyed.

I’m annoyed because I keep having to explain this to people in the year 2019. I keep having to explain myself over and over again to friends, to family, to people I don’t even really know.

I know you might say, “Well, Caitlin. Don’t you know you have no obligation to explain yourself to other people?”

Yes. I know that.

However, I don’t believe stonewalling is an effective way to be heard and making sure somebody knows where I stand is more important to me than my silence. I shouldn’t have to avoid conversations because they make the participants uncomfortable. …

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Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

I’ve noticed something recently. We all know men have a tendency to “fix” when a woman shares something in her life that is bothering her. We know women usually just want to be heard, validated, encouraged and are not looking for you to solve their issues.

Women usually have a clear idea of how to work through their issues. They have strong intuitive powers and generally know what they need to do.

When women trust themselves, their lives become seamless. They feel more empowered. They affect change in their lives and the lives of others.

We all know what it feels like to be met with solutions instead of presence when you share emotional vulnerability with a man in your life, whether it’s a partner or a friend. It’s frustrating. You feel unheard. It feels like a runaway train of a conversation and all you want to do is get it back on track. …

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Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash

I learned in nursing school that we used to think that nerve cells were rigid and unchangeable with humans having a set amount at birth, but current science questions the nuance of this statement. Our minds are not inflexible and we can learn new skills, new behaviors; We can change the way we think over time.

For years, I believed I would always be this way. Dysfunctional. Anxious. Depressed. Less than. This dialogue was reinforced by providers I had and by people in my life and I allowed their beliefs to impact my sense of self.

I took it as truth when they said the best I could hope for is management, not recovery. …

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Photo by Adrian Williams on Unsplash

I felt the unseasonably cool breeze against my skin as I reluctantly took in the aroma of the Wisconsin River — an unsavory mixture of refuse, pollution, and other less-than-appealing substances. I glanced down at my arms as I could hear my rhythmic breathing, noticing a sheen in the sunlight, a mixture of my own sweat and the thick layer of SPF 50 I applied before I left home. I was headed westward, towards the suburbs.

There’s a cluster of old buildings past the baseball stadium that seems trapped in time and I always wonder what the buildings are for though part of me doesn’t want to know because the mystery is part of the appeal. …


Caitlin Knudsen

Full-time pug wrangler and freelance writer covering topics from mental health to lifestyle. Find more writing at https://commonstate.com/author/cknudsen/

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