2015: The Year of Unlearning

A girl walks into a bar. Maybe she wants to dance; maybe she wants some wine. Boy decides to buy her a drink, to which she rejects, and to which he decides to call her a stuck-up bitch.

Four years ago when I began college, dancing at bars with girlfriends served as an unwanted invitation for men to grind on me. I used to be “saved” by friends. In 2015, I started saving myself — becoming my own voice and saying, “no, thank you. I’m not interested.”

The year 2015, for me, has been about unlearning many societal norms I have been taught throughout life — or rather learning about what I had never been taught. Like how after graduating college, getting a job and settling down is the happiness norm — because it isn’t. Or how what I wear is an invitation for sex — because it isn’t, either.

In mid-2015, I bought a cheap bottle of wine and sat on my living room floor writing and drinking. It was 10 a.m. It was June and I had just graduated college. I thought about a lot: from life after college to life in that moment. I was so unsure, so indecisive.

Not that much has changed since, really. I did not have a sudden realization that completely turned my world around. I did not visualize my life-path or an organized life plan of how and what to do next. In fact, I accepted a job offer and quit five months later. Not sorry, Baby Boomers and Gen X, I’m the Millennial you so frown upon.

Quite frankly, I felt lost.

There is no adulthood lesson; no college course to teach you what to do when you don’t know what to do. Mostly, as young adults, we are taught to “pay our dues.” The problem with that sentence is that it implies staying at job you don’t like, with no room for growth, because that is what all adults must go through. And that’s not true.

Paying our dues does not equate to self-suffering, and that’s something I *unlearned. There is room for growth and experience and passion in a job that you love. Or a relationship. Or an experience. An adventure.

Knowing what you don’t like is just as important as figuring out what you do enjoy.

Much has happened in 2015. My gay friends can now (finally!) legally marry in any U.S. state they desire. The shaming of Millennials was strong. Social media became a predominant platform for the voiceless. Once again, justice lost when Tamir Rice was murdered for being a 12-year-old African-American kid playing with a toy gun and the killer was not charged. My mom taught me how to bake… I somewhat learned. And the Trump still leads the republican race — not a joke.

In 2015 — with social, racial, religious, and gender inequality finally becoming prominent after decades of being swept under the rug — the how-it’s-always-been, insinuating always will be, attitude is much too present. I often wonder if those who believe that have ever heard of Frida Kahlo or Bell Hooks or Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech stood far from the accepted political ideology of segregation and racism. He could have said, “I have a dream… but, well, you know, we’ve always been discriminated against, so that’s likely how it will always be.” King delivered his speech only 52 years ago in 1963.

Kahlo and Hooks could have thought: “we are just women.” Instead, they *unlearned sexism and created a new dialogue: I am a woman, and I can. They rejected the limiting and constricting narrative on what it meant to be a woman in America.

The best quote I read in 2015 was one I found on Reddit.

“The first thought that goes through your mind is what you have been conditioned to think; what you think next defines who you are.”

I thought about the writing often this year. I questioned leaving my job because I believed it was what I needed, without questioning what I wanted. I questioned my social opinions, my judgments and beliefs.

I am not Frida Kahlo and far from Bell Hooks or Dr. King.

I am not them, but I am learning to be me. I am learning how to say “no” more often and how to do more of what I want without feeling guilty. 2015 was a year with many emotions and room for new perspectives. For 2016, as they say: New Year, new me.

…Probably not. New year, same me — but better wine.