Posts Tagged ‘relationship advice’

Giving Back: Starting from Home

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

So you kept reading eh? Expecting me to list the best organizations that will help you change the world? Think I’m going to start with some statistic that is going to make you feel on fire for Cambodia? Well I’m not. Yes it is true that according to Compassion International for only $1.25 a day you could supply food, clean water, medical care, and education to a child in need, but I won’t bombard you with these facts, at least not right now.

Instead, let’s start from home. No really, start at home! Contrary to popular belief, we are not created to be alone. Independence will only get you so far in life. Yes, you can go out and get a job, stand out among the rest and work your way up the ladder, but in order to be truly successful you need community. Growing up you needed someone to guide you, but now that you’re an “adult”, you need friends to hold you accountable to your goals, build you up, and simply laugh with. Because of the mutual love and comfort you find in each other, these relationships cannot flourish without sacrifice.

So what better way to begin this journey of “giving back” than starting from home? You can’t learn to serve those around the world and strangers on the street until you learn to serve those you love (and sometimes can’t stand).

Here are some simple suggestions that will surely show you care:

  1. Give Housework Help
    When you live with someone, you start picking up on their “telltale signs” of a good or bad day. You can feel their emotions vibrate through the floorboards into your room. You just know. So on those days when their door is shutting you out, or they burst through yours crying about the stresses of a new job, give a helping hand. After sitting with them listening to their cries, and affirming that, “Yes, your boss is a jerk, no, they don’t deserve you”, take a moment to think of how you can help. Maybe the dishes are piling up and it’s their day to do them. Follow the Nike cliché and “just do it”. They may or may not notice, but that’s not the point. The point is you showed a little love to the person you spend every day with.
  2. Bring Friends Food
    Why do people say, “diamonds are a girl’s best friend” when we all know it’s actually pizza, or that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”, when in reality the stomach is the key to every person’s soul? Sure we’re all poor students, but if just a few extra bucks can make your roommate’s whole day, why not “just do it”? I noticed the importance of this the other week when I ordered some Thai food to be delivered to my friend’s apartment in Brooklyn. I didn’t realize the portions would be so large, and there was no way I was gunna carry that back to Jersey. I offhandedly offered it to my friend and her eyes widened as she responded, “YES! That will be my lunch for tomorrow.” Finally I realized the importance of food to us struggling younglings in the city. So the next time you order from or browse through all the meal coupons on the Campus Clipper, keep your friends in mind!

    If your roommate ever snaps at you, check around the room for a coupon...or unopened bag of chips...

  3. Being Sick Sucks
    Let’s just stop and contemplate all the places you touch on a daily basis. Just thinking about the subway alone is enough to make me gag. In the fast-paced rush of the city, we just don’t have time to get sick! Most of the time we don’t even have a chance to sit down to eat a healthy meal. Yet every winter we put off our flu shots and brave the cold. Even if you don’t catch anything, there’s a chance that one of your roommates will. Before you routinely run out the door, take a moment to check on the people you live with. More likely than not they don’t actually need anything, but knowing that someone is willing to take care of them is comfort enough. Maybe you’re not much of a cook, but opening a can of soup and popping it in the microwave can be exhausting for someone who’s sick with the flu. Doing this will only take two minutes, but showing that you care makes the heart happy, and healthy.
  4. Show Active Appreciation
    Hopefully, you live with someone who helps keep the place clean, or gives you a text while waiting in line at Starbucks asking what you want. (If not, maybe you could just slide this article underneath their door). Regardless, the most important component of keeping a relationship strong is the act of showing appreciation. So when they sacrifice for you don’t just say “thank you”. Verbally express appreciation for your roomie. It doesn’t need to be a sob fest, unless that’s what they need, (refer back to the girl in tip 1), but showing appreciation for each other will help calm those inevitable crazy days that come with a shared living space.


Sometimes all you need in a city full of pushy grimacing faces is a strong and joyful relationship with your house buds. But as I stated before, the act of helping only begins here. Now we continue onto serving outside.


If my short snippet about Compassion International did in fact interest you, you can find more information here:


Samantha Bringas

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I Was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

By now, most of you have probably heard of the fairly common trope in today’s media of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. If not, then allow me to give you a brief breakdown: a girl, usually quirky/cool/unique in some way but also still pretty and feminine, is the sole savior and reason to live for the male protagonist. She’s not a character with any kind of depth or autonomy; she exists only to show the man that life isn’ta hopeless hellscape; it’s beautiful and full of meaning!

Hopefully you already realize how damaging it is just from that description, but if not, let me tell you a little anecdote that will hopefully convince you beyond all reasonable doubt.

At one point in my life, I was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. This was back in high school, before I was even aware of what a MPDG was, and before I found it easy to say goodbye to people who were dragging me down and doing nothing for my development as a person. During this time, I had a series of dude friends who I became really close to in short amounts of time.

Everything always started out really great. We were all in that weird stage of life where you’re developing a solid sense of self-worth, but you still need other people to bolster it. I tried to give them as much encouragement as possible, because I just enjoyed making my friends happy. I was fun and quirky, they didn’t have a lot of female friends, and little by little, they would get attached.

Things always went downhill eventually. I had other friends, a boyfriend, a family, not to mention school and all of the baggage that comes with it. They didn’t care for that. They wanted one hundred percent of my attention devoted to them, 24/7. They said they “needed” me to be around them to be happy. They didn’t treat me like an individual with a life of my own; they treated me like a major subplot in their own stories, someone who was supposed to be around to help make sense of the world for them. It was entirely selfish. Even when I tried to cut things off, they wouldn’t let me. Their methods of keeping me around ranged from suicide threats to actual self harm. The only way I finally got away from them entirely was going to a different state for college.

So yeah, maybe being a MPDG sounds cute and all when it’s in a movie, and maybe it doesn’t seem that harmful in the media, but once real boys start treating real girls like objects used to manufacture happiness, things can get ugly and hurtful.

To all my ladies out there: you don’t have to be anyone’s MPDG. You are probably cool and interesting and have plenty of things to offer the world, so why bother being anything but a main character in your own story? And to all the fellas, I know that girl may seem like the only thing that makes sense in this strange and scary world, but she doesn’t exist solely for your benefit. So don’t treat her like she does! Give her space, let her have a life, and I promise you will both end up much, much happier.


Alex Ritter, NYU.

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Real Love and Optimism

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Living in New York, I’ve met my fair share of pessimistic people. Of course, they love to pretend that their pessimism is actually what they like to call “realism”– a very thin veil to hide their negativity behind.

One thing they feel particularly “realistic” about is the realm of love and relationships. I’ve heard everything from love actually being nonexistent to someone staying in a weirdly abusive and all around bad relationship purely because of what they called history.

Through all of this, I have somehow become the champion of love. I am, by no means, an optimistic person– I was voted “Most Pessimistic” of my high school class, the number one pick out of 260-something people. Granted, I have thankfully changed a lot since then, but I still don’t think of myself as a particularly optimistic person, except when it comes to love.

I, in the most sincere way possible, love love. Now, I don’t mean that Hollywood manufactured kind of love, like what we are constantly spoon fed from our media, where women are intelligent and quirky but still feminine and submissive enough to be non-threatening to their male counterparts, who are basically real life Ken dolls. That I can’t jibe with. That kind of fake idealism is what gives people such weird and unrealistic expectations about their future lady/fella in the first place.

No, what I love is the real thing. The kind of love where you can be lying in bed together at midnight and turn to ask them what they think turning Pride and Prejudice into a BDSM novel would turn out like, and they don’t even bat an eyelash before trying to think of a punny title. (Note: we got stuck on Ride and ? because nothing rhymes with prejudice. I’m open to suggestions.)

I guess to some people that probably doesn’t sound very true love-esque, but in my experience, love doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. My parents, happily married for more than 20 years, are together essentially because my mother tried to slip away from my dad after he bought her a beer, but he took it back from her and wouldn’t give it back until she agreed to stay and talk to him. One of my friends who lives in Harlem with his girlfriend of quite a few years told me he first said “I love you” to her while he was drunk and peeing on a wall in public.

Not exactly Romeo and Juliet, but even Romeo and Juliet is really about two stupid teenagers who accidentally killed themselves because they couldn’t control their hormones. And yet, you’ll still find teenagers with Facebook statuses about the eternal search for the Romeo to their Juliet, or vice versa. Which tells me one of two things: one, they have never read a word of the play, or two, they are trapped in the mentality of love as the prepackaged idea we so often see in society. People seem to think they’re going to meet that one special person for whom they will feel endless passion and joy, and everything will always be easy and fun.

That’s just about as wrong as it is potentially destructive. Things will get hard, you will fight, you will have your own special set of problems and issues that you’ll have to work through. The way you’ll know if it’s love is when all of the problems feel like they are well worth working through to be able to continue being with that person.


Alex Ritter, NYU.

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Professors 2.0

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

It’s about that time: school is right around the corner and so are professors! Not only do you have to worry about making sure your bank account is on point and getting your student savings, but you have to make sure you make a good first impression with your professors.


Meeting a professor for the first time  

Particularly if you’re a first year student en route to your first real college class, you might be a little nervous when classes start. Depending on how big your College or University is, a typical 100-level class can range from 60 to 200 students! The professor can try his or her best to get to know everyone, but seeing as professors’ schedules are so busy, it’s up to you to make them notice you. You also have to keep in mind that in the future you may need a recommendation from a professor for a job. With that being said, not only do you want to do well in the class and build an academic relationship, but you also want to build a personal one. One tip is to simply go up to the professor after class and introduce yourself. You can choose to introduce yourself with your name and year in school or perhaps just your name—it’s up to you. Then, simply tell him or her that you are excited to be in the class this semester. These simple lines are going to introduce you to the professor but will also tell them that you are serious about the class and care about forming a relationship.


Taking a class with a professor you had before

If you have had the same professor for a new class, you are already at an advantage in terms of building a quality professor-student relationship. However, whether a great deal of time has passed or not, you still want to be able to maintain that relationship. After the first class with a well-acquainted professor, go and say hello. Tell him or her that you are excited to be taking the class and look forward to having a great experience like that of the last class you had with him or her.  This move and can make your relationship stronger and will let the professor know that you are a serious student.


Note: the above advice is intended if you did well in the previous class with that same professor.  If you failed or didn’t do as well in the class as you hoped, and you end up taking the class over, I would advise something different.  Instead of going up to the professor after class, you should visit the professor during his or her office hours. Meeting a professor during office hours can set a more intimate and professional meeting atmosphere and gives you more time to communicate. Tell your professor that you are thankful to be allowed to take the class over and that you look forward to doing better this time around. Your professor will know that you mean business, and he or she will have a clean impression of you instead of the one you last made.


I have only touched upon a few of many ways to make good first impressions on professors. If you would like more tips or advice, leave a comment and I will get back to you!


Joanne, Simmons College ’15. Read my personal blog!

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Long-Distance Relationships and Weird Technologies that Help Close the Gap

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

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Ahh, summertime. The smell of suntan lotion is in the air, breezes tickle bare skin and make girls paranoid about their skirts, and grains of sand can be found in every corner of your room after your first trip to the beach. But for many college students, summer also means leaving the college environment to return home or go abroad, and forces them to separate from friends and significant others, resulting in even more long-distance relationships, or LDRs, than ever before.

According to statistics from the now-closed Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships (yes, it actually existed), over four million college couples in the United States alone were in long-distance relationships in 2005. A more recent study conducted by the Communications Research journal found that as much as 75% of college students have or will, at some point, find themselves in a long-distance relationship. Even those in post-graduate life are increasingly finding themselves in LDRs, in part due to better technology but also majorly because of ever-increasing demands of economic situations.

With all the controversy over long-distance relationships, are they worth it? And what can be done to help maintain one?

There are many physical factors that play into a long-distance relationship, including the distance between the two involved, the modes of contact available, and the frequency and duration with which the couple can come into physical contact. Interestingly, however, studies suggest that distance is ultimately not the deciding factor for whether or not a long-distance couple will stay together.

See? It doesn’t have to be so bad!

A study conducted by the Center’s founder Greg Guldner titled “Time Spent Together and Relationship Quality: Long Distance Relationships as a Test Case” challenged the idea that relationship qualities are significantly affected by the amount of time a couple spends together. The study states, “Clearly, relationships require some level of contact and extremely infrequent contact probably does ultimately result in relationship instability. However, that level of infrequent contact does not occur in the vast majority of relationships.” In an interview with USA Today, Guldner says that his studies have found that a couple’s communication frequency “has almost no impact on whether they stayed together or the quality of the relationship.”

Rather, what makes long-distance relationships so different from others is the way that, particularly the rate at which, they develop. Guldner says, “Such relationships progress slowly because relationships develop through conflict and the breaking down of illusions—and long-distance couples don’t want to spoil their time together by fighting.” So while a close-proximity couple might break up within two months of starting a relationship, a LDR couple might do so in three or four.

I, for one, support this theory. My first relationship was one separated by about 200 miles and a $40 one-way bus ticket (which would have been more expensive had I not had used student discounts). But I don’t think it was the distance that broke us up; rather, I think that it kept us together for as long as we were. We hadn’t known each other much before we started dating, but we still decided to jump into a labeled “boyfriend-girlfriend” relationship from the start because we liked each other enough and felt that we wanted to be exclusive and needed to feel some sort of commitment before pledging to make a habit of crossing state borders. When our relationship started to get shaky, our phone calls never really addressed changing feelings even though it was clear that they were there. We didn’t want to argue, and the distance made our problems easier to ignore.

The good news is that, when commitment level and level of trust are high, long-distance relationships tend to have a success rate identical to relationships where the partners are in proximity to one another, implying that a couple’s needs are less physical than commonly believed and, instead, more emotional and psychological. This summer, my current boyfriend and I are long-distance, but commitment, trust, and communication are making it easier for us to deal with the distance.

In order to keep up the emotional and psychological stability of a relationship, communication is necessary. As products of Generation Y, we tend to not have much trouble in the field of long-distance interaction. Ever since we exchanged AIM screen names in grammar or middle school, we have been using such communication tools as email and instant messaging. SMS- and text-messaging are practically our second language.

Some couples have taken this interaction a step further, creating avatars that interact through virtual reality sites like SecondLife and VirtualDateSpace. A problem with such sites, however, is that it may cause an idealized version of reality. Though it helps couples to communicate and interact, it is, long story short, exactly what it claims to be—virtual reality: an alternate reality, not real life. For example, if you are communicating with your significant other’s attractive avatar when you are not attracted to the actual person, well, things could get a little complicated.

But it is not verbal communication that is so much of a problem today. Despite the science suggesting the insignificance of the role that physical contact plays in creating strong relationships, one of the biggest complaints among long-distance couples is a lack of physical contact, both sexual and not. The human need for touch extends beyond a release of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone released through affectionate touch. Sometimes people pine for touch simply because it is comforting to know that the other person is “there,” even if they cannot be “here.”

Technology seeks to rid LDRs of this barrier through such inventions as the “hug shirt” which recreates the strength, warmth, and heartbeat of someone’s embrace through sensors embedded in the shirt, allowing you to hug and be hugged in return. An iPhone app launched in March called “Pair” sets up a direct connection between couples through which they can quickly send texts, photos, and more. Its feature “thumb kiss” vibrates when the people on either end of the phone touch the screen in the same place at the same time, letting each other know that they are both “here” and “there” and thinking of each other.

A big pillow hugger myself, my favorite invention that I found is the product “Pillow Talk,” which allows couples to feel like they are sleeping with each other by simulating their partner’s heartbeat through a pillow. One person (or both) cuddles the pillow as the other wears a ring that detects the wearer’s heartbeat. The pillows miles away beat in real time with the heart of each pillow hugger’s lover, simulating a G-rated night together.

As much of a romanticized view as this might seem, when two people are right for each other, there is no distance that commitment cannot overcome. The biggest question that one should ask when considering a long-distance relationship is not if the distance is right, but rather if the person is right. Once this question receives a “yes,” staying in touch, both literally and figuratively, will not be as hard as it seems.

UPDATE: I’ve tried the Pair iPhone app, and it’s pretty cool. You can password protect it if you want, to ensure privacy. You can send pictures, videos, or drawings, and can directly link to FaceTime through it (though the FaceTime accounts are linked through email addresses, not the phone, which is strange). You can send a cute little thought bubble that simply says “Thinking of you,” or you can live draw with each other, or drop a pin to let your Pair-mate know where you are.

In the settings, you can list your anniversary and both of your birthdays to remember. You can set up a to-do list in the “Shared Task” section, document “Moments” with pictures, and suggest the application to another couple.

Bad news, though, for polygamous relationships: you can only pair with one person.


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Carina, New York University. Read my blog and check out my Twitter!

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Make New Friends and Keep the Old: Making Plans

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Do you remember those two friends I talked about before?  The couple who recently got engaged, the guy in the Navy and the girl in college?  Well, now they’ll be farther away from each other than New York to New Jersey – try New Jersey to Washington…state, that is.  See, Navy Boy just finished his first two years of training, I guess it is, and after that comes his assignment.  In this case, he’s being sent to Washington State.  College Girl, on the other hand, is still in college, and will be for the next couple of years – not even taking grad school into consideration.  On the one hand, she could go with him.  However, for the Navy to pay for her housing Navy Boy needs to sign on for another six years – that’s a really long time.  College Girl would also have to go to school out there, and leave all of her family and friends behind for the foreseeable future.  Or, they can be separated for even longer.  It’s a tough choice, and I can’t honestly say which is better or what I would do, because their situation seems so extreme.  Navy Boy’s brothers are all in some sort of service; his younger brother is also in the Navy and is about to be shipped overseas, so I guess his family has adapted to these big changes and grown used to talking to each other over Skype only.

The reason I bring this up is because College Girl and I were recently making plans for next summer – like driving to Vegas once we’re both 21, or even just a day trip to DC when we both have the time.  These kinds of plans, though, can all fall through depending on where our lives bring us over the next year.  Like Navy Boy, just last June the thought was that he would go to Virginia…Washington is a lot farther away than Virginia.

There’s that Death Cab for Cutie song, “What Sarah Said.”  In it, Ben Gibbard sings, “And it came to me then that every plan / is a tiny prayer to father time.”  Now, okay, that song is about watching someone die, but those lyrics really work in any situation.  In two years, a year, none of us can really know where we’ll be no matter how many plans we make, or vacations we plan.  But we still make plans, hoping that despite everything else we’ll be able to meet up with so and so for this or that.  I’m not really one for change, but it happens every day regardless of my feelings or opinions.  So, College Girl and I will make our plans for trips across the country cause that’s what friends do, and Navy Boy and College Girl will make their plans to get married and talk every night, no matter where they are, because that’s what people who love each other do.  There you are, father time, a few more prayers to look over.

-Mary K

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Make New Friends and Keep the Old: Looking Back

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

On February 20th 2007, I turned 17.  In New Jersey, when a person turns 17, and if they have fulfilled all of the requirements, he or she is eligible for their license.  Well, I got mine – along with my first car (a 1990 Buick LeSabre, navy blue).  I was so in love with my car, and had so many plans for it…my parents had already gotten me a really awesome sound system to get installed, and I couldn’t wait to drive it down the shore for the first time.

Fast forward to March 4th 2007.  In New Jersey, high school juniors have to go take the HSPA, High School Proficiency Assessment.  The HSPA spans four days, and lasts about three hours each day.  March 4th was the first day for my class, and I wore my favorite tee shirt and most comfortable pair of “lounge” pants, and flip flops.  By the time the day was over, I was ready to get home and relax.  So of course no more than hour after I had gotten home, I got a call that I needed to go to my best friend’s house for an emergency band meeting.  Not exactly excited to get there, I nevertheless got in my LeSabre and started down my street for the easy two mile drive.  This is where things get fuzzy, because not halfway down my street I, for some reason, swerved, then over corrected, and ended up driving straight into the side of a house.

The first thing I did when I woke up, having passed out for probably a minute or two, was call my dad (not 911, of course, because that would have made sense).   I then texted my friend something along the lines of “I was just in an accident on my street.”  The friend I texted, my best at the time, got to me in record time, before my father and the ambulance he called on his way from the office.  Now imagine, I’m sitting there in my own blood, cradling my broken wrist; I didn’t know it at the time, but the front of my car was crushed all the way to the windshield , which was also cracked from my face meeting it (and that’s why they tell us to wear seatbelts).  After checking on me, my friend took it upon herself to knock on the door to make sure no one was inside and injured, ignoring the danger she could have been in from the now structurally unsafe house.  That being done, she came over the passenger side, which I had somehow slid too, procured napkins from somewhere and did her best to wipe the blood from eyes and mouth – she did all of this before any other help arrived, but checked first to make sure help was going to arrive at some point.  Now, you may wonder why I bring this story up.

I think about it sometimes, about her wiping blood from my face and staying with me until I left in the ambulance.  I think about it because just a little over a year after my accident, we were suddenly no longer friends.  I wonder how we could be so close, and care so much about each other, and how that could just end.  It’s horrible how the fact is that friends, no matter how close they are, can just grow apart.  It started with a fight that probably wasn’t even that bad, and then radio silence.  BOOM, no more friendship.  We still talk occasionally, and when I’m in town we’ve gotten coffee before, but there’s nowhere near, and never will be again, the closeness we used to share.

On the other side of that, there’s the friend who made the half hour drive to visit me in the hospital each of the five days I was there after the accident.  She brought me movies and real food, and even washed my hair for me after about three days of me living with the blood, glass, and vomit that was by then crusted into it.  Of course, with my broken nose I didn’t even notice how rank I was, so the hair washing was more for everyone else’s benefit, but that’s not the point.  I’ve known her for twelve years now, I believe; she actually was my babysitter when I was younger, fun fact.  Our relationship is probably more like sisters than friends, and we can go from laughing hysterically together to me wanting to punch her in the face.

I just wonder why that friendship is different from the other one.  There’s no denying that Friend B and I have had probably over a million fights, radio silence included, yet we’ve always remained friends.  I’ve questioned in another blog on whether or not some people are just more important in our lives, and I didn’t want to think that I could rate my friends like that.  But I guess somewhere inside I do, because the simple fact is that one of those friendships is over, and the other is just as strong as ever.

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The “Is it Worth It?” Test

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

In his book, The Magic of Thinking Big, David Schwartz gives the following relationship advice:

Before you start getting upset and fighting about something, put the situation to the “is it worth it” test. In other words, is fighting/complaining/crying/bickering (whatever your relationship poison) worth the consequences? Is it worth the risk of creating bitterness and resentment? Is it worth the potential for hurt feelings and ruined moods on both ends?

Here are some examples:

– Your boyfriend forgot it was your mother’s birthday, and your first instinct is to make him feel guilty. Is it worth it?

– Your roommate used up all the toilet paper and forgot to renew the roll. You’re ready for battle. Is it worth it?

– Someone bumped into you on the train, and you’re already taking in a deep breath of air for all the curse words you’re about to unleash. Is it worth it?

You get the idea. I love this strategy because it’s so simple and so effective. Just asking yourself this question helps puts things in prospective and diffuses so much frustration. So much relationship tension exists because we overreact to insignificant things (and this holds true for ALL types of relationships). My sister, Kat, might snap at me because she’s had a rough day, I take it personally and get defensive. She gets even more upset. I get even MORE upset. And before you know, it we’ve both got our arms crossed and our bottom lips jutting out. (Story of our sisterhood).

Of course there are also times when this approach isn’t the right fit. For example, if you walk in on your girlfriend making out with a stranger. In that case, I’d say it’s almost definitely worth it to have a pretty serious chat. Stewing in silence even over small stuff is never a good choice, but the point of this advice is that if you can let something roll of your shoulders, do. We say so many things we don’t mean and do so much we later regret all because of a lousy mood or displaced frustration. In fact, I once read a theory that a lot of the world’s most brutal battles have been spurred by generals because of maddeningly severe tooth aches. Hey you, generals. Was it really worth it?

– Tania Luna

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