Bake with Abbi

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Hi friends!

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, but you can check out all the fun videos, articles, and recipes I’ve been trying out on The Daily South and SouthernLiving.com.

In my not-so-spare time, I’ve decided to get a little deeper into one of my favorite passions –baking. If you’ve ever spent a weekend with me, you know that I like to go overboard in the kitchen. Case in point: last weekend, I made homemade buttermilk biscuits, lemon bars, two loaves of Citrus Pull-Apart Bread, a loaf of banana bread, and muffins all in one day. So, I won’t bake during the week, but I’ll get you a mean chess pie on the weekend. And, I need to share, because I can’t eat four loaves of bread in one day.

I love working with different recipes to see how the dough is made, how kneading makes a huge difference, and how yeast rises. My recent excitement over baking can 70% be attributed to my binge-watching of the last three seasons of Great British Baking Show. (Seriously, if you haven’t seen in – please go watch.)

All this to say – I want to get further into baking and really celebrate how cool it is that we can apply heat to ingredients and have them puff up into golden, fluffy shapes. So, I’d love for you to join me. I’ve created a new @bakewithabbi Instagram account, and I’m going to try to get better about writing some reviews on my blog on the recipes I’m trying.

And, if you’ve got a hankering for some baked goods (within a reasonable distance, ha!) – just shoot me a message and I’ll see if my next baking experiment can end up in your hands. 🙂

Happy spring!

Abbi

Call Us What We Are

Call us what we are: Generation AA. A generation of alcoholics and workaholics. A generation that cares more about saving the earth that about the bickering of politics. We buff our personal brands with polish from the encouragement of others, and our lives are made up of fifteen side hustles that put us in jobs for less than five years. You don’t understand us. We know you don’t. We know that the reaction to not understanding us is to fear us, to undermine us, and to call us entitled. You don’t know the value of hard work, you’d say, and I’d look at you, straight in the eyes, shaking your hand with the same hand that held an icy latte because no one taught me the correct politics of the office – and tell you that my mind, in itself, is a creation of my own hard work. It’s a smooth, yet rocky, canyon of echoes and dreams–dreams that have been cultivated by experience and adventure.

I value time more than I value things. You may think I’m a millennial, but I was born twenty years before you called us whiny and entitled. So, you making a generalization about a group of people who are fighting, crying, breathing, hoping for a world with change makes you the small one. We are a beacon of light. Every time we open our glossed lips or hit publish, we’re changing the day. We dress carelessly. Our bra straps show and our jeans are too tight, and we’re told that men should make more because they’re the head of our family. Our black lips whisper in dark alleyways at night plotting to kill our successors and we are confident in the ideal that love will always conquer hate.

We are united and we are open. We will open our gates and our doors to people that are not like us because we recognize that freedom with boundaries is not freedom at all. We are the generation that will overcome your shortfalls and clean up your economy and rally to protect the earth. We are strong and we are many.

Dating With Anxiety: Josh’s Story

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I’ve been wanting to write a post like this for awhile now, especially after seeing the many “How To Date Someone With Anxiety” blog posts that have been floating around the Internet. These other posts are usually being written by someone who has anxiety, essentially helping their partner understand what they’re going through and how to best encourage them.

Personally, I’m in the opposite boat. I’ve been dating my sweet boyfriend for about 2 1/2 years now, and he’s struggled with anxiety for much longer than that. This has been a journey for me because I’m always trying to figure out how best to be there (or, not be there) when he’s having an anxiety attack or going through a rough patch. I decided to interview him and find out exactly what he’d want me to know. So, this is Josh’s story. We hope that you can take a piece of this experience and use it to inspire someone (maybe your partner, as in my case) to be a better friend to those dealing with this darkness.

Give us some background. How long have you been dealing with anxiety?

My anxiety is something that manifested in me around my sophomore year of high school. So, I’ve dealt with it for close to eleven years. It’s something that’s hereditary for me. At the time, at that age, not really understanding what it was, I didn’t identify that other people in my family also struggled with it. Now, it’s pretty evident. My father and my brother have both struggled with anxiety, and hearing stories about my grandparents on my father’s side, I think it’s something that they struggled with as well.

It became bad for me when I was about 19 years old. I think it was just the time where I realized that life is really changing for me, and a lot of unknowns were becoming evident. It was really tough for me. I struggled with it for about four or five months on my own and not really knowing how to talk about it. My parents got me some help, but the first person I went to was not extremely helpful. She basically told me that this was life, this was how your body adjusts to growing up, and this is who you’re going to be. Fortunately, I got a second opinion.

That’s when I was put under the direction of some medicine that’s been able to help me sleep, which was the big problem, and calm me down. It helps keep, for the most part, that stuff in check. I’ve been on medication now since I was 19, so about 6 1/2 or 7 years. It’s something that flares up from time to time. You’re going to have your bad days, but the majority of mine are good. You have things that happen in your life that kind of feed into it and draw it out, but it’s something that’s easier to deal with the longer you’re dealing with it. When you go to that dark place or when you feel the effects of a full-on anxiety attack, it’s a terrifying feeling – but, when you come back from it, it makes the next time a little bit easier, because you know you can.

My anxiety has tended to be based around the unknown. For instance, situations in my life that could be or are taking place where there is no definitive way for me to affect the outcome. The feeling of being unsure and powerless feeds into it.

What’s something you’d want someone without anxiety to know?

How you are when your anxiety is high or you’re having a difficult time with it is very different from the person that you really are when you’re not struggling. For me, I become hypersensitive to things that are being said or perceptions of what people think about me. Or, minute details that my mind blows up into being a bigger deal than they are. In that mindset, when you’re struggling with those issues, you’re not thinking as clearly as you could. You don’t see the longterm impact of what you’re thinking or what you’re saying, because you just can’t seem to clear your mind or get the full picture. So, that becomes a vicious cycle, because it feeds into your anxiety even more.

From my perspective, when this happens, I’ve just wanted someone there. I don’t need them there to tell me or do anything, just be there. Early on, when I started having these issues, the person I wanted to be around was my brother, because he’d dealt with it before. He’s been down the road. There’s a lot of times when it’s nice to have someone else tell you that it’s going to be okay. But, most of the time, my brother would just be there to be there, because he knew that it was a comforting feeling knowing that you’re not struggling alone. Being there with someone when they’re feeling this way, or when they’re having an anxiety attack, is very comforting.

In terms of us being in a relationship, what would you want me to do when you’re having an anxiety attack?

Well, in the context of us dating, it would probably be what I said before. I’d just want you to be there for me. The main thing that helps me is when you put your hand over my heart, because that’s where the physical feeling of anxiety manifests for me. It’s a tightness in my chest. It’s not necessarily a pain, but it feels like you’re wearing heavy duty clothing that’s three sizes too small for you. It’s laboring to push your chest out to get a full breath of air. That’s just your body not knowing how to react to what’s going on. Then, when you start feeling like that, you start worrying, which in turn makes it worse, which makes you worry worse, which makes your anxiety worse. It’s a never-ending thing. In my mind, when you put your hand on my chest, it’s a light in the dark of you saying ‘It’s okay.’ It’s a feeling of ‘One way or another, everything is going to be alright.’ So, that’s the biggest thing relationship-wise. It’s that physical connection of being there in that moment with someone else. I’m not just seeing you, but I’m feeling that you’re near to me. That helps me.

Is there any part of dealing with a relationship that’s made harder by the fact that you have anxiety?

Yeah, it definitely does make things harder. We’ve run into this in our own relationship. And, when I say we, I mean me. [Laughs] You know, the thought of getting married or having kids are huge unknowns, and that’s something for me that really feeds into my anxiety. It’s something I’ve had to deal with. It makes you super sensitive to perceived issues in a relationship. You just want to be in the know all the time, especially if you think your partner’s upset. You want to know what it is and what’s wrong. That feeling of not knowing personally feeds into my anxiety because not knowing means I start speculating on what it could be. And then that leads to it being blown out of proportion and becoming a huge thing. It’s basically throwing a match onto a can of gasoline. It doesn’t take much to start it, but once it’s been lit, it’s very hard to put it out. You can’t quiet your mind; it’s just running repeatedly. So yes, it makes certain aspects of a relationship very difficult.

In some instances, it makes you very self-conscious, too – especially early on in the relationship. You don’t necessarily want the other person to see you like that because you don’t know how your partner is going to perceive it. You also don’t know what effect it will have moving forward in terms of how they see you after the fact. Some people might feel like it’s too much baggage to bring into their lives.

Is that something you’ve personally struggled with?

Yes, especially in terms of medication. I feel like there’s a stigma attached to taking medication. I don’t really think that there’s a strong stigma attached to having anxiety, but once you go to the level where you’re prescribed something for it, people start to say, “Oh, oh you take MEDICINE” in a judging way. They make it seem like taking medicine puts you in a different category. And, with my medicine, it’s something I’ve struggled with from a family perspective. With my mom being as religious as she is, she was very against me taking anything for my anxiety. She did not want me to do it. And, to this day, she still brings it up. She asks me, “Do you still take that medicine to help you sleep at night?” That’s the way she looks at it – like it’s only medicine to help me sleep at night.

Lately, you’ve seemed to be less anxious about the future. Is that something you feel like you’ve grown out of, or something you suppress?

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to be able to accept the unknown a little bit better. There are still things that peak my anxiety when I think about them from the standpoint of the future, relationships, what could happen, and what you want to happen. But, for the most part, I feel like I’ve grown way past the point even that I was a year, or two, or three ago. I’m a little more at peace with knowing that there are going to be good things that happen and there are bad things that happen. I used to let them get to me a lot more, which then lead to more bad things happening than good. It’s a gradual thing that took time for me to come to peace with over the years.

If you were to tell your 19-year-old self about this journey that you’ve gone through, what advice would you give?

The biggest thing that I struggled with when I was really hit hard with anxiety was me feeling like I would never be me again. I’ve always been a really positive, outgoing person. Generally, I’m pretty happy. When I went through the four or five months when I was really down, it was basically the other end of the spectrum. It was really hard feeling like that, feeling like I’d never get back to where I was before. That’s why, when the first person that I saw for help told me, literally, “You’re not going to feel like you did before,” it felt like a punch in the gut. If I could tell myself anything, it would be, “Yes, this sucks. Yes, you’re going to have to go through this. But, you are going to be able to get back to where you were before. It’s going to take time, there are going to be some really shitty things that are going to happen, and you’re going to feel badly for awhile – but you can climb out of it and you will climb out of it.”

Do you feel like you’re back to where you want to be?

I definitely do, and I’d say I’ve probably felt back to myself for the last five or six years. Like I said, there are going to be times. For me, these originated around life-changing moments like graduating from college, serious health problems in my immediate family, and changes with a job. Granted, this isn’t a blueprint for everyone that struggles with anxiety. Triggers are very unique from person to person. But yes, I definitely feel like I’m to the point where I was hoping to get back to.

I don’t think it’s something that you can ever really be “cured” of. But, I think the longer that you deal with it and the more you learn to live with it, the easier it gets. I do think it’s something that I’m going to deal with for the rest of my life. On the other side, though, I think it’s going to be something that gets easier to deal with the older I get and the more life experience that I have under my belt. And, the more I talk about it, share my experiences, and hopefully help other people with it, the easier it becomes for me.

In a relationship, is there a specific quality that you’d want in a partner that would help you?

I would say, from my experiences, the biggest effect that anxiety has on me is my self-confidence. I’ve never been extremely confident in myself anyways throughout my life, so it’s something that definitely becomes worse in those dark moments. You’re feeling down, you’re not feeling like yourself, and then you start analyzing a lot of things in your life. Basically, you become your own worst critic and picking yourself apart. So, I would say that the two qualities I’d want in someone are encouragement and patience.

I think sometimes people who have individuals in their life with anxiety feel like they should be able to say “Everything’s going to be okay” and then that person is going to feel better. It’s encouraging to hear those words, but it’s not a fix-all. It’s a process of going through a day or three-day or however long span of not feeling like yourself before you can come out of it. Obviously having someone there or encouraging you will help and may help you come out of it quicker, but there’s not necessarily anything you can do to just magically make it happen.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I think that the biggest thing I’d want people to know is that if you’re struggling with anxiety and you come to a point where you need to take medicine, you shouldn’t look at that as a weakness. Coming from my really religious background, medicine was perceived as a weakness because a lot of people thought that I should be completely reliant on prayer. Not to say that’s not something that could help you, but I’ve run into a lot of people who demonstrate the same characteristics as I did before I started medicine. Some have been close friends. When I’ve asked them about it, they’ll say, “Yes, I do think i struggle with anxiety, but I don’t want to take medicine. I don’t want be dependent on something like that.” Granted, that’s to each person’s own prerogative, but I think people sometimes say that because they think it’s a weakness.

In my mind, it shows strength, because you’re taking action to move yourself from down in this dark place to become who you want to be. Why would I turn away from that? Anxiety has been an issue for me and it’s affected multiple facets of my life, but it’s not a problem I’m ashamed of or a problem that I feel bad about talking about with somebody. The more you live with it, the more you learn about it and the more ways you can help someone else who’s going through it.

Fall Tidings

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.

As soon as September hits, my heart swells with joy. Yes, there’s a high of 96 today, and yes – I spent the weekend at a fall festival where the hayrides were complemented with heat stroke.

But, my heart swells. Maybe it’s the Canadian in me, but the cool breezes (well, the anticipated breezes), the colorful leaves, and the bright pumpkins remind me that I am at the mercy of the season. I stare at the sky. I spin in circles.

I hope that today, you think about what makes you literally jump for joy, and work on doing that more often. When it becomes fall (and, actually feels like fall), I actually add sound effects to my life. Every year.

The Ground Is In Me

If you listen closely to the soil, you will hear my heartbeat. If you cut me open, you will find the well water has welled up inside of me. And if you smell the grass, or smell the hydrangeas, you’ll find my center, my perfume, my aura in the solace. I am in the ground in the ground is in me. Looking around, all I see are friends and family. The trees are arching over top of me, waving hello and crying goodbye. They are my friends. And the river sings a song, and it says that it will always be there, unwavering and unfaltering. It is my family. It is what courses through my veins. The rocks climb high to the sky, and in them I find my hopes and my dreams. Their rocky surface and hard exterior give way to a soft granite core, ready to be mined and shaped and molded into something beautiful.

He Was White

He was white
He was white and he was wispy and he chilled my bones
The way the cold morning air fills with fog and seeps into your jacket
Until it’s buried inside of you
He would grab my hand and he would slip through my grasp
Tendrils of smoke swirling around me
But he wasn’t always wispy and he wasn’t always gone
He started as a thick creamy white
Rich and deep, like pools of color being reflected through a prism of glass
His words like clouds, thick with emotion
Thick with rain
Heavy with meaning
And then little by little, he thinned
We thinned
Our hope thinned
Our future thinned
Just words back and forth, vanishing air, shallow, and dry
Shadows of white
Until one day, I put my heart in his airy hands and he couldn’t hold its load
It slipped through his grip and shattered into ten white marble pieces
The pieces were solid and he was air
He looked at the ground with chilling fear and he looked at the sky with gaunt skin
And he looked at me with remorse
And then he knew, too, that he was only air
And I was a suffocating, rich smoke
We mourned with the breeze
And just as smoothly as he had filled my lungs, he floated away

How To (Actually) Win Your Breakup

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I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while now, but I wasn’t really sure how it would look or what I wanted it to say. Plus, I’m still in a few of these stages myself, so bear with me.

1. Stop trying to win.
First of all, the way to win your break up is to take away this idea that one person can actually beat the other. As young twenty-somethings, we’re constantly faced with the notion that when we break up, we should immediately try to be happier than the other person. We should act like our lives are all cool and great without them, and then they’ll be sad because it’ll look like we’re fine when they’re still hurting. This mentality is poisonous. No one is “winning” when both people in pain – and dealing with it differently.

2. Allow yourself time to grieve.
Maybe you dated for six months. Maybe you dated a year. Maybe you dated five years and broke off an engagement. There is no correct amount of time to grieve. I’ve heard so many people say, “well shouldn’t I be over this by now?” No darling, you shouldn’t. You should feel exactly how you feel (and this doesn’t just apply to breakups). It has taken me the full length of a relationship to feel like I’ve completely gotten over someone. There have also been times when three years down the road, I still feel pangs of sadness. That’s okay. That’s allowed. You grieve for as long as you need to, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

3. Take your happiness out of someone else’s hands.
When I break up with someone,  I feel like I have to reinvent myself. I’ve invested so much of my joy and happiness in someone else and how they’ll act, and then I’m left feeling like I need to rebuild or start over. A badass chick once told me that a relationship should be two happy people walking side by side, rather than one walking toward the other, with their partner as the end goal. I believe that our happiness should based in something (or Someone) much larger – but, regardless, your happiness should at least be based upon yourself. Don’t let the other person have any say in the matter. What brings you joy? What makes you, at this exact point in time, want to take a deep breath of fresh air with a smile on your face? What fills your heart?

4. Learn to love yourself.
You are a diamond. You are a beautiful creature full of life and potential, with opportunities at your fingertips. We can’t be free or happy if we’re chained within our own souls. Love yourself. Take care of yourself. Give yourself some extra TLC. Do things on your own. Say no to plans. Drink wine. Wear cozy socks. List off the things that you love about yourself. As a matter of fact, I’m writing this post with Moose Tracks in hand and Friends reruns in the background – and that’s okay. Go out for dinner alone. Take a hike in a beautiful place. And, most importantly, be gentle with how you talk to yourself. If you’ve ever seen me post-breakup, you’ll know that I use terms of endearment to encourage myself throughout the day. And, as ridiculous as it sounds, it helps.

5. Stop creeping his/her social media.
If you’ve ever broken up with someone, you’ll know how dangerous social media can be. Whether you’re reading into their tweets, refreshing their Facebook, seeing what/who’s pictures they’re liking on Instagram or posting on your Snapchat story to see if they’ll read it – we start to find our validation and answers through social media. Or, we become obsessed. I’ve gotten irrationally angry a handful of times over things I’ve deduced via social media that aren’t even true – and that’s unhealthy.

The other downfall is that if your ex-significant other does have a shorter grief period and starts posting about a new person in his/her life, you’ll just be causing yourself more pain by having it in your face 24/7. Don’t twist the knife further. For me, this translates to forcing myself off a social media platform for the day – even if it means something as simple as not posting in my Snap Story.

6. Write down your feelings.
This has been the most therapeutic process I’ve ever come across, so I’d like to share it. Beginning with post-breakup Day 1, I began writing an email draft of everything I wanted to say to my ex-significant other. This was all unfiltered emotion – from what was happening to work to me being in pain to me confessing over and over that I felt like it was my fault and that I was acting weakly. Then I saved the draft, and continued on with my day. I felt like I’d gotten out everything I wanted to say at that point, and it was all written down somewhere (with the potential to go to the person it was intended for).

And then, as I thought of more and more things, I just kept adding to the draft. Some days I would write four or five paragraphs about missing him, and some days I would write angry sentences full of questions that would never be answered. But, as I wrote them down, I began to feel better. Now, a month into my email document, my entries have started to become fewer. I even accidentally skipped a day this week, which I took as a great sign. Granted, my email draft is pages upon pages of words that he will never (hopefully!) see – but I know it’s always accessible and there if I need it.

7. Learn the things that you were relying on them for.
Chances are, this person you were dating knew how to do something – or knew about something – that you don’t. Maybe they’re super handy. Maybe they’re knowledgeable about sports. Maybe they can cook. Now, without them, you’re going to need some context for doing these things alone. I changed a headlight the other day with the help of a YouTube video. If there’s a super villain in a TV show whose background I don’t understand, I Google it. When I place bets on March Madness (and my ex happens to be my only association to basketball), I have to do a little research. I still lose, but it makes me feel better that I don’t need to turn to someone else to solve these things.

8. Don’t self-destruct. 
In the early stages of the breakup, there are a lot of things to say and emotions are running high. Don’t use these feelings as an excuse to contact the person. If you still feel the same way a day later, go ahead. But, we’ve all experienced those flashes of anger that makes us want to type out furious messages. I’ve written and deleted more texts than I can count. With the help of some diligent proofreading friends, they’ve been vetoed. Unfortunately, these messages usually don’t yield the responses we’re looking for. And, these types of situations can also inhibit your ex-partner’s healing process; we take the other person down with us when we pick lose-lose fights.

Breakups are tricky, and even trickier to do with grace. I think the real key to winning your breakup is to accept the closure of this chapter in your life. Cherish the good times you had with this person, and acknowledge that you will be okay. It won’t be this painful forever.

xx
A

Millennial Goes 16 Hours Without Phone

This is the sad tale of a millennial without a phone. For 16 hours.

It was a day like any other.

I text a few times, I Snapchat, I refresh Facebook.

Work flies by, and my phone – Isabelle – is loved much less than usual.

I visit the gym after work, and my screen unattaches from its body. Panic.

I thank my lucky stars that my gym is by my house, because Lord knows I wouldn’t have been able to make it home from downtown without a GPS in under three hours.

I get home. I try and squish my screen back into existence, crushing little shards of glass as I go. No dice.

I lay in bed, staring at the phone on the counter. No Instagram. No daily feed of funny pictures. No idea what events are on Facebook (side note, I did crack open my laptop for the last one). No Snapchat stories.

I think about what I’m going to do with my spare time.

A few tears escape my eyes.

I pick up a book. I read a few chapters (thanks, Nicholas Sparks). I think about how glad I am that I didn’t download this book digitally or spring for the audiobook, instead.

I watch Netflix. On a TV, because my Netflix app is indisposed.

I think about how many people are probably trying to contact me, or have been in accidents, or urgently need my help, or have a once-in-a-lifetime million-dollar job offer that expires in five minutes.

I lay down at 9PM, with no hours to blow on perusing social media.

I hope Lamar and Khloe didn’t choose tonight to make a public statement about how they’re getting back together, because I will surely miss it.

I come to the shocking realization that I have no alarm clock. I have no way to wake up for work.

I say a quick prayer that my body wakes up on its daily clock of 7:30AM, and go to bed fingers crossed.

I wake up at 7:46AM. Close enough. I realize my phone may have a chance, and I drop it off at the phone repair store as soon as they open. There has to be a way.

I am within five days of my warranty, so the repair is free. I am feeling BLESSED, because I already allotted for a lack of social life in my mind with the thought of another 100 dollar repair.

Within two hours, Isabelle is back in my hands. I let out a small gasp of joy when she turns on, glossy screen showing notifications upon notifications. I use praise Jesus emoji hands, and text everyone I know.

Millennial refreshes Instagram. Millennial sends a tweet. Millennial feels connected again.

Sayonara, College

I haven’t blogged in a while, mostly because my job is now lots of blogging. So, if you’d like to see my blogs on a blog other than my blog, head on over to The Daily South.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately what it means to be a young professional that’s not in college. College is one of those times in your life when you do awesome stuff for a short period of time, and it completely shapes who you are. I felt like I knew very distinctively where I fit in college. I knew who I was in college, who my friends were in college, who I loved in college, and what I was going to eat for lunch.

I’ve had a lot of friends graduate from college and tell me that they wish they could go back. They miss the parties and the structure and the weird happenstances and the yoga pants to 8AM classes.

I don’t miss college.

There, I said it. A lot of people miss college – but I don’t miss college.

When I think about college, my first reaction is – “I’m too old for this shit.” (Sorry, mom!)

I like feeling like I’m growing. I don’t feel an attachment to the brick buildings or the discussions or the textbooks or Facebooking in the library. Do I miss people? Yes. Is it part of growing up to take what you’ve been equipped with and apply it to other areas of your life? Yes. I’m happy keeping the people I love close, and separating them from the college mindset. It turns into mature decisions and scary choices and living places that aren’t accessed with a student ID. But, it’s freeing. It’s knowing that you’re smarter than when you started, and that you’ll never make those same mistakes again.

Regardless of whether or not you consider yourself to have actually learned anything in college, you are 100% not the same person you were going into it. You may have made friends and lost friends. You may have been put in situations that would make your parents cringe. You may have been offered drugs or turned down shots or worn a little less than you should have one night. Maybe, you missed out on a memory because you chose to cram for an exam you should’ve studied for earlier. Maybe you had the perfectly balanced college experience of friends and academics and still slept 8 hours a night (yeah, right!).

Take those experiences, and turn them into a storage of memories that influence how you make your young adult decisions. Don’t carry that immaturity with you. Drinking at 9AM for Spring Break or being argumentative in class or belittling those that are different from you will now only affect you. There’s the change – the responsibility. It’s your life and your choices, but you will still have to own up to those the next day.

But, in the meantime, I still use my student ID for a 10% Goodwill discount.