Valentine’s Day — What we should actually focus on during this season of love

As a little girl, I always wanted to be the princess falling in love and living “happily ever after.”

When I was a teenager, I watched romance movies that showed toxic relationships presented as love. 

I believed that the only way to truly be happy was to be in a relationship. That’s what we’re taught to believe, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

For people in healthy relationships, Valentine’s Day can be a great way to celebrate the love they have for one another. But for many, this is a day that brings feelings of insecurity and depression, as many struggle with the idea of being single. 

What’s the problem with being single? When looking at it objectively, the idea of doing what we want when we want seems pretty ideal. Being in a relationship with another person is a lot more work than being alone. 

But it’s not that simple. 

From Disney princess movies to romance comedies, it’s no surprise that most people really value falling in love. Many people looking for a relationship, however, aren’t actually looking for a relationship. They want the idea of a relationship that society creates. They want the cute pictures they see on Instagram, and the chocolates and flowers on Valentine’s Day that they think represents a relationship. 

While relationships can be really great, they come with a lot of compromise, communication and hard times that people don’t always take into consideration. They aren’t always the sunshine and rainbows that they present themselves to be. 

When people are desperate for a relationship, what they are really looking for is just someone to love them. They are looking for someone to validate them as they likely have not gotten that validation in their past. 

Many spend most of their thoughts and energy on pursuing a relationship, in hopes that their partner will be able to provide the things they can’t provide for themselves. This also pushes people to jump into relationships that they don’t align with because they want to avoid loneliness. 

A relationship will not solve those feelings. 

Hoping a relationship will fix the struggles is like putting a bandaid on a pipe burst. It might stick for a moment, but once the tension builds a little, it will explode. If people rely on a relationship for happiness, then they will never be able to feel secure when they are alone. 

That’s why learning to love yourself is key to feeling stable without a relationship. 

Therapy can be crucial to learning how to feel sure in yourself. The first step is recognizing the problem and addressing where the feeling of needing a relationship stems from. This can be from trauma in childhood or past relationships. Whatever the reason may be, it plays a great role in how future relationships may play out. It’s important for people to know who they are and what they want in order to find a relationship that really suits them. 

There’s also a lot more to this world than being in a relationship. Learning to love yourself can open your eyes to finding things in life to find joy in. Through my self-love journey, I was able to recognize the love I have for life and the things I am passionate about. I am able to express my love through my interests and make the world a more positive place. 

Valentine’s Day is meant to be a day of love — not sadness. Spread a little love. We all could use it. 

Another woman’s beauty does not diminish your own

Before I became secure in myself, I focused a lot of my mental energy on paying attention to everyone else’s appearances. I would get constantly frustrated when I saw that other girls had beaten me to a trend, had more fashionable clothes, had nice tattoos and piercings, and the list goes on. It took me so long to learn the most simple but crucial piece of advice that everyone needs to hear:

Another woman’s beauty does not diminish your own.

So many women of all ages struggle with feelings of jealousy towards other women. It can be especially tough with the continual rise in popularity of social media centered around the way we look, like TikTok and Instagram.

This jealousy stems from a lack of security in a person’s self worth. This means that if someone is not happy with themselves, the way they look and the person they are, it causes feelings of anger towards someone they may see as better than them.

It doesn’t have to be a negative thing when someone has something you admire or would want to have. Instead of seeing it as competition, it’s important to switch the energy to appreciation towards the other person.

It may seem pretty self explanatory, but changing the perspective can make a significant impact on your self worth.

To spread the positive energy, a little goes a long way. Complimenting someone can positively impact their day, and can encourage them to compliment others.

The end of an era: #JMC406

This past semester, I decided to enroll in JMC 406: Commentary and Blogging. Although I was not required to take the class, I was able to count it for one of my credits and I was interested in taking it. I had been wanting to start writing columns for the newspaper, and I thought that this class would be a good stepping stone for that. 

This summer, I made the commitment to start writing more. I just didn’t really know where to start. 

Instead of just jumping in, I started thinking of ideas every now and then, inspired by posts I saw online and other ideas I thought of. After writing down each idea, I compiled a spreadsheet of ideas for columns by the end of the summer. When I joined the class, I used the list as inspiration for my work. If I didn’t have anything, I would go on google and social media for ideas and other inspiration. 

I loved that I had the chance to see everyone else’s work in the class as well. I watched as my classmates wrote about their interests and learned more about everyone through their writing styles. It was evident that not everyone was at the same level of writing. There were people who had more experience, but regardless of that, it was great to watch everyone’s writing skills improve. I was able to become more familiar with everyone’s different styles of writing and see them share their different stories. 

Along with my classmates, my writing style developed a lot as I wrote more. There wasn’t one person that influenced my style. I would say that I have a very clear and distinct style, but it definitely doesn’t just come from one inspiration. Throughout my many years of reading, I have paid attention to styles of writing that caught my attention and intrigued me. From there, I began writing in a style that was unique to me that I thought people would be entertained by.

Because I was writing so frequently, I was able to develop two types of writing processes. In the moments where I was really inspired by an idea, there wasn’t much of a writing process. I would just write and it came pretty naturally. When inspiration hit, It didn’t matter to me where I wrote. Whether that be in my room alone or at a loud coffee shop, I was able to write my thoughts effectively. When I didn’t feel as inspired, I would start by writing anything about the topic that I can think of without any structure. Then, I went through and edited it to make it flow better and omit things that weren’t relevant. 

Throughout the process, I learned that it is very difficult for me to have a Saturday deadline. Saturdays are my day of rest and my only day of the week to actually have a moment to chill, so I struggled finding the motivation at times to always do my work. I am a hard worker, but I have been trying to learn now to feel bad if I miss a deadline. At one point in my life, grades were more important than anything. I’ve taken a step back this year and put less stress on myself. Grades are way less important than my overall wellbeing, and I refuse to change that mindset again. I will have to make a point of learning how to balance it better in the future, so I can still do my work and not be too overwhelmed by it. 

My biggest challenge this semester was editorial writing. As ironic as it sounds, I was the Editor of the newspaper for 2 years, but I never wrote an editorial. When I started as an Editor, I was only designing and I had another editor working with the reporters. Although I had an interest in opinion writing, I was always afraid to write an editorial because it was something I hadn’t done before. It was a very big learning curve for me when I had to start writing editorials in the class but I feel as though I grew a lot from the process. 

My favorite piece I wrote

I enjoyed this experience to grow and learn new things, and there were moments where some of my work got more attention than I expected. My favorite thing that I have written would have to be the Gillie’s food review. Gillie’s is one of my favorite businesses in Kearney, but I actually really struggled to write something of significance. It took me a lot of work to figure out how to structure the review in a way that was novel and interesting for the reader. I wanted my message to come off clearly, and with a lot of work, I think it ended up telling Gillie’s story pretty well. I decided to take the review that I wrote and published it in The Antelope, because I thought it would be a good addition to the paper. 

About a day after the story was published, I received a message request on Facebook messenger that said:

“Hello Mackenzie, did you write the UNK article about Gillies Bar? I am the owner. I want to say THANK YOU! I just shared it on our page.”

I checked their Facebook page, and the post already had a few comments and almost 100 likes.

I decided to check the views on our website as well, and it was already near 1,000 views. This was all really surprising because when you write something for a class, you don’t expect a lot of people to read it. I knew that it would be viewed more when I published it, but I didn’t expect it to end up being the most viewed article on our website. 

A few days after the story was published, my friends wanted to head down to Gillie’s for another mango jalapeno margarita. We ordered food and drinks and sat for a while before we were approached by one of the bartenders. He walked up to our table and said:

“Hey guys, I’m just doing some investigating. There was an article written from the UNK Antelope about Gillie’s, did any of you write it?”

I told him it was me and he enthusiastically thanked me for writing it. He mentioned something about it being featured on the Omaha World Herald, but I wasn’t able to find anything out about what he meant. 

Another man came over to our table to ask about the article, but really was only interested in talking about the car that I had on my shirt. His entire table talked to me too about the article from across the bar.

The best part of it all really was the reactions from Gillie’s customers. Along with the comments at the restaurant, Facebook users commented their thoughts too.  

The experience rekindled the love that I’ve always had for food and entertainment reviews. I have never been a consistent writer, but I’ve always had the desire to learn more about it. I really value the chance I had to dive into something new and get recognition for it.

How the CliftonStrengths test can help strengthen natural abilities

I’ve always been a huge fan of personality quizzes. I took them so frequently because as I was growing up, I was constantly changing, and I would always have new answers to the questions. Some may think that since they change so often, the tests may be inaccurate. There is one test, however, that is not meant to be taken more than once. The answers on this test can’t change, because this test deals with your natural abilities. 

This test is the Gallup CliftonStrengths test. 

I first took this test when I worked for Gallup as a phone interviewer. I didn’t really understand what any of it meant, but just looked at the results and moved on with my life. 

It wasn’t until I started working for Intellicom as an intern that I learned what the CliftonStrengths test really meant. At Intellicom, our strengths are a very important part of our work. We use these to understand each other and how we work with a team. 

The CliftonStrengths test gives a report of 34 strengths in order from what comes most natural to what doesn’t come as natural. This test’s goal is to help the test taker to understand their strengths and be able to use those strengths to improve the weaknesses. 

I’ve met with one of my coworkers, who is a certified Gallup Strengths coach, to work on better understanding my Gallup Strengths. My top five Gallup Strengths are Restorative (problem solving) , Positivity (good outlook) , Individualization (recognizing people’s differences) , Relator (connecting personally to people) and Input ( collecting information ). I’ve learned through my meetings what can be helpful and hurtful with these strengths, and how I can use them to support others. 

These skills are really important to understand when it comes to working with a team. At work, it can be good to understand what everyone is good at and see how we can support them with our strengths as well. I’ve felt like I could better help my team by learning about my strengths. I have been able to understand how I can benefit the team in a way that no one else can.

More needs to be done to support student’s mental health

No amount of cliché posts or phrases will change anyone’s perception on the severity of mental illness. The pandemic brought mental health to everyone’s attention, including college campuses. 

As college students, we already know that “it’s okay not to be okay.” With our school workload, social events and extracurricular activities, it can be hard to find days that are okay. We need to know how to cope with these bad days. Prioritizing mental health means more than just pointing out the problems. Students need ways to cope and deal with the problems they face.

This issue, however, cannot be tackled easily. UNK makes it clear that they are focused on providing students with mental health resources, but we have only touched the tip of the iceberg on what we need to do in this fight. There’s always more that can be done, as this is one of the biggest problems students face daily. 

The solution to this problem starts with better education on mental illness. It seems as though every article I read on mental health focuses solely on depression and anxiety. While these are very prevalent issues, there are several mental illnesses that a majority of college students still struggle with that are never educated on. A few of these mental illnesses include ADHD, eating disorders and substance abuse disorders. This causes students to deal with their mental illnesses undiagnosed, as they do not have the education on these problems. 

With education also comes breaking stigmas. Because of our society’s lack of accurate knowledge on mental health, many struggle with undiagnosed mental illness for years of their life. Societal stigmas of mental illness and therapy create a barrier for those not knowing how to ask for help. Students need to know that what they are struggling with is normal, and many of their peers likely struggle with it as well. 

UNK’s counseling services provide a great stepping stone for students wanting to improve their mental health. While many students find our three free counseling sessions to be a good resource for them, not everyone has had this same experience. Since the pandemic, it has been difficult for students to get help when they need it, as it can be hard to make an appointment that’s not months in advance. It’s crucial that students who are reaching out for help get it as soon as possible. The hardest thing to do is reach out for help, and it is important that students feel heard when they are doing so.  

Students may need to reach outside of campus to find serious help. After going to UNK’s services with focus problems, I was told I didn’t have ADD or ADHD and that I just needed to make better priorities. It took me going to a therapist and meeting with a specialist outside of UNK to get diagnosed with ADHD and get proper help for my struggles. While UNK’s services can be useful, there should be a stronger emphasis on good resources for students and more information on other resources off campus. 

There are other resources at UNK that students should be able to use if they are in need. Students should feel comfortable enough to be able to go to their professors if they feel like they are struggling mentally. The role of a teacher is to support their students in all aspects. Professors should be their first resource, yet many students don’t even feel comfortable asking their professors questions. Creating an open and comfortable space for students allows for them to have a better and more productive learning environment. 

Small changes in the classroom setting could completely change the student experience and make them feel more supported. Allowing students to take mental health breaks from class or homework gives students the break they need to refresh if they are overwhelmed. This also would create a space for students to feel comfortable speaking up when they are struggling. Students may feel uncomfortable speaking up because they feel it is not a valid excuse. Once students are able to focus on their mental health first, they are better equipped to perform better on their classwork in the future. 

Mental illness has always been a problem, but it’s time to break that cycle. It’s crucial that we take the steps necessary to make students feel supported and feel that their mental health is a priority. 

Coping with the pandemic

When the pandemic started, I was in a very bad mental state. The combination of uncertainty and inconsistency in life was the worst for someone like me. My already severe anxiety intensified as I struggled to make sense of the state of the world in front of me.

But it wasn’t the pandemic that put me in this position of bad mental health. Living with the anxiety that I had was like living in a pandemic, filled with isolation and stress, but it was all just happening in my head.

So I took the situation as an opportunity. An opportunity to grow and learn a little more about myself. An opportunity to work on myself and not continue to live with the struggles I had always faced.

I did my research. I went to therapy. I did everything I needed to do to get out of the hole that I had always lived in.

I’ve had to learn this semester, however, is how to live with my current mental state. After the work I put in to help my anxiety combined with medication, I was able to get a handle on my anxiety. I have had to learn how to live a life without anxiety, which is a way I’ve never lived before. This transition has been very overwhelming trying to navigate a new world.

Now, this semester we have been able to see many changes in how we are able to live. We have had the opportunity to get back to the life we were living before the pandemic. We have been fortunate to be able to see places opening back up, concerts happening, and events are happening once again.

The pandemic before was very difficult to cope with. But this semester we have been able to feel again what it’s like to live without a pandemic. I haven’t had to cope this semester, as it has become significantly easier to live life now.

The biggest change for me this semester has been my mental health. I have learned so much in this time, and the pandemic pushed me to realize that it was a step I needed to take.

Stories around the world tell the truth of the current pandemic

Regardless of the controversy around getting the COVID-19 vaccine, we should be grateful that we have the opportunity to choose whether or not we want to receive it. It’s easy to forget that there are countries all around the world that have had no access to vaccines or other proper healthcare this entire pandemic. A feature article I read, Donors making a difference, share the stories of people around the world and how the pandemic is currently impacting them.

This article covers several stories in different countries that tell the stories and experiences of other communities outside of our own. Although generally these could’ve been covered better, I thought that the article was significant because their stories are important to tell. It is very easy for us to live in the current bubble we are in and forget what’s going on in countries around us.

This article features five stories of situations in several countries in the current state of the pandemic. The first comes from Somalia, where the US donated vaccines to thousands of nomads. The quote “This was the first time I had ever received a vaccine for my health,” stuck out to me because it reminds me of the privilege I have in this country and with my financial situation. I have never had to worry about my healthcare and have always had access to what I have needed.

Another feature brings attention to the current fight against Tuberculosis. A refugee camp in Bangladesh helps those fighting Tuberculosis, which has been hard to focus on amidst the pandemic.

In Manila, hundreds of homeless and vulnerable people were able to receive the vaccine when a vaccine clinic was set up for free, as well as meals and other services. Migrant workers in Lao are receiving proper COVID-19 testing services and quarantine services when entering the country. Several health centers are now providing vaccinations and health services to Afghan refugees.

This articles tells the important stories of the current pandemic. It is important for us to remember what is going on in the world despite our current situation.

Two families, one Thanksgiving

As a child of divorce since the age of 2, I have never really experienced the traditional Thanksgiving experience. As my childhood friends spent their Thanksgivings with their families in Bellevue, I spent mine in Nevada, since Thanksgiving was my dad’s holiday.

In elementary, middle and high school, we had a week of break to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. That meant that I had just the right amount of time to take a quick trip to visit my Dad’s. I spent most of my time with my mom’s family in Nebraska, but I would visit my dad for Thanksgiving, New Year’s and during the summer.

When I had the chance to visit my dad’s family, it was like I stepped into a different world. A world of different scenery, different culture, and different experiences. Here I had a life that no one in Nebraska would understand but me. I lived in a different house with a different family, completely disconnected from my other life.

I really cherished being able to spend Thanksgiving with my dad’s family. I never got to spend a lot of time with that side of the family, so this gave me an opportunity to reconnect with them and catch up on everything.

We had Thanksgiving at my grandma’s house on a farm right outside Vegas. If we were bored waiting for food to be ready, we were able to go out and feed the horses and chase the chickens. Despite being from Nebraska, this is the only farm I ever spent any time at. We had a huge meal each year and sat at a huge table, as traditional of a Thanksgiving as you can get.

Thanksgiving was a moment for me to see my dad and get a change in scenery that I didn’t get to have when I was in Nebraska. The trip was always too short.

Since being in college, it hasn’t been practical to visit Nevada, so I have had to adapt to a different Thanksgiving: my mom’s side of the family’s. Despite different people, food and traditions, the feelings surrounding the holidays stay the same. Holidays give us the chance to reconnect to the ones that mean the most to us.

#HumansofKearney

Khali Kremer, worker at the Denim Bar

“This is my fifth year going without turkey, just to not eat turkey and be against [it]
because I have so many family Christmases. So, I never eat turkey at Thanksgiving. I’ll eat
everything except the turkey, just to be stubborn. It’s just a running joke now.”

“Thanksgivings for me have been kind of hard. My original family, we got divorced and the holidays became tough because I didn’t see my kids anymore. But all in all, it ends good because my son is a pastor in Africa and I got two other kids that are both psychologists so it all turned out well. [Now] I get to see my son in Africa from time to time and the other kids, at least the boys, we get along great.”

Why therapy is important for everyone

As someone who has gone to several different therapists, I understand the feeling of not wanting to go to therapy. There’s a lot of reasons why people refuse to go to therapy, but it’s hard to watch people struggle through so many issues that could be solved by investing in therapy. Here are a few things that most people have struggled in their lives that therapy can help with.

  1. Overcommitting yourself

Many driven people struggle with taking on more than they can handle, which can push them to becoming burnt out and struggling to continue on. This is something that I have always struggled with, and therapy continues to teach me how to handle this, along with the shame that may come from not being able to handle everything on your plate. Therapy pushed me to rethink why I feel like I need to do it all as well as learn how to take a break when it’s necessary.

2. Struggling to say no

This is such a common problem for people that are people pleasers like me. It can be hard to tell people no and feel the negative feelings that surround that, but it is a crucial skill to learn to be able to live a fulfilling life. Therapy has taught me to learn how to communicate my feelings when I am feeling overwhelmed as well as learn how to set clear boundaries when needed. No one needs an explanation for needing to say no.

3. Active communication

There are very little people that I’ve met in this world that I would consider to be amazing communicators. Coming from a family that still continues to struggle with communication today, I knew that this would be an important thing for me work on in therapy. Therapy has allowed me to learn how to communicate better by addressing how I communicate and how I could change it, as well as taught me how to see the signs of manipulation.

4. Time Management

Although this is something I continue to struggle with, therapy is a great way to learn how to manage your time effectively and how to make effective time for priorities. It has pushed me to learn why I struggle with this, as well as find ways to change my unhealthy habits that cause me to struggle with managing my time

5. Emotions and Relationships

Emotions can be a hard subject for many people. Especially for men, emotions aren’t always talked about and can build up in unhealthy ways if not addressed correctly. Therapy allowed me to learn why I was unable to share my emotions and helped me find better ways to process the emotions I was feeling. This connects to communication as well because the only way to a healthy relationship is knowing how to communicate your emotions with one another.

The real point here is that there is no reason to feel uncomfortable about going to therapy. Despite any reasoning that may stop someone from going, therapy gives you the crucial tools to live your fullest and healthiest life. Therapy is anyone who is committed to living a life of happiness and fulfillment.