The Struggle is Real: Having Anxiety at Law School.

Law school pals, I’m calling a group meeting. Gather around the dinner table. Pull up a chair, help yourself to an espresso martini, take a complimentary cronut, and put away your goddang iPhone. Right, are we all here? Fabulous. HI. We need to talk. Not about the latest episode of the Bachelor, or that flared pants are back, or the fact the level one fridge is about as grotesque as a 4am Brunswick gutter (who’s rice milk is that?).

We’re a family here at law school, and a family shares their feelings, even when they’re not particularly awe-inspiring or extraordinary, and especially when they’re ones you’d rather hastily stuff to the back of your closet, like last season’s crop top micro trend. There’s something I need to discuss with you all. It’s a topic that has been brewing as long as it sometimes feels like a soy chai latte does in the 10am coffee queue.

I was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder last year. Talking about it makes most people uncomfortable, because it’s enormously personal information to absorb. I’d imagine telling someone you have anxiety evokes a similar atmosphere to when you’re at a house party and someone reveals that their favourite band is Nickelback. Only, it’s your mental health, so people can’t exclaim and cover their ears or scoff or back away quietly or change the topic to Donald Trump’s luscious toupee. Most react supportively and calmly, but sometimes there is an element of awkwardness because it’s difficult to know what to say, and how to say it. Yes, having anxiety is wonderfully difficult to admit to, because there’s that fear you’ll be judged, or even just treated differently the next day. So, usually it’s easier to pretend you’re fine – to your friends, to your family, to the random guy on the tram witnessing you stress-eat an entire packet of Twisties, and above all, to yourself.

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There was no one thing that triggered my anxiety. It was more like life just suddenly got too overwhelming. There I was, a wide-eyed, stressed-out first year, battling to balance four subjects, a hectic part-time job, extra-curricular activities, a boyfriend, a social life, family commitments, health issues, that inevitable law school pressure, and still somehow being told to dedicate time to ‘relax’. Slowly, I began withdrawing from my family, cancelling plans with my friends. Trying to pretend I was happy took too much strength. Attempting assignments seemed like falling into quicksand, hobbies no longer had appeal, and every expression of love and support slid right off me. It was like I couldn’t feel anything anymore.

The panic attacks began- in supermarkets, while driving, in my bed, at the Toff, on trains, in the level 2 toilets, and even, to my horror, in the middle of a Property class. Every day seemed too tough, each hour felt like an Everest. My chest was used to pounding, my palms continuously sweaty. Then, one insignificant weekday, the thought of walking down my street to the bus stop terrified me. I was too scared to leave my house, let alone contemplate mustering the energy to haul myself to university. The condition became too debilitating to function; relentless dread consumed my brain. Anxiety was crippling my life. And that’s when I realised I could no longer pretend I was coping.

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Having the perfectionist, Type-A, typical law student personality that I do, I found it excruciatingly shameful to admit to my loved ones that I needed help. Not only did the icy grip of anxiety paralyse my days, but to add a whole other layer of torment, I would actually guilt myself for feeling this way. My life was amazingly privileged, safe, and full– how could I possibly confess that my days felt unbearable, that I was afraid of everything – when there were people all over the world who were suffering so much worse?

My stupidly high expectations wouldn’t let me accept something was wrong. I defiantly resisted every treatment my doctor and psychologist gently proscribed, because admitting that I was struggling felt like defeat, like I’d failed somehow. To make things worse, I would hyperventilate every time my face tingled and heart raced; the classic signs of a panic attack in its infancy. Yes, that’s right, my panic attacks gave me panic attacks. I achieved peak panic. I was literally freaking out that I was freaking out. It was basically something out of Inception. You’ve got to hand it to me. Like many budding lawyers, I don’t do things in halves.

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Upon reflection, it is so magnificently depressing to analyse why I felt the way I did. How have we got to this point that we beat ourselves up for not coping? Why is it that we equate struggling with failure? What does that say about us? Why does we put so much pressure on ourselves? I’ve begun to wonder how many fellow ducks exist here at university– calm from above, but furiously paddling to stay afloat beneath the surface.

When law students support each other, the vibe around this building imaginably mimics that of Tony Abbott at a Speedos’ convention–there’s a lot of love in the room. But when assignments pile up and deadlines loom and the exams tundra rears its ugly, unsolicited head, the stressful environment we create for each other can be so damaging. We joke about being anxious to the point that our hair falls out, and freely laugh off breakdowns and late-night crises. So many of us turn a blind eye to our emotions, because we’re too busy trying to keep up. I know the Juris Dogtor is great and all, but there’s only so much good one fluffy therapy pup can do.

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The thing is, once I got over my irrational shame of finding life too mountainous, acknowledging I had anxiety became a huge relief. Rather than punishing myself for not understanding something in class that day, for not having time to see my boyfriend’s parents for dinner, or even just for having a really crap day, accepting that there was a name to explain how I felt meant accepting that my feelings were legitimate – that I wasn’t alone in being overwhelmed. Instead of enduring yet another restless evening hallucinating about failure, I began forcing time to rest and relax; to do something for myself and only for myself.

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I’d love to say that these days I wake to a 6.15am spin class, recite Mother Theresa quotes in front of a mirror, and then inject kale into my veins, but that would be a lie of Belle Gibson proportions. I go to Zumba classes because shimmying to ‘Uptown Funk’ alongside fitness nuts, school mums, and elderly Vietnamese women is one of the greatest pleasures known to man. I limit alcohol because I don’t like the way it makes me feel, but put me in front of a pear and goats cheese pizza, and my life gladly transforms into an episode of ‘Man vs Food’. I study some pretty ridiculous hours, but I also hit the d-floor on a Saturday night, make time to hang out with my family and boyfriend, sleep in, and go on massive Netflix binge streaks. I visit a psychologist a few times a month, and words cannot describe how outrageously awesome it feels to finally talk to someone. There are still anxiety-ridden days where I can barely face getting in the shower, but those moments are fewer and more far between.

So, what’s so special about my story? Well, the reality is, nothing. I’m just another student here at law school, sitting in your 2pm Criminal Law seminar, hiding behind my armour of patterned pants, winged eyeliner and enthusiastic conversation. It doesn’t matter what grades you get, how many friends you have, what shoes you wear, how much money’s in your bank account or what your Instagram looks like. Mental health does not discriminate. Law students aren’t superhuman wunderkinds; we’re only flesh, blood and bone. If we don’t look after ourselves, we fall apart. Can we all please kick the stigma of anxiety right in the guts? The air in here can be suffocating. There’s nothing wrong with struggling to breathe. It’s okay to not be okay. It begins with giving yourself a break.

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First published in Purely Dicta 2015 Edition.

Side note: slight changes have been made to ensure the vague anonymity of where I go to university. I mean, I know we are best friends forever, lovely internet pals, but please don’t come crash my 11am Corporations Law class. Unless you want to do my readings for me.

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The Love List: May.

Ahoy, bangin’ babes of the blogosphere! I return, my body practically convulsing in exam period hysteria, to bring you another instalment of the Love List. Yes, it’s back! Like a nasty dangin’ flu you just can’t kick (or Arnie Schwarzenegger, for a much more pleasant analogy. BYO Austrian accent, of course).

It’s been a blustery, arctic month here in Melbhattan, what with winter drooling icily over the CBD, suburban backyards, faraway mountains, and often my Saturday night plans. Yet I’m pleased to report that despite said frosty temperatures, I have ventured outside the house on multiple occasions for an annual uni ball, drunken dumplings sessions, potluck dinners, spontaneous Brunswick adventures, walks along the Yarra and some Body Attack classes that are probably more aptly described as an exercise in self-inflicted torture. I’ve also been doing a shit tonne of online shopping this month because, hey, ASOS exists, and I possess about as much self-restraint as I imagine Tony Abbott would at a Speedo’s convention.

Song of the Month:

At the risk of sounding like a total bore, a ginormous chunk of May has been taken up by study; be it written assessment, textbook reading, or cramming ten million trusts cases. Like many, I float between background music while hitting the books, although certain artists definitely woo me into a productive frame of mind more than others. Key favourites are Bonobo, Bon Iver, London Grammar and some wonderful random classical music playlist I stumbled across via Spotify. But the holy grail of study music for me is definitely Grizzly Bear. This is for a thousand reasons, one being that their 2012 album Shields is the dictionary definition of perfection, another being that they are absolutely stupendous live (my housemate and I saw them in Stockholm, Sweden when I lived in Paris back in 2012 and I have never been the same since) and one more being that Ed Roste just generally takes the cake for the most awesome frontman on the planet (side note: check his Instagram. Nature porn on crack. Just on another level). So this month, although it’s a slight throwback, I’ve been all about Shields’ ‘Gun-Shy’; a quiet, unassuming track that just oozes cool and calm vibes.

Media-gasm of the Month:

The New Yorker is, and will always be, my biggest source of inspiration. Yes, it’s snotty and elitist, but the journalistic talent that rests between its pages is nothing short of genius. There are so many articles I want to link, because each feature just transports you to a whole other planet, usually about something that’s never even vaguely crossed your mind before. That’s one of the reasons I love this month’s ‘media-gasm’, Stephen Rodrick’s ‘The Nerd Hunter’. This article is all about Allison Jones, an American casting director who may not exactly trigger your memory at first, but is the guiding force behind the careers of everyone from Jason Segel, Seth Rogen and James Franco, to Scarlett Johansson, Kristen Wiig, and Aubrey Plaza. She’s also the mastermind behind casting the likes of Rainn Wilson as The Office‘s Dwight Schrute, Nick Offerman as Parks and Recreations‘ Ron Swanson, and, in a great touch, The Office’s Phyllis, who for years apparently worked as Jones’ casting associate and isn’t a trained actor (doesn’t that just make your heart burst?) Look, I think I’ve divulged enough already. If you’re a TV nut or just like learning about the entertainment biz, this read is right up your glorious media-gasm alley.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/04/06/the-nerd-hunter

Fashion Item of the Month:

Rejoice, all ye fellow fashionistas! Revel in the rare event that trainers are en vogue, even if it’s just for a few minuscule moments. In the midst of a property law-induced haze, I caved into buying these babies online, the Adidas Originals Superstar 80s DLX Trainers in White and Green (woah! What a mouthful). I am so far from being a sneaker person. A velvet slipper or fun pointed flat, sure, but runners? Not usually my jam. Still, to me these scream “Hi! I’m a sophisticated French tennis player from the ’60s!” and “How ridiculously comfy are my feet right now?!” They also yell, “Don’t you dare get dog poo on me!” and “What’s for dinner?!” but I’ve usually told them to be quiet by then.

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Meal of the Month:

The Rochester Hotel, lovingly known as the Rochy, met a cruel fate early last year when it closed its grimy, beer-stained doors after a few difficult months. This Fitzroy pub is an absolute institution to my boyfriends’ friends and I, having spent countless dirty Saturday nights obscenely loose on its dance floor, and many a Wednesday howling with laughter at its famous Trivia evenings. We befriended the most amazing staff, flew paper planes down its sticky floors, took over the pool table, danced to sweaty bands upstairs, drank our weight in free cider jugs, and agonised over the meanings of the cryptic notes on its toilet doors. My boyfriend Michael even had a crack at their famous Clive Parma Challenge, where he attempted to chow down five chicken parmagianas stacked on top of each other with a serve of chips and salad – $30, and your money back if you finish it. Needless to say, much like the old Rochy we adored, Michael just didn’t make it to the end.

After many painful months standing by as the Rochy decayed into a boarded-up, heavily-graffitied, ghost hotel, I was beyond delighted when new owners began to breathe life into the pub we once called home. A few Friday nights ago, we ventured back to our beloved haunt to try its new incarnation, Miss Katies’ Crab Shack.

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This is definitely not the first time someone has got crabs from the Rochy… ha! Oh, and this is my boyfriend. He will probably bombard me with embarrassed texts in T- 20 minutes when he reads this blog post and sees his photo here. Hi Michael! Say hi to Michael, internet pals! Bib aside, I promise he is 10/10 rad and awesome.

Feasting on their famous country boil of a ginormous crab, surrounded by potatoes, corn and Kransky sausages, we also ordered soft-shell crab sliders, beer, and salty chilled prawns, which were as delicious as they were fun to pull apart and devour. We didn’t go overboard on the ordering, because Michael had already tried the fried chicken with waffles, and their chilli cheese fries. Needless to say, they are apparently nek level and I experienced crippling food envy upon seeing them on fellow diners’ tables, so God help me I will be back before the month ends to try those too.

While the crab was mouth-wateringly good (once you eventually tore it apart), I really wasn’t there for the boil. Frankly, it was enough of an adventure just putting on our geeky plastic bibs, using such novel utensils, and seeing the space we worshipped transform into such an atmospheric, hipster seafood joint. Where were the sleazy Strokes fans liasing by the bar tables? Why can’t I smell that intriguing stank of grit, sweat and vodka vomit?!  The actual food at Miss Katie’s is probably about a 7.5/10: great fun when you’re in the mood for some quirk and a cheeky calorie hit, but perhaps one to miss when taking Mum and Dad out for a sophisticated birthday dinner (or looking to impress a first date without wearing a bib drenched in ranch dressing). Still, a place where the music rocks, the candles are lit and memories flood back of grungy dance floor raves, pool table successes and questionable life choices? That will bring me back, time after time.

Most Googled Topic of the Month:

Without a doubt, this has to go to the Eurovision Song Contest 2015. It only finished less than 24 hours ago, and thus the smell of smoke machine and Russian tears still lingers nostalgically in the air. This was the first year in history that Australia was allowed to compete, which is both insanity and the most incredible thing that has ever happened to this country, ever (too far?). Being a little too obsessed with this Europop glitter fest that basically entails fighting World War 3 through spandex and key changes, needless to say, this has been a hot topic for me this month. What’s more, having all round Best Person in the Universe Lee Lin Chin read the Australian votes just took it to a WHOLE other planet. Swedish winner Mans Zelmerlow was of course a standout, and Australia’s rep Guy Sebastian killed it (despite wearing a fedora, ew), but my favourite would have to be Estonia’s entry “Goodbye to Yesterday”, which is genuinely a seriously addictive tune I may quietly download later on this eve (hey, don’t hate the playa, hate the game, baby). I would link it, but let’s be real, these gifs are far more entertaining.

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Inspiring Person of the Month:

In light of this infectious Eurovision fever, how can I not give the title of most inspiring person of the month to Conchita Wurst, aka Tom Neuwith? The Austrian hosts jokingly called her the “Queen of Europe” at the final last night, but I’ve got to say, I quite seriously agree with that title. The impact of Conchita Wurst is something that deserves a whole other blog post of its own (one day soon I’ll write one!), but let’s just say this for now- what she has done for LGBTQI rights and stigma in Europe is nothing short of unbelievable. The tolerance and equality she promotes is so much more than a European karaoke contest or a big silver trophy, and the light she has brought to so many lives cannot be underestimated. Above it all, there is nothing more inspiring than seeing a person truly comfortable in their own skin (Also, just saying, wouldn’t you sell a kidney for a waist like that?! And the sparkly pink jumpsuit. #FLAWLESS).

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Note: Conchita holding the hand of Russian contestant and runner-up Polina as she nervous cried and freaked out as the votes were being read. Comforting someone so publicly even though the country they represent not only wants to censor you from their TV screens, but actually has laws that cripple your sexuality? Now that is class.

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TV Show of the Month:

Orange is the New Black. I don’t even need to say anything else. Watched the entire thing in 10 days, without even a smidge of guilt. This show is seriously, seriously good. Go on, finish season two, so we can talk! Quiiick!

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Holy guacamole, what’s that? You got through that ginormous rambling post and have still hung onto the end?! Sweet Jesus, what a marathon. You deserve the largest M&M McFlurry I can find at 11.18pm on a Monday night for this kind of commitment. Second best to that, here’s a topless photo of the winner of Eurovision this year. I mean… what? How’d that get in there?

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You (and your ovaries) can thank me later.

Politicians Eating Things.

This might just be because I’m currently in the midst of what can only be described as an atrociously potent hangover, where my sole purpose in life is to consume as many carbohydrates as humanly possible (for those of you playing at home, I’m doing a bloody good job of it thus far. This guacamole is delicious). But this has got to be more than a coincidence. I keep seeing photos of politicians eating things.

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It all started when the Guardian applauded Hillary Clinton’s “flawless” choice of a chicken burrito bowl from Mexican chain Chipotle while out on the campaign trail in Ohio. “It’s a fairly perfect order, when you think about it,” the article quoted. “You’re opting for chicken instead of beef, and don’t want that calorie-loaded flour tortilla, but you’re not so overly zealous as to get a salad.”

Upon Googling the topic further (it was clearly a very busy day for me), I soon discovered that not only had the Guardian considered the significance of Clinton’s burrito choice, but the Wall Street Journal too had commented on the “gastronomical symbolism” of Chipotle (deeming Taco Bell “more electorally savvy”), the New York Times analysed the calorie content of the meal, and CNN Money labelled the incognito lunchtime dash a “hip” symbol of her desire to “shed that outdated 1990s stigma.”

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Somewhat creepy CCTV footage of Hil ordering her burrito bowl.

Do we really need to read that much into what a politician decides to shove down their gob for lunch? No. Unless you’re the next potential leader of the free world, perhaps, but even still, the discussion of Chipotle semiotics is surely about as useful to society as the release of Kris Jenner’s cookbook (aka, not at all. One of the reviewers on Amazon said they’d rather buy a book from ISIS). From that moment forth, photos of politicians smacking their lips seem to be everywhere.

Take, for example, the news that British Prime Minister David Cameron ate a hotdog with a knife and fork while schmoozing with supporters at a voter barbecue. As the Huffington Post observed, the “‘I’m just like you’ campaign trail stunt backfired somewhat predictably, with Twitter exploding in a cacophony of piss-taking after noting the Prime Minister’s choice of dining implements.” Poor ol’ Dave became a posh lamb to the social media slaughter.

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But that was nothing compared to when incredibly unflattering photos of his opposition, Labour leader Ed Miliband, chomping on a bacon sandwich last year went viral. The image was so horrifically off-putting apparently even his advisors had to intervene after a few bites. Yes, Sandwich Gate is now so famous in his home country that the bacon sandwich incident has its own Wikipedia page. Apparently people do care what’s going into their guts (or at least what they look like when it happens).

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There is something to be said for leading by example, which is why another group of people definitely care about what politicians munch on when out in the public eye. In May 2012, the Washington-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine filed a petition to stop President Obama, his family, and members of his Cabinet, from eating unhealthy foods while staging official photo ops after seeing him with a burger one too many times. Yes, a quick search uncovered many an image of Obama chowing down on treats, be it a hot dog at the basketball with David Cameron (man, that dude loves his hot dogs), cheeseburgers with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, or a cheeky ice cream on the sly. Indeed, it appears Obama is pictured eating burgers so often there’s even a blog dedicated to it. In defence of the petition, posing with a Big Mac does seem to go against everything Michelle Obama has worked for as part of her “Let’s Move!” health and fitness initiative (even if POTUS maintains his favourite food is broccoli). But is it really that enormous an issue for him to eat it in public?

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As much as many of us implore such fluffy stories polluting our media outlets, the reality is that with so many ready to pounce on and scrutinise a politician’s every move, you just can’t please everyone. People are always going to talk, particularly at a photo op. No doubt if Clinton was pictured sipping raw kale and chia seed smoothies everyday while out campaigning she’d be accused of being too healthy, or giving into the Paleo fad. But on the other hand, if Tony Abbott made a deal of ducking into Pizza Hut every couple of weeks (or, as he was recently, skolling beer in a pub), he’d be accused of making bad choices and promoting obesity. Still, it appears our political leaders would be wise to make a safe choice when in the presence of worldwide media, or at least save their junk food binge for the privacy of their own home. Oh, and perhaps steer clear of grotty bacon sandwiches, overly greasy burgers, or phallic-like foods, in the fear of viral internet memes or worse, sexual innuendo.

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I think that image probably speaks for itself. *Drops mic*

The Love List: April.

When I was in high school, my best friend and I would sporadically message each other to demand an exchange of our latest newfound music obsessions. Both being colossal Francophone nerds, this usually entailed YouTube links to soppy Carla Bruni confections, peppered with the occasional Kelly Clarkson hit, Eskimo Joe power ballad, or obscure movie soundtrack. Despite our clear lack of music-hunting prowess (whatever happened to Eskimo Joe?), there was something so inexplicably comforting about listening to my friend’s suggestions. Because music is so flippin’ personal, corny as it sounds, getting a glimpse into what my galpal had on repeat  while cramming international studies homework seemed so intimate and lovely, like finally understanding the inner workings of her brain. What did she listen to in the dead of night? What made her want to dance? What made her run that much further? What wrestled into her veins, knifed her soul, and made her cry?

Currently studying postgraduate law, waist-deep in stiflingly horrendous administrative law cases; I’ve swiftly learnt that the world is a much brighter place when you have things to be inspired by. Life is so much better when you’re excited, whether that’s about the latest episode of Game of Thrones, a fancy ramen joint opening up around the corner, a new pair of tailored navy Topshop trousers (just me?) or the fact Tony Abbott ate an entire raw onion. With ‘Don’t Tell Mama’ being my little sparkly corner of the internet, I’d like to propose my new monthly venture, The Love List: a bite-size insight of what’s filling my belly, what’s pumping through my earphones, what’s filling up my ASOS shopping cart, and what’s keeping me sane. I miss sharing those songs with my friend, so it’s time to get the blogosphere involved. Surely if these things have jazzed up my month, they could pep up yours too. And if not, well, you might just get a decent New Yorker article out of it, or at least a half-arsed excuse to fangirl over Taylor Swift (actually, I retract that. Do you need a reason?).

Anyway, enough yacking. Herewith lies my list for March/April, a month of mid-term university assignments, theatre visits, and approximately 36873 Cadbury Easter eggs.

Song of the month:

Fronted by full-on musical legend Alexander Gow, Melburnian indie rock band Oh Mercy is way up there as one of my favourite groups of all time. I’ve been forever enamoured by their 2009 album ‘Privileged Woes’ (and follow-ups ‘Great Barrier Grief’ and ‘Deep Heat’ go down damn well on a Sunday afternoon) but something about their latest track release, Sandy, just makes me feel invincible (and okay, kind of sexy. Can I say that on here? Hi Mum!). I’d love to say Sandy makes me want to slap on red lippy and go flirt with a thousand Calvin Klein models in a darkly lit bar, but it really doesn’t. I just want to blare this track full blast while jumping up and down on my bed, screaming the lyrics in my underwear… 10/10 obsessed with this song, which is probably no surprise considering my crush on Alexander is currently reaching obscene heights, rivalled only by mid-2000’s Jake Gyllenhaal.

Media-gasm of the month:

A self-confessed media nerd, there is nothing like a stellar article, podcast or documentary to really get the inspiration flowing. This month it’s Alec Baldwin’s podcast, Here’s the Thing, hosted by WNYC and in association with Killer Content. Basically, Alec Baldwin’s voice is caramelised crack. It’s orgasmic. I could listen to him read the back pages of the Financial Review or the instruction manual of a hairdryer and still be head-over-heels. Surprisingly, Baldwin is a killer interviewer, and I really respect the idea behind the podcast- a focus on “intimate and honest conversations” with people that delve into how they got their careers started and what inspires them. For someone incredibly disillusioned with her degree at the moment, this is heavenly. I haven’t worked my way through all of them yet, but so far Lorne Michaels, Lena Dunham, Chris Rock and Kris Jenner (Bow down to the queen of momagers!) are standouts. Still, the best one to date has definitely been Kristen Wiig’s. Somehow, discovering that she spent a good part of her twenties working at Anthropologie makes me feel infinitely more okay with my life choices. I’ve linked it below in case you need a further excuse to procrastinate (you know you do).

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http://www.wnyc.org/story/197391-kristen-wiig/

Food of the month:

Hands down, the apple pie waffles at Mixed Business cafe (Clifton Hill, Melbourne). Ginormous, piping-hot buttermilk waffles with blistered, maple baked apples, crumbling pecan biscuit, covered in melting vanilla icecream. Who knew something could be better than Ryan Gosling naked, a binge-watch of ‘Girls’, and Solange Knowles’ wardrobe combined? Being a) lactose/fructose intolerant and b) possessor of a metabolism that operates at the speed of a snail on a peak-hour tram, I reluctantly resisted these babies, but my boyfriend devoured them in a matter of seconds.

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Oh, and with it being April, shout out to the literal hundreds of easter eggs I consumed in the space of 72 hours. Why can’t it be Easter all the time? Or at the very least, mini eggs should be available year round. I’m surprised there hasn’t already been a nation-wide rally, to be honest.

Fashion item of the month:

Despite now being unemployed and thus having a severe lack of fat stacks to burn, I stumbled across these Martha Jean earrings whilst perusing High St, Northcote last Saturday afternoon. How could a gal resist? A nifty price point, and a local designer? I mean, really, it would only be polite to buy one in both gold and black. Just doing my part to stimulate the economy. Thank me later, Joe Hockey.

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Cultural activity of the month: 

‘Cultural activity’ seems like such a wanky way to phrase it, but how else do you encapsulate plays/ gigs/ comedy shows/ concerts into the one category? Stay with me (or suggest a better name in the comments! Culture Club nearly won, but to be honest, I feel like this blog is jazzy enough without continuous Boy George references).

Anyway, being a Melburnite, I went along to see two comedians at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival this month, Adam Hills’ ‘Clown Heart’ and Rich Hall’s ‘3:10 to Humour’. Rich Hall NAILED it. Man, when you get two hundred politics nerds in the room and then a comedian starts talking about gun control, you just know shit’s going to get real very fast. I also saw the Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of Samuel Beckett’s ‘Endgame’ on Monday night, but I’m not sure I’d recommend that, unless you like absurdist drama, an impending apocalypse, and not understanding anything you’re seeing.

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Inspiring person of the month:

Bryan Stevenson, founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and NYU law professor. If you’re a law student (and okay, even if you’re not), just watch his TedX Talk. The man is a walking legend. He needs no other introduction. I ordered his book ‘Just Mercy’ online, and plan to read it in approximately ten thousand years, when my trusts law professor will eventually stop giving me fifty-page cases to read every night.

Most Googled topic of the month:

Following on from my recent obsession with Bryan Stevenson, and in light of recent events concerning the Boston Bomber, my boyfriend and I have been completely fascinated with the death penalty in the United States. In particular, I was shocked to discover more about the botched execution of death row prisoner Joseph Wood in Arizona last year, and, following a bit of a gallop into the Internet hole, found myself on the Death Penalty Information Center’s website, accessible here. Being incredibly fortunate to live in a country where the possibility of state execution doesn’t hang over my head, I found the statistics regarding death penalty in the U.S. equal parts intriguing and horrifying, and was shocked to learn that California has the largest death row in the country (currently at a whopping 751 inmates, despite not having executed a single prisoner since 2006). Regardless of your beliefs (and heck, mine definitely reside in the anti-capital punishment territory), this topic is only becoming increasingly important, and, yes, one hundred percent Google-able.

(Coming close second: is Taylor Swift dating Calvin Harris? GUYS, serious question. They did look matey at Whole Foods. Okay, enough about that.)

Website of the month:

This month, what with a plethora of incredibly uninspiring uni lectures, I’ve been obsessed with the fashion blog of Ms Pandora Sykes: fashion writer, stylist and blogger. When I should have been giving my undivided attention to a case about mortgages, I’ve instead regularly perused the many inspired posts of this glorious English fashion maven. I could not be more in love with her chunky, fab coats layered with shirts, brogues, tights, and everything else under the sun- glitter, pom poms, piercings… And shout out to her use of the word ‘home slice’, which has now become an awesomely unexpected addition to my vocab (what’s up, home slice?)

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Movie of the month:

Now that I think about it, I’m fairly sure this is the only movie I’ve seen this month (does a Say Yes To The Dress marathon count?). Very late to the party, but I watched Interstellar on the weekend, while lying in front of a fireplace eating taramasalata and pita in my pyjamas on a Saturday night (yo don’t hate the playa, hate the game, baby). I’m equal parts amazed and totally freaked out by space, and this movie only intensifies both those emotions. Moreover, it’s the first movie I’ve seen that’s officially part of the “McConnaissance“, and dang, the dude’s got downright talent. I’m not a sci-fi/fantasy chick by any realm of the universe (ha! See what I did there?) but I didn’t snooze off or even check my Instagram during the entire film, which is basically like climbing Everest: it’s BIG. But what I love more than anything else about the movie? It reminded me that at the end of the day, we’re all here on this tiny little unique planet, spinning around a slowly dying sun in an infinite universe, a tiny speck within the concept of time. And suddenly… whether Taylor Swift is dating Calvin Harris doesn’t matter anymore. You feel insignificant, but in a way that is oddly comforting, not isolating- like you’re part of a wider narrative.

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(Okay, just kidding. Whether they’re dating TOTALLY matters).

Well, that’s clearly enough ranting for one day. I’ve got all that #inspo off my chest and now I’m as happy as a clam, ready to perve on what you’ve been loving this month too. Share below if you please! There’s always time to procrastinate. And hey, if you’re Alec Baldwin… call me.

I Object!

My first year at Melbourne Law School is nearing a distressingly rapid close. And, like a premature “greatest hits” CD, I can already see the highs and lows of the JD flash before my sleep-deprived eyes. But there are no feelings of nostalgia or glory. Rather, I feel cheated.

My expectations of law school seem to have had a fairly gruesome punch-up with reality. But I don’t blame the pamphlets, the inspirational introductory speeches, or even the professors. I blame my television, beyond reasonable doubt. With Foxtel as my witness, I can safely assert that the ratio decidendi of my perception of law school has been entirely based on popular culture.

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 After one too many late-night viewings of Law and Order, I eventually came to the somewhat spontaneous conclusion I should study law. “Think of the campus!” I told myself as I filled in the application forms. “The parties! The content! The opportunities! The handsome men!”

So, like most naïve twenty-something ladies, I watched Legally Blonde the night before my LSAT. Aside from the entirely misleading assertion that she aced the test with a 179 (yeah, okay, Reese Witherspoon), a teeny tiny part of me secretly believed that Elle Woods’ time at Harvard would fully mirror my JD experience. I read up on important Aristotle quotes to be asked on the first day. I bought an Apple Mac laptop (minus the bunny costume). I was even prepared to combat the ferocious Vivian Kensington’s of the world, what with my witty comebacks and plethora of university-appropriate plaid shirts.

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Alas. With the exception of a messy LSS shindig or nine, the majority of my time at law school is spent sitting in the back row of PPL with one eye on a treaty and the other on a 20 per cent off ASOS sale. Goodbye, dreams of accidentally non-themed parties and incredible criminal court internships. Hello, Saturday afternoons in my coffee-stained pyjamas cramming a DR essay. I don’t dream of Luke Wilson. I dream of Kirby.

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The study at law school was destined to be easy! We were all meant to become instantly fabulous and achingly intelligent within our first few lectures, right? According to my TV, the JD was just going to be one really drawn-out, complicated episode of Boston Legal. So, I power-strutted in to LMR with the aim of being Atticus Finch by July, minus the whole “mockingbird” thing, and then working as a paralegal for Crane, Pool and Schmidt by the end of November. As it turns out, you can’t just waltz in to a courtroom, point at a freshly shampooed perm, and yell, “I object!” Who knew? As it turns out, there are hundreds upon hundreds of cases to learn, judgements to critique, statutes to memorise… Well. There goes my plan of acing my Constitutional Law exam just by writing “It’s Mabo, it’s the vibe”, a la The Castle. Looks like I might have to delay my transformation into Scandal’s feisty Olivia Pope (and debut of a killer power suit) until third year. This is coming at quite a shock.

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And where, for the love of all things legal, are the handsome Harvey Specters? I surely speak for 90 per cent of the cohort when I say that I, rightly or wrongly, founded every single preconceived idea of the legal profession on Suits. So, essentially, a steamy corporate bubble of crazy clients, power brunches, and cheeky hook ups in the photocopier room. But as stunning as those in the Student Centre are, they’re no Rachel Zane. The only saucy midnight rendez-vous I’m having at law school is on the level three library with my Obligations textbook. This isn’t very Erin Brockovich. Intelligence has been long-heralded as the sexiest quality in a person, but all this newfound contract formation knowledge makes me feel a lot more Judge Judy than Ally McBeal. I fear for the day I may be forced to date within the law school. What’s that? You can recite chapter 3 of the Constitution by heart? Excuse me while I take off all my smart casual business attire.

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The closest I’ll get to the Bar for now is the Corkman, and so it appears the television has let my sky-high expectations and I down. Yes, the legal student life isn’t as glamorous as the small screen would tell it, but at least the journey ahead of me is slightly more Mike Ross than Maury Povich. Who knows? Perhaps this JD will turn me into the next Josh Lyman (but with better hair, obviously).

 Now, back to the library for the next saucy date with my textbook. Wait! Was that William Shatner standing by the level 6 lifts? Oh no, just Glyn Davis. Well, a gal’s got to dream.

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First published in Purely Dicta Edition 1 2014

Met Gala 2014: Power Couples Edition.

 Laters, Easter Sunday. Adieu, ANZAC Day. Sayonara, Santa and your sleigh. The month of May is officially the best time of the year. This Monday should have been declared a public holiday.

And why? Well, it’s all about the Met Gala, of course.

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Chaired by none other than Ms Anna “Ice Queen” Wintour, the Met Ball fundraises for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. Regardless, it essentially remains an excuse for the rich and famous to get primped, primed, and totter around on the red carpet sporting cheeky leg reveals and awkward leans. It’s a similar scenario every year. Twitter goes cray cray. Instagram practically explodes. Die-hard celebrity watchers such as myself attend uni lectures instantly refreshing websites waiting to glimpse the latest look. What do you mean, I’m meant to function as a productive human being today?

So, naturally, when we think of the Met Gala, we think faaaaaaaahhhshun.

We think oozing glamour, frenzied paparazzi, high-end, suck-your-belly-in, this-dress-cost-more-than-your-house-and-your-car-and-your-two-kidneys type outfits. Last year, the theme was “Punk: Chaos to Couture”. Cue studs, tartan, black leather, and the internet self-combusting over some seriously entertaining gifs of Jennifer Lawrence photobombing Sarah Jessica Parker and her fauxhawk.

Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.

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There we go. That woman just might be my soulmate.

The ball had a decidedly vintage feel this year, entitled “White Tie and Diamonds”, with a nod to couturier Charles James. Rumour has it Marc Jacobs wasn’t too pleased because it basically prevented him from rocking up to the ball in boxer shorts, as he famously did in 2012. Maybe next year, Mr Jacobs. Hang in there, pal.

Celebrities spend days upon days oohing and aahing over what fabulous attire they shall don on the style soiree of the year. And if shit really hits the fan, one or two might even encounter some serious issues on the day of the event.

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Oh Tay Tay. Miaaaaow.

I would love to say the highlight of the Met Gala 2014 was the frocks, jocks and socks. But that would be a complete and utter lie. It seems another accessory stole the show. A living, breathing, sweating and talking accessory.

No, not a Furby. Not Siri either. The must-have accessory was a partner.

Hollywood is no doubt insanely incestuous, with most VIPs pashing another at some stage. They’re all famous, I guess! And there’s nothing to make your heart flutter like bonding over photographers in the bushes snapping pics of you at Starbucks. But it seems 2014 is the year to fall head over heels, sport lovesick eyes, and walk hand in hand with a regulation hottie. Because nothing says fashion like a partner trailing three feet behind.

I hereby rename this year’s theme:

MET GALA 2014: POWER COUPLES EDITION.

Here are the top 10 power couples of the 2014 Met Gala, compiled by yours truly.

10. Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield

As much as I’d love to give Spiderman and Easy A the top spot because I’m a loud and proud advocate of their relationship, they’re juuuust sneaking in. Yes, they’re power coupling up a storm. But serious points deducted for Emma’s Thakoon gown. It’s pretty, sure, but where’s the intrigue and detail and faaashun she usually rocks with flair and pizazz?!?! This just looks like very MTV Movie Awards circa 2004. Naht impressed, guyzzz. I was rooting for you! You owe me one for even being on this list.

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9. Charlize Theron and Sean Penn

Now I must say, this couple doesn’t do it for me (nor does Sean’s creepy mo). But you’ve gotta admit it. They basically define “power couple”. Can you imagine sitting down at a ball table and having them two lounging next to you, just casually leaning over you to pour some champers, or nibble on the complimentary bread? It’s nuts. Too much talent. Imagine the pillow talk.

Plus, Charlize looks bangin’ in that Dior gown. Damn, gurl. You classy.

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8. Chanel Iman and A$AP Rocky

Have I been living under a rock? Literally? Cos tell me if I have, dear blogger pals. But who in the dingin’ name of Hollywood is A$AP Rocky? Well, Chanel Iman’s main squeeze, apparently. She’s stunning the crowd, swathed in her Topshop threads. He’s clearly channelling Kanye West in this one, but I give him a free pass because, well, he’s a Grade A Babe. Mm, yep. Carry on, you two. As you were. I approve.

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7. Chrissy Teigen and John Legend

Okay, so I hadn’t actually heard of this power couple until I saw the photos on Vogue. And then their adorable photo published on Humans of New York. Holy shiet on toast, they are adorable! High five, John, for scoring that babe. Chrissy Teigen, you may have reached new girl crush status with that insane Ralph Lauren creation and infectious Colgate smile. Stone cold fox. May you both create ten thousand beautiful children.

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6. Diane Kruger and Joshua Jackson

Waahhhhh. The Jason Wu attire. The cream jacket. The classy hairstyle. The mysterious, “we’re better than you and we know it” eyes. This, right here, is the definition of perfection. REALLY.

Don’t believe me? Grab your nearest Oxford Dictionary. Look up the word ‘perfection’. See this picture? Yep. Good. Told you so. That is all.

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5. Victoria and David Beckham

Say what you will, you just can’t go past Posh Spice and the Becks. I kind of adore this look. His hair. Her hair. His tailored suit. Her tailored gown. The complimentary black and white tones just scream “Remember our matching outfits in the 90’s?!?!” and it’s fabulous. Yes I do, guys. Yes I do. Adopt me?

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Aaaand just for the mems:

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4. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West

This appears to be a far more restrained look than last year, where Kim somehow accidentally wore her couch. Kanye is KILLIN’ that Lanvin suit. He needs to wear it again. Not that he would ever outfit repeat (perish the thought, what dingus would do that?). But dang, those tails make him look suaver than Sinatra. Uh-huh, honey.

Kim too looks like a legit goddess (albeit a very safe, fail-proof one, can’t go wrong with a gown like that). As if she has had a baby not so long ago?! Defying gravity with those legs, I’ll say that much. Kris Jenner must be wetting herself with pride, particularly when coupled with Kendall’s debut on the red carpet that pretty much paralysed Instagram. How could you not love this? I mean, really. Tick!

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PS- Lest we forget:

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3. Johnny Depp and Amber Heard

A controversial entrant into the Power Couples list! (Je suis vraiment desolée, Vanessa Paradis.)

Oui, fiancée Amber Heard, swathed in a stunning Giambattista Valli confection, may be a zillion years younger than Johnny. But seriously, the man’s just got swag. I mean, he’s got a cane and it doesn’t look ridiculous!! I repeat. JOHNNY DEPP USED A CANE. And it looks rad.

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2. Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds.

Finally! The enigmatic power couple hit the cameras! Eeeeeeeee. They look like something out of the Princess Bride, BUT IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE. Blake is so flippin’ beautiful it brings tears to the eyes. She’s a woman! Goodbye Serena Van Der Woodsen!  Her hair is a cross between Marilyn Monroe and the Little Mermaid, and it is a match made in sartorial heaven. And yes, Ryan could probably impregnate me with his eyes (and beard).

Uggggghhh. Sweet Jesus. Their children will have the most goddang glorious gene pool.

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1. Beyonce and Jay- Z.

Obviously.

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Do I even have to elaborate? No.

And then that whole thing where Queen B dropped her ring and Jay put it back on? Funny, I thought Beyonce and I were best friends, but she didn’t text me about this? Bey, babe, that was cute. If you’re reading this, return my calls? xoxo

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Ahh, love is in the air in Tinseltown. It’s enough to make a grown gal cry.

Now to rustle up a cheeky US $25,000 for a ticket so next year I too can be power coupling with Ryan Gosling. Don’t worry, friends. I’ll tag you in the Insta.

An open letter to Facebook

Dear Facebook,

Thank you for asking how I’m feeling today. That’s really very sweet of you. You often seem to enjoy knowing what’s on my mind, so it’s about time I let it slip. How can I put this? Dear Facebook, I love you, but you’re bringing me down.

I’ve just had my pesky wisdom teeth surgically yanked out in bloody Dracula-like frenzy. Safe to say that with hazy painkiller eyes and frozen peas permanently attached to my swollen cheeks, I have both literally and metaphorically sunk my teeth into the sickly hermit lifestyle. Nothing is spared. My hair is unwashed and permanently topknotted, I’m living in tragic nighties I’d be mortified for the Microsoft Word Paperclip to see me in, let alone actual humans, and the only social activity I entertain is either spending the arvo with Lorelai Gilmore or patting my dog, who frankly enjoys digging up mouldy Smackos out of the gardenias more than he does cuddle with me.

Naturally, in a drugged-up state and dying a slow death of midday cooking shows, I log on to you, Facebook, to cure my boredom. BAM. Social overload. My newsfeed is bombarded with Photoshopped ladies in skimpy tight dresses cahooting around exclusive bars, bikini-clad school friends fanning their perfectly bronzed selves in the Greek Islands, mates from uni I haven’t seen all year now posing for cringe-worthy couple shots during sunny dates, or even just statuses from a few random acquaintances over last night’s cray occurrences- OMG TEQUILA WAS A BAD CHOICE! LOL! HASHTAG YOLO!

That’s cool, guys. I’ll just be sitting here in my spaghetti-stained pyjama top. No, really. As you were.

These days, every single pain-stakingly mundane moment of our lives is documented. More than that, it’s approved. Friends, acquaintances, even strangers now ‘like’ our nightclub check-ins or filtered photos of today’s fruity granola. Technically, we should be feeling more accepted and densely networked than ever. We should be rolling in Beyonce-like confidence knowing that a full 23 people other than our own mother clicked ‘like’ on that cheeky indulgent selfie.

And yet, whenever I log on to you, ye olde Book of Face, I can’t help but feel a little, well, isolated. Back me up here, Jay-Z. “I’ve got 99 Facebook friends, but a real pal ain’t one.”

This is, of course, a complete illusion. I know I am popular. I know I have wonderful friends that love me for me, and that there are thousands of exciting plans on the horizon. I know all of that. And surely we can all admit we like to adjust our profiles to create an idealised version of ourselves, as a way seeming cooler we really probably are. Regardless, the moment Facebook rears its ugly head; I can’t suppress intense feelings of inadequacy. It seems everybody is one-upping everything I’m doing. It’s stupid, but I’ll sometimes get a little upset or offended that I’m not invited to things I see other pals tagged in. I see check-ins to airports and fancy Turkish hostels and think, “their life is way more fabulous than mine.” Someone might status that they’ve got an incredible new job. Sure, I might’ve also recently secured an awesome form of employment but nothing can prevent that tiny little voice in the back of my mind that screeches, “she’s got everything under control! Why is your life such a mess?” Let’s face it. Social media is no longer just a vehicle for communication with long-lost rellies and untraceable globetrotters, or a platform for revolutions and debate. My dear Facebook, you are a new-generation depressant.

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Truthfully, I hate seeing people validate their lives via Facebook (“going for a walk! Then back to study!” – please, let Warner Bros. buy the movie rights to that riveting post), but I’m just as bad for judging them for it. The sad thing is that Facebook has developed a horrifically mean social code of it’s own. Allow me to enlighten you with a few handy examples. If you’re not friends on Facebook, you’re not really friends. If you write on somebody’s wall, it’s a big deal. Like, you want the entire universe to see that post. You want to scream it to your grandparents and not give a rat’s arse if it’s published front page on the New York Times. If you change your profile picture, that must mean you think you look a bajillion dollars. Do a status that gets less than 5 likes? Oh man, take that down quickly before someone important sees; how embarrassing for you. Less than 10 birthday wishes? Er, do you even exist?

I’ve luckily never been in the position to do the change from “in a relationship” to “single”, but I feel for anyone that has. It’s mortifyingly public and cruel.

As much as we all relish stalking an ex-boyfriend and revelling in how god awful they look, is it really worth it? Facebook and similar social medias seem to be honing a new type of online citizen- one who is not so much interested in the lives of others, but instead enviously craves the dopamine attention hit that comes alongside a gratifying notification of approval. It’s scary to think this way, but this is reality. We are becoming obsessed with others’ lives- but only in the way it reflects on our own. And every time I think my age group is bad, I just take one look at the eighteen-year-olds I know and cry for humanity. A 200 to 300 like profile picture is the norm, usually if pancake makeup, bandage dresses, an exotic location and Tony Bianco high heel wedges are involved.

Above all, with the immediacy of online communication, we’re all guilty of not feeling quite the same need to reach out to our pals for a quick chat. But we need to. If it’s true that people hide behind their online personas, more than ever, we need to contact others face-to-face to break down those walls and cut through such social isolation with more than 140 characters. I can’t put a finger on a solution, because it seems that Facebook is now so ingrained into our social lives that we just can’t live without it. How else would I find out about that housewarming event? How else would I see the photos from a 21st? How else can I contact my friends in Europe? Facebook, I’d love to break you, really I would, but you’re a horrible boyfriend I just can’t quit. You keep luring me back, you and every begrudgingly bright notification you sport.

So, to answer your question, what’s on my mind? Well, it’s surely time to update my cover photo now. Cue scouring Tumblr for something that shows I’m achingly hipster and trendy yet totally don’t care what the online world thinks. Oh Facebook, you’ve created a monster.

Yours unwillingly,

Phoebe.