College is stressful, but enjoy it

Lessons taught outside the classroom

By: Autumn Barszczowski

At the end of my second week of junior year, I attended X-Fest, with headliners Bastille and Highly Suspect. But as I struggled through the workload of these past weeks, my mind has been stuck on one of the opening acts: K. Flay.

I’ve spent all day listening to her album and trying to think about what I have learned at Point Park. I’m at the halfway point of my college career, so what have I learned and where do I go from here?

Well, K. Flay has a song titled “It’s Just a Lot,” and honestly, I don’t think anything has better described what I’ve learned at college.

The chorus of the song perfectly sums up everything that I have learned about life during my time here: “It’s just a lot, it’s just a lot / I wanna hold onto the innocence I got / It’s just a lot, it’s just a lot / I wanna care for all the little things I got.”

So, why those lyrics?

After the most overwhelming three weeks of my time here, I realized that’s exactly what college is. It’s just a lot. I could go into detail about why and break down every meeting I’ve attended and every assignment I’ve completed up until this point, but no one has the time for that. Those four words get right to the essence of my college experience.

However, if I must provide detail, one of the things I have learned is that you’re forced to grow up overnight. Most of us had been getting accustomed to the adult life slowly over the summer leading up to our freshmen year, but the moment you step on campus, that’s it. There is no turning back. You’re an adult. You remember the years before fondly (or maybe not), but you can tell that the innocence is slipping away with every essay and presentation.

But from this I learned that the innocence you hold onto can be the simple things. You can hold onto the enjoyment of watching your favorite show in the comfort of your favorite shirt or the joy you feel when your high school friends visit you during breaks to play board games and buy you bubble tea.

I learned your innocence disappears for the most part, but in those moments, the innocence remains. By allowing yourself time to do the things that bring you happiness, you can hold on just enough to remind you that life is not all about stress.

Which is where the last portion of those lyrics comes into play. All I have done throughout these past two years is allow myself to enjoy the little things. While that wasn’t something new I had learned to do (I had a sign in my high school cubicle that said “Enjoy the Little Things.” It was from Claire’s and covered in painted flowers), I thought it was something important to mention.

I’ve met so many people since I got here, and sometimes I think we do not stop to appreciate the little things we encounter. We are so focused on the next big step that we don’t always appreciate things such as the milkshakes we buy or the people who stop to actually ask you how your day is going.

College is just a lot, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that we can’t let college consume us. We have to be able to enjoy our time here. Enjoying the little things seems to be the only thing we have at times, so why not make it a priority?

We learn a lot at college, but what I’ve taken away from my time so far is that no matter how high the stress levels are, we still deserve to be happy and to feel innocent and carefree, if only for an hour. So from here, I’m going to keep enjoying the pictures I take with strangers’ dogs and the concerts where I don’t know a single lyric, because college is a lot, but it’s not everything.

Originally Published with The Globe
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The old Taylor is dead, but she still has a place in this world

Exploring what we made Taylor Swift do and why it’s important

By: Autumn Barszczowski

 

tswift
Taylor Swift by Nicole Pampena

 

That’s right. The old Taylor Swift is dead. At least, that’s the narrative that Swift is selling in her new single, “Look What You Made Me Do.”
But what exactly does that mean?
Since 2006, we have witnessed Swift present a new version of herself with every album. She’s come all the way from America’s Sweetheart to… Well, however you see her now. Because in 2017, you either have an undying love or never-ending hatred for Taylor Swift.
Or at least, your feelings are based on how authentic or inauthentic you believe her to be. Many see this new Swift as a snake, who is money-crazed and does nothing but play the victim.
The only problem with that view is: Do we actually know who she is? We only see what she presents and, eventually, how the media and other celebrities discuss their own perspective of her well-woven narrative.
We have built up this idea of who she is, and with every new piece of information, we have re-defined what we know about her until the version we see is nothing like the one presented.
The problem with this? We still do not know who Swift really is. We only know what she is selling us, and frankly, no matter how she presents herself, people are no longer willing to buy it.
Over the years, we have seen her reinvent herself enough times that we no longer know who she truly is and, for a while, we didn’t care. She shielded herself from the world and we went along with it.
In her self-titled album “Taylor Swift,” she established her image as America’s Sweetheart. She went from “Tim McGraw” to “Picture to Burn,” where she exposed what it felt like to be in love and to be heartbroken. In “A Place in this World,” she discussed the thoughts we all face regarding growing up and searching for where we belong. It was littered with innocence and uncertainty at what was to come.
Fast forward to her album “1989.” At this point, she has grown up significantly. She found her place in the world through her music. Unfortunately, this is also the moment in time where people were more focused on the drama related to her lyrics than the shared experiences she sang about.
People were analyzing every lyric to see if they could find a story to sell. We began to lose the real Swift as she embraced the fact that she had to fight for her reputation in an effort to keep a hold of the title of America’s Sweetheart.
What many have yet to understand is that, we have taken away her ability to grow. Swift can no longer freely express her anger without people questioning the motives behind every lyric and action.
“Look What You Made Me Do” is Swift’s way of showing people that she can no longer be America’s Sweetheart. That after years of ridiculing her for her breakup songs and the way she handles conflict, she is finally accepting her role as the snake because we will not let her live in any other way.
We have this idea of who she is in our heads, that she has been given no other choice. No matter the effort to keep her music upbeat and innocent, she can no longer maintain it when that isn’t what sells.
Her place in the world is in the music industry and, unfortunately, she will do anything she can to hold onto it.

Originally Published with The Globe

There is (Not) a Feminist World Inside Your Phone – The Emoji Movie

By: Autumn Barszczowski

Before I begin, I should note that there will be spoilers. For my purposes, I cannot avoid them. I apologize in advance if you care enough to eventually see the Emoji Movie.

With every new animated movie, feminists like myself are scouting for strong female characters who do not fall subject to the typical romantic plots that overshadow their ambitions and dreams. We are looking for characters who have more than marriage as their end goal.

Walking into the theater at promptly 4:40 p.m. on July 28, I wondered what I would get out of the movie. I admit, I had grown to ironically love the movie. Everyone around me was sick of hearing “Emoji Movie, coming July 28.” I kept reminding myself that I had this ridiculous, silly movie to look forward to amidst the nightmare that is the United States.

We could escape the serious implications of our president’s actions for an hour and a half to listen to stories about emojis.

However, as the movie progressed, I stopped thinking about the pure joy that came from watching this cinematic masterpiece, and instead began to consider how Jailbreak, a female emoji, would be as a character.

 

In this movie, Gene the meh emoji is on a mission to fix the fact that he expresses too many emotions. In a society that expects him to only be “meh,” he has to fix his “malfunction” so that he will not be deleted. He ends up meeting Hi-5 who agrees to find a hacker that will help Gene solve the issue before the anti-virus bots can send him to the trash.

 

Jailbreak, the “emo” female hacker, starts out as our representation of people who successfully go against society’s roles and expectations. In the snippets I had caught before seeing the movie, she seemed to be Gene’s guide in his journey to the firewall where he would be able to restore himself to his original purpose as a “meh” emoji and rid himself of malfunctions.

 

Everything I knew about her led me to believe she could be a strong female character amongst the wild creation that is the Emoji Movie. I thought for a second that maybe, just maybe, we could salvage something from this movie.

Boy, was I disappointed.

There were clear moments where it seemed like the writers had considered establishing Jailbreak as a feminist character . In fact, I would guess that they had put a solid thirty minutes of research about feminism that they could sprinkle into her character periodically.

For example, the writers start by “surprising” Hi-5 and Gene, who wrongfully assumed that the top hacker would be male. Instead of a male, they find Jailbreak and are forced to say “she” instead of “he.” As a result, the writers show that the best in an industry are not always male.

Then, when she first meets Gene and Hi-5, she tries to brush them off, but she quickly realizes that by helping them, she could help her own hidden mission and dream. It is only when she finds out that she can benefit from the mission that she decides to help them. Thus, Jailbreak isn’t written to be willing to help wherever she is needed, the usual female role. Instead, she has purpose and seeks missions that benefit her goals.

Later, she encounters a moment where Gene and Hi-5 interrupt her thought and begin to claim an idea she has for their escape as their own. Instead of letting them, she firmly reminds them that the idea was in fact hers and she would not stand to have it taken from her. By standing up for herself, she shows that females do not always have to take what is given to them.

But the turn comes in the scenes that follow where we continually hear about how she helped a princess emoji to escape the phone through the cloud. Instead of discussing that journey, she lets Gene and Hi-5 ramble on about the stories they had heard. This is when my brother turned to me and said “I bet you $10 she is the princess emoji.”

I didn’t have to bet him anything because I knew that he was right. I watched as her princess crown is revealed and any hopes of her achieving her goals was lost.

 

Sure, the writers tried to develop her back story with minor emoji history details, like saying that she had left Textopolis (their world) because women could only be a princess or a bride in the first set of emojis.

What they seem to forget though is the underlying romantic plot they thread between Jailbreak and Gene. The moment that plot starts, all hope is lost for the seemingly feminist character.

By the end of the movie, Jailbreak is willing to give up her dream of escaping the phone to stay with Gene. Instead of watching out for number one like she had always done, she remembers that Gene asked her “What good is it to be number one if there aren’t any other numbers.”

 

In that moment, Gene is telling her that she does not need to put herself first because her ambitions are useless without someone else to share it with. Unfortunately for Jailbreak, by not putting herself first, she gives up the opportunity to escape. Instead, she returns to a slightly improved Textopolis for a guy she has just met.

Overall, the movie was everything I expected it to be: Garbage.

But man, I loved watching every second of that train wreck. If you’re into lame jokes and the recycled plot line of Wreck-It Ralph, this is the movie for you. 10/10 would recommend.

Originally Published on Her Campus – Point Park