‘Don’t worry, be happy’ doesn’t work

     The phrase “don’t worry” gets thrown around a lot. When I’m stressed about an assignment, a big test or getting into law school, the first words out of most people tend to be something along the lines of “don’t worry.” And I get it. When life gets a little crazy, it’s easy to allow ourselves to stress and worry, even over insignificant things. However, I’m tired of hearing “don’t worry.”

     Dealing with any stressful event isn’t as simple as that. Worry isn’t a light switch. You can’t turn it off and on as you please. You can work through it, but it’s rarely, if ever, that simple. For people with anxiety, it’s worse than simple worrying.

     Those assignments and tests each seem like a mountain that you have to climb, and no amount of deep breathing is going to erase that tightness in your chest or help you sleep better at night.

     Even though most people mean well when they tell others not to worry, it’s honestly about as effective as telling someone having a panic attack to calm down. It just doesn’t work.

     Taking the time to reassure people who are worried goes a much longer way. Even better is actually helping them work through the things that are stressing them out. When I’m worried, it helps to have someone to talk to who gives suggestions and asks questions.

     For example, “What strategies have you been using to study? Maybe finding a different method will help you get a higher grade.” This works much better than, “Don’t worry, you’ll do fine.” Being asked those kinds of questions helps the process of working through the stress move much more smoothly, and doesn’t treat the stressed person as though their fears are ridiculous.

     When you have anxiety, those conversations can mean the difference between a sleepless night and a good night’s rest.

     At the end of the day, everyone is responsible for how they handle stress. But knowing that you are supported makes a difference and gives you the extra push you need to make it through the worry and be successful.


Is a sabbatical worth it?

     A gap year is best described as an academic year in which an individual chooses to take a break from school. Many students take breaks either right after high school or after their four-year degree from college, with plans of higher education.

     The year can be spent traveling or freelancing but should always be looked to as a sabbatical. With this long-term break, a student runs many risks such as loss of motivation or momentum in terms of their education.

     If the gap year is not spent with an active focus in searching (or funding) for the future, those running risks rise in relevance.

     Forbes calls a gap year “a year on” or an “active year away from the traditional high school to college path.” With the goal to return to school in mind, a gap year should be ultimately used by a student for growth, a slight increase in financial stability and a lasting impression of independence or reflection.

     As opposed to the flurry of grinding and time crunching of a traditional college term, this seems like a good payout—as long as you return to school.

     In a survey of 280 people who took a gap year conducted by Karl Haigler and Rae Nelson of Advance, N.C., 90 percent of students returned to school within a year. A good recommendation to avoid not returning would be to secure admission to a college first and then ask to defer for the first year.

     With worries of not returning to school settled, a student still has to figure out how to become productive and make sure that the year isn’t wasted away sleeping or wasting (too much) money. A viable option during the year would be to travel, whether domestic or internationally, and gather some more insight from the world.

     In this day and age, however, many college students don’t have the money to make such a commitment. The gap year is sometimes spent doing the exact opposite: working and maintaining a stable income in preparation for the coming years of education.

     Taking a year off from education may seem like a student is placing themselves behind but in reality, the gap year can be extremely advantageous and students who think ahead run a much lower risk of not returning to school. Taking a year off isn’t for everybody but maybe it’s for most.


Christmas should be cheerful, not dreadful

     I saw an article online the other day from one of my local news sources and found myself irritated by the content. The author uses their editorial forum for influential purposes, but instead of influencing productive and positive feelings, they chose to provoke readers into feeling negativity.

     The subject of the matter was Christmas music causing undue stress if played too early. A countless number of people followed suit with their pitiful stories about how they “just can’t take all the Christmas cheer” or how “Christmas is celebrated too early.” At the greatest time of need in the year for the impoverished, news outlets choose to write about something as insignificant as Christmas music being a nuisance.

     This is a prime example of a First World problem. How dare they play Christmas music while you are waiting for your manicure, dining out or as you shop tirelessly for items to show off to everyone you know.

     I cannot imagine having a forum of influence just to waste it on a ‘good read.’ Our community deserves more than that. This is a time to inspire people to ask themselves what they can do to make someone else’s life better or how they can help change the world for the better.

     There are children in the country who will not have toys or a hot meal to look forward to on Christmas Day. There are also many who do not have a roof over their head or a warm bed to sleep in. We should all be more focused on what we can give and not on what we receive.

     What have you done this year to make the world a better place, even if it was just for one person? How have you given back to your community? Caring for your community is something we should do year-round without being against our will.

     I challenge everyone reading this article to volunteer one hour to a local soup kitchen to serve a warm meal for a local family in need or sponsor a child in the community for Christmas gifts. Gather your friends and make it a group effort. Let’s show Tifton and surrounding towns that ABAC students are not only thankful, but we are thoughtful.


Stakes raised in election runoff for Secretary of State

The Georgia Secretary of State runoff election has arrived, though it is not a runoff between governor candidates Brian Kemp and Stacy Abrams like so many of the United States’ citizens anticipated. Rather, Dec. 4 is the final day to vote on who will be in charge of the state’s votes. While the last election still haunts some voter’s, this is an opportunity for people to vote for someone who will make sure that every vote is counted and every election is held fairly.

After the broken voting machines, closed polling locations, and other unfair voting restrictions, this election will help voters determine what their future elections will look like. In particular, the 2020 presidential election will be one of the major events affected by this election.

However, with every non-presidential election, media coverage and voter turnout are rather slim. According to the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, America’s midterm voting turnout is one of the lowest in all developed nations. Even with all of the voting issues, Georgia’s 2018 midterm elections received a major increase in voters. Political campaigns and advertisements covered all corners of the media.

Early voting has not been as successful as it was during the midterms as many individuals are not aware that there is a runoff taking place. Others may just not be concerned with this election, despite its implications. Nov. 30 was the last day for early voting, which means people will have to vote on Election Day, which might be busy and crowded.

If the past election is any indication of what 2020 might resemble, it is very important that voters take into consideration what happened during these last midterms. There was a lawsuit filed against Kemp by the ACLU, asserting that Kemp was unfairly discarding ballots based on certain state laws. Practices such as these should not be allowed, and have no place in Georgia’s political system. Georgia citizens need someone who will make sure all votes are counted, and that all future elections will be fair and transparent.


Are mascots like the Redskins racist?

Around the U.S., there are sports teams with mascots that have something to do with Native Americans. We’ve all heard of the Seminoles, the Braves and we probably know of a high school somewhere with something similar. One of the most infamous is the Redskins, whose name alone is controversial.

These teams have come under fire for years for their names. Mascots or even the way they promote the team through what some call cultural appropriation.

While the Seminole Tribe of Florida does officially support the team of the same name, teams like the Redskins come under fire from indigenous peoples from all around the country.

Not only is the term “redskin” historically a slur used against indigenous people— but the mascot for the team and the way fans tend to support the team by wearing headdresses, war paint and acting out stereotypes, are problematic to many indigenous people.

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) has long had a stance against racist mascots and teams that perpetuate the stereotypes that indigenous people are held to.

On their website, they have a page dedicated to discussing their stance. They describe the issue by saying, “the intolerance and harm promoted by these ‘Indian’ sports mascots, logos or symbols, have very real consequences for Native people.”

They continue by adding that, “specifically, rather than honoring Native peoples, these caricatures and stereotypes are harmful, perpetuate negative stereotypes of America’s first peoples and contribute to a disregard for the personhood of Native peoples.”

Their view is supported by the American Psychological Association (APA), which in 2005 called for the immediate retirement of mascots and names like the Redskins, Braves, Chiefs and so on, after several years of research into the effects that mascots have on the people they have stereotyped.
In their study, they note the continued use of these mascots “undermines the ability of American Indian Nations to portray accurate and respectful images of their culture, spirituality and traditions.”

The APA also noted that studies have shown that these mascots can contribute to a hostile learning environment for indigenous students at schools (both K-12 and higher education) that use these mascots. Young children who are exposed to these stereotypical portrayals of their culture can experience lowered self-esteem.

They said in no uncertain terms that the use of these mascots is “offensive and intolerable.” People who push back against these ideas tend to use the “no malicious intent” argument.

They claim that the mascots aren’t meant to be racist and that indigenous people are at fault for finding issues with the mascots. Typically, the people we hear saying this are sports fans, who have grown up with teams like the Redskins and the Braves.

It’s understandable there is pushback. Being told something they have grown up with is harmful to others isn’t something anyone likes to hear, but the intent of these teams isn’t the point. Good intentions don’t negate the harmful effects.

A search of “#NotYourMascot” on Twitter yields hundreds of tweets about racism in sports.

Many of the tweets are from younger members of indigenous nations who have experienced the harmful effects of these mascots as they grew up with the stereotypes that mascots like Chief Wahoo of the Cleveland Indians perpetuated for them.

No matter the intent that underlies the continued use of racist mascots or the name “Redskins” for a team, there is harm being done to indigenous communities through their use, and it’s time to start listening and making a change.