Category Archives: Life Lesson

Is It Now Okay To Say the N-Word?

A few months ago I went to a music festival in my hometown and ran into an acquaintance from high school. I was happy to see him until he greeted me with, “Kiah, my n*****!”

I can’t say I was offended, I was just more shocked than anything. For as long as I’ve been alive I’ve thought the “n” word to be something you never say to anyone. More than insulting me, as maybe it should have considering I’m biracial, I became upset about the word being used rather than it being used toward me. I told him to please not say it again, he did, and I haven’t spoken to him since.

Throughout my life I can’t say that I’ve ever been affected by racism. Though I’ve grown up in a predominantly Caucasian community, no one has ever cared about my skin colour. I don’t see myself as any different than anyone else, but in that moment I was suddenly separate. That acquaintance couldn’t call any of my other friends the “n” word and even if he had it wouldn’t mean anything at all.

As my anger simmered down in the next week, I realized that he hadn’t meant it to hurt me. I began to remember times during high school when people would use that word and in those cases it was used synonymous with “my friend.”

But when did it become okay to say nigger?

My brain barely recognizes the word as I type it. It’s just so foreign and so wrong to me. How can people use such a terrible word that was created to belittle a specific race and cause segregation?

Forgive me for letting my nerd-flag fly, but in the wise words of Albus Dumbledore, “Fear of the name only increases fear of the thing itself.” By my rejection of the word, am I only giving it more negative power?

The truth is, the “n” word is just that: a word! However it holds such history that behind the letters it’s so much more. Today’s society is a lot different than that of only 50 years ago. Things have changed dramatically. I liken the change of the meaning of the word to the change of the word “gay”, where it now describes someone who is homosexual.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to use the “n” word. In fact I don’t plan to–it’s not something that will ever be a part of my vocabulary. But I’m trying to tolerate it. I’m not saying that I don’t think it’s wrong to use it, I just recognize that it doesn’t necessarily have the same meaning.

– K

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I Apologize Before You Read This: “YOLO”

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Since I was young, everyone has always told me that I act older than my age. I’m just very mature, I suppose. I was the girl reading books for grades higher in grade two, being the friend to the girl everyone shunned in grade five, learning HTML out of curiosity in grade seven, and giving advice to my friends about drama all throughout high school. My reputation is (or maybe I should say was, considering some recent events) flawless. So, naturally, people trust me very easily and expect me to get things done.

It was in March of last year when I went on my graduation trip to Punta Cana with a small group of my friends (the rest of the grade went during the summer) that I realized that I was different than most of my peers. I had not been in a fight with a friend since grade four, never been involved in any drama or had rumours spread about me, liked to party but didn’t mind sitting at home reading, wasn’t interested in having a boyfriend because the boys I knew were simply not good enough (to put it bluntly)… Meanwhile my friends were around me having fights with their boyfriends and girlfriends, guzzling alcohol from sun rise and back, having sex with strangers, and experiencing their own little “flings”. Now I definitely enjoyed that trip and didn’t hold myself back. I certainly drank every night, more than I would if I was at home. I had my first kiss. And my second. And third. But I found myself more interested in actually experiencing the trip by going on a trip on a catamaran, taking a jeep tour, and learning how to surf. Why would I want to sleep with a stranger just to “get the whole virginity thing over with before college”? Why would I want to wake up every morning hungover? What’s so great about tanning and why am I expected to want to sit in the sun for X amount of hours (risking heat stroke!)? However, this post isn’t about my trip so I’ll move right along…

I’ve always been the responsible one. Though I would say that I am by nature impulsive, I usually avoided doing anything “out-of-the-box” in fear of ruining my reputation, running into any drama, or having any regrets. But after coming back from that trip I had an epiphany: I was not having any fun the way I was living. I was surprised at the regret I felt from not doing anything crazy and not making mistakes!

Most weekends I was at home. I was not happy with a majority of my friends who I felt I had next to nothing in common with. Guys were non-existent in my life (if you didn’t guess that, seeing as my first kiss was at 18). Now these aren’t necessarily things that had to be fixed, and I certainly found happiness at one point with these things as they were, but they were the root of my discontentment.

At the time I wasn’t in a position to change it up. I was taking a class that organizes a huge conference every year and I was in charge of getting the guest speakers. It was a stressful job and a social life wouldn’t have been possible if I wanted to do the very best job I could. So I held off…

I really hate to say it because it’s become so lame/obvious, but you really do only live once. I despise people who use this acronym in a serious fashion day-to-day, but it is a valid reason to say, “Fuck it!” and live.

So this past year I’ve started hanging out with new friends. At one point I did go through a little bit of a depression (and am still working against it), but I found that improving my life not necessarily through productivity but through keeping busy and trying to make my life interesting has helped. But I’m staying grounded, avoiding that drama that I’ve never truly experienced. At the same time I’m allowing myself to be a little irresponsible sometimes, to do things just because I want to. Or to avoid things just because I want to. (Like quitting my job–I wrote a letter and had my mom drop it in the mailbox because I didn’t want to deal with confrontation–not my most responsible choice, but the best for me at the time as the stress I felt even thinking about it was insane.)

Maybe this isn’t the way to spend the rest of my life, but I’m definitely in a better place than I was last year at this time, in terms of having fun being myself. And I know life isn’t all parties and lack of consequences, but those are things I never experienced going through high school.

It’s time I acknowledged that I’m still young. I’m allowed to be a little irresponsible sometimes. I should do things just because I have a sudden impulse. In the end, I’ll be happier.

So fuck it. YOLO. Or carpe diem. Or “live every day like it’s your last”. Or some other cliché.

– K

Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Game

After about three months of unemployment, this week I finally got a job as a marketing associate for a promotions company. I was ecstatic–I’d finally get some money in my pocket, the job was full time, and in addition I would be working with one of my friends! However, upon “hitting the field”, I soon realized that the job wasn’t quite what I imagined…

Have you ever gone to the grocery store, for example, and seen a table decorated with products with a few (pushy) salespeople behind it, insisting, “You’re gonna love this!”? That was essentially my job. I would have a partner and we’d go to different locations in my regional area to set up tables and sell…car wax. I was taught to give demos without asking if it’s all right to touch someone’s car and to “assume the deal”. I was taught techniques to trick people into buying the product, like inserting “key” words and phrases into my pitch to pique interest, such as “free” and “everybody’s getting it”. The things I was told to tell customers was a lie, claiming, “One can retails for $45 in the States, but today we’re doing 2 for $35 plus a free gift.” Truthfully each can was only $15 and the free gift $5.

I had been thrust into a culture of dishonesty where the prime goal was not truly to market this new product but to make more money and sell, sell, sell. (In defence of the product, it actually worked really well.)

Though I despised the job on the field, the people I met were fantastic. Everyone was kind, outgoing, and, most admirably, driven. They would set goals for themselves everyday and do everything they possibly could to reach them. I felt very welcomed into the workplace from the first day and everyone was intent on helping me to be better and feel comfortable.

After this, I wish more people would sympathize for those “pesky salespeople”. I don’t think I would be writing this if it weren’t for the extremely rude way I was treated by the public in the past four days. I understand that perhaps what’s being offered isn’t for you, but when I ask how your day is, you can actually respond instead of ignoring me, putting your hand in front of my face, or simply and vehemently telling me, “No.” I never asked you to buy anything! In this week I was treated like I was scum by a majority of the people I talked to. I worked 12-hour days in boiling heat and rain, coming home with barely anything to show for it, except for an irritable attitude and overall depression.

My point is, it’s a hard job. Everyone’s trying to make enough money to get by. The unfortunate part of this kind of job is that it is commission-based, so for those 12-hour work days I barely scraped $40 for myself a day. I know salespeople can be a nuisance, but more often than not this line of work is all that’s available for that person at the time. More often than not, that person is dreaming of bigger and better things. From talking to people in the office, I’ve realized that the majority of them want to go on to have their build their own businesses and have their own offices–this is just a stepping-stone for them.

Anyways, I now have to write up a letter to resign. Yes, it’s only been 4 days, but there’s only so much I can take. I salute the people that can stay in this line of work, because it’s just not something I can personally handle. It would be nice to have some money in my pocket, but at what cost?

– K