Category Archives: Psych Sunday

Every Sunday, E.Y. hosts its own original webshow Get Psych’d, hosted by Mizz Sarah Wagner, and consisting of all things psychology-related. We all have minds… why not learn more about them? Stay tuned… Coming soon.

Message In a Bottle

Papa Snow and Teacher Sarah, preaching equal rights to pink, whatever your gender
Papa Snow and Teacher Sarah, preaching equal rights to pink, whatever your gender

Last week, one of my preschoolers wanted to tell me a funny story. She dragged me over to the lunchbox cubbies, and grabbed a pink water bottle out of one of the other kid’s cubbies. She said, “Johnny brought a girl’s water bottle to school today. That’s so funny.” She smiled at me, impressed with her witty observation. Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out how to tell her that she’s wrong.

Maybe other teachers might hear her comment and shrug it off as not-a-big-deal. But I am not that kind of teacher. I think it’s a big deal because the same logic that tells kids that “pink is a girl’s color” is also telling them girls can’t be good at math or science. And I don’t want any of my kids to think they can’t do something because they’re a girl, or because they’re a boy, or they don’t fit the gender binary. I want Johnny to proudly and confidently drink from a pink water bottle if he wants to, and I don’t want any of my kids to be confined to gender stereotypes.

I don’t want Susie to walk away, thinking Johnny’s pink water bottle is a laughing matter. But I can’t just say “Susie, pink is for everyone. The idea that pink is for girls is a gender stereotype. And I don’t want you to be trapped by stereotypes because I want you to grow up to be your own authentic self.” First of all, she’s four and she won’t understand what a gender stereotype is. And second, she perceives that the fact that pink is for girls is an indisputable truth. She’s observed our cultures and listened to adults in her life and now she believes that pink is for girls. I can’t argue against a whole lifetime of her experiences that imply pink is for girls. There’s no real reason behind it. And how do you argue against a fact that has no reason behind it? You don’t. You challenge it. So I asked her a question.

I asked her, “Why is it a girl’s water bottle?”

Susie stared at me, thrown off. Finally she responded, “Because it’s pink. And pink is a girl’s color.” She’s happy she got the question correct.

And I ask her another question: “Why is pink a girl’s color?”

Susie was silent. Most of the time, I ask the kids questions I already know the answer to, and there’s only one correct response. This time, I asked her a question with no correct answer.

Finally she said, “I don’t know.”

She looked to me for the answer, and I said, “Then why can’t Johnny have a pink bottle?” I don’t answer her question. I let her sit with the uncertainty. Maybe that uncertainty will make her hesitate the next time she assumes. Maybe the uncertainty will challenge future patterns she observes, leaving her instead wondering why.

I put the water bottle back in Johnny’s cubbie and smiled at Susie. She smiled back at me, uncomfortable with my unanswered question. Soon, she was distracted by a trampoline, the pink bottle quickly forgotten. Or maybe not. I don’t know if what I said made an impact on her.  All I can do is try to make a teaching moment out of the experience.

But often times, a teaching moment for the kids is also a teaching moment for me. Because I also live in a culture that has implicitly shaped my views and I have “truths” that I’ve just accepted as fact. And all I can hope is someone will come and ask me why, because that’s where the conversation starts.

Dakota Snow, Daughter of Papa Snow, was privileged to grow up knowing it's okay for anyone to drink from pink, whether a boy, girl, man, woman, or faceless ball of hair
Dakota Snow (D$), daughter of Papa Snow, was privileged to grow up knowing it’s okay for anyone to drink from pink, whether a boy, a girl, a man, a woman, or a faceless ball of hair

Get Psych’d For Another Hallmark Holiday

It’s finally here. The day we’ve all been dreading. The holiday of love, or lack thereof, for all the lonely singles spending tonight alone, kissing a bottle of booze, in the lifeless arms of an otherwise empty couch. It’s a shitty day for most, and seems to serve no other purpose except to disappoint. Because even if you do have a Valentine that you call mine to share it with, and even if they do it right and give you the perfect, special night you always wanted, your special night will end as sure as it arrived, and tomorrow will resume the not-so-special, ordinary passing of your daily life, that is the rest of the year.

Personally, I’m relieved to be single. Tonight especially. It’s just unnecessary pressure. And ultimately, it’s a joke. It’s like, Honey, I love you so much, I bought you the same box of chocolates millions of other people bought their honeys, too. Or, Boo, you’re so one-of-a-kind, I bought you this mass-produced teddy bear, identical to millions of other ones just like it, bought for millions of other bitches, just like you. Or Baby, you’re so basic I bought you a dozen roses, the most unoriginal Valentine of all.

DriveByValentine DriveByValentine2 DriveByValentine3The worst are those roadside, drive-by Valentine tent-shops selling last minute shit. The gift you give your Valentine is a symbol of the way you feel about them. So unless you want me to think I’m some cheap shit you picked up on the side of the road, on a whim, don’t give me some cheap shit you picked up on the side of the road, on a whim. If you want to show me I’m on your mind, or that I’m worth your precious time, you better put some thought and time into my Valentine.

And this is where we’ve all been led astray. We’ve bred another Hallmark holiday. V-Day isn’t what it used to be. Crafting crappy, homemade Valentines. Cutting paper hearts out of construction paper. Misspelling the names of all my classmates. My parents helping. Exchanging them with everyone, even the kids I didn’t like. Receiving them from everyone, and not just boys trying to get at me. Those were the days.

So what changed?

I grew up. I got cooties. So did you. And just like everything else in life, Valentine’s Day was adulterated by adulthood. Once you find yourself romantically of-age, the Valentine game changes. Paper hearts remain uncut. Construction paper gathers dust. Classmates go unrecognized, unnoticed. Except the sexy ones, who get the works. Chocolates, teddy bears and roses.

But was it I who changed, or Valentine’s? Is V-Day still “what it used to be” when I was young for little ones today? Or has the holiday evolved across the map? One can only speculate and wonder. That is, unless one is, say, a teacher at a preschool, in which case that person knows for sure whether the true, authentic Valentine experience has been preserved in youth today. So we asked Teacher Sarah what she observed at last week’s Valentine festivities.

This just in, Teacher Sarah, reporting from local preschool, Redwood City, Ca:

I have some unfortunate news. There’s a lack of Valentine’s Day spirit at the preschool. However, it isn’t the kids. It’s parent participation that’s been lacking. The preschoolers are excited to exchange Valentines with their classmates. Sadly, actually exchanging said Valentines proves difficult when parents drop their kids off with unopened, unassembled, store-bought Valentines. Cheap boxes that contain 24 of the same impersonal, generic cards and candy. How are kids supposed to get excited for Valentine’s day if parents won’t take the time to learn the names of their classmates, which ones are their friends, and which ones aren’t their favorites, and teaching kids to give valentine’s to ALL their classmates. Cheap, store-bought, Hallmark Valentine’s are costing families experiences and memories that they’ll never get back.

Sad news, indeed. But just because the rest of the world outgrew hand-cut, home-crafted Valentines doesn’t mean I have to. Which is why I hand-crafted a couple dozen coffee-filter flowers (adapted from a DIY by Two Shades of Pink) and handed them out to regulars at work. Why not show some due love and appreciation for the people I see nearly every day? Why not carry on my non-romantic, 90’s-preschool Valentine tradition? If those were the days, why not today? What’s stopping me now? Nothing. So I did it. Fuck it.

Coffee filters drying after dying. Getting in touch with my inner Georgia O'Keefe
Coffee filters drying after dying. Getting in touch with my inner Georgia O’Keefe
CoffeeFilterFlowers
The remaining flowers, after my Valentine’s Day shift at the coffee shop, distributing to customers
My girl, modeling my home-made Valentines. The taking of this picture was totally consensual
My girl, modeling my home-made Valentines. The taking of this picture was totally consensual

And that’s why I actually got psych’d for Valentines this year.

Love,

Your Friendly Neighborhood Barista

Get Psych’d to Write a Kick-Ass Personal Statement

If you’re currently struggling to compose a personal statement, college application essay, cover letter, resume, or any other piece of writing you might be submitting to sell yourself as the perfect candidate, you’re not alone. Writing assignments of this nature shake us to the core of our insecurities. When asked for our accomplishments and talents, we’re confronted with our averageness and inadequacies. Finding the right words means finding a balance between narcissism and modesty, exaggeration and outright lies. It’s a slow and painful form of mental torture, which I’m currently watching a close friend of mine endure at this very moment. Desperate to comfort her in any way I can, I composed this personal statement for her, inspired by Hugh Gallagher’s famous application essay to New York University from way back in the 90’s:

 

At the age of eleven, I was accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but opted for muggle school instead, to share my magic with my non-magical peers. I travel alone. I am the mother of three strays. I drink black coffee. When out of ground coffee, I have been known to use any available means, including my bare hands, to grind whole coffee beans. Everywhere I go, the soundtrack to Lord of the Rings can be heard in the background. I don’t wear a bra. I have passed lethal amounts of Tapatio and Hot Cheetos through my digestive tract, repeatedly, and survived to tell the tale. I have peacefully lived with at least two wild possums. I speak to animals, and animals speak to me. I secretly run comprehensive studies on the preschoolers I teach, and relay detailed reports of their behavior to my roommate. I make my own deodorant. I do yoga. With my dog. We call it doga. I pee anywhere, whether a restroom is available or not. Native Hawaiians think I’m from the island. I’ve managed to maintain an outwardly functional life despite the year-long secondhand high I have yet to come down from. I can pour distinct male genitalia into lattes with uncanny accuracy. I once slept in a misty parking lot. I cut my own hair. I wear mismatching socks. I once carried a fifty pound box five or six blocks, just to see if I could. I’m too cool for a lot of things, but Grad School isn’t one of them.

 

True story.

Get Psych’d for New Years Resolutions

NewYearsResolutionsWe see New Year’s Resolutions in your future. Or maybe you’ve already made your list, which means you’ve probably already given up. By now, you’ve most likely disposed of any evidence said list ever existed. Shredded, burned and buried it. The list is dead to you. The “new you” that you dreamed of becoming this new year is fated to remain imprisoned somewhere in the back of your mind, reminding you how much you suck until next New Year, which will bring you new hope, which will be shattered just the same. A vicious cycle.

The New Year always brings with it a vision of a perfect version of the flawed and fucked up person that we really are. The desirable, successful, happy version. The person that we want to be, but aren’t. And when we wake up New Year’s morning and we’re not Jennifer Lawrence (for instance), we’re disappointed. January 1st always finds us at our worst, wasted, hungover, a far cry from the person we aspire to become in the new year. So we abandon all the hope we had, the resolutions we composed, because they seem impossible.

They probably seem impossible because they are. As surely as you are to write your resolutions, you’re just as sure to write them wrong. Most resolutions are unrealistic. The problem isn’t you, it’s your list. Your resolutions are too vague, or too far out of reach. Your expectations are too high. It’s constructive to set goals, unless your goals just set you up to fail. Try something new this year. Set yourself up to succeed. Be smart about your new year’s resolutions. How, you ask? Good question. Frankly, I’m as clueless as you are, so I consulted my psychic / the Missus / Wagz Kahlifa. This feature is a collaboration between the wife and I.

Get Psych’d Smart

The New Year is here, which means it’s time for you to diet, exercise, undergo a personality transplant, and ultimately hate yourself. The customary yearly ritual of New Year’s Resolutions confronts you with an overwhelming list of everything wrong with you and your life that needs fixing, and you expect yourself to actually fix it, somehow, presumably by magic.

Self-improvement can be healthy, but it can also be discouraging when change doesn’t come easily. And when has change ever come easily to anyone? There’s a reason why people don’t exercise or eat their vegetables—those things take commitment, energy and time, and Netflix and Taco Bell are easier. But New Years lets us romanticize a better future where we’re thinner, nicer and more successful. Yet, we lack the structure, necessary steps and motivation to actually follow through.

So as your psychic, I’m prescribing you a different strategy. Take once annually, or as needed. HR at MIT recommends SMART Goals, and we’ve taken creative liberties composing these examples, as they may pertain to your new years resolutions.

S

SPECIFIC

Really narrow down what you want to achieve. (Use the who, what where.)

Bad example: Be thin

This example sucks because what the fuck does being thin even mean? You won’t know at what point you’ve reached your goal because you could always be thinner. ‘Thin’ is relative.

Good example: Lose 5 pounds by cutting soda out of my diet and substituting it with coffee or water instead.

This example provides you with a concrete number of pounds to lose, and a concrete step you plan to take to reach your goal—eliminating soda from your diet. It also goes so far as to offer some alternatives to soda, so you know what to do when you want a fix. Replace it with a cup of coffee to caffeinate and energize you, or water to refresh and hydrate you, instead of soda. You’ve constructed a clear set of instructions that accounts for inevitable setbacks, like craving soda, a substance you knowingly abuse. And you’ll know for sure when you’ve achieved the goal, so there’s an end in sight.

 

M

MEASURABLE

You want to be able to measure the goal so that you can easily track your progress.

Bad example: Get fit

Vague, not instructive. How are you supposed to know you’re making progress towards your goal?

Good example: Exercise for half an hour at a time, four times a week

Now you know exactly how many times you need to exercise, and for how long, in order to achieve you goal. Also, if you fall shy of four, at least you know you’ve made some progress towards your goal, and how much.

 

A

ATTAINABLE

Goal setting means finding a balance between a goal that is challenging yet attainable.

Bad example: Write the next national best-seller in one month

Who are you kidding? Do people even still read books? And if they do, writing a novel is hard enough, but a best-seller? You don’t control how your creations are received. You only control what you create. Don’t leave your goal up to forces out of your control, like how well your book will sell. And when the end of the month inevitably finds you without a finished, best-selling novel, you will have failed your goal.

Good example: Write for half an hour, four times a week.

This goal seems attainable, depending on the person’s schedule. It will be challenging to set aside the time, but not impossible. The key is to NOT to burden yourself with impossible goals.

 

R

REALISTIC

Be real. There are some things we can’t change about ourselves. It’s harmful to focus on changing the unchangeable. Instead, it’s healthier to accept the parts of ourselves we can’t change and learn to work with them.

Bad example: Be nice

Not only is this vague and unmeasured, it’s also unrealistic. You can’t just suddenly decide to change core personality traits overnight. Oftentimes, the hardest goals to meet are ones related to our personality because they’re so deeply ingrained in our brains. There’s a reason you’re not nice, and this goal doesn’t account for that. This goal has the hidden expectation that you’ll just wake up one day and start acting in a completely different way. Good luck with that.

Good example: Be more polite to my co-workers by greeting them and saying please and thank you.

This goal is the realistic version of “be nice.” This goal identifies a specific setting in which you want to be more pleasant company. Greeting people, and saying “please” and “thank you” are things nice people do. This goal is attainable, and it’s a step towards the broader goal of  “being nice,” while allowing you room to be yourself.

 

T

TIME-BOUND

Determine a time frame for your goal. Due dates, as dreaded and stressful as they are, offer us the necessary drive we need to see our resolutions through. If we complete our goal by the deadline, we’ve succeeded. If we haven’t, we’ve failed. In the difference of one day. It turns out arbitrary shit like this is the only reason we do anything. So set a deadline.

Bad example: I want to run a marathon in one month, and I’m a couch potato.

This is a bad example because, the time frame is not realistic. If you’re a couch potato now, realistically, you might be jogging a few blocks in a month, not running marathons. Or you’ll run a marathon before you’re ready, and die in the process. Pick a time-frame that is reasonable, but also pressures you to get to business.

Good example: I want to run a marathon in five months.

This is a better example because, according to Google, this is the average length of time it takes for beginners to train for a marathon. So it’s actually scientifically proven to be possible to meet this goal within this time-frame.

 

Your turn. Love, D$ & $WAGZ