disney

Is it just me…

disney hair twilight matcheddivergent

…or has the idea of love and romance been completely leveled by YA novels that everyone is delving into?

Not to say that I don’t appreciate, and in some cases LOVE them, but I think we need to take a minute to discuss the impact that these books might be having the delicate psyche of our pre-teens, teens, and young adults.

Much like the theory/meme about Disney and how it creates unrealistic hair expectations, I think most YA novels these days are showing young people who find “the one” or who find love at a very young age (Young compared to the average age of marriage in today’s society, which is in the late-20s for men and women in the US), which isn’t realistic. These characters are being handed a serious romantic encounter when they are in their mid-to-late teens (RE: Twilight, Divergent, Matched, City of Bones, The Fault in Our Stars, Shiver, Delirium, The Selection). And while it can be said that the majority of them handle it well (and in most cases have absentee or brainwashed parents that can’t or don’t complain), isn’t that sending a message worth discussing to the readers of these novels?

Has this idea of serious young love become popular because it is a lovely fairy tale that we wish would be true in the real world? That everyone could find their perfect mate and live happily ever after (and not have a sky-rocketing divorce rate). Or is it because YA authors are trying to become so far removed from the societal norm and change the views on love and romance? Or that normal societal rules don’t exist in a post-apocalyptic world? (I’ll be discussing love triangles in a later post.)

And what is the effect on the youth of today? While teen pregnancy rates have declined consistently in the last 20 years, how are young people viewing sex, love, and marriage? How is the media, not just television and movies but also books, impacting these ideas? Why do popular songs talk about women like objects and movies show a couple tripping into a relationship? Has romance gone the way of the handwritten letter and the cassette tape? An idealized notion that few partake in anymore. Are guys being told that they no longer have to try to woo a woman because there is always another waiting to take her place or they are somehow interchangeable? Are girls being told that they have to dress, act, look, think a certain way in order to keep a man? In these books, there is often a little romance, a lot of love, and heaps of “accepting the person for who they are”, but what does that really translate into when we take it out of the context of danger and death? I think that the medium of books goes a long way into trying to present the ideas of love and romance in a better light than many other parts of society, but still leaves something to be desired.

As a writer myself, these thoughts have called into question several plot lines, including my own, that I now have to re-read in a new context. I don’t think it’s a good idea to portray young people in such serious relationships that last for the duration of their lives. After all, isn’t one of the benefits of being young that you can date a bunch or even a few different people before deciding what type of person would be best suited to you? I know that I definitely enjoyed dating around when I was younger, and if I find the time to continue doing so then I certainly will. But as an adult, I know who I am and what I stand for, what I want and a general idea of where I’m headed with my life. Something that I definitely didn’t have figured out when I was 16, despite the protests that I probably gave to the contrary. And okay, most of these characters live in an alternate reality or desperate time or are portrayed as being more adult or grown up than their peers. But didn’t we all think we were more mature that we actually were at one point?

So here’s my advice for all the young people: stay a kid as long as you can. As someone who has recently entered the real world, i.e. paying for everything with my own money, working a 9-5 job, and constantly being exhausted, enjoy your youth. Have fun! Go on an adventure! Be with your friends (real or imaginary) and don’t be so focused on love, sports, video games, grades, or even bullies. Tell yourself every day that you are awesome. And better yet, mean it. Be a person that you would like to be friends with. And be the best version of yourself that you can. Because who are you are today is most likely who you will grow up to become and we need people who know their worth and help others to find theirs. You don’t have to have life figured out when you are 15 or even 19, and trust me, you probably don’t. High school and college are the times to discover who you are and what you are interested in; don’t waste those years, embrace them.

Top Ten Tuesday

top ten tuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish is: Top Ten Books I’d Give To Readers Who Have Never Read X (examples: New Adult novels, historical fiction, a certain author, books about a certain topic, etc).

I decided to go with classics since so many people don’t even bother to read them anymore and I saw a really great post yesterday on Kate’s Bookshelf about reading classics in the fall so here is what I think you should start with when the leaves start to turn.

1) Moby Dick by Herman Melville – Why? Because there are so many hidden themes and underlying political tones, inspiration from many other sources, really a fantastic book about more than just a guy chasing a whale.

2) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Why? Because Austen is an amazing writer and if you get a copy with footnotes, you will understand what most of the book means and that will leave you free to read it again after and really enjoy the love story.

3) Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman – Why? Because he writes poems about sex, love, being true to yourself, pride in the United States, and just life in general.

4) Walden by Henry David Thoreau – Why? Because connecting with nature is something that not many people do anymore and there are some important lessons that Thoreau can teach you about appreciation of life if you let him.

5) Oedipus Rex by Sophocles – Why? Because I’m sick of people not knowing what an “Oedipal Complex” is and this is a relatively short, and disturbing play about fate and finding out who you are. Also, Oedipus is adopted so I’m sure that’s relatable to more people than you realize.

6) The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton – Why? Because this is one of the most heart-breaking but realistic love stories I have ever read. Two people who want to be together but never can be, loyalty, family lines, and societal pressures all combine to create a trainwreck of happiness and tears.

7) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – Why? Because I’m stick of people thinking that the monster’s name is Frankenstein (thanks for ruining that Hollywood). And because it’s actually a really great story of a brilliant man and his monster that is actually much better than anything Hollywood could come up with.

8) Dracula by Bram Stoker – Why? Because people need a real snap back to the inspiration of Edward Cullen and the other vampires before they became so common place in society and how they were created. (Don’t worry, it’s still a love story.)

9) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky – Why? Because everyone has read “The Tell-Tale Heart” (which is amazing in its own right) but few people have read this version of an unreliable narrator and how murder can really impact a man’s psyche.

10) The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales by the Grimm Brothers – Why? Because Disney has given us unrealistic expectations for long enough. If you want to read something a little more disturbing and real but don’t want to read Stephen King, then the Grimm Brothers are for you.

classics

Song of Myself

tbc

I too watched “The Breakfast Club” last night on ABCFamily and as always, some new thought strikes me while I view. I cringe and laugh in equal measure and even cry alongside the characters, re: Johnson asking about what happens on Monday.

This time, it made me reflect back on my own formative high school years and how often I judge the generation that is now in those shoes. What stories and secrets are hiding behind the smiles and the cell phones? How has the world changed in terms of how people relate since I was in high school less than a decade ago?

So when I saw this post by Slightly Chic, I thought it would be a good time to evaluate who I think I am and who I thought I would become back in high school.

If you had asked my high school freshman self where I thought I would be in 10 years (holy crap, has it really been that long?!), I probably would have said something about living in California, maybe in med school, maybe living in a house on the ocean.

If you had asked my high school senior self where I thought I would in 2014, I would probably have said that I would be married and working at a well-paying job and own a house probably on the east coast but not in my home state. I may or may not have mentioned kids but animals would definitely have been present.


So what’s the reality? Who am I today?

  • I have a Bachelor of Science in Management from a top business school
  • I am currently re-enrolled in school, after a 3 year break, to get my Master of Library Science
  • I do not have a high-paying job but am currently a GA which pays my tuition plus a stipend (perks!)
  • I am not married
  • Nor do I have any kids yet
  • My cat died this past December, a fact that I am still not over, so no pets at the moment
  • I am a blogger
  • I am striving to be a role model to young women
  • I have written (and edited at least 7 times) my first novel
  • I am seeking a literary agent to help me get published
  • I am an avid reader
  • I am addicted to CWTV, in particular Supernatural and The Originals (I miss Smallville!)
  • I seem to keep moving further from my home state
  • I have no idea where I want my first house to be
  • I am once again living with family (living with children gives you an interesting perspective on life)
  • I have an amazing support system of family and friends
  • According to Jung, I am now an introvert, although I used to be an extrovert
  • I know I want to teach college courses later in life
  • I might go on to get my PhD

So what does all of this actually add up to? Well I’m not sure. But I think it means that I’m simply human. And in fact, I’m very happy with my life. Being in school is a great opportunity for me and if I could get paid to go forever, then I would. I want to make a difference in the world. I want to leave a mark, I want to be heard. I’ve realized that there are plenty of types of love that can fulfill you, not just romantic love and that true friends are always there for you.

There is no right or wrong answer to who you are, because you are who you are. You can change that and become who you want to be if you work hard enough (but most people don’t put in the effort). Labels are only powerful if we let them be. Example: I was watching the Disney channel (hey, I live with a 10 yr old girl now) and a great Friends for Change commercial came on with Raini Rodriguez (from Austin & Ally, in case you are wondering) who talked about a leadership camp she attended and how their discussions on bullying and labeling really impacted her.

I love that so many young people are getting involved and trying to make a difference in the world. And I hope that it continues to be that way. And that I get a chance to do the same. This blog (and my twitter: kataweb416) are my start.

So who am I?

I’m Katherine (Kat) Webber, author, poet, dreamer, introvert, friend, caregiver, sister, daughter, granddaughter, cousin, student, woman, nerd, reader, blogger, writer, foodie, traveler, planner, and enjoyer of life.

Who are you? Who do you want to be?

(PS – I stole the title from one of my favorite Walt Whitman poems  of the same name.)