Helping Hobbies that Build Self-Esteem: When you help others, you sometimes help yourself..

Guest Blog by Domonique Chardon 

Here are three hobbies that can help others as well as your own self-esteem.

Volunteering: Whether you’re helping out at a local organization, raising awareness for a particular cause, or fundraising for an issue you believe in — volunteering is an extremely fulfilling hobby.  Getting familiar with issues in your community and more importantly the people and organizations behind them, is a great way to give back and also benefit from the experience. It’s also a great way to make new friends and meet new people that you might not otherwise run into. A kind heart is always remembered.

Baking: You’d be surprised how far one cupcake will go!  Baking is a fantastic hobby that does require some skill and a penchant for hitting the sweet spot; but what I love the most about baking is:  I’m not the only one who can enjoy the results! One may not notice at first, but there are plenty of opportunities to apply baking skills. Aside from baking for special occasions like birthdays etc., I’m a firm believer that any day is a good day for a cupcake! Or a cookie, or cake, or cake pops, or brownies, or  -– you get my drift. The Baker is adored.

Physical Challenge: Let’s face it – not all of us were born athletes or are where we want to be in terms of physical fitness. That’s why choosing a physical challenge as a hobby is difficult; however, it can be most rewarding. Besides improving your health another upside is the various options one can choose from.  There’s literally something for everyone. If you don’t enjoy working out in a gym you can hike, bike or run outdoors. Why not join team in training, a road race, an organized walk or a marathon where all the proceeds go to a great cause. Knowing that you are doing it for others will help push you along.  It’s a win win situation. When you challenge your body, you also challenge your mind. It takes determination to commit to practicing a physical hobby regularly.  As your stamina builds you will become even more determined and you will see results!

Domonique Chardon is a bay area native, young professional, aspiring writer and a spiritual being having a human experience. 

Twitter: Domonique_007

A High School Fantasy Slut League: What Lesson Learned?

It sounded like a game, maybe because it was based on a game.  But what the high school boys who constructed a “fantasy slut league” seem to have missed was that they were “playing” with the idea that it’s okay to evaluate girls — their peers — on their looks, to sexually objectify them, and to demonstrate both the male entitlement and social bullying that accompanies labeling others publicly and “toying” with sexual reputation, particularly through social media.

When the story broke that a group of male athletes at Piedmont High School had constructed a “fantasy slut league” in which points were awarded for “scoring” with draft picks by the end of the school year, it seemed like an opportunity for dialogue about how the language of conquest and braggadocio of sports co-opts boys into learning it’s acceptable to view girls as objects of sexual acquisition and makes girls feel they are culturally valued them for their “hotness” and their use as sexual pawns.

Notably, knowledge of the league did come to light after a student assembly on date rape, implying a student likely came forward, perhaps realizing this falls into the category of coercive or predatory sexual behavior.  Yet, since this activity took place off campus, the school claimed to have little jurisdiction and quickly sought to minimize the story by merely sending a letter home to parents promising more “educational assemblies” and then refusing media queries.  In the letter sent home, superintendent Randall Booker writes that “the league has existed as “part of ‘bonding’ for some Varsity Teams during their seasons of sport” and acknowledges that students, “both male and female” participated “either willingly, under pressure from older students or under social pressures to be popular.”

Despite putting a finger on some of the key issues involved, the school seemed more concerned with shutting down the outrage this story provoked, mentioning that some students were concerned with prioritizing how this news might affect their future college applications. In one article the author writes that administrators are “encouraging visits to the high school’s Wellness Center for any student who want to talk about it confidentially.”  The idea that those affected – likely girls – should be the ones to seek counseling while there was no move to punish those who perpetuated the league and its culture of systemic degradation of girls is appalling.

In an article for The Daily Beast author Lizzie Crocker cites examples of other “leagues” with similar intentions.  She quotes “Tom” as saying, “Ultimately, boys are naughty. It’s in their DNA” — by which he means they are not expected to take responsibility for their actions and are incapable of controlling themselves, a position patriarchal society reinforces with the idea that “girls must be in control” when faced with the feral impulses of their male peers.  This sets up a paradigm that condones predatory behavior and constructs a “blame the victim” argument when girls are harmed.  Rejecting any sort of punishment for the boys involved at Piedmont only reinforces this mindset.

Crocker does point out moments when girls have also sexually objectified boys, quoting one female student who says she didn’t mind being picked and who vehemently rejects the status of “victim.”  What’s missing is a step further in analysis.  Why are girls taught to accept that being ranked for their looks is of value?  Do they realize the ways in which they are complicit within a patriarchal system that co-opts their sexuality for male gain, i.e. the points awarded in the league.  Have these girls truly understood the degree to which they have internalized a system in which they are being used in a game controlled by their male peers?  We still live within a culture where girls learn they are valued for their looks/appearance, and boys are pressured to understand status based on sexual prowess. Could girls feel pressure not to be noted for their brains in class and sense of ambition, but rather their looks?  When secret “slut leagues” circulate within a student population, however covertly or overtly, there is no doubt that the outdated gender expectations reinforced are harmful to girls — and to boys — on all levels.

Helping Your Teen Survive Freshman Year of College

My parents taught me many skills in life to prepare me and keep me on the right path.  As the youngest of seven, I had the advantage of observing trial an error by my older siblings.  By the time I came around, my parents had fine tuned their parenting skills.  Among the most important skills I learned from them were responsibility, hard work and dedication/discipline.  My parents did not believe in handing out money simply on demand. I had an allowance that I earned, was always told ways in which I could earn extra money around the house and I had my first job at thirteen. As a family, we had weekly responsibilities within the house that were to be completed on time or evening/weekend activities were forfeited. There was no whining or questioning, we knew the rules and simply obeyed or disobeyed and paid the consequences that were enforced on a consistent basis.

More importantly, from that responsibility, hard work and dedication came a sense of “independence” which I feel was the glue that truly helped me (and my siblings) succeed in college.  I could balance my check book, change a flat tire, get the most bang for my buck at the grocery store, think quickly on my feet and maintained an emergency fund all before freshman year of college. All thanks to my parents. That way the only unknown factor that I really needed to adjust to was the level of work expected of a new college student.  I watched many students and friends crumble around me because they couldn’t manage their time, money, relationships, and the daily pressures of day-to-day college living.  I truly think teaching children to be independent by way of responsibility, hard work and dedication/discipline is part of that check-list of life skills necessary for a successful transition to college.