Tag Archives: Millennials

I can’t do that anymore.

firsttheycameIn high school and college, I followed politics voraciously and closely. I was up for any debate. But then I slowly took a step back,  burnt out and disillusioned as the country and world became increasingly hostile and angry (as well as the lack of bi-partisanship, and frankly, aggression, between parties). I stopped following the news as closely, staying informed, but removed emotionally.

I can’t do that anymore.

It would certainly be more comfortable for me not to speak up. Many bloggers I know make the choice not to make their feelings on “issues” public (including myself). I get it; I have been there. At best, it takes a lot of energy to dialogue in a respectful way and at worst, it becomes mud wrestling in the comment section. Announcing opinions on the internet does not always leave room to change one’s mind.

Let’s face it. Who actually likes those people on Facebook who are constantly posting politically incendiary things, no matter the party? I don’t. I can’t. It’s like sensory overload. It’s easier to keep my opinions to myself, to close my computer.

But I can’t do that anymore.

You see, when I took a step back, I just expected other people to do the work. I expected others to course correct when a person or political party said something ridiculous or there was an absurd proposal. It’s not that I didn’t care. It was that sensory overload, an emotional exhaustion, and I just figured others could pick up the slack.

But I can’t do that anymore.

I can’t avoid online conflict because the fact is, whatever its size, this is a platform. And for me not to speak has officially become more terrifying than standing up for what I believe is right. Let me tell you why.

It started a few weeks ago, in the wake of the Paris attacks, when Trump* announced he thought there should be a database for Muslims (afterwards, he amended his idea to monitor Muslim refugees and “some” mosques).

Was this real? Could a front runner for president from our country’s two party system actually say (or perhaps worse, think) such a thing? My insides started to quiver. It brought to mind two instances–a hint, a faint whiff, subtle–where a group of people were monitored based on their faith or ethnicity: the days of Nazi Germany (it started as “monitoring) or what we did to the Japanese during WWII (they were forced to leave their homes, jobs, businesses, everything, to live in interment camps).**

When it comes to the latter, let me emphasize: we did that. Things like that can happen in America. Sometimes I think we–I know I do this–all believe we are a little protected because this is America. That word, this place brings to mind the Statue of Liberty, the American Dream, the Bill of Rights, and so much more. We believe we are the good guys and that we will always be the good guys.

But I can’t do that anymore.

Trump’s plan was only the beginning. Within a few days, over half of America’s governors signed their names to a document saying they would not accept any Syrian Refugees. When I tweeted my shame that governors in America did this, someone I respect greatly pointed out that whether refugees are accepted or denied is a federal issue. The thing is, I knew that. But I didn’t care. They signed their names to a document that said the people, the refugees of Syria, were not welcome in America. 

That’s shameful.

Writing about controversies here is not fun. As a blogger, in two years, I have maybe posted five truly controversial posts and then signed my name to those posts. I’ve had plenty of opinions but I haven’t written them here. I haven’t signed my name to them.

But I can’t do that anymore.

Then there was the mayor in Virginia who said this: “I’m reminded that President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from Isis now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then.”

My insides began to shake, not just quiver. Could this really be happening?

But then the latest plan of Donald Trump’s: “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”***

This is happening here. Right here. I understand that it’s a proposal. But he’s the frontrunner for president from the republican party and to not take him seriously would be a mistake. For a long time, when he said things I found absurd, I didn’t take him seriously because I saw him as the guy who put huge letters on the building near where I worked in Downton Chicago and told people, “You’re fired” on The Apprentice. I was wrong. It’s not just polls either. People I respect, people I go to for life advice, believe he is the best candidate. I underestimated him.

But I can’t do that anymore.

I know it’s nice to go about our days. I understand it is easier to go about life as normal and I would prefer to run my errands and shovel my snow and cuss that I forgot to buy milk at the grocery store, be wary of the laundry pile, wish my kid could sleep through the night, change the sheets on my bed and curse that damn fitted sheet (or whatever your version of normal is). I understand. I do. Because I am trying to move right now and everything in my life is a mess. I would prefer to handle that and only that.

But I can’t do that anymore.

If I don’t speak, if I don’t use whatever “voice” I have, to denounce all of this, then what? What is next? Each time one of these things happened I could not believe it and yet I never expected it to get worse. But it is getting worse, increasingly so.

And so I cannot be quiet anymore.

Recently, I saw a comment on Facebook. Someone was complaining about something that the federal government does–imagine taxes, insurance, all that pesky stuff that is annoying. This person’s complaints were not out of line but then this person said something like: I usually don’t like to talk about politics but this is really ridiculous.

It hit me that this translates to: I usually don’t like to talk about politics but this affects me so it’s different.

This person is not an anomaly. This person is you and this person is me. Even as I write this, I am trying to put my list of things to do (rental insurance, changing my address, packing, etc.) out of my head. We care when it affects us.

But I can’t do that anymore.

These are dangerous times.

Here is a story: I fell behind in answering comments and so a few days ago, I replied to a comment originally written about the post I wrote in reaction to Paris. She said something about how crazy it is and how sad, that she can no longer think when an act of terrorism will happen but only where it would be, that these horrible events feel inevitable.

Do you realize, I wrote back, that by the time I am replying there has already been an act of terrorism, a mass shooting, in San Bernardino?

These are dangerous times.

A man running for president, the canidate who has by far gotten the most media attention, and continues to be the front runner for one of the parties in our two party system has said that he will not allow Muslims into this country.***

Don’t worry though. If you are Muslim and already a citizen, he isn’t going to deport you or anything.

Don’t worry though. If you practice another faith, this won’t affect you either.

Don’t worry though. They’re talking religion. Your sexual orientation, your skin color, the amount of money you make, you won’t ever be affected based on those things.

I hope you sense my sarcasm because I don’t believe him. I don’t believe him–and people like him–at all.

I’m not suggesting this is the Holocaust.** But what I will say is that Hitler did not announce out of the blue that he was putting all the Jews, the handicapped, the elderly (and others) on trains to concentration camps where they would be killed in gas chambers. It never happens like that.

It happens slowly. It creeps along, hatefulness like this. Have you ever heard the anecdote about the frog? If you boil water and put a frog in, it will jump right out. But if you put a frog in some water and turn up the heat slowly, the frog does not jump out. I can’t say whether this is scientifically sound but it feels like we are all the frog, that the water is slowly warming.

I’m a Christian and everyone is welcome here. But I am calling out my fellow Christians: we can’t do it anymore. 

We cannot be silent. We cannot ignore the commands of Jesus. We cannot pretend that this is not happening. We cannot try and justify the policies of people in a certain party because we have voted a certain way our whole lives. We cannot raise our voices over abortion and not raise our voices over this. We have to seriously examine the intensity of the connection between claiming to be a Christian and not just defending the right to bear arms but an unwillingness to examine gun control in this country. We must recognize that according to the Bible we are sojourners here, that we are citizens of Heaven, and as such we are refugees too. We cannot ignore passages like this one, Jesus’s words, because it is just easier:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ 

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’  And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:31-46).

A part of me does not want to publish this. A part of me is afraid. In the past, that fear would dictate whether this actually was posted.

But I can’t do that anymore.
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P.S. I tried to cite everything and use a variety of sources (because it is important to me that I am informed by a variety of sources) but since some of the things I talk about happened in the recent past and every day there is a new headline, I did the best I could.

*I wrote this before Trump’s CNN interview. I have no idea how that is going to go. Also, this is not about Trump but rather a series of events that have had me examining my own heart and the Gospel. I hope that is clear.

**I am not comparing Trump to Hitler. I hope this is obvious but I am putting this here just in case. I find that argument to be insensitive to the atrocities that took place during the Holocaust when Hitler committed a genocide against a race of people.

***There are caveats to his plan.

Finally, Jen Hatmaker said it better than I ever could .

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To Choose Hope over Resignation.

parisTo ignore what happened in Paris past weekend and other cities around recently would be easier than addressing it. And yet to ignore it feels very wrong to me. I don’t know what to say or what to write. I know I am sad, horrified, disgusted, stricken, and a million other adjectives and yet this weekend I cozied up by myself and worked on my novel, playing in the world that I can control because staring what happened straight in the face made me feel raw. I had to disconnect from it. I was cowardly about it.

You know, I’ve done these seminars for two different companies I’ve worked for on the differences between generations–the traditionalists, the baby boomers, generation x, and the millennials (the latter of which I fall into). Companies do this because there are stark differences in ideology and approach to life and work and if one can recognize and work with those differences, the company is better for it. I’ve read whole books on being a millennial christian. And I’ve scrolled past constant headlines about my generation (I read them for a long time but I had to stop because they just upset me). Apparently we mesmerize and befuddle the other generations (our parents and grandparents). They study us like we are strange creatures (May I suggest their parent’s and grandparent’s generations probably felt the same way about them at times?).

In all those seminars and books I’ve read, there is something always pointed out by experts. Millennials are the only generation to know what it is like to live with terrorism on American soil that was specifically targeted at civilians. Just as we don’t know what it’s like to live through a draft and what that does to a generation of men, the other generations don’t know what it is like to be an adolescent watching the Twin Tours fall while they are sitting in Social Studies class. I’m not an expert. I probably wouldn’t have thought of this distinction if not for the experts themselves talking about it.

What does it say about me–about my friends and people my age–that I am horrified and shocked at what happened in Paris and what’s been going on in other cities for weeks and months, yet not at all shocked at the same time? I live in a world where extremists can take innocent lives and try to devastate a city. I grew up in that world. A part of me feels so jaded and I hate that (hence the quote above about staying soft) because I feel like if we just replace ISIS with Al Qaida and rewind a few years, nothing has changed and nothing will change. I keep searching for a word to claim my feelings and I think perhaps I found it. A huge part of me feels resigned. It is different than feeling defeated. But it is still not how I want to feel. I do not want to be resigned.

I cannot get one of my favorite poems out of my head; it’s Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Dirge Without Music. It’s been one of my favorites since I was too little to even understand it (weird, yes, I know).

I don’t know what to give or offer the world here on my small space of the internet. I don’t know what to say. So I will just leave someone else’s words instead. They are far better.dirgewithoutmusic1For me, this poem is grief embodied. It captures the pain and horror and hopelessness of losing someone(s). I have hope though. It’s in God. It’s knowing that because of what Jesus did, our bodies may turn to dust but we can know Heaven with Him. And yet, when in the midst of grief and sorrow, if we could only be so eloquent, this poem holds the words we might express. I ache by the end of it.


I wrote all of that and then I texted a friend who has lived and worked in Paris and now resides in Europe. I listened to my friend and then this friend graciously listened to me and spoke the Gospel over me. And I said that I believed it. I believe that God is good and that God will conquer evil and that He will be glorified. I believed it but I was still feeling resigned and I explained that I thought it was because I was paying too much attention to man’s response, which felt like déjà vu and also in some ways futile because this world we live in…man, is it messed up.

And so I find myself recommitted to looking to Jesus. He is my hope and my salvation. He is my anchor. I don’t have to know how I feel or worry over the world’s response or despair that this will happen again. He knows how I feel already. He is in control. And I remember His words, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

My friend said, “The Gospel runs toward pain.” And it does. It is. It can. Because in the world, there will be tribulation. But my heart can be full of hope and yes, even peace. Because Jesus has overcome the world.

So this is what I am actively clinging to from now on. This is what I am actively choosing to believe and trust and put my faith in.

All my Love,
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P.S. I wrote this before news broke on Monday that governors of 26 states (including the one in which I live) are telling the world that Syrian refugees are not welcome in “their” states (even though they have no power to make such a decision constitutionally; it’s a federal issue). That will have to be another blog post for another day but Lord, please have mercy. It’s shameful and such a disgrace that a country of immigrants would turn away immigrants, that people who claim to know Jesus don’t remember or live by this sentiment, which He expressed in many ways, at many times.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ ” (Matthew 25:31-40) And maybe, read the rest of the passage too…

Also, see Jen Hatmaker’s Facebook post which includes an article from the Economist which is pertinent any time anyone makes the argument that this is a security issue.

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twelve: A Featured Organization (+ a giveaway!)

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 11.01.29 PMToday, I want to tell you about my friend. Sarah was always highly motivated when it came to experiences and creating memories. What do I mean by that? When she realized our senior class wouldn’t have a “Senior Will” Girlfriend gathered up everyone’s “wills” within two days and beautifully printed it out for our entire class. If she has an idea, Sarah gets things done. She’s been that way as long as I’ve known her.

Now, Sarah is what society considers to be a young adult: a girl a few years out of college, trying to make her way in the world. At the same time, she is trying to change the world (no joke), just a little bit at a time with an entire movement. It’s called twelve. (Yes, it’s lowercase and yes, even I, a writer, love twelve too much not to keep it lowercase.)

twelve

The beauty of twelve is its simplicity. The goal is to support 12 charities in 12 months, participating when you can and donating when you can afford it. Through twelves’ efforts and social media, twelve brings together organizations needing followers and followers who want to give back in some way.

Networking for a cause, baby. I can get behind that.

Meanwhile, twelve is completely customizable. Of course, on their site and Facebook there are organizations twelve highlights. But you can also pick charities independently. Either way, through social media, twelve reminds us to think less about ourselves and more about others. And what’s that called? #twelving.silly twelve

Sarah is the one wearing glasses and a great red lip in this photo. Oh and she’s #twelving (!)

Attending a gala? Running a 5K? Guess what? You’re #twelving! (I don’t use exclamation points a lot but I feel like I need to when I using this word: twelving! In my opinion, Social Media used for good always deserves an exclamation point.)

Chi Omega_twelving

Chi Omega #twelving

GStwelving

Sarah & actor George Stults #twelving

From my humble view, twelve is about the willingness to change the world however you can, a network of people who believe in saying yes–yes to giving, yes to doing, yes to twelving. (!)

Chris Bukowski twelve

JDRF twelve

I know you’re not supposed to reveal a woman’s age but…Oh well. Sarah just turned 26 and for her birthday she asked people to donate $12 to Charity Water. (Guess how she asked? Facebook and Twitter. And guess what else?  She reached her goal and provided 13 people clean drinking water in one week.) My reason for highlighting Sarah’s age is because twelve is about saying yes now.

And people dare to call us the Me Generation.

So…

Yes, I am young and living in one of the most expensive cities in the country (curse you San Francisco; Sarah is in Chicago). Yes, I am just beginning in terms of a career. Yes, people our age spend a lot of time and money sowing their wild oats. But what if I said yes to participating in changing the world however I can?

What if I supported 12 charities in 12 months?

There are so many things to worry about at our age–finding the right job, finding the right mate, paying off college debt, rent, etc. etc. etc. (And there are a lot of etceteras.) There isn’t an emphasis on charity or giving back because we come out of high school or college like newborn babies. There are so many things we need to do first, or so says society. But what if…

…we said yes to 12 charities in 12 months starting now? How will our yes now (and year after year) impact the world by the time we are 30, 40, 75, if every year we twelve?

Though founded by some fresh out of college girls in 2012, twelve is for everyone. (I mean, my nonna is on Facebook! She counts. Next time she does something to support breast cancer research–something particularly important to our family and to Sarah’s (more on that later)–Nonna can absolutely post on Facebook that she is twelving!)

SGK5K2 Grandma

So, no matter your age, let’s do some twelving together.

How can we say yes today? Where to start? I asked the expert, Sarah, and her ideas were, as always, great.

1. Check out twelve’s site. Typically, there is always an opportunity to get involved, an event to attend, and a place to make a $12 donation if you can’t be present. (Let’s be honest, $12 is two drinks at Starbucks. Let’s say yes!) April is all about Breast Cancer research. twelve is a part of putting on golf event (more to come later this month) so if you’re in the area, register! If not, consider donating to the Susan G. Komen fund.

2. Find out what is going on in your community or give where you are passionate. As Sarah says, “twelving is the idea; how you do it is up to you.” Translation: the idea is giving of yourself and your money, however you are able. Each month commit to giving back in some small way. Run a 5k. Attend an event. If you’re just too busy, give $12. Find 12 charities to participate in–on your own or with the guidance of twelve. Either way, you’re twelving(!)

3. Share what you are doing! Take a picture of what you are doing and tag them here and here. It’s not bragging; it’s letting twelve and your friends know saying yes is important. The more people who adapt the twelve model, the more organizations will benefit.

For any questions when it comes to twelve, twelving, or fundraising, Sarah would love to hear from you at twelveinfo@gmail.com. I’m not lying. Not only did she tell me to give out her email address, this girl is one of the most social (in a good way) people I know. Go ahead, email her, and make her day.

Honestly? The simplicity and ingenuity of twelve baffles and overwhelms me in the best of ways. I want to change the world. Do you?

Say yes.

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Meanwhile, Sarah is offering a giveaway to encourage you to give of your time and money. #twelving
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As many of you know Breast Cancer is a big deal to my family. It is to Sarah’s too. If Sarah created twelve you can bet she is attacking Breast Cancer head on. Remember the story I told you at the beginning of all this? When this girl has an idea, she makes it happen. Along with some a few friends, Sarah captained a team for the Susan G. Komen Walk. They’re Babes for Boobs. Since 2008, they have raised over $60,000 dollars and grown their team. (Don’t worry, you’ll be hearing more about Christina, Jori, Brigitte, Sarah, and the other Babes soon!) Since twelve is supporting Breast Cancer in April through Susan G. Komen and the Sandra Grayson Memorial Golf outing, we are raffling off a Babes for Boobs sweatshirt along with a comfy twelve shirt.39165_424695584678_503189678_4550772_5493064_nSarah, Brigitte, Jori, & Christina (the original Babes for Boobs team which has since grown…more on that coming!)

twelve is a featured organization but all opinions are my own (as always!)

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Oh, those Millennials. (+ YOLO?)

SONY DSCI cannot tell you how many articles I have read about “my” or possibly “our” generation–the Millennials. To be honest, very few of them are positive. Other generations just don’t get us, so when I was given the opportunity to choose and review a book through Booksneeze (all opinions are my own…let’s be real…I don’t do things where I have to be censored) I chose this book because: hey, I am 20 and something and I would like to know a little bit more about me and why I am the way I am. 

Ultimately David H. Kim’s  20 and Something was not completely what I expected but not in a bad way. It was a lot less guidance and a lot more information about Millennials and was extremely unbiased. I really want my parents to read it and I would think at 80 pages they would because I think it would help them understand a lot more about myself, my brother, and even the generation altogether.

This quote caught my attention right away for twenties of any generation: “Your twenties can be quite the ride: the highs of youth and optimism regularly tempered by the lows of economic realities and real-world problems. In so many ways, it really is the best and worst of times.”

But what makes Millennials specifically different?

1. Technology

2. Terrorism (9-11 but also school shootings etc.)

3. Institutions & the failure of them (i.e. the government starting with Clinton’s scandal, Bush, and Obama, corporations like Enron etc.)

4. The Recession

What I liked about Kim’s approach was that he wasn’t writing to bash Millennials or to praise them, he is trying to help the reader understand them: “And yet despite good reasons for the contrary, at the heart of this generation is an undaunted sense of hope. Even after having witnessed the past hopes of society, falter twentsomethings continue to hope, which drives them toward change. This drive is not one with a singularity of focus, but one that meanders and allow its passengers to take time for fun along the way. And why not? They’re in their twenties after all” (34)

In light of that and Kim’s statistics (and this book is filled with infographics that are interesting) I found this pretty insightful: “Obama’s slogans were ‘Hope’ and ‘Change’ in 2008 and ‘Forward’ in 2012. In both elections, Millennial support was crucial for his victory. Obama’s campaign managers, as well as those who know Millennials, keenly understand that what brings meaning to this generation is hope leading to change” (42) For the record, this isn’t about my politics this is about the fact that Millennials were perfectly targeted for his campaign…and yet the book talks about how disappointed we have been with the government.SONY DSC

Millennials want to get married but they want to wait because they want to have the job of their dreams. And the majority of them believe, despite it all, that they will have it within the next five years. (Listen up here, famiglia.) “Millennials see their twenties as a time to explore their career options so they can find a job that will provide that sense of meaning and fulfillment. This may be confounding to parents…” (57).

This book was short and informative. At times it could be a little dry. But one of my favorite parts was quite the opposite. Conan O’Brien gave the commencement speech at Dartmouth University in 2011. This is how he started. “Today, you have achieved something special–only 92% of Americans your age will ever know: a college diploma. That’s right, with your college diploma you now have a crushing advantage over 8% of the workforce. I’m talking about drop out losers like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg” (54)

Then he addressed the parents: “Many of you haven’t seen your children in four years. Now you are about to see them every day when they come out of the basement to tell you the wi-fi isn’t working…You will spend more money framing your child’s diploma than they will earn in the next six months. It’s tough out there, so be patient. The only people hiring right now are Panera Bread and Mexican drug cartels…” (55)

In the end, this is what I got from the book…I definitely feel less alone and less like a freak for the way I feel about life. There are reasons I feel the way I do. And we aren’t the ME GENERATION; we aren’t a bad generation. We believe in hope and change. We just don’t believe it is going to come in the expected ways. We actually have the opportunity be a great generation. The final thing I got from this book? I want NON-MILLENNIALS to read it (i.e. Mom, Dad, Nonna, Stepmom…just sayin’) because I know you think I am crazy but I am not. That’s also what I appreciated about Kim’s approach–extremely unbiased, pros and cons, and read within 45 minutes.

YOLO,

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P.S. When YOLO became popular, my nonna, Ms. Pop Culture (literally) went up to a guy on Spring Break wearing a YOLO shirt (who wears a YOLO shirt? haha) and asked him what it meant. When he told her–You only live once–she considered getting a YOLO shirt. “I mean, it’s a pretty good message when you think about it.” -Nonna

 

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