Thursday, June 9, 2016

Why All The Millennial Hate?

Hi. I'm a Millennial, and for some reason that means that the world is against everything I do, from the way I communicate with the rest of the world, to the way I style my hair, to the way I lean politically. But why?

I mean, Millennials (defined as those between 18 and 29) are written off as slackers, obsessed with their social media and their cellphones, expecting their parents to coddle them forever. Millennials get such a bad rap that some of us try to distance ourselves from the group, playing a sort of "I'm not like most people who belong to generation Y" kind of game.

Many don't believe we will have the same standard of living as our parents. Which is pretty shitty, considering growing up we had no control over the factors that decide that, and suddenly this is all our fault. We brought our horrible standard of living and pessimism for the future on ourselves, right?

But what everyone should really be dumping on is the horrendous economy that is causing Millennials to live with their parents longer, delay decisions like marriage, child having, and buying houses. Many of us carry more than one job to make ends meet, have cut back on their entertainment and food budgets, and live a life devoid of vacations, something that many generations before us haven't had to do.

Furthermore, it is important to realize the great things that millennials do. 3/4 of millennials are politically engaged, and take actions necessary to educate themselves about politics. Millennials don't have as much of a problem with drugs, at least where marijuana (which is becoming legalized in many places) isn't concerned. Millennials are one of the best educated groups in American history, with higher percentages pursuing higher educations despite bad economics and the rising price of college. We strive to participate and uphold civic duties and are committed to political causes. As a whole, we strive to make a difference in the world, which is good, because we are the generation expected to have all the answers.

We didn't break the economy, but we are expected to fix it. As with the generations before us, we are expected to produce a cure for cancer, a cure for AIDS, finding peace when we are constantly warring with other countries, and with ourselves as a country.

It is easy to understand why people would dislike Millennials, who are seemingly awarded just for participating, although many of those participation trophies are pushed by parents so their kids don't feel left out. We are constantly on our phones using Snapchat and Facebook as a means to communicate versus face to face conversations. I don't have excuses for this. Communication and the ways we carry it out evolve constantly. What was once letters delivered by stagecoach turned into telegraphs turned into (eventually) AOL and is now Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. But despite all the hate, we, as a generation, are strong, and working hard to prove everyone wrong, a feat for which we don't get pretty ribbons or gold medals, or even respect.

So come on, lay off Millennials. We're doing literally everything we can to make the world better.

Alexis is 20something diva working and living out of Okanogan County. She is addicted to Instagram, reading, dancing, singing in the shower, and using trendy vocabulary. She has a dog and a cat who suffer in silence while she reads all her blog posts out loud. For more of this, that, and the other thing, check back at random. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Why Cheerleading?


Over the years I was in high school, many people asked me, a (in the beginning) quiet girl who cared more for academics than athletics, why I would devote so much of my time to cheerleading. And it is true, I spent a lot of time doing cheer. My junior and senior years of high school I was spending over 20 hours a week doing cheer related activities. As a participant on two squads and a die-hard fan of the sport overall, cheer quickly consumed my life. But I have never regretted spending all that time doing something I love for even a second.

OJHS Wrestling Cheerleading
I began cheerleading as an 8th grader doing wrestling cheerleading for Oroville Middle School. I had never been on a team before. I was quiet, awkward, and didn't know anything about wrestling. We quickly had to learn. And along with all the rhythms and cheers, we soon knew all the rules and the ins and outs of the sport. I fell in love with cheerleading and I did it fast. Being a part of the cheer squad gave me friends that no other group activity would. Not only was I friends with the other cheerleaders, but with the boys on the wrestling team as well. And the lessons I learned from cheer are lessons that have carried with me to this day.

You also learn to never stop smiling.
As a cheerleader the quote "fall seven times, stand up eight" is a literal reality every day. Except usually you're falling from 5-10 feet off the ground and you may or may not have been thrown, and
someone may or may not be there to break your fall. If the people on the ground are doing their jobs, someone is there, and they are going to break themselves before they break you. You can't teach co-dependence like that just anywhere. Teamwork, trust, perseverance, you learn that just in the first day you learn to do a prep.

You learn to love people that you never dreamed of loving because they become your family, your sisters, your brothers, the people who occasionally punch you in the nose doing a basket, or the ones who (tee hee) fart in your face while you're backspotting them. It happens. We all know. You share secrets, jokes, tears, sometimes blood, bruise stories, memories, and experiences that no one else has and you learn to support these people, trust in these people, to work with these people and help them out, no matter what, on the mat or off. It's a transformative experience for many young girls and boys.

And just like many other extracurriculars, cheerleading helps people find their voice. Literally and
Oroville High School Football Cheer
figuratively. As an assistant coach, the other coaches and I pride ourselves on the fact that we teach our girls attitude, we teach them sass, we teach them that they are the top dog just because they are themselves and we love them for it. We let them be who they are and help them to excel in ways they never dreamed imaginable just because we believe in them. As a result, we see these young girls and boys who sometimes come to us very shy and very reserved, turn into outspoken confident young men and women who are having the time of their lives. By doing something that teaches you to love yourself, confidence is usually achieved.

2Hott Elite All Star Cheer
Cheerleading puts out, dedicated, driven, and goal-oriented human beings. Every practice, every game, every competition these girls and boys walk in thinking about something they need to achieve for the day. Whether it's "today is the day we learn a full down" or "tonight we need to out cheer our rival school because it's the bell game" or "today we need to hit all seven of our stunts to place first"
they always have something in mind, that together with their coaches, they are setting out to achieve. And this all starts at a young age for a lot of athletes in cheer. So by the time they have aged out of competitive cheer, they have learned to seek a new challenge every day, to not be satisfied with the progression of yesterday, because even though that was good, there is more to be done. These are the type of people we want in the work force, these are the types of adults who get things done in the world. Who make laws, who pass bills, who teach your future children, who just get out there and get stuff done, because they learned these super important lessons as a high school athlete.

The lessons I learned as a cheerleader have stayed with me as an adult - especially because I now
Omak High School Football Cheer
coach a group of wonderful girls who I get to help teach these lessons to. But if you're ever asking yourself if you should be a cheerleader, look past all that negative hype that we work to erase. Know that if you become a cheerleader, you're going to gain a family. You're going to learn skills that will help you for the rest of your life, and you're going to love every second of it. If something is in your heart, just do it. We can't wait to see you.

CTL Tidal Waves 2016

This post is dedicated to all of my cheer squads and coaches, past, present and future. You all continue to shape my life into something wonderful and I love you so much. See you on the mat. 

Pictured: The squads I currently coach. AKA my heart and soul.
Omak High School Football Cheer 2015

Friday, June 3, 2016


When I was younger, I continually broke down into tears over seemingly little things. Having to do the laundry when I was tired, having someone be angry at me, or just feeling like I was wrong. I often felt unloved and out of place, and attempted to be the center of everyone's world, I think as a result of feeling abandoned by my parents. I had incredible mood swings, with seemingly small things sending me from perfectly happy to raging mad, like the time I was planning for my 16th birthday party and my friends put mayonnaise on my sandwiches. I left after yelling at everyone and went outside, and filled by guilt, started crying. Then I felt stupid for crying so much, and cried so more.

For a long while many people told me that my mood swings and constant crying were a result of being spoiled by my grandparents. I was told that being sad for no reason was "stupid" and that I needed to "grow up". Inwardly, I always felt dejected, and like I would never go anywhere in life, a sentiment that was echoed to me by my mother once, but always stayed with me.

Once I became an adult this consistent "sadness" manifested itself in me sleeping all day, and shirking off responsibility. I get sick often, and got fired from a job that paid on the rent on my first ever apartment, I sign to me that I couldn't succeed on anything I tried. This came after me having to leave college, moving in with my family, moving out, and moving into an apartment in Spokane, only to end up fighting with one of my roommates over a huge misunderstanding, and because she was a friend that I ended up losing, I spiraled into a pit of despair of that moving back in with my family didn't help.

I felt like a fool, a failure. I tried to be happy and enjoy life, but for some reason I couldn't be happy. I moved in with a person I trusted, moving away from my family once again, and they ended up being not only verbally abusive, but emotionally, and occasionally physically abusive as well. But I felt I deserved it somehow. Because I was a failure and never would achieve anything, this house, with this horrible person would be the best I would ever get. I spent hours, even days laying in bed, sleeping, crying, not eating, not accomplishing or trying to accomplish anything.

Again, all these behaviors, which should have been a sign that I was deeply unhappy and even unhealthy, were treated as me being spoiled, a princess, that I needed to grow up. So I moved out.

For a while after moving in with some very close friends, I was happy. They had a baby who I loved, we all got along, I had a job that paid the bills, I was in a show as the lead, and I went to New York with money that I saved up. But occasionally calls from my family, or interactions with my old housemate, or even negative experiences at rehearsal would send me spiraling into hours of me feeling useless, unlovable, not worthy, and an unnecessary addition to the planet.

But then I got with a boy, I think out of a need to feel something for someone, and to have someone value me as a human and tell me I was worthwhile, and I ended up moving out of this place where I felt mostly happy. While he never mistreated me, I knew that he wasn't right for me, and I ended up breaking up with him, and leaving. Out of hurt, he sent me these horrible text messages calling me such evil things, that I couldn't help but believe. Because I had used him to feel good, and this was the payment for it. I deserved to feel bad because I was a bad person, and this new boy that I was with was going to figure that out and leave me as well. I felt so awful. But I had spent so many years hearing people telling me that feeling bad was me being spoiled and acting out, that I had no way to clearly evaluate all the negative stuff I was feeling. I figured that I was probably just being a princess again, and no one would care about how awful I was feeling.

So, after standing on the edge of the cliff for what felt like years, and being constantly nagged at by this hurting boy telling me how awful I am, I decided it was the end. I was done hurting, and no one needed my bratty self to bring them down or make them feel bad. Crying so hard I could barely breathe, I swallowed 3/4 of a bottle of ibuprofen. I told the guy who was harassing me that he had won, I wasn't going to be around anymore, and he wouldn't have to watch me be happy with someone else.

But then Cory found me and he wanted to know what was happening. What had I done. Why I was feeling so sick. So, figuring it was too late, I told him. Obviously it wasn't, and he took me to the ER to have my stomach pumped. Now apparently ibuprofen won't kill you, but it can cause a lot of damage to your insides. And it made me feel awful. Looking at Cory who was so worried about me, I realized I didn't want to die. I just wanted to feel better. I didn't want to be so sad. And then, after having my stomach pumped, I realized that I would never try to do anything so stupid ever again.

Soon after, I quit my job, and laid in bed for a month, maybe two. I forgot. It was a dark time. I slept all day, not wanting to eat, not wanting to get another job, not wanting to achieve anything. I hated everything. I hated myself. Everything was awful. I would just lay in bed and cry and sleep, and try to connect with my boyfriend, but cry when he get understandably irritated by my neediness.

I knew in my heart I was depressed, but I was embarrassed by that fact. I didn't want to be seen as someone who was crazy, or someone who was less than anyone else. I didn't want to have to tell people I was depressed and see them give me that look you give someone when you're trying to empathize or sympathize. I didn't want to be pitied, I wanted to be strong.

So I told myself to "get over it" like so many others had said before, and got a job. I love my job. I was happy there, and getting to a place where I was happy with myself and my life again. When bad feelings surfaced, I would cover them up with a smile, accept more hours at work to keep my mind off of it, and fill up all my free time. Soon I was so booked up with stuff to keep me busy, and in my mind, happy, that I exhausted myself.

I started to lose joy in anything that made me happy before. I didn't want to do theatre anymore, I didn't want to paint, thinking about cheerleading made me nauseous. I never felt hungry, I had no motivation, and I couldn't bear the thought of going to work when I felt this horrible. I felt like I was at the edge of the cliff again. I had to get help. I went to OBHC, but the process to get to see a counselor when you're not an immediate danger to yourself is mildly ridiculous. But after urging from my boss, I went to my medical doctor, who, after hearing just a partial list of my symptoms, confirmed I was depressed.

It was a long and horrible process that I just got help with, literally two weeks ago. So many people supported me along the way, and offered help, and comforting words that I ignored out of fear. I want to thank you all.

And I want to urge anyone who feels like they may be depressed, or have some other type of mental illness, get help. Don't wait. There is so much shit and so many stereotypes when it comes to mental illnesses that it can be scary. Ignore all that stuff, ignore anyone who tries to downplay what you're feeling, and get help. You'll thank yourself later on. This life is so beautiful, it's a shame that we would even waste part of it not feeling like our best selves.

Alexis Olmstead is a 20something bank teller living and working out of Okanogan County. She's avidly working to get her life back to normal after being diagnosed with depression, and going back to enjoying everything about her life. In her spare time she coaches cheer, acts, sings, and rambles on her blog. For more of this, that, and the other thing, check back sporadically.