It’s Time to Challenge Ourselves Differently

During high school I used to babysit my three young cousins. After a particularly memorable fiasco involving the youngest, who was two at the time, smearing markers all over a window while the oldest kept me distracted. I busted out some Windex and started scrubbing away at the assorted colors. While scrubbing the curious two-year-old asked me if I could pour some of the Windex into her cup. I explained to her that I couldn’t because Windex, even though it looks like Kool-Aid, is just for cleaning windows so she ran away screaming ‘yuck’.
If a two-year-old can understand that cleaning products aren’t meant to be consumed why are older millennials currently shoving tide pods into their mouths as some peculiar way to challenge themselves?
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers the effects of improper exposure to tide pods can cause seizures, pulmonary edema, respiratory arrest, coma, and death. In 2017 the AAPCC only handled 53 intentional exposures to tide pods among 13 to 19-year old’s. That number rose to 191 cases in 2018.
It really isn’t funny to see someone shove a tide pod into their mouth. I’m sure those who have done it don’t find it very funny when they end up with chemical burns on the inside of their mouths.
Another challenge arising is ‘The Coil Challenge’. This challenge involves people pressing their arms onto oven racks. The Coil Challenge is literally people purposefully mutilating their bodies and I just don’t understand. How are these amusing? I’ve seen the survival of the fittest jokes but I’m just not laughing.
Do we live in a society of idiots? Instead of challenging ourselves to live better lives we’re challenging ourselves to put dish cleaner in our mouths and 2nd degree burns on our arms. We continuously complain about snap chat updates, and we’re okay with those complaints, but we ridicule those who complain about the wage gap or violence or politics.
We need to stop caring about and promoting such silly and quite frankly childish issues and actions and look at the bigger picture. You may be asking yourself, what is the bigger picture exactly? Let me paint it for you.
We need to stop glorifying this stupidity. Stop giving it attention, stop tweeting about how funny it is, stop reposting the videos of people performing it. We keep wondering why our country is in so much turmoil and why we have a president with such a low approval rating and this is why. We are spending so much time conversing about these absolutely pointless acts and promoting needless issues. Why is it okay to complain about the snap chat update but not about the wage gap? Why am I told to stop talking when I bring up the second amendment but encouraged when I bring the latest crazy stunt plaguing the internet? Maybe because it is more difficult to converse about the touchy topics like the second amendment, but then why can’t we challenge ourselves to do so
The bigger picture is simply that we need to step up. We need to educate ourselves on different world issues. Take a stand against poverty, or the wage gap, or the racism that does still exist in this country.
According to the United States Department of labor, in 2016 white women still made 81cents to every one dollar earned by a white man with the same education level. With women of color the gap was even larger. According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2016 there were 40.6 million people in poverty. How are these topics less important than Tide Pod challenges or the snap chat update?
I challenge you start conversing about the issues that matter, whatever side you might take on them, start that conversation within your community rather than what the latest unhealthy trend may be.
Call the Poison Help Hotline at 1-800-222-1222 or text POISON to 797979 to save the number in your phone.


Let’s Talk About It

Mental health in the United States is a prevalent issue. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year, approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S, experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities, and 6.9% of adults in the U.S.—16 million—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.”

If you look around your work place, your class room, or a busy street you are probably looking right at someone who is struggling but you likely have no clue. I live with anxiety and depression and have since at least middle school. Most people I grew up with never even noticed. If you apply the statistics above to a classroom or work place setting at least one person probably struggled to show up, or maybe didn’t show up because they felt debilitated by their illness; if you noticed and thought to ask most people would respond with a simple I wasn’t feeling well.

Often times common mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression can present themselves differently from person to person. Of course, it’s also hard to notice when, more often than not, we’re seeing a perfect picture portrayed through social media. We all want the world to see the nicest sides of ourselves, our best angles, and our greatest moments. Society set these standards high and therefore started the creation of the stigma around mental health. We need end this stigma.

We need to start being more open about mental health issues. When someone says they feel anxious or depressed we need ask how we can help rather than telling them not to say those things. We need to take these claims seriously. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. the 3rd leading cause of death for people aged 10–14 and the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 15–24. From the ages of 10-24 most people are still pursuing an education. Here at University of Wisconsin Stevens Point we are able to meet with mental health professionals, but only 20 times and you need to plan weeks ahead of time to be seen. There is also currently one group session that meets weekly. The group only contains eight to ten students, so it fills quickly. In a crisis, these services are difficult to utilize due to these constraints.

“Bell Let’s Talk” is a Canadian organization dedicated to ending the stigma surrounding mental health. Their biggest event takes place on January 31st across different social media platforms. The organization simply asks users to use the hashtag “Bell Let’s Talk” in order to start conversations about mental health and the resources that are available to fight mental illnesses. This year there were 138,383,995 interactions. 138, 383, 995 times that stories were shared, or support was given and for every interaction money was donated to a Canadian mental health organization. Though this initiative wasn’t taken by an American organization the conversation was held via social media around the world. People let their guard down and stood together in their struggles. Yes, social media can be a part of the issue at times but when we aren’t hiding behind it, showing only the greatest hits of our lives, it can be a useful tool to engage people in the conversation about mental health. From personal experience I know it can be difficult to open up but sometimes seeing others doing so can be the push that is necessary for someone else to talk about their own mental health.

If we start to make it okay to talk about mental health everyday rather than one day a year we could save lives. I urge you to open up this conversation in your work place, your school, or your community. Stop shutting people down when they open up about their struggles with mental health. Start asking, with sincerity, how someone is doing if something seems off. Stop ignoring the ugly details of your own and other peoples lives. We as a society need to start embracing the not so beautiful sides of our lives in order to change them.

The “Why’s” and Why to Let Them Go

I, Erica Baker, am a planner; and I, Erica Baker, have a very hard time letting go of plans that fall apart.

I don’t think I could even count the hours I’ve spent muddling over the “what if’s” and the “why’s” and the “where did I go wrongs”. I am not a person who can just let my plans go. Even as they go up in flames in my hands you’ll see me holding on and getting scorched in the process. It may be a plan as simple as getting lunch with a friend that turns into a last minute cancel or the complete end of a relationship that was supposed to be forever. Plans gone awry throw me into a tizzy of anxiety and self doubt. Sadly, sometimes there is no real why or where I went wrong. You can do everything right and still fail because when a plan involves more than one person your 110% means nothing if they only give 2%. Wondering over and over again, “what if things had been different,” will not repair any broken plan because things just weren’t different.

One day they will be different though. Stop asking yourself “why” and start thinking “when”. When you, and I, get what we truly deserve and worked for. Create a plan for the when instead of recreating a plan to figure out the “why’s”, “what if’s”, and “where did I go wrong’s”. They don’t matter anymore, walk away to tend to your wounds and let the old plans go up in flames on their own.


Do people every really mend, or are our wounds always just lingering there right under the surface waiting for someone to come along and, like the rest, rip us open? I thought I had healed, one year and many drunken mistakes later I thought I healed, but here I am. Six months into someone new and a year and six months gone from you, even if it doesn’t quite feel that way right now. My wounds are being reopened as I sit here typing wondering why yet another is pushing me away like you. Not loving me the way he used to just like you did. Why another is packed and ready to depart leaving me behind to deal with a new pile of baggage alone, and to “mend” of course.

The Signs

“Pay attention to the signs, it is what it looks like” is what I was told, but what about when what I’m seeing just doesn’t seem to add up. How can love turn so sour so quickly? I’m still seeing us laughing at my utter clumsiness or silently, but blissfully doing absolutely nothing. I see the adventures and I see the fights but with both of those what stands out is triumph. The desire to never give up; the desire to be able to say, “we made it.”

Sometimes, “we made it,” needs to turn into, “I made it,” but I just don’t think I can.

Been a While

I have not posted anything here in a while mostly because I have not felt as if I’ve had anything to really share. I had a crazy finals week and now I’m spending my summer working. I did have two final papers that I scored high on so I’ve decided to share those.

The first was a personal essay I wrote for my “new journalism” class. It mostly details my parents divorce and how I dealt with that. The second was a story for the same class. My professor urged us to play around with different story structures in order to push us to the edge of our comfort zones. I have not shared these stories with anyone other than my professor and I originally wasn’t planning on it but as a writer that is another area I need to push myself from my comfort zone. If I don’t share the things I write then there is no way to get critiques and make improvements. With that being said please give me constructive criticism and feedback.

A Man’s World 

Personal Essay


In recent weeks I’ve been having a very hard time with my plans for my future. It’s about that time that my college starts to hold advising appointments as students begin to plan their schedules for the next semester. For someone like me, who is so extremely passionate about my major this shouldn’t be hard, but lately I’ve just felt so defeated.

Let me repeat, I am very passionate about my major and I truly love it. I could go on for hours about the importance of communication and journalism and how exciting I find it all. I light up when I talk about it, which is why I’m feeling so hurt and discouraged right now. I do not understand how someone could look me in the eyes and just squash my dreams or tell me that my major is easy because I don’t need to take science classes and everyone knows how to communicate, or mention how any job (that I probably won’t even get) won’t pay me very much. How can you look at anyone as they talk about their passion and basically tell them that, that thing they love, that thing that makes them feel like they have a purpose in this world, that thing  that makes them feel special isn’t actually important or worth it just because you simply don’t understand it. The ignorance is infuriating.

My mom always told me as a kid, “we’re not ‘rich’ but we’re rich in love.” I’ve decided to simply start ignoring the people who are too ignorant to understand my passions. I know that if I’m doing what I’m passionate about in my future I may not be rich with a mansion and a boat but I’ll be happy and I’ll find another passionate person to share my life with and in the end all will be well and we’ll be rich in love.


In hard times it’s nice to look back on happy memories and know that the hard times will pass. This can become difficult when the once happy memories become tarnished. In recent months I’ve had a lot of once positive memories turn negative; my views of the  people and places permanently damaged. I no longer can look at the pictures and see something I love but instead something I loved.

I am a person who loves change, I truly thrive on it. I think it’s exciting and I often look for it in my life but, certain things are supposed to remain constant and when they don’t I take that hard. I believe that every person has their childhood self tucked away inside themselves. That little imagination and hope. The thought that some things in life are just purely good and magic does exist. I don’t plan on letting that hope go. Instead I would just like to think that maybe I put some of my hope in the wrong places, people, things, and ideas. I do have some purely good things in my life right now (and in the past). The things that no longer seem so magical and great can now just serve as lessons. I’m learning who and what to put my faith and trust in and who I can count on to value my happiness. Those are the things I can focus on during the difficult times. Those are the things that I will keep to be my happy memories in the past present and future.

Here are some pictures that capture happy memories for me. I hope you can recall some of your own.



Every single Sunday night I sit in my bed panicking about what the upcoming week will hold. Sundays have a way of making the impending five(ish) days until the next weekend just seem completely unbearable. I truly hate to think this way but I cannot help myself from  stressing and wondering what this week has in store for me. Currently I know that I have one exam and for that exam I will have to study quite a bit. I also know that I will have another photo assignment that I will most likely put off until next Sunday. I have sorority events and a story to work on for SP-TV as well as an interview for a multimedia journalist position with The Pointer, our student newspaper. Truthfully this all seems very daunting, but to me the most daunting part of the whole week is what I don’t know. I don’t know how my exam, events, story, or interview will turn out. I don’t know what other obstacles will unexpectedly arise throughout these next few days. I do know that I did this same exact routine last Sunday and the Sunday before but somehow those weeks turned out okay and I am still here about to take on yet another week. I’ve decided to change today’s Sunday routine though; I took my time to panic but now I am going to take some time to find a few positives about the previous week and the upcoming week.

Last Week

  1. Last Tuesday was Valentines and it was the best I’ve ever had. Yes I know, I haven’t had many Valentines Days yet and I’ll have plenty in the future BUT for now this years was the best.
  2. Wednesday I turned in my Personal Essay assignment. I don’t currently have a grade for it but when I turned it in I felt confident and I knew I gave it my best shot.
  3. On Thursday my sorority extended bids to 8 new girls (who were all very excited to have received them). That night I was also able to get half-apps and share laughs with my sisters.
  4. Friday I got to hang out with Bri and Ben
  5. Saturday I got to take my little (from Big Brothers Big Sisters) to clay corner and she told me she had a lot of fun.


This Upcoming Week

  1. Ben said he would help me study for my exam which makes me feel a lot better about the whole thing.
  2. On Monday I’m getting dinner with Liv.
  3. On Sunday I get to go to Appleton and see my mom and sister and introduce them to Ben.

I may not currently have many things in the upcoming week to look forward to but last Sunday, had I tried to create a list, it would have looked the same way. The unexpected little things are what make life interesting and I’m sure this week will be filled with them. For now all I can do is finish off this Sunday by sleeping and starting Monday with a clear head ready to make this ordinary week extraordinary.