The Case For Emotional Support Animals
Real Talk |  Source: L. Smith, Shutterstock

The Case For Emotional Support Animals

Helping college kids succeed.

There has been a change in the world of animals used for medical reasons. Traditionally, one has service animals, which are dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit an individual with a disability. There are also animals that are referred to as support animals or emotional support animals. Instead, support animals provide therapeutic benefits to their owner through affection and companionship. A support animal will often be a cat, which may seem strange to some considering that many cats are not social animals. I know a girl with an emotional support chinchilla.

Support animals are becoming more common throughout the United States. So much so that support animals are protected under certain laws, such as the Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA) and the Fair Housing Authority (FHA). Even though support animals are not as protected as service animals, more and more colleges across the country are allowing students to have support animals in their dorms.

To many, emotional support animals seem like a joke. They do not perform tasks. They do not alert others of a medical emergency with their owner. They do not have to go through any training. However, they can make the difference between life and death.

I don't want to sound like a person that doesn't appreciate what they have, because I do. However, I also recognize the daily struggles that millennials are facing. Through personal conversations, I have learned that more of my classmates are paying their own ways through college than I ever expected. I am thankful that I get some help from my parents, but that is not the case for everyone.

As a millennial, my entire high school career was full of teachers telling me that I had two options if I wanted to make it in the real world: college or military. That choice alone can be stressful. To people paying their own way through college, which will likely leave a student in thousands of dollars of debt, getting an education is extremely stressful. My college also requires everyone to do an internship in order to graduate. Internships normally take up the same amount of time as at least a part-time job. That adds more stress onto a student. College isn't just about the grades anymore; it's extremely competitive, which causes everyone's stress levels to rise.

This is where colleges acknowledging the benefits of emotional support animals is extremely important. Support animals can save lives. My cat has prevented me from even acknowledging suicidal thoughts for over two years now because I am the only person responsible for taking care of her. She is my responsibility, so I have to stay alive so that she can have a good home.

That might seem ridiculous to many people, but this is what support animals do every day. There are times where I can't put gas in my car because I have to buy my cat food. That said, I would never give her up to save 20 to 30 bucks a month. My cat saved me.

There are other animals saving other people by just existing in their homes. College kids may be broke, but we need all the support that we can get. A personal friend of mine, Kayla, also has an emotional support animal. Her animal is also a cat, but where mine helps with my depression, her cat helps with her anxiety. Kayla said that her cat seems to know when she gets shaky, and although her cat doesn't stop the anxiety attack, "she makes it easier". Kayla recently graduated and lives alone. Her cat helps her stay in a more positive mood by making Kayla feel worthwhile by having something that relies on her.

Self-worth is extremely important for everyone, but even more so for recent college-graduates of a major that does not have many job openings for people with less than five years of experience. Kayla's cat is a prime example of what emotional support animals can provide. More and more college graduates it seems are facing financial struggles due to a lack of jobs in their career fields. A retail job just doesn't cut it when it comes to paying back loans.

Some people get emotional support from friends. Some people get support from family. Some people find self-worth in getting good grades. Some people find a way to keep fighting just to prove someone wrong. However, these things don't cut it for everyone.

If support, self-worth and a desire to keep living come in the shape of an animal, colleges need to recognize that. Kayla and I are extremely lucky that our college cared so much about our mental health and accepted emotional support animals as an integral part of students taking care of themselves.

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Do's and Don'ts of Owning a Pet in College

If you can't afford to feed a dog, don't get a dog.

Just like your parents said when you were little, owning a pet is a lot of responsibility. If you're thinking of adopting an animal while you are in college, there a few things to consider first. It's important to remember the different levels of responsibility that come with different pets. For example, a goldfish is going to be way more low maintenance than, say, a dog.

DO talk to your roommates to make sure that they are on board with whatever animal you plan on bringing into the house. It's their house, too.

DON'T push your pet duties onto your roommates. It's one thing to ask them every once in a while to walk the dog while you're at work, but it's another to ask them to pick up after them.

DO consult your lease and landlord to make sure owning said pet is allowed in your home. Some places will allow cats and not dogs.

DO make sure you plan a budget for your animal. Pets are expensive and you want to give them the best. If can't afford to feed a dog, you probably shouldn't get a dog.

DO pick up after your pet (obviously). It MIGHT start to annoy your roommates when the dog tears up garbage or the couch is full of cat hair.

DON'T forget that pets get sick. My best friend had a cat that couldn't pee and she sadly had to surrender him to the vet since she couldn't afford surgery. Make sure you're emotionally and financially prepared for any bad news that could come up.

DO research on how a pet could help if you have a disability. My roommate registered her dog as a therapy pet for her sleep anxiety. That also ensured that we could have the dog in our house (which doesn't allow dogs).

DO research which type of dog is right for you. Some dog breeds have different personalities and energy levels than others.

DON'T forget that puppies/kittens require lots of maintenance and attention. It's difficult to properly train a puppy while being a full time student. An older animal might be a better fit.

So keep all this in mind when trying to decide if owning a pet in college is right for you

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Real Talk |  Source: N. Leeper, Shutterstock

Why Dogs And Cats Are Equally Great

Two is better than one.

For some reason we have decided that we can either be a dog person or a cat person, not both, but why? These animals are both adorable and share such unique and different qualities that it is hard to imagine choosing between the two. Here are 10 ways that dogs and cats are both the best:

1. Dogs are always happy to see you.

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When you come home from work or school, you are guaranteed to be greeted by an excited and happy dog on the other side of the door.

2. Cats love to cuddle.

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They may not always greet you at the door and they may find you boring at times, but when you're sitting on the couch or laying in bed, you can count on your cat to be the one cuddling up on your lap waiting for attention.

3. Dogs will comfort you.

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If you're going through a bad breakup or just having a bad day, your dog somehow will just know something is wrong. You can count on them to be right there trying to cheer you up.

4. Cats can fit into anything.

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Their curiosity lead them to end up stuck in a box or lounging in a bowl leaving you shocked and amused.

5. Dogs are extremely photogenic.

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I mean just look at them, they put in no effort to look that adorable.

6. Cats will be lazy with you.

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Whether you are binge-watching Netflix or sleeping in until noon, cats will lay in bed with you and embrace your lazy day.

7. Dogs love the simple things.

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Whether it is going for a walk through the park or a drive through town, dogs are up for anything and will be excited to do anything as long as they are with you.

8. Cats show all of their emotions.

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Whether they're annoyed, happy, or scared you'll always know how they're feeling.

9. Dogs will protect you.

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Though at times their excessive barking may get annoying, they're only looking out for you and making sure that you are safe.

10. Cats are funny.

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They will never cease to entertain you, just look at all the YouTube videos of cats just being themselves.

Whether you agree or disagree that dogs and cats are equally amazing, what is undeniable is how both animals will love you unconditionally.

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Real Talk |  Source: L. Smith, Shutterstock

5 Things I've Learned From Working In Corporate

It's not like "Beauty and the Briefcase".

At the beginning of the summer, I was ecstatic to have two part-time internships at established companies. I felt like I would be the next Andrea Sachs. I loved thinking about decorating my desk, strutting into the office with a Starbucks in hand and getting those biweekly direct deposits.

Four weeks later, and I'm looking forward to the end of my internships, because I'll have time to be a nineteen year old college student during the summer--free of a forty-hour work week commitment. With that said, I'm grateful for the experience. I've learned a lot, made mistakes and discovered some aspects of what I do and don't want as a career.

If you're interning this summer, you can probably relate to these five things I determined from working in corporate:

It's not as glamorous as it appears on television.

Movies and TV shows have the tendency of making the office environment seem very appealing and enticing with hot men and women, classy outfits and exciting drama. However, I've quickly realized that this image distorts reality (like many things on screens do these days). Eight hour days are not my definition of "fun". Unpaid 30-minute lunches are a high luxury. Most days, I'd rather be rocking my classic college look. And no, I've never heard of any steamy office hook ups.

It really is all about money.

I never understood how important money is to people and companies until I worked a job in corporate. Numbers are super valuable, and I'm not talking about the low ones in my bank account. Revenue, profit, debt, etc. are what's on people's minds constantly in corporate. Nearly every decision made in any company happens with money at the center of attention. It doesn't seem right, but I suppose that's just how it is for businesses to thrive and people to make a living. I don't think anyone has the power to change that.

You can't escape the hierarchy or cliques.

You may have tricked yourself into thinking that middle school, high school and even college cliques would magically disappear post-college graduation. I hate to break the news that they won't. In corporate, I've concluded that most workers in each department stick to themselves; there's not a lot of integration among company workers on the whole. Plus, the sense of hierarchy is palpable in the office. People talk to higher-ups differently than they do to those below them or equal to them. Someone from senior management who treats people working under them with respect is one of the best things you can find in a working professional. I wish we could find them more frequently.

Interns don't have much say.

I agree that you get out of it what you put into it when it comes to internships, but I also think that corporate companies over all don't care too much about what interns have to say. They say they want fresh voices and innovation, yet simultaneously don't want to change their ways or take risks. It's been rewarding seeing some of my ideas implemented, but, at the same time, it's also disappointing, because I want to contribute more and feel like I'm incapable of that.

There's no rush.

Working in corporate gives me a smack in the face as to this is what I will most likely be doing for 40 years plus after college. That terrifies me. We're in a world that tells kids to not grow up too fast, but to also do things to prepare them for the "real world". I honestly think squeezing lemonade and waiting tables prepped me almost as much as working in corporate has. I may take a break from it next summer and do something more fun and exciting, for there will be countless office days in the further future. Enjoy being a student while you can!

Everyone's different. You may discover you love working in corporate and that it's your dream. You may find a company that treats their employees very well. As for me, I'm starting to brainstorm freelance opportunities and earning money through genuine passions of mine that don't involve a stuffy corporate environment.

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Real Talk |  Source: N. Leeper, Shutterstock

Who Knew These Baby Animals Were Cute?

You do, now.

OK, everybody loves puppies and kittens. If you don't, you're a heartless, evil monster. We know this.

However, there's plenty of other animals that are wicked cute that are heinously under appreciated. If you need a new animal obsession, look no further:

Bats


source: pinterest.com

They're in little blankets, are you kidding me? Bats are just sky dogs.


source: emgn.com

A baby!

Skunks


source: reference.com

My personal fave, I love baby skunks! Look at the way its lil' tail sticks up!


source: thespruce.com

Cute little stinky boy.

Hippos


source: euronews.com

If you haven't heard the good word about Fiona the hippo, I am here to enlighten you about the most amazing baby on this earth. The star of the Cincinnati Zoo, everybody should know about Fiona.

I think it's safe to say that I might be Fiona's #1 fan.

Elephants


source: eonline.com

If you don't think baby elephants are adorable, you need to get your eyeballs examined.

LOOK AT THE BABY FALL DOWN. THE SWEET CHILD. HE JUST WANTED TO PLAY.

Platypus


source: pinterest.com

They're so weirdly chubby and adorable with their bills. What the heck is up with them? I don't know, but you're doing amazing, sweetie.


source: pinterest.com

He honestly looks so soft.

Sloths


source: news.nationalgeographic.com

Need I say more? Need I really say more?


source: boredpanda.com

Look at the lil' guy hangin' upside down! So talented!

Have you ever listened to the cute noises that make?

Hedgehogs


source: youtube.com

Look at them! Their little spikies! My heart is going to explode.


source: pinterest.com

Look at the face! He looks so perfectly content being held like that.

Giraffes


source: denverpost.com

Look at that smiling face! What's not to love?


source: denverpost.com

Kisses for the baby! This touches me in my heart place.

Rhinos


source: dailymail.co.uk

Good boy! So playful! It's amazing that these animals grow to weigh over a ton. Look at his little feeeeeeeeeeeet.


source: fightforrhinos.com

He has a leaf. He's doing so great.

If you haven't seen the video of the baby rhino playing with the baby goat, buckle your seatbeats and get ready to be taken to CutiebabyanimalsIlovethemsomuch Town:

Piglets


source: pinterest.com

Pigs are one of the cutest domesticated animals ever. Ever. I am adamant about this. I will not listen to or tolerate reason otherwise. We! Love! Pigs!


source: pinterest.com

You perfect, pure angels all snug and sleeping. You're gonna grow up to be so big and strong and smart, yes you are.

I have totally been using a baby voice this entire time, if you haven't figured that out.

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Real Talk |  Source: L. Smith, Shutterstock

When Fear Of Alcoholism Ruins The Party

Recognizing you have a problem ... before there's a problem.

My mom has been an alcoholic for as long as I can remember. Currently, she's sixty years old, and I'm twenty-one. Now is the most socially acceptable time for me to drink, and I'm already realizing that I have a problem.

Moderation doesn't always come easily to me. One drink turns into two, which snowballs into six. I'm a pleasant drunk, so my friends have no reason to call me out. I haven't royally fucked up by getting a DUI or anything like that, but my inability to pace myself has recently become a red flag. It's possible that alcohol and I are a bad mix.

Heavy drinking is sort of like smoking cigarettes. It looks cool when you're young and attractive, but as you age, the negative effects on your health can sully any inkling of glamour. When it comes to alcohol addiction, we often don't recognize the problem until it's too late. I don't want to wait until I destroy my liver before realizing there's a problem. Despite what movies, TV, ads, music, and college culture itself have said about people my age, I am not invincible. So what is a college student with a love of partying and a family history of alcoholism to do?


Source: CollegeMagazine

Get over the fear of socializing while sober. When you're sober and you walk into a room full of drunk people, you may feel obligated to start chugging drinks. I've convinced myself that I can't function in these settings without a few drinks, but that's just not true. If you allow those first few minutes of awkwardness to pass, letting your sober self get settled in, you may actually enjoy yourself more than if you were drunk. I've tried this out a couple times and found that sober me is just as fun as drunk me. Not to talk down alcohol, but you don't need it to have a good time around drunk people. In fact, sober you is more perceptive of your friends' debauchery, so be sure to take plenty of pics!

College life and heavy drinking seem to go hand-in-hand. But when an individual with a family history of alcoholism lives in a culture that over-normalizes drinking, there may be a problem. Just because something works for other people your age, doesn't mean it's right for you. Time will tell how I'll manage my problems with alcohol. I'm seeking counseling to get advice on how to deal with this, and I would encourage any one else in my situation to do so as well. If I learn to pace myself, that's great, but I think it's best for me to stop drinking altogether.

When it comes to any lifestyle choice, do what's right for you. Understand your risk factors before they become a problem. Have as much fun as you can while also taking care of yourself.

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