Is Your Self-Doubt Really Impostor Syndrome?

Is Your Self-Doubt Really Impostor Syndrome?

It can happen to anyone: Despite a laundry list of achievements, you can’t shake the feeling that you’re a fraud.

This overwhelming feeling of self-doubt and insecurity, often called imposter syndrome, is super common. A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science, reported that an estimated “70 percent of people will experience at least one episode of imposter syndrome in their lives.”

Unfortunately, a lot of people deal with impostor syndrome a lot more than just once. Some people feel this brand of self-doubt every day. Over time, it can damage your mental health and make it more difficult to achieve at work.

When self-doubt takes over

Clinical psychologist Ellen Hendriksen defines imposter syndrome as “a pervasive feeling of self-doubt, insecurity or fraudulence despite often overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”

Illustration of African-American woman confused at work. Impostor Syndrome pbs rewire
It seems that high-achieving women are more susceptible to the impostor syndrome.

Though the term seems to be thrown around more and more these days, it was initially coined in 1978 by two psychologists, Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes.

Clance and Imes introduced the concept when they wrote about their research findings, which suggested that these feelings of intense self-doubt and scrutiny seemed especially prevalent among successful women.

“Numerous achievements, which one might expect to provide ample object evidence of superior intellectual functioning, do not appear to affect the impostor belief,” the researchers wrote.

For example, you could suddenly get a great new job or a hefty promotion or raise. Although you have a proven track record of hard work and the success that comes with it, you feel your accomplishments are a fluke. Imposter syndrome will make you feel as though you are constantly on the verge of “being found out” for what you “really are.”

Identifying impostor syndrome

Does this sound like you? According to Business Insider, common signs that you’re dealing with impostor syndrome include:

  • Focusing solely on mistakes, rather than what you did right
  • Thinking that anyone could do your job, despite evidence to the contrary
  • Believing that the worth of a task or responsibility is determined by how hard it is
  • Thinking that you’re never enough
  • Overthinking to the point that you’re not fully “in the moment” 

Who has impostor syndrome?

These symptoms can impact just about anyone, even celebrities. Acclaimed poet and author Maya Angelou is famously quoted as saying, “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’”

Imposter syndrome doesn’t care if you’re a Nobel Prize-winning author; it can make you feel as though your success is one long con.

However, there are some trends when it comes to who deals with it most. It seems that high-achieving women are more susceptible to this internal self-bias. Clance and Imes discovered that the women included in their study not only didn’t believe in their intelligence, but failed to “experience an internal sense of success.”

Some researchers, such as Kevin Cokley, a professor of educational psychology and African diaspora studies at the University of Texas at Austin, believe that imposter syndrome especially impacts minority groups.

He did a study that determined minorities experience more negative mental health outcomes due to impostor syndrome than they do from discrimination.

What it feels like at work

Imposter syndrome can negatively impact a person’s work performance.

Workplace consequences include “undue reluctance to take prudent risks and undue unwillingness to opine, for example, in a meeting,” said San Francisco Bay area life coach Marty Nemko, a prolific author and contributor to Psychology Today.

So, believing yourself to be a fraud can make you afraid to share your thoughts at work. This, in turn, can put you at a disadvantage when it comes to advancing in your career.

How to conquer impostor syndrome

The first step is to identify your feelings and think about how they are affecting you, psychologist Audrey Ervin told Time.

“We can help teach people to let go and more critically question those thoughts,” she said. “I encourage clients to ask ‘Does that thought help or hinder me?’”

In some cases, therapy may be a positive and effective resource to combat these feelings of low self-worth.

Joseph Cilona, a Manhattan psychologist, told mental_floss that cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT, can help. CBT is a form of talk therapy that “helps you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

Learning how to battle imposter syndrome comes with time.

“With experience and remaining focused rather than dabbling (in addressing it), the imposter syndrome will recede, although probably not completely,” Nemko said.

But the fact that we might never completely escape these thoughts “may be a good thing,” he said.

“Worrying that we’re even a bit of an imposter can motivate us to keep learning, and that both makes us more competent, current, and keeps us feeling fresh rather than burned out.”

Vanessa Willoughby

Vanessa Willoughby is an editor and a writer. Her work has been published in The Toast, Vice, Broadly, Allure and other publications. She is a fiction editor for the independent publisher Brain Mill Press.

The post Is Your Self-Doubt Really Impostor Syndrome? appeared first on Rewire.

Take These Simple Steps to Reduce the Garbage You Produce

As we live our lives ordering dinner from Postmates, going to bars with friends and grabbing coffee before work, how often do we actually stop and think about just how much trash our lifestyles produce?

Don’t worry, we’re not asking you to sift through your trash can. The average American citizen creates around a whopping 4.4 pounds of trash a day, which makes the United States the leader in producing trash, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

As for what happens to trash when it hits the landfill or dump? Well, the short answer is not much. In these oxygen-lacking environments, trash — even something organic like an banana peel — takes an incredibly long time to decompose.

The effects of having too much trash on this earth are, as you can probably guess, deadly — to both the earth and the health of animals, including us. Landfills produce methane and carbon dioxide, which are harmful to our health and the environment. Plus, food waste in landfills can harm animals who eat it, impacting our planet’s biodiversity. The list goes on and on.

Thankfully, there are simple, affordable lifestyle adjustments that anyone can make to shrink their waste footprint. These changes won’t break the bank but will help you live more sustainably — and not even realize it. Heck, some of these changes might even save you some money in the process.

1. Reuse, seriously

This one’s pretty obvious, but reusable items are a surefire way to cut down on your trash levels. It can go beyond having a reusable water bottle and coffee mug, too. Look into menstrual cups, an alternative to tampons and pads, and reusable food wraps, which are made of compostable beeswax.

Illustration of mailbox without any junk mail in it. Reduce the Garbage You Produce pbs rewire
About 44 percent of junk mail is left unopened and destined for a landfill.

But the best place to use reusable stuff? At the grocery store! Bring your own mesh produce bags instead of using the plastic ones that come off of the roll. Avoid packaging as much as possible — pack your own containers when purchasing anything from the deli or bulk aisle foods. A tip: use old pasta jars for the bulk aisle.

Of course, bring your own totes so you don’t have to use plastic bags when checking out. If you do end up in possession of a plastic bag, make sure to reuse it.

2. Rethink packaged products

Along with shopping in the bulk aisle, you can avoid filling your trash can with empty cardboard and plastic packaging by heading to the local farmer’s market for produce, meat and fish that’s fresh and most likely unpackaged. However, shopping this way can be more expensive.

On that note, avoid packaging in your bathroom, too, by opting for soap bars, which don’t leave you with a plastic bottle, recyclable stainless steel razors and compostable bamboo toothbrushes, Ecophiles editor Namrata Bhawnani said.

3. Make your own

In fact, why don’t you just revamp your toiletries all together by dropping some of the store-bought stuff? Make your own toothpaste and deodorant using coconut oil.

It’s also incredibly easy to whip up your own non-toxic household cleaners, thanks to the help of vinegar and essential oils.

4. Opt for cloth

Forget about paper towels and choose to clean and dry with cloth instead, environmental consultant David Ambrogio said. The benefits are twofold: they’re eco-friendly and, as a one-time purchase, they’ll save you money.

“These napkins can be used again and again — all you need to do is throw them in the washer once a week with your clothes and they’ll be ready to go again,” he said.

5. Cut junk mail

In America, junk mail is pretty ubiquitous, as is tossing it away. About 44 percent of junk mail is left unopened and destined for a landfill.

Stopping junk mail from reaching your mailbox is incredibly easy, thanks to websites like, which removes you from mailing lists, Ambrogio said. 

6. Forget fast fashion

Though the price tags can be tempting, fast fashion, clothing made cheaply and not to last, has deadly repercussions on our planet’s health.

Not only do the factories that make these clothes treat their workers poorly, but a recent report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation stated that the textiles industry has higher rates of greenhouse gas emissions than both international shipping and aviation combined. On top of that, the industry almost never recycles materials.

Cut down on your fast fashion by thrifting and buying from sustainable brands. Now might be the time to invest in a capsule wardrobe.

7. Reimagine takeout

Food delivery services like Postmates and Seamless are definitely convenient for when you’re hungry and not able (or not in the mood) to make food yourself.

However, the plastic utensils, paper napkins, plastic containers and disposable bags create a lot of trash for just one meal. We’re not saying you have to cook every meal forever and ever, but when you do call for takeout, consider picking it up yourself and bringing your own reusable container or bag to transport the food in. It might seem silly at first, but just think about how many single use plastic items you’ll be avoiding.

8. Start composting

Food scraps and yard waste take up about 30 percent of what goes in our trash cans, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That statistic can be magically erased from your waste footprint when you compost.

While some people think keeping their old banana peels will lead to an unpleasant stench and even more unpleasant bugs, that’s not the case if you compost correctly. Check out the EPA’s tips for composting, and look into local resources. There might be a community garden near you that collects frozen food scraps. 

9. Bye, straws

Here’s a mindlessly easy one: when going out or dining out, just say no to straws when you order your drink. If you must use a straw, bring a reusable one with you.

Kathleen Wong

Kathleen Wong is a Honolulu-based writer with bylines in The Cut, Broadly, Mic, Mashable and more.

The post Take These Simple Steps to Reduce the Garbage You Produce appeared first on Rewire.

When to Cut Ties With a Toxic Parent

When Rachel was a teenager, her mother had her future all planned out. Rachel’s mom had decided where she would go to college, what type of man she would marry and how she would live her life.

But of course, Rachel, who asked that her last name be withheld for this article, had other plans for herself. After transitioning to adulthood and struggling to maintain a healthy relationship with her mother, Rachel ended their relationship.

Illustration of a man being stepped on by an extra-large shoe. Rewire PBS Love Toxic Parent
Your relationship with a parent may be toxic if you feel constantly belittled and demoralized.

For lots of us, the parent-child relationship shifted either positively or negatively as we became adults and no longer needed, or wanted, to be parented.

“Times of transition typically bring more stress into the relationship itself, and launching children from the home is one of these big transitions for both kids and parents alike,” therapist Heidi McBain said.

Take some proactive steps

But a transition to adulthood isn’t the only reason parent-child relationships deteriorate. If you feel that your relationship with one or both of your parents is floundering, try these tactics to get it back on track:

1. Set boundaries

Maybe you decide to set limits on how often you see your parent. Maybe you choose not to talk about certain topics (politics, relationships, career choices, et cetera). It’s up to you to establish “rules” that will make you feel comfortable and make it easier to talk or spend time with your parents.

“If boundaries are not put in place, it is common for people to do what they need to do to protect themselves and their own families,” therapist Allen Wagner said. “Cutting off a toxic parent can become necessary when an adult child has their own family,” for instance.

2. Communicate how you feel

As a child, it’s hard to develop your own beliefs separate from your parents’. Maybe your parents had the best of intentions in raising you a certain way, or in a certain type of community, but their beliefs and ideals no longer align with yours. Maybe their plans for you aren’t the plans you have for yourself. Speaking up is key, if you want to prevent estrangement.

3. Seek professional help

Not ready to confront your parents? Consider talking to a therapist about your thoughts and feelings. If you feel it will help, and believe your parents would join you, consider family therapy.

“Parents do make mistakes, and they do not always express themselves in the right ways,” Wagner said. “Many of the things that people find toxic often come from a very good place but (can) feel critical or minimizing.”

If you’re unsure where your relationship with your parent stands, ask a professional for their opinion.

Identifying toxicity in your relationship

All relationships have their ups and downs — and the parent-child relationship is no exception. So how can you tell when your relationship has progressed past normal?

With more millennials living at home, getting married later, embracing their sexualities and abandoning religion, some parents struggle to adjust their behaviors in response to their children’s choices.

Maintaining a healthy relationship is only possible if both sides are willing to be respectful and understanding. So even if you live at home, rely on your parents for financial assistance, or need your parents to help you through a transitional period, know that your parents shouldn’t control your life, criticize your choices or make you feel bad about yourself.

“If there is any type of emotional abuse where the child feels like they are not good enough, they are not worthy enough,” then the relationship has likely become toxic to the child, McBain said.

Many parents have the best of intentions, even when being critical of their children. But not all do. Here are some signs that adult children should look for when identifying toxicity:

  • Your parent minimizes or rejects your feelings.
  • Your parent makes you feel insecure, worthless, or guilty.
  • Your parent tries to control your finances, financial choices, career path or relationships. Even if your parent is still paying your car bills, they don’t get to control where you go or who you go with.
  • Your parent refuses to accept a lifestyle choice that is important to you.
  • Your parent lies, manipulates or rejects your boundaries.
  • Your parent makes you fearful. Maybe they’re fighting an addiction and putting you in harm’s way or maybe they’re watching your every move and making it impossible for you to live your own life. If you ever feel afraid of a parent, of what they’re cable of, or of the situation they’ve put you in, you’re dealing with a toxic relationship.

Cut ties or take a break?

Cutting ties doesn’t have to be permanent, but it’s sometimes necessary to separate yourself from a parent, especially if you’ve both put in effort without success, or your parent has refused to adapt.

If you don’t want to cut yourself off completely, “try to come up with a time when you’d be comfortable having contact in the future, be it a month, at the holidays, on your birthday, et cetera,” McBain said. “But, give yourself permission to keep this contact very short and contained if your parent becomes mean, toxic (or) verbally abusive”

You’re not talking — so now what?

Do you have to skip family gatherings if you’re no longer communicating with a parent? Attending family events is your choice. If you choose to attend knowing the toxic parent will be present, prepare yourself for the discomfort. Let your family members know, in advance, where your relationship stands.

“Be open and honest with your other family members about what’s going on in your life and with the parent you are not currently in contact with,” McBain said. Let them know you’re planning to attend, but that you still need time away from the parent.

Relationship psychologist Laura F. Dabney suggests you come up with an escape plan before you show up to the party. Whether it’s “I’m going to help in the kitchen,” or “I’m going to check on the kids,” or, simply, “I have another event to attend.” If you’re traveling for the event, staying at a nearby hotel is a good option. It allows you space to yourself should the situation worsen.

For Rachel, complete separation was needed. She no longer sees her mother — not even on holidays.

So only show up, and stay, if you feel comfortable doing so. Maintaining your self-worth is more important than filling a seat at the family dinner table.

Sarah Sheppard

Sarah Sheppard is a freelance writer, editor and writing instructor. She earned an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University and is working on her first novel. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter or contact her at

The post When to Cut Ties With a Toxic Parent appeared first on Rewire.

6 Surprising Ways You Use AI Every Day

Because of artificial intelligence, we have self-driving cars and robots that explore other planets. But just because your car doesn’t drive itself doesn’t mean you don’t come into contact with AI every day. In fact, you probably don’t realize just how often you rely it.

This advanced technology has crept its way into our daily lives. Whether you want to learn more about how your tech works, or you want to be more aware of your interactions with artificial intelligence, it’s worth knowing about these six ways AI is part of your life.

1. Bots

Commonly known as chatbots, you might assume their functions are limited and their responses are pre-recorded. For this reason, some people avoid them. But artificial intelligence is the driving force behind bots — and they can do a lot more today than they could in the past.

African-American woman using facial recognition. AI pbs rewire
Artificial intelligence recognizes you by learning the geometry of your face. Like fingerprints, no two faces are exactly alike.

Many websites now have chat boxes that pop up in the corner of the browser window and encourage you to ask questions. These conversation bots use Natural Language Processing, or NLP, to understand human speech. When you ask something, the bot gathers information that is related to your question. It sifts through hundreds of search results to find an answer and give it to you.

If you use some form of digital personal assistant — like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Siri — you are using a voice bot. These work in a way that’s similar to a conversation bot, but with an added step. AI is used to understand speech and translate it into text before finding an answer. Voice bots are also used to perform tasks, like making calls and adding events to your calendar.

2. Digital maps

Apps used for travel use artificial intelligence to perform lots of their functions. AI uses GPS data to observe where traffic is slow or if there is a car accident. It estimates your arrival time by looking at current users and how fast they are reaching their destinations. Data patterns are analyzed to predict when and where traffic will slow down or speed up at different times. If you are trying to find parking in a specific area, AI can recommend where to park and how long it will take to find a spot.

3. Online banking

These days, we don’t need to go to the bank to deposit a check or look at an account balance — we can do almost everything from our phones. And AI contributes to making digital banking user-friendly.

Ever wonder how your mobile deposit really works? It uses artificial intelligence to transfer money between accounts. Based on a photo of a check, AI transcribes the text and hand-written words from the picture. It verifies the account information, then transfers money from one account to another.

Although we may not interact with it, AI helps prevent fraud. It monitors your bank account and credit card transactions. Over time, it collects and stores data. If your credit card is used in a location far from you or a large purchase is made online, you are usually notified. By looking at patterns in your spending and card use, artificial intelligence can notice if something is out of the ordinary.

4. Facial recognition

We used to use passwords and PINs to unlock our phones. Then it progressed to fingerprint scanning. Now, a lot of us don’t need to do anything more than look at our screens.

Artificial intelligence recognizes you by learning the geometry of your face. Like fingerprints, no two faces are exactly alike. Measurements of your facial topography are turned into a formula that the computer can use verify your identity.

5. Media streaming

Have you noticed that services like Spotify, Netflix and Hulu give you suggestions for what to stream next once you finish something? And that’s how a TV binge is born.

You can probably guess that these sites examine the content you like. This is done with algorithms, formulas used in coding and programming. They’re instructions that tell a computer what to do and how to do it. By combining sets of these instructions, you get artificial intelligence.

On streaming services, artificial intelligence collects and analyzes information from users. It looks at what kinds of TV shows you’re loyal to, which songs you skip and what movies you turn off halfway through. It then finds patterns in these actions and delivers new content based on them.

6. Social media

Like streaming services, social media uses algorithms. When you watch a video in your feed, like someone’s status or comment on a photo, AI tracks your activity. It then shows you posts that are similar to what you usually like and engage with instead of what you ignore.

Morgen Henderson

Morgen lives in the Silicon Slopes of Salt Lake City. She loves to write and learn about technology and artificial intelligence. In her spare time, you can find her baking or traveling the globe.

The post 6 Surprising Ways You Use AI Every Day appeared first on Rewire.

Be Green in 2019: Simple Ways to Improve Our Planet’s Health

The current state of our planet’s health isn’t great.

This past year, we’ve seen extreme weather, rising sea levels, lower water quality, climate refugees and plastics in oceans to name a few. (Lest we forget the Great Pacific Garbage Patch…”patch” now being three times the size of France).

While these are huge problems no one person can resolve, we can all play a part in nursing our Earth back to health. Sure, ditching straws and drinking from reusable beverage containers may seem small and insignificant in the grand scheme of planet-saving actions. But if each of us does our part, our collective efforts can go a long way.

To get inspired, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite sustainable living recommendations from the past year. Have your own green living ideas? Share your tips with us in the comments.

At home

Whether you acquired new clothes or gadgets this holiday season, it’s as good a time as any to take inventory of what you might get rid of to make room for your new stuff.

Graphic showing the elements of Zero Waste. Planet's Health pbs rewire
The three Rs are frequently considered a catchphrase when, in reality, they’re a hierarchy.

Some people have made it a practice to swap one for one. When they get a new clothing garment, they swap it out for a garment they don’t wear anymore and donate it. Nearly all clothing can be recycled, so if it’s too ratty for someone else to enjoy secondhand, do a little research before simply tossing it in the trash.

Find out what to do with clothes that are too dirty to donate.

E-waste, or electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world and much of what electronics consist of is toxic to our planet. So, you got yourself a new smart speaker and can finally ditch your old, barely functioning speaker system, but how?

Learn how to get rid of electronics the Earth-friendlier way.

Many of us don’t think about recycling in the bathroom. In fact, according to half of us don’t recycle personal care items.

On the road

Think about how you get around. Is there a way to incorporate carpooling, public transit, biking, walking or perhaps another mode of getting around that isn’t simply you alone in your car, even just one day a week? Alternatives to driving are not only good for the environment, but also for your personal well-being!

It’s understandable that not everyone can get around without a vehicle but this guide to living car-free may inspire you to get from point A to point B differently.

At the office

“What if everyone made those small changes and took that personal responsibility? Once you make it a habit, you realize it’s not as difficult as you thought.” – Patricia Weisenfelder, community relations specialist for sewer, stormwater, solid waste and sustainability at the City of Columbia, Missouri.
More green living inspiration from 2018:
Maribel Lopez

An Iowa native, Maribel ventured to the north in 2010 upon accepting her first “real” job after college in TPT’s National Productions Department. She assisted with interesting PBS programs like “Slavery by Another Name” and “Constitution USA with Peter Sagal.” As Rewire’s Project Specialist, she’s paving the way to get Rewire’s content out into the world. A lifelong lover of public television, Maribel fits right in with her geeky colleagues. When she’s not “working” she likes to dance around in shoes with nails on the bottom of them and enjoys stopping to pet all the dogs she meets while walking her own dog, Carlos.

The post Be Green in 2019: Simple Ways to Improve Our Planet’s Health appeared first on Rewire.

6 Ways to Make a Difference in the New Year

Consider this your rallying cry: It’s time to stand up and be heard, to become an engaged citizen of the world and to hold your elected officials accountable.

Sound overwhelming? Not to fear: We’ve compiled the following toolkit to get you started. 2019 will thank you for it!

Make them hear you

Lobby for a cause

Though it sometimes doesn’t feel like it, constituent opinions do matter. Whether you’re joining a nation-wide campaign, or there is an issue close to you that you want to advocate for, writing your representatives can make a difference and feel empowering.

These tips can help you understand when and how to write letters to your elected officials.

Stay active

We deserve a pat on the back for showing up on Election Day. But, if we play our cards right, we can make sure we don’t lose momentum now that it’s over. It’s pretty easy to cast a ballot; it’s more challenging to hold those we voted for accountable.

“Civic participation is a continuous requirement for citizens in a democracy: it’s part of life, not part of a lifestyle,” Vote Like a Mother founder Sara Berliner said.

Civically engaged folks shared their ideas for next steps in the aftermath of the midterm elections.

Illustration of three friends watching the news. Make a difference pbs rewire
Understanding the difference between fact and opinion is one of the trickiest things for news consumers today.

Exercise your rights

Data suggests that democratic ideals, like freedom of speech, are at risk the world over. According to the Freedom in the World 2018 report, “democracy faced its most serious crisis in decades in 2017 as its basic tenets — including guarantees of free and fair elections, the rights of minorities, freedom of the press, and the rule of law — came under attack around the world.”

Despite this global trend, we can still exercise our rights to peaceable protest and free speech to influence change where we live and around the world. And more of us are doing that than ever. In fact, since 2016, one in five Americans has participated in some sort of protest — 19 percent of them for the first time ever, according to a poll by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Find out what makes a peaceful protest effective and how to join in.

Get out there

Jury duty

“Apart from voting, jury duty is the most direct way you can impact how your government works, how justice is provided to both victims and perpetrators of crime, how disputes large and small are decided,” said Judge Mary Yunker of the Tenth Judicial District of Minnesota.

We’ve outlined what to expect and why you shouldn’t try to get out of it.


You find what you want to eat via an app. You might even find someone to date via an app. So, as long as you’re typing and swiping, why not use an app (or more than one!) to put a little good into the world?

We found five apps that can help you connect with volunteer opportunities, donate your time or effort to a good cause or simply give back to others — no matter if you have just a few seconds or half a day to lend a hand to your fellow humans.

Study up

Understanding the difference between fact and opinion is one of the trickiest things for news consumers today, said Peter Huoppi, a multimedia journalist and director of multimedia at The Day, a daily paper that covers 20 towns in eastern Connecticut.

“On cable news, especially, there’s so much opinion mixed in under the guise of news,” he said. “The volume of political rhetoric has been cranked up, so people are really highly attuned to anything that could be in support of their personal beliefs or not jibing with their personal beliefs.”

When media consumers see an opinion piece in the same publication as a news article, it can be confusing. Readers can mistake the opinion piece for reporting and assume the news organization’s coverage is not impartial. And journalists haven’t done a good job of explaining the difference, Huoppi said.

Strengthen your media literacy and find out what journalists what you to know about the news.

Marissa Blahnik

Marissa identifies as a Leo, an only child, a Jersey girl, a musical theater geek, a media producer and a champion of cheese. She cut her teeth with Court TV’s documentary unit in NYC, earned her stripes developing cable programming with Powderhouse Productions in Boston and in 2009 jumped into public media with Twin Cities PBS in Saint Paul. She’s adapted well to the North Coast lifestyle and thinks everyone needs a little hygge in their heart.

The post 6 Ways to Make a Difference in the New Year appeared first on Rewire.

From Mental Health to Money: Talking Points to Get You Started

The more important a topic is, the harder it can be to talk about. Whether at work or at home, there are plenty of distractions that make avoiding the hard stuff easy.

But just like that old proverbial bandaid: Once you get started, once you normalize talking about the hard stuff, it’s usually not half as scary as you thought it would be.

We’ve gathered expert advice to help you get the conversation started — with yourself, with your partner, with your parents — about sensitive topics relating to love, money and health.


Lifestyle differences

“If people want to learn more about your choices, then feel free to share. But also don’t feel that you have to share,” therapist Jenny Matthews said.

Illustration of couple playing tug-of-war over money. Talking Points pbs rewire
The financial habits of your romantic partner, even if you’re not married or living together, impact your relationship and your personal well-being, both mental and physical.

“Know that there is not one right way to live in this world. Everyone is entitled to their own choices. There is a reason you have chosen your lifestyle. It likely brings you joy, comfort or improves your life in some way. Not everyone will agree. Haters will hate.”

Read more here.


Normalizing pronoun sharing is a form of allyship, genderqueer artist Archie Bongiovanni said. Don’t wait until you have someone on your work team or in your organization you think might be trans or gender non-conforming to start talking about pronouns.

“I think if workplaces and businesses and places where we exist don’t catch up and get to speed when it comes to inclusive language and good LGBTQ policies, they’re going to get left behind,” Bongiovanni said.

Read more here.

Bad romantic partners 

“Ask (yourself) ‘What are the risks if I give this feedback and what are the risks if I don’t?’” said Minnesota-based marriage and family therapist Rebekah Miller.

Read more here.


Your parents’ estate plans

Millennials’ parents are just now hitting retirement age. With more than half of people in the U.S. having saved less than $10,000 for retirement, Erin Lowry, financial expert and author of “Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together,” anticipates the financial burden of their parents’ retirement will fall on their children.

Read more here.


“When we frame inequity as a person’s undeserved privilege, that person tends to justify their status by talking down the other party, describing the colleague as lazy or incompetent,” Ashleigh Shelby Rosette, professor of management and organization at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, said to the university about her research. “This disparagement then justifies their decision not to share their rewards even though they were unfairly distributed in the first place.

“Simply by changing the framing and presenting inequity as another person’s undeserved disadvantage, we find people are more interested in addressing it and are less likely to blame the other person.”

Read more here.

Your honey’s money

Depending on your upbringing, you might think of money as something only married couples need to talk about. But with our generation pushing off marriage, that means important relationship milestones that go with it — like having a frank discussion about financials — could be getting pushed off, too.

Not only is that bad for your relationship, it’s bad for you.

Analyzing two years of data from more than 500 adults transitioning from college to post-college life, relationship researcher Melissa Curran and her research team learned that the financial habits of your romantic partner, even if you’re not married or living together, impact your relationship and your personal well-being, both mental and physical.

Read more here.


Chronic illnesses

“Small talk is hard for anyone who has something big going on in their lives, and for those of us living with chronic illness, something big is going on all the time,” said Allie Cashel, co-founder of the nonprofit Suffering the Silence. The organization advocates for people with chronic and invisible illnesses.

Read more here.


“As someone who last spring went through a very near suicide of a brother,… the biggest thing I learned from the whole experience is to do something. To speak up. To not worry so much about ‘What if I am fanning the flames of a suicidal ideation by talking about it?’” said Paul, a Minnesota-based actor who asked that his last name not be used in order to protect his brother’s privacy.

“Nope. Every crisis counselor that I spoke with, and the person who answered the phone when I called the (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline), all said to speak up and not be afraid I would be causing harm by talking about it.”

Read more here.

Marissa Blahnik

Marissa identifies as a Leo, an only child, a Jersey girl, a musical theater geek, a media producer and a champion of cheese. She cut her teeth with Court TV’s documentary unit in NYC, earned her stripes developing cable programming with Powderhouse Productions in Boston and in 2009 jumped into public media with Twin Cities PBS in Saint Paul. She’s adapted well to the North Coast lifestyle and thinks everyone needs a little hygge in their heart.

The post From Mental Health to Money: Talking Points to Get You Started appeared first on Rewire.

Is It Racist to Have a Racial Dating Preference?

The influx of mobile dating apps with the “swipe” functionality has made the process of selecting potential romantic partners a lot more shallow.

While sites like Match and eHarmony require users to build extensive profiles detailing their interests and personality traits, apps like Grindr, Tinder and Bumble rely on selfies as the determining factor in a user’s decision to swipe right (yay!) or left (nay).

As a result, users are often more blunt about their physical preferences, including race and ethnicity, right in their bios or their DMs. This ends up creating a hostile environment for people of color on apps that are supposed to be for everyone.

What’s sexual racism?

The normalization of sharing racial preferences online has spurred a range of questions surrounding race and dating. Is it racist to say that you’re just not attracted to a certain race? Is it possible to have a racial preference without being racially biased? Is it fetishism if you purposely date members of a certain race outside of your own?

African-American man and woman liking each other's dating profile. Racial Dating Preference pbs rewire
Black people and other racial minorities need exclusive spaces where they feel understood and appreciated in a society that deems them lesser.

To understand this phenomenon, we first have to define it.

The term “sexual racism” has roots in the 1970s and was defined by Rutgers University professor Charles Herbert Stember as the “sexual rejection of the racial minority” and “the conscious attempt on the part of the majority to prevent interracial cohabitation.”

Modern usage of the term frequently refers to racial prejudice that’s disguised as “just a preference” on dating apps and in real-life social settings. However, this casual framing of racism ignores the greater impact it has on the lives and self-esteem of racial minorities who are already portrayed as being less desirable in mainstream media and society at large.

A history of stereotypes

In 2014, OkCupid founder Christian Rudder wrote a blog post analyzing race and attraction on the site. User data found that most men rated black women as less attractive than women of other races. Likewise, Asian men were ranked as the least attractive group by most women.

These stats echo the historical degradation and defeminization of black women’s appearances in racist media as well as the stereotypical feminization of Asian men in television and movies.

The open dismissal of entire ethnic groups occurs on LGBTQ+ dating apps as well. After accusations of pervasive racism on its platform, Grindr launched an initiative called Kindr Grindr, which includes a zero-tolerance harassment policy, to eliminate hateful and discriminatory language.

How POC dating apps are different

But what about race-specific dating apps like Black People Meet? Is there a double standard when people of color choose to date within their race or reject white partners?

The simple answer is no. Black people and other racial minorities need exclusive spaces where they feel understood and appreciated in a society that deems them lesser. These sites were, in fact, created as safe environments for people of color seeking partners with shared cultural experiences. For example, the dating app Dim Mil was founded to preserve religious and marital customs for South Asian people.

Most importantly, people of color do not have the social power or influence that white people have when they use harmful stereotypes to reject entire groups of people. Nor are there systems in place that enforce the idea that white people are undesirable.

The ‘Get Out’ effect

Another contentious topic in the dating world is the fetishization of minorities by white people. It’s no coincidence that Oscar-winning filmmaker Jordan Peele employed the horror genre in his 2017 film “Get Out” to examine this phenomenon. In the film, the main protagonist, a black man named Chris, is visiting the family of his white girlfriend Rose for the first time.

As the story progresses, he finds out that Rose has had a rolodex of black ex-boyfriends whose brains her family has removed for their personal use. The grim tale is, of course, a dramatization of an interracial relationship gone awry. But it does illuminate problematic dynamics that can occur in these situations.

Racial fetishism is a sexual preference for members of a certain race, typically people of color. You may have heard the term “jungle fever,” referring to non-black people who are attracted primarily to black people, or “yellow fever” about non-Asian people who are attracted primarily to Asian people.

Historically, racial fetishism in the U.S. has birthed offensive tropes about black women and men, dating back to colonialism, to justify mistreatment of their bodies, including the hypersexual “Jezebel” and “mandingo” stereotypes. For East Asian women, the “lotus blossom” or “geisha” stereotype assumes that they are submissive, servile and willing to do anything sexually.

Attraction vs. fetishization

This particular facet of sexual racism today can easily be disguised as an innocuous admiration for someone’s culture. You may be thinking, what’s the harm in appreciating someone for their race? Isn’t it a compliment that I’m especially attracted to this group of people? Don’t these attitudes toward people of color help to eliminate racism rather than perpetuate it?


When you reduce human beings to characteristics, often stereotypical of their race, ethnicity, or culture, you’re objectifying them to fulfill your own personal wishes and expectations for how they should look and/or behave. Racial fetishism also demands a level of performance from the person of color who may not naturally exude the traits you expect them to have.

This isn’t to say that any sort of attraction a white person has for a person of color is inherently problematic. In fact, if you’re a white person who’s only ever attracted to white people it’s probably worth examining any internalized feelings you have toward people of color.

There’s a fine line between thinking someone is cute or sexy as an individual and lusting after someone for their skin color and the attributes you assume come with it.

The world of online and in-person dating is already a circus. But the hateful and fetishizing treatment of people of color, particularly in spaces where people are seeking pleasant interaction, inflicts a great deal of harm that is already rampant in our society at large. Everyone deserves the right to be treated like a human being in the process of finding love, or even just a hook up.

Kyndall Cunningham

Kyndall Cunningham is freelance writer and journalism student based in Baltimore. Her writing focuses on pop culture—specifically music, film and television—and its intersection with politics, identity and representation. Her official website is And follow her on Twitter @Kyndallrene. 

The post Is It Racist to Have a Racial Dating Preference? appeared first on Rewire.

Was 2018 the Year Hollywood Embraced Representation?

The battle for diversity on the big screen rages on. Last summer, a study released by the University of Southern California Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that mainstream films made virtually no progress in their portrayals of gender, race and ethnicity, the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities from 2007 to 2017.

But is that the full picture? While it’s hard to ignore that straight white males continue to dominate your local multiplex, breakout hits like last year’s “Wonder Woman” and “Get Out” created at least a perceived improvement in Hollywood representation.

With another year of cinema history nearly in the books, are we finally on the verge of making positive steps toward onscreen diversity and representation?

A year of ground-breakers

When film historians look back at 2018, they’re likely to declare it a landmark year for representation on film. Of course, the big success story was Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther,” which beat the odds to emerge as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s top domestic grosser.

Illustration of the Marvel character Deadpool. Representation pbs rewire
Films like “Deadpool 2” demonstrate that white men are still very much the default when it comes to Hollywood blockbusters.

That stellar $700 million U.S. box office ($1.3 billion worldwide)—coupled with near-unanimous critical praise—catapulted the film to record-shattering cultural milestone status and broke ground for people of color both in front of and behind the camera. Expect co-writer/director Ryan Coogler to have his pick of upcoming projects as well as a pay raise for Black Panther 2.”

“Crazy Rich Asians” and, to a lesser extent, the John Cho-led “Searching” opened the doors for greater Asian representation on film.

“Crazy Rich Asians,” directed by Jon M. Chu, was the first mainstream Hollywood film with a predominantly Asian or Asian-American cast since “The Joy Luck Club” way back in 1993. Based on the Kevin Kwan novel, “Crazy Rich Asians” earned $234 million worldwide against a $30 million production budget, proving to be one of the year’s biggest crowdpleasers and moneymakers.

Women have had a solid year in the industry as well. In addition to Constance Wu’s lead role in “Crazy Rich Asians” and the strong supporting actresses of “Black Panther,” “Ocean’s 8” (which grossed $297 million worldwide) starred an ensemble cast of women.

Led by Oscar winners Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway, Gary Ross’s film serves as a gender-swapped sequel/reboot of the “Ocean’s” trilogy fronted by George Clooney in the early-to-mid 2000s.

Even more recently, David Gordon Green’s 2018 “Halloween”—a direct follow-up to the 1978 John Carpenter classic—became an instant smash hit with a $76.2 million opening weekend in the U.S.

Returning star Jamie Lee Curtis has championed the film’s relevance to the current political climate—such as its allegory for the #MeToo movement and female empowerment—as well as the records set by its higher-than-expected debut. In its first week, the new “Halloween” claimed the biggest opening for a horror movie with a female lead and for a film starring a woman over 55 years old.

Too soon to tell?

Of course, this impressive list could be little more than a series of anecdotal examples. After all, the study I cited earlier took into account 1,100 films, the top 100 from every year.

For all our talk of diversity, we really only name-checked five major 2018 releases, four of which currently sit within the top 20 highest domestic grossers of the year.

These few examples register as barely a blip amidst the white male-dominated box office. Films like “Mission: Impossible — Fallout,” “Deadpool 2,” “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and “Venom” demonstrate that white men are still very much the default when it comes to Hollywood blockbusters, no matter how little this focus reflects changes happening in the real world.

These examples of diversity on film could also be chocked up to the industry’s tokenization of minority populations and justification of its lack of big-picture progress in an era when the masses demand more.

Yet, whatever the initial rationale behind them, films like “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians” could be the opening salvo of an emerging trend toward stronger representation. Even though the past few years have been peppered with huge hits led by women and people of color, the road to progress is often slow and somewhat imperceptible at first.

The USC study doesn’t account for this phenomenon since its scope ends essentially at what could be the outermost edge of a golden age in Hollywood diversity. What happens next will depend on whether Hollywood learns from consumers, and on how these record-breaking films influence the future.

A headshot of a man. PBS Rewire. Robert Yaniz Jr.

Robert Yaniz Jr. is a full-time freelance writer specializing in business, marketing and entertainment. Over the last 15 years, he has covered everything from the regional business scene to the latest movies and TV shows. You can usually find him—laptop on hand—sipping a latte or chasing after his young daughter. For more on his work, check out or email him directly at You can also find him on Twitter @robertyanizjr.

The post Was 2018 the Year Hollywood Embraced Representation? appeared first on Rewire.

What to Do When Your Parents Undermine Your Parenting

Bringing kids into the world is exciting, but defending your parenting style to family and friends is not.

You likely live a very different lifestyle than your parents did at your age. Young adults today spend less time on meal preparation than older generations, often preferring to go out, pick up or order delivery. They are also less likely to ask their friends of family members for parenting advice, preferring to consult the internet for answers instead.

So of course, these younger parents are bound to make different decisions about raising their kids than their own parents did. But depending on the personalities of your parents and your partner’s parents, going your own way might be easier said than done.

Disagreements are inevitable

As a new parent, this transition means you’re suddenly making major decisions almost nonstop—whether to breastfeed or use formula, when to introduce new foods, whether you want to co-sleep, what religion to raise your child in, if they should get sweets after dinner or not, when and how much TV they can watch—and the last thing you want is criticism.

It’s hard enough coming to an agreement with your partner, but trying to explain your parenting choices to your parents (the child’s grandparents) can be difficult and exhausting. You don’t want to offend them, but just because they raised you doesn’t mean you have to agree with how they raised you. After all, times and best practices change.

Become a united front

Grandparents can weigh in on issues—and likely will—but, at the end of the day, “the parents need to be a united front,” psychotherapist Laura F. Dabney said.

Illustration of extended family hanging out in a living room. Parents Undermine Your Parenting pbs rewire
Grandparents should adapt their parenting style to fit yours, not institute their own.

You want your parents or in-laws “to see that you’re both on the same page with the issue,” said Heidi McBain, a marriage and family therapist and professional counselor.

Even if a grandparent is constantly making suggestions or comments (You shouldn’t use a pacifier. You shouldn’t feed them formula.) you need to stand your ground. This can be challenging if the grandparent is always visiting, hovering, calling or babysitting—and it can be extremely difficult when the helicopter grandparent is your partner’s parent and not your own.

Before lashing out or saying something hurtful, “discuss (the issue) with you partner and try to come up with some solutions together on how to best discuss the situation with your parent,” McBain said.

It’s up to the child of the grandparent to set boundaries with their own parents, Dabney said. In many cases, “the child-in-law has not had a long enough relationship with (their) in-laws to buffer or protect (them) against hurt feelings or misunderstandings.”

Set boundaries for your family

Confrontation can be hard. But, when it comes to your kids, communication is key.

“When you’re ready, sit down with (the in-laws) and let them know how you’re feeling,” McBain said. “Then actively listen to their response so they leave the conversation feeling heard and understood by you” and your partner.

The key is to be kind and respectful, but assertive. When confronting specific issues with parents or in-laws, Dabney suggests using this format: “I feel X when you do Y.” For example, “I feel anxious and inadequate when you criticize my parenting skills, so would you please not do that in the future.”

Grandparents need to understand that their role is grandparent, not parent. When a grandparent acts as a third parent and starts making decisions or ignoring household rules, this can undermine the parents and can affect their relationship with their children. The children can also get confused about what the rules actually are and who is in charge.

The parents are the rule-makers

Your parents may disagree with you on a quite a few parenting issues—from your child’s diet and bedtime to the way they’re disciplined and how many activities they participate in. But at the end of the day, how you and your partner choose to raise your kids is up to the two of you.

Grandparents should adapt their parenting style to fit yours, not institute their own.

“You want your kids to have consistency regardless of who is watching them,” McBain said.

So if a parent or in-law buys sugary cereal even though it’s not allowed in the house, or if they let your child watch a PG-13 movie before the child is allowed, that’s a problem. Any time a rule or expectation is shattered, this can cause unwanted stress between family members.

The goal is to unite the entire family. But if disagreements with your parents or in-laws threaten that, you will need to address the issues head on. If you don’t, resentment will likely build and “come back to haunt (you),” Dabney said.

Let your parents help out, but set clear boundaries.

“You’re the parent,” McBain said. “So, ultimately, you get to make the decisions about your kids. “But you want to hear where your parent is coming from as well.”

After all, they raised good kids themselves, didn’t they?

Sarah Sheppard

Sarah Sheppard is a freelance writer, editor and writing instructor. She earned an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University and is working on her first novel. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter or contact her at

The post What to Do When Your Parents Undermine Your Parenting appeared first on Rewire.