Why #relationship goals could ruin your real life relationship

In 2016 we are moving or trying to move further and further away from the hashtag craze that took over every form of social media and our vernacular last year. One of the biggest trends we all found ourselves gravitating to is #relationshipgoals and everything that encompassed that. Full Instagram pages dedicated to cute candid pictures of couples lovingly putting food in each other’s mouths, candid’s taken while sleeping, vacation traveling, and of course the birth of #swolemates and #fitcouples that gave us all gym envy. Agreeing to go somewhere to eat can be hard enough without dragging your significant other to put on decent clothes and break a sweat at the gym- getting between the sheets can be just as gratifying- just saying.


So why did we let this hashtag and pictures that followed rule our relationship ideals last year? Why did we let celebrities like Bey & Jay, Chrissy & John, Jelena (when they are together), and so on be our pillar of what relationships should look like? Who made the rule of what our life is supposed to look like with our partner? What is photo-worthy, since that what it often comes down to nowadays. As a couple where can we go, what can we do, how can we make ourselves look happy and appealing to the outside world. Wrong. Wrong Wrong.WRONG. If your living in your relationship to get likes on social media or put on the facade your the picture perfect couple, the only person your fooling is yourself. When you let social media start dictating the life you think you should be living with your partner, your only setting yourself up for disappointment and putting undue stress on the expectations for the relationship.


Are there aspects of a relationship we should all aspire to, Yes of course. What everyone wants out of a relationship and partner is different, we all have a different vision for what the ultimate life is we’re sharing with our partner. Is wanting to live extravagantly, take amazing trips, and own the finer things in life wrong, of course not. But do you need these things to be happy in your relationship, no. The biggest problem with #relationshipgoals is that it sets up only a glimpse of a relationship and not giving us the entire perspective. I’m pretty sure unless your an Instagram model, couple, or being sponsored by an agency to post those convincing photos, we all know there is more to a relationship than a moment captured in the picture. I’m a firm believer that a photo can say a thousand words, truly it can and often does convey so much we see at surface value. But that’s the key is that it’s at surface value. Setting the expectations that relationship goals is what you need or think you need in order to have a successful relationship is setting yourself up for the failure.


When we think relationship goals in 2016, well for those of us looking to form healthy, sustainable partnerships, lets look to actually setting real goals-not just wanting what’s in a picture. Being the generation of change and reinvention in terms of label, sexuality, communication and relationships, we should set our best foot forward in giving a new definition to relationships. We should promote and work on making the type of goals with our partner to help us be our best selves in the relationship while helping the other person move and grow forward in their journey. Can we travel, build, be successful and have great experiences that enhances our time with that person-yes you should in fact. If your not growing in the relationship the better question would be why are you in it to begin with. Let’s separate the hashtag this year and make it less of a trend and more of a real life, concrete aspect of our time with our partner.

I”ll take the real thing over #relationshipgoals any day.

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#Why You Should Live Beyond the hashtag



So 2015 was the year of the hashtag. In a year full of trending twitter topics, celebrity feuds, shade being thrown via social media, award shows, and music (Drake and Meek we’re looking at you) nothing was more prominent on memes and pictures than #insert here.







If you didn’t read these behind a caption or manage to catch the several catchy memes, I am sure you heard it as we found ourself incorporating it into our language. The hashtag lived boldly and proudly in the year of 2015 and moved beyond representing the number sign to signifying a  status, goal, a couple to strive for, or the type of friends you have. We are all guilty of the hashtag effect, even me. But in the endless nights spent staring at my screen and finding myself 50 instagram pages deep in a random page devoted to one specific hashtag, I couldn’t help but think, Do I really embody any of these hashtags? Do I live by what I attach to my pictures, tweets, and tags that my friends and boyfriend often wake up after I have found a picture that symbolizes what I think these hashtags are.

The more I thought about it, the more I kept thinking my goals cannot be summed up in a simple hashtag, these few characters do not encompass everything I want my life to be. Is my #SquadGoals important and essential to the friendships and relationships I am trying to build. Not really. In a self- obsessed world hell bent on proving to the masses we have something our neighbor should covet. We are out to prove we have something you cannot have, something exclusive.

Are my friends amazing? Yes.  Do we embody what I think of for goals in friendships? I honestly am not sure, though in a idealized world I would like to think so. But who sets the standards for these goals? Often then not this specific hashtag was used in reference to the glamazon girl squad Taylor Swift brought to the forefront. When I think of even comparing my friends to Taylor’s squad I almost cringe because we in no way encompass the elegance, beauty, and power that these women made up of celebrity royalty represent.

Now don’t get me wrong, because my friends are beautiful, unique, powerful, and ingenious souls that I love with all my heart, but I would like to separate myself from the concept that these specific friendships are what anyone should strive for. We should use  the hashtag if anything to reflect and build on the goals we have for each other within the friendships to make it the best it can be. I want more than a hashtag to make up the sum total of a picture to amass 50 plus likes on my instagram page.

#RelationshipGoals was used to the fullest extent representing every powerhouse couple from Bey and Jay, Nicki and Meek, Dwayne and Gabrielle, and the list goes on and on. I love celebrity couples, the media loves celebrity couples, we as a society have become engrossed and entrenched with the latest baby news, vacation travels, and gifting they do for each other. We are saturated with it. Let’s be real though-really real. Dating is hard enough as it is, having a committed, healthy relationship nowadays is a unicorn. Why would we ever have the added pressure of trying to live our romantic lives like celebrities? It’s not realistic and puts the kind of stress and expectations that leave so many of us scratching our heads when our significant other cannot give us  what we think we want or deserve. What standards have we set for #RelationshipGoals when we the majority of this current generation makes it a rat race to even get to the start of one.

I agree we see the fit couples, sneakerheads, cuddling poses, and endless candid moments that we all would love to share with someone. But a picture captures a moment and is nothing more than a glimpse of a relationship. Anyone of us would love the type of access to the types of experiences celebrity couples have, but a moment in a picture should not be what we expect or want from a relationship. Another couples version of happiness may be what you want, to be happy is what is wanted, but to idealistically live trying to be like a specific couple is setting ourselves up for failure. We are setting ourselves up for failure letting these hashtags dominant our perceptions and ideals of what we think our life should be.

Life is more than a hashtag and we should want to live beyond that. I want more than a candid moment to post on social media in hopes for likes and comments verifying my relationship is of worth because it appears enviable to a friend or follower. I yearn to strengthen my friendships and set goals for each other to have the lifelong relationships that will carry from one milestone to the other. I want to make 2016 the year of no hashtags to live for or present on my life and instead focus on using the hashtag to grow, learn, and build with the people in my life and within myself. Let’s make the type of moments and memories that we don’t immediately feel the need to post on social media with a hashtag following in hopes someone will want what we have.


C. Zellars-Shareef Creations

When one of my closest friends/cohort in Chicago was wanting to get back to her love of photography for Spring 2016- I was excited for two reasons. One I love to take pictures (if not obvious from how I choose to document/share my life), but enjoy being on the other side of the lens as well 2. I did not know this was a passion of a wonderful woman who I have come to grow and love living in this city. If anything it just proves to me there’s always hidden passion projects/facets to my friends I still have yet to learn.

My boyfriend who I have shared a long distance relationship with for the better part of 2015 was visiting for the holidays and I decided to combine Courtney’s need to practice her skill set with my desire of wanting to memorialize our 2015 in a cute way. So we met up on January 2, 2016 and had a wonderful, snow filled shoot outside in Grant Park here in Chicago, IL. It was amazing, and I was so impressed with Courtney’s direction and vision for these pictures. Be looking out for her soon since she plans on expanding her photography skills this year and adding another amazing talent to her growing artistry.

Look out for courtney via twitter & her blogging experiences as a grad student:


Here are some of my favorite shots from the shoot below(Shout out to my handsome boyfriend for being such a good sport in the cold) :


The Stanford Prison Experiment: RedBox Rent

When I first saw the trailer for The Stanford Prison Experiment I was blown away by the concept that a role play situation enacted by college students at somewhere prestigious like Stanford University could really go awry.


I immediately drew interest at the idea of control/power and if the roles of power were assigned/taken away as the experiment suggested what this unearths beneath the surface of the human psyche. I recently had the opportunity to watch the film via Redbox and found myself horrified and entranced at this real life experiment enacted by the students. What was even my more disturbing was finding a bridge between this and my own experiences in Greek Life as an undergrad- though I will not share that at this time. I can say from experience though that there is a distinct level of change that occurs when you are the aggressor with power and the victim in which the power is enacted upon.

The creator and professor of the project Phillip Zimbardo, even shares his real life camera footage/ documents of the study on his website. Check this film out- it not only gives an interesting insight into the prison world, but makes you reflect on your idea of power and what you would do with it.


Trying a diet fad: I lived through waist training.

In 2015 we got to see diet fads reach an all time high between the many celebrity endorsed teas (TeaTox, Flat Tummy Tea, Bootea), protein shakes galore and the ever popular waist training. Now, I have no shame in admitting I have dipped my hand in more than enough diet fads in my day and age. Truth be told I grew up struggling with accepting my curves and loving my body as it was developing between my boobs and spreading hips. I think I remember as early as fifth grade being picked apart by family members about my body and thus started my quest for self-acceptance.

I can not proudly state, but unashamed none the less admit to trying fat burners, The South Beach Diet, Special K food challenge, and everything in between all up until some point in college where I learned eating well and regular exercise was the only permanent success for my body. Who would have thought right? Sounds simple right? Wrong when you cannot eat what you want and still look like a Victoria’s Secret model. Chalk it up to bad genes, slow metabolism, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard and used the various excuses myself at one point in time or the other. A few years ago with the help of a personal trainer I was able to drop and keep off 20 lbs and found a newfound love and appreciation for fitness and healthy eating.


It’s hard, very very hard, but with the boom of body acceptance in the media, magazines, and celebrities who I can actually relate to I began to love my body and my curves. Now, figures like The Kardashians, Demi Lovato, Gabrielle Union, and Ciara are just a few of my fit gurus I aspire for when working out. Can I ever realistically look like them? No, I do not have a personal trainer or dietician on hand to sculpt my body for daily living, but do I admire their fearless approach to accepting their bodies, strength and empowering others, Yes. When I started seeing Kim Kardashian promoting a waist trainer on her instagram I was skeptical. I’d never tried a waist trainer but remember wrapping ace bandages around myself corset style to “tighten and tone,” my waist. I clicked on her link and dropped my mouth at the asking price of over $100 for these “miracle waist trainers,” and shelved the idea.

I’m a student in graduate school so if I’m dropping $100 on anything it’s going to be groceries, best believe that. However; this is when the Khloe wave as I like to think of it started emerging and her instagram became filled with bad ass workouts that all incorporated this waist trainer. I was doing regular workouts 5x week and eating healthy to the best of my ability but couldn’t stop myself from drifting back to this waist trainer concept. I didn’t have anyone else to refer to in terms of information on what it was and how it worked since many of my friends aren’t exactly gym rats like myself. I did various research and read reviews on google and the site they endorse called “Waist Gang Society.” I had recently acquired a new job and decided to treat myself to trying my first “Waist Trainer,” and decided I would use the website endorsed by the Kardashians themselves, go big or go home right? even purchasing the style Khloe Kardashian uses in her workout.


The site gave me many options ranging from colored waist trainers, printed designs, full body shapers, butt lifters, and various belts. The creator Premadonna models each version with a quick blurb in what it does and where it targets your desired body part. I learned that Kim and Khloe use different “Waist Trainers,” and since I’m inclined more to Khloe and what she was using specifically in her workouts I purchased the “Latex Gym & A Garment,” at the price of $130 with a discount I acquired from following Premadonna on instagram. It took a few days to ship and I was ecstatic to receive it and opened the black rubber armor that would transform my body, or help it at least. First off, I can tell you, it was worth every penny and the durability of it, is no joke. It has thick black rubber and metal hooks that have 2 different settings to adjust your waist to once you get smaller.

The website does state and endorse that exercise and healthy eating are encouraged and I had read more than enough comments from users who relied solely on the trainer and ended up flat and flabby. So I made it a priority to wear it every single day and workout and eat right, hey I paid enough money not to take it seriously right? It took about 2 weeks for the trainer to conform to my body, but I enjoyed the way it helped keep my posture straight and was filling out my curves along my waist. I documented my journey honestly and openly on instagram and shouted out Premadonna when I could because I enjoyed the waist trainer. Some days were more challenging the others, especially when I didn’t eat right which caused an uncomfortable tightness around my stomach. Through diet and exercise I managed to lose 10 pounds after two months of intensive workouts ranging from the stairmaster/treadmill/kettlebell and boxing paired with the waist trainer. I actually loved wearing it and the challenge it gave me to work harder. The current one I have is too big for me now and I plan to invest in a smaller size in January.


Is it necessary for weight loss? No. I’m confident I would have still dropped the pounds because of how hard I was working and my strict diet I was on (I was also prepping for my boyfriends Marine Corps Ball/ Return from Deployment in December- further incentive.) But I wanted to share my experience because I am an average person, woman, and graduate student who made the investment in a trend that I thoroughly enjoyed, no ads or gimmicks here. There are several other companies who endorse “Waist Trainers,” amongst other products and if it’s something you want to try out, the worst you can do is lose money if not weight. I would never encourage investing in something like the waist trainer if your not going to do the work behind it, it does not do the work on it’s own, it’s not a genie. I think it’s great for a straight posture, flattening your stomach and controlling your appetite which lessens because of how tight it is around your waist. Guess I should thank the Kardashians for the help.


Latex Gym & A Garment

Before You Die

The Before You Die Mural was one of the most powerful murals I got to bear witness to this fall 2015. It posed the simple question that required it’s audience’s to fill in the blank with chalk scattered around the board. Me and my friends happened to uncover this by chance driving in San Antonio.





As I did more research into what this mural was I discovered this was one of thousands of murals around the world. The answers posted by its writer’s ranged from long life dreams ,promises,  careers, and everything in between.  My own sister posted wanting to meet her fictional husband John Snow from Game of Thrones. (We can all dream.)

In my research I found out the original mural was created in New Orleans and happily found it after much sweating and panting with my girlfriends.


To be honest this questioned has always been at the forefront of my brain since I have many career/travel aspirations I want to do. Something felt so finite about setting that in stone and proclaiming it in a public setting. There’s a fearless wonder I had in doing that and sharing it with my friends. Have I met that goal yet in 2015? Not yet, but I do plan to execute it to my fullest extent in the coming year.

Check out the story behind the mural: http://candychang.com/before-i-die-in-nola/

Ending 2015 #whatliftsyou


So its been awhile, I mean a really long while since I posted a blog post on here.
Life to say the least was fleeting for me this semester. I would love to rant, roast and tell you the gory details, but I instead want to turn the conversation to a brighter note.
Leave the 2015 on a higher platform because that’s where I am at now. I am in a better place physically,  mentally,  spiritually and emotionally than where I had left off back in September.

September was busy, whew that was a crazy month, but I discovered a wonderful artist back in September that set me on a path of self-reflection with a simple statment. What lifts you.

I stumbled upon Kelsey Montague through random instagram posts where I saw these beautiful,  intricately drawn murals she leaves in random parks and venues all over the world in the hopes of inspiring people.

Crazy concept right? With three words and a stencil she creates a message of hope for her audience. She travels all over doing this for a living, leaving her mark like a footprint in the sand.

I dragged my best friend’s to see one of her murals in New Orleans and after 30 minutes trekking in the sun it was worth it. A lovely birthday gift I’d been set on obtaining for my eyes and camera.


In New Orleans I was happy to share my wings with my best friend because she’s lifted me up since the day we met over 10 years ago.

I began following Kelsey on social media and checking to see where she was going to be creating murals at next. When I was in San Diego with my boyfriend we failed at finding her gaslamp mural, but I’ll forever be grateful for the 1 hour drive he spent looking with me in downtown San Diego.

Now when I got to see she was drawing murals to leave in San Antonio I was escatic and my mom made the trip with me to uncover her latest gems in downtown.




As she continues creating and traveling  (hopefully in Chicago soon) I look forward to following her path and letting her message inspire me. As a fellow artist wanting to make my own mark and fumbling through grad school to create art worth leaving behind I will never forget to remind myself of What Lifts Me to begin with.

So here’s to ushering in a new year and being thankfuk, grateful and blessed for the opportunities, friends and family I have had behind me.  i challenge you to question WhatLiftsYou and are you living for it?

Check out Kelsey Montague and follow her on instagram.