Welcome to Everything But The Bagel, a weekly space to make you feel a little less stressed, and a little more grounded, just with writing instead of cream cheese. By diving deeper into the reality of life as a (remote) Trojan, Everything But The Bagel will help you get through the ups and downs of your college experience. Through relatable anecdotes, interviews, and my curated edit of recommendations, this newsletter will remind you that you are at this school for a reason, further helping you make the most of your time at 'sc.

Dear Beautiful, Imperfect, Intelligent Humans,

We are in the final stretch of the semester and a lot is going on.

The election may be over but you know just as well as I do that the President isn’t going down without a fight, or a least a war on Twitter. Major media outlets called the race on Saturday morning but top GOP leaders like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Attorney General William Barr continue to claim voter fraud, backing President Trump’s refusal to concede.

After covering the election for Annenberg Media last week, following the polls and projections made the divisive and polarized state of our nation as apparent as ever. But what now? Joe Biden may be the president-elect, but if the final numbers tell us anything, they remind us of how divided our nation continues to be –– if you don’t know where I’m coming from, look at the final count in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin and Arizona and compare those numbers to the landslide the polls predicted.

What I’m getting at here is that come January we may have a new president in the Oval Office, but this out grouping doesn’t disappear. The “us” vs. “them” rhetoric could even get worse, especially as Americans take their seats at Thanksgiving Dinner.

This week I “sat down” with author, activist, meditation teacher and businesswoman Mallika Chopra. In 2016, Chopra used her platform to help her followers understand where the other side is coming from, especially when the issues on the ballot are, and continue to hit so close to home for so many Americans.

According to Chopra, the Biden/Harris victory gives her hope. “It is also clear that Trump got a lot of support. And so one of the things that I think we need to come to terms with is that we truly do live in a divided society,” said Chopra. Chopra also recognizes that many people are disagreeing with friends and family, especially in our heightened political climate. When someone fundamentally disagrees with you, the physical reaction can be both anger and fear, “so we actually can feel our heart speeding faster, you know dizziness in the head, sweaty palms, because we feel physically threatened. It’s a fight or flight response” said Chopra. She suggests acknowledging this physical response before acting on it. To do this, “begin with taking a deep breath. Because whenever we take a deep breath, it helps us feel more in control of what’s happening physically. Then I would suggest always being honest about your feelings.” Chopra emphasizes that when you feel in control of your physical self, it often helps you control your response.

When it comes to these highly-anticipated conversations, they are often unavoidable –– first, you’re talking about the gravy and potatoes, then, before you know it, politics are front and center. So when the inevitable conversation arises, remember this:

“Often you can’t argue with someone to change a point of view, you know, that doesn’t really work. The way that I approach these kinds of situations, is actually not addressing the theoretical political arguments that we can have forever. But connecting with loved ones on things that are meaningful to both of you,” Chopra said emphasizing that table conversations don’t have to be predominantly about politics –– especially if that is an uncomfortable conversation.

She wants bagelers to recognize the importance of, “making a conscious effort when you know that you’re with people that you disagree with, fundamentally on some issues, to instead focus on what you share in common relationships, the love that you have for each other, and really focus on those commonalities.” In doing so, we build more empathy and connection.

Chopra also believes in the power of feedback. “Whether it is about the sadness about feeling threatened, or about feeling misunderstood,” feedback is essential in moving forward productively, Chopra said.

Acknowledging the toll these hot-button ballot issues can take on individuals, she also recommends setting boundaries, even with loved ones. For Chopra, this means making a difficult decision. “I just decided pre-election with someone who I really fundamentally disagreed with, I just decided, you know what, I’m gonna take a break, and it’s okay to take a break.” Chopra opened up about how she no longer could deal with the disagreement and had to set those boundaries for herself. She reminds us all that if a family dinner gets heated over the holidays, “and you’ve tried your breathing, and you’ve tried being honest, to just say, you know, what, I need to go for a walk. Take the space that you need.”

If there is one takeaway from today or even this semester: set boundaries and be kind to yourself. You have my permission.

While I will not be writing to you for the next two months, I invite you to look back at some of my previous columns to help get you through the winter months. As always, I am always an email away and would love to support any of you in any way that I can over this difficult period of time.

So until January, get some sleep, take a break from technology, get outside and I will see you for season 3 of Everything But the Bagel in no time.

Wishing you all a week full of reflection, productive conversations, and laughter––lots of laughter

-Ella


Now here’s some of my favorite things from this week:


Quote of the Week:

“Bad times wake you up to the good stuff you don’t pay attention to”- Robin Williams

Quote Analysis

This period of social isolation, remote learning and curveballs has honestly been a rude awakening. In the hustle and bustle that we make each and every day, there is so much “good stuff” that we graze over. Whether it be a nice lunch with a friend, kind words from a parent or a beautiful orange sherbet California sky, it really is the little things these days. And you don’t have to feel cheesy or lame for appreciating them.

Digest of the Week

Why Gratitude can help us get through Zinals (Zoom finals)

Click here for more of my conversation with Mallika Chopra from “BRB,” Annenberg TV News' health and wellness segment (Like Everything but The Bagel, just on TV.) Chopra teaches a mindful exercise to help hone in on gratitude and explains how that can help you during this stressful exam period.


Something I am working on this week :

Accepting where I am in my journey, not where I “should” be.

Comparison is only natural in our social media-obsessed world. But when we are always comparing our experiences, our jobs, our bodies and our profiles, it becomes all too easy to lose sight of the reality that everyone is on their own timeline. Let me say that again: everyone is on their own timeline, going through life at their own pace. We may group ourselves together by grade, or seniority or city or even circumstance, but everyone is on their own journey and has their own unique road ahead. So the next time you start to compare or question yourself, remember that. Because you will get to where you want to get to in life, just not in the way you imagined it.


Question of the Week:

Every week, I welcome any questions or concerns you may have that could spark discussion/ bring awareness to our community. I will respond to the best of my ability, consulting outside scientific resources to answer them to the best of my ability. Just click here to ask your question! And just remember: No question is a dumb one. If you have it, I’m sure many members of our community have the same one!

Story Ideas? Questions? Need a Hug? Write to me here:

ellakatz@usc.edu on EMAIL

@srirachamayoenthusiast on INSTA

@ellakatz20 on TWITTER