December / Morgan
Updated: May 5
Name - Morgan Irish-George
Age - 26
Lives in - Lexington, KY
Alma Mater - Asbury University
Studied - Media Communications
Graduated - 2013
Drinks her coffee - Latte
Last read - “Rebirth: Birds of Prey” (monthly Batgirl comic) by Julie Benson and Shawna Benson
Works at: The Salvation Army in Lexington, KY
Responsible for: Writing and submitting grant reports, promoting and organizing fundraisers (i.e. the Red Kettle program and LemonAid), managing and training volunteers and employees, hosting appreciating events
SIB: Earlier this year, you switched from a freelancing lifestyle to a salaried position. What do you miss about the change, and what have you gained from it?
MI: I definitely miss making my own schedule and living by my own rules. That's been really difficult, but I work with my husband and [even though] we both work odd schedules, we get to see each other all the time. That's probably been the greatest gain. [Also] peace of mind, because even though I love freelancing, making a steady paycheck does add peace even if you don't have the flexibility.
SIB: You mentioned you and your husband (Eddie) both work for the same organization. Since you are both introverts, how do you make sure you get the alone time you need?
MI: I think it's easier for him. He relaxes a lot easier than I do. And he can stay up late. So even if we get back late he's like, “Oh, now I'm going to play a game,” [and I go] read a book or something so he can get that introvert time. For me, it's been a little more difficult because I get home and I'm toast and want to go to bed. But we enjoy it and we value it. So we try and take lunches together and those kinds of things. I think we're just happy that we're together.
SIB: You decided to hyphenate your last name after getting married. Have you experienced any negative reactions to this?
MI: I’ve gotten tons of weird reactions. People at church don't know what to say. They don't know whether to say “Mrs. Irish-George,” “Mrs. George,” “Mrs. Irish.” And that's okay. It's fun to see what people like. You can tell a lot about people by what they choose to call me. I just think it's interesting and as long as I'm with my husband, my name doesn't matter.
SIB: You and Eddie share many interests, but what are the individual interests you’ve challenged each other with?
MI: Before [we were married], I dragged him to swing dancing a lot, and we had a choreographed swing dance at our wedding. Everybody was shocked that Eddie did [it] because he's more reserved. And that was one of the motivators for him doing it; he wanted to prove everybody wrong. I think he solidified our common interests. Like I was not nearly as proud of my nerddom before dating and marrying Eddie. He plays the card game Magic: The Gathering. And so within the last few weeks, we started building a deck for me to play with.
I've learned to be an okay loser. For me, winning and losing has become a sense of pride and a reflection on my personal worth. And so if I lose, I wasn't smart enough or I wasn't clever enough or I was lazy and didn't do something well. I can lose to anybody else and I’m fine, but losing to [Eddie] has become, I want to prove myself to him. [I’m] learning to lose and [to realize he’s] proud of the way I played even when I lost. That's probably something that I've learned about myself through playing board games with Eddie.
SIB: Where did your board game passion start, and how have you used it to reach out to others?
MI: Games are just so fun. We [all] have our faces in screens, we have our faces in technology or we’re really busy, but [games let] you unplug. You sit around the table and you're face to face and you're making memories because somebody inevitably either makes a really awesome play that you didn't see coming, or they'll do something really stupid. As an introvert, I would love to write a piece on managing anxiety playing board games. I think that it's an equalizer and it brings people out of their heads. I think that's why we use our phones, our computers, so much, [because] playing that stupid game or flipping through pictures or looking at other people's lives numbs us a little bit. Games can do the same thing and yet facilitate memory making as well.
We play with college students on Wednesday evenings. Anybody who comes over to our house, we will at least invite them to play a game. Our shelves (they're packed with over sixty games) are prominently displayed in our living room so no one can look at them in our home without noticing them. For two introverts [of whom] one has anxiety and the other is really quiet, games make it easier for us to communicate and be around other people because here's this thing that everybody's focusing on it, not me. I don't have to be witty enough, or clever enough, this game is all it is going to take. So that's, that's been our bridge to a lot of people.
SIB: You’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for a few years now. Tell me about your journey with counseling and medication.
MI: My final semester of college was hell. I was always kind of a nervous person and realizing I was depressed made me more anxious, and then I was frustrated with my anxiety. So to numb it I became more depressed. I had some great people around me who also suffered from anxiety, who really encouraged me to reach out and find counseling. I found Beaumont Behavioral Health, who had therapists and doctors and nurse practitioners.
The main thing that I went for was to get sleep medication. My anxiety was severely affecting my sleep. A lot of medications just didn't do anything. [I] eventually ended up on Zoloft, but I was on that for about a year or two with just okay results. [I] eventually got frustrated with just being at the status quo. And then [my therapist and doctor] were like, “Let's just reset your body because you've been on so many different types of things over the years. Let's just see what your baseline is now.” And they took me off [medication] and it turns out my baseline spiked from where it originally was. So they were like, “We're not going to put you on anything now.” It freaked me out. [That transition] took a lot of being okay with what life was and leaning into darkness and hardship and realizing that it's going to be okay.
SIB: You adopted your dog, Atlas, several years ago. At the time, he was extremely anxious but has blossomed into an incredibly social companion. Tell me about how you and Atlas have grown together. What role does Atlas play in your mental health?
MI: I got him in July of 2014. At that point, I discovered I was sleeping better when I would dog sit for people and my doctors were like, “If that's the chance, we will do whatever it takes.” And they bent over backwards to make sure that we got everything legally [taken care of] to have an emotional support animal. I found Atlas from a shelter and he has his own set of anxieties and he's bonkers, but he's also very calm and I think we just distract each other from our own anxiety.
I think he fits into our family perfectly because he never gets wound up about anything. It's definitely a “who saved who” because for him, I got him and he was so nervous and so distrusting. Not ever aggressive, but he quickly became very loyal to me. He's very protective and now will actually come up to people when they call for him. He's trusting other people and loves them and will beg for their food and those kinds of things. I am so proud of him and the way that’s he’s come out of his own traumas.
Adopt shelters are the way to go. I found him on Petfinder.com. He was wrongly labeled as an Australian Shepherd, which is what I was searching for. He is not at all Australian Shepherd, he’s like a border collie mix with some sort of pointer, but he's mine.
SIB: Obviously communication with close friends and family is key to staying healthy. Do you think it’s possible to talk too much about what you’re going through? If so, why?
MI: Yes. I think it gives [you] the illusion that you're getting help. As long as I'm talking about it, I'm okay. But that's not always the case. It becomes another form of wrapping up with it like a blanket. Talking about it is never a bad thing. I think it will always help, but you have to look at your motivations. Are you talking because otherwise you've been sitting in silence and you need to reach out and ask for help, or are you doing it because it becomes a new form of cuddling with it, or does the reaction of other people become a numbing cream for it because now they're going to coddle you or they'll pay attention to you? As soon as they stop oohing and aahing over you and loving you, then you just start to feel depressed again. And so then it becomes its own sick medicine; talking about it becomes a problem and talking to the wrong people about it. If you continuously go to your Uncle Joe who does not understand mental health, then you're talking to the wrong people additionally. Talking to the right amount to the right people is valuable.
SIB: What are some goals you’re working towards right now?
MI: I’m trying to save up for a new camera. I'd like to get a Canon 5D Mark III. Another goal is cutting down on me taking and bumping up giving. A role that I play at church is for a teen leadership program called Corp Cadets. I love them and they will teach me things, but they're not my friends. That sounds really dark, but I have to be aware and give them more and be the person that other people were for me. To be an adult to teenagers and children is a goal that I'm working on, and trying to be approachable but also authoritative [is] a new experience for me. I always valued people who were like that and I have no idea how to do it. So [it’s] just trial by fire. I'm trying to love my husband better and not be selfish in that relationship.
SIB: You’ve described yourself as low-key when it comes to fashion, but you’re always so well dressed. What is the most important thing a woman should do in her daily routine?
MI: Have really awesome shoes and socks. We all have different skin complexions. We all have different beauty regimens we need to follow. Everybody has different body types and so they need to dress differently. But shoes and socks are universal. I have a few pair that like I get compliments all the time and it makes me feel good because it's not about my weight, it doesn't reflect anything about my character. It's just an honest to God compliment. And no matter how much weight I gain or lose, I will always still fit in them. And that's my mother’s quote, thank you, Lynn Irish. And you can personalize them in these funky [ways] and they will always be appropriate. I can wear them with jeans, I can wear them with business stuff and they always look good. So yeah, every woman should feel confident in [her] shoes. Currently, I've gone with wearing [loafers and] socks with crop pants. I have some really awesome socks. There's a pair that on the top of your foot, there's a llama that peeks up out of my shoe. Those are like my most subtly spunky, which I think fits me.
SIB: Do you think the popularity of hipster imitators is damaging to actual artists and quirks?
MI: I think the growth of hipsters has helped facilitate the growth of the nerd culture, the throwback culture. I think hipsters and throwbacks are very different. And there's different sects of hipsters. I think it's not been a bad thing. Now, they're annoying. I don't think I'm like confident enough to be a hipster really. I look like one at times, depending on what I'm wearing that day. I think there's a styling fad. I'm sure once we have children of our own and they become teenagers, the big glasses will fade again and flannel might not be in style.
I think [hipster culture] has pushed people to think about who they are as individuals and how to make that happen. Today you can find clothing or items from every era of time. If you want to be steampunk, you can find something steampunk. If you want to be from the sixties, you can. If you want to be from 2017 and wear yoga leggings and an oversized sweater, you can do that. But your oversized sweater might be from the eighties. Maybe it was always like this, we're just hitting that time, but it's like [as adults] you can be whoever you want and you're really cool for it.
SIB: Tell me about your tattoos!
MI: So on my right arm just above the hand. I have the Hebrew word Tzedek, and it means justice or righteousness. I got it my freshman year of college, right at my nineteenth birthday. There's a scripture in Deuteronomy that talks about justice and only justice you should pursue when God was talking to the judges and preparing them to care for the people of Israel. It was talking about not taking bribes, not doing it for selfish reasons, but give what is right and seek after God's righteousness.
But as I came to Asbury [University], I learned a little bit more about that word and that it actually means righteousness as well. For me, it's become a form of being righteous or holy or striving after that and doing what is right to everyone. Doing what is right doesn't mean always just like, “Oh, we're feeding the poor,” but it's telling truth in love. People abuse that statement all the time. But really trying to do that and be open with people and [saying], “That's not of God,” because for me, my faith is important. And so trying to be like Jesus like that.
On my left forearm, I have birds sitting as silhouettes in the moon. I got this at the end of college coming out of anxiety and depression. And I got it because at the beginning of that time, where I was descending into this night of my life, [I] kind of stopped hearing from the Lord a lot because you’re in your pain, in your frustration. But one of the last things I really felt like I received from Him was, “Look for the moon.” I really did not understand that I'm at all because the moon really isn't used in Scripture. So I really didn't know what it meant until I continued to pray on it and [I realized] the moon is not the source of light. The moon at nighttime is simply the reflection of the sun. The sun's light bounces off the moon and into our darkness. It became a representation for me of looking for the good things, looking for the people, looking for the blessings that are reflected in my night.
The birds come from Matthew 6. Jesus is talking about the birds of the air. ‘The birds don't even plant or sow and yeah, I took care of them. Don't you think I won’t also take care of you, My children,’ and so for me that's what the birds represent. And they're not flying. I think flying birds are a really popular tattoo now, but they're not flying because birds are really skittish and that can represent my spirit of leaping around and being nervous, but instead, they’re settled. They found the light coming into their darkness and they’re reflecting on that. A great guy at Bleed Blue in Lexington, Kentucky designed it. I love people asking me about it. It's another one of those things of [being] bold, my goal of wanting to be more honest with people and when I’m asked about my tattoo, they get to hear about it.
SIB: Why do you think women feel they are supposed to hate themselves? How can they overcome this?
MI: False humility. We don't want to draw attention to ourselves, but then we can get attention by hating ourselves and then that makes us feel better, but then we feel bad about feeling better so then we hate ourselves some more. But then we get attention and we like the attention and so we keep getting the attention from feeling bad. That's the best response I have. And we don't build each other up.
SIB: The feminism movement is awesome, but it sometimes leaves men out of the equation instead of promoting full equality. What do you think is the best way to ensure both sexes are treated fairly?
MI: This is going to sound like the most sexist thing ever and I could get destroyed for it, but I think women will never truly feel empowered until men make them feel that [way]. For the longest time men have felt empowered because women also respected them. Now men are not all bad; they are not the problem. It's not a problem for men to be empowered too. We do not need to sacrifice one for the other, but I think ultimately like the best way to encourage a woman [is] for a man to see and respect her.
Women can preach all day long that they are empowered but ultimately if our dads or husbands or sons don't look at us with respect we still will do that. So the best way to do it is to bring men along. We're not going to escape them. I don't care if you're a lesbian, you're not going to escape them. They’re in the workplace. They're everywhere. Like just because you aren't sexually attracted, you’re in a romantic relationship with them doesn't mean you’re going to escape men. And so they’re not bad. Empowered men is not a bad thing. Empowered women is not a bad thing. You only [help each other] get better.
My husband doesn't jump in on women's rights things, but recently we watched a webinar on pornography and he was outraged by the focus on men and that the conversation didn't have a female voice. And my husband is not a raging feminist. He is [a feminist], but he never puts that out there, and it was so empowering to me to hear him say all these things. I didn't say a word. I didn't bring it up. He had all these thoughts in his mind and to know that one day if I have little girls, he's going to be the best empowerment for her because there's going to be men who are going to tear her down and I can only empower her so much. She has to feel respected [by a man as well]. The best way for us to continue that fight is to have men involved.
SIB: Why do you think Wonder Woman is making such an impact?
MI: She rolls with the big guys. I respect Black Widow (of Marvel’s Avengers), but she's a B-list character and I don't mean that disrespectfully. She's just not as popular. Storm (of Marvel’s X-Men) was a really great one. I think she's a great iconic Black woman. And Jean Grey. But a lot of times women aren't the A-list heroes. Wonder Woman’s an A-list hero. She rolls with the Justice League, she is considered top three - like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman. Women are latching on to that.
I think Patty Jenkins did a great job with her film (2017’s Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot) and showed what powerful women look like without being sexist. I love the scene where [Gadot’s] leg jiggles and I believe that every woman can relate to that because it doesn't matter how much you work out, when you land carrying a tank or whatever she was doing, you're going to have a little fat jiggle. And she cares so deeply. She's the emotional side of these superheroes. But she also kicks butt and she doesn't let that get in her way, so I think she represents a lot of what [women] need [in these kinds of films]. Patty Jenkins’ film brought emotion to action movies and made it matter that there was an explosion here or there and that we should be affected by this war that's going on in this movie. It's not just an arbitrary background for our hero to go charging in and save the day, but it actually matters.
I think we just need her. Nobody saves her. She has self-actualization and like I said, she rolls with the big guys. I think that's what we need too, is to feel like [a woman] is equal and Wonder Woman is equal.
SIB: What do you think the relationship between contentment and aspiration is?
MI: I think it's both being able to say, “This is where I am,” and not freaking out about it. And moving forward in a healthy way, and understanding that your aspirations can at times be put on hold, or don't move at the rate that you want them to. And that's where contentment can help you in that process.
SIB: What does balance mean to you?
MI: Super meta answer - being okay with being off balance. That's because it's not going to be perfect. When you're literally walking on a line, if you're trying too hard, you won't do it, or if you're trying to carry a cup of coffee and you watch the cup of coffee while you're walking with it, it starts to slosh more. But like, just doing life, it naturally levels out. If you're like, “Ahh! I need to take care of myself! Self-Care, oh my gosh,” you become too engrossed in yourself and then you feel bad because you're too engrossed, and you push yourself too hard. It's like, just live your life. Just do it. Just be okay with where you are. That contentment, and that ambition, it all comes together.