What I learned about being alone from the biggest loner in the galaxy.

I spend a good amount of time alone.

I know. But before you get all freaked out and ask if I'm OK or if I need anyone to talk to... Yes, I'm OK, and I have lots of awesome people to talk to.

The truth is, I actually enjoy it. I'm not antisocial, I don't have the blues, and I'm not getting over a breakup. I just unironically and unapologetically enjoy my me-time.


GIF from "Arrested Development."

That can be weird for some people to hear.

When I forgo attending a party to relax at home with a book or some video games or I go on a long walk with my music and don't invite anyone, people wonder if I should be socializing more or need more friends.

I have a big group of amazing friends and a generally awesome life, but the world seems to think that if you're alone — you're lonely. And to be honest, sometimes I even doubt myself. I wonder if I should be getting out more or forcing myself to socialize in situations where I don't want to.

So it was actually pretty cool when I found out about WISEA 1147. A gigantic planet and a gigantic loner.

WISEA 1147 is what's known as a rogue planet. A planet that doesn't orbit around a sun, isn't attached to any system, and just generally does its own thing in the universe.

Wisea 1147. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Rogue planets just sort of ... float around. They're free spirits who don't play by your rules. They don't have a sun, so they don't even have days or years. They're hard to see and track because they have nothing lighting them up and have no orbital pattern.

They're just, well ... rogue. Yeah. Good word choice, scientists.

The coolest thing is, there are a lot of them. Like a lot a lot.

No one knows for sure (since they're super hard to find) but scientists have speculated that there may be more rogue planets in the Milky Way than stars. (And there are hundreds of billions of stars.)

An artistic rendering of a rogue planet. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech.

"There are billions of them adrift in perpetual night," said Neil deGrasse Tyson in "Cosmos." “Rogue planets are molten at the core, but frozen at the surface. There may be oceans of liquid water in the zone between those extremes. Who knows what might be swimming there?”

Side note: Every time Neil deGrasse Tyson talks, I want to cry galactic tears of wonder.

WISEA 1147 is also huge. Like huge huge.

According to recent NASA estimations, WISEA 1147 is anywhere from five to 10 times the size of Jupiter.

Do you even know how big that is? Because here's Jupiter:

No, Earth isn't actually that close. Image via Jcpag2012/Wikimedia Commons.

Yeah. Huge.

So if you're like me, and love to go your own way every once in a while, don't feel bad.

Instead, look up to the stars.

For every bright beam of light you see showing off up there, there's a bunch of gigantic planets floating around not trying to impress anyone.

They're just dancing happily through the wondrous universe. Totally unattached, and — at least, I like to imagine — totally happy about it.

Heroes

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture