Imagine that you can see yourself from above. Watch carefully. What are you trying to accomplish? Do you think you’re going in the right direction?
I am standing at the threshold of a door that doesn’t necessarily lead to just a New Year, but a new season in my life. I don’t see it as starting over, but rather continuing and progressing what I’ve already been doing throughout these last few months. I’ve spent some time looking over my journal entries throughout 2012, and am amazed by all the prayers that have been answered and how I have grown both emotionally and spiritually.
Participating in Reverb this December has been a blessing; I shared thoughts and events in my life that were deep and at times heartbreaking. And I feel like I did so at the right time. In a way, Reverb has become a sort of therapy for me when I don’t have my actual counseling group to go to, particularly during winter break. I’ve discovered a lot of wonderful bloggers as well and am interested in seeing what 2013 brings them.
I don’t know which direction I’m going in; what I do know is that I’m filled with joy that I’m no longer carrying the heavy burdens that I once took on. I’m ready to embrace the freedoms that I talked about at the beginning of the month. I have goals, but I am also open to wherever God wants to take me on this next part of my journey. It is a journey that I’ve been on since I was eighteen years old, and maybe even before that. I feel confident and comfortable. I have very few regrets. Yes, 2013, I am ready for you!
The celebration will be low-key; I’m going out to dinner with my family, and then my family and I will see Les Mis just in time to make it back for a midnight toast. The majority of my friends are twenty-one and are going to the city or are doing things that legally I’m not able to do just yet. But it doesn’t really bother me all that much, because my time will come a month from tomorrow. And the world didn’t end, so I’m very happy to be able to welcome another year in itself.
To you and yours, may this year bring you and abundance of love and joy! God bless!
Day 30-Change Of Heart
Did you have a change of heart about something or someone this year? Who/What was it? Why?
I used to assume and believe that success was getting everything you want, or at least doing everything right. Therefore, I frequently beat myself about a lot of failures, more often the ones involving relationships or actions and personal character. But in the past year, I’ve come to view success in a different light; that it’s not about whether everything goes according to plan, but how well you can adapt to the curveballs and what you can learn from it.
From a broad view, a majority will argue that my past roommate fiasco was an epic failure; there was an overflowing amount of stress, and we’re no longer in each other’s lives. That being said, it did teach me a lot expectations, as well as how to live gracefully in an environment that is filled with so much tension and negativity. Personally, she taught me a lot about attitude and how it impacts your life and the people that you surround yourself with. So no, I don’t regret choosing to live with her. I wish that I had done some things differently, but I think us living together pointed me in the direction that I needed to go in so that I could work through my own issues.
I was single for most of the year. but did go out on a few dates. Most of them were awkward and I didn’t sense that anything was there. The one that I did feel totally comfortable with never called again afterward. In general, I was terrified of opening up to any man for a fear of what he might think of me. Things got even more complicated after one of the worst nights I’ve had in college. But it helped me grow so much as a person and a woman, as well as see past some of the lies and misconceptions about dating. I’m planning on doing a stand-alone post about that real soon But again, just because I didn’t get exactly what I wanted, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t get anything.
Overall, I view life in a much more positive way because of it. In the last few months, I have felt the weight of what feels like the entire world get taken off my shoulders. I now know what is in my control and what isn’t. And that in any situation, if I can’t do anything about the outcome, the least I can do is try to look at it in a different way. Here’s to seeing out that plays out in 2013!
What excuses did you make for yourself this year? How will you go about doing it differently next year?
When it comes to doing what you want and achieving your goals and dreams, the only one that’s really stopping you is yourself. As I wrote through Reverb at the end of 2011, my biggest fear was that I would still be in the same place, mentally and emotionally, during the same time period of the following year. While I did make a lot of progress, I certainly could have gone further. And it was only because of the excuses that I made that I didn’t do that.
“He/She/They won’t understand” This is the biggest lie that I told myself over and over. For the first half of the year, it was the reason I guarded myself so closely. It didn’t protect me, but rather caused me more pain in the long run. Even if not everyone sees things exactly the way you do, or doesn’t react the way that you want them to, doesn’t mean that you’re alone. You may feel like it, but there’s always at least one person who’s willing to put their arm around you and listen to what you have to say.
One of the things that stuck with me was my experiences in my Spring semester of 2011 counseling group. Our moderator encouraged us to not focus so much on the reaction of whom we’re talking to, but to focus on saying exactly what we feel and how we feel about it. It’s not an easy thing to put into practice, because so much our culture emphasizes validation and obtaining self worth from those we surround ourselves with. But closing oneself off out of fear of rejection tends to do more harm than good, and when all is said and done, much of the time I’m glad that I took a risk of being vulnerable.
“I don’t have time.” The only reason time feels so limited is because I’m putting too much energy into things that really don’t matter to me, or I’m wasting too much time online as opposed to getting stuff done. Time is meant to be created and used wisely, not just given. That’s something I want to do better at as this year comes to a close.
“I can do it tomorrow” Honestly, you don’t know if you’ll get “tomorrow” until it actually comes around. I believe that there are appropriate times for certain things to be said and done, but I also believe that you shouldn’t constantly put something off either. My goal is to do something right when I think of it, or at least make a point to do it sooner rather than later.
As I said, you can blame the whole world for your problems and setbacks, but there comes a point where the only one holding you back is yourself.
How will you honor your creativity in 2013?
One of the big issues I have with being creative, especially in terms of writing, is getting my ideas out of my head and onto paper; or in this current day and age, onto a computer screen. I think one of the reasons that I don’t immediately write down an idea or start a piece is because I’m still somewhat afraid to reveal that kind of vulnerability to other people. Most of the time, anyone who reads my work sees a much deeper, passionate, and even emotional side of me that they don’t take notice of when they interact with me in person.
But that’s what writing is about; being able to connect and resonate with others through ideas, opinions, and stories. I imagine that the more I do it, the easier it will become.
That’s why I’m making it a goal to write for at least fifteen minutes per day; it might be a journal entry, a blog, an essay, or part of a story. It might be a little bit of everything. I’ve realized the more I write, the better I become. The amount of time could increase, but that all depends on how much school work I have and how I use my time for other things.
I would also like to connect with other writers; I’m taking two classes this-coming semester, so I imagine that there will be some workshopping through there. I just feel like I need something that’s a little bit more intimate and personal, other than just reading a dozen plus comments on a multitude of copies of whatever I submitted at the time. Plus there is revision, which can take place more than once or twice. It would just be nice to get feedback from someplace other than a classroom or a teacher.
The other thing is this blog; I have been a blogger for four years, and while I feel that my writing style and subject matter have matured, it’s as though a lot of it has remained the same. In other words, I’m looking to do different segments about different things. I will still do two, possibly three posts per week. But I want to include variety, such as weekend links/finds, book reviews, or even a series on a particular subject. Right now I don’t know how often I’ll do it each, because it was largely depend on school work and activities.
It seems like a way to spice things up, rather than just do a deep post involving current issues or events. It’s overwhelming when written about often, and in order to be well-done, takes more than one day. I will still tackle such subjects, but I want to give myself time and energy to edit them and look over them, as opposed to focusing on hitting the “publish” button before a certain time in the day.
How did you expand your creativity in terms of writing or blogging? I would love suggestions!
What intense emotion did you find yourself feeling the most this year?
Call it anger, bitterness, or sadness. Feel free to call it confusion Entangle them all together in a braid of negative emotions, and you have nothing but frustration.
But before I continue, I have a confession to make: I may have been selfless this year, but it wasn’t always for the sake of putting someone else’s needs before my own. It was more so that I wouldn’t cause any conflict or make the situation worse.
With my roommate, I kept my mouth shut not only to keep the peace, but because I was under her thumb (mostly in terms of transportation). Realistically, I wanted to have the last word in every argument we had. I wanted to tell her just how messed up she was and how her life wouldn’t get any better unless she took responsibility for her actions and got help. Yes, I wanted to stick it to her, which I did at the end of the year when I moved out. But honestly, it was a power struggle for the both of us.
With my family, I felt as though I had been branded the “easy one” and therefore had to play that role. Both of my parents were frequently stressed out over financial matters or each other, so voicing an opinion or asking for something at times was similar to setting off a time bomb. I feared being an inconveinience and having stuff thrown back in my face, so I kept quiet. When we had to pick a place to eat or an activity to do, I did my best to keep my preferences to myself and let the others pick, if only to keep my sister from throwing a tantrum and therefore causing a headache for the others.
But the worst part was when I seemed to be the only one acting like an adult, while the others fought like kids.
There were incidents with my friends as well. Generally speaking, I am sensitive about when I make plans with people and they don’t communicate with me about it, especially if something comes up and they’re no longer available. And the more it happens, the more likely I won’t react well to it; in a way, it has almost become automatic. There were quite a few instances, but I’d rather not call anyone out specifically because I haven’t spoken to them about it yet (I’ll get to why momentarily).
It all seemed to pile on in front of my face. I want to scream “what about me?!” but felt as though no one would understand or hear me above the chaos. Deep down, I became resentful, as though I was being neglected. I wanted to be validated. I wanted to know that I mattered.
The whole “I am third” mentally seems like hogwash at times. I do try to take things to God in prayer before I make a decision and try to live my life as a reflection of my faith, even though I don’t always succeed at it. But I do wonder what the exact benefit is of constantly putting other people’s needs and desires before one’s own. There does come a point where it’s exhausting and no longer healthy.
And I guess that’s why my birthday has always been a big deal, particularly my twenty-first. It’s the one day where I get to do what I want (within reason, of course) and don’t have to bend over backwards trying to make sure that other people are comfortable. It’s one day where as I said before, that I feel like I matter.
The thing I always had trouble with was finding the right time, let alone the words to talk about it. I didn’t know how to approach the subject; should I carefully craft an explanation, or say exactly what is on my heart and risk everything being interpreted the wrong way?
Going into 2013, I would like to address these frustrations in a better manner, a way reflects God, but also bearing in mind that I shouldn’t have to justify my feeling every time. I get that sometimes I have to pick my battles, and that a lot of it involves compromise and being able to meet half way on certain things. But no one person should have to always be sidestepped for the benefit of someone else, regardless of who is involved.
I have a voice, and in one way or the other, it’s a voice that deserves to be heard.
Day 26-The Simple Things
What were some of the simple things that you enjoyed in 2012? Describe a typical day
This year was a very busy one, but thankfully not in a way where I forgot about the small joys. In fact, I learned to appreciate them on a deeper level, particularly during the latter half of the year when I wasn’t dealing with drama and difficult people every day. I grew to love this routine, and while my schedule will be slightly different next semester, I hope the pieces that fit into it remain the same.
During the week, my day would begin pretty early; although my classes didn’t start until midday, I’m first and foremost a morning person and don’t see the point of sleeping in until right before something needs to get done. Waking up would sometimes be a pain, but that first cup of coffee in the morning is always something that I look forward to. And it’s from a Kuerig machine that actually works and doesn’t take five to ten minutes to work correctly.
Even though the warm water would run out after about ten minutes, I still appreciated being able to shower in a clean bathroom. More specifically, to show in a bathroom with more space and no mold or mildew to speak of. I could take my time. It was a bathroom that I truthfully liked being in.
After my hair was dry, then it was on to the beauty routine. I don’t consider myself an addict, but I do love fragrance and make-up. I loved being my own canvas, even if there were days where the look didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. In the background I’d have a specific Pandora radio station playing on; usually Disney, Luke Bryan, Hunter Hayes, Keith Urban, or Billy Joel. It perked me up when I wanted to do anything but go to class.
Once I looked put together, it was time to refresh myself both mentally and spiritually. For close to a half hour, I spent time in prayer and wrote in my journal. That’s why I often wake up early, so I don’t feel like I have to rush through things that are so important to my well-being. There’s nothing more annoying than having to breeze through times that genuinely matter me because I have a whole list of crap that needs to get done.
Walking around campus, whether it be to class or wherever is always wonderful; well, at least when the weather isn’t awful. The best thing is looking around at all the buildings and places, remembering exactly what I have and how far I’ve come. A definite plus is running into a friend that I haven’t seen in a while and catching up, if only for a few minutes. Making plans to get together is even better!
I’d make it back to my apartment around four o’clock-ish, and would flop down on the couch to watch General Hospital or some other TV show on my DVR. While I only had two classes during the day, I still needed to give myself time to decompress, particularly when I had ones that were difficult to understand. Of course there were times when “decompressing” would go from one hour to two, where I literally had to go into another room to get my homework done.
My nightly activities would vary during the week, depending on what night it was. Usually I either worked out, attended a Christian Campus group/Bible Study, went to counseling, or had dinner with a friend. Sometimes it was multiple things in one night. Either way, they left me feeling refreshed and happy because it was a time of togetherness and well-being; a time to relate to other people.
As the clock struck ten (or later at times) I would tumble into bed, exhausted but grateful; I had a bedroom that was mine. A place that was mine. And a life that I was (and am now more than ever am) at peace with.
Is there anything here that resonates with you, dear readers? Are there any simple things that you wish you would have, or would like to make time for?
What did you celebrate this year?
Aside from today being Christmas Eve, where in my Christian faith I celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and enjoy a time of laughter and family, there are many other occasions in which I toasted and look back upon with gratitude. I’m not going to go into too much detail since I have to help with last minute preparations and getting ready before we go to Christmas services at my family’s Catholic church. But here are the smaller, but no less significant celebrations that I took part in:
I celebrated my twentieth birthday; that is, surviving my teen years
I celebrated making it through two semesters in an awful living situation
I celebrate my ability to succeed in grow during two years of college
My grandparents fiftieth wedding anniversary
Oddly enough, I celebrated on the day and I chose to start going into therapy again. It has been over a year that I’ve been getting help, and I have never felt more present or aware of who I am and what I’ve been through.
I celebrated a variety of birthdays, and will be celebrating my twenty-first birthday a little over a month from now.
I celebrate my health, and the health of my loved ones
And above all, I celebrate being alive and for coming as far as I have. I will never take that for granted.
Whether you celebrate Christmas or another holiday, may you have a blessed day (or multiple days) surrounded by people that mean the most to you, God bless!
What are you looking forward to in the upcoming year?
If you had asked me this question in years past, I could easily rattle off a list of things that I wanted to happen, but had no way of guaranteeing that they could happen. Yet I’ve learned the hard way that depending on circumstances and leaning on this perfect yet uncontrollable vision only leads to disappointment. Instead, I want to focus on what I can control.
And rather than make a long list of cliche New Years Resolutions that I’m more than likely to give up on at one point or another, I’m going to choose one thing to primarily put my emotional time and energy into. In my first entry for December, I declared that 2013 would be the year of freedom, and discussed the particular freedoms that I would like to embrace. But those freedoms can be summed up in one simple sentence: living with authenticity as well as intimacy.
Despite sounding incredibly similar, I’ve come to the conclusion that these two words are not the same thing. While authenticity involves a person’s self-awareness of who they are, it tends to frequently come off as defensive and lacking the will/motivation to improve or become better at something. It’s individualistic and involves only that one person taking responsibility for how they present themselves.
Intimacy is where two or more people genuinely present themselves to one another exactly as they are and make a point to actively connect and relate to each other. It’s raw and without pretense. It takes time and involves an equal amount of sharing and listening; telling the truth and being able to hear it and recognize it. It’s not a state of codependency, but acknowledging the fact that one can’t survive or succeed on their own.
And I say that because there was an insane imbalance of the two in my life this year. I knew who I was and how I felt, but scared stiff of how some of my friends and family would react if I peeled back those layers. I was not only careful about who I talked to, but how I talked to them; I didn’t want to risk being looked down upon for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, or just oversharing in general.
What my insecurities prevented me from discussing in person, I wrote it on my blog and had other people read it. It may have kept me from enduring rejection (at least verbally) but it left me isolated from those that I desperately wanted to know, and for them to know me.
So if there’s one thing that I really want out of the New Year, it’s to have relationships with very little insecurities or inhibitions. To have that closeness and vulnerability that I once did seven years ago. It’s just too exhausting to try so hard to keep my guard up, as opposed to risking a kind of pain that can eventually be healed.
It won’t, nor is it possible for everyone that I interact with, because sometimes personalities just don’t mesh well. On the other side of it, I can also tell when we don’t have a lot in common and when I’m the one holding back. I don’t know why exactly, but I’ve been told that it’s the gift of discernment.
Whether it be feeling confident in our own skin, or being vulnerable with another person, I think it’s something that is hard for everyone in one way or another. It’s hard because we’re given this mixed message that our self-worth should be based on being likable rather than being human. If we don’t meet specific standards, then we’re not good enough.
Although I don’t have an exact blueprint as to how I’m going to work my way out of isolation in terms of certain relationships, a lot of it is a matter of not depending on friends or family to help determine how I see myself. And that no matter what pain I have to go through, I will be OK.
I’ve assumed that the greatest pain is rejection. But it turns out the greatest pain is a life without knowing, and a life without love.
What was your most surprising revelation in 2012?
I may come across as niave or lacking common sense by not having figured this out until I was in my twenties, but here it is: just because a collective demographic tells you how to do something, or that you should feel a certain way, doesn’t mean that it’s sound or rational advice. Just because it’s the “norm” among a particular generation at this time, doesn’t mean that it will work for you. That being said, the two categories that this applies to the most are as follows:
When built on a strong and firm foundation, I don’t believe that love ever truly dies. Some relationships will fade into the background, maybe for a certain period of time, or perhaps that their purpose in your life has been fulfilled. If nothing else, it changes a different shape. You can’t always put a finger on it and recognize exactly what it is, or even why. All you know for sure is that you will always care for them on some level, regardless of the paths you take or the amount of times one/both of you mess up.
You shouldn’t have to have reasons why you feel the way you do or how you treat another person. You do it because of who that person is, and not necessarily what they do for you.
On the other hand, it’s essential to know how to give and take; to know how to love well. You may feel like your heart is completely filled to where you would do anything for someone; but if either one or both don’t know how to demonstrate that, being in each other’s lives is more stress than it’s worth. Sometimes you’re both in different stages or seasons of life. Sometimes you have your own issues and insecurities that you need to deal with separately. But it’s not good to risk losing yourself when you’re grasping at straws.
I have no doubt that I want to be pursued, to be fought for, and to be wanted.
If there’s one piece of advice that I never want to forsake, it’s to allow God to put the pieces of the puzzle together in His timing, rather than try to force them on my own. Whether you believe in a higher power or not, never try to mold yourself into a type that fits into someone else’s ideals, or force something to happen when at the moment it might not be a good time.
I was once asked why I don’t hate anybody. It’s rather simple, actually: I don’t see the purpose in putting that much energy into a person that does help me to grow or make my life better. Oh yeah, I’ve proclaimed it in the heat of the moment. There are people that drive me absolutely up the wall at times. But it doesn’t mean that I would try to make their lives miserable every chance I got.
I just don’t understand why some have such disdain toward people they don’t know; they claim it’s because of one or a group’s religious beliefs, sexual orientation, political association, career/profession, etc. But if you don’t know them and who they are or what they do doesn’t directly affect you, then why go all out?
Personally, I think hatred is what’s driving this country into the ground. Worse is when one puts hatred into action. It’s not about whether you should like a person and/or agree with what they do, say, and believe. It’s about being respectful, regardless of the situation, and knowing when to walk away when you can’t handle it anymore.
Avoiding them isn’t going to do it. The only way life will ever get any better is learning how to coexist with what you don’t necessarily like.
I can understand anger and heartbreak toward one that has wronged/hurt/completely broken another. It’s a natural reaction to fight back, because it’s the one immediate way to do it. And it takes a lot of time to work through; weeks, months, or even years. It’s how healing takes place.
But the biggest step of healing is forgiveness. In my eyes, there are two kinds of such: one is where you’re willing to give whoever caused you pain a second chance and allow them back into your life. The other is when you have no contact whatsoever, but you forgive if only for the sake of giving yourself permission to move forward. I speak from experience when I say that holding grudges will do nothing but destroy you in the long run.
That doesn’t mean you have to forgive right away, or only forgive once. Depending on the level on pain, it can take a very long time. Don’t rush yourself. But don’t actively try to hold on to what you can’t control, either.
On a final note, this is not an instructional manual on how to navigate love and hatred; I just feel that this is what’s best for me, and how I want to live.
May 2013 be a year of love and joy, not a year of pain and hate.
What was the saddest moment this year?
Before it happened, I would have picked the untimely death of Whitney Houston. But then around two thirty last Friday, I began hearing the reports of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The numbers came pouring in from the likes of Facebook and various TV screens. First it was eighteen, then it just kept going. Twenty-seven in all.
My automatic reaction was that it had to be some kind of sick joke. A twenty year old breaks in to a school and opens fire on a classroom full of kindergarteners and other teachers nearby. Many of them ranged in ages from five to seven years old.
They were just babies…
The name and face of Adam Lanza is being shown everywhere, as though his twisted legacy is what we should remember. That yearbook photo, or whatever photo was chosen, is so incredibly haunting. I can’t help but think of Norman Bates every time I see it.
And frankly, I’m tired of seeing it. Those kids and the teachers that died protecting them are the only ones we should focus on right now, not the killer. I understand that people want answers, especially the parents. But unfortunately, I feel that we’re not going to get them right away, or perhaps not ever.
Those sweet babies….
The media is reporting every single little detail; survivors are being questioned and interviewed when they probably haven’t even had time to process what happened. One tells of a bullet going right past his head. Another walks out covered in a classmates blood and says that he had to pretend that he had died. While there’s no telling how they’ll cope in the time to come, there’s no denying that innocence has been lost.
Those sweet babies….
I can’t read or watch anything without bursting into tears, particularly the funeral of the little boy who was saluted by the entire fire department because he’ll never get to be one. Or when his best friend wrote him a simple, yet heartbreaking letter about how much he was going to miss him.
Those sweet babies…
Meanwhile, politics and the American people have started a verbal war of words over gun control. An issue no less that should be looked at closely and carefully. But what about the reasons behind why so many of these infamous shooters do this? What about the intense hatred and loneliness that courses through them, and that has been spilling out from every single one of us for decades?
All I know right now is that I will never be able to look at a young child again without wanting to pick them up and hold them; to whisper that it’s going to be OK and that they can hold onto princesses and superheroes a little longer. But the reality is that nothing is completely safe anymore.
In the middle of all this, twenty-seven sets of parents and/or family members are doing the unthinkable by not only burying their children, but doing so in front of a dozen or more news cameras and photographers. While I get that the media is only trying to do their job, what about allowing these people to grieve peacefully and in private? I don’t need the internet or a twenty four hour feed to know that their hearts are broken and might never be completely healed.
Rest in peace, sweet baby.
And in the depths of my soul, a small cynical part of me dares to ask “what or who is next?”
I hope and pray that no one ever has to find out.
I purposefully waited a little to bit to write this, because there were times when I didn’t know how. This is not perfectly polished writing, but simply my train of thought as I try to wrap my head around all of it. I may be right and I may be wrong, I can’t say. But God bless the children and their families, and may one day a light shine through it all.