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Out There

I’ve always kind of struggled with “out there”. You know how people say to “put yourself out there”? That’s terrifying to think about. For me, anyways. I’ve never been comfortable in social settings or being around people I don’t know. In fact, I tend to experience quite a bit of anxiety whenever I’m alone in a new place. This makes college really hard at times. Here, you have two options: Either sit in your dorm room/apartment all day every day, only going to classes/work never interacting with anyone ever, or pushing yourself past where you’ve always found comfort and going out there. Out there, where people don’t know you. Out there in the crowded room, where you feel zero’d in and silently judged by everyone around you (even though that’s not happening). Out there, where fear ices up your veins while simultaneously making you sweat; where you know you need to be, but you don’t really want to be. Out there is the epitome of the unknown. But you go and, while it might take more time than you’d like, you somehow somewhere find new comfort and new friends. Just try not to close up in the process of getting there.

Last year, I only ever stayed in my dorm. I didn’t try out any new churches, because I was always “too busy” doing something else. I didn’t go to hall events because I was too tired. I put on my headphones and rewatched old TV episodes I’d already seen a thousand times before. Basically, I lived a passive life made up of loneliness and sad music. I was so scared of going and joining clubs and so self conscious about what would happen if I actually did go out and try something new that I stayed closed off and alone. In essence, that left me at a stand still. Now, I’m not saying throw yourself at every club and event you can when you get to school and/or a new place in your life, but I am saying to not sit idly by and just expect everyone from out there to come to you. Because they won’t. And you’ll end the year only knowing a few people here and there and wondering what might’ve been if you had gone out there. Yeah, it’s scary to go there. And yeah, it might not always go well. You might get tired, you might regret it and hate it, but you also might have the best time of your life. You might find your home, your niche, your family. You might, without even trying, end up happy. And that, I think, makes the anxious fingers and pulled at hair worth it. 

This year, I’m venturing out there. I’m getting involved. I’m pushing myself. As anxious as it makes me, I’m consciously going forth and making myself do the things that I was so scared of last year. Frankly, I’m still scared. The difference is that I’m not letting it stop me. It’s not always a fun experience, sometimes it all goes wrong and I feel even worse than when I began, but that’s apart of life. The ups and downs, the highs and the lows, the awkward and the comfortable, the smiles and the tears. That’s life. And life is made to be lived and breathed and taken full advantage of. So while out there might make me feel a little nauseous at times, I know that it’s better than being closed off and alone in my room. I don’t want to end my years at college with only a diploma to show for it. I want connections, I want relationships and friendships and development and growth. I want to live my life and give it everything I have.

It all only lasts for so long. So get out there and get things done.

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The Art of Being

Here we are. Back at school, classes starting fresh, both old and new friends coming into focus. With habits and schedules running widely until they settle into an organized routine, it’s easy to feel the stress of the school year already sinking in. New courses and expectations, new professors and walks to class. It’s the same place that you’ve come to love – or maybe are just now on the journey of finding your happiness in – but still there is that new air, that deep breath that somehow feels different. It’s important, in the midst of whatever stress and craziness, to remember why you’re here. And who you are or who you’re becoming. I see so many people, as they arrive on college campus’s across the nation, who suddenly start to change entirely. Don’t get me wrong, change is great. Most of the time. Change can mature you and give you growth and a sense of belonging – it’s apart of life. I think the best kind of change is the change that we don’t mean for it to happen. Like when we wake up at the end of a semester and reflect on how far we’ve come and all that’s different in our lives. The change that goes with our lives and who we really are instead of against it. It’s when we consciously change who we are that we can get into trouble. Don’t get me wrong, if you have bad habits and you want to consciously change them and be better, go all in. But if you find that you’re hiding your likes and your desires in life so that you can “fit in” with whatever group you’ve found yourself in, then the only thing that needs to change is who you’re hanging out with. Don’t be ashamed of the music you listen to or the clothes you wear or the color you dye your hair. Don’t overthink and alter your life so that you’re hiding from yourself.

That does, however, raise the question of “who are we, really?” What if we didn’t like that one artist? Or read all those books or watch the movie with that one actress that one time. How different might we be? How different might we dress or act? Would something as trivial as our favorite colors be different if we didn’t have that one person in our lives who loved it so much? This, I think, raises the point of inspiration vs. mimicking. Inspirations are great and having a role model is very important in life, but I think there’s a thin line between modeling ourselves after someone and then actually trying to be them. It’s great to take something someone else has and doing it on your own, but you want it to truly be your own, don’t you? We shouldn’t strive to be them. We shouldn’t want to be a copy of that celebrity or that friend or relative we look up to. Take who they are and the things you love about them and strive for your own being. Make sure you love the things you love – the colors, the clothes, the bands – because you love them, not just because you love someone who loves them. Challenge yourself to really figure yourself out. 

Whatever that means.

As the semester begins this year, don’t worry about pleasing the people around you. Don’t second guess what you wanna say or change outfits to match the magazine cover. As confusing and crazy and intimidating as it might seem, figure yourself out now. Because you don’t want to leave college with all your friends going to all different corners and you’re left without your self-identity. Be sure of who you are. Be brave in all that you do. And don’t waste your time on anyone who tries to tell you otherwise. 

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Now

Right now, someone is falling in love. And someone is falling apart. Someone is driving to work, getting lunch, making plans. Someone is being born and some kids are being taken away from their families. Right now, there are ups and downs and ins and outs and so much is happening in everyone’s lives. At this very moment, a billion things are going on that we’re not even thinking about or are aware of. Someone just got shot. Someone just found out that the illness that’s inside them will no longer be in the wings, but stand center stage until it takes over their role completely. Someone is packing for college or buying a ring or picking the color’s for the baby’s room. Someone is shooting up, falling limp and silencing the pain that never seems to go away. Right now, someone’s signing the consent forms and getting clean. With over 7 billion people in the world, the possibilities are endless. Love, hatred, heartache, joy, confusion, anger, excitement… Emotions and moments and people are happening every second. It puts your life into a perspective to think of all that might be happening right now. To think of how much better your life could be and to oppositely remember how much worse it night become. It’s crazy to imagine that all these things are happening. And that they’ll continue to happen. Baby’s will be born, loved ones will die, hope will be found, resentment will be built. It’s all going on right now. And it won’t stop, it won’t slow down, it won’t take a break. This is life. Happy or sad, high or low, you or them, this is it.

So right now, what are you doing? What are you feeling, what are you wanting? Where are you going? It’s times like this, right before school starts, that everyone starts to reflect on the future. What classes you’ll take, what books you’ll buy, what friends you’ll make. But I think it’s just as important to focus on here and now. And you and life and what you’re going to do with it. Not happy with your job? Quit. Hate where you live? Move. By changing what you’re doing right now, you can affect what you do in one, two, five years. So think of where you’re going and what you want and change it now.

You’ve got to get started sometime.

Why not now?

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Chasing The Sun

It’s not that I haven’t had time to write, because I have, and it’s not that I have had a lack of events in my life lately or ideas spurring at 2am, because both are true, it’s just that I haven’t written. Which is a shame for someone who loves writing so much. Writing and creating and making something out of nothing is an activity I’ll never tire of. To put pen to paper (er, fingers to keys?) and give life to nothing and make it your own is more than a hobby, but a passion. So here’s to not depriving myself of all of that any longer. And here’s to maybe not writing all my blogs at 2am and to getting some sleep instead. Though that last part is unlikely to happen.

That being said, there has been a lot going on in life. I finished freshman year, have kept up my same summer job at home for the past month, and in a little less than two weeks, I’ll be back on campus to work full time for a month before classes begin. Where I’ll be living for that time, I have no idea. But I will be in an on campus apartment closer to classes starting, which is both exciting and intimidating since it will be a while different world than dorm life.

Speaking of dorm life, it was quite the journey moving out of that tiny room. I managed to bring a few things back at spring break, but I was mostly unprepared for just how much stuff I had. I mean, in such a small room, there’s really only so much, right? Wrong. So wrong. Because I wasn’t even sure as I brought all of my things back home that it would even fit in my bedroom. It did, if you were wondering, but just barely. And I tripped over countless bags and lived out of my suitcase for about three weeks before I finally sorted through it all.

As my first year at college came to a close, I sat back and wondered how I as a person had changed. Have I matured any? Or become more open? Less sarcastic? More sarcastic? Has this year made me a better or worse person? And what about my goals for next year? I think the answer lies in this – freshman year was a lot. It was all new people, places and emotions that I never thought I would experience. I tried to stay the same throughout the time I was away, and a lot of me did, but most of who I was evolved in some way. My ideas and wants changed, and while I may not have done everything I wanted to do, I still have three more years left. Three years to make the best memories, do the greatest things and tell the biggest stories about life. And life, as Sara Barielles puts it in Chasing The Sun, is not meant to be wasted.

“So fill up your lungs and just run. But always be chasing the sun.”

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Currently

There’s a lot going on right now. Yesterday, I went to Demi Lovato’s concert in Nashville and was fortunate enough to be able to meet her. I ventured off from good ole Cleveland with a group of girls who love her just as much as I do, which is a change from my initial idea of going by myself. 4th row, meeting Demi, jamming out for the entire night. It’ll be a day I’ll never forget and I’m so thankful I got to experience it. Though the whole Post Concert Depression is definitely a real feeling right now…

So, life in general is pretty busy right now. I’m wrapping up my Freshman year at the end of April, which is so weird to think about, and then exams go into the first week of May. I’m still waiting on some scholarship stuff to hopefully come through for next fall and that’s kind of stressful, but I’m trying not to psych myself out about all of it. Deep breaths, right? Trust in The Lord.

On the upside, I probably won’t have to take my Bible exam. In my particular class, if you have an A average and don’t miss any classes by the end of the year, you can exempt the final, which would be great. It’s not exactly a hard class, there’s just a lot of information and it’s kind of overwhelming. Second update of the day is that despite the immense confusion that had to do with next years housing, my friend Lori and I will be in an apartment together on campus next year! So if anyone wants to donate any kitchen items or living room type things, you’re totally free to give them to us. I’m already really excited to love in an apartment (that’s SO WEIRD to think about) even though I know it’ll be quite the adjustment. Especially since both Lori and I have been living in a community dorm this year That in of itself has been quite the experience.

From doing a persuasive speech on why you should take your social media seriously on Tuesday to a Sociology exam that I really need to do well on on Wednesday, this week will be pretty stressful. There’s a lot more going on and tons of little things to be accomplished, but this school year is almost over. And seriously, how did that happen? How did August and September slip away so quickly? I felt like I hardly got to do anything or be anything, it was all so quick. Though I can say that I feel like I have grown a lot in this past year. That’s what college does, right? I’m definitely not the same person I was last May.

So life is kinda chaotic. But a good chaotic. Everything’s wrapping up and moving forward and I couldn’t be more excited. Nervous, but excited.

Let It Go

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I know, I know. You’re tired of Frozen. Everyone and their mother won’t shut up about Disney’s latest film. It’s overdone and we all know how great of a movie it is, so we don’t need to keep talking about it. But man, I wanna talk about Frozen.

Or, more specifically, I wanna talk about “Let It Go”, the hit song from the movie. Like in 1991 with Beauty & The Beast’s “Tale As Old As Time”, there are two versions of this beloved song. One movie version performed by Idina Menzel (or is it Adele Dazeem? Someone call Travolta and ask. Is that joke too old?) and one single version performed by Demi Lovato. Personally, I like the single version better. Love Idina, but her voice is a little too mature for Elsa in my taste. And Demi basically my everything, so there’s that (also that bridge). I heard the single version first, so perhaps that has something to do with it, too. But regardless, there are only slight differences in these recordings (changing of words here and there, the bridges are different, yada yada), so the message is still the same in both.

Let go of what holds your captive so that you can become free.

I did a speech a few weeks ago in my public speaking class about the symbolism of Elsa’s powers, some of which are abuse, depression/anxiety, and creation. Elsa’s powers are basically the essence of depression. It’s this scary thing that can hold you back and make you hurt yourself or those you love, but it can also be very beautiful. Some of the words greatest artists and singers, Demi Lovato included, have been faced with depression. So in “Let It Go”, Elsa is releasing all of that and embracing all of what she’s always been afraid of, and it’s only then that we find she can be successful. As with depression, when you let it hinder you, you shut yourself off from the world as Elsa was shut off from her kingdom. She was kind of a mess, if we’re being honest. She wouldn’t communicate with anyone, she was very cold and seemingly unemotional. But inside she was a mess. She had this huge internal struggle and an even bigger secret she had to try and hide, and eventually it escaped her.

I could talk about Frozen forever, if we’re being honest. All of this is to say that I’ve been listening to Demi’s Let It Go a lot lately. It’s a very empowering song, no matter which version you listen to. And it certainly doesn’t lack meaning or depth. So, I’m not sure I’ll ever stop talking about Frozen, to be honest. It’s too good not to talk about.

I’ll leave you with this: All the fears you have, all the pain and the awkward in your life, is just that. It’s scary and it hurts and it’s uncomfortable. But there’s a lot of potential for beauty if you just embrace it. Elsa doesn’t have to be the only one building ice castles. Make your castle.

Be Brave

Life is… Crazy. It’s complicated and it’s scary and it’s full of heartache and battles that you don’t always want to fight. But life is always pretty freakin sweet when you think about it. I mean, you wake up every day with the chance to do something great, to do better. You’ve got this blank canvas waiting to be splattered on with the mess and slip ups and the little moments that make your day. You can either get up and smile and work at it, or you can sit there and do nothing. And it’s okay to do nothing sometimes. I’ve spent the better part of my week binge watching Private Practice on Netflix. So what? I’ve got a lot going on with tests and projects and just life in general that I’ve allowed this break to actually be a break for a while before I sat down and did some work.

And while that’s slightly off topic, all I’ve got to say is this: you’ve got the chance to do something better, be something bigger, make your day brighter. So why not take a chance and do it? Cut your hair, drive to Florida, confront a friend, get a tattoo, eat more carbs than you should. Go all in and don’t look back. Be brave. Be ruthless, be more than you used to be. Take your time to stop and appreciate what you have and decide what it is you want. Because you’re never gonna get there if you don’t try.

Now believe me, I’m all for being scared. I get anxious easily and I back out of things and I am way too good at saying no. But sometimes saying no can be harmful. Sometimes it can mean missing a chance to live a great day and tell a story later. Being scared doesn’t get you anywhere in life, but being proactive does. You don’t wanna lock yourself away and lose who you are because you don’t think you can handle it. I promise you can. And if you can’t, at least you know. And you tried and it’s okay. But life is too short not to try.

So go out there and do something, anything. You don’t wanna end up in the same place you were when you were 18 when you’re 30.