February 29, 2012

The Life Of A Writer

I never had any trouble finding my passion; in my case, I realized what my passion was, because it was something that I was always skilled at, but never found a whole lot of joy in until maybe seventh or eighth grade. I have an extremely unique history in regards to how I discovered my love for the written word, and my motivation to share that love with the world.

People tend to put so much emphasis on the discovery of something, and yet it seems like there is little to be said about what comes afterward. Sure, one may very well find their niche, but that doesn't necessarily mean that everything is stars and sunshine from that point out. It doesn't mean that you're going to make it rain or be declared "the best of the best." You have to work at it, hone it, and practice; this is true even when you become confident in the fact that you're good at it. 

The same is true with writing. I say that because I am at a time in my life where I have to start becoming genuinely serious about it, being that is is the career path that I want to take.

When I was participating in the Reverb11 project, I once mentioned that I had a plan that I envisioned for how I would further myself as a writer in 2012. If I can sum it up in one sentence, it would be that I wanted to write a little bit every single day. Once the current semester kicked into high gear, that plan began to falter; I had no idea that my school work would take up so of my time, and looking back on it, that goal was pretty broad. Yet, I may not be writing every day, and it may not always be fiction, but I am writing.

I have never mentioned this to many people, but a lot of the time my work is very personal. It doesn't matter if it's fiction, blogging, or journaling (I do realize that blogging is not always considered to be akin to writing, but that topic is for another time). In some way, I always base whatever I write about off my own personal thoughts or experiences. I think that's why such pieces are often filled with so much depth and emotion; there have been times where I have literally put my own personality into a character, or discussed something that I went through in terms of that character. 

It is both difficult and liberating at the same time. One could argue that it's me being a coward by hiding behind someone (or something) that is make believe. Regardless, I like to switch it up; it largely depends on the subject and who it involves. My next story that I am writing will center around an extremely dark time in my life, and it will take a lot of bravery and confidence in order to do it.

I have learned quite a bit about this craft, particularly in the last year or so. The first lesson is simple and relates to what I just mentioned above: Tell the truth. Don't beat around the bush. You can't write a story that is completely made up, but you also have to make it believable. 

Awhile back, I once mentioned that the hardest part of creating a literary work was having the discipline and motivation to sit down and do it. But as the year has gone on, I now know that is not always the case. Personally, sitting through workshops and critiques is difficult for me, or at least it has been the last two times I've done it. That, and the editing process. 

During workshop, you're normally not allowed to talk for the duration of the time that your piece is being discussed. People will go around the room and tell you what did work, but they will also tell you what didn't work. Praise is easy to take in, because who doesn't like being told that what they've written is absolutely amazing? But that's not the reason I came to college. 

Criticism is normally supposed to be constructive; and I say it like that because not everybody does it that way. There have been instances where one person will tell another that they absolutely hated  their story or poem, and that the author should go find another hobby or profession. Last semester, I took a fiction class and was told by one of my classmates that not only was my piece complete bullshit, but they said that if it wasn't like gold, then it wasn't worth it. 

As much as it stings, (at least initially) that is just the nature of the literary world. Publishers, magazines, etc. will reject you and in some way tell you that you're in no way good enough to be an author. Those who have experienced the "real world" will try to advise you to take up a career that is practical, and that will make you question what in the heck you are doing. 

But it doesn't stop there; I have heard that if and when you get a book deal, some will try to change the majority, if not all of what you wrote. Once it hits the shelves, people have to actually read it. Whether or not people read it largely depends on what critics say about it, and they may verbally tear the book to shreds. It is very possible that you will end up back at square one. 

Granted, I know very little of what actually happens. But based on what I have heard, it is not an easy journey. However, I have two choices: I can either take the doubts and negative comments to heart and choose to play it safe. Or, I can turn those words into determination and fight like hell until I get to where I want to go. 

And for anyone that knows me well enough, when I am determined to do something, I find a way to get it done. 

I don't mean to scare anybody or cast a dark shadow on this profession. To many, my dream might sound unrealistic, especially in this economy. But I wouldn't want it so bad if I didn't feel in both my heart and soul that this is what I am supposed to be doing. Believe me, I've looked at a half a dozen career options, and am still exploring in my particular field; at least for the sake of paying the bills. 

I've been told time and time again that I have a God-given talent; a talent that I do not intend on wasting. I've always had this inkling that I want to make an impact on the world in one way or another. I've seen with my own eyes that you don't have to be in front of a TV camera or be an elected official to do it. There is no way of knowing how words can change a person. An old friend of mine once wrote in my high school yearbook, "keep writing, because it is going to touch so many lives of the people around you." 

I have had that advice stuck in my head since I was seventeen years old. My hope is that I will not be published just for the sake of being published. Rather, I want to be published so that my work will be read, absorbed, and remembered. 

I don't know where exactly I am headed, or what giant leaps I'll have to take in order to get there. But God willing, I will make it happen!

February 20, 2012

Stream Of Consciousness: Balancing Normal

Warning: this is somewhat of a rant; there may be some profanity and my thoughts may not appear to make a whole lot of sense. 

I don't feel like myself.

 Actually, I've been caught in a funk ever since the week after my birthday and Dance Marathon. I initially suspected that it was because of the weather and not having a whole lot to look forward to, which is common for me at this time of the year. But then I noticed how I was so unbelievably freaking tired all the time. No matter what I did, I never felt rejuvenated. I slept for ten hours straight, both Friday and Saturday night this past weekend. I've been taking daily vitamins, trying to eat as healthy as possible, and I do what I can to work out at least twice a week. But even yesterday, I tearfully admitted to myself that I could barely function. 

I do think emotional stress has played a role as well. I've been trying to plan things with my friends on a constant basis and make stuff happen, but lately it has just been falling by the wayside. Nine times out of ten, all I want to do is get out of my apartment and do something other than sleep or watch a movie. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I almost feel like I'm back in high school again when I do it weekend after weekend. 

I mean, whatever happened to doing something simply because I wanted to, or because I felt like it? It's not like I'm going out to get plastered or hook up with a creep. It's more or less for the sake of getting dressed up and socializing with other people. 

I guess the one reason I enjoy it is because it makes me feel normal. (and by "normal" I mean that I feel like I'm living my life based on my physical condition). Not that I think that I'm abnormal,  but when I sit around constantly because I might over-do it,  it certainly feels that way. Not to mention that I'm living in a college town where I don't need a car and pretty much everything is centrally located. For crying out loud, I'm twenty years old and I want to take advantage of that. As long as I'm being responsible for myself, I don't see any harm being done. 

I just wish more people understood that; I try to tell it like it is, but it largely depends on who I'm talking to. I was discussing this with a friend recently, and I literally wanted to scream because we just kept going in circles. Sometimes I think it's one of those things where you really have to put yourself in another person's shoes and try to see it as they do before you can fully get what they're saying. 

I know that college is supposed to be about getting an education; my Mother doesn't hesitate to remind me of that. I also understand that doing one thing and immediately going on to the next is just a part of life. And now in particular, I have to start applying for internships and really thinking about what I want to do with my future. But I don't want to become so wrapped up in it that I miss out what's happening right at this moment. I want to make time to have my own experiences and take care of my personal relationships, 

I suppose it's all just a balance thing, really. Every so often I get irritated because I've been doing this for over a year and a half, and I'm still trying to get the hang of it. Then again, maybe it's one of those life challenges. 

Taking care of myself (physically and academically) Vs. Having a social life

Speaking up Vs. Letting go

Being compassionate and forgiving Vs. Having a backbone

Seizing an opportunity Vs. Waiting for the "right time" 

Staying positive Vs. Allowing myself to have an unbelievably crappy day

Planning Vs. Being Spontaneous 

Making it happen Vs. Letting it happen on its own

Telling the truth Vs. Not saying anything at all 

You get the idea, right? 

Again, this is more or just a rant; one of those things that I need to get off of my chest, and I'll most likely figure it out somewhere down the road. Until then, I'm just going to do my best and have faith that everything will work out as it should.

February 18, 2012

Redefining Wonder Woman

I gave myself the nickname "Wonder Woman" when I was sixteen, the summer before my junior year. It was during a time where I literally had to pick myself up and move forward, despite the loss that I was feeling. And when I looked back on it a little over a year later, I realized that I had survived somehow. Even though it didn't necessarily stack up against what I had struggled with in the past, I honestly didn't know how I was going to get through it, because it literally rocked me to the core. 

It became more relevant after I graduated high school and started my freshman year of college. I wanted to prove (mostly to my family) that I was capable of succeeding away from home. I wanted those that had watch me stumble over the years to see that I was happy and that the difficult times were behind me (that was true in some ways and not so much in others). And I wanted to show the people that I was meeting and getting to know that having Cerebral Palsy didn't affect me in a big way; I didn't want to be recognized for my physical attributes, but for my personality and heart. 

The entire time, my whole thought process was "I have defied the odds so many times before, and I can sure as hell do it again." 

And so I did, or at least I tried. Physically, I did a lot of things that made me look like I was crazy; I carried around Lord knows how much stuff in a backpack that was a little too big for me. I hardly ever took the bus, regardless of the weather (that still hasn't changed very much). I did things even when I was absolutely worn out and needed to rest.  I kept going until I couldn't go anymore. 

Emotionally, I tried to put on a brave face and convince myself that this new phase of my life wasn't that hard. I would tell myself "hey, this isn't so bad. Things could be a lot worse. Stop crying and be grateful for what you have." 

It was all so exhausting, but I was scared out of my mind. I didn't want to be looked down upon or pitied by anybody. I felt that I needed to act like an adult, not a child. That was how I carried myself for a little over a year. 

But in these recent months, I have begun to taken a different approach to the concept of strength. It is not always about putting on a smile for the public, or simply saying "I'm fine" when someone asks me how I'm doing. It's about being authentic and honest. It's about having the ability to connect with someone and sharing your heart with that person. 

And I think that's why I try to my best to tell the truth, especially on this blog. I don't think it's worth it to try to live a life without love and support, simply because we're scared of what other people might think. Or, because we're scared of getting hurt. As terrifying as it is, I find it ultimately a lot better and fulfilling to reach out to someone and risk pain, then to risk missing out on making an amazing memory, and possibly forming an amazing relationship. 

I posted my new definition of strength on Facebook a month or two ago: true strength is not trying to hold  yourself together all the time, but to have the courage and ability to say that you cannot do it on your own. 

When it comes to personal strengths, I used to believe it had to do with what you were good at, and what you could give to the world. That is still true in a way, but I've also learned that it is about what makes me feel strong, and brave, and capable of doing just about anything that I set out to do. 

For me, it is being surrounded by a good support system, especially my family. I don't know where I would be right now if not for my parents and my siblings. They have given me more than I can comprehend, and I feel blessed to still have them at this time in my life. I am blessed to have the friends that I have over time become incredibly close to, and that I now consider family. Not only have each of them been an example of guidance, but they have allowed me to make my own decisions in confidence. 

It is about having a faith in God, a faith that I have at times questioned and doubted. Through that, I see the world and the people in it as a place of beauty and wonder. I am the kind of person that likes to stop and give thanks for the smallest of things, even something as simple as walking around or giving somebody a hug. From a worldview, I may be a bit naive and somewhat odd; however, it is what brings me joy and hope, and that is enough. 

A third personal strength, and a gift, is writing. Throughout my life, it has been my second voice, and the most genuine way that I can express myself. In these last few months, keeping a journal has helped me to sort out my often conflicting thoughts, and to keep everything in perspective. I hope that my writing on this blog has helped somebody, if only one person. And I hope that one day, my writing might do some good for the world. 

Through it all, I still view myself as wonder woman. I love with all I have, but I am also willing to fight with all I have. I can be a bit feisty, especially if you're trying to get me to do something that I don't want to do. I still push myself to do my absolute best, regardless of the situation. 

Yet, I now take the time to step back and rest when I feel the need to. More specifically, I just let myself be Alyx. I let myself be a human being. 

I still think that I have a long way to go. The choice to be strong, and how to be strong, is a daily journey. I am grateful for the walls that I have run into and the mistakes that I have made in order to be where I'm at right now. 

But I will not forget that strength is simply not what you do, whether it be on a physical or emotional level. Strength is about how you treat your heart, and how you treat the hearts of others.

I am not Wonder Woman because of my body, or my attitude. I am Wonder Woman because of my heart.

February 15, 2012

Love: An Incredible, Beautiful, Crazy Ride

According to my friends and family, I've been pegged an all out hopeless romantic. Looking back at my childhood, I suppose one could lay blame on the endless viewing of Disney Princess movies and sappy boy-band ballads saturating my boombox speakers. Suffice to say, my views have definitely been tested and have changed quite since that time. It has taken a few hills, twists, bumps and loops, but I feel like I'm in a place where I can now speak confidently about my experiences, and where I want those experiences to take me from this point on.

I've said this before, but my four years of high school felt like living in a sandbox; it seemed like there weren't a lot of options, especially when it came to dating. I liked a few guys, but I think I was more attracted to the idea of them, rather than being attracted to their personality or the way that they carried themselves. On the other end, I don't think that any of them were ready for me, because as much as I tried to deny it, I wanted something that's almost unheard of when you're fifteen or sixteen years old.

Thus far, I have fallen in love at least one time. Although I was young, I believed he was absolutely perfect. The circumstances made things difficult though, being that he was hardly every single and therefore I could never express how I felt. And when I became comfortable enough to do so, we we already heading in different directions. I invested a lot of time in him, and I learned a lot from it. However, not everybody is meant to stick around forever.

The whole concept became more confusing as I was introduced to the casual hook-up culture the often permeates college campuses. As hard as it is to say, I constantly tried to convince myself that no strings attached was what I wanted, simply because I thought that's what you were supposed to do as a freshman. There were only two, but that was enough to make me hate it in the end.

Thankfully, neither encounter that I had went very far, and their true colors became visible early on (or should I say, right when I was willing to admit to myself that I actually felt something deeper than physical attraction). It did initially hurt that I wasn't wanted, even if they weren't genuine reasons. But as I've gotten to know myself, I've seen that those failures were God's way of saying "this is not you, and this is not what I want for you."

I'm not passing judgment against anyone that does partake in that kind of thing, because I think a lot of it has to do with where you're at in life and whether or not you can emotionally handle it. Some can, and other's can't. I realize now that I need something deep and intimate, not shallow and superficial.

Of course there's that whole debate about experience and how you won't know what you want unless you experiment. I may not have had the most conventional experiences, but I don't think one has to exclusively be with someone to figure out what they like or don't like.While I may not have been seriously involved with anyone, they have definitely been relationships in their own right. It's almost like I've learned more of what not to do then what I should do. Like beauty, experience is all about how you see it and what you choose to take out of it. I have friends that have a ton of experience with the opposite sex, but sadly they act like they haven't learned a damn thing.

So far, the most profound truths have not come from years past, but from this particular year in itself.

This has become a bit of cliche saying on this blog, but I honestly believe that we'll never be able to give love to another unless we treat our own person the same way. You cannot be with someone and expect them to reassure you all the time, nor should you live to constantly build up someone else. You have to be able to look at your own reflection and realize that you're worth getting to know, and you're with taking the time to fall in love with. More importantly, you have to allow others to see that.

With that being said, you should also love yourself enough to be truthful about what you want, as well as setting limits and boundaries. For a long time I didn't do any of that because I didn't want to be critical or picky. By not doing so, I enabled pretty much anyone and everyone to treat me like crap. When I finally thought about it (and wrote it down) it gave me a clearer picture of the kind of people that I want to have in my life, as well as the ones I'd like to keep out.

I won't go into all the details, but it's really important to me that a man stays true to his word, and allows an equal exchange of giving and taking. It shouldn't just be about him taking care of me or vice versa, but we take care of and teach each other different things. So many women complain about not having their needs being met, but I've always felt a little frustrated by the fact that I'm hardly ever given the opportunity to give advice or just be a shoulder to lean on. I don't want any of this one-sided stuff anymore. At least not after we've known each other for a good amount of time.

The second insight has a lot to do with the biggest regret that I have in regards to any guy from my past, especially with the one that I seriously fell for. If nothing else, I wish I had taken the time to enjoy what we had instead of focusing so much on the future. I was either in a state of wanting or in a state of worry. And while doing the opposite may not have changed the direction we were headed in, I would at least have felt more at ease because I soaked in and cherished as much as I possibly could.

It is why these days I am very much an advocate of learning to be friends first before becoming lovers. It enables you to really get to know the other person while building a solid foundation. So if for whatever reason it doesn't work out, at least there is a friendship there.

Personally, I really like the concept of taking it slow. I think being vulnerable is important, if not essential at some point, but there is also the right time and place to let your guard down. I once had it in my head that the sooner I opened up to someone, the closer we would become and therefore, it would last. Unfortunately, that has proved not to be the case most of the time. Whenever I did, he would leave sooner or later.

Don't get me wrong, I do have my share of fears, and I think it's healthy to be a little afraid. Yet, I don't want to go into a situation always thinking that I'll get hurt. You have to be able to find both a healthy balance between using your head and following your heart. Don't be afraid to seek advice, but there is such a thing and second guessing.

I know that love is not a fairytale, nor is it the ultimate key to happiness. It takes a lot of time and a lot of work, and there's no way to avoid ever making mistakes

When all is said and done, you have two choices: You can either close your eyes and hide your face until it's over, or you can throw your hands up, smile, and appreciate what you have for what it is.

Let me be clear that I don't know everything, and I still have a lot to learn. I don't know when love will happen or how often; but that's all right with me because in the end, I choose quality over quantity.

But when it does happen, I'll be ready.

February 11, 2012

Stream of Consciousness: Fighting For A Cause, And Celebrating Life

I am feeling tired, both on a physical an emotional level. This entire week I have been wanting to do nothing except crawl back into my bed and sleep. When I wasn't thinking about sleeping, I had a lot of stuff on my mind that for whatever reason, I could not find peace with. I was afraid to talk about it during my group therapy session on Wednesday. I was even afraid to open up to my friends about it, for a variety of reasons. I may blog about it eventually, but not today. 

Then I kept thinking back to last Friday and Saturday; two days and nights where so many awesome moments are still imprinted in my mind. For twenty four hours straight I participated in Dance Marathon, an organization that focuses on benefiting children and their families being treated at the hospital on campus. The whole night in itself was powerful and moving. One may think that it would be impossible to stay awake for twenty four hours straight, but when you think about who you're doing it for and why, you don't really think about the fact that you;re tired. Personally, I was more focused on the amazing stories that were being told and just the overall adrenaline rush I felt when chanting "FTK" with hundreds of other people. 

Just as well, emotions were running extremely high. I teared up pretty frequently, particularly when parents would get up on stage and give a presentation about their child, some who lost their lives to cancer. I'm a bit of a weeper as it is, so it was difficult not to lose it completely, even though this was probably the one time that I wasn't embarrassed to cry in front of other people. And there came a point where when I wasn't crying, I was cranky and agitated at trying to find a way to keep the fatigue from hitting me at full force. 

Around three in the morning, my body somewhat gave out; While the DJ was taking a break, a couple of (I'm assuming local) bands got up onstage to play. It was extremely loud, and combined with my feet being on fire, that was enough to trigger exhaustion. I left the main room in order to find a wall to lean against, but wound up collapsing twice (once against a gated area, and another in front of a friend of mine while I was trying to get to the first aid station). 

Honestly, I somewhat hated the fact that I took a spill. I tried blaming it on my Sketchers Shape Up's (never wear those kinds of shoes if you plan on standing up for twenty four hours straight; they make your legs and feet feel pain like no other) but I knew otherwise. Up until that night, I had never so much as pulled an all nighter, so my body probably wasn't used to it. I got permission from a doctor to sleep if I needed to. A part of me felt like I was abusing the whole point of the event, but deep down I knew that I had to take care of myself. 

Not to say that it wasn't totally terrible; I wore slippers for the rest of the night, got a pretty motivating pep talk from a good friend of mine, had a back massage and ate ice cream. 

The rest of the time I danced and periodically slept whenever I felt the need to. The best part didn't occur until Saturday evening, where everyone that is still standing takes part in a little something called Power Hour; it's where during the last hour before Dance Marathon ends, everyone gets into a bit group and pretty much jumps up an down for sixty minutes straight. I thought I was going to get clobbered, but thankfully no injuries occurred. 

And as you can imagine I was wiped out afterward. By the end, we had raised well over a million dollars (I can't quite remember the exact number). 

As cliche as this sounds, the whole thing genuinely changed my perspective. I have a habit of getting caught up in so many stresses that come with life, and in particular come with being a college student: wanting to do well in all of my classes, wanting to hang out and do stuff with my friends, and being independent. But seeing those kids and hearing their stories, I really understood that there is so much more to life than just getting good grades and going out on the weekends. Not that I didn't know that before, but sometimes my mind goes in so many different directions and I can't think rationally. 

When it comes to anyone that deals with cancer, or any other life threatening sickness, all they want to do is live to see another day. All they want to do is get better and get out of the hospital so that they can do all the normal things they used to do. They just want to be healthy. 

So who am I to complain? 

At the very end, a couple of people approached me and said "Wow, you have cerebral palsy and you did Dance Marathon? You're amazing!" 

I graciously accepted the compliment, but I couldn't help but think to myself, No, it's not me that's amazing. What's amazing is what can happen when we all come together and work for something, if only for one night.

February 08, 2012

Lopsided Lines And Harbored Values

I've always tended to believe that one can be friends with those whose values differ from their own; I've always enjoyed hearing various perspectives in regards to specific belief systems or morals. But looking back on these last couple of years, I've realized that there are certain fundamental values that have to be mutual in order for a relationship to flourish; one of the most important, if not sacred values to me is communication. That (or lack of it, is perhaps a better choice) was exemplified with the roller-coaster involving someone that I held close to my heart.

Our relationship (and yes, I am calling it that because I invested six years of my life in this person, and for three of them I could confidently state that he was my best friend). had begun to weaken during the summer before I turned seventeen. When he came back home and the dust seemed to settle, I stopped worrying because we always found a way to become close again. Little did I know that it wouldn't be as easy as it was before.

Verbal conversation was sporadic; we would talk on Facebook or text for a couple of weeks and a time, and then it would stop. This pattern would continue starting from the end of my junior year of high school and into the first semester of this year.

When I started school at Iowa, things became increasingly difficult. We would always make these plans to see each other and catch up whenever I was visiting at home, but they never came to fruition. I'd like to think that it was just our daily lives (or at least his) getting in the way. The truth is, I don't know.

I just remember the way I used to pace around the floor, phone in hand, waiting to hear what was going on. Normally I would end up waiting most of the day, and even into the nighttime. Somehow I always wound up like a deflated balloon; anticipating finally being able to see him again and talk like we used to, only to hear silence on the other end.

I did my best to be understanding of his hectic schedule. After all, who was I to make any demands when I was only in town for a month or two at the most? There were times where I tried to talk to him about it, but it seemed like he never understood. At one point, I was afraid that he would perceive it as me not accepting him for who he was; if you didn't, he would cut you out of his life (and that's putting it mildly). So despite the doubts and distrust that lingered, I acted like it wasn't that big of a deal.

The hardest part (and perhaps the last straw, although we still talked afterward) was when he didn't make it up to visit me for a weekend last year. I had all these activities planned, but the one thing I was looking forward to was finally being able to share something with him that gave me indescribable joy. In the three years that he was actively a part of me life, I was always complaining or unhappy about something. We weren't kids anymore, but adults. It was the one place where I didn't have to get defensive about why I had always tried to give him the benefit of the doubt.

And when that didn't happen, I was devastated. I cried for most of the weekend, at least whenever I was alone. I went downtown and tried to hide the fact that I was so damn frustrated on the inside. I began to question whether or not he cared about me at all.

But time went on, and things only got worse; not with him, but my insecurities and fears quickly rose. A guy that I had had a little crush on (we were in one of the same classes together first semester and had been talking online) invited me out multiple nights, only to not show up at all and block me on Facebook and Twitter afterward. When my roommate and I moved in together, her having a serious boyfriend put a gigantic barrier between us because he was around all the time. There were other little things as well, but overall, I just wanted to know why the hell these people couldn't just talk to me.

As I've learned in my therapy sessions, it's not always that simple, and sometimes people don't always care enough to want to be honest. However, I have learned that It's necessary for me to be open with my friends and family, and that I have a right to at least ask for it. It doesn't mean that I'll get it, but I can try.

But it's not just about letting me know what is going on in a situation. It is going to take time and it may not happen right away, but I don't want one-sided relationships in my life anymore. I've always felt like I've always been the one crying on somebody's shoulder, as opposed to being the shoulder to cry on every once in a while. I want to give as equally as I take. I wanted to be wanted. I want somebody to need me.

Yet, there are things that I need to work on as well. As difficult as it is, I am working toward being less sensitive about it; I only tell my friends how I feel about open communication when the opportunity allows me to. I'm learning to be patient and not set my expectations too high.

I have also seen the benefits of genuine honesty; both with the people in my life and on this blog as well. It has lifted a gigantic weight off my shoulders and brought me closer to so many people. It has been a rocky road to get to this place, but I feel blessed by it.

And as for my friend? Well, I am not angry with him, nor do I hate him. I simply don't see the point in putting negative energy into a situation that is out of my control. If he wants to be in my life again, he knows where to find me. I think a lot of it has to do with the both of us being in different points in our lives; almost on opposite ends of the spectrum.  For now, I am choosing to thank God for the time that we had together and nothing more.

 I do not write this in longing or waiting, but in authenticity. I want those that read this to understand where those particular insecurities fed from, and where it has led me today.

Never hesitate to stand for what you value; it may free you from things you've felt chained down by for so many years, and allow you to experience a sense of worth that only you can give yourself.

February 01, 2012

Stream Of Consciousness: Miracle(s)

It is  my twentieth birthday; as of today, I will no longer be considered a teenager, or a child, for that matter. I can look in the mirror and officially say that I am both an adult and a woman.

And while the definition of "adult" can be argued, I must say that being twenty is still somewhat flabbergasting. For many years, I could only dream about what this particular stage of my life would be like. I always wanted to be older, for a variety of reasons. And now that I am, I have to say that I feel like I can genuinely enjoy right where I'm at. No, I don't miss being particularly young, but I'm not in a mad rush to go forward, either.

I realize that as far as our society is concerned, twenty is not a huge age. My friend once described it as sort of a tease; simply because you can do just about everything except legally drink. But when it comes to my own personal experiences, I would definitely say that this is an incredible feat; not only a milestone, but a genuine miracle.

For those not familiar with the story of my birth, I was basically born a premature baby and spent about four months in the NICU. In the early nineties, most newborns in those circumstances were predicted not to survive for very long, if at all. And even if they did live, doctors would spout out a list of do's and don'ts. I've never asked my parents if they were subjected to such. However, I'm pretty sure that the expectations weren't very high.

Cliche as it may be, I have proved them wrong. Dead wrong. And it's not over yet.

The miracle is not just about physical capabilities, but emotional ones too. I don't usually speak of this, but there was a time (well, more like several times) where I was ready to give up. I was convinced that I had been forever changed by the negativity and pain that I had endured previously; that my life was meant to be devoid of truly meaningful relationships, especially with my family. I hate saying this, but I had begun to prepare myself to live life completely on my own.

And in these last few months, I have both learned and seen that we're not made for that, nor are we meant for it. I am beyond grateful to God for giving me both the willpower and the courage to face the demons that I had been running from for a very long time.

I'm not going to predict where I'll be in how many years down the road; I find true joy in taking each day as it comes and being present in the current moment. I do have goals and aspirations, but a lot of them were previously discussed in my December and January posts.

However, if there is one thing that I can hope that my twenties will be defined by, it's that I will be able to allow my personality and heart to shine. I say this because the majority of my tween and teen years were dominated what other people thought of me; I was constantly trying to live up to various pieces of advice and expectations, and none of it ended up doing me any good. I am now in a place where I can say that I absolutely love and appreciate myself, and I don't want anyone else's views to hinder that.

I have come so incredibly far in life, and something tells me this particular journey has only just begun.