May 25, 2012

Quotation #1

As strange as this sounds, I come up with quotes in my head fairly often; It might have something to do with the fact that I am a writer and that I use my creativity in the best ways that I know possible. It's not forced and it's not something that I try to do, rather is just hits me at random moments. Just as well, I wanted to start a quote series of sorts, something that I'll post when I do have a particular topic on my mind, but I don't have a whole lot of time during that exact day to write it. The entire post itself will follow up on a later date. 

If you feel inclined to do so, please comment or discuss. I'm interested in seeing how this goes!

"When you really, truly love someone, you won't run away from them or become afraid to be with them. You'll fight for them with everything you have, because real love isn't born or manifested out of fear. And real love is something worth fighting for." 

May 23, 2012

Baby Steps

Imagine this: you're alone in a room, exhausted and wondering how long it's been since you've had a full night of sleep. Your vision, what not too long ago gave you hope and motivation, now seems hazy and full of uncertainty. You sit down, thinking that it will help you think more clearly, but it doesn't; you just end up staring at a wall for an entire minute or more. 

There are a dozen questions going through your mind, but the only one that keeps screaming you repeatedly is "Oh God, where do I go from here? What do I do now?" But all you really want to do is curl up in a ball and guard yourself from whatever painful or scary thing that may be waiting to hit you next. 

Yet in that moment, all you can do is cry. Weep. Sob. Until you feel like you have absolutely nothing left to cry about. 

I have experienced this more times than I can say, especially as I've gotten older. Normally this type of scenario occurs when I realize that things aren't working out the way I thought. Figuratively speaking, I've run into a wall and have fallen flat on my back. In a way, I have failed.

I hate failure, as does everyone else, I'm sure. It's agonizing when you've worked your tail off, only to come to a point where it seems like it was for nothing. But you can't succeed unless you fail first; and chances are, you'll get stuck and fail multiple times before you experience success.

There are several different forms of being stuck: 1. The rug has been pulled out underneath you and you're not sure what to do next. 2. You have absolutely no idea what you want, or how to figure out what you want. 3. You know that you're going somewhere, but you don't know where and it scares the crap out of you. 4. You're in a cycle of some kind and have no clue how to break free from it.

I have been through all of these on some level, and am currently going through number two. I don't have all the answers and as human beings, we'll never be completely put together or have it all figured out. But that doesn't mean that moving forward is a hopeless cause.

First of all, let me say that Hollywood has it all wrong. In the dozens of feel-good movies that exist today, there is the same old formula where the main character has an epiphany of some kind, and then everything automatically starts getting better afterward. That's not realistic, and that's not the way life works.

Personally, I have come to learn that getting "unstuck" involves a lot of baby steps. It's good, if not essential to get your thoughts out on the table, whether it be on paper or in person with someone that you trust. It's important to have those kinds of people walking with you through this time in your life to help you and hold you accountable for your actions. But there are other things, small things that are frequently overlooked: 

Get up and MOVE-I don't mean that purely in the context of just exercising, although exercising can be useful as well. What I mean is don't spend every single day lounging around and dwelling on where you're at in life. Get up, take a shower, and do something. It can be something as simple as taking a trip to the grocery story or getting coffee. Don't be afraid to put on a little mascara and lipstick if you feel like it, because even the most ordinary events can turn into special occasions. But as much as I love "comfort clothes", sweatpants and bathrobes get a little suffocating after a while. It's not an automatically solution, but hopefully it might be a mood boost of sorts. 

Be honest about what you really want, and write it down-I'm not talking about making a list of X number of things that you want to do before you die or hit a certain age; those eventually become overwhelming and you become more concerned with just crossing stuff on the list than taking the time to enjoy them. Pick five things and then focus on those, one day at a time. 

Don't beat yourself up-You will have "off" days, or days that just completely suck. Don't get discouraged or frustrated so easily, particularly if you're in the process of working toward something. It takes a lot of time and patience. Take a deep breath, remind yourself that you're human, and let it go. 

All people get "stuck" at some point in their lives, many of them dozens of times over. And by the end, you may not be exactly where you want to be or do all that you have wanted to do. But trust me when I say that with enough perseverance, faith, and determination, you can make a change. Those baby steps, at first appearing small and insignificant can't lead to big things. You just have to keep going.

May 18, 2012

Stories Worth Sharing

When it comes to blogging or any kind of non-fictional writing, there's this so-called notion that one should appear polished and "together." In terms of grammar and punctuation, of course you should make sure that it's edited and flows well; It's hard to read anything that's full of run-on sentences, misspellings and the like. But when it comes to content, that becomes a different aspect all in itself.

During my first couple of years of blogging, it was easy to sugar-coat my life. Initially, I thought having a blog was all about discussing the good things and convincing others that I was doing all right; this was particularly true during my freshman year of college, when the majority of my readers were those that thought I wouldn't last a semester away from home.

More so, there was a side of me that I really didn't want other people to see, especially those that I was just in the process of getting to know and hadn't actually opened up to yet.

I've written a lot of posts that are very deep and insightful, but the first one that I was downright terrified to write about was my witnessing a friend go through a painful time in his life, and how for a long time I felt like it had been my fault. Up until that point, I hadn't really been honest about how much the whole experience had hurt me, and how in some ways I was still hurting. I was afraid that people would just keep telling me to suck it up and move on.

Most of what I wrote from September to December 2011 was incredibly tough. I was in therapy, learning how to properly dealing with some things that I had all but swept under the rug for a very long time. I was also living in a toxic environment with someone that I wasn't meshing with, and I had to be careful about how I handled the situation for the sake of shit not hitting the fan (not right away, that is). Throughout those four months, there were some details that I shared and others that I left out. I can honestly say that I don't regret it.

Baring your soul is a nerve-racking, sometimes terrifying concept; whenever I wrote about something deeply personal, I always expected a negative reaction to it. That's not to say that it didn't happen, but  not in a way that I was aware of it. On the other hand, it was almost always extremely clarifying: I don't like purposefully trying to hide anything, or having to jump through hoops to do it. Sometimes I find it better to just say what I need to say.

The other aspect is that everyone is usually in some type of pain or coping with difficult circumstances. As cliche as it is, you never know what your story can do for someone else. I've been on both sides of the fence, having made a difference for those who have read my blog, and having been moved by other blogs as well. Sharing one's heart in writing is a huge risk to take, but understanding that you're telling the truth and being real with your readers is the greater reward.

That does not mean you should set boundaries or limits for yourself. Whenever I'm discussing a subject involving those that I'm connected to, I do my best not to include names. Regardless of my feelings toward a person or group of people, it's important to still be respectful of their feelings and privacy. Whenever I write, the goal is not to purposefully cause any pain, but to be authentic and to encourage.

And although authenticity is important, I don't always share every single detail of my experience if I am not comfortable with it. Not everyone needs to know everything. And in terms of writing, readers should be able to figure out how you feel about it without you having to spell it out. Share the facts and how you feel about them, but be careful not to get too caught up where your main message gets totally lost

Sadly, not everyone will accept or agree with what you have to say. Personally, it's tempting to want to fight back and defend myself with someone leaves a not-so-nice comment. While I haven't been "trolled" yet (i.e. those in cyberspace that seem to make it their mission to find blogs to hate, when they can simply stop reading them) I can't say whether or not it won't happen. I've said it before and I'll say it again: developing a thick skin is almost a necessity for blogging, or any kind of writing. Rejection, in whatever way that may be, is part of the territory. It will hurt and it will suck. But at the end of the day, there's really nothing you can do about it; you have to simply accept it as an opinion and move on. 

Every human being has a story; often times, multiple stories within a story. Whatever they may be, and whatever you may have gone through to be able to stand up and tell it, it is worth sharing. It may have a few grisly details and it may not have the happiest of endings, but that does not mean there isn't any good that can come of it. There's always a chance of giving someone hope and encouragement; of letting them know that they're not alone, and that they're loved and cared for.

There is a chance that you might end up saving a life.

The question is not whether yours deserves to be shared, because it most definitely does. More or less, are you ready to share it, and if so, how? 

Write. Speak. Do whatever you need to do. If you want to see change in the world, you have to speak up!

I won't say that my posts in the near future will be "controversial." However, they're going to be about topics that I have been mulling over for a long time. They're going to be deep, and there's a possibility of ruffling some feathers. My hope, ultimately is that we might even get a bit of dialogue going. I've never had a discussion before on my blog, and it will be interesting to see the way things turn out.

May 12, 2012

Two Years, And a Little Wiser

I am (unofficially) a junior in college. Yet, it is not the blurry passing of time that amazes me, but the amount of change that I've experienced in that amount of time. Even though freshman year was technically only a year and a half ago, I feel so much older than that. It's as if I know things that normally, people my age wouldn't learn or understand for perhaps another year or two. Maybe that's because I'm so observant; in any case, here are the top ten: 

1. It doesn't matter how much you change, or what you do to become a certain kind of person. The real you will always remain somewhere in the deepest part of your heart, and will come out eventually. You just have to stop fighting it. 

2. Never do anything because it's what you think you're "supposed" to be doing during a particular time or phase in your life. It's not worth the pain if you only take part in it just for the sake of not missing out on something. 

3.  Whether you believe it or not, the two relationships you'll never question your investment in is a relationship with God, and a relationship with yourself.

4. It's not about "live life with no regrets." Instead, it should be "live life without any reasons to regret. When you learn how to appreciate something exactly for what it is and how to live in the present moment, then you don't have anything to regret. 

5. As you get older, you'll understand that your best friends are really your family. And somewhere in all of that, many of your friends will become your family. 

6. It's important to always take a little time for yourself. A friend of mine told me that once, and I had trouble believing him because I thought that being alone was considered a bad thing. But it's actually nice taking a break from all the craziness every so often. 

7. Everyone is worth taking the time to get to know. But not everyone is worth taking the time to be close to. 

8. Learn how to trust your instincts; they're one of the few things that will never let you down. 

9. There are some answers that aren't meant to be searched for; rather, they're meant to be revealed to you in their own time. 

10. The most rewarding achievements come from the things that you had to work your butt off for. 

However, that's not to say that I know everything. Time will only tell as far as what these next two years hold. And I can't wait!!

May 06, 2012

People DO Matter!

I was reading through my journal today, trying to find a common theme that tied this school year together. While I'm usually one to focus on experiences, this time around it was the relationships either formed or deepened that surrounded those experiences.

Friends. Family. Those that had become both. And maybe a few that right now, don't feel like either one. They're what made my sophomore year feel so full of special moments, as well as taught me some extremely tough lessons.

I was watching an episode of Oprah's Lifeclass last night and I heard a quote that I haven't been able to get out of my head: "People don't come into our lives to give us love; that love was already there. They're given to us by God to express and experience the kind of love that we're capable of." 

And looking back, I didn't get to live it out until I started writing my Lent Letters. Honestly, I'm still writing them, because I don't think you should have to wait for a holiday to let somebody know how much they mean to you. We're not promised tomorrow, and I have definitely seen proof of that over these last two weeks. 

From that, I feel like I have learned how to appreciate what I have while I have it. I used to get frustrated when I would only see certain people a couple times a month, sometimes even once a month. I'd see the billions of pictures that others would put on Facebook or the statuses about what they did the night before, and I would get jealous. I thought it was something you were supposed to do, and if you didn't, you weren't a normal college student. As shallow as that is, it was my line of thinking for a while. 

That changed shortly before spring break, where I had one of the best nights of the semester. I felt what it was like to not constantly plan something and just go with whatever happened; I took things for what they were and lived in the present moment. 

When I really thought about it, going out every single weekend was no longer important; the fun wasn't solely in getting dolled up or going out on the town, but being with those whom I cared about and vice versa. As far as Facebook goes, I don't want to be constantly updating my profile for whatever reason, because that's not living in the real world. 

Someone once mentioned to me on Twitter that we become like those that we spend time with. I don't think we necessarily become them, because each of us has our own personality and way of thinking. However, I do genuinely believe that attitudes have a way of rubbing off on us, both in good ways and in bad. 

I've had friends that by just being around them, I was both inspired and motivated to be the best person I could be. Their confidence and bright outlook was almost contagious. Being close with them wasn't complicated, because we could be real with each other and not worry about what the other person was going to think. 

Yet, there were one or two that always seemed to cause more stress than the relationship was worth. One in particular, I spent some amount of time with almost every day; I was convinced that we were meant to be the best of friends. On the other hand, she was always very negative about what was going on in her life and hardly had anything good to say. 

Let me clarify that there is nothing wrong with having a bad day, and that everybody goes through tough times. But there is nothing more heartbreaking then hearing a person say "I don't think that I will ever be happy." And there is nothing more frustrating when you feel like you can't communicate with that person because of that. You want to help them so badly, yet you can't. 

I'm not one to advocate saying "screw you and get out of my life!" Nor am I one to advocate doing it dramatically and/or publicly. But I do believe in emotional distance. 

Distancing myself from another person has always been one of the hardest things for me to do, because I have always felt that I was judging that person or not accepting them. But when someone is constantly hurting you in one way or the other, you know what they're capable of. It's a way of saying "I accept you, but not the way you're treating me or yourself." 

I've had to go that route with multiple people; eventually, I do come to an understanding as to why. Sometimes you just need time to be apart and to grow up. Other times, the purpose for the relationship has been fulfilled and it's time to go on. 

I've been asked if I regret investing in her, or anyone that ultimately turned into an emotional roller-coaster. No, I don't regret it at all. It may not have been the best decision, but it has lead me to where I need to be. Life doesn't happen to you, it happens for you. 

The question is not if we should invest in someone, but how. Not everyone is meant to be your best friend; to know your secrets, your fears, and what makes you tick. The reality is, not everyone has the best intentions or cares about how it affects you. 

There is no right way to go about that; you just really have to trust your instincts. Don't force yourself to open up to someone if the opportunity doesn't arise. Don't feel obligated to spend time with someone if you really don't clique. And don't be afraid to walk away for the sake of your own well-being, if it comes to that. 

I whole-heartily believe in the importance of surrounding yourself with good people; people that will lift you up and encourage you, along with allowing you to do the same for them. 

Regardless of the role someone plays, be thankful for it. Be thankful for the way they helped mold you and for what they taught you. Eventually, it will all come full circle.