October 24, 2012

Stream of Consciousness: Stepping Up and Out

Today I'm submitted my application for The University of Iowa's creative writing track. It's a very selective and prestigious program, where only a certain number are admitted. Not long ago, I had my first career advising appointment, where I'm beginning to look for internships relating to my major, and possibly the career field that I want to go into. 

It's exciting. 

It's a little scary. 

And slightly...weird. 

I don't know why, but for some reason I have always felt like a kid. Perhaps it's the height factor, or my love for anything Disney-related. For a good portion of my life, I wanted to be older, yet it was hard to fathom. Then again, maybe I grew up a long time ago, but am just starting to embrace it now. 

Sometimes it's hard to imagine being a full-fledged adult, particularly graduating college. You don't have the structure, and depending on where you're at, you may not have the community. And again, I'm tiny, which makes things somewhat more intimidating for me than usual. 

But who says you have to be above five feet and wear stilettos and in order to succeed? Better yet, who says you have to have all those things in order to live in the city? (That is something that I would like to do, if possible).  I have the determination of a tiger, and if I want something, I will keep going until God closes those doors for me. 

Which is similar to what I'm doing right now. Researching, writing, and ultimately praying. Writing is definitely a big thing for me right now. Ever since I created a Facebook page for this blog, the urge to write has been amazing; sometimes it's a blog post, and sometimes it's a work of fiction. The creativity never ceases, and I have so many stories that are begging to be told. It's just a matter of getting them into a word document, or on paper. 

I've also been interested in writing essays; I submitted one for the non-fiction portion of my application, and am definitely curious to see where it could go. A part of me has always wanted to tell my life story, but not in the typical, chronological way that many tend to do with memoirs. I'd rather focus on the moments, both good and bad, that have impacted me in some way. Other then working toward getting published, I think that'll be my next project.

I don't want to be afraid of moving up and becoming a "real adult." That's the thing I have to keep repeating to myself; that no one stage of life or season is the end all. There is a time for everything, and it seems a lot better to roll with it, rather than resist it.

October 20, 2012

Over The Cyber Wall

A couple of days ago I came across the Facebook page memorializing Amanda Todd, the Canadian teenager who committed suicide last week from enduring a living hell of online bullying and harassment.I wept for her and her loved ones, the way I have wept for so many other stories like this. It always hits close to home, given my own experiences relating to the subject. But when I began hearing about the malicious messages that were being posted about her through that page, I began to question the concept of its creation, and how this all seems to be going around in one gigantic, vicious circle.

Her death was tragic, and a situation like this should not be taken lightly. Amanda Dodd deserves to be remembered and mourned.  At the same time, I too, find myself asking why certain people are glorified or are given attention on this subject, and others are not. A vast number of people kill themselves every single day due to some form of bullying, whether it be online or off. Why aren't they specifically mentioned, as opposed to be lumped in to a group of statistics?

The other thing that puzzles me is the effectiveness of "liking" something on Facebook, particularly if it is a cause or some kind of outreach. It's not just bullying; it's the "like this [photo] so that this poor dog doesn't get put to sleep" stuff. It's "Like this picture to show that you care for kids with cancer." What good does that do, exactly?

I understand the intentions behind things like that, particularly when someone takes their own life due to senseless cruelty. You want to make sure that their death is not in vain. You want to spread awareness and make sure that something like this doesn't happen again. But just because you post something on the internet doesn't mean that people become automatically informed, nor does it mean that they will care. In this specific case, it appears that cyber-bullying is more or less being enforced or inflamed; from what I've read, more people are posting messages that Amanda "deserved" what she got, given the circumstances preceding what happened, and a whole lot worse. It's an awful cycle that has been going and going; at this point, Facebook can do very little to contain it.

Meanwhile, adults have gone about the usual tactics of pointing fingers and blaming people or social media. This is something I tend to slap my forehead over;  because every time our country is dealt with some kind of tragedy, whether it be a mass murder, bullying/suicide, etc. all we do is cry foul, and nothing else. Sure, Facebook and Twitter, parents, peers, and a whole list of other stuff plays a role in such events. But is it really possible to pinpoint one or two as the sole cause? 

It seems like the underbelly of all of this is hatred; pure, unrelenting, blinding, hatred. All other things help a person or group of people feed on that hatred, but that in itself is ultimately where it starts. 

But hatred, bullying, and the like are not limited to students. It happens everywhere, with everyone. Politicians can be bullies. Business owners and leaders can be bullies. Parents/husbands/wives can be bullies. Even pastors and church congregations can be bullies. It all starts to when we fail to recognize those around us as human beings. What's worse is when we ignore their human dignity. 

Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of gray areas in these things, which I'm saving for another time. But instead of focusing energy on removing one thing or adding something else, why not make an effort to actually sit down and talk to each other?  And if you don't agree with or understand something, ask that person why that idea is important to them. There's a chance that it might be more effective, rather than becoming dependent on technology or the justice system to do all the work. 

I'm not against creating a page or a website, for whomever or whatever. But "liking" or "following" something/a person can only do so much. What I mean is, people should be doing more than just getting involved on the internet. Get off your butt and act. Volunteer for an organization relating to that particular cause. Speak out whenever you see someone being treated disrespectfully. Smile and say hello to your school mates, peers, coworkers, etc. In fact, why not invite them out to lunch or coffee and get to know them? 

I have to be honest, I can't say that there is a concrete solution to stopping or preventing any wrongdoing against humanity. But we'll never know unless we turn off our computer screens and make an effort to try. 

October 16, 2012

Break Through

I wrote this after an emotionally liberating counseling session; I had discussed my personal history with those in the group, and the response was overwhelming. It clarified a lot of misconceptions I had held onto about relationships, and I felt a little bit lighter afterward. 

I do plan on writing a blog post about all of this at some point; right now, however, I don't feel like I'm in a place where I can discuss it without fear or apprehension. So for now, I wrote this. 

Break Through

I’ve been told a lot of lies about love
And I believed them
You can see it in my eyes that I’ve got a few things to work out
Trying not to cry or shake in fear as I walk down the street at night
This isn’t normal or healthy, and good Lord it isn’t right

For many years I carried it in me
That you had to be in this perfect place
In order to have a special someone in your life

 I called myself “Miss Independent”
So I wouldn’t have to be co-dependent
And all along I yearned for a connection
Something that I haven’t really had since I was sixteen

Despite all the chatter I don’t think it’s all that bad
For a relationship to change your life for the better
To push you and keep you grounded
To realize what you’re really capable of

But it’s not just about getting, or even about giving
It’s about learning to live and relate with other human beings
We don’t need one lone person to save us
 But it’ll take the support of others to save ourselves

So it’s time to put down the Cosmos and turn off the computers
Instead putting pen to paper and taking time to see
Not all men are vicious monsters
Some of them have broken hearts
And all of them have a history

I’ve put a barrier up for a while now
And if I want to have a long-time love, it needs to be taken down
Because there is no fear in real love
No need to prove that you’re good enough

It’s going to take some time to break through it all
But I have to break through
In order to break free

October 11, 2012

Stream Of Consciousness: Stagnant

I'm currently at a loss of knowing what to write this week. Don't get me wrong, my creative wheels are always cranking at full force; I have a boatload of ideas and topics in mind, and am always coming up with more. It's just that there are times where I don't feel like I have the emotional energy to publish those ideas right away; almost as if I have to work through my own thoughts and opinions before I can genuinely discuss it. And sharing fairly deep posts week after week seems mildly overwhelming, which I'm sure every serious blogger deals with or calls into question. Or I'm probably just not ready to talk about it, especially if it has to do with something personal.

Plus, I want to be authentic with my readers; and if I were to act like I knew everything all that time, I wouldn't be telling the truth. 

Right now it's almost like my life isn't really going anywhere in particular. Or maybe it's not that, but more of seeming like I'm going around in circles, or taking one step forward and than two steps back. There are mornings during my quiet time when I feel absolutely nothing; no stirring of peace in my soul or a verse/passage that speaks to my circumstances in some way. There are moments when I will pray for God to take my burdens, but yet I don't feel any lighter. I realize that I'm not going to feel uplifted every single day, but I wish it wouldn't leave my heart so heavy either. 

I'm experiencing a season of healing, and it's taking quite a bit of time, as well as patience. I think that's where the not moving part of it falls in; sometimes I believe that I am progressing, and other times I just do the same thing over and over again. 

That's why I get frustrated; I want to leave this crap behind me, yet it's not always as simple as "let it go." 

Words and thoughts are one thing; habits are another. 

I did something very refreshing yesterday. For that day in my journal-devotional, Jesus Calling, it talked about not constantly venting to other people, but working it out with God first. So I kind of made a list/prayer about everything that's been bothering me lately, from not having actual creamer in my coffee to constantly acting skittish whenever I walk around campus at night. It felt good; not because I was forsaking gratitude, but because I wasn't  mincing my words and being honest about where I was at. 

A friend recently relayed to me the GPS analogy; that you're never given directions way ahead of time, you're only told where to go and when about a mile before you get there. 

Perhaps that's why life has seemed to slow down, almost to the point of stopping. It's not because I'm not going anywhere, but because I haven't gotten close enough yet. 

Until then, I'm choosing to be patient instead of testy. To pray instead of trying to figure it all out myself. And ultimately, to do my best to make the most of where I'm at, instead of desperately wishing and waiting for when I can be someplace else.

October 06, 2012

It Is Not So (A Response)

 You're lucky that you have such great people in your life. I've had to learn to be alone.

I received this comment on my last post, one that both saddened me and made me think. There are well over six billion people in the world, and yet we all feel so alone. For some of us, loneliness comes and goes. For others, it's a constant presence that threatens to consume us and drive us to the edge almost every single day. I don't personally know those who commented, nor am I aware of their personal stories, so it's not my place to say whether they're right or wrong; but again, it made me think. 

I once believed that loneliness would forever be a part of my life; by day, it was me against the world, determine to prove everyone wrong and fight any obstacle with all the strength that I had. By night, I was a mess, crying against my pillow while wishing and praying that someone would wrap their arms around me and let me know that they were there. 

I thought that nobody understood, when the truth was, I was the one that didn't get it. I couldn't depend on people to read my mind and provide the answers to my problems. I couldn't keep feeling bad an expect them to know what was going on, or tell me what I wanted to hear. 

If I wanted to genuine relationships, I needed to take that first step and reach out to them. 

Initially, it was very hard. I didn't, and depending on the person, still don't trust very easily. I become intimidated when people act like they don't have any issues or difficulties, so it took some time to open up to them. But once I did it for the sake of being honest, and not necessarily a reaction, it wasn't so terrifying. 

And it doesn't always have to be something huge or emotional. Sitting in a coffee shop or a library is always interesting. Go to a gym or a park. Volunteer for a cause or an organization that you feel passionate about. Try out a church. Join a book club or a study group. 

Maybe it's not as simple as it looks, because there is also the experiencing of feeling like you have no one, despite being surrounded by dozens or many more. I am nearly twenty one years old and have a lot of amazing loved ones, yet I still have that experience from time to time. 

I feel alone when someone tells me to "suck it up and let it go," especially if it's a situation that isn't all that simple.  

I feel alone when I think about all the things that I haven't done; that by now, most people my age probably have or would have done. 

This is going to sound very selfish, but I feel alone when I have to work at something. For most of my life, I've had to use a lot more energy, to fight a lot harder, and ultimately work my ass off to achieve my goals. It gets really frustrating when certain things appear to come so easily for others, while I'm practically bending over backwards. 

Deep down, loneliness is a feeling or a state of mind, not a reality. When I start to succumb to that lie, I've learned to close my eyes and say out loud, "it is not so." 

Another part is changing out how I look at solitude. Whenever I am by myself, particularly in my apartment, I try to make the most of it. I try to write for at least an hour each day, and sometimes it turns into more if I really get going. Sometimes I read or catch up on whatever is on my DVR. Heck, it's nice to just bask in the peace of not having to deal with bad roommates or their shortcomings. 

My favorite thing, however, is being able to connect with God. It is honestly where a lot of my spiritual growth has happened, at least thus far into the school year. I read my Bible. I journal. I pray. And not to say that community isn't good, but there are times where it just gets to be too much and my focus gets lost. I need to be able to have that space where it's just me and God. 

As for being lucky? Well, I don't consider myself lucky. The better way to describe it is that I am blessed, especially by those that I have in my life. Love and friendship isn't happenstance; it is a gift. But the gift isn't necessarily whom or what we have, but being able to recognize it.

Please know that I'm not trying to tell anyone what to do or give a concrete answer; I'm simply sharing my experiences and what I've been able to take out of them. 

I don't need a ton of people to care about me in order to make me feel whole. The fact of that matter is, only a certain number of people actually will or do care. Sometimes all it takes is one person to change a life, or vice versa. The question is, will you be that person? 

Don't hide away from the world; we're not created for isolation or to live without companionship. It won't be easy, and it will take a lot of time to feel completely comfortable with the whole thing. There is an abundance of joy in taking down the walls of shame, anger, or whatever you feel is keeping you from connecting to other people. 

Trust me when I say that I know. And I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world!

October 01, 2012

Soul Friends

I always try to be grateful for the people I have in my life. It recently occurred to me that I have finally come to a place where I'm not questioning who my friends are, along with being confident I'm just as equally important to them. This poem is about those people; the ones I can be completely vulnerable and transparent with and not fear judgement or rejection. For the sake of clarification, family is included in this as well. 

Soul Friends

You can know a lot of people
And get along with just about everyone
But how many of them really see you
How many of them really know?

I’d say I’m pretty good at staying true to myself
I don’t try to pretend to be someone I’m not
Yet I can count them number of people on both hands
Who through the years, have come to know me inside out
With them, I can share my soul

Call it insecurity if you’d like
Or just being afraid
But I’ve realized that I have a lot of layers that take time to peel back
And a lot of history
Not all can understand that
Not all can accept all of me

But the ones who do
I can tell my deepest feelings and secrets to
Be quirky and sometimes do stupid things
The ones, whom when it’s needed,  can look me in the eye and say
“stop, this isn't you!"

We don’t have to talk all the time or be inseparable 
We can go through a lot of changes
Some good, others not so much
And find that we still care for each other
No matter what

When I see a rarity I know it
These blessings in my life overflow
I’m no longer looking but cherishing
Those have left deep footprints in my life
And in my heart, where it counts

I won’t worry about tomorrow
Or who’ll still be around years from now
God gave me you for a reason
And that reason I’m seeing now