January 24, 2014

The Bubble

I wrote this after one incredible weekend, before this semester started. Life really becomes easier when you just let go and don't worry about impressing anybody. 

The Bubble

There are so many people in the world
To meet, and for them to meet us
We grow up believing that the greatest gift
Is to love and be loved in return
And that our worth ultimately comes from that love
Of being praised and recognized

Groomed culturally and socially
Clothes-in style and up with the latest trends
Make-up without a flaw
Bodies where no rolls, cellulite, or baby fat exist
Skin and bones aren’t included either
Sexy, but not trashy
Wholesome, but not naïve
Where’s the middle ground?

People come and go
Through phases and experiences
Values shift like jenga pieces
Thoughts change
Along with the voices that rise to speak

I’ve tried to define myself with what I thought were markers
“sweet” “good girl” “mature” “can do no wrong”
All good things in hindsight
But what was the point?
Putting my identity in words that change over time
A foundation of sand instead of stone
Where a stone only reads a few words:
“Human” and “Of God”

Impressions are important
Yet there is a difference between sitting in a cubicle
And being flirty on a night out
Impressions can do a lot
But let them be a reflection of relaxation and genuine interest
Not force
Faking only works so well

You can do your damndest
But either way, you’re damned if you do
Damned if you don’t
Intention doesn’t always affect perception
People will sometimes see you how they want
Not for who you actually are

Maybe it’s best
To not give the finger to the world
But throw your head back and laugh
To not rub your differences in people’s faces
But just be
It’s only as difficult as you make it

photo credit: pasotraspaso via photopin cc

January 12, 2014

The Cape

I do enjoy making New Years resolutions; though I keep hearing that it's perfectly feasible to "start over" the very next day, there's just something about a brand new year that makes it seem more...empowering, I suppose. The celebration and turning of the clock make it feel natural, like a breath of fresh air, rather than something that's forced. And like many others, I'm choosing to focus on one, although as time progresses it may become an umbrella term or statement for other things.

It didn't take a whole lot of time to figure out, given the way 2013 unfolded: there were heaps of accompanied by worry, most of which went unwarranted. Not because of the notion that everything works out in the end or that it wasn't as bad as originally anticipated.  But realistically, there was nothing that I could do to make those situations easier or better. Though I intended to try to make some kind of difference, the choices I made almost destroyed me in the process. With that being said, I did take some time to think and pray about what I really wanted to work on this year, although deep down I've been aware of it all along:

I need to stop trying to take care of other people so much and start actually taking care of myself.

But before anyone pegs me as selfish or narcissistic, let me go back and provide some insight into how this came about.

A part of me has always felt that I grew up a little too fast, especially as I became more aware of the world around me and various aspects of it. I was constantly praised for being "mature" and "wise beyond my years" by teachers and other adults in my life. Somewhere between fifteen and eighteen, a relative would tell me that I was the rock of the family and that I helped everybody else stay grounded. It was meant to be a compliment, to build me up whenever my self-esteem started to sink. But I heard it enough times where I started to believe it, and worked myself into what I call "firstborn syndrome." Some may also refer to it as being the third parent (or at least taking on some parental role). When it comes to being the oldest, you're the next in command: you hold yourself together when the others are going nuts. You take care of the younger ones when necessary. You hold the fort down when all hell breaks loose. And everyone else's needs come before your own.

I didn't start to feel the weight of it until I came home from college for breaks; winter break of freshman year was the first time I admitted to myself that things weren't OK; the overall atmosphere was thick with tension and there was no telling who would get upset or why. So I took it upon myself to help out as much as possible; I wasn't always good at it, but I did my best. I figured that if I didn't try to create some sort of harmony, no one else would.

This is a bit off subject here, but that's part of the reason why I went off on a bit of a bender after I turned twenty-one: Trying to fit into this particular role of being "the good girl" "the easy child" or "the strong one" was becoming exhausting, and I needed to grab the reins for myself. I don't blame my parents or anyone else for my choices or my line of thinking. But there were a lot of expectations (both self-imposed and put on me by others) that made navigating my identity a lot harder than it needed to be.

At the time, I thought that a lot of the decisions I made during sophomore and even junior year  were acts of selflessness: I thought I could help a childhood friend heal by moving in with her. I spent a night chasing after two friends from out of town to keep them out of trouble, despite putting myself in danger of being sexually assaulted (or worse). I held onto a toxic relationship because I felt indebted to him for taking care of me when we first met. The summer  following junior year, I dragged a drunk friend back to his apartment because I didn't want him to hurt himself. I kind of started acting like a Mom for a little while, always warning people to be careful and checking in on them the next day.

 My heart had good intentions, but deep down it was more about this ridiculous desire for someone else to need me; I've been told that I help others in more ways than I know, but I wanted to be helpful in ways that I was fully aware of. The funny thing is that no one ever came to me and outright asked for anything; I assumed that they were struggling or in trouble, and that as a friend I could help take on whatever burdens they were carrying. It's one matter to take on the weight of a person's world when they recognize where they're headed and what they're doing to themselves. But it's entirely different when they accept an ugly side as part of who they are, and either they look the other way or don't really care what happens. That's when I was in over my head.

Fast forward a little over a year and my mindset is starting to change. I question how the terms "selfless" and "selfish" are tossed around aimlessly, particularly in churches and faith-centered groups. I can't say that I completely agree with the whole "I am third" mentality; not because of how God fits into it, but because I find it hard to do things for others if you don't have the capability of doing the same for yourself. The biggest issue is that not many people know how to make the distinction between what is selfless, what is selfish, and what is just pure insanity. A lot of it is based on circumstances and the motivation behind the choices that we make. 

That's not to say that I'm going to just stop caring about people; it's in my nature to want to lend a helping hand, and I'm always going to do my best to be a good friend, to listen, and give advice/feedback when appropriate. I also believe in at least voicing my concern when I feel that someone is making a bad decision that may hurt them or others in the long run. However, I'm finally beginning to understand that I'm only a human being, and can only do so much when it comes to another's well being. I can't keep certain friends from becoming alcoholics or getting into bad relationships. I can't be a buffer for my parents or my family. But I can paint my own picture, and I can create my own future.

As I said before, we all have the capability to do great things; I just don't think that "saving" someone is one of them. By trying to do that, you end up putting your emotions in that person's hands (i.e. basing your happiness on whether or not that person is happy). And that doesn't work, at least after a while. 

I'm a hard worker and a fighter, and I'm willing to put my whole heart into what I'm passionate about. But I'm not anybody's hero; at the end of the day, I'm simply Alyx, a child of God who's own strength is not enough. That's why I think it's time to hang up the cape, at least in the sense of being realistic about what I can and cannot do. 

Yes, Wonder Woman has left the building.

photo credit: Loving Earth via photopin cc

January 06, 2014

Music Lovin' Monday

Whether you're going back to school, riding out the brutal winter weather, or trying to figure out exactly what direction your life is headed in, I think we're all in need of a little motivation this week. That being said, here's a selection that has always given me a boost, whether it be recent or from a past decade. Enjoy!

My Songs Know What You Did in The Dark-Fall Out Boy

-This reminds me of when the Blackhawks were playing for the Stanley Cup over the summer; it was always on during the promo commercials. 


-I love the message of this: that risk is always followed by the possibility of getting hurt, but pain doesn't have to mean that something (or life entirely) is over.

Fighter-Christina Aguilera

-Even though this is more about a relationship, it still makes my adrenaline go up.

People Like Us-Kelly Clarkson

-A reminder that while we all have different experiences, everyone does struggle and starts at the bottom at some point.

Dream On-Aerosmith 

-This one is often at the top of my workout playlist and gives me the chills every time it plays at the end of the movie, Miracle.

Roar-Katy Perry

-Admittedly I was not a huge fan of hers until recently, and though it came out in the last year, I think this will end up being my anthem for a lot of different reasons. I have to start looking at myself in a way that I don't usually do, which is scary and empowering at the same time. Overall, I'll probably surprise myself in the process!

Counting Stars-OneRepublic

-Yes this is a repeat, but I thought it was appropriate for those of us of are currently or have been looking for a job, particularly those of us who are graduating this spring. In this economy, there's always the question of how (and when) you'll be able to fully support yourself, and what a relief it will be when you can.

While there's plenty more to choose from, these are the ones that come to mind. Have an amazing week, and be safe if you have to endure the painfully cold temperatures or snow!

photo credit: SweetOnVeg via photopin cc

January 03, 2014

Reverb: A Final Reflection

We're a couple of days into a brand new year, and I can't say that I'm sorry to see the previous one go. Reverb13 has come to an end, and within this next week I hope to be back to my regular blogging routine. That being said, I have a few final thoughts that I'd like to share. 

This go-around was very interesting; instead of following one particular website or blog that was hosting, I would pick prompts from different blogs, sometimes finding ways to make them my own. I didn't write every single day (which usually is the case each year) but I frequently found myself going days or even a full week without posting something. At first I thought it was because I was stuck in some kind of rut or experiencing writers block; but the truth is, this year has been filled with so much emotion and major ups and downs that the thought of blogging about it was almost too overwhelming. I definitely wrote about it, but did so within the private pages of my journal or in essay form that I only allowed certain people to read. With so many unknowns and what-if's, I simply thought it best not to share at this time, and that's OK. 

Looking back on both my public and private writings, I can only sum up the past year as the year of coming undone. The year that what I thought I knew about myself, my family, and my life began to unravel; not necessarily in a way that was bad, it just gave me the opportunity to look at those aspects with a more mature attitude. It forced me to confront how often I tend to idolize or romanticize things, rather than view them for what they ultimately and truly are: imperfect. Imperfect, but still beautiful and worth appreciating. 

As I ponder and pray about my own resolution for 2014, I can't come up with one singular word that encompasses what I envision. Instead, I'd like to think of it as a cluster: multiple words that point to the same thing. 



New Beginnings

These are the three words, the cluster that comes to mind as I look ahead. 

Hope in what I cannot see. Putting my hope and faith in God alone. Building a firm foundation as I transition from one chapter to the next, so even in the times of instability and not knowing, I can rest in the fact that I have my faith. 

Surrender what I can't control. I'm not going to sit back and let everything just happen; with that mindset, I wouldn't get anywhere in life. There has to be an effort on my part. That being said, I've realized just how important it is to understand that getting there will not be easy. I may reach my end-goal and/or get what I want, but it will most likely be full of unexpected setbacks, detours, and changes. And it's easier to deal with all of that when I stop trying to control what isn't mine to control in the first place. It's trusting in the One that is greater than myself to put all the little pieces together as opposed to trying to force it all to come together on my own. 

New Beginnings are what I have to create for myself, and I'm even more aware of that now than I was in high school or middle school. I don't have to carry my past with me and I can break this dysfunctional cycle that I've been trapped in for years. I feel like a lion that's been in hibernation and will probably come out roaring. But what I'm trying to get at here is that we all have a chance to do things differently and perhaps do something great: you just have to be willing to start walking, and keep going regardless of how hard or scary it gets. 

Despite the setbacks and roadblocks, 2013 was a great year for writing, growth, and connection. I have a feeling that it will only get better from here on out!