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I can’t stop eating. I’ve settled for old Twizzlers and a bag of mint Lifesavers. If there hadn’t been a snowstorm gallivanting about outside yesterday, I’d have driven to town to get some ice cream. When I’m not chomping on Lifesavers cause I’m too impatient to suck on them, I’m biting the crap out of my fingernails. They are shorter than they have ever been. I should try gum, but I get bored of it too fast. Maybe I should take up knitting. I know part of the problem is being female. But I’ve been quite anxious these days, and I haven’t quite figured out what to do about it yet.

I spent the majority of yesterday and this afternoon watching the second season of Grey’s Anatomy and starting the 3rd. I can’t help but feel a connection with Meredith Grey. Maybe it’s because she’s the main character, and that’s the writer’s intent. Meredith spent a lot of her time trying to heal herself while making some bad decisions and trying to figure out the right ones. That’s where I’m at. That’s probably where most people are at most of their lives. But the healing part is taking longer than I hoped. I miss having someone. But something else that caught my attention about the show is something I need to work on: discipline. I’m loyal, but loyalty is different. Loyalty feels easy. But discipline takes time and work. There’s struggle and determination. And I don’t really discipline myself in much. Because there’s nothing really I feel the need to discipline myself in. I’m too good at talking myself out of things. There are things like eating and exercise that I can be better at and some days am better at. I should take it as seriously as I do drugs. But at the moment I don’t because there is too much other things on my mind, so moving on.

I like writing, and I want to keep doing it, but I won’t ever be great at it. Not if I don’t write more and discipline myself to read and study more. In the show, the best doctors had spent so much of their life and their time working to be the best because they wanted to be the best. And they were. And they enjoyed that. But I think my problem is that I’m not interested in being the best. I don’t need to be. I want enough money to pay bills and have some spare change for traveling, but there is too much I want to experience and see to focus all my time and energy on one thing. If that makes me stupid, then I’m stupid. I dawdle in a lot of things. I learned to play the guitar, but I’m not great. I love snowboarding, but I’m not interested in practicing jumps cause I don’t want a broken arm or worse. I write and read when I want instead of when I need to, and for this season of my life, I’m okay with that. I want to learn and experience more. Maybe down the road I’ll relax a little and really put needed work into my writing. But for now, at 24, I want to live my stories. I love stories and books and shows, and I have no guilt whatsoever wasting yesterday day in bed with messy hair and Lifesavers because I was enjoying being in someone else’s story. I’ve felt like a spectator lately, so really it doesn’t sound like I’m doing anything with my life. I’ve felt alone while simultaneously been okay with that fact. But I’m watching. I’m learning. I like hearing what others are doing so when one day I’m in the right place at the right time, I just may have a little better idea of how to handle things. I’m okay, yet not okay. But I’m doing what I can with what I have.

I may not be as disciplined as I should be. But I don’t think I’ll be happy with what I’m doing until I find what it is exactly that I want to discipline myself in. I’m just looking for what interests me, what excites me. Hopefully someday some things will start merging together.

There is nothing new under the sun. I used to have quarrels with that idea. I could sit in front of a notebook for hours in college, doodling deformed stars because I felt washed up at twenty years old. What could I say that hasn’t already been said? What could I possibly know at this age that meant something?

Some stories really do feel new, and then some just feel like a repeat of something else. You think up an idea one day, and the next, an author has just published a book about an idea that you were going to start. There is a lot of competition for ideas in the arts. But that doesn’t mean that our art, our stories, aren’t important. The endings still make us cry, still give us hope, still remind us something about life or imagination beyond the life we know. You can use the same chords, but change the notes and words on the page to create something new. You can use the same storyline, but change the characters and circumstances and still find a way to have a fresh perspective on it.

Some friends I made in college had lived in the city or a suburb. They talked about how flat Minnesota was; but where I live, the land is covered in hills and bluffs. They hadn’t spent a lot of time on a farm, but my mom used to work on a dairy farm, and I live on a hobby farm with cattle and pigs. I grew up riding four-wheeler and picking bales of hay off the fields. I rode with my dad on tractors and in the back of trucks down gravel roads. That life wouldn’t really be new to anyone in my small hick town, but my perspective would be new to them.

I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t criticize artists for creating something that is similar to something else. Just because it may not seem different to you, doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter to someone else.

So keep writing. Keep changing note progressions and keep painting lines because people can still be amazed. They can still be moved. And that’s all we ever hope for. If it matters to you, it’ll matter to someone else.
Isn’t that a beautiful concept? You matter. Even if you’re not an artist. I’d like to think you could make anything an art if you put your mind to it. When I was in college, all the professors liked to say how they thought their subject was most important. But you and I are both needed in different ways. We both have unique understandings that the other person doesn’t have, as well as understandings the other person can relate to so we don’t feel so alone. We can both leave some kindness and hope in a place the other person isn’t.

There is already an excess of complainers. It’s become the norm. Instead, be a daisy in a field of dandelions. Don’t give up on your art, don’t give up on hope, and don’t forget that your perspective is needed, no matter where you are, no matter who you are.

Another year older, and maybe even a little wiser, though I have ended the year with more questions than answers. I turned 24 on Christmas Day this year, and I am still shocked at everwhere I have been and everything I have done in those 24 years. It will never cease to amaze me what can all be squeezed into just one year—memories and new understandings fitting in day-to-day life like packing peanuts. Last December I graduated from college with a Bachelor’s degree in English. I moved back home in the beginning of March, went to the San Juan Islands in April, became single in May, went to Dallas, Texas in August for a Mary Kay Convention for the second time, took a road trip to Alabama where I saw friends I made in Italy that I hadn’t seen in two years, and flew to Wyoming for the first time in October to visit my best friend. I even wrote a new song on my guitar about a friend comforting another friend in pain. Recently, my favorite thing has been receiving a VHS player for my birthday. I have three boxes of VHS tapes in my bedroom closet that I was finally able to take down from its dusty shelf. So I spent a lot of the weekend watching old Christmas movies like Annie and Anabelle’s Wish, as well as rediscovering how many Disney movies I have on VHS. If they were unbreakable, I would have been tossing them all in the air to let them fall around me like some would do with money.

I ran my first 5k this year and made a lot of new friends that have become a big part of my life. I have felt the pain of missing loved friends more deeply this year than I have in a long time and discovered that a broken heart truly feels like your insides are cracking in every nook and cranny. I cried a lot more this year than I have in previous years. But that didn’t make it a bad year. I drank too much coffee, spent endless hours listening to music, and slept in too late too often. But I made it through another year with my loan payments up to date and no broken bones or sickness. I’d say I’m doing just fine.

This year has taught me that every single one of us could be better communicators. Especially when it comes to listening. In the midst of wanting to jump in and give our opinion in a conversation, we forget that listening is a significant part of communication. Why should anyone listen to us if we don’t take the time to listen to them? Are we really so prideful that we think what we have to say is more important than what they have to say? You don’t have to agree with the person, but that doesn’t mean you won’t learn or rediscover something. My goal for next year is to also have more conversations that are important. That sounds a little arrogant, but it’s not meant to be. I simply mean that we have too many conversations that are surface-level because that’s what’s comfortable. But there is so much to discuss and discover when we take the extra step to talk about deeper things than the weather. Getting to those topics can be tricky sometimes, so it takes some practice.

I could also use a little more practice when it comes to bravery. For the past two years, I’ve wanted to take my guitar to the nursing home sometime in the week before Christmas and sing Christmas songs to the elderly who may not get many guests if any at all, and maybe even stick around to listen to stories of those willing to talk with me. But I have been afraid to go alone because I have stage freight. I am insecure about my guitar playing abilities since I make mistakes while playing in front of people even though I don’t make mistakes when I’m by myself. But I also have a soft voice, and I don’t know how many would even be able to hear me. I also don’t talk to many people I don’t know. It’s always been hard for me to strike up a conversation with a stranger, even when I want to.

I’m filled to the brim of my glass with love today that I don’t know how to give it out any faster. I’ve been telling a lot of my friends and family the past couple days how much I treasure them, and I find myself in tears most of the time while writing to them. I think that’s partially because of the fact that my monthly gift arrived this morning. But the other half is truly because I feel blessed beyond words. I don’t know what this year would have looked like without them. There are so many hugs yet to give, so many experiences yet to occur, so many people to meet and stories to hear that part of me feels like I’m wasting time sitting here writing this. However, I’m only human, and there are days my glass is tipped over, kind of like how I’d like to flip over the tables of customers that test my patience. But thankfully those days are limited. Emotions for me tend to be overwhelming because they hit me like a train, and sometimes there’s not much I can do to hold them back. I found myself crying quite a bit at work this year, no matter what I told myself to calm down. But I will take those days if it means I can love people more deeply as well.

Only God knows what will become of me by next December. But I’m excited to see where I’m led.

 

Why is it that someone saying, “He’s a nice guy” is supposed to sweep me off my feet as if they’re saying he’s some kind of Brad Pitt or Dragon Slayer or Winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize? Awesome. I like nice people. I encourage that shit. But if I’m not interested in him, it’s not because I’m not looking for a nice guy. It’s just because I’m not bloody interested in this person. If everyone was attracted to everyone, it would be a hell of a lot more confusing finding which one would make you happy. Give him a chance? Okay, fine. We’ll hang out. But don’t expect me to fall weak at the knees or bat my eyelashes like a school girl to everything you say. I am a guarded person. No one has ever been able to get to me easily. Sometimes this feels super annoying even to me because I’d like to be more vulnerable, but it feels like it isn’t even part of my DNA. I protect myself from experiencing too much of that kind of heartache. That doesn’t mean I don’t ever let anyone in, but basically you’re pretty damn special if I’m considering being more than your friend.

I’m still at the stage where I think I have a good idea of what I’m looking for, but at the same time I’m keeping my eyes and ears peeled because there is only so much I know about people, and people tend to surprise me. I like that about people. I like not knowing what to expect of a person. I don’t consider myself having a type because I haven’t dated enough to really have a type. I’m basically just looking for my best friend. And whoever that kind of person is, I’ll enjoy him for who he is.

So sure, bring on the nice guys. But this isn’t the “saving grace” line that will make me sold. Good luck, nice guys. You’ll find your woman someday.

About every other month, depending on the emotional range of the month, I’ll have what I call a “bad day.” This is me trying to describe what goes through my head on my bad days. This is the closest thing I have as an attempt to understand a few things Depression may consist of. I am lucky that my bad days usually only last one day. But that one day feels never-ending in itself. I am lucky that I get to wake up to a new day, fresh start, emotion free. At least in the beginning.

It grows like weeds in a garden after a rainfall.
It stays like an ink stain
and presses like the heat of a humid day.
Imprisioned in my own skin, my own mind,
I drag its chains with me,
exhausted by default.

Usually there is a small trigger.
Something that may not normally upset me; but on that day,
it does.
Whether it begins as anger or sadness,
it flares like the beginning of a forest fire.

I feel the need to cry,
but when I think about why I need to cry
I cannot find a reason,
only the need.

But this is only if I’m alone in the moment.
It waits until my back is turned
then steps on the gas.

If I have to face people, my mind is prepared for a show.
If I have to face people, it is no longer me that is talking or caring.
It is only a figment.
Because the rest of me is too busy
burying an emotional rainfall
to care that Judy was flirting with the boy you like.
The rest of me is too busy
trying to remind myself that I am not worthless
that I am not an idiot
that I am not behind where I should be in life.
While you ramble that that boy hasn’t texted you yet,
I am busy trying to save my self-esteem
and self-worth.

Then out of maybe guilt or exhaustion,
maybe just because I decide not to care anymore,
it fades and it’s as if I’m no more.

Has your body ever run on autopilot?
How about your mind?
Have you ever felt nothing for or about anything?
Has your ability to feel ever went as frozen and still as the grave?
I hope not.

“I couldn’t care less” has a whole new meaning.
I prefer heartbreak over it because at least heartbreak
carries an emotional pain.
And most Pain has a source that can be grasped and learned from or healed.

This type of pain doesn’t seem like pain
because you don’t feel a thing.
And not feeling a thing
is like being a walking corpse.

For me, this process lasts a few hours. But at some point, something stirs. I force myself to make small talk here and there. Soon enough, I have recovered a good chunk of myself. I do not dread these days, because dreading them gives them power. But they always end. Sometimes that ending feels like it will never come. But it will. Bad days serve as a reminder to be thankful for good days.

I like to think of it as maintenance. The more I focus on the good, the more I enjoy the small things, the longer it takes for bad days to creep up my ankles.

This life is temporary, meaning pain and suffering and loss are temporary. I know what my future holds beyond this life, and that is what I hold on to.

I want to end with this quote from Robin Williams that has stuck with me:
“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless, and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.”

This year I have heard the words “stop hiding” said to me a lot of situations that had to do with my views on things. I never saw it as hiding, but I do know I have fears regarding it. So I have made it a mission to be a little less fearful. This will be difficult on one side because my personality is an ISFJ, and I’m quite terrible at confrontation. So when I’ve talked about hard things, it’s usually through internet or texting. You don’t need to tell me how “pathetic” that may sound to some. But it’s the only way I could get myself to speak my mind about anything because I’m still learning to open my mouth when needed at the age of 23. I don’t intend to ever be someone who never stops talking once I find my voice. I’m a listener at heart. But when asked or when necessary, I’d like to find some small piece of confidence in the cramped spaces of my mind to speak what I know.

I’ve been told to stop hiding behind Christianity, to stop hiding behind my phone. But in a world that looks down upon you for having a different viewpoint than the person standing before you, or even the majority in general, it can be hard to want to speak up. Criticism and deep frowns either tend to cause more deep frowns or, in most of my cases, a caving in on oneself by feeling slightly ashamed while simultaneously not really swaying on what I believed to be true. The tone of one’s voice and the posture of one’s stance means a great deal. I am alert to emotion, and when some form relating to anger or irritation pull ahead, it becomes hard for me to find my words because I’d rather focus on calming the situation than answer the question.

There would be more discussion if the important topics were more approachable than they are now. There are the occasional few who may be set in their ways, but are willing to listen to what you have to say. But there are also those who are more interested in telling you what they have to say. Then there are others who would rather not talk about it at all and revert to changing the subject to surface level subjects. I “hid” behind the texts of my thoughts instead of using my voice because when I answer a text or after I’m done reading a text, I have time to catch my breath, to get a grip on my thoughts. My way of coping and of figuring out what I even have to say in the first place is through writing. So it looks like I’m hiding. And I think part of me was hiding. But the other part truly needs to write things out. This introverted mind of mine takes longer than the normal extrovert to answer questions or ideas through speech because my voice is not where my answers are. They are in my hands.

That does not mean I will never voice my opinions, thoughts, or views. It simply means I’m still learning how to answer in a way other than through forms of text. I don’t easily converse with people in general unless I know them, so conversing about deeper subjects takes even more effort.

This is a harsh world sometimes, and I don’t expect to be craddled. I just know that it is taking me time to step onto the battlefield. So have some patience with those who may be similar to me. Frown a little less, and maybe we will be more willing to answer you. Use a few less harsh words, and maybe you will help us find the confidence we need.

I watched The Amazing Spiderman 2 this morning, and something re-occurred to me. I say re-occurred because it’s not something I haven’t heard before, but something that re-opened the eyes after being under blankets for a period of time. Before Electro truly became the bad guy, he was just a face in the crowd. He sees himself appear on all the TV screens in the square and says, “You see me.”

Isn’t that naturally what most of us want at some point? To be seen? I’m an introvert and shiver at the idea of a crowded room all looking at me, even if they were smiling. I’m a groupie. But that doesn’t mean I want to be another face in the crowd either. I want to hear my name called out by a close friend, by a boyfriend whom I’m head-over-heels for. I’d like a total stranger to say something like, “Hey. Not that I’m a creep or anything, but you have pretty eyes,” or “Girl, I may not be able to pull off that color, but you look ravishing.”

In return, I also want to start noticing people more than usual. I want to start stepping outside of my comfort zone and looking people in the eye with a smile instead of at a passing flower patch as I pass a stranger. I want to sit on a bench by someone who is sitting alone and make small talk and learn his/her name because it’s good to make others feel noticed since I know how nice it is to be noticed by someone else.

I wish these days that to notice someone didn’t necessarily mean you had a crush on that person. I want to be friendly without having that person assuming I want a date or a drink or money for a charity. I just want to be nice to you so that maybe your day will be brightened so you’ll do the same for someone else. You don’t know what kind of day someone else has had, and it puts a smile on my face knowing that I was able to make someone else smile.

Before Electro was Electro and he was in the elevator with Gwen, she says, “It was nice to meet you, Max.” And he pauses and goes, “She remembered my name.”

Start noticing others in a way that is not necessarily romantic, but just genuine. Do this even for your friends. It doesn’t matter if you helped that friend pick out that shirt. Compliment that friend anyway. Compliments are a good starting place. After all the work some put into their face or clothing, the least you could do is say, “By the way, I wanted to let you know that you look really pretty today. Have a good one.” With the way things are these days, we could use all the help we can get.