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Across the room from me, there are 36 pink, heart-shaped post-its pressed against the wall, though some curl at the edges like crippling flowers. These little notes are my room’s version of a photo album. For some people, pictures are some of the most important memories because they are able freeze a moment onto a sheet so they can relive it in their minds later.

Scribbled onto these post-its on the wall are quotes my roommates and I have said to each other that we’ve found humorous. This kind of memory is able to capture a personality. Whether it’s an opinion about something or someone, a whitty remark, a miscommunication or ignorance about something that makes us laugh is a way for us to remember each other and smile.

Memory can sometimes feel like a curse, but to remember things like your adventures into new places, your failures that became lessons, your loved ones whose bodies now shrink in boxes underneath marble nametags is a gift.

Memories become pillows and chocolate on the days you wish life wasn’t such a pain in the ass. Those moments in those pictures will never be lived again, or at least not in the same way; just as those moments on our post-its will never be relived except in our minds.

So when opportunities arise, take the chance to make some memories that you’ll want to remember. I’m almost 22, and already I have done and seen so much that it excites me to no end to think that this is only the beginning. Fear and worry are your enemies. They will do nothing for you, so don’t welcome them. Try new things, go to new places before you tire out and don’t have the energy to go anymore. Already I feel more tired than I felt even a year ago.

As addicting as Facebook is, it’s not going to do much for you. Of all the things you post on Pinterest, how many are you actually going to do/make/look at again? Trust me, I have these problems too. But remember how precious time is. Take your lazy day when you need it, follow the rules so you don’t get fired, but there is so much life in the trees just outside your door, and we have a tendency to use that time to sprawl on the couch and watch a second movie we’ve already seen. Even in your priorities, there’s life and excitement that you haven’t noticed. Never lose your sense of adventure, of wonder, of a love for life, for people, and for God. Let your mind be as free as that of a child.

Everyone is a book on a shelf. 

But you’re not just a book. You’re a specific book on a specific shelf in a specific part of the library. 

I’m a waitress, and there are a few ladies who have worked at my restaurant for over twenty years. I have a tendency to get annoyed of the job by the end of the week. Sometimes I worry that I’m going to be stuck there for the rest of my life. But then I feel guilty for thinking that that would be a bad thing. At least I have a job. I have money to buy groceries every week and a new shirt every once and a while. But I tend to think of my job as something towards the bottom of the food chain. But when I take a step back, it’s not. A waitress is needed as much as anything else.

Notice how when the snow clings to trees, only a certain amount of snowflakes can catch the branches and hang on. The rest fall to the ground. Imagine those snowflakes as people. Only a certain number accomplish their dreams and stick to the branches on different levels. The rest fall to the bottom and get lost in the hills of snow. They find jobs as waitresses, janitors, bus drivers, cashiers. . .

Sometimes we tend to think of those bottom jobs as the lowly jobs. “Why would you want to do that for the rest of your life?” But just because I won’t be a lawyer, doctor, or scientist, doesn’t mean I can’t contribute something. Maybe I won’t end up being the writer I hope to be. Maybe the most I’ll accomplish is win a short story contest after losing twenty others. Besides, without that bottom snow, what would we use for snowball fights? For snowmen? What would we use to snowboard on? To snowmobile on?

Everyone is needed in this walk of life. You may not own the restaurant, but people are needed to serve the food. Without janitors, everything would dust and mold. Without bus drivers, those who don’t have a car wouldn’t be able to get around. 

I am in the middle of reading 1 Corinthians, and I came to chapter 12:12-31 that has a heading called “On Body, Many Parts.” I will quote a few of these lines so you can get the gist:

“Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body…But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be…those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty…so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other…”

So don’t misunderstand me. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to climb the ladder. Work your butt off to get somewhere if you can. Find your gifts, and use them. If you are doing what you can to put food on the table for yourself or your family, then you are doing great. We don’t all need to be waitresses, but we can’t all be doctors either. If you kick yourself every time you fail, you focus on the struggles instead of allowing on the strengths to encourage you. You are needed in whatever you do.

I don’t like being underestimated. At first, I may seem like the sweet, nice, quiet person who doesn’t talk unless she’s spoken to, but I have a feisty heart. I’ve just convinced myself that punching someone in the face isn’t the best strategy to fixing a problem.

Today, my roommates and I were talking about if the four of us were in the hunger games together who would win. Two of my roommates, who are the sweet and uncoordinated ones who probably would feel bad about swatting a fly, said they would probably lose in 45 seconds if they were against me. But my fourth roommate thinks she could beat me. I got strangely defensive in my mind. She has no idea what I’m capable of. I’m a tough cookie. Come after people I care about, and I’ll come after you.

But I don’t show that side of me, because I’m a Christian, and violence is probably the worst solution to a problem. But in the back of mind, I NEVER forget.

No matter how many different ways you’ve heard this before, I’m going to tell you again: Never underestimate ANYONE. Crazy and violent people aren’t just born that way. Things happen to them in their lives that change them into something dark. Do what you can to be kind and considerate, even in your own frustrations. Why ruin someone else’s day with your attitude, even if you’re not having a good day?

If I had grown up in a different family and different friends, I think my mindset would have retreated to the dark side. There are some people I’m still working my issues through to forgive them. So don’t put yourself above others, and don’t use them as the butt of your jokes. It hurts the people you’re joking about at first…but then it molds into something else. Something angry. And you become the source of that anger. They never forget, even if some manage to forgive. Make sure you’re not remembered as the asshole that made them feel like shit. 

Sometimes it feels like there are more voices in my head telling me to do or not do something than there are stars in the sky. It is quite exhausting to figure out which one feels more right, but even harder when the majority of me wants to do the opposite of what would be right.

But there’s something I’ve been realizing lately: Of all those voices, only half of them are right; which means the other half is going to tell me whatever I want to hear or whatever may convince me to take its side. At the end of the day, our choices are our own. Sometimes we will choose the right path, and sometimes the stubborn sinners that we are will be blinded by what we want to see rather than what is. Sometimes those choices help us grow to make better choices in the future, and sometimes our choices wreck things for us just because we didn’t want to listen to anyone but ourselves.

So before you go thinking up other names that partake in where you are in your life, you got yourself there, whether that’s a good or bad thing. Your attitude, your laziness, your alcoholism, your stress, your busy schedule, your weight, whatever it may be. . .you’re where you’re at because of you. It almost feels natural to start thinking about how other people did you wrong, about other’s choices that landed you in the dumps, but the way we take in information, the way we deal with it is our choice.

This almost feels like I’m going off track, but I promise I’m not. Of all those voices in my head, there’s only one that truly matters to me, and that’s God’s. That is, when I figure out which voice is His. But after that, the decision I make is up to me, even if it strays from what God would have preferred. I haven’t always made the right choice, and there will be days where I make a wrong one again. But when the time comes to make an important decision, remember that the choice you make affects you. The ones who disagree with you aren’t the ones living your life. That doesn’t mean to not take what they have to say into consideration, but remember that there will probably be people fighting on both sides, so not everyone is going to be happy.

So take the time to weigh all sides, and choose from the heart. Sometimes we have to say no to things we want. It sucks. But when we are able to say no to those things, we save ourselves unnecessary heartache, as well as the time to find what we were meant to find all along.

As abstract as this may seem, I hope you can find some truth of it in your own walk of life. Don’t blame anyone else for where you’re at. If you don’t like where you’re at, change it. 

My sister and her boyfriend were best friends before they started dating. The day he finally asked her out, he told her he wanted to go on an actual date and take her to a nice restaurant. My sister told him, “No, we aren’t fancy restaurant people” and told him if they were going to date that she wanted that friendship to be part of it. She wanted to still do what they’ve been doing, just now hang out as an actual couple instead of just friends.

Somehow this came to my mind today, and I was thinking how I am actually the same way. Sure, a nice restaurant every now and then for a birthday or exciting news is nice (because let’s face it, sometimes you just can’t beat that awesome expensive food). But I’m not a fancy restaurant person.

Instead, take me to a bar on a football game day, buy me a beer, and lets scream and high-five other sports fans we don’t know who are also watching the big screens.

Take me for a walk in the park and sit on the swings with me. Come to my house, watch one of my favorite movies with me, and attempt not to get annoyed when I start reciting word for word what the characters in the movies say. I can’t help it. Play monopoly with me, and don’t let me win. I like competition.

Come offroading with me and let me show you how much I adore the woods, how much peace and adventure it brings me. Watch me wipe out on my snowboard from not having had practice in the past two years, though I love shooting down the hills at a dangerous speed. Take me horseback riding since I can’t own my own. Gather a group of friends and lets all go to a paintball course so I can feel like a sniper.

Teach me how to shoot a real gun because I like being the girl others know not to mess with.

Let each other in on little secrets that the other person may not always pick up. Tell each other things you love, things you want to do, things that make you feel alive, make you scared, make you excited as if it’s the greatest idea you’ve had all year. Don’t do the normal things, because I doubt you’re a normal couple. Don’t go to a fancy restaurant just because that’s the norm. What do you as a couple like to do? Don’t just date, be friends. You should marry your best friend, and if you’re not doing fun things together as if you were friends, then doesn’t it feel tense? Feel comfortable in the relationship whether you really are just friends or if you’re something more.

You don’t always need to do something that costs money. You don’t need to always be alone. Heck, you don’t even need to go somewhere. But remember the things you love, and do those things, not the things everyone else does. You can be romantic and still have fun without having everything planned out. I am not a planner, so there won’t be much planning involved in mine.

I found myself watching these music videos that made me cry today without really knowing how I got there. You should listen to them too; they have great messages:

-“If Nobody Believed in You” by Joe Nichols
-“I’ll Wait for You” by Joe Nichols
-“This Ain’t Nothin'” by Craig Morgan
-“Don’t Laugh at Me” by Mark Wills
-“Didn’t Have to Be” by Brad Paisley

It makes me sad that the word “love” is starting to mean something physical rather than something real.

It makes me sad that some are willing to step on others to reach the top of the food chain first, to make jokes that hurt the other person, or to feel superior over them and get their way.

It makes me sad that the teenagers who aren’t ready to be parents are raising a large portion of a future generation. There are T.V. shows like “16 and Pregnant” as if we are encouraging it.

It makes me sad that the pressure on academics, sports, jobs, etc. can get so rough that as people continue to tell each other that he or she isn’t fast enough, isn’t strong enough, isn’t smart enough, each of them begins to believe it. Why would they have faith in themselves when no one else has faith in them?

Watch your words. Watch your actions.

Be encouraging and give someone the boost they need. When you say “I love you,” don’t say it out of habit. Really mean it. Wherever someone is at in their lives, there is a reason they got there. You don’t know what they’ve been through. 

Even if you fail, keep trying.

You could say this man failed, but I wouldn’t. The people that jumped made their decision, and if he didn’t keep going back, a lot more would have died. I have a passion for helping suicides, so this helps encourage me too. You can’t win them all, but everything you do makes a difference. Just try.

Be Kind to Yourself

Each of us is our hardest critic. Ease up on yourself a little 🙂 Turn mistakes into lessons. When you’re at the bottom, you can only get better. But don’t give up on yourself, and don’t tell yourself that you can’t do it. Would you say that to a friend?

For most of my life, I’ve followed my dad in thinking that “if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.” If I want the dishes done, I might as well do them, or they won’t get done. I might as well mow the lawn, or it won’t get mowed. But then bitterness seems to creep in. I have roommates, I have family members. Why am I always the one doing the dang dishes? Maybe because I never ask someone else to do them. Why ask for help when you don’t need it?

I have a weakness in being a perfectionist with hands-on work, like cleaning the house. But my counselor told me something that has stuck with me: Maybe I shouldn’t strive for perfectionism, but instead strive for excellence. Excellence has room for failure. Perfectionism doesn’t.

In everything I do, I have trained my mind to think that I am on my own. Sometimes I get advice from friends, but when finances are looking dicey, when exhaustion takes over, when my worries and fears about the future keep creeping into my mind like spiders, I feel like throwing in the towel. Fine, maybe I should just find an expensive restaurant and live as a waitress instead. Maybe I should just work at a factory job since I like working with my hands. Sometimes the work may suck, but it would pay the bills. I’m not a very good college student anyway. Why pray about something that only I have control over?

Sometimes when I pray, I really feel like I’m talking to God. I can have a conversation with him without needing to hear words out loud. But other times, I feel like I’m talking to the wall. There are so many voices in my head that I can’t tell which one might be the devil, which one might be God, and which one is just me overanalyzing and overthinking everything.

I want to marry a man on fire for God because I need someone who will put God first in our relationship and keep me on track in my walk with God. But it needs to go both ways. I need to also help him keep on track in his walk with God.

I look at how many times I go on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instant messaging. . .

And then I compare it to how many times I pray and read Scripture. Most of my praying is done through my teachers praying at the beginning of class. The amount I actually stop to pray is quite small. The amount of time I spend in my Bible is even smaller. Sometimes I feel quite ashamed to call myself a Christian. If I want to be with God, then I need to actually BE with God. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me if you seek me with all your heart.” Am I actually seeking Him with my heart? If you want to find God, you will find Him.

God is in church, he’s in the Bible, he is on the opposite end of my prayers. He’s right there, but instead I’ve been going on Facebook to see how much deeper of a hole our government is digging us into and catch up on the latest Miley Cyrus pish posh. Or I go through pages of Life Hacks on Pinterest that tell me how to get gum off my clothes and look for different homemade Halloween costume ideas. I watch movie trailers, music videos, and the latest episode of Once Upon a Time. . . I haven’t gone to the Bible much to actually sit and read. I mostly skim and find single verses that I attempt to memorize. But that’s not how the Bible is supposed to be used.

When I stress over something, my friend Emily asks, “Did you pray about it?” But what could God do? This is my stress, my fight, my struggle.

But actually, no, it’s not. The whole point of the cross was basically Jesus telling us, “You can’t do this alone, so I want to help you. You may have sinned, but I want to give you a second chance. I want to free you from this burden, because I would rather go through this torture than to see you burn in the Lake of Fire.”

Just because I’m a Christian, doesn’t mean my life is any easier than anyone else’s. But it does mean that I am reminded that I’m living for something, for someone. Even if I would work as a janitor for the rest of my life, my purpose is just as important as the principal of the school. A purpose is not just in the job we do, but in how we live our lives, the words we speak to people, the actions we take. I was reading the blog of a friend who was saying how God has been using other people to talk to her instead of God talking to her specifically. God has been giving the answers to her questions to other people to give to her personally. I really want to be a mouthpiece for God, but to do that I need to actually pray and be with God.

I am still working on the transition from thinking I can live alone, to admitting that I need God. It is much more stressful trying to deal with thoughts, people, and problems alone than when you give them to God. Even if I’m frustrated with God, confused, sad, terrified…God wants to know it all. It doesn’t matter that He already knows what I’m going to say, it matters that I am voicing my mind. I don’t even thank God enough for everything He has done for me. God wants to hear my praises as much as my stresses. The reminder of the good that has even come from dark times is an awesome lift for the soul. Two years ago, I read my Bible more, I prayed more, I was happier. But it’s not a decision you make only once. Choosing to follow God is a decision that you have to continue making every time you wake up in the morning. I need God as much today as I did yesterday. And I’ll need him just as much tomorrow.

My need will never stop, but God can handle it. Why would I want to carry the weight of the world on my sore shoulders, when Jesus already the weight of my sin for me? I’m not alone, I’ve never been alone, and I’m tired of allowing myself to think that I have to handle everything on my own. I don’t, and you don’t either. 

It is when we are alone that we are at our most honest. There may be things we can never admit to someone else, but the things we do, the things we think—we cannot hide them from ourselves.

I had a rough day. For a while, I have felt like a taxi-cab to some of my friends, a pawn for people’s use whenever they need something because I’m the girl that never learned to say no. But today I admitted to myself that I feel as if there are few people who actually treasure me as a friend.

How do you show people you love them? How do your friends, sister, cousin know you love them? Do you just tell them? Or do you give them hugs, buy them something that reminds you of them, write them a note telling them to have a good day…You do things for them, right? I try to show my Mom I love her by cleaning up the house for her. Now, I feel like my family just expects it from me, as if it doesn’t mean much anymore since I never get a thank you, even if I spent hours cleaning. Do they realize I’m doing it for them? I give my friends rides everywhere, send them random reminders that I was thinking of them and that I love them. I reminisce the fun times we have together and I send them things I know will make them laugh.

I want to mean something to someone. But I’ve come to feel that there are few people that I feel like I actually matter to them. I come running when they need something, because I want to be helpful. I want to be a good friend. But I can also say no and still be a good friend. I have learned that I have no boundaries with the people in my life, and it has turned me into a pushover. Being a pushover is one of most frustrating things in the world, yet I let people push me into doing things for them without asking for anything in return. Because asking for gas money is greedy, right? Asking for them to come see my after I’ve driven to see them so many times is impolite, right?

But I want to see them, so I go. I want to see them, so I pay. But when they don’t return the favor, I feel like it’s a one-sided relationship. They will hangout if I go there. They will hang out if I drive us. They want to see me, but they work these days, so I have to switch my hours so I can go see them.

It’s important to be nice. It’s important to love. There are things we can do for each other to bring happiness to the opposite person. But I feel like I am at the point where no one does anything for me anymore. This may seem greedy, maybe it is, but if anything is to change, I need to be honest with myself about how I really feel instead of slapping on excuses that my heart doesn’t fully feel. In Acts 20:35, it mentions that Jesus said “It is more blessed to give than to recieve.” Maybe one day I will be better at doing this fully, but I believe we also need to look out for ourselves. Luke 6:38 also says, “Give and it will be given to you..” Maybe I’m not looking close enough at what I’m being given. However, I’m not going to do anyone any good or be a truly good friend if I’m secretly grumbling to myself about how I feel like I’m being used.

I get it from my dad. Neither of us can say no, and we always end up doing the things that no one else wants to do. “If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.” Maybe. But I think there comes a point where some of us end up always doing everything and it puts us in a shallow mood. Instead of asking for gas money, maybe I should just say I can’t give them a ride this time. By not changing anything, nothing will change. Letting your irritations fester inside without letting others know how you feel can turn your heart bitter.

What was the last thing you did for someone? When was the last time someone has done something for you? Remember: Relationships are a two way street. Don’t let your heart become greedy, but don’t let it become bitter either.

It could have stayed simple.

Conversations about music and books.
Funny pictures and daily jokes.
The first and last person to talk to me each day.

I didn’t have to ask his best friend why they weren’t talking.
Didn’t have to find out about the other side of his face
I was never introduced to.

The shadow of ignorance is welcome
in times of disappointment.

Even the good man has secrets.
Jagged lines slice open lies
that sounded so real.

You don’t have to be dating
to be brokenhearted. 

To Be Held.

I love being held.

When one hears this, they probably assume being held in the arms of another person. Don’t get me wrong, that is one of the best kinds of being held, but that’s not all I’m talking about.

Being held is being wrapped in a blanket. Wearing a comfy sweatshirt. Walking with the wind. Sitting in the sun or by the warmth of a fireplace. Snuggling into the corner of a couch, a beanbag chair, a recliner, a lawn chair. Curling up under the covers before going to bed. The bars that pull over you before a roller coaster takes off. It’s the hammock in the backyard that you fall asleep in while reading a book. I can be wrapped up in the story of a book and feel held as much as if I were in a blanket.

Being held by a person doesn’t mean just a boyfriend or husband either. It’s the linked arm of your best friend as you walk to class. It’s a hug from your sister, mother, grandpa, cousin. It’s being picked up off the ground when you least expect it, or maybe when you do expect it. It’s a kiss from a dog as it jumps to give you a hug.

To be held. To be wrapped up in something that makes you feel safe, warm, secure, loved.

Today I wrap myself in scripture. Promises still mean something to me, even though people these days don’t hold true to them like they used to. Now documentation and signatures are involved. Trust is fading because we don’t give people a reason to trust us. But above anything or anyone else, I feel safe and loved in scripture. Things will be taken from me, things will break. People will leave me, and people will let me down.

It is finally getting through to my head that I need help. We live in a world that tells us to strive for self-sufficiency, but it will always end in exhaustion. God purposefully left a space inside us that only belongs to Him, but He is only allowed access to that space when we give Him permission. I think it’s interesting that the Creator wants permission. Do you make a doll, and then ask the doll if you can play with it? No, you just play with it.

There is nothing stopping God from doing whatever He wants with us, except that He does not desire to control us. If I had a daughter, I could tell her to do whatever I want, and she would do it. She may not be happy about it, but she would have to do it. But real love does not come from being controlled. You would be making robots that are taught to say, “I love you” instead of raising someone who tells you s/he loves you just because s/he means it and s/he wants you to know.

God can say “I love you,” and I can choose not to respond. But I do because I can’t help but wrap myself in everything I know about Him. He is the only one that truly makes me feel safe.

Natalie Grant sings: “The promise was when everything fell, we’d be held.” I hope it’ll one day bring as much comfort to you as it does to me.

I’m terrible with goodbyes. And they are everywhere. Each day has an end. Each book. Each adventure. Each person.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my trip to Ireland and my 3 months spent in Italy. It is a deep sorrow that needs to be learned to live with and accept. But before the goodbyes, there’s life. There’s love. There’s hope.

Desires can be traps. To crave something you can’t have is a sorrow deeper than a grave. Part of me craves to go back to Italy. The other part of me craves to go back to Italy with the people I had been there with, but that would mean going back in time. I can now only relive those memories in my mind. I can hit replay on the laughs, but I won’t hear them there again. I can imagine laying out on a soccer field, but we won’t again. I can see the vineyards, the buildings, the mountains in my mind, but it’s unlikely I’ll ever get to see them again except in pictures. I can tell stories, but they will only be stories. The others will never really know, no matter how good of a story teller I am.

To experience is to live. But to live is to lose. For everything we’ve experienced will eventually come to an end.

Living in the past is like being dead in the present. I look back on my study abroad in Italy, my spring break in Ireland, and can smile at the amazing chance that I was given. But then the other half of me misses it to the point of tears.

Parting is such sweet sorrow. It has been almost 5 months since I’ve been back, but I have yet to find the strength to accept the goodbye. 

“Often we cleave to things because they possess heavy negative charges. Pain has strong arms.” –Patricia Hampl

Painful memories can be as aggressive as the wind.

I was best friends with a girl from Kindergarten till sixth grade. She was slowly pulling away like silly putty in the fifth grade, but I didn’t realize it till years later. One day after school on the bus, she handed me a note. A few words still stick clearly in my mind like gum on the bottom of a desk: “I don’t think we should be friends anymore.”

Though I have watched my sister lose many friends over big fights, I had never lost a friend straight out of the toaster like that, and haven’t since. 

Through Jr. High she built up a reputation as one of the cool kids, and by High School she was one of the most popular girls in the class, listed in the yearbook as “Most likely to become a gold digger” along with others of the sort. As I had watched her de-pants others in the hall and become a Witch with a capital “B,” I decided I didn’t need a friend who’s wardrobe took on a whole new meaning of  the word “easy.” Still, that note bothers me to this day.

I believe that our hardest critic is ourselves. Maybe that’s why we cling to pain. We usually settle for what we think we deserve, when in reality we probably deserve higher than we give ourselves credit for. But then we are hurt by those we glued to ourselves—maybe they get up and leave or die—and we cling to the pain because it is the only reminder we have left of them. Friends and family help us spew out excuses of “new beginnings” like a rip in a water hose, but once we are alone we admit the truth to ourselves. We wonder what we did wrong.

So if we can’t have love, we settle for pain. Feeling something is better than feeling nothing, because at least if we are in pain, we can punch a wall, we can soak our pillows, we can buckle over and wait for the cat claws in our stomachs to subside. Even if it is a little thing, we feel something.

Eventually everyone we care about and love will be gone. However, we know that we have to eventually expect that kind of loss. But the kind of pain that we don’t see coming, that can sometimes be the pain with the strongest arms. 

Priorities

Americans are making life into one big deadline:
-If you aren’t married by this certain age, you will probably be single forever.
-If you don’t have a kid by this certain age you are too old to be a parent
-If you don’t have a job or a college degree by this certain age you are going to scrubbing kitchen floors or shoveling horse dung off the state fair streets for the rest of your days.

It is exhausting finally being able to finish a project and then turn around to get a cup of coffee and be thrown three more. Americans are becoming so time-oriented, that the quality and value of things are definitely not what they could be.

I’d like to buy a shirt or sweatshirt that doesn’t have a hem threatening to rip on me a couple weeks after I buy it. I’d like to work on a short story and not have my professor poking me in my back asking if I’m done yet. I’d like to be able to sit out on a park bench today and read a new fiction book that I just bought and be able to put off my homework till tomorrow.

But I can’t. Time is precious, yes. But nerves can be as fragile as the tick of the clock. By trying to make so many deadlines all the time, we aren’t able to let ourselves enjoy the present, for we are always trying to make sure we are caught up with the future deadlines. No human is patient forever.

Time is important, but so is sleep. There are only so many days that I can stay up till 1am doing homework and wake up at 7 for a morning class. I have felt terrible lately because I’ve had friends that want to spend time with me, but my excuse has been homework.

Time is a luxury, but so is living. What is the point of living a long life if you’re rushing through it? We NEED give ourselves the time to reflect, to observe, to ENJOY.

Americans live by the “Quantity over Quality” standard. We live by the “Timing is everything” standard.

I think Americans need to sort out their priorities.

I am friends with a girl on Facebook who is gorgeous, has a handsome husband, an adorable daughter. Their pictures together are so beautiful and they look happy and cute together.

She just posted a status that she’s moving out.

This surprised me, but then I took a step back and asked myself why I was surprised. I personally don’t know her that well, she was just in one of my classes and she had said she had been with this guy for awhile.

Then I figured out that what surprised me was because in the pictures, they are a beautiful family. But they are just pictures. Pictures may remind you of memories…

But they can also show a smile only when the smile is present. I don’t know what happened behind the picture, I don’t know what they struggled with as a couple, if it had something to do with their daughter. I just don’t know. But I was only paying attention to what I saw in the pictures.

The same goes for people we pass on the street daily. I may put on a fake smile as I’m saying thank you to the lady packing my groceries, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m happy at the time. None of us know the background unless we hear the information from the person themselves.

So part 1: Don’t envy someone you think looks like they are doing better than you. Not everything is what it seems to be. They may be struggling more with money or a relationship than you are. Maybe they aren’t, but you have your own life, made your own choices, are your own person.

Part 2: Be aware of the people around you, and remember that they could be having a bad day already. Be kind even when you don’t want to be, because the last thing they may need is someone who is bitching them out. Everyone has a breaking point, and at any moment, you could be a reason for that breaking point. It doesn’t take much to make someone burst when they are at their limit. You could simply say something like “Move it, you moron” and it could be at that moment that they are thinking about everything that is going wrong in their life. Something like that can burst into rage, or crumble into depression and suicide. Either way, they are breaking. Sometimes a small gesture of kindness can remind them that not everyone is a dick in this world. Even if they are rude back, don’t be rude.  

This time of year, everywhere inside is an ice box that I’d feel more comfortable in if I were wearing a sweatshirt. I walk outside and I wish it was morally acceptable to walk around campus in a swimsuit. 

Why is everything either all the way to one side, or all the way to the other? 

I was flipping through facebook pictures of a classmate we lost 2 and a half years ago and couldn’t help thinking back to the last time I had seen her before she died, her funeral.

I remember the line of people at her wake that stretched out the church doors and down the gravel road. The sobs that grew like a coming car as new people stepped in front of her casket, needing to look away, yet not wanting to. 

Fresh notes tack onto her Facebook wall every now and then when a memory is sparked in the mind of a friend. Words of fun and laughter, always ending with an “I miss you.”

I didn’t know her well, and even I am trying to hold back tears. She was so loved by everyone. And that was because she loved everyone. She was only 20, but she affected more people around her than many ever do in a lifetime.

It made me think—when I die, what message am I leaving? Who would I be remembered as? Am I pointing people in the direction of love as much as I am in the direction of God? Will I be remembered as the optimistic one who was there for others, or the pessimistic one who complained?

As this world gets worse, I want to strive to be someone who gives people hope, makes people laugh, reminds them how much I care. I want to leave a legacy. Strive in your own life to leave behind the memory of someone who cared. 

I could write so much cheesy, lovey-dovey stuff that chicks would adore. As writers, we really can make the perfect man; or at least our version of him. But I think we also have to be careful of this, for though those stories may sell to the chick flick lovers, they aren’t real. And when girls start reading that stuff a lot, they start looking for someone just like that, and there isn’t someone just like that. They will start comparing their husbands or boyfriends and sometimes get angry or irritated when their loved ones aren’t like that. And that’s not the guy’s fault.

But then I started looking at it this way too: aren’t we also sometimes portraying ourselves as something we’re not? Maybe with the people you just met, or the people you are trying to make friends with. Are we not also telling lies like those books?

“Everyone is an actor. Just most of us don’t get paid.” Walking through a store I can see that. I catch a lot of Mom’s who are embarrassed by kids that start crying or yelling, and I see them look up with a fake smile, and then throw their heads down towards the kids, grab them by the arm, and utter tense discipline. We like people to think our families are all well-behaved and put together, and almost no family is. We all have our querks, yet we seem to find them socially unacceptable and try to hide them as if they don’t exist.

 

But why not frame them? If you are a ball of energy, skip down the sidewalk. Simply smile and wave at the people that decide to stare. A person’s querks are what makes them different from the rest. Maybe it’s your smarts, your fashion sense, your witty remarks or your outgoing personality. There is no need to look around to see who may be watching you, because those people simply don’t have the guts to be different. We see pictures or videos of people doing funny, weird stuff…yet we never have the guts to be ourselves.

Frame your querks. You are an awesome person, and you shouldn’t keep that awesomeness buttoned under your normality vest all the time. 

This has been the busiest summer of my life. I wish the days had been longer, and that winter ended before April, but I have also been extra happy at times this summer.

I think it’s basically because of the people I am blessed to spend my days with.

If you can make me laugh, I basically already consider you a friend even if it would be our first time meeting. I love being with and around people that have a good sense of humor, and can make me laugh because laughter can brighten your mood, someone else’s mood, or even your whole day if it was being fed to the pigs. When you surround yourself with people that make you feel good or can make you smile just by being the dorks they are and saying the obnoxious, stupid, or wise things they say, you find less and less bad days.

Now don’t hear me wrong, there will always be bad moments, but then when you talk to or hang out with the right person, s/he can turn it around maybe without even knowing it. And soon, the things that seem to keep going wrong, or the problems that crush like and ever-rolling rock don’t seem as big of a deal, because you know who you can go to.

I’m a waitress, and some of my customers make me want to sharpen the steak knives, but then I get to go into the kitchen and work with some pretty amazing people who can make me forget almost instantly. I am also blessed to be so close with my family that I consider my cousins to be some of my best friends. If it weren’t for them, I would have gone to college in Tennessee.

All of them have their dramatic moments, but we’re only human. Doesn’t mean we all don’t also need space from each other every once and a while.

I guess what it all buckles down to is this: surround yourself with people that make you grin, make you laugh till your eyes sprinkle, make you look to the sky and think, “You know, life is pretty good.” Trust me, your good days will outnumber the bad. And wouldn’t it be nice to have a little break from stress?