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Posts Tagged ‘college’

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.

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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.

 

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Have you ever noticed how fake we are with each other most of the time?

I’m a waitress, and a lot of days I have to stand in front of my guests and lie to them. When I’m asked, “How are you?” I have to respond with “I’m good,” whether I actually am good or not. Sometimes the people asking are asking out of kindness and not curiosity, but for the people who might have actually been interested, I can’t respond with, “I’m in my menstrual cycle so my lady parts are in a type of civil war right now” or “I’ve been depressed because I’ve been missing my grandma a lot lately.” Once when I was being honest with a table of customers by telling them I was tired after having been there all day, my manager overheard me and told me I wasn’t supposed to say that.

Maybe some will claim that we are giving “too much information,” but sometimes I don’t have a filter, and if you’re going to ask me how I am, I will give you a short look into my private life because I don’t have anything to hide. Maybe some will claim that we aren’t honest because we aren’t given the time to really dig into our stories, so we just don’t say anything. But most of the time I’d rather hear someone say, “You know, I’m really not doing good, but I’d rather not go into it.” That is more honest than saying, “I’m okay.” Because at least by admitting you aren’t doing well, I can pray for you. Or on days I’m not doing well, I can be thankful that my struggles aren’t as bad as yours might have been that day I talked to you.

The way I see it is if you don’t want to hear the truth, don’t ask. Don’t ask me how I am if you don’t want to hear about how I had to borrow money from my mother because I couldn’t pay October’s rent. But at the same time, the culture I live in doesn’t want to hear a sob story. So I pretend everything is fine.

I pretend it doesn’t bother me that some of the people I thought I called friends don’t really seem to care whether I’m in their life or not.

Sometimes we talk to others about others behind their backs instead of talking to them directly. And then pretend to their faces that we weren’t just talking shit. But then who is all talking about us behind our backs?

I used to pretend it didn’t bother me that a guy I used to like didn’t care to spend time with me anymore. Now I’m dating someone who wishes he could see me more than he gets to.

We pretend we know what others are talking about even if we don’t.

We pretend to like certain people even if we don’t.

We pretend to like our jobs even if we don’t.

We pretend to know everything when most of the time we hardly know anything.

Where does it end? What would the world look like if everyone was honest? Would people be more or less offended than they are now? Would we be able to heal faster if we didn’t have anything to hide?

I don’t know about you, but I’m awfully tired of pretending. I can’t be a ray of sunshine every day. I hate lying about the little things. There is so much I feel like I need to learn before I can truly contribute to some of the bigger conversations out there. And I hate that I allow people dictate my emotions and my life sometimes. I’m not a confrontational person, but I’m a very emotional person, and I feel like I’m not allowed to show that side because it makes people feel uncomfortable.

But maybe we need to feel uncomfortable to be reminded about what kind of world we live in. It makes me sad that we have more fake conversations with each other than real ones.

Whether we like it or not, every single person on this planet is a mess in some way or another. So why do we hide? Why does it take us so long to be honest with each other?

[[Please Note: I’m aware a lot of us have close friends to go to to discuss the messy and painful things with, but sometimes we are even fake to those people. And I don’t think it undermines the fact that we are not acknowledging the amount of pain in the lives around us. If we could be open about our struggles, would that change things like bullying? The ignorance of others makes things worse for those who were already in pain.]]

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Life is a string of piñatas. Sometimes there’s candy, sometimes there’s mice, and sometimes there’s cow dung.

This past semester was one of the hardest semesters of my life, both mentally (class load) and emotionally. Past issues that I thought were healed were only scabbed over, and all of it bled into my eyes, my anger, and my self-esteem. I was crying about something at least every other week. I took on two writing classes with two literature classes, all of which involved their own amounts of reading and writing, while tacking on two other classes and an assistant editor position on my school’s literary journal. I felt like I was half-assing not only my homework, but my relationships with my friends. I pulled three all-nighters in a row because I wanted to be there for them.

But the truth is I can’t be there for everyone. I can’t make it to every party, every concert, every bonfire because I really like sleep. I fall more than I catch myself, I don’t give myself enough “me” time, and when my time of the month comes, I’m going to be a bitch because being a woman can be a pain in the ass.

There will never be enough time in a day. I may spend the rest of my life trying to figure out how to better prioritize the things I want to do with the things I need to do and still not find a good balance.

But this is not a pity party. I want to remind you that if you feel like the semester is never going to end, if you hate your job, if you are sick of putting on a smile to people you don’t even like, hang in there.

You will probably meet a lot of fake people in your life. You may find the people who know exactly what to say to get you to do something, you may drown in the bills that pack like dirt in your mailbox, you may find yourself crying at night because your day was just plain crappy. Don’t be fooled thinking the person you pass by in the hallway, the cashier taking your order, or the person surrounded by friends at the coffee shop are all flying high. Cute clothes and a smile are only a show sometimes. There are a lot of good liars in this world.

But if there is a down, there’s an up. I passed my classes, I had a memorable Christmas break, and I worked out my financial problems just in time to take on another round of classes. I can’t go shopping for a while, but I can pay for groceries. Sometimes you just need to pick yourself up enough to get through one more day.

But that’s life. No one skirts their way around all their problems. You can dodge some, but you can’t dodge everything. So if you need to cry, find the Kleenex box and fill the trash can. If you need to vent, grab someone you trust and spew away. Make a pot of coffee and finish that stupid project, take a walk so you don’t destroy public property, and find something that makes you laugh so that, for just a moment, you can remember what it’s like to be stress-free.

It’s going to suck sometimes. You’re going to want to go home when you can’t, but hang tight. You’re going to want to give up, but hold on. “There may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning.” 

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“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. 

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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.

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I slept in till 10 this morning and realized I had to go to work at 3:30. I was annoyed. I’m not a big fan of working nights because everything happens at night. I sat up in bed and started wondering, “Is this it?” I will wake up everyday, get some housework done, go to work, come home and eat supper, and go back to bed. I love the people at my job, but I’m getting really tired of the actual job part. I’m a waitress, and though I like jobs where I work with my hands, sometimes I wish I could just quit. 

Then I started realizing that maybe that’s why I’m a Writing major. I would love to find a writing job where I could work from home. I like being home. I’ve been going going going all the time ever since I got back from Italy at the beginning of May, and now it’s June already.

Where are you at in your life? I decided that since I have homework that I don’t want to do and work that I don’t want to go to today,  that I am going to sit for an hour and do something that I actually want to do–read a book that I’m not forced to read. For you, maybe it’s going for a run or riding your horse. Maybe it’s watching your favorite TV show, movie, playing a game, working out, reading the Bible. 

There may be days where you are frustrated or upset about something, but if there is a way to change that for yourself, then do it. Keep a little time stowed away for yourself, even if that means you may have to stay up a little later. Do something that will make you smile, because no day should be smile-less.

I may have woken up disappointed, but that doesn’t mean I need to keep myself at that level. 

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