What I Wish You Knew – An End of the School Year Reflection

I’m baaaaack. After nearly a year away, I am ready to once again start writing. It has been an incredibly chaotic year with many excellent happenings (weddings, true love, teaching the children, etc.) and a handful of not-so-good happenings, too (hospital visits, crushing uncertainty, job changes, etc.), but really I am just lazy. So I don’t really have a great excuse for not updating this other than the fact that Friends is now on Netflix, and every time I watch Parks and Rec, I tell myself I’m only going to watch one episode and then end up finishing half of a season.

Anyway.

This year has been a strange one at school. I am growing into myself as a teacher, most definitely. There is a lot less of the last-minute scramble to find something to fill my time and occupy my students and more meaningful learning. I am more confident and less likely to let the other teachers “guide” me (read: tell me what to do). I am not perfect, but I am growing. It is a process, not perfection.

And yet, with all of the improvement there has been this year, there has been a definite lack of passion. I think much of it has to do with the group of kids I have this year. Don’t get me wrong, they are good kids. They are. However, there has been more of a struggle with them. More apathy, more laziness, more bullying, and a lot less laughter and mutual understanding has made this year frustrating and sometimes exasperating.

But these kids have taught me in their own way. During many sleepless nights trying to solve the world’s problems (okay…battling heartburn from stress), I would think about these kids. I would wonder what the morning would bring and who would actually turn in their homework. I would think about the day’s challenges and be grateful for the experience (no matter how harrowing it was). I would silently cheer the day’s triumphs (of which there weren’t usually many) and hope for more the next day. And most of all, I would think about what I wish these students knew about their teachers.

So last year, whereas I wrote my students a letter that quietly apologized for my faults, this year I wish I could convey to these students what I wish they knew about me.

1.) I have bad days, too. I think too often, we expect the adults in our life to be invincible. They are supposed to have all of the answers and perhaps, most importantly, have everlasting patience with us. More than once my patience has run short this year. Not because you are bad kids. But you are kids. And kids can be frustrating. I can be frustrating. So please remember on the days you are frustrated with me (because I yelled or am expecting a lot from you), I have had those days where I am frustrated with you (because I have to talk over you and know you are capable of more than you put forth). I am only human, kiddos. Some days I wake up on the wrong side of the bed and am grumpy. Be gentle with me. I try the best I can to be gentle with you.

2.) I dislike standardized tests as much as you do. I am well aware of how stressful these tests can be. Believe it or not, they are stressful for me, too. They impact the amount of time I actually have to instruct you, and they make you all a little loopy (to put it mildly J). I think the time it that is required to take these tests only take away from your education, not add to it. So the next time you sit down to take one of these tests, don’t resent me. I am not the one choosing to do this to you. I am feeling the same frustrations as you.

3.) You are not your test score. I understand how demoralizing that number can be. Trust me; it doesn’t only reflect back on you, it is what is used almost solely to judge my competence as a teacher. So the enormity of that score is not lost on me. However, when I look at you, I don’t see a number. I see people – people who are talented at a myriad of different things. I see future actors, chefs, writers, teachers, doctors, engineers, mechanics, businessmen and women. I see good people. Your score says nothing about the kind of person you are. I take that number with a grain of salt, and so should you. Instead of striving to be a certain number, strive to be certain kind of individual: one who is honest, kind, and tries their best.

4.) If you would stop talking so much, you would be better learners. I get it. Sometimes I think (and joke) that I became a teacher simply for the fact that I get to hear myself talk. My family accuses me of this at least once a month. Talking is important. It makes you feel important and allows you to express your opinions and ideas to others. But how about you try this: The next time someone says something to you, instead of immediately launching in to your opinion or offering an anecdote on the subject, simply LISTEN. Give the other person a chance to impart their wisdom on you. Sometimes talking only breeds more ignorance. Learning how to listen is an incredibly vital skill, too. It is an art that I think is lost in this world where social media and Facebooking/tweeting/Instagramming things about ourselves has become the norm. And when I’m up at the front of the room talking, engaging in these pertinent listening skills is important too, because, more likely than not, I’m talking about your assignment for the day.

5.) My job is hard. And quite honestly, I think every job is presents its own challenges. So it upsets me when I hear you (or anyone) talk about how easy my job is because I get the summers off. During the eight to ten hours I spend at school during the day I am not just a teacher: I am a role model, a surrogate mother, a counselor, a planner, the calm of the storm, an assessor, a tour guide, a librarian. I am the greatest version of myself when I am with you. You bring out the best in me (and sometimes, admittedly, the worst). No one told me that there would be times I was so overwhelmed, I would cry on my way home in the car. No one told me that sometimes I would want to shake you, but most of the time I would want to hug you. No one told me that some days you would make me laugh so hard, I would have tears in my eyes. No one told me that sometimes I would be so worried about you, I would stay awake for hours at night, wondering what I could do to help. And no told me that this would be the hardest job I ever had, but also the most rewarding and humbling.

This is what I wished you knew.

A Quick PSA

I have a post that many will consider humorous, but that just didn’t seem right to post tonight in light of recent events.

Today the world lost a great actor, Robin Williams, to an apparent suicide.

My heart breaks, not only for Robin and his loved ones, but for anyone who has lost someone to suicide or who has been so lost in the depths of depression, they don’t know where else to turn.

Here is what I want to say to those of you who are out there and suffer from an anxiety disorder or depression or loves someone who does:

For those of you who love someone who suffers from depression or a similar illness:

There is nothing you can say that will make this person “snap out of it.” And honestly, there is nothing you can say to that person that is “right.” I know this is frustrating and makes you want to pull your hair out, but it is the honest truth. The gift you can give this person you love so much is exactly that: love. And sometimes, love means seeking help even when the other party is scared to.

To those of you who are suffering from depression or a similar illness:

This illness (and that is exactly what it is, an illness) will wreak havoc on your eating and sleeping habits, and your physical well-being. It will bore you to death, make you cry, and cause extreme anger all in one fell swoop. You will have days where you feel extremely guilty because there are people who are fighting “real” problems all over the world like hunger, genocides, and war.

But you ARE going through your own personal war, and sometimes that is the hardest thing for those in our lives to understand. Many people will say things to you that are profoundly and utterly unhelpful such as: “You aren’t trying hard enough” or “Don’t you see how good you have it?” Please don’t get angry at them: These people are trying to be helpful in their own way. But also please be wise enough to recognize this and seek help elsewhere.

I know asking for help feels counter-intuitive. You feel like the loneliest human being in the world and a terrible, ugly ogre who no one will ever love, but that is untrue. You need to fight this lie that your brain is telling you and seek out resources that can lift you up, educate you, and help you manage your depression. If you had diabetes, would you deny yourself the insulin? No. Depression is no different from any other disease: the havoc it wreaks just can’t be as clearly seen on the outside.

One final note: Please, please, please know that you are never alone. There are people out there who are suffering from the same thing you are, and there are people in this world who want to help. Let them. Love them.

You are strong. You are brave. You are enough.

If you, or someone else you know is suffering from suicidal thoughts and you don’t know where else to turn, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline:1-800-273-8255

Robin Williams’s tragic death proves one thing to me: You can never know the depth of someone’s pain. Please reach out with kindness to others tonight (and always). And in the words of The Academy:

Genie, you’re free.

A Brief Interlude

Okay. So. These last few weeks have been crazy for a multitude of reasons. I have been playing pseudo-mom for a couple of kiddos while their parents are on vacation (I thought I was ready to be a mother. I have never been more wrong about anything.), planning my school year (every single time I see a commercial for school supplies I yell, “NO GOD. PLEASE NOOOOOOOOO.”), sitting poolside (soaking up the last few precious moments of peace before the end of summer), and becoming domestic around the new apartment (it’s a an experiment that is failing spectacularly, thank you for asking). However, I wanted a to take a quick moment to say: 

THANK YOU.

Ever since my blog post was published on HelloGiggles (I’m STILL hyperventilating about it), I have received an incredible amount of support and love from around the world, and the delightful chance to correspond with others who have shared similar experiences to my own. I have gotten emails and comments, and while I am working hard to address each one individually, let me answer a few of the recurring questions that seem to be popping up:

Do you have an actual anxiety disorder? Because you sound a little wound-up.

I do. And I am. I am learning to deal with it one day at a time, and I appreciated the messages of support I got in that regard. It is good to know there are other worriers and over-thinkers out there!

How are you still single?

Dude(s), I have been wondering that for years. Next question.

Will you write a guest-post on my blog?

There is literally nothing I love more than sharing experiences with people. I also like writing. My mother thinks I like writing, because, like being a teacher it means I get to hear the sound of my own voice all the time. So, mom, I would like to point out the fallacy in that statement because you don’t HEAR yourself write. And besides, when I write, I like to hear it in my head in someone else’s voice. Preferably someone else much cooler than me, like Tina Fey or Grace Helbig. Or anyone who isn’t me. The short answer to the question above is YES. (Although I have probably scared many of you off by now.)

Do you really keep a frying pan under your bed?

…if I told you that, I would have to kill you. Or smack you in the head.

Are you really as awkward as you say you are?

My first full sentence (and this is no lie) was “I hate the people.” You tell me. 

You seem kind of dramatic.

This, my friends, is a statement. But yes, I kind of am a walking hyperbole. My family and friends have learned to react accordingly, and I hope you will, too. 🙂 

Can we be friends?

I LOVE MAKING FRIENDS MOSTLY BECAUSE I AM REALLY BAD AT IT. So yes. Please and thank you.

So once again: You guys are INCREDIBLE. I want to cry. No seriously, I am probably going to eat some ice cream, cry about it, and work feverishly on writing something a little more worthwhile (probably about my failed attempt to be Super Mom). 

Happy Thursday! 

The Six Stages of Living Alone for the First Time

For my entire twenty two years on this earth, I have always lived with someone. Sometimes that someone was my family, and, in more recent years, roommates. I enjoy people, and even when you become engaged in silent battles of wills over who will do the sink full of dishes (ahem, Katie and Kara), I think having a roommate or roommates is a wonderfully comforting thing. Who else will have dance parties with you to terrible pop songs, patiently listen to your love life woes, and share a Pepperidge Farm Cake with you for dinner?

This year, however, will be the first time I have an apartment on my own. This decision was not up to me, but rather it was how the cookie crumbled. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous over this prospect. I have never had to spend copious amounts of time with myself, so beginning this process has been an eye-opening one. After settling into this apartment and being here for a few weeks, I have learned that, much like anything else, living alone has stages.

STAGE ONE: Hesitance

Where should I put these dishes? How the heck do you decide what cable provider to use? HOW DO I USE THIS BLENDER? Stage one is characterized by indecision and endless questions. All of a sudden YOU are the one who chooses where everything goes and how you will arrange the furniture. You also are in charge of paying your electric and gas bills on time without someone constantly reminding you that you owe money. You feel wary of everything and overwhelmed by anything. Your helpful, jolly band of merry moving friends may help you move into your apartment and they may or may not witness you have a breakdown over the fact that you forgot to buy a potato peeler, and they will love you anyway.

STAGE TWO: Joy

When all of your furniture is finally moved in (after many yells of “PIVOT, PIVOT,  PIIIIVOOOOOT!” to your increasingly less jolly band of merry moving friends), and your cable is turned on, the place starts to feel a little more like home and a little less like a prison sentence. Your pictures are up on the walls. Your clothes are in the closet. And dang it, your favorite foods are in the fridge. This is your kingdom and you are its benevolent ruler. The magnitude of the situation hits you all at once: YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU WANT. Pant-less cooking? Check. Watching a three hour marathon of trashy television (Oh, Pretty Little Liars, you never let me down)? Check. Eating anything you want without the fear of judgment? Can I get an “AMEN”? Check check check check check. You will live joyfully and lavishly and pant-lessly for at least several days, simply because you can (and, let’s be real, you hate pants).

STAGE THREE: Fear

The euphoria of stage two starts to wear off just a little now. Loading the dishwasher is a little less exciting because, let’s face it, it never was really exciting, you just temporarily lost your mind with your newfound freedom. Cooking whatever you want has lost a little of its magic too, because you also have to do all the clean-up. Bumps in the night become terrifying because what if a serial killer had climbed your balcony and is waiting for you to fall asleep so he can slit your throat? You start to sleep with a frying pan under your bed because it was a good weapon in Tangled, right? You have a tiny fear that you might slip, fall, and hit your head in the shower and drown and nobody will find your bloated, decaying body for weeks. However, you hide these small fears and keep your chin up – it possibly can’t get any worse than being in your own head like this, right?

STAGE FOUR: Abandonment

Oh it can and will get worse. The novelty is wearing off and the parties and gatherings of friends who celebrated your independence with copious amounts of food and laughter has trickled off. Many times, the only person in the apartment is YOU. By this stage all of the starry-eyed wonder of living on your own is gone. That romanticized, honeymoon phase has met its demise. Now, all you feel is this sort of irrational hurt at EVERYONE (let’s all think back to my post about being an unlovable human sometimes. This would be one of those times magnified by about one thousand. So if you easily get uncomfortable by gratuitous self-pity, you might just want to click out of this right now.). You feel like the people who are supposed to love you the most in the world have picked up and left you (in reality, most of them are only about 30 minutes away. Some are only a three minute walk away.). You are at your most vulnerable, and there is no one there to tell you it is going to be okay except for you – and that is scary as hell. You spend a lot of time lying on the floor, staring at the crack on the ceiling while eating popcorn. Like, an inordinate amount of time. Sometimes you cry. Sometimes you won’t even REALIZE you’re crying, you’ll just start wondering why your eyes are blurring as you’re trying to cook your chicken and BOOM – you’re weeping. You may also crawl across the floor because that feels like it’s the only appropriate way to express your emotions. Stage Four, in short, is a slow motion train wreck.

(Note: Let’s all keep in mind that I’m somewhere in between Stage Four and Stage Five at the moment, and like any halfway point, it’s a little awkward and weird. So I’m going to name Stage Four and a Half after myself. I feel like that says it all.)

STAGE FIVE: (WO)MAN UP!

You are getting sufficiently tired of lying on the floor eating snack foods. You pick yourself up. You put on clothes that aren’t yoga shorts and a ratty t-shirt. You might even go to the pool and read a book. Basically, you realize that the pity-party is SO not endearing, so it is time to face it: This is what your life will be. Along with this surge of self-loathing at the pity you have been wallowing in, you have a little anger. You’re feeling a little wronged (even though you haven’t been), and this stage sometimes comes with striding around the grocery store, angrily picking out produce and aggressively responding, “YOU TOO” when the cashier tells you to have a nice day. Basically, you’re a grown woman who don’t need no man (or a roommate, for that fact)!

STAGE SIX: Acceptance

You gradually settle into a routine. Once again, living alone starts feeling less like a punishment and more like an opportunity to grow. There are going to be bumps in the road; it is inevitable. It begins to dawn on you that being alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely…but you also (wisely) realize that sometimes being alone DOES mean being lonely, but that is something you must learn to cope with (healthily). You probably start doing yoga or meditating or writing a really witty memoir about being your twenties (I don’t know, I haven’t reached this stage yet, guys. I’m pulling things out of the air!) or starting your magical journey to becoming a master chef. But maybe, just maybe, it’s as simple as waking up in the morning in your queen-sized bed with the sunlight coming in through your window and feeling like you are exactly where you belong at this moment in your life.

10+ Books for Your Twenties

Okay, so I have been having a little mental freak out every single time I look at the calendar and realize my twenty-third birthday is creeping closer and closer. For me, twenty-three seems very real. Like, there’s no pretending anymore that I am not an adult. I’m an adult. I am officially a “twenty-something.” When you’re twenty, you’re just cute. It’s like, “Oh, look at that girl trying to be a grown-up! She knows nothing. SO PRECIOUS.” Twenty-one just doesn’t even count. Nope. And when you are twenty-two, no one cares. You are fresh-faced and just out of college, so people give you a lot of leeway. You are taking your first (shaky) steps in the adult world and trying to figure out the moves to the metaphorical dance that everyone else seems to know, all while trying to pay your rent, make yourself dinner, and be a functioning human being.

Because all the above combined with the fact that I love giving unsolicited advice, I have compiled a list of books that I think everyone should read in their twenties, or at least keep on their bedside table to keep for reference when you are having a moment.

1.) Bossy Pants by Tina Fey

The fact of the matter is I love every little thing about Tina Fey. In addition to being a hilarious person, I think she is incredibly intelligent and creative, which are two traits I admire deeply. And the character of Liz Lemon? Brilliant. She is someone almost every woman can identify with. Tina Fey is just so utterly REAL, it shocks and awes me. She is my spirit animal. But aside from all that embarrassing gushing, this book is very insightful. She talks about what it is like to grow up slightly oblivious and very awkward. She tells real stories about graduating college and wondering: WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO? And maybe, most, of all, she is proof that everything will turn out just fine.

2.) The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein

This is such a simple, sweet little story, but every single time I read it, it resonates with me. I think we all (especially during our twenties) are looking for that THING that completes us – whether it be love, a career, friends, whatever – but sometimes we find pieces that don’t exactly fit. And that is okay, because that is part of the journey. Sometimes you have to experience the things that don’t quite to fit to know exactly what does fit you perfectly.

3.) Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

Please, please, please check out this book. I laughed so hard, I cried when I read this. Brosh tackles not only how scary it is to be a “grown-up”, but she also gives her readers hilarious stories from her childhood, and applies the lessons she learns there to her current, adult life (which I appreciate immensely. Isn’t our young self sometimes so much more infinitely wiser than our present day selves?). We meet her precious little sister, her ever-patient parents, and her neurotic dog. This book is like talking to your best friend. Not only this, but I think this book is an incredibly important read for anyone who suffers from anxiety or depression or loves someone who does. Her description is spot-on: devastating, but equal parts funny. Also, this book has pictures. Check check check check.

4.) The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

This memoirs is equal parts sad and aggravating, and so, so beautifully told. You think your family is messed up? Read this, and tell me your family is screwed up. Walls takes us into the dysfunctional life of her dysfunctional family. She is raised by her artistic, flaky mother and alcoholic father. The story she tells is proof that even when our families disappoint and fail us, we can still love. Perhaps that is what family is all about. Her story is astonishing and brave.

5.) Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

This is one of my all-time favorite books. I have read it at LEAST once a year every year since I have been a ninth grader. The prose is wonderful, and the writing transports you into another culture and time (and Golden writes a woman’s point of view very adeptly, in my opinion). Sayuri’s coming-of-age story is one that is both heartbreaking and triumphant. If you think YOU have a tough life, try being trained to be a geisha. It is all about perspective, people.

6.) The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani

This book was just recently recommended to me by a friend, and I read it nearly in one sitting. It is sort of like Mean Girls meets the South with horses, but that description lacks the depth of the storyline and characters. Thea is sent away from home during the Great Depression to a privileged boarding camp for girls because of some unspeakable act she has committed that is alluded to throughout the book. There she meets girls who have been affected by the Depression in many different ways, and it is there that she learns to confront what she has done. This is another coming of age story, but a very, very unexpected one. This book is one part mystery, two parts scandal, and all about growing up.

7.) Beloved by Toni Morrison

I read this book for the first time during my senior year of high school, and subsequently again two or three times throughout my college career. It is a book where I notice another tiny, lovely detail I missed when I was reading it the first few times around. What I love about this book is the characters’ unique and distinctive voices, and watching the way they grapple with their pasts. Perhaps the best lesson learned from this book is that YOU are your “own best thing.”

8.) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

This book is for my YA (young adult) novel fans out there. However, I almost don’t consider it a YA book as much as an “emerging adult” read. Does that make any sense? The protagonist, Cath, struggles to find her place in the very new and scary world of college. Her best friend and twin, Wren, for the first time wants to live separately. Cath is awkward, shy, and very, very anxious. She finds her solace in writing fanfiction about Simon Snow (think along the lines of Harry Potter) and uses it to escape from a world that makes her feel lonely and afraid. She meets a motley crew of characters who ultimately help her grow into herself and confront the issues of her past. This is a perfect read for anyone who ever felt like they were doing college all wrong (raises hand).

9.) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

This sat on my bookshelf at home for a long time, unopened, despite people telling me that it was an IMPORTANT book. Like, THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOK EVER. If you don’t read THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOK EVER, you are uneducated and hopeless. So, simply because people told me I should read it, I didn’t Big mistake. While this may not be the “Most Important Book Ever Written” (can ANY book really fairly win that title?), I do think it is an important read for anyone who is in their twenties and trying to decide what path they are choosing to head down in their life. Plath accurately describes the panicked feeling of seeing the many journeys you can take and being faced with the realization you can really only take ONE of those journeys. Plus, this is a really cool book that delves deeper into the mystery that was Sylvia Plath. Any of you out there who are literature fans will enjoy this sometimes darkly comic read.

10.) Oh! The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss

I read this to my students every year as a reminder of what great people they are. And selfishly, I read it because it reminds me that I still have a lot of mountains and wonderful things ahead. Kid, you’ll move mountains.

(Below I list other books you should read because I figured if I rambled on about more than ten, I might not have any friends anymore.)

11.) The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

12.) Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

13.) Looking for Alaska by John Green

14.) The Liars Club by Mary Karr

15.) Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates

16.) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

17.) The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

18.) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

19.) The Road by Cormac McCarthy 

20.) To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

EVERYTHING IS WRONG AND NOTHING IS RIGHT (Overcoming Summer Woes)

I can be a drama queen. I will be the first person to wholeheartedly admit this to you. I have my moments of hand-against-the-head-fainting-and-crying episodes, and I have (literally) cried over spilled milk. When I was twelves, my mother bought me a tank-top with the words “Drama Queen” emblazoned on the front in the symbol for “Dairy Queen.” I wore it sheepishly, but also in a weird, shameful, oxymoron-ic way, kind of proudly. 

I was trying to remind myself of the above today after being put on hold with Time Warner Cable for OVER 30 MINUTES. I reminded myself of this when something (again) went wrong with my car. I also reminded myself of this when I realized I forgot to bring my friend’s present AND the fruit tray for her birthday picnic. I reminded myself of this again when my roommate texted me telling me that there was something weird going on with our rent bill. I told myself to take a deep breath. I reminded myself that sometimes my tendency to be dramatic makes me blow things out of proportion, and this wasn’t a big deal. But after (politely) arguing with the TWC representative on the other end of the line and hanging up, I trudged up front campus with a dark cloud over my head and biting back tears as my friends walked ahead of me chatting and laughing and shading their eyes from the sun.

About this same time, I got a text from another friend asking me if “everything was okay.” I wanted to text her back in all caps, “TIME WARNER CABLE IS RUN BY INHERENTLY TERRIBLE PEOPLE, MY CAR IS A PIECE OF CRAP, I AM MOVING IN TO AN APARTMENT I CAN’T AFFORD, MY LOVE LIFE SUCKS, AND I JUST SAW THE FIRST BACK-TO-SCHOOL AD OF THE YEAR. SO YES, EVERYTHING IS GREAT.”

However, I didn’t text her that, because that might have caused some alarm. Instead, I texted back something much more mild, calm, and socially appropriate (hard to believe, right?). At that moment, I was doing everything in my power not to burst out sobbing while running across campus wildly, flailing my arms and screaming, “Everything is wrong, and nothing is right!” I did square breathing. I laid on my back and focused on my breathing (this didn’t look THAT weird to my friends because we were on a picnic and lying down is totally appropriate picnic behavior). I made a list of things in my head that make me happy (puppies, sparkles, ice cream, not wearing pants…). I even contemplated doing a few yoga moves, but nixed that pretty quickly because I was wearing a skirt and I wasn’t really feeling like exposing my underwear to the people of Kent or traumatizing my friends.

So as I breathed and listed and laid there, I tried to remind myself of a few very important points:

  1. Take things one day at a time.

    It is so easy to get lost in the “what ifs” of life, especially when confronted with a problem (or many). Hardships are magnified by about a thousand when you worry about what is going to happen tomorrow. Who knows what is going to happen tomorrow? You certainly don’t, so start dealing with today.

  2. It is okay to be overwhelmed.

    I think a lot of times we tell ourselves we have to be strong all the time. That is nearly impossible. You are going to encounter rough patches, and it is totally normal to cry or be angry or stress eat during these times. Convincing yourself that you aren’t allowed to feel overwhelmed or sad when things change or unexpected obstacles are put in your path is not healthy. If you need to cry, you need to cry, sister (or brother) friend! Bottling up the feelings will only make you feel worse and probably lead to something really nasty like stomach ulcers.

  3. Don’t take it out on anyone else.

    This is one that I have to remind myself of often. While, yes, you are allowed to be mad and sulk a little bit, it is never okay to project those emotions on someone else. Keep the negativity away from others. Punch a pillow. Write angry poetry like an angsty teenager in your journal. But do not snip and snap at your family, friends, or coworkers. It never solves anything, because usually, these people want to be there for you and are feeling concerned. Don’t do damage to the people who are trying to help, even if you feel like they aren’t really helping (trust me, they are).

  4. Things are going to be okay.

    Simply put: Chin up, butter cup. If things aren’t okay in the end, it’s not the end.

I laid there for a few more minutes going over this list in my head, and thinking back to the time someone very wise told me about the rule of ten. I was upset about something that I don’t even recall anymore, and she very calmly turned to me and said, “Is this going to matter in ten seconds? Yes. Is this going to matter in ten minutes? Yes. Is it going to matter in ten hours? Probably. Ten days? Less so. Ten weeks? Probably not. Ten months? Nope. Ten years? You won’t even remember this.” That spoke volumes to me. As I remembered back to that time, I brought myself back to the present and started thinking of everything that went right today.

 

I ate breakfast with my grandmother.

I got to celebrate 23 years of one of my oldest and best friends.

I ate delicious, homemade cupcakes, and drank n equally delicious beverage,

I got to hang out with my dad. 

I cuddled with my favorite kitten.

I spent time laughing and reminiscing with old friends.

And at the end of the day, I realized I have it pretty good. Things are stressful now, but that is the nature of life. That is the nature of your twenties. I am (most likely) going to survive it.

But all people from Time Warner Cable are still inherently bad.

 

 

YOU’RE NOT MY MOM (Navigating the “Big Questions” of Life)

For whatever reason, once you graduate college people think it is completely appropriate to inquire insistently (read: aggressively) about your life decisions/what you will be doing next/where you will be getting your Master’s degree/when you will get married and pop out a few kiddos. Whenever I am at a family function or meet up with old friends or run into students’ parents at Acme while I’m buying produce, I dread these questions. Usually when someone asks me one of these questions, I have this overwhelming urge to yell: “YOU’RE NOT MY MOM!” and run away flailing my arms dramatically. My mom (and surrogate mothers) can ask me these questions (because tough love), but as far as the rest of the world, just STEP DOWN. I think I speak for many twenty-somethings (I would say all, because that would be presumptuous, and I may be a lot of things, but I like to think presumptuous isn’t one of them) when I ask all of you who want us to map out our lives for you in intricate detail when we get together for some tacos on a Wednesday evening to please cool your jets. Please, I beg you.

I try not to let these questions bother me. I really do. I have a lot going for me in my life right now. But every once in a while as I lie in bed at night trying to fall asleep, I realize these questions spur questions of my own. (I’m a chronic over-thinker…I’m working on it.) Namely, about some of the decisions I have been making in my life recently. These are a few of the recurring ones that I probably give way too much time and thought to.

1.) At what point are you too old to shop at Forever 21? “I mean, c’mon. I’m going to be 23. That means only two years ago I was 21! I’m still in my early twenties. C’mon, guys!” That is the conversation I have with myself every single time I walk into this store. Literally EVERY SINGLE TIME. And as I stride in confidently, I suddenly feel deflated when I see the trendy clothing on the racks. Trendy clothing I will never be able to pull off (because I look like a fool in rompers) and don’t understand how to wear or sometimes even put on. So for me, the days of Forever 21 (and Urban Outfitters) have passed – but this doesn’t mean that I don’t still ask myself this every time I get an email in my inbox from one of these stores. Also, at what point do I have to stop wearing leggings as pants? Clearly the best pants are no pants…but clearly that is also not what a grown, professional adult thinks.

2.) How do I want to further my education? This question gives me hives. It really does. Just when I thought I was done dodging this question (I made it through undergraduate, people! What do you want from me?!), I start fielding questions on the next step of my educational goals. I honestly don’t know where I want to go from here. I think it is safe to assume my Master’s will be education related, but I will admit, there are some days where I am not even sure of that. Teaching is an awesome profession. It, at its most selfish base, is so fulfilling. I may go home at the end of the week exhausted and sometimes with an empty wallet, but always, always, always with a full heart. I am the best version of myself (granted, a PG-rated version) when I am around my kiddos. However, as incredibly gratifying as the job is, I can see myself also going into something that has to do with libraries. Or maybe even counseling. I want to reach out to people, but I’m not sure exactly in what capacity that will ultimately end up being. I suppose I could also open up an ice cream store. Ice cream reaches out to peoples’ souls, right?

3.) How am I going to keep myself healthy? I think about this a lot, because, as my mother tells it, “Everything goes downhill once you reach 30.” I also have an unnatural fear that I will not live to see my fiftieth birthday, but that is a post for a whole other day. Anyway, I have never been an athletic person. I did ballet for ten years and was mediocre. I loved it, but I was nothing special. Mostly I loved wearing the pretty costumes and the toe shoes, okay? So sue me.  Do it Watching me attempt any sport is a sight to behold. And up until fairly recently, I was too self-conscious to play sports out in public. I could exercise, but usually it was running or going to the gym and getting on the treadmill or lifting weights. However, as you probably garnered from one of my previous posts, I LOATHE running. And exercising in the gym is all well and good, but it was nothing I ever looked forward to. Recently, I decided to (wo)man up and try some sports, even if I was going to look like a moron doing them. I bike, I play tennis, I play volleyball. Do I look like a floundering imbecile while I do it? Almost always. Do I care? Not really. I have fun now. And I feel good while I’m doing it. In addition, I’m making a concentrated effort to eat better. Yesterday I made roast potatoes. I did not burn them. Check and mate, sir. I am working to be healthier. It’s a journey.

4.) Love life? …I can’t even. Done with this point. Done before I even began.

5.) Where is “home”? I struggle with this question on a daily basis now. I grew up in Kent my entire life and spent my educational career thus far in the Kent City School systems, and then at Kent State University. There is something so incredibly comforting about Kent. Whether that is spending time walking around downtown or spending time with my family, I am in my comfort zone. HOWEVER, moving to Copley has been so good for me. I am a bolder person. I am a more independent person. And the most beautiful realization is that I have found a family in Copley, too. My friends and coworkers have all become important parts of my life. So maybe what I am discovering is that “home” is not a place, but people. Still…where does that make my home?

Growing up is a strange business, my friends. Strange indeed. But I’m lucky to do it around so many awesome people, places, and experiences. Now excuse me as I go obsess over these questions some more as I try to fall asleep.