Wednesday, April 1, 2015

I'm not very good at being an adult. Self-care is something I've really embraced the last few years, especially as I have come to terms with my mental health issues and have tried to live alongside them instead of letting them rule me. But lately, I've started wondering if I was just using that as an excuse to straight-up indulge myself. An entire bag of pita chips for dinner? Treat yo self. Staying up late one night to binge watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? Treat yo self. Going to dinner and a movie when your credit card is about maxed out? Treat YO SELF.

This isn't to say that self-care is useless, but it's just that I've been going about it all wrong. To the casual onlooker, my eating habits would seem that of an unchaperoned child at a birthday party. I count "not laying on my mattress for 5 hours before I go to bed" as my current exercise routine. I reason that as long as I'm not sobbing somewhere in a grassy field at 10:43 at night after having an anxiety attack, I'm doing alright for myself. The worst part of it all is that these things that are supposed to make me feel better aren't really making a difference at all. I feel the same.

If anything, I feel better in that moment when, after a stressful and long day's work. I'm thinking that I'm going to do something for me "for a change." And that moment is brief y'all - like the time that we've had internet vs. the amount of time that this planet has sustained life, brief.

I'm realizing that some things I would qualify as "self-care" can really be unhealthy practices that I perpetuate - things that help me believe that I'm doing the right thing for myself. It's hard to be responsible all the time - sometimes I just want to let loose and forget about my troubles.
I'm starting to understand that a lot of self-care is what we should do to help ourselves in the long run, rather than what you want to do in that moment to make yourself happy. It means eating a freaking vegetable more that once a week, it means dragging your sorry butt out of bed to go for a walk in the out-of-doors every once in a while, it means being fiscally responsible and going to bed at a decent hour and being honest and brave when you'd rather hide and everything else.

And yeah baby-child, Tom and Donna would want you to take joy in ways that are special and specific to you. But it's also important to remember to take care of yourself as a human who has a body and mind, because it's the only one you get (unless reincarnation floats your boat). You've gotta be judicious about how you balance this, and I know it's difficult sometimes, but this sort of diligence is what might make all the difference.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

I wanted to write about something very dear to my heart. 
About two weeks ago, the organization Invisible Children announced that they are shutting down operations from their location in San Diego and instead, will turn things over to the leaders that they have in central Africa in order for those programs to continue. There will still be a small group in Washington D.C. that will work with policymakers there.

It's not the end of Invisible Children and the work that they are doing, but it's the end of everything that I knew. For those of you have been reading for a while or know me know of my involvement with IC, so of course when I heard this, I was really sad. I wasn't upset, because I understand why they're doing it. 

The point of much of what IC did in the states was to help spread awareness - the campaigns, the tours/screenings, the events, etc. We can all agree that #KONY2012 was a game changer. It became the most viral video of all time with over 100 million views in just under a week's time. I remember those days. Our victories felt so much bigger and grander than anything that we had accomplished. But in #KONY2012, they accomplished what they had intended to do: to make Joseph Kony known internationally for his war crimes. 
It only makes sense then that not much could be done after #KONY2012 in terms of awareness. There really was no need for tours and screenings anymore. People knew, but they were now faced with a decision: do they act upon this knowledge and care enough to do something about it? 

People showed that they did care enough, and consequently, U.S. troops were sent to Uganda to track down and find Joseph Kony. (As far as I know, they are still there.) 

While I agree with and support their choices, my heart feels so heavy. IC has been a part of my life for such a long time, and so many opportunities came along because of the movement. I came to know people from around the world. I was able to go to two of their Fourth Estate summits. With the club that Brianne and I started, we were able to raise over a thousand dollars in the poor college town of Rexburg for one of their campaigns. I was able to be apart of a meeting with one of our state senators to talk about why these issues mattered. I learned what it means to have empathy and to be a global citizen. I realized that I could be a leader, that I could do terrifying things, and that I could be a catalyst for positive change. IC did that and so much more for millions of people across the world.

The great thing about IC is that they encouraged creativity and advocacy and passion. They gave you the understanding and the resources to make effective changes in whatever community you lived in, no matter where you were or what it was. I will never get to be apart of anything like this again, but there will never be enough thanks in my heart for the time that I was able to be a member of the IC community. It was a beautiful time.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

It's been a while since I posted. It's been a rather stressful time, with a lot of changes happening around the same time, so I didn't have time or energy to write. Among those changes were the fact that I finished my final college class (turns out that I was 3 credits short after I walked at graduation, so I had to take something online. It was awful.) and now I am finally a graduate; moving because my landlady was getting married; and work was busy with the holidays. Things have settled down now and I'm feeling pretty good.

Here are some pictures of my room now. It's been a great opportunity to donate/throw things away and feel that cleansing feeling. Perfect for the new year, right? I've been really interested in the minimalist movement the last few months, and I'd like to implement some of those ideas. It makes a lot of sense and it can definitely be taken to an extreme, but there are so many benefits that people have found when they embraced this lifestyle. I think it can be a positive thing in my life.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

I wish living with anxiety and depression could be easily explained, but it's not. All I can say is that the up and down rollercoasting (often, within hours) is exhausting. People more intelligent than I am have come up with clever metaphors and examples, but at the end of the day - they're just that - ideas that we use to attempt to compare an idea to something familiar. The dragging-yourself-out-of-bed difficulty of it all is lost in the translation.

But on those days when you are free and hope finds a way to radiate itself like sunshine through your lifestream, it feels like the moment before you open the front door, your friend waiting outside in the car to take you somewhere. Like hearing your favorite song playing in the grocery store as you're in the bread aisle. It feels like those golden hours peeking over the mountain and you're 10 years old, running around in cutoff shorts and tennis shoes with a lace that came undone. Like being on the swings pumping higher and higher before you decide to leap off, flying in the air, if only for a moment.  It feels like laughing so much that you cannot see, and later when you go to tell someone, you cannot even start the story without giggling. It feels like you had to be there. Like getting into the car and deciding to go somewhere without planning anything in advance. It feels like a day where you lived your life instead of thinking about it.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

        It should be said that I am a strange mixture of incredibly shy and obnoxiously talkative. I have yet to figure out how I can be both, or contain two very different personalities, but here I am. Call me a social anomaly. My theory is that because I use humor to mask my (often) crippling social anxiety, many people in my life do not know that these are issues I struggle with. Humor is the only way out, from my standpoint.

       It's not difficult to guess, then, that I don't "put myself out there" very often. I am far too concerned with the worst outcome could be, convinced that the worst is exactly what will happen. And then I'll spontaneously combust or the world will stop turning. Or something.
      The first time I tried putting myself out there is, funny enough, also the most embarrassing event in my life. It happened when I was a junior in college. Maybe I was feeling old and mature in all of my 21-year-old glory, or maybe I was tired of watching all of my friends get engaged around me. Who could know what motivated me this particular time, but it was six weeks in the making, all unraveled in the vulnerability of a single minute. 


I have changed the name of the ignorant to protect myself, in my account of what seemed to be a harmless crush. It started because Justin was a nice guy—pretty cute, and more importantly, he was smart. Captivated and intrigued, I was drawn to his intellect the way an insect is drawn to a fluorescent light. 
Because I saw him every day in my classes, I worked to create different schemes, different reasons for us to talk to one another. As I sat in my desk each day and packed up my books, my stomach churned and my mind raced, trying to think of something to say before Justin left for the day. I asked him what teacher I should take for Advanced Research next semester, even though I had already planned out my schedule. I lagged behind after class so we could talk about the technology proposed in Jurassic Park, and how probable it was. I sat through and absolutely hated every bizarre minute of Being John Malkovich, just because Justin recommended it. 
       Though these predetermined situations provided fuel for my social cannon, I was upset; I had betrayed myself so I could have a three minute conversation with the guy. But even in my state of regret, I was smitten.
It made me happy, talking to him, and I realized that I wanted to take things to the next level. I thought Justin was worth it, so I made the plan. Having discussed Tolkien in the past, my friends and I decided to have a movie night where we would watch Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition, and I would invite him to watch with us. It seemed like a perfect way to take advantage of our common interests—an innocuous way to immerse him into my world. 
It was a beautiful friday in early June when I built up enough courage to make a move. After class, I tagged along with him as we walked down the hall. Using the recently released Hobbit movie as an introduction, I rambled on as we turned the corner, completely unaware of the words coming out of my mouth; my sporadic heartbeat made me all too conscious of the act I was about to perform.
“So anyways,” I began, feeling as if I was plunging into a deep body of water. “My friends and I are watching Lord of the Rings tonight and I was wondering if you wanted to come?” There. It was out, finally. I could only wait.
An odd expression came over Justin’s face, one that slowly turned into a curious smile. Was it surprise? Surely by now he had to know that I liked him. Was it...embarrassment? It was only a movie with my friends. Completely impersonal, not even a date—we didn’t even have to sit on the same couch. 
“I’m married,” he answered, grinning awkwardly. 
I was paralyzed with shock. Looking at nothing in particular, I stared off in the distance as my mind flew through the past six weeks, searching for a clue, any indication that would help me realize my mistake. Was there ever talk of a wife? Not that I could remember. How could I have missed his wedding ring—I would have checked, right? I was 21, going to a Mormon private college. Being single felt like you had not received your invitation to some exclusive club. We were of a rare breed. And more importantly, you always knew to look for a ring. 
       It all came to a halt as I stood there in the midst of students heading to their next class. There was nothing, nothing I could think of.
Realizing that I needed to respond, I tried to brush it off. 
“Oh, you are?” I asked truthfully, quickly glancing at his left hand. I was right—there was no ring. “It’s just, you seemed cool...” I trailed off, unsure of what to say, where to go from there. 
“Yeah, I keep that part of my life private. I’m flattered though,” he started, obviously trying to appease my embarrassment. 
“Yeah,” I remarked. Still staring off with eyes wide with panic, my hand brushed the back of my neck. I knew I had to get out fast. “Well, I gotta go,” I said in falsely cheery demeanor, and I immediately turned to head down the stairs. 
“Oh...kay...” I heard him say as I walked away, understandably confused. 
I walked outside in a daze, my eyes wincing as the sun shone bright. Grabbing the straps of my backpack, I held on tight as I walked, uncertain of what to do next. I could hardly think, but I pulled out my phone and called my best friend, Brianne. In a somewhat secluded cement corner on campus, I tried to bury myself into the wall—his rejection, a metaphorical dunce cap hanging over my head.
I couldn't contain the sobs as I explained the situation to her. People walked by, some looking on with intrigue, and others uncomfortably trying to ignore this weeping girl. Brianne offered kind and supportive words, but they weren’t enough. As I stood there, absolutely mortified, it seemed like there was no possible way to recover from what I had done. I wanted nothing more than for gravity to stop working, so I would fly off the face of the planet.
Though, in my head, I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong, I still felt like a homewrecker. Vacillating between anger and guilt, I cried, overcome with a shame that should not have been mine to take on.
“It’s his fault!” My friends cried. “He should have known what was going on. I mean, what kind of married guy has a friendship like that with a single girl?” 
I didn’t care. Or I cared too much. But I figured that we were either both at fault, or neither were, and as upset as I was, I didn’t want to place blame.
      This event haunted me all weekend. Every minute was flooded with all of those little moments that we had shared—the little moments that had brought me such joy only days earlier. Those two days were spent trying to figure out what to do. Monday would come, and I would have to see Justin again. And the day after that. And every miserable day after that for the next seven weeks until the semester ended.
On monday, I intentionally arrived to class a few minutes late, quietly slipping into my assigned seat next to his. (Of course, this was the one class in my entire college career that had assigned seating.) Focusing my attention on the board in front of us, I took notes with a diligence that my teacher had never seen in me before. 
After an excruciating hour, I packed up my things, finally facing him. Apologies tumbled out, one after another, as we walked down that same hall. Justin was kind and understanding about the whole matter, but all of the kindness in the world couldn’t carry the embarrassment resting on my shoulders. I never wanted to see Justin again, but here I was, in the same spot as the friday before, asking him, "Can we just be friends?" 

        I had no intention of being friends.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I have a ton to catch up on, but I wanted to say this: it's my birthday tomorrow, and I turn 23.  
This is a strange thought. Mostly it's because I thought I would feel older, but now I understand what my uncle means when he writes, "Happy birthday! Now you're almost as old as me!" on a card every year. 

I wanted to make some sort of record of being 22, because this might have been the craziest year yet. 

1. I graduated college with a degree that I wasn't totally miserable about/didn't fill me with unsatisfying regret, AND I didn't end up in the hospital once due to a hernia or malnutrition. Then two weeks later, I got an email from school saying that I was three credits short, and I would have to take an online class. 
That news almost put me in a hospital. 
Hooray for class of (December) 2014.

2. I survived the first year of being without Brianne, the light of my life, while she is on her mission. Madisen was gone too, and I said goodbye to two more friends because of missions. Kelsi got engaged and that was harder than I thought it would ever be to deal with. But here I am today, a little bit better at being alone than I used to be. (At least, I'm crying about it less. I feel like that part is worth mentioning.)

3. It was only a little bit, but I did some traveling this year. Last year it was San Francisco with Brianne, and this year it was Portland with Chris for Kelsi's wedding. I wonder where next year will take me?

4. I moved back home to California. Then I moved to Utah. This move was maybe one of the top three most spontaneous things I've ever done. As I was driving home from work yesterday, I was thinking about this. Do I feel like a Utah resident yet? I think the honest answer is no. 
I still respond (mouth agape) with a, "at my old school, we never...." when someone tells me shorts are allowed on BYU's campus. But I spent my whole life in California and then the past four years in Idaho, and those two hold very special places in my heart, so I excuse myself of this annoying behavior.

5. I got a poem published in Sonoma State's magazine. And I didn't let anyone read it because there was a flippant line dedicated to my Relief Society president who lived downstairs at the time that I wrote it. It said the word "Hell," thereby confirming the fact that I am not a perfect person, but instead, a passive-agressive person. Thank you Garrett Sherwood, for introducing me to the world of slam poetry. And thank you, Jim Richards, for making me submit your poetry as your T.A., and consequently teaching me about how to submit my own stuff.

6. I got pulled over for the first time ever, for speeding home from Shari's (this is Idaho equivalent of Denny's, only with better pie). I'm glad I had a car full of friends with me, otherwise I might have cried. In fact, I would have.

7. I had a job at Zupa's. And then I quit after two weeks and got my current job. Utah's "free to quit suddenly without notice" rule is the best and the worst thing that's ever happened to me. I got my first credit card (something that I hate/fills me with anxiety) and started paying my own rent and groceries and other terribly adult things. I make up for this by listening to Disney soundtracks on the way to work.

8. My hair caught on fire. (Did I tell you?) This is about as horrifying as it sounds, and smells twice as bad as you would think. My bangs are about two inches long and I just pretend that I'm punk rock and gutsy enough to get a weird choppy haircut like that.

9. I bought guinea pigs so I would have living things that depended on me for life. The goal was to help me feel less lonely after I got here, but more than anything, they gave me crazy anxiety. And really bad allergy reactions. I only had them for a week, and I only just told my mom about it.

10. I started doing the things that I love again, like drawing and reading and music things. In the last few weeks, I've even started writing some of my own stuff, which is something that I've never had the confidence to do in the past.
I'm still working on learning how to spend my time wisely so I could accomplish everything that I want to do, while simultaneously telling myself to chill out and have some unscheduled, unstructured time to do nothing. Included with this should be the idea or the hope that getting back into these would help me figure out what I want to do my life and get me on that path. (Stay tuned.)

11. I was called to be a temple prep teacher earlier this year at church. This was completely bizarre to me because I had never gone through the temple, and had no immediate plans to. There were a few lessons where I was generous to release the class a few minutes early. (This is really because I ran out of things to talk about.) But over the summer, I felt that I should start preparing to go through the temple. I don't have a date picked yet, but it will be happening in the next few months.

12. I made a Christmas cover cd. It was really fun and I loved putting it together. I'm going to redo it again now that I know what I'm getting myself into so it will sound better, but I'm going to add a few songs to it, I think. If I have the time.

I know there are probably a ton of things that I am forgetting about, but I feel like everyone should take inventory of their year, just to see where you've been and who you've become.
It's been a wild ride.