Tired

“I’m tired.”

“You’re always tired.” Michelle didn’t even look at me past her newspaper. I sighed, signalling that I had heard her and I could only resign myself to agree. I was always tired. Like most of the 20-somethings with dead-end jobs and a crummy apartment on the poor side of town. I was tired of working all day only to get back home and feel like I hadn’t done anything. I was tired of coming back to an apartment that was falling apart. I was tired of looking in the mirror each morning and seeing so much misery.  Most importantly, I was tired of the sad back-and-forth Michelle and I shared. It’s not that we didn’t still like each other, but we’d already grown old in each other’s presence.

“Perhaps we should go to the park tomorrow?” I asked, maybe I would feel better if I got some fresh air.

“Nah, I have to go into work early tomorrow. Shanon’s sister is getting married so I’m covering for her.” Michelle cast her newspaper into our recycling bin. “Besides, it’s allergy season.”

I turned my attention to my eggs, which were apparently burning up in the frying pan, “Well, would you like to do anything fun at all this week?”

Michelle growled, “Don’t do this. You know I want to spend time with you, it’s not like I’m dying to work extra shifts. Though we’ll need to money if you keep ruining all of our food with your terrible cooking.” She stormed from the room, presumably to go get ready for another one of her busy days without me. I stared down at my burnt breakfast, I was weirdly empathising with the egg.

“Perhaps I’ll go to the park by myself, then.” I slid the egg onto a plate, I might as well eat it.

Happy Birthday

I licked the marshmallow fluff off my fingers. “You know this is rather unconventional.” I said, grabbing the mixing bowl from the counter. “I know, but I’d so much rather have fudge for my birthday than cake. Besides, it’ll just be us so I don’t see any problems with it.”

I rolled my eyes, “I told you we could invite people over. You insisted we just stay in and watch movies on Netflix. That was not my idea and you don’t get to pin it on me.”

She laughed, “I know that, silly. I hate cake anyway, so I’m not sure what we’re even arguing about.”

I shrugged, “I’m just making sure we all remember whose idea this was.”

“Well, next year I’ll let you throw me a huge dinner party. But this year isn’t special enough for that kind of thing.”

“What? This is so a very special year. You’ve been able to drink legally for a whole year.”

She stuck her tongue out, “Yes and it’s been horribly exciting, but hardly worth celebrating.”

I decided it was best not to argue anymore and focused on making the fudge she had requested. She was horribly infuriating, she would never let me be romantic or do anything charming for her. She was always so against me doing anything really nice for her. Some days I didn’t mind that she wasn’t a romantic, but other days I just wanted to be her prince charming.

That’s when I heard the knock at the door. Max, I told you to come tomorrow. Not today you idiot! “I’ll get it, you focus on making your fudge perfect.” She shrugged and continued working while I answered the door. “Hello birthday girl! I brought you a ton of squash.” Karen looked up in surprise, “Hey Max. I have to admit I’m a little surprised to see you here.”

“How could I miss my favorite girl’s birthday? I know, I know. You told Robbie over here not to have anyone over but I just couldn’t resist bringing you one of your favorite dishes.”

“Max, you really shouldn’t have. But I really do appreciate it.” Karen moved in for a hug and laughed, “I hope you don’t mind fudge, because we didn’t make any cake.”

Max just laughed and walked over to where our little food project was almost finished. I was furious. I cannot believe he had the audacity to come over here when I told him not to. It’s not like I wasn’t very clear with my instructions! I wasn’t mad with Max so much as I was mad that my plans were ruined. He would undoubtedly discover the pie in the back of the fridge I was saving for tomorrow’s surprise party. And he would undoubtedly eat it. Then I would be without pie and in a real bind. Not to mention I was horrified by the thought he might blurt out what we were doing tomorrow. He wasn’t very good at subtleties.

When I finally regained my composure I realized that I might not have anything to worry about. “Y’know, I always wanted to be a vet when I grew up. Now look at me, I’m twenty-two and I’m what my parents refer to as a starving artist.” Karen laughed, “Though I can’t imagine I’ll starve with all this food in the apartment.” As long as she’s the one leading the conversation maybe it will be fine. 

After an overly long evening listening to Max and Karen banter about any number of topics I mentioned that it was perhaps time for Max to go home. “Well, I can’t go home before midnight! It’s rude to duck out on a person’s birthday. I won’t have it.”

“Max, don’t be silly. You’ll be too tired to drive home at midnight.” Karen said, still laughing.

“I am not and will not. I’m sticking with you two for a while yet.” Max said, stomping his foot down with finality.

I rolled my eyes but let it drop, after all it was Karen’s birthday and I decided if she was having fun my plans didn’t need to be focused upon.

Who Am I?

Every day we wake up and we make a choice: to be ourselves or to be who the world wants us to be. Some days it’s easier to be ourselves, these are the days when you wake up with nowhere to go so you don’t fix your hair, you leave your make-up untouched, and you sit around in yoga pants. Other days it’s harder to be yourself. There is a pressure to look less like a human and more like a painting. This doesn’t just apply to our outward appearance, but who we are on the inside.

It’s much less work to change your personality to fit the people you’re around. Your friends think you’re one person, your parents think you’re another person, and your professor thinks you’re that guy. With all this personality switching it’s no wonder that so many people experience an identity crisis. I mean, who are you really

I have become all too familiar with the pressures to be someone I’m not. I’ve been told who I should be by any number of people. If I were just skinnier, if I would just wear make-up, if I would just quit being a stick in the mud, if I would just stop being so me, then people would like me. I don’t know where I got my backbone from, but I do know that I will never be the girl everyone else wants me to be. 

There’s not enough room in my head for all those girls, there’s barely room for me. That bothers some people. I’m inclined to believe that’s why they always try to get me to change. Not because I need to change, but because everyone else feels that if they need to change I need to change to. 

World, I’ve got a secret for you so hang on to your seats because it’s a doozy. You don’t need to change for anyone else. That’s right, no one should ever ask you to change who you are. It’s cliche, but the people that truly care for you and want you to be happy will never ask you to change who you are. They may ask you to stop doing things that make you unhappy but they will never expect you to change who you are. 

Readers, I have a challenge for you: The next time someone tells you to change something about yourself ask yourself if it will make you happy to change. If the answer is no then don’t do it because life is too short to spend all your time trying to make other people happy. Now go be bold!

Affectionately Yours

Sorry I haven’t written here in such a long while (for those of you trying to keep up with me!). As life usually does it ran away with me, gripping my hand tightly and my feet flew from beneath me. Unfortunately life usually gets to dictate how I spend my evenings but I have stolen this evening to bring a little bit of wonder to you.

I have always found affection to be tricky. Not that I have a hard time giving away my affection. On the contrary I immediately love someone and slowly grow to loathe their existence. The tricky part has always been earning someone else’s affections. Not necessarily the romantic kind, as that is far too complex for me to ever fathom, rather the kind of affection one feels toward a close friend, the family pet, or a sibling.

You see, the issue stems from the way my parents garnered my affection. My mother would buy me things. Oh, you’re so mad at me aren’t you? But how can you be mad at me when I just got you this new toy!! My father tried to win my affections by letting me have a puppy, or taking me fishing. C’mon, we’ll go do what like to do. You can see why I never developed a good way to make friends with people.

As this is the case I’ve had very few close friends in my life. After a fiasco with some friends in the sixth grade I had nearly decided that friends weren’t something I needed. Friends are just too much work, they take time and patience I didn’t feel like I had to give anymore. Then I started talking to this girl in my seventh grade class. I can’t even tell you what we started talking about but we haven’t stopped talking since. She’s the friend I never knew I needed. As with most things, our friendship just happened.

Since then I have made a few friends, and when I say friend I do not take the word lightly. The people that are my confidants, my companions, and my fellow warriors, they are my friends. And slowly but surely I have come to understand how to be a true friend to those people. Though, I must admit I have been known to buy some incredible Christmas presents. (Just in case my way of doing things doesn’t pan out!)

A Tasty New Endeavor

Recently I’ve been meaning to write about my latest adventure: I got a summer job!

I know, you’re asking yourself how someone who is clearly in need of a vacation could possibly think it’s a good idea to get a summer job? Well, I’m thinking that I will have some extra cash to spend on all those chips I eat out of the vending machine at school. (I have a problem. Don’t judge me.) Anyway, I have this new summer job at a barbecue place in town. And so far I’ve only made a few mistakes! My first week has been very interesting and also very tiring. I work the evening shift so I get there at four and work until a little after nine during the week. Apparently this Saturday I get to work from three until ten. I’m so excited I could pass out and never move again!!

Unfortunately that isn’t an option so I’ve been making the best of the extra long work hours that I’m not used to. And the fact that my sisters have consistently woken me up before nine every morning this week. At least I’ve had some time in the mornings to catch up on my writing… Anyway, I’ve been working in this totally new environment and I don’t think they plan on firing me so I guess I’m doing alright.

It has been a weird transition for me. I’m used to doing all my stuff early in the morning so at about two I get really antsy. I’m really wanting to get on over to work and I’m also aware that if I leave my house at two I’m going to be very bored for a very long time. So I’ve been trying to keep myself busy in the mornings. Looking on the bright side at least I’ll be used to staying up late and getting up early once I get back to school!

In truth, I’m really happy that I managed to find a summer job. My parents totally didn’t think I could do it. (They’re still probably wondering when I’ll quit.) After all, I am a very academically geared individual, and barbecue, while totally the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten, isn’t exactly mentally challenging. But I am learning how to be a team player and gaining valuable people skills. So I’m ok with it. And the woman that was helping me wash the dishes yesterday didn’t even get mad when I soaked both of us. So I guess I’ll be ok.

Forgotten Treasures

I walked into the building and smiled as I noticed my friend already hard at work. “Look at all this stuff!” I said as I walked over to the boxes and tubs piled in a haphazard array. She smiled, “Yeah, I don’t know where we’re going to put it all.” I shrugged, she had been working on organizing this stuff much longer than I had so I didn’t feel entitled to an opinion. I opened up the first box I came to and I was pleased to find a rather large book collection. These books were clearly the forgotten remnants of someone’s childhood. I flipped through the pages to see if there were any treasures hidden among them. Finding nothing I put the books on the bookshelf among the other children’s books.

The books weren’t the only things we dug out from the boxes. Long-forgotten Christmas ornaments and a metal figurine of a cow holding a milk jug were among the stuff that we retrieved. Some of the things are so incredibly odd you find yourself wondering why someone would ever want to keep them. We certainly don’t keep many of the things that aren’t any good. There was a large pile of trash by the time we finished sifting through everything.

All these things were long forgotten and someone stopped caring about them. That’s how they ended up in a storage unit auction. From there my dad packed up all their forgotten things in his truck and brought them to his shop where we organize all these things that were clearly important enough to keep, but not important enough to keep in their homes. These storage units are eventually lost; whether to bad memories, lost bills, or hard times. These lost units are eventually found again by someone looking to sell the all the once-treasured things.

Going through the boxes is truly an enlightening experience. You stop to wonder if all these things were really that important in the first place. I’ve promised myself I will never get a storage unit. I think it’s better to just get rid of the things you no longer need. It’s also therapeutic to let go of that part of your life. There’s only so much room within four walls for things, but there is infinite storage in our minds for all of the wonderful memories. All of those books I found, they were the remnants of a childhood that someone wanted to preserve. How futile it seems to try and preserve something that is already lost to us.

A Letter to My Sister

Don’t think I haven’t noticed you’re getting old on me. Next year you’ll be in the sixth grade! That’s really exciting and really scary. You’re probably wondering why I decided to write this letter to you and I suppose I should tell you. Little sister, I am writing you this letter to let you know it’s ok to be you. You’re growing up much too fast. I know that’s because you’ve felt pressure from the sister in high school to be just like her. I know it’s because your other sister left you to go on to college. I know it’s because all your friends are trying so hard to act mature and you just want to fit in. I know. That’s why I’m telling you it’s ok to still want to be yourself.

If you want to wear nail polish, makeup, and fancy dresses then I want you to do that. If you want to get muddy, ride horses, and raise chickens then I want you to do that. If you want to study hard, get smart, and make lots of money I want you to do that. If you decide that you don’t want to be just a stereotype then I can support that, too. I don’t want you to feel like you’re trapped in a bubble of who you are allowed to be. I know the world says otherwise, if I’ve learned anything in psychology it’s that people love to put everyone else in boxes. You must always remember to stay true to yourself despite what everyone else says.

Little sister, I’ve been where you are. Times have changed a lot since I was in your shoes. I didn’t have an iPad in elementary school or text my friends every evening. If you had asked me if I had a Facebook in the sixth grade I would have laughed at you. (What is that? A book of faces? Gross!) All this new technology is a dangerous thing and I want you to remember that. The internet is a place where your whole life can be documented. That means that your future employers can scroll through your Facebook feed and see if you’ve got a positive attitude or not. Technology is telling.

In this world it is becoming more and more important to present yourself favorably all the time. I know that’s probably not what you wanted to hear. After all it’s hard enough to figure out what you’re going to wear tomorrow without worrying how people with think of you in five years. I advise you to start thinking in a socially active way now. I realize you probably don’t know what being socially active is, you can come ask me if you want me to explain it in more detail. What I mean is that you should start volunteering regularly around home. Get mom to take you to the local food kitchen or volunteer at a local dog rescue. If you go ahead and begin developing volunteering habits now you’re setting yourself up for success later. Volunteering really allows you to develop skills that can be used to your advantage later.

It’s also not too late to begin working on beefing up your STEM skills. There are lots of programs aimed at girls your age that encourage a growing knowledge of science and technology. Use that to your advantage and I promise you’ll be happy you did. It’s never too early to begin thinking about how you’re going to make it through college. I know I wish I had started earlier thinking how I would get the money. (Mom and Dad are not helpful in this area. They just yell at you.)

I know this is a lot to think about before you ever get into the sixth grade. It’s a lot to think about when you’re in college. I just thought I would warn you that who likes who is not the biggest issue you will ever face. I want you to be prepared to take on the world in a way that I never was. I know you don’t like it when I give you advice. I’m still living with our parents so how much could I really know? Just trust me on this and start thinking about how you can grow yourself into a better you.

I know you’ll be just fine.

XOXO

Finding Herself

I recently wrote a post about loss. In it I mentioned that loss and I are old friends. Today I’m going to write why I think of loss as a friend.

 

Loss and I are old friends. Not because I like to lose things. Loss can be inconvenient and hurtful and just plain old awful, but it is my friend. Much like any other friend Loss comes and goes and everything it does with the best of intentions. Because Loss isn’t about hurting people for no reason.

People like to say everything happens for a reason. In the religious world we like to tell each other that God has a plan. In our darkest moments we like to ask the age-old question: Why me? Somehow between the highs and the lows we forget how we’ve gotten this far. We can’t remember how we got through it all the last time. Once we hit the low that accompanies Loss we reach desperately for a bandage to patch up our broken souls and sometimes we don’t find one. It is human to forget that we can find the light at the end of the tunnel. To be totally cliché: Even the darkest nights have to end.

It is at the end of these low points we find the thing we’ve been looking for. You lose your job so you can find an excuse to start your own business. You lose a friendship so you can find a new friend. You lose a pet so you can find a new one that needs a home. You lose a piece of yourself so you can find renewed faith. The beautiful thing about Loss is that it is often paired with Found.

I have experienced many losses in my lifetime. I have experienced feeling so low I thought I was already in hell, but I wouldn’t change those moments for anything. It is through my losses that I have found myself. I have discovered who I am and what I am capable of. I never would have grown into the person I am were it not for all the things I have lost over my lifetime. So it is with great pleasure that I can say Loss is my friend. Without it I would have never become the person I am today.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

~Amazing Grace by John Newton