Looking Towards the Sun

“What sunshine is to flowers, smiled are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.” – Joseph Addison

I’m searching for peace and happiness on this Friday afternoon as I sit in yet another cafe, drinking tea rather than coffee, and scroll through quotes about life, sunshine, and tranquility. After spending the past few days sulking from the recent news of the Orlando shooting, I’ve decided that instead of crawling further into my battered shell, finding happiness is the greatest way to learn to roll with the punches and prove to those who wish to see us fall apart, I still will rise in a new and well-formed casting.

In a rainstorm the most powerful sight is when a sudden shock of lightning illuminates the damaged night in a heat of life, a shock of radiance, a shock of power. I will chose to be lightning in a storm that threatens a flood. I, as many others, will shake the world and continue on as a beam of energy, glowing and remaining strong.

 

Hello, I Suck

Hello, I’m a terrible blogger who will sit in front of her laptop for hours writing and rewriting posts to then later delete everything and call it a day. I feel self conscious about what I write and sometimes delete posts days later because I still feel embarrassed.

Hello, I’m a terrible blogger who will tell people I have a blog but will not give them its name because I fear criticism. When someone asks me “what do you blog about?” I freeze and quickly make something up because, although I do post short stories and poetry, I also post about personal matters that I would rather leave behind a glass screen for people who haven’t seen my face to read.

Hello, I’m a terrible blogger that will think of creative ideas for posts when I should be studying for class, then blank as soon as I put my fingers to the computer keys. I fantasize about being a well know blogger and writer, and yet my mind stumbles like my fingers stumble along the keyboard. Words get mixed up, letters appear in the wrong place, I hit the wrong punctuation key, I backspace by accident, or I add too many spaces. No wonder I can’t bring the ideas from my head to appear behind the glowing screen in front of me. They’re just being spat out in all the wrong places.

Hello, I’m a terrible blogger that has little to no confidence in myself and somehow hopes people will enjoy my writing. Being a blogger means that you have the power of self expression with the mystery of being an icon image in the corner of another’s screen, and yet, I struggle to put myself virtually out there even if it is just the arrangement of 26 letters that I create.

Hello, I’m a terrible blogger who is on the search for self-awareness, self-love, confidence, the beauty in my shadow, and that light some say they seen in my eyes. I crave a change and I feel as though I am finally ready to make that journey to so save myself, but how does one begin? It is a mystery worth solving.

 

Today’s Thought

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see yourself through somebody else’s eyes? Or maybe wonder what certain people think of you as you meet for the first time or pass on the street?

I constantly wonder what some people think of me because as someone who deals with negativity that has settled in their mind, being able to see or know yourself through someone else’s perspective could prove that everything that we think poorly of ourselves really doesn’t matter and doesn’t define us.

I know I am not the only one who feels self conscious about parts of their body, or say”I hate the way I sound”, or thinks of themselves as unattractive, but I know we only think this way because we are on the search for perfection and always compare ourselves to those around us.

Being able to see myself through a stranger’s eyes would be an experience that could prove all of what I have thought about myself wrong. We are so much more than how we look or sound, and honestly we all look and sounds perfectly fine, so why do we obsess so much?!

 

The Artsy Downfall

It may have taken me a long time to realize that writing is an art but I have grown to understand that art is an entity that can be found all around us. I wouldn’t say that I come out to people when they first meet me and address myself as an artist, I’d rather address myself as a writer just to keep things simple and to prevent any unintended questions or comments, but thinking of myself as an artist is empowering. I love the idea that I am creating art through my words, through the madness that erupts from my mind and oozes from my pen across sheets of paper. And like most artists, my work feels far less than perfect.

You may hear that many artists will never be satisfied with what they’ve created because they will constantly view it as a work in progress. What pulls a work in progress to a finished piece anyway? How does one make that judgment? I think back to when I was in high school and I remember my teacher giving us thirty minutes for a free write. She said we could turn in our paper sooner than thirty minutes but we need to make sure we are proud of what we have created and have produced a completed story. I took the full thirty minutes for that free write (which isn’t all that surprising) and ended up putting those pieces of paper with my story into my backpack and took it home.

She said the story had to be complete and we needed to be proud of it, how was I to be proud of a story when I only had thirty minutes to write it? I was so thrown off by this assignment that I never turned it in. Now, this was before I realized I wanted to get into the art of writing and dedicate my college career to learning more about it, if that wasn’t the case I’m sure this would have raised a few red flags about my inability to accept my work as ‘finished’ or to really be one hundred percent happy with what I have produced.

Today I will write essays, short stories, and poems with the intention to write something that will be a representation of myself, an exact copy of what I envision in my mind, and yet I always miss that feeling of complete satisfaction. Don’t get me wrong, I have been proud of some of the pieces I have created; however, I will never be able to read and reread those pieces without a judgmental and revising eye. But this is how I feel all artists are. I doubt a painter is able to look at their piece without scanning it for flaws and for places where they wish they could have used a different color or brushed the paint in another direction.

We are always trying to improve ourselves and I guess coming to terms with the idea that my work will never be perfect will be something I’ll learn to live with. I can do that, right?

 

How Do We Live?

Life is a strange thing where instead of looking at what we have right in front of us and admiring who we are in this second, we look towards the future and wish for change. There is so much in front of us in this moment and yet we only care about what we will make of ourselves next week, next month, next year, and even ten years from now.

I constantly feel like I am waiting for something or waiting for someone, but who? What? Why do I feel as though I need to have someone in my life to be happy when I can easily make something of myself all while alone?

I wonder, what would happen if instead of holding out for someone and waiting for that to push me into something different and better than who I am now, I live in the moment and live for me.

How many moments have we missed by waiting and wishing and living for something that could happen tomorrow or maybe not for ten years? Too many, that’s how many.

I wanna live for the moment and live for myself because this life may be the only one I have, and who knows, maybe I’m missing a part of my life that truly brings peace and happiness. Maybe there is something more than waiting and hoping. I guess there’s only one way to find out.

If you need me I’ll be living my life.

Swimming in a Sea of Anxiety

And so it begins… An anxiety ridden college student has finally taken the plunge and received a job offer. You may see it as a small and simple cafe job; however, I see it as a sea of new information I need to soak in to stay afloat in this workplace and to stay alive. Okay, so ‘stay alive’ is a bit melodramatic, but in my mind this restaurant job is completely new and littered with places for me to fail.

I started off this job searching journey as a kind of pass time. I knew that eventually I would have to dive in full force when I would actually get a response back and then eventually be stressed about learning all of this new information, and yet, I took the process slow and didn’t really think too much into what would come soon after.

I applied for a barista position at a local cafe that I go to on a regular basis but got turned down because I could only work part-time. Then my dad noticed that another cafe/restaurant I enjoy going to is also hiring. I expected this application process to be very similar as my last: sending in my resume and cover letter but not hearing back for a few weeks. Instead the day after I sent in my resume and cover letter for this cafe I had a response by the next morning.

At first I was elated. Finally I’m one step close to having my own job and I will actually have some kind of real income (so long babysitting and dog walking). We (the owner and I) then set up an interview for the following day, which went very well with barely any nerves coming from my side (which surprised me) and then I was invited back for an evaluation period where I would shadow a few workers. Even this didn’t stress me out, at least not yet. I went home after the interview and felt accomplished and ready to dive in, but then when I was picking out my outfit for my evaluation period that would take place in two days, I began to panic.

Everything suddenly sunk in and hit me like a tidal wave, I know nothing about food service, I barely know their menu because I can only eat a few things among their meat filled entrees, and although I aquired a free working espresso machine off my neighbor’s stoop (true story), I know nothing about making a latte, cappuccino, macchiato, americano, cafe au lait, chai tea latte, mocha, miso caramel latte, or any other espresso beverages! I was diving head first but I had no clue what to expect just below the surface.

Yesterday was my evaluation period and did not learn as much as I expected. The workers I shadowed were extremely nice and helpful and through the process I only saw the owner once, so all that he would go off of would be the word of the workers whom say they enjoyed having me around and said that I was helpful. Because of how busy they were, however, I only poured cold or hot brewed coffee, a few ice teas, or ran food orders. It was a fun experience that was relatively low in stress for me (at least until I became challenged with knowing what different orders were when I have not been visually familiarized with their meat selections). I’ve studied the menu before going through the evaluation period to memorize the order names but didn’t use that as much as I expected either.

I left the cafe yesterday feeling proud of myself for what I managed to get through and for not screwing up too bad, and later that night got an email from the owner with a job offer. I GOT THE JOB! Of course I have way more training to go through before I am fully comfortable and have all that I need to know scratched into my brain, but I am officially of the cafe team.

So studying I will continue, stressing I will also continue, and causing mini panic attacks I will also continue as I think way too far into this whole process. Not only will I have to memorize the cafe menu and espresso drinks, but also a small cocktail list and how to make them, a wine list along with the different glasses used for each drink, and a beer list. I will have to memorize and become familiar with the different meat options and try to understand and explain to a customer how each one is prepared (even if I cringe each time I think of it), and finally I have to realize that this environment is new and mistakes will happen. I am destined to mess up sooner or later but I need to push past those moments with a semi crazy smile on my face and just keep pushing forward no matter how embarrassed I get.

 

In a World of Sunbeams I am a Walking Shadow

Confidence is what I desire. Being able to fit into a new setting with as much power and glow that I seem to fit naturally; a perfect piece to any puzzle. But instead I fight with myself. I may begin with as much life and sheen as any other; however, soon I begin to unravel and crumble back into the weak self that I try so much to coat with all the bells and whistles that come with confidence, only to have them later hit the floor.

I managed to work up the courage to go into that job interview; shining bright as the sun; personable, bright, beaming, and radiant. It wasn’t until I got home later that night that I began to unravel and fold back into myself. The interview went well (probably better than I’m imagining it to have gone) and have been asked to come back for an evaluation period to see how easily I pick up information and work with the staff. I was elated to be asked to come back because it means I am one step closer to having a job in the field I wish to have my  own business one day.

I felt accomplished and yet when I arrived back at my apartment and realized what just happened and let all the emotions sink in, instantly I began to panic. The simple decision of what I was going to wear on that day put me in a frenzy and near a full blown panic attack. I am proud of myself for not letting these crazed emotions take control of me, and yet, I still can’t wrap my head around the idea that I CAN actually get through all of this and these feelings of doubt and fear are not necessary. In fact, if anything I am over prepared. I have studied the menu and have practically everything memorized except for the alcohol menu, and despite not having previously worked in a cafe or have made all of the espresso drinks, I have the measurements and ingredients memorized. So what am I worried about?! Why can’t I just own my confidence and let everything fall into place as it will? I’m prepared. I’m smart. I have so much more potential than what I am showing myself. I just hope I can find this confidence somewhere deep within me and fight back against those shadows that tend to cover and shade my body and mind, and instead let the small sun grow from my soul and shine through my skin. Just please shine, sun, before Thursday.

Coffee, My Drug of Choice

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Somehow the girl with a million thoughts finds stability and clarity within porcelain mugs and between sips of creamy vanilla lattes. Even though the caffeine jitters make my knees bounce and my fingers tap, the outside movements are much more comfortable than the race roaring through my mind. However, I’m starting to think I spend too much time in coffeehouses than the normal college student, but unlike my roommates and college acquaintances, I’d rather get drunk on milky coffee and high on caffeine. Coffee is my drug of choice; it’s where all my money goes and where I get the most pleasure. Sounding like a true addict, aren’t I?

 

The Dirty Truth Brushed Under the Rug

It was something I never expected to hear in high school. I walked into the school, running late and missing the normal crowd of people I usually enter the school with. Everyone was already in their classrooms so I rush, trying to get into class before everyone settles down in their seats and begins their work. What I walked into was not my normal History class with students laughing and the teacher cracking jokes. When I entered the room I could see the walls that have been raised around the students and the teacher. Some of my classmates sat in groups, some hiding their faces between their arms while their bodies slump across their desks. The teacher was sitting in one of the small desks and was comforting a student who was crying, her friends surrounding her with their eyes just as strained red and lips quivering.

Walls grew around me as I felt a sense of seclusion and a desire to be alone, without even knowing exactly what has happened, I just knew there needs to a separation from me and the class as everyone else has created a barrier to hold in emotions, to seclude themselves, to be alone.

I sat at my desk and remained quiet, the air was deep and heavy as it weighs down my body as the stone wall grows higher. I have never seen my class so still before. Between the sniffles and the tears running off of desks and cheeks, I saw the troublemakers sitting at their desks, still in their click but all at separate desks facing forward, eyes down on their desks and phones out of sight. There silence was something I never knew existed. The normally social and energetic kids were with no desire to move or be heard. They were separated from the class as if their bodies were only an outline and their souls have slid from their mold and just went away.

Soon my teacher got up and moved to the front of the class, his voice was soft as he spoke and his eyes were drained cold and welled up as he said “If you need to, feel free to leave class whenever you feel the urge and go to see a counselor. The principal has brought in a few extra people who can offer you assistance.” He then handed out a piece of paper with questions on it and put on a tape of a show from the History Channel. He went back to his seat next to the student he was comforting earlier. No one did their assignment, the teacher didn’t ask for us to turn it in.

Before class was let out the morning announcements came on. Instead of hearing a student’s voice being loud and obnoxious the principal came on. He didn’t address the footballs team big win or events that would be taking place through the rest of the week, but I didn’t expect him to. He started with “I know many of you have already heard the terrible news about one of our fellow students. Please come to the office to speak to a counselor if you feel the need, we are here for you. Let’s try to make this day as a time of remembrance and positivity as well as we can.” What I soon learned was that one of the students has commit suicide and was discovered that morning by her father when she didn’t wake up for school. She was a star athlete, had straight A’s, was a popular girl full of positivity and was loved by all students and faculty, and by her twin sister.

I didn’t know her directly but I had class with her sister. I felt like my sheltered life has been hit with a sledge hammer and started to crack and crumble. We have all heard about suicide, seen it take place on television or in movies, even read about it in books, and despite dealing with my own anxieties and depression, this feeling was unknown territory. I felt terrified and I couldn’t explain why. I was scared for my friends, how were they dealing with this? Are they depressed or suicidal? Do they need help? I began to visualize every person in that school as glass dolls, dangerously close to breaking, their own fragility becoming more and more apparent with every step they take through the hallways.

After graduating high school I heard the news of another suicide of a female student. Although I am unaware of the reasons for either of these suicides or of the students themselves, the news hit me and rattled my spirit. Facebook blew up with posts about suicide awareness, depression, hotlines to call if you’re feeling like hurting yourself, and support from everyone in the school system and community. Everyone stepped up offering support, some even posting their numbers to call if you wanted someone to talk to, however, all this love and support would then vanish back into nothing as the daily routine was rediscovered and everyone went back to facing their own stressors. Everyone began to move on.

Now I’m a junior in college, scrolling through social media and seeing various posts about suicides. I begin to think about my experiences and about how I feel on the subject. Since my two encounters with high school suicides, I have been exposed to the death of a friend’s significant other and a friend’s grandfather who took his own life. Suicide and depression is a topic that is shut out from reality because it is viewed as personal and something you need to deal with alone, behind closed doors. From all of this I felt as though I needed to evaluate myself and come to terms with my own reality that I’ve kept hidden behind closed doors.

Time and time again you hear a suicide take place and everyone says “We had no idea she/he/they was feeling this way.” This made me think, if my depression and anxiety got any worse and I begin to greatly consider ending my life, who would I turn to for help? My first thought was on my family. Could I confide in them? The quick answer was no. Why? We’ve never been an open family, freely discussing emotions. I thought about when I broke off a past relationship and how when I told my mom I found no comfort in her. I sat on the couch, trying to hold back tears, she sat in the rocking chair across the room. I thought about when my parents came across a post I wrote on my blog about the bullying I faced in high school and how I had to deal with it alone. It wasn’t until my parents had a glass of wine or so that they addressed the post, they said I made them feel like bad parents because they didn’t help me with my “issues.” I thought about the time I was being called bad names for giving an answer to a question in a way that my dad didn’t like and then he said that if I’m upset about something I need to just get over it.

As much as I’d hate to admit it and accept it myself, I have gone through phases of dealing with depression and anxiety, never being able to find comfort in the people you should be able to always rely on. Maybe they weren’t phases, and instead I’m still trying to make light on a subject that really shouldn’t be, but I’m a conservative person who has problems with opening up to people. My last relationship lasted four years and even then I struggled to let him in. I would fight myself from telling what I was actually feeling in the moments of crying and panic attacks. I felt like a fool for behaving this way and was too embarrassed to explain what was going on in my head because I never wanted to be looked at as weak or crazy. One day a panic attack hit when we were sitting in his car and I began to cry uncontrollably, unable to catch my breath, and my whole body hurt and shook with every gasp of air and thunder of sobs as tears exploded. I balled myself up and hid my face as he just sat there and waited for me to finish.

To me, having depression meant you were a statistic, one of the millions of people who claim their life is something less than stellar and relies on mind altering drugs to be happy. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to be someone broken, I wanted to have a perfect life, to fit in with my family, have good grades effortlessly, to be pretty and perfect and normal.

I’d fight with myself at night, often crying for no reason and beating myself up for the way I am: my body, my face, my style, my brain capacity, anything. I would do things that I’m not proud of in these moments as a way to control what I was feeling and to take back any sanity I had left with myself. I hated who I was and dealing with the feelings I have with who I am today, but I still remain silent.

Depression, anxiety, any other mental illness, and suicide are not something you should walk around. I know I’m being a hypocrite when I say this, but we need to be open. We need to find ways to allow ourselves to heal. I feel like I’ve wasted so much time on being unhappy without ever addressing it, and still…

I guess what I am trying to say is that to prevent suicide there needs to be more done within a household, within a community, and within the school system. The only time there is light shed on these topics is when depression has run its course and a life has been taken. We need to prevent this from happening instead of focusing on how to move forward after it is already done.