the happy list: Irma edition

As I was titling this post, I glanced back at past happy lists and realized something crazy: I haven’t written one since May 2016. That’s nearly a year and a half ago. I’ve certainly made mental happy lists since then, and have written at least one in my journal, but it baffles me a bit that that much time has gone by. In May 2016 I was a senior in high school, about to graduate. Now, I’m a sophomore in college who, to be entirely too dramatic, has just survived two consecutive bouts of strep throat and a record-breaking hurricane. (Okay, that was even more dramatic than I intended.) Anyway, speaking of said hurricane, here’s my happy list, in spite of (or perhaps because of), Hurricane Irma (and the last couple of weeks).

happy list

pub subs
Friends marathons
not feeling dead
no leaks or property damage
all the well wishes
HBO Go
drinking water out of my Camelbak
being stocked up on Carmex
brie cheese
leftover pasta
staying in bed
no expectations or responsibilities for six days
six continents full of friends
Joey’s smile
Chandler’s snark
Phoebe’s everything
musk scented candles
travel plans
having more money than I thought
bubbly
that clean feeling after a warm shower
maps
Ross Creations’ hurricane prep skit
my G, for tucking me in
Matt and Justin, for the 8 Advil
Sarah, for gracefully coping with my sick self
mom & dad, for checking on me this weekend
cheetos
dried flowers
denim hats
staying in touch
learning to let go
memory foam
dream catchers
group chats
tumblr inspiration
coloring books
the time to rest and recover
days off
meeting new people
learning to live with my mistakes
realizing that I don’t need to chase people
and that it’s okay to have fuck-ups and feelings
the film I watched last week for class
speaking Spanish in my head
the way my books look all lined up along the windowsill
yogurt
hopefully losing weight
the traces of the world in my room
and in me.

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revelations

“Understand I will quietly slip away from the noisy crowd when I see the pale stars rising, blooming over the oaks.
I’ll pursue the solitary pathways of the twilight meadows with only this one dream. You come too.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

I go back and forth between journaling and blogging. There’s usually no rhyme or reason; only my mood, and whether I want a pen in my hand or keys beneath my fingertips. In the last few days, I’ve been journaling a lot, trying to get some thoughts out after nearly a month of no time to think, reflect, breathe. With love week, recruitment, classes, an internship and a job, and getting strep, I haven’t had much time for the little things. Like staying in touch with my mom, or eating dinner at the house, or writing. I’m feeling behind, like a lot of things have passed me by: the chance to meet new Phis, time with friends, season 7 of Game of Thrones, and events I wanted to write about but didn’t get the chance to. I wouldn’t say I’m drowning, but I’m definitely on the verge of being overwhelmed. It’s nice (and unexpected) to be home for the weekend, so hopefully I can catch up on schoolwork, rest, and maybe some TV shows (don’t even get me started on reading––I am so behind).

I’ve taken to keeping a list of firsts. My list for the spring takes up a page in my journal; my summer list, while not yet written, will likely be longer. I’m curious to see how long this fall’s will be. I know that, realistically, the longer I live, the fewer firsts there will be. But I’d like to try to have a lot, because experiencing new things has helped me grow. And I never want to stop growing.

JOURNAL EXCERPTS

“Being sick puts a lot into perspective. You realize how much of your daily life is trivial, and what really matters. It’s made me less vain, and re-think cigarettes.”

“In the spring I grew comfortable in my own skin, something I’d been faking-till-I-made-it for years with mixed success. After this summer, I’m confident in my own skin, and I didn’t realize there was a difference until now.”

“I think there’s a critical difference between not giving a damn and not giving a fuck. The former is matter of fact; you can own your opinions without needing to defend them with a facey word like ‘fuck.'”

“It’s hard to find the right balance between hard and soft. But somehow, tortoises do.”

“You will always be my favorite what if.”

“It doesn’t hurt anymore, but sometimes I’m reminded of the memories, and for a moment, it does.”

“I wish I didn’t have so much stuff––that’s something I’m trying to be more conscious of going forward. I learned this summer that I enjoy living with less.”

“I want to keep my standards high, but that’s hard to do when you’re constantly surrounded by frat guys, or when you’re intoxicated, or lonely. I want to meet someone now, just to experience what that’s like, but my heart lies abroad, and in a few years, so too will my body.”

“I want to meet someone whose eyes give me a glimpse into their raging and beautiful soul.”

“Something I’ve learned this year: Sex doesn’t really matter. Not to me, anyway. You’re not a cooler person because you’ve had sex, or a better person because you haven’t. And sex isn’t necessarily intimate, either. Just because someone’s seen your body doesn’t mean they’ve touched your soul.”

“My memories of that time don’t rise to the surface very often, and they become blurrier each time they do. But when I wipe the fog off the lid of that glass box that holds them, they still come back in bits. Fragments. A twirl on a dimly lit dance floor, a gin and tonic in my hand. A smelly kitchen with two chairs, two beers, two souls, late night. Arms wrapped around my neck from behind, his chin resting on my head. The fire, and the trees. A pile of blankets and a swinging chair for two. A spilled glass of water; his head in my lap as I played with his hair. A couch. And two gentle kisses goodbye. This is all I remember now, and even though I don’t feel much anymore, I can remember what I felt then. The memory of it all is what brings me hope and devastation, all at once.”

“It’s hard to look at the big picture all the time. Sometimes, I just want to have fun and experience new things. New people.”

“It’s raining, like it has been all day, and the pitter-patter of droplets on my ceiling is singing my eyelids to sleep.”

Goodnight.

“I’m thinking about people and trees and how I wish I could be silent more, be more tree than anything else, less clumsy and loud, less crow, more cool white pine, and how it’s hard not to always want something else, not just to let the savage grass grow.”
― Ada Limón, “Mowing” from Bright Dead Things

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meet me in the woods

I took a little journey to the unknown,
And I come back changed. I can feel it in my bones.
— Lord Huron, “Meet Me in the Woods”

It’s been weird, being back. At first, I was stuck in Tampa, bored for two weeks. Now, I’m in Gainesville for my sorority’s recruitment process, and I’m unsettled. I feel restless, dissatisfied, and neither utterly happy nor unhappy. Not content, but not discontent either. I’m yearning for more, but trying to adjust to what will be my reality for the next four months, the life I loved just four short months ago in the spring.

I’m a long way from the one that I loved
I’ve been tending old flames, lamenting what was.
— Lord Huron, “Way Out There”

I’m experiencing a lot of cognitive dissonance, because sometimes sorority life, and especially the recruitment process, goes so much against my values as a feminist that I want to scream. Sororities are organizations meant to uplift and support women, yet in some ways they restrict and belittle them by making decisions for them and attempting to control, or manage, their behavior, dress, etc. I don’t know how the others don’t see it, how they don’t feel a twist inside their gut every time our chapter advisor gets up to instruct us about wearing Spanx, every time mandatory spray tan sign-up lists get posted, every time we’re told how to act around boys so that they’ll like us. How it doesn’t raise their hackles when nationals rejects our event proposals because they’re “too dangerous,” “too much of a liability,” a “PR risk.” All of these examples show a lack of trust in our ability as grown women to make our own choices. Instead of acting as institutions with women’s best interests at heart, sororities have become national enterprises that aim to guide women according to their standards and, in doing so, discourage them from choosing for themselves what those standards should be. It’s not just my chapter or sorority; it’s all of them. While there are amazing qualities about my sorority that keep me in it, like the sisterhood (it sounds cheesy, but it’s real), sense of community, wonderful friends, and other perks, the superficial, petty, and misogynistic elements that are associated with Greek life as a whole sicken me. Some elements of sorority life, like the recruitment process, are so antiquated, and others mandate conformity or degrade women, even though the people in charge (and most of the chapter) don’t seem to see it. I know they don’t mean badly, but that doesn’t matter to me, nor does it minimize the harm done in a society where women are already held to high and ridiculous double standards.

I been unraveling since my birth
Gonna wander out there and see what I’m worth.
— Lord Huron, “Way Out There”

For the last two years, I’ve been in limbo. I didn’t know what I wanted to do or study and I constantly changed my mind about both. There was no plan; I had no single ambition or goal to strive towards. In the spring, I finally accepted this state of being, embracing my passion for history and the concept of living in the moment. I’d figure it out eventually, and that was okay. But then I took a backpacking trip to Europe for nearly three months this summer, and I came back changed. Different, in some ways. I’ve always been independent and aware of the world around me, but traveling alone increased those qualities tenfold. And for the first time in a long time, perhaps with the strongest conviction yet, I realized, or rather felt: this is what I want to do. I want to see the colors of other skies, swim in faraway seas, dance on narrow cobblestone streets at night, and howl at the moon in a field full of wildflowers. I want to live through every time change, experience different cultures and levels of development, taste exotic foods, and, to put it simply, see the world. Traveling this summer taught me that I could do it. I met people who travel for a living, or work jobs that allow them the opportunity to travel often. It’s within reach now, except for the fact that I’m at university for the next few years and probably shouldn’t won’t drop out. And that’s all good and well, because most of the people I met were at least a few years older than me and had gone through university or a traineeship or something that kept them from traveling longterm for awhile. I have to remind myself that I just have a head start, that I can be in their place in a few years if I want to, that I’m not “missing out.” But watching their Snapchat stories and reminiscing on the amazing time I had, it’s hard not to have a little bit (or a lot) of FOMO. To feel like my reality is a waste of time, and that I’d learn, see, and do so much more if only I were somewhere else. I realize it’s not the best attitude, and I’m working on it, because once school starts and recruitment is over, reality will get better.

But it won’t be the same as it was in the spring, and neither will I.

What good is livin’ a life you’ve been given
If all you do is stand in one place?
— Lord Huron, “Ends of the Earth”

p.s. Thank you, Kat and Delaney, for letting me talk through my thoughts; Sarah, for commiserating with me; and Dillon, for recommending Lord Huron in my time of need. I am blessed to have you all in my life. xx

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day by day

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
– Carl Jung

Day by day, I’m feeling better. I still have highs and lows, but with each passing day, I feel myself return more and more to normalcy. It probably helps that a few close friends are back in town, and that my time in Tampa is dwindling. I’m excited for the independence and social life going back to university entails, and can’t wait to see my lovely friends, who I realize I’ve missed dearly. xoxo to you all 🙂

Today, I started thinking about Italy. Or more specifically, visiting Italy. This winter. I’ve always wanted to, and it’d be nice to avoid the brutal heat of a Mediterranean summer, but it only just occurred to me that I could actually fulfill my dream of seeing Rome, Pompeii, Cinque Terre, and more by the end of the year. Or early next year, at the very latest.
e x c i t e m e n t.

Also today, I went to the art museum downtown with one of my best friends and his girlfriend, who I got to meet in person for the first time. We brought my little sister along because I’m home alone with her the next two days, and Abby and I had a lot of laughs looking at art we didn’t understand and taking goofy pictures.

On another note, I’ve learned a good deal in the last week. One of the things I’ve realized is that even if someone is super fun and wonderful in person, if it’s constantly a hassle to get in touch with them and make plans to hang out, the friendship might not warrant the trouble. I have this guy friend who I love spending time with but who just plain sucks at communicating through text and committing to a plan, and after a year I’ve finally reached my wit’s end with it. It’s not that I’m unfriending him, and I’m sad because I truly enjoy his company, but I’m not planning to reach out anymore. It’s just frustrating and tiresome, and usually goes nowhere. That’s the thing with relationships: they involve two people. My parents taught me to go after what I want, but you can’t always live by that rule when it comes to wanting something from another person. You can’t make someone want you, or like you, or hang out with you or even talk to you. And you shouldn’t have to. If they aren’t interested in putting an equal amount of effort into the relationship, whatever kind it may be, then don’t force it. Try not to take it personally, and let it go. There are seven billion people on this planet—there’s no sense wasting time and energy on someone who won’t give you either.

“Sometimes you just give the wrong people the right pieces of your heart.” 

Another thing I’ve realized is that distance provides perspective. I’m unsure whether I made this clear in sad songs, because I didn’t have much distance from the situation at that point, but it wasn’t love. Maybe it was the beginning of something we like to call “travel love,” or maybe it was the potential for something more, or perhaps I just got a small taste of something I wanted but couldn’t have. Either way, it still hurts, and was the first “heartache” of sorts I’ve ever felt. So it’s been a bit difficult to deal with, and will likely haunt me for awhile, but it showed me something important. A few things, actually. One, I have the capacity to feel that way about someone. Two, now I know that the ability to want and have and lose someone can cause immense pain, both in my mind and chest. And three, it showed me that there are people for me out there. For nearly a year now, I’d thought there was one, and I was so scared of letting him slip away. I fought for him because of that, maybe more than I should have. (Maybe that’s why I’m not fighting for this one—that, and I can take a hint. If feelings aren’t mutual or timing isn’t right, there’s nothing to fight for. Which all goes back to that “it takes two” philosophy I mentioned earlier.) But this second person and experience I had abroad showed me there was someone else. And given that things have seemingly ended there too, at least for now, I have faith there are more out there. More of those good, good guys who are tender and have pure hearts and make me melt a little inside. If neither of the ones I’ve known so far were it, then there have to be others.

“Stop chasing the waves. Let the sea come to you.”

In the meantime, I’m nineteen. I in no way, shape, or form want to settle down (and by that, I mean commit to a person or place that will keep me from doing what I want with my twenties). There’s way too much fun to be had: places to see, people to meet, parties to go to, and things to try. Sure, it would be nice having someone to share some of that with, but I’m scared that committing to someone would mean tying myself down. I like to feel free. Besides, it seems like I’m away too much to have a relationship at home, and home too much to have one abroad. I’ve been told by many people that I’m naturally flirty, and compliments spew easily from my mouth when I mean them; I’m an open, honest person with little filter, which is both a curse and a blessing. Because of this, people sometimes think I want or am looking for something when I’m really not. And half the time, I’m totally clueless about it all. I have lots of guy friends, and I love them to death, but I’m not interested in many guys. I’m picky. I have to feel something and I usually don’t, even if they’re textbook attractive or have a great personality. Something just needs to click for me and oftentimes it doesn’t, hence why I have lots of male friends but haven’t had many boyfriends. When I do like a guy, it’s overwhelming because I’m not used to having the emotions that come with interest, or at least interest beyond the physical. So I end up convincing myself I’m crazy, which really doesn’t help things at all. Because then I actually drive myself crazy. Note to self: CALM DOWN. Your feelings are valid. Your lack of feelings is valid. You aren’t insane. You aren’t doing anything wrong or weird. You simply think you are because you are a teenage girl with hormones and a tendency to overthink and worry. 🙂

I have to remind myself sometimes that there’s no rush, and that if it doesn’t work out it wasn’t the right person. That things falling apart isn’t necessarily my fault, and that rejection shouldn’t always be taken personally and internalized. It helps to look at myself and the guys I go for—often it’s not the nice, model-esque, tall-dark-and-handsome, but rather his funny and witty best friend, who may not be as cute but who makes me laugh and has pretty eyes. And other times, it’s the guy who’s both. So if a guy isn’t interested in me, it doesn’t mean I’m not pretty or funny or whatever—the lack of interest isn’t a reflection of me and my worth. It simply means I didn’t click for him, just like many great guys don’t click for me. I’m learning that it’s okay to have feelings (or more often for me, to not have them—I think that’s why I was taken aback after Poland), and to not overthink my actions or another person’s. Sometimes I get too inside my own head and overanalyze things that I either shouldn’t or can’t. Like I said, when it comes to a person, my strategy for everything else in life becomes absolutely useless, and maybe that’s why I’ve always felt so lost when it comes to pursuing guys (hence, why I usually don’t) and why I’ve sometimes stayed in friendships long past their expiration date. I’ve found in the last seven months that it’s best (and easiest) to just be my confident, relatively carefree, and sassy self, and things usually end up falling into place, one way or another.

“The flower doesn’t dream of the bee. It blossoms and the bee comes.”

In 2017, I’ve really grown comfortable in my own skin, have let go of a lot of society’s expectations of me, and, all in all, have learned to love myself. I’ve become a much happier, more free spirited, and less harried individual. I am so proud of the person I’ve become, because I fought to become her. By no means am I perfect, and I will certainly continue to grow, but it’s nice after this rough past week to be able to sit here today and type this:
I
am
okay.

Or I will be, in any case.

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jumbled thoughts

“Summer romances end for all kinds of reasons. But when all is said and done, they have one thing in common: They are shooting stars — a spectacular moment of light in the heavens, a fleeting glimpse of eternity. And in a flash, they’re gone.”
— Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

I suppose it’s both a curse and a blessing, to feel this much.

Another shard from my already fractured chest broke away the other day when a homeless man in Christiania, most likely a refugee from Africa, was so kind and lovely to me and my friend who were sitting on a park bench when he and his companion arrived to set up camp. They did so a ways from us, out of courtesy, and then the one in red went across the path to sit on a bench elevated on a little hill. When we got up to leave, after having been sat there chatting for quite some time, he turned to us and said in a pleading voice that shattered me, “You are leaving? We mean you no harm!” As if they were the cause of our exit. How tragic, to have no home, to sell “antiques” on the streets to make ends meet, and to constantly feel as though you are a bother. A burden. He must have had people leave because of him before, for him to have such a desperate response. Once again, I wanted to cry.

“Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.”
— Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Thorns and Roses

A conversation I had yesterday:
“How do you ever get over these feelings?”
“You don’t, you just learn to live with them. There’s not much you can do but live life and see where things go. Life isn’t a fairy tale, as much as people wish to believe.”
Thank you, Andrew, for helping me to finally understand.

Also part of said conversation:
“I’m too much of a dreamer sometimes. I look at the possibilities instead of the realities.”
And they break me.
Advice to self: Stop worrying about far off possibilities that you can’t control, and focus on the little things, here and now, that you can. You’ll be much happier that way.

I just absolutely love words. Quotes, lyrics, prose and poetry… I connect with them in such a deep, intense way. It often feels as though someone else has read my mind, felt exactly what I feel, and painted those emotions with words so that I might understand myself better.

I had my fun, I played around
Without a love to tie me down
I always used to kiss and run,
I never wanted love to catch me
I thought I had a heart of stone
But now I’m in the danger zone
I can feel the heat is on,
Soon the flames are gonna catch me
— Billy Ocean, “Red Light Spells Danger”

And for one desperate moment there
He crept back in her memory
God it’s so painful
Something that’s so close
And still so far out of reach
— Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, “American Girl”

I’ve been particularly drawn to poetry lately. I find it raw and unfiltered; often straight to the point, like a knife to the heart, twisting and telling me, “ah, yes, you’ve felt that too.” The three most recent poetry books I’ve read are the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace, The Universe of Us by Lang Leav, and Love Her Wild by Atticus. I loved all of them, and definitely recommend giving them a read. I’ve started getting the urge to highlight and mark my books, something I never used to do because I historically have been absolutely OCD about keeping my treasures in pristine condition. It’s nice to save the lines I love best, or connect to, though, and be able to flip back through books and find those passages easily. On another book-related note, I’m reading a book called Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer right now, and it’s impressively good. I don’t typically read nonfiction, or travel novels, but I think I want to pursue more of those types of books in the future, as this one is so well-written and eye-opening.

Do you ever wonder at how strange it is that we often let a number define our worth, or control how we feel about ourselves? I put on a couple of pounds while I was away this summer. That puts me right back at where I was before starting freshman year, before I lost ten pounds in a month from so much stress and anxiety. I’ve been slowly gaining it back this year, and when I got home and could finally look at myself in a mirror, I thought I looked good. With more defined womanly curves and all that jazz I’ve been genetically blessed with. But the minute I stepped on the scale, I felt like shit. Shit because the number was higher than it was when I left, higher than my mind wanted it to be. It’s literally two pounds; it shouldn’t matter. I probably look the same at 125, 128, 130. But the way I feel… It changes, sometimes drastically, with a slight tip in the scale. And it’s bullshit, because if I think I look good, and am healthy, who cares what the scale says? Why do I care? It’s not as bad as it used to be. In all honesty, I can’t imagine it ever being that bad again. But it always manages to creep back up, even when I think it’s gone, that I’ve conquered it for good.

I’ve been so down about being home, stuck in Florida for an extended amount of time after three months of movement and freedom. I miss the friends I made abroad, and the thrill I get from being out in the big wide somewhere. Seeing things, doing things, meeting amazing people. It seems so much more valuable to me than a college education. But seeing as I’m not quite willing to drop out, or take a gap semester and lose my scholarship, I’ve just booked another plane ticket instead. I’ll be traveling back to Europe from mid-December to mid-January for just over a month. And I am SO EXCITED. It’ll be hard to prioritize and balance seeing places vs. people, but I’m just happy to be getting out of the American, Floridian, privileged college bubble again. Next summer, I think I want to go to South America (maybe parts of Central America, too). And then the following summer, Asia. And maybe the summer after that, if I have the money and can get some work over there, Australia and New Zealand. And even aside from those places, there’s so. much. I. want. to. see. It’s sad to think that even if I dropped everything and traveled for my whole life, I’d never get to see it all. However, from this last trip, I’ve learned that traveling and seeing the world is probably the single-most important thing to me. I don’t want to settle down, not in my twenties. I want to live an exciting, fulfilling, and beautiful life now, rather than wait around working some boring career job and dreaming of the day I’ll do what makes me happy. There’s no time for that in this life. None at all.

“I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”
“Seen what?”
Her smile widened. “Everything.”
— V.E. Schwab, A Darker Shade of Magic

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