What Drives Her?

Heyo Friendos!

First, I’d just like to express intangible gratitude to be finished with the semester (and halfway done with my SENIOR YEAR of college). In all honesty, it reallllllly wasn’t that bad–mainly just trying to finish all my projects and papers on time. So anyways, yay! I’m off for a few weeks! ….Unless I try to work more on my thesis, which, knowing me… We’ll see. ūüôā

Anyways, subject for the day’s post. I actually have quite a few ideas all jumbled around in my head right now–some of which, you’re probably glad I haven’t taken the time to sit down and write–but they’ve all been momentarily sidelined by something else that happened this week. A conversation I had with my Dad, actually…

This particular parent of mine travels¬†a lot for work. And what is traveling but discovering new places… and meeting people new people… and perhaps further bonding with those who’ve accompanied you on your journey. So my Dad also has to socialize. Also, a lot. Which is, yikes, introvert that he is, but he’s a¬†charming,¬†outgoing¬†introvert so I guess it works. And it was during one of these little periods of socialization that has me so perplexed, inspired–enough to share with you all to maybe evoke a similar reaction. Or not.

I’m going to risk sounding relatively selfish for a second here and say that in this chat, my Dad was discussing me–my school, internships, volunteer work, writing, post-graduation plans, etc.–usual my-daughter-Quinn stuff, I thought, when my Dad later relayed to me this conversation. But what set it apart from the rest was, rather than simply responding with a smile and encouraging comment–“You must be so proud!”–this particular conversation partner wanted to dig deeper, below the surface of basic school/work information. They wanted to know¬†why¬†I was doing what I was,¬†why¬†I kept so busy, so seemingly motivated. Dad did best he could to provide sufficient responses, like I simply enjoy keeping busy, using my time to serve others, etc. But apparently that wasn’t enough.

“But what¬†drives¬†her?” they asked.

It’s like that phase we (mostly) all go through as kids–the “why” phase. We question every little thing, asking why. We want to seem profound, wanting to know more, when really we’re just being ornery little kids, amusing ourselves more than anything. But this colleague of my father’s was very intentional about uncovering the core of my motivation. And my Dad, who wanted to give the right answer more than anything, couldn’t, as he later confessed to me.

I think he wanted to get my answer so he could be ready for next time. So he could realllllly know his kid–on an even deeper level (though I’m not sure that’s possible. I try pretty hard to remain as transparent as I can be with those close to me). But when he recounted to me this archaeological dig into my life, I couldn’t go any deeper. Because I didn’t have an answer.

I still don’t. But it’s not because there isn’t… I just don’t know what it is yet.

What drives me?

Serving others? Serving God? Because without my drive, I wouldn’t have much in this world except the life with which God granted me?

Why do I do what I do? How do I really know? Because I don’t think I do… Not at this point. I wish I could contrive a temporary answer that’s even a remote jab in the right direction to provide for you all asking yourselves the same thing, to provide myself. But at this point I’m at a loss. I’m still pondering. I’m continuing to ruminate.

Once I figure this out, maybe I’ll return to this post and share, but for now…

What drives you?

Stay curious, Friendos.

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The Oddities of an English Major

In light of finals week (hence the lack of post last week–sorry guys!) and finishing the bulk of my remaining English classes this semester, I thought I’d post about one of my more recent experiences and lessons learned from studying a subject I so adore. Enjoy! Maybe…

Being an English major, I write. A lot (shocking I know). What this means is, about once each week I have some kind of writing assignment due. Usually more often. Usually more higher-stakes–than most other majors, that is.

As an avid writer (and reader), I realllly don’t mind this. In fact I quite like it! To an extent… But see, when you take multiple English courses in a single semester on top of other non-English courses that are just as writing-intensive, you tend to become a little… burned out in your writing endeavors.

Consequently, if you’re me (you do quite like writing), your desire to give each and every assignment your best effort diminishes over the semester somewhat. Plus, what energy you do have is all directed toward constructing your senior thesis (or, theses… haha don’t be like me)–that big, bad writing project that pretty much determines whether you can graduate from the all-expensive, stress-inducing preparation for the real world phase in life we call college. All this to mean I don’t always try as hard as I could on some of the papers I turn in for class.

Now, me being me, my “not trying” is still quite a bit of trying. But I don’t stress quite like I would with writing assignments during an “average workload” semester. Like, seriously guys, I once spent seven hours writing a two-page paper. Because I’m me. And I stress in even the calmest of situations. Isn’t anxiety grand? So, in a sense, having a relatively “care-free” attitude in regards to writing my papers has been advantageous, but I digress.

Unfortunately, “not trying” does not go unnoticed–especially at a small school. And when your “not trying” takes place in a class with a professor who loves you and your writing abilities. This loving professor recently handed back a paper I’d turned in and had not (even I admit) done my best work on, and, though I received an awesome grade, the comments let me know my paper wasn’t perhaps quite worthy of the grade… or was it? Basically, my professor said my argument didn’t make much sense, was unclear. However, whatever it was I was trying to say was well-supported and well-worded. So there’s that. But then I say, well which is it? Can I really write a strongly-supported claim even if it’s, essentially, completely obtuse?

According to my grade–the evaluation of my skill–I sure can. In the case of English-based term papers, assignments are graded more on evidence and presentation (eloquence) more than context and relevancy. And I guess if I have the skills to put together an argument and do so eloquently, I shouldn’t worry whether my points are completely irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.

But I do.

Because in the real world, relevancy is a big, big factor that drives assignments. Relevancy evokes the need for written content (think: news); without it, we have, well, works like my blog. Much like my term papers, though perhaps entertaining and occasionally enlightening, it doesn’t always provide much grounds for application, for action. Not realistically speaking, at least. But see, I enjoy the creative side of formulating an argument, realistic and logical or not. Unfortunately, then I’m met with responses like those of my professor’s–my writing is “brilliant but lacking rationale”. Sigh…

It’s no wonder people speculate with skepticism the job prospects of those in my major (which is just, totally incorrect, by the way–I mean the world needs communicators, analysts, creatives, which all can arise from English degrees, but, believe what you want to believe). Just kidding! It appears I have skill. I just need to… perhaps revise my approach. Be realistic. Logical. Caring. All completely doable… when I don’t have three others papers, a speech, and a test to prepare. Off to a great start here. Perhaps next semester? Oh wait, I’ll be writing my theses. So yep, I’ll¬†definitely¬†need to be incorporating that logic and care there. Ohhhh excitement…

Tell Me Something Good

In a world so full of tragedy and hate and cruelty, it’s a wonder we find solace, find happiness. In any regard.

But to keep going, I think we have to. We need to uncover the joys in life–no matter how small–and recall why we’re here and what purpose we serve. Even in the darkest of times.

And with anxiety–with any type of mental illness, really–those dark times can occur much more often than not. With or without the weight of a world prone to tragedy.

As I’ve come to step into my anxious identity more and more, figured out my triggers, my patterns, my behaviors in certain situations, I’ve been able to develop some forms of coping, responsive routines. They are by no means a solution, but they¬†do help. To some degree, in the heat of the moment, so to speak.

My most recent mechanism, I’m not sure how I started it, but I’ve been using it more and more this semester. On days when my world is just a little too dark, too heavy to take in–even with God on my side–I attempt to bring in a little light, to distribute some of the weight. At least, for a little while.

Tell me something good.

This is my request to family, to friends, to loved ones. This is what I ask for when the world gets a little too real, too scary, too anxiety-inducing. This is the message I send via text when I need to regain my grip on reality, return to the Real World and escape from my anxious mind.

“Tell me something good,” I plead to my best friend, work colleague, parent when I sense the makings of an anxious day. Or when I feel the beginnings of an attack coming on. And, within minutes, I receive my reply. Usually, the messages I receive pertain the wonders of God’s Creation, the positives of an event to take place later that same day, or sometimes even the promise of tomorrow–the need to survive through the day to see the tomorrow.

Essentially, all responses I’ve received over time have reminded me of the simple joys and the simple beauties in life we’ve been granted. All responses have reminded me things are not always as they seem and that they certainly need not be endured alone. That help is never far away.

And that’s why I reach out.

Tell me something good. It’s one simple mechanism to provide simple grounds for coping. And all it really requires is the will to ignite and the patience to receive and help will come, I know, from loyalty and love and, to an extent, understanding.

I don’t expect my community of support to necessarily empathize with what goes on in my head. And I don’t ask them to. But this one little request is my way of utilizing the help and love they so generously offer without (I hope) burdening them my minutely outrageous anxious troubles. And often times, while it may not necessarily work, pull me out of my anxious state, it reminds me of the good of the world. And, sometimes, I think that’s all you really need.

Now, I don’t pretend to know how all anxious folk feel, how everyone experiences their anxiety. But this is my story, my coping, my mechanism; and it works for me, more or less.

Maybe it can work for you.

Stay real and stay good, my Friends.

You Just Know…

I was in such a writing mood this weekend that you guys get a bonus post this week. How exciting! ūüėÄ Or not…

This is the phrase I have been hearing the past few weeks now.

Regarding my school work. Regarding my job search. Career aspirations. In my faith. Pretending to adopt a cat (school project, don’t ask). Really everything in my life.

I’ve been asking for advice both from God and my loved ones here on Earth regarding several decisions weighing on my mind that need to be made both in the near and distant future. And for me it all comes back to¬†How do you know you’re making the right decision? How do I know?

And again and again I’m met with¬†You just know.

Honestly, I could probably ask an easily proven question, but begin it with¬†How do you know…?¬†and be met with that very answer.

How do you know 2 and 2 equates to 4?

You just know…

How do you know the Earth is round?

You just know…

Gah, that’s not the all-assuming answer for everything, you know! It doesn’t work all the time…

But in all seriousness, though this is actually a wise reflection (at least the first few times I heard it :)), I have not met the sentiment with the utmost acceptance. The belief to simply know does not resonate well with me. Well with my persona. For you Myers-Briggs fans, I’m an ISFJ. S, for Sensing–I sense things, get a feel for a situation before diving in fully. I do not jump in wholeheartedly before I know what I’m getting myself into. I do not use my intuition well. But I’m being told time after time to do just that, to follow my feelings, my heart. And that has been, in some ways, very difficult for me to do. At least regarding the biggie decisions.

Currently, I am embarking on a quest to find a church to attend and, ideally, join as I continue on my Walk with God. And just today (er. yesterday now) I visited the first (of likely a few) that could maybe be The One. I attended the service, and while there were some parts of it I really didn’t like, there were aspects that I really did. So where do I go from here? How do I know this is the church for me? How do I know when I’ve found The One?

My pastor/friend from my school who attended with me (awww) gave me the oh-too-familiar answer I was readily awaiting at that point: You just know.

Hmmm. Well, if I “just know” and yet didn’t have that knowing feeling at this particular church, it must not be the church for me, right?

Well Friends, you see, as a Sensing individual, I’ve never felt 100% this-is-where-I’m-supposed-to-be comfortable in my initial experiences with anything. Ever. And sometimes not even the second or third. I’ve been at one of my internships for almost a year now and, as much as I have loved in the time prior, I only just began, in recent months, to feel fully comfortable there. It was then (like eight months later) that I “just knew”. But apparently my intuition is supposed to surface more quickly? I mean, that would be more practical. I can’t realistically attend services at a church I feel unsure about for eight months waiting for the feeling that tells me I’m in the right place.

So what then? How do I evoke this intuition sooner in new scenarios?

The obvious answer seems to be to pray. To trust in God. To ask for His guidance. In making decisions, in knowing. But I have, you see. And I haven’t been disappointed by any means. I’ve been nudged. But not explicitly told “Yes, Quinn, this is¬†the¬†path for you–you are so right. Keep going!” Okay, that isn’t even remotely how I envision God audibly speaking to me, but besides the point… I’m not saying I expect to receive a concrete answer or absolute assurance I am making the “correct” choice. I still adhere to, to an extent, God will guide us and use our gifts regardless of our choices (sometimes our paths just end up a little more scenic than originally planned). But I’d like to have more certainty in my decisions. More confidence. Before I make them (and not eight-plus months after them, ideally).

Perhaps this wise, omnipresent “just know” response is God’s assurance to me. His encouragement to follow where He is leading me. To follow whatever path He lays out before me. Because as I said earlier, He continues to guide us, no matter the path. So, technically, I¬†do¬†“just know”. I¬†should¬†be confident in my decisions because He is with me in every step. I just need to extend my full faith, my full trust in Him.

…That’s a lot of Intution for someone who prefers to Sense. Let’s start with this “church shopping” and go from there.

Have a trusting, blessed week, Friends.

The Loophole

Friends, I have figured something out!

…Er rather, I have uncovered the answer to a personal inquiry by means of internet browsing. Credible, I know.

Growing up with social anxiety, I struggled to do seemingly minute, social things, such as participating in class, talking with friends one-on-one in a social setting (other people were in the general vicinity), and ordering food for myself at a restaurant. Things about which others do not think twice. They¬†just do. And don’t worry about them prior to doing them. Or even after, for that matter. While, on the other hand, us anxious folk are convinced we’re being watched/thought of/judged the entire time during all/any of these activities.

In reality, no one thinks much of you when you make a comment in class (at least not of you as an individual) or judges the food you order in a restaurant. But it’s one thing to know that in theory and another to actually remember and believe it–especially when the Anxiety Gremlin strikes again. You can tell me nobody is watching. Nobody cares. I can¬†know¬†that. But that’s like telling me not worry, to not be anxious. Because sure I know, I understand I’m being ridiculous. But it’s¬†not.¬†That.¬†Easy. But you, Level-Headed Friend are no match for the All-Knowing Anxiety Gremlin in my head. More like you’re no match for the excessive serotonin levels in my brain, but, you know, personification (it’s more compelling and humanizing for audiences). I have to¬†believe¬†that knowledge and act on it. But I can’t do that. Unless…

Someone else is present. Wait, what?

So I couldn’t participate in class or order food with confidence in my younger years when it was for myself. But if I did this for someone else, well…

Introducing the Anxiety Loophole!

The only way I was able to skirt around my anxiety in social situations similar to those aforementioned was when what I was doing was to benefit someone else, to¬†help someone else. So, for example, ordering food at a restaurant for myself was incredibly anxiety-inducing.¬†What if my order is weird? What if I’m ordering too much food? I’m speaking too quietly. I sound so unconfident (I know). Why am I like this? Ahhh.¬†But then someone asks me to order food for them while they do x, y, z, and suddenly I don’t even know what anxiety is.¬†Yeah, no problem. I got this. This isn’t even about me, but helping my buddy out. I live to serve.¬†I always found this ability odd yet strangely compelling. And until recently I thought it was (relatively) unique to me. Until.

I came across this beauty on Pinterest (ah, Pinterest) and uncovered solidarity:

AnxietyLoophole

Thanks, Pinterest!

 

We’re going to ignore the lack of credibility in the formatting of this finding (Pinterest isn’t known for being a sound source), but rather focus on the credibility that arises from others recounting similar experiences in this post. I mean what’s more supportive in an argument than corroboration from similar stories? Oh, how defensive I am today… Anyways.

Essentially, as not-so-formally-explained here, the focus on others in anxiety-inducing situations actually curbs the anxiety. Anxiety really is, as much as I abhor this phrasing, “all in our heads,” and is truly only successful in conquering us when the focus is on us. When a loved one is thrown into the mix and we strive help them, even in the smallest and most realistic of ways (ordering food for a friend, for example), our proneness to empathy is provoked and we can temporarily shut out our anxiety. Because anxiety attacks us. And when the situation isn’t about you and about others and therefore your focus is on others, the anxiety can’t conquer. At least for the time being.

Also, more “official” (I tried)¬†research has found that helping and placing a focus on others leads to more positive thinking, in general and of the self. When we are selfless and conscious of others, and strive to serve them as best as we are able, our self-esteem rises, evoking general good feelings and combating anxiety (and depression) to a degree. Nifty, right?

It’s like God’s gift to us anxious folk in reminding us of what is possible both when we let go of our anxieties and strive to look to the interests of others (Philippians 2:4). Happy sigh.

If only it were less of a temporary loophole and more like a more longstanding loop…gate. …I don’t know. It’s by no means rocket science, but I thought this was interesting and somewhat groundbreaking for any of my anxious readers out in the blogging abyss who may benefit from this little tidbit of information. Or not… And that’s okay too!

Thank you for indulging in my oh-so-strange whims, dear Friends! Until next time…

You Can’t Please Everyone

…so you may as well do what seems best for you.

And, ideally, what you consider best for you aligns with God’s plan for you. Only… it’s often rather difficult to know with utter certainty what that plan entails. I believe that, to an extent, God will guide you and use your gifts no matter which path you choose in life, no matter which choice you make. But, in some instances, because of your choice, your plan may pan out differently, though the result is the same. In that respect, a choice may not seem like it really matters in the long run, but it does. It¬†so¬†does. Even if only a little. Because with so many alternatives, there is likely one (or two) that proves greater than the rest. Even if only a little.

This is what I have been telling myself for the past couple weeks as I come to face one of those infamous (somewhat) life-changing decisions. Er, make that two (somewhat) life-changing decisions.

The first, you may already have an idea of, if you frequent my blog regularly. In my path to solidifying my faith, becoming more comfortable with and certain of my beliefs, I have joined several bible study groups. And each has been great and challenging in different ways. But one of them has proved especially challenging in a way that I don’t think it should be–I’m not really solidifying my faith with this group, not becoming more certain with my beliefs. In fact, attending sessions usually reminds me just how new I am to my faith. And while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and while, ultimately pursuing a relationship with God isn’t solely about me, I believe one of my goals in a small group should be to better understand Him, to grow closer to Him. And I’m not sure I’m achieving this with this group.

But on the other hand, the people are so, so kind and welcoming. I really see a potential group of fellow believers, of people to “do life with” with whom I could connect through our prioritization of faith in this group. And I learn a lot. So, so much. About other religions. About differing perspectives. About the diverse backgrounds from which everyone in the group originates. It’s groundbreaking and enlightening! But right now… I don’t know if these are enough of reasons to stay.

Ideally, I’d love to return to this group (should I choose to leave), but I think, at the very least I may need to take a break for awhile. Figure out what I need to figure out. And return later. But… I just don’t know. How do you really know? What God has in His plans for you? What’s right? What’s a mistake? Am I being too selfish if I choose to leave? Not accepting enough of others? That’s what makes this decision so difficult; not knowing what’s in store, and knowing with some certainty what I’m leaving behind. Plus, one of my really good friends, who referred me to this group, is in the group, and my anxious self would fear I’d indirectly hurt them by leaving. And I don’t want to do that. I hate the idea of hurting others–especially when unconsciously done (though here it would be consciously done…). Which leads me to my other “life-changing” decision…

To leave or not to leave? One of my jobs (technically internships, but I use the terms interchangeably at this age) has given me the freedom to decide if I’d like to continue serving at their organization for another few months (until I graduate this coming May) or if I’d like to spend that time fitting another, different internship experience under my belt.

Before the choice was left up to me, I would have, without a doubt, preferred to stay on. The job is diverse (I’ve really learned so, so much in the time I’ve been a part of the organization), flexible (especially in regards to a student’s crazy schedule), and, in all honesty, convenient (hey, I still need the internship credit…). Plus, I love love LOVE the work environment; everyone is so comfortable and familial with one another, the group truly is like one, big family. That’s a strong value in the workplace for me, especially if I am to be genuinely happy in my work (you know, aside from enjoying the work I do).

But now that I’ve been reminded of the potential opportunity to open myself up to new experiences, I… I’m not so sure anymore. As much as I have undoubtedly cherished my time in this position, I recognize I have grown comfortable. Perhaps,¬†too¬†comfortable. You know that’s pretty comfortable if even I acknowledge it (and you know I adore being comfortable–yes, I realize I’ve said the word a good four times now…). I wonder if I need to really challenge myself in the workplace, to open myself to new experiences while I have the time and the opportunity. While I can still (kind of) make mistakes on the job and not get completely reprimanded for them. While I continue to figure out what I want to do specifically in my job or what I may be open to in the future. I need to push myself, I know that.

But, again, there are people involved. People I really care about and love. I’ve made great connections in this job (something that doesn’t always come easy for an introvert with SAD), and a small part of me fears I’d damage those upon leaving. Unconsciously hurt others, lose my friendships. In an ideal world, that wouldn’t happen. But I’ve suffered through two decades worth of lost friendships with people I guess God thought only necessary to keep in my life for a little while. Usually lost due to changing interests or distance or just plain lack of communication. That shouldn’t be difficult for a student of communication studies, but… friendships (all relationships, really) are a two-way street in that regard. One person can’t be giving everything all the time. But that’s usually what happens, and I’m afraid the pattern would continue with my friends from this job should I decide to leave. There goes that unconscious hurt again…

Sigh… it all comes down to people doesn’t it? The decisions really shouldn’t be so much about others in this case, but I can’t stop thinking about the influence my choices could have on the people in my life. Gah, you can’t please everyone, I know. But, what if pleasing yourself is partially dependent on pleasing others? How does that work?

Alright, I’ve got some decisions to make–with God’s guidance.

Here we go.

How Do You Know?

This trail has a lot of forks.

The urge to find a terrible comic of a road with eating utensils sticking out of the ground is so strong right now, I just might do it…

ForkRoad

You probably thought I was kidding…

HahahahahalifeissostressfulrightnowIgottalaughwhenIcan–anyway. It would seem my sense of feeling uncertain, like I have a choice to make, like I’m at a¬†crossroads doesn’t seem to be going away. Or, when I think I’ve tackled the issue, made my decision, and continued on my journey, I find another fork. It’s kind of… frustrating. So yes, I am facing another decision. I suppose now’s the time to either pull up a chair or throw your computer across the room and walk out the door, depending on how much you enjoy or tire of reading about my ongoing first-world battle with identity. Wow, for someone who considers herself to be more on the older, mature side of college students, I sure act youthfully dramatic…

This is about my faith, and continuing my journey. Now, my decision isn’t about whether to continue (no, no, I’m in this for the long haul), but more about next steps. I’ve mentioned my efforts on here before about actively seeking God out through daily prayer, reading His Word, and attending (three) bible studies. And I admit, in recent weeks, while I’ve kept up as best as I can (praying daily, at the very least), I find myself falling short. In trust. In love. In action.

Everything begins with your relationship with Him, and from there, your heart becomes changed or influenced, in turn influencing your actions. These all work together, cyclical. But it’s a rather slow process. Though I’ve experienced much frustration with this, with wanting to be more trusting and loving, and to act on those principles, I recognize this requires much patience and prayer and genuine desire to live for Christ. And I’ve come to accept this (though it’s been very challenging) in regards to my personal faith. I’ve even experienced change within me to a degree. When I focus on solely my journey with God, I feel (relatively) at peace with my progress, with where I am in my current stage–even with its hardships. But when other people are involved, well…

I’m not very far along in my walk with God–I know that. And, again, I’m (kind of) comfortable with that, with simply exploring at my own pace. But when I interact with fellow adventurers, I come to realize just how near the beginning of the journey I am.

I recently joined my third bible study at the recommendation of a friend to learn more about the Word, grow closer to God, and, ideally, find a community of others looking to deepen their faith. And to an extent, I think this study adheres to my needs. And yet… at the same time, I don’t know if it does…

You see, I¬†am¬†learning a lot–about other religions. And I¬†am¬†finding community–but the relationships feel only surface-level. And the sense of growing closer to God still comes from my personal journey, not from the study. And I think that’s the problem. I still feel like I don’t know very much about my faith though I am trying. Even so, I’m very much in the beginning phase (though¬†well¬†into that phase at this point), and when I’m in this study, I feel like a left-handed person trying to act like a right-handed person in a group of right-handed people. It doesn’t seem to be working. Everyone is so patient and welcoming, but I still feel like I’m on the outside looking in.

I want to give the group a chance, I’ve¬†been¬†giving the group a chance. Despite my consistent discomfort with my feigned right-handedness, I get the sense this is where I’m supposed to be. I don’t think God would have led me to this particular study, to this group of people who have met me with utter kindness and interest and who make the effort to reach out if I wasn’t supposed to be here. But then why does my uncertainty remain? Is it because of my lack of complete trust? A reminder from God to continue to strengthen my beliefs? Is it my social anxiety (I mean the people are great, but there are so many…)? I know that, ultimately, the study isn’t about me, but deepening faith and solidifying a relationship with God. But shouldn’t I at least feel¬†comfortable¬†with the group I’m looking to do these things with (sorry, preposition)?

I think I’m supposed to be here. But truly I don’t know. I’m at a loss. How do you know, really¬†know?¬†How do you know God’s plan for you? What He wants for you? I’m praying and I’m listening for Him, and I’m staying with the group at the moment. But ultimately I have a decision to make, a fork to walk through. And I’m going to need His guidance to do it.

Have a blessed, thoughtful week, Friends.

College Isn’t Conducive to Family Time

I’ve gotta say, commuting may be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in college.

I chose to live at home my final year of school primarily to hopefully evoke a change in my feelings on college. But I would be lying if I said the fact that I’d be closer to my family wasn’t a factor in the decision.

My family is such an important part of my life. I don’t really talk about them much on here, I realize, but they truly play a central role in my existence. The idea of not talking with them or being around them long-term frightens and saddens me–it’s unfathomable. And I thought when I made the choice to commute to school from home, I’d avoid this very fate. And technically, I have. But some days, I may as well still be living in a dorm away from everyone.

I do see my family more–a lot more–than I did the years I lived on campus. Obviously, not at least catching glimpses of one another when you live under the same roof isn’t possible. But short sightings of one another and “I love you!”s called over the shoulder as you head out the door for the day only sustain the family fix for so long.

Senior year has kept me busier than my underclassman-self would have ever imagined–and I’ve been a busy, 18-credit-hour-taking, two-job-holding student most of my collegiate life. And as a result, I practically only go home to sleep or hole up in my room to do homework.

When I made the announcement near the end of last year that I planned to live at home my final year, my Mom, though excited, predicted she would hardly ever see me. And she was right. And yet, we were both so hoping she wasn’t.

In the past few weeks especially, I’ve been feeling guilty about not spending as much time at home or not very social when I am home. And my family hasn’t depleted this feeling in any way with their passing remarks on my absence and distance.

Just this last week I had major car trouble, to the extent of which help from another was desperately needed. Not only did I not reach out to anyone in my¬† family for assistance, I didn’t even¬†tell¬†anyone about my mishap until after the fact. And even then, not right away. Understandably, my family–my Mom, especially–was hurt by lack of transparency.

I don’t why I didn’t think to reach out (aside from my strong resistance to ask others for help unless I realllly need it, while I have no problem helping others whether asked or not. This could really be a blog post in itself.). Part of it stems from independence, I think. I’m very self-reliant, and I have been for as long as I can remember. But another part of me assumed help wouldn’t have been given. By my own family? By people who have stood by me and have continuously proved they will always be around to help, however possible?

Apparently so.

This past week has been a major reality check for me as far as my family is concerned. Fearful of my Mom’s prediction, I have been making a special effort–on the weekends, at least–to spend time at home with my family. But as time has moved forward and deadlines have become unnervingly close, I’ve begun to slip. I’m praying this won’t continue, that I’ll be able to find ways to be around when time is limited. Realistically, I know though, it will be a challenge at the very least.

I’m on my guard, so here’s to a very familial-centered rest of the year.

Figuring Things Out

Hi Friends!

I’ve gotta say, I’ve endured quite the whirlwind of emotions for the past week and a half, and all because of fairly good things! I tend to disclose my personal feelings on here rather than the events the provoke them. But for this week’s post I thought I’d change things up and instead talk about my reasons for feeling so abnormally happy and (mostly) non-anxious. Because apparently I only like to dissect my feelings when they’re negative. When genuine happiness is involved, I don’t question it… Shoulder shrug.

So, two things. In the last week, I have:

  1. Applied for a pretty bang-up-sounding job in my field
  2. Taken another step in my walk of faith

And (clearly) I’m really excited about both actions. So, what’s up? Well…

First: the job. A professor of mine at school who, over the years, has really looked out for me in terms of uncovering experiences that have contributed to my personal growth in college, referred me to a job opportunity. A reaaalllllllly nifty job opportunity. Like, I don’t think the excitement I would likely experience upon being offered this job could be contained (if I were to be offered this job). So, what is it?

I would work as a feature writer, traveling across my home state to uncover the hidden stories of local communities, covering a variety of subjects. Essentially, I’d be a storyteller as well as a student of my homeland. Doesthatsoundcoolorwhat???

But here’s the catch: The position is full-time with benefits. It’s middle-management (I would have some leadership responsibilities in addition to my writing). It involves a bit of traveling. I know, these all sound like good things. Great actually, for a first job out of college. But that’s just the thing: I’m still in college, about seven months from graduating. I don’t know that this company will be willing to wait that long and/or even want somebody so fresh out of school for a middle-management-level position.

Of course, me being me (and since I’m blogging about it), I applied. Sort of a¬†What the hay?¬†decision. If I don’t get it, I mean I’ll be a bit disappointed, but oh well. I at least get my name on their roster. So if a better-suited position¬†does¬†become available… Plus, this opportunity has shown me the types of things I want to do in my post-graduation job¬†do¬†exist. So, yay! Calling! Well, maybe not exactly a calling, but the passion is certainly there…

Second: my faith. Oh – that sounds reallllly bad. Like I’m putting my faith second… That’s not what I meant, just that’s how I ordered my list/the order in which these events occurred! Erm, anyway… As I’ve discussed in previous posts, I’ve been slowly making my way to God and solidifying my faith, the key word here being slowly. I’ve definitely plowed forward in my actions toward this in the past few weeks: I’ve graduated to praying twice daily, I read a bit of God’s Word everyday (er, mostly everyday – though beginning this habit during senior year of college isn’t the best idea…), I’m involved in three Bible studies, and I’ve even begun to disclose my recent journey to some of the people in my life.

On paper (screen), I’m making a lot of physical progress in a little amount of time. But, for me, my faith is still very internal. How I think, what I believe. And I don’t feel very solid in what I believe 100% of the time. I don’t always feel close to God. And then, I don’t feel satisfied in my actions executing my beliefs. This is all very frustrating to me. I want to get to a point where I feel so much more passionate about and satisfied with God and can readily adhere to His Word. Satisfied is the wrong word, I know. I know I won’t become satisfied with where I am in my walk, I know that’s not the point. But… I want to be in a better place than I am now. It just takes time. And, I’m having trouble accepting that. Have been having trouble.

But this week, I attended my first meeting of this third Bible study. And I was telling one of the girls there about how I came to be at the study (newbies tend to stand out in small groups) and about the start of my journey in faith. I expressed my frustrations with wanting to be “further along” and she responded with such comforting insight. I wish I could quote verbatim, but my memory is near-non-existent. In short, she reminded me this journey is one that takes time–our whole lives (of course)–and that we will likely never reach a satisfactory point in doing God’s work. But, she countered, God loves us. Loves all of us, no matter what we’ve done. No matter what we believe. No matter whether we follow His plan, His Word. No matter where we are in our journey with Him. He loves us and continues to guide us…so long as we welcome it.

I try to remind myself of this when I’m in my spells of self-doubt and frustration–of God’s love and the length of the journey. But hearing these sentiments expressed by another (especially from someone who’s much further along in their journey than I) just really amplified their meanings for me. I’m really inspired to continue my journey–very determined to deepen my faith, spells of self-doubt and frustration aside. And to do so, I’m continuing my outward actions exhibiting my walk (with more determination), but above all, continuing to pray for His guidance in coming closer to Him. So now, I wait…

In a sense, both of these events haven’t rid me of my crossroad-y, limbo feelings in terms of my career and faith. But they have really solidified my confidence in my desires for these aspects of life. And, as confidence is something I don’t consistently possess, finding it here in these seemingly minute happenings just brings a bit of happiness. And I wanted to share. ūüôā

So there you have it. Have a blessed week, Friends!

Celebrate the Victories

“You’re an introvert… who has social anxiety… and yet you make it a point to say ‘hi’ to¬†everyone.”

My best friend’s observation initially struck me by surprise. We had just finished eating a late lunch together and were heading out of the building when, of course, a group of people were waiting to enter. Me being me, I held the door for them… and did, in fact, say ‘hi’ to each and every member of the group. I think now is the time to point out this group only consisted of three people. Three. (Three people, ah ah ah… anyway). I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. I even assured her, “Saying ‘hi’ is easy. It’s holding up a conversation that’s the hard part.”

But as we continued to walk to my car, I thought about it more. I¬†am¬†an introvert with social anxiety. Is my effort to be social excessive–uncharacteristic, even–for someone with these qualities?

Truthfully, people who are introverted and/or have social anxiety (these qualities aren’t correlated, FYI) vary in degrees of socialness. It depends on the purpose. And for many, it’s not for lack of trying.

Yes, I am introverted and yes, I have social anxiety. But I also, when the circumstances are right, can appear so outgoing it’s unnerving. And I haven’t always been the way. Only a few years ago, I was the consistently shy/quiet kid. I mean, I still am, but clearly to a lesser degree. I would never have dared to go places by myself, volunteer to lead a discussion, or *shudder* say ‘hi’ to strangers. But college–the experiences I’ve found in college–has, though exacerbated my introversion and social anxiety greatly, also aided me in embracing and combating these parts of who I am, depending on the situation.

As much as I may try to use my anxiety and introversion as shields to hide from people, extract myself from situations, or simply explain my sometimes odd behavior, I have to admit I’ve come a long way with both areas of my identity. And I definitely have to admit it when the childhood best friend points it out to me. Sometimes, that’s what needs to happen to notice your successes. Sometimes, God needs to guide you to recognize His gifts in you, your accomplishments through Him… by way of the people in your life hitting you over the head with blatant observations.

I guess that’s one way to do it.

Rainbow_Rain

I know… Sorry

I know my focus on here has been full of self-doubt and anxiety and generally all-around depressing topics lately (you know, for the past few months). But I appreciate those of you who have stuck with me–my blog–to hold witness to my journey of self-discovery in its many forms. So thank you… for putting up with the rain to catch a glimpse of the rainbow (er, trudging through my typically depressing writings to maybe, kind of enjoy my somewhat happier posts).

Have a thankful, loving week, Friends!