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…

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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 notThatEasy. 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.

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 haydecision. 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. 🙂

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!

That Awkward Moment

Normally, when you see or hear the word awkward, you associate it with something funny. Or, at the very least, relatable. But in this instance, I’m indirectly referring to neither with my awkward moment, as I’m not sure how funny or relatable it is (though kudos to you if you find it as such). Alright, so, what is it?

Let me set the scene: it’s a new day and a fairly good one at that–all seems relatively right with the world, and whatever that means to you. Maybe you were on time to work. Maybe you were commended on a job-well-done by a supervisor or friend. Maybe your dog smiled at you. I don’t know–the point is you feel as if nothing could disrupt your good vibes! Until.

Until your receive news from a friend or family member or some other sort of loved one. News of the not-so-good variety. Again, this can vary depending on what not-so-good means to you. But in any regard, the news just brings you down. This new information does, in fact, disrupt your good vibes. Here’s what makes this scenario awkward (I don’t mean the term literally): the news has absolutely nothing to do with you. None. At all. This bad thing is happening solely to them, is only negatively affecting them. You are literally just someone they told. Yet, now being made privy to this not-so-great information, you become not so much a confidant as much as someone who is empathizing. Maybe just a little too much.

This is the awkward moment, the awkward moment in which you turn someone else’s bad day into your bad day. You make something that has nothing to do with you somehow all about you. How does that even happen?

Perhaps to say making all of another’s hardships about you is extreme. Rather, I’m thinking about this as someone who maybe cares about others a little too much. Too much in that the problems of those they care for become their problems too. Does that seem too excessive? Too caring? Is that a possibility? I think so…

I guess it’s not so much I make the problem about me, but act as though it’s my problem too. Because my loved ones are who I care about, and so when they’re in distress, I’m in distress. It’s like sympathetic distress! I don’t know why that was written with excitement…

Maybe this will help: Friends, are you familiar with The Secret Life of Bees? More specifically, May Boatwright’s character in The Secret Life of Bees? For those who don’t know, Miss May Boatwright is primarily a supporting character in the novel, who likely wouldn’t be much thought of if it weren’t for this defining characteristic–she treats all bad things that happen in the world (at least those she knows about) as though they are happening to her too. The story doesn’t provide concrete rationale behind this, but readers are left to assume this excessive care and worry over the world’s troubles are effects of childhood trauma. She learns of someone else’s histrionics or tragedy and she becomes so upset, even visibly shaken. And if not for her ability to cope, she would clearly fall apart. Well–anyway…

May_Boatwright

Concerned May…

I’m not quite up to May’s level, but I identify with her proneness to caring excessively. Loving and caring for others is so, so vital to living well, to following Him. That, I know. But is there a boundary to caring? Is it possible to care too much? Have I reached that boundary with my treating others’ hardships as my own? I tend to think so, hence why I call this an “awkward” moment (though it has not ever nor likely ever will possess the awkward quality). I (and I suppose anyone who experiences this) need to work on how I approach caring and worrying for others. Of course the basis of this is okay, but I need to remember I’m not responsible for others’ well-being and happiness. I need to remember to be there for my loved ones, as needed, not to, essentially, be them, in their troubled times.

Don’t carry the weight of the world like May Boatwright felt so inclined to do. Don’t have that “awkward” moment, Friends. But do carry love for your loved ones how you see fit (just not excessively). And do be your best awkward in other ways, the best ways. Actually awkward ways (and not in the connotative ways I used the term in this post). Just keep being you, Friends.

It’s another day ending in y, so here comes another identity crisis

Apparently you can have more than one identity crisis in less than a year. I always thought, since normally these types of crises are so all-consuming and draining they would be less frequent. But alas…

My last “crisis” was, what, six months ago? Mathing… no, more like five months. It doesn’t really matter, but the point is I thought I had received a fair share of identity-related emotional turmoil for the next few years. Whelp, not so much.

As per my last “crisis,” this one is also calling/future job-related. Because I’ve been given a very fortunate life where my basic Maslow needs are met, so I can only worry about internal fulfillment and happiness. And for me that means my future, post-graduate job (i.e. figuring out what I’m meant to do).

I love to write (WHAT??? NO WAY!), and I have known that about myself for awhile. I love it so much, I wanted to turn it into a career. But some reflecting this week has gotten me contemplating whether or not this is what I’m meant to do.

I enjoy writing, people enjoy me writing–sometimes they even hire me for my writing skills. And while it gets complimented, it typically gets changed. Sometimes only a little. But usually, a lot. I know that’s the price of the industry, and certain writing is needed to meet audience/professional demand and that won’t always align with what I write word-per-word. But I have to admit sometimes seeing what is supposed to my writing in print, but it’s so reconstructed it’s essentially not mine anymore is less than gratifying. Do people really like my writing? Or only in amateur setting, and not a corporate/professional environment?

And then, this semester (a whole month in, now!) I’m taking a course on news writing (my first, which is surprising considering how much I have pondered journalism). And I’m struggling a bit. And, for me, a bit is a lot. Yes, I write for both my jobs. But funny enough in each case I write either curt news shorts or extensive feature stories. News shorts are essentially a sentence or two updating the reader with just enough information to satisfy the curiosity. They’re pretty brief. But feature stories are, well, a story. They are news, but they are news written in a way that reads smoothly and contains detail and order. Regular news writing is straightforward, includes the facts and some details but is much more curt and to the point. Apparently I can’t do that.

I mean, you Friends who know/read/love(?) my blog, am I curt? Don’t answer that… I much prefer interweaving facts into a well-worded, intriguing story that appeals to the reader to listing out need-to-know details in basic sentence structure. Of course this type of news writing is important and necessary, especially in cases when readers don’t have time/patience for navigating through an article’s whirling commentaries. But it doesn’t appeal to me nearly as much as feature writing. I like using my writer’s voice, my style. And with direct news, I can’t do that. I have to be objective, unbiased. And if I do, in fact, want to enter the journalism field I have to find a way to be impartial and to be okay with writing a story without my creative voice. I mean it’s not rocket science (it’s brain surgery), but this challenge is proving unbearable. You know, on an internal, career-related identity crisis sort of level…

I’m not a big Simpsons fan, but I quite enjoy this remark.

Here, I am going to pause to say the next section of this post pertains to my beginning experiences with God/faith. As my blog has previously been exempt of these topics, I respect your preference to read on or scroll past. If you’d like to move to the conclusion of the post now scroll down for the lone-standing HERE.

And after all that I have to wonder, is writing really want I’m even meant to do? I like it and I’m good at it, but is it my purpose in life? I haven’t grown up in a faith-based household, but at the encouragement of a friend, I read the Bible (a first-timer version, so not the entire Word, but a good portion)–several times–and have sought God’s knowledge. It’s actually been a really mind-altering experience, but I still ask a lot of questions. He has a plan for us. He grants us gifts to use in the life we’re given. I think my written communication skills are a gift, but I’m beginning to question whether this is my ultimate purpose. Does He have different plans for me? And if He does, I don’t know how to uncover them… I’m still relatively new at this so I apologize if I don’t make sense or don’t appear to know what I’m talking about. I still have a lot of questions yet and am trying to figure things out.

 

 

 

 

 

HERE

Maybe I’m not supposed to turn writing into a career. Maybe I’m worrying about nothing. Maybe I’m turning a few simple thoughts/events into a massive, all-consuming identity crisis. Maybe this is like those pre-wedding jitters married people talk about, only instead it’s pre-graduation jitters. Eight months early… I thought writing was what I’m supposed to do, was how I was going to help. Maybe it still is, but now I’m not so sure. Clearly I’ve got some more self-reflecting and thinking and just letting-things-be-ing to do. I know what’s supposed to happen will happen, but I don’t know how my anxiety/worry is going to cope with waiting for this aspect of my life to happen. Sigh. This is just a lot for me to think about right now…

 

… What do normal 21-year-olds think/worry about? Don’t answer that.

Say No to This

To all the spineless pushovers out there, I feel your pain. For I, too, have trouble turning down even the smallest of requests from people–even if they’re a mere acquaintance.

Throughout my life I’ve been especially compliant toward others, meeting what little demand they require of me. And once people come to know this about me, they either a) refer to me as a pushover and refuse to ask me to do anything for them, ever (just to defy me, I think) or b) take advantage of my eager-to-please nature and ask me to do xyz for them. And… I pretty much comply. Every. Time. *insert Hamilton music here*

Don’t get me wrong; I have some backbone—a super, miniscule fly backbone (you know, if flies had backbones). I won’t agree to something if I feel my morals are being violated. But since people typically don’t ask me to do drugs or jump from precariously (to me) high grounds or join their cult (clearly I’ve got some strange morals), I’m not usually at risk of challenging my views.

Since the pushover fact of my personality has been brought to my attention, I have become more self-conscious. I make more of an effort to say no now! Sometimes… And even then I’m only saying no because I don’t want to be thought of as a pushover more than because I genuinely don’t want to do what was asked. It’s not a very good system.

I’m trying to get to the point where I say yes/no because I genuinely want/don’t want to help someone else, not because I’m worried about how they perceive me (though easier said than done, am I right?). As I mentioned in my last post, I like to help others. And I want those others to know they can rely on me, no matter the situation, because I’d hope for the same of them if the roles were reversed. When put like that, I don’t think I seem very pushover-y at all.

More and more, I’m noticing I have trouble saying no to myself than other people. It’s almost comical. Quinn, do you really need that ice cream? It’s not good for you. Plus, if you’re trying to watch your sweets. But ice cream is delicious! And I’ll totally monitor myself… Quinn, you don’t want to join another extracurricular, do you? You barely have enough time for the stuff you’re already involved in. Have fun not sleeping this year… But this group sounds so cool—I could really help make a difference here! So what if I only get four hours of sleep a night?

Okay, so not so great examples. But I think I made my point. Apparently I’ve graduated from all-around pushover to occasionally spineless with just myself. In the long-run I’ll only be hurting me. That’s better than harming others. Except spiders. Spiders are a no-no. Sorry guys… So I guess that’s a small victory, right?

Remember to be just the right amount of compliant this week! Until next time…

Can You Help People Without Reward?

A common topic of discussion among my courses and social circle lately has pertained to helping others and reaping the indirect benefits of those acts. Why do we help others? What’s the motivation behind doing something kind for someone in need? Do we have a hidden agenda–helping ourselves through helping others in that we boost our self-esteem? And then the question becomes is helping someone to ultimately help ourselves moral?

As someone who constantly looks for ways to help others, this sentiment really resonated with me. Why do I strive to help people so much? Does it stem from an inner-need to feel better about myself? To feel needed? Why do I go out of my way to do things out of kindness for people? Is it because I want others to think good of me?

In my class and friend discussions, we never uncovered a concrete answer, a universal truth that appealed all. (That shouldn’t be surprising, really. How many discussions end in perfect resolution? Yeah… I thought not. You know, for an English major–whose specialty is supposed to be making relative arguments–I sure like objective solutions.) But personally, as much as I hate to admit, because the thought portrays helpers somewhat self-serving, I think, no, we can’t help people without reward for ourselves.

Helping people–even when it ultimately helps us as well–does reap benefits for us helpers as well as the helped, whether we like it or not. Likely we are going to feel good about doing a good thing for someone else. And likely the helped will think kindly of us–even strangers–if only temporary. And then, of course, the intended result of purposely helping someone achieve their objective. So, yes, helping people reaps rewards. But it doesn’t have to be your motivation for acting kindly toward others.

I think I’ve mentioned this on here before–I tend to help/act kindly toward the people in my life excessively at times. And I get asked about my justifications for being so helpful. You didn’t have to do that for me–why are you helping me so much? And honestly, my personal motivation stems from what I’ll call attempted empathy. I could write a post on the connotations of empathy (people have so many different ideas of the term), but the definition I’m thinking of pertains to understanding what another person is experiencing as completely as possible (though both experiences will differ in accordance with each person’s life). They really identify with that person. And that doesn’t happen a lot. I don’t fully empathize with people a lot. How can I when I haven’t shared their experience? So I say attempted in that I attempt to imagine myself in the other’s situation, how I would feel and what I’d need. If I were truly in that person’s situation, I would appreciate another individual helping me. I would hope someone–that person I ultimately help–would do the same for me if the roles were reversed and I was in the other’s situation.

Ultimately, I’m implementing that primary “Golden Rule”–treat others how you want to be treated, do unto others as you’d have done unto yourself. I take that rule to heart, and work to follow it as much as I can. That‘s my motivation for helping others. That‘s my reward for being kind–the possibility of getting met with kindness or receiving help in return. Maybe that’s still considered self-serving. But ultimately, kindness has been shown, a good deed has been done, someone has received help–is that really so bad?

I’ll let you come to your own non-objective conclusion.

Be kind, Friends!