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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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.

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.

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.

Behind the Smile

Earlier this week, I was getting food on my way from one commitment to the next (as is the life of the college student), and as I was paying, the cashier who helped me made a remark about my unwavering smile.

“You seem¬†really¬†happy […] Maybe some of your happiness will rub off on me,” they said.

I tried to brush it off, to convince them my face is prone to smiling. But to no avail. This isn’t the first time someone has taken notice of my constant smiling and interpreted it as a sign of everlasting happiness.

Hyperbole_Smile

I’ve received several comments over the years reflecting on my constant smiles and positive attitude (i.e. “happiness”). And it’s because, often when interacting with people (which is all the time in this age), I smile. Anyone who knows me knows with absolute certainty I will be smiling a good percent of the time I’m with them. But not everyone knows my smile stems more from feelings of awkwardness, anxiety, and, okay, happiness… but usually for the other person. I care a freak-ish amount for people close to me, and when I get to enjoy their company or hear of their good fortune, I can’t help but smile. But that doesn’t mean I am always as equally happy for myself. Because, lately, behind my smile for others and their happiness, have been thoughts of immense uneasiness and confusion. Thoughts that don’t typically warrant a smile.

To say these past several weeks have been stressful is an understatement. I’m nearly a quarter in to my final year of undergraduate school, but that’s the least of my worries.

Okay… Maybe third or fourth on my worry list.

I’m at such a crossroads in my life right now. And while that sense of uneasiness originally stemmed from my sudden doubt in my ideal career/passion (that I’ve been working the past few years toward), it’s sprouted into an uncertainty with who I am and what I know about myself. Because I feel like I don’t know myself anymore, not completely. Though I guess no one knows themselves completely… Except God.

Over these last few months, I have held such pride in figuring out who I was in terms of my introversion and anxiety. I’ve made measurable progress in acknowledging and embracing these facets of my identity. I am who I am–it’s different from a lot of the people in my life right now and that’s okay. But as much as I’d like to think I’m completely at peace (and have likely said as such on here at some point–side effects of an especially low-anxiety, high-confident day), I know I have a ways to go. And that’s fine. I’ve come to grips with that (some days). But while I’m navigating through this ongoing journey, I’ve embarked on another. And, depending on how consistently you read my whirling, disorganized, bordering on a public diary of a blog, you have likely figured out what it is.

The remainder of this post discloses more on my journey with my faith and God. I strongly encourage you to continue reading. But should you wish to stop here, I respect your decision and thank you for reading to this point. Have a wonderful day.

I’m finding and solidifying my faith, my relationship with God. And that’s where I’m feeling especially crossroads-y right now. I don’t come from a family of faith. I don’t have many people in my life who practice faith. And that’s completely okay! I love the life I’ve been given and the people in it. But coming from a background with such little essence of faith has made it all the more difficult for me to openly express and feel at ease with my journey (but not enough to stop me from posting about on my blog–all of which they know about and have access to…). At least for the time-being.

But the other issue is, I don’t even really know what it is I would be saying or revealing.¬†I¬†don’t even fully understand where I am with my beliefs and how deeply I believe them. So how can I expect others to understand?

If right at this moment I were asked to explain my beliefs in concrete terms, I’d consider myself what I’m calling an “in-betweener”. I have faith–more than I used to: I have a relationship with God (I talk with Him and think about Him so much–it’s almost fear-inducing considering how little I used to do either) and I strive to live life according to His standards. But at the same time, I don’t surround myself with members of the believing community. The few times I’ve ventured out I’ve felt so out of my element with people who have a firmer grasp on understanding His Word and have had a relationship with God almost their entire lives, who have committed their lives to following Him.

It’s not a competition–I know that. This all stems from a relationship with Him and the striving to live through His Word. But I’m not there yet, not completely. I’m not ready to commit my life to His standards, not in the way He asks. And I don’t know if I will ever be. I feel gratified in the beginnings of this relationship, but I can’t stay in this early stage forever.

So in the meantime, I’ve sought guidance and support from those around me who have continued to greet me with love and acceptance so that I may figure out what I need to figure out. And while I’m hoping to do so soon, I know in the grand scheme of things, this will be an extensive, lifelong journey. And once I do and come to a concrete decision, I pray that those who have remained in my life up to this point will remain, regardless of what that decision means.

…I don’t think there’s a facial expression that accurately depicts internal journeys of self-discovery. But despite all I’m going through, I will always be ready and willing to give my smile, my happiness, and my love to my loved ones (whoa, shocking) and random cashiers and anyone who need it.

Thank you, Friends. Much love.

Does This Really Work?

“What would happen if I told her she was something good, every day?”

This is the infamous underlying message in Aibileen Clarke’s famous lines “‘You is kind, you is smart, you is important,” from¬†The Help¬†(Best. Book. EVER! If you ask me. Which you didn’t…). Unfortunately, it’s not much thought of in comparison to the other dozen messages strewn throughout the novel. But it’s likely just as, if not, more important than its counterparts. Especially in an age in which mental health is becoming more prevalent, beginning to lose its stigma, and undergoing exploration by ¬†curious individuals–young and old–perhaps encouraged by personal experience with the concept.

TheHelp

Aibileen (really Kathryn Stockett, maybe) was really on to something here. What if we told someone something good about themselves every day? What if we told¬†ourselves something good about who we are? Every. Day. What would the effects be? How would we change? Aibileen’s curiosity wasn’t solicited by simple curiosity, however, but from the drive to make a change. A¬†positive¬†change.

Miss Aibileen Clarke, maid to middle-class white families in 1962, Jackson, Mississippi, is witness to innumerable hateful, unfathomable acts in her line of work. In her latest position (at the time of the book) she¬†struggles to standby and watch the child of her employer receive ongoing beratement, bordering on emotional abuse. Rather than standby and watch the makings of a depressed, self-loathing young child as, Aibileen guiltily admits, she has done in a past similar situation, she runs interference, attempting to undo the work of her boss. To readers, Aibileen ponders the power of words, long-term, the influence consistent positive affirmation can have on an individual, on a life. She ponders enough, she begins to act on thought, filling her boss’ child with good feelings, turning her into a proud, happy adult. Or, at least, we hope. We don’t get to see the long-term results of Miss Clarke’s plan. But we can certainly get an idea through trying Aibileen’s methods in our own lives. We can come to know that child’s ending through writing our own.

We can tell ourselves something good every single day and reap the benefits. We can experience the good feelings evoked from a few simple,¬†powerful words. It seems like such a blatant cause-and-effect experiment. How could we not do it? It’s so simple, but I have yet to meet anyone who willingly shares about their daily confidence-boosting pep talk. Thus I have reason to believe few people do this. This little daily act can have a lifetime of impact on your self-esteem, your mental health. I really encourage you, dear Friends, to try this. Obviously I haven’t lived very long, so I can’t accurately confirm the claim regarding positive lifetime influence. But the other stuff, without a doubt.

For the past month, I’ve been tasked with reading positive reaffirmations to myself daily to remind myself of self-worth, the prioritization of personal needs, and the lack of necessity in worrying (it’s an anxiety-targeted list). And, me being me, I’ve dutifully, before bed, pored over my lists of reminders. Initially, I was skeptical; How could this work? This is ridiculous, these sentiments are silly. Everything I’m reading is something I already know (though don’t necessarily remember or always agree with, hence the reminder). Will this really help?

Only a few weeks have passed since beginning this nightly ritual, but I’ve truly begun to feel better about and more comfortable with who I am. At first I thought I was mysteriously having a few consecutive days of seemingly minimal anxiety-high confidence. But when these feelings persisted, I had my epiphany. Reading a few feel-good sentiments every night might seem ineffective on paper (screen). Too easy, too routine to warrant any real, long-lasting results. But this really works. Has really worked for me, and I think it might do someone out there the same.

You don’t have to think of anything particularly creative to tell yourself, just something truthful and kind. Every day. Every. Day. You could also gather a few affirmations from a quick internet search (and even find lists specific to your mental needs). I’ll get you started:

BillofRights_Personal

Aibileen Clarke feared she was too late in her rescue to promote self-love, but it’s not too late. You can start today, and you can find that kind, smart, important, other super awesome adjective(s) individual and remind them they were never really lost, they just needed to be remembered.

Love yourselves, Friends. For to fully love others, you have to start with you.

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.

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!

I’m Not Ready

They say that nobody’s ever ready to take on something new–to make the leap, if you will. Buuuuut that’s why they call they call it a leap.

I start my senior year of college tomorrow. And I already wish it were over.

Now, this is not some I-don’t-want-to-be-in-school-I-love-summer or I-have-no-motivation-as-a-senior-and-therefore-do-not-want-to-do-anything plea. I actually quite love school and learning things. And I’m forever grateful for the experiences I’ve had and the growing I’ve done because of my time in college. Especially in regards to social anxiety. I don’t know if I would have come to recognize this fact about myself and gotten help for it without my experiences at school. But. I just. Want. To be. Done. Why? I’m glad you asked.

Internships and work experience are heavily emphasized to college students, so as to prepare for the Real World, post-graduation. And throughout my three years in school I’ve held four internships. Each one teaching me something new (yay!) about potential career fields, various work environments, as well as my personal work preferences and marketable skills in the workforce. It’s great! To me, it’s basically catching a glimpse of that Real World. And because of all my work experience and internships, I feel like I’m nearly there. Like my education is now just delaying the inevitable. I’m going to enter the workforce after I graduate, hopefully getting a job in my field. Except that feels like exactly what I’ve been doing these past few years, so why not just stay in the workforce permanently instead of constantly moving between a job and school?

Well, I still need my degree, for one. I’ve worked hard for it. Not going back when I have only one, measly year left would be such a waste. I’d feel as though I had nothing tangible to show for it (aside from my nifty experiences and personal growth). Plus, as I have reminded myself, several times, there are still things to learn. And I’m a sucker for learning things. And more outworldly experiences, internal growing, etc. And even after graduating from school that will be the case. So¬†I am ready to go to school to get those experiences and to grow. And to get my degree.

But I am not ready to go back to campus.

At the risk of sounding weird or… imaginative (oh, wait), I think I’m conditioned to fear my school’s campus. To grow anxious while driving near, parking close by, and walking around university grounds. While the fear has lessened in the past year or so, it still lingers.

I didn’t have the most bang-up experience my first year and a half of school. And I’ve never fully recovered. Sure, there were high points: I was doing well in classes–really¬†well, actually–and staying involved on campus (I ended the year with an on-campus job and a separate internship, even). But I felt incredibly lonely.

At the time I only really had one good friend at school. I certainly value quality over quantity in my relationships, but my college-freshman self was convinced otherwise. And when I didn’t miraculously forge dozens of friendships within my first semester (as a sometimes antisocial, socially awkward/anxious introvert, I had unreasonably high expectations), my self-esteem hit an all-time low. I wasn’t meeting the Standard Social Life of a College Student Expectation–or at least what I thought that expectation entailed. I thought something was wrong with me.

In the time since, I’ve gone through some self-growth, obviously. It took me some time to put together the fact that my introversion just wasn’t conducive to meeting my expectation of making and maintaining tons of friendships. Really, it just doesn’t make sense for me. And, honestly, I know I wouldn’t be happy with attempting to keep up with so many people, anyway. Instead, I’ve chosen my select few with whom I’ve built some pretty solid relationships. And, I’m proud of that progress. ūüôā

But that doesn’t mean any sense of dread or anxiety is completely wiped whenever I step foot on campus. It’s not the place, but the memories that took place there. Feeling like I did for as long as I did, I can’t simply let those memories go. Especially when I have to continuously visit a place where I felt so unhappy. Moving on from a place is pretty difficult when you’re obligated to constantly spend time there. You know, to like, earn your degree. I’m ready to let go of this part of my life. But, not yet. Not for another year. And, it’s actually looking to be a pretty decent year.

I’m not ready to go back. But I am willing. I want to turn my experiences into something tangible and move forward. So I’ll make that leap. Let’s see how it goes (spoiler: it won’t be so bad. Probably even kind of great. But, you know, worrying’s what I do).

This was definitely one of my longer, more… honest posts in awhile. I don’t talk about these thoughts a lot (for reasons I hope appear obvious), but this is what’s weighing on my mind at the moment, and I wanted to share it with you, Friends. So… go, honesty!

Have a splendid day.