dear summer…

Dear Summer,

Long time no see! Although it’s never a secret when you show up. One day it’s suddenly 80 degrees and your sun is shining in the bright blue, cloudless sky. As soon as your energy bursts through the atmosphere, the world changes. The days become longer and the nights get hotter. In these short months, you give us, this is when memories are made. Your extroverted personality brings out the adventure in me. As soon as I feel the hot sun beating down on me I want to run with the winds of change and explore the unexplored.

This is the time when the earth is suddenly more populated and people are smiling. My footsteps become a little lighter and my spirit flys a little higher. I wait for you all year long just to make these memories with you, and just as my high comes when you arrive the crash is just as hard when the leaves start to fall.

Hello Summer, let’s go make some memories.

 

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dear university…

Dear University,

 

I transferred over to your campus after receiving my Associate’s Degree in Graphic Arts from my local community college, MVCC (Mohawk Valley Community College). You were an unexpected path in my journey but I couldn’t be more grateful to you. At the time of my first tour I was at an all time low of my life, my pride was diminished. But as soon as I stepped onto your campus grounds I knew this was it. UAlbany, or the University at Albany.

I was a small town girl who only experienced the growth that a local community college could give to hand, but you taught me so much more. Your corridors were filled with students from around the world! Intimidating at first, but so worth the risk. I had taken a semester off school and finished working as a hostess at Olive Garden. I had gone from graduating with honors to feeling like a small speck of dust but you lifted me right back up!

The first gift you gave me was homesickness, and while this might sound contradictory, it really did help me in the long run. You helped me realize how important home actually was to me and how beautiful of a community I was raised in. I now look at Utica in a different light. It’s where I can make opportunities, no matter how small our city is. It’s where I want to progress and grow more with the knowledge you gave me. Homesickness also helped me grow up. My first time living away from home and cooking my own meals. It was a lot to handle but it was needed. I was nearly 20 years old after all.

The second gift you gave me is knowledge. Small towns build small minds and as open-minded, as I thought I might have been, I really had no idea. By meeting people from around the world I learned lessons I would not have learned anywhere else. I learned how to talk to people who were different than me and had different opinions. And most of all I learned how to stand up for myself and take my seat when deserved.

The third gift you gave me was experience. I thought I had a lot already, but I was not prepared for what you gave me. I feel like an adult woman now. I can handle my own problems and accept the fact that it’s okay for me to struggle sometimes. I’ve taken things easier than I ever have before. When I used to be high-strung, I am now the calmest person you will ever come across, as if I have no worries in the world.

The fourth gift you gave me was friendship. I didn’t date much and I never had a significant other here but man, did you give me a plethora of friends! Never in my life had I ever had more kind, genuine, compassionate, mature, and honest friends! Most of my friends I have known since high school from never leaving that tiny town. Never did I know that these incredible people whom I am so lucky to call my friends today have ever existed. These friends taught me how to love myself like no one had ever done before and I couldn’t be more grateful.

And now… here we are…

It’s the end of the semester. I have two days left to pack and say goodbye to you and the gifts you gave me. I am done with college after this. I will not have to earn any more degrees or experience college in the way I did before. The late night studying and chugging coffee for my next exam are done. The relentless research papers are done. The fire alarms at 1 in the morning are done. It’s all done. Now, I face the real world with even more freedom and 10 times more responsibility. I am happy to be going back home and sharing my new found knowledge with my friends and family there. I cannot wait to start new projects. And still, I am sad to be leaving this now past time. As much as I may have hated various moments and cried at certain times… it’s done a lot for me. And now, it will only be a memory. These people will soon be memories. I won’t forget it.

Thank you, University. Thank you.

dear spring

Dear Spring,

 

It took you a while to show up this year. Winter seemed to have a need to dominate this earth but you slowly starting to peek through with your original shyness. Your rainfall has soaked the ground for the past week as you melted the snowy blanket that sheltered me from the world. You force me to smell the fresh air and break down my barriers. With winter’s hibernation you tell me that it’s time to show the world the creativity I’ve been carefully attending to for the last few months.

You give everyone around me a sort of anticipation as you tease us with your peek-a-boo sun and the little chirping bird that occasionally appears. The scholars I pass by on a regular basis with a growing anticipation to explore the muddy ground they so dearly missed when the snow covered their tracks.

You give me a new kind of hope each year and open my eyes to the world I hid from. You give me a pair of rose-coloured glasses to wear for a while so that the bitterness and harsh reality of winter can be forgotten for a bit. My gentle, flowery spring, please take your sweet time to blossom and care for this earth and its people with your nightly rainfalls that soothe me to sleep as you transition us to a burning summer.

Love,

Elizabeth

 

Please also read: dear winter

my journey to self-love

Like anyone else, I’ve had my moments of self-doubt, a lack of self-worth, and a difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. We’ve all been there, but sometimes we can’t get out. Life has been particularly hard for me lately as I dive into my 20’s with seemingly no sense of direction or place to call home. With Valentine’s Day being celebrated this week, I knew something in my life had to change. I needed to show a little more self-compassion and a little more acceptance for my imperfections. This is my journey to self-love.

I used to be a rather shy child. I was always fearful of speaking my mind, just in case something I said wouldn’t be right. As I made my way into my 3rd year of high school I soon found that there was a way I could be accepted. I found a small group of friends and we had beautiful moments together full of laughter and tears. Although as soon as I reached the end of my last year our friendships began to dwindle because we were changing. The people we be-friended before weren’t the same people and we all wanted to escape from each other. The only downside to that was that we weren’t able to see each other grow at their own paces and support each other, and so, we were left with our past visions of each other, and this, in turn, led to regret.

I’ve moved through life just like this. I’ve grown and changed, but along with those changes, I’ve left people behind. Each person I’ve left behind, I’m afraid, has a memory of me which I don’t like, and so I continue to run away. Soon, I began to run away from myself and my mistakes, which only led to a feeling of loss, like I would never be good enough.

As I write this, I am sure many others are relating to this. And so I ask you to be kind. The only way to show self-love is to be kind to yourself. Remember that you are human and many mistakes will be made, but remember how you have grown from those mistakes and how you have still gotten somewhere in life. It may not be exactly where you want to be, but it is a start. Along with this, be kind to others. Show that same compassion toward yourself to those you meet in life who maybe didn’t show off their best assets for a day. Create an endless world of love, because this is how we grow; not only ourselves but together.

I’m leaving some videos and songs down below to listen to whenever you’re feeling low. Enjoy! And let every day be Valentine’s Day!

 

Videos:

Oprah – There are no Mistakes: https://youtu.be/dGgb1PwH7mo

Taylor Swift – Clean Speech 1989 Tour Machester: https://youtu.be/dZFEOuhiilo

Lady Gaga Talks About Being who you Really Are: https://youtu.be/EA2ljohWGsQ

 

Songs:

Self-Love Playlist on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/22lnecqchavemxdzijlvriz7i/playlist/7wAxg7PIYrBhRkIDtFNe55

life in limbo

Forgive me but I’ve been at a loss for words.

I’ve traveled around the world thus far

And I’ve discovered things about myself

That the girl at home would never understand.

I’ve made a name for myself in some places that I want people to forget,

And I’ve been praised of my name in some places I want to go back to.

I currently live in limbo as I swing from one home to the other,

Always recognized in a different color, no matter where I go.

You see, authenticity has been hard for me and I’m sorry to say

That I’ve lied before.

I’m sure I misspoke my name many-a-times.

Because I’m still trying to find my place.

The place where I step onto the ground

and where I can say that I’ve made it my home without the birth-rights.

For now, my only constant remains on the road and I may have a gypsy soul

But I’m a poet at a loss for words trying to find her way home.

 

That poem was written soon after my 21st birthday. Living in your 20’s isn’t always everything I expected it to be. It seems as we grow in life we are always expecting our life is going to be how it normally would be 10 years from now. By my 20’s I expected to have a successful relationship, a solid career, my own place in a city or town I made my own, and the ability to no longer rely on vacations with my family. Being in your 20’s is strange, especially as soon as you turn 21. We would think we would have life figured out and look like a woman from Sex in the City. Unfortunately, it’s more like your last year of college, scrambling to prepare for a job, with a near future of being lonely and still living with your parents. It’s this strange mix of knowing you are clearly an adult and yet still not living that adult lifestyle you expected.

It’s at times like this when I remember how I felt when I was a teenager. I wanted to be on my own and in college so bad, then I got to college and wanted my carefree high school days back. We always want to grow older until we do and we want to be younger. It’s a hard bullet to bite when reality smacks you in the face and you suddenly don’t feel like you belong anywhere. Home is too suffocating and you like college because you have freedom and friends but honestly, the homework is relentless. So now you’re stuck and feeling like you don’t belong anywhere. Believe it or not, this is a time you may want to relive at some point.

We tend to fantasize the past in the present and we look toward the future with the strain of not being able to get there fast enough. Then when we do get to the future we romanticize our past when we weren’t really living in it. Being in your 20’s is truly a time for self-discovery. Even though you may not have the means to travel freely as you expected, you do have the means to reflect and work on yourself. We want to be prepared for the future right? Think of this time as simmering in a pot, getting ready for the buffet. You’re the star dish and its time to make your debut. You may be in limbo but this is the time to create yourself when you’re the star of the show. Live in the present, and just be.

the workaholic’s guide to relaxation

As we grow older and find ourselves attending University and going to work, we find ourselves getting involved in more work. Sometimes this work can be addicting. When we work we usually receive an award, such as honors, the employee of the year, or we are simply admired. When we get praised for doing this we want to work more. When we do work more we get used to it and any day when we don’t do work feels like we’re wasting our time or being unproductive. Our minds crave stimulus in a world where computer screens are everywhere and our phones have so much data and media with easy access right at our fingertips. I too am a culprit, and it’s not something to be too worried about. Being a workaholic can have its benefits, very good ones, but it can also have its downfalls. This is the guide that I used to achieve relaxation with my stimulus craving brain.

 

  1. Put your phone away!

The number one thing to start doing is to diminish your need for stimulus. Start this by putting away your phone more often. Think about whenever you call someone, you expect them to answer immediately and are frustrated when they don’t. We no longer have patience and we need to constantly have our phone with us. Start by buying a wrist-watch. This way you don’t have to look at your phone for the time. Start putting your phone away when you’re in the waiting room or eating a meal. Look around you, have a conversation. You need for stimulus is sure to decrease.

 

  1. Evaluate your commitments.

At some point, we will find ourselves with so many commitments that we don’t have time for ourselves. We believe the more work we have, the more successful we will be. This eventually will just lead to burnout and we wonder what it is that we actually care about. I’ll leave a video by Youtuber MuchelleB to explain more: https://youtu.be/9qBHD2R3EkY

 

  1. Have a burnout plan.

If you are a workaholic, I am sure you have found yourself many times in a puddle of burnout and you just feel stuck. I used to work so much that my burnout period would actually be me getting sick. Everyone’s burn out package will be different compared to someone else but this video by Chase on New Age Creators should help you get started: https://youtu.be/dNVM5uP2GvQ

 

  1. Make a self-care package.

We all need self-care, especially if you are a workaholic. Take the time to have a list of things to do for self-care. Maybe have a relaxing morning or evening routine to have two parts of the day when you focus completely on self-care by eating, watching a TV show, or meditating. Have a day off in the week when you don’t do any work what-so-ever. These are usually Sundays for me. Whatever works for you, make sure you always take time for self-care.

 

That is all the advice I have for today! Hopefully you little workaholics will be on your way to feeling better about your laundry list diminishing a little bit. Stay healthy, take care of yourself, and good luck!

i don’t give a flying f****

(Before you begin reading this I’m going to warn you that there will be a use of profane language. If you take offense to the use of these words, it may be best to look elsewhere for this information.)

 

I recently watched a video created by Charisma on Command (link can be found below). The man narrating this video explains how you don’t have to give a fuck and how to apply that mindset to your life. A lot of us wish we could be that person who carelessly goes through life not giving a fuck. Nothing can touch them and they seem to get everything they want in life. The narrator in this video gives the example of Tyler Durden from Fight Club. Tyler Durden was that typical person we all wish to be, just seamlessly going through life without a worry in the world. There’s just one problem, sometimes those people can come off as rude, arrogant, and mean… yet people still follow them. The key here is not to completely give no fucks but to give a fuck about a specific amount of things intensely that actually matter to you. Throughout life we are constantly told what we should care about; getting a nice job, a nice home, or having the right clothes. What if you stopped listening to everyone else and concentrated only on what you wanted? This can be a difficult task for some people because it seems like it’s selfish. The thing is, when you take care of yourself and your own needs, you end up attracting the people who will care about the same things you do and there will be no need for you to worry about others viewing you as selfish.

Of course, this is most definitely a thing that takes time and because of that, I’ve linked another video below by MuchelleB who gives a step by step process on how to declutter your fucks. It’s a process of making a list and seeing what it is that you actually do care about. When you find those few things, concentrate on them and only those things. That way, whenever something unpleasant in life gets in the way, you can always return to your important things in life and remember, whatever is happening that is making you upset isn’t that important. Soon enough you’ll be on your way to becoming a more compassionate version of Tyler Durden.

Life is so much more than those small instances when it gets you down. It’s time to let those go, embrace what is important, and stop giving a flying fuck.

 

Charisma on Command: https://youtu.be/2CLTBV0SV2Y

MuchelleB: https://youtu.be/MZcP4YUIlIA

 

why college life doesn’t have to be for you

It’s ingrained in our minds by now. Finish high school, get a part-time job, go to Undergrad school for 4 years, go to Grad school for another 2 or 3, and get a full-time job. The typical college student goes into higher education right after high school. Most of the time they move away for the first time with no real-world experience on their shoulders and muddle through homesickness while being surrounded by frat parties, underage drinking, and a lot of experimentation with sex and drugs. A lot of people may not want to hear this but no matter how prestigious the school you go to is, the odds are this activity does happen. For those, like myself, you don’t particularly like the college lifestyle and end up hiding in their dorm rooms half the time and go home on the weekends. It really does take away from the experience we should be having. College life isn’t for everyone and that’s okay.

Right off the bat I am going to reach out to those who don’t want to go to college at all. If you don’t find any higher education concentration of your interest, then don’t do it. The other thing I recommend is if you are in love with the arts, please do not feel obliged to go to a big fancy art school. Take it from the art student herself. Art isn’t something you should be graded on, it is something to practice, but that is an entire other rant meant for another time. The college itself is not meant for everyone and it doesn’t have to be for everyone. In some parts of the working industry, you don’t have to have a college degree. I do recommend at least getting your higher general education requirements done, just because it does up your resume, however, it’s not necessary if you want to be a welder, a car dealer, or a baker. What our generation has undermined is the fact that there are plenty of wonderful and fulfilling careers out there that do not require a college degree but just a bit of training.

The other point I’m going to cover here is for those who do want a higher education but don’t want the college life. I’m a quiet gal who wants to live out in the country near a small town of wonderful people and the college lifestyle doesn’t exactly offer that. I ended up going to community college for 2 years while living at home, then my antsy-self wanted to move away for the rest of my college education. I ended up hiding away from the college lifestyle instead of embracing it like I thought I would. I was sad, homesick, and lost in my higher learning and that is definitely not where I should have been. I’m finishing up one more semester at that school and I’m going straight to online courses so I can be in a comfortable setting where I can learn. The point I’m trying to get at is that if you are going to pursue higher education, there is no reason you should be sad and distraught about it and that has a lot to do with your environment. Try looking into community colleges near you so you can live at home. It is sure to be plenty more comfortable for you and you’ll be able to concentrate on your studies. The other thing I suggest is if the certain college you want a certain degree from is far away, consider taking online courses. This takes a lot of work to get through online courses but believe me, it is possible (read my blog over at UAlbany’s Project MyStory on “7 Things to Consider Before Taking an Online Course”: https://ualbanyadvising.wordpress.com/2016/12/07/7-things-to-consider-before-taking-an-online-course/#more-7115). The last thing to mention is maybe you do have to be away in order to attend college. If you don’t want to deal with the dorms or any of that nonsense, then it may be good for you to check out college apartments. Yes, you will still be near the college and near college students but you may have a bit more space and silence than you would if you were in a dorm. There is also something called, intergenerational living. There are programs that offer rent-free apartments to those who are willing to live side by side with senior residents who seek to have a little company (to find out more on this, check out: http://iahsa.net/Intergenerational_Living.aspx).

No matter the situation, you don’t have to experience a sort of lifestyle in order to get the education you want. It’s time we start promoting other ways of getting the careers we’ve dreamed of instead of the traditional mindset of going to college for 4 years and living in a crappy dorm. I hope this helps you on your journey to the life you’ve always dreamed of.

why you shouldn’t force positivity

This has been a topic that I have struggled with and I’m sure many have. I recently watched a video by famous Youtuber, Pewdiepie. His video was on forced positivity (find the link below), and it inspired me to bring my own perspective to this idea. In our culture today you have so many quick tricks and motivational speakers telling you how to get “happier” in 6 quick easy steps. There are “motivational” quotes all over the internet that encourage constant happiness. Our social media culture represents only the good things that happen in our loved one’s lives and we are influenced to believe that being constantly happy is the true meaning of success in life. Now, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with happiness. Happiness is a beautiful thing and it has created some of my most memorable moments in my life. However, when happiness is forced because we are led to believe it is the only right way, that is when it becomes a problem.

Pewdiepie also mentioned this article, which is a great read (link below); a Harvard psychologist took a gander at forced positivity and how it can actually hurt you more to pretend you are happy. Here is one of the quotes from the article, “A lot of our cultural dialogue is fundamentally avoidant, so people will just say things like, ‘just be positive and things will be fine.’ ‘The tyranny of positivity’ was what a friend of mine called it.” There have been many times in my life where I forced a smile to come off as “normal” or “successful.” I saw these happy successful people and I thought, in order for me to be like that, I have to constantly be happy and enjoy everything in life. But in turn, I just became more upset because if I wasn’t happy enough, I thought I wouldn’t be successful enough. You’ve probably already seen this from plenty of movies and interviews but success brings on a lot of trouble in life. Being successful is hard, it takes work, and sometimes that work hurts. As humans, we cannot constantly be overwhelmed with joy. We can enjoy things in life and not have to feel an overwhelming boost of positivity. Life is not like it is in the movies and this is okay. We will feel sad, we will feel happy, and we will feel… just okay. Most of the time we’re in the middle. We’re not happy and we’re not sad, we’re fine. Being fine doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy things or have fun. It doesn’t mean we can’t be successful either.

Another quote from the article says, “emotions like sadness, guilt, grief and anger are beacons for our values. We don’t get angry about stuff we don’t care about. We don’t feel sad or guilty about stuff we don’t care about. If we push these emotions away, we are choosing not to learn about ourselves. We are choosing to ignore our values and what is important to us.” By pushing those other emotions away, we only grow to be more upset than we were before. We must embrace how we feel, understand why we feel this way, and then move on to be just okay. I highly suggest watching the video in the description and reading the article as well.

 

And today… I hope you can say that you are fine.

 

Video Link: https://youtu.be/iyGI1uHyyws

Article Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2016/09/23/forcing-positive-thinking-wont-make-you-happy-says-this-harvard-psychologist/?utm_term=.00f033b25826

 

why i refuse to label myself

At birth, you are given a label. You get a name which is not your choice, you are claimed to be African-American, Caucasian, Hispanic, or Asian, and you are told if you are a female or male and are wrapped in a swad of pink or blue cloth from the definition. As you grow up you are given more labels. You are the shy type, you’re a tomboy, you’re this, you’re that. We are given all of these labels and when we claim them, we are supposed to embrace them and follow them accordingly so we may fit into our designated box. And on the inside, we struggle. We become conflicted with what we want and who we want to be. I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to have the identity crisis.

It has come to be a common thing in our society to grow comfortable with labels. It makes it easier to describe to people our likes and dislike, it also makes it easier for us to categorize a group of people into a description so that we can understand the things we are afraid to. I can understand that it is comforting for people to have their label. I, myself, grew comfortable with labels. I would categorize myself as a tomboy who sometimes likes to play dress up, who is bisexual but mostly dates men, who are a conservative but has some liberal points of views… are you exhausted yet? And this is exactly my point.

Labels create a vulnerability around ourselves to be judged for a name which cannot represent us for everything we are. We are complicated beings who are constantly changing. Just be. Drop the labels and see how much freer you will feel. You will find that the less you label yourself, people will try to put labels on you, whether they be good or bad, because they are trying to understand what they are afraid to understand. It can be scary to delve into the deepest parts of who we are and try to understand. And the less you label yourself, the less you will label others and see them for exactly who they are… and that is truly revitalizing.

 

… just be.