On Beginnings

On Beginnings

How Escapism Led Me To Writing
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Every now and again, we’ve to look back to our past and consider the lives we’ve lived. Up to this point, overall, I’ve not lived a bad life. Yet, who I am today stems from the moments of my life that I didn’t wish to face, whether it be due to pain, anxiety, or the desire to be elsewhere.

Growing up I had the good fortune of being part of a family who took great pleasure in vacationing. They didn’t vacation for the adventure of traveling, but rather for the indulgence of escaping a ordinary life.

It was never the destinations that drove them to a location; local culture, history, and art did not interest them. Instead, it was the prospect of complete service. The idea that they could spend money upfront to have others care for them. At least, when I think back to it, this is how it seemed to be.

Every now and again they’d sign us up for an excursion, but most of these vacations were spent around the pool, with me fetching them drinks, over-eating at the buffet, and sleeping.

Over the years, when the number of family-friends who joined in climbed, we started looking into different resorts, but the similar areas. For me, most of the time, I was on my own during these vacations to Mexico.

Being the youngest, I had to find ways to entertain myself, to get away from the feeling of being an outsider. Aside from being the youngest, I was a shy, heavy-set child. To do something alone was terrifying, yet to sit around the pool and watch all others laughing and becoming drunk would worsen that sense of not belonging.

I suppose I should’ve added that I began reading at a young age. Not necessarily because I wanted to, but because I was told it would help with my speech—for a number of years in elementary school, I was part of the speech therapy program. Through reading, I found a kind of pleasure in the act of fantasizing the material. Like many other children, I would daydream constantly, and I found that reading only served to deepen those daydreams. In a way, I read to bring about more intricate, enjoyable dreams.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when all the anxieties begin in life. When did walking into a room of strangers become terrifying? When did the shaking in my hands, the sensation of my body locking up begin? When did my dreams become nightmares?

At some point in my childhood, things changed. Fears began. Shame started to grow within me. Things that I had found joy in seem to lose the appeal they once had. Dreaming became a frightful act of violence. My subconscious had seemingly turned on me, and night after night I tried to stay awake, to keep away from dreaming. This was the time that night terrors began.

During these years, I stopped reading. Before, before the terrors, I would record my dreams down in a notebook. Now, I tried to keep away from them. Most nights when I’d sleep over at friends, I’d wake in the middle of the night, crying, demanding to go home—the only place I thought of as comforting.

It was also during these years where I began playing video games, and it was through video games where I found pleasure in escaping the present. It was a means to live a life that was not my own, yet, in some aspect, was my own. After all, I was the mind behind each character I played through as, guiding them through their world. I had become a hand of fate to these fictitious characters.

With the ongoing divorce of my parents, and the hard move away from my childhood home—a house that I always said I’d never leave—this is how I spent a large portion of my teenage years: hiding away in digital realities.

When I was nineteen, after working a year in a UPS warehouse, I landed a job at Barnes & Noble. They hired me because of my experience in that warehouse. Not due to my background or remote love for literature. In short, I had no idea what literature even was. I was in community college at the time, on academic probation for nearly flunking the spring semester. Life wasn’t what I thought it would be. All my close friends were away at universities, and I was struggling with community college, working at a Barnes & Noble for extra money.

The feeling of being an outsider was, perhaps, a feeling that never truly left me. There were numerous times, early in the morning, as I stocked the book aisles, when I’d think back to those days of my youth spent on vacations with my family, about the time wasted hiding away in video games, about the night terror—which were returning at this age after years of calm. I was nineteen, and I didn’t know who I was, or what I was supposed to do.

One day, relatively early on in my days at Barnes & Noble, I was shelving fiction books. I flipped through the first pages of the books I had heard about in high school—Slaughterhouse-Five, Frankenstein, Catcher and the Rye. After that shift, I bought three books. Among those three books was The Alchemist.

I didn’t know anything about it, or Paulo Coelho, only that a friend I worked with at that time, Janna, highly recommended it. It was in that book that I started discovering the wonders of language, the light that’s tucked between the pages. It was The Alchemist that allowed me to escape, yet with a purpose.

The next morning, after finishing the novel, I sat down beside the fireplace of my home at the time, opened a blank page, and began writing for myself. It was with these first lines, which grew into one of my first short stories, that taught me who I am, what I am, and how to become that which we’re meant to become.

Often the world works against us. However, every now and again, we manage to remain quiet enough to hear its whisper ushering us into a specific direction, towards the light that remains at a distance in the dark.

Cover Image Credit: Coty Poynter

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100 Ways To Practice Self-Care In Your Everyday Life, In 20 Minutes Or Less

Simple ways to start taking care of yourself.

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Life is overwhelming and distracting so it's easy to forget about yourself sometimes, but practicing small self-care acts is easy. Making time for yourself every day isn't selfish and is really good for your mental health. I think it's important for everyone to spend time doing things that make them happy and more calm, even if you only dedicate 20 minutes each day. Putting yourself first can lead to growth so many other aspects of your life.

Obviously, each person is allowed to practice self-care in their own unique way, but here are some ideas to get you started!

1. Do something new. 

2. Make a list of things you need to get done that week. 

3. Drink some hot tea. 

4. Go for a walk on a scenic trail.

5. Paint your nails.

6. Have a good laugh.

7. Buy yourself flowers.

8. Light a candle.

9. Do some tidying up.

10. Don't feel bad for saying 'no.'

11. Listen to music.

12. Slow down.

13. Drink a smoothie.

14. Run mindless errands.

15. Write down your goals for the week.

16. Talk to someone about the future.

17. Wake up early and get coffee. 

18. Take care of a plant. 

19. Take a bubble bath. 

20. Give yourself a compliment.

21. Give a stranger a compliment.

22. Watch a movie.

23. Put your phone down.

24. Declutter your personal space.

25. Go to bed early. 

26. Pray or meditate. 

27. Go for a drive. 

28. Make it a habit to stargaze. 

29. Read a book. 

30. Read poems. 

31. Sing loudly. 

32. Make a list of things you're grateful for. 

33. Drink a lot of water. 

34. Put on make-up for no reason.

35. Watch funny videos. 

36. Take a deep breath. 

37. Distance yourself from negativity. 

38. Unfollow people you don't care to follow on social media. 

39. Have a pajama day. 

40. Read an inspirational book. 

41. Call your parents/ loved ones. 

42. Donate old clothing. 

43. Dedicate a day out of the week to not eating meat. 

44. Do a fun craft or DIY project. 

45. Put on a face mask and relax. 

46. Do a small workout. 

47. Take a power nap. 

48. Listen to a podcast. 

49. Open a window. 

50. Open your curtains in the morning to let in natural light. 

51. Make your bed. 

52. Cook dinner instead of eating out. 

53. Play/ cuddle with an animal. 

54. At the end of the day, think of all the positive things that happened.

55. Moisturize. 

56. Buy a comforting blanket. 

57. Give someone a hug. 

58. Create a vision board. 

59. Have some alone time.

60. Enjoy the sun on your skin. 

61. Dance like nobody is watching.

62. Walk in the rain every once in a while. 

63. Drive with the windows down. 

64. Give someone a gift for no reason. 

65. Get a massage. 

66. Do something that gets your adrenaline running. 

67. Spend the day at the library or a book store. 

68. Organize your work space/ binders. 

69. Spend a weekend in. 

70. Recognize hard work and reward yourself. 

71. Sign up for a work out class. 

72. Eat lunch with a friend. 

73. Spend the day helping others. 

74. Get your hair done. 

75. Have a good cry. 

76. Use sticky notes. 

77. Color code your planner. 

78. Print out pictures and hang them up. 

79. Hang motivational quotes on your mirror and read them when you get ready. 

80. Do random acts of kindness. 

81. Buy fuzzy socks. 

82. Redecorate or rearrange furniture. 

83. Be present. 

84. Set a new years resolution. 

85. Make a bucket list. 

86. Stretch in the morning. 

87. Watch an interesting documentary. 

88. Make a music playlist.

89. Watch the sunrise or sunset. 

90. Explore somewhere new.

91. Be slow to respond to negativity. 

92. Have a game night with friends. 

93. Buy concert tickets. 

94. Have a nightly routine before bed. 

95. Eat your favorite dessert. 

96. Do something you've been putting off. 

97. Invest in essential oils. 

98. Manage your finances. 

99. Buy a new outfit. 

100. Make your own gratitude list. 

Try at least one of these every week and see how you feel! I guarantee you will notice a difference in the way you are living your life.

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Being Sick In College Is The Absolute Worst

College is hard both in health and in sickness...but especially in sickness.

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As a first semester freshman, the transition into college was hard, but there was one thing I was not prepared for at all: dealing with college when you're sick. Especially now, it's finals week, everyone is stressed out, tired, and very prone to illness. Despite my hardest efforts to stay healthy (drinking lots of water, taking vitamin C supplements, washing my hands, etc.) I still managed to catch what everyone's been throwing around, and it is the worst.

Not only do I feel incapable of going to class, since my whole body aches, I just feel like sleeping all day, which means none of the work I need to get done is getting done. This would've been difficult during any other week, but it being finals week, I have more papers and quizzes and tests to complete than ever. I'm sure many college students can relate when I say: I just wanna go hooooommmmeee!!!

On the bright side, I also have amazing friends who are helping me out. In college, since everybody's going through the same struggle, I find that there's a greater sense of family here. A friend from my English class sent me some more Emergen-C, and one of my BFFs did a CVS run for me. So although I miss my mom's homemade soup and warm hugs, I can take comfort in knowing that there are people here who care about me and want to help me get better.

So to all my fellow sickies, a few words of reassurance: We only have about a week left to go, we can totally do this!! A few exams and papers got nothin' on us, we're tough and smart and capable!! If you need to take a sick day, please do. Nothing is more important than your health and well being, not even grades. Take some medicine, sleep it off, and get stronger tomorrow! Make sure to drink lots of water, and try to eat something, even if it is just dining hall grilled cheese (Linkins Dining Center, I'm lookin' at you!) Persevere for a few more days, and we'll all be back home, chilling on the couch, and getting yelled at by our parents to do our laundry in no time.

Sending you all love and positive vibes for this finals season!

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