What Do Railroad Tracks Have To Do With My Life?

What Do Railroad Tracks Have To Do With My Life?

Polarizing emotions can leave us defeated until we learn to embrace them.

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Have you ever noticed that life often has two tracks moving simultaneously? Sure, there are seasons of life that are better than others, but life is never either fully perfect or completely horrible. Our journeys are a constant balance between some great events happening during difficult times or vice versa.

I often picture railroad tracks: the train balances on each side of the track yet is in the midst of both tracks. There's no way to avoid either one of the tracks because the train will always have to be involved with both sides. Similarly, we are constantly experiencing both good and bad things in our lives. Maybe your friend just got engaged while you're going through a tough break-up. Of course, you're feeling emotional about the break-up, but you also want to be excited for your friend . . . railroad tracks.

How is it that so much good can happen amidst so much trauma?

The best answer I have right now is that's just life. I heard recently that life is 5% good times and 95% tough times. We as humans typically believe that it should be the other way around with life being 95% good, but that's really not the case. If anything, we have constant difficulties interrupted by wonderful moments of peace and happiness. We just tend to see it as the opposite since we expect life to be good a majority of the time. Recognizing that we will never have times of 100% pure happiness or 100% pure despair is a step in the right direction.

As much as we want it to be, life isn't black and white, and compartmentalization isn't healthy.

I can tell you from personal experience that compartmentalization is definitely not the answer. There are two railroad tracks that work in tandem moving through the gray area in our lives whether we know it or not. Life is meant to be one big, beautiful experience - not one with separate lives and differing personalities.

Sure, some people bring out different qualities in us, but that is totally okay and quite different from compartmentalizing.

Instead of separating parts of our lives in thousands of tiny boxes, let's learn to embrace the gray area! Rejoice in the fact that you are alive and able to experience the emotions you do. Someone recently told me that life has seasons and whether good or bad, they all come to an end. If we are constantly chasing after that "perfect" life and neglecting the more ugly parts of our lives, we aren't truly living.

What parts of your life are happening simultaneously? Maybe you're excelling in your English class but are struggling to get along with your roommate. Maybe you're celebrating the birth of your sister's newborn baby while you're mourning the loss of your grandfather. The list could go on and on.

My point is that we're always going to have good parts of our lives working with and alongside the bad parts.

I know how difficult it is to accept every aspect of your life, but think of how free you could be if you let go of trying to separate everything and embraced the emotions - laughter, tears, and everything in between. Life's too short to get caught up in a never-ending attempt to be perfect. Having the freedom to feel the validity of your conflicting emotions is quite an experience. From my own life, I can tell you that experience can be good or it can be bad. It's a strange place to be in - the polarizing emotions oftentimes fight each other, and you have to let go and see that they can work together if you allow them to.

Railroad tracks were meant to carry the tons of weight from hundreds of trains. They can surely manage conflicting emotions as long as we are willing to give in. Life is a precious gift, and we should make the most of it - railroad tracks and all.



I'd like to thank the station manager at WCIC, Dave Brooks, for lending such powerful insight that inspired this article. He is the one who gave me the wisdom to see and embrace the railroad tracks in my own life, and I hope through this article, he has done the same for you. Thank you, Dave. Forever grateful to be a part of the WCIC family.

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20 Important Reminders For All You Girls About To Turn 21

The early twenties can be an extremely stressful time for women.
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I have come to find that the years of my early twenties have been among some of the best years of my life.

Moving away to college, going to concerts and bars with my friends, wild frat parties, beach days, becoming a college cheerleader, getting my first real job as a personal trainer (offering potential for a career).

While these have been some of the most fun and exciting years of my life they have also been some of the most stressful. Pulling multiple all nighters in a row, and still getting a D on an exam, constantly taking two steps forward and three steps back, feeling a want to be independent, and the struggle it takes to get there, quitting cheerleading, anxiety about my post college plans, and fading in and out of friendships and relationships.

The early twenties can be an extremely stressful time for women. Women are two times as likely to suffer from depression or an anxiety disorder than men. Additionally, research shows that depressive disorder may be appearing earlier in life in people born in recent decades compared to the past.

I've compiled a list of things for all girls in theirs twenties to remind themselves.

1. No one knows what they're doing and if they say they do, they're lying.

So many women compare themselves to others, when in reality, you can't actually know what anyone is thinking, or more so what actually goes on in their life. So stop worrying about feeling like a hot mess comparing yourself to the girl who seems to have it all together.

2. Every minute you spend thinking about someone else is a minute you lose to spend working on yourself.

Facebook and Instagram stalking your ex-boyfriend or ex-best friend is pointless, especially if they're no longer in your life. Focus on yourself and the people you currently have around you supporting you.

3. You don't need to find your "future husband" right now.

You have plenty of time to find someone to spend the rest of your life with, which is a long time. Your life timeline is longer than you think, and looking for someone rather than looking for the right someone can be the difference between a happy marriage or a divorce.

4. Don't think of relationships as, "if we're not getting married we're eventually gonna break up."

Be thankful for the time you spent with or have to spend with that person. Cherish those memories while they last even if they may eventually come to an end. Remember, "when one door closes another one opens."

5. Do the things you love, break the rules.

Don't settle for a job you hate just because it makes you a lot of money. At the very least, continue to do the things you love on the side; painting, singing, dancing, football, whatever it may be.

Keep doing the things you love. It will be your saving grace and will keep you sane.

Don't be afraid to be who you are and break free from societal roles, it's OK to be different, the most successful people don't care what other people think and aren't afraid to be themselves and stand out from the rest of the world.

6. You need and deserve a break.

Work hard but don't burn yourself out. It's easy to get caught up in your daily grind, but take the time to do things that relax you, or go out with your friend.

Remember, you're twenty-something, not forty-something.

You're not tied down. Now is the time to have fun, make mistakes, and be reckless once in a while.

7. Put the time in.

With whatever you wish to achieve, put the time in don't expect life to give you handouts. Don't quit when it gets tough or you think you won't make it. If you put the time in and get what you want to do done, you will be successful in life.

8. Relationships are the hardest part of life, don't dwell on them.

Relationships whether its family, friends or a romantic partner, relationships are the hardest part of life. Just be attentive, listen to other people and hear them out.

Use your intuition and leave behind the relationships that are negative. Being nostalgic never helps, if you don't let people go you'll never be happy with your current life.

9. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

If the first two times you try something it doesn't work out, take a different approach. Trying to get something done the same way and failing each time means you're doing something wrong.

You'll ultimately just pick up learned helplessness. It's not that you're incompetent, you just need to take a different approach.

10. You most likely won't marry your first love.

This is generally the case, and it's OK. Sure, being "high school sweethearts" sounds all nice and mushy, like the perfect fairytale, and for some people, this is the case.

But it's good to experience different people. If I never had breakups I would have never found out what it felt like to be treated well.

11. You're not 16 anymore. Don't expect your body to look like you are.

You're no longer a teenager, your body is different, your hormone release is different, don't expect an effortlessly flat stomach, thigh gap, and size zero.

It's not gonna happen.

Your bones are bigger and your structure is wider and it gets more difficult to stay in shape as you get older. Focus on being healthy, not a size zero.

12. People who want you in their life will be in your life.

Don't waste your time on people who don't care, or constantly blow you off, put you down or hurt you. You don't deserve it, and neither does anyone else. If they don't make you a better person, if they don't make you happier, let them go.

13. If someone tells you "you can't" show them that "you did."

Don't let anyone interfere with your dreams, they're your dreams to achieve, and if you want something, and you put in the work it takes you will get it!

14. Someone will always have more.

There will always be a girl who's prettier, smarter, funnier, skinnier, richer, more athletic. Base your success off of how much progress you have made, not by comparing yourself to someone else.

15. Things are just things.

Things do not equal happiness. Experiences and successes do! Sure that new Triangl bikini is nice, and you deserve to treat yourself to tangible items, but at the end of the day, they are just things.

16. People change, and so will you.

Your life changes dramatically year to year, especially during your early twenties, a time of many new beginnings and opportunities. Things are inconsistent, and people change and move away. Don't let this upset you, and don't base your happiness on other people.

They're just people after all, and they make mistakes. People can't always be reliable.

17. Take it one step at a time.

I like to look at my life like driving at night. Your headlights can only light up a small portion of the road ahead of you. You can let what you can't see coming scare you, or you can follow the road as you see it and worry about the obstacles when they come into view.

This is something I try to focus on when I have anxiety.

18. It's OK to be selfish.

To an extent, yes. Sometimes I have a problem with putting others before myself, and yes this is a good thing in moderation. You need to be well for yourself in order to help others.

19. Follow your intuition.

Your gut feeling is more accurate than you think. If you have a good feeling about something, take a chance on it. Failure is better than wondering if you would have succeeded.

20. You will figure it out.

I know it's a time of so many uncertainties and financial instability, but just keep treading water and you'll eventually make it to shore.

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How Am I Supposed To Feel About Graduating? (I Really Don’t Know)

Feelings you have when filling out your grad apps…

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It has already been six months since I took that walk across the graduation stage, and time has done precisely what it did while I was a student… it has flown by. I made the biggest mistake one can make in life: I blinked. I closed and opened my eyes and four years had passed in between. It is truly hard to believe, and harder to accept. I got asked how I felt many times, and each time I did not know what to say. As I would tell them, I always did not know how to feel — I felt everything and nothing at the same time — but if I had to choose and emotion, I would choose sadness. While I have come more to terms with my life now, it still hurts. It is still scary. It is still anxiety-inducing. Yet, it is still… kind of exciting.

This all starts (at least at JMU) with filling out your graduation application. Here, I will try to explain it using the seven stages of grief…

1. Shock.

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It hits you out of nowhere. You have the right conversation, see the calendar for the first time in a while, get that email about application deadlines or ordering your cap and gown… and you cannot believe that it is already time to think about this.

2. Denial.

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You deny it. You choose not to accept it. You are like, "No, no, nope… no way. I am not graduating. I will FAIL a class on purpose. I am not leaving!" (But underneath, you know that this is ridiculous… but it is what you really feel).

3. Anger.

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You start to reflect back on your years and experiences in college, and you aren't happy… You can't seem to find the joy and pride in your work, only the shortcomings. The unfinished business. The failures. And you wish you could go back in time and fix what went wrong. Make things better. Change the past. To be better. All of the bottled up emotions runneth over, only because you don't know what else to do.

4. Bargaining. 

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You jokingly talk about failing a class or whatever, so that you can stick around for another year… but you know that is not a real goal. Underneath, you really do wish that you could find a way to stay… but you know that it is all in vain. The time comes and goes. It crawls by, and yet passes in the blink of an eye.

5. Depression. 

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This is the point of no return. Rock bottom. You know the future to come and that it is inevitable. You grieve for the time that has passed. You bask in the memories of what has been. You cry for the ghosts of days gone by.

6. Testing. 

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At this stage, the tears have rolled and things have sunken in. The emotions have flowed (and continue to), but you are now in a clearer state of heart and mind, Now… you start to focus on what lies beyond, or what may lie beyond. You plan. You dream. You start to feel the excitement. You start to feel joy. But most importantly… you dust yourself off, you finish that grad app and turn it in, and you go buy your cap and gown.

7. Acceptance. 

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The journey is done. The time has come. The adventure is over… and a new one awaits. You hear your name, you take the walk, you turn the tassel. And for a moment… you are not afraid. You are alive. You are new. You are free.

Now, you have a life to start living. SO LIVE IT!

You only get to do it once, so make it a great one.

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