What Do You Do When Tragedy Strikes Your Former Home?

What Do You Do When Tragedy Strikes Your Former Home?

In my desperate attempt to figure this out, I'm writing about it.

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On November 8th, I woke up with a voicemail from my mom. It went a little like this,

"Hey, it's Momma. I'm sorry it's really early your time, but I wanted to have you hear from me before you got the news on. There was a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks last night at a country bar about ten minutes from where our house was in Moorpark. There are 12 people dead, the shooter is dead, and a cop. It was college night at the bar, so anyone over 18 could go in. There were students from multiple colleges there, that's all they know so far. It's just horrible." And so on. I made it about halfway through the voicemail before I pulled out my laptop.

A thousand thoughts ran through my mind. This is what is referred to as one of the safest towns in America. This town was a short drive away from my home in Moorpark. These people are mostly my age. Then, the worst one occurred to me. What if when they display the victims' pictures, I recognize a face?

According to USAToday, the Thousand Oaks shooting is the 307th shooting on the 311th day of 2018. Are we supposed to allow ourselves to be desensitized to this gun violence? I sure hope not. I'll save you the agony of listening to how the rest of my day went. Long story short, I watched the news and cried more than I'd like to admit.

As the day carried on, I watched the pictures come up on my computer screen. I scrolled through social media and looked at my friend's posts of their friends being safe. Somehow, that did not calm me down. I watched the victim's faces pop up one by one on my laptop, and I listened to the stories.

All country music lovers, all college students, all heroes who helped save the lives of others before they lost their own. It was not until Friday that I realized I did recognize one of the faces. I logged onto my Facebook to get rid of a notification, and there it was. A picture of my childhood swim coaches, and Noel Sparks. Now, I understand that it's been years, but that doesn't make it any better. Each victim of the shooting had so much more life to be lived, and my heart breaks for each one of them. I send all of my love to the family, friends, and everyone affected by the Borderline shooting.

Not even a day later, there was news of a fire that is rapidly spreading. According to CBS News, The Woolsey fire has burned 98,362 acres of land and is only about 57% contained. While this fire has only 3 confirmed fatalities, the second fire that is burning in California has taken the lives of 56 people and burned 140,000 acres of land. I can spit out as many facts as my fingers can research, but it doesn't change the fact that my heart aches for my former home. When all of this tragedy happens and I'm 1,835 miles away, I have never felt so helpless. I donated to the victim's families, but I have not found a way to make sense of this in my mind. Why do these things happen? There's no concrete answer to this question, so am I going to wonder it forever?

If you would like to find a place to donate to the Borderline victims' families, click here. If you would like to find a place to donate to the victims' of the fires, click here.

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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To The Girl Who Always Puts Her Love Life Before Everything Else, Don't Do That

Don't let yourself miss out on life just because you want a boyfriend.

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As a twenty-something, everywhere you look on social media you see all of your friends either getting married, having kids or exploiting their so-called #goals relationships.

For those of us who are single and are just living our best life, it can be annoying and a little discouraging.

Speaking as a single lady, my Instagram feed is filled with my friends who are in relationships, getting engaged/married, or having kids. Everyone has their own pace in life, but I can't help but feel like they're missing out.

Most of them did these big life events within two years of graduation. We graduated high school less than five years ago.

I'm not saying these people shouldn't pursue these relationships. I am a firm believer in doing what makes you happy, however, I am concerned that they aren't seeing the world. Most of the people still live in my ridiculously small hometown and never got a chance to leave.

Even if you decide to go back afterward, you should still leave your hometown for a little bit to see what else is out there.

How will you ever know if you like something if you never try?

Maybe you and your high school sweetheart's relationship will work out, they sometimes do. But I wish that more women my age would go out and live their lives a little before settling down so soon.

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