"You've Changed So Much..."

"You've Changed So Much..."

For those of you who think you know me better than I know myself, unfortunately you’re wrong.
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I hear that a lot.

When I get into a conversation with anyone who has known me for 5+ years, there seems to be a disconnect between the person standing in front of them, and they person they knew. Well, that’s because there is. For most of my life, I was described as creative and ambitious. I was constantly involved in one project or another. Throughout my childhood, I performed in theatre and during my summers I went to a workshop program every day that trained me in vocal technique, acting, singing, and dancing. I performed in and coached improv teams in high school. I was a part of two choirs and every school production, often playing the lead role. At 19 years old, I directed, produced and acted in a reimagined production of Othello involving in white supremacist gang in England in the late 80s. When I was 20, I received a Best Actress collegiate award nomination for my work in Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, as well as receiving the same nomination again that year for a production of Chekhov’s the Seagull. Then, when I was 21 I was chosen to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, England to study both performance and academics. When I came back, I performed as Lady Macbeth in Macbeth for a running production, receiving again the same nomination. During that production, I compiled and directed a Shakespearian vignette production, working alongside others to write an entirely new show based within his work. I wrote songs, music and designed an entirely new concept. With help from my wonderful cast and crew, naturally. I did all of this while working toward my undergraduate degree, continually writing poetry, music, working on two novels, helping lead worship in my church, dabbling in photography, painting, singing, and voluntarily diving into several lecture series from several Ivy League universities to further my education in what I felt to be key areas. In short, I was ambitious and very often described as uniquely “creative”. I don't mean to sound like I am bragging or that I am proud. I think that, during these years, I was only half of a person. Not really me. In my mind, there isn't much to brag about.

Now, I work in an office doing, in essence, glorified data entry. I have meetings and quarterly goals and I talk about project plans all day. And I am happier than I have ever been.

There are a lot of people that don’t understand that. But, what they truly don’t understand is that the core reason I was so “creative” was because I was desperately lonely, dangerously unhinged, constantly unsatisfied, and in my mind, irreparably broken. I cried myself to sleep. And I cried when I woke up. My platonic relationships felt disconnected, and I never dated or engaged in romantic relationships at all. I was deeply depressed, plagued by constant panic attacks, and eternally asking God what was wrong with me. I hated myself for being unable to heal what felt so broken. And I hated myself lot. That is what fueled my work. That was my muse.

It was unbearable and life became unlivable. And all the drive, the creativity, the love I had for so many things… it just died. I was emptied out. The pain became so strong that I had nothing to express anymore. It was all consuming.

So, I started over. I rejected the dreams I had always had for my life when I realized why I had them. I wanted to be an actor because I desperately needed someone to validate me, and because I wanted to badly to pretend to be someone else, someone loved. That is not a reason to become an actor. The only reason to do that is because you love the work itself, not because you need anything from it. Even theatre itself became almost detestable to me. It seemed illogical, strange and archaic. I couldn’t understand why I ever was involved in it to begin with. When I was honest with myself, I realized that… deep down… I hated theatre as a medium. And I hated the culture surrounding entertainment. I hated the whole industry. It made me unhappy.

I felt very lost. And very guilty. Because no one seemed to understand why I was walking away. Well, almost no one. A very wonderful, very ingenious professor that had been a confident in my undergraduate years understood. And some others. But so many that had known me since I was a child branded me a certain way, and when I began to reject that branding, it confused them.

I feel that I deal with that as a constant, those who knew me throughout my youth were sure I would grow up to “be someone” and my sudden shift in focus was (understandably) hard to comprehend. To them, it seemed so sudden, so fast. But it wasn’t. It was a long time coming. In their minds, I changed. But the truth is, I just accepted the reality of who I am and what I really want. I want a day job. I want a family. I want to be a wife and a mother and have a dog and worry about my kids and attend PTA meetings and run a household. I didn’t want grandiosity after all.

I spent my entire life running away from my greatest fear: normalcy. I needed to be special, to be something. Because, in my mind, no one would love me otherwise. So, there I was. 22. A graduate with a degree in something I ended up hating. Unemployed. Frustrated. Physically unwell from the emotional stress of my family situation (my grandmother was dying of cancer at the time). Consistently confronted from the very real tension of having no idea what I was supposed to do with my life. Confused as all hell and constantly battling severe panic attacks. And, look at that. God sends me this guy, who becomes a safe place when nothing in my life felt safe. Who didn't know me well when I was striving to be "something" and could accept where I was now. Who didn't seem to care that I was so lost, who wanted to walk with me as I rebuilt myself.

So, yes. I have changed. I have grown. I have rejected the old. I work at a desk and I spend my days fussing about quarterly goals, client needs, content carryover, analytics and SEO optimization. I take walks and go grocery shopping and attend church on Sundays. I virtually never do anything I used to. I don’t write anymore, really. Except stuff like this. I take pictures sometimes, but not often. I never go to the theatre and I have no interest in acting. I enjoy playing tennis on Saturday’s at the public courts. I got to bed at 9:30 every night and keep a bottle of Tums at my desk, should I experience indigestion.

My life is very, very normal. And I wouldn’t trade it for my old life for anything.

This is who I am. This saltine, plain, boring, normal me is me. So, for those of you who think you know me better than I know myself, unfortunately, you’re wrong. No offense, but I kept most of you out, anyway. The person you knew wasn’t me. Just an attempt at me. Trust me when I tell you I am infinitely better now. Trust me when I tell you that I am completely sane, normalized, calmed, healed and authentic in my decisions now. I am getting married to a man that knows me better than anyone else. I am in a job that offers both growth and friendship within itself. And I don’t cry anymore.

I promise I am okay. Don’t worry about my future just because it wasn’t what you expected it would be. Nothing in life ever is.

Cover Image Credit: Samuel Dixon

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30 Things I'd Rather Be Than 'Pretty'

Because "pretty" is so overrated.
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views

Nowadays, we put so much emphasis on our looks. We focus so much on the outside that we forget to really focus on what matters. I was inspired by a list that I found online of "Things I Would Rather Be Called Instead Of Pretty," so I made my own version. Here is a list of things that I would rather be than "pretty."

1. Captivating

I want one glance at me to completely steal your breath away.

2. Magnetic

I want people to feel drawn to me. I want something to be different about me that people recognize at first glance.

3. Raw

I want to be real. Vulnerable. Completely, genuinely myself.

4. Intoxicating

..and I want you addicted.

5. Humble

I want to recognize my abilities, but not be boastful or proud.

6. Exemplary

I want to stand out.

7. Loyal

I want to pride myself on sticking out the storm.

8. Fascinating

I want you to be hanging on every word I say.

9. Empathetic

I want to be able to feel your pain, so that I can help you heal.

10. Vivacious

I want to be the life of the party.

11. Reckless

I want to be crazy. Thrilling. Unpredictable. I want to keep you guessing, keep your heart pounding, and your blood rushing.

12. Philanthropic

I want to give.

13. Philosophical

I want to ask the tough questions that get you thinking about the purpose of our beating hearts.

14. Loving

When my name is spoken, I want my tenderness to come to mind.

15. Quaintrelle

I want my passion to ooze out of me.

16. Belesprit

I want to be quick. Witty. Always on my toes.

17. Conscientious

I want to always be thinking of others.

18. Passionate

...and I want people to know what my passions are.

19. Alluring

I want to be a woman who draws people in.

20. Kind

Simply put, I want to be pleasant and kind.

21. Selcouth

Even if you've known me your whole life, I want strange, yet marvelous. Rare and wondrous.

22. Pierian

From the way I move to the way I speak, I want to be poetic.

23. Esoteric

Do not mistake this. I do not want to be misunderstood. But rather I'd like to keep my circle small and close. I don't want to be an average, everyday person.

24. Authentic

I don't want anyone to ever question whether I am being genuine or telling the truth.

25. Novaturient

..about my own life. I never want to settle for good enough. Instead I always want to seek to make a positive change.

26. Observant

I want to take all of life in.

27. Peart

I want to be honestly in good spirits at all times.

28. Romantic

Sure, I want to be a little old school in this sense.

29. Elysian

I want to give you the same feeling that you get in paradise.

30. Curious

And I never want to stop searching for answers.
Cover Image Credit: Favim

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A College Student's Guide To Self-Care 101

A trend on the rise, self-care is becoming more and more prevalent.

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My social media sites have been exploding with mentions of self-care. Tweets about the concept are ever on the rise and I think it is important to explore the concept. Self-care practices have become increasingly common because people are ever interested in tending to their emotional and physical wellbeing.

Unfortunately, with the popularization of the concept comes misconceptions. Self-care is not strictly about "treating yourself" and face masks. Additionally, it encompasses growth, reflection, and change. So, without further adieu, here are my top ten self-care tips!

1. Learn to be by yourself

This one is harder than people would think at first. Everyone's personality is different and, therefore, their affinity to being alone will differ as well. However, as I mentioned before, self-care is not only about physical practices. It is about eliminating toxicity from your life. This means eliminating bad habits, which is achieved through reflection and acknowledgment of the problematic habituation. Being by yourself allows you to set your own goals for yourself without any influence from outside factors. Additionally, the ability to be by yourself aids in establishing good self-esteem and ensures that the relationships you allow in your life are true and special rather than just to pass time.

2. Accept compliments

I don't know how this became normalized or why, but I despise the fact that girls have been taught to downplay their confidence. If someone offers a compliment, smile and accept it. Positive feelings towards yourself should be integral parts of your thought processes. Additionally, pay yourself compliments. They don't have to be said out loud but appreciate the beauty that is your body. It does so much for you, the least you could do is appreciate it every now and then.

3. Hold yourself accountable

Like I said earlier, part of self-care is eliminating bad habits. The tendency to attribute one's own failures and shortcomings to external forces is self-serving bias and those with good self-esteem are guilty of it. It may be difficult to balance attribution and self-esteem but in order to achieve growth, you have to acknowledge your own faults. This will allow for clarity and for you to work towards achieving better habits.

4. Don't bottle up your feelings

I am especially guilty of not following this tip. Keeping to yourself may seem like the easier thing to do and, if you are like anything like me, you may hate being seen as an inconvenience. However, I know that if I bottle up for too long, I tend to shut down and then I won't be able to achieve anything. Expressing your feelings is okay. Crying is okay. Anger is okay. Emotion is okay.

5. Try new things

Take a yoga class. Volunteer. Go to a new restaurant. Anything that pushes you out of your comfort zone incubates growth. You don't even have to enjoy everything you do, you just have to try. However, you may also find a new passion because of it.

6. Get some sleep

Don't spend all your time sleeping and lose all motivation to do anything, but make a conscious effort to get sufficient sleep so that all of your days can be as efficient as possible. You will be more energized and your immune system, as well as your physical appearance, will thank you.

7. Don't force yourself to do things you don't like

I know I said to try new things. However, if your best friend loves running and you go with her one day and find out you HATE it, don't force yourself. Find what works for you through trial and error. You will be much happier with your own flow and it keeps you from developing resentment.

8. Learn to say no

All the women in my life are especially guilty of this. We spread ourselves too thin because we can't say no. This goes hand in hand with not forcing yourself to do things that you don't want to do. Saying no doesn't make you a bitch, it makes you strong and lets people know that you know what you want.

9. Say what you mean

Don't sugarcoat things. It will leave you feeling unfulfilled and, quite frankly, it's exhausting trying to tiptoe around what you really mean. Don't be rude or aggressive, rather assertive and straight forward. It will make you a better communicator and will take pressure off of you as well.

10. Finally, treat yourself

I said self care wasn't entirely about that. I didn't say it wasn't necessary.

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