Wednesday, November 30, 2011

You Can't Do It.

I've thought about my life in these few days I've been home--a trip meant only to be a precious four days, but through mishaps of my own and the climate's, expensively extending to an exceedingly lovely and relaxing full week--and I realized that I've never been told the words "You can't do it."

I'm sure I've been told that for things that I shouldn't do, like drinking and driving or going out super late at night with a bunch of friends on a school night back when I was in high school. But for the more important things in life, I'm don't think I've ever been told that I couldn't do something.

This occurred to me as I told my mom my plans about to travel in Australia next year. I told her I didn't want to go to graduate school right away, that I wanted to take (at least) a year off, that I was too burnt out to even want to finish this quarter, let alone another two years of serious professional schooling. The idea of having to attend classes makes me want to cry or throw up or both. Probably both. I really want to go to grad school, really I do. This isn't some thing I'm like "Yeah... sure, I'll do it," and never really get around to it, like coffee dates with people I just don't really care about anymore. It's a goal of mine to one day be Chelsey, M.A., at least before I die, but right now, the idea of it just isn't feasible.

I've always tried to do the "right" thing. You and I both know I've had my slip-ups and I'm not perfect, but I got pretty much straight A's the entirety of my existence in the grades K-12; I went right away to a good school on full scholarship with a specific career plan in mind. I (barely) drank before I was 21. I'm not a druggie, I haven't gotten knocked up, and I didn't join a cult or kill someone. In essence, I've done what's expected of me, what's proper, what's correct my whole life. At times I think what has that gotten me? but I know that I'd be a hell of a lot worse off if I hadn't. Because I have done what's right, I now have the freedom to what's (in a sense) "wrong." So moving to Australia for a year isn't my family's ideal of what should be coming next in my life, as my brother so lovingly reminds me that my degree is a waste and I'm a hobo, but it feels right to me.

And though I know that deep down they're  scared and terrified that I'm completely mucking up my life, they never told me I couldn't do it. They gave me their apprehensions and misgivings and opinions, but never once told me no or that it was an impossibility or that I was incapable of making this happen. This made me realize that my whole life it's been like that.

This thought makes me both elated and saddened at the same time. I'm elated because it shows the character of the people who I have made important in my life. I wonder if anyone else has had the unconditional support that I have had. From acquaintances to teachers to friends to my family, I've always received a ton of encouragement on anything I've wanted to do--from choosing extracurricular activities to whatever path I choose for my future. It's such a breathtakingly overwhelmingly beautiful realization that the idea has captured my attention all break. I have people who support me no matter what.

However, it makes me sad because it makes me think what the fuck have I done with that support? There are people out there who, by my age, have done so many amazing things, changing lives and creating a better world, and what have I done? What do I have to show for 21 years on this earth? As I write this, my rational part of my brain floods my senses with responses--the relationships you've cultivated, the experiences you have had, the goals you have accomplished. I do attend a major university on full scholarship in an economy where that is so rare I should kiss every single person in the financial aid department at least once a day, for crying out loud. But at the same time, I think... I haven't really done anything special.

This is going to sound cocky, but I can only be honest. Many teachers in my past have told me I'm going to do great things with my life. I used to think Hells yes I am. I'm going to blow this world apart with how much awesomeness courses through my veins, never out loud of course. But as time goes on, I try to convince myself that it's not true, that I'm content with not being special, that I'm happy with being regular. Why not be regular? Pretty much everyone in my life is regular, for the most part. No one's cured cancer or written a bestselling book or climbed Mt. Everest. We're all a bunch of regular people figuring out this thing called life. But the truth is, I want to be special. I want to be so goddamn special and significant it's hard to stand me.

And I want to begin that journey now. I have no idea what it looks like, but I'm formulating hypotheses, visualizing what that looks like in a daily manner, brainstorming different ways of accomplishing the things that make me happy. It starts with finishing another book. It starts with sitting down to write every day. It starts with applying for that visa. It starts with this blog.

And I know I can do it. You've all told me I could. There will one day be people who tell me I can't and it will crush me to no end. I'll have to pick myself back up, but I know I won't be alone. God has continued to show me who the people are in my life that I can trust to see me on the ground and help me up.

If you've been told you can't, it's a lie. You can. Find out what it starts with, even if it's simply taking another breath. And if you need help, there are people who won't leave you in your fight. But remember most of all, you can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. You can. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Return of Randomness and Responses to Gratitude

I'm back. For better or for worse, the idea of returning to personal blogging has been on my mind lately. Different things have sparked ideas in my mind to write about, to share with you here. So here I am in the middle of a huge article I need to get done and all the stuff (fun and the not-so fun) that will be happening this weekend, there's been something on my mind I wanted to share with you guys.

Yesterday during my Industrial Psychology class, our professor had us take some time to write down three things we were grateful for, talk with a partner about a positive experience you'd had in the last twenty-four hours, and write a real or imaginary email to say thank you to someone. I didn't share this with anyone in the class. My normal partner wasn't there and everyone around me had friends. It wasn't something I minded because I do like to reflect in a more internal manner.

The three things I wrote down were these:
1. I am grateful for my mom, who likes all the things I like so we can talk about them for hours.
2. I am grateful for not having to go through the whole EEG experiment.
3. I am grateful for sleep, three meals, and a good night to look forward to.

The positive experience I would have shared was the fact that I didn't go through with the EEG experiment. It was supposed to take two hours of my time and in fact only ended up taking a half an hour because the game I was supposed to play crashed. I did have to get my hair nasty soaked though, but didn't have to sit with it for more than 20 minutes after I was released.
Honestly, it's kind of sad that was my positive experience but it gave me  more time to get the things I needed to get done for that day completed and it was really helpful. I left the experiment thanking God for this extra time and indeed I put it to good use.

The email I couldn't necessarily do because I don't have a smart phone nor do I bring my laptop to class. So I decided to send a simple text. I wrote "Thanks for everything you do for me." I couldn't decide who to send it to. My mom would be the obvious choice, but so many names went through my head I decided to send it to all of them. Now, there are those of you who didn't get the text that should have, but I only have so many people I can send a single message to and not a lot of time in class to keep it going and some of you are in a different country. Also my phone was dying. Not great excuses, but I sent my gratitude to those who I knew I needed to send it to in that moment. And  yes, your special thank you was a mass text, but... I couldn't choose and I didn't want to. Because each of you are significant to me and each of you deserve to hear it.
The responses I got back were amazing. There were some that made me tear up, some that surprised me, and some that made me laugh.
A mom who is not my own mom, sent back a message saying that I'm their second daughter and that they love me. It's nice to know that. I actually have two other moms besides my own. I call them and their spouses Mom and Dad. I always feel a little weird doing that. I mean, I love them like my own parents, but they are someone else's parents, and I'm not trying to fill that role. This weekend I came upon an event in my other family that I didn't know if I should be there for as it was a very personal family event. But the entire family included me in it in a way that really touched my heart and eased my worry about intruding on something so personal. I really appreciated it and it meant more to me than any words could say.
My actual mom had been having a bad day that day and the message was really encouraging to her. I always love to send my mom a little Hello or an I love you because it makes me happy to do that. I talk or text my mom every day. I hope that continues forever. Or at least until we can communicate via technological ESP or something. She is everything to me and I love her dearly. I would have sent one to my brother, but he's still phoneless since I washed his phone in my shorts. But yeah, he would have gotten one.
My aunt, who I haven't seen all quarter, wished she could give me a hug in that moment. She knows I've been really stressed and busy this quarter and it's why I haven't seen her already. When I get stressed, I become really introverted and isolated. It's not the best thing, I know, but it's what I do. It's nice to know that, even when I get that way and stop talking to people, they'll still welcome me back with open arms. It's that kind of love that really impresses me.
Of course, the best friend sent me something that made me smile and feel good about myself. It's one thing I find so beautiful about her and our friendship. I've had a lot of friends and best friends in my years and until this lady, I've never felt something so reciprocal. I don't worry about the give and take balance of our relationship, something I worry about constantly with others, because I know she loves me as much as I love her and that she would do as much for me as I would for her. Maybe it's weird to judge a friendship on the equality of it, but we're so equal in almost every way that it's one of the most amazing feelings I've ever experienced. When we became best friends, something inside my heart shifted into place and I felt a calm. This is a relationship I'll have forever because I know it's something we'll both fight for for forever. (For for forever made me laugh.)
There was one particular one that surprised me the most sent by a friend who I actually didn't really know I meant that much to. We're very different, this friend and I, and we go in and out of each other's lives sporadically. However, whenever I am with this person, I always have an amazing time and whenever I talk to this person about deeper things, they always leave me with something to think about. They are truly an amazing person and I am excited to see where they go in life. I hope I am still in a position to do that as time goes on. I treasure this person's friendship, more than most of the friendships I have, because of the limited amount of time we see each other and because of how I feel when I'm with them. They told me they loved me and it shocked me because I just never thought I meant that much. It's not something they say all the time and the fact that they said it to me really touched me. It's something I'll hold onto for quite some time because I'm not sure how much time I have left with them.

These aren't all of them and I don't want to share the details of each response I got, but I will share one with you because it's so classic and so very me and my roommate. In response to my sincere heartfelt mass text of gratitude, Katie responded as such:
"I don't think I can do dinner. We're stuck in our lab and probs won't be done for awhile."

Thanks, Katie.  :)